Posts Tagged ‘The Wilkes Team’

Celebrating a Milestone


This past weekend we had the privilege of celebrating a special milestone with our friends, the Staddons! Their son David graduated from high school, and friends and family gathered for a time of sharing, special music (David is very musical, playing both piano and violin very well!), fellowship, and food.

2014-06-13 20.06.07

(Thanks to James Staddon for taking this picture on his iPhone, despite poor lighting and other conditions)


Since the graduation was on Saturday, we arrived Friday evening which made for a fun time of visiting and meeting the Staddons’ other relatives who were in town. We arrived just in time for dinner, a bon-fire and smore’s (with a drizzle of rain and lots of mud!), and a fun game of “ultimate frisbee” with a football. 🙂

2014-06-13 20.19.24

(James Staddon snapped this with his iPhone) 🙂


On Saturday we helped the Staddons prepare the house and get things ready for the graduation. Furniture was moved from kitchen and living room to accommodate 60+ people! David, along with some of his family members (and our David), prepared special music to play throughout the graduation – both violin and piano.



We were so blessed to see so many dear friends again! Robert and Kendalyn were there with their little girls Sauntina and Merilee. Many of the Staddons’ relatives were there, some having traveled long distances for the occasion, and others more local.



David shared some short and long term goals, and expressed his gratitude to family and friends for their investment in his life. Mr. and Mrs. Staddon shared about their journey of teaching/home education, and James (David’s brother) encouraged him to read and meditate on the Word of God.

_MG_8916 _MG_8930

Many hands made light work! Cheerful helpers worked together to make the day a huge success. There was fellowship, laughter, and games. Fun times!

Later that evening, rather the following morning 😉 sometime after 12 AM, Wilkes Teams 12 (Josh & Lisa), and 3 (Matthew & Amanda) arrived from VA. While we waited for their arrival, we played games like Dutch Blitz, and Kings and Peasants… and ate cookies.

_MG_8938 _MG_8932

Other highlights from the week included…

– Playing games outside… ping-pong, there ain’t no bears out tonight, football, and volleyball.

– staying up *way* past our bedtimes, laughing and making fun memories together

– Cooking delicious meals, fellowshipping around the table, and washing dishes together

– A fun surprise for David Staddon after midnight, including a huge “hailstorm” of candy falling from the ceiling fans in the living room (those who had already gone to bed thought it was hail 😉 ).

– Special music for Sunday service by various members of the different families

– 40 people staying at the Staddons home (and overnight)… oh what fun it was!!!

– Keeping each other’s names straight… there were 3 Sarahs and 4 Davids  😉 …

– Holding babies – there were at least 5 “littles” at any one time, to play with or hold…

– Meeting new families – there were so many people at the graduation, and visiting throughout the weekend. It was a huge blessing to meet the Staddons’ different relatives, and other friends, and also to visit with our dear friends that we don’t see very often.


Thank you Staddons for having us! We so enjoyed our time in WV, fellowshipping and making memories. We can’t wait until next time, and look forward to future visits!!! 🙂 🙂

Honey Brook Farm


Following our long, exciting, and very productive week at the Kilpatricks, the Lord provided an opportunity for David and I be dropped off at Honey Brook Farm in VA! We were both very excited about spending a week on the farm, and learning practical and useful skills. And what better way to learn, than to live life right along-side some very dear like-minded friends?

IMG_9405 IMG_9409

IMG_9414 IMG_9420

The Wilkes sell pasture-raised chicken, non-GMO eggs, non-chemical produce, raw honey, and fresh baked goods! Matthew and Amanda (Wilkes Team 3!) were given some cows as a wedding present, earlier this year, and hope to grow the cattle business in coming years.

IMG_9424 IMG_9449 IMG_9451

IMG_9433 IMG_9431

The first evening after our arrival, we drove over an hour to visit Wilkes Teams 2 (Josh, Lisa & Josiah) and 3 (Matthew & Amanda) at a campground where they were spending the weekend! Mr. and Mrs. Wilkes had gone to visit another family that evening, so the rest of us set off  in the big green van – loaded with camp chairs and ingredients for dinner and smore’s!

IMG_0166 IMG_0164

IMG_0168 IMG_0170

Daniel and David built us two incredible fires, in a quiet little place down the road from the camp-sites. We had fun finding fire-wood in the surrounding woods… the air was crisp and cool, and the familiar smell of camp-fire smoke brought back wonderful memories of all the out-door excursions our family has gone on ;-).

IMG_0173 IMG_0172

The evening was restful and relaxing. We Fixed hobos (a first for David and I!) for dinner, and I played a game of horseshoes with Josh and Sarah (another first for me!). We laughed and told stories, and sang hymns around the fire (Lisa and Amanda played their guitars), while trying to stay warm beneath fuzzy blankets ;-). We roasted smore’s in the black, and watched the stars above us twinkling in the night sky. And then because it was so late, we packed everything up and set off for home…I am grateful for Jennifer, who stayed awake to drive over an hour, while everyone else was sleeping in the back :-).

