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Mary Mac’s Tea Room

Posted by The Neely Team



Imagine the tantalizing, inviting aroma of down-home country cooking…

… the sweet, buttery taste of warm cinnamon rolls…

… and the cool, creamy refreshment of homemade strawberry shortcake!

Then put the delicious food together with a clean, inviting atmosphere, friendly staff, and impeccable service. There! You have it in a nutshell:

Mary Mac’s Tea Room.

What you'd see from the street Located in downtown Atlanta, GA, Mary Mac’s Tea Room was started in 1945 by Mary McKenzie in the rough days of the post-WWII era. She operated the restaurant until the early 1960’s, when a lady by the name of Margaret Lupo bought it and began to expand the business. By the time Margaret’s hand-picked successor, John Ferrell, took over in 1994, Mary Mac’s was the only one of at least sixteen other tea rooms remaining in downtown Atlanta.The side of the building

Titus couldn't wait to dig in!!! We had the privilege of visiting Mary Mac’s last week, and enjoyed it immensely. The food was delicious; the pictures we took can’t possibly do it justice! One of their specialties is the sweet rolls – soft, buttery, filled with cinnamon and sugar, and hot out of the oven!  We also loved the chicken’n’dumplings, pot likker and cracklin’ cornbread,* fried okra, and sweet potato souffle! Everything we were served was delicious – just like a big homemade dinner!!

The service was also wonderful. We had a great waiter who made sure we were well cared for, and several other members of the staff came around to greet us. But one of the best – and most unique! – things about Mary Mac’s is their Goodwill Ambassador – a sweet, grandmotherly lady who walks around the"Would you like some peach cobbler?" restaurant, chatting with customers, and giving each guest a back-rub!! What a way to enhance a meal! Of course, Dad loved it… and I think he got two or three back-rubs throughout the course of our visit. 😉

We would highly recommend if you’re ever traveling through the Atlanta area that you stop in and pay them a visit. Or if you live in the area, you have even better reason to check it out – we’re sure you won’t be sorry! 🙂 You can get on their website and take a look at the menu before-hand… which might be a smart  idea. Since it’s full of mouthwatering options to choose from, you’ll be Jo is the Goodwill Ambassador at left and Mechie, our waiter is at the end of the table :)thankful if you walk in with some idea of what you want! Then you can just relax and enjoy……… 🙂

We had a fantastic evening at Mary Mac’s Tea Room! They treated us like family and gave us a true taste of genuine Southern hospitality! Thank you, Mary Mac’s!!

*Just for those of you who don’t know what pot likker is: it’s the broth off of boiled peas or greens. This was from turnip greens and was fantastic! Most of us didn’t even know what it was when we went into the restaurant, but we came out better educated and definitely looking forward to the next time we could enjoy this southern delicacy. If you’ve never had it, it is a must-try!!

*First off, you should know that even though this SAYS that it’s posted by Jessica, we (Amanda AND Jessica) are sitting here, writing this together. 🙂 Also, we MEANT to write this and get it posted the week that we got home. We’re a little late… but better late than never, right??? Anyway, on to the story…

Should we? Or shouldn’t we? Do you think it is really the best time? In a way, the details aren’t falling into place… yet, in another way, they are. How do we know what is the Lord’s will?

These questions were buzzing through our minds a few weeks ago. A friend had mentioned a Desktop Publishing class that was being held at Verity Institute in Indianapolis, IN. We had been looking around and praying for the Where it all happened... Lord to direct us to the right course, as some of our current activities involve graphic design. This seemed like the perfect answer to prayer… except for some rather large logistical problems blocking our path. While we thought it was a wonderful opportunity, we didn’t know if it would work out. When we first heard about it, it was about a month away.

