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NC Family Encouragement Weekend

Posted by The Neely Team

Mar

26

Much anticipation had been built. It was time for the conference to begin. Then all of a sudden, it was over. It all happened so fast! But we came away having seen the work of the Lord and encouraged to press on. We were challenged by the Word, motivated by testimonies of young people striving to serve Christ, and encouraged and uplifted by the fellowship and prayer times with other families.

The North Carolina FEW was the first of four planned conferences this year. We look forward with great excitement to the next FEW and the continued work of the Lord! May Jesus Christ be praised!

Game time!!

PreciousDiscipleshipStory time

Getting ready for supper!Serving the food

Chicken nachos.... MmmmmCookies --- the signature FEW snackRegistration team

He has made everything beautiful in His time

OrchestraIMG_9839The children's sessionGetting feedback :)

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Precious -- siblings are such a blessing from the LordGame time :)

The young ladies shared how their fathers are preparing them for the future.Sharing practical tips on hospitalityChalk talk

IMG_0085Humor :) ( It was indeed really good! :))JoyFriends

Oh the joys of little ones! These are the voices of tomorrow.A girls' table filled with smilesThe ultimate challenge to see how many people we could get around one table -- the norm was 8 -- the max was about 16. :)

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Rejoicing in the goodness of God

The sleep of a laboring man (or lady :) is sweetIMG_0151IMG_0146IMG_0132

IMG_0143IMG_0153IMG_0165IMG_0169

IMG_0175Getting ready for the group shot....Everyone lining up....

"Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory!"

If you are interested in receiving information on upcoming FEW Conferences, leave us a comment and we’ll add you to the contact list.



“Auntie Fun-Fun”

Posted by The Neely Team

Mar

23

When we were in Greenville, SC, for music lessons a couple weeks ago, Aunt Miriam (aka Auntie Fun-Fun Smile) made our day extra special by bringing us lunch to enjoy together. It was a good reminder to us of the joy and blessing that simple acts of kindness can bring to those around, even when the action seems small or menial. “Be ye kind one to another…”

IMG_9449Mmmm... lunch!

Miss Smiley Pink-Sweater :)Juice on the floor ;)

SweetOur FAVORITE bakery cookies!

Aunt Miriam is definitely a giver!, so when we were in Greenville again this last weekend for a homeschool convention, she surprised us with St. Patrick’s Day goodies to enjoy at our hotel. Too much fun!

Cookies...Cupcakes!Have a cookie, anyone?

Notice the message on the ring...... they re-lived an experience from almost 25 years ago for us! :)

:)MORE of our favorite cookies!

:) :) :)

So, look around you, and see who needs an extra touch of kindness today. Sow an act of kindness, and reap a harvest of joy!

Thank you, Aunt Miriam!!



Mar

19

The doctrine of the sovereignty of God…

“Can a doctrine be ‘horrible’ and ‘dangerous’ that gives God His true place, that maintains His rights, that magnifies His grace, that ascribes all glory to Him and removes every ground of boasting from the creature? Can a doctrine be ‘horrible’ and ‘dangerous’ which affords the saints a sense of security in danger, that supplies them comfort in sorrow, that begets patience within them in adversity, that evokes from them praise at all times? Can a doctrine be ‘horrible’ and ‘dangerous’ which ascribes us of the certain triumph of good over evil, and which provides a sure resting-place for our hearts… that place [being the] the perfections of the Sovereign Himself? No; a thousand times, no. Instead of being ‘horrible’ and ‘dangerous’ this doctrine of the Sovereignty of God is glorious and edifying, and a due apprehension of it will but serve to make us exclaim with Moses, ‘Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like Thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?’ (Ex. 15:11).” 

“The doctrine of God’s sovereignty then is no mere metaphysical dogma which is devoid of practical value, but is one that is calculated to produce a powerful effect upon Christian character and the daily walk. The doctrine of God’s sovereignty lies at the foundation of Christian theology, and in importance is perhaps second only to the Divine inspiration of the Scriptures. It is the center of gravity in the system of Christian truth; the sun around which all the lesser orbs are grouped; the cord upon which all other doctrines are strung like so many pearls, holding them in place and giving them unity. It is the plumb line by which every creed needs to be tested; the balance in which every human dogma must be weighed. It is designed as the sheet-anchor for our souls amid the storms of life. The doctrine of God’s sovereignty is a divine cordial to refresh our spirits. It is designed and adapted to mold the affections of the heart, and to give a right direction to conduct. It produces gratitude in prosperity and patience in adversity. It affords comfort for the present and a sense of security regarding the unknown future. It is, and it does, all and much more than we have just said, because it ascribes to God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – the glory which is His due, and places the creature in his proper place before Him – in the dust.”

