Photo Caption Contest!

074Hynes Vacation 09

Leave a comment and tell us what you think Titus is saying in this picture. We will judge the comments in about two weeks, and the winner will receive a free copy of our newest CD, Let the Joy Begin: Christmas with the Neely Team.


*Special thanks to Tim Hynes for taking the picture!!

A Visit from the Hynes Family

A few weeks ago we were blessed by a visit from the Hynes family – what a joy to get to know this dear family in a deeper way! After their arrival on Friday night, we spent the evening talking, laughing, andWe serve an amazing Creator!! playing some exciting games. On Saturday, after a late and scrumptious breakfast, we did a few prep things and then all loaded up and headed south – our destination: Brasstown Bald, Georgia’s The Hynes family and Neely Team :) - on top of Brasstown Bald highest mountain peak. We drove about half way up, and then enjoyed a wonderful picnic lunch. With energy restored, we began the hike. What a blessing to spend time talking, encouraging each other in the Lord, and learning more about each other while we climbed higher and higher! At last at the top, we were greeted by a gentle breeze and the breathtaking views of the surrounding mountain ranges and valleys. After a visit to the museum and manyHerman, Hannah, and Jon - deep in thought over a game of chess pictures, 🙂 we descended and made our way back home.

On Sunday, the Hynes allowed us to “put them on the spot” in church, and they sang “Did You Think to Pray?” – an excellent reminder to take everything to God in prayer, knowing that He cares anSetting up for another roundd will answer in His perfect timing! One particular highlight of their visit was Sunday night when the kids played Team Bible Charades! We divided into two teams and then separated to form our plans. We each decided on a Bible story to act out, dressed up, gathered props, etc., and then both teams met together for a Sword Drill to determine which team"Dagon" :) went first. After arriving at a conclusion, the first team made final preparations and then presented aSome apostles - exact identity unknown (well, they used to be Emily and Kathryn, but...) thrilling, though silent, tale of Samson, when he set fire to the Philistines corn. The second team did an "Foxes" running through the "corn," burning it up excellent job with the story of Hannah and her prayer for a son, and then we split up again to prepare a second round. Phase two p"Eli" blessing the "boy", "Samuel" (Lauren!) :)resented the stories of Paul preaching, being stoned, and thrust out of the city, and finally we ended the The mighty Samson (and later on, Paul). Wow! A little bit of organic face paint (the famous cocoa powder and water combination :)) does wonders!! night with a hilarious  show of the Philistines returning the Ark of the Covenant to Israel after God cast down their image of Dagon. The creativity that was displayed was unbelievable, and most of the stories ended  with a burst of laughter!

Suzy added many giggles to the weekend by, one night at supper, putting her  spoon up to her eye, holding it there, and then staring at all of us through it. Well, the power in influence was quickly realized, because once one or two peoHaving fun with the spoons... :)ple followed her example, almost the whole group was doing it! Absolutely hilarious!! (Maybe a little weird, too??? :))Daddy and Suzy - inseparable buddies!

One particular blessing we received from the Hynes was their spirit of initiative. Whether is wBecky and Kathryn - they have their eyes on you!! :)as in clearing the table, washing dishes, slicing fruit, carrying things from place to place, or Mr. Hynes decision to help us out tremendously by weed-eating our creek banks, there was always many willing hands extended to help share the load, which did indeed make light work!

Thank you, Hynes family! May God bless you as you continue to live for Him and shine His light to the world!

