Archive for the 'Trips & Travels' Category
This story begins weeks before when we heard an unusual and loud noise while driving back from Greenville in the “Big Van”… our beloved, white, fifteen-passenger “Grizzly.” A couple of weeks go by, and “the noise” comes and goes…
On Monday last week, Jessica and Victoria took the “Grizzly” to town to get the oil changed while they were running another errand. When they left home, the van was making “the noise” quite loudly, and so they called Patrick… they called him again as they continued to drive when they noticed that the battery light had come on.
He called them (third phone call) to check on them… and as they approached the intersection to turn into town, Jessica realized she had no brakes or steering! … But at least the noise was gone!
God turned the red light to a green arrow so Jessi was able to make the necessary right-hand turn into town (by “man-handling” the van). She then was able to get into the left turn lane, and because God cleared the traffic (again), she was able to once again man-handle the van into the NAPA parking lot and get it stopped. The NAPA store was the original destination!
Praise the Lord – for safety for the girls as they lost all brakes and steering! That the belt broke (yes, that was the problem!) at the very intersection where the auto shop was that was going to change the oil; that we didn’t lose the steering or brakes as we came over the mountains on our way back from Greenville… the place where the noise first happened. Praise the Lord it happened in our own town with “our mechanic” there to repair it!; and that it happened “at home,” not en route to Texas, the 1600+ mile trip we left for three days later.
What an amazing evidence of God’s provision, protection, mercy, goodness, faithfulness, and grace.
How I praise Him.
How do you summarize a weekend such as the NC FEW was? It’s hard. The Lord was merciful in the way He allowed each detail to play out (especially since some of us were very preoccupied with other things that had happened that week…). Sweet fellowship with other believers, motivating messages, encouraging testimonies, invigorating play time, delectable food, award winning smiles, uplifting prayer time, unity of hearts… the Lord truly blessed. Each year, we Neelys ask ourselves, “Why do we host the conference?” Every year the answer is the same: “Because we need the encouragement!” And every year, the result is the same…we are encouraged. Praise be to the Lord, Who is the Source of our encouragement.
May we each continue to look to the Lord for guidance and joy as we strive to stay the course by His grace!
Sometimes, I need reminders that God truly does answer prayer. How quickly my faith grows weak. How easy it is, in the midst of trial, difficulty, and struggle, to doubt His promise to hear the cries of His children, and to believe that He delights in granting the desires of their hearts.
Though, as most of you who know us well already know, I am not an avid animal lover, the beautiful testimonies the LORD has written this summer/fall through the entire puppy process we have walked through, have been almost beyond words.
Breeding our lovely German Shepherd and selling her offspring was something that was discussed at the beginning of the year, yet how to go about it all was an interesting and sometimes overwhelming perplexity. Victoria, the master of the undertaking, spent hours upon hours researching, reading, learning, and educating us with her findings. But when it came right down to it, the LORD began to show us that it was He alone Who was going to have to work everything out.
And work it out, He did!
From the research stage until the day that eight, squirmy, adorable little puppies were born (which ironically, fell exactly one year to the day after our Lab, Duke, passed on), He worked in ways that we never could have imagined. From finding the perfect stud, to the graciousness with which we were treated by the breeder, to the timing of our multitudinous travels, the arrival of a precious little nephew, and much, much more — and how all of that related to our dog and her large family, etc. etc. – we were left in awe of His infinite wisdom and goodness once again.
Okay, so then we had nine dogs under our care.
Most days, this was a joyous experience… yes, even for me. Watching the delight and excitement in the eyes of my dear siblings at this venture was truly a blessing. (And what better home school science project than watching the growth and development of eight wriggling creatures living right in your garage??!)
But, there were other days… actually a few weeks… when most of us… even some of the most animal-affectionate ones… were downright discouraged with the whole thing. We began to question if God would really answer our prayers for loving homes for ALL of the puppies. Victoria had diligently spent hours researching advertising options, and getting numerous ads running. Someone would contact us, seem really interested, and “commit” to getting one, and then it would all fall through. This happened time and again. We had done everything within our power to sell them, and still we only had committed buyers for two of the eight.
I believe the LORD wanted us at this point. We were completely dependent upon Him, having nothing left in our own resources to resort to… and in His beautiful timing, He began to work. One sold here, another there. Then two in one day! And then another.
How foolish we were to doubt.
Finally, it came down to having only one puppy left! Our hearts were filled with gratitude.
We still wondered if the final, sweet little female had a home (other than ours ), but life had to move on, so we took this little girl to VA with us last weekend for the FEW Conference. Coming home, the LORD knew that I needed another reminder of His goodness and faithfulness.
Literally within hours of arriving home, the text came in saying that she had been claimed.
To God be praise. How mercifully kind He is, to hear and answer the prayers of even those who are so prone to disbelief. My faith – our faith – has been strengthened as a result of these little creatures; how grateful I am! May we never doubt that His Word was true when He said that He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Matthew 7:7-8
The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works. The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them. Psalm 145: 17-19
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. Psalm 37:4-5
“Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God…”
Deuteronomy 8: 11-14a
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.
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.
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.
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.]
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.
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!!
