Thursday, November 19, 2015

Update From the National Bible Bee!

Ah! It has been a wonderful day! Couldn't have asked for a better place to spend it than at the National Bible Bee here in San Antonio, Texas! And I'm definitely getting to spend it with the awesomest people in the world, family.
(Above picture-hanging out with the little brothers after the ceremony last night)

Since I know not all of my blog readers have instagram, I thought I'd give you my two little instagram updates here to fill you in!

Last night (11/18)
"We're happiest when we're together! It was so worth the 17 hour drive to come down here and surprise the younger siblings who are competing in the National Bible Bee this week!! Watching them walk the carpet tonight and cheering them on was just too awesome. So proud of all six of them for their hard work this summer! Proud of the five who made it to nationals and have studied hundreds of hours this fall. And proud of the three brotherhood (Josh, Taylor, and Hudson) who are advancing to the semi-finals tomorrow! Please be in prayer for them! Also...proud of the other three eldest and I for making it down here in one piece in spite of extreme exhaustion. #nationalbiblebee # sibling love #bontrageradventure #ilovetexas

Tonight (11/19)
"What a day! My throat is hoarse and my mind if tired and my heart is pretty much bursting with pride. Because Josh and Taylor are going on to the final competition round tomorrow!! Listening to them recite verse after verse after verse with such passion and conviction filled me with such joy. It was marvelous!! I have to tell you that amongst their many other great accomplishments, my brothers had, hands down, the loudest cheering section in the entire auditorium. We were so, um, lively...that at one point I received a text from our parents who were sitting somewhere else. And it read like this: "You all are creating a scene!! Please quiet down and try to be a good testimony for a large family". =) =) Oh dear. Many friends who have been watching the live stream today have texted and said they could pick out the Bontrager cheers in the crowd. Let's just say that quietness has never been our strong point. =) For those of you who may have missed the live stream today, you don't want to miss watching finals tomorrow! It is going to be unforgettable! Find the times, link and info here! Also please visit our family blog for more updates and pictures!

Please be praying for my brothers as they compete tomorrow! 
And if you think of it...I would also appreciate a little prayer that I wouldn't lose my voice until after finals tomorrow. Because I couldn't stand it if I couldn't cheer. =)

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Girl Defined E-Book Giveaway Winners!

And the giveaway winners are....
Sarah Ebersole + Hannah Schrock!!

I'm so excited because these two ladies are both dear friends of mine, and its always just awesome when friends win the giveaway, you know?!

Sarah + Hannah, all you need to do is email Girl Defined ( and tell them that you are the winner of the giveaway hosted over at Chelsy Renee's blog, and they will email you your FREE copy directly!

For all the rest of you, hop on over to the Girl Defined website and purchase your own copy for just $9.99!!

Thanks again to all of y'all for participating in the giveaway! It's been fun!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Guest Post & Giveaway by Girl Defined!

Ahh! This is an exciting day, friends! 
Because. Every once in a blue moon I come across a resource that fires me up. It doesn't happen very often, because there is an awful lot of junk out there on the internet. There is also a lot that looks good, or may seem good, but is really enemy of the best.
 So whenever I DO actually find a treasure like this... I get way happy!

Today is one of those days. A few months ago, I very accidentally stumbled across this website called Girl Defined. Somehow one of their posts popped up in my instagram feed, and from there I found their website. Their phenomenal website! Not very often do I post links to other sites/resources, just because I am pretty careful about what I verbally endorse on here, and there isn't very much out there that is truly wholesome and that I can feel confidant about recommending to you readers.
But this-this is material worth recommending!

All that said. Enjoy the following guest post by Kristen & Bethany! (their post in italics)

"Growing up, the two of us were convinced that modesty equaled old-fashioned. We looked around and noticed that the hip stores weren't pushing long shorts, classy shirts, or knee-length skirts.

The clothes they promoted were hip, edgy, trendy, and, we assumed, top notch fashionable.
Because the fashion industry held the loudest voice on clothing, we assumed they were the standard on what eqaled fashion and what equaled old-fashioned.

Modest and Fashion Didn't Combine

As young women we looked around us and found very few (if any) Christians promoting modest, fashionable clothing. We did hear quite a bit on modesty, but to be totally honest we weren't all that excited about the style of clothing being promoted.

From what we saw, dressing modestly truly meant wearing slightly ugly, out-of-date clothing.

