Friday, December 31, 2010

The Christmas letter that never was...

As 2010 is nearing it's end I thought I would share the "Christmas letter" that never was. Ok I wrote this in November to enclose with our Christmas cards...Which I decided to not send (in order to save money). I had thought of sending them as New Year's "updates" to our friends and family but didn't do that either. It is a wonderful yet short recap of what the McClendon's have been up to. I am not editing it for bloggy purposes so it is what it is. Enjoy and Happy New Year to you all!!!

Greetings Family and Friends it has been a couple years since we last sent out a little note of what we have been up to! We are so excited to take a minute so you can all catch up. This past year a lot of great things happened so what better time than now for an update.

Michael is still hard at work at the same company. Logging 11 years this past June. It is great to still have a job after the rough ups and downs of our economy. Hollie has been hard at work with PTO, church, new volunteer endeavors, sewing, and of course child rearing! We led our family on a wonderful trip to West Virginia to participate in a United Methodist Conference called Aldersgate. It was a wonderful time and we look to make it a yearly tradition no matter the ever-changing location.

Jesse turned 10 this year and is a “senior” at her elementary school. It is hard to believe she will be in middle school next year. We are over the moon happy to report all A’s! After a jammed packed school year last year Jesse decided to drop dance and make gymnastics her main focus with a lot of swim team and soccer mixed in!

Duece turned 6 this year and had a milestone of his own…he is the “freshman” at their elementary school. He too has worked really hard and we couldn’t be happier about all A’s from him. Duece like Jesse added swim team to his agenda and he LOVED it. The child who never liked sports has found his niche! YAY He too still enjoys gymnastics. He and Jesse are both still actively involved in children’s choir and other areas of our church.

Cooper celebrated his 2nd birthday. As a matter of fact the last “update” letter we sent he hadn’t even been born yet! He started preschool at Kiddie Kollege this fall and is in love with it and his teachers. This sweet little boy has added so much to our family.

WOW, a lot has happened and we wish we could share it all. We hope we hit all the highlights! 2010 has been a wonderful year and we know God is going to do even greater things in 2011 and we can’t wait to see what they are. We leave you with many wishes of a wonderful and blessed Christmas season! Until next year…

Much Love,
Michael, Hollie, Jesse, Duece, and Cooper
*You can now follow all the madness of the McClendon household at:

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I will praise you in this storm...

Wow talk about a whirl wind week of events. Just as our Christmas celebrations came to an end, our food finally began to settle and just a day after the garbage truck took all the boxes away...Michael and I got a tough blow that we had been kind of expecting but at the same time praying God would prevent. Michael found out today (Wednesday) that he is going to be loosing his job after next Friday. After 11 years of hard work and dedication it is just going to be OVER. No chance at un-employment (as his boss didn't pay in) and no severance. Like I said it was not a huge shock but never-the-less it was tough pill to take. My first emotion as he told me was " I can't let the kids know I am upset, he can't know I am worried...Must keep it all in." That gave way to a sobbing break down what followed next surprised me I was ANGRY! I was mad that not only would his boss lose his company but our "rug" would also be pulled out from under us. So many hopes and dreams seemed to flash before my eyes. I think I could have spit nails that very moment. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised though as I prayed all afternoon for peace and understanding my anger was replace by these very words that sprang from my lips before I even knew I was speaking them out load..."God no matter what happens or how hard it gets we will continue to serve you and praise your wonderful name!" Oh yeah I said it and for a half a second as Michael looked at my I thought I had LOST my mind. But Michael said " I know Momma that is what it is all about we have to have faith!" Ha we were on the same page and knowing that made me feel so much better.

So looks like Michael is on the market or should I say in the market for a new job. I don't think either of us care about where it is or what the pay is as long as we aer all together with a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs and food to each God will work everything else out. It is scary but we know the only way not to worry ourselves to death is to hand this one over to the ONE who can fix it all because sometimes things are just so broken only our Daddy above can repair them for us. I know this road may not be easy but we have faith He will make a way and we are only speaking life into this situation because God's promises are real and we believe He can do the things he says he can do!

I am still worried about the zillions of changes this will bring on for us. I don't think Michael and I even know the fullness of those changes. I also worry about the kids I don't want this to impact them in such a way that they too become angry but I am handing that over to God also. I know what kind of kids I have been trying to raise and I believe they will be understanding and take things as they come all while praising the One above just as Michael and I do.

