Valentine’s Day Dinner Recap

Yes, it’s a bit late… but our second Valentine’s Day together was absolutely wonderful! Marriage is truly a joy, a precious gift from the Lord not to be taken for granted.

In honor of the couples each year, the campus staff young people put together a special themed dinner! This year’s theme was the 1950’s, complete with an authentic burger joint diner and bowling alley! Attendees, of course, were encouraged to dress the part… hilarious. We had a blast, and are so grateful for the hearts of love and service that went into each detail. 

Just before dinner, we also had some fun with a double-date photoshoot with some friends… 😉

“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:35

Everyday Blessings | 3.22.18

Today I am grateful for:

  • running water, both hot and cold!
  • beautiful walks in the breezy weather
  • times to sing while working in the kitchen
  • iced coffee 
  • photos
  • a peacefully resting little man 
  • my amazingly loving, hardworking husband
  • air conditioning… which normally works 🙂
  • God’s grace during especially busy seasons

“But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee. For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.” Psalm 5:11-12

Trusting in Him

Happy almost spring-time! The glowing sunlight, vibrant green colors of the grass, and sweetly singing birds remind us that a fresh new season is nearly here! Recently the Lord has been reminding me of the joy, the strength, the beautiful, glorious rest… of TRUSTING in Him. So many precious truths of Scripture, all centered around this thought… may your heart be encouraged today with these verses, as mine has been! <3 

“For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee. Psalm 84:11-12

Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

“Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about. Psalm 32:10

“Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name. Psalm 33: 20-21

 “… for they creid to God in the battle, and he was intreated of them; because they put their trust in him. 1 Chronicles 5:20

And just because… here is my newest favorite picture of my men. 😉 <3 

Purple Princess Photoshoot!

Last weekend I had the joy of taking a few photos for some lovely Purple Princesses that stopped by our house! 😉 Together the girls had hosted a tea party, in honor of one of their birthdays, for all of the little girls here on campus. Their hearts for discipleship and for using this time as a way to encourage young ones in the ways of the Lord, blessed me so much! It was truly a delight to help them capture the memories from this special day.

Thank you, girls, for walking in the ways of our Savior… for seeking Him, trusting Him, and loving Him with all of your hearts, and for allowing His light and joy in you to flow out to so many others! You encourage us!! 

Grace

Throughout the past month or two, Daniel and I have been memorizing and meditating in Ephesians 1. Such a power-packed, rich mine of truth… it has been an incredible blessing to begin delving into its treasures together!

One of the verses that the Lord has particularly highlighted for me is verse two:

“Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Now if you are like me, these typical “intro” verses into the epistles lend themselves to be read over rapidly, or perhaps just skimmed or skipped in haste to reach the “real message.” After all, so many books of Scripture start with them, and they all sound so similar! To my shame, I think I have often missed the blessing the Lord had for me in such “little” passages. How important to deeply value every Word of our God, coming before Him with open hearts and allowing Him to speak however He chooses.

So, back to this simple little verse…

Grace be to you…”

I was at the kitchen sink, hurriedly washing a few dinner prep dishes, when these words first struck my heart.

It wasn’t in reference to anything monumental or especially painful or difficult (evidenced now in the fact that I cannot even remember what it was), but suddenly the burden was not so heavy anymore.

Grace… God’s abundant enabling, Jehovah’s favor and sustaining strength to do His will. 

And then it really hit me: God’s grace is offered to ME… at every moment. In Christ, the riches of the Father’s grace are mine. Such joy and peace flooded my heart.

Over the past several weeks we have seen God’s grace repeatedly played out in our own lives as well as the lives of many we hold dear. The small things… hectic situations, little failures, perplexing dilemmas, troubling emotions or feelings… and the big things… days on end in the hospital to sustain the life of precious baby, the unforeseen death of another precious baby, the possibility of cancer, the pain of hearing that someone you have looked up to for years has fallen into grievous sin… and on and on… NOTHING is too hard, too bad, too hopeless, too difficult, for His grace.

It seems so simple, something most of us have heard all of our lives. But may the newness and richness of His grace never die within our hearts.

Over and over again I have found myself singing the lyrics to the following hymn… “for out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.” To God be praise for His grace. Truly, where would we be without it?

 

He Giveth More Grace
Annie J. Flint

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

 

To read another encouraging blog post on this topic, click here. <3

 

Merry Christmas!

As we focus on our Savior, Jesus Christ, may the season be filled with silent wonder

“Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2: 10-11

simple joys

“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness… For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.” Isaiah 61: 10-11

… and treasured memories.