With hearts that truly desired to honor God, we decided to study up on the topic of modesty. We wanted to know God's heart behind modesty and we wanted to know if it was possible to combine modest fashion with modest clothing.

After several years of research we became totally convinced that modesty and modern fashion truly can go hand-in-hand.

And that's why we're writing this exciting blog post today.

Project Modesty has been on our hearts for a long, long time. As a result of our past research and studies, we've become passionate and excited about helping girls understand that modesty doesn't have to be boring and old-fashioned.

Because of the major misconception so many of us have had (and still have) on modesty, the two of us decided to create a video and e-book to help set the record straight. These two resources are truly unlike anything we've ever seen before. They are the tools we wish we had earlier in our own lives.

Our prayer is that this e-book and video will change your perspective on modesty and give you fresh inspiration on how to incorporate fashion into your wardrobe.

Project Modesty E-Book 

This e-book is the best of anything we've ever written on the topic of modesty. It's basically our dream for a book on modesty made into a reality.

By reading Project Modesty you will....

*Understand the reasons behind why modesty is so important to God
*See dozens of inspiring photos of Kristen, Bethany, and their three sisters displaying fashionably modest outfits.
*Learn numerous tips on how to transform immodest clothing into something beautiful and modest.
*Hear honest thoughts from Christian guys about why modesty is a blessing to them.
*BONUS: Peek inside Kristen and Bethany's swimwear wardrobe and learn how to take modesty to the water
*BONUS: Free "Modesty Mirror Check" PDF download.

This e-book has 13 chapters and is jam packed with everything you could ever want to know on the topic of modesty.

Project Modesty Video

This video will give you a taste of what you will find inside of the e-book. If you enjoy the video we know you will love the e-book. In this video, you'll see the two of us, along with our three younger sisters showing our favorite tips, tricks, and looks for modest clothing. We'll take you through all areas of your wardrobe (i.e. shirts, pants, shorts, skirts, and dresses) and show you how to wear those pieces in a modest, yet fashionable way. We'll also show you how to make difficult pieces work.

Whoever said modesty had to be boring obviously didn't know what they were talking about!

And this video proves that.

Our hope is that this video and e-book will leave you feeling more inspired and excited than you've ever felt about modesty before!

You can purchase the book here, "Project Modesty: How to Honor God With Your Wardrobe While Looking Totally Adorable in the Process

Free E-Book Giveaway!

We are going to give away two free e-books to two of you sweet girls! To enter the giveaway, simply comment below in the comment box and share your name and why you want a copy! You will then be automatically entered for your chance to win our brand new e-book.
{here is the "teaser video" promo for the book!}

(now back to me...=))
Isn't that an awesome post? And fabulous video, right? Girls, if you aren't excited by this, than I really don't know what will get you smiling! Because what girl doesn't love fashion and giveaways?! 

Girl Defined was so sweet as to gift me a proof copy of their book, and I have to tell you-it is TOP NOTCH. I've never read anything like it before and it is great. I love the spirit in their book of not laying out a law or specific guidelines, but rather encouraging YOU to seek Jesus, all the while giving a helpful and insightful guide to girls who just need a little encouragement. (don't we all!)

Can't wait for two of you readers to WIN your own copy, and the rest of you to go buy it for yourselves later! =)

Giveaway ends Saturday morning @ 10am, and the winners will be announced directly following that. For this giveaway I'm only giving one entry per person, but I would still be thrilled if y'all would share this post around by using the super easy tabs at the bottom! (google+, facebook, instagram, etc)
Looking forward to your comments! 

Much love + have a beautiful week!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Giveaway Update!

The giveaway post is actually going to happen on Monday, friends! Today was crazy and I totally forgot about needing to post the giveaway even though I even had it on my list. (whaaat?!)
Just keeping it real; that's what happened! It was one of those Saturdays when you're exhausted and wanting to go to bed for good at, um, 10am. Yes, not the best recipe for productivity! Thanks to coffee and highly motivated family members we plowed through and accomplished great things. But now we are trying to get out the door for our morning concert and the posting is just not going to happen today.
So. Monday will be the day and I'll see y'all back here then!

Thanks for understanding! Y'all are the best. =)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Why I Wear What I Wear

Calling all ladies! Today, you're getting the lowdown on my clothing standards! So exciting!
(ha, NOT!)

