Dad’s Birthday Picnic

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!

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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

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

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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…

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!

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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.

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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

“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

“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

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

“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

 

Matthew & Amanda

 

Wilkes/Neely

Trust

"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!

I Needed the Quiet

I needed the quiet, so He drew me aside
Into the shadows where we could confide;
Away from the bustle where all the day long,
I hurried and worried when active and strong.

This week I had two of my wisdom teeth pulled. (Lord willing, those will be the only two!) So the past few days, I have been confined to our living room couch, sitting or lying very still and quiet most of the time, as I wait for the healing process to take place. Knowing that I would probably have several days like this, I came prepared with a list of things to do to keep my mind occupied. By God’s grace, these past few days have flown by peacefully and productively, for which I’m very thankful!

However, this was not my idea of a fun procedure. Everyone has their own weaknesses – their own fears of something, even if that fear seems trivial to everyone else in the world. My phobia is of anything oral (besides eating, of course – now that, I can handleSmile); I once passed out after losing a baby tooth! The Lord has allowed me to get over some of that fear in recent years, but any sudden change in my mouth still bothers me greatly. So, having my wisdom teeth extracted was NOT my idea of the best way to get some quiet time.

But the Lord reminded me, as He often does, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways… For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9) He has a perfect plan, and we can try to buck that plan – and be miserable – or we can follow His loving, guiding hand and trust Him to give us the grace to walk through whatever He places before us. It is only when we choose this latter path that we experience the peace and joy that He wants to give us.

I needed the quiet, tho’ at first I rebelled,
But gently, so gently, my cross He upheld,
And whispered so sweetly of spiritual things;
Tho’ weakened in body, my spirit took wings
To heights never dreamed of when active and gay.
He loved me so greatly He drew me away.

And during these last several days of forced sitting and quiet, the Lord has blessed me in ways that I would not have experienced had I been busy with the normal responsibilities of life. I’ve had time to do some projects that I wouldn’t have had time for otherwise. That alone has been wonderful! But the spiritual blessings have been there, as well. One benefit has been having more time to spend in the Word. It’s not very often that we have time to sit and read the Bible for as long as we want, but that becomes more feasible when you are bed-ridden (or couch-ridden). As I’ve pondered the whole experience, the Lord has showed me SO many things to be thankful for that I’ve had to write a list to remember them all… some of which I never thought I could be thankful for! God is good!

So next time you are faced with a situation which seems unpleasant, or even frightening to you, ask the Lord to show you specific things to thank Him for, and to reveal more of Himself to you. When He pulls you out of the rat-race of life and prevents you by illness or some other means from doing what you thought was best, ask Him to show you His purposes. Maybe He has a specific lesson He wants you to learn, or maybe He just wants you to spend more time in communion with Him. Whatever His reasons may be, remember that He is faithful; He will not give you more than you can handle; He knows exactly what you need. He will be there to walk with you through the valley; enjoy the fellowship with Him, learn what He wants to teach you, and eventually you will emerge victorious on the other side!

I needed the quiet. No prison my bed,
But a beautiful valley of blessings instead –
A place to grow richer, in Jesus to hide.
I needed the quiet, so He drew me aside.*

Photography by Jessica Neely

*This old poem was so beautifully fitting! I appreciate this unknown author’s perspective, and can certainly relate to the thoughts and experiences portrayed!

Redeeming the Time – – NH FEW Conference! (Trip North, #4)

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“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16

Oh how grateful we are for the Schmechel family and their decision to redeem the time! Driven by a passionate love for Christ and a desire to uplift and edify His Church, they spent weeks and months, which could have all-too-easily been spent for themselves, in planning for and preparing for the first ever NH FEW Conference. So much thought, so much prayer, so much energy was poured out without any anticipation of earthly reward. But as so often happens, the Lord multiplied their efforts and many, many lives were blessed and changed because of their self-sacrifice and service.

We arrived at the Schmechel’s home, Bittersweet Farm, on Thursday evening and were greeted by a peaceful atmosphere and a delicious lasagna dinner! Not only had they done everything to prepare for the conference itself, but they graciously offered to host the entire FEW Team in their lovely farm house! What a time of joy as we got settled and fellowshipped late into the night!

