8.21.2017

Wedding Countdown || Eleven Days

There were exactly twenty-five days from the day we arrived home, to the day the first (two) weddings take place. Shall we just say we hit the ground running? =) 

There's no place like home---we are so blessed to all be together as we work and prepare! I don't even really know how to properly post everything; there is so much to write and say, and so little time. But here's a little snapshot of the first week at home. 

Also, I'm going to label this little "updates" series (review of these twenty-five days between arriving home, and the weddings) "Wedding Countdown" and then with each update, I'll post the number of days that are left until our two day celebration begins. 
Mitchell is training Taylor over to be herd manager and run the records/registrations for our cattle. (Please pardon the chaotic looking office!)
I made lasagnas and french garlic bread and froze them for Mitchell + Bryn's wedding rehearsal dinner. We will add fresh salad, green beans, and cheesecakes for a delicious Italian feast! 
The "Bontrager Bowers Double" (as we affectionately call the double wedding) rehearsal dinner is also underway (meat being cooked + frozen, etc) and we are planning a big Mexican buffet for theirs. 
Liz entertaining some of her favorite little Iowans. =)
Rebs + her little companion, picking cucumbers from our very prolific plants.
 Josh with a brother + a brother-in-law-to-be, mulching the trees on our farm.
 Liz arranging fresh bouquets from Allison's flower beds.
Josh power washing the house. 
Some baking days are more memorable than others. WHY do certain individuals not put lids on salt containers?? You tell me! Probably because I needed to learn patience. =) 
Lots of muffins, safe in the freezer and ready for wedding week breakfasts!

8.19.2017

Livestream for the Weddings!

These days in the Bontrager household are just as full + blessed as can be! There's lots of love, laughter, and hard work; plenty to go around in all departments. =) It has been a beautiful two weeks of being home and we will be sharing more updates + pictures with y'all next week. 

For now, we just wanted to let y'all know that the couples have decided to livestream their weddings! We would love to have y'all follow along with us on these happiest of happy days! 

Information/links to follow (week of the wedding) but for now, mark your calendars to join us via livestream:
Friday, September 1st, @ 4:18pm CST
Saturday, September 2nd, @ 2pm CST

8.16.2017

Meet Joshua!

Meet Joshua Maxwell, the fifth-born in our family! He is twenty years old and the most exciting thing in his life currently is the fact that he will have a wife in sixteen days! =) He is greatly enjoying being home from summer tour, because this means he can spend lots of time now with his beautiful fiancé' Cassidy AND prepare for his upcoming wedding. 

Josh has had a full life lately! He worked construction last summer, was employed on the farm this past year, continued touring with our family throughout, started a relationship with Cassidy last fall, and just completed his studies for a bachelors degree in communications through Thomas Edision State University, after 16 months of diligent study. As Denver likes to say, "Josh didn't stay a bachelor for long!" as he proposed to Cass just two days after finishing college. =)

This spring, Josh took over Mitchell's position with our music, and he has done an amazing job as our new stage manager and practice coordinator. His main instruments are the dobro + lead guitar, although he can play about anything on stage. He loves people and deep conversations and can often be found either chatting or praying with people during the hour following our concerts. He continues to love music and books more than about anything else, and reads a new list of titles every month, consisting of everything from politics to finances to marketing to marriage. 
His most recent purchase is his new (for him) car, a 2005 Toyota Camry. 
Josh is the classic dresser of the Bontrager men, and during the recent packing up and sorting out of their clothing, it was discovered that he also has, by far, the largest wardrobe out of all of the men in the family. It seems fitting that the master bedroom in his new house has two walk-in closets. =)

After he is married, Joshua will be renting a house about a mile from us and will continue to be employed on the family farm/music. Josh and Cass have decided to continue with the family band after they are married. They will have separate living quarters to travel in but will be a integral part of our concerts. Josh hopes to go into politics someday but currently is loving his work as farmer + musician!

8.14.2017

Family Breakfast In The Woods

Saturday morning, we were up bright + early for a family cookout breakfast back at our campsite. With so many adults + different schedules in the family, (plus all the people in relationships!) it is rare that we are all twelve together, just us, for a meal.

This month is the closing of a stage of life for our family, and as we look forward to our family growing, we want to make sure not to rush through these days, but to stop and savor times in every season.

 So several special mealtimes have been set, throughout the month, and this morning was one of them. With a full day ahead, breakfast was the best option for everyone to be present.
So breakfast in the woods it was.
Fresh pancakes, sausages, eggs, and hash browns over the fire...
......served with watermelon, grapes, fresh raw milk, and kombucha!
Dad + Rebecca
Denver
Caught Taylor in the midst of a bite!
Rebecca
Sibling chat while fixing plates!

