One of our biggest highlights of the year is attending a family conference in TX every April, as soon as it’s over we’re already looking forward to the next year! We always come away refreshed, encouraged, and challenged!
We enjoyed all the fun fellowship with friends from “way back” and new ones we met just this year!
There’s lots of pictures, so hang on…
For the 3rd or 4th year in a row now, we’ve come upon the Bontragers who are
always parked on the side road for some odd reason or another.
I think it’s pretty much tradition now.
Every Monday night before the conference we go to a Chinese buffet with lots of friends!
It’s not often all 5 of us girls get to sing together anymore but we were glad it worked out for us to sing “There is a Redeemer” together on Wednesday morning for special music!
We continued the tradition we started last year of having a couple families over in the evenings to talk, eat cookies and play games.
Thursday night the conference hosted an ice-cream fellowship! We had a great time getting to know the families in our group!
Several of us sang in the student choir on Friday and Abbie played in the orchestra, can you spot us in these pictures?
We were thrilled that Dustin, Hannah and this happy little guy got to attend this year!!!
Highlights from the conference:
After looking back over my notes, it’s hard to narrow it all down! I thought about just sharing several one-liner/quotables from the week, but instead, I’ll try to organize all my musings into something that makes sense. =)
One of my FAVORITE messages was by Bob Newhouse. He told a story about an Olympian shooter who hit the bulls eye, but shot the wrong target! Often times in our Christian walk, we get focused on “the wrong target”, maybe it’s even good things, but He emphasized that the REAL target in Christianity is: to be in the presence of Jesus. The real target is not spending 30 minutes in prayer a day, or having a 3 hour devotion time, or just resisting evil, or even witnessing to 5 people a month…although, none of those things are bad, our real focus should be, no matter where we’re at, no matter what time of day, no matter who we’re with, our eyes need to be fixed on Jesus, and likely all of those “good things” will then flow out as a result of being in the presence of Jesus.
Okay, and a few other points from the week that tie-in:
“We’re not designed to BE someone, but to KNOW Someone.”
“Every failure in our lives is a direct or indirect result of losing sight of Jesus in the mundane things of life.”
“God’s call on our life is to Himself! Not to GO somewhere or DO something for Him, but TO Him.”
I’m so grateful for mom and dad making the sacrifice for us to go every year, I come away encouraged, convicted (to keep my eyes on Jesus =), and refreshed.
One of my favorite sessions was on Friday when they had a panel of 7 people talk about “The Kingdom of God”. Our family is going through one of Tom Harmon’s books and have just been talking about what the kingdom of God is. We hear it talked about and memorize passages of scripture about it but… what is it?
The kingdom of God is where you acknowledge Jesus Christ’s authority over EVERY area of your life. The kingdom of God is now. It is in you (Luke 17:20-21).
When they were speaking of David when he was tending sheep every day with the knowledge that he would be king, they said – Don’t despise your “sheep fields”. God had placed you where you are for a specific purpose! Use that time as a training ground for what He will bring along and call you to later in life.
Whether it’s working in the garden, cleaning houses, or staying with Grandpa, I have lots of time that my hands might be busy but my mind can be just drifting from thought to thought… This year I’ve been working on using that time to be memorizing, meditating, or reading some really good books. Someday I won’t have lots of time to do all that, so it’s been really fun to find creative ways to make that apart of my everyday life!
“Fall in love with the Word of God and you will fall in love with the God of the Word.” –Gabriel Cleator
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matt. 6:33
“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony,
that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Heb 11:5-6
It’s really hard to pick one highlight,
I was really challenged by all the messages this year!
Several highlights from several of the speakers would be:
Gabe Cleator– Understanding that we have been bought with a price.
That we are NOT our own! “Whose you are will change who you are.”
We are bond slaves to Christ! 1 Cor. 6:19-20
I also enjoyed his encouragement to have a walk of faith, not just a step of faith!
God has us where we are in life for a specific reason.
Sometimes He is teaching us lessons now that He will use later in life.
God wants us to draw near to Him in this season that He has placed us in!
Gabe also mentioned that God doesn’t call us to do something for Him.
His calling for us is always going to be to Himself!
Often times I get caught up in “Am I doing enough for God, Why can’t I be doing something amazing and super exciting?” When really I just need to step back and realize that drawing close to God, seeking His face, and being intentional about a intimate relationship with Him and hearing and obeying His voice is what I need to be concerned about.
Now, if He chooses to send me to the far corners of the earth to share His glorious gospel in the deepest jungles of Africa or to go next door and invest in a neighbor.. my relationship with Christ should be my main focus in whatever circumstance/season He has me in!
And the session by the Benham Brothers tied into these thoughts as well.
They encouraged us to hold are dreams with an open hand. Dying to dreams means you leave the results up to Him. I enjoyed the visual analogy! All because you are holding your dreams with an open hand, doesn’t mean that you don’t walk toward them. It just means that God can move the dream, change it or maybe take it out as He wills. If you grab the dream, you will have to go through the painful process of Him prying your fingers loose.
And as always, I enjoyed the fellowship with old friends, and getting to meet some new ones!
I couldn’t narrow down my highlights to one session.
So I pulled a little bit from several different ones…
Sometimes I wonder what it will be like to stand during ridicule or persecution,
when Christianity is no longer tolerated in any form or at any level…etc.
Not scared or afraid, just wondering how it will all play out. How I will be called to stand, if I will be ready. And then I wonder how I can prepare for that right now.
It all starts with the everyday faithfulness. Mundane or not. People watching or not.
Complete submission to His will. Abiding in Him, moment by moment.
David daily tended to sheep, he even slew a lion and a bear (even when no one was watching.) THEN he was ready to defeat the giant.
Noah’s faith was probably the greatest on day 30,000 when he was building the ark, talk about mundane life! Yet he continued faithfully in what God wanted him to do. And he rose in the storm.
Drawing close to Him. Memorizing, meditating, prayer, reading His word,
just spending time in His presence, obeying the Holy Spirit’s promptings,
even when it seems like a little thing.
What happens to an eagle when the storms come?
It spreads its wings and rises above.
As I focus on God alone. As He continues to become my everything.
As I am sensitive and obedient to the Holy Spirit.
Maybe it’s just cleaning my room, maybe it is talking with a neighbor. But as I am consumed with Him, He will start to cultivate wings. And when the storms come,
HE will cause me to rise up.
It was so much fun for Dustin and Hannah to be there!
I also enjoyed…(well, that may be an understatement)…I loved playing volleyball!
I was challenged the Benham brother’s talk on holding your dreams with an open hand and trusting God even if he wants to remove it or replace it. And the encouragement to be in God’s word and spend time with him.
I also enjoyed the fellowship and being able to play volleyball for a total of about seven hours! I was quite sore the rest of the week.
After the conference the Nakatsu family stayed the weekend at our house before they drove the long drive home to AZ.
We took Model T rides all around Stratford.
And… we went shootin.
Katey and Lauren had never shot before, but once they got the hang of it I think they really enjoyed it! I mean, how could you not!?!
Oh, and don’t get Mr. N and Dad mixed up, they are almost matching in these pictures.
Camera wars! :)
Leftover birthday balloons come in handy!
Caleb can “pull” for us and almost always hit the skeet we miss. He’s good.
I don’t know if this is an “Oh-Yeah” that she hit it or “Hey.” at Caleb for shooting it after she missed!
This was also a test to see if our pup Heidi was gun-shy. It hardly fazed her.
Now to make a retriever out of a cow dog!
Can’t wait to see ya’ll again in July!
“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” John 14:21