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Archive for September, 2013

Linear Analogies

Posted by Jessica



Question: “Daddy, do you think our van tires have done around 1,000 times?”

Answer: “Well, let’s figure it out……”

This was a recent conversation between two team members. The answer to this question led to lots of other questions, and answers. Fun family trivia time.

Our faithful van has 256,000 miles on it (because of the mercy of our faithful God). That is approximately 172,858,200 turns of the tires, which is 1,193,280,000 feet in travelling distance. Approximately 3,767 hours have been spent travelling. Gallons of gas used was also calculated, and the approximate cost of gas.

But what can we learn from this? When we bought our van, over 10 years ago, little would we know the number of miles we’d have on it, the amount of hours we’d spend in it, or the amazing places we’d go in it.

But God did.

God also knows the plan for our lives. Sometimes it overwhelms us to look at tasks that are ahead of us. They’re daunting. So much to do. Not-so-much time to do it. But, little by little, inch by inch, step, by step, decision by decision, we see the fruit of labors. It is not in our own strength or abilities that we can fulfill our daily tasks, but by the grace of God. He enables us to do, through Him, what we could never do in ourselves. “He who has called us will turn His commands into enablings.” What a wonderful thought! Our mountainous to-do lists don’t take God by surprise.

So, next time you look at your calendar, or your to-do list, or whatever it may that makes you realize your inadequacy, praise the Lord for those things! Praise Him for His grace, for purpose in life, for His allowing you to acknowledge the fact that you can’t do it on your own! And seek His will. Claim His promises. Trust His Word. Rest in Him. And praise the Lord that He has counted you worthy of the struggle of juggling responsibilities!




Apple season is here again --

“Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

The Lord blessed us with several bushels of free, organic apples -- and what fun it was to preserve them together! Every member of the Team had a job.Quartering the apples to prepare them for cooking

IMG_1587Running the cooked apples through one of the best kitchen inventions in the world (at least in our opinion :))

Delicious applesauce!

Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders. He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground; A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein. He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into watersprings. And there he maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation; And sow the fields, and plant vineyards, which may yield fruits of increase.

After work, Dad jumped in to help us finish up. Canning the applesauce

Apple Pie Filling!

While the rest of us managed the apple process, two special Team members bleached the porch. After a particularly wet season, the mold and grime had flourished -- not a very pleasant addition to our family relax center. :)Scrub, scrub! It's looking great!

He blesseth them also, so that they are multiplied greatly; and suffereth not their cattle to decrease… he the poor on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock. The righteous shall see it, and rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth.

Then, they painted the porch! Way to go!Another seasonal project -- harvesting the remainder of the pumpkin squash, pumpkins, and green onions from the garden.

The Lord also blessed us with a quantity of free, organic Concord grapes. Such a blessing! Now, the shelves are lines with quarts and quarts of delicious juice.

Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.”

Psalm 107:31-38,41-43

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Posted by The Neely Team



Market Day

Posted by Jessica



Talking….this is something we like to do as a family. It is profitable and fun to throw out ideas, sort through ideas, and come to conclusions about those ideas. Such was the case not too long ago, and the result of this particular talk time was the decision to try being a vendor at our local farmer’s market. We had a wonderful day, and really enjoyed getting to know our community a little better. Interacting with customers and other vendors alike was encouraging to us, reminding us of our opportunity and responsibility we have to be a light in the place God has planted us.




“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” –Matthew 5:16

Try Again

Posted by Kathryn




What could be more delightful on a warm summer day than a big bowl of cool, refreshing watermelon?

Well, something you may not know about the Neely Team is that, as much as we love watermelon, I do not think we could grow them if our lives depended on it.

Growing large quantities of fresh produce has been a part of my life for almost as long as I can remember, but I do not believe we have ever been successful at growing a single watermelon. Why, I have no idea. It just doesn’t work.

This year, due to the wedding and everything else going on in our lives, planning and maintaining a garden was more than Dad and Mom could possibly think about, so I became official garden manager. Thanks to the great advice of David Stelzl, we tried a new method, one which includes using large amounts of mulch or compost material, and the Lord blessed our efforts tremendously. Not only did the mulch nourish the soil for a larger harvest in general, but it also kept the weeds down and drastically cut necessary maintenance time.

