Archive for 2009
*Editor’s note: I just realized that this never got posted when it was ready a couple weeks ago. Sorry for the delay!
Every Christmas we like to ice Christmas cookies together. This year we made them early and then froze them so that they were ready to ice when we finished school and were ready to do it. Kitty made blue, green, red, yellow, and white icing, and Mommy bought us lots of sprinkles to decorate with! Herman, Belle, ‘Berty, Kitty, and I did them all together, and it was FUN!!! I am glad we get to do fun things like that at Christmas time!
Two weeks ago, we had the immense pleasure of visiting with the Dalrymple family for 27 –too-short hours! It was a little spur of the moment, but our time together was full of fellowship, group games, music, and just plain fun! One of the greatest blessings of the weekend was getting to listen as they practiced and performed music with voice, violin, viola, cello, flute, and piano. Listening to them was a little taste of what heaven must be like: continual praise and glory to our Heavenly Father!! Thank you, Dalrymples, for your willingness to be used to encourage so many around you with your music! Can’t wait till next time!!!!!
A few weeks ago, we received a package enclosing a new DVD released from Vision Forum, called “The Mysterious Islands.” The film centers on the present-day war between Darwinism and the biblical Creation account. To do this, it takes you on a journey to the Galapagos Islands, where Charles Darwin first did his research that later resulted in his book, The Origin of the Species. As we got it right before leaving for our trip to GA for Thanksgiving, we took it with us and decided to watch it with our cousins. We did and it was a refreshing look at how good God is and filled us again with awe for His intense creativity!
One thing the video covered that particularly stood out to me was a story they told about Darwin’s trip. He was taken by ship, and during the course of the five-year voyage, became close friends with the captain. They were both seeking answers, but though they studied the same things, they arrived at vastly different conclusions. Darwin, because he had already determined in his heart that the Bible was only good for moral issues, not science, became convinced that the world and all therein was a result of random chance, mutations, natural selection, etc. The captain, on the other hand, found striking evidence for the Creator and later became a strong Christian. This reminded me of the importance that we interpret everything through the truth of Scripture, God’s infallible Word, and that our hearts must be tender toward that truth. These two men witnessed the same sights, walked the same shores, and studied the same creatures and processes, but because one carried with him that baggage of worldly philosophies, he was blinded and led to draw up some of the most ridiculous theories imaginable. The other found God’s Light, grace, and Almighty hand to guide and direct his life and help him see his true origin and the reason for his existence.
Because of this fierce battle between these two vastly different worldviews, I was also reminded that we, as Christians, must be seeking God and studying His creation so that we may be equipped to pass on the truth to the coming generations. The Lord used this film to renew my excitement in these things and my awe for Him and His matchless ways! He truly is amazing!! If you have not seen this, we highly encourage you get it. You will be inspired! Our whole family is now ready for a trip to the Galapagos!
“O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches. So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts. There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein. These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season. That thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good… The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever: the Lord shall rejoice in his works… I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.” (Psalm 104)
“O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens… When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? (Psalm 8)
Several years ago another one of our wonderful aunts gave us the recipe to this mix. 🙂 (There must be something about the word “aunt” that implies that they have delicious recipes for you to try!) It’s super easy, and believe us, you won’t be able to stay out of it! 98% of the people that have tried it say it is addictive! We recommend that when you make it, you keep a clean spatula or wooden spoon nearby to chase away those little (or big 🙂 ) fingers that are constantly arriving and grabbing for a taste! (Well, I guess that’s not very loving or kind, so at least post the definition for “Self Control” right over your work area! 🙂 Ha!) It makes a great Christmas gift for friends or neighbors when tied into a pretty plastic bag or wrapped in a tin Christmas box. Enjoy!!!!!
White Christmas Party Mix:
1 lb. white chocolate
3 cups rice Chex cereal
3 cups corn Chex cereal
3 cups Cheerios
2 cups pretzels
2 cups dry roasted or salted peanuts
12 oz. package M&M’s plain candy
Melt chocolate; combine other ingredients and stir. Add chocolate and stir well. Spread (or rather DUMP! 🙂 ) on waxed paper to cool. Store in airtight container and refrigerator to keep fresh.
Cook’s notes: This recipe is perfect for any season or occasion! Change the color of the M&M’s to suite what you are using it for. (In the spring, use pastel colors, for Christmas, use red and green, etc.)
