There's this song about treasuring life that's so good.  So good that I have this excerpt of it at the end of my emails as part of my signature-thing.  

"Treasure life.  With a fervour for each moment, taste the joys of mEmories warm and sweet.  You never know what the future brings.  So every day and every night treasure life."

But today, I need to be reminded of it.  I forget so easily.  One day- I am in awe of the brevity of life and just  know I want to treasure fully the little things.  The next day- I forget in complete.  I  don't even stop to kiss the little cheeks,{bump noses} with the little sisters, give a hug for no reason at all, tell the big  brothers why I admire them so so much, giggle with Pudge (aka. Hudson), listen to the adventures and aspirations of the little-soon-to-be-big men in my life, make my daddy coffee or give mother chocolate, do some stargazing, or s i n g to Jesus just because.  

It's not that we try NOT to do these things.  We don't wake up and think, "I'm going to rush through life.  Today, I will not stop for the little things that are so important.  I'm not going to treasure life."  No, never do we think those things!  We just forget.  We forget that the little moments bring such joy.  We don't stop to ponder how short life is and how many regrets we will live with if we do not slow our frantic rush and embrace the beautiful people in our life.  Answer this question: Are you fully engaged in this journey called life?  Are you completely invested in the people around you?  Memories are not made on facebook and pinterest.  Meaningful, life-changing conversations rarely happen through texts.  Sometimes the most beautiful music is that which spontaneously springs from your lips when you are worshipping all by yourself just because you love Him.  

How will you treasure life today?  What moments will you savor?  



WeCare Prison Crusade Orientation

 the caravan of buses. =)
Sunday was an wonderful day of coming together with the other volunteers, evangelists, & music groups, to prepare our hearts and minds for our ministry this week to the inmates in the Alabama prisons.
The new theme for this year is "ReNew Hope: Christ in You, the HOPE of glory".
Truly, Christ is the HOPE that we have, and we're looking forward to sharing that hope with the prisoners the next several days!


From Prison to Pastor

 Tonight we got to visit our friend, Troy, and sing at his church here in East Gadsden.
It was a very special service.
First of all, because Troy is a very dear friend of ours, but secondly, because four years ago Troy was incarcerated in one of the state prisons that we have sung in. 
And today he is a pastor of a church!
That's what God can do! 
That is the power of the gospel.
It's all God...and that's why our family loves the prison ministry, and why we are so excited about the prison crusade that is starting tomorrow!
Its amazing what God can do when 500+ people heed to the call and come together to serve and share the gospel with the world behind bars. 
Lives are radically changed and transformed.
And we are thrilled to be a part of it!
The double sibling cooperation phenomenon. =)


A bit of the last three weeks in pictures...
(above, Hudson taking his turn reading the Bible during family devotions)
 With not having chores on the farm to do, our boys get rid of some energy with football games.
 Rebecca & Liz at a park in Oklahoma. It was {freezing} cold that day!
 celebrating birthdays on the road!! Taylor turned 11 and we had a big bus party for him.=)
 While singing /staying at an RV park in TX, some of us enjoyed the pool there.
 we stayed at a churches guest house for a few days around the time of our concert there and finally were able to spread out a little and make some REAL food!!
schoolwork for the younger ones
& checking/scoring/coaching for the older ones,
is a BIG part of every weekday on the road.
Our church back home sent my mom flowers the week after her miscarriage.


Another baby with Jesus....

Last week we lost our precious little unborn baby, and now we have five little angels waiting for us in heaven.
The loss is great and it is hard to understand but in the midst of it all we are thankful for life-thankful that we could have five weeks (since we learned about our baby's existence) to rejoice in its little life.
thankful that we know that our baby is now "safe in the arms of Jesus".
We are also thankful for the prayers and love from so many friends and family from home and afar...
the text messages, emails, phone calls, & comments have been such a blessing to us during this time.


