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Spring Update #3

Posted by The Neely Team

May

25

Picnic with the Elledges!

Don’t you think it is marvelous to watch the Lord orchestrate the paths of His children, allowing our earthly paths to cross with other believers for the purpose of encouragement and edification? Such is the case with our dear friends, the Elledges. Though we haven’t know them even a year yet, the bond of Christ has knit our hearts together. Many special hours have been spent with them, and each visit is marked by smiles, wholesome conversation, and good-natured humor.

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We recently had a picnic-style meal with them at their peaceful abode. Oh what a blessing it was! Just getting away from our busyness for a while, sitting by a babbling brook, and enjoying fellowship with precious friends… the Lord is good.

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Thank you, Elledges! We look forward to many more such times together!



Spring Update #2

Posted by The Neely Team

May

15

Baby Shower!

After the arrival of two precious little ones, the Wilkes and Neely aunties hosted a joint baby shower for the happy mothers. Oh what a joy it was to work together to make this happen!

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Practicing for motherhood – see how many baby clothes you can hang on the clothesline… in just 45 seconds… while keeping your baby happy and talking on the phone to your mother!

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Writing thoughts for the new mothers, and then opening gifts:

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Presenting the final two gifts: a double jogging stroller for Wilkes Team 2, and a jogging stroller/car seat combo for Wilkes Team 3!

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Enjoying sweet fellowship and rejoicing in the goodness of the Lord together:

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Other snapshots around the Farm during the weekend:

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“Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward… Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.” Psalm 127: 3,5



Spring Update #1

Posted by The Neely Team

May

15

Hello everyone! After such a long lapse of silence, you may be wondering where we have been. Life in the recent past has been abundantly full (surprise, surprise!), for which we are immensely grateful to the Lord. So many things have happened, many of which have held clear demonstrations of His unfailing mercy and goodness in our behalf.  Isn’t it a glorious thing to be in the service of the King of Kings, knowing that He Who has called us will give us the strength, wisdom, resources, and direction necessary for each situation?!

We hope to give a series of updates, with which to record a few of the Lord’s workings in our lives from this spring. So, here it goes…!

Update #1: “Grizzly”

After several months of praying and searching for a new van, the Lord brought the right one along in His perfect timing. Though it is actually a year older than our previous van, it has 220,000 fewer miles on it! “Grizzly” is now beloved of the Team and has already been the place of many happy hours spent traveling together. Praise the Lord for His provision. 

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A Sister Weekend

Posted by Kathryn

Apr

18

A few weekends ago, one of our favorite home education conferences was taking place in SC. Our plan, as always, for the whole family to attend together, suddenly changed when we were asked to do the music for a local wedding that same weekend.

So, as a rare occurrence, the Team “divided and conquered.” Dad and Mom headed south with the littles, leaving we older ones to “hold down the fort” for a few days and then minister on Saturday with string quintet and harp.

As much as we would have delighted in being with them at the conference, the Lord gave us a precious time together as sisters. Thursday evening was especially memorable – with the addition of a dear friend – whom we affectionately call “Mamadeaux” – to the party, we enjoyed a formal dinner and then an evening of laughter, stories, and games.

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IMG_4114The menu: peach tea, fried venison steak, rice, buttery sauteed brussel sprouts, fresh bell pepper slices, and berry jello!

As we spent the weekend together — running errands, carting around instruments and all sorts of other music-related paraphernalia, enjoying ice cream, shopping, and much more — we were each reminded of the beauty and joy of being sisters. We are here together in this phase of life, which will not last forever.

May we each be faithful to treasure the moments that the Lord has given us, taking nothing for granted and rejoicing in His mercy!

I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy… Psalm 31:7



“… have dominion…”

Posted by The Neely Team

Mar

23

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. Genesis 1:28

Dominion. As servants of the King of Kings, we are called to take dominion of the earth for His glory. We are to be fruitful and productive, to multiply, to subdue. We have been chosen as His representatives, His ambassadors. No matter how big or how small the area is in which He has placed us, we are called to be faithful, to serve Him with our upmost abilities and manage well the resources which He has given. 

The past two weekends have been opportunities for our family to put these thoughts into practice in the outdoor department of our little realm. Clearing brush off of the land behind our house was first on the agenda! With a team of enthusiastic workers, including our friend Wes who was spending part of spring break with us, the action began. For almost three days, we could have been found pulling, tugging, weed-wacking, chain saw-ing, and burning mountains upon mountains of brush, vines, and trees (as well as spending additional time repairing the equipment that we managed to mangle in such intense labor). There was great joy in working together… laughter was often heard throughout the process and especially at the end of the days when we were utterly exhausted (sleepy sillies, as we call it Smile).

