Wednesday, September 29, 2010

a presbyterian rhyme............

church wide

piggy back ride
shoes untied

warm outside

deep ties

mini-van lies

canoe cries

short drive 

bunk bed size

no fun denied

and memories that will just not die!

one can not exaggerate the fun time we had at our church wide retreat.  seriously, people's abs were sore on monday from the hours of laughter. retreating is important.  packing a few bags and leaving the daily grind behind to connect with your family and friends is such a good refresher for the soul.
each one of these pictures has a story behind it.  i do not have the time to write about all of them. but i will point out under "warm outside" that our sweet friend, lindsey, was 39 weeks pregnant (still is pregnant) and a TOTAL trooper. she gets the dedication award.  please pray for her, her husband jason, and their sweet baby girl, adelaide. pray that adelaide will make her grand entrance SOON!

we have been beyond blessed by our church family here! "there is a sweet, sweet, spirit in this place, and i know that it's the spirit of the Lord!"

happy wednesday ( i hate the phrase "hump day",)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What's in a Name?

we are currently recovering from our fabulous church retreat.  my photographer chris, is working on getting my pictures to me (just kidding chris, whenever you are ready;)  lots of FUN pics to come.  mark and i are also gearing up for a romantic get-a-way. excited hardly describes it.

so on to today.  when mark and i started picking names for the kids it was actually very easy.  katherine was a name i had loved forever.  my sister graciously let me have it if i promised i would not use abigail.i agreed. funny though, she does not have an abigail... ok, so katherine came b/c i loved it, and suzanne because it is my middle name.

julia came from a conversation with andrew and michelle vincent. i was 32 weeks along and we did not know what we were having. i was convinced it was a boy so a girl name was unnecessary.  andrew and michelle insisted we come up with a girl name. so one night on the glorious beach we played the name game. i can't remember if it was andrew or michelle who said, "julia" but when they said it, it was over... we were in love!  waitz is her middle name which is mark' mom, jere's, maiden name.

when we were pregnant with our third, mark and i made a deal if it was a girl he got to name her.  AND it was a girl.  mark picked lucy, which I LOVE. we both liked grace but "lucy grace" was way too southern for us. so we went with the greek word for grace which is "charis" but we liked to spell it "kharis".

and then anderson.  anderson is my dad's mom's maiden name. the anderson family LOVES being a family. it is a priority for them, and i appreciate it that very much. joshua, is his middle name for obvious reasons.

but more then picking out the kids names, i always prayed that the Lord would give me a one sentence ( you can't remember a lot when you are pregnant :) prayer to pray for my babies while they were in the womb.  not a prayer about their gender, health, safety, success, or happiness in life, but a prayer about their spiritual condition. He never failed to give me that prayer. it is SUCH a blessing to remember that prayer and see how it is coming to fruition in the kids lives.

for katie it was, "that she may be madly in love with her Savior!" 
for julia it was, "that she would pursue Truth with passion!"
for lucy it was, "that she would bring and spread the JOY of the gospel!"
for anderson it was, "that he would bravely go!"

now, remember i didn't know the sex OR anything about my babies while i prayed this prayer over and over. 

katie is a lover in all things!
julia does EVERYTHING with conviction and passion, seeking truth and Truth.
lucy is a JOY, and makes everyone smile wherever she goes.
anderson is always on the go and never looking back.

i can not wait to see how my Jesus works in my kids lives to glorify Himself!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

If You Are Going to Sneeze, Mean It!!

It's a small irritation of mine when people try and withhold, stifle, subdue, make proper, a sneeze. I mean come on, sneeze or go home.  I love the release of a sneeze.  I try and make EVERY effort to make mine loud and shocking.  I know I have sneezed well when someone in the room jumps. I like clear, non-wavering, decisive, unashamed, sneezers. Want to guess which of my children sneezes like me? Oh, yeah it's the Jule Bean.  It fits her personality perfectly; clear, non-wavering, decisive, unashamed.

Happy Sneezing.
Happy Weekend.

p.s. here are some pics with our friends.  dinner at a restaurant? yes please. 10 children 6 adults.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Stop, Drop, and Roll!