Simple Pleasures

A few days ago, feeling the “need” for something sweet, I picked up a milk chocolate candy and proceeded to open it. The candy itself was good; however, the message printed inside the foil wrapper was even better and struck me with100_8637 it’s truth. The message was this: “The most enjoyable experiences are often free.” Think about it. What do you enjoy? I don’t mean the big, exciting, adrenaline-rushers of life, but the simple pleasures and joys that make life meaningful and enrich our days. What about the 100_7990brilliant color of a flower,  the smooth feel of a baby’s soft skin, the sound of the birds in their early-morning joy, or the encouraging smile of a friend or family member? Some people delight in witnessing the magnificent glories of a sunset  or experiencing the stunning power of a thunderstorm. Others enjoy different things, such as the smell of a freshly-070604 Dual Rainbowbaked apple pie, the sound of a well-played instrument, the taste of a juicy peach, or the sight of a child doing their best to complete a task. And everyone can appreciate the caress of a cool breeze on a hot day, the satisfaction of a job well done, the relief of a clear 100_6883conscience, and the gentle touch of a child’s hand placed confidingly in yours. All of these the things that I just mentioned are fairly common,  everyday-type experiences, and you can enjoy them just as much as, and sometimes more than the bigger, more glamorous experiences. You do not have to go somewhere special or pay a lot of money to enjoy these things, and yet  they are the things that God 100_8608can use to lift your spirit, turn your thoughts to Him,  and make life beautiful. Regardless of what you do or see every day, you can find things to be thankful for. God places beautiful sensations and experiences all around us, and if we will only take the time to see them, they will enhance 100_8595our days and help us to appreciate each moment that He has given us to live. When your day seems to be going wrong and it seems difficult to “rejoice in the Lord” or to “give thanks in  all things”, make it a point to look for something to rejoice in. God is the Creator of beauty, and we have only to look around us to see the pleasures that He has lovingly given us to enjoy. Take the time to notice and thank Him for some of those things today!


Of Birds and Their Babies… Maybe – Part 2

For all of you that read my previous post, Of Birds and Their Baby’s…Maybe, here is the result. After three weeks of waiting, the eggs didn’t hatch. Talk about anti-climatic! We still don’t know if we have two females or a mated pair, but we will have to wait and see. We have read that sometimes the first brood doesn’t hatch, but the rest do. Even right now the doves are starting to prepare the nest …

A Lesson in Trust

Recently in our area, there have been some robberies and one lady has disappeared. It has put us “on edge” and has caused us to take some extra precautions.

Yesterday, we had the privilege of going to Greenville, SC (about three hours one way) for violin lessons. While we were there, we also stopped by Brightwater Digital, the studio where we have recorded two CD’s, to check on the progress of our Christmas CD. We had a couple things we wanted to change, so we decided we’d go ahead and do it while we were there instead of having to do it over the phone. Gary Emory, our engineer, also known as “Uncle Gary” to us, worked very hard to get the project finished. We were there for about two and a half hours, so some members of the team that weren’t involved in the “mixing and fixing” rested on one of the three particularly comfortable couches. 🙂

We got done with what we needed to do, told everyone goodbye, loaded up, and were just about ready to leave when we realized that Kathryn wasn’t in the van. We thought for a minute, and realized that no one had seen her for quite a while. Amanda and I jumped out of the van and ran in to get her. We couldn’t find her, so we asked Uncle Gary and Mr. Glen Christianson (another man at the studio) if they had seen her. They hadn’t. They joined  in the search and we frantically hunted everywhere – even in the area surrounding the studio. All the while, we were calling (actually, we were yelling). Thoughts were going through our heads a hundred miles a second, wondering where in the world Kitty could be and what could’ve happened to her! She was missing!! Everyone was frantic. Praying that she would be O.K. and that we would find her, we ran back into the building and started opening doors and searching again. Finally, after what seemed like forever, we heard Uncle Gary yell, “She’s in here!” We all ran to see where she was. I was met in the hallway by a drowsy, still half asleep Kitty, who had gone to one of the back rooms to lay down and had only been awakened by that last call when he caught sight of her. Uncle Gary had already called in that room once, and the door had even been open during the whole procedure, but she didn’t “revive” until the second time! The relief we felt at the sight of her was unbelievable! Her face was flushed and she was extremely shocked at the manner in which she had just been awakened. (Not to mention, a little embarrassed, as she confessed to me later on. :)) Since she normally isn’t a hard sleeper, she was either just really tired and very sound asleep, or had possibly been unconscious. We don’t know. But it’s amazing that she slept right through three of us girls and two men (none of which are known for being extremely quiet!) yelling for her!  

We said goodbye once again and then we escorted Kathryn to the van to make sure that nothing would happen to her on the way there. We breathed a sigh of relief and stopped to praise and thank the Lord for His protection and goodness. It probably took fifteen minutes for our blood pressure and heart rate to get back to normal and for us to stop shaking.

We are still rejoicing and praising God for His protection over us. He uses situations like these to turn our eyes back to Him and to build our faith and trust. Oh, that we would learn to trust Him more as we go through our lives! Take a moment today to thank God for the situations He brings to our lives to draw us closer to Him. And don’t forget to cherish every moment with your family! You never know what the next minute will bring!

