Archive for October, 2009
The dining room was quiet. Used supper dishes were pushed to the center of the table, while eleven heads bent in concentration over the papers in front of them. An occasional giggle or comment broke the silence, but for the most part, all was still. Then, someone asked, “Do I have to pick just THREE? These are ALL so good!”
We were finally judging the captions for the photo caption contest of a few weeks ago! Each person was handed a piece of paper which had all the entries typed on it (without the names of the submitters), and we were to mark our three favorites. When we finally managed to narrow down the list to our top three (or four 🙂 ) favorites, we tallied the votes to find out which captions seemed to fit the picture the best. After seeing some very interesting results, we took the four finalists, and voted again. Then, when it was obvious which one had won the contest, there was a moment of breathless anticipation as we waited to hear who had submitted the winning caption! A drum-roll was called for, the winner was announced, and the room instantly burst into cheers! So, for those of you who submitted captions and are just dying to know who won :), here are the results. The winning caption was:
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue with baby toys?” , submitted by Michael S.
The other three finalists were:
“Where are all the boys???” by Uncle Jim
“Oh my! The Bb in measure seven was a bit sharp again – one more time girls…” by Joshua
“Did you see what I just did?? … Sometimes I even amaze myself!” by Aunt Lisa
One that we really liked when we had our personal family contest a few weeks ago was the one that Mom came up with: “Where’s my binki?” Another favorite was Dad’s “Why wouldn’t my sisters adore me??”
So a great big THANK YOU to all who participated!! We GREATLY enjoyed receiving and reviewing all the comments – please visit again soon!!!!! 🙂
It was dark. It was loud – at times. There was lots of activity. We had to carry water from the spring. Washing dishes (of which there were not a few!) became a very interesting experience. There were nine children ages 10 and under . Eight young adults. Four adults. But most of all, there was abundant joy and enthusiasm in every heart!
Where were we and what was happening??? This last weekend, we had the joy to host the Stelzl family at our house! After their arrival on Thursday evening, we had an absolute blast getting to know this dear family better, even though we did go over 30 hours without electricity (caused by a rain storm :))! We filled the precious time with playing games, talking, doing electrical work, 🙂 talking, having a few picnics, making music, talking, carrying water from the spring up to the house, enjoying delicious meals together (some of which were in the dark :)), talking, taking hundreds of pictures, talking, breathing deeply of the beautiful, crisp fall air, fellowshipping around a bonfire, talking, and many other things. (Do you get the picture of what we did the most of anything?? :))
On Saturday morning, we left our without -electricity house 🙂 and went to view the moving Vietnam Veterans Wall, which was passing through our area at the time. How precious to see list after list of all the soldiers that willingly gave up home, family, and future to go to another world and fight so that we, a few generations later, could have those things that they sacrificed!! It was an excellent reminder that freedom is not free – many have fought and died for it on our behalf!
On Sunday evening, we loaded up and drove to Brasstown Bald, the highest mountain in GA, for a refreshing hike and time of fellowship around a picnic supper. When we got to the top, we were greeted by an exhilarating breeze and a clear view of the surrounding mountain ranges. At the excellent suggestion of Mrs. Stelzl, we did something we have never thought to do up there: we lifted our voices in one accord in many a song of praise to our Creator! Songs like “How Great Thou Art,” “Amazing Grace,” “It Is Well With My Soul,” “Trust and Obey,” and many others filled the air and reminded us of the Almighty, Unchangeable, Loving God that we serve! That will stand out in the memories of all who participated for years! Thank you, Mrs. Stelzl, for the great idea!!
After their departure, we were left with a too empty, too quiet house (though by then the lights were working again :)) but we treasure the memories of all that was said and done! We praise the Lord for opportunities, like this, to be encouraged by sweet fellowship with like-minded believers!
We recently spent some time taking family pictures. It made me think about all the many different things people say when its “picture time.” Sometimes the process is harder than other times, especially if you don’t have anyone to take the picture for you. It teaches some good character qualities, including patience, perseverance, and cooperation. Most of the time we take our own family pictures… you know: the “Quick! Push the button and run into the picture!” routine. This time we were blessed to have a neighbor who offered to take them “professionally” for us. Amazing!! We got done in less than an hour! 🙂 Last time we tried, it took us probably two or three hours! Having an extra person to push the little button helped a lot!
So anyway, what does your family say when its picture time and you’re trying to get everyone to not only look at the camera, but with a pleasant expression (like, you know, a smile or something nice like that?!)? I’ll be honest… you have to be creative. Think about what your family likes the most. The thing that makes them smile to think about. Then make them say it out loud to produce the smile. That’s what we want, isn’t it? 🙂
The “normal” picture-taking sayings are, “Smile!” “Say, ‘Cheese!’”, and other stuff like that. But… wait a minute… what is the standard for “normal” if everyone is different?! Hmmmmm…
Well, I have to admit that sometimes it’s a real struggle to get a good family picture. It takes an extra amount of cooperation and patience. This past March, we were trying to get a really good one for the cover photo on our new CD. Ummm… well…. we all got dressed up in our “Sunday clothes” and headed out to the garage where we set up our portrait studio. Titus was only about a week old, so Mommy was coming off bed rest to do this. Remember, it was March, so we had a heater going in the garage, which we ended up shutting off, because when you have twelve people squished into an approximately 5’x5’ area, no one gets extremely cold. (Actually, you’re more likely to get extremely hot.) About two hours and eighty pictures later, we concluded that we probably had one picture that would work, so we went inside and got little ones ready for bed. Most of us had ice cream (to help us cool down 🙂 ) while Daddy was browsing through the pictures. We then realized that we didn’t have one picture that we could even “cut and paste.” Back to the garage… side note: we had to redress six people and redo hair. It was now about 10:30 pm. We were all getting kind-of tired. After about twenty or thirty more, finally, we got one that we could “cut this and paste that,” and it would work. That night, we tried several different ways to try to get the effect we wanted, which included laughing uncontrollably, instead of just smiling at the camera.