In all honesty, yes, this is what I'm talking about here today. But its the nitty gritty-the stuff all we girls deal with. So not really that exciting. Just to clarify. =)

It never ceases to amaze me how people are so interested in what I choose to wear. So many times I just want to say "Please, just go home and ask God what He wants YOU to wear. What's it to you what I wear?"

But the truth remains that this is a very real struggle in our culture. Women who follow Christ want to dress in a way that honors and glorifies Him and Him alone. And sometimes, navigating those waters of standards and convictions can be rough.

I know, I've been there.

So today, I want to talk to you girls as an older sister. Pull up your chair, and imagine that we're having a little chat together. With coffee, of course. And cream in the coffee. And both the coffee and cream in a big oversized mug that fits like four cups of coffee/cream mixture.
Now we're all set! =)

First of all, I don't have all the answers. Not even close-goodness, no. I mess up, and I make mistakes,  and I'm right there with you wading through the racks at the store and having those times when I get discouraged.

To be totally honest, I even have my moments where I think, "Eve had it SO EASY back before there was sin. She didn't even have to worry about modesty at all!"

Seriously, can you imagine? How nice would that be? clothes. No worries if it was not enough, or two much, or whatever. No agonizing over if a neckline was too low or pants were too tight if you didn't have any of that to begin with. She just didn't have to think about any of it. What a life!

Okay, okay, I digress....Moving on!! (hehe)

If you are looking for a formula, you will be disappointed in my answer today. Because the answer isn't measured in inches, or fittings, or lengths, or types. It isn't measured in tight or loose. It isn't measured in pants vs skirts, or shorts vs pants, or skinny vs baggy, or high vs low, or any of that.

That is just not the point.

The answer is found in knowing the Word of God, and in knowing the God of the Word.

Here's the deal. Whether you like it or not, what you wear matters. Your clothing is the first impression someone gets of you. (scary thought, that!)
Before you have a chance to say anything, your clothing has already made a statement about the kind of person you are. And if you are a child of Jesus Christ, than you're gonna need to be dressing a little different from everyone else. You are set apart. You are PRECIOUS in His sight. And you are DIFFERENT.

I'm a lover of quotes on this subject. I've found some great ones that I want to share with you:

"My fellow women of the world: 'Put on some clothes. You want men to give you the time of day? Leave a little up to the imagination, and respect yourself. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the beholder is anyone you want it to be'."

"If Cinderella didn't need to take off her dress to get the prince, then neither do you." 

"Modest is not something to be ashamed of. It is strength, not weakness." 

"What you wear is your billboard. So...what are you advertising?"

"Dress how you want to be ADDRESSED."

Aren't those amazing? I would highly encourage you to write down one or more of them and tape them up on your bathroom/bedroom mirror, or wherever you get ready for the day each day. We all need good reminders like these!

I understand that this modesty thing is easier said than done. We live in a culture where everyone wants to tell everyone else what to wear. You know what I mean---it's either that super legalistic friend who tells you she "can't be friends" unless you start dressing "like a real Christian" (as she puts it), or its that left-wing aunt who tells you that you need to "stop being so frumpy and always wearing gunny sacks".
Honestly, thank goodness we aren't in this to please people because it's just about IMPOSSIBLE! Let me say that again-it IS impossible. Everyone either thinks you are too liberal or too conservative. Once in a blue moon someone recognizes the  beauty and class in true modest dress and tells you so, but those moments are rare and if you're living for the affirmation in those you will be sadly disappointed because they don't happen very often.

Quick commercial break here though...I have to tell y'all the story of how this actually DID happen the other night. My sister was telling me about how a guy at work told her that he appreciated that she dressed modestly and beautifully. I must admit I flipped out and said "Allison! Who was this man? Is he brother-in-law material?!?!" to which she rolled her eyes and responded, 
"Chels, he was like FORTY!" 
Obviously I totally agree that she dress modestly and beautifully but it's not every day that someone else TELLS you that! And a man at that! I wish it wasn't so rare but honestly it is and when I heard that a GUY told her that I was extremely impressed. And wanting him for a bro-in-law. Except that he was forty. So I guess not after all. (sniffle)
End of randomly inserted story. =)

Girls, we can't listen to the sources that want to dictate our wardrobes, whether negative or positive. Those dress codes and rules and "it has to be this length and this size to be modest"?
Those lists were all written and directed and planned by humans who are just as liable to fail and be wrong as anybody else. Also, remember that we aren't called to answer to a church or an organization, for our dress standards. We are called to answer to the ONE who designed modesty, the One who loves us more than anyone else ever could, and the One who is waiting and willing to guide each of us in our quest for godliness in our dress.

