Archive for 2014
What a great joy it was to attend the 2014 Family Economics & Mentorship Conference in Hampton, VA, this past weekend! How can one summarize, in a short post, several days packed to bursting with encouragement, solid, Scriptural teaching, and precious fellowship?! Perhaps the best way to attempt this feat would be to merely touch on the highlights of the event.
Special thanks to Matthew for loaning his darling wife and baby to us for the week while he returned home for work… having Amanda back as an active part of the Neely Team was such a joy! Matthew joined us for the last day of the conference, and what a blessing it was to be all together again.
Each session, presented by Christ-centered, dynamic speakers such as Kevin Swanson, Eric Weir, Steve Riddell, Daniel Craig, Gregg Harris, Anne Miller, and Rick & Marilyn Boyer – was spiritually refreshing and highly practical. Topics included entrepreneurship, sales, godly character, marketing, mentorship, family life, and communication. We all left inspired, convicted, challenged… and ready to continue pressing onward in our various ministries, businesses, and family lives for the glory of our Savior and the advancement of His kingdom.
What an honor it was to be able to minister through music during the conference! Special thanks to David Craig for all of his work in organizing this. His forethought and consideration allowed everything to run smoothly, and left us feeling welcomed and cared for. The music of the Craig and Roche gentlemen was also an incredible blessing to us.
Participating in the vendor hall a perfect opportunity to get to know many precious families. The sweetness of the fellowship was a reminder of the eternity that awaits those who have trusted Christ – to live for endless ages sharing the common bond of His love will be unspeakably glorious! This weekend was truly a foretaste of that bliss. Friday evening, the conference team graciously hosted a pizza party for all of the attendees, allowing for even more fellowship to take place (imagine seeing a total of about 110 Domino’s pizzas piled on serving tables — quite a delicious sight! ).
And, last but certainly not least, the staff at the Holiday Inn Express (where many of the conference attendees resided) also largely contributed to the joys of the weekend. Professional, accommodating, kind, and incredibly friendly, they were used of the LORD to bless many of us.
A final summary… We praise the Lord for His merciful kindness so clearly manifested this weekend on our behalf, and look forward to returning home to apply what we have heard and learned. May He remain preeminent in all of our endeavors.
Following a very uplifting time at the annual NCFIC conference on the Power of the Gospel transforming Church and Family, we came home on Saturday night, meeting with our dear eldest sister and her little family on the way. A few hours later, we were privileged to welcome our dear Wilkes Team into our home for a short 40 hours (or so ). We are so blessed to have been able to see these dear ones again! One of the primary activities of the weekend was the dedication of our adored little niece to our Savior. What a special time for each of her grandparents, aunties, and uncles (We’re very grateful for FaceTime, it enabled this number to include her Uncle & Aunt and cousins from 500 miles away!) to speak into her life from the Word of God, and to pray for her salvation and future. To say that each person involved was touched in some way would be an understatement….it was not only a time of dedication, but also a time of family bonding as the Lord used His Word to draw us all together once more.
Time and space would run short before we could ever transcribe the encouragement, kindness, blessing, fellowship, and joy in our Savior that we experienced. What a lovely weekend we were given by the mercy of Christ! Thank you, Wilkes Team, for being willing vessels of the Master’s love! We are grateful for you!
Hello everyone! Yes, we’re still here… alive and well and rejoicing in the goodness of the LORD as He continues to fill our days according to His perfect plan. So sorry for the delay between posts recently.
Here are the photos from this year’s Family Fun Night (though, somehow, in the busyness of the hours, the camera was strangely neglected by all of us and we only have a few to share). Despite rain that threatened to cancel many of the activities that had been planned, 70 people still made their way to our home for the festivities and the LORD mercifully saw fit to move the rain onward just shortly after the fun began. An evening filled with precious fellowship, uproarious laughter, hilarious games, and delightful snacks followed, and we pray that everyone went away, as we did, with joy in their hearts and gratitude to our loving Heavenly Father for His goodness.
Enjoy this lovely autumn season through which we are passing! May the blessings of the LORD rest upon you as you take note each day of His abundant mercies toward us.
