Saturday, April 19, 2014

June 7th

Back in February, two ladies from small group and I gathered in my house for a weekend of sharing food and thoughts as we studied God's word by simulcasting the IF:GATHERING women's conference. The theme of the conference was "if God is real, then…" We were encouraged and taught to think about how we believe in a Holy, Living, Limitless God Who is real and active in our world and in our lives and the implications of that truth. We were encouraged to use our gifts, resources, and personalities to find our place in God's story and make Jesus shine in the darkness. That weekend, our discussions were long and our hearts were moved. We desperately wanted to be an active and aware part of God's eternal story.

Our first order of business was to plan and set in stone a women's discipleship brunch for our church. It was an idea that we had been tossing around and vaguely praying through trying to think of a way to promote ladies fellowship that was more than just light and fluffy, but was real and deep and earnestly seeking God. However, it was also an idea that was foggy and far off. Encouraged to pursue what the Lord had set before us after the conference, we decided to run hard after this idea. Instead of a year down the road, we planned it for 4 months later. Instead of calling in people from the outside, we decided to use the gifts in our group to fulfill roles in teaching, leading worship, decorating, and serving. Instead of limiting the event to only our church, we designed and printed flyers to send out to the community and other churches in our association.

This was certainly not what we had planned. It was terrifying. Could we pull this off? Did we have the resources? Were we enough? Turns out we weren't (and still aren't!) enough and neither were our plans. But God uses people who empty themselves of their own agendas and trust in Him to lead. When the goal is to bring glory to our Holy God and what He has done in Jesus, then He is faithful to equip us with His Spirit and His provision. We are learning to follow where He calls no matter how outrageous or impossible the journey may seem.

We are SO excited to see what God will do on June 7th. He has already taken a hazy idea and crystallized it beyond anything we had imagined. Our plans were a small function in the distant future geared toward a group of ladies within our own church led by who knows who teaching who knows what. But our Living, Intentional God has shaped our obedience, our wills, our gifts, and our ideas into something much more. If you're a woman in the area on June 7th, we would love to have you join us to  learn, discuss, and sing about who we are in Jesus. Come and be encouraged to find your place and purpose in Christ as part of God's eternal, wonderful, living story.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

New Noonday News

"And if you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday."
Isaiah 58:10

I stumbled across Noonday Collection about a year ago via a blog I was reading and was intrigued by their adorable, fair trade accessories, but didn't think much more about them. Then, in February, as some ladies from small group and I were participating in the IF:Gathering women's conference, Noonday and their mission popped up again during the conference. The IF:Gathering conference inspired our small group ladies to pursue and plan a discipleship focused brunch for the women in our church (and consequently in our whole association!) and as we researched impactful and meaningful give away prizes, I was drawn to Noonday once again. I just couldn't seem to stay away from them, y'all! Browsing around their website, I found that they had opportunities to be an Ambassador for the company. I pondered and considered and prayed and talked to the husb. And then I did all of that all over again. You see, I had been thinking about part time work options for a long time. Something that would allow me to make a little extra money, but still be at home with my sweet little ones. I had looked into Thirty-One or Pampered Chef, but I felt that in order to sale a product it needed to be something that I truly cared about. I struggled to find a single thing that I could really get behind and be passionate about until Noonday.

Want to know why I love Noonday? Want to know why I'm SO excited to share not only their products, but also their mission with you? Because this business creates pathways out of poverty by providing sustainable jobs for artisans around the world. They work directly with people in vulnerable communities buying their handmade products at living wages (sometimes double what the artisans could earn in their own communities!) and then, as an ambassador, I get to show them and share them with you! Noonday also has scholarship programs so that people in those same communities can afford education AND they help fund adoptions for families. So I get to show cute accessories at parties in women's homes and when products are bought, they help keep families out of poverty and help put children in forever families. Absolutely amazing, y'all.

Want to learn more about how these cute accessories are changing the world?! Let's partner together to spend ourselves on the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed. Go here to browse the Noonday collection or to order online:
Or e-mail me at NoondayMC@gmail.com to schedule a fun trunk show house party where you are able to see and try on some samples in person AND learn more about the artisans who made them.

Monday, March 3, 2014

What's in a name?


