Katey’s 11th Birthday!

_KRN9181It’s always tough keeping a birthday party a surprise, but we pulled this one off. Katie was taken back when she walked into the house to the loud screams of “SURPRISE” when her friends, Alison, Caroline, Maria, and Ruby, along with Lauren and cousin Tyler, jumped out from behind a wall. They immediately wrapped a grass skirt around her waist, donned her with a lei and puka shell necklace, and welcomed her to her end-of-summer/ birthday Luau.

The afternoon and evening was loads of fun. It started out with barbecued burgers, Hawaiian chips, and a fruit salad served in a hulled out watermelon. Miniature tiki torches adorned the tables and island music pumped throughout the house and backyard. The highlight of the night was the limbo contest, of which the twins won hands down. Their limberness surely paid off. We are still singing IZ’s version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” which we all agree is a beautiful rendition. The night ended with jumping and splashing in the pool and a new “wave” dance by dad. It still gets giggles to this day.

The festivities continued another night with pizza and games at Peter Piper Pizza followed by Rollerskating at Skateland in Mesa. Nothing brings back the groove of the 70’s and 80’s light rollerskating. Too bad Kory and I threw away our headbands and wristbands. We would have fit right in. It really was a fun night until the late night crowd started showing up, then it was time to head home. The evening culminated with black & white cupcakes from Sprinkle’s of Beverly Hills and a sleepover with six girls in the family room.

Katie, we hope you felt special on your 11th birthday, and that you know how special you are to us every day.

Happy Birthday Kerry!

This weekend we took a trip to Half Moon Bay in California to celebrate my beautiful wife’s 50th birthday!  The trip was great and we were able to enjoy the splendor of God’s creation along the way.  It was also nice to enjoy much cooler weather in a very scenic place.  I am so very grateful for the time the Lord has give us together and look forward to His plans for the future.

It was nice to also have Katey be able to join us as well.  She surprised us with a visit earlier in the week all the way from Florida where she is serving in a prison ministry.  All in all it was wonderful to be able to spend that time together.  There was no shortage of laughter and food…  Here is a short video of our trip.

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

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

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