Merry Christmas From the Bontragers!

Wishing all of our blog readers a very Merry Christmas today! May you + yours be blessed with the joy of JESUS!
      Much love...from all of us!

"And the angel said unto them, 
'Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, 
which shall be to all people. 
For unto you is born this day in the City of David, a Savior,
 which is Christ the Lord'."
Luke 2:10 + 11


Family in Iowa || November Recap

Here are a few pictures to recap our November. It was a beautiful month full of a mixture of Indian summer + nippy winter days. Harvest was completed, projects were accomplished, and Bible Bee was attended + finished, amongst other things. 
Here are a few of the "other things".
Music practice!
Taylor + Rebecca raking leaves in the front yard.
Taking time for a much-needed break in the middle of study-Denver + Liz enjoying a thrilling fourwheeler ride!
Here we have one of our stellar vehicle-washing teams-Carson + Rebecca. Well, I believe Carson was doing most of the work. Rebecca was probably there more for the entertainment factor. It also is a commonly known fact around our house that she loves "visiting" Carson while he works in the shop, due to the fact that she loves to chat with him and keep him company. 
His snack stash that she discovered in the top drawer of his tool bench may or may not also be a drawing factor. =)
There is never a lack of things to talk about in the Bontrager household, but this fall has been extra full in the information + growth departments, and there have been many a late night hash with various of the adults in our family. One night found the parents out on a date, Carson and Mitchell gone working, Allison in Mexico, and the littles in bed. Joshua and Denver and I did just fine keeping a very lively conversation going. =)
Liz, busy at work in the kitchen, concocting a delectable Nutella Cream Pie. 
Our family worked in assisting with details for our church's annual Live Animal Christmas Play pie auction. Our church has done this for several years now and it has grown to be a very fun and lively church activity. Around $15,000 was raised to use for the LACP expenses. Praise the Lord!
Our last harvest days. There is just nothing like this sight!
Window washing before the snow flies!
View out the front window one chilly fall evening.
With November brought the beginning of LACP recording sessions! One of our favorite times of the year! (shows start tonight and run through Sunday night! We will be performing "Christmas Deliverance" seven times over the next 48 hours and we are so excited for it! Come join us!)
Little chef in training here!
Our Kombucha queen! She took over making our kombucha when Allison left for Mexico the beginning of October, and she did an absolutely fabulous job continuing on throughout November and currently!
The guys spent many late nights (and quite a few all-nighters!) out hauling for various farmers in the southern half of Iowa. They love their work and being involved now as part owners of the business.
 Andddd...its beginning to look a lot like Christmas!! While Allison was working at the hotel Thanksgiving week, she began to decorate there for Christmas.
Josh brought Allison coffee one morning at the hotel and stayed to enjoy some quiet space to study for upcoming college tests.  Allison loved the coffee and company!  
Beautiful sunsets out back in our woods...
That thrilling moment when your dinner table conversation is interrupted by a rather loud commotion in the kitchen and mom exclaims, "The snap trapped!!!!!!"  We all knew that she meant to say, "The trap snapped!!" but we got some good laughs out of that one.:)  It was indeed a relief to catch the mouse that had been on the loose (and sighted numerous times) in the kitchen all day.
Party time!!
Food, friends, games, + gifts...these are what Bontrager birthday bashes are made of!
Mitchell + Denver treated themselves to a fun brothers night out, with a friend, to attend one of the Iowa games. It ended up being, as Mitchell said, "The best game I could've ever chosen to go to." =)
Thanksgiving Day found us gathered with the Bontrager side @ my Grandma's home.
Plenty of food for all!
Afternoon party time! So many good memories from many game sessions with the cousin crew. =)
Denver didn't do much trapping this fall due to his involvement with Bible Bee, but he still managed to get a few sets out and bring home a couple of trophies. 
While Liz was spending a morning at the hotel with Allison, she got in on a little "cleaning duty" with one of our maids!
This smiling lady is what I call the "force to be reckoned with" that drives our hotel. =) She loves coming up with new ideas, implementing them, hiring, occasionally firing, deep cleaning, and making things run like clockwork. She recently put into effect a new dress code complete with classy new polos! Above, enjoying a little chocolate treat dropped off for her by a friend, while she was working one day.
LACP rehearsals started the last week of November. This is our church auditorium in the middle of a rehearsal. Not much to look at...you should see what is happening in the front! =)
Denver, waxing and cleaning the combine after fall harvest was complete.
Carson always has many "irons in the fire" with his various mechanic projects. Here he was fixing up another four wheeler to sell.
Josh painting sets for the LACP @ church.
Cinnamon roll making crew! Allison made rolls and then Denver + Taylor were the delivery team who took them around with LACP invitations to give to our neighbors.
We couldn't really and truly have November happen without making DONUTS! This was the first time for fall 2016 and they were just as yummy as ever. We may or may not have delivered some to the guys...and then all eaten some for snacks...and eaten more for lunch...and even had a few for breakfast the next day. =)
This little cutter is absolutely revolutionary! Cuts the donut AND the hole at the same time!
Ta Da!
My favorite picture from the day. Little miss sneaking a random bite?!
"In everything GIVE THANKS:
 for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
1 Thessalonians 5:18


