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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

Preparing a Way

Posted by Jessica



Recently, while in NY, we had the adventuresome opportunity to trim Christmas trees. There were hundreds to do, and several different areas of work, too. Some people trimmed trees with machetes, some used shears, and one got to use gas trimmers. There were also old stumps that had to be cut out and hauled to the big brush pile at the end of the field. After a few minutes of talking, everyone was assigned their jobs and excitedly went to work. My job was to mow between the rows of trees, so that the people trimming could see better where they were walking. And that is what got me thinking…

One of the tree fields

I enjoy mowing the grass. I love driving tractors. But there was something different about it this time. Oh yes, I still was having the time of my life, bouncing around on the tractor seat, being careful not to mow over a tree. However, this time, I wasn’t just cutting the grass because it was too long. Yes, it definitely was way too long. But it was my job to prepare the way that everyone else would walk.

I couldn’t help but think about how this applies to life. I’m blessed to be (at least) a fourth generation Christian. I’ve heard of how my grandparents and great-grandparents prayed for their children and have seen how their testimonies impacted everyone around them. These men and women carefully laid out the path for their descendants to follow.

Through the years stories have been told of God’s faithfulness. I can remember hearing of the ways God miraculously provided during difficult times. These stories have been told “… that the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments…”(Psalm 78:6-7). My grandparents have laid a foundation for their future children. That includes my parents, me, and my children. It is as if they were running a relay race, and passed down the baton from one generation to the next.

Now comes the big question… What will I do with the baton? Everyday the choices that I make will affect not only me, but also everyone around me, and many will affect those who are yet to be born. Not only that, but decisions often build on previous decisions. In other words, how I make my decisions today, will also affect how I make my decisions tomorrow.

With this sobering thought in mind, what am I doing on a daily basis to prepare the way for the next generation? What choices am I making and how will the future be affected?

Many times in the path of life, we’ll hit “stumps” that will cause us to stumble, as it happened to me while I was mowing the Christmas tree field. There was one time I got stuck between two stumps, and I couldn’t go forward or backward. The path to which we have been called will not always be smooth, but one thing is for sure – God will always give us grace to continue on. At other times, we may feel that we can’t possibly go any farther. This happened to me when I found myself stuck in a huge mud hole (I later found out that there is a spring in the middle of the field). The tires were sunk halfway into the  mud, and there was no way I could possibly get out on my own. That is when “reinforcements” came and pushed me out of the mess and set me on the right track again, being careful to show me exactly where not to go.

During times like these, we must remember that God has a specific purpose for each of us, and He is bringing that to pass one day at a time. It is so exciting to see how He works out even what we consider “tiny” details into His plan. But, we have a responsibility to keep our focus on Him, maintain a clear conscience, and be ever ready to follow His leading.

So as you go about your day, remember that God is using you to unfold His plan. Remember that you are making decisions that will affect many others and the future. But also take into consideration the path that you are leaving for those who will follow you. Where will it take them?

The five of us got up really early one morning to get as much done as possible before 9:30am, which was when we had to stop. It was lots of fun, and we were able to finish trimming the first field. What a wonderful time we had!

Weekend with the Wilkes Team!!

Posted by Kathryn



On our way home from the fantastic NY trip, we were blessed to be able to stay with our dear friends, the Wilkes Team, during their final few days in Fairfax, VA! Several years ago, the Lord provided a 90-acre piece of property in Culpepper, VA, and gave them the vision of a huge ministry center barn out there. They have faithfully and very patiently waited for the Lord’s perfect timing, and now it is coming to pass! “The Barn”  is well under way, but not complete, so when their house in Fairfax sold, they realized they would have to find another dwelling for a few months! The Lord provided a beautiful “transition” house only five minutes from the building site. When we arrived, the Fairfax house was almost completely empty… but definitely not desolate!! (How could it be when filled with 23 joyful, energetic people??!) After being expertly divided up into six teams (thanks to the organizational skills of Jenny and Mr. Wilkes!), we spent a morning helping them with some deep cleaning, and then we all went out to Culpepper to see the barn and other house (the “Farm House” :)). What a special time to see their vision being followed through!! We praise the Lord for all He has done!

