NC Family Encouragement Weekend


posted by Stelzl Family in Exhortation & Encouragement, Friends & Fellowship, Trips & Travels

Every year since 2008, our family has excitedly looked forward to the upcoming Family Encouragement Weekend (FEW) conferences, hosted by the Wilkes, Neely and Staddon families! What a blessing these conferences have been to us, challenging and convicting us in our walks with the Lord, refreshing and blessing us through fellowship and God’s Word… :-)

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There are usually  2-3 conferences held each year in different locations, but due to the arrival of 2 new babies to Wilkes team 2 and Wilkes team 3, and busy schedules for the host families (the Wilkes team runs a family farm in VA and the Neelys have a music ministry), there was not going to be a conference this year. But the Lord worked it out that one could be scheduled rather last minute, close by in NC (just about 5 hours from us).

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Throughout the weekend we enjoyed visiting with dear friends that we don’t get to see often, as well as meeting and making many new friends!

Darlene Neely shared a special session with the ladies on resting in the Lord, trusting Him for His perfect timing and ways, and trusting – even when times are difficult.

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We were blessed by special music – whether the orchestra between sessions, the beautiful harp music played by Victoria N and Hannah W, or the songs put together by the host families.

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On Saturday morning there was an hour set aside for the married couples to meet in a quiet place and pray as husbands and wives. The children were treated to a fun session filled with Scripture memory, singing, prayer, and an exciting skit – based on using the truths of God’s Word to combat the lies of the enemy.

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We enjoyed the many precious little ones at the conference – whether holding babies, assisting with younger ones during meals, or encouraging children of all ages during the group activity times outside – discipleship soccer, relay races, and other fun games!

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There were many powerful messages shared, encouraging us to draw nearer to God and to each other; to make time for personal devotions; to trust in the Lord and in His Word; to be a godly example to others in our actions…

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And did we mention the fellowship? The meals, breaks between sessions, and activity times made for a wonderful weekend of encouragement in the Lord – of sharing stories and testimonies, laughing, and making memories!

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We were truly encouraged! Refreshed, inspired, motivated, convicted, challenged, and simply blessed! :-)

We are already looking forward to next year’s conferences!



posted by Stelzl Family in Friends & Fellowship

Back in February, Hannah’s friend Tiffany called to tell us that she and her husband were going to be coming down in April for a wedding. They wanted to surprise Hannah with an unexpected visit… and it was going to be the same day that we were coming back into town from a Family Encouragement Weekend Conference (held in Marble, NC)!!


Keeping everything a secret wasn’t too hard for the oldest few in the family… but preparing the guest room and do an extra thorough cleaning on the house before we left for the conference was a little more difficult. Did she suspect that we were up to something??? :-)

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Driving home from the conference on Sunday afternoon, a few of us were quite aware that in just a couple of hours we would be arriving home… and then opening our doors to special guests!

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Not only was the surprise a huge success, but when Hannah came downstairs and walked into the room where Ben and Tiffany were quietly waiting, it took her a few seconds to realize they were standing there :-) … and then everyone screamed, Hannah jumped, and we all started laughing! She was sooooo surprised!

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The following day, we took Ben and Tiffany to Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens – an early birthday celebration with Ben and Tiffany, for Hannah (turning 22 on May 1st!).

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What a sweet and special couple Ben and Tiffany are. They love the Lord and each other, and have been a special blessing to Hannah, and to our entire family :-).

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We so enjoyed the beautiful sunny day at the gardens, and then a restful afternoon with fellowship and time spent together… they left this morning heading back home to OK! Thank you so much Ben and Tiffany for filling our home with joy and excitement… for blessing and encouraging our family… for coming out of your way to make Hannah’s birthday special and to surprise her with your presence for a fun-filled day! We hope you will come visit us again soon!

There are more pictures (and videos!) here.

Jehovah Rapha – the Lord Our Healer


posted by Stelzl Family in Family News, Testimonies

“Today why don’t you love a little deeper, laugh a little louder, hold the ones you love a little tighter. Because tomorrow is never promised.” – Unknown


We don’t know what tomorrow holds… but we know Who holds tomorrow! And God is good, and sovereign over all things! His goodness endures continually. He is faithful and compassionate, gracious and merciful.

We are grateful for so many things this week, but especially for Jonathan, and for God’s goodness to him – and to our family. Monday was a difficult day… a reminder to us of our weakness and God’s incredible strength. We were challenged to drew us closer together to God and each other. We waited, hoped, and trusted. We prayed and cried… and the Lord was there with us, ministering to our hearts and filling our minds with peace. And He was and is Jehovah Rapha – the Lord our Healer! :-)

Click here to read a post and watch a video report on Sarah’s herbal blog.

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

(Isaiah 41:10)

Father-Daughter Banquet


posted by Stelzl Family in Friends & Fellowship, Timeless Reminders

“Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.” – A.G.

Father daughter relationships are a precious and beautiful gift from the Lord… and yet sadly, something that is almost nonexistent in our world today.

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Fellowship and friendship between fathers and daughters should not be a mindset that we “put on when we wake up in the morning” and “take off” at the end of the day. It’s a lifestyle that God intended – something that should not just survive, but thrive – in every family.

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Yesterday evening the fathers and daughters from our church gathered in our home, to fellowship, bless each other, and be exhorted in the Lord. There were letters and blessings exchanged between each family… and a special time of sharing from Scripture.

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The daughters were challenged to submit themselves graciously under the authority of their fathers, and to remain pure and protected, not “going out to see the daughters of the land” as was discussed in the story of Dinah. We talked about how the “daughters of the land” applies to various forms of relationships, entertainment, and hobbies/activities in our society today, and were encouraged to fear the Lord in wisdom.

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Some of our other family members worked in the kitchen throughout the evening, cooking, serving, and making the event a beautiful, special time.

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The evening was a refreshing and encouraging time… and a sweet reminder that the relationships we enjoy as fathers and daughters is something that we should not take for granted. It is a precious gift from the Lord that requires nurture and care. It takes diligent work on all sides. It requires fathers loving their daughters and  daughters respecting their fathers.

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We were challenged and exhorted, blessed and refreshed… the evening was a special time of fellowship, of bonding, and of growing closer to the Lord and each other. We are grateful for the fathers and daughters around use who have committed to building their relationships in a God-honoring way.

Planting Salad ;-)


posted by Stelzl Family in Farm & Garden

Today was a beautiful warm sunny day… the perfect day to plant 100 heads of lettuce that were being squished to death in their little seed tray! ;-)

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Tiny Tim loves to help water the plants whenever an opportunity arises. He takes great care of the seedlings :-D

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So we made some rows… and planted some heads… and a little over an hour went by.

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All finished! This might be our first year that we get an abundance of fresh lettuce from our garden :-D


“He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works. He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth.” (Psalm 104:13-14)