That sweet head belongs to our baby girl! If you know anything about our baby naming process, then you know it is so important for me to choose a name that has significant meaning. Choosing a name for our sweet girl was no different, but I can't tell the story of her name without telling a different story first…

On Christmas day 2012, we found out we were pregnant with our 3rd child. Bryan and I were overjoyed, but for various reasons we decided to keep our little Christmas present a secret for a while. For one thing, Asher would turn 4 on January 8th and we didn't want to detract from celebrating his sweet birth by announcing a new one. Also, sometimes when you announce you're having another baby people choose to respond with cynicism and scoffing and we didn't want to hear that either. We just wanted to enjoy our tiny child together without having to process any negative reactions or comments. And so we did. We would lay in bed at night and whisper and giggle about baby names and due dates. It was a time filled with hope and wonder, unscathed by doubt or fear. However, on January 4th, 11 days after we found out we were carrying a sweet baby, I started cramping and bleeding. Some of my closest friends had experienced miscarriage so I knew what the signs meant. I prayed that God would stop the bleeding and save our child if He saw fit to do so, and if not that He would grant me the grace to endure such a loss. That afternoon, we lost our tiny baby.

Since we had not gone public with our pregnancy, we shared our loss with only some of our closest friends. Those who we knew would pray for us and those who had walked the painful road of miscarriage before us. One of my greatest comforts during that time was the women who had experienced the same type of loss and who were not afraid to share their scars with me. They had known great pain and had endured. They also understood that my baby, no matter how tiny, was more than just a lump of flesh, but was a child who was worthy of my mourning and sorrow. The hardest part of miscarriage, other than the obvious loss of a child, is listening to what others have to say about it. Many times well meaning people try to say comforting things that end up causing an already hurting mother more hurt. I was going to write a whole blog post on what NOT to say to a mother who has miscarried and I may still do that one day, but for now I came across a blog that says it so much better than I could: Why Miscarriage Matters when You're Pro-life.

Because of my miscarriage, when we found out about our current pregnancy, I was nervous. I went to the OB-GYN as soon as I found out and had them do blood work and tests to see what the chance of a viable pregnancy was. The chances were good, great even. I was still nervous. As I shared my fears with some of my friends who had experienced miscarriage, one of them shared that Philippians 4:8 had encouraged her during her pregnancy after miscarriage. "Whatever is true…" In that moment, despite my fears, the truth was that I was pregnant and our baby was healthy. Every day thus far I have thanked God for the truth of a healthy baby. On January 4th 2014, we were 12 weeks pregnant with our little girl. One year to the day that we lost our Sweet #3 (some find it helpful to name their lost little ones, however, since we didn't know the gender or even how far along we were, we've taken to calling ours Sweet #3). God's display of His grace to us did not go without notice or without tears. We celebrated that 12 week mark as we remembered the child we had lost.

Our baby girl, our sweet #4, will be called Alathea (truth) Jane (God is gracious) because our God is so full of truth and grace. We will call her Thea (Gift of God) because we have been well taught that every child is a miraculous gift whether we ever hold him or her in our arms or not. We have been so very blessed by our 4 children thus far and we are praying for and anxiously awaiting the arrival of our Alathea "Thea" Jane, our sweet little gift of truth and grace.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Spilled Tea and Stone Words

"NATE!"
I growled his name like an ugly curse word. I threw it at him like a stone. The shame was hanging on his face and cowering his form before I spoke and still I took aim and fired. My word hit its mark and the guilt spilled out of him. "I'm sorwy, Mama," he cried. "I just wanted a dwink of tea and I spilled it on everwything and I wuined ouwr pawrty! I wuined everwything! I'm sorwy!"

I took in my breath wishing I could take back the exasperated outburst that I had allowed to burst forth. It was my turn. My guilt spilled out of me. I sang his name sweetly. I turned the stone into a song trying to soothe his hurt. "Oh, Nate. Oh, Nater. It's ok, darling. It was an accident. Mommy spoke too harshly. You didn't deserve that. Will you forgive me?"

Still he murmured and cried his 3 year old apologies. "I'm sorwy. I'm weally sorwy." I stripped him of his cold, tea stained clothes and still he cried. I covered him in warm, clean pajamas and still he cried. I made towels heavy from sopping up the spilled wet and still he cried.

For long minutes the tears flowed until I pulled my boy up into my lap and wrapped him in my arms, in my love and assurance. "I forgive you, Nate. It's all cleaned up. You didn't ruin anything, baby." I wanted him to know that he had never ruined anything for me. His sweet, small person had only made things better, more worthwhile. He snuggled close under my chin and hiccuped his last tears away.

I kissed that soft head and prayed that God would forgive my impatience. That He would gift me grace for my children even in the midst of their childish mistakes-especially in the midst of their childish mistakes. That He would help me see them as He sees me. Still learning, still growing, still longing to be assured of the unconditional love that comes with unconditional grace. That He would teach me to rejoice over them with song instead of pelting them with stones.