The Sovereignty of God by A.W. Pink

pg. 151-152, 139

At Dad’s request, I recently finished reading The Sovereignty of God, the book from which the above passages were cited. For anyone who desires to know the biblical truth about this highly-controversial issue, or who is seeking to become better equipped to defend it, we recommend this book. Every belief must be weighed against the infallible truths of Scripture, and Pink has done a remarkable job in this small text.

P1020365

 

 

** As with all books, this volume should be read with “open eyes.” Just because we recommend the book does not mean that we necessarily endorse every “jot and tittle” contained therein.



Simply Sorensen

Posted by Kathryn

Feb

29

We have known the Sorensen family for a few years now, and what an encouragement they have been to us! Enthusiasm, energy, joy, creativity, educated refinement… these traits combined with a wholehearted love for Jesus Christ make this family a shining example for the Lord. They are just… well, simply Sorensen. Smile

With great anticipation we looked forward to a visit with them for several months, and finally, it happened! The hospitality of the Sorensen Lodge was incredible. We came away immensely blessed and refreshed.

Fellowship around yummy snacks:-)

Girl time!As you can see, he was mildly concerned with the energetic action taking place in the playroom

Buddies!!Getting in position for a game of Occupation

Playing Airsoft and walking the perimeter of their property:

IMG_9246Simply Sorensen :-)

Adorable!Leading the way

Obstacles that hinder OUR pursuits in life often direct us toward GOD'S will and perfect planSweet

Fun with the swing:

Big brother helps little sister -- preciousIMG_9272

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The Sorensen’s treated us like royalty. On Saturday, we took a trip to a local bowling alley for an afternoon loaded with strikes and spares… well, not exactly. Smile A sparing few were so blessed, but the rest of us just realized how strikingly rusty our bowling techniques are. Smile At any rate…

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StylishDiscipleship bowlingWay to go!

Action!Take careful aim...... plan and prepare. Know where your ball is going...... and let 'er fly!

Then… they took us to a Japanese Steakhouse for a special birthday celebration. Most of us had never visited one before, and what an interesting, delightful meal awaited us!

Ready for the excitement to beginIMG_9351IMG_9353

IMG_9357Savory Japanese soup

Poof! (notice facial expressions in the background :-))These guys were only half chef... the stunts they pulled were amazing!

The chicken-throwing contest... see if you can catch it!Not quite...Get ready... open wide...

:-)Flinging chow (Notice the chicken pieces flying through the air :-))She caught it!!! Huzzah!

Hibachi veggiesOnion volcano

DessertHappy Birthday!

On Sunday, we attended church with them and were privileged to be there on a week when Mr. Sorensen was preaching. He spoke from the life of Peter; we saw the perfect timing of the Lord played out again as the message seemed tailored to the current events of our lives. Praise the Lord! Thank you, Mr. Sorensen, for letting the Word dwell in you richly, and for standing boldly to make an impact for the Kingdom of God.

Simply Sorensen :-) :-)

Thank you, Sorensens!



FEW Conference Preparation

Posted by The Neely Team

Feb

14

The FEW Conference “season” for 2012 is beginning!

Studying for sessions

Preparing testimonies

Anticipation is building... and so is the pile on the garage shelves! :)

Please be in prayer for our family, as well as for the Wilkes and Staddon families, as we prepare for the 2012 conferences. Pray that God would grant us wisdom, direction, and unity; that the He would go before us and work out every little detail in His perfect way; that we would trust in His sovereignty; that families would be encouraged,strengthened, and drawn closer to the Lord; and most importantly, that Jesus Christ alone would receive the glory and honor due His Name!

“But thou, O man of God…follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith…” 1 Timothy 6:11-12

 

If you would like to receive more information about the FEW Conference ministry or about upcoming conferences and locations, please contact us.



Courageous Hospitality

Posted by The Neely Team

Feb

12

For several years now we have had the privilege of knowing the Walker family. What a delight it is to watch them grow in numbers and in the Lord, being conformed into His likeness as they seek to pattern their family after the truth of Scripture! A few weeks ago, they invited us over to their home for dinner (which, I must point out, is quite a remarkable undertaking, as not many are brave enough to let twelve people invade them for any length of time. Smile). Delicious dinner, a to-die-for dessert, time to learn from the Word and sing, and sweet fellowship made a joyful and encouraging evening. Thank you, Walkers, for opening your home, but especially for your love for our Lord! May you continue to let Christ’s light in you shine brightly! (Matt. 5:16)

Dinner preparations underwayMmmm....

Singing together after dinnerIMG_8861

"Make a joyful noise unto the Lord all ye lands; serve the Lord with gladness, come before His presence with singing" :-)Happy is the man that hears many gentle voices call him 'father'

Wow! "Oh give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good; because His mercy endureth forever"

Fellowship around the table...

