Here are some pictures of our family and ministry from 2008. Enjoy!
December 2008 – This is the last picture I will add from 2008. With the attack of the flu combined with the plethora of family and church activities, I fell behind with my blog updates. I have also suffered from a spate of blog boredom. But, I must boast a bit before I put this group of pictures in the archive. Three of our daughters made this papa proud by participating in their first piano recital in December. Here is my little Emma prepared to take on a grand piano for the first time. Her fingers danced on the keys. I am sure she will be playing in church someday. I love you Emma!
December 2008 – What a wonderful way to close out the year. On the 31st, a number of Providence families and friends gathered at the church to ring in the New Year with a joyous fellowship. We gathered to play games, eat (of course, at Providence, we make eating an artform), and, as the New Year approached, we sang hymns and psalms and prayed to the Lord. Our prayers focused on His multitude blessings over the past year. We serve a good and gracious God who blesses us far more than we deserve. If you are free next year, plan on joining us!
December 2008 – Another holiday tradition – the Sing-a-long Messiah at St. Paul’s in Peoria. Last year, Stacy stayed home with William who was just a bit young and a bit fussy for the event. This year was better. William loves to sing, although Handel’s magnum opus is a challenge for him. OK – for me as well. We had a wonderful Sunday. The event was first class and the company charming and delightful. We are all looking forward to next year! I you live near Peoria, you should put this event on your “must” list.
December 2008 – Another year almost gone. Amazing. Many glorious days. A few challenges. But wonderful memories. And again, growing children. Emma and William, best of friends, working together to put up the Christmas tree. Our family tradition is to put up the tree the Friday after Thanksgiving. We warm up the wassail, put on some Bing Crosby, and string the lights. I love Christmas. It will go by too fast. And likewise, these children will go to fast. The days are so precious.
November 2008 – A contingent of the McDonald family joined other members of Providence Church and hundreds of fellow Christians from around Illinois to protest in Springfield. The reason we gathered was to stand against pending civil union legislation. This legislation would be a big step toward so-called homosexual marriage. We listened to rousing speeches, sang triumphant hymns, and then went into the Capitol to visit with our legislators. I met with our state senator, David Koehler, who is actually the sponsor of the senate bill in favor of civil unions. Senator Koehler graciously met with me but, in the end, neither of us changed our positions. This was a great civics lesson for the children.
November 2008 – Introducing the Turkey Carving Class of 2008! Each year, my primary responsibility at Thanksgiving is carving the turkey. I am a humble turkey carving champion! A group of young people typically gather around to watch and learn. I view turkey carving an art form! This year was a joyous occasion. We had two extra families with us for dinner, and one other family over for dessert. There is so much to be thankful for this year – especially for His work in our lives. And for delicious turkey!
November 2008 – Harvest time finally came to our neighborhood this week. We live near a lonely little cornfield surrounded by trees and ravines. It has sat waiting for attention for weeks. Then today, we heard the rumble of engines and saw the haze of dust. The local farmer allowed the children to glean fallen corn from the field for their chickens. What a fun day! William also got to climb up on the corn picker! Now, this is living!
October 2008 – Reformation Day 2008 is officially behind us. What a weekend! Over 400 saints gathered at our new facility to celebrate the work of the Lord in His church. Here a group of knights follow the piper to the field of battle to recreate an historic battle of Scotland. In that day, men would give their lives standing for the crown rights of Jesus. Would we do so today? Mark your calendars! Reformation Day 2009 will be October 23-24. There will be more reports soon.
October 2008 – Stacy had the opportunity to speak to a group of women in southern Wisconsin this month at a ladies tea. Most of the women were wives of church leaders. She spoke on the challenges faced by pastors and their families and how a pastor’s wife should remember that she and her husband are one flesh and have a common ministry. Many were encouraged! After the tea, Stacy and our daughter Jessica enjoyed some mother daughter time. I am very thankful the Lord has blessed me with a godly and talented wife. I trust her and her insights. Her gifts help our common ministry succeed. Oh, and Jessica is thriving as well – even as a pastor’s kid.
September 2008 - Caleb turned 12 this week. As part of our celebration, we went to a local orchard for some family fun, some apple picking, cider drinking, and a bit of a walk through the trees. On the way back, the girls seemed to tire and Caleb ended up being a pack mule. I suppose this is good training for him. He needs to learn to lay down his life as Christ did for the church. Not to mention, it is good exercise! Happy birthday Caleb!