Not many photos were taken because of the busyness, but here are a few that were captured:

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At the end of the day, dinner around the remains of the giant brushfire was quite the treat!Efficiency at it's finest!

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This weekend, we set about to accomplish a few more spring-time, dominion tasks. Pressure washing the house, bleaching the front porch, planting raspberry bushes, blueberry bushes, and cherry trees, and more filled the hours. Over the past two weekends, especially, we praise the Lord for safety, for a high level of productivity, and for so much joy in it all!

Pressure-washing buddies!Scrubbing the porch

At our house, there is typically at least one person "holding down the fort" inside while the rest of the Team works outside -- what yummy snacks she provided!Helping with the porch project

The dynamic trio that cleaned a quantity of leaves and junk out of one of our ditches!Believe it or not, this lovely picture was following a highly intense dog training session. (Somehow, watching her master plant blueberry bushes made Poochie extra naughty... :/) Thank you to our persevering, ever patient trainer!

So, be encouraged as you face the tasks the Lord has put before you this week! It doesn’t matter where you are or what your sphere of influence – whether it be your family’s kitchen, a difficult music piece, a brief computer project, or a thousand acres of farmland – you, as a servant of the Most High, play an important part in the Kingdom work. Seek to manage well, taking dominion of what He has entrusted to you for His glory.



Celebration of New Life

Posted by The Neely Team

Mar

10

The Lord has added to our family! We are rejoicing in God’s merciful kindness toward us in the arrival of this precious grandbaby.

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“Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.” – Psalm 127:3-5

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“The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.” – Proverbs 10:22

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“And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.” – Isaiah 58:11-12

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“For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone.” – Psalm 86:10 

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“Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table. Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD.” – Psalm 128:1-4

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“Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen.” – Psalm 72:18-19

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There is an old hymn by William Cowper which states the following:

God moves in a mysterious way

His wonders to perform;

He plants His footsteps in the sea,

And rides upon the storm.

 

Deep in unfathomable mines

Of never-failing skill,

He treasures up His bright designs,

And works His sovereign will.

 

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,

But trust Him for His grace;

Behind a frowning providence

He hides a smiling face.

 

His purposes will ripen fast,

Unfolding ev’ry hour:

The bud may have a bitter taste,

But sweet will be the flow’r

 

Blind unbelief is sure to err,

And scan His work in vain:

God is His own interpreter,

And He will make it plain.

Over the past several weeks, I have been pondering the sovereignty of God in our everyday lives. His ways, His will, His kindness, His mercy…… these things have left me breathless at times, overwhelmed by the goodness of our LORD.

A Legacy: Our family has been blessed with a godly heritage. Our dear Grandpapa, Reuben Neely, was a faithful man. He was known for his intense love for the Lord and a desire to be conformed to the image of Christ. His life was saturated with the Word of God. A friend once said: “When he spoke to me, it was as if it wasn’t him at all, because the words that he spoke were straight from Scripture… the Word of God was so natural to him…”

In 2001, Grandpapa was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He was told by the doctors that, at best, he would have eighteen months left to live. He lived them to the fullest, encouraged everyone he met, and met his Savior at the end of the course of his life.

 

A Trial: One of Dad and Mom’s goals for each of us as their children is that we learn to play the piano and an instrument we can carry for ministry purposes. In 2005, we began violin lessons with a dear lady, who has been one of the most influential role models for us, from our church. After two short years of blessing from her, this opportunity came to an end when our church underwent severe trials and change and our beloved teacher and friend moved across the country with her family. For a few years we struggled with our music, continuing on, but without clear direction for day-to-day advancement in skill and technique. Each time the Lord graciously allowed us to come into contact with our former teacher’s family, I wondered: Why? Why did this have to happen? Even after we were able to begin lessons with other teachers. Why? What was the reason the Lord had allowed this to happen? What were His purposes? What did He have in mind? I continually had to surrender myself to His will and continue on the path He had laid. And yet, I still wondered.

 

A Harp: Sometime several years ago, a few of us had the desire to learn harp. We had just been given a small harp for Christmas, and I wanted to begin “harping.” 🙂 For four and a half years, I played off and on. I wanted to, and yet I didn’t have music, didn’t have a teacher, was discouraged and discontent with the number of strings our harp had, and was missing the perseverance I so badly needed. In 2011, my family encouraged me to pick it up again. I did so, and for a year watched the Lord open doors for me. He provided music from my harpist cousin…. He encouraged me through friends who allowed me to use their harp when I wanted to experiment with more strings…… He gave me the grace to continue even when I had no direction. In the spring of 2012, my long-time dream came true: our violin teacher in Greenville hired a harp teacher! I was finally able to begin where I had so longed to.