So I am a people person.  Technically word: extrovert.  When I was born I had six people waiting for me when I arrived home.  I grew up in a house where the motto was, " the more the merrier".  And we really lived liked that. My dad said he used to wake up and walk through the house counting heads to see all who was there.  The back door was always open, literally.  I left that house and married my also VERY extroverted husband, Mark.  We moved to MS to live in the middle of a camp ground where you were surrounded 24/7 by guests, campers, and staff.  You were rarely alone.  Then we went back to college, and by then we were expecting number 2 and we were a hopeless cause for a quiet, introverted, household. I am rarely alone. 

Yesterday I had a doctor's appointment that I needed to go to all alone.  We live in the middle of no where, so the doctor is a 35 minute drive away.  I was so restless. I called all of my family on the drive there.  Waited alone in the quiet waiting room, then had lunch alone, and shopped at Target alone. All very nice.  But it is VERY hard to be alone when you are VERY used to company.  I enjoyed my time, but realized that I have lost the ability to be alone.  Which is probably not an altogether bad thing for this season of my life.  Someday I hope to find my alone-ness skills again. But for now I need people.

Speaking of people, we have some sweet friends staying with us this week.  They live in Cali, but are in VA for training.  We also have friends from MS who are traveling the East Coast and are going to have lunch with us today. (Pictures to come). People are the only eternal thing.  In order to spend quality time with our friends I have had to STOP and evaluate the busyness of our schedule, which seems to keep interfering, DROP a few of those "extra" curricular activities, and ROLL..... BE FLEXIBLE.  My parents are the epitome of flexible.  My Mom is the MOST hospitable person I know. I desire SO much to be like them in those ways. With that said, if you would like to see us, come on by.... If you would like to see my house, call and make an appointment! ;) Invest in some PEOPLE today.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Dear Lucy's of the World

Lucy Kharis is our third born girl.  As I have mentioned in previous emails, she is a mystery to me.  Her older sisters have a big presence.  Lucy, has a unique presence.  Here are a few funny Lucy conversations.

In Walmart all alone with mom:
Lucy: Mom, I love my big sisters.
Me: That is very sweet Lucy, why do you love them?
Lucy: Because.
Me: Well, give me a reason why you love them.
Lucy: Because.
Me: No, tell me what you think is so great about them.
Lucy: I have to pee.

At church, sitting in our friend, Dave's lap right before tithe is being collected.
Dave whispering: Lucy, are you comfortable?
Lucy sorta-whispering: I have no money!
Dave: Lucy, your hair is really growing.
Lucy: I love oatmeal.

I know. I know. One comment completely irrelevant to the next. It's days like today when I would give ANYTHING to talk to my best friend, who was the third born girl of five children. Shaylin, I miss YOU!

Happy Monday,

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Melt Downs and Mama Muscles

Mark wants me to be very careful not to paint our life like a picture perfect, fairy tale. Considering 3 of the 11 posts have been about death and terminal diseases, I hope you realize that my life is not a fairy tale. :)  It's not perfect, and I don't strive for any form of perfection.  With that said, I am the eternal optimist.  I try very hard to see blessings not the burdens out of each and every situation in my life.

Two very real life circumstances this week.....

Mark has been working some crazy hours ( I know that I am not the only woman out there who's husband has to work some crazy hours), Anyway, I was worn down and missing my husband.   We went to lunch on Thursday with the 1 hour we had to see him that day.  At lunch he asks if it's ok if he works all night the next two nights (Mark is always so considerate to ask me)..... Naturally, I did what every wife does.... I started crying, in the restaurant, with people looking at me. Really, it was fine if Mark needed to work those hours. I want Mark to be a team player.... but I was D.O.N.E. He quickly realized it, called his boss, and has not worked the last two days.*WHEW* If every problem could be solved so easily.

