This past weekend, we experienced the incredible blessing of being able to help the Wilkes and Staddon families put on the 4th FEW (Family Encouragement Weekend) conference! The Lord’s blessing was evident yet again in abundant and stunning ways – to Him be the glory! The theme was Maturity in Christ. Mr. Wilkes, Mr. Staddon, Mr. Hynes, Mr. Thrash, and Dad did incredible jobs presenting what the Lord had laid on their hearts about this. Many young people were also able to give testimonies, giving additional practical application. “Day by Day” was chosen as the conference theme song, because it accurately portrays how we mature: we do not wake up one morning and find that we have “arrived,” but it is a slow, steady process that requires much pain, patience, perseverance, and dependence on the grace and strength of Christ! I appreciate a passing comment Mr. Wilkes made in his message that “kicked off” the conference: “Do not quit. Never give up. Believe in the fact that what the Lord has started in your life, He will perform. Keep seeking the Lord; He wants you to mature even more than you want to!” These simple statements have been an immense blessing to me, as I ponder the fact that it is “God which worketh in [me] both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13) He will complete what He has begun!

Kitchen clean-up at the Wilkes' - always sure to be fun, adventuresome, and memorable!!!!! :)Iron sharpening ironPre-conference discussions

Jennifer - the wonderful servant organizer!Two hilarious kitchen workersQuite the host of young ones! Praise the Lord!She's astonished about something, wouldn't you say??

Mom, Mrs. Staddon, and Mrs. Wilkes (not pictured) were the amazing veggie choppers :-)Our prayerful leaders - we love you!I want someone else, PLEASE!

An exciting game of Marbles Hi guys!! Your bubbly energy is contagious!!More planning        

Excellent helpers put out the water for the meals :)Fellowship between brothers - can you see who belongs with who??!Motherly fellowship

The joy of the Lord was evident!Sharing wisdom and experienceThe fantastic food crew!!! We couldn't have made it without you!

The resource tableEnthusiasm and clowning at it's primeSisters in the Lord!

The orchestraWe love each other!

Hannah, James, and SamuelFellowship between sisters - can you tell who belongs with who in this one too??!A valuable investment into the little ones

BuddiesSo sweetIMG_2408

Are YOUR siblings YOUR best friends, like these?!The breathmints were vital!         

During the course of the weekend, the 200+ attendees were able to participate in potluck meals, prayer and sharing time, singing, a children’s energy-burning discipleship game time, and one of the best aspects: glorious fellowship centered around the common bond we have in the Lord Jesus Christ!

Esther's testimony JamesThe time spent with the prayer groups was priceless!

Suzanna and Rebecca did a great job working togetherGAME TIME!!!Little children are special to Jesus!

Fellowship over a delicious lunchThe close relationship between these two siblings was a challenge and encouragement to several of us!

Mr. and Mrs. Wilkes - gloriously in love! Stelzl sisters - so precious!Titus helped Daddy with his message "From Completeness to Maturity"

We were able to give testimonies againThe Wilkes family honored Mr. and Mrs. Wilkes Sr. for their faithfulness in 55 years of marriage!

A message in song from the Wilkesteam Joyful encouragementIMG_2777

MORE investment - just priceless!!!Kathryn and Amber Sue Exciting post-conference discussions :)


The Wilkesteam graciously opened their home once again to us, which allowed for excellent planning/discussing among the conference leaders and their helpers. 🙂 The night before the conference began, I shared a challenge with several of the young people that the Lord had laid on my heart: to meet at least one member of every family. Now, that sounds pretty simple, but I desired to not just meet them, but to learn about them, share, and leave them encouraged from having talked with me. This was a challenge, but by God’s grace, many of us almost succeeded!! 🙂 In the process of reaching out, I’m sure all of us that accepted the project would agree that we came away with even more encouragement than we were able to give!

Thank you, Staddons and Wilkes, for blessing the Neely Team in so many ways throughout the weekend!! We are always encouraged by your love for the Lord, your joy in service, your eternal perspective on life, and your hearts for ministry! What an immense blessing to work with you to bring a God-given vision to pass! We thank our God upon every remembrance of you ALL!

So…… as we look back on the weekend full of cherished memories, we look forward to the work of maturity that our Father will continue within each one of us!

Soli Deo Gloria!!

The sunset the evening before the conference! Wow!