Archive for the 'Product Reviews' Category
Just in time for Christmas! Aubrey Elliott and Victoria Neely have finished a second book for solo harp, this time focusing on the birth of the Savior. Pre-order Promise Fulfilled today, and use coupon code PromisesShipped2016 to receive free shipping checkout on all orders of books and music!
Titles include: O Come, Little Children, Once in Royal David’s City, See in Yonder Manger Low, Joy to the World, and more!
Yet another journey in June was to Richmond for the HEAV (Home Educator’s Association of Virginia) Convention. With the days packed to bursting with busyness, fellowship, opportunities to serve and minister to many precious people, and much more, we all came away truly blessed and uplifted.
One of the numerous blessings of the weekend was seeing the standard of righteousness that the HEAV has set. Throughout the convention, frequent and unashamed acknowledgement of the LORD and His Word was clearly evident, and for that we were immensely grateful.
** Jessica was privileged to join our friend James (with Lenspiration) in leading a team of photographers for the convention.
** At any convention, the Neely Team always loves the vendor hall… so being able to operate a booth ourselves and walk the floor many times visiting others was certainly a highlight.
** Participating in music, both in the HEAV High School Graduation ceremony and in the lobby background music, was such a joy! Matthew & Amanda joined us at the convention on the day of the graduation, so having Amanda in the ranks again to sing/play brought many smiles.
One of our faithful readers asked for this recipe… so here it is! This makes a wonderful treat to serve to guests; it looks beautiful but is incredibly simple to put together.
Old Glory Dessert
2 cups sugar cookie dough [or 1 (18 ounce) tube refrigerated dough]
11 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
2 cups fresh strawberries, quartered
Press cookie dough into a greased 15”x10” baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden brown (do not over-bake). Cool on a wire rack.
In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, and lemon juice until smooth. Set aside 1/4 cup of mixture. Spread remaining cream cheese mixture over crust. Decorate with blueberries and strawberries to resemble a flag.
Cut a small hole in a corner of a pastry or plastic bag. Insert star tip (#16). Fill with reserved cream mixture. Beginning in one corner, pipe stars in the spaces between blueberries. Store in refrigerator until serving.
Notes from TNT:
*As you can see from the photo, piping stars between the berries isn’t always necessary… it does look more esthetically pleasing, though.
*For those of you who are – like us – chocolate fanatics, chocolate-chip cookie dough makes a nice substitution for the sugar dough.
*A few weeks ago, we had fun coming up with a gluten-free, dairy-free version of this recipe, simply by using gluten free, dairy-free cookie dough, and using a natural strawberry jam in place of the cream cheese frosting. It was a sweet treat for those with intense diet restrictions.
Happy Independence Day from the Neely Team!
May each of our hearts turn anew to the One in Whom we have true freedom, that His glory may once again dwell in our land.
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.” Psalm 33:12
This post could be named several things. “You know not what a day may bring forth.” “Trusting God… on the side of the road.” “Smoking tire on way to baby shower.” But, “Tire Depot – Grayson, GA” seems the best. Why? Because the Lord really blessed us through this business.
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of being lost (well, thankfully we weren’t completely lost) with a smoking van tire, 123 miles from home. Yet the hand of the Lord was so beautifully seen in each mile of the journey. Knowing the presence of God in the midst of a perplexing situation is truly beautiful. We laughed. We almost wanted to cry. We stood in amazement. We made phone calls (lots of them).
The Lord’s plan is always perfect…
…even when you don’t know the extent of the car problems you’re having on your way to speak at a friends baby shower, traffic is terrible, it’s 104 degrees outside, and the shower is supposed to start in 30 minutes and you’re at least 20 minutes from your destination.
Ah, but it’s then that you know you’re helpless. And get ready — because it will be then that you’ll see the power and love of God in fresh, exciting ways.
To make a long story short…
We had a brake problem. The smell was typical of brakes: strong and distinct. We formulated “plan B” so we could arrive at the baby shower (almost) in time. Several mechanically minded friends checked out the situation, and so the next morning, we got back on the road, knowing that, based on the diagnosis given by our friends, the problem may arise again, but hoping that it wouldn’t. A few miles later, that distinct smell was back. We called Dad (who stayed home on this trip to work) and he said, “Find the nearest garage that will work on brakes.” It happened that we were at the intersection with Tire Depot. We pulled in, and the service we received was top notch. The kindness shown to us by the owners and employees of this family-owned tire business put us at ease. They gave us a shady parking spot, prompt, courteous service, told us to go to the air-conditioned office (it was 100 degrees outside…. at least it was cooler than the day before) while we waited for the part to arrive (which only took 20 minutes), and within the hour we were back on the road, driving a van that was running beautifully… better than it has in a long time.