Yesterday, we got up as a family to go to the YMCA. Our new, favorite, place!  I woke up feeling totally overwhelmed and selfish.  Before my feet even hit the floor I was being told my Katie that Anderson had pooped every where and she needed my help.  Julia and Lucy were raiding the kitchen and dumping cheerio's all over the floor. I proceeded to ask Julia when it was that she had lost her brain, and when was it going to return (mature I know!)  And the TV had to be on volume 30 million.  Bills were waiting for me on the computer, laundry was unfinished down stairs, there were ants having a feast on all the crumbs in the dining room..... D.O.N.E.  (So, back to the YMCA).  Mark, again, sensing my cranky mood, told me when we got to the Y that he would unload the kids and for me to just go on in.  Anderson needed his diaper changed....again, he was poopy. Five minutes into my "i just want to be selfish workout" Mark walked in to the gym with a shoeless Anderson.  He couldn't put AJ in the nursery without shoes. In my temper tantrum I had forgot to tell Mark that I had put the keys in the diaper bag, and Mark locked the car and didn't grab the diaper bag, thinking I had the keys.  We typically have a spare on the car but Mark hid it so well that we couldn't find it. Off to call Progressive for road side assistance.  We sat in the lobby with Andseron and waited on the lock smith.  Obviously, I owed Mark and the kids an apology.  I laughed and told Mark that God was punishing me for being selfish (BTW, I DO NOT believe this is how God works).... Nonetheless, I needed to pause, reflect, and get over myself.

It's SO easy to look at all of my tasks on any given day and want to crawl back into bed.  There is no time to be selfish when you are responsible for the livelihood of 4 small children.  Their needs HAVE to come before mine.  And for a short season in time it has to be "all about them."  This doesn't mean I don't believe in moms getting breaks and taking care of themselves... BUT, when it's between me getting to sit and read a lovely novel, OR cooking dinner for hungry bellies, the obvious choice is food.

Selfless Mom Muscles have to be trained and worked out CONTINUALLY.  It's not natural, "to think of others more highly than yourself".... BUT, being a mom is a high calling.  And by choosing to have children I have dedicated my heart, my hands, my feet, my will, my determination, with total abandonment to mother; poopy, sometimes brainless, bossy, whiny, wonderfully sweet, special,
God sent, children.  It's only in my Savior's unending strength and patience that we have made it these seven years and all of my children are still alive!!

Makes me want to kiss my mother's feet!

My life is not perfect.....BUT it's real.... and I like it :) :)

Happy Weekend,
p.s. the pictures have nothing to do with the post... but I think they are cute.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Because He is the Only Boy!

I rarely get to talk just about Anderson.  It is not because I don't think about him, and the way he has so wonderfully rounded out our family of six.  He is getting ready to enter into one of my favorite "sweet spot" ages, eighteen months.  After we gave birth to our sweet Lucy Kharis, we knew we wanted just ONE more.  Not because we were trying for that boy, but because four was our number.  Had Anderson been a girl that would have been it.  One time our friend asked us if we had asked God to give us a boy.  Don't get me wrong, I don't believe God is a genii in a bottle and we just have to "rub him the right way" to get our wish. I firmly believe we are asked to petition our requests AND desires because we serve a God who yearns to hear from us.  Really, Mark and I had not specifically asked God to give us a son. So, with those thoughts in mind, we prayed for a son.   We were totally delighted, giddy, awe-struck when that sonographer said, "BOY!"

Anderson wears blue tennis shoes.  He cries when I take them off of his stinky feet.  I love that he wears blue tennis shoes.

I love that Mark has a boy to share this wildly emotional house with.

I love that the girls have a brother.(I know he needs a haircut, Zach!)

And I LOVE that God said, "YES!" and gave me a son.

I am so, so blessed.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Little Miss Manners!

One of the reasons we chose Sonlight Curriculum for homeschooling is because of it's emphasis on writing and literature.  Katie has been learning about present tense verbs; running, jumping, riding, etc.. So, today she used the verb and drew a picture about it (not an assignment I gave her).

Even little Miss Manners, loves a good laugh!

Happy Tuesday,

Monday, September 13, 2010

Living In The Storm: Part II: She called ME!!

I have been away from Kansas for 8 1/2 years now.  During those years it has been vital to maintain my relationship with my parents, siblings, friends, etc. On average I talk to someone in my family in some type of way (email, text, phone call) once, twice a day.  My brother Zach says, "it's just the way we roll!"  It allows for us to all be apart of the little daily activities.

When I first moved away my mom called daily, and always before 8 AM :)  Mom is an early riser.  I know now why she did it, it gave her a few moments of sanity each morning to sip her coffee and read scripture, uninterrupted.  Mornings are still mom's best time of day.

