A Birthday Retreat at the Eagles’ Nest

From our extreme lack of posts, you can probably gather at least a little information about our schedule of late. Smile One of the many items on our plate has been doing the National Bible Bee as a family! If you aren’t familiar with this, it is an intense Scripture study/memorization program for young people that runs from June 1 to the end of August. Participants are divided by age into three categories and given their assignments based on that level. We have people in all three levels – to give you an idea of the intensity, I’ll just say that we older ones, in the Senior category, are striving for an in-depth study of 1 Peter and the mastery of 800 verses in just twelve weeks! It is such a joy to know that this endeavor will pay off – for God has promised that His Word will not return void, but will accomplish His purposes in each of our lives! But, as you might expect, this takes time. Smile Time we haven’t had much of recently – – nay, I should say rather that our time has been amazingly occupied!!

Anyway, we actually had a day this week where nothing was on the schedule – amazing!! (And, it happened to be my birthday!) Our creative, thoughtful mother had an idea for how to use this day to the fullest advantage as far as the Bible Bee is concerned, and make it special and memorable, so planned a trip to a local lake to study in the beauties of God’s creation. Then… it rained! Mom was an example of flexibility, and after some consultation we decided instead to take a trip to the Eagles’ Nest – a delightful retreat in the top of our Carriage House (our detached garage). Smile This unfinished, luxurious apartment fitted our needs exactly – – a place away where no phones, emails, mile-long to-do lists, instruments needing to be practiced, or other wonderful interruptions could reach us – – and we were delighted! After everyone got settled and cozy, we turned on some classical music and some fans and set to work. The Lord blessed us with a productive day in His Word, and we are all looking forward to another day set aside to return to our hideaway for some extra productivity in areas that, in the rush of life, can get neglected. (We’re already thinking about a day to just READ up there after the Bible Bee is over!) It was also a most excellent way to spend a birthday; we even took lunch up and had a grand time. Smile

Everyone needs a break periodically… So, if you are doing the Bible Bee or just have been experiencing a tightly-packed schedule, as soon as possible, plan a day to get away as a family or even alone and spend some quality time in the Word or with an encouraging book! You will come back immensely refreshed!

Thank you, Mommy, for planning such a relaxing, fun day for us all! This will go down in the book of extra-special occasions!

Hannah in her cozy spot - actually the cabinets that will be installed in the bathroom later on :)Above the stairs...Diligence in cleaning out his spot

Study hard!This was Lauren's original hide-out, but she discovered a bee's nest in there and cleared out fast! :)I had a perfect place by the window

The Eagles' Nest Cafe :)

Lauren moved in with Victoria after she spied the bees in her original areaWe don't only sing in the shower.... we study in the shower! ;)'Berty did very well with her verses!

Hangin' out - literally :):)Belle put up some extra boards around the closet she was sitting in for extra privacySunny Joy - under the eaves and the most organized of the bunch!

OrganizationA couple extra-special touches made it really comfortableThis CD (Eine Kleine Kaffeemusik II -- orginal compositions of piano, cello, and violin by the Mulfinger family) made the atmosphere perfect for studying!

** We just realized that we never got a picture of the dear one that started all of this fun! Sad smile We’ll have to do better next time! **

Driving, Day Lilies, Door-Hinges, and Dusting 🙂

Well,  once again blogging has been put to the side by more important priorities. But lest you think that we have forgotten all of you faithful readers, let me assure you that you are not forgotten. Blogging just doesn’t get as high of a priority as studying, visiting family members, practicing music, traveling around the country, hosting guests, gardening, working, or any of those other wonderful opportunities that the Lord brings across our path.

One of those such opportunities was just a couple weeks ago, when we found ourselves once again on a road trip traveling to see grandparents. It was such a great trip! The hand of the Lord was evident, even when the day before we were supposed to leave, the reverse went on our van. 

We thoroughly enjoyed working together on various projects while we were there. Dad and Mom worked outside in the heat on a project: fixing the barn doors, which were dragging the ground when you swung them open and  falling off their hinges. Most of the rest of us were busy inside doing domestic-type work. Winking smile We also enjoyed looking at the beautiful day lilies that Uncle Fudge (our step-grandfather) has on the border of the property. There are soooo many different types and colors and variegations…. and did you know that every part of a day lily is edible?Smile

We were also blessed to be able to minister in two churches that Sunday, one in Chattahoochee, FL, and the other in Bainbridge, GA. It was good to be able to spend time with extended family, grandparents, great-aunts and uncles, and friends.