September 2008 – For the first time in years, Stacy and I went away – alone! It was a combination birthday and anniversary event. But we missed the little ones (older and younger) – and thankfully, they missed us. While we were away, they were making banners, paper chains, pictures, and, of course, a great meal for Stacy and I. What a joy it is to come home to a household full of love! Here are three little ones working on the banner. As imperfect as it is, we rejoice in our Christian home!
September 2008- This month, our family celebrates the birthday of my darling helpmeet. As I did last year, I want to thank the Lord for His gift of Stacy to me. She is a wonderful wife, loving mother, and devoted servant to the King. The Lord has blessed me abundantly with my wife.
Stacy, I love you. Thank you for being here to help me in this ministry.
August 2008 – It doesn’t get much better than this! Good music, great friends, and warm summer days. The corn is growing, and so are the children. While Stacy, Emma and I were away attending my father’s funeral in California, a dear family came to visit with the children. Jessica is our current violinist. Here, she is accompanied by two friends. Bluegrass anyone?
August 2008 – We have had a beautiful summer. Highs have only been in the 80′s almost every day. Here’s another thing you can’t do in Texas – enjoy resting in the yard. Not only would you be assaulted by heat and humidity, you would also become a feast for the fire ants! The only thing missing on a day like this would be a bowl of Bluebell ice cream. Nevertheless, William and Caleb are enjoying a lazy summer day!
July 2008- We were blessed this month with a visit from Stacy’s grandparents, David and Betty Steffan from Houston. They are always a joy to be with. It was a short visit, but a rich one. Like good homeschool grandparents, David and Betty took all the children (yes, all – Tiffany to William) to the bookstore for a shopping spree. Here, Grandpa David reads to Abigail and Grace. He did quite a bit of reading while they were with us! We look forward to their next visit.
July 2008 – Emma and William are best friends. They do almost everything together. William is also becoming a young gentleman. Here he was pushing his sister on her swing. What a joy it is to see children loving one another! It warms this father’s heart. And it reminds me of what we read in Psalm 133 – Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! Oh, the lessons we adults can learn from children!
July 2008 – A photo from our 2008 4th of July celebration. 120 members of our church gathered to enjoy feasting and fellowship, thanking the Lord for His work in our nation. I am sure over 1000 photos were captured. This one happens to be a favorite. Can you guess why? It is not often the whole family is able to be together these days, so we rejoice when the Lord gives us moments like this.
July 2008 – The McDonald Men were all together this past Lord’s Day to celebrate the baptism of Joshua! From left to right: Caleb, James VI, William, me, Daniel and Joshua Blanchard and Jared Cave. It was a joy being together – the family is certainly growing! We, Stacy and I, have certainly entered a new and exciting season of life. We still have young ones at home, yet we also see our older arrows shooting out in new missions. God has been very gracious to us.
June 2008 – It wasn’t too long ago that my daughters were singing the old song, “Sisters, Sisters, there were never such devoted sisters.” And, although Christa is now married, her visit home has brought back many memories and stirred the fires of familial bonds. Here, she and Melissa enjoy some sisterly time while doing dishes – a favorite spot for musical numbers in our home. We are thoroughly enjoying her and Joshua’s visit. Next week, Daniel will be able to join us as well, then comes the 4th, Joshua’s baptism, and then Daniel, Christa and Joshua will return to Texas. We already feel the pain of parting, but are also rejoicing in the days we have together.
June 2008 – Christa and Joshua, my first grandson, came to visit with us this month. Daniel, my son-in-law, will arrive in a week. This has been an exciting time for me. While Stacy was able to go down to see Joshua shortly after he was born, my duties at the churchkept me in Peoria. I am thoroughly enjoying this new role in life! What a gift from the Lord! I can’t wait for Joshua to be big enough to play football! For those wondering, in the background is my good friend Sherriff Bill Heyne, who serves as an elder in on of our other CPC churches. His family came by for a visit the same day Christa and Joshua arrived.
June 2008 – A flock of Bard Rock chickens have invaded the McDonald home. Yes indeed, we have become countrified (perhaps country-fried). Caleb and I are still working on the coop, but managed to get the brooder done just in time. For the most part, the little ones are overjoyed with the chickens. Obviously, William is not sure what to think. Tiffany was a bit dismayed when a little chick - well – introduced her hand to country life. Nothing that a little soap and water can’t cure. We will give you updates as things developed. Now, back to the farm!