Nearly 6 years ago I noticed that mom was repeating herself a lot during our phone conversations.  Retelling stories word for word twice in a 20 minute call.  I blew it off but not really. I just read a book "Still Alice" by Lisa Genova, that I encourage EVERYONE to read to better understand what mom is going through and what we as a family are going through, and to better understand Alzheimer's. One of the things that happens to Alice is she stops talking on the phone because it's too confusing to hear a bunch of words and not be able to string it all together.  The phone eliminates the ability to watch somebody's  body language and use it to help follow a conversation, words all alone with no other senses being stimulated are hard to follow.  So about 2 1/2 years ago mom stopped initiating calling me.  The great thing is that my dad and her now call together. They put me on speaker phone and it relieves the pressure of mom having to keep a conversation going.. she can pipe in while listening to dad and I talk. Skype has saved our lives.  It allows her to see our facial expressions and follow the conversation with much more ease.  All this to say about 2 months ago the phone rang and my mom's cell phone number popped up on the caller ID.  My heart skipped a beat.  I tried to not get too excited convincing myself maybe it was dad calling from her phone. 

Mom: "Hi, honey it's mom! How are you?"
Me, tears rolling down my face: "I'm SO good mom how are you?"
Mom: "Oh, I'm fine.  I just wanted you to know that I was thinking about you, Mark, and the kids and I love you!  Have a good day. I need to go now!"
Me:"Ok, mom. I love you too!"

30 seconds of total bliss.

If your mother calls, answer the phone. Some of us are waiting on pins and needles to get that phone call you so easily take for granted.


Friday, September 10, 2010

A Reason to Celebrate!

Mark turns 31 on Sunday.  There is no one else here on earth that I desire to celebrate more than my very own husband.  If you gave me a book, I'd fill it's pages with all the characteristics that I admire so much about him.  But I will only tell you a few of my favorite "Mark Moments" from this last year.
Some moments are actually captured in the photos.

Mark does not miss an opportunity to "live it up", rain, snow, grilling, or fireworks.

He earnestly seeks out ways to be apart of each and everyone of our lives.  Even applying make-up on the girls faces on recital day.  The girls will NEVER forget that! :)

He is confident about the way God made him (and so am I) :)

His silliness knows no bounds.
Everyday he confirms through actions, words, looks, touches; that I am his one and only.

This year has brought with it plenty of difficult terrain for Mark to navigate.  He has so boldly addressed it and walked through it. 

Please join us in the birthday celebration this weekend, whether you are near or far!

Happy Birthday Mark Adam.  I love you.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Holy Moly!! I'm a Soccer Mom!

Julia began a new adventure.
Mark and I love, Love, LOVE, sports.  We have done dance for the past 3 three years and have learned to LOVE dance also, but we were not the least bit surprised when Julia wanted to try soccer.  We are pumped!

Anderson needs a hair cut.
Lucy does not.
Proud to be the overly common, mini-van driving, obnoxious, soccer mom!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

the journey in the storm: part I

if i claim that this blog is about sharing my life and my family's life, than i would be remiss to not share with you the unknown journey that we are on. 3 1/2 years ago my mom was diagnosed with early onset alzheimer's. i desire in NO way to dishonor her or my dad by sharing this with you.  my goal in talking about the disease, it's effect on our family, it's effect on me, is to journal it for myself and maybe just maybe be a place where others can find a familiar story, a sliver of joy, comfort, laughter, and hope. remember this is MY journey. what i share here is life through MY eyes. not my mom's, not my dad's, not my sibling's, not her family, or her friend's. i can not speak for them... BUT i know that we share many similar thoughts and feelings.

here is my very first mass email that i wrote to friends and family earlier this year:


there was a storm headed our way yesterday.  myself and the kids were standing inside watching the trees bow at the mercy of the wind.  they were commenting on how cool it was. i told them it was MUCH cooler if you stood outside and felt the wind whirl around your body.  so, with that we all marched outside to stand in the storm. you can't comprehend the power of a storm unless you actually get to stand in the middle of one. they all recognized while standing inside that something powerful was going on outside, but it wasn't until we were outside that they could feel with their own bodies the power of the storm. all of their hair, or lack of hair in lucy's case, was being turned and tossed.  anderson lost his balance several times as he tried to chase the wind.  julia and lucy kept coming in and out of the house shouting their warnings, "i hear thunder! are you sure it's safe? i hear thunder!" katie, who has matured into being able to trust us at our word, knew that it was safe b/c i was standing out in the middle of the storm WITH her.  she was able to use all of her senses in experiencing the storm b/c she trusted my discernment. if it would have become dangerous i would have ushered us inside. but there was no need for that.  so we enjoyed it.... the rain began to pour out like buckets, the wind would gush and still as the front moved through, and the kids played in the company of the storm.