So, to all of you blog followers in the Atlanta area, we highly recommend Tire Depot.
And to those of you who seem to be “broken down” on the journey of life, take comfort! The Lord is nigh them that are of a broken heart, and His strength is most clearly seen when we feel utterly helpless. Cling to His precious promises, and behold the works of the Lord! He doeth all things well.
Here are a few pictures from the shower. What a delightful evening! Such a joy it is to celebrate the anticipated arrival of new life: a precious soul to nurture and to teach the boundless love of God.
Last Saturday was another family work day. Funny that this should be the second post I will have written about days like this so far this year, but to be very honest… these types of days are rather rare commodities.
The vast majority of our weekends are filled with guests, ministry opportunities, and various trips to various places, seeing various wonderful people… and we LOVE it that way. We wouldn’t change it for anything, and are continually reminded what a tremendous blessing it is from the LORD to have our days filled thus.
But an occasional day at home all together to catch up on projects can be a nice change of pace, and that is what we enjoyed this past weekend.
What a day it was! The time flew by as project after project was tackled and accomplished by various Team members.
As the hours passed, however, it was as though the LORD was telling me to PAUSE; to pay attention to the immense number of blessings that were surrounding me; to observe the beauty that He has created…to truly, in every thing, GIVE THANKS.
It brought such delight to my heart. There are so many blessings, so many reasons for gratitude. Here are a few:
1. Glorious, beautiful sunshine! I love winter, but coming inside at dusk with a light sunburn felt most pleasant.
2. Aqua-blue sky wisped with cirrus clouds, which speak of the creativity of our Father (Can you imagine the joy He must get out of designing new cloud formations for us to view every single day?!)
3. Dad, up on a ladder pressure washing the house, with two stalwart helpers beside him, moving equipment around and running errands for him
4. A sister who faithfully weeded around all of the trees, bushes, and shrubs in the yard; and another sister who followed her for hours with a backpack sprayer making sure the weeds stayed away!
5. Mom, and yet another sister, who stayed inside for the majority of the day (thus, we failed to document any of their activities on camera ) accomplishing sewing projects, preparing meals, cleaning the house, reaching a deadline for a computer project, etc.
6. Black, rich, beautiful dirt… and chubby, wriggling earth worms. I’m not really one of those people who just loves gardening for it’s sake alone… but the LORD has given me so much joy the past couple years in taking on the position of “garden manager” for the Team, that I have actually come to get excited over such things. Black dirt really is beautiful… and fat worms are a sign of healthy soil… and so, despite the initial connotations that come to mind regarding them, they both hold immense reasons for gratitude.
7. A manly brother who kindly got his commercial weed-wacker up and running and let me operate it
8. The humor of explaining the difference between rebar and rhubarb to a little sister (and yes, she smilingly gave her permission to post that )
9. Adorable little green houses in which to start some early crops, and the educational fun of constructing them with sweet team of helpers
10. Cold, juicy clementines – the perfect “pick me up” snack
11. Dinner around the fire pit, riding the go-cart, and cool evening breezes
12. Gratitude expressed and displayed by my dear family throughout the day, encouraging me to find and take note of even more of the bountiful evidences of the LORD’s goodness
There are so many other things that could be mentioned… but just remember, as you go throughout your day, to PAUSE and take note of the beautiful things that surround you. Your life is beautiful… because your Heavenly Father has designed it, and He does all things well. May you discover many reasons for rejoicing as you GIVE THANKS for His abundant goodness.
Special thanks to Susanna for capturing the day for us with her camera!
A great blessing in my life recently has been the reading of J.I. Packer’s book, Knowing God. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with it, as I was until a few months ago, this is one of those volumes that is so thoroughly packed with the glowing, vibrant truths of Scripture about the character of our God, that it is almost impossible to read more than a couple paragraphs in one setting. It is one of those books that I will need to read over and over again so that, by God’s grace, the beautiful realities it presents can be more fully grasped and integrated into my life. I would compare it to drinking out of a fire hydrant – catching as much water as I can handle with each effort to quench my thirst, but being nearly knocked over in the process.
For the past several days, I have been (wonderfully) “stuck” on this quote from chapter three, and wanted to share it with you with the hope that it will bless and challenge you equally as much.
“What matters supremely… is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it – the fact that He knows me. I am graven on the palms of His hands. I am never out of His mind. All my knowledge of Him depends on His sustained initiative in knowing me. I know Him because He first knew me, and continues to know me. He knows me as a friend, one who loves me; and there is no moment when His eye is off me, or His attention distracted from me, and no moment, therefore, when His care falters.”