So life went on as normal, and thoughts of the class got pushed to the “back burner.” That is, until the week before, when we realized that if we were indeed  considering it, we should do just that… think and pray about it. We (Amanda and Jessica) were the two that would go, and neither of us felt strong leading one way or the other. And neither did Mom and Dad. About four days before the class began, our friend contacted us again, telling us that there were only two more available slots in the class. We continued thinking, talking, and praying. Still, no one felt directed one way or the other. Three days before class began, another friend called, telling us that if we decided to go, we could ride home with her, since she was going to be in Indy that week, too. It seemed that so many details were falling into place, yet there was still so many more details to work out… and time was rapidly running out.

Thursday morning at breakfast, Dad said that if we wanted to go, it was perfectly fine with him, and that he would get Greyhound tickets for us to get there. But it wasn’t until Thursday afternoon that we had confirmation that we actually were going… and we had to leave at 4:30 Friday morning. This whole episode was a lesson in flexibility, patience, and trust while waiting on the Lord’s direction and timing.

Our wonderful family helped us with the “speed packing.” (We actually did pretty well with that; we only forgot a couple little things… like toothpaste……)On Friday, we were ready to go and pulling out of the driveway at, well… it was really early in the morning. Dad and Sunny went with us to the bus stop, which was about one and a half hours away. We were both very excited about the trip, what we would learn, and the opportunities that would arise. Little did we know what the Lord had in store!

Our first bus arrived at 7:15, the driver got out, and Dad went over to talk to him. We had heard that there would be forty extra seats… but there was negative one. In other words, the bus was full, one person was already standing, and there were four people waiting to get on. So, we stood for the first twenty minutes of the trip. That was the first of many adventures.

Throughout the day, we had a couple witnessing opportunities which were very eye-opening, and although we felt inadequate for some of the questions we were asked, the whole experience helped strengthen our faith and trust in the Lord. We also had an unexpected bus transfer, and another time almost missed our bus. More adventure…

We arrived safely in Indianapolis, and walked in on our almost-asleep roommates at 10:30pm. :/ (They were very gracious, though. :)) We had four wonderful roommates that week, and we were all there for the DTP (Desktop Publishing) class. God definitely put us there together for a reason – the fun and fellowship were wonderful!

Class began at 11:30 on Saturday, with an introduction to Adobe Photoshop. (We were very blessed to have our friend, James Staddon, there as the teacher’s assistant. His technical and moral support were a huge blessing to us all!) That was a great time, and was just the beginning of that incredible week…

But we do realize that as much as the week meant to us, you probably don’t want to hear all the nitty-gritty details and stories of what took place. We’ve probably already bored a lot of readers. So we’ll try to give a short synopsis 🙂 :

From Monday morning until Friday evening, most of us were in the computer room from 9:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. (with meal breaks), cramming our heads as full as we could get them! Mr. Ritchie was a great teacher – he made us feel “at home” using InDesign and he gave lots of little illustrations and stories in the lessons. He also threw in several jokes for good measure, just to lighten the loads of information. 🙂 We learned lots of new words, or new meanings to old words, such as: track, kern, lead (not pencil lead), serif, CMYK and RGB, clone, mask, eyebrow, ear, and gutter. We also learned the nine steps to graphic design, the eleven design rules, the six categories of font, the six ways to build contrast with font, the difference between white and black space (we’re not talking about color here!!), the different types of page and text organizers, and SO much more!!!

The first couple nights, we sat around after dinner, fellowshipping and getting to know each otherGem and Joanna are sisters - Joanna was in DTP with us. The whole classAnna and Jenny (Anna was in the class occasionally; Jenny was a "regular")It was nice to have some lots of other opinions to call on!The air conditioning didn't work in the computer lab; the Queen just "happened" to end up with the fan. :PWe worked hard...... but after a while, "de-pixelation" was vital!Having fun in the cool, refreshing outdoorsThe six roommates: Kayla, Jenny, Afton, Amanda, Sarah, and JessicaWe HAD to get a group shot - our fantastic week wouldn't have been complete without one!!!! :)

By the time we all split ways at the end of the week, we had gained new information, new ideas, and best of all, new friends with other brothers and sisters in Christ. Some of our absolute favorite times from the week were when our group was sitting around the dinner table, fellowshipping with others of like precious faith. We count it a huge blessing and privilege that we were allowed that opportunity! May every one of us use all that we’ve learned to bring God glory!!!

