Monday, May 30, 2011

some more family pictures

i told you i had some more pictures :)
the above picture is my mom, her 2 sisters, her brother, and spouses. honorably known as generation 1.

here is my immediate family

Grammy and Poppo with their grandbabies

a couch of cuteness

the five of us

and here is generation 1, 2, and 3.  all 33 of us were present and accounted for. 
such a treasure!

 love. real. love.

happy day,

Sunday, May 29, 2011

preview of something beautiful!

while we were  home in kansas, in april, we had some family pictures taken.  my amazing cousin allison, took a series of photos for us.  here is just a preview of something beautiful to come :)!

a set of dictionaries can not describe the way i feel about this picture.  so, instead of trying to find the right words, i'll just let you look at it and soak it in. 

isn't it beautiful? i could stare at it all day long.  what a journey we have all walked together.  and here we are, the originals, all together. we are blessed!

happy sunday,

Friday, May 27, 2011

my crazy jules vern!

oh yeah, we are going to have a crazy great weekend!!

everyone be safe, and take time to remember.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

totally terrified

the thought of moving back to kansas has been an intangible dream for so long that as i begin to stoke the fire of the reality of moving back home, i am terrified. totally terrified. isn't that odd?  i left kansas 9 years ago this month. i was a baby, 20 years old, and a newly, blushing, bride.  i was completely absorbed in my new marriage and the excitement of the journey that was ahead.  and now, i am terrified to return.  i am not who i was when i left kansas 9 years ago.  i am the mother of four children, and have almost ten years of marriage under my belt.  i hardly resemble who i was when i left. i am not terrified to return to my beloved family and the intimate group friends that i still have there b/c they have grown me with over the last 9 years. they know who i am today, and have no illusion of me being who i was 9 years ago. but i have no desire to go back to who i was 9 years ago.   it's not like i have this huge bucket of regret about who i was, more-so, i LOVE who i am today. the freedoms, and the fountain of grace which i live and dance under has brought amazing life to my soul. reverting back to sara, 9 years ago, would be a horrible tragedy. so, i hesitate.  for the last 9 years mark and i have had to be in very vulnerable places to build new community. our little family became the nucleus of life for us.  we found community and friends that had no idea who we were before we arrived, and that was so refreshing.  being unknown has it's definite down sides, but it is also a beautiful revealing of the person, the family, you want to be without the boxes of the past.

so dear kansas, we have not met yet, let me introduce myself.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

i love boys!

this should come as no surprise to many of you, i love boys!

i grew up with three older brothers, i totally dig my husband,  i adore my dad, i was never a girly-girl, (give me ball rather than a brush kind of deal) i have some of the best guy friends a girl could ask for,  i loved babysitting my neighbors luke and nick. and when i worked at the cream of the crop, i loved teaching my little boys. so when it came time for our oldest child to come i could have sworn on my womb that i was going to have a house full of boys.  God saw it differently. and each subsequent pregnancy i could have sworn i was getting blue. but, after my three beautifully pink covered girls arrived, i was more comfortable with my girly side.  i was ready to start being called Marmee when we got pregnant with our fourth.

then my blue came, and the past 26 months have reminded me why i love boys!
they talk less and make more car noises. they are easily entertained, and aren't so terribly clingy. they move and move and move, and consequently sleep GREAT! they are ravenous eaters and their little pot bellies get me every time.

in addition to cracking up at my own son, i get to teach piano to two of the fuzziest little guys you will ever meet. tim and alex, are both 7 and just started taking piano in the fall.  teaching them is NEVER boring. what i love about teaching them is the facsinating way that their constant motion does not in fact distract them from learning, but enhances it.  tim and alex, tap their toes, drum their fingers, stand up, sit down, spin around, lay down, dance around, play the piano with their toes, etc... all while actually absorbing music.

example: this is tim at today's lesson:

it is very "unalfred" of me to let tim sit like this, but i am very non-traditional in my piano teaching. i actually, bribed tim and alex two weeks ago with candy bars if they would practice. they practiced, and i bought candy bars.

i love how our Creator deliberately created two sexes with drastically different wiring.  i love the little men in my life and look forward to watching them all grow!! 

happy wednesday!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

the medical meltdown: katie update!

first, thank you ALL for your sweet prayers regarding our katie bug and her skin infection.