From Horses & Flowers to Boxes & Balls!

The "Flower Room" pile of mess :) A couple weeks ago, we had the opportunity to take a day-trip down to Dahlonega, GA, to get some much-needed bunk beds. AfterThe "Horse Room" was "trying" to compete by having even more junk stacked up!!! getting them home, set up, and then organized into a semi-workable position, we then faced our next household project. With four extra beds, we suddenly didn’t have enough bedding, and the odds-n-ends that we DID have just didn’t quite agree with the eyes of the beauty-conscious young ladies of the house. 🙂 With the help of our favorite store and Mommy’s knack for sewing, we set about to collect and make sheets, pillowcases, pillows, comforters, curtains, etc. Then came the fun part – painting the rooms! First, we moved the couch from one of the rooms down one flight of stairs and up another for excellent muscle building :). Next we pulled all of the furniture to the center of the room, (thus creating an almost ceiling-high junk pile!!), and spread out UUUggggg! GRUNT!!! Use those muscles!!!! :)theJessi: our fabulous paint roller necessary supplies. After deciding on a lively stem green for one room, and a softer, elegant gray for the other, we spent a couple days priming, painting, and then re-painting. Mommy (the patient veteran of the process), Amanda, and Jessica got an excellent system going, while the rest of us tried to keep the house running smoothly. 🙂 When the paint was dry, Jessi and IAmanda prefers to "cut in" and let Jessi roll! got assigned to a delightful, tedious duty that we enjoyed tremendously! Soon, Mommy - "This part's a little low and hard to reach!" :)rings and dots were rapidly taking formation over the green walls, and, a little later, geometric squares were “thrown” like confetti all over the gray! This detailed painting experience helped me become more comfortable with home decoration and Jessi anPutting up the templates d I loved working together, creating beauty and having meaningful conversations. At last, the major part of the project was complete, and weTouching up a not-so-pretty square :) enthusiastically set into (even though it was 9:00 p.m. :)) organizing the furniture, making up the beds, and getting the rooms looking decent again! It’s a good thing no one rang our doorbell at that time – the upstairs hallway, which can be seen from the front door, was the convenient spot for DUMPING anything we didn’t need in our rooms! STUFF was piled SO high that one literally had to HOP The relaxing cozy cornerAnother cozy spot :)over six piles to get from one room to the next, trying all the while not to break anything valuable, including arms, legs, and other appendages! (I know that sounds like an exaggeration, but, frighteningly, it’s NOT!!!!!) What a joy it was when, the next day, all of the junk was gone, either to the thrift store or simply put where it belonged!!!  🙂 The whole process was fun, educational, and exciting, and I was blessed by the joy and originality that was portrayed while we cleaned The project complete! Yippee!!!!! Formerly the "Flower Room," this is now the "Ball Room." (Special thanks to the Daddy and Herman Title Team!! :)) up the official, glorified Hurrah! Instead of the "Horse Room," this is now the "Box Room!"pig-sty that we’d created!! :) 

Mountains in Life

One of the joys of living in a large family is all of the responsibility and diligence that must take place in order to function. Anyway, most of you could probably tell me right away what this picture is.What a mountain!! Well, at our house, when anyone sees (or especially helps to create 🙂 ) one of these, they always refer to it as the same thing – a “MOUNTAIN” of laundry!! For you to see why we have this “mountain”, let’s have a little math lesson. There are twelve people at our house. Every day, then, there are 12 shirts, 12 skirts/pants/shorts, 24 socks, usually at least 6 pr. of pajamas, and if we all decide to wash our towels the same day, well… I’ll let you figure that out! Okay, now multiply that by 3 because we hadn’t done laundry over the weekend, and throw in several kitchen towels, numerous wash clothes, 2 dishwashing sponges, 3 more outfits for Titus, 3 bibs, 6 burp clothes, 2 baby blankets, 5 more pr. of socks because some people had stepped in water, and any other miscellaneous items that people happened to find. There. You know about how much laundry we were doing. It just so happened that that day, Amanda, who is usually our laundry lady, was off duty (in other words, at work with Dad 🙂 ). What a problem! Our personal laundry service was gone. So, I had the privilege of getting to fold these three king-sized loads, all by myself (boy, do I like working with other people!! 🙂 ), while everyone else was busy about their own duties.  My first thought could be, “Great! I get to do all of this, by myself, and I even have to have it done in a certain amount of time! It’s not fair!! Why do I always getAhh... a task completed! the hard jobs???” By God’s grace, however, I actually enjoyed it, got it done fairly quickly, received many “oohs” and  “aahs” from the passers by at the gargantuan stacks that were rapidly piling up 🙂 , and along the way was reminded by the Lord of an important truth.