Nothing in this life is certain other than life and death. But I know a comforter that can help me through it all and you better believe that before our feet hit the pavement our knees will be hitting the ground for His direction.

One last thing please join us in prayer over this situation that Michael might find work easily and that I too might find something if need be, pray please that God would let His plan be worked out here and not our own. And please speak positive things over and into this for us. We love you all and are thankful to be surrounded with some wonderful friends and family.

Simply the best

Sorry I missed posting on Christmas so Merry Christmas and before I forget Happy New Year!

I have to say that this Christmas was the best one we have had in our married life. It was simple and WHITE. We had decided a couple of years ago that our children would only receive 3 gifts, then one from each other and a family gift. But we really set out to simplify not only what they received but all our other giving. This season is not about all those electronics or labels on the clothes under your tree but about our Saviors birth. Our goal..."Get back to the real reason we celebrate!"

It was wonderful we spent time with family and friends. Enjoying each others company and lots of wonderful food. Christmas morning was extra special as we noticed it started to snow while unwrapping gifts. I think a white Christmas in north Alabama is a true Christmas miracle. We sang happy birthday to Jesus, went out for breakfast, then played in the snow and my wonderful hubby and older children built us a snowman! I think the snow was the best gift I could have received. For several hours my children weren't wrapped up in what was being given or received but enjoying God's Christmas gift to them...SNOW!

I thank God for the tug at my heart to simplify...I thank Him for giving us a chance to get it right. There are no words to truly explain the feelings Michael and I felt wrapped in HIS love this Christmas. This one was simply the best and way better than all the rest:)

Friday, December 24, 2010

His plan and not my own

With Christmas fast approaching Michael and I had some really tough decisions to make not to be taken lightly! I was stressed, overworked, depressed and BUSY. It was after explaining to my friend the effects some of those "changes" that I realized I was indeed busy but not in the way you are thinking I was B.U.S.Y...Being under Satan's yoke. I had somewhere in all of the overwhelming thoughts in my mind left my "easy yoke" and taken up another. She told me I needed to hold true to the things I knew God was promising and remember He is still in the miracle making business.

Why is it that I so easily fall victim to Satan's scheme? I don't know...But I do know the true miracle of Christmas the virgin birth of my savior is something amazing to celebrate. I guess you can say Satan got his way I felt I didn't have anything to celebrate...But I do!!! Jesus was born and died so that I would NEVER have to live in hell or suffer the true cost of my sin. I will stand on that and declare he (Satan) has no rule over my life, I will not live in fear and in this very moment of tough decisions I will take this opportunity to "live out my faith" so all can see! It is after all HIS plan and not my own...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I did it on a budget

I am so proud of myself, I even asked Michael if I could have an award this Christmas. Our extreme frugality has been in practice around here for a bit and I was trying that concept on in regards to Christmas. I sat down last night and figured out how much we had spent this year and was stunned that we came in just under $700. That includes all 3 of our children and the zillions of other gifts we give like to teacher, Sunday school teachers, and such. Of course I made a lot of gifts including stationary, etched containers, aprons and pjs. And I didn't send Christmas cards to anyone that wasn't family and didn't live out of state. I know some of you are thinking that my children will suffer or that others received junk from us but it wasn't so. Of course the norm was practiced with the children receiving 3 gifts each just like the baby Jesus did and one "group" gift. This allows us to get them 3 great gifts and not 20 little things. We like it and they do to... and since we don't do Santa around here it is well understood how it all works! I was happy to start getting the focus on the true reason for the season and not so much on "stuff." (Remember God is working with me on this big time) I am excited to see every ones faces when they open the gifts I have made for them or painstakingly picked out for them. I am happy to spread a little more of the "It's the thought not the gift" spirit around:)

Friday, December 17, 2010

A dear friend of mine Lindsey over at squeezingtheday does music therapy Thursday each week. And just yesterday she shared "Ava Maria" the English version. Leaving me moved beyond anything I had ever heard was a song that showed the heart of the mother of Jesus. As she and I talked about the song and it's meaning and such I told her how another song all about Mary was moving me in ways never before this Christmas season so I wanted to share those lyrics with you!

Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you.

Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.

The blind will see, the deaf will hear and the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb.

Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you're holding is the great I am.