Cook’s notes #2: We usually make 1.5x the recipe, using a 12oz. box of Crispex instead of the corn and rice Chex, and still only use 12 oz. of M&M’s (it’s sweet enough already :)).
While in Bainbridge for Thanksgiving, we decided to go to the annual “Swine Time” held in Climax, Georgia. This being my first Swine Time, I didn’t really know what to expect. This massive celebration of the pig included contests such as hog calling, chittlin’ eatin, a parade, and even a beauty pageant. (I wouldn’t want the dubious distinction of being “Miss Piggy.”) Really, it is just a gargantumous country festival and craft fair. Grandmama said that it was first started to bring the community together and to help raise money. Nowadays, about 35,000 flatlanders converge on a town of about 400 people for the annual event.
I suppose the whole thing began when our adventurous cousin, Taylor (age 15), told everyone that he wanted to enter the greased pig chase contest. I began to envision a big stadium-like place without any grass – just mud—where there would be a well greased, rather large oinker, running terrified from dozens- maybe hundreds- of kids that were chasing him. Then I thought about how much fun and excitement it would bring to chase the greased pig with Taylor. I don’t know what got into me that day, but the more I thought about it, the better the escapade sounded. I asked another cousin, Austin (age 17), if he had been planning to do it. He hadn’t really been extremely attracted to it, but said that if I was going to do it, he had to do it. (Peer pressure.) All of a sudden, I realized what was rapidly happening. As soon as I said I wanted to do it, Neali (age 19) said she would do it if Austin and I did. (Peer pressure.) Then Kathryn joined, then Amanda, Victoria, and everybody else. Before I could say “lickety-split,” all of us wanted to go to the pig pen. (Peer pressure.)
A few hours later we finally arrived at Swine Time. We soon learned that the contest was for kids ages 5-12. We older cousins not-so-graciously accepted the fact that we were too old. Well, I personally wasn’t that disappointed, and after watching all the little piglets in the trailer, I determined that I was glad that it wasn’t going to work out. All those stinky, grunting, noisy, smelly, dirty, snorting, squealing pigs… it really would be very gross to try to catch one, especially a greasy one. A man told us that they grease the pigs with hydraulic oil so that the pigs wouldn’t so feel bad about getting rubbed down with Uncle Porky’s lard. We got to watch them cover each pig in hydraulic oil, and boy, did those pigs squeal!
We thoroughly enjoyed watching the younger kids chase the first little greasy animal. The poor thing was running frantically back and forth, squealing the whole time. It was hysterical! The kids were divided into groups of 10 kids, according to age, and each division was assigned an even larger pig. When they would catch it, sometimes you could see it panting, while it was squealing. (By the way, I had never heard a pig squeal in real life… it is quite a horrendous noise! It puts a whole new meaning to the term “squealing like a stuck pig!”)
Well, it was over, and the large crowd encircling the pen quickly diminished. Aunt Miriam wasn’t going to give up yet, though. Taylor still wanted to have a chance at catching the squirmy little pig. Aunt Miriam asked one of the men that was helping if we could have an unofficial contest. At first, I think he said no, but she persisted. He was quite friendly, and she told him that we had about thirteen cousins who wanted to chase the little oinker. He agreed, and we happily entered the pig pen and waited while they re-greased the pig.
The incredible moment had arrived. We had looked forward to it, but thought that it wasn’t going to work out. Before we knew it, there we were, standing in the pig pen, and by the way, it wasn’t all mud. Actually, it was mostly grass, thankfully. I heard several people say in amazement, “They’re all cousins?!” Finally, someone said, “On your mark, get set…” and everyone was off. The pig started running and squealing. I personally didn’t want to touch it, so I just chased it to keep it moving. Picture it and get your imagination going. There are thirteen different sized people, ranging in age from five to nineteen and in height from 3’6” to about 6’ 1”, chasing a pig in a circular pen that is probably about fifty feet in diameter. Several people slipped and landed on their face on the ground. Others only landed on their knees, some fell on their backs, but it was a lot of fun, and the intense action continued. Arms and legs were flying every direction. Everyone was racing to try to catch the little ham. Kathryn was one of the ones who landed on their face, and when she landed, she lunged for the pig, grabbed it, and was able to slow it down, despite a minor injury that occurred in the process. Austin came to her rescue and grabbed the legs of the pig, and everyone cheered! It was lots of fun, and the memories that were made are irreplaceable. Some of the parents are scheming about next time we get together. It has been mentioned that it would be fun to get our own pig and chase it around Grandmama’s house… we’ll see about that. (And to think that it all began with a small amount of peer pressure.)