... is priceless.



Haircutting 101/102

Posted by Kathryn

Feb

7

A few weeks back Mrs. Tammy, a sweet friend of ours, came over for two days and instructed Amanda, Jessi, and I in beginning haircutting! For a while we have been wanting to learn this skill to bless our family and our future families. It was fun, educational, and character-building – it was great character training for Mrs. Tammy, anyway, who learned more about patience in those two mornings than she probably has in a while! 

Thank you, Mrs. Tammy, for so willingly giving of your time and expertise! You truly model the verse from Matthew 10: “… freely ye have received, freely give…”

101: Practice with the mannequins

By the way, your victims must have names, so let me introduce you to Ventura, Charalina, and Jemima. Winking smile

Beginning cutting... the hair started out really long, and we practiced straight cuts and under cuts)To get a straight cut, your arms should be parallel to the hair... as you can see, that skill wasn't my forte... :/... but Amanda did a pretty good job with it

Lovely! :DL to R: Kathryn and Ventura, Amanda and Charalina, Jessica and Jemima :D

102: Practice with the mannequins and the live mannequins

(Special thanks to our dear brothers for being such great guinea-pigs! Smile)

StylishIMG_8810-1

When you are finished... the mannequin is bald and you have a mess to clean upLearning bangs and increased layeringIMG_8816-1

IMG_8817-1:D

A uniform layered cut that would normally be done on curly hairNow for the live mannequins! They're so much more handsome!"Hmmmm..."

"... I'm not too sure...""... about this live mannequin stuff!"Tapering the back with clippers



Feb

3

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Crossroads — seasons of life when we desperately need direction for decisions, particularly relating to the next phase of our lives.

Red-lights — a time when we wait on the Lord (possibly for extended periods of time) to make His way clear before our eyes as we seek His will.

Waiting…. waiting to start school… waiting to graduate…. waiting for answers to prayer…. waiting for direction in life… waiting for a job… waiting for a spouse…. waiting for children…. waiting for grandchildren…. waiting for Christ’s return… waiting for………. whatever it might be. Everyone is in some sort of waiting period, and often we’re waiting for more than one thing at a time. When God says, “Wait,” what is your response?

Waiting on the Lord with joyful expectation of what He has in store for us is not always an easy task, but our gracious Heavenly Father promises blessings to those who will. When these seasons of perseverance arise, cling to the promises of God. Hope in His Word. Depend on His grace. His plan is infallible. His timing is perfect. His love is sure. His faithfulness is unending. His mercy is new.

“A sober mind is that which accommodates itself to every estate of life and every event of providence, so that whatever changes happen, it preserves the possession and enjoyment of itself… What pleases Him ought to please us. He knows what is fit to be done and what is fit far better than we do. Let this check all disquieting, discontented thoughts. Should it be according to thy mind? Shalt thou who art but of yesterday control Him, quarrel with Him, or prescribe Him, Whose counsels were of old from everlasting? It is folly to direct the divine disposals, but wisdom to acquiesce in them… Fret not at the place God’s providence has put you in. Make yourselves easy in it and make the best of it, as those who are satisfied that all is well that God doth… Possess your minds with a reverence for the divine providence – its sovereignty, wisdom, and goodness.” (Matthew Henry, from “Sober Mindedness Recommended to the Young,” in The Miscellaneous Works of the Rev. Matthew Henry, Vol. 1)

“Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” Psalm 27:14

“My soul, wait Thou only upon God; for my expectation is from Him.” Psalm 62:5

So what crossroads are you waiting at, waiting for the light to turn green — waiting for the Lord’s will to be revealed? Or maybe instead of a red-light there is a stop sign, and the Lord may be preparing to reveal to you a route that you hadn’t seen before. Or maybe there’s fog on the road, and you don’t know where to go, or if there is even a crossroad. Whatever the test, remember that “the Lord our God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” (Psalm 84:11)

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Have you ever experienced it when the Lord takes a relationship that you have had and gradually deepens it? You may have known this family or individual for years, and yet suddenly you realize there is a strength in the relationship that you never had before. What causes this?  This blessing is the inevitable result of both sides actively seeking and growing closer to the Lord, because as we draw nearer to Him and are more conformed into His likeness, He unifies our hearts with others within His Body, the Church. Our family has seen this happen over the years… among ourselves, esp. in sibling relationships, Smile for one thing. We have also begun to see it worked out in relationships with other families. What a joy it is!!!

A few weekends ago we were blessed to experience this again with a visit from our friends, the Barnes family. We had a load of fun, played hilarious games, made music, put together jigsaw puzzles, blew up our gingerbread houses, Winking smile and laughed a ton in the process, of course, but the highlight for most of us was the discussions and times of fellowship that were shared. Things the Lord is teaching us, what we are learning from our devotions, favorite passages of Scripture, meaningful insights, prevalent and troublesome issues of today that must be combated with Scripture, and more were shared and discussed. It was a time of exhortation and encouragement, and we came away tremendously refreshed.