May your heart rejoice today as you meditate on the settled truth of your Heavenly Father’s intimate love for and knowledge of you.
Look around you, at the individuality and uniqueness of each snow flake, the magnificent beauty of the trees upon which they fall, the splendor of the pure whiteness of the covered slopes, and see the Creator’s power. Then ponder… that you are known of Him. No painful circumstance, no mental doubt, no uncertain future, can change that fact. His eye is upon you, watching over you and guiding you with perfect wisdom, unfailing faithfulness, and tender compassion.
How precious also are they thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee. Psalm 139:17-18
But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands… Isaiah 49:14-16
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
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.
Hello to our family, friends, and followers!
You may be wondering what we are thinking, as far as what our plans are for these two websites.
The purpose of theneelyteam.com is simple: to encourage other families and believers to press onward for the glory of God in the race that He has set before them. The purpose of this site has not changed. We plan to continue posting about day-to-day life, encouraging thoughts/tidbits we come across, news about family happenings, etc., just like we’ve always done.
The vision for neelymarketplace.com is simple, as well, though entirely different from theneelyteam.com: to make high-quality products and services available to the public, while striving to encourage and point others to Jesus Christ. While this seems like a broad goal, there are many plans behind it which we hope will prove to be useful to you.
If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to drop us a comment. We love hearing from our readers. After all, you are the whole reason why we’re doing this. May the Lord bless you, and draw you closer to Himself in the days and years ahead!
Rejoicing in our Lord,
The Neely Team
For a yummy breakfast treat last Saturday, Kathryn and I made Blueberry Coffeecake together! We found the recipe in No-Guesswork Cooking, one of our favorite recipe books. We mixed it up Friday night and then put it in the fridge. Early on Saturday morning, Kathryn baked it so it was warm and yummy when we were ready to eat. Everyone agreed that it was a delicious recipe and that we should make it again soon!
2 1/2 cups flour (we did 1 cup whole wheat flour; 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour)
1 1/2 cups sugar (we used evaporated cane juice instead of white sugar)
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup butter, softened and cut into Tablespoon-sized pieces
- Combine first four ingredients in a mixing bowl. Cut in butter until mixture looks like crumbs.
3/4 cup milk
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries
- Add next three ingredients slowly to above crumb mixture, mixing for 2-3 minutes. Scrape bowl and continue mixing on low speed for 2-3 minutes. Fold in blueberries. Pour batter into greased 13”x9” baking pan.
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon sugar
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons butter, softened
- Combine ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Mix with pastry blender until crumbly.
- Sprinkle topping mixture evenly over batter in pan. (Can refrigerate overnight at this point if desired.) Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly pressed in the center. Serve warm and enjoy!
Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart. Psalm 32:11
After far too long of a separation, the Lord blessed us with us with an opportunity to travel north to visit Matthew & Amanda and the Wilkes Team. Words fail to describe the thrill of being together once again as family, fellowshipping, making memories, and rejoicing in the goodness of the Lord.
Rejoicing… that word seems to best describe the weekend with which we were blessed. In some measure, is not this the way each of our relationships should be with Christ? Should we not yearn so much to be with Him — to commune with Him — that seasons of prayer and fellowship are our greatest delight? That spending time in His presence thrills our hearts and gives us new hope, new energy, new zeal for His work? May it ever be so in every one of our lives.
Soon after our arrival, a fantastic memory was made as … a great number of Thera-pit-ic cherry pit packs were opened!
On Friday, the whole merry band loaded up and went ice skating (the first time for many of us)! Zipping around, laughing at both successful and unsuccessful attempts to get the hang of it, falling, slipping, gliding… what special memories were made. Thank you for this special treat, Uncle Mark & Aunt Alice. Though we left the rink with one broken arm, the goodness of the Lord was evident even in that incident, and we look forward to trying this delightful sport again sometime.
Friday evening, we celebrated the birthday of a very special patriarch. We love you, Grandpa Wilkes!
On Saturday morning, the parents went to the farmer’s markets and left the rest of us at home. First on the schedule was breakfast in Matthew & Amanda’s apartment! Such a special, joyous time together; their hospitality is first-rate!
Later in the day, the Lord blessed with a chance to rid the property of a sly predator that had been sighted nearby. Several previous attempts had been made, but were all unsuccessful. At last though, the perseverance of many resulted in a dead fox and hundreds of safer, happier chickens!
As we press onward in the race, looking unto Jesus Christ, this weekend of rejoicing with our dear family will remain as a special and treasured memory. Looking forward to next time!
Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name. Psalm 33:20-21