Quick note here to the few guys who were brave enough to read this post.
You might think it's weird to tell a girl that you appreciate how she dresses. Well, it's not weird. It is a BLESSING to us women, and we love you for it! Well maybe not literally. But you get the point. You have no idea how much it means.
 I'll never forget a few years ago when I was at a conference and one of the young men stood up during sharing time and publicly addressed all of the young women who were attending the conference. He specifically thanked us for dressing modestly and said how much he appreciated being at a conference where he didn't have to be constantly adverting his eyes. He probably didn't think anymore about his comment afterwards, but let me tell you that I KNOW I'm not the only girl who still remembers and greatly respects that guy for sharing that, even though it was 4-5 years ago. It was such an encouragement to know that there are still a handful of guys out there who not only notice but who care and appreciate the work it takes to dress in a godly way.

And it is work. It is definitely the path less chosen, and the harder of the two options. It takes time, and courage, and hard work! But it is infinitely worth it.

We've got to get back to the place where the only basis for our life, the only basis for where we stand, how we stand, and WHY we stand, and what we do and subsequently wear, is JESUS CHRIST and HIS WORD.

That's it. No minus, no plus, NO ADDITIONS. Just you and God and seeking His face.

I said it before, and I'll say it again-I don't have the answers. There are different clothing items that, to be honest, I'm not sure about. I wear what I wear based on personal standards that the Lord has led me to, and also certain family standards that my family has, and that I have chosen to honor as long as I am living at home. I find that, as with anything, it is very dangerous to get to a place where we think we have it all figured out, where we think we "have arrived" and know the perfect "dress code". I feel right now like I know less than I ever did! Except for one thing, and that one thing is that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God does care about this area of my life, and that He will be faithful to guide me if I diligently seek His face and His truth.

At the end of the day, I want more than anything else to be able to say, "I stood firm on Jesus Christ and His Word and the truth that He showed me."
This is not only the area of modesty, but also in every other area of my life.

I love each of you girls. That is why I am sharing this with you. My heart's cry is for every woman reading this to find true joy in serving Jesus in every area of her life, including through her clothing, because it is a service to Him! 
I view my wardrobe as an act of worship. After all, if it glorifies Jesus, that is worship, right? Right! 

God's Word has so much to say about this. My favorite verse on this subject is found in Corinthians:

"What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, 
which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price:
 therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." 
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Most importantly, we can't forget that the heart of modesty really has nothing at all to do with actual clothing, but it is all about having the FEAR OF THE LORD and the Holy Spirit living within us:

"Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised." Proverbs 31:30

I'll end on a light note, with a favorite quote that is funny, but really quite sobering when you stop and think about it: 

"Dressing immodestly is like rolling around in manure. 
                                  Yes, you'll get attention...but mostly from pigs."

You don't want that, honey. Pigs Boys like that aren't worth your time. Jesus created you for SO MUCH MORE
So step out of your box. Be different. Be set apart. Choose the royalty and dignity and glory that is fitting for a daughter of the Most High King.

And that is why I wear what I wear!
 I'm praying that each of you will commit to seeking Him in this area of modesty, and that you will be blown away by His faithfulness in showing you what He wants you to wear!

I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! 
And. Be back this weekend for a super exciting guest post 
and giveaway of an amazing book on modesty!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Welcome to Iowa + the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

This was my view this morning as I drove down our country road. 

Gorgeous fog, gorgeous golden corn, gorgeous skies. Its Iowa, y'all. Those who think this isn't beautiful? They just don't understand.  

It is Iowa country in its full glory. And this is the most wonderful time of the year, because harvest just started! (insert confetti bursts and happy dances all around) Harvest time, my friends, is beyond exciting. The hum of the combine and the sound of corn filling the wagons are some of my favorites. The smell of a freshly combined field is one I could breathe in anytime, anywhere. The constant activity on our farm of tractors/combine coming and going is exhilarating. I love love LOVE it.

It has been an amazing year. Full of travel, adventure, and God stretching me in so many new ways. I am so grateful for all of His provision + guidance. I wouldn't trade the past nine months for anything. 

But I will admit that the current job of putting away the concert clothes/gear and preparing for all things fall and harvest is filling me with this wild joy of a little child. 