2018 Calendar Pages!

Before the beginning of every year, it is sort of a Neely girls’ tradition to find the “perfect” calendar pages for our planner notebooks (aka our “brains” 😉 ). For us, the “perfect” one must live up to a pretty high standard, entailing things like practical style, easy-to-use format, and monthly/weekly/daily planning (depending on who you are), along with space for goals, mountainous to-do lists, and random jots. And above all, they must be HAPPY! 😉 For our dear Mama especially, who mananges so many different projects, events, schedules, shopping lists, menus, school plans, household chores, etc., finding “perfect” is no small feat. This year, however, she decided to design them herself, much to our delight! With ideas compiled after over 30 years of wifehood, homemaking, and motherhood, they are masterfully put together… detailed, yet simple, and absolutely fitting the description of “HAPPY.” 😀 

One of today’s projects for me includes labeling my set of these calendar pages for the new year, so I thought I would pass along this information and let you know that they are available for FREE dowload here! Simply download, print, and cut to fit your planner notebook, and if you feel like getting extra happy with them, rounding the corners and adding colorful tabs to mark the months (along with writing on your pages with happy pens) just adds to the unique delight! Enjoy! 

November Summary

The month of November was a full and immensely blessed one! Highlights included trips to VA and NC for the FEW Conference and Thanksgiving, special times with both sides of our families, opportunities to serve on campus together, and just the preciousness of life together with your best friend! <3 Our little man, too, continues to grow and brings much delight to our home! He keeps us laughing with his antics, facial expressions, and new discoveries. 🙂 We are humbled by the immense responsibility it is to be parents, and often reminded just how much we need the Lord. Other special blessings from the month included decorating for Christmas, enjoying the soft lighting together at night while sipping hot chocolate, safety in traveling hundreds of miles, having guests in our home, fellowship with likeminded believers, visiting the house Daniel grew up in, time with niblings, and preparing gifts for Christmas! Below are a few pictures!

Everyday Blessings | 11.17.17

A few blessings from our house recently: <3 

  • cooler temperatures! Such lovely reminders of our Creator’s mercy!
  • the glow and aroma of fragrant candles (click here to see one of our favorites!)
  • lots of giggles from a precious, growing little man
  • fresh paint
  • times to sing together
  • home organization/decorating ideas that cost next to nothing
  • fancy handwriting
  • FaceTime or phone calls with dear ones far away
  • bulk food 🙂

 

Post-Conference Encouragement

Oh what a glorious weekend the Lord recently blessed us with at the VA FEW Conference! His grace and mercy were abundantly showered upon it… to Him be glory for His working in our hearts and the many others who attended. It was truly a weekend of refreshment for us.

Often though, when coming down from a “mountain top” experience like this, it is easy to yield to the temptation to doubt God’s plan for our lives. This could look like anything… wishing your family was “perfect” like another family you just met (and what a false illusion that is, by the way 😉 )… feeling depressed because life at home seems humdrum and boring… sensing the Lord calling you upward and onward for a deeper relationship with Himself, but not knowing how to get there and only seeing your sin and shortcomings… wishing for the sense of His abiding presence that you felt before… and on and on. 

For me, following this conference, it wasn’t so much any of the above scenarios, but simply recognizing my own weakness and feeling incapable for the calling of ministry and service God has placed on our lives (in our home, and to those around us). Even though I didn’t fully realize it at first, in the back of my mind the idea of returning to normal life was daunting. How lovingly kind our Father is, though, to direct our focuses back to His face. Sunday morning at church He gave me a song that was exactly what I needed! So many truths, flooding my heart with precious reminders of Who He is and what He has promised to His children. I pray you are blessed as much by it as I was!

Through the Valley
Margaret F. Powers/Frank Garlock

I have been thru the valley of weeping,
Thru the valley of sorrow and pain;
But the God of all comfort was with me,
By His hand to uphold and sustain.

So I’ll follow wherever God leads me,
In the darkness His Word lights my way;
I have proof that the Lord can give comfort,
And His grace can give strength for each day.

As the earth needs the clouds and the sunshine,
So the soul needs both sorrow and joy;
And when God puts His gold in the furnace,
He intends all its dross to destroy.

As we travel thru life’s shadowed valley,
The fresh springs of His love ever rise;
And we learn that our sorrows and losses
Are all blessings God sent in disguise.

The House by the Side of the Road

Though perhaps not as avid a poetry lover as a couple of our dear sisters, 😉 I do hold an appreciation for well-composed lines that concisely communicate truth in an easy-to-remember format. The other day Daniel and I were discussing hospitality and the commands of Scripture to love one another, and the following poem came to mind. Perhaps a little quaint in it’s style and expression, 🙂 we were blessed by the spirit of love, compassion, and kindness it portrays, and wanted to share it with you. May each of us understand in a deeper way the love that our Savior bears toward us, so that we may in turn be vessels that convey that love to others!