Do Hard Things

Posted by Kathryn



Back in January, I was riding home in our cousin’s car from taking a tour with them of Accurate Innovations, the company my dad works for. Uncle Dan, Aunt Lisa, and our cousins David, Brian, Rachel, and Samantha, had come down for the first time in eight years – and what a joy to have them! As we started for home, I noticed a book tucked behind the seat, entitled Do Hard Things. With David’s permission, 🙂 I picked it up and began to read. I only got through the first two chapters or so, but was enthralled! Written by nineteen-year-old twins Alex and Brett Harris, I was amazed with the amount of convicting truth they presented in their message to today’s teen-age young people. Soon after that, I put Do Hard Things on my “hope to get” list, and my parents gave it to me for my birthday. I finished it a few weeks ago, and, though I can’t agree with everything mentioned in the book, the Lord has greatly used it to show me many areas that I have been shrinking back in fear from doing hard things.

So, what is it?

Basically, it is a call to young people to use their youth – their days of strength – for accomplishing HARD things for God’s glory. This has been the pattern throughout history, but somehow, today, we young people have fallen outrageously short, and are even being encouraged, directly or indirectly, to do so. Alex and Brett coined a term for the change they are encouraging us to make: Rebelution. Defined: a teenage rebellion against low expectations. In my opinion, the idea of a rebelution is something that all, not just those between the age of 13 and 19, should take to heart.

Our culture is flooded in low expectations.

By God’s grace, we must begin the raise those expectations. It begins here and now, in our own lives, or it will never happen. Our expectations and goals shouldn’t be based on the society around us, but on the principles and patterns of maturity and godly character found in Scripture, and then we must act upon them.

Our children will thank us someday.

Here are some categories of Hard Things the Harris twins have identified, and some of my favorite things they said about each one:

I. That first scary step: how to do hard things that take you outside your comfort zone.

God works through our weaknesses to accomplish His big plans.

Courage is not the absence of fear.

You can’t get to success without risking failure.

What could your life look like if your trust in God overcame your fears?

How could your life be different if you chose to do hard things outside of your comfort zone?

II. Raising the bar: how to do hard things that go beyond what is expected or required.

We recommend that rebelutionaries do three hard things that go above and beyond what our culture expects and take us closer to what God expects: 1. Do what’s hard for YOU. 2. Be known for what you do (more than for what you don’t do). 3. Pursue excellence, not excuses.

We can identify complacency in our lives by asking ourselves the following hard questions and then answering them honestly:

-What areas of my life do I not care about that I know I should care about?

-In what areas have I fallen short of God’s standards and my own potential?

-In what areas have I settled for just “getting by” when I know I could do better if I really tried?

-In what areas have I decided that things “will always be this way” without ever putting in the kind of effort that really changes things?

III. The Power of Collaboration: how to do hard things that are too big for you to do alone

Don’t overlook home field advantage – family is a God-designed vehicle for collaboration that most miss, even though we’re right in the middle of it.

Credit is free if you give it away. One of the common dangers we’ve come across is that pride (for example, looking for credit or taking offense when we feel overlooked) often sabotages team efforts. What to do? We recommend dealing quickly and respectfully with hurt feelings… and establishing a team code that says, “Credit is free around here, and we GIVE it away!”

Together we can accomplish great things for God, starting today… Pray and plan. Then go for it.

IV. Small Hard Things: how to do hard things that don’t pay off immediately.

Small hard things are the individual repetitions – like a single push-up. They are seemingly insignificant by themselves but guaranteed to get results over time.

Every action, no matter how small, is defining our future harvest…If we’re willing to strive for excellence, even in the boring, repetitive tasks and responsibilities that others delegate or neglect, we will reap the powerful benefits that others miss. Embracing small hard things can make a radical difference.

