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Archive for 2012

Wear a Red Hat

Posted by Kathryn



Sometimes you need an extra smile. Sometimes those around you need an extra laugh. Sometimes you need to make extra memories.

Sometimes… you need to wear a red hat.


Last Wednesday evening, feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and rather emotional, I talked with Dad and Mom about all I needed to get accomplished the next day. A ginormous amount of Christmas-candy (supposed-to-be-fun-stuff!) to be prepared, a messy house to clean and tidy, two days worth of laundry to be washed and put away, meals to think-through and concoct, a home to manage, music ministry opportunities for which to practice… All of this crowded my tired brain, along with the thought that Mom and Amanda would be unavailable due to important wedding preparations, and Jessi was taking Victoria, Susanna, and the littles out to run errands for the morning and possibly a portion of the afternoon.  That left Lauren and I. Hmmmm.

As we neared the end of our conversation, knowing the lack of joy I was feeling, Dad gave me one of his gentle, almost mischievous smiles and said “You know what? While you do all of that, I think it would be really cool if you wore one of Cocoa’s chef hats!”

Now, to be brutally honest, the idea was not my first choice. I have never considered myself to be a hat person… and… a chef’s hat?! You know, one of those tall things that makes your head appear as though it were an acre of mushy earth under a host of rotting leaves in a damp forest that has sprouted one of those nasty, smushy, gray species of fungus. Uggghh!


But, as always, Dad’s little piece of advice was a good one. Lauren and I had so much fun that day, working together to bless our precious family.

And, you might be interested to know, the hat wasn’t so awful after all. It sparked many giggles and memories, and helped keep me reminded to enjoy the special moments the Lord gives me.

So, maybe today you need to wear a red hat. Or a purple one. Or maybe even a florescent, hurt-your-eyes-when-you-glance-at-it orange one! Maybe today you need a rekindling of joy in your heart as you labor for those you love.

The blessings of the Lord are all around you. Find something for which to be grateful and smile at it.

Or… wear a red hat.

A little taste of our efforts... chocolate covered cherries! A Neely Christmas favorite!Oreo balls in the worksYum!

Oreo balls completed!:-D - For our eldest brother and sister - We love you!

Matthew & Amanda’s Testimonies

Posted by The Neely Team



For all of you who have patiently waited to hear the details of how the Lord brought Matthew and Amanda together, their testimonies are now available for viewing! Click here!


“Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!” Psalm 31:19

Pecan Pickin’ Days

Posted by Jessica



A couple weeks ago we took a journey to South Georgia to visit Grandmama and Uncle Fudge. While we were there we did some projects, two of which were cleaning pecans and removing a dead pecan tree out of the yard. It was good to spend some time with grandparents and other family.

It was a monstrous-sized project — 160 pounds of pecans. Do you know just how many that is? Approximately 19 gallon bags of shelled nuts. Just plain deliciousness. Smile!!

Making a cake togetherIMG_3084By the end of the weekend, it didn't look so pretty. :)

Cuddle time on the swing with "Uncle Fudge"Pecan Pickin' PartyWhere's "Uncle Fudge?" :)

This huge pecan tree has been in there for many, many years. We older ones remember gathering pecans from this beautiful tree. Dad and Grandpapa would hit the branches with long bamboo poles, making the nuts fall to the ground, then we would all crawl around on the leaf-y ground gathering them into buckets. Fond memories of special times together. The tree was struck by lightning over 10 years ago, and the time had come that it was too dangerous to leave it standing. It was sad to see it fall, but we’re so thankful that it came down without any dangerous complications. Praise the Lord!

"TIMBER!!"There was a sigh of relief after it hit the ground -- so thankful it fell safely.

Mom driving the tractor that was attached to the rope that we brought from home that was tied to the tree that was struck by lightning Clearing the branches

Taking a much-needed break for a quick drink of refreshing waterIMG_3112


Posted by The Neely Team




A precious time with family… a time of rejoicing… a time of memory-making… a time to recall the goodness of the Lord.

This year we had the blessing of hosting some of Mom’s family in our home. A variety of activities transpired, from pulling turkey to cutting hair to playing music to taking pictures to a whole myriad of other things, including eating a delicious dinner. We were sad that not all of the extended family could come, but we thoroughly enjoyed fellowshipping with those who could.

We rejoice in the tremendous gift that the Lord has given us in grandparents/aunts/uncles/cousins with whom we share the common bond of Christ. Thank you, Conns and Mercks, for making the effort to come, and for all the sweet times of fellowship! We love you all!

Getting dinner readyIMG_3135IMG_3129


IMG_3159Getting a new hairdo :)Working on Christmas cards

"Cousin dogs" sharing beds - these two got along so wellEnjoying "chat" time

Games – some louder than others, but all equally enjoyed.

A rousing rendition of Pit! Hope no one was trying to take a nap.... ;)Another (more-civilized) game


Some activities create opportunity to have some close bonding time.

