Archive for August, 2009
August 19, 2009 5:32 a.m.
It’s still dark outside. The whole world is asleep, except for us, because we are getting ready to go to our first violin lesson with a new teacher, at a new time, and, of course, in a new place. Everything thing is still, there are a few sounds like the squirt of a not-so-new hairspray bottle, the whispering sound of a hairbrush through bed-head (or maybe you should multiply that times ten), the running of water as people attempt to get ready to go……then, it happened. The sound of two feet running up two flights of stairs, and one mouth screaming (it sounded like a dozen, by the way), “Amanda! Amanda! Amanda! There’s an egg on the nest!!!!!!” (That one person was Jessi. I think it scared her. 🙂 ) This one egg has multiplied itself by three in the past week, and it has been very interesting to see the parents interact with the shells that we’re not sure are fertile…
How It All Began
Just in case you didn’t know, last spring (2008), Amanda stole two baby mourning doves right out of their nest. Little did we know that this would lead us to where we are now. After four additional birds and lots of fun and trauma, we were left with one lone mourning dove from the original pair (all the others died, including one of the original two), which was a plus for some and a minus for others. A friend, hearing of our “woe”, gave Amanda two ring-necked doves. We certainly were not expecting to become dove breeders, but it seems that that is what we have become (I think…).
Never tamper with the wild,
Or you may end up with a child.
But not a child that you’d expect,
And not a child from the elect.
But this one child comes from a shell,
Of which there’s no more need to tell…
The Lord brings opportunities into our lives to encourage other believers and to point the unsaved to Him. Many times while serving the Lord He uses the people we minister to to encourage us to continue on in the path of life.
A few months ago, we were asked by a friend to set aside the evening of August 20 to sing at a fundraiser/appreciation dinner for pastors and individuals who have supported the ministry of Gideons International (an organization that places Bibles in hotels/motels, hospitals, doctors offices, schools, prisons, and in the hands of individuals around the world).
We prepared several songs which included instrumental pieces for the flute and violin and a couple songs that directly referred to the Bible. Much of our time on Thursday was spent finalizing the program and rehearsing one more time before performing. To be honest, the afternoon had been a little stressful and parts of the getting ready process could have been smoother.
As we continued getting ready and on the way there, God’s grace quieted our hearts and prepared us emotionally for the evening ahead. We had arrived at the church where the dinner was to be held. The overcast sky and scattered raindrops hurried us into the building with everything we would need – violins, flute, music and violin stands, music, etc. We paraded into the building, arms loaded with our belongings, and began to unpack, tune, set up, and get ready. Of course, many turned to look as we walked in, as we were the only ones with any children there, and a family of twelve all dressed alike tends to draw the eyes of people anyway. Finally, everything was ready, instruments were tuned, music was on the stands, microphones were positioned, and we sat down to catch our breath before starting the program.
We sang and played while everyone was eating. When the meal was over, we heard inspiring testimonies of how God had worked miracles in the lives of many who had received a copy of God’s Word through the Gideon’s. Isaiah 55:10-11 says, “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” There were so many stories that clearly demonstrated the truth in these verses; it was very exciting to hear how the Lord is using ordinary people to carry His Word around the world! We were reminded that, no matter what happens in the world around us, or what we might have been through in the past, God and His Word never change, and He will work in and through us if we let Him.
When the program was over and people were leaving, many came and told us what a blessing the music was to them. We even had a couple pastors ask us if we would be available to sing at their churches. There is a sweet peace and joy that comes when we “turn our eyes upon Jesus” and trust Him to do His work through us. Who knows where God will lead us from here, or how and when He will use us. But we praise Him for His faithfulness and grace as we strive to “be an example” and to “press toward the mark!”
We have some interesting discussions around our dinner table. In fact, they can be pretty strange. Sometimes they’re very technical. Or should I say technological. Maybe it’s both, because when we discuss technological terminology, we can get very technical. Maybe I should give you an example of what I’m talking about.
One evening a few months ago, we were sitting around the table, enjoying the remains of a wonderful meal, and doing what we do best: talking. The topic of our conversation was one that we had discussed many times before, needing a solution to a certain problem, always thinking of solutions, and never succeeding in following up on the solutions we came up with, because we didn’t know if they were really good solutions after all. It was a persistent problem, which got more frustrating the longer we waited to follow up on a solution. (It was a lesson in patience. 🙂 ) The topic: our website/blog.