There are many times in life that it seems that there are huge mountains of things to accomplish. When we try to attack and demolish them on our own, we will quickly discover our weaknesses and find out that we, in and of ourselves, cannot do anything good. When we depend on the Lord, however, He triumphs over the situation and works through us in a way that surpasses anything we could have ever dreamed of! Jesus Christ alone must be our source of joy, strength, and power. So, even when the task seems impossible, life unfair, and the joy departed from your heart, step out in faith, trust God, and do the next thing.

Of Birds and Their Babies… Maybe

August 19, 2009 5:32 a.m.

It’s still dark outside. The whole world is asleep, except for us, because we are getting ready to go to our first violin lesson with a new teacher, at a new time, and, of course, in a new place. Everything thing is still, there are a few sounds like the squirt of a not-so-new hairspray bottle, the whispering sound of a hairbrush through bed-head (or maybe you should multiply that times ten), the running of water as people attempt to get ready to go……then, it happened. The sound of two feet running up two flights of stairs, and one mouth screaming (it sounded like a dozen"Perry" had to be forcibly held back in order to get this picture!, by the way), “Amanda! Amanda! Amanda! There’s an egg "Tru" and "Perry" are very loyal to and protective of their eggs...on the nest!!!!!!” (That one person was Jessi. I think it scared her. 🙂 ) This one egg has multiplied itself by three in the past week, and it has been very interesting to see the parents interact with the shells that we’re not sure are fertile…

How It All Began

Just in case you didn’t know, last spring (2008), Amanda stole two baby mourning doves right out of their nest. Little did we know that this would lead"Auven" is still Amanda's favorite and the most personable, since she hand-raised him from two weeks old. us to where we are now. After four additional birds and lots of fun and trauma, we were left with one lone mourning dove from the original pair (all the others died, including one of the original two), which was a plus for some and a minus for others. A friend, hearing of our “woe”, gave Amanda two ring-necked doves. We certainly were not expecting to become dove breeders, but it seems that that is what we have become (I think…).


Never tamper with the wild,

Or you may end up with a child.

But not a child that you’d expect,

And not a child from the elect.

But this one child comes from a shell,

Of which there’s no more need to tell…

Gideons International Pastor’s Dinner

The Lord brings opportunities into our lives to encourage other believers and to point the unsaved to Him. Many times while serving the Lord He uses the people we minister to to encourage us to continue on in the path of life.

A few months ago, we were asked by a friend to set aside the evening of August 20 to sing at a fundraiser/appreciation dinner for pastors and individuals who "Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord..."have supported the ministry of Gideons International (an organization that places Bibles in hotels/motels, hospitals, doctors offices, schools, prisons, and in the hands of individuals around the world).

We prepared several songs which included instrumental pieces for the flute and violin and a couple songs that directly referred to the Bible. Much of our time on Thursday was spent finalizing the program and rehearsing one more time before performing. To be honest, the afternoon had been a little stressful Playing a well-written arangement of "Holy, Holy, Holy"and parts of the getting ready process could have been smoother.

As we continued getting ready and on the way there, God’s grace quieted our hearts and prepared us emotionally for the evening ahead. We had arrived at the church where the dinner was to be held. The overcast sky and scattered raindrops hurried us into the building with everything we would need – violins, flute, music and violin stands, music, etc. We paraded into the building, arms loaded with our belongings, and began to unpack, tune, set up, and get ready. Of course, "Marching to Zion"many turned to look as we walked in, as we were the only ones with  any children there, and a family of twelve all dressed alike tends to draw the eyes of  people anyway. Finally, everything was ready, instruments were tuned, music was on the stands, microphones were positioned, and we sat down to catch our breath before starting the program.