A few weekends ago, the Lord gave Jessica and me the incredible (and delightful) opportunity to participate with viola and violin in the accompanying orchestra for the Calvary Quartet 20th Anniversary concerts. Under the skilled direction of Dr. Tim Fisher, our humble and hilarious conductor, and surrounded by the hospitable kindness of the Academy of Arts staff (the concerts were held in the Logos Theatre at the Academy’s campus), we thoroughly enjoyed and greatly benefitted from these events. We pray they brought much glory to our Savior and were an encouragement to the hundreds of people that attended over the course of the two evenings.
How grateful we are to have had this experience, as well as for our dear family’s support through the process.
Also, special thanks is due to the Kendall family, who graciously hosted our entire Team for two weekends – plus an extra day for us older ones – so that we could attend the rehearsals and then have a “home base” for the concert days.
A special ladies afternoon on the front porch in the lovely fall weather (complete with cappuccino, zinnias, sweet fellowship, and tons of laughter):
“O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.” Psalm 117
What a joy it was to have the Barnes and Dalrymple ladies here for a couple of days a few weeks ago! We laughingly called our time together the “ladies retreat”… because Dad and the boys went hunting — leaving us home “alone” — and we did what ladies normally do when they get together. We talked, and laughed, and fellowshipped, and had a tea party, and talked, and played games, and took a walk, and talked, and stayed up late, and laughed, and talked…
The fellowship was sweet, and truly refreshing; so precious is the bond we share in Christ. May we never take this for granted.
A few photos:
“Hats” versus “Non-hats” in “Four On a Couch”
Playing “General” in the lovely cool weather
Thank you, ladies, for coming up for this delightful time together. We love you all and look forward to the next time we can do this again!
The Lord will provide. Oh, blessed consolation, precious thought for contemplation. The Lord will provide that which is necessary for my well-fare – and not only this. He will do exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think. He will fill my every need beyond my wildest dreams, imaginations, hopes, desires. And it is a part of His character to do so. To give to His children good and perfect gifts from above. Gifts that are given by the Father of Lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. This same Father, the God of heaven and earth, is Jehovah Jireh: Provider of everything I could ever need.
To be sure, He does not always see fit to meet the need as soon as it arises. Nor does He always choose to use the means we may have in mind. His thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are His ways our ways. He is far higher than we. He is our God. My God. Jehovah Jireh.
“The Lord will provide.” And that, dear reader, is enough.
“Ascribe ye strength unto God; his excellency is over Israel, and his strength is in the clouds.” Psalm 68:34
When I had awoke last Sunday morning, the sun was out and the day looked beautiful – the sky was bright blue dotted with sporadic puffy, white clouds. Time spent with the Lord was a true joy, as He encouraged my heart with new insights from Psalm 68. The first portion of verse 34 especially stood out to me: Ascribe ye strength unto God. To ascribe is to “attribute something to,” or “to regard a quality as belonging to” someone or something. Here we are told to ascribe strength unto our God… doesn’t that have something to do with our expectations of His abilities and our confidence in His character? In a message given by our pastor several weeks ago, he challenged us to have great expectations of what the Lord can accomplish in our lives. “In Heaven, you will give an account for the level of faith you had in your Father. What are you expecting – are your sights set on wondrous, glorious works of the Lord, thirsting to see His power and glory revealed in your life, your family, your community? To what extent is your faith in the God of the impossible?” Psalm 68:34 reminded me of this message, and caused me to ask myself again what I am expecting my all-mighty Father to do in the next year, the next month, the next week. He is looking to show Himself strong. How faithfully am I seeking Him, depending upon Him?
Anyway, back to the rest of the story. The day started out bright and beautiful. Time with the Lord was sweet and uplifting. We went to church. When we drove home following the service at church, however, the sun had disappeared. As the afternoon wore on, the day became dark, dull, and overcast. Still, it wasn’t raining, so after dinner and a nap, we decided to go ahead and take our customary quiet, family walk and set out to do so.
