Today is a work day around here. As the end of January rapidly approaches, we are all frantically (well, maybe not… we really are trying hard to be graceful about it all ) scrambling to accomplish many of the goals and projects that we assigned to ourselves this month.
And this is such a perfect day to do it! The LORD has blessed with lovely sunshine today and after a good night’s rest, we are all feeling quite energetic.
Particularly two of us.
Mom and I were in the kitchen a few minutes ago, working on various projects such as canning chicken broth and dried beans (separately, I might add… lest you think we were canning soup), catching up on communications, organizing some paperwork for our music studio, cutting out fabric for some Thera-pit-ic pacs, etc. A few of the younger girls prepared a snack for everyone, and so in came the crew that has been working outside.
Now, for those of you who are unaware of this little family fact, before proceeding with my story, I first have to let you know that we had six girls before we had our first little man. Then two more precious little girls, and the LORD topped it all off with another little man. Each one of my siblings is a precious blessing from the LORD, but today… it is the two little men I will focus on.
Anyway, the work crew came in to enjoy their little snack. Now, being a lady, my mental processes unconsciously run something along the lines of “when someone has been working outside all morning and into the afternoon in the chilly weather, hanging insulation, moving heavy objects, etc., they will be tired.”
I guess my mental assumption is probably correct for most ladies.
For my dear brothers, it is most certainly NOT.
As these precious guys gave us the pleasure of their presence in the house, just a step back to observe them made Mom and I both laugh. Jumping up and down… coming sliding, almost diving, into the kitchen when asked to come carry canning boxes to the basement, and then literally bounding back up the stairs after the job was complete… eagerly chattering about the importance of putting electrical tape over the band-aid on your finger when you cut yourself because the tape is more waterproof and keeps the band-aid from sliding off… and on and on.
They certainly didn’t come in quietly and sit down, lean back a bit in their chairs, relax… after hours of hard physical labor, their energy stores appeared entirely untapped!
Energy… they are just bursting with it.
And what a beautiful thing! These little men (one of them, not so little anymore… since he is stronger than I am and knows the minute details about a host of things that just leave me in bewildered amazement) are preparing for the day when they will lead their own homes.
They will need that extra energy to work all day to provide for their families and then come home, have a wrestling match on the floor with their own little men, and then talk late into the night with their brides.
They will need it when they are called upon to stand for Christ in the public arena.
They will need it when they have to take dominion of farmland, complex technical issues, building projects, etc.
They will need it when they must rise up yet again at some unearthly hour to minister to someone that is hurting or needy.
They are men in development…
and I have the blessed privilege – particularly in this phase of life, when they are so near to me – of watching the process.
It truly is a marvel… and one for which I am immensely grateful.
On New Year’s Day we were able to go back to Colonial Williamsburg with all three of our dear Wilkes Teams. We had such a great time there learning history together.
I enjoyed touring the magazine. It was amazing to hear how they fired the different kinds of cannons.
I also enjoyed touring the Art Museum. The hand-sewn quilts were amazing.
Earlier in the day, we also heard actors, pretending to be George and Martha Washington, speak! I thought it was interesting how they (the actors) could pretend to be back in the 1700’s; it sounded so real.
After our delightful day together, we all ate dinner at Cracker Barrel. The fellowship was very sweet and we look forward to the next time we get to visit Williamsburg again with them!
What a perfect way to start 2015!
It was a very special Christmas this year! An added blessing was to be with my niece on her first Christmas! We all had a great time together.
Dad and Mom gave us all vests to match in. They are filled with tiny feathers, and so some of them can fold up into little bitty bags. (Stuffing a huge, fluffy vest into a tiny little pouch, making it look like a pillow, is very fun!) We had a lot of laughter when we discovered that!
Another favorite gift was a canvas that we kids gave to Dad and Mom – it was a picture of all of us on the beach from this past fall!
I am very grateful for the sweet time we all had together. God is so good.
The Governor’s Palace
Several weeks ago, after attending the Family Economics & Mentorship Conference, we were blessed with the opportunity to take a brief evening walk through Colonial Williamsburg with Matthew and Amanda. Though most of the shops and tourist attractions were already closed for the evening, we were just in time for a lovely sunset and thoroughly enjoyed our leisurely stroll together. Special thanks to Matthew for suggesting the idea!
The fall foilage was truly stunning – a testimony to the creativity and handiwork of our Creator
Taking a ride in the shuttle
Life – in this season, at this time – is truly beautiful, because it is our Heavenly Father’s gift of love to us. May we all continue to make the most of the precious moments He has bestowed.
“I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever. Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts. I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works. And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts: and I will declare thy greatness. They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness. The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.” Psalm 145:1-9
Dad found the following message (given by Charles Spurgeon in 1875) a few weeks before the Christmas season this year, and shared it with us at dinner one evening. Realizing that it would correspond nicely with the music program we were planning to present in several churches throughout the holidays, we added it to the plan. (As a result, we had the privilege of hearing him read it numerous times.) Throughout the days since then, the LORD has used these thoughts to encourage and bless me repeatedly.
God With Us
“They shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” Matthew 1:23
If Jesus Christ be “God with us,” let us come to God without any question or hesitancy. Whoever you may be, you need no priest or intercessor to introduce you to God, for God has introduced Himself to you.
