Acts of Service
Neely Langhals comes from a large family in every sense of the word. She is one of eight, from a mother who is one of eight. She has four children of her own, with a fifth on the way! Along with her biological family, Neely also claims a few dozen or so "daughters" whose lives she has touched and futures she has helped shape, simply through her caring and nurturing nature.
In high school, Neely was mentored by a wonderful lady, who took her under her wing when she needed it the most, and encouraged her to go into ministry. Neely attended Columbia Bible College, where she majored in Youth Ministry, but from the beginning she knew she wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, and minister to high school girls through her family example. Throughout the years she has ministered to young girls through a variety of avenues, but for the last four years, she has been impacting high school girls from Hilton Head Christian Academy, simply by inviting them into her home for weekly dinners and a little girl talk.
"The girls come over, they bring dishes, they help me get the kids ready for bed, and then we just hang out for a few hours and chat about whatever is going on in their lives. It is beneficial for my kids because they have developed role models, and have learned to be comfortable around bigger kids. It is beneficial for the girls because they see what a healthy marriage and family looks like," said Neely. "We talk about all of the normal teenage girl stuff. They don't always see the impact right away, but once they reach college and post-college and start calling to ask my advice on different situations, it becomes much clearer."
And what advice can Neely offer? Advice that is simple, yet strong, mixed with a blend of Biblical truth and real-life experience. She preaches purity in a society that all but shuns the idea, and backs up her teaching with a shining example of her and her husband, who waited until they were married to kiss. She is also passionate about the husband being the head of the household and a spiritual leader. "The Bible says husbands are to love their wives, and wives are to submit to their husbands. We are both supposed to submit to each other, but I think it is stated that way because it is not as natural for men to show love outwardly. I always say, guys are stupid, and girls are confused, so we can't understand each other. When he loves me, it makes me easier for me to submit and show respect to him."
The advice that Neely can offer comes from generations of true illustrations of what a successful marriage and family looks like, and Neely's continuing example may be all it takes to give the young girls she mentors the courage to make positive life decisions, and refrain from compromising their standards. "My parents and grandparents set such high standards through their marriages, that I wasn't willing to compromise. I always said if I was half the mother my mom is it would be enough. When I had my fourth kid, compared to her eighth, I joked that now I literally was half the mother she was," Neely laughed. "The most important thing I can tell my girls is don't settle for mediocre, when you can wait for something great."
The impact of Neely's nurturing heart has expanded in ways she could not have expected, through simple acts of service. When she was still in Columbia, she took it upon herself to learn sign language so she could communicate with a deaf girl in her youth group. Because of this decision, many of the girl's friends chose to take sign language classes as well, and eventually the church began to offer the classes. When she moved to the Lowcountry, she looked for ways to continue this ministry, and began a mission trip with high school students to Jamaica to assist at a school for the deaf. The students were required to learn the sign language alphabet, as well as a few songs and common conversational words. The first year 13 students attended the trip, and it was such a large success that attendance jumped to the high 20s the next year. At least three of the students involved with the trip also went to college and either majored or minored in sign language, with the intention of using it for deaf ministry.
"People always ask me how I do what I do, and the truth is, I find my strength in Christ. He's the center of my life. I feel called to what I'm doing, and I hold onto Him as the ultimate example of nurturing."
Family: Husband: Doug; Children: Keely (9), Macey (5), Kres (4), Wes (2), baby number five due in October!
Neely's idea of the perfect Mother's Day: "My husband started a tradition where he cooks me lunch on the grill and the kids all make me cards. My love language is Acts of Service, so I don't need any presents; I just enjoy the time together."
Another example of a daily act of service: Doug does the dishes every night!
Recommended books/Bible studies: How to Find Your Soul Mate Without Losing Your Soul, anything by author Dannah Gresh, and Kathleen Nielson Bible Studies
Tiger Tradition: Neely and her family have a lake day every September for Clemson Tiger students and alumni that they know. It has become such a huge hit that even non-Clemson attendees try to sneak in!