Day Off in San Angelo

All birthdays in our family are a big deal and are celebrated with much energy and festivity,  but the thirteenth birthday is a REALLY big deal.
For the each of our thirteenth birthdays, we get to pick a very special activity/outing and invite a crowd to participate. =)
Denver turned thirteen the beginning of last month. For his "bash" he choose bowling with the whole family.
(automatically he has a crowd with that choice!)
We had his dinner/cake/presents then but with everything that was going on last month (Christmas Play, company, Christmas, getting ready to leave on tour, etc etc)
we didn't get to doing the bowling until Tuesday of this week when we had a day off in San Angelo, TX.
cute little bowling shoes
ready to bowl!!
the newest Bontrager teenager
(seriously, he is NOT OLD enough to be a teenager! how can my baby brother be a teenager?!)
The whole gang
Rebecca prepares to roll her ball...
intently watching the scores
like father, like son....
This is an all-time classic.
my favorite shot of the day. =)
The name Bontrager" & the word "competitive" 
mean basically the same thing.
above, Taylor has a moment of frustration after a bad roll. 
Knowing how much we love Chick-Fil-A, some dear friends of ours gave us a Chick-Fil-A gift card!
It was the perfect day to use it...we found a brand-new double drive-thru Chick-Fil-A in town and bought lunch!
today I am thankful...for a big family to make memories with. 
thankful for all the competition we have together. 
thankful that we can have fun being competitive.
 thankful for friends' generosity in blessing us with lunch. 
thankful for a day off after an extremely grueling schedule.
thankful that even though we miss home we can be joyful knowing we are where God wants us.


What Happened to the Banjo???

read the full story over on mitchell's blog!
{trust me, its a good story---you don't want to miss it!}



Our family left for our three month tour on the 3rd of January.
Leaving was, in itself, quite a chore.
The neighbors probably thought we were crazy.
If you would have been a neighbor, you would've seen the following drama unfold...
drive down the road 100 yds
someone yells from some corner of the bus..
"I forgot ________!!! turn around!!"
back up 100 yds
someone runs into the house to get forgotten item/s
start bus again and drive down the road 100 yds
repeat entire procedure several times
finally make it two miles down the road
once again comes the call, "Ummm, I hate to mention it, but...I forgot______!!"
s-l-o-w-l-y turn bus around and head back the two miles of gravel to retrieve forgotten item.
the bus is quiet as tension builds. =)
finally....we make it 30 minutes down the road. 
and we are past the point of no return.
we will now rely on trusty Walmart to take care of forgotten items...
or friends at home to ship things that cannot be replaced by Walmart.=)
Please visit our  schedule to see if we are going to be in your area! 
We would love to see you at a concert!
(We will be in Oklahoma this week until Friday so if you are from OK and want to attend a concert, look at our schedule for the next several nights' concert locations)

Random Moments from December

December was a month filled with birthdays, company, & music practice, primarily! 
We celebrated Denvers 13th birthday & Elizabeths 9th.
We also enjoyed the time at home that we could host several different groups of company!

the boys enjoying a good wrestling competition
sibling time
Denver got a gun for his birthday, and was thrilled with it!
Trapping was Denver's big project for the fall. In December he took his many furs in to sell. Above are a few!
As always, reading is a HUGE part of our lives! =)
Above, Javan (the little cutie that Allison babysits) enjoys a few stories with Carson.
Last fall Allison did a discipleship group with six 14-17yr olds. 
Right before we left on tour, they had a "girls evening out" where those that were able to make it, got together to do hair & makeup, dress up, and go out to eat at a fancy restuarant. 
The guys took the kitchen by storm
and learned how to make chili, ON THEIR OWN!
(no female assistance was allowed, since it was for the chili cookoff contest.)
To give them due credit...they cleaned up after themselves, thank goodness! =)

Watch Night Service

(on the stage: the young men who preached, along with our pastor on the far left)
 On December 30th, our church had its annual Watch Night Service. 
Since we have only been attending MABC since April, this was our first time to be a part of this special service.
Instead of our pastor preaching, any young guys that wanted to were given the opportunity to preach for 5-10 minutes each. Three of my brothers (Mitchell, Joshua, & Denver) preached along with 5 other young guys. 
It was an incredible service filled with lots of music and then of course the challenges from God's Word brought from 13 to 20yr olds.
 I wish there was someway I could share the actual messages in audio on here-they were incredible!
I sat in my pew with a heart overflowing with thankfulness for brothers who love the Lord and aren't ashamed to stand up and say so!
 The next generation of preachers!
Afterwards we had a chili cookoff contest for the church guys...
AND a pie making contest for the church ladies!!!
beautiful pies...
many, many pots of yummy chili
Dad helped tally the scores
(yes, thats my sis there! I knew she would win 1st!!Now if I can just get her to share her $100 prize with me...=))