Joshua's Bar Mitzvah

Finally after several weeks I am getting around to posting about the Bar Mitzvah celebration we had for Joshua!
{I know there has been some confusion about what a Bar Mitzvah is. Also some people that know what it is have asked if we are Jewish, since it is a Jewish ceremony.
Answers: no, we are not Jewish. But we observe this ceremony because we believe it is a very biblical principle and so applicable for us today. A Bar Mitzvah is a special ceremony of blessing and releasing a boy into manhood. It is basically a special time for family and friends to gather together and bless a young man in the transition from boyhood, to manhood. For girls, the ceremony is called a Bat Mitzvah.}
We four older ones had our Bar/Bat Mitzvahs when we were 14 or 15, but somehow time flies and has slipped away so we didn't do Joshua's til lately, after his 16th birthday}
Not very many of the invited guests were able to make it, but the smallness of the party ended up being a blessing in that we were able to make it much more elaborate and intimate.
the centerpieces were black mugs filled with spearmint tea bunches from our garden.
they were so pretty + they matched the theme colors & smelled SO good!
We started with music (two of Joshua's favorite songs + the song "Only Believe" which he wrote last fall)
Following the music Joshua gave his testimony.
Our pastor giving a special "charge to adulthood" for Joshua.


and parents blessings
All the men praying prayers of blessing over Joshua
The meal afterwards was a super fun to prepare, and almost as fun to eat. 
Joshua is a HUGE mexican fan, and none of us were surprised at all that he picked a mexican buffet for his celebration meal. =)
We had nearly every mexican topping you could imagine to go with rice, beans, tortillas, beef, & chipotle chicken.
presentation was complete with Allison's scripty label cards in front of each dish.
cheesecake bar for dessert
the Bat/Bar Mitzvah celebration has been such a special time for each of us older ones who have had one. It is so powerful to be able to be blessed and "sent forth", so to speak, as an adult.
-posted by chelsy


//hunting: turkey edition//

 Several weeks ago we had the opportunity to go turkey hunting in Seymour, Iowa.  Pastor Stanley arranged an awesome hunt for us.  It was our first time turkey hunting, and we loved it!  What could be better than getting up early (3:30), covering yourself with camo from head to toe, heading out into the dark, and finally shooting several nice turkeys?

We split up into three parties and hunted different ground.  We were rewarded with two nice turkeys.  Above, Carson, Mitchell, and Taylor pose with the one Carson shot.  When he texted us the picture, told Dad, "He looks SO thrilled!"  And he was.

 Here's Taylor with one of the birds. They weighed in at about 14 and 18 pounds.

Here's the whole group! 
Front, left to right: Marlin, Hudson, Allison, Mitchell, Denver, Taylor, and Carson
Back, left to right: Andrew, Bobby, Mr. Jimmy, Joshua, and Pastor Stanley

Thanks to Pastor Stanley, Mr. Jimmy, Bobby, & Andrew, who did such a great job as guides for us!

-posted by Allison


life update

Life on the farm recently has been full and lively.  We are "in the thick" of planting season, which means that dad is spending hours in the fields, getting the crops in.  There's also plenty of work to be done on the lawn and in the gardens.  Many wonderful friends have visited this month (with some more dear ones arriving this evening).  Plans for a two-month trip are in the works, with scheduling, packing, cleaning, and cooking to be done in preparation.  In the midst of it all, we make memories as a family.  Some of my favorite memories are never captured on camera or recorded in words.  A few from this month:
-laughing so hard together while cleaning the bus late at night
-sitting in the living room together, buried in our books (this was my activity of choice for my birthday....so fun and rare!)
-racing with our cleaning responsibilities in the house (the girls)
-eating meals together.  It doesn't happen every meal, but I'm grateful for a family that often shares home-cooked meals around a big table.

And now, here are a few pictures from the past few weeks, mostly photos of work around the farm:
 Josh running the skid-loader.  
 these are two of the adorable kittens from the latest batch of kittens on the Bontrager Farm
 Carson loves mechanics so much that he recently bought an old fourwheeler to fix up in his spare time.  I don't quite get what's so fascinating for him about engines and parts.  Maybe it's kinda like me and cooking?  Only instead of messing around with food ingredients and recipes, he's working with nuts and bolts and engines and stuff.
 Little Miss Rebecca makes a lovely grilled strawberry/cheese sandwhich.
 Mother was gone the other weekend so one day for lunch we ate around our kitchen island.  We can only eat there when several people are gone, and with mother + some of the guys gone, we fit! Goblets with yummy beverage upped the "amazing" factor of a lovely spring lunch.  Of course the whoopie pies and grilled sandwhiches were quite scrumptious, too.

Typical life on the farm often involves very untypical happenings. =) You never know what is going to go wrong...
In the above situation...our vet came out and three of the boys are helping him with a procedure for one of our cows that had developed a twisted stomach. The twisted stomach resulted in lots of issues for the cow, unfortunately, so it had to be fixed.
The remedy? Flip the cow over on its back, and then make an incision in the stomach and literally "flip" the stomach. It sounds impossible but it works.

Taylor hanging on for dear life!!

We had friends visiting that evening so they got to watch.
Its always fun to have company here when we have farm stuff going on because then our company can get in on a few of the things farmers do and experience the true life on a farm!
{note: for those of you who are thinking that we are a bunch of crazy country folks that just abuse our animals with torturous procedures, you couldn't be further from the truth.You are just a little ignorant, so let me enlighten you. This cow would have died from a bloated stomach if something hadn't been done. And this is the procedure that works! She was injected with pain killer prior to the surgery so it really wasn't as painful as it appears. Just for the record}
 Denver l o v e s our big rider lawn mower!  
Taylor did a great job cleaning the porch.

"And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men."
Colossians 3:23
posted by chelsy & allison


//to love one another//

How often, I wonder, do we rush through life, so abrasive and short with people because we are "busy", in a "hurry".  Is it worth it?  I think not.  I know that far too often we wound the ones we love by thoughtlessness.  Words spewed forth in the midst of frustration are seldom loving, healing words.  Instead, they wound and show how little we esteem the ones we love.  

 "Always be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle."

 I need to be reminded to give someone an extra dose of grace today, to speak an encouraging word instead of being critical.  Love is not just telling someone on their birthday or holidays why we appreciate them.  Love does that, too, but the reality of love is seen in the daily grind- in patience, kindness, graciousness, forgiveness, thoughtfulness.

"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."  [John 13: 34-35]



Spring Ladies Meeting

Our church's Spring Ladies Meeting was this past Monday night. 
The special speaker was Sue Thomas, whose true story of working for the FBI as a deaf woman, is the story that inspired the TV/movie series, FB-Eye. 
She was an incredible speaker and her message was such a blessing to all of us there!
{above, our preachers' wife, Miss Charity, introducing Miss Sue Thomas}
Yummy drinks & food...

we made all the salads...
There was a skit in which we had a special appearance from a {ahem} most distinguished MaryKay consultant. =)
it was pretty funny!
There was also special music (which I was in so there are no pictures!), games, prizes, and of course a delicious supper coordinated by my mother.
pretty sure this little lady was the cutest one present. =)
"O TASTE and see that the LORD IS GOOD....."

-posted by Chelsy