Welcome, Valiance!!

Today marks the two-month birthday of the newest member of the Neely Team —  Valiance (German Shepherd)! She came to us through a series of unexpected and pleasurable events, including a renewed contact, a family discussion, and a shocking(!) conclusion. Arriving as a small bundle of squirming fir, Valiance brightened our day and lives with her many bright  and winsome ways. We love having a puppy around again, with all of the entertainment, opportunities, challenges, and joys that she brings.

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IMG_4362IMG_4385IMG_4382 - Copy

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Displaying a certain lack of photogencity :-)

Wonderful bedmates Smile

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“Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people, and for the cities of our God: and let the LORD do that which is good in his sight.”

~ I Chronicles 19:13

Barn Blessings

My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise… I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: I will sing unto thee among the nations. For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds. Psalm 57:7,9-10

A few weekends ago we were blessed to take a trip down to south GA with Matthew to see Grandmama and Uncle Fudge, as well as our adopted grandparents, “Uncle” Bill and “Aunt” Peggy. Besides getting to spend quality time with these precious, godly older couples, our missions for the journey were to re-roof Grandmama’s barn, a rather daunting task when you consider that you only have two days to accomplish it, and to take some time to go hunting.

The blessing of the Lord was upon the entire weekend. Early Friday morning, Matthew had the joy of helping his beloved Amanda take two deer from the woods! Following that excitement, work on the barn began in real earnest, and the Team set in motion.

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Story time with Aunt Peggy"Before"

IMG_4191Working in the kitchen with Aunt Peggy -- how sweet! They, along with Grandmama and a few others, kept the barn roofers supplied with nourishing meals and snacks.

Project underwaySupervising :-D

DiscipleshipIMG_4204

Fun on the 4-Wheeler :-D

:-DBreak time!

Teaching Grandmama and Aunt Peggy how to play Phase 10 - quite the hoot!IMG_4224

We love you two!

Getting the new sheet metal off the truck and ready to pass to those on the roofWatching the other side's progress

ObservingRemoving a myriad of rusty old nails, meanwhile trying hard to not fall through the rotten beams onto the farm implements below

It’s amazing what a man can accomplish… when he has a hardy helpmeet by his side!

Dad...... and his excellent helper!

Matthew... and his helper-to-be!

Working together, the project was successfully completed in time to drop everything, clean up, and race off to a singing commitment we had Saturday night. (Whew! Smile) Praise the Lord!

IMG_4245"After"

Before heading home, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to take a couple group shots. How grateful we are for the time to fellowship with and glean wisdom from these dear people!

The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness. Proverbs 16:31

He that walketh with wise men shall be wise… Proverbs 13:20

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As we left Bainbridge, we took Matthew by the cemetery where Grandpapa is buried.

IMG_4279For those of you who have heard our Patriotic CD, this is the tombstone that was placed in honor of the two Neely brothers, Gordon and Willard, who were lost in WWII.

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Grandpapa’s life verses were found in Psalm 34, and following the Lord’s abundant blessings on our weekend, they seem very appropriate. What a heritage we’ve been handed!

I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together. Psalm 34:1-3

The Existence of God

Renaissance chemist Robert Boyle is attributed to have said the following:

“The vastness, beauty, orderliness of heavenly bodies; the excellent structure of animals and plants; and other phenomena of nature justly induce an intelligent, unprejudiced observer to conclude a supreme, powerful, just and good Author.”

 

Wear a Red Hat

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.

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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!

(Smile)

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

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!

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“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

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

We......love......pecans!!

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

Thanksgiving…

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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

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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

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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

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!

IMG_2441Precious

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

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