Family Connections Conference

Family Connections, Mesa

After a successful first run in 2014, the Family Connections team headed on the road again for a 12-week tour across the country. Our family was blessed to be able to host them again this year.

Saturday morning, everyone pitched in to set up chairs and tables, to get the media and music operating, to organize book tables, to warm up food in crockpots for lunch, and to offer praise to God for the work He was doing. Just as the team finished breakfast the guests started arriving.

The Lord brought 53 people for the all-day event. The day was filled with challenging and promising messages to encourage families to stay strong in our Lord Jesus Christ. There was joyful singing, heartfelt prayer, rich fellowship, and lots of food.

Morning Session

There was even a time for the children to have a devotional led by Samuel, Gabriel and Matthew, and then participate in some fun activities outside while the parents had a separate break-out session with David and Priscilla inside. After the event was over, many people gathered in the living room to sing hymns and continue a time of fellowship and spiritual refreshment.


When the guests left, we gathered in the family room and thanked the Lord for making this event possible. We each went around the room and prayed for whatever the Lord laid on our hearts, which included much praise, thanks, intercession, and supplication. We ended the day with a game of Apples to Apples Bible Edition and much laughter. What a wonderful day!

Sunday morning we were blessed to have Gabriel passionately teach us a lesson from Scripture, and then John and Tia announced that they are going to have another baby. We were all so excited, and a few of us cried tears of joy with Tia. After we returned from church, we had a time of rest, more music, fruitful conversations, and a big volleyball game that lasted until dark!

Hynes Family +1

After a devotional on Monday morning, Priscilla, Tia, Lauren and I made the base mix for mint chocolate chip ice cream and put it in the refrigerator to cool for the day. Then we all packed up and headed out for a place called Tortilla Flat. We stopped along the way to hike and take a few pictures.

Lauren, Priscilla, Davia, Katey, and Kerry

At the bottom of a big cliff, John, David, and Gabriel found a rattlesnake. They didn’t waste any time converting it into a good snake (a dead one…). John even came back with the rattle. It was quite an adventure and young Paul and Samuel didn’t quite know what to make of it all. We spent the latter half of the afternoon at Tortilla Flat where we had lunch. Then all of us hiked up the side of a mountain, while Kory stayed behind to fly the drone and film our adventures. Samuel and Matthew helped those struggling to make it the top—namely the young children. They went out of their way to keep everyone safe and encouraged. Once at the top, we sang “How Great Thou Art” and marveled at God’s creation. It was amazing!

Tortilla Flat

Upon arriving back home after a full day of adventure, most of the group went outside to play volleyball while Kory, John, and I stayed back at the house to make homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream and prepare for a pizza dinner. The Ciampi Family, along with our neighbors, the Reeds, came over as well. The ice cream was a huge hit and all of the children played on the trampoline and the swing in the backyard while the rest of us fellowshipped and had fruitful conversations.

Making Ice Cream

The evening culminated with a magnificent hymn sing, with everyone participating on the piano, viola, violin, harp, harmonica, guitar, and singing. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Hymn Sing

On the last full day of the Family Connections’ team stay, the ladies went out for a time of thrift-store shopping, a leisurely lunch, and pottery painting. The men took the young children and two quads and went to the mountains for a day of riding.

Quad Riding

We reconvened at the house that evening and enjoyed one last meal together at Señor Taco, after which everyone prepared for the departure the following morning. Wednesday was a sad day as we said our “goodbyes”. May God be with you, Family Connections team, until we meet again!

Here is a little video montage of our time together…

First Friday of June

First Friday of June

Good afternoon!  Did you know that today is a national holiday?  Most Americans were unaware as they ate breakfast this morning that today is National Donut Day!  That’s right, a whole day dedicated to sweet, round, dough balls often coated in frosting.  Who makes up these strange national holidays anyway?

We honored this sweet holiday by making donuts!  I wish I could say we made them from scratch, but we took advantage of a box mix that was collecting dust in our pantry instead!  I’ve never made them before and, let me tell you, these lil’ guys were some of the best I’ve ever had!