Taking a trip down the hill on the grass sledThe response to the previous picture

Enjoying a beautiful walk with wonderful peopleIMG_3708

IMG_3703IMG_3706Story time with cousins

Thanksgiving 2012

Dad’s Birthday Picnic

Posted by Kathryn



Oh, how we don’t want to take these precious days, months, and years for granted. God has given us the time we have now… we are not promised tomorrow. What will we do that matters in eternity? Will we pay the price to invest in our family members? Will we smile and laugh together, struggle and press on together, live and love together?

In honor of the birthday of our beloved leader, patriarch, husband, father, friend, counselor, and bona-fide family joker,Smile we spent the afternoon at the lake one Saturday this fall. A particular highlight was when Dad initiated a quite serious, competitive tournament of Corn Toss. (Winking smile) We tried so hard, but to be brutally honest, we are pathetic at the afore-mentioned activity… thus, we spent more time doubled over with a serious case of side-splitting laughter than we did in playing!


An indescribable blessing to see younger ones that are best friends!Examining the new fishing pole...

Go, buddy!IMG_2501

IMG_2483LOL :OIMG_2496

IMG_2480Thinking... of the love of her life. (This one is for you, Matthew!)

Cherish the moment


More work on the fishing pole...Reading...



IMG_2535Beautifully in love

Work is rewarded... getting to use the fishing pole at last!Laughing... again.

IMG_2542:-D!!! What would we do without you??! Life would be so dull!

We love you, Dad!!

Fall Activities…

Posted by The Neely Team



Isn’t fall such a glorious, spectacular season??! The stunning colors, cool temperatures, and overall cozy atmosphere make one eager for some memorable times as a family.

From the (embarrassing) lack of posts going up, you may be wondering where we have been for most of this delightful season. Let’s see…

One highlight was certainly hosting our annual Fall Family Fun Night. Years ago, rather than participating in Halloween, Dad and Mom began a special tradition: a fun, action-packed activity night for us as a creative, wholesome, and family-building alternative. At first, it was just us… then a family or two from church too… then it grew to a few more… and then the Lord grew it into a much greater ministry opportunity than we ever imagined – this year there were nearly 85 attendees! What a joy to see so many from our community take the time to be together!

Mom and Jessi were mainly responsible for the decoration of the food area this year. Beautiful job!Fun on the grass sled!

SweetFind the candy in the sugar and scoop it into the cup with no hands!

IMG_2392IMG_2386Dignity and class... and a little fun :-D

Joy in being as a family

Demonstrating: get your whole family across the "shark-infested waters," but you must stay on the cardboard "boats" at all times!

IMG_2420Eat a donut off of the string with no hands!


Tie a baloon around your ankle... pop the other team's before they get yours!Final contestants :-D

Another highlight was camping with some long-time friends from the Atlanta area. The Lord blessed us with beautiful weather and a weekend of sweet, encouraging fellowship.




O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD. Psalm 117

A Quote for the Election

Posted by Victoria



“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”

~John Quincy Adams

Waiting = Blessing

Posted by Kathryn



“My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us.” Psalm 62:5-8

For several years now, I have had a growing interest in midwifery… or should I term it, an intense desire to study the beautiful process of bringing new life into the world! Two and a half years ago, however, Dad asked me to put a hold on my study. He didn’t really articulate his feelings on it all, but he just felt that at that point, I should wait and concentrate on other things. When I chose to submit to his gentle guidance, the Lord gave me grace and true joy in following his leading, and He filled my time with an abundance of other areas to expand my knowledge in.

“…thou shalt know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.” Isaiah 49:23

Following my high school graduation this year, I broached the subject to Dad again and he gave me his full approval for once more commencing my study, and in these couple months, what a blessed time it has been! This past weekend, the Lord orchestrated timing perfectly around a camping trip we were on, so as to allow Amanda, Jessica, and me to be present at the delivery of a friend of ours. My “first birth” was most certainly a wonderful experience, but as I think about it, I believe the Lord has greatly magnified my joy in this whole study simply because I went through a period of waiting for it.

So if you are going through a particular season of waiting, be encouraged to keep your eyes on Christ. Trust Him. There are blessings in store on the other side, if you are just willing to wait.

“And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you; for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.” Isaiah 30:18


Special thanks to the new parents for allowing us to be present!

More Photos–Matthew & Amanda

Posted by The Neely Team



IMG_2199 - Copy


IMG_2265IMG_2252 - Copy

Reinacting :)

IMG_2234 - Copy


IMG_2204 - Copy

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IMG_2343 - Copy

“Oh How Great is Thy Goodness…

Posted by The Neely Team



… which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in Thee before the sons of men!” Psalm 31:19


Matthew & Amanda




"By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." John 13:35"For the LORD 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

"Oh LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee." Psalm 84:12

"Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 15:5-6

"... thou shalt know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me." Isaiah 49:23"He hath made every thing beautiful in his time..." Ecclesiastes 3:11

"And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they many fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them." Jeremiah 32:39"He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them." Psalm 145:19

“When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing; then said they among the heathen, ‘The LORD hath done great things for them.’ The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.” Psalm 126:1-3

Welcome to the family, Matthew! To God be praise!

Also, visit the Wilkes Team’s site!