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
“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 history 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.
Jesus 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
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.
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 ), 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. 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!
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.
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
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 ). 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
Thank you, Wes, for jumping into the Team like you did and leaving us so encouraged when you had to jump out again (though we also really enjoyed the time with your family when they came to pick you up). 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
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!
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.
Step 2: Drain the berries in a colander.
Step 3: Stem them. We used sharp knives. Take as little of the berry as possible.
Step 4: Put strawberries through the food processor with a slicing blade. Or, you can quarter them.
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.
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!
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.
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.
“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)
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!
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!! )
– 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… )
– 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?
Thanks to Mr. Brandon, and City of the Bees – a Moody Science film we found fascinating – for all of this information!
“O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.” Psalm 104:24
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)
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 ), 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.
“Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.” Proverbs 31:10
I love missions work – hearing about it, reading about it, experiencing it, and talking to those who are serving on the field where God has called them. I am very blessed to be in a family that loves people and hospitality, and to have parents who do everything they can to develop relationships with Godly people and meet those who are following the Lord whole-heartedly. Thus, I have the opportunity to know several missionary families who are serving every where from Florida, to Lithuania, to Mexico, Togo, Honduras, South Africa, Ireland, Uganda, Germany and Austria.
Several months ago, I wrote to our friends who are serving in Austria/Germany, Todd & Kim Lapato. I asked Mrs. Kim for a sample menu from over there – a common meal for the average people. My idea was to re-create that meal here for my family as well as I could, and have a special evening highlighting the Lapatos’ ministry while eating food from that country. (Since we enjoy food so much, I thought that might be a good way to make it more meaningful and memorable!) Her response was quick, mouth-watering, and far more detailed and thorough that I had even hoped for! So then came the next step: finding the perfect evening for our “missionary night.” For me,that was a little more difficult than the initial planning stage, and several months passed before we actually did it. (There were MANY nights that would’ve been great, except that we didn’t know that we’d be home or we didn’t have all the supplies or we just didn’t think about it until it was too late in the day to prepare everything!) However, the idea was “cooking” in the back of my mind all the while (pun intended ), and we finally did it – exactly five months after she sent me all the menu ideas and recipes!
It was great!! I enlisted Mom and Kathryn’s help, and we made schnitzel (a very thinly pounded filet of chicken that is dredged first in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs), fried potatoes, and gravy, as well as a big salad, German style. (Mixed greens on top of individual piles of corn, kidney beans, green beans, grated carrot, and thinly sliced cucumbers in the bottom of the bowl; it was served room temperature, and the dressing was plain oil and vinegar.) Our beverage was equal parts mixed of carbonated water/apple juice – very yummy! (Again, the beverage was room temp, since Europeans don’t usually use ice in their drinks.) Dessert was apple pie (as a substitute for apple strudel) and coffee. Dad even let all the kids have coffee since it was a special occasion, which was quite a treat!
It was a delicious way to “experience” the Lapatos’ mission field, and everything was a smashing success! I’ve heard several requests since then for “Austrian chicken” (schnitzel), so I know everyone really liked that. The potatoes turned out softer than I had expected, so I want to do those again and see if we can make them a little crispier. We put Montreal Steak Seasoning on them (which is a grilling seasoning with black and red pepper in it), and they were really good, although probably a little spicier than they would normally be in Austria. Some of the salad “toppings” (they STARTED in the bottom of the bowl ) were a nice break from our norm, and I heard several votes to make salad like that again. We really enjoyed the whole menu, and I have a feeling that this won’t be the only time we have it!
After supper, we read an update letter from the Lapatos’, and we enjoyed hearing more about what life is like for them. We also got on their blog and read their list of prayer requests, and then prayed for each one specifically during our family prayer time. All in all, it was a fun (and delicious!) way to experience a little piece of missionary life, and we almost felt like we were “with” the Lapatos while we read their updates and prayed for them. Even though we couldn’t physically travel to Europe to see our friends, Missionary Night was a great way to take a mental journey there and visit them in spirit, while we also enjoyed some of the wonderful food like what we might have eaten if we did visit in person! The prayer time was very special, and we enjoyed having a whole evening devoted to just one family, so that we could pray more directly for their specific needs.
So what about you? Do you know anyone who is serving the Lord on a foreign field? Could you set up an evening devoted specifically to updating your family about their lives and ministry, learning about the culture they are living in, and praying for the needs that they have? Read their prayer letters and learn about their ministry. Find out what their needs are, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, so that you know better how to pray for them. Contact them and ask any questions that you may have about their field or lives. Tell them that you are thinking about and praying for them, and if you are going to have a Missionary Night, tell them that, too. I promise, your interest in what they are doing will encourage them greatly, and will also be a blessing to you and your family!!
Recently the Lord blessed our family with the opportunity to host the 2011 NC Family Encouragement Weekend Conference (FEW Conference) with the Wilkes and Staddon families!! As we all labored together to make this vision a reality, it was a delight to watch the Lord pull everything together according to His perfect plan!
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
The Lord’s ways truly are far above ours, and His plans for the conference once again surpassed our imaginations! The “Conference Team” discovered that when we willingly offer ourselves to His service and surrender our will completely to His, that He loves to take our humble offering and turn it into something beautiful – of real value.
Throughout the weekend, attendees heard biblical teaching, fellowshipped with like-minded believers, and participated in Christ-honoring worship through song. During a game time for the young people on Saturday, older children were given the opportunity to disciple little ones. Special family prayer times allowed fathers to lead their families in a time of searching their hearts, confessing bitterness, and seeking the Lord.
We praise our Heavenly Father for the work that He was doing throughout the weekend! We pray that each family walked away from it encouraged to press on toward Christ-likeness by spending more time in His Word together and striving to build strong, lasting relationships within their homes.
Soli Deo Gloria!
A special challenge to all who attended:
“He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ…” Philippians 1:6
“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of Whom thou hast learned them…” II Timothy 3:14
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The Master was searching for a vessel to use;
Before Him were many; Which one would He choose?
“Take me,” cried the gold one, “I’m shiny and bright.
I’m of great value and I do things just right.
My beauty and luster will outshine the rest,
And for someone like you, Master, gold would be best.”
The Master passed on with no word at all,
And looked at a silver urn, narrow and tall.
”I’ll serve you, dear Master, I’ll pour out your wine
I’ll be on your table whenever you you dine.
My lines are so graceful, my carving so true,
And silver will always complement You.”
Unheeding, the Master passed on to the brass,
Wide-mouthed and shallow and polished like glass.
”Here! Here!” cried the vessel, “I know I will do,
Place me on your table for all men to view.”
“Look at me,” cried the goblet of crystal so clear,
”My transparency shows my contents so dear.
Though fragile, am I, I will serve you with pride,
And I’m sure I’ll be happy in your house to abide.”
The Master came next to a vessel of wood,
Polished and carved, it solidly stood.
”You may use me, dear Master,” the wooden bowl said,
”But I’d rather you used me for fruit, not for bread.”
Then the Master looked down and saw a vessel of clay,
Empty and broken it helplessly lay.
No hope had the vessel, that the Master might choose
To cleanse, and make whole, to fill, and to use.
“Ah! This is the vessel I’ve been hoping to find.
I’ll mend it and use it and make it all mine.
I need not the vessel with pride of itself,
Nor one that is narrow to sit on the shelf,
Nor one that displays its contents so proud
Nor the one that thinks he can do all things just right,
But this plain, earthen vessel, filled with power and might.”
Then gently He lifted the vessel of clay,
Mended and cleansed it, and filled it that day.
Spoke to it kindly — “There’s work you must do!
Just pour out to others, as I pour into you.”