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Archive for November, 2011



Recently Victoria and I got some new hardware!

Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?? Maybe you should try it too. Having it really is a blast!

Well, I guess before you make any decisions, as in all things, you should be well informed. This hardware is small… shiny (most of the time Smile)…very productive… has many parts and important terminology… are attached to those supposed-to-be-white-and-pearly thingys in your mouth… but can cause quite a bit of pain and are usually expensive.


Anyway… we are really enjoying having braces together! Some people dread them, but we were both terrifically excited and have not been disappointed. It’s been so fun!

The morning after I got them put on, though, I was spending my time with the Lord and a thought struck me. I was still getting used to them, as you can imagine. Every time I moved my mouth, ate, drank, brushed my teeth, said anything… I was reminded of these pieces of metal now semi-permanently glued to my teeth. At that moment I thought: “These are a pretty important to me. But how can God get glory from braces????”

1 Corinthians 10:31: Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

“Everything in my life is supposed to bring God glory. Eating and drinking can… braces are a lot bigger deal than eating a meal… I know they can too…… but how??”

I started thinking and came up with several different ways that the Lord could potentially get glory from braces! It sounds strange, almost goofy, but if you really stop and ponder it, Scripture teaches that we were created for God’s glory. It follows, then, that everything we do should fulfill that purpose, including the little things!


IMG_7640The first reason I discovered is found in the analogies that can be drawn. Braces cause pain, but that pain produces positive results. It is the same in our hearts. In His gracious sovereignty, the Lord will take us through painful circumstances and trials to draw us closer to Himself and conform us more into His likeness.

Second, having braces together has strengthened Victoria’s and my relationship as we can discover helpful tips, go through similar feelings, and can just relate better because of having yet another thing in common. A special sort of comradery is fostered. (We recommend dual-braces within a family – Amanda and Jessica did it too!)

Third, braces can help to develop patience. You must wait. It takes time to get your teeth straight after years and years of crooked-tivity! (new word Winking smile

Fourth, braces made me realize how easy it is to get annoyed at little, insignificant things when I’m in constant pain and helped me find the right response. I realized I had to identify the root of the annoyance and seek the Lord in an “SOS” call to receive His help to respond in love and gentleness.

Fifth, we should desire the gaze of others to be drawn to our face, which should glow with the joy of the Lord. Braces help the appearance of the face to be more appealing!

Sixth, braces don’t happen by yourself. You have to come in contact with people Smile… thus presenting another opportunity to shine the Light of Christ into the life of another!


I’m sure you could think of others; those are just the ones that came to mind. But… if we really were created for God’s glory, then why don’t we think more often about how to accomplish that end in the little things? Mr. Dan Horn once described the glory of God as “the indispensible center” of our lives. Do our thoughts, words, motives, and actions communicate that it is such?

After so many years…

Posted by Amanda



Nineteen years ago, a young couple with two small children moved from their warm home in north Georgia, to the shockingly different territory of southern New Hampshire. During their two-winters-long stay in New England, they experienced vast differences between the sunny south and the much-colder north, not the least of which was the necessity of shoveling two feet of snow off of the car many mornings during the long winter months. They also met some new friends, including one couple who had just had their first child, but who held the unusual belief that they would accept as many children as the Lord saw fit to bless them with. Although this idea seemed a bit radical to the newcomers, the couples were soon good friends, and when their paths diverged fourteen months later and the Lord moved the first couple back south (this time to Texas!), the two families continued to keep in touch via annual Christmas letters and pictures. For several years, this was their only means of communication, and meanwhile, many changes took place in both families. The New Englanders’ family grew until they had nine children, and over the years, the Lord changed the hearts of the other couple and eventually blessed them with a total of ten young “arrows.” (See Psalm 127.) Then, early in 2010, the Lord placed in both families the strong desire to reconnect with each other and renew their friendship.


This happened around the time of the first North Carolina FEW Conference, and our excitement was unbounded when we received the news that the Wikmans would be making the 1,000+ mile trek (one-way!) to attend the event! Though our time together was short and extremely busy, we were able to reconnect to a small degree, and each of the few times we’ve seen each other since then has only increased our yearning for a longer and more personal visit.

Finally, last week we were blessed with the opportunity to have the Wikmans in our home for a few days. And what a joy it was! Besides the fun and games that went on, we Neelys were incredibly encouraged by seeing the way the Wikmans interacted with each other. Their sweet spirits and self-sacrificing love were very convicting to us as we watched them serve one another with Christ-like love. We observed in amazement as time and time again, an older sibling would drop whatever they were doing to help with a younger one, or Mr. or Mrs. Wikman would willingly give up fellowship time to care for a child, and always with a smile: there was never a word of complaint! They were also always ready to jump in and help with whatever we were doing, whether it was preparing food, washing dishes, or sweeping the floor. It was a tremendous blessing to us just to have them in our home, and we look forward to the next time we can share fellowship with them!

Thank you, Wikmans, for the blessing you were to our family! You have truly “provoked us unto love and to good works.” (Hebrews 10:24) Thank you for being such a wonderful example of Christ-like service and love!! 

The "front desk" at the hair salonHairdressers and clientsSweet fellowship100_7692

IMG_7182IMG_7188Cleanup time!IMG_7184IMG_7185Babies - ah, so much fun! PartnersIMG_7197FriendsSibling storytime - how precious!We've never had so many cellos in a string quartet before... maybe we should start calling it a string orchestra! :-D100_7696100_7701100_7704IMG_7207IMG_7212IMG_7215"General" and soccer were a lot of fun!The other team - look at those smiles! =)We HAD to introduce them to this Christmas tradition!"So it DOES have real eggs in it!"Preparing to serve...We dilute it a little bit...Have to get it just right!The first taste!IMG_7228Hmm... that's not so bad!Parents' Night Out... how fun!!