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Preparing a Way

Posted by Jessica

Jul

8

Recently, while in NY, we had the adventuresome opportunity to trim Christmas trees. There were hundreds to do, and several different areas of work, too. Some people trimmed trees with machetes, some used shears, and one got to use gas trimmers. There were also old stumps that had to be cut out and hauled to the big brush pile at the end of the field. After a few minutes of talking, everyone was assigned their jobs and excitedly went to work. My job was to mow between the rows of trees, so that the people trimming could see better where they were walking. And that is what got me thinking…

One of the tree fields

I enjoy mowing the grass. I love driving tractors. But there was something different about it this time. Oh yes, I still was having the time of my life, bouncing around on the tractor seat, being careful not to mow over a tree. However, this time, I wasn’t just cutting the grass because it was too long. Yes, it definitely was way too long. But it was my job to prepare the way that everyone else would walk.

I couldn’t help but think about how this applies to life. I’m blessed to be (at least) a fourth generation Christian. I’ve heard of how my grandparents and great-grandparents prayed for their children and have seen how their testimonies impacted everyone around them. These men and women carefully laid out the path for their descendants to follow.

Through the years stories have been told of God’s faithfulness. I can remember hearing of the ways God miraculously provided during difficult times. These stories have been told “… that the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments…”(Psalm 78:6-7). My grandparents have laid a foundation for their future children. That includes my parents, me, and my children. It is as if they were running a relay race, and passed down the baton from one generation to the next.

Now comes the big question… What will I do with the baton? Everyday the choices that I make will affect not only me, but also everyone around me, and many will affect those who are yet to be born. Not only that, but decisions often build on previous decisions. In other words, how I make my decisions today, will also affect how I make my decisions tomorrow.

With this sobering thought in mind, what am I doing on a daily basis to prepare the way for the next generation? What choices am I making and how will the future be affected?

Many times in the path of life, we’ll hit “stumps” that will cause us to stumble, as it happened to me while I was mowing the Christmas tree field. There was one time I got stuck between two stumps, and I couldn’t go forward or backward. The path to which we have been called will not always be smooth, but one thing is for sure – God will always give us grace to continue on. At other times, we may feel that we can’t possibly go any farther. This happened to me when I found myself stuck in a huge mud hole (I later found out that there is a spring in the middle of the field). The tires were sunk halfway into the  mud, and there was no way I could possibly get out on my own. That is when “reinforcements” came and pushed me out of the mess and set me on the right track again, being careful to show me exactly where not to go.

During times like these, we must remember that God has a specific purpose for each of us, and He is bringing that to pass one day at a time. It is so exciting to see how He works out even what we consider “tiny” details into His plan. But, we have a responsibility to keep our focus on Him, maintain a clear conscience, and be ever ready to follow His leading.

So as you go about your day, remember that God is using you to unfold His plan. Remember that you are making decisions that will affect many others and the future. But also take into consideration the path that you are leaving for those who will follow you. Where will it take them?

The five of us got up really early one morning to get as much done as possible before 9:30am, which was when we had to stop. It was lots of fun, and we were able to finish trimming the first field. What a wonderful time we had!



Weekend with the Wilkes Team!!

Posted by Kathryn

Jul

5

On our way home from the fantastic NY trip, we were blessed to be able to stay with our dear friends, the Wilkes Team, during their final few days in Fairfax, VA! Several years ago, the Lord provided a 90-acre piece of property in Culpepper, VA, and gave them the vision of a huge ministry center barn out there. They have faithfully and very patiently waited for the Lord’s perfect timing, and now it is coming to pass! “The Barn”  is well under way, but not complete, so when their house in Fairfax sold, they realized they would have to find another dwelling for a few months! The Lord provided a beautiful “transition” house only five minutes from the building site. When we arrived, the Fairfax house was almost completely empty… but definitely not desolate!! (How could it be when filled with 23 joyful, energetic people??!) After being expertly divided up into six teams (thanks to the organizational skills of Jenny and Mr. Wilkes!), we spent a morning helping them with some deep cleaning, and then we all went out to Culpepper to see the barn and other house (the “Farm House” :)). What a special time to see their vision being followed through!! We praise the Lord for all He has done!

Being with the Wilkes Team again was an indescribable blessing! A few highlights were: the edifying dinner-time topics of conversation, cleaning house, 🙂 hearing the “8-hands-on-two-pianos” music (Joshua, Daniel, Amanda, and Jessica), eating dinner by the pool, and the morning times around the Word!

Thank you, Wilkes Team, for another wonderful visit… we love you all and are greatly looking forward to witnessing the Lord use you mightily as continually press on with the calling He has given!!

