March 7, 2016
January was one of those months where at the end you look back and think “I feel like a year was condensed into these thirty-one days!!” 
It was honestly quite wild how much happened during just this first month of 2016. 
I figured it would just be easiest to do a little recap with a few pictures from our activities that month, which consisted mainly of church projects, hosting company, campaigning, traveling, Bible Bee Game show for four of the siblings, working at their jobs for the older ones, starting college for Josh, farm work, and preparing for our winter tours.
As always, it is a treat when we are home to have the opportunity to host friends in our home. We don’t get pictures of nearly every gathering, but every once in a while we do! Above, we enjoyed ringing in the New Year with dear friends from Illinois who came for a quick weekend visit.
Shopping for new outfits. This new one was so much fun—three of my favorite colors that I put together. After multiple trips here and there I finally finished and now we have this new outfit that comes from Mens Warehouse, and Kohls, and TJ Maxx, and Dress Barn, and various thrift/consignment stores. Lots of variety. =)
The “in progress assembly line” on the curtain rod of the bathroom shower. 
Getting a little distracted at Express, dreaming of new summer outfits with these colors. =)
Many office hours spent preparing and mailing out promo packets for our winter tour, and finalizing details on concerts with pastors across the south.
We had company one Sunday for dinner while half of the family was gone, and Allison and I teamed up to make this to DIE for steak. She marinated the steak for several days, and then I fried it in butter and let it finish in the crockpot for an hour with a sauce of butter, cream, mushrooms, sautéed onions, white cooking wine, garlic, and more butter. Calories and amazingness!
Many cups of coffee and fresh whipped cream kept us coffee drinkers going through these crazy days!
The non-coffee drinkers in the family? Not sure how they survived the schedule without it. =)
Singing at one of the rallies the beginning of January.
This was the rally where Senator Cruz announced his homeschool Coalition board. (pictured above)
When he was introducing Dad & Mom, he told the story of how our family was all divided between three different candidates in the beginning, and how after prayer + research we all decided to band together for his campaign. It was funny to hear him tell it-we were all laughing as we remembered those days from last March. =)
The beginning of the month found Mom, Taylor, Hudson, + Rebecca boarding a plane bound for San Antonio, Texas, where Hudson and Rebecca competed in the Bible Bee Game Show. Taylor went along as their personal coach. =) 
Several days later, Dad + Denver followed them, as Denver was competing as well. 
Josh was also gone that week in Indiana for his college orientation. 
Study time.
They got to hang out with all sorts of cool people at the Game Show-such as the Benham Brothers, pictured here with Denver. =)
Taylor with Kirk Cameron
Denver getting his makeup done before going out on stage. =)
Amongst other things (such as farm + regular responsibilities) those of us back at home continued doing all we could for the campaign. 
We advertised everywhere we could, including the hotel parking lot. (above)
Allison assisted a group in calling and getting endorsements and support for Cruz from pastors around our state.

We were privileged to babysit for these sweet kiddos so their parents could have a little getaway. Loved having babies in the house again as always!

Schoolwork continued with the younger ones, both at home and on the road.
It was a very busy month on the farm, especially because we were all gone for part of it, and then there was a week when all the guys were gone except for Mitchell and Carson. They worked so hard! Amongst other things we had thirteen baby calves born.
It was so cold that we wrapped some of the babies in calf blankets. They were so cute. =)
Sometimes the mama and the mama-to-be both love on the same baby. =)
Carson-as always-had a steady stream of mechanic work. He spent his evenings working on various projects, one of which was this tractor for one of his customers.
We celebrated Taylor’s 14th birthday.
Gift time!
“Close your eyes, then we will bring you this gift, and you have to guess what it is…” =)

In the middle of the month, we took a one week tour to the south. Originally we had planned to leave for our normal winter tour on January 20th, the day after the caucus. But then in September, the Iowa caucus date was switched to February, which obviously messed up our whole itinerary…

After prayer and consideration, Dad made some calls and switched part of our tour back two weeks, leaving a week in between for us to come home and campaign/vote. It was pretty crazy-south, then drive fifteen hours home, and one week later go back down! But God blessed it abundantly and looking back it is so evident that it is what we were supposed to do.

The five of us still at home left on the evening of the 15th. (or maybe it was morning of the 16th? =)) We picked up the above group (who had been at Game Show) at the airport in Indianapolis on Saturday morning. Next we drove to Josh’s college and picked him up there, and finally we ended up at our evening concert location that night. It was a rather rocky concert but we managed and God was faithful!

Above, music practice happens at one of our favorite places—PawPaw + Memaw Bontrager’s in Mississippi! (no blood relation, but adopted grandparents!)
We were pretty rusty after a hectic December and then two weeks of being scattered all over creation (Indiana, Texas, and Iowa!) so we needed some time to get ourselves back in shape!

Late night in the bus in Alabama…parked at a Walmart. We’ve always loved Walmart but especially recently when they have begun to offer free wifi at their locations. Every now and then we are able to tap into it from the bus, parked in the parking lot, and in those rare moments our front lounge becomes a little media station of sorts. =)
Concert time in Florida! Sibling cooperation!
After our final concert in Florida on the 24th, we drove straight home to jump back into the campaign on the 26th.
Sweet friends sent us ladies a beautiful package in the mail filled with all sorts of thoughtful gifts. What a treat.
Celebrated my 25th birthday! First time in eight years that I got to be at HOME for my birthday and it was marvelous. =)
The last week of January found us at home again, hitting the ground hard campaigning. We made phone calls, knocked doors, wrote blog posts, answered email, attended rallies, researched and studied, and talked to almost everyone in our community that we could think of. We were yelled at, had the doors slammed in our faces, and one of us even got run out of a local business by the owner who also happened to be a pastor. (what is this world coming to?)
There’s nothing like campaigning for a godly man, to truly show you the state of things in your country and community. The apathy and the ignorance we found was appalling, to put it mildly. 
Various ones of us were able to attend different rallies at different times, across our state. We never grow tired of listening to our favorite candidate speak so boldly and passionately for truth!