Your actions… can bring honor and glory to God if you are willing to throw yourself into them 100 percent just because they’re things He has given you to do… The fact that you face those unwanted tasks is not a mistake; it’s an opportunity. And, because God is good, by doing what He has put before you with all your heart, regardless of whether it appears significant or not, you will find yourself benefited and strengthened, ready for the next big thing.

V. Taking a Stand: how to do hard things that go against the crowd

… We need wisdom to understand how to properly evaluate each situation so that we can stand at the right time, for the right thing, and for the right reasons.

If a challenge comes to mind, don’t ignore it. Take a first rebelutionary step. The hard thing you’re contemplating may be the biggest, most difficult, and most rewarding hard thing you’ve ever done. Don’t miss this good thing God is inviting you to do, and don’t tell yourself it doesn’t matter.

Doing what is right always matters – and it matters now.



Let me introduce you to some very special friends. The Lord brought us together for a particular purpose: so that we might glorify Him as we build our relationships with each other and seek to fulfill His purposes as a uniquely-designed team. These friends are encouraging; they inspire me. They love the Lord and make His Word a priority. I am thankful for each and every one of them! We make a lot of unusual, precious, fun, and touching memories together. They are each an incredible blessing on my life from the Lord.

To all my wonderful siblings: I LOVE YOU!!!

Amanda had taken us out for a day at the park, and, before going home, we snapped a couple group shots. So glad we took the time to do it!

**Picture taken April 2010 by the Neely Team.

The Sorensen Light-Bearers

Posted by Kathryn



This last weekend we had the privilege of spending a couple days with the Sorensen family! The organizational parties on both sides had talked a few months previously, and we had all been greatly looking forward to it! The morning before they arrived, though, Amanda and Jessica left for Indianapolis for a week-long graphic design course. This left quite a new situation for me – who am comfortable and content in my role as third-born. Suddenly, I had the opportunities and responsibilities of being the first, second, and third sibling for the younger ones! As the leader for all that took place that morning, I must sing the praises of all my little helpers as we quickly got a dirty house into an organized, sparkly clean, and fragrant haven! They cheerfully helped with anything and everything that needed doing – including mopping (dirtamascrubbiewithwaterandsoaping! :)) all the tile. I am so blessed!

Around mid-afternoon, everything was ready and the Sorensen’s arrived!! They brought an additional amount of fun, brilliance, and enthusiasm to our home, as, over the next 2 days, their seven children just radiated the joy of Jesus Christ added to abundant energy! During dinner, the dining room buzzed with cheerful chatter. During a tour of Accurate Innovations, they listened attentively. I was also particularly blessed by witnessing how they interacted with each other, and with our little ones – responses were kind and loving!

Action!! The grass-sled was a favorite!A double stack Two of the best cowboys in the West!! I almost died trying to get this photo :) Are we there yet? 100_6081 Hello there! 100_6106 We were buddies!! I think we wore him out 

Another highlight of their visit for me was listening to and talking with the adults. The various topics discussed throughout the weekend were edifying, uplifting, and educational. I enjoyed hearing the new, exciting perspectives they had on different issues facing the Church today.

Thank you, Sorensen’s, for being faithful to carry the Light of Christ to all! He truly shines brightly through you!!

We were touched and encouraged, and can’t wait until next time! :)  

A beautiful family, inside and out! The Sorensen Caravan, headed back to shine for Christ in their corner of the world!

“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light to all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

Flying High!