Happy Helpers Washing the mini-blinds  A Happy Hannah Helper Mark Most of the windows folded in so that we could clean them... Mrs. Wilkes and Mrs. Neely Including the little ones in the work! Two hilarious team members! :) Jenny Let's scrub! This one wouldn't fold in, so we cleaned it from the outside! Making lunch Admiring the pool at the new Farm House Important discussions Fun! Part of the cheerful bunch... ... and the rest of it! What sweet time together! This is what happens to those that are bad....

.... They get dunked in the pool!! (No, this really is right side up :-) Well, I think he enjoyed it!! The beautiful view from the Farm House Playing ball We celebrated all of the June birthdays with a delicious ice cream cake :) All the "June people" - Kathryn, Jessica, Grandma Wilkes, Joshua, Kenan, and Sarah Titus finally warmed up!! It started out like this... ...but was much more powerful LIKE THIS!!!!



Trip to NY

Posted by Jessica

Jul

2

We made another journey north to visit family and to do some projects around Nana’s farm. It was a fabulous trip – lots of work was accomplished and numerous memories were made. The teamwork was incredible to watch, and the enthusiasm brought forth was inspiring! It was wonderful to observe as the whole family came together to work, determined to make the projects fun. We took over three hundred pictures – just enough to post on the blog!

Well… we won’t put all of them up…

just a few. 😉

Everyone gathering and holding hands, preparing to eat a delicious meal! 

Lauren, Rachel, and Susanna Brian and Sadie -- "a good lap-dog" :-) Oh no! The Tumbling Tower fell over! All loaded up ready to head to the farm! Yea! Uncle Dan cleaning out under the bushes  On to the next job... Aunt Bonnie and Victoria getting drinks ready for everyone Dad trimming the shrubsCleaning up the trimmings  A wagon load of eager helpers I had the honor of riding right behind David while we hauled brush piles -- it was a bumpy ride, but so much fun!  Marshall -- cleaning out the gutters  That's a full bench!! Madeline and Copper playing with Sadie Kid lineup -- I think they were playing "drill sergeant" or something Aunt Lisa prepared fabulous meals for the whole crew  Brian and Kathryn straightening a rock wall  Pull! (taking apart door panels)  Havin' fun workin' I guess you could call this "discipleship work"Cousins -- all born the same year! :-)  100_5373



The Bigger Gun!

Posted by Amanda

Jun

8

A few months ago, Michael McCourry, a well-satisfied customer of Accurate Innovations, loaned us one of his specially developed “elephant” rifles to shoot. We enjoyed that immensly, and shot a video entitled “The Big Gun” which we then posted here. Shortly after that, Mr. McCourry decided to send us his largest caliber rifle – a .500 MDM Ultra – warning Daddy not to “let any of his daughters shoot this one!” So on a day when we had several friends and family members here, including Dad’s sister and two of her boys, we tried it out. Here are the results…

The Bigger Gun from Neely Team on Vimeo.



Surfside Beach – Part 2

Posted by Kathryn

Jun

4

One of the highlights of every day was an early morning walk on the beach. We walked mile after mile after mile… on Wednesday alone we did a total of six!! Somehow it just doesn’t seem laborious when you are walking with your best friends and are experiencing the beauty and refreshment of the ocean, sky, sand, wind, and sun. I carried the camera a lot and had fun with different shots…

Bethany, Amanda, and SusannaJessi and 'Berty - best buds!!100_4336

100_4340100_4351A distant view of Myrtle Beach100_4369100_4375

100_4377100_4384

100_4449The condos close to the shore were like Easter eggs!! :)100_4493

100_4502 100_4496 100_4385

Sing unto the Lord a new song, and His praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof… Let them give glory unto the Lord, and declare His praise in the islands.” (Isaiah 42:10, 12)

Some of my favorite individual/small group/misc. scenery shots from the week:

Dear sweet sisters!We rested some too :)Our little dominion-man!!

Little Miss Hannah GraceSusannaWhat joy they all bring to our lives!

LaurenVictoriaWe took a picnic to a local park for supper one night; after grilling, we roasted s'mores! Mmmmm!!

Wwwweeeeeeeeeee!!She just woke up...100_4432

100_4354The palms were just magnificent!! 100_4414

100_4403100_4404I love Daddy!

"Be still and know that I am God..."Mommy and HermanDigging, digging, digging...