Being with the Wilkes Team again was an indescribable blessing! A few highlights were: the edifying dinner-time topics of conversation, cleaning house, 🙂 hearing the “8-hands-on-two-pianos” music (Joshua, Daniel, Amanda, and Jessica), eating dinner by the pool, and the morning times around the Word!

Thank you, Wilkes Team, for another wonderful visit… we love you all and are greatly looking forward to witnessing the Lord use you mightily as continually press on with the calling He has given!!

Happy Helpers Washing the mini-blinds  A Happy Hannah Helper Mark Most of the windows folded in so that we could clean them... Mrs. Wilkes and Mrs. Neely Including the little ones in the work! Two hilarious team members! :) Jenny Let's scrub! This one wouldn't fold in, so we cleaned it from the outside! Making lunch Admiring the pool at the new Farm House Important discussions Fun! Part of the cheerful bunch... ... and the rest of it! What sweet time together! This is what happens to those that are bad....

.... They get dunked in the pool!! (No, this really is right side up :-) Well, I think he enjoyed it!! The beautiful view from the Farm House Playing ball We celebrated all of the June birthdays with a delicious ice cream cake :) All the "June people" - Kathryn, Jessica, Grandma Wilkes, Joshua, Kenan, and Sarah Titus finally warmed up!! It started out like this... ...but was much more powerful LIKE THIS!!!!

Trip to NY

Posted by Jessica



We made another journey north to visit family and to do some projects around Nana’s farm. It was a fabulous trip – lots of work was accomplished and numerous memories were made. The teamwork was incredible to watch, and the enthusiasm brought forth was inspiring! It was wonderful to observe as the whole family came together to work, determined to make the projects fun. We took over three hundred pictures – just enough to post on the blog!

Well… we won’t put all of them up…

just a few. 😉

Everyone gathering and holding hands, preparing to eat a delicious meal! 

Lauren, Rachel, and Susanna Brian and Sadie -- "a good lap-dog" :-) Oh no! The Tumbling Tower fell over! All loaded up ready to head to the farm! Yea! Uncle Dan cleaning out under the bushes  On to the next job... Aunt Bonnie and Victoria getting drinks ready for everyone Dad trimming the shrubsCleaning up the trimmings  A wagon load of eager helpers I had the honor of riding right behind David while we hauled brush piles -- it was a bumpy ride, but so much fun!  Marshall -- cleaning out the gutters  That's a full bench!! Madeline and Copper playing with Sadie Kid lineup -- I think they were playing "drill sergeant" or something Aunt Lisa prepared fabulous meals for the whole crew  Brian and Kathryn straightening a rock wall  Pull! (taking apart door panels)  Havin' fun workin' I guess you could call this "discipleship work"Cousins -- all born the same year! :-)  100_5373

The Bigger Gun!

Posted by Amanda



A few months ago, Michael McCourry, a well-satisfied customer of Accurate Innovations, loaned us one of his specially developed “elephant” rifles to shoot. We enjoyed that immensly, and shot a video entitled “The Big Gun” which we then posted here. Shortly after that, Mr. McCourry decided to send us his largest caliber rifle – a .500 MDM Ultra – warning Daddy not to “let any of his daughters shoot this one!” So on a day when we had several friends and family members here, including Dad’s sister and two of her boys, we tried it out. Here are the results…

The Bigger Gun from Neely Team on Vimeo.

Surfside Beach – Part 2

Posted by Kathryn



One of the highlights of every day was an early morning walk on the beach. We walked mile after mile after mile… on Wednesday alone we did a total of six!! Somehow it just doesn’t seem laborious when you are walking with your best friends and are experiencing the beauty and refreshment of the ocean, sky, sand, wind, and sun. I carried the camera a lot and had fun with different shots…

Bethany, Amanda, and SusannaJessi and 'Berty - best buds!!100_4336

100_4340100_4351A distant view of Myrtle Beach100_4369100_4375


100_4449The condos close to the shore were like Easter eggs!! :)100_4493

100_4502 100_4496 100_4385

Sing unto the Lord a new song, and His praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles, and the inhabitants thereof… Let them give glory unto the Lord, and declare His praise in the islands.” (Isaiah 42:10, 12)

Some of my favorite individual/small group/misc. scenery shots from the week:

Dear sweet sisters!We rested some too :)Our little dominion-man!!