“This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15: 12-13

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” 1 John 4:10-11

 

The House by the Side of the Road
Sam Walter Foss

There are hermit souls that live withdrawn
In the peace of their self-content;
There are souls, like stars, that dwell apart,
In a fellowless firmament;
There are pioneer souls that blaze their paths
Where highways never ran;
But let me live by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

Let me live in a house by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner’s seat,
Or hurl the cynic’s ban;
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I see from my house by the side of the road,
By the side of the highways of life,
The men who press with the ardor of hope,
The men who are faint with the strife.
But I turn not away from their smiles nor their tears – 
Both parts of an infinite plan;
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I know there are brook-gladdened meadows ahead
And mountains of wearisome height;
And the road passes on through the long afternoon
And stretches away to the night.
But I still rejoice when the travelers rejoice
And weep with the strangers that moan,
Nor have I my house by the side of the road
Like a man who dwells alone.

Let me live in my house by the side of the road
Where the race of men go by – 
They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,
Wise, foolish – so am I.

Then why should I sit in the scorner’s seat
Or hurl the cynic’s ban?
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

Our Great Savior

Our Great Savior

Jesus! what a Friend for sinners!
Jesus! Lover of my soul;
Friends may fail me, foes assail me, 
He, my Savior, makes me whole.

Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah! what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.

Jesus! what a Strength in weakness!
Let me hide myself in Him;
Tempted, tried, in Him confiding,
He, my Strength, my vict’ry wins.

Jesus! what a help in sorrow!
While the billows o’er me roll,
Even when my heart is breaking,
He, my Comfort, heals my soul.

Jesus! what a Guide and Keeper!
While the tempest still is high,
Storms about me, night o’ertakes me,
He, my Pilot, hears my cry.

Jesus! I do now receive Him,
More than all in Him I find;
Christ in me, the Hope of glory,
I am His, and He is mine.

Arrangement copyright of Pinner Publications. 

Everyday Blessings | 8.31.17

Every single day we are surrounded with blessings, many of which we neglect to pause and notice. I am guilty of this myself, all too often… what grace the Lord shows us through His gentle reminders to give thanks, to count our blessings, and to rejoice. Here are just a few things I have seen and/or remembered today, enumerated in no particular order. 🙂 

  • cooler temperatures as summer comes to an end
  • freshly-mown grass
  • times to talk over everything with my dearest, and the oneness we share in Christ
  • stacks of clean diapers, ready for use
  • learning, in a deeper sense, to abide in Christ, and His patience with His children
  • red & bright pink flowers visible from our front porch and kitchen windows
  • smiles from our little man
  • time to read together
  • the ability to venture into the kitchen in the middle of the night, with the purpose of satisfying my ravenous Mommy-cravings, without meeting a cockroach or cricket or spider… usually 🙂

What are YOU grateful for? 

Manifold Witness

With the exciting solar eclipse passing across our nation on August 21st this year, many thoughts come to mind. Often, such glorious natural phenomena bring with them numerous theories… questions as to what might be the cause… creepy speculations about what major catastrophe is about to happen… wonderings about what might be our Creator’s deeper meaning behind them… and while I cannot say this is wrong, thoughts such as these have tended to generate deep notes of fear, anxiety, or doubt in my heart. 

Yes, it is true that we do not know what lies ahead. It is possible that there are serious trials on the horizon of our lives or for believers in general. The Lord could be using this coming eclipse to signal something monumental in the history of the world.

This past weekend, though, the Lord brought to mind a beautiful, reassuring promise to hang on to when the temptation arises to give in to the inner turmoil that seeks to crowd out my joyous rest in Him. While singing the familiar hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” on Sunday, He highlighted verse two:

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

Summer, winter, spring, and harvest… the sun, the moon, the stars… they join in with all of nature as a manifold witness to the abundant faithfulness, mercy, and love of our God. HE IS unchanging. His faithfulness is sure. His mercy endures forever. His very nature is love. While we do not know what the future holds, we DO know Who holds the future, and we can trust Him.

What renewed peace it brought to my heart as He reminded me to use the eclipse (and other similar natural events) as a reminder of these steadfast elements of His character. All of nature sings of His glory; may we join them in praise to His goodness, rather than allowing fear of the unknown to cripple our joy!

“I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever… The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.” Psalm 145: 1, 8-9

“…the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3

“The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” Jeremiah 31:3

“O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.” Psalm 117

Amarillo Highlights

As part of the celebration for our first anniversary, the Lord allowed us to take a trip north to Amarillo, TX, to spend a few days together! Such a joyous, blessed time, remembering what God has done and looking forward to what He plans to do in the future. 

A few highlights included visiting the Palo Duro canyon, enjoying the sweet fellowship and incredible hospitality of our dear friends, the Kerr’s, eating at the Big Texan and Abuelos, stopping by the Cadillac Ranch, and just spending time reading, relaxing, and seeking the Lord together.