Praise the Lord for each opportunity He gives us to serve others, whether it is by dusting a bookshelf or singing a song!  May God grant us the wisdom to know which opportunities to take, and then the joy and the grace to follow through with the Lord’s guidance!!

Daddy accidentally found the nest of a Southeastern Five-Lined Skink. The eggs looked and felt like large, soft jelly beansThis mother skink had more than ten eggs, and we watched her move and protect them from danger. Dad - diligently working... They're getting closer to getting the job done!! :-)Herman enjoyed working the trimmers. IMG_1879The new hinge -- looks great, doesn't it? :-)The blooming aloe plant. Aloe plants will live for many years, but once they bloom, they die, and leave their "offspring" to carry on. This particular plant has been alive for over 30 years!IMG_1890IMG_1896IMG_1899I think we can learn something from this cactus -- nothing seems to be growing too well around it.... maybe that is because of its appearance. How often do we turn others away by our countenance instead of reflecting the joy of the Lord?IMG_1902IMG_1905This day lily was called the "Icing on the Cake" because of the frills on the edges of the petals. IMG_1910Simply Beautiful!IMG_1914IMG_1915IMG_1920Everyone enjoyed the boiled peanuts -- a true southern tradition :-)Sunny Joy -- enjoying a climb up the windmillIMG_1924VictoriaHe that drinks of the water of Life shall never thirst!IMG_1926

Saturday Fun!

Last Saturday we walked a 5-K as a family! It was good exercise, nice family time, and a lot of fun.

Mommy and Sunny walking the 5-K - we didn't get very many pictures because we were too busy walking :)IMG_1702 (2)The path went along a river, and some ducks were there

Later that afternoon, we went to Wayah Bald. After we ate supper, Mommy, Susanna, Herman, Belle, Berty, and I played Hide-and-Seek in a section of tall grass with huge rocks in the middle on the very top of the mountain. I thought it was more fun to hide than to seek because the rocks and grass made tons of good spots. I also walked a tiny bit of the Appalachian trail with Amanda, Susanna, Herman, and Berty (it came across Wayah Bald). That was fun too!

The Neely Team - on Wayah Bald

Amanda looked for herbs :)Daddy fixing a yummy lunchA happy family

A tired sleeper :)Mommy was a good hider!!

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On the way back down, we stopped at some buildings that  park rangers used back in the early 1900’s. There was a two-story cabin with two chimneys and front and back doors, a barn, and a small outhouse. In the yard in front of the cabin, we found a bird’s nest in a clump of grass! We have been learning about birds in science, so we enjoyed getting to see what we have been reading about in person.

The cabin"Knock knock!'"Dor logd" (door locked :))The boysMommy and Belle

The bird's nest

Daddy and Amanda getting some sasafrasMommy, Kathryn, and me

Two friendsAmanda picked herbs while Hannah "read" to her to make sure she got the right ones :) :)

Amanda let us help herIMG_1763 (2)

I really enjoyed having a day together as a family!

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Psalm 133:1

We love being together!

Three Mothers

Once a woman came upon three mothers at work. “What are you doing?” she asked them.

“I’m doing the weekly washing,” answered the first.

“I’m doing a bit of household drudgery,” replied the second.

“I’m mothering three young children who someday will fill important and useful spheres in life, and wash-day is part of my grand task in caring for these souls who shall live forever,” replied the third. Only she had caught the vision of the great work she was doing.

Taken from Verses of Virtue, The Poetry and Prose of Christian Womanhood.
Compiled and edited by Elizabeth Beall Phillips. Copyright 2007

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A Sobering Responsibility

“The hour is fast approaching, on which the honor and success of this army, and the safety of our bleeding country depend. Remember, officers and soldiers, that you are free men, fighting for the blessings of liberty – that slavery will be your portion, and that of your posterity, if you do not acquit yourselves like men.”

George Washington – August 23, 1776

From 1776 by David McCullough

This week, I was reading through one of the books I had picked for the month of May and came across this quote. Though addressed to the soldiers and officers that were engaged in fighting for the control of New York back in 1776, a little pondering displayed it’s applicability to the day in which we are living now. I speak to the young people of my generation:

We are in a battle. We are fighting for the Christian family, for biblical femininity and noble manliness, for Christ-honoring marriages, for holiness within the Church, for the lives of individuals who are succumbing to the rampant lies of the adversary. This battle is not a game.

