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Archive for the 'Tidbits' Category

Seasons of Color

Posted by Jessica

Nov

5

Living in the mountains, we get to enjoy beauty all around us, all year long. This fall, the leaves have been more colorful and vibrant than we’ve had in a long time. With changing seasons, we are reminded of beautiful truths.

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The seasons of each year come and go. Colors around us change and fade. But our Lord and His faithfulness never change. Malachi 3:6a – “I am the Lord; I change not.

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Spring arrives, and with it leaves burst forth on the trees. Just a few months pass, and before we know it, those leaves are changing into varying colors, and then, one by one, they lose their grips on the branches that held them and fall quietly to the ground, arraying the grass below in stunning beauty. Life is a vapor; the days pass swiftly by. We must continually be seeking the Lord and His will for us, moment by moment. James 4:14-15 – “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. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.”

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Every day is a gift from the Lord. Each day contains in it many blessings from Him. Even small gifts, like a beautiful sunset or bursts of color during autumn… each is a gift from our Lord, who created everything and allows us to enjoy it.  Psalm 96:6 – “Honour and majesty are before Him: strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.”

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Bask in the goodness of God. His love for us is unchanging. He is our Light, giving us direction and guidance to take the next step on our journey heavenward. He is our Shield, protecting us from the evil around us. He is Jehovah Shalom, the Lord our Peace.

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Camping Memories

Posted by Jessica

Oct

26

We have an annual camping trip tradition with a group of friends that we’ve known for 28 years. Every fall, the group gathers to enjoy sweet fellowship together in the great outdoors. This year was no exception: we enjoyed wonderful conversations and made some more hilarious memories together. As for the great outdoors… we enjoyed that too.

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Camping is always fun. Sometimes we do wonder why we would want to pack up all sorts of essentials and conveniences (hot chocolate, marshmallows, etc.) to go live outside for a couple days, but, even though it’s a lot of work, we all agree that it is enjoyable and we always look forward to this annual tradition.

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This year, however, there was added adventure: rain. Torrential downpours through the night, seeping into the tent from all sides. There’s nothing quite like waking up to realize that a puddle had become your bed. (Rafts may have been suitable, instead of sleeping bags.) Then to figure out just how we were going to absorb the puddles that had formed throughout our home-away-from-home with not-too-many towels to use……It was indeed a time for laughter, creativity, and….work. 🙂 We were rejoicing that it only rained one night, after which the Lord gave us a beautiful day. Waking in such a soggy state was humorous…..it’s not every morning that we get to wake up with bedding dripping with excess water and your pillow absorbing the local puddle that you find yourself laying in. Ahh, ‘twas a weekend for memories.

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Sweet time together in the Word

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In addition to the other joys of the weekend, we had the opportunity to travel with our beloved “mama dog” and the six puppies we still had at that point. Life is exciting, especially when travelling with seven dogs.

[Puppy update: praise the Lord all but two have sold!! If you’re looking for a beautiful shepherd, there are two lovable females available.]

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This camping tradition was started some thirty years ago, and while the group would change from year to year based on each family’s schedule, the tradition has stayed in tact. This is one example of how friendship built on the foundation of Jesus Christ can stand the test of time. The faithfulness of each couple is a beautiful testimony, too, especially in a culture that is rejecting God’s plan for the family.

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Thank you, friends, for your faithfulness to the Lord through the years, and for your continued encouragement to press onward in the race for God’s glory. Looking forward to next camping trip!!

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… in the night, His song…

Posted by Kathryn

Oct

13

There is a sweet elderly friend of our family who is known for perpetually having a song in his heart. You know – one of those delightful people that just exude cheerful music no matter what time of day or night it is or what is being encountered. Well, this man (we call him “Grandpa”) has a reputation far and wide for humming, singing, playing the harmonica in duo with his dear little wife, making up new words to match old tunes, or simply listening to music – constantly. “Grandpa” has been a part of lives ever since I can remember, and he is one of those that we can all say has had a tremendous influence on our walks with the LORD. One evening years ago, we sat together around our table enjoying a meal, and as always, throughout the course of the repast many topics came and went in the discussion. Even though eating together was a very common occurrence, this particular dinner stands out in my mind because of a specific challenge Grandpa gave to us young people. In essence, he exhorted us to be intentional about storing up a treasury of the rich, quality, Scripturally-sound songs and hymns that godly men and women have written, while we were young. Having entered the stage where memory is not always as clear as in earlier years, he shared the testimony that, while many things have faded from his mind, it is the songs of the faith that have remained with him, continuing to bring fresh stores of comfort and strength on his journey heavenward.