Anyway, back to watermelon.

In my new position as garden manager, armed with some most excellent watermelon seeds from a friend, I determined to try again. I started the seeds early in a green house, giving the plants a fair head start, and when the weather was right, transplanted them to a place where the soil is rich and they would receive enough sunshine.

And they grew. Slowly, but surely.

Eventually, a few small fruits appeared on the vine. I was sure that this would be the year that we would finally break loose from being first on the record of unsuccessful watermelon growers.

Then, one day last week, I heard some laughter on the back porch and someone called my name as I was working in the kitchen.

“Come quick — look at your watermelon!”

Apparently, the vine had been accidently cut in the previous week’s mowing, and there, surrounded by a dead vine, was my long awaited fruit. (See the picture above.) Beautiful! See the lovely striping, the lush green tones?


I died laughing.

My adorable little watermelon was… just that. Adorable.

Nothing like the giant, impressive 30-40 pounder it descended from.

Well, I guess all I can say that we still have not broken loose from our history of unsuccessful watermelon-ness. However, this whole escapade calls to mind a quote I heard earlier in the year at a home education convention we attended.

“Courage doesn’t always roar – sometimes, it is the quiet voice that, at the end of the day, whispers,

‘I’ll try again tomorrow.’”

And that is just what we will have to do – try again.

What was, to us, a hilarious family memory, also served to remind me that failure, no matter how it may cause us to feel, must not be the end to those of us who are in Christ. He is our hope; He is our reason, and our strength, for rising from bed each morning and determining to try again. We, chosen in Him before the foundation of the world, have been promised victory.

No matter what you are facing today, whether it something as simple as a watermelon, or instead a struggle that causes deep and lasting pain, look unto Jesus Christ, Who has already won the victory, and try again.

Our Tree Trimming Tale

Posted by Kathryn



Shortly after the FEW Conference, Dad and Herman left VA to head back home so Dad could be at work bright and early on Monday, but the rest of us headed north to visit Nana, Uncle Dan, Aunt Lisa, and our four wonderful cousins. The purpose of the trip: to trim somewhere between 4000-5000 Christmas trees that are thriving on the family farm! We did not know how long it would take, what would happen, what kinds of creatures we might find hidden in the tall grass or conveniently lodged in the branches of the evergreens, or how exhausting it might be, but we stepped out out together and tackled the job, trusting the Lord to go before us and prepare the way for all that He wanted us to accomplish.

And He did. Looking back, we gratefully marvel at the goodness of God in protecting us from tractor and equipment accidents and major issues with bees, in providing 5 days of constant sunshine without unbearable heat, and in giving us such a joyous time of fellowship together. 

Thanks to Mom’s great planning and organizational skills, we were able to work out a basic routine to follow that maximized the progress by placing our work times at our strongest points of the day, provided delicious meals with minimal prep time, and declared a mandatory afternoon rest. Smile Thus, the days went by smoothly and oh too quickly as we all enjoyed the process of such exhausting, but rewarding, work.

The first day -- headed out back to begin the mammoth undertaking!IMG_0765

Cleaning out hardwoods from under the evergreensMuch of the team agreed that LARGE SNIPS were the best way to trim trees...

... others preferred machetes. :)IMG_0766



Farm dogOur mowing queen for the week

To watch David and Brian take leadership and manage the work that went on was a blessing to us all. Their knowledge of the equipment was invaluable, and, too, they made the most amazing machinery maintenance and repair team we’ve ever seen (and we certainly needed it! Winking smile).


Discipleship tractor drivingFarm girl

Good work, Team! Praise the Lord!

At the close of the week, we took dinner to the lake and spent the evening relaxing together and flitting across the water in the Uncle Dan and Aunt Lisa’s kayaks.

IMG_0828A special brother and sister moment -- relationships are so important!


IMG_1548Sweet moments

IMG_1561Dinner around the lake -- the perfect close to a delightful week!

Cousins -- friends --IMG_1579

Other random shots from the week:


Picking plumsIMG_1521

A final mowing blitz on the tractorsIMG_1534

We rejoice in the mercy and goodness of the Lord in granting such a productive, delightful week. We love you, our dear family, and look forward with great anticipation to our next work adventure together!