after, two months of yuck, we returned to the doctor today. (hopefully, our last visit for awhile). one of the original diagnoses katie received was scabies. yes, you heard me right. scabies is a lot like lice. whole body rash, incessant itching, oozing pain, almost impossible to sleep,  highly contagious, and just gives you the creepy crawlies.  after, literally exhausting myself by cleaning, washing, bleaching, scalding, etc..etc.. katie was not getting better, and after 8 weeks, no one else showed signs of the highly contagious condition. which, was a really good thing, but a little frustrating.  if it was so highly contagious why was no one else getting it? after treating katie with medicine, and all my home remedies for scabies, i was actually only irritating what she really had...ready? a skin allergen and infected eczema. i know, i know, so lame. but a very easy fix. it doesn't require borax, tea tree oil, coconut oil, hydrogen peroxide, pesticides, bleaching the mattresses, changing her lines twice a day, rubbing her down in vaseline, or any other ointments.  HOORAY!!  HOORAY!! HOORAY!! i don't think i'll do laundry for a month :)  she isn't better yet, but we are on the road for sure. and i am confident that having a less psychotic mom will be very helpful :)!!

again, thanks for caring. thanks for praying. thanks for your advice. and thanks for reading.

on a side note. i am rereading a wonderful book called, "the healing path" by dan allender.  it is such a real book, about real pain, real hurt, real betrayal, and how to learn to see God in the middle of it! here is something i read last night,

"God promises us redemption, but His sacred path leads us away from safety, predictability, and comfort.  Any attempt to fly over the dangerous terrain or make a detour to safer ground is doomed because it will not take us to God.  Instead, it leads to a host of other idols that can't provide us with the confidence of faith, the dynamic of hope, or the passion of love we so deeply crave."

even over the past few months of MINOR skin complications in my daughter's life, i wanted to fly over the uncomfortable and fix it. google was my personal idol that i turned too, and i did not find what i was looking for there :)  God brought me to the end of myself after about 50 loads of borax laundry and said, "BE STILL!!"

amazing how many times i have to learn this same lesson.  maybe this time it will stick a little bit longer.

here's to a less itchy day,
in honor of our little trooper!


Sunday, May 22, 2011

i'd rather google it

i have been a lunatic;  a googling, neurotic, helicopter, mad mom.

as many of you know sweet katie has had a bad skin infection for 7 weeks.  we have walked through many mis-diagnosis's, sleepless nights, itchy, all consuming, dry skin, painful skin,  abundant tears, frustration, no-end-in-sight, body rash, NIGHT MERE!

about a week ago we were almost out of the woods. things were healing, and then wham-o, it all returned with a vengeance the next morning.  at the same time mark started working the night shift, 7pm to 7am, so i had lots of free time.  "what did i do?" you ask. did i watch chick-flicks and take bubble bathes? unfortunately, not.  i googled it. i know, i know my number one mistake. for three nights straight i googled, and googled, and googled, until PUFF i turned into a googling, neurotic, helicopter, mad mom. the intentions at first, were very pure, help katie get better. find some safe, at home remedies, to soothe and heal her skin. that isn't so bad, right? but the sleep deprivation plus the obsessive amount of hours trying to play dr. mom, lead me to a very dark and disturbing place.

i want my child to feel better.  but i made a bad mistake filling my mind with google information, instead of filling my mind with Peace.  i turned to my computer, instead of the Comforter and Healer. i spent more time trying to control then praying for my baby.

last night the Lord so powerfully used these words to draw me to Himself.

 Jesus speaking, "it is not so much adverse events that make you anxious as it is your thoughts about those events.  your mind engages in efforts to take control of a situation to bring about the results YOU desire.  your thoughts close in on the problem like ravenous wolves. determined to make things go your way, you forget that I am in charge of your life.  the only remedy is to switch your focus from the problem to My Presence.  STOP all your striving and watch to see what I will do. I AM THE LORD!"  sarah young, Jesus Calling

i read and reread those beautiful words.  how unworthy am i that my Savior finds ways to gently remind me of my place.  He was waiting eagerly to encourage my spirit with those words. i am so grateful that i came to Him.  that in a very dark place, i wept before Him.  not of my own desire, but out of remembrance of who and what He is to me.

this morning our friend and other pastor, Jason Schubert, very appropriately put into words the constant battle of looking to other things, like google, instead of looking to our Redeemer. thank you Jason for that reminder.