The choices we make in fighting this battle will influence our children, our grandchildren, the generations to come. We are writing tomorrow’s history2010 books. We are tomorrow’s forefathers (and foremothers).

And what are we leaving behind? Following the patterns that we are setting today, will the next generation know the Lord?

This is a sobering responsibility, but on us rests the spiritual safety of our bleeding country. Christ has made us free, and we must fight hard and stand fast so that our children might know these blessings of liberty that we enjoy. Spiritual slavery will be their portion if we do not rise up in the strength of the Lord and faithfully follow His commands.

But to apply this to every-day life… could it be that a small wrong choice could really have that amount of impact? Yes. Absolutely. My family and I have seen it happen… a godly family lets one “little” area slip, and in just a few short years they are miles from where they used to be, compromising even the “big” areas of doctrine and foundational beliefs.

2010Jesus Christ, our Commander, is the only One Who has the power to keep this from happening to each of us. He has promised complete victory to us if we will simply obey! Cling to Him… study His Word diligently… apply the truth to your heart and life even when it’s painful… take godly counsel you are given with deep gratitude… These are little steps that will help to keep you from slipping.

When you are tempted to give in to the ways of the world, remember your Commander, remember the next generation – and “acquit yourselves like men.” 

“That the generation to come might know them (the commandments of God), 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

2010

Wesley

For all of our faithful readers, you may be wondering where we’ve been. But really, no posts means that we’ve been experiencing too many wonderful adventures to take the time to write about them, so you should rest assured that whenever there is a lengthy gap, we are probably just off on another one of our wild expeditions. Smile

Such was the case this last week, only this expedition was a little different than normal. We were just living life. Very busy life, we might add, but still just life. Let’s see……. if you are looking for a detailed description of what our week held, we spent our time shopping, mowing, raking the grass, weeding and planting the garden, taking pictures, getting the little ones’ achievement tests finished for the year, making music, mopping our floors (dirtamascrubbiewithwaterandsoaping is the official Neely term Smile), teaching music lessons, playing outside a lot, having company, and much, much more.

But, lest you think we put the wrong title on this post, let us now reveal that we weren’t alone in this adventure. After being at a homeschool conference in Atlanta last weekend, we were able to pick up a stowaway and bring him home with us for a while. Wesley B. got to experience life first hand with the Neely Team… could be a little scary at times. Smile What a week it was! We had an absolute blast… it was such a blessing to have him here to take part in all that happened. Wes just fit in – became part of the Team – and we loved it!

:):):):):):):):):):):):)+:)=:):):):):):):):):):):):):)  - Mother's Day!

WeedingThe mowing crewAn extra brother makes yard work even more fun!

D D D (Dinner on the Deck while Dad and Mom were on a Date :))

Way to go Wes!Go team!

BonfireMaking a doughboy - stretching biscuit dough over a stickR & R - Ready to roast :)

IMG_1556When the dough is golden brown and cooked through, take it off of the stick and fill with pie filling! Top with whipped cream! Yum!!!The fire was hot...

... but the fans kept us cool!Real life with the NeelysPlanting beans

IMG_1581Working together is fun!Enjoying a hearty lunch after all our work :)

One of the ways Wesley encouraged us by his attention to the little ones. Matthew 18:5 says “And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.” It’s rare to find someone who is willing to joyfully invest their time and energy into little children.

Wes giving a famous "car ride" - they were a hit! Duck - Duck - GoosePlay time!

Another way Wes blessed us was by his encouraging words. He took note of things that others did well and pointed them out.

“Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24

Wes really fit in - see, we match!

Wesley was also a huge blessing by patiently spending hours teaching classical styling on the guitar to several of us (better called a bunch of novices Smile). We are excited about continuing to learn more about this beautiful instrument!!

“Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.” Psalm 150

"Jam session" :)Guitar class!One-man bandIMG_1620

 Tim, Wesley's brother, was also a great example of investing into little ones!Wes's guitar playing was so wonderful that we decided to keep him here to play for us - on a CD. :)IMG_1645

Story time with TimAmanda and Wes finish the CD...... and Victoria did a great job designing a cover!

