Just as all of our travels were commencing for the month of June, we were blessed to attend the graduation celebration for some dear friends and music students, Kris Jr. & Sheri. Praise the LORD for these two vibrant young people, who consistently demonstrate what it means to live wholeheartedly for the glory of our Creator, to seek first His Kingdom, to reject the lies our culture offers, and instead to embrace of the calling of Christ, despite the cost. Watching these two grow and mature throughout the past several years has been a delight, and we look forward to seeing the beautiful plans the LORD has in store for them in the days ahead.
Congratulations, Kris & Sheri! May the LORD abundantly bless you!
May He “grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.” Eph. 3:16-21
One of the joyous trips we were blessed to take in the month of June was to the beautiful state of West Virginia… and what a thrill it was to participate in the 2015 WV FEW Conference while we were there!
The LORD is so faithful, sending encouragement and strengthening for the race of life just when it is needed. The opportunity to jump in and serve, hear sound, biblical teaching, fellowship with dear, like-hearted families, and so much more, left us all tremendously uplifted.
We apologize for the long delay, but here are some photos at last!
~ Reminders to fervently seek Jesus Christ above all else; to focus mind, affection, and delight upon Him and His Word; to rejoice in all things; to view each irritation as an invitation for communion with the Most High; to depend upon the power of the LORD to live each moment for His glory…
~ The children’s hour was, once again, a hilarious opportunity to learn the importance of gratitude in the midst of every circumstance of life…
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thess. 5:18
~ The blessing of many, many little ones… the future leaders of families, churches, and our nation…
…suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Mark 10:14
~ Discipleship game time…
…inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matt. 25:40
~ Fellowship… and a final “FEW” random shots…
And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Colossians 3:17
One of our faithful readers asked for this recipe… so here it is! This makes a wonderful treat to serve to guests; it looks beautiful but is incredibly simple to put together.
Old Glory Dessert
2 cups sugar cookie dough [or 1 (18 ounce) tube refrigerated dough]
11 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
2 cups fresh strawberries, quartered
Press cookie dough into a greased 15”x10” baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden brown (do not over-bake). Cool on a wire rack.
In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, and lemon juice until smooth. Set aside 1/4 cup of mixture. Spread remaining cream cheese mixture over crust. Decorate with blueberries and strawberries to resemble a flag.
Cut a small hole in a corner of a pastry or plastic bag. Insert star tip (#16). Fill with reserved cream mixture. Beginning in one corner, pipe stars in the spaces between blueberries. Store in refrigerator until serving.
Notes from TNT:
*As you can see from the photo, piping stars between the berries isn’t always necessary… it does look more esthetically pleasing, though.
*For those of you who are – like us – chocolate fanatics, chocolate-chip cookie dough makes a nice substitution for the sugar dough.
*A few weeks ago, we had fun coming up with a gluten-free, dairy-free version of this recipe, simply by using gluten free, dairy-free cookie dough, and using a natural strawberry jam in place of the cream cheese frosting. It was a sweet treat for those with intense diet restrictions.
Happy Independence Day from the Neely Team!
May each of our hearts turn anew to the One in Whom we have true freedom, that His glory may once again dwell in our land.
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.” Psalm 33:12
Today marks the 183rd day of this year – which, for those of you whose brains automatically calculate everything you see and hear, you will recognize as the halfway point in the average year. (And for those of you who, like me, don’t calculate so readily, put your minds at ease with the knowledge that it was only a handy calendar that told me this ). At the close of each and every month, I am always amazed at how the time has flown by, but especially so with the end of the month of June. Only 50% of the year is left! How quickly the days are passing.
For the Neely Team, June held a schedule of almost non-stop traveling. Our final trip of the month (a sort of grand HUZZAH! to all of the consecutive road-time) was to attend the wedding of one of our dear “sisters” – but more about that later. Suffice it to say that, upon coming home from that trip this past Monday, and added to everything that had come before it, we were all rather emotionally chaotic – excited, sad, praising the LORD for His goodness, exhausted, teary, exuberant, delighted, and on and on. On top of that, several of us had been fighting some sort of virus. By the time we pulled into the driveway late in the evening, I was burning up with fever, had a bad headache, and overall, looked and felt just plain terrible.
After spending the next day in bed, I felt much better and early yesterday morning (Wednesday), we headed to Greenville for music lessons. Try hard to be early as we did, we still didn’t arrive home until close to midnight after a wonderful but tiring day of music instruction, fellowship, and some necessary shopping.
You can probably imagine… but coming out of such an intensely busy, exciting, fun, encouraging, and adventuresome month, coupled with the effects of sickness, lingering chaotic emotion, discouragement about the rapidity of passing time, pressure from continuous “to-do’s” that kept mentally piling up, and the weight of other concerns on my heart, I wasn’t feeling the most enthused or inspired last night.
Though almost no one would have guessed it, an inward battle was raging. Somehow the future looked quite bleak to my sleepy, faithless eyes.
