You’ve seen them and their kids at church, all blonde haired and perfect, and you catch yourself. You say, “Pff. Nobody’s perfect. Right? I mean last I checked, Jesus hasn’t come back yet and I don’t have my glorified body. Trust me, I would know if my body had been glorified.” And yet, you may still have wondered, “What’s it like to be a McCloud?” Well let me tell ya, it is perfect. Okay, I’m embellishing a little…but only a little. Over the last year and half, I’ve really gotten to know the McCloud’s; how they act, raise their kids, live their lives, and I have to say, I’m impressed. Or maybe it’s conviction? Probably both. Let’s just say that after eleven years of marriage, they’ve got life working like a well-oiled machine, but it didn’t all just happen by accident. They’re normal people just like me and you. Well, you might hear more “Dad Jokes” around Adam than normal, but really other than that, they are just like us. But then again, after reading this, it may be harder to make you believe that’s true.
Jen is now in her fifth year of homeschooling, and the challenge isn’t getting her kids to do the work, it’s how much more work can they fit in. After years of instilling the importance of discipline into her kids, they are finishing their school work ahead of schedule, and have the capacity to do more, so now the question is figuring out what that “more” is. I wasn’t surprised that this was the problem they were facing, and so this is where I pause and tell you things that you already know, but that need to be said anyways. Jen McCloud is one of the most disciplined people that I know. The example that she lives out of how important discipline is in her own life, especially spiritual discipline (she’s pretty much an Old Testament expert), is a source of encouragement for me in my own pursuit. I have seen the fruits of her labor and benefited from them greatly. Now, we all know that she would rebuke title of Old Testament expert if you said that to her face, but this is a safe place people; we can be honest here. Back to my point. What I found interesting was that in my mind, Jen seemed built to homeschool, but she actually felt the opposite before she started. During our time together, she recalled that period before homeschooling, and she felt very strongly that she did not want to take that path. However, in humility, she did something that I don’t know that I do often enough, she prayed a bold prayer that God would change her heart towards homeschooling if that was what He wanted her to do. Well, I think we all know how that turned out! From her perspective, God has really used homeschooling to grow her in ways that she couldn’t have expected, and allowed her to have an impact on her kids in a way she may not have been able to. All in all, she’s very thankful that God changed her heart.
For Adam, the story is not that much different. Sure, the setting is different, the people are different, the job is different, and the food is free, but that’s not what I’m talking about. When asked what he feels like contributed to going from the working in the café, cleaning dishes every day, to being over the budget of development, it was living a bold life and praying bold prayers. One thing he talks often about is flipping the equation, meaning, out of all the good that Chick-fil-A does for him, how can he do more good for Chick-fil-A to where they are getting the better end of the deal by employing him. Unfortunately, Chick-fil-A has set up their company where this is impossible to accomplish. However, that in and of itself is a good way to live, but it wasn’t something that he learned from a class or a professional development day; it’s caused by the work that Christ has done in his life. The opportunities that he’s had, the perspective he maintains at work, is all because of Christ and living faithfully for Him. And I would say that really defines who Adam is, that after the time I’ve spent with him, his ultimate aim and goal is answering the question, “How do I live faithfully to Christ?” I would define Adam as intentional. That seems to be a theme that we talk about often, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you picked up on that at his last Discipleship Night talk on traditions. Everything Adam does, whether it be working or eating at the dinner table with his family, he takes captive every moment to intentional live faithfully to Christ. When Jordan and I came to eat supper with them, they did not change their routine just because we were there. Instead we got a glimpse into the life of the McCloud’s. Adam lead the family through reading a Psalm and then a time of prayer before we all devoured some really good burgers. He could have easily dismissed the routine for this one evening, but he was intentional with the time that he has with his family despite the circumstances, and ultimately I benefited from watching his faithfulness to Christ in action.
Alright, enough about Jen and Adam, let’s get to the cool McCloud’s. I think it was in the Moore blog that I highlighted all the benefits of having a sibling that is also your best friend, and that goes for Maggie and Jack as well. Despite a three-year separation and gender differences, they are about as close as one could hope for. They pretty much do everything together, and from what I can tell, they like it like that. For starters, they are both getting some exercise in gymnastics. Maggie’s favorite part of gymnastics is performing on the beam, and I’m pretty sure Jack said his favorite part was jumping in the foam pit. I find that I relate better to Jack on this one. Even at their young age, they recognize a lot of the benefits that come from gymnastics. The one they talked about the most was how important practice is, which started to make a lot of sense after Jack had been summersaulting through the house. When asked about their kids, Adam and Jen said that their favorite part is that Maggie and Jack are old enough to go to places like Six Flags and Whitewater, but that the kids also think it’s cool to be going with their parents. We’ll be sure to call Adam and Jen down to the front and lay hands on them in prayer when all that changes.
Adam and Jen have been faithful to instill the importance of disciplines into their children and I’m ashamed to say that these 10 and 7 year olds have better discipline than I do! Maggie and Jack both do three nights of Bible study with Adam and Jen leading them, and then two mornings out of the week they wake up and do their own Bible reading. Oh yeah, they are also memorizing Romans eight, Jack is spreading the Gospel to his friends at gymnastics, and Maggie is faithful to talk to her accountability partner…who lives in Alabama! Yeah, I’m just going to stop there and let all of that sink in. Now, I know the last thing that Jen and Adam would want is for those of you reading to put them on a pedestal, so to help those of you struggling to not do that I’m just going to remind you of the passage that Paul wrote for moments like this, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” It may be out of context, but we need all the help we can get.
One of my earliest memories of Adam and Jen was back in youth group at Mount Gilead. We were all driving back from a Disciple Now event and the van we were all in passed the McCloud’s, and as it did, they turned, singing along to some weird song, bobbing their heads back and forth, and making funny faces at all of us. I’ve known Adam and Jen since the ol’ Mount Gilead youth group days, but I would say that it wasn’t until this past year and half that I really started to know them. Adam reached out to me to start meeting together for discipleship, and I’ll be honest, at first, I was a little hesitant. I didn’t have a very strong relationship with Adam at the time, and wasn’t sure we would be able to connect the way I felt that we needed to connect. Does that make me a terrible person? Probably. Why do you think I needed discipleship? I will forever be thankful for the relationship that we started back then. There would be so much that I wouldn’t have learned; whether from the times that we have spent sitting and talking, or from just watching them interact with their family. From that relationship, Jordan and I started meeting with the McCloud’s every other Monday night for discipleship together, and the fruit that we have seen in our lives from these meetings has been incredible to experience, but I know that it’s because of the fruit that Adam and Jen have experienced through their own relationship with God and each other. I feel like throughout this blog, it feels like I’ve been promoting some self-help book, “Living On Mc-Cloud 9: A How To Guide of McCloud Like Living”. That was my attempt to honor the mad “Dad Joke” skills of Adam McCloud. Not quite as good. Earlier, I talked about their discipline and faithfulness, and now I want to highlight one more of their many attributes, commitment. The McCloud’s are people who are extremely committed (just look around at all of the Chick-fil-A cows in their house) but more importantly, they are committed to things that matter most; God, each other, their kids, the relationships they are invested in, and Sovereign Hope. We could not be more blessed to have this family in all of our lives living out a Gospel centered life.