We sang and played while everyone was eating. When the meal was over, we  heard inspiring testimonies of how God had worked miracles in the lives of many who had received a copy of God’s Word through the Gideon’s. Isaiah 55:10-11 says, “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto One of the favorites - How Great Thou Art mixed with Bethoven's Fifth I sent it.” There were so many stories that clearly demonstrated the truth in  these verses; it was very exciting to hear how the Lord is using ordinary people to carry His Word around the world! We were reminded that, no matter what happens in the world around us, or what we might have been through in the past, God and His Word never change, and He will work in and through us if we let Him.

When the program was over and people were leaving, many came and told us what a blessing the music was to them. We even had a couple pastors ask us if we would be available to sing at their churches. There is a sweet peace and joy Singing unto the Lordthat comes when we “turn our eyes upon Jesus” and trust Him to do His work through us. Who knows where God will lead us from here, or how and when He will use us. But we praise Him for His faithfulness and grace as we strive to “be an example” and to “press toward the mark!”


We have some interesting discussions around our dinner table. In fact, they can be pretty strange. Sometimes they’re very technical. Or should I say technological. Maybe it’s both, because when we discuss technological terminology, we can get very technical. Maybe I should give you an example of what I’m talking about.

One evening a few months ago, we were sitting around the table, enjoying the remains of a wonderful meal, and doing what we do best: talking. The topic of our conversation was one that we had discussed many times before, needing a solution to a certain problem, always thinking of solutions, and never succeeding in following up on the solutions we came up with, because we didn’t know if they were really good solutions after all. It was a persistent problem, which got more frustrating the longer we waited to follow up on a solution. (It was a lesson in patience. 🙂 ) The topic: our website/blog.

So there we were, trying to figure out what in the world we were going to do about our pitiful “website”: how we were going to update it, who we were going to get to help us update it, what we were going to put on it, how we would keep up with a blog…

“WHAT is a BLOG?” someone suddenly asked. “Who in the world came up with the name “blog” and what made them do it?” Dad explained that the word “blog” is actually an abbreviation of “web-log” – in other words, a record or journal that is posted on the web. That drew everyone’s attention, and we all began to ponder the meanings of different computer terms.

“How did we come up with a “cursor”?” someone else asked with a laugh. “A “curser” used to be someone who cursed!”

“And if you think about what a “laptop” is, it’s kinda funny. A laptop used to be a place for children to snuggle with their mothers; now it’s a flat, rectangular box with buttons and lights, with a lot of wires and stuff on the inside!”

“What about a mouse?” another person volunteered. “A mouse is a four-footed little varmint with a long tail that runs around in people’s houses and makes them scream.”

“And how ‘bout RAM? A ram is a male sheep, like the ones that they used to sacrifice in Bible days.”

“OR,” some mischievous personality added, using the unfortunate sibling beside them for a demo, “it could be when I RAM into you all of a sudden!!”

Of course, everyone had to laugh at that! 🙂 It became a very intriguing conversation as we discussed how confused someone could become with all the double terms. We laughed at the very SOUND of names like “floppy disk”, “JPEG”, and “thumb drive”, and debated the origins and meanings of other terms, such as “hard drive”, “cd-rom”, and “software.” (For instance, “hardware” means tools for manual labor, but “software” is a kind of – what? A series of ones and zeros that tells a computer what to do. Huh??) Take this for an example of multiple meanings: I asked a few different people what a “bit” is. Mom’s definition was “a small piece of a yummy chocolate dessert.”  Victoria said a “bit” is “a steel bar that goes into a horse’s mouth to control it.” Kathryn’s idea was a “small piece of metal that you use with a drill to bore holes.” However, according to the Daddy Dictionary of Technology, a “bit” is “the smallest increment of electronic data: a one or a zero.”  Then I asked about a “byte.” Mom’s answer could be expected: “the first taste of the yummy bit!” 🙂 Jessi’s immediate thought was “what a bug does to you!” Kathryn said that a “bite” is “what the teething infant does to your shoulder.” And, last but not least, the Daddy Dictionary of Technology explained  that a “byte” REALLY is “a collection of bits that form one character.” Whew! If that’s not enough to make one flumbuzzled! We could go on and on; I wanted to ask about a megabyte… but lets just say that that’s one monster mouth! 

So, the next time you decide to get technical, you could think about the OTHER definitions of your technological terminology!!! Anyone have any other terms to define? 🙂



P.S. Using all of these terms makes ME feel kinda strange; I wonder what it feels like to be a REAL techno-geek?? 🙂

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