When the leaves started falling, Cocoa, Belle, ‘Berty, and I made a pile of leaves and jumped in it! We buried each other, rolled around in them, and just had lots of fun together! I am glad that I have such sweet sisters that I can have fun with!
For Thanksgiving we had the privilege to go down to Bainbridge, GA, again to see Daddy’s mom and her husband. Daddy’s sister and brother-in-law met us there as well with their whole family!! With fifteen young people present that each possessed oodles of energy (by the way, an “oodle” is a form of measurement, at least by T.N.T. standards 🙂 ), tons of joyful and special memories were made! We arrived late Wednesday evening, and then Thursday morning was packed with many games of volleyball, as our expert cousins taught us more about it and how to play better! (We are actually able to HIT the ball now – a great improvement! Ha!) A few guests arrived later on, and at 2:00 we gathered together to spend time rejoicing in God’s goodness to us and enjoying a delicious dinner. Before doing so, we each shared something we were thankful for. A variety of answers were presented, some about material blessings and others about the incredible character of our Creator and Savior. It was neat to hear from each person’s heart!
The rest of Thursday was spent playing football, “Duck, Duck, Goose,” and a few games in the dark. Friday, was little Miss Bethany’s birthday! Also, some friends that Daddy and Aunt Miriam grew up with came over and brought their families so we could all meet. Much more volleyball was played while the parents talked, and then they saw that the kids were having so much fun that they decided to join us! How FUN! With well-balanced teams and excellent little score-keepers (namely Susanna and Lauren :)), round after round was finished with different victors each time. (By the way, the names of the teams were “The Shrimps” and “The Giants.” Does that tell you anything about the physical stature of the people playing on them? 🙂 ) That night, we were also able to get a tour of the fire station where our Uncle Blain works! That was fascinating and a lot of fun!
The Saturday after Thanksgiving finds “Swine Time” being held in the little community of Climax, GA. We ended up chasing a pig! Check back soon, ‘cause we’re letting Jessi tell you ALL about that later. Just trust us – it will be hilarious!
When we got home from Swine Time, several of the cousins got together and washed all of the cars and trailers in the driveway. This time it was WET, COLD fun! The soup Mommy and Aunt Miriam fixed after that sure was good! 🙂
On Sunday, we all went to church, and after goodbyes, our two families were able to travel around 6 of the 8 hours of the trip together! We have done this several times before, and we have the tradition that we always get ice cream from Dairy Queen just before separating. Mmmmm! We couldn’t seem to locate one, however, so we stopped at a store and bought 5 qts. of ice cream and a gallon of orange juice. After whipping out the ice cream scoop that we just happen to keep in our van for occasions like this, we stood in the parking lot and made “Orange Julius” shakes, as we call them. 🙂 It was SO MUCH FUN!!!!!!!! After a group hug and several rounds of “goodbyes,” we all loaded up and headed back up the road towards home. We thank the Lord for such a joyful and encouraging time together as a family! God is good!
A few highlights of the week:
Amanda: “I can’t really say what my all-time favorite part was, because it was all so much fun!! We haven’t had much time with that side of the family in a LONG time, so it was FABULOUS to “re-connect” with everyone!! I also really enjoyed volleyball, football, talking, duck-duck-goose, eating, chasing the greased pig, staying up late talking to cousins, eating ice cream in the Wal-mart parking lot, and, well… everything!!!! I thank God for such a FANTASTIC weekend!!!!!!!
Kathryn: “My all-time favorite was volleyball! It was a blast to see and participate in the joy, enthusiasm, and teamwork that went on (as well as get enough practice so as to be able to hit it over successfully 🙂 )! Another favorite memory was getting to stay up really late, laughing, encouraging each other, and playing games, with the cousins.” 🙂
Susanna: “My favorite thing was touring the fire station and keeping points for the volleyball games.”
Jessica: “Wow! It’s really hard to say what my absolute favorite part of our time in GA is! Since we hadn’t been with the Fleishers in about four years for a holiday, it was really neat to spend time with them for four days. Touring the fire station was fascinating, while volleyball was thrilling, staying up late and talking was refreshing, washing cars was a blast, eating ice cream in the Wal-mart parking lot was yummy, and the list could go on!! But what could I say about pig chasing??!! It was most likely one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and what wonderful memories! I’m looking forward to the next time we get to spend time together. This weekend was much needed and definitely a highlight for the year. Looking forward to next time, with or without pigs!! 🙂
Lauren: “My favorite was pig-chasing with my cousins and counting points for my volleyball team (my team was “The Shrimps”)! That was fun!”
