Oh what a wealth of strength and encouragement there is to be had in learning from and sharing with other dear believers within the body of Christ! In talking with a sweet friend recently, who is potentially facing some major changes in her life, I came away tremendously blessed with her testimony of what it means to discern, and follow, the will of God. In essence, she summed it all up in one word: YES. Since our heavenly Father has promised to lead, guide, and direct His children, she shared that her decision lay more in saying YES to what she knew He would reveal – difficult and uncomfortable as that may sometimes be – than it did in attempting to figure out exactly what the future would look like and choosing between different options.
It was such a simple thought, yet one that really resonated with me.
All throughout our lives, we are called to discern God’s will. Some decisions are simple, some are complicated. Some are joyous, some are painful. Some seem to have very little ongoing effect, and others are pivotal in deciding the destiny of not only ourselves but those around us.
There is certainly much need for fervent prayer, for diligently seeking the LORD for His way, for crying out for wisdom and direction. This is crucial. Scripture is packed full of commands to seek, and promises for those who will do so while trusting and waiting with patience. But when faced with such a decision, I am beginning to see that half the battle is won when we reach the point that we have no will of our own, and can – trustingly, submissively – say YES.
No matter what that entails.
There is true rest when our hearts are in such a state.
May God give each of us grace to say YES.
… for a dear brother!
“Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments. His seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed. Wealth and riches shall be in his house: and his righteousness endureth for ever. Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous. A good man sheweth favour, and lendeth: he will guide his affairs with discretion. Surely he shall not be moved for ever: the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance. He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD. His heart is established, he shall not be afraid, until he see his desire upon his enemies. He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness endureth for ever; his horn shall be exalted with honour…” Psalm 112
We are unspeakably grateful to the LORD for you, Matthew! May His richest blessings continue to rest upon you.
During the HEAV Convention in June, we were blessed to vend right beside a dear lady named Kat representing the Biltmore House in Ashville, NC. Before leaving the convention, she surprised us all and gave us free one-day passes to tour the house and gardens!
As a special birthday celebration later in July, we had an open Saturday and decided to go – and because of Kat’s generosity, we were even able to include Mom’s sister and her family in the fun! What a delightful day! The Lord gave us beautiful weather, sweet fellowship, and precious memories as we learned more about the history of this intriguing mansion and marveled at the beauty of our Creator’s handiwork.
Yet another journey in June was to Richmond for the HEAV (Home Educator’s Association of Virginia) Convention. With the days packed to bursting with busyness, fellowship, opportunities to serve and minister to many precious people, and much more, we all came away truly blessed and uplifted.
One of the numerous blessings of the weekend was seeing the standard of righteousness that the HEAV has set. Throughout the convention, frequent and unashamed acknowledgement of the LORD and His Word was clearly evident, and for that we were immensely grateful.
** Jessica was privileged to join our friend James (with Lenspiration) in leading a team of photographers for the convention.
** At any convention, the Neely Team always loves the vendor hall… so being able to operate a booth ourselves and walk the floor many times visiting others was certainly a highlight.
** Participating in music, both in the HEAV High School Graduation ceremony and in the lobby background music, was such a joy! Matthew & Amanda joined us at the convention on the day of the graduation, so having Amanda in the ranks again to sing/play brought many smiles.
…are those who TRUST.
Blessed are those who WAIT.
Blessed are those who SEEK.
O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. O fear the LORD ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack and suffer hunger, but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing. Psalm 34:8-10
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. O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee. Psalm 84:11-12
The LORD is my portion, saith my soul: therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. Lamentations 3:24-26
Trust in the LORD and do good: so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him… Psalm 37:3-7
Their strength is to sit still… In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength… 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… He will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry ; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee. Isaiah 30
Just as all of our travels were commencing for the month of June, we were blessed to attend the graduation celebration for some dear friends and music students, Kris Jr. & Sheri. Praise the LORD for these two vibrant young people, who consistently demonstrate what it means to live wholeheartedly for the glory of our Creator, to seek first His Kingdom, to reject the lies our culture offers, and instead to embrace of the calling of Christ, despite the cost. Watching these two grow and mature throughout the past several years has been a delight, and we look forward to seeing the beautiful plans the LORD has in store for them in the days ahead.
Congratulations, Kris & Sheri! May the LORD abundantly bless you!
May He “grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.” Eph. 3:16-21
One of the joyous trips we were blessed to take in the month of June was to the beautiful state of West Virginia… and what a thrill it was to participate in the 2015 WV FEW Conference while we were there!
The LORD is so faithful, sending encouragement and strengthening for the race of life just when it is needed. The opportunity to jump in and serve, hear sound, biblical teaching, fellowship with dear, like-hearted families, and so much more, left us all tremendously uplifted.
We apologize for the long delay, but here are some photos at last!
~ Reminders to fervently seek Jesus Christ above all else; to focus mind, affection, and delight upon Him and His Word; to rejoice in all things; to view each irritation as an invitation for communion with the Most High; to depend upon the power of the LORD to live each moment for His glory…
~ The children’s hour was, once again, a hilarious opportunity to learn the importance of gratitude in the midst of every circumstance of life…
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thess. 5:18
~ The blessing of many, many little ones… the future leaders of families, churches, and our nation…
…suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Mark 10:14
~ Discipleship game time…
…inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matt. 25:40
~ Fellowship… and a final “FEW” random shots…
And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Colossians 3:17
One of our faithful readers asked for this recipe… so here it is! This makes a wonderful treat to serve to guests; it looks beautiful but is incredibly simple to put together.