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Throughout this year, the LORD has brought specific songs to my attention with beautifully perfect timing. Earlier this spring, one of my dear sisters spontaneously designed something which included the hymn, Jesus, Lover of My Soul. Without her even realizing it, it was just what I needed at that time. Shortly after that, another dear sister pulled an old recording from our closet and put it in, directing my attention to a lovely song titled, Fear Not, I am With You. This song spoke volumes to me, as it is an almost word-for-word musical rendition of one of my favorite verses – Isaiah 41:10. Another time God used a violin student’s assignment to remind me of All the Way My Savior Leads Me; a later one was Abide with Me.

It was not until recently, though, that the LORD opened my eyes and revealed what He has been doing. As the experiences of life have deepened, and trials, joys, tests, decisions, victories, and struggles have come and gone, it has seemed that with each new dimension, He has had a new song for me.

Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.” Psalm 42:8

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Through the writings of many saints throughout history, the Psalms, and other passages of Scripture, God has given us a musical wealth of encouragement and blessing. He has been demonstrating to me, that, as we are faithful to learn them, He mercifully brings them back to our remembrance right when we need them most. His songs come to us “in the night” – times of darkness, doubt, decision, disappointment, and discouragement – and illuminate the shadows. How graciously kind He is!

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A few weeks ago, I was blessedly reminded of yet another song by yet another dear sister. We’ve known this song for years, but in a passing conversation, she mentioned it; and oh! how much it has meant during this season of my life.

 

Bow the Knee
M. Harland & C. Machen

There are moments on our journey, following the Lord,
When God illumines every step we take.
There are times when circumstances make perfect sense to us,
As we try to understand each move He makes.
[But] when the path grows dim and our questions have no answers – turn to Him.

Bow the knee; trust the heart of your Father when the answer goes beyond what you can see.
Bow the knee; lift your eyes toward heaven and believe the One Who holds eternity.
And when you don’t understand the purpose of His plan,
In the presence of your King, bow the knee.

There are days when clouds surround us, and the rain begins to fall;
The cold and lonely winds won’t cease to blow.
And there seems to be no reason for the suffering we feel;
We are tempted to believe God does not know.
When the storms arise, don’t forget we live by faith and not by sight.

Bow the knee; trust the heart of your Father when the answer goes beyond what you can see.
Bow the knee; lift your eyes toward heaven and believe the One Who holds eternity.
And when you don’t understand the purpose of His plan,
In the presence of your King, bow the knee.

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So this week, this month, this year… through whatever night you may be passing, may His song be with you.



YES

Posted by Kathryn

Sep

17

Oh what a wealth of strength and encouragement there is to be had in learning from and sharing with other dear believers within the body of Christ! In talking with a sweet friend recently, who is potentially facing some major changes in her life, I came away tremendously blessed with her testimony of what it means to discern, and follow, the will of God. In essence, she summed it all up in one word: YES. Since our heavenly Father has promised to lead, guide, and direct His children, she shared that her decision lay more in saying YES to what she knew He would reveal – difficult and uncomfortable as that may sometimes be – than it did in attempting to figure out exactly what the future would look like and choosing between different options.

It was such a simple thought, yet one that really resonated with me.

All throughout our lives, we are called to discern God’s will. Some decisions are simple, some are complicated. Some are joyous, some are painful. Some seem to have very little ongoing effect, and others are pivotal in deciding the destiny of not only ourselves but those around us.

There is certainly much need for fervent prayer, for diligently seeking the LORD for His way, for crying out for wisdom and direction. This is crucial. Scripture is packed full of commands to seek, and promises for those who will do so while trusting and waiting with patience. But when faced with such a decision, I am beginning to see that half the battle is won when we reach the point that we have no will of our own, and can – trustingly, submissively – say YES.

No matter what that entails.

There is true rest when our hearts are in such a state.

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May God give each of us grace to say YES.