Schmechel ladies... busy yet again!Final registration prep

Hannah -- on loan to the Schmechels for the weekend! We soooo enjoyed getting to know her!!Teamwork!

The conference began Friday afternoon. Oh for words to describe the blessings that unfolded!

The music from the orchestra -- stunning!IMG_1340Children's session: a visit from "Dr. Walter Wilson" :)

Mom sharing heart-to-heart with the ladiesSession: Practical Hospitality

Wilkes Team #2!Joy in sharing the Word

Session: Turning a Crisis into a ClassroomSession: Preparing Young Men -- and fulfilling the Great CommissionSession: Preparing Daughters

During the weekend, we blessed and encouraged by evidence of family harmony as seen through the interaction of siblings.

Give instructionSpend time togetherShow support and give encouragment

Love unconditionallyShare your heart

Lead in paths of righteousnessEnjoy the journey of life Have fun together!

As always, the fellowship shared was a foretaste of Heaven!

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IMG_1546Precious

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NH FEW -- can't wait till next year!

Thank you, Schmechel family, for choosing to redeem the precious time that the Lord has given you by spending it for others. Many lives will never be the same for it.

To God be the glory!

Beauty, Beaches, and Blessings (Trip North, #3)

On our last morning in Maine, we were loading the van when Dad ran quickly out of the hotel lobby and said “There’s a Pearl Harbor survivor in here that I think we should talk to!” Out we came, and then spent the next half hour or so talking to this 91 yr. old gentleman, Mr. Oster. We soon found out that he too is a Christian, and such a blessing it was to hear his story and learn more about our history as Americans! He was elated at the opportunity, sharing with us his sorrow over the fact that many young people are not being taught the true history of our country any longer. Because of Dad’s spirit of gratitude toward our servicemen, and his special love for WWII veterans, we got to sit under the counsel and wisdom of yet another godly man. Praise the LORD!

IMG_1149Thank you, Mr. Oster!

Following that, we had to see the coast just one more time before heading southwest for the FEW. Smile We spent about an hour out there together, taking in the breathtaking scenery and the cool, salty air!

On the roadside dock... anticipating the cool splash of the waves!IMG_1171

IMG_1177Our sweet photographer!Bloom where you are planted!

Special momentsWe tried to stay dry... or, should I say, most of us did! ;-D

It felt sooo good!IMG_1240Clowning

Wait on the LORD, be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart.

The LORD is good, his mercy is everlasting, and his truth endureth to all generations. Praise ye the LORD!

Oh the beauty of God’s creation, the blessing of being together as a family, the glory of knowing that all is well because of Who is in control!

Dinner on the Coast of Maine (Trip North, #2)

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“The earth is the LORD’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.” Psalm 24:1-2

What could be better than enjoying a delectable meal with the most special people in the world while having the ability to gaze out far and wide into the beauties of God’s creation??

On our last night in Maine, we found a quaint little seaside restaurant at which we could do just that. And oh was it wonderful! The staff at The Dolphin were most hospitable, and afterward we were able to talk with the owner quite extensively and learn a lot about the happenings around that area of the coast. It was fascinating!

Before heading back to our hotel for a good night’s rest, we couldn’t resist a few pictures. Smile

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IMG_1074Enjoying the view

IMG_1121Not just sisters...

... but best friends!Neely "Littles" (and "not so littles" :D) -- oh what joy they bring to our lives!

Our wonderful parentsIMG_1135

“O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard: Which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved.” Psalm 66:8-9

“Sing unto God, ye kingdoms of the earth; O sing praises unto the Lord. To him that rideth upon the heavens of heavens, which were of old, lo, he doth send out his voice, and that a mighty voice. Ascribe ye strength unto God: his excellency is over Israel, and his strength is in the clouds. O God, thou are terrible out of thy holy places: the God of Israel is he that giveth strength and power unto his people. Blessed be God.” Psalm 68:32-35

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