So there we were, trying to figure out what in the world we were going to do about our pitiful “website”: how we were going to update it, who we were going to get to help us update it, what we were going to put on it, how we would keep up with a blog…
“WHAT is a BLOG?” someone suddenly asked. “Who in the world came up with the name “blog” and what made them do it?” Dad explained that the word “blog” is actually an abbreviation of “web-log” – in other words, a record or journal that is posted on the web. That drew everyone’s attention, and we all began to ponder the meanings of different computer terms.
“How did we come up with a “cursor”?” someone else asked with a laugh. “A “curser” used to be someone who cursed!”
“And if you think about what a “laptop” is, it’s kinda funny. A laptop used to be a place for children to snuggle with their mothers; now it’s a flat, rectangular box with buttons and lights, with a lot of wires and stuff on the inside!”
“What about a mouse?” another person volunteered. “A mouse is a four-footed little varmint with a long tail that runs around in people’s houses and makes them scream.”
“And how ‘bout RAM? A ram is a male sheep, like the ones that they used to sacrifice in Bible days.”
“OR,” some mischievous personality added, using the unfortunate sibling beside them for a demo, “it could be when I RAM into you all of a sudden!!”
Of course, everyone had to laugh at that! 🙂 It became a very intriguing conversation as we discussed how confused someone could become with all the double terms. We laughed at the very SOUND of names like “floppy disk”, “JPEG”, and “thumb drive”, and debated the origins and meanings of other terms, such as “hard drive”, “cd-rom”, and “software.” (For instance, “hardware” means tools for manual labor, but “software” is a kind of – what? A series of ones and zeros that tells a computer what to do. Huh??) Take this for an example of multiple meanings: I asked a few different people what a “bit” is. Mom’s definition was “a small piece of a yummy chocolate dessert.” Victoria said a “bit” is “a steel bar that goes into a horse’s mouth to control it.” Kathryn’s idea was a “small piece of metal that you use with a drill to bore holes.” However, according to the Daddy Dictionary of Technology, a “bit” is “the smallest increment of electronic data: a one or a zero.” Then I asked about a “byte.” Mom’s answer could be expected: “the first taste of the yummy bit!” 🙂 Jessi’s immediate thought was “what a bug does to you!” Kathryn said that a “bite” is “what the teething infant does to your shoulder.” And, last but not least, the Daddy Dictionary of Technology explained that a “byte” REALLY is “a collection of bits that form one character.” Whew! If that’s not enough to make one flumbuzzled! We could go on and on; I wanted to ask about a megabyte… but lets just say that that’s one monster mouth!
So, the next time you decide to get technical, you could think about the OTHER definitions of your technological terminology!!! Anyone have any other terms to define? 🙂
P.S. Using all of these terms makes ME feel kinda strange; I wonder what it feels like to be a REAL techno-geek?? 🙂
A few days ago, we received in the mail the monthly newsletter of the Arden Road Baptist Church in Amarillo, Texas. As I was looking over it, the article on the back caught my attention and was such a good reminder that I thought that someone else might benefit from it, too. Here is an excerpt:
“As some of you might remember, there were survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attack. Many of these were from just some little thing that happened to them on their way to work.
- The head of a company survived because his son started kindergarten that day
- One was alive since it was his turn to bring donuts
- One was late because her alarm failed to go off
- One was late due to a traffic jam on N.J. Turnpike
- One spilled food on her clothes and had to change
- One was late because his car would not start
- One was late because she could not get a taxi
- One was late due to a blister from wearing new shoes and had stopped to buy a band-aid”
That really impacted me. I can’t stand to be late, and often I get frustrated and irritable when things don’t go exactly the way I think they should work. However, seeing delays and aggravations in the light of these examples helps me to keep the right attitude about what God is doing in my life. Sometimes God chooses not to reveal why we got stuck in that slow traffic or why we can’t find the specific book that we’re looking for, but other times He does disclose His reasons. One of the most significant of those times in my life happened almost exactly one year ago, on August 6, 2008, when God blessed me in an amazing way through a frustration. Actually, it started a little bit before that, when I began shopping for a laptop computer.
When I first started looking for a laptop, I had no idea what kind I wanted. Then, some friends showed me theirs, and I liked it, so I started looking more in that direction. I picked one out, but was disappointed to discover that the limited edition I wanted was already discontinued, and that I’d be getting a different one. It was actually a slight downgrade from what I’d wanted, and I felt disappointed at first. However, it was still much better than what I needed, so I gave the whole situation to God and was satisfied, knowing that "This, too, was from His hand." Then I had a few problems with my password; again, it was not something that I wanted to thank the Lord for. I called technical support, and, long story short, God prompted me to witness to the girl I was talking to. Although I was reluctant and scared at first, God moved in an incredible way, and it turned out that she was already saved, but needing some encouragement at that time in her life, as her family was unsaved and very unsupportive of her decision to follow Christ. We had a wonderful conversation, and I think I was even more blessed than she was, because I was the one who had seen God work out a hassle for good! If I had gotten the computer I wanted originally, and if hadn’t been having trouble with the one I did get, I would not have called the computer company, I would not have talked to that girl, I would not have had the opportunity to share Christ, and I would not have met a dear sister in the Lord! God works in mysterious ways!!!!
