2018 Big Sandy Family Conference

We just returned from the ATI Family Conference in Big Sandy, Texas!  For us, it is the highlight of our year!

First of all, I have a little explaining to do.  A young man named Juan David Palomino all the way from Bogota, Columbia, submitted some of his piano music to Abiding Radio a while back, and we loved it!  As the time of the Conference was approaching, my dad had the idea of inviting Juan to play some specials at the conference this year!   So arrangements were made, and Juan was able to join us this year to play!

Ok, now that I’ve explained, I’ll back up to day one.  We left Saturday morning and made our way to Big Sandy!  As soon as we got there, it was so great to see old friends and catch up.  We signed in, unpacked, and anticipated the Sing-spiration that was going to be held that night.  We, and a bunch of others families, assembled in the ALERT auditorium and sang hymns and listened to very talented people play some incredible specials!

The next day, Dad went to pick up Katey and Juan from the Dallas Fort Worth airport!  I was so thrilled to see Katey again after a few months, and we were all looking forward to meeting Juan.  We greeted each other and headed to the dorms so they could settle in. 

The rest of the day, I enjoyed walking about 6½ miles chatting with a great friend from Sahuarita, AZ.  It really blessed both of us being able to have that time to talk and pray together!

Monday night, the Conference started and we were so excited to see what the week would hold. 🙂  This year, Katey taught a COMMIT group for the first time, and I attended COMMIT for the last time! 🙁 I have enjoyed each and every time I’ve been in COMMIT, and definitely recommend it for any girl!  Tuesday, all the classes started, and that evening was the Cookie Fellowship.  (In past years, they’ve done ice cream, 🙂 but this time they switched to cookies!  They were actually pretty good!)  We chatted with other families from AZ and refreshed each other with good conversations. 

The week carried on and it was fun meeting new friends and visiting old ones too!  There were A LOT of families from AZ who came this year!  Five, I think.  For a couple of them, it was their first time!

Thursday was great because everyone had a break in the morning from all their classes to just attend sessions and fellowship, so we used this time to take pictures with some friends and slow down a little bit as the busy week was already closing. 

Juan did great playing the piano!  He played hymns like Abide With Me and Whiter Than Snow.  He made it look so easy. 🙂 It was so fun to have a person from another country visit with us!  Juan (of course) speaks Spanish, but he also spoke English very well.  I asked him if it he thought we sounded different or talked too fast.  He said that he understood 80-90% of what we were saying and that we did speak kind of fast, especially when Katey and I would talk to each other!  Yeah, Katey and I do talk kind of fast, you know, sisters have a special language! 🙂

Friday, all of the Pre-Embassy, COMMIT, Children’s Institute, and ALERT cadets did their presentations.  It was incredible!  COMMIT sang Oh, the Deep Deep Love of Jesus to the tune of Morning Has Broken.  It was beautiful!  I love that song.

Of course, a highlight was the ALERT cadets!  It’s always so cool seeing them march like a bunch of little green ants in one huge colony!  After presentations, the choir sang three songs:  Oh Love That Will Not Let Me Go, How Marvelous, and When We See Christ (the first two were medleys).  It’s hard not to get emotional while on stage, as the words of the songs are so powerful!

The conference officially ended Friday night, but the fellowship did not!  After dinner, we headed to the campsites and caught up with some good friends like the Ciampis, the Guglers, and the Thomases.  We were able to fit in our 3rd Annual Spoons Championship with the Ciampis and Thomases at the Thomas’s campsite!  The girls and boys play separately, then the winners from each group play each other.  Turns out, for the third time, a girl won, and for the second time, an Arizonan!!!  It was so fun!

The next day, Dad took Katey and Juan to DFW and came back to pick us up to head home.  Goodbyes are so hard; however, we can’t help but be so grateful for all that God has done for us! 