Bethany: “I liked riding my new bike, chasing the pig, playing with Harrison’s stuffed-animal puppy, watching the creation movie, being Taylor’s buddy,and that’s all.”
Victoria: “I really enjoyed learning and playing volleyball with the girls and our cousins. I also enjoyed getting to chase the greased pig and getting to tour the fire house, along with just spending time with our family and making new friends. The memories that were made will always be something to look back on with joy.”
Hannah: “Playing with Davis and riding my bike was the best.”
Herman: “Chasing pigs, climbing the deer stand and getting good practice with it, and playing with our cousins was my favorite.”
One of the Neely Team idiosyncrasies is that we like to set up our Christmas tree before Thanksgiving every year. While some would say that this makes them forget about the true and important reason for Thanksgiving, it has quite the opposite effect on us! The soft lights, homey smell, and peaceful atmosphere make us slow our busy life and enjoy each other, and give praise and thanks to the Lord who has brought us through yet another year.
In the fall, Daddy and Herman usually go away for a hunting trip, and while they’re gone, all of the girls do very girly things. :)By the time they come home, everything is in place and very Christmas-looking. This year, however, Herman stated that he REALLY wanted to help with the tree, much to our surprise, and so “the boys” helped us set everything up! What fun! Daddy headed up getting all of the decorations out the their hiding spot in the garage, while Mommy and Jessi strung the lights, and the rest of us fluffed the branches. 🙂 (By the way, we do use a fake tree, and we LOVE it!! :)) After those things were done and the tree was standing straight, tall and beautiful, Mommy took an excursion into the kitchen and made warm, ooey gooey chocolate chip cookies for all of the decorators while they put the ribbons, flowers, and bows on. It got late, so after enjoying our luscious snack, we went to bed and then put the ornaments the next afternoon. Now everything is up and in order: the lit garland above the cabinets, the front porch décor, etc, etc.
One thing I particularly enjoyed about putting everything up was the cheerfulness and joy everyone displayed. Even when one of the strands of lights wouldn’t work and Amanda, Jessi, and I had to run to the store, delaying the progress a tad, the little ones made the best of it and played a game while we were gone. Many hands did indeed make light work (only this was rather fun work :)) and in snip -snap- lickety-split, everything was complete! As the Christmas season approaches, remember to thank the Lord for the unique and special family He has given you!
“Live as if you’ll die tomorrow.” This phrase caught my attention a couple weeks ago, and I can’t get it off my mind. It reminds me of James 4:14 – “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” I really started thinking about that verse, and realized just how true it really is. Over the past twelve months, we have attended several funerals, a couple of them being unexpected at this point in time. It makes one stop and consider, Life is very short. People are dying unexpectedly every day. Will I be the next to go? I don’t want to be morbid or sad; that’s not the point I’m trying to make. But I do want people to consider this: What if you knew that you would die tomorrow? What if you received a special message from God and He told you that, tomorrow at this time, your time on earth would be over? How would you respond???
For some people, that kind of a revelation would throw them into despair and desperate fear. If you are one of those people who are terrified at the thought of dying, have you ever considered that you don’t have to be afraid? Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of GOD (John 20:31; I Peter 2:22), came to earth to be born of a virgin (Matthew 1:18, 23), lived His life caring for others (I John 3:16), died to pay for our sins (I Corinthians 15:3), rose again on the third day (I Corinthians 15:4), and ascended to Heaven(John 20:17; Ephesians 4:8-10), where He now sits on the right hand of God to intercede for His children (Romans 8:34)! Of course, no sin is allowed into Heaven, but He paid the debt for our sins by His death on the cross (I Peter 2:24), and if we will repent of our sins and accept His free gift of salvation(Luke 13:5; Romans 6:23), we can have eternal life with Him (John 3:15-16)!
For Christians, the idea of physical death can only mean one thing: eternal life in Heaven with our Savior Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:21 says that for the believer, “to die is gain.” Psalm 116:15 tells us that “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” (Other references include: Titus 3:7; John 3:16, 36; John 5:24; John 6:47; Romans 3:23.) Those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and have placed their full trust in Christ for salvation have nothing to fear in death, but everything to gain (I Corinthians 15:54-57)! However, on a more earthly, immediate scale, I would ask you to consider this question. If you knew that you would die tomorrow, what would you change? Is there anything that you would do differently, knowing that this would be your last day to lay up eternal rewards? Would you change anything in your relationships, knowing that whatever you did today would be the last memories that your friends and loved ones would have of you? Would you spend more time in the Scripture so that you might know a little more about the One you will see face to face so soon??