i had to adamantly apologize to my children, especially katie, for not leading them to the place of true healing. i had to repent of my anxiety and pride, thinking that i could do this alone. i had to repent of my neurotic, mad mom, ways.  i had to convey to them in word and DEED WHO we were going to go to for the answers, and how we were going to conduct the way in which we sought relief for katie. it's humbling, very humbling to admit wrong to four sets of impressionable eyes.  but healing, oh so healing, to gain their forgiveness.

if you think of it, please pray for katie.  pray that we can find a way to help her, via doctor, home remedies, or rest and relaxation :)!

happy day of rest and gladness,

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

less words..more pictures!

i have dreaded this post.  not in a bad way, but in a "this is going to be a really emotional post!" i'm crying already, if that's any indicator how hard this post is for me. YIKES!  the following pictures really chronicle our life for the last year. lots and lots of life has been shared this last year with our dear friends the Bentz's; Dave, Chris, Joe, Katie, Kellie, and Tim.  and "lots of life" is a bad understatement. not only have we spent insane amounts of hours together, we have walked through a lot of really difficult things together. 

it is no secret mark had a really rough medical year last year, and dave particularly walked through 2 of the worst days of our lives with us. while, those two days were awful, (really awful!) it allowed us to forge a really deep connection and friendship.

not only did mark have a rough year, but obviously i have been working through piles of grief with my mom.  and at just the right time God brought Chris into my life.  when you are 29 years old, you are rarely surrounded by other people your age who are losing their moms.  and that has been one of the HARDEST parts about this disease, feeling really alone.  but like i said, God saw fit to bring Chris into my life.  Chris lost her mom 3 years ago to cancer.  and the compassion and the understanding in chris's eyes, have brought such healing to me during this time. she gets it. i never have to explain much, she just gets it.  chris, you have been such a gift to me.

so, not only have mark and i found amazing friends in dave and chris, our eight children have also found something really special in one another.  i teach the bentz kids piano, they all attend homeschool PE together, we go to small group together and church together.. so that's a minimum of five times a week that our kids are together.  they interact a lot like siblings now. they've irritated each other and worked through siblings.  katie and kellie have been such sweet role models for my girls, and joe and tim have taken AJ under their wing and balanced out all the female hormones in our house.  anderson has a permanent pack-n-play set up in dave and chris's room, and there is stack of diapers in the laundry room just for him.

God richly poured out His favor on us when he allowed us to be in king george, and befriend the bentz.  to have friends that intentionally, unconditionally, and consistently minister to you through word and deed is such a beautiful picture of why we were called to fellowship.

while our sights are set on kansas, SO much of our hearts will remain here. i am not quite ready to do life without our friends. i don't know who will feed us, not-pray over food with us, take care of kids when we aren't looking, laugh uncontrollable with us, help solve our marital conflicts (or start our martial conflicts), and simply do life with us.  life can suck really bad at times, but with friends like these, there are such sweet moments that foreshadow what eternity will be like.

"thank you" is not nearly sufficient!

lucy, having a "janet jackson" moment.

L to R: tim, julia, katie, katie, kellie, lucy

tim and julia

 silly faces

 "the men"

 bowling for katie L's bday

 the four of us

 now cracking up b/c mark and dave almost kissed
still laughing...

berry farm, wedding

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Christian Schools Only Serving the Affluent.

As we have turned our sights on moving home to Kansas, the natural thing has been to start researching schools for the kids to attend.  Of course, being the graduate of a Christian school, and REALLY loving my Alma Mater, loving my thirteen years there, believing in the mission of Christian schools, and being changed by the influence of my teachers, it was a no brainer to look there.  Then I cried.  Mark and I spent a whole evening calculating the cost of tuition if we were to send all of our children to a Christian school until they graduated, with the sibling tuition break, and calculating NO increase of tuition for the next 18 years... The total?.... drum roll please... 310,000 (if you calculate in the percentage of increase of tuition over the last 10 tears, over the 18 years we would pay tuition, then you would arrive at around 500,000). That is just tuition. Not lunches, not supplies, not sports trips, music trips, class trips, etc.. A half a million dollars for a high school diploma. I cried again.  For all four of our kids to attend ONE MONTH of elementary school, it would cost over 2000 dollars.