Most reading this are probably wondering the connection. A month or two ago, I would have told that there really wasn’t one. But then, the Lord graciously revealed His purpose, at least in part.

After an all too-short visit with our first violin teacher and her husband, I was struggling again. Why did we have to be separated? What harm was there in our studying with her? But then I followed the train of events from the past couple of years. If we had continued on as we had been, we would not have sought instruction in Greenville. If we had not been studying at the studio there, we would have missed out on the opportunities He had in store for us there. If I had not been studying harp when I was………. There would still be a missing link in the story I am now telling you.

 

A couple of weeks ago, we received an email from my harp teacher in response to us having given her our CD, Lest We Forget. It reads as follows:

“Okay, now for the story. 🙂 I’ve been trying to catch up on a series my pastor has been preaching from Isaiah, so I’m afraid I haven’t listened to your beautiful CD until tonight.

 

When I was in 7th grade, my mom had back surgery. At the neurosurgeon’s office she and my dad met a dear elderly gentleman, and they spoke of him often. Mostly of what a blessing he and his wife were, and how his speech was so full of the LORD’s Word. He’d had brain surgery; after one of the surgeries the doctors had told him his memory might be gone. So when he woke up, the first thing he did to test his memory was to recite one of the letters to the Corinthians. 🙂 At another time he told my mom that his brain cancer was terminal – but because our times are in God’s hands, he was no more “terminal” than my mom. And from Psalm 23, when walking through the valley of the shadow of death, there could be no shadow without a Light. This dear man’s name was Reuben Neely.

 

When I opened up the CD, as you can imagine, I read and heard about Reuben Neely. Can he be the same one? I think he must be, from what my parents said and from what I have seen in your family. And if he is, please know that the LORD used him as such a blessing!”(emphasis mine)

If Grandpapa had not had brain cancer….. if our violin teacher, mentor, and friend had not moved away…… if our parents had not had the commitment to making sure that we were under the instruction of music teachers….. if….. if……… if………. If.

But no! Our Lord orchestrated His plan, and then executed it. We don’t have to worry about “ifs.” When we don’t know the answer, we don’t have to be concerned with “whys.” All we have to do is rest in the plan of our all-knowing Sovereign Creator God. “What God ordains is always good…. Someday I shall see clearly, that He has loved me dearly.”

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation.

Oh, my soul, praise Him for He is thy health and Salvation.

All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near.

Join me in glad adoration.

 

Praise to the Lord, Who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth.

Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth.

Hast thou not seen how thy desires e’er have been

Granted in what He ordaineth.

 

Praise to the Lord, Who doth prosper thy work and defend thee.

Surely His goodness and mercy shall daily attend thee.

Ponder anew what the Almighty can do

If with His love He befriend thee.

 

Praise to the Lord, oh let all that is in me adore Him.

All that hath life and breath come now with praises before Him.

Let the amen sound from His people again.

Gladly for aye we adore Him.

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“The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and He addeth no sorrow with it.” ~ Proverbs 10:22



Praise the Lord for siblings! Each one is a special blessing from Him. It is a double blessing when He opens our eyes to see the beauty and joy in each moment spent together as siblings.

This week, we three older sisters had an evening to spend time together.  It was an unusual evening, in that we don’t normally have an entire evening to spend without the rest of the family, but it was a joyous one. Everyone else had gone on a spur-of-the-moment day trip, but we stayed back this time to help fill in for Dad at work. (What a privilege to do that for him!) After work, we went home, but there was an errand to run for Mom, so we jumped in the van — making sure to take the camera — and went out for the evening. Laughter, smiles, ice cream….it was a delightful time.

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The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and He addeth no sorrow with it. – Proverbs 10:22



Blueberry Coffeecake

Posted by Hannah

Feb

17

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!

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Blueberry Coffeecake

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

2 eggs

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.

 

Crumb topping:

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!

Working together was a lot of fun!

Ready to be put into the fridge!Be sure to clean up your dishes when you are finished, and leave the kitchen very clean and tidy!



Rejoicing

Posted by The Neely Team

Feb

13

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!

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One extra-special gift... :)

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:DRejoicing in the blessing of being "Grandpa's" together

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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.

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Game buddies!Kitchen buddies!

Friday evening, we celebrated the birthday of a very special patriarch. We love you, Grandpa Wilkes!

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Happy Birthday, Grandpa!Helping Great-Grandpa finish the job...

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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!

Preparing breakfastFunnel cakes!

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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!

Praise the Lord for a successful hunt! Great work, team!A portion of the celebration committee

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 



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