With Gratitude to the LORD…

Posted by The Neely Team

Sep

11

… for a dear brother!

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“Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments. His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed. Wealth and riches shall be in his house: and his righteousness endureth for ever. Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous. A good man sheweth favour, and lendeth: he will guide his affairs with discretion. Surely he shall not be moved for ever: the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance. He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD. His heart is established, he shall not be afraid, until he see his desire upon his enemies. He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth for ever; his horn shall be exalted with honour…” Psalm 112

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We are unspeakably grateful to the LORD for you, Matthew! May His richest blessings continue to rest upon you.



Blessed…

Posted by Kathryn

Aug

8

…are those who TRUST.

Blessed are those who WAIT.

Blessed are those who SEEK.

O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. O fear the LORD ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack and suffer hunger, but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing. Psalm 34:8-10

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For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee. Psalm 84:11-12

The LORD is my portion, saith my soul: therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. Lamentations 3:24-26

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Trust in the LORD and do good: so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him… Psalm 37:3-7

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Their strength is to sit still… In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength… And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him… He will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry ; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee. Isaiah 30



Old Glory Dessert

Posted by The Neely Team

Jul

3

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.

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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. Smile

*For those of you who are – like us – chocolate fanatics, chocolate-chip cookie dough makes a nice substitution for the sugar dough. Winking smile

*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.

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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



Memorial Day with the Wikman family!

Posted by The Neely Team

Jun

23

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After far too long without time for one-on-one fellowship, we were delighted to have the Wikman family at our house for Memorial Day! What a blessing to spend time together again — the sweetness of the bond we share in Christ with other believers is truly a foretaste of the glory that awaits us in Heaven.

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Games… Smile Corn Toss, especially, was one of the weekend favorites.

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A sweet time singing hymns and reading the Word together on the porch.

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Other moments… including trampoline time with the moms!

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We love you, Wilkman family, and praise the LORD for your friendship. Looking forward to the next visit!



Tire Depot — Grayson, GA

Posted by Jessica

Jun

18

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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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Simple Truths

Posted by Kathryn

May

28

Recently I was inwardly questioning the progress being made in my walk with Christ, because it seemed that, rather than continuously learning “new” things and receiving “exciting” insights from the Word, I was dwelling upon what seemed to be considered simple things… truths such as His love.

That is so basic… something that I have heard and understood ever since I can remember, I mused. While I had been receiving immense comfort, joy, and encouragement through many different passages related to this subject, I still wondered if I would someday look back and regret spending so much time on such “simple” concept.

It may sound silly to some, but thoughts such as these came as a substantial concern to my mind.

While zipping through the house one day, endeavoring to accomplish some pressing projects and check things off of my [ever growing] to-do list, the question resurfaced. Right then, the LORD brought a passage to mind that I had read several weeks before.

“For this cause, I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ… That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; the ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:14-19

Suddenly my heart was at rest.

The LORD used these verses to show me that, if to know the love of Christ results in my being filled with more of Himself (which is a part of the means in which He carries out His purpose of conforming me into His image, for His glory), than an eager quest to know more of that great and wondrous love is one of the best pursuits that can be made. Basking in His love is what I am supposed to be doing on a moment-by-moment, every-day basis! My reason for perpetual joy and rejoicing, no matter the circumstances I am encountering or the feelings that are raging in my heart, can and should come from the truth that He loves me.

So graciously, my heavenly Father reminded me that it is indeed right, and glorious!, to spend much time meditating on what may have (sadly) become “commonplace” or “simple” truths.

 

“…God doesn’t typically comfort you with something strange and unfamiliar. He usually comforts His people as they prayerfully meditate on the basic truths He has revealed about Himself… Don’t [always] look for comfort in ‘exotic places.’ Look for it in the theology that four-year-olds can grasp. Assume that you need to experience more deeply what you [think you] already know. J.I. Packer says it so well: ‘We must turn each truth that we learn about God into a matter of meditation before God, leading to prayer and praise to God’ (Knowing God, 23). God comforts you with simple, prayerful meditation on Himself.” Joe Tyrpak (Gospel Meditations for Prayer)

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A few pictures from a recent family photo shoot… such fun!

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“The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”

Jeremiah 31:3