Because for the next three months I'm going to glory in the joy of being a country girl and living life on this beautiful farm I call home. And that, my pretty awesome. =)

What's your favorite thing about fall?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Typical Day Before Leaving On Tour

This post title is somewhat deceiving, because absolutely no two "day-before-leaving-on-tour" days are the same. It is quite crazy, the different things that come up every time and leave us shaking our heads wondering "and WHY did this have to happen today of ALL days?"

So no two days of these are alike. But I thought I'd still share with you what that "day before leaving" CAN look like. Since this is our last tour of the year and I was thinking about how it is also the last big packing day of the year, I thought it would be an appropriate time to do a post like this.
 I didn't include pictures of all of us gathered in the kitchen at lunchtime packing and eating simultaneously. 
Or each of us taking load after load after load to the bus.
Or making the bus bunks, loading the freezer/refridgerator, filling the water bay, cleaning out and restocking the front bays, cleaning the house, finishing the laundry, etc etc etc.

And now, I take you back to last Thursday...(we left on Friday)
Thursday started out with a messy bedroom, a messy ponytail, comfort clothes, and no makeup. 
(except for mascara. always mascara) 
When I went to apply my makeup I discovered that I had left some of it in the truck the night before (don't even ask why it was with me in the truck in the first place!) and since my dad and brother had taken the truck early that morning to deliver cattle, that makeup wasn't going to be an option. I was short on time anyways so I decided to just nix the whole process except of course for aforementioned mascara. Because KEEP CALM AND WEAR MASCARA.
Moving on....
 The bedroom. On packing days it always gets worse before it gets better. This picture was taken at some point in the process.
I love packing. Absolutely ADORE it. Even though at heart I am ultimately a homebody, still I have always had the love of travel in my bones.
Because traveling is adventure---heading out into the wide wide world. And I love adventure.

Packing can take anywhere from a certain number of hours to another certain number of hours.
No, I am not going to divulge the time it takes to pack. It varies quite a bit from time to time.
And besides. Certain information should stay personal, I think. =)
Packing for oneself is one thing. Packing five different coordinating outfits for a family of twelve is another. Whilest in the midst of the piles of dress clothes EVERYWHERE, I suddenly had a revelation.
"Why can't everyone pack THEIR OWN?"
It's not like we are back in the days when half of us were babies and couldn't pack for ourselves.
No. We have twelve responsible, law abiding citizens (ahem-most of the time!) that are all over eight years of age and SHOULD be able to pack their own concert clothes.
So I switched from plan a to plan B, which involved going to the computer and printing off the above chart.
I added certain stipulations with relish. =)
A) I think God placed me as the oldest to help the siblings learn to keep deadlines (ha!)
B) Something really needed to be done to change the system (or lack thereof)
C) I can always use more coffee $$ (yes please!)
Y'all. I just have the sweetest siblings ever. These gems had their clothes packed early but left some love for me anyway. 
Shipshewana Davis Mercantile Coffee Shop, coming right up this week! =)
Along with packing, and packing, and more packing...the day before leaving on tour is, as was previously mentioned, always filled with all sorts of extra projects that just "happen" to have to come up on that busiest of all days.
To name a few...
*The basil was beginning to go into seed, and there was a very good chance it might get hit with frost while we were gone. So I headed up my own personal pesto campaign, making pesto and drying additional basil in extremely large increments.
*The brotherhood went hunting. Which was probably not the wisest thing to do, since past studies have PROVEN time and time again that they can hunt for WEEKS before a tour and not get a thing, BUT if they go out on the day before leaving...they honestly get a deer every.single.time. It is positively uncanny how that works.
So sure enough, Denver got a deer. Which meant that now there was a deer to be butchered, and jerky to be made.
*The apple trees were producing in abundance, but unfortunately quite a few of the apples were spotty which meant they had to be frozen or canned immediately. Also the four cases of pears which had just arrived from our coop were not in good condition, which meant that they had to be put in the freezer immediately too!

And then there were all those little things like the fact that my washer wasn't working properly, which means that washing a load of laundry takes longer than the normal 55minutes. And several things in the bus were left unattended after our last tour so now the whole place smelled much less than desirable so there was extra cleaning and attention required to get everything back in the preferred state of livableness.

And that's a little inside peek of the craziness of "day before leaving". Hope you enjoyed! Would love to hear your thoughts in the comment box!