So next time you run into an obstacle in your life that seems frustrating or insurmountable, give it to the Lord, pray for His peace to fill your heart, and then watch to see how He moves!
Psalm 25:4 – “Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.”
Isaiah 55:8-9 – “For my thought are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
For many summers, we have had the privilege of going with some friends of ours (the Otts) to a local blueberry patch (owned by the Ott’s neighbor) to pick blueberries and stock our freezers. 🙂 We are thankful for the generosity of the owners, who let us come and pick all we want for free! Well, this week the call came that they were ready, so Mommy and all of us kids went over there to pick them. Before we went, Mommy told us that the Ott’s had invited us to go swimming when we were done! There was one catch, however: because of our schedule that day, we had to be done picking blueberries by 11:00 in order to have time to swim. And anyone who didn’t work didn’t get to swim, even if we were done by the deadline. So, when we got there, the Team jumped out of the van and set about to diligently accomplish the task at hand! Enthusiasm was prevalent, laughter was frequently heard, and Mrs. Tammy Ott even developed our own little motto for us. It went like this: “If there isn’t a blueberry under your nose, then move your nose!!” 🙂 Though it was a smaller crop than normal, we got around two gallons… well, after you count the ones that we ate in the field! 🙂
Next came the reward of our labors – the pool! We quickly went to the Otts’ house (right across the road), got changed, and plunged ourselves into the blue depths… aahhhh! It felt so good! Ever since Titus was born, we have wanted to put him in, because we have heard that if you put a baby in the pool early on, they will remember the swimming motions they used in the womb and it will actually be a lot easier to teach them. We got to put him in this time, and were a little surprised by his response: he liked it! 🙂 We also got to work with Bethany and Hannah with some of their swimming fears – things like getting water in their face, having the “big girls” let go of them, and using only one floatation device instead of two! 🙂 Susanna and Lauren worked on things like back floating, etc. The cool water was simply refreshing, and since “the desire accomplished is sweet to the soul,” we all enjoyed the reward of our labors immensely!
One thing I really appreciated about that day was how Daddy and Mommy provided a reward at the end of the project. At the FEW conference last weekend, during a session on family harmony while working together, we were challenged to find rewards for the diligent ones at the completion of a long task. Even though it would have been easier to just go home after picking, and not go through having to do all of the laundry from 10 soaked people, 🙂 when the offer came up, Mom worked it out so we could do it. Thank you, Mommy!
Special thanks to the Ott family for bringing their joy and enthusiasm to the blueberry field, letting us use their pool, and for taking the pictures for this blog post when we were so smart as to forget our camera at such a memorable time!! :)
$5.00 to the first person to find Lauren… Never mind – we found her. 🙂
More busy members of the picking team!
Bringing in the bounty: 23 dozen ears of corn and… well, we didn’t even TRY to count the tomatoes!
“Peter Dutchy” is in sad shape, but he and “Bobby Lee” faithfully kept the crows where they belonged!
We shucked it all in the garage.
Duke enjoyed the cool, concrete garage Herman was the much-needed
floor while WE were working. cleanup man!
Jessi and Kathryn blanched it all, and then it was stacked to drain before the creaming part of the process.
“In all labour there is profit…” Prov. 14:23
Bethany enjoys the fruit of her labors 🙂
Hooray!! Twenty-six more quarts in the freezer!
“The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich…” Prov. 10:22
A few nights ago, around the dinner table, Daddy told us a story that, without God’s mercy and protection, would have been fatal. We all listened with dropped jaws and shocked expressions as he told us the details.
A man was driving a small pick-up truck on his way back to work after being on a sales call. Suddenly, he noticed smoke coming out from under the hood, and pulled off the road. As he climbed out of the truck, he realized that the vehicle was on fire, so he quickly found a fire extinguisher and tried to put out the flames. The fire extinguisher did little to stop the fire, however, and, realizing that the truck could explode, he got as far away from it as he could. The truck continued to burn, and even tried to start up somehow. He watched in shock as the fire burned everything off of the truck, including the tires, leaving only the metal frame as evidence of the truck’s existence.