You never know what you might find at a house. Above, a Bernie supporter had been there before us obviously. =) Of course we were tempted to pull out his literature and place a nice stack of Cruz information in its place but…we kept our integrity and moved on. =)

Denver helping with parking at a rally in Iowa City, the day before the caucus.

 There was a huge turnout at the rally. Heidi Cruz, Glenn Beck, and Phil Robertson were special speakers, along with the obvious-Ted Cruz.

A friend and I, with this dear woman who we hope and pray will soon be our First Lady!
 Josh getting a selfie with Iowa Congressman Steve King. 

Sunday night in the overflow at our church (after the evening service)….a large group of us gathered to strategize and prepare plans for the voting the following day. Having our church so united and on board with the campaign, all together, was such a blessing and an incredible testimony. Our pastor preached politics straight from the pulpit on many occasions and the people at our church were so on board—praying, fasting, and working hard together for the cause. I’ve never seen anything like it and it was truly amazing.

 Training them young….=)

And then we finally had caucus night! (which technically was February not January but I’m including it with January because it was before we left for our current tour) We had a great turnout at our county caucus.

We had a great turnout and were so excited to have a number of friends (whom we had encouraged to vote) come out and caucus for their first time ever!
Josh running registration, and Liz, popping in with a smile. =)

 We had a “Cruz Station” where we handed out literature and served cookies and coffee. Others from our church did the same at their caucus-a great way to be a good testimony and positive representation of the Cruz campaign!

After voting, we came back to the hotel along with some friends to eat dinner and watch the results roll in from across the state.

….And then THIS!! Let me just say, there was much rejoicing in our camp! =)
Right after this announcement came across the screen we gathered in prayer to thank the Lord for His blessing. Watching Senator Cruz’ victory speech and hearing him say these words, “To God be the glory, great things He hath done”, filled our hearts with such joy knowing that all this hard work was not in vain and that this candidate is a man of God that we can truly be proud of.
Our very weary but happy crew, ready to go home and SLEEP.  
Oh, and then leave the next day on tour. =)

I will close with this well-known verse from Philippians that sums up quite well how we were able to accomplish everything that God gave us to do in January!

“I can do ALL THINGS through Christ 
which strengtheneth me.”
-Philippians 4:13


family, home, Tour

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Leave a Reply
  1. I really appreciate the values Cruz stands for, and I ended up voting for him, but just out of curiosity, what was your reasoning for supporting Cruz, not Carson? (Carson was my first choice…) Thank you for your work in campaigning for a godly man. (And I adore the calf pics!)

  2. I was hoping I didn't break the camera in that photo from Fairfield…
    I recognized most of those places. It was an honor to work along side so many members(who am I kidding, ALL) of your family during(and after) the run up to the Iowa Caucus. Working with people that are of the same mindset makes the work so much more enjoyable. I don't even mind your dad's super late night phone calls asking for updates. Everyone at church misses all of you, but I think a few little ones with the last name of Brown do the most.
    I've been praying for your Mexico trip every moment I get to pray. I know you are doing God's work because I've now seen how your ministry touches folks you don't even know. I pray God allows you to work for his Son while you are in Mexico and then he brings you all home, safe and sound. After all, Iowa needs more no bake cookies…well, maybe just I need more no bake cookies.

  3. Alisha,
    Sure! We were divided between Huckabee, Rubio, + Cruz. That was in March and before Ben Carson announced or he might have had a fan or two of us as well. We all agreed on Cruz the end of March and that was because we all felt that he was the most qualified, the best equipped, the greatest fighter for religious liberty, and had the strongest Christian testimony.

    As the race progressed last year, the other candidates (that some of us had originally liked) were showing their true colors (not good ones either!) and by the end of 2016 we wouldn't have supported any of the other four. Yes, we would've voted for them if they would have been the final republican nominee instead of Cruz, but we wouldn't have been passionate enough about their causes (or lack thereof) to have sacrificed time, energy, and money to campaign for any of them, like we have for Senator Cruz.

  4. Hi,

    Thanks for the response! I liked Carson and Cruz, but now that Carson is out I will be supporting Cruz.

    I really appreciate your blog and what you stand for.


  5. In response to Anonymous (near the top)
    Thanks for your question!

    By default we didn't consider Ben Carson initially because we didn't think he would run, but then he jumped in the race a couple months after we had already decided to support Cruz.
    However, that being said, we would still choose Cruz over Carson, because unlike Carson, Cruz has been tried and tested and has had a consistent record of fighting for conservative values. The cannot be said of Ben Carson.
    The biggest difference between Cruz and Carson, in my opinion, is that Cruz is a proven fighter and a trusted conservative, while Carson is a good man who has not been put to the test to the extent that Cruz has.

    In hindsight, and in light of Carson's recent endorsement of Trump, I think that Carson may not have been as conservative as we all thought.

    -Josh Bontrager

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