At the end of time, will we receive the crown of righteousness at the hand of our righteous Lord as a reward for loving His appearing? In our day and age, where is the comfort found in I Thessalonians 4: 17-18? “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” In contrast to this, have we simply made ourselves comfortable in our daily lives, enjoying what prosperity brings us and reveling in what the world gives, rather than in what our relationship with Christ gives?

We were once again blessed with the opportunity and immense privilege of assisting to host the sixth annual Virginia Family Encouragement Weekend. While seeking to serve and encourage fellow believers whom the Lord had brought our way, we continually found ourselves being served and encouraged. Is not this what Christianity in its element ought to look like? We rejoice in how  He worked… families and individuals were blessed through fellowship, prayer, sessions, and laughter. Praise the LORD!


~ Portraits, a lasting treasure… a FEW of the precious attendees ~

IMG_1369A darling family... how we love them!!IMG_1362


~ Conference Candids ~

"Let no man despise thy youth,"  - our youngest speaker preparing her testimony. :-)The wrapping marathonSomethin' dynamic ;-)IMG_1314

Aunt & Niece, good friends :-)"...And that's how we stick... Together!"


Uncle and Aunty with Nephew - pricelessIMG_1495Just for giggles :-)


~ The Technical Side of Things ~


“There’s a course that must be finished, there’s a race that must be run.

There’s a mission to accomplish, and a battle to be won!

We’ve been called to take the challenge by God’s might and through His Son;

He will give us grace to complete the race, moving forward, pressing on.

“Toward the hope of our high calling toward the promise we’ve received,

With the strength that we’ve been given, pressing on to victory!

And toward the One who’s run before us, as we lay each weight aside,

‘Til the race is run, ‘til the prize is won, ‘til we reach the finish line, press on!

“There’s a faithful cloud of witnesses who inspire us in our task.

They have fought the fight, they have run the race, they have won the crown at last!

And the lives they’ve lived remind us that though the race at times seems long,

God will give the grace to complete the race, and the courage to press on.

“Toward the hope of our high calling toward the promise we’ve received,

With the strength that we’ve been given, pressing on to victory!

And toward the One who’s run before us, as we lay each weight aside,

‘Til the race is run, ‘til the prize is won, ‘til we reach the finish line,

Press On!”*

Press On!

*by Brigette Smisor Shevy, Copyright 2004 by THE WILDS. All right reserved.

A Reminder from the Past

Posted by Darlene



Sometimes as you go about a normal day with it’s projects and activities, God drops a special gift in your path. It might be a kind word, a sweet smile, an encouraging note, or even a special past memory of someone or something dear.

This was the case for me as I was busily enjoying a sewing project with some of my younger girls yesterday. I was “pawing” around in my sewing box, and came across some old papers I had tucked away there many years ago. As I look back, I’m not sure why I put them there except they were in a place I would have seen them frequently at that time, and God had me put them there so that all these years later I would be blessed by them.

On one of the slips of paper was a handwritten description of God’s Word written by my grandfather over 30 years ago! I originally had found it when going through my grandfather’s belongings after he passed away over 28 years ago and had tucked it away as something special.

The Book

This book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers.

It’s doctrines are holy, it’s precept are binding, it’s histories are true, and it’s decisions are immutable.

Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, practice it to be holy.

It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you.

It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter.

Here paradise is restored, heaven opened, and the gates of hell disclosed.

Christ is the grand Subject, our good it’s design, and the glory of God it’s end.

It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet.

Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully.

It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure.

Follow it’s precepts and it will lead you to Calvary, to the empty tomb, to a resurrected life in Christ,

Yes, to glory itself for eternity.


This paper brings to mind many things about my grandfather — that he was a man of God who loved God’s Word (“The Book”), that he prayed for us, his grandchildren, daily, and told us so, and that I have a rich Christian heritage that goes back many generations.

What timely reminders this piece of paper spoke to me: to love God’s Word, to pray for my children and grandchildren daily and tell them that I am doing so, and to write down things that are important to me, so that future generations will be reminded of their Christian heritage and encouraged with the truths of God’s Word.

Finding this paper once again was a special gift of God… a message from my grandfather, that God delivered just yesterday, and that now is impacting his great-grandchildren as well – the generation he never knew!