Because Mama makes mistakes too. She needs grace just as often as her little ones, probably even more. Quite frankly, Mama should know better. She should have learned by now that carelessly thrown stone words make much bigger messes than a little bit of spilled sweet tea.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

what we've been talking about lately

asher: didn't you just go to the doctor? why do you have to go to the doctor so much? are you really sick?
me: no, bud. i have to keep going to the doctor because i've got a tiny little baby in my belly.
asher: WHAT?! WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A BABY?!?!
me: yep. next summer.
asher: NATE! WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A BABY BROTHER! wait, will it be a brother or a sister?
me: we won't find that out for a while. which do you hope it is?
asher: a sister! because we don't have one of those…except then we'd have to buy dolls and stuff and i don't like dolls so, a brother! NATE! WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A BROTHER AND THEN WE CAN WRESTLE HIM!
me: well, you'll have to wait a while to wrestle him, babe.
asher: ohhhh, ok. Nate we'll have to wait a few days, but then we can wrestle him!
nate: let me see it.
me: you can't see the baby yet, bud.
nate: but i need to find it.
me: why do you need to find it?
nate: because it's a baby and babies need mommies. i have to find it so i can find its mommy.
me: well, i'll be its mommy, babe.
nate: NO! you're asher and nate's mommy!
me: well, now i am asher, nate and the new baby's mommy.
nate: well, let me just find it.
*he lifts up my shirt.
me: soon my belly will start getting bigger and then you'll be able to tell, but we won't get to meet the baby until next summer.
nate: hmmm, ok.

we are so excited and thankful to be adding another member to the mcclelland clan in july 2014.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

sore

nate: what's dat, mom? you got a burger.
me: no, it's not a booger, bud. it's a boo boo.
nate: how did you get a boo boo?
me: i just did.
nate: but hooooow?
*he touches it and says sympathetically
nate: asher did it, huh?
me: what? no, asher didn't do it, silly!
nate: come on! tell me how!
me: well, my nose got sick and then it left a sore there.
nate: ohhhhh. so daddy has to take you to the hospital.
me: no, i won't have to go to the hospital.
nate: but your nose is sick.
me: yeah, but i already have some medicine for it so it will get better soon.

i have cold sore on my nose. naturally, asher did it. also, somebody call an ambulance. AND my sweet little stinker who loves to be rough and rowdy is also sympathetic, considerate, and very concerned about my burger.

Monday, November 4, 2013

pumpkins

me: ok, boys! i've got the pumpkins cut in half now i need your help. can y'all take these spoons and scoop out all the insides and seeds. you can put them in this bowl.
asher: uhhh, i'm thinking this is kind of a yucky job.
me: yeah, it is, but it's worth it because when we're done we'll get to cook the pumpkin AND the seeds!
asher: yeah, but can i just do a different job? this one is gross.
me: ok, well, nate can you be my scooper?
nate: YEAH!!!
me: ok, but you have to put the seeds in the bowl, not throw them across the dining room.

asher wouldn't try the yucky job of pumpkin cleaning at all. nate got so involved that pumpkin seeds and guts were flying across the dining room. i'm not sure why i thought this would be an fun family activity...


mom life

bryan: your hair looks really pretty today, wifey.
me: thanks! i dried it today!
bryan: haha!
me: oh! and i washed it too!

tis a rare occasion when my hair is both washed and blown dry. it's sweet of the husb to notice when i make the extra effort to do both.

Friday, October 25, 2013

wake up call

nate: mooooom! is it time to wake up?
me: nooooooo.
nate: but it's 6 clockin' hours, mom!
me: huh?
nate: i said it's 6 clockin' hours!
me: ok. wake me up at 7 clockin' hours.
* he flops around on top of me for a few minutes
nate: mom! i fink it's time to get up!
me: nooooo.
nate: but it's 11 10 hours.
me: wake me up in a few more.
nate: MOM! it is 7 hours and dat means it's time to wake up.

this conversation went back and forth for about 100 clockin' hours until i finally got up with that cute little stinker.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

mittens

bry: are you pulling chicken out of that old soup for mittens?
me: yes, i am.
bry: well, that is ridiculous.
me: husb, wooing untamed animals can be a tedious business.
bry: and it is the passion of your heart. you know that if you keep feeding that cat then eventually you're going to stop seeing those bunnies hop out of the bushes...
me: husb, the plan is to woo mittens all the way inside. then we can sit at the window and watch the bunnies together.
bry: oh boy.
me: i was worried about that kitty getting too cold last night.
bry: elise. it's an animal with fur. it can endure the cold.
me: i considered leaving a box with some old towels on the porch...
bry: oh, yeah? why don't you just leave the garage open?
me: well, i thought about that too, but then i didn't want any other critters getting in.
bry: oh my gosh.

we have a stray cat that slinks around our yard. i feed it leftovers in hopes that i can win it over. so far it just stares at me through the window and then darts away. slow progress. we've already named it though so i feel like we're going places with that cat. it's meant to be.