Old Glory Dessert
2 cups sugar cookie dough [or 1 (18 ounce) tube refrigerated dough]
11 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
2 cups fresh strawberries, quartered
Press cookie dough into a greased 15”x10” baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden brown (do not over-bake). Cool on a wire rack.
In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, and lemon juice until smooth. Set aside 1/4 cup of mixture. Spread remaining cream cheese mixture over crust. Decorate with blueberries and strawberries to resemble a flag.
Cut a small hole in a corner of a pastry or plastic bag. Insert star tip (#16). Fill with reserved cream mixture. Beginning in one corner, pipe stars in the spaces between blueberries. Store in refrigerator until serving.
Notes from TNT:
*As you can see from the photo, piping stars between the berries isn’t always necessary… it does look more esthetically pleasing, though.
*For those of you who are – like us – chocolate fanatics, chocolate-chip cookie dough makes a nice substitution for the sugar dough.
*A few weeks ago, we had fun coming up with a gluten-free, dairy-free version of this recipe, simply by using gluten free, dairy-free cookie dough, and using a natural strawberry jam in place of the cream cheese frosting. It was a sweet treat for those with intense diet restrictions.
Happy Independence Day from the Neely Team!
May each of our hearts turn anew to the One in Whom we have true freedom, that His glory may once again dwell in our land.
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.” Psalm 33:12
Today marks the 183rd day of this year – which, for those of you whose brains automatically calculate everything you see and hear, you will recognize as the halfway point in the average year. (And for those of you who, like me, don’t calculate so readily, put your minds at ease with the knowledge that it was only a handy calendar that told me this ). At the close of each and every month, I am always amazed at how the time has flown by, but especially so with the end of the month of June. Only 50% of the year is left! How quickly the days are passing.
For the Neely Team, June held a schedule of almost non-stop traveling. Our final trip of the month (a sort of grand HUZZAH! to all of the consecutive road-time) was to attend the wedding of one of our dear “sisters” – but more about that later. Suffice it to say that, upon coming home from that trip this past Monday, and added to everything that had come before it, we were all rather emotionally chaotic – excited, sad, praising the LORD for His goodness, exhausted, teary, exuberant, delighted, and on and on. On top of that, several of us had been fighting some sort of virus. By the time we pulled into the driveway late in the evening, I was burning up with fever, had a bad headache, and overall, looked and felt just plain terrible.
After spending the next day in bed, I felt much better and early yesterday morning (Wednesday), we headed to Greenville for music lessons. Try hard to be early as we did, we still didn’t arrive home until close to midnight after a wonderful but tiring day of music instruction, fellowship, and some necessary shopping.
You can probably imagine… but coming out of such an intensely busy, exciting, fun, encouraging, and adventuresome month, coupled with the effects of sickness, lingering chaotic emotion, discouragement about the rapidity of passing time, pressure from continuous “to-do’s” that kept mentally piling up, and the weight of other concerns on my heart, I wasn’t feeling the most enthused or inspired last night.
Though almost no one would have guessed it, an inward battle was raging. Somehow the future looked quite bleak to my sleepy, faithless eyes.
LORD, where am I going find the energy, the hope, the courage, even the desire… to accomplish what You have for me to do tomorrow… this weekend… these next weeks and months?
The effects of sweet rest – truly one of the good gifts the LORD sends to His children – left me much refreshed, but still the question remained as I prepared for the day this morning.
I asked the LORD again to renew my joy in the work He has called me to do. To give me enthusiasm with which to attack the second half of this glorious year. To send me something during my time in the Word to which I could cling.
And He did.
He is so faithful, so merciful. And He brought verse after verse to my eyes and heart – each with fresh power and meaning – that answered the anxious cries that had resounded.
“…I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” John 15:16
“Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.” Psalm 40:5
“How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.” Psalm 139:17-18
“Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass… Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him…” Psalm 37:4-7
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10
Delight in doing His will for the “here and now”… peace in knowing that He is always, only good, and that His plans far surpass comprehension… rest in being reassured that I am not alone, but that His presence is with me every moment of life’s journey… unutterable joy in knowing that He chose me and that He loves me with an everlasting love… all of this began to thrill my heart once again.
To Him be praise.
And so may we step forward into the remainder of this year with abundant joy in the One Who walks beside us, trusting His promises without reservation and depending upon His grace to finish what He has called us to do, for His glory.
After far too long without time for one-on-one fellowship, we were delighted to have the Wikman family at our house for Memorial Day! What a blessing to spend time together again — the sweetness of the bond we share in Christ with other believers is truly a foretaste of the glory that awaits us in Heaven.
Games… Corn Toss, especially, was one of the weekend favorites.
A sweet time singing hymns and reading the Word together on the porch.
Other moments… including trampoline time with the moms!
We love you, Wilkman family, and praise the LORD for your friendship. Looking forward to the next visit!