June 2008- We had a great time ministering in Arkansas this month. I preached four nights in a row on the power of the Great Commission, inside and outside the home. During the day, we had time to enjoy the area a bit. Here we are, on the top of Mount Nebo, enjoying both the view and the shade of an oak tree. Interestingly, Mount Nebo is named after the mountain in Jordon where the Lord showed Moses the extend of the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 34:1-4). In similar manner, I pray the Lord brings salvation to all of Arkansas!
May 2008 – “Unless the Lord build the chicken coop, they labor in vain who build it.” Caleb and I (and a few other friends) are working on building our first ever chicken coop. It will be fairly large when complete (8′ x 8′) and will house a couple dozen chickens. This would have never happened in Houston! Teaching Caleb more carpentry skills has been a joy.
May 2008 – The last of our presbytery visitors left today – our dear friends the Davis family. William and Gabby Davis are shown here enjoying their time together. They have been almost inseparable over the past week. God was gracious to us, giving us all time to rest and rejoice with dear friends from around the country. Presbytery next year will be in Tennessee. If you are interested in learning more about our denomination or our churches, mark your calendars – May 2009!
May 2008 – What a month! Presbytery is behind us. With elders and families from around the nation, we enjoyed a Peoria Chief’s baseball game, Wildlife Prairie State Park, an ordination celebration and ball, receiving new elders, new churches, and, on top of it all, reuniting with our dear friend, Dr. RC Sproul, Jr. Here is RC on Sunday morning, entertaining our children with the story of Little Red Ridinghood. It has been a tiring but exciting month. Details to follow.
April 2008 – Here is a sight, a thorn among the roses. Being a father is a blessed adventure (here I am pictured with four of my seven daughters). And watching your daughters blossom from little girls to young ladies is an awesome experience. And here is the exciting part – God calls us as fathers to be an active part of the process. So here is a day in April when the girls got prepared to have a little regency tea. And they asked me to be a part. Of course, that is just part of the story of the tea. The rest will be coming later in a post. What a day. What an adventure. What an opportunity to be the father of daughters.
April 2008 – Jared’s parents, and some of his siblings, came over to visit us this past weekend. We had a great time of fellowship and worship. After church this past Lord’s Day, we all went home early to visit. It was great to find such unity in purpose between our families. Taking advantage of the great weather, Jared decided to row groups of the children around the pond. Here, Tiffany, Jessica and one of Jared’s sisters enjoy some time together.
April 2008 – Caleb, Jared and I shared some time together refinishing our large breakfast table. Actually, the team included Jessica and Melissa as well, but someone had to take the picture! As some of you know, Jared is courting out daughter Tiffany. This project is actually part of the process – as Jared is investing in getting to know all of the family.
April 2008 – Spring is on the way! This past week, the temperature climbed, the sun was shining, the birds were chirping – and the children, young and old, were ready to go outside! Melissa, Jessica, and William bask in the sun and rejoice in the coming Spring. And what is amazing to me is that these transplanted Texans are outside without coats! We must be acclimating.
March 2008 – Our family (along with a strong contingent of families from church) enjoyed Liberty Day this weekend. This event is sponsored by our friends, Roger and Maggie Erber. Roger also serves as the pastor of Christ’s Church in Harvard, IL. This year, our son Caleb was asked to participate in the program, reciting the moving poem “In Flander’s Field” with his friend Josiah. Both young men did a fine job and represented their families well. Overall, the conference was a great time of refreshing! Dr. Marshall Foster, the keynote speaker, encouraged us all to remember the cause of liberty – and how true liberty can only be found in Christ.
March 2008 – So, we woke up this past Lord’s Day with excitement in the air – it was Resurrection Sunday! A day for the boys to don new ties and the girls new hats. And then, enjoy the warm spring air with the brethren at the church. Except… snow! Yes, snow on Easter Morning. Indeed, this never, ever happened in Texas. I came out of the bedroom to see Virginia Grace looking out across the lake with a very forlorn look on her face. I reminded her that even with the unexpected cold, the Lord was still risen. Jesus still loved her. The truth of the resurrection is not dampened by the weather. But, what a picture! Even in the darkness, our King reigns!