Posted by Amanda



Cousin Dave helping me buckle up “Wow! I can’t believe this is really happening!!” I thought as I fastened the last buckle of my parachute and climbed onto the wing of the navy blue Stearman biplane. Tingles of nervous anticipation raced through me as Cousin Dave helped me buckle the  seatbelts and calmly explained emergency procedures. In front of us, in Dad and Cousin Rickhis blue and yellow plane, Cousin Rick guided Dad through the same  process as we prepared to make the flight from the hangar to the showgrounds of the Flying Circus. With my ear plugs in, sunglasses and flying cap on, buckles securely fastened, and the last adjustments made, I sat back to enjoy my surroundings and wave goodbye to Cousin Bill and the rest of the family on the ground while we waited for our pilots to finish their preparations. Moments later, another thrill shot through me as the engine sputtered, then came to life with a roar.  Taking off... ..... ...... we go..... .....we're off!... Huzzah!!! We taxied over to the runway and I remember thinking, “We’re off!!”, as the planes took off in formation. At first, we just flew in big circles, gaining altitude in preparation for the aerobatics. We made a couple passes over the hangar while we were doing this and waved to those watching from below. (One time, I actually reached outside of the cockpit to wave… and about got my arm ripped off because I wasn’t prepared for the force of the wind!) My nerves continued to tingle, and suddenly the feeling intensified when we split from Dad had the camera in Cousin Rick's plane and took a picture of Cousin Dave and me :) formation – the real fun was about to begin! Glancing in the mirror (the only method of communication in the open-topped plane), I saw Cousin Dave motion to ask me if I was ready for a loop. Shivering with a mixture of nervous suspense and intense excitement, I signaled back “thumbs up!” Suddenly, my stomach jumped as the plane dove down for a second, then began climbing up, up, up. I grabbed the rails as we reached the top of the circle, and then we were upside down! For a few seconds, I savored the exhilarating sensation of hanging upside down in the harness, and then my heart leaped into my throat as we dove back down the other side……

Four of the planes in formation - all communication is done with hand signals!

“A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9) How true we found this verse to be while we were in Virginia last weekend! We had been planning to go to the Family Encouragement Weekend for quite a while, looking forward to it with much anticipation as one of the  biggest highlights of our year. This year we wanted to get there a day early to help with the preparations, so we left on Wednesday night, split the trip, and went the rest of the way on Thursday. Little did we know that the Lord would use the extra time we had planned in a way we would’ve never imagined…

While we were traveling up the Interstate on Thursday, we received a call from my aunt. When she found out where we were headed, she exclaimed, “Oh! We Cousin Bill let the kids sit in one of his planes in the hangarhave cousins that live there!” As it turned out, my grandfather’s first cousin, Bill, and his wife, Marty, live just around the corner from our friends! But I’m getting ahead of myself… After another phone call or two, we got the contact  information for them and tried to call, but had to leave a message. Not knowing whether they would be home or not, we decided to stop by anyway, hoping to get to meet/reconnect with them. Imagine what they must have been thinking when their house was peaceful and quiet one  minute, and invaded with 12 practical strangers the next!! However, they were very gracious and invited us in, and we sat and talked for about an hour and a half. It was a great visit! Cousin Bill is a retired commercial airline pilot, and flying runs heavily in the family; in fact, Cousin Marty  has written a book about flying. Their two sons are also commercial pilots, and fly on the weekends at a local airshow called the Flying Circus. Throughout the course of the visit, especially after they found out that Dad has his private pilot’s license, they repeatedly urged us to come back on Sunday to meet their boys and go to the show. We wanted to, but were unsure of whether it would work out, since Dad was supposed to be back at work in Monday, and we had a 9 hour drive between Virginia and home…

Brothers as best friends, sharing their common love of flying!! We just kept praying about it through the whole weekend, asking the Lord to work it all out if it was His will. Our friends offered their home for another night, and Dad made a few phone calls, trying to get Monday off. We were absolutely thrilled when everything worked out, but our joy then was only a Cousin Rick in the airprelude to blessing of that Sunday afternoon and evening. Immediately after  church, we slipped away and raced back to Cousin Bill and Cousin Marty’s house. We met their “boys”, Rick and Dave, while they were getting their airplanes out and preparing to leave for the Circus. Much to our surprise, they told us that “anyone who wanted to ride was going to ride!” (I Lauren loved her ride with Cousin Rick! :)wonder if they had any idea what they were getting into before they offered that…) Dad and I were the first volunteers… the story above tells about that. 🙂 The ride over was fantastic! I’ve wanted to ride in a stunt plane for almost as long as I can remember, and I know Dad was absolutely delighted to be in the air again (Cousin Rick let him fly most of the way there)! After we had done a loop and a roll, we headed straight for Kathryn and Cousin Davethe showgrounds, and as we flew over the beautiful countryside, I sat back in awe: the only thing I could think was “God is SO good!!”