Oh, I guess this post is supposed to be about what people say when they are waiting for that little clicking sound, which confirms in our mind that the picture has been captured by the incredible device known as a camera. We use the common words like “Smile!”, “Say, ‘Cheese!’”, and “Look at the camera!”. But we also say probably not-so-common things, too. “Laugh uncontrollably!” “Pretend like you’re comfortable!” “Relax… just be yourself.” “Smile anyway!” “Be happy!” “Don’t wrinkle your nose when you smile.” “Umm… it just took…. my eyes were shut.” “Let me take it! You always ‘cut off’ your head!!” “Make your eyes smile.” “Ooops… I wasn’t looking.” “Well, let’s try that again.” “Open your eyes a little wider.” “Are we having fun yet?” “Just one more.” “Take off the sunglasses – we want to see your eyes.” “Hurry… I can’t stand like this much longer!” “Don’t pick your nose!” “Hundreds of people will see this.” “You sit right there.” “The sun is in my eyes.” “Run… the timer’s going!” “Everyone hold still.” “Ouch… you stepped on my foot!” “_________ was looking the other way.” “Watch out! Don’t fall off!” “My legs are falling asleep.” “Call the dog.” “Everybody open your eyes.” “Put your hand down.” “Nobody move until after the ‘click’.” “Quick! Run into the picture before the time is up!” “Hopefully there will be one good one out of all these.”
So, go take some family pictures. Enjoy time together. Cooperate. Work together as a team to get it done. And, most importantly, laugh. It adds “spice” and will help to make the process more enjoyable. 🙂
Well, there we were. It was Friday, and we were planning the menu for the weekend. I had volunteered to take on the responsibility of finding a good recipe and making it for Sunday dessert after the potluck with our church people. We had a very busy week, and still had other things to do, so I needed to find a recipe that would be fast and easy, and of course, yummy. I asked around if anyone had any ideas or anything in particular that just sounded really good. One said brownies, and one didn’t care, and I’m not sure what everyone else said. So I opened our cookbook cabinet and found one of our favorite cookbooks – Best-Loved Chocolate Classics put out by Taste of Home. The best part about it was that it was easy to do, and I was able to make it a couple days in advance. We served it, and almost all of it was devoured. It makes a rich, chocolate, cake with a heavier consistency than that of a cake mix.
Best-Ever Chocolate Cake
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
6 Tablespoons baking cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups water
2/3 cup oil
2 teaspoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Fluffy Chocolate Frosting:
1 cup cold milk
1 package (3.9 oz) instant chocolate pudding
1 (8 oz) carton frozen whipped topping, thawed
In a mixing bowl, combine first five ingredients. Add the water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Beat on low speed for 1 minute. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Pour into a greased 13”x9”x2” pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted the center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.
For frosting, in a mixing bowl, beat the milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes. Beat in whipped topping. Spread over cake. Refrigerate until serving time. Yield: 12-15 servings.
Editor’s note: This cake does not contain eggs.
The Wilds Christian Camp has been used by God in our lives for many years, via music, going to family camps and retreats, etc. Actually, it was there that Daddy, as a teenager, confirmed his salvation! How thankful we are for that ministry!
Several weeks ago Mommy was doing a little bit of reading and saw that the Wilds was having a “40 years of ministry” celebration, where they invited all former staff, campers, etc., to come for a day of fun activities, food, and most important, fellowship. After suggesting to Daddy that we do it, (and after we realized that our itinerary had an empty space in it for a change :)) she headed up the planning and packing for the event. (Thank you, Mommy!) This last Saturday morning we filled up the “Land Yacht” 🙂 with all 12 members of the Neely Team and all of their necessary luggage 🙂 and went over to Brevard, NC, and enjoyed the beautiful weather, peaceful atmosphere, godly music, tremendously thrilling and fun activities, and the side-splitting re-plays of skits done in the past. During the course of the day, many of us took part in “The Cat in the Hat” game, the land trolley, mini-golf, the rock-climbing wall, and, last but not least, the famous Giant Swing! (A glorious contraption into which two people are strapped, lying on their stomachs. They are then hiked up 65 feet above the watching audience below, and then let fall – which gives about 2 seconds of that all-amazing “free-fall” feeling, which is enough for anyone 🙂 – and into swinging back and forth! Sound scary?? Both that and exhilarating! :)) We were able to see and “catch-up” with many old friends and acquaintances, meet new people, and before leaving, take a delightful trip to the popular coffee shop at camp – “CoolBeans.” Mmmmmmm……!!!! Our day ended with a tour of the newest construction project on the camp property: a multi-purpose building planning to be used for a book and music store, souvenir shop, a conference room, and offices for many of the staff members. It was exciting to see the vision that was being carried out, enabling them to more effectively impact numerous lives!
The Lord has truly blessed the Wilds because, as their theme verse 1 Corinthians 10:31 states, all is done for the glory of God. What a blessing to be able to see the rewards of such a commitment, and what a reminder carry out that truth in our own lives – it is, in fact, the very reason we were created!
For a long time I have been widing my bike with twaining wheels. I lerned things like how to steer and how to stop and use the brakes. Then Victoria and Susanna (Sunny) ‘tarted teeching me how to wide with no twaining wheels. When I first ‘tarted learning it was just a wittle bit scary, but now it is all fun! The best place to wide is on the floor in the garage. It is nice and ‘mooth in there. I’m glad that the girls taught me how to wide with no twaining wheels.