The man in this story is a man by the name of Rick, a designer at Andrews Truss (where Daddy works) and a personal friend of our family. He was on his way back to the office on Tuesday, August 11th when this incident occurred which startled all of us with it’s reality and the brevity of life. We marvel at God’s goodness and compassion.
As I was pondering the situation, I realized that there are several lessons we could learn from this.
- Occurrences like these remind us of just how short our life is and how quickly it can be changed. We never know what the next minute of our life will bring. Proverbs 27:1 – “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.”
- They also remind us of our need for complete and total dependence on God in every area of life. Had Mr. Rick delayed in getting out of the truck, he probably wouldn’t have lived. But because of God’s mercy and grace, he survived without a scrape. Lamentations 3:22 – “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.”
- You could also say that our lives are like this truck: here one moment, gone the next. 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.”
- Sin is a lot like fire. It is deadly, spreads easily, is hard to stop, and leaves it’s scars. Proverbs 6:27-28 – “Can a man take fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?”
- Our thoughts are also a lot like fire. The longer we tolerate sinful thoughts, the farther they spread, the harder they are to stop, the more damage they do, and the more obvious and disastrous the consequences are. The thoughts we entertain will form our desires; the desires will shape our actions; the actions will become our habits; the habits will develop our character; and our character will determine our destiny. We have a choice to think on good or evil, and all that we do begins in our thought processes. Guard your mind. Philippians 4:13 – “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
We are rejoicing and praising God for His unfailing love and grace, and for His ever-abiding mercy and protection over us. Take time to thank Him for the circumstances He puts in our lives to draw us closer to Him, and praise Him for the incredible ways in which He works in and through our lives!
Last Sunday we had the opportunity to celebrate a very special day in the history of our family. Ten years ago, after a three-year gap between siblings, we were overjoyed to find out that God was blessing us with a new life to love, cherish, and invest in. On August 9, 1999, Susanna Joy entered the Neely Team, bringing with her buckets of cheerfulness and loads of happiness! As her nickname implies, “Sunny” adds much joy to our home through her loving daily care of the little ones and her cheerfulness in the many family projects we do together.
Susanna, it has been a wonderful blessing to watch you grow in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. May you continue to let your light shine before all, that your Heavenly Father may receive the glory due His name! Happy Birthday!
You, my sister, are sweet and fair,
With bright blue eyes and golden hair.
Your lovely smile, much like the sun,
Cheers all around you ‘till the day is done.
You, sweet fair maiden to whom I speak,
Jump up to help when there’s a need.
Love the LORD with all your heart
And always strive to do your part.
You’re growing up so fast, you see,
And all the years, how quick they flee!
But oh, so soon, I’ll see you there
At the altar, kneeling in prayer.
Our own dear father by your side,
Giving you away – a lovely bride!
So keep your heart, oh sister dear
For that special, glorious year;
When you join yourself – heart and hand
To that one blessed, special man.
Guard your heart – don’t give it away!
Save it for that joyful day.
You’re making a path for many souls
So follow Christ, keep your eyes on the goal!
I love you more than I can tell –
Oh follow these words, and hearken well!
Written by Kathryn M. Neely (14)
For Susanna J. Neely on her 9th birthday
August 9, 2008
were nearly two hundred people there; somewhere around thirty-five families gathered together to encourage each other to continue to “fight the good fight of faith” and to be a light for Jesus Christ in the midst of this crooked and perverse generation. It was an amazing time of encouragement, inspiration, blessing, and challenge as we fellowshipped with one another, prayed together, sat under the teaching of godly men, and sought the Lord’s will as individual families. The schedule went somewhat as follows:
We arrived back at the Wilkes’ on Thursday afternoon, so we were able to help wrap up some of the things that still needed to be done. We had a lot of fun along the way, too! Psalm 133:1 says, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” We certainly saw that to be true once again as we worked together as members of the family of God! That evening, we went to the school where the conference was to be held, and got things ready there: setting up chairs and tables, working on the sound system, preparing the registration table, and “scoping out” other things for consideration.
On Friday, we started the day with a Wisdom Search together – what a blessed time of meditation on the Word and sharing with brothers and sisters in Christ! We then hit the ground running with the remaining preparation, and it was a joy to see the spirit of cooperation and teamwork in every person! Finally, at noon, the last dish was finished, the final water balloons were filled, the obstacle course was set up, and the grill was going for the cookout: now things REALLY got started. 🙂 Over one hundred people attended the cookout at the Wilkes’ home, and it was a great kick-off to the rest of the weekend!