When we arrived, our cousins took us to the pilot’s briefing. Cousin Dave introduced us, and mentioned that our family sings, and the moderator shocked me by asking if we would sing the “Star Spangled Banner” at the beginning of the  show! Dad agreed, although I have to admit, I got far more Some people had a great time talking...nervous about that than I did about the plane ride! The rest of the family arrived a few minutes later, and we had a great time watching the show – it was  amazing! I don’t have time to go into detail about the rest of the afternoon, but between the show, airplane and ATV rides, and visiting, we had a fantastic time! Cousin Dave’s wife, Terry, and their two girls, Rory and ...while Cousin Rick made friends and memories with our little ones!Elly, also came – what a delight to meet them! (We’re still waiting to meet Cousin Rick’s family… hopefully next time!) When we finished up everything at the showgrounds, we went back to the hangar, where we picked up Cousin Marty (she hadn’t been with us at the show) and went out to eat.

A private reporter interviewed most of us after our ridesBy the time we said our final goodbyes at 10:30 that night, we’d had an incredible day. The Lord’s hand of providence was so evident in everything that happened; we marveled at the way He worked it all out in a way that far exceeded our wildest imaginations!! But the biggest blessing we received didn’tMom said she WASN'T going to ride... Cousin Dave said she WAS... and she DID enjoy it. :) come from the material generosity of our new-found family. As Dad said it, yes,  the airplanes were cool and everything, and we had a fantastic  time, but what really impressed us the most was the genuine love and tenderness that whole family showed toward one another. Honestly, we have never seen anything like it! There was never a correction or argument, a joke at another’s expense, or even the slightest suggestion of  anything other than kindness and friendship. The couples acted as if they were still on their honeymoon; the brothers were obviously best friends. The loving Dad and Cousin Billlooks, the care, and concern of parents, children, and siblings for one another was amazing to watch! We came away feeling rebuked for our own lack of affection and tenderness, and yet encouraged to show our love to each other more! “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:” (Hebrews 10:24) “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;” (Romans 12:10) “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” (1 John 4:11)

We praise God for so clearly directing our steps; truly, “…Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

2010 Virginia FEW Conference

Posted by Kathryn



This past weekend, we experienced the incredible blessing of being able to help the Wilkes and Staddon families put on the 4th FEW (Family Encouragement Weekend) conference! The Lord’s blessing was evident yet again in abundant and stunning ways – to Him be the glory! The theme was Maturity in Christ. Mr. Wilkes, Mr. Staddon, Mr. Hynes, Mr. Thrash, and Dad did incredible jobs presenting what the Lord had laid on their hearts about this. Many young people were also able to give testimonies, giving additional practical application. “Day by Day” was chosen as the conference theme song, because it accurately portrays how we mature: we do not wake up one morning and find that we have “arrived,” but it is a slow, steady process that requires much pain, patience, perseverance, and dependence on the grace and strength of Christ! I appreciate a passing comment Mr. Wilkes made in his message that “kicked off” the conference: “Do not quit. Never give up. Believe in the fact that what the Lord has started in your life, He will perform. Keep seeking the Lord; He wants you to mature even more than you want to!” These simple statements have been an immense blessing to me, as I ponder the fact that it is “God which worketh in [me] both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13) He will complete what He has begun!