And, by the way, our discussions were far too interesting to take the time to jump up and get the camera – – thus the lack of pictures of the afore-mentioned activity! Winking smile

Reading off the names for a rousing game of "Occupation"IMG_8597IMG_8599

"I think so-in-so is such-in-such!" :)IMG_8607An investment in a child is an investment in eternity

One of the blessings of being tall -- you get to change the extremely-hard-to-reach closet lightbulbs. :) Thank you Kevin!IMG_8633Helping......in the kitchen!

Bethany, Tim and HannahA few of the "puzzlers"

So sweet!

IMG_8647IMG_8649Diligence rewarded!

We found another family that had never had eggnog before, so...The first taste..."Not too bad..."

Mom and Mrs. BarnesIMG_8663Something's funny

Playing "Green Alligators"Playing PIT!!PIT is a favorite with all of us

You had better watch out -- Wes (a Brown Belt) and a group of novices

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SmileSmileSmileSmileWinking smileSmileSmileSmileSmileWinking smileSmileSmileSmileSmileWinking smileSmileSmileSmileSmileWinking smileSmileSmileSmile

Height order!

TimReady and waiting...About to pop!

Thar she blows!

Praise the Lord!

So, be encouraged if you desire to see a certain relationship in your life brought to a new level. Seek Christ through His Word, pray with diligence – – and watch and see what the Lord will do.

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another…” 1 John 1:7



New Years 2012

Posted by Amanda

Jan

24

You may be seeing this title and thinking, New Years?? That was already four weeks ago!! (Yes, I know – hard to believe, isn’t it?!!) But though there have been many other exciting things going on since then, we still couldn’t bypass that wonderful event that kicked off our 2012!

But before I get to that, I have a few thoughts I’d like to share. First of all, this year I’ve really enjoyed the idea that God has given us a new year to live and work and praise Him in! I think it’s partly because our 2011 was so crazily busy, but whenever I think of the rest of the year before us, I have this exciting feeling of freedom – and anticipation. Looking over our calendars, there are so many little squares representing our days – 366 of them, to be exact – and I wonder, How will the Lord fill these days? Many of them are already filled up, and more are being filled each day. But there’s still so much time in a whole year – time that we need to be using  for God’s glory!

And yet, on the other hand, there’s really not that much time in a year. Sure, there are about 8,784 hours in 2012 (some 550 of which are already gone forever, leaving us with  closer to 8,200), but compared to eternity, that is only just an infinitely tiny speck. When I think of it that way, I am reminded that I need to be spending every bit of this speck of time to advance the Kingdom of God. Some verses that I’ve thought about a good bit recently are Proverbs 3:5-6. Yes, they seem to be extremely common, and I think we often quote them without really thinking about them, just because we’ve heard them so often. But think about the richness in these words: “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” So as we enter (or keep living in) 2012, let’s purpose in our hearts, by God’s grace, to acknowledge Him in every area of our lives, including the seemingly insignificant things, so that He can work in and through us, directing our paths for His own glory!

But back to the start of the new year: we were in New York the week between Christmas and New Years, and had a wonderful time up there, working, playing, and visiting with family. We were planning to leave on Saturday, get a hotel about half-way back to our home, and then finish the drive back on Sunday. But we were surprised and delighted when Dad announced that we would be able to spend that New Years Eve with the Wilkes Team instead of by ourselves: they graciously allowed us to use their home as our hotel!! Open-mouthed smile  We had a fabulous 24 hours together, and one of the highlights was the time that we spent “praying in” the new year. Around 11:30 pm, we gathered together and began praying – praising God, thanking Him for His many blessings, praying for our homes and for our nation. We prayed for over an hour, right over the stroke of midnight. It was such a precious time, and an incredible blessing – we would encourage everyone to do that sometime! There is something strengthening and exciting about knowing that you’ve just spent the last bit of the old year, and the first moments of the new in fellowship and communion with the Giver of time itself.

So, even though it’s a bit late, we still mean it very heartily:
Have a blessed 2012, Everyone!!

Dinner was scruptious!!IMG_8499Singing around the piano"Both young men, and maidens; old men, and children: let them praise the name of the LORD, for His name alone is excellent!!..." (Ps. 148:12-13)Huddle to decide final details on......the Twelve Days of Christmas!!"Fiiivve Goolldennn Riiinggs!!!!"Hilarious!Everyone enjoyed the special performance!Josh and Lisa were quite popular :-)IMG_8521How many people does it take to......change a light bulb? :DFriends......and more friends!Our wonderful dads!



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