This year at the conference, the theme was God’s love.  I was reminded that it is just not in me to love anyone, and when I struggle with loving someone, I need to say, “Jesus, please love this person through me right now, because I, in myself, do not love.”

I’m so grateful for how God showered immense blessing on this year’s conference, and I look back on that week with the fondest of memories!

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

Cross Country Trip

We just returned from an eleven day, five thousand mile trip across the country visiting old friends, making new ones, and enjoying the fellowship of Christ.  Here is a video montage of our journey:

I marvel at the bond that exists among believers.  Because of Jesus, we have “all things in common”, even with people we have never met before.

“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.”  John 17:22-23

I Scream, You Scream…

We all scream for…homemade ice-cream!!  And that’s why our family will be selling homemade vanilla ice-cream on Saturday, June 17 (late morning-late afternoon). We will be located on the NE corner of Val Vista and Main in Mesa, AZ (right next to Southwest Pottery).  So, stop on by if you’re in our neck-of-the-woods!  We will have our faithful 1929 John Deere Model E hit-n-miss ice-cream machine on display. 😀  Click here for more info on the machine, and to see my dad’s complete restoration of an original engine!

 

We hope to see y’all there!

Katey, for the Nakatsus

My New Friend

Miss R

This is my new friend Miss R. She is the daughter of our dear friends, the Ciampis and for almost two years, I have been trying to earn her friendship. The road has been rough and just as I was about to give up, she shared some potato chips with me at a Family Conference last month!

Today we were invited by the Ciampis to share in the celebration of their oldest daughter, Holly’s graduation. Following the ceremony, Miss R presented me with this very special note complete with pictures she made for me!


I am grateful for my new friend.

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 18:9

Branson 2017

The Dixie Stampede

It had been almost 6 years since our last visit to Branson,  so we decided to head back to re-visit many of the places that made the last trip so enjoyable.  It was a very smooth flight and only took us a little over 4 hours.

After checking into the Stillwater Resort on Branson’s beautiful Table Rock Lake, we enjoyed an evening at the Dixie Stampede Dinner Attraction where we celebrated the American spirit. After a friendly North and South competition, we were brought to our feet singing the Star Spangled Banner and giving thanks to God in our hearts for the land that He has given us. Aside from the show, eating a four-course meal (complete with a whole mini-roasted chicken), all with our hands, was a highlight of the evening. So was the pre-dinner show by “Skeeter & Nugget”. We left there that night singing the words to the song “Long Black Train.” The chorus goes like this: “’Cause there’s victory in the Lord I say. Victory in the lord! Cling to the Father and His holy name, and don’t go riding on that long Black Train.” There’s wisdom in those words.

Silver Dollar City

Day two brought us to Silver Dollar City, an 1880’s theme park with action-packed rides, demonstrations from craftsmen like blacksmith’s and glass blowers, and good old-fashioned entertainment. Us girls braved the Outlaw Run which ranks in as #7 on the list of the World’s Top 50 Wood Coasters. The coaster soars over the Ozark Mountains, but I don’t think any of us paid much attention to the landscape. We were too busy screaming as we dropped 162 feet (more than 16 stories) at 81degrees, went upside down on a 720-foot double barrel roll, and reached top speeds of 68 mph. Some of the thrill rides we did twice, but that one…once was enough!

Runaway Mountain Coaster

After a good night’s sleep digesting Pizza World’s pizza pies, we made our way to Runaway Mountain Coaster for another exciting adventure. None of us knew what a mountain coaster was prior to our arrival, but we soon found out that it is a coaster that uses the lay of the land and changes in elevation to provide a ride around the natural features of an area. In this case, it was around the beautiful Ozarks. It was definitely a new experience for all of us. Each of us got into our own cart and was pulled to the top of a mountainous area by a chain. Once at the top, we got to pick our own thrill levels as we rode down to the bottom on tracks. Kory is the only one who didn’t use his brakes the entire ride down. We had no idea what a thrill-seeker he was! Well, actually, he said he was trying to impress us girls. We told him he already impresses us. Poor guy hurt his back as a result and was stiff for the next 24 hours. Would he do it again? He said he sure would.