After family devotions, everyone was about to disperse, but we put the camera on timer and got a quick family photo first. It turned out fuzzy, (as you can see) and we aren't dressed up, and we don't match. Some people came straight from the barn for breakfast, and others headed there straight afterwards. =)
But I think pictures like this are the ones we are going to love the most someday! Informal, unplanned, but so US.  As the popular instagram quip goes,
"low quality pic...with high quality people." =)
 I love this tribe so much!

8.10.2017

Meet Carson!

Meet Carson Wayne, the fourth-born in our family. He is twenty-one years old and the most exciting thing is his life currently is the fact that he will have a wife in twenty-three days! =) He is pretty thrilled about that upcoming development, and is busy as can be wrapping up details for establishing his own household!

Carson quit touring with the family band in the spring of 2016, to follow God's call on his life in a number of other pursuits. That same year he started his own mechanic business, Carson's Enterprises, which he runs in one of the shops on our farm. He is working to grow that business while continuing to be employed on the family farm as well. His farm work includes managing our two hog barns and servicing the farm equipment. Every fall, Carson also does custom manure hauling for various hog farms in Iowa, as a part of a business he co-owns with Mitchell and our father. Carson has a passion for challenging others to live responsibly with their finances, and he enjoyed taking a group of men through Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace Seminar last summer. Also in summer 2016, he was able to do a three-week internship with a mechanic in Arkansas. Carson purchased his own truck (a GMC Duramax) the beginning of this summer and is enjoying the rewards of saving and waiting for the right vehicle! He continues to love hunting and has provided our family with lots of venison over the recent years. His fiancé Carolina loves hunting as well, and a number of their dates have included hunting, target shooting, or shopping together at Scheels. Carson is Mr. Practical---he loves working hard, saving money, and living a no-frills lifestyle. (his favorite outfit would be boots, jeans, and a plaid button down!) His hands are almost always stained with oil or grease from working on equipment so much, and he is extremely gifted in fixing almost anything. Carson is also very passionate about sharing the Gospel and using the farm as a platform for ministry. He has handed out tracts and shared the Gospel with many a milk truck driver and feed delivery man.

Carson will continue working on the farm and running his mechanic business, after he is married, and will live just up the road from us, in a new house (that my parents are building) which is almost completed!

8.09.2017

Upcoming "Meet The Family" Series!

There's a new series coming up here on the blog---the "Meet The Family" series! I've been wanting to do this series for months and months, and finally here it is!

The number one question we get these days is "how exactly does your family work?" People are a little confused about how we balance having family of twelve, having that wide variety of ages living under one roof, and also having most family members working full-time jobs, but most still traveling with the family band as well.

Whether you are a concert attendee asking about "the boys at home", or whether you are a curious blog reader who just "doesn't quite get it,"...don't feel bad, we don't always "quite get it", either! =) 

Through this series, we are going to attempt to give y'all a peak into each of us Bontragers' lives, individually, so you can get a little idea for how we each "tick". We hope this new series will help y'all get to know our family better, and encourage you that it is possible for one family to live together and still stay sane, happy, and productive! 

Every Thursday for the next three months (beginning tomorrow, August 10th!) we will be highlighting a different family member (in random order) in each post. These posts will share about various details on each person, from current place of employment, to upcoming future plans. 

"By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: 
for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."
Hebrews 13:15+16

8.07.2017

Home Sweetest!

We arrived home safe + sound at 12:45am today. It is glorious to be back in the land of corn, cows, and the rest of the brotherhood! Family brunch was prepared by Mitchell + Carson and was yummy yummy yummy---pancakes, bacon, eggs, smoothies, and milk in abundance. =)
(Untold quantities of coffee already consumed before said breakfast. =))

What a blessing to be HOME! We are loving this day of unpacking, cleaning, spreading out, and cooking for a big celebration dinner tonight with the fam + fiancé's! =)

8.05.2017

Northern Tour 2017 || Post #33

This weekend finds us at the Family Bluegrass Festival, finishing out our summer tour with a bang! We love this fest---it was one of our first big venues to perform at, ten years ago, and then we returned five years ago...and now we are here again! We love this place and all the many friends we get to see here.
Backstage crazy!
Lunch time! The meals for the bands are provided for us here and they have been amazing.
Our boys (on stage, far left) performing their brand-new version of dueling banjos!
Taylor was a bit intimidated when he found out that one of the other teachers on the banjo panel was the sister of Banjo Ben Clark, who is one of his musical heroes. =) We all thought it was pretty great that he got to teach with her! 
We've got our very own boy band going on here. =) We miss the older two but these four have been incredible at stepping up and taking leadership with our music. We sure do love these guys!