LORD, where am I going find the energy, the hope, the courage, even the desire… to accomplish what You have for me to do tomorrow… this weekend… these next weeks and months?
The effects of sweet rest – truly one of the good gifts the LORD sends to His children – left me much refreshed, but still the question remained as I prepared for the day this morning.
I asked the LORD again to renew my joy in the work He has called me to do. To give me enthusiasm with which to attack the second half of this glorious year. To send me something during my time in the Word to which I could cling.
And He did.
He is so faithful, so merciful. And He brought verse after verse to my eyes and heart – each with fresh power and meaning – that answered the anxious cries that had resounded.
“…I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” John 15:16
“Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.” Psalm 40:5
“How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.” Psalm 139:17-18
“Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass… Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him…” Psalm 37:4-7
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10
Delight in doing His will for the “here and now”… peace in knowing that He is always, only good, and that His plans far surpass comprehension… rest in being reassured that I am not alone, but that His presence is with me every moment of life’s journey… unutterable joy in knowing that He chose me and that He loves me with an everlasting love… all of this began to thrill my heart once again.
To Him be praise.
And so may we step forward into the remainder of this year with abundant joy in the One Who walks beside us, trusting His promises without reservation and depending upon His grace to finish what He has called us to do, for His glory.
After far too long without time for one-on-one fellowship, we were delighted to have the Wikman family at our house for Memorial Day! What a blessing to spend time together again — the sweetness of the bond we share in Christ with other believers is truly a foretaste of the glory that awaits us in Heaven.
Games… Corn Toss, especially, was one of the weekend favorites.
A sweet time singing hymns and reading the Word together on the porch.
Other moments… including trampoline time with the moms!
We love you, Wilkman family, and praise the LORD for your friendship. Looking forward to the next visit!
This post could be named several things. “You know not what a day may bring forth.” “Trusting God… on the side of the road.” “Smoking tire on way to baby shower.” But, “Tire Depot – Grayson, GA” seems the best. Why? Because the Lord really blessed us through this business.
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of being lost (well, thankfully we weren’t completely lost) with a smoking van tire, 123 miles from home. Yet the hand of the Lord was so beautifully seen in each mile of the journey. Knowing the presence of God in the midst of a perplexing situation is truly beautiful. We laughed. We almost wanted to cry. We stood in amazement. We made phone calls (lots of them).
The Lord’s plan is always perfect…
…even when you don’t know the extent of the car problems you’re having on your way to speak at a friends baby shower, traffic is terrible, it’s 104 degrees outside, and the shower is supposed to start in 30 minutes and you’re at least 20 minutes from your destination.
Ah, but it’s then that you know you’re helpless. And get ready — because it will be then that you’ll see the power and love of God in fresh, exciting ways.
To make a long story short…
We had a brake problem. The smell was typical of brakes: strong and distinct. We formulated “plan B” so we could arrive at the baby shower (almost) in time. Several mechanically minded friends checked out the situation, and so the next morning, we got back on the road, knowing that, based on the diagnosis given by our friends, the problem may arise again, but hoping that it wouldn’t. A few miles later, that distinct smell was back. We called Dad (who stayed home on this trip to work) and he said, “Find the nearest garage that will work on brakes.” It happened that we were at the intersection with Tire Depot. We pulled in, and the service we received was top notch. The kindness shown to us by the owners and employees of this family-owned tire business put us at ease. They gave us a shady parking spot, prompt, courteous service, told us to go to the air-conditioned office (it was 100 degrees outside…. at least it was cooler than the day before) while we waited for the part to arrive (which only took 20 minutes), and within the hour we were back on the road, driving a van that was running beautifully… better than it has in a long time.
So, to all of you blog followers in the Atlanta area, we highly recommend Tire Depot.
And to those of you who seem to be “broken down” on the journey of life, take comfort! The Lord is nigh them that are of a broken heart, and His strength is most clearly seen when we feel utterly helpless. Cling to His precious promises, and behold the works of the Lord! He doeth all things well.
Here are a few pictures from the shower. What a delightful evening! Such a joy it is to celebrate the anticipated arrival of new life: a precious soul to nurture and to teach the boundless love of God.
June has begun, and with it an intense season of busyness for the Team! (One of our dear littles gave us a good giggle when, on the evening of May 31st, she calmly told us all to “get ready, because in a few hours we [were] entering the month of no sleep.”) The month of May, though, was also quite packed… hence the prolonged blog silence. But over the next several weeks, we will do our best to stay up to date with you all.
A few weeks ago we were thrilled and delighted to take a trip to VA to host a bridal shower for our dear “sister” Jennifer. The LORD blessed the day immensely – such a sweet, precious gathering of ladies to fellowship and share the joy of what He has done in bringing Derrick & Jenny together.