Sight & Sound Theater

The afternoon brought us to one of the highlights of our trip, seeing “Moses” at Sight and Sound Theatre. This is the third live show we have seen (after Noah and Joseph), and Lord willing, we will go back to see Samson next year. The Bible comes to life in these shows, and we always leave with a meaningful message, and gratitude that Christ was honored.

On Sunday morning, we attended Friendly Baptist Church that we had visited six years prior. Although Millie, the 95-year-old banjo player, had passed away, we remembered her, and were grateful for the opportunity to worship with other believers outside of our state. The lyrics to one particular song stood out to us. They go like this: “Dig it shallow; dig it deep. It don’t matter much to me. That old grave’s just a hole in the ground.” Well, if you know Christ, those words ring true. That old grave is just a hole in the ground. There is no fear in death when you know you have life in Jesus Christ.

Table Rock Lake

After church, we spent the afternoon cruising around in a pontoon boat on Table Rock Lake. The weather was beautiful, but the water was a wee bit cold this time of year. Katey and Lauren braved the chilly waters and went tubing for a while, and then we spent the remainder of the day laying poolside where we were able to warm up and take some naps. We played dozens of games of Bananagrams in our hotel room throughout the week, enjoyed lots of laughs, and made great memories.

Our last day in Branson found the girls ziplining on over two-miles of zipline cables, soaring seventy feet above the ground. Lauren even rode upside down at one point, and Katey enjoyed the swinging rope bridges. Kory and I sat on rocks and thanked the Lord for the solid rock we stood on. Pun intended! We ended our stay with lunch at the Farmhouse restaurant, trying to convince ourselves that calories don’t count on vacation. Who are we kidding?

Dinner with the Danker Family

Just when you’d think our adventures were over, we ended the trip by flying to Chandler, Oklahoma, to visit the Danker family. What a treat it was to fellowship with them in their home and get to know their family better. Their faith in Jesus inspires us, and we see the fruit that the Lord is working out in their lives. We enjoyed dinner with them at a local Mexican restaurant.

Afterward, Mr. Danker was kind enough to give us the grand tour of his office at Buckventures. He loaded us up with souvenir deer antlers, a turkey call, and plenty of t-shirts and hats! We are so grateful for the fellowship we enjoyed and the generosity they showed us, thank you Danker Family!

The work of His hands

We departed a rainy Oklahoma in the early evening and just as we broke out of the clouds at 14,000 feet, we were awestruck by the majesty of God’s creation. Kory was able to capture this picture but as is usually the case, it doesn’t do justice to what we saw.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”
Psalm 19:1

Big Sandy Family Conference 2017

Big Sandy Family Conference 2017

We just returned from yet another uplifting and refreshing ATI Family Conference.  The theme of this year’s conference was Trust in the Lord.  Throughout the week, we heard messages that challenged us to put our trust in Him in all things (finances, purity, relationships, parenting,  etc.).  While each sermon was centered on trusting the Lord, every message was unique in the way the speaker conveyed trust, providing for an edifying conference. 

As usual, we were thrilled to reunite with old friends and meet many new ones.  One of my highlights, was when we sang the traditional closing song of “When We See Christ”.  Though some of us are but strangers to one another, a true spirit of unity permeates each heart as we sing that treasured hymn every year.  It reminds us that we are all in the fight together with our eyes fixed on Jesus.  I think of the verse in 1 Peter that reads: “But resist him [the devil], firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.”   I suppose that bond of fellowshp is one of the many things that make our annual trip to the conference so special.

It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus. Life’s trials will seem so small, when we see Christ.  

One glimpse of His dear face, all sorrow will erase. So bravely run the race, til’ we see Christ!

 

Let us run the race together, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith”

-Katey, for the Nakatsus