And this is the official end of our Northern Tour 2017 Series! Thanks so much for joining along with us on our travels this summer, through the blog.

Also a HUGE thank you to all of the venues who hosted us, and to each person who poured into our lives in so many different ways while we were on this tour. We could never possibly name or post about each one, but we are so very very blessed by the Body of Christ and the opportunity to meet and get to know so many amazing people on our tours. THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR HEARTS.

As our family continues to change so much, we are more than ever grateful for the time we have together to travel and do what we love. This summer has been an incredible one of being a part of the Kingdom work. Seeing souls saved and lives transformed has been so faith-building!

Next post will be when we are home on IOWA SOIL!! Whoohoo! Prayers for safety as we travel that way, tomorrow afternoon/evening, would be appreciated!

"But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil."
2 Thessalonians 3:3

Update from the Boys at Home!

Here we are, almost at the end of our trip, and I'm finally giving a little update on the bros at home! Many of y'all that we saw on tour this summer, have asked about them and how they are doing. The answer is that they are working hard and loving the Iowa summer. Most of all, they are enjoying spending time with their beautiful ladies and getting ready for their weddings next month! We sure do miss them but are so thankful for the call God has on their lives and that they are faithful in serving HIM in this new phase of life.

I had to BEG for pictures and got a few out of them. =) Enjoy! 

Above...we had mulched and weeded and worked SO HARD in those gardens before we left! Thanks to the boys and various friends, they have worked a few hours each week in the gardens to keep them in shape. We are anticipating beauty and not a forest when we return home on Monday, and we are SO THANKFUL for that! They sent us the top picture a few weeks after we left, and all was growing and looking great!
Carson + his future brother-in-law, chopping lots and lots of firewood out back behind his new house.
One of Carson + Carolina's first dates was an early morning hunt last fall, and hunting promises to be a big part of their future as well. =) Carson bought Lina a bow for her birthday this spring, which we all thought was quite a great gift! Here they are, practicing together.
All the heart eyes!
Carson and a friend of his laid the stone for the front of the house and the fireplace inside. Carson stayed pretty busy overseeing and helping out with the house building the past two months. He also manages the hog barns and continues to build his mechanic business.
So proud of my brothers! They are both fabulous cooks and not only did they cook lots of their own meals, but they also had friends over for dinners, multiple times, and cooked for those as well.
Carson made breakfast one morning for his young adults class at church, and sent us a picture of his kitchen setup. =)

Mitchell enjoyed spending lots of time with his lovely fiancé as well. Above, him with his new family-to-be!
He did almost all of the millings this summer, and stayed very busy overseeing the dairy and operations there.
Mitchell and Bryn, enjoying an evening concert at the park together. 
Mitchell gets to be the first one of us kids to be an uncle! His fiance's brother + his wife had their first baby this summer! We think Mitch looks just like a natural here. =)

8.04.2017

Northern Tour 2017 || Post #32

The day after we were at Windy Bay Colony, we headed over to the Acadia Colony, where we gave a concert and spent some time with the people. It was our first time there and we were SO blessed by our conversations and time with these people! Can't wait to visit again sometime. =)
Above, outside evening picnic with everyone.
That night we gave a concert in their school gym. A number of people from other colonies were also there.
Singing and smiling!
They gave us a tour of their colony since it was our first time there. The level of productivity was quite mind-boggling! 
Walking through the acres and acres of gardens. Our favorite stops were at the raspberry + saskatoon bushes. =)
It had been baking day and the smells coming from that bakery were unbelievable. Here, we watched as some of the girls arranged platters of cookies to serve after the evening meal.
The little girls with new friends!

Northern Tour 2017 || Post #31

The beginning of this week, we were privileged to once again be able to spend a day with our dear friends at the Windy Bay Hutterite Colony. This was our fourth time visiting them and we sure do love our times with the people on their colony. 
We love pitching in with whatever work they have going. This time, the men were roofing a new building, so a few of our guys got to help with that.
We went up (35 feet!) on the roof to check out the progress and walk around. Love these girls!
They always pull our bus into their shop and give it a little TLC for us. Such a blessing!
Denver, checking things out below.
The ladies were in the middle of a very large green bean harvest so we got to help with that.
The younger three were thrilled with a little swimming and fun times with their little friends.
Chatting in the yard.
Sunset view of the Manitoba prairies, from the roof. So beautiful!