Before I move on to the rest of the story, though, I have to tell you that I am a sunshiny-day kind of a person. The cloudy, dreary, rainy ones have, beauties and blessings of their own, I know, and I really am grateful to the Lord for them (after all, if there was not rain, the lush, green loveliness of summer would not exist)… it is just that is is usually somewhat easier for me to rejoice on days when the sun is shining. (Maybe I am alone in this view, and being a sunshine-lover is just one of my personal idiosyncrasies… I have a sweet friend who forever amazes me by her sincere exclamations that she just LOVES rainy days!)
At any rate, this afternoon – though I don’t think my family guessed it – to be completely open and honest, I was feeling rather discouraged and almost grumpy (a gradually-increasing headache and a distinctly sore mouth from my recent wisdom-tooth extraction were two factors that shouldn’t have changed anything about the scenario, but sadly, did). I had my pocket-sized Bible with me and, as we walked, spent some time meditating on Psalm 68:34 again. In His rich mercy, the Lord showed me the latter portion of the verse from a completely new and very timely perspective. …His strength is in the clouds. Looking up, all I could see was clouds. Dark clouds. His strength is in the clouds. Clouds, because of their natural connection with storms, are many times associated with the trials and difficult times of life. I thought of that, and then it hit me. It is often out of the depressing, seemingly impossible situations with which we are faced that our Father comes and reveals His strength, His ability to provide, His goodness, His love, His faithfulness, His mercy. We do not have to fear or dread the “dark days” – days of trial – because He is looking to show Himself powerful even in the shadows. What joy these thoughts brought to my heart!
So, this week, whatever you are facing, may you be encouraged by these brief insights as much as I have been. You may be walking through days of sunshine; what blessings or powerful demonstrations of your Father’s goodness are you missing because you have not asked Him? You may be walking through days of darkness; remember that it is His strength, power, and love that are overshadowing you, and rest in His plan.
Special thanks to Susanna, my sweet budding-photographer sister, for the use of her beautiful photos!
A visit from a portion of the Dunn family was an added highlight to our summer!
If you have never met this dear family before, we must tell you a little about them.
Joyful. Enthusiastic. Continually attentive to the needs of others. Thoughtful. Kind. Servant-hearted… far above and beyond the call of duty. Bubbly. Energetic! Christ-focused. Loving.
In one simple sentence, they are radiant with the light of our Savior… and thus, He uses them to impact and encourage many.
It was a tremendous blessing to have them in our home… they were truly a delight to host… and we can’t wait for the next time!
A fun little project for dessert one evening… Dirt Dessert!
The Lord has given us a beautiful summer. How quickly has it flown by! The days have been full of projects, birthdays, trips, music, beginning the new school year, sweet visits with company, late nights of work at the office, continued entrepreneurial endeavors, abundant blueberry production, and much more.
Perhaps more than ever before, the Lord has been reminding me of the necessity of making the most of every moment, of treasuring the people and circumstances He has put into my life in this season, of being productive and fruitful, using the here and now to prepare for the future.
I am reminded of the beautiful prayer in Psalm 90:
So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom… O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days… Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children. And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.
Now is the season for seeking the Lord. For taking Him at His Word and expecting Him to perform wondrous works in our lives. For trusting Him to fulfill His promises. For pressing on with joy, even when the way seems difficult and discouraging. For waking up each morning with a confident trust in His goodness. For enjoying sweet moments together as a family.
Now is the time…
So teach us, oh LORD, to number our days.
What a joy it was to spend some time getting to know the Vaughn family recently! After “officially” meeting Dr. Vaughn and his sweet team at a harp recital this past spring, a broken arm caused us to contact him again for medical advice. So, following our appointment at his office two weekends ago, we accepted their gracious invitation to join them at their lake house for a couple days. The time together talking about things of the Lord, laughing, enjoying delicious meals, and, of course, spending time on and in the water… was truly delightful. We came home physically and spiritually rejuvenated.
With water-play being the main activity, we didn’t come home with multitudinous files of pictures, but here are a few for your enjoyment.
Thank you, Vaughn family, for allowing the love and light of Christ to flow freely through you. We look forward to future times of fellowship together.
Until then, may the rich blessings of the Lord rest upon you, strengthening your hands to labor for His glory and encouraging your hearts through His Word.