IMG_9475 IMG_9476

Another day Sarah and I had way too much fun making soap and lotion. We re-learned the difference between liquid and dry weight measurements just in time 😉 and laughed because our lovely perfect lotion separated into two layers – oils and water (next time, we will FIND a thermometer to get all the temperatures just right!). It’s the thought that counts, right?


And this is the happy group (along with Mrs. Wilkes who took the picture!) that drove to Fredericksburg one day to visit the Hat Barn! The Lord graciously provided matching western hats for David and I, and we so enjoyed wearing them around the farm that week :-)!

IMG_9500 IMG_9513

The guys played Axis and Allies late into several evenings ;-)… meanwhile us girls played Dutch Blitz, and some other new card games I had never learned. So much fun!

IMG_9522 IMG_9529 IMG_9536

Thursday was baking day – for Thursday and Saturday markets. We baked miniature quick-breads all morning, and delicious granola bars! David and I were able to make some of our special Something Gourmet recipes as well, and were very pleased with the success of sales!

IMG_9537 IMG_9550

As you may or may not be able to tell, we made a VERY big mess…and that is one of the reasons I felt right at home … because I always make a mess when I bake ;-)!

IMG_9542 IMG_9547

One of my highlights of the week was working in the vegetable gardens! Whether helping Hannah and Mrs. Wilkes harvest green beans, summer squash, peppers, and tomatoes, or helping Daniel bunch kale and wash the vegetables for market…Sarah and I had great fun harvesting pumpkins, weeding the lettuce bed, and carrying many many melons to the house – how many melons can one person carry…? 🙂 Meanwhile, we received news from home that OUR melons were growing bigger, and that 2 happy watermelons were almost ready to harvest (we have never had success with melons)!!!

IMG_9546 IMG_9553 IMG_9538

Many delicious treats were packaged and labeled for market, and there was always one more dish to wash 😉 …

Friday was chicken butchering day, along with many other preparations for market! I helped Mrs. Wilkes prepare a big breakfast while the guys set things up outside. We spent most of the morning butchering about 50 chickens. David and I were excited to participate, as we’ve only done deer before :-). It was a whole new learning experience for us both…one that I really enjoyed!

IMG_9548 IMG_5424

Later the chickens were packaged. Some were left whole, and others were divided into specific parts.

In the afternoon, some of us picked vegetables for market, or baked. It was one of those days where lunch was ready at 3:00PM, dinner around 7:00, and we finished cleaning up the kitchen sometime after 11:00 (although Hannah was still baking, and I never did finish the dishes) ;-).

IMG_9466 IMG_5429

Saturday morning two teams left rather early for two different markets. I went with Mrs. Wilkes, Kenan, and Mark. David joined Josh, Jenny, and Adam at the other market. Poor Sarah was feeling down during the last couple of days, and was home resting. Dear Hannah volunteered to stay back and do some cleaning in preparation for a family trip the Wilkes were taking that evening.

IMG_0200 IMG_0219

What a joy and blessing to participate in the farm markets! I loved watching the Wilkes Team work together on their farm – they love the Lord, and they are passionate about meeting people’s needs. Hearing Josh talk about the benefits of coconut oil, or listening to Kenan explain the importance of properly raising chickens…I was very encouraged!

IMG_0207 IMG_0213 IMG_0215

Something else I so appreciate about the Wilkes Team is the way they shine for Christ, whether working together to weed the garden, or selling produce at a market. I heard a quote recently that I think is very fitting: “Preach the gospel always; when necessary use words.” And how true! The way they greet their customers, or interact with each other from day to day, is such a testimony and refreshing example!

IMG_9559 IMG_9565

Saturday evening Wilkes Teams 1 (with the exception of Mr. and Mrs. Wilkes) and 2 (Josh, Lisa, and little Josiah), left for a family vacation. Our parents arrived and went out to dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Wilkes. David and I enjoyed a quiet evening at the farm house, playing the piano and writing many little notes of encouragement/gratitude to place around the house… but not before taking a few last memorable pictures together!

IMG_9568 IMG_9579

IMG_9581 IMG_9577

There are no words to accurately describe all the sweet and precious memories that were made with Wilkes Teams 1, 2, and 3. What a BLESSING and JOY to be a part of this dear family’s life for a week. I so enjoyed all the new experiences, and the many lessons learned.

God taught me many things from our time there. I know that both David and I came away challenged, and strengthened in many ways – both spiritually and physically :-).


Thank you so much dear Wilkes Team for graciously opening up your home to us for an unforgettable week! We are excited about all that the Lord has taught us through our time away, and are already beginning to apply these lessons at home! The Lord richly bless you all for your service and love, to Him and others – we love you so much!

You can see more pictures from our trip here.

The Goodness of God


“…the goodness of God endureth continually.” Psalm 52:1b

I thought about it two weeks ago as we traveled up to NY over a busy labor day weekend… and when the Kilpatrick family graciously opened up their home to our family for an entire week! It came to mind one evening when we received a phone call from Daddy and Jonathan who were deep in the heart of the Adirondacks, letting us know that all was well with them…

IMG_9196 IMG_9225

The goodness of God endureth continually.

