Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas Eve to Everyone!

I finally wrote our Christmas newsletter a few days ago and I'm finally getting it out. I had to give up on sending it the old fashioned way and instead spreadour good cheer via the internet. I hope this finds all of you having a wonderful holiday season.

Since I wrote theletter, we've added more wonderful memories to our family's history.

OnFriday night, we went looking at Christmas lights with 2 homeschool families fromchurch. Our HUGE 15 passenger van was big enough to hold ALL THREE families! ;) We then came back here and had hot chocolate and cookies with one of the family. Saturday was busy with gift wrapping, cooking food for Christmas Day, and practicing music for today. And at today's church service, we made some musical well as some fun ones. ALL of us participated in the special musical program. Hubby, the youngest 6 kids, and I sang AWAY IN A MANGER accompanied by our oldest daughter on the electric piano. Our 3 year old son led us in singing JESUS LOVES ME (he LOVED his voice overthe sound system!) after we quoted John 3:16. "A" sang a solo, A STRANGE WAY TO SAVE THE WORLD, and then did a closing duet with an 8 year old girl. They sang a version of HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS just before we celebrated communion. I sang a solo, JESUS BORN ON THIS DAY. Having the whole family participate in this way truly blessed my heart. We were sort of a funny yet a sweet mix of The Von Trapps (you know... SOUND OF MUSIC), LITTLE RASCALS, and THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER! ;)

Speaking of THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER, the kids are watching that right now(all except for "T" who has been bugging me for a snack the whole time I've been typing this (and WHY can't he go "bless" Daddy with his presence?) while hubby washes the lunch dishes. When I'm finished here, I'll be laying out the Christmas Eve spread....fancy cheeses, nice cold cuts, special breads, and gourmet chips...and then we'll share Christmas stories from our past and open one gift. Tomorrow we'll be heading to H'burg for more Christmas love and fun. I hope your Christmas Day is filled with many reminders of how much you are us and by God!

Grace to you all-----

Elysa and Family


Here's what our CHRISTmas newsletter said this year:

Merry CHRISTmas from The MacLellans!

Its 3 and a 1/2 days til Christmas & I’m just now getting our annual Christmasletter written. Who knows WHEN I’ll actually get them mailed & you’ll read it, but hopefully its better late then never?! Seems like the story of my life lately.

My life is filled to overflowing with good things...including 7 active children & a husband who actually likes to spend time with me! With lots ofgood things comes a lot of busyness! But people are more important than stuff (thestate of my house attests to that!) & spending time with my family, the friendsGod has given me, & keeping in touch with those far away is something I refuseto let slide! I’ve even started a blog to make it easier to keep in touch:

Our year has been a mix of the extremely wonderful & the painfully difficult.Jim gave me a new diamond in my engagement ring (the original one was lost) as we celebrated 15 years of marriage this past February 1.

March 3 found us throwinga big shindig in honor of my 4oth birthday! Hard to believe I’m officially middle-agedwhen I still feel so silly & giddy in many ways, but hopefully with those 40years of living has come a bit of wisdom and least I HOPE so! I knowthat my 40 years of living have definitely brought me a wealth of relationships...andthis year we’ve been reminded anew that friends & family truly are our greatesttreasure & the best gift we could ask for.At my 4oth party we announced that I was once again expecting a baby. I was thrilledwith another precious child being given to not only our family, but the world. But sadly, we lost the baby at 12 weeks & due to life threatening complicationsthat resulted, I’ll not be able to have any more babies.

We spent the next severalmonths hurting, healing, & seeking God. It was a very painful season in ourlives compounded by saying sad goodbyes to our dear church, Calvary Chapel of Jackson.

After a busy spring & summer highlighted by David’s 9th bday, a trip to SanibelIsland on the Florida Coast(and a visit to the Tampa area to see Sherri Jaynes &Busch Gardens), Jim’s 41st birthday, Vacation Bible School at 2 different churches,Anna & Betsie attending Camp Garaywa for the 1st time, Betsie clogging at ClearBranch Baptist Church, Fabulous Fridays for the kids at Calvary Chapel, Betsie’s11th bday, our 1st trip to New Orleans & the zoo there since Katrina, & Merry’s 1st bday, our fall found us ready for new beginnings.

David and Patrick have started scouts. Anna joined a homeschool teen book club thatmeets monthly. Travis turned 3 on Sepember 25 (though he insists he’s really 2!).Laura Grace turned 5 on October 3. I was able to travel to the Boston area to visitwith my “African” friend Denise Bouchard & her family. Anna turned the BIG 13 on November 5. We celebrated her bday with around 30 friends & family membersat a local church’s gym. Thanksgiving was spent at my cousin Melissa’s home withher husband & children along with my mom & step-dad, my brother’s family,my Grandma McElhaney, my cousin Melanie, & my Uncle Johnny & Aunt Nell. We spent the Saturday afterwards in Mobile with my cousin Beth’s family.

Though the middle chunk of the year was a tough season for us, we’re now in a seasonof renewed joy. Patrick turned 8 on December 9 & we’ve enjoyed our Christmasseason immensely.

We’ve had fun times at various Christmas parties including theannual homeschool one, Betsie’s clogging party, the homeschool moms’ party, &the church women’s get-together. We’ve gone to see the lights & Christmas museumson the historic Canton Square. The kids & I have made our traditional foods---2 batches of orange balls and 2 batches of Chex Mix—and we’ll need to make more as those goodies have disappeared like CRAZY! David had a narrator’s part in his& Patrick’s scout program & they both earned their neckerchiefs. We’ll be going to see more lights this weekend & if we hope to take the older kidsto see THE NATIVITY movie before Christmas Day arrives.

On Sunday, some of the kids & I will be singing seasonal songs in the church’s Christmas Eve service.And then we’ll go down to Hattiesburg on Christmas Day to visit with the Mississippiside of Jim’s family. We’ll spend the end of the week in Gautier with my family& are hoping to have a New Year’s Eve party at our house (wanna come?).

We look forward to a year filled with renewed love & passion for the Lord &life. God has placed us in a church here in Florence & it already feels likehome. Restoration Church is a smallish church of around 120 on Sunday mornings but its growing & has many families with lots of kids including about 15 homeschoolfamilies--- many that we were already friends with through our homeschool group.The kids are loving all the activities & Jim and I are involved with a small(cell) group & will begin team teaching the 4-6th graders Sunday School classstarting in January.

Jim still serves the state as dam safety engineer & our community as a volunteerfirefighter.

I’m leading the Florence-Richland Homeschool Group & continue to love my life as wife, mother, homeschool educator, & grateful friend of somany wonderful loved ones around the world.

2006 was not always an easy year for us. But through it all, God was faithful touphold & direct us. His loving presence made all the difference. And the loveHe sent our way through our family & friends was so immensely appreciated. Christmas time reminds me that He loves us passionately & will work ALL thingsfor the good of those who love Him & are called according to His purpose. NOTHINGcan separate us from the love of the Father...and He sent us His precious son Jesusto ensure that we could always be in fellowship with Him...our Creator, our King,our amazingly faithful Father.Praying that you’ll experience His love & passion in a very real way in 2007.

With much love,
Elysa, J, A, B, D, P, T, L, and M

(Please excuse the spots that need to be edited...when I copied and pasted it the spacing got messed up. Its getting close to midnight and I've still got gifts to wrap and food to fix so the fixing will have to wait! )

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