A few games brought quite a riot of laughter and smiles…
Dear, sweet sisters-in-law shared from their hearts to the lovely bride-to-be…
Precious fellowship… lots of hugs… tears… smiles…
While the bridal shower was taking place, the men gathered outside for a time of target shooting, fellowship, exhortation, and encouragement. The poor gentlemen… things suddenly changed for their afternoon activities when the dark, gathering clouds burst open and the rain poured down! Everyone kept a cheerful outlook on the unexpected situation, though, and simply moved to the porch (declaring as they did so that they, the men, had had the REAL shower… literally).
We are so, SO happy for you both, Derrick & Jenny, and praise the LORD for the beautiful, wondrous work He has wrought in bringing you together. In the years ahead, may He use you – as one in Him – to point many others to Himself, for His own glory.
We love you dearly.
Recently I was inwardly questioning the progress being made in my walk with Christ, because it seemed that, rather than continuously learning “new” things and receiving “exciting” insights from the Word, I was dwelling upon what seemed to be considered simple things… truths such as His love.
That is so basic… something that I have heard and understood ever since I can remember, I mused. While I had been receiving immense comfort, joy, and encouragement through many different passages related to this subject, I still wondered if I would someday look back and regret spending so much time on such “simple” concept.
It may sound silly to some, but thoughts such as these came as a substantial concern to my mind.
While zipping through the house one day, endeavoring to accomplish some pressing projects and check things off of my [ever growing] to-do list, the question resurfaced. Right then, the LORD brought a passage to mind that I had read several weeks before.
“For this cause, I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ… That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; the ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:14-19
Suddenly my heart was at rest.
The LORD used these verses to show me that, if to know the love of Christ results in my being filled with more of Himself (which is a part of the means in which He carries out His purpose of conforming me into His image, for His glory), than an eager quest to know more of that great and wondrous love is one of the best pursuits that can be made. Basking in His love is what I am supposed to be doing on a moment-by-moment, every-day basis! My reason for perpetual joy and rejoicing, no matter the circumstances I am encountering or the feelings that are raging in my heart, can and should come from the truth that He loves me.
So graciously, my heavenly Father reminded me that it is indeed right, and glorious!, to spend much time meditating on what may have (sadly) become “commonplace” or “simple” truths.
“…God doesn’t typically comfort you with something strange and unfamiliar. He usually comforts His people as they prayerfully meditate on the basic truths He has revealed about Himself… Don’t [always] look for comfort in ‘exotic places.’ Look for it in the theology that four-year-olds can grasp. Assume that you need to experience more deeply what you [think you] already know. J.I. Packer says it so well: ‘We must turn each truth that we learn about God into a matter of meditation before God, leading to prayer and praise to God’ (Knowing God, 23). God comforts you with simple, prayerful meditation on Himself.” Joe Tyrpak (Gospel Meditations for Prayer)
A few pictures from a recent family photo shoot… such fun!
“The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”
Spring has arrived, and with it many elements of beauty created by our Heavenly Father. The buds on the trees are ready to burst into full bloom. The tulips are brilliantly arrayed in their colorful petals. The mountains are about to break forth into a vibrant shade of fresh green as the leaves begin to appear on the trees. These things, among many others, suggest the promise of spring’s arrival.
God has given us many promises in His Word. His promises are more sure than the arrival of spring. We can trust them.
“For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” 2 Corinthians 1:20
“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;).” Hebrews 10:23
“The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace.” Psalm 29:11
Look for these promises. Some are conditional promises, and require us to take action in order to receive the promise. Some are unconditional promises, and relate to God’s unchanging character.
“The LORD will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish.” Proverbs 10:3a
“For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee.” Psalm 5:4
“…Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth.” Psalm 58:11
As we discover and meditate on the promises of God, we will grow in the knowledge of our infinite, holy God and Savior and be drawn ever nearer to Him. What more could we desire, than to deepen our relationship with the One Who has “saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Timothy 1:9)?
“Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” 2 Thessalonians 5:24
Search the Word for these blessed promises. Claim them. Seek the Lord’s will through them, and delight in the will of your heavenly Father, knowing that He “only doeth wondrous things.” (Psalm 72:18b) This is a promise.
Today (April 10th) marks the 100th day of this year! Here are the words of a beautiful hymn, as well as some Scripture passages, that the LORD has used to bless and encourage my heart recently; I pray they will be used thus in your lives as well.
All the Way
Fanny J. Crosby
All the way my Savior leads me – what have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy, Who through life has been my Guide?
Heavenly peace, divinest comfort, here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know whate’er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well.
All the way my Savior leads me – cheers each winding path I tread,
Gives me grace for every trial, feeds me with the living bread.
Though my weary steps may falter, and my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before, lo! A spring of joy I see.
All the way my Savior leads me – oh the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised in my Father’s house above.
When my spirit, clothed immortal, wings it’s flight to realms of day,
This my song through endless ages: Jesus led me all the way.
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 41:10
I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Psalm 32:8