They average income of families sending their children to Christian schools in Kansas City is 250,000.  When I graduated eleven years ago, I would say only a handful of kids were coming from homes that made that kind of salary. I graduated with kids whose dads were professors, engineers, police officers, firefighters, insurance salesman, and pastors. Pretty sure those careers are not offering 250,000 a year. Most of us drove big pieces of junk to school, we bought our clothes from Wal-Mart and Target, and we all worked in the summer. At the age of ten, I started helping our family cleaning business clean banks to pay for our tuition. Not because we wanted to, but we HAD to. I didn't graduate with a bunch a rich kids from Blue Valley.  I graduated with a bunch a really down to earth kids, who knew what hard work was, and what doing without looked like. I am SO proud of my the people I graduated with.

I would LOVE for my kids to attend my Alma Mater!  I would love for my teachers to teach my kids. I would love for a man with a hairy beard to teach my kids how to play bomb-bard-ment, or how to run track, or speak spanish, or say the pledge of allegiance in lightning speed form. I would love for them to walk down the dungeon stairs into the bomb shelter for lunch. I would love for them to take impossible 7th grade life science tests in the freezing cold science lab. I would love for them to open and close the impossible latches on the windows.  I want them to sit in an english room were you can smell the black top burning in the August sun.   I want them to be educated by people who care about their hearts more than their GPA's.  I want them to befriend people who will stay by their side for their whole life.  Christian schools are powerful!

I just wish the numbers were wrong.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

it NEVER gets old...

i know i have talked several times before about how i believe God has created EACH of my children very different and unique. they each possess characteristics that make this family...OURS!  God saw fit to give them to me and Mark and NO ONE ELSE. one of the main reasons that we have chosen for me to remain at home is because we believe it is REALLY important to unravel the mysteries that God has given us in our children. And as we unravel them we are personally equipped to guide them and bring them up according to their own taste buds. knowing them, watching them, studying them, picking their little brains every day, is an amazing blessing!

all that to say, our really good friend, whom also happens to be our Pastor, preached out of Ephesians 6 today.  It is the passage that exhorts children to obey their parents, and to honor them.  Dave, did a fabulous job, (even though he is being given the silent treatment b/c he said the following about kansas,
"If you don't get the humor...Iowa is in the heartland...kind of near Kansas...which is in the middle of everything, 
but not really near to anything!  Most people would not mistake Iowa OR Kansas for heaven...")
anyway, at our church the children over the age of 4 sit in during the service.  katie and julia were drawing, coloring, doodling, etc... at one point i looked over and saw my little list maker, katie, writing the following:

if you can't read it it says: "ways to show i love my parents. obey them, help them, care for them, do not back talk, give them hugs and kisses, respect them, pray for them, listen to them, do not lie, share with your sisters and brothers, remember what they say."

anyone that knows katie, knows that this is her!  her sweet spirit is evident in ALL she does.  this little list is one small affirmation that the Holy Spirit is at work in her heart. and that makes this Mama's heart melt.

while, i was reading katie's note and crying *sigh* julia, was busily working on a note of her own:

it says, " daddy you are a stinker. love julia"

i started cracking up in the middle church. this note is SO julia. and julia's note is just as special to me as katie's note.. here is why. both of my girls are trying to pursue relationship with me and mark. katie, through her to-do list, and julia, with her sense of relational connection. julia KNEW that her note would make mark laugh and they would share a silly smile during church. while julia's note didn't have all the touchy, feely, rule following words as katie's... her desire was the same CONNECT with mom and dad.

i had a really bad mom day on friday.  i was snappy with the kids, i hurt katie's feelings particularly, i was distracted and unattached to them all day long.  i was not concerned about their hearts, rather my own selfish comfort.  by the time mark got home i was ready to start looking for a full time job b/c honestly, it sounded nice. sitting in a little cubicle all day long, listening to my itunes, and having adult conversation, and an endless pot of coffee.. that sounded like BLISS :) but i know myself all too well... i would be lost without the companionship of my kids.  i would miss them terribly. not their whining, not their neediness, or their melt downs, but THEM: my katie, my julia, my lucy, my anderson! i would miss unraveling the mysteries of their hearts, their personalities, the quirky little things that make them, THEM!! so for now, i am not resigning from mom-hood... but intentionally trying to live each day with my kids.. it's all going to end way too soon, i am sure of it :)!