I thought about it while harvesting an abundance of vegetables – vegetables that not everyone is blessed to receive in their gardens ;-), because seeds don’t just sprout and grow a happy harvest because they want to…

IMG_5378 IMG_8853

The goodness of God endureth continually.

I thought about it during many delicious meals enjoyed around the table with family and friends…and again as we traveled up to NH and back. It came to mind when I was holding in my arms, a precious little baby boy that temporarily stopped breathing a few weeks ago, while on a trip with his family…

IMG_9341 IMG_9346

The goodness of God endureth continually.

I thought about it many times last week, as I learned how to butcher chickens 😉 … and while I stirred hot lye in a pot full of soap I was making…as I picked a bushel of green beans…and when we baked dozens and dozens of desserts to take to market…

IMG_9547 IMG_9476

The goodness of God endureth continually.

Yes, there were those times when I felt weary and exhausted… times when I felt so tired I wanted to cry…but there were dishes to be done ;-), carrots to be weeded, lunch to be made, things to be organized… and still, it was true, and it came to my mind.

The goodness of God endureth continually.

Because it is true. No matter how wonderful, or how difficult life may seem at times, Who God is never changes. He is and always will be the God of mercy, grace, love, holiness, justice, forgiveness, truth…

It’s how we respond to what we are going through… Will we allow Him to perfect us in the midst of whatever trial we may be facing? Will we choose to believe that He can work all things out for good – though we may not see it at the time? Will we choose to give thanks – when it is the last thing we want to do? And when life seems like a beautiful dream – even then will we remember to praise Him and thank Him for His goodness – knowing that we do not deserve it?

IMG_9577 IMG_5430

The goodness of God endureth continually.

I’m hoping to post more pictures soon from two weeks away on the farm (NY, NH, and VA)! But for now, here’s a few :-).

“This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.” Psalm 118:23

A Visit with the Wilkes Ladies~


At the close of 2012, we were blessed by a very special and memorable visit to Honey Brook Farm in Culpeper, VA. During our time around the table one evening, we talked about putting a date on the calendar for a mother/daughter visit. It’s difficult for the Wilkes family to leave their growing farm, with so many animals to care for, gardens to tend, and places to be (Farm market, etc.). In February we began to work out the details, and it was decided that the Wilkes ladies would come down in mid March, just after our return home from the bridal shower.

IMG_0359 IMG_0360 IMG_0366

IMG_0403 IMG_0385 IMG_0422

IMG_0410 IMG_0433 IMG_0408

IMG_0356 IMG_0436

We planned lots of exciting things to do during their visit here. One day we drove to the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens, to see the orchid spectacular display. There were many flowers in bloom, and it was a lovely time of talking, taking pictures, and walking through the gardens.

IMG_0330 IMG_0390

IMG_0696 IMG_0426

IMG_0412 IMG_0413

Other highlights from our visit include ~

Yummy meals around the table – Grilled chicken salads, Crock-Pot Beef Stew, and of course dessert – Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies!

IMG_0725 IMG_3929

Dutch Blitz till midnight

Shopping at Mary Jo’s HUGE fabric store in Gastonia, and purchasing our favorite fabric (as well as some matching fabrics) 😉

Shopping at CATO and Target, finding great deals, and buying matching T-shirts from the girl’s department (The Wilkes ladies re-introduced us to the idea of shopping “little sizes”, because sometimes that’s where the cutest things are found 😉 ).

Visiting Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens, running through the fountains, laughing, and doing a fun photo shoot (Sarah and Sarah – Thanks to Hannah, our amazing photographer!) 🙂

IMG_0474 IMG_0689 IMG_0666

IMG_0468  IMG_0690

IMG_0636 IMG_0645

Running to the store (Hannah, Sarah, and Sarah) for groceries and subs (a picnic in the car for our big day out!), all wearing the same style skirts from Dressbarn!

A fun frozen yogurt treat at Yoforia – and some of the best chocolate yogurt, sweetened with stevia!

IMG_0700 IMG_0705

IMG_0702 IMG_0703

Heart-to-heart talks, testimonies, catching-up conversations, fun stories, much laughter, and many many cups of Hazelnut Coffee  … 😉

Thank you Mrs. Wilkes, Jennifer, and Sarah, for coming to visiting us. You brightened our week with your laughter, testimonies of God’s goodness, and the sweet gift of your friendship. We are sorry Hannah was not able to come, but we praise God for her servant’s heart, and know that the Wilkes men were very blessed by her labor of love back at the farm.

We love you Wilkes Team! Praying that our families will enjoy many more times of fellowship together in the days ahead :-)!

VA FEW Conference ~


We were not able to attend the NC or WV Family Encouragement Weekend (FEW) Conferences this year, but we did make it to the VA FEW! It was a tremendous blessing and encouragement, and we were able to meet many new families. The joy of the Lord was evident, and we came away refreshed by numerous testimonies and sweet fellowship with other believers. 🙂 🙂 🙂

To see other reports, visit the Wilkes, Staddon, and Neely Family blogs.

If you are interested in attending a Family Encouragement Weekend Conference, the fourth and final one for 2012 is yet to be held in New Hampshire (September 7-8th)!