Shy Children || Part 4 in the Motherhood Series

"My child is shy".

I have heard this quote too many times to count as a young child puts his head on his mother's shoulder, hangs on to her leg, or stands quietly beside his mother with a "shy smile" on his sweet little face.

So what is shyness?  Merriam-Webster defines it as "feeling nervous and uncomfortable about meeting and talking to people; showing that you are nervous and uncomfortable about meeting and talking to people;  tending to avoid something because of nervousness, fear, dislike, etc."

I am forever grateful that, soon after I became a mother, someone was kind enough to explain to me that shyness was just a cover-up for rudeness.  That 2 year old who won't say "thank-you" to his hostess for a delicious meal is, in fact, being rather self-centered.  He is thinking of his own feelings rather than the feelings of someone who may have spent hours or all day preparing for her guests so that they could enjoy a meal together.  A little child who won't introduce himself is being rude to an adult or young friend who is taking an interest in him.

Philippians 2:3 says, "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." 
 Luke 6:31 - "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise."

Let's teach our children to consider others, to be kind, and to focus on those around them rather than on themselves.  As mothers, we should spend time teaching our children how to shake hands, look someone in the eye, and speak clearly as they introduce themselves.  Don't let that toddler bury his head in your shoulder when someone speaks to him.  You should tell them to smile.  Do NOT excuse any sort of rudeness at any age by telling the adult (and your child) that they are "shy".  Have fun practice sessions at home where you pretend to be someone else so your child can walk up to you, shake your hand, look you in the eye, and say "hello, I am (your child's name)".  I remember the fun we had when I would make up a name or simply call myself "Mrs. Bontrager" (for some reason it made my children laugh to call me "Mrs. Bontrager").  We would laugh as we practiced introductions, answering the phone, or saying "thanks for the good meal".  I also remember a certain 2 year old daughter (her name begins with an A!!) who was not allowed to play after a meal at our friend's house until after she said "thank-you" for the meal.  Lessons learned at an early age usually stick quite well.  It is a blessing to have all of our children, on a regular basis, gratefully thank their hosts & hostesses for a meal at one of our concerts. (more often than not, someone that they only met that evening before a concert) I am also grateful that, whenever necessary, each of our children can introduce themselves clearly and with a smile on his/her face.

If, in spite of training and practice, you still have a child who refuses to introduce himself or shake an adults hand, simply tell your friend "looks like we need to work on that some more".  And then be sure you do work on that after your guests leave.  :)

"But my child is an introvert", you may say.  While that may be true, it is still no excuse for rudeness.  I find that our introverted children (not very many of them in this family!!) are some of the best conversationalists. They truly enjoy that one-on-one contact with people, more than a large crowd situation.  The introvert usually knows how to draw out someone who may not be comfortable with talking to a stranger.  I have been blessed to see our sweet Rebecca cheerfully conversing with a dear grandma or other elderly person before a concert. She is one of our "quieter" children, and yet is becoming a great little conversationalist as she learns to think of others first.

Just like appetites for food or media, a child can learn to enjoy and be comfortable with talking with others when they consider that this is not about themselves, but rather about sharing the love of Jesus with others.  How can a "shy" person share the Gospel?  The same as anyone else!
We need children and young people who will smile, say a kind word, and most of all "go into all the world and preach the Gospel".

{Written by Becky}