The Neelys, Barnes, and two visiting little onesThank you, Wes!

Thank you, Wes, for jumping into the Team like you did and leaving us so encouraged when you had to jump out again SmileSad smile(though we also really enjoyed the time with your family when they came to pick you upSmile). We are excited to claim you as a big brother – the memories we all made together will last for a long time! May the Lord continue to give you the grace to shine brightly for Him, leaving others rejuvenated and refreshed by your life and testimony.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.” Matthew 5:16

String Pedagogy Workshop

Teaching stringed instruments has been a field of interest for many years, particularly teaching violin. For two of us, this dream became reality about a year and a half ago. Those two (Kathryn and I) have really enjoyed this area of ministry, have had bunches of fun, learned a ton, and asked lots of questions. Our wonderful violin teacher, Mr. Pinner, has told us over and over and over again that if we ever have any questions about teaching or any related topics, he is more than willing to help.

A few weeks ago I went to Mr. Pinner with quite a few teaching-related questions. What should I do in this situation? How would you handle this? How do you teach this? What should I do different? How can I help my student understand this concept better?

If you’ve ever taught an instrument, I’m sure you can relate. I’m so thankful that we have a teacher whose goal is to teach his students to teach, and who is ready, willing, and beyond capable of answering questions.

So with current teaching opportunities and the possibility of more, Mr. Pinner graciously offered to put together a String Pedagogy Workshop. He covered many topics including how to set up a string studio, how to mark and edit music, how to teach vibrato, dynamics, and bow control, string repair and maintenance, studio taxes, and much more!!!

Four of us Neelys participated, and we all came away motivated and excited about what the Lord has in store for us in this field of music. It was a fabulous time— worth every minute of it!!!

Thank you, Mr. Pinner, for letting the Lord use you in this way. You are an inspiration to many, and we look forward to learning more under your tutelage as the Lord allows!

Also, special thanks to the Wiginton family for hosting us for the weekend! What a blessing it was to us!

The younger ones enjoyed playing in a nearby room while class was in sessionFun timesSpecial moments100_7369The whole classLearning about maintenance and repairs100_7375Meal time = get-to-know-you-better time :-)Mr. and Mrs. Pinner --- Thank you for all you did to make this wonderful weekend possible!IMG_1183Hands-on learing :-) So much fun!!We went for a family walk to release some energy :-)IMG_1208

Strawberry Sweetness

On Monday, Kathryn and I had fun putting up 8 gallons of strawberries together! This is how we did it:

Step 1: Put strawberries in a large dishpan, and fill with cold water. Let them sit for a few minutes.

Yummy!Washing them 

Step 2: Drain the berries in a colander.

Step 3: Stem them. We used sharp knives. Take as little of the berry as possible.

You know that you haven't taken too much berry off when the pile is mostly green!Wow!Be sure to compost the strawberry tops! They are good for your garden!!

Step 4: Put strawberries through the food processor with a slicing blade. Or, you can quarter them.

Using the food processor is much faster than quartering them :)100_7393

Step 5: Put 4 c. of sliced berries in a glass measuring cup and stir 1/4 c. of sugar. Be sure to stir gently or they will get mushed.

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Step 6: Pour strawberries into a labeled quart-sized FREEZER plastic bag and gently squeeze air out. Make sure you don’t get any juice on the zipper of the bag, or it will not seal and the berries will leak in your freezer!

Be sure to label your bags with the product and the date

Step 7: Place bags on a flat tray in a single layer and put in the freezer. When they are frozen, you can take the tray out.

If you don't lay them flat, they will freeze in an odd shape and will not stack nicely in your freezer. It will also be easier to get a hole in the bag.

The berries are now ready to be used in your favorite dessert or salad. We like to use them, along with a quart of frozen peaches, 1 cup of frozen blueberries, and 3-4 fresh bananas, to make a yummy breakfast.

The project was finished!!! :-)

“Who can find a virtuous woman? … She worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. (Proverbs 31: 10, 13, 14)

Would You Bee-lieve It??! !

The biggest event of our week so far has been an addition to the family. Or, perhaps I should say 60,000+ additions to the family! For a long time we have been interested in bee keeping, and because of the generosity of Mr. Brandon, our front yard and the surrounding area is now the home to five hives swarming with honey bees. We are just “housing” them for him, but this has been unbee-lievably educational and we may just have to get some of our own in the future!