 Our little ones wrote lots of messages for us on the sand. This one: "I love Mama!"A baby shark we found :)

…the Lord is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king… He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by His wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion. When He uttereth His voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, and He causeth the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of His treasures.” (Jeremiah 10:10, 12-13)



Surfside Beach – Part 1

Posted by The Neely Team

Jun

2

 

The next step on our trip was a long-awaited family vacation at Surfside Beach, SC!! As we looked back over the last several years, we realized that this would be the first time since Dad and Mom were married that the Neely Team had spent a whole week away – just us – for nothing but time together, relaxation, and refreshment! Sure, we have definitely had many, many, many amazing trips and have loved every moment of every one of them, but again, every one has been connected in some way or another with a visit to friends, ministry opportunities, missions trips, business outings, conferences, family camps, etc. Not just a solid, week-long VACATION!! After a extremely wonderful but extremely busy winter and spring, we were all ready for and needing some time to reconnect and just rest!! The Lord provided this in His perfect timing when some friends offered for us their time-share about a mile off of Surfside Beach. How excited we were! We arrived Saturday afternoon after a splendid stay at the Stelzl’s house and attending the NRA show. We were able to spend the next seven days listening to messages on CD, reading the Word and a few other encouraging books, taking mile-after-mile walks along the shore :), swimming, having family discussions, sharing joyful fellowship around the scrumptious meals Mommy prepared at the condo, resting, memorizing Psalm 91, and many other adventures that you’ll just have take part in by the hundreds of pictures we took!! 🙂 We praise the Lord for providing this opportunity for spiritual and physical rejuvenation. The Lord is good!!

Our first night on the beach… 

About to head for a walk along the ocean...... can't wait to get there....... we've reached it at last!!  

The condo was perfect – all we could have asked for: three bedrooms, three bathrooms, Jacuzzi tub, a large kitchen, nice living room, back deck, etc., etc.!!

Lauren, Kathryn, Herman, Victoria, and Titus shared this room. (Of course, Titus's bed - a comfy pack-n-play - isn't pictured here. :) ) Hannah, Jessi, Amanda, Bethany, and Lauren had this room.The Master Suite, complete with Jacuzzi tub!

Before we left, Mommy got us all flipflops – a worthy investment for going to the beach. They were such fun we couldn’t resist a bunch of pictures. 🙂 (Thanks, Daddy, for being the photographer!!)

What a blast!!Look at all the colors...

A different angle... So much fun!!

We saw all sorts of marvelous specimens demonstrating our Creator’s design, creativity, and skill!!

This is not your ordinary jelly fish. We saw countless numbers of these creatures... they are actually called jelly balls and are pretty much harmless. We learned that their main predator is the spade fish. A sand crab... pretty formidable, wouldn't you say??! Mommy took this fantastic shot!What we think are sand pipers

This beautiful shell was actually the home of a repulsive old slug. Uuhhhggg!!A wounded sea gull :(Just beautiful!! We saw these geese running around near our condo.

MallardsThis is actually the real, stinging jelly fish. We only saw two of them!! (Yay!!)Amanda found this adorable hermit crab and kept him for most of our stay. We have been reading a book about a hermit crab and so this little one proudly bore the name of the character in our story: Pagoo.

If we don’t stop here, it will take three days to upload this post loaded with pictures. 🙂 Ha ha!! Check back for more soon…



NRA Show – Charlotte, NC

Posted by Jessica

May

30

We’d been looking forward to going to the NRA show for a long time. We were there on Friday, May 14, and enjoyed every minute of it!! We all wore hunter-orange logo shirts, advertising for Accurate Innovations. It was a wonderful day, and we would all highly recommend attending one of these shows!

Here are some pictures from the day. 

Waiting in line... 100_4165 Be warned.... two girls on the loose with pistols!!! Intent observers Titus enjoying his new Winchester hatLook out, Herman!! There's a bear behind you!!Mr. Michael McCurry looking over his new Accurate Innovations gun stock Accurate Innovations gun stock for a 500 MDM made of Maple wood -- Beautiful!!Dad and Mr. Wes Chapman representing Accurate Innovations, with Mr. Michael McCurry and his wife and daughter



May

24

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity…” (Psalm 133:1)

“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:35)

Two weekend’s ago, we had the delightful opportunity to experience the love and fellowship of the Stelzl family when we stayed in their home while attending the 2010 NRA Show in Charlotte, NC. The Stelzl’s are a admirable example of a family that works together as a team to bless many through quality time spent in their home. Though we have only known them for a few years, they have become good friends and we are always thrilled with a chance to see them! They made us feel right at home by their gracious hospitality and attention to even the tiniest details (like having a pitcher of water and little cups in our room for middle-of-the-night thirstiness 🙂 ) and made our stay as special as it possibly could have been! One of the highlights for me of our time together was the fellowship and the edifying conversation we shared. On our last morning together, Sarah and I were able to spend an hour and a half on the porch swing reading the Word, discussing what the Lord has been teaching us, and praying. I came away inspired!!