my mom always says that you are about to enter one of life's storms, you are in the middle of a storm, or you are coming out of a storm!  we ALL have storms, don't we?

one storm that we as a family are currently facing is my mom's diagnoses of alzheimer's. it's a bad storm. a storm that at times, has felt like is has swallowed us whole and spit us out for fish food. but we as a large family unit have a resolve to LIVE in the storm.  we are aware of the storms danger, of its natural consequences, of the possible damage it will ensue.... but we chose to live! day by day.. moment by moment... we are going to try and chose laughter, dancing, celebrating, remembering, high-fiving, because we all understand the Company and His discernment. His company is good, always good.  And if it gets dangerous He will usher us inside.  but in the meantime, we are going to try and use ALL of our senses to experience the power of the storm and grow wildly stronger b/c of it.

if you think of it, pray for my sweet Mama. pray that love and encouragement will sustain her.  pray for my Dad, for a reservoir of strength and patience!  pray for us kids to be able to meet needs, while some of us are near and some of us are far.  pray that we will ALL grow wildly stronger in this storm!!

enjoy the pics of the kiddos playing in the storm!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ain't Nobody Gonna Slow Me Down! !

not even hurricane earl. ok, well it did have the potential to slow us down but earl heard my temper tantrum and kept on moving, leaving behind not even a drop of rain on king george. while passing by, earl, did leave behind some beautiful weather allowing us to enjoy a picture perfect labor day weekend.

when people say "beach or the mountains?" there is NO debate in my mind...the beach!!  growing up in kansas does not allow for a lot of beach.. much more mountain.. consequently, i am trying to get in as many beach trips as possible. we had a blast in VA beach with our friends the chamnesses or "chapnesses" as lucy says. the beach, campfires, s'mores, double dates in the jeep, ferry rides, the USS Wisconsin, and lots of laughter.

traveling with kids takes endless amounts of energy, planning, and determination.  mark and i have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles with our children and we do not for one second regret it.  we need people, we need community, we need our friends and our families. so regardless of the crying, whining, dug-in-gold fish to car seats, traffic, numerous camp songs sung out-loud, distraction techniques, DVD bribery, gas station pull overs, "are we there yets?" (plural), AND yes quiet, mouth open, sleeping... "Ain't nobody gonna slow us down.... OH, NO... we've got to keep on movin' "

happy monday, (disguised as tuesday)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Great Collision

"our griefs cannot mar the melody of our praise; they are simply the bass notes of our life song: "To God be the Glory!" C.H. Spurgeon

september 3rd, and the next four weeks are a season full of mixed emotions for the littlejohn house.  on the one hand we are celebrating my brother andrew's birthday, my and mark's upcoming birthdays, our anniversary, and a slew of close family and friend's birthdays and anniversaries.  and on the other hand we are remembering the day we lost mark's brother, joshua; and the seasons of grief we have walked through as an extended family and as a couple.  for the past nine years these two seasons in our lives have had to share the dance floor in our hearts.  joshua's death and our wedding day were only separated by 33 days.  for anyone who has ever grieved anything knows that 33 days might as well be zero days.  BUT, God in His sweet favor allowed us to walk through deep, unspeakable, almost unbearable pain; and then HE lifted us up and ushered in this down pour of celebration and JOY on our wedding day.  did we all in our own way return to grieving? ABSOLUTELY! did we feel grief on our wedding day? YES! but it was the beginning of a companionship that has followed us the rest of our days; the relationship of sorrow and joy. it is inevitable, the two will find one another in your life.  do not choose just the pain and ignore the joy.  and do not just choose the joy and ignore the pain. allow them to coexist on the dance floor of your heart, and then get up and DANCE!!!

p.s. here is the first plug for the "literature" part of our blog.  'The Healing Path' by Dan Allender.