Little Miss Hannah GraceSusannaWhat joy they all bring to our lives!

LaurenVictoriaWe took a picnic to a local park for supper one night; after grilling, we roasted s'mores! Mmmmm!!

Wwwweeeeeeeeeee!!She just woke up...100_4432

100_4354The palms were just magnificent!! 100_4414

100_4403100_4404I love Daddy!

"Be still and know that I am God..."Mommy and HermanDigging, digging, digging...

 Our little ones wrote lots of messages for us on the sand. This one: "I love Mama!"A baby shark we found :)

…the Lord is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king… He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by His wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion. When He uttereth His voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, and He causeth the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of His treasures.” (Jeremiah 10:10, 12-13)

Surfside Beach – Part 1

Posted by The Neely Team




The next step on our trip was a long-awaited family vacation at Surfside Beach, SC!! As we looked back over the last several years, we realized that this would be the first time since Dad and Mom were married that the Neely Team had spent a whole week away – just us – for nothing but time together, relaxation, and refreshment! Sure, we have definitely had many, many, many amazing trips and have loved every moment of every one of them, but again, every one has been connected in some way or another with a visit to friends, ministry opportunities, missions trips, business outings, conferences, family camps, etc. Not just a solid, week-long VACATION!! After a extremely wonderful but extremely busy winter and spring, we were all ready for and needing some time to reconnect and just rest!! The Lord provided this in His perfect timing when some friends offered for us their time-share about a mile off of Surfside Beach. How excited we were! We arrived Saturday afternoon after a splendid stay at the Stelzl’s house and attending the NRA show. We were able to spend the next seven days listening to messages on CD, reading the Word and a few other encouraging books, taking mile-after-mile walks along the shore :), swimming, having family discussions, sharing joyful fellowship around the scrumptious meals Mommy prepared at the condo, resting, memorizing Psalm 91, and many other adventures that you’ll just have take part in by the hundreds of pictures we took!! 🙂 We praise the Lord for providing this opportunity for spiritual and physical rejuvenation. The Lord is good!!

Our first night on the beach… 

About to head for a walk along the ocean...... can't wait to get there....... we've reached it at last!!  

The condo was perfect – all we could have asked for: three bedrooms, three bathrooms, Jacuzzi tub, a large kitchen, nice living room, back deck, etc., etc.!!

Lauren, Kathryn, Herman, Victoria, and Titus shared this room. (Of course, Titus's bed - a comfy pack-n-play - isn't pictured here. :) ) Hannah, Jessi, Amanda, Bethany, and Lauren had this room.The Master Suite, complete with Jacuzzi tub!

Before we left, Mommy got us all flipflops – a worthy investment for going to the beach. They were such fun we couldn’t resist a bunch of pictures. 🙂 (Thanks, Daddy, for being the photographer!!)

What a blast!!Look at all the colors...

A different angle... So much fun!!

We saw all sorts of marvelous specimens demonstrating our Creator’s design, creativity, and skill!!

This is not your ordinary jelly fish. We saw countless numbers of these creatures... they are actually called jelly balls and are pretty much harmless. We learned that their main predator is the spade fish. A sand crab... pretty formidable, wouldn't you say??! Mommy took this fantastic shot!What we think are sand pipers

This beautiful shell was actually the home of a repulsive old slug. Uuhhhggg!!A wounded sea gull :(Just beautiful!! We saw these geese running around near our condo.

MallardsThis is actually the real, stinging jelly fish. We only saw two of them!! (Yay!!)Amanda found this adorable hermit crab and kept him for most of our stay. We have been reading a book about a hermit crab and so this little one proudly bore the name of the character in our story: Pagoo.

If we don’t stop here, it will take three days to upload this post loaded with pictures. 🙂 Ha ha!! Check back for more soon…

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