Kitchen clean-up at the Wilkes' - always sure to be fun, adventuresome, and memorable!!!!! :)Iron sharpening ironPre-conference discussions

Jennifer - the wonderful servant organizer!Two hilarious kitchen workersQuite the host of young ones! Praise the Lord!She's astonished about something, wouldn't you say??

Mom, Mrs. Staddon, and Mrs. Wilkes (not pictured) were the amazing veggie choppers :-)Our prayerful leaders - we love you!I want someone else, PLEASE!

An exciting game of Marbles Hi guys!! Your bubbly energy is contagious!!More planning        

Excellent helpers put out the water for the meals :)Fellowship between brothers - can you see who belongs with who??!Motherly fellowship

The joy of the Lord was evident!Sharing wisdom and experienceThe fantastic food crew!!! We couldn't have made it without you!

The resource tableEnthusiasm and clowning at it's primeSisters in the Lord!

The orchestraWe love each other!

Hannah, James, and SamuelFellowship between sisters - can you tell who belongs with who in this one too??!A valuable investment into the little ones

BuddiesSo sweetIMG_2408

Are YOUR siblings YOUR best friends, like these?!The breathmints were vital!         

During the course of the weekend, the 200+ attendees were able to participate in potluck meals, prayer and sharing time, singing, a children’s energy-burning discipleship game time, and one of the best aspects: glorious fellowship centered around the common bond we have in the Lord Jesus Christ!

Esther's testimony JamesThe time spent with the prayer groups was priceless!

Suzanna and Rebecca did a great job working togetherGAME TIME!!!Little children are special to Jesus!

Fellowship over a delicious lunchThe close relationship between these two siblings was a challenge and encouragement to several of us!

Mr. and Mrs. Wilkes - gloriously in love! Stelzl sisters - so precious!Titus helped Daddy with his message "From Completeness to Maturity"

We were able to give testimonies againThe Wilkes family honored Mr. and Mrs. Wilkes Sr. for their faithfulness in 55 years of marriage!

A message in song from the Wilkesteam Joyful encouragementIMG_2777

MORE investment - just priceless!!!Kathryn and Amber Sue Exciting post-conference discussions :)


The Wilkesteam graciously opened their home once again to us, which allowed for excellent planning/discussing among the conference leaders and their helpers. 🙂 The night before the conference began, I shared a challenge with several of the young people that the Lord had laid on my heart: to meet at least one member of every family. Now, that sounds pretty simple, but I desired to not just meet them, but to learn about them, share, and leave them encouraged from having talked with me. This was a challenge, but by God’s grace, many of us almost succeeded!! 🙂 In the process of reaching out, I’m sure all of us that accepted the project would agree that we came away with even more encouragement than we were able to give!

Thank you, Staddons and Wilkes, for blessing the Neely Team in so many ways throughout the weekend!! We are always encouraged by your love for the Lord, your joy in service, your eternal perspective on life, and your hearts for ministry! What an immense blessing to work with you to bring a God-given vision to pass! We thank our God upon every remembrance of you ALL!

So…… as we look back on the weekend full of cherished memories, we look forward to the work of maturity that our Father will continue within each one of us!

Soli Deo Gloria!!

The sunset the evening before the conference! Wow!

If Everybody Did…

Posted by The Neely Team



Several years ago, Dad and Mom got us the kid’s book called “If Everybody Did.” This bit of comic accurately illustrates the impact that even our little actions have on those around us, and what would happen if everybody did things just like us. For example, if one person drops their toy on the stairs, they don’t think about it at all. But if everybody did it, just imagine the broken, bruised, and battered body parts we would have from the many crashes down the stairs!! 🙂 (If you ever want to see the picture that goes with that one, come see us! We’ll show you the book… 🙂 ) So, next time you do something careless or something that isn’t-so-bad-but-really-isn’t-wise and think it doesn’t matter much, imagine what it would be like if everybody did it too!

We were enjoying a good giggle about that book a while back, when someone suggested that we come up with a list of spiritual things that work the same way.