Friday, May 13, 2011

the random makes life interesting!

after my seemingly spiritual flop yesterday, i came across this beautiful note that my katie bug had left for me several weeks ago when she was smack-dab in the middle of fighting a terrible skin infection... she was miserable, but an amazing trooper. this little note sums it up for me :)

and here are a bunch of random cell phone pictures from the last few months... ENJOY!

chris and dave (a little fuzzy)

julia, before soccer practice

ed earl kissing kellie for her birthday! YUCK!!

3 monkeys in the tub

handsome boy

already wanting to drive..

do the dishes...

and hang out in the sink



us on vacation :)!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

riding in cars with girls...

it is VERY rarely quiet when we ride in the car, and because we have to ride 40 minutes into town we spend a lot of time in the car. today, we were on our way to the chiropractor and walmart, when lucy piped up from the back seat, "mom, what are those things called that have love, happiness, peace, kind-li-ness,?!" i thought for a second and replied, "you mean the fruit of the spirit?" "yeah, yeah, that's it! what does it mean?" at this point everyone is listening while i try and explain the fruit of the spirit... NOT an easy concept to explain on a four year old level.. after, what i consider a pretty darn good explanation, that involves lots of heart words, feeler words, and tangible application, lucy looks out the window and says, " holy moly mom, i see a cat!" i sigh. i see katie thinking deeply, and i anticipate maybe a good question about my deep thoughts concerning the holy spirit... katie looks at me, grabs her loose tooth, and says, "mom, you need to buy me a hot dog so i can chomp down on it and get this tooth out!" another deep sigh. cats and hot dogs, that is the response to my theological, dispensationalistic, review of the holy spirit?!  oh, well. i wouldn't trade riding in cars with girls (and one boy) for ANYTHING!

happy thursday,

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

helps the medicine go down...

my lesson plans tell me that i am not to summer yet.... :(

but the heck with the lesson plans! :)
my child and the weather are all begging to be done. we aren't there yet, but today we just took a day off.  and what better place to go then to the berry farm, with your wonderful friends... our first visit of 2011 was a HUGE, deliciously, strawberry, success! YUM! now for smoothies, jam, and strawberry short cake for weeks on end!

happy (almost) summer time!!

p.s. my photographer is sending me the pictures from this event!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

my four little loves..

dear katie, julia, lucy and anderson,

YOU are the reason i love being a mom!

YOU make me unbelievably proud to call you mine!

YOU have woven your daddy's heart and my heart together even tighter!

YOU are worth getting out of bed for every morning!

YOU are worth the pain, the messes, the heart ache, the time, the inconvenience, the melt downs, the tantrums, the sleepless nights, the tears, the laughter, the joy, the billions of loads of laundry, the countless meals, the endless spills, the drama, the money, and indescribable love and blessing that you are to me!

i LOVE being your mama!

thank you Lord Jesus, for this good and perfect gift!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

mothers are for celebrating!

may is a month specifically arranged for celebrating my mom and mark's mom. obviously, we celebrate mother's day tomorrow, which also happens to be my mom's birthday, and mark's mom's birthday is at the end of this month. so, may could be better known as mom's month around our house. i think it's just perfect and VERY appropriate.

God saw fit before laying the foundation of the world to give me and mark to these two women. one woman would be the blood mother.. the mother that carried, birthed, and raised us. the other mother would join the ranks later in life, but for a VERY specific reason. when i watch my mom interact with mark, talk about mark, or ask about mark, it is as if she is asking about her own flesh and blood. mark has, and will always have, a really special relationship with my mom. he can get my mom to laugh at the drop of a hat, and the two of them can be down right silly together.

when i joined the Larry and Jere' Littlejohn family, that's exactly what i was made to believe i was, FAMILY! when jere' speaks to me or speaks about me, i feel like i am hers! i know that i am deeply loved and cherished. consequently, i am overwhelmed by the blessing that my mother-in-law is to me. she has taught me, guided me, and supported me through some really tough and beautiful moments in my life.

if you remember from anderson's birth story both of our moms were present for his birth, and it was SUCH a tangible example of the way our moms have deliberately chosen to treat one another.  they have walked very gently in forming their own relationship with one another. neither one jousting for position or competitive rank in our lives. rather, they are more like two amazingly strong cheerleaders, pray warriors, and friends, encouraging our family along the way.

it truly is the best of both worlds when you not only receive the blessing from your childhood mama, but you get a double dose from your mama by law :)

so, not only today, tomorrow, or at the end of this month....but ALWAYS, we celebrate and rejoice in the awesome gift that God has given us in our moms... both of them :)!!!

happy mother's day!