Are you children? Then come to God in the child Jesus, Who slept in Bethlehem’s manger. Oh, ye grey heads, ye need not keep back, but like Simeon come and take Him in your arms, and say, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation” (Luke 2:29)… Oh man, God comes to you as one like yourself. Do not be afraid to come to the gentle Jesus. Do not imagine that you need to be prepared for an audience with Him, or that you [lack] the intercession of a saint or the intervention of priest or minister. Anyone could have come to the babe in Bethlehem. The horned oxen, I think, ate of the hay on which He slept and feared not. Jesus is the friend of each one of us, sinful and unworthy though we be. You, poor ones, you need not fear to come, for, see, in a stable He is born, and in a manger He is cradled. You have not worse accommodation than His; you are not poorer than He is. Come and welcome to the poor man’s Prince, to the peasants’ Savior. Stay not back through fear of your unfitness; the shepherds came to Him in all their dishabille. I read not that they tarried to put on their best garments; but in the clothes in which they wrapped themselves that cold midnight, they hastened just as they were to the young child’s presence. God looks not a garments, but at hearts, and accepts men when they come to Him with willing spirits, whether they are rich or poor. Come, then! Come, and welcome, for God indeed is “God with us”…
Now, my brethren, to you is the last word: let us be with God since God is with us. I give you for a watchword through the year to come: “Emmanuel, God with us.” You, the saints redeemed by blood, have a right to this in its fullest sense, drink into it and be filled with courage. Do not say, “We can do nothing.” Who are ye that can do nothing? God is with you. Do not say, “The church is feeble and fallen upon evil times” – nay, “God is with us!” Whatever is possible or whatever is impossible, Christians can do at God’s command, for God is with us. Do you not see that the word, “God with us,” puts impossibility out of all existence? Hearts that never could else be broken will be broken if God be with us. Errors that never else could be [proven false] can be overthrown by “God with us.” Things impossible with men are possible with God… Let us live with it upon our hearts: “The best of all, is God with us.”
There is a new year ahead. The days will, undoubtedly, hold uncertainty, pain, joy, difficulty, triumph, and blessing. May we walk forward with confidence in our loving Emmanuel… remembering that God is with us.
What a great joy it was to attend the 2014 Family Economics & Mentorship Conference in Hampton, VA, this past weekend! How can one summarize, in a short post, several days packed to bursting with encouragement, solid, Scriptural teaching, and precious fellowship?! Perhaps the best way to attempt this feat would be to merely touch on the highlights of the event.
Special thanks to Matthew for loaning his darling wife and baby to us for the week while he returned home for work… having Amanda back as an active part of the Neely Team was such a joy! Matthew joined us for the last day of the conference, and what a blessing it was to be all together again.
Each session, presented by Christ-centered, dynamic speakers such as Kevin Swanson, Eric Weir, Steve Riddell, Daniel Craig, Gregg Harris, Anne Miller, and Rick & Marilyn Boyer – was spiritually refreshing and highly practical. Topics included entrepreneurship, sales, godly character, marketing, mentorship, family life, and communication. We all left inspired, convicted, challenged… and ready to continue pressing onward in our various ministries, businesses, and family lives for the glory of our Savior and the advancement of His kingdom.
What an honor it was to be able to minister through music during the conference! Special thanks to David Craig for all of his work in organizing this. His forethought and consideration allowed everything to run smoothly, and left us feeling welcomed and cared for. The music of the Craig and Roche gentlemen was also an incredible blessing to us.
Participating in the vendor hall a perfect opportunity to get to know many precious families. The sweetness of the fellowship was a reminder of the eternity that awaits those who have trusted Christ – to live for endless ages sharing the common bond of His love will be unspeakably glorious! This weekend was truly a foretaste of that bliss. Friday evening, the conference team graciously hosted a pizza party for all of the attendees, allowing for even more fellowship to take place (imagine seeing a total of about 110 Domino’s pizzas piled on serving tables — quite a delicious sight! ).
And, last but certainly not least, the staff at the Holiday Inn Express (where many of the conference attendees resided) also largely contributed to the joys of the weekend. Professional, accommodating, kind, and incredibly friendly, they were used of the LORD to bless many of us.
A final summary… We praise the Lord for His merciful kindness so clearly manifested this weekend on our behalf, and look forward to returning home to apply what we have heard and learned. May He remain preeminent in all of our endeavors.
Following a very uplifting time at the annual NCFIC conference on the Power of the Gospel transforming Church and Family, we came home on Saturday night, meeting with our dear eldest sister and her little family on the way. A few hours later, we were privileged to welcome our dear Wilkes Team into our home for a short 40 hours (or so ). We are so blessed to have been able to see these dear ones again! One of the primary activities of the weekend was the dedication of our adored little niece to our Savior. What a special time for each of her grandparents, aunties, and uncles (We’re very grateful for FaceTime, it enabled this number to include her Uncle & Aunt and cousins from 500 miles away!) to speak into her life from the Word of God, and to pray for her salvation and future. To say that each person involved was touched in some way would be an understatement….it was not only a time of dedication, but also a time of family bonding as the Lord used His Word to draw us all together once more.
Time and space would run short before we could ever transcribe the encouragement, kindness, blessing, fellowship, and joy in our Savior that we experienced. What a lovely weekend we were given by the mercy of Christ! Thank you, Wilkes Team, for being willing vessels of the Master’s love! We are grateful for you!