– If one person determined to pass out just one tract a week… how many could come to Christ if everybody did??

– If one person meditated on one verse a day and, by God’s grace, applied it… how much more godly would our responses be overall if everybody did it??

– If one person strove to give a smile to 10 people he/she saw in the store… how many hearts could be cheered in a day if everybody did??

– If one person read one good book a month… how much more knowledgeable would our society be on important issues if everybody did??

– If one person commended a godly character trait they saw displayed in someone’s life… how many would be encouraged to keep doing right if everybody did??

– If one person went out of their way to be a blessing to one other person every day… how many would be blessed if everybody did??

– If one person invested 10 minutes of their time every day into someone younger than 10 years of age… how many fewer teenagers and adults would be on drugs, alcohol, and in prison if everybody did??

– If one person spent 30 minutes a week with someone at least 15 years older than him/her… how much wiser would our society be on a whole if everybody did??

– If one person exercised for 30 minutes every night instead of watching TV… how much more brain space would people have 🙂 and how much healthier would people be if everybody did??

– If one person denied himself every week of one thing he wanted if he couldn’t pay for it in cash… how much less American debt would there be if everybody did??

Well, yes, the chances of getting everybody to do even one of these things are pretty slim… but BE ENCOURAGED!! It starts with you!! Just imagine if your entire family and only one other family did it… for us, depending on the size of the other family, 🙂 that could be over 20 people! But even if your family is smaller, it STILL starts with you!!

Would you be willing to step out of your comfort zone and do just one of these things (or an idea you come up with) today???

And just remember what would happen… if everybody did!!

We Played the “Old Days”!!

Posted by Bethany



Last week Daddy and Mommy went on a date, and so us little kids played outside with Kitty. We played like we were from the old days. We had a covered wagon and a horse to pull it (and that was Victoria 🙂 ). Kitty was the mom and all of us had funny names and were her children. My pretend name was Eliza Jane. We got water from the spring and drank it out of an old ice cream bucket with a dipper. Then we used other buckets and filled them with freezing cold water. Then we washed our faces and hands with real soap! Then we dried them with a towel. Later Kitty said that we could stand in the buckets and pretend to take baths. We got our clothes a little wet, except Titus, who got soaked! Later we got to eat cobbler in the grass with whipped cream! Yummy! 🙂 We had lots of fun!

We did our hair and washed up!  The water was yummy I (Eliza Jane) dried my face "Mary" and "Nelly" We played with the grass too... ... and we ran around. Eating cobbler "Nelly" liked the water We took good care of our horse, "Bess." "Royal" enjoyed his food "The mom" and a very dirty "Royal" "Almanzo" enjoying a ride behind "Bess"

Cookin’ at the Plant

Posted by The Neely Team



Back a couple years ago, we would go every Friday and cook lunch for the guys working at the plant. There was an abundance of work, and they were having to work overtime. It was definitely a season of bounty. We loved preparing the food for them. Quite often, we would make a family trip to do the grocery shopping on Thursday night, then come home and do as much of the prep work as we could. Then on Friday, we would load up the van and head to Andrews Truss, Inc. It was a fun family activity, and a unique ministry opportunity.

Well, since the turn of the economy, we haven’t been able to do it. We’ve certainly been blessed with some work, but its rare to have people working overtime.

That’s why it was so exciting to hear the news when Daddy came home one night a few weeks ago and told us we were going to cook! There were squeals of delight! A really neat factor, is that when we were in NY, we older ones had spent some time praying with our cousin, and one request mentioned was the need for more work. And what do you know, the very next week we were cooking because there was a need for the guys to work overtime. What a testimony of how God answers prayers! And what an encouragement to keep praying!

A finished jobA fantanstic cook! :-)A great chef teamEveryone gathered, enjoying the mealFriendsWorkers diligently building Mmmmm.... look what's cookin' :-)IMG_0794Going through the lineIMG_0813IMG_0797New forklift drivers

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