Immediately following lunch, everyone went outside and was assigned to different teams for the family-building obstacle course. Each team was composed of several families, and each father explained the directions and led his family through the beginning of the course. Laughter was prevalent as we followed our fathers blindfolded through a rocky path, played a mini croquet game while holding a cup of water in our hand, carried a cup of popcorn on our feet (and then dumped it, hands-free, into a bucket), tried to catch water balloons, and accomplished various other tasks. 🙂
That evening, everyone went over to the school and heard the first few of a chain of inspiring, convicting, and life-changing sessions. Our attention was brought to important truths dealing with why there is still hope for a Godly family, the heart of fatherhood, and how to protect your family in the area of medicine. After that and a brief clean-up, the Wilkes, Staddon, and Neely Teams headed back to the Wilkes’ house for a few more hours of fellowship before it was decided (by the adults at least :)) to “hit the hay.” 🙂
Saturday opened with another Wisdom Search with all three families; this time focusing on Proverbs 8. By the time we all loaded up, headed for the school again, we had been both spiritually and physically nourished (thanks to the great cooking of Daniel and other members of the Wilkes Team :)) and now possessed the stamina needed for an unbelievable day. During the bloc of time before lunch, we heard meaningful lessons on courtship, marriage oneness, and family harmony. While the mothers prepared lunch and the fathers met for a time of prayer, all of the young people entered wholeheartedly into Discipleship Soccer and Canadian Dodge Ball. What an encouragement to see the older ones taking the time and energy required to invest into the lives of the younger children! We came in worn out and very warm, but filled with joy and ready to do full justice to the wonderful meal! During the rest of the afternoon, we saw an amazing chalk drawing, gave praise to the Lord through song, and heard more encouraging testimonies on the impact of older siblings on the family, harmony in relationships, and the blessings that come when we die to self and operate under authority. At the end of the day, those staying with the Wilkes were to be found playing volley ball, discussing how the Lord had worked, eating, and doing anything else the combined brains of 33 people could come up with! 🙂 A special memory of the evening was when each father prayed a blessing over the 27 young people present. What a treasure to see the hearts and desires of our leaders portrayed as they prayed over us and laid vision for the future!
Saturday night, a few of the more adventurous ones stayed up until after 2:30 a.m. working on… can you guess?? Answer: THIS BLOG!! 🙂 Anyway, somehow we all got enough rest in the remaining 4 hours of the night to sustain the activities of the next day – Sunday. Again at the school for the morning worship service, we were challenged by a message from the life of Joseph. Though this day marked the end of our journey, and shortly afterward we were on our way home, we carried with us new inspiration and excitement for how the Lord wants to use our family for His divine purposes. Though the hard part of what we heard and learned was still to come – the APPLICATION of it all – God is faithful and we can accomplish anything through His power alone. We praise God for all that He taught us throughout the week, and we look forward to seeing how He will use what we heard in our lives in the coming days.
To God be the glory – GREAT things HE hath done!
Amanda: What was your favorite part of the zoo?
Susanna: I liked the bobcats!
A: What did you learn about the bobcats?
S: The mother is lighter-colored than the kittens, and when the kittens are first born, they’re black. They like to sleep high off the ground, and they like to play and wrestle with each other.
Lauren: I liked to see all the snakes!
A: Really? I liked the snakes, too! What did you think was so interesting about them?
L: They can shed their skin!
A: That IS neat. How do they do that?
L: They just basically crawl backwards and the skin turns wrong-side out as it comes off of them.
Herman: The elk!
A: Oh yes, that WAS neat! What does the elk like to eat?
H: They like to eat leaves off of trees and grass, and his favorite fruit is pears.
A: They were about to feed him some pears when we got there, weren’t they? What else did you like about seeing the elk?
H: We saw him wake up from a nap and scratch his back with his antlers.
Bethany: The pink things and the prairie dogs!
A: You liked the rosate spoonbills. They were pretty interesting! What did you like about them?
B: They drink and eat out of the river!
A: Yes, they eat small fish and crustaceans. They use their bills to sift the food out of the water. Their food is what makes them pink, but they don’t have any feathers on their heads, so they’re bald! And what did you like about the prairie dogs?
A: What else did you see?
B: They were eating!
A: It was fun to watch them eat! And something that I liked to see was that they showed attentiveness to their leader. When the leader made a certain noise, they all stopped what they were doing, ran over to their tunnels, and got ready to hide if the leader told them to. That was also showing obedience!
Thank you for sharing, Susanna, Lauren, Herman, and Bethany! I hope we all learn lessons from the animals that God has placed around us!