Here is the recipe that we used:


2 large eggs
3/4 cup water
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted, and cooled.
Stonewall Kitchen Red Velvet Donut Mix


2 tbsp. unsalted butter
softened 6 oz. cream cheese
softened Milk or cream
optional Stonewall Kitchen Cream Cheese Frosting Mix


Preheat oven to 375. Grease donut pan. Mix together eggs, water, and butter with mixer.  Stir in donut mix. Mix on low until moist and smooth without over mixing.  Spoon batter into donut pan, filling each donut cup 1/2-full. Bake 9-11 minutes.  Allow to cool in pan 5 minutes before placing on a wire rack.  Cool completely.

Frosting Directions:

Combine frosting mix with butter and cream cheese with a mixer.  Beat on high until well combined and very smooth.  You may add a little milk or cream for a softer consistency.  Carefully spread frosting on top.

While these weren’t exactly homemade, but they sure tasted scrumptious.  We also had fun making them!

Whether our motives were patriotic or just an excuse to eat them, we are proud to say that we honored this national holiday and hope you will do the same.

Got Peas?

I can’t explain how Katey has managed to avoid eating peas for almost 17 years.  I take full responsibility.  I should have noticed the skill with which she subtly would receive, briefly hold, then pass the peas without actually taking any.

Well, the Pea Police finally caught up with Katey this afternoon.  Here is what happened next…

John Deere Model E Restoration

When our family purchased our home four years ago, the prior owner left behind an old John Deere Model E hit-n-miss engine.  I have an appreciation for old things so you can image how grateful I was when he said that he wanted me to have it.

It sat untouched in the garage until last October when I decided to start tearing it apart to see just how extensive the project would be.  I decided that it would be nice to restore the engine and use it to make homemade ice cream.

Original Cart Design

This is a picture of a restored engine and cart done by someone else but gives you an idea of how John Deere originally sold these engines.  They were mounted on a pair of wooden skids which had cast iron wheels and a simple handle.  Farmers would typically use these engines to power irrigation pumps, saws, or anything else that could be driven by a belt.  I have seen many people use these engines to make ice cream but I have never seen one that sat on a pair of skids like the original so that became the goal.

For this cart, I would use pressure treated 4×4 stock and plane it down to the original skid height and width dimensions.  These however would be ~40 inches longer to accommodate the freezer and drive assemblies.  After the initial mock-up, I realized that six inch cast wheels mounted to the single 4×4 skid would leave the ice cream rig a little too low to the ground so I decided to install eight inch wheels and add another 4×4 below the skid for height.

Here is a short video montage highlighting various stages of the project.

Those pretty fingernails holding the piston rings were not mine I assure you.  They belong to my wonderful wife who graciously offered her support over the last seven months.  I think she may have been even more excited than I to see it run for the first time!

I could not have completed this without the help of my friend Richard Hornbaker.  His membership at TechShop gave us access to state-of-the-art equipment we used to turn axles, mill wheels, and press wheel bearings.  I see an example of Christ in the way Richard serves others and am grateful for his friendship.

ATI Family Conference – 2015


Hey y’all!  We just returned from Big Sandy, Texas, where we attended the annual ATI Family Conference.  We were so encouraged by the fellowship and teaching  last year that we couldn’t wait to return!  What a blessing it is to gather with like-minded families and hear teaching that challenges us in our walk with God.

The theme of this year’s conference was Draw Near To God which is taken from James 4:8, which says, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you…”.

I (Katey) had the privilege to teach a group of girls this year in a program called Pre-Embassy.  While I did miss some of the sessions, God taught me many valuable things through my teaching experience, especially patience.

Jordans and Nakatsus

We were joined by our good friends, the Jordan family who moved to Ohio last year.  It was the first time we had seen them in months and we were so excited to see them all again.

On Thursday night, there was an ice-cream social where we met many new families.  We were excited to learn that several of them live near us in AZ!

Burnetts and Nakatsus

After the conference, we drove home through Oklahoma and were able to visit the Burnett family, and we are grateful for their sacrificial hospitality.  Talk about fun!  They took us out skeet shooting (which was a first for both Lauren and me), served delicious food, made homemade ice-cream, played fun games, and even gave us a tour of the town in a 1922 Model T!

We look forward to seeing everyone again next year, Lord willing.

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

~ 1 John 1:7