The last 4 lines posted above shake my soul every single time I hear them, read them or even see them. I wonder about Mary what it was like to be a young lady unwed and carrying the Messiah. I know what it is like to be unwed and pregnant. But the fact that the child she bore was the "Great I am" is almost to hard for even my Christian mind to get a handle on! I wonder if Mary knew what it would be like...I wonder what Jesus was like as a child....I wonder what Joseph thought as she delivered that sweet baby in a lowly manger. I am over come with emotion as i think of my King laying in a manger that night of His birth or how Mary must have felt so alone with no "comforts" for her new little one. The number one thing I have wondered endlessly about is did Mary know that her son my King was destine for the cross. Did she know that He would pay for MY sins before I was even a twinkle in someones eye? I don't know if I could have been a willing servant if I had known my sinless son would die for someone else. Lastly I share Lindsey's same thoughts....We often think favor from God means or lives or our families lives will be easy but when you think of Mary God showed her what I believe is ultimate in favor as she carried the Messiah and I know her life was no to easy as Jesus began his ministry. I am thankful for Mary and her willingness to do what she was called to do and I am so thankful for my King who lived as a man to die on a cross just so I wouldn't have to! I am happy to celebrate His birth!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Happy with simplicity

For quite some time now God has been transforming the hearts of both Michael and I... There so many details I want to share but am unable to but one thing I can say is simplicity is something we are working on right now. Most people assume that since I stay at home we are in some insane high tax bracket but it is the opposite we make sacrifices so I can be at home with our children. So simplicity is not a new concept but almost a way of life for me the happy with it part is what God has been working on me with. And now is starting to work on Michael about. We have always tried tiredly to "Keep up with the Jones" you know new car, nice clothes, bigger house, you get the idea. And for Michael simplicity to him means he isn't providing for our needs.
But I don't see it that way here is what God has done to my thinking of simplicity...

I for a long time thought about living simply was doing without or not having things you desire. But my God showed me otherwise. If He blesses me with a fortune it is not mine but His and I should use it to do His work furthering the Kingdom and blessing the socks off of people! RIGHT? I am to be in this world not of it. I want to put the "Jones and their stuff" aside and realize I could do more for my God and His Kingdom with a more simple state of mind. God is tugging on our hearts to do something big something different something that will take resources. And I KNOW that if I were more simple I could do just what He wanted of me. As Michael and I work to rethink how we see these things we are also training our children to be content with simplicity. I don't want children who are so consumed with what other have that they aren't able to see the true blessings in life. Because for me I was consumed with an appearance and not able to be who God was really calling me to be. Call me radical but I would rather have nothing and KNOW that I served my King and did exactly what He was calling me to do!

I leave you with this not because it has anything to do with my post but because I can't get it off my mind. My pastor in his sermon last Sunday said this and I can't stop chewing on it..."A family is a powerful tool in and for the Kingdom of God." As I said I can't stop chewing on this one this week. (Jeff I hope you don't mind me quoting you and I hope I didn't mess the quote up!)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Big 3-0

Today is my wonderful hubby's 30th birthday! He can't believe it and thought he would all of the sudden feel and look old. HA I told him this morning I was surprised none of his organs had shut down or his hair changed colors over night! No really he was a little sad I however think it is wonderful. The true miracle here is that we are celebrating his 11th birthday together. 11 years ago today I went to our cities Christmas parade with Michael and never in a million years saw myself married to him or having his babies. But God had a great plan in store and here we are celebrating his big 3-0 I am so happy. I can't believe all we have over come in 11 years and I know I can't wait to see what else is in store. Happy Birthday baby I love you!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

He is our portion

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more valuable than they? Who of you by worry can add a single hour to your life?" Matthew 6:25-27

I have always thought of God as my portion and "He is enough for me!" But with so many worldly worries and trails it is easy to loose sight of the one who always comes through and always provides.

It is no secret that we at this household make many a sacrifice so that I can stay home and care for our children, my husband and our household. And due to the state of our economy, lack of work and endless rainy days things are a little tighter around here. We don't complain (OK well a little) because we are so strongly tied to our decision for me to be at home and we know this too will pass. But God showed his glorious face to me by making a way and providing big for us this week and taking a huge load off with the approaching holiday. No we aren't rich all of the sudden but He took alot of worry away and I am so grateful for that.

Just when it seems like things are a mess God always seems to show up in my life and most of the time He is showing out! His favor upon myself and my family is great almost unmeasurable at times. We know one day his plan will be so clear to us and we will know his provision even more. I cling tightly to His biblical promises and to the ones He has given my heart. He is our portion and has been and will always be enough for us.