As the phrase “Live as if you’ll die tomorrow” has rolled over and over in my mind, I can’t help but think of things that I would do differently. I would try to encourage my siblings more in the way of the Lord, using every opportunity I could find to instruct and explain life’s issues in relation to eternity. I would spend the sixty seconds it took to help my little brother make his bed. I would be more respectful and responsive to my parents and try to help them more. I would take the five minutes to read a story-book to my little sister when she brings it to me in the middle of my big project. I would let the little irritations go, because those really don’t have any bearing on eternity anyway. I would take every opportunity to tell my family, “I love you.”
The list goes on, but I have another thought to share. Most of us won’t die tomorrow. But someday we will, as it says in Hebrews 9:27a, “…it is appointed unto men once to die…” That’s coming faster than we might realize. As I was pondering this one night, I wrote these thoughts in my journal: “…If I live to be 75, I am already 25% of the way through my life!! That’s ONE QUARTER of all the time God has given me!!!!! Already spent, gone, never to return, I can never take it back, never redo or relive anything. And what if I only live to age 50? I’m almost 40% through – almost a whole two fifths!!! Or what if God takes me home younger still, say, twenty-five? That only leaves me six years – six SHORT years – to accomplish what God would have me to do and to lay up reward for eternity!!!! … I feel such a tremendous urgency to be busy about “my Father’s business,” for even if I lived to be 100, my years are 20% gone!…”
Again, I don’t say all this to be discouraging, pessimistic, or morbid. I simply want to share what I have been thinking about this subject and encourage others to be constantly evaluating their thoughts, motives, and actions in view of eternity. If there is something in your life that you would change if you knew that today was your last day, why not go ahead and change it?? Go ahead: forgive that offense; do that kind deed; say that encouraging word. Truly, our lives are but a vapor; we never know when our last breath will be. (I Thessalonians 5:2; Matthew 6:20) We must be busy!!
Several years ago, on October 31, Daddy and Mommy surprised all of us kids with a special evening, where we bobbed for apples, ate donuts off of strings (with no hands :)) hanging from the ceiling, had a candy hunt, played “Pin the Tail on the Donkey,” and a few other fun things. Little did they know that they had thus began the yearly tradition of Family Fun Night! Slowly F.F.N. expanded until we had a few friends over, then several families, and then this year and last year, over sixty people! What a wonderful way to make hilarious, special memories!!
This year our preparations began the week before, when we were trying to decide where to have most of the games, the food tables, etc. Last year, we had done most of it in our garage, but as it was cramped then, and we had invited over forty more people this year, 🙂 we decided we wanted to be prepared for as many as the Lord would bring our way. At Mommy’s suggestion, we decided to try to get the unfinished upstairs of our detached garage, which we call the “Carriage House,” ready and use that for the games. Just to fill you in on a few details, we have this awful habit of, when we don’t know where to put something, we say “Oh, just put it in the upstairs of the Carriage House!” Maybe this gives you an idea of the unnecessary junk that was piled up there. 🙂 Finally, a few days before F.F.N., the whole Team arrived up there and put it in order. 🙂 (Sadly, we didn’t get any “before” pictures, so you’ll have to be content with the “after” pictures. :)) We had a lot of fun, and finally got it all in “ship shape.”
Next began the process of doing all of the planning. After deciding on the games, we started planning what supplies we needed and in what way we would organize the evening. There was a lot of “changing of plans,” but we finally got everything straightened out.
Before we knew it, it was 5:30 on Friday, October 30, and everyone was arriving. What followed is very difficult to describe in the exact details and excitement in which it occurred – maybe the pictures will help! 🙂 The games included Pin the Leaf on the Pumpkin, a relay race, donuts hanging from the ceiling, “Leaf, Leaf, Pumpkin” (the same as “Duck, Duck, Goose” :)) a candy hunt in the dark, 🙂 tractor rides, a time for munching on delicious snacks, and then, as the evening drew to a close, a bonfire, jumping on the trampoline and playing on the swing set. As we all celebrated the joy of family life, there was a lot of laughter and talking that followed each activity. The evening ended close to midnight, but the memories of the evening will last for a long time!!
“Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”