During the HEAV Convention in June, we were blessed to vend right beside a dear lady named Kat representing the Biltmore House in Ashville, NC. Before leaving the convention, she surprised us all and gave us free one-day passes to tour the house and gardens!
As a special birthday celebration later in July, we had an open Saturday and decided to go – and because of Kat’s generosity, we were even able to include Mom’s sister and her family in the fun! What a delightful day! The Lord gave us beautiful weather, sweet fellowship, and precious memories as we learned more about the history of this intriguing mansion and marveled at the beauty of our Creator’s handiwork.
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.
Just as all of our travels were commencing for the month of June, we were blessed to attend the graduation celebration for some dear friends and music students, Kris Jr. & Sheri. Praise the LORD for these two vibrant young people, who consistently demonstrate what it means to live wholeheartedly for the glory of our Creator, to seek first His Kingdom, to reject the lies our culture offers, and instead to embrace of the calling of Christ, despite the cost. Watching these two grow and mature throughout the past several years has been a delight, and we look forward to seeing the beautiful plans the LORD has in store for them in the days ahead.
Congratulations, Kris & Sheri! May the LORD abundantly bless you!
May He “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; that 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 fulness of God. Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.” Eph. 3:16-21
One of the joyous trips we were blessed to take in the month of June was to the beautiful state of West Virginia… and what a thrill it was to participate in the 2015 WV FEW Conference while we were there!
The LORD is so faithful, sending encouragement and strengthening for the race of life just when it is needed. The opportunity to jump in and serve, hear sound, biblical teaching, fellowship with dear, like-hearted families, and so much more, left us all tremendously uplifted.
We apologize for the long delay, but here are some photos at last!
~ Reminders to fervently seek Jesus Christ above all else; to focus mind, affection, and delight upon Him and His Word; to rejoice in all things; to view each irritation as an invitation for communion with the Most High; to depend upon the power of the LORD to live each moment for His glory…
~ The children’s hour was, once again, a hilarious opportunity to learn the importance of gratitude in the midst of every circumstance of life…
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thess. 5:18
~ The blessing of many, many little ones… the future leaders of families, churches, and our nation…
…suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Mark 10:14
~ Discipleship game time…
…inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matt. 25:40
~ Fellowship… and a final “FEW” random shots…
And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Colossians 3:17
Today marks the 183rd day of this year – which, for those of you whose brains automatically calculate everything you see and hear, you will recognize as the halfway point in the average year. (And for those of you who, like me, don’t calculate so readily, put your minds at ease with the knowledge that it was only a handy calendar that told me this ). At the close of each and every month, I am always amazed at how the time has flown by, but especially so with the end of the month of June. Only 50% of the year is left! How quickly the days are passing.
For the Neely Team, June held a schedule of almost non-stop traveling. Our final trip of the month (a sort of grand HUZZAH! to all of the consecutive road-time) was to attend the wedding of one of our dear “sisters” – but more about that later. Suffice it to say that, upon coming home from that trip this past Monday, and added to everything that had come before it, we were all rather emotionally chaotic – excited, sad, praising the LORD for His goodness, exhausted, teary, exuberant, delighted, and on and on. On top of that, several of us had been fighting some sort of virus. By the time we pulled into the driveway late in the evening, I was burning up with fever, had a bad headache, and overall, looked and felt just plain terrible.
After spending the next day in bed, I felt much better and early yesterday morning (Wednesday), we headed to Greenville for music lessons. Try hard to be early as we did, we still didn’t arrive home until close to midnight after a wonderful but tiring day of music instruction, fellowship, and some necessary shopping.
You can probably imagine… but coming out of such an intensely busy, exciting, fun, encouraging, and adventuresome month, coupled with the effects of sickness, lingering chaotic emotion, discouragement about the rapidity of passing time, pressure from continuous “to-do’s” that kept mentally piling up, and the weight of other concerns on my heart, I wasn’t feeling the most enthused or inspired last night.
Though almost no one would have guessed it, an inward battle was raging. Somehow the future looked quite bleak to my sleepy, faithless eyes.
LORD, where am I going find the energy, the hope, the courage, even the desire… to accomplish what You have for me to do tomorrow… this weekend… these next weeks and months?
The effects of sweet rest – truly one of the good gifts the LORD sends to His children – left me much refreshed, but still the question remained as I prepared for the day this morning.
I asked the LORD again to renew my joy in the work He has called me to do. To give me enthusiasm with which to attack the second half of this glorious year. To send me something during my time in the Word to which I could cling.
And He did.
He is so faithful, so merciful. And He brought verse after verse to my eyes and heart – each with fresh power and meaning – that answered the anxious cries that had resounded.
“…I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” John 15:16
“Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.” Psalm 40:5
“How precious also are thy 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
“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… Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him…” Psalm 37:4-7
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10
Delight in doing His will for the “here and now”… peace in knowing that He is always, only good, and that His plans far surpass comprehension… rest in being reassured that I am not alone, but that His presence is with me every moment of life’s journey… unutterable joy in knowing that He chose me and that He loves me with an everlasting love… all of this began to thrill my heart once again.
To Him be praise.
And so may we step forward into the remainder of this year with abundant joy in the One Who walks beside us, trusting His promises without reservation and depending upon His grace to finish what He has called us to do, for His glory.