Archive for November, 2009
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!”
We had just arrived at Grandmama’s house. Everything had been unloaded, and people were getting ready for bed. We had spent the whole morning gathering, packing, and loading. Pillows, violins, music, suitcases… everything was in and we were ready to go… maybe.
It was almost midnight, and we were all tired from traveling the eight hours to get there. That’s when someone came out of the bathroom and looked at me. Something was said like, “Did you forget to pack something?” I looked at her, confused. What could I have missed in the packing process? She answered my question when she said, “Maybe the toothbrushes?!”
Well, despite forgetting everyone’s toothbrushes, we had a great trip. We had been planning this for quite a while and had spent many hours gathered around the piano, practicing. We were in Bainbridge, GA from Friday, October 23 through Monday, October 26.
On Saturday, we just “hung out” at the house. Dad and Mom worked on setting up the new tree stand. 🙂 The younger ones played outside quite a bit, and Amanda and Kathryn were able to do some hunting. We got to see Allison, our cousin, while we were down there, too. She came over to the house and spent most of Saturday with us. Uncle Blaine and Aunt Melinda came for dinner that night. We also had the privilege of meeting Maria, a friend of theirs.
Sunday was the big day. We had spent many hours preparing. Our prayer was that God would get glory from what we did. We went to Grace Community Baptist Church for the morning service, which went very well. We sang several songs and Herman quoted Psalm 101 during a thirty minute time span. Sunday night found us at First Baptist Church. We had the whole service to sing. We did a mixture of songs, including songs with the whole family, violin solos, piano solos and duets, and Kathryn even quoted the whole book of Titus!
After the service, there was a time of fellowship. Some of our extended family were there, too. We enjoyed talking to many people that had been impacted by either Grandmama or Grandpapa, who were both school teachers for several years. Who knows how many lives they influenced for the Lord. Several people came and told us how they enjoyed having them as teachers or what they had learned through them. It reminded us of how blessed we are to have such a godly heritage and grandparents who stood for what was right and made choices that have affected many generations.
It was a wonderful trip. And (in case you were wondering), we didn’t have to go all weekend without brushing our teeth. 🙂 🙂
Recently I have seen the importance of getting a few minutes of fresh air and exercise every day. We live on a private road that is a perfect walking trail, and one of our favorite things to do in the evenings is take a family walk . After just a little while outside, we all feel refreshed, exhilarated, and just all together much, much better! 🙂 If there is sickness going around our area, a daily dose of fresh air always helps keep us from “getting it.” Exercise stimulates healthy blood flow; thus, it helps keep blood pressure and blood sugar at appropriate levels, and helps maintain a good weight. Here are a few examples from our own experience recently:
About a week ago, we had just finished up school, spent our normal amount of time getting the house looking decent again, and were waiting for Daddy to get home from work. Only one problem: chaos was reigning! Many of the younger ones were bursting with uncontrollable energy, and, consequently, the stress-o-meter of the home was rising rapidly. I was in the kitchen working on something, when I heard Mommy call out “All right, everyone get your shoes on! Family walk!” Immediately everyone was pulling out shoes, socks, jackets, the stroller, and other necessary collectables, and in a few moments we were out on the road getting some much-needed fresh air. The cool, crisp, fall breeze was simply refreshing, and we all came back in a little calmer and with much clearer minds! 🙂
Last night, after a calm, quiet, relaxing afternoon, Mommy again had the great idea to go to a new local walking track we have just found out about and get a few minutes of exercise before dark. This time, Daddy was with us and we enjoyed the time immensely! Divided up into pairs of two or three, we spent valuable time talking and laughing while expending some energy! The moon was out early and there were many gorgeous sights to behold.
Ideas for how to make a walk even more enjoyable and profitable:
– make it a family affair, and TALK!!
– sing a song
– take along a football or Frisbee and play catch (this is a favorite with us!)
– take a little card with a Scripture verse written on it and memorize it
– use a jump rope
– take note and thank God for the beauty of His creation
So… today, tomorrow, and as often as possible, even if you are busy, take a few minutes and GET OUTSIDE AND TAKE A WALK!!
A few weeks ago, while visiting some family in SC, our aunt served us this delicious dish and upon request gave us the recipe. 🙂 Last night we didn’t have any supper plans, so after consulting with Mommy and Amanda, we decided that it would be an excellent choice for dinner. I volunteered to make it, and Titus, always a willing helper, decided he would assist me (or rather ride on my back and attempt to eat my hair :)). After mixing it up and throwing it into the oven to bake, and after enduring the hunger pains that came from such a delicious smell, 🙂 we all sat down and enjoyed the mea l together. So, here’s the recipe:
16 oz. spaghetti
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups Caesar dressing (we used store bought this time, but homemade would work just a well and be just as tasty, besides better for you :))
1 cup Parmesean cheese
4 Tbsp. dry bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350. Cook and drain spaghetti. Combine noodles with shredded chicken, chicken broth, and dressing – pour into a 15×10” baking pan. Mix together cheese and bread crumbs, sprinkle over top. Bake for 25 min. Remove from oven and serve immediately.
Notes: Though not quite a dieters delight, 🙂 this is a great and extremely simple treat for unexpected company or busy days. Can be made ahead and frozen. Great when accompanied by a fresh tossed salad.