March 2008 – My daughter Jessica took this photo of me this week. My mission, rebuild three computers – my laptop, Stacy‘s laptop, and the family desktop. It took me two long days. Praise the Lord, it is done – and I didn’t lose any email or files! But I never want to do this again. Maybe I can train up a son to do this for me. Caleb, it is time to hone up your IT skills! In all candor, this was no fun. I felt like a mad scientist holed up in a secret lab. I was almost ready to prove that we can live without computers! Well, almost ready.
March 2008 – We recently has some dear friends over for dinner after church. This family has been blessed with fourteen children – three biological and eleven adopted. Yet, as it should be, the children are all theirs. God created a truly nuclear family from the ashes of tragedy. And these children are now being raised to know the blessing of life in Christ. Here are two of the children, with our daughter Abigail, acting out the future we pray God has for them – to someday be Godly wives. May the Lord bring many generations of Christians from these three lovely ladies.
February 2008 – Stacy just sent me this photo today. She left last week to head down to Texas to cuddle with our first grandson – Joshua James Gregory Blanchard. This is a photo of our daughter Christa holding her first child. Due to my pastoral responsibilities, it will be a while before I will be able to visit with Daniel, Christa, and young Joshua. But Stacy will return with many photos! God is so good.
February 2008 - This picture is living proof you can take the cowboy out of Texas, but you can’t take Texas out of the cowboy. William is going through a cowboy experience these days. He likes to wrestle doggies, rope and ride, and shoot any stick that resembles a gun. This little cowhand is always ready for adventure. But sometimes nap-time interrupts, as reflected in this classic William look. Great trail days are ahead of you, William!
February 2008 – It seems there is always a birthday in our home. This month marks another occasion to thank the Lord for our daughter, Tiffany. Now 22, Tiffany is a talented and delightful daughter. She has a true servant heart, helping in the church, our home, and assisting others across the nation. God has also graced her with a teachable, yet discerning, spirit. She is a strong young woman who will serve the Lord in great ways in the future. I love you Tiffany!
February 2008 – The Lord blessed us with a refreshing blast of winter this past weekend – 7″ of snow! This was the best snow of the season, giving us an opportunity to enjoy a real sledding adventure! William, at 2 1/2, loves sledding and tags along as often as he can. Of course, he is too small to trudge back up the hill, so is thankful for the ride from a sibling. Here Jessica totes our little man back to the top. This reminds me of the joy we have in Christ. He is there to help us. We are weak – He is strong. God is good. How I thank Him for the times He carried me. And how I thank Him for the gift of children!
January 2008 - This is a special picture of a special girl. Our daughter, Melissa, turns 20 this month. This photo was taken the evening of our Pekin Manor Outreach, when our church gathers to bring joy to a local retirement center. After we sing, Melissa is always one of the first to approach the elderly to encourage them with her kind words. After a time of singing and visiting, we often go as a group to grab some ice cream. This evening, Melissa noticed one of our party, a young man much younger than she, sitting alone. Melissa chose to sit with him rather than those her age. This is a girl with a heart for ministry. This is a girl who makes her father proud. Happy birthday, Melissa. I love you!
January 2008 – This past Thursday, we joined with believers from around Peoria to stand for life at the 2008 Sanctity of Human Life Walk and Rally. I had been invited to give the invocation for the event. The cold in the air reminded me of the coldness of heart our nation exhibits as we callously murder children every day in abortion clinics. For 35 years, the practice of abortion on demand has cursed our land, leading to the deaths of millions upon millions. This is indeed America’s holocaust. May this horrible atrocity come to an end in our time.
January 2008 – For some, this may not seem a very exciting picture. But for me, it is faith in action. As the Apostle John said, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” I share this sentiment whenever I see my children learning the Word of God. This is just a picture of Abigail’s little finger, following along as she memorizes the 23rd Psalm. And what a promise the Lord is planting in her little heart. Regardless of the situation, if we belong to the Shepherd, goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our life, and we will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.
January 2008 - Christa and Daniel came to visit us for fifteen joyous days! Braving the icy roads, Daniel led his bride, our oldest daughter Christa, home for the holidays. How good it was for Stacy and me to see them growing in the Lord and in their love one for another. Daniel is more than my daughter’s husband, he has become like a son. And Christa is blossoming in her role as wife. We are also rejoicing that in just a couple months, they will be parents of our first grandchild. God is indeed good!