Setting them up...There is something beautiful about this!It's level

It's such a joy to be in the country!This lid won't be going anywhere, thanks to the BIG rock Herman found in the ditch :)Herman

For all of our bee-keeping friends, none of this may surprise you, but for people like us, you might find this fascinating! Did you know:

– that male bees (drones) can’t sting? And that they are stung to death by the females after mating season? (Sounds feministic, if you ask me!! Smile)

– that the worker bees control the hive population by only giving the queen enough food to lay the number of eggs they want?

– that the workers select the largest larva, build a bigger cell around it, and feed it extra to make it a queen?

– that the new queen makes a special buzz before leaving her cell, announcing her arrival to the other queen and telling her to prepare for battle?

– that the “scout bees” use special body motion to tell the hive of the location and distance of food? (the angle of their movement implies direction; the duration of the motion communicates distance)

– that when the bees leave the hive, they either fly straight out, or they do an upward spiral and then fly straight?

– that a queen bee can live between 3 and 5 years?

– that the eggs hatch into larvae after three days, and the larvae turn into bees after an additional 6-8 days?

– that if you face the entrance to the hive toward the sun, the bees will leave the hive earlier in the morning?

– that if you have an excessively aggressive hive, you just replace the queen, and in a few weeks, the hive genetics will have changed? (Occasionally this doesn’t work though. Mr. Brandon once had to replace the queen 3 times and finally had to burn the hive! But that was only with REALLY mean bees… Smile)

– that honey bees have the ability to live for 2-3 years, but they work themselves to death in a few weeks?

– that the hive temperature has to be kept between 90 and 97 degrees F. or the larvae will die?

– that by flapping their wings, the bees have their own air conditioning system? And that by standing in certain positions, they circulate the air in one side of the hive, and out the other?

This stuff is fascinating!Trying some of last year's honeyIMG_1073

Four of the nine racks - without bees :)The bees were sent to Mr. Brandon in boxes with five racks eachWow!

If you look in the middle, you will see a larger bee with a white dot. She is the queen.IMG_1154We love it!

Thanks to Mr. Brandon, and City of the Bees – a  Moody Science film we found fascinating – for all of this information!

Thank you, Mr. Brandon! (obviously, the hives are empty at that point :))

“O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.”  Psalm 104:24

Who Can Find a Virtuous Woman?

In the past few weeks, we have had the opportunity to honor the birthdays of two special women… two women that have impacted our lives in many special ways.

The first was when Mrs. Staddon’s birthday fell on the day that the Staddon family arrived to help us with the NC FEW Conference! It was such a joy to make the cakes, pick out her favorite ice cream flavors, and decorate the house in her honor! Thank you, Mrs. Staddon, for the way that you portray the attributes of a woman who fears the Lord! Your diligence, transparency, faithfulness, joy, and perseverance have been a blessing to us! Your children rise up and call you blessed; your husband praises you. We pray that the Lord would give you fruit abundantly for your labors, and that your works will forever praise you in the gates! (Proverbs 31:28, 31)

When the birthday girl is sleeping at your house, you can do funny things to her bed. :):)IMG_0192  Her children rise up and call her blessed

A "Chocolate Fever" cake! Mrs. Staddon  Did you know that 34 people eat a lot of ice cream??!

Blow hard!Mmmmmm.....Special chalk-board message  

The second opportunity was through a surprise birthday party thrown for our friend Mrs. Tammy. We could never record all the ways that she has given of herself to bless us throughout the many years we have known her!  She is the kind of person who is always there for you. Many times she has watched our animals, brought us a meal (which she did last week when we were sick with severe head colds!), cut our hair whenever we decided we needed it, helped out with our big endeavors (like hosting FEW Conferences Smile), and once she helped us straighten up the house and get out the door when we had to go on a 14-hour emergency trip. Thank you Mrs. Tammy! You have inspired us to serve the Lord by serving others! We are often encouraged by your smile and contagious giggle. 🙂 May the Lord continue to give you strength, creativity, and wisdom to bless everyone you come in contact with.

Mrs. TammyHealthyYummy!

Gerber Daisies!!!The daisies were a gift from her nieceShe seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands

“Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.” Proverbs 31:10

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