Thank you, Stelzls, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to let us come and be encouraged by your love for the Lord and His Church. It was definitely “good and pleasant” to spend time with you!! May you continue to shine your lights so that “men may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.”

Fixing a yummy breakfast!Two of the wonderful clowns :)David was very attentive to Titus - what a blessing!

The Stelzl Fruit Salads were superb!Mmmmm!Sarah and Victoria made the scrambled eggs for everyone

Sarah and KathrynDavid, Titus, and BethanyWhat a joy to be together!!

 Victoria and BethanyJosiah

For more great pictures of our wonderful stay, visit the Stelzl’s blog!



May

19

Ahhh, the satisfaction of completing fourteen years of schooling!!! This past Saturday was a day I’ve been waiting for and dreaming about for many years. And when it had finally come after all that waiting, I couldn’t believe it was here!! Such a hard feeling to describe…

Saturday morning was very busy. We cleaned, prepared, practiced, organized… and enjoyed all of it!! Before people started arriving, Dad and Mom presented me with my diploma… WOW! I know that it is just a credential and doesn’t mean that I’m done learning, but it is a huge milestone and testimony of the Lord’s grace and faithfulness!!

Anyway, friends and family started arriving at 1:45, and the party began! It was a wonderful day of fellowship and visiting with many people we hadn’t seen in a very long time. One of the biggest highlights was having both grandmothers there, which was a big surprise! What a  joy!!

I praise the Lord for all He has done for me… for parents who have willingly taught me all these years, for the wonderful “support group” I have in my family, and for the blessing of completing high school. God is so good! Great is His faithfulness! 

Kathryn decorated the cake100_3937 the diploma Practicing for the program A great punch server! The food was delicious!Cousins and friends ~ the Merck family Visiting with friends~Bethany, Hannah, and Nathan Another gathering of young people100_4066 100_4027 Grandmama Neely and Nana Conn Uncle Fudge and Grandmama came up from South GA ~ it was great to see them! Nana Conn came down all the way from NY for my graduation! How special!! What a huge highlight!!!I think we wore him out!! :-)Cousins ~ Graduates of 2010~ Austin and Jessica



“Sugar Cookie” Granola

Posted by Kathryn

May

17

I thought I would share this healthy granola recipe… it has become one of our family favorites, and surprisingly, the “sugar cookie” twist to it resulted from another flop! I made it once and forgot two of the ingredients, and after I pulled Mixing... mixing... mixing. :) it from the oven I was feeling slightly down because I don’t like it when my cooking experiences don’t go well. 🙂 I moved on to something else while it cooled, and expected nobody to really care for this semi-tolerable granola I had just concocted. But suddenly I realized that there were these glowing comments coming from the kitchen about how wonderful it was (amid MUCH crunching, munching, and numerous Mmmmm’s, of course!). Inwardly I was thinking “It’s not really that good; they’re just being nice. I forgot two important things!” Finally, Amanda came right out and said “It tastes like sugar cookies! Kathryn, this stuff is wonderful!” I was thrilled that they liked it, and now it’s MY FAVORITE too!! The special flavorings give it that unique sugar cookie taste. I100_3766 especially love this recipe because it’s super easy to whip up (making it ideal for baking with little siblings – Susanna helped me last time :)) and there’s NOTHING bad for you in it. 🙂 It is extremely filling, and makes a fantastic breakfast, snack, supper, ice cream topping… anytime you need a healthy treat! We often serve it with fresh fruit and yogurt. Enjoy!

Sugar Cookie Granola

2 cups whole wheat flour

6 cups rolled oats

1 cup coconut

1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

1 cup flax seed

1/2 cup water

1 cup oil

1 cup honey

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. coconut extract

1 tsp. almond extract

1 Tbsp. salt

Dried fruit (raisins, dried cranberries, apples, etc.) (optional)

Combine flour, oats, coconut, and chopped pecans in large mixing bowl. Set aside.

Put flax seed in blender and grind into a course powder. Add water, oil, honey, flavors, and salt. Blend for 30 seconds or until well-mixed. Pour mixture over dry ingredients and mix well. Spread on 3 baking sheets and bake @ 200 for 1 hour, stirring every 15-20 minutes. Cool completely. Sprinkle with dried fruit if desired and store in air-tight container.

Notes:

Like I said, it's usually big hands that get into it! :) This is another one of those “spatula” recipes. You have to keep one close by to swat any little (but usually big) fingers that just happen to find their way to the bowl for a little snitch. 🙂



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