Monday, December 24, 2012

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Twas' the night before Christmas and all thru the Littlejohn house not a creature was stirring not even a mouse... Well, actually 3 of the 4 children are sleeping while one works on her cross word puzzles because she just can't sleep. The fragrance from the ham baking in the oven is wafting in the air. A Dad and a Grandma strategically wrap the presents, because well, this Mama don't wrap. No, really, it would NOT be merry if I wrapped. A Grandy is doozing off on the couch while, " It's A Wonderful Life" plays on a low volume. And me? Well, I am all cozied up in a big read chair..... writing. :)

Lots of different thoughts and emotions have been churning in my heart today. But one in particular has struck me. In the song, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" each verse concludes with "Tidings of comfort and joy!"

Interesting that the news of the birth of Christ brought comfort and joy.

Comfort for our most staggering of losses, hurts, and pains.

And JOY. Joy to lighten the path that seems paralyzingly dark at times. But it was His pursuit of JOY that brought Him to this earth. He left His Father, He left the very essence of perfection to fulfill the greatest act of redemption we will ever witness.... for JOY! Joy that He would feel in the innards of His heart. Joy that would make Him smile. Joy that would follow Him and satisfy Him when He thought of us.  You and I. And He saw us as we were; incomplete, inadequte, broken, undone, a cheese ball oozing of 'unworthy' at it's finest.

I don't know about you, but I need a good dose of both of these things in my life right now; comfort and joy.

The very merriest Christmas to you from the Littlejohn house!!!!
May you be full of comfort and joy!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Winter Snow


It's been hard to find words lately when I talk with my God. Sometimes just silence during our time together. Or me whispering the psalmist's plea, "Search me and know me!" No preacher's prayer prayed, just a white canvas waiting for the Artist to paint an inspired picture.

Sometimes I just play music and find Him on the dance floor, He bows and I curtsey, we let the lyrics communicate the groans of our hearts.

It snowed in Kansas last night. The sky is bright blue. It's beautiful. So beautiful I cried.

It made me think of this song.

My favorite line, "You came like a winter snow, quiet and soft and slow"

Quiet. Soft. Slow. I love those words right now. It's how my days have felt since Mama left. It's how my heart feels, my energy. And it's how my Savior is dealing with me; quiet, soft, and slow. Just exactly how I need Him to deal with me.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Is Jesus Enough?

I struggle this Christmas season with something I have struggled with for many Christmas seasons. My struggle? If my children woke up Christmas morning and there was nothing under the tree would their Christmas day be ruined? Would simply celebrating the birth of the new born king satisfy their hearts? Or have we sent our children a mixed message that Christmas is about Jesus and a futile attempt by Mom and Dad to fill up our children's love bucket with an excessive amount of stuff. Therefore, repeatedly clouding the message that Jesus is enough.

Maybe without much thought we have inadvertently taught our children that Jesus plus piles of gifts equals a Merry Christmas.

Jesus plus the latest electronic equals a Merry Christmas.
Jesus plus Lala Loopsie equals a Merry Christmas.
Jesus plus roller skates equals a Merry Christmas.

What about Jesus plus nothing equals a Merry Christmas?

If you asked me what my ideal Christmas would be I would tell that I envision a day full of giving and not getting. Waking up and serving a hot breakfast in a food kitchen and looking down the line and seeing the faces of my children serving others. Buying fresh water wells for a community that desperately needs one in order to maintain life. Buying a coat for a child so they don't freeze this winter. Delivering house goods to a family whose home has burned down, and on and on the list goes in my heart of what I dream will someday be our future Christmas.

But it's like swimming against the stream. Convincing yourself, your children, and others that in fact you aren't the Scrooge live and in person, but your desire comes from this raw, determined place in your heart that screams, "I will teach my children that Jesus IS enough!"

I am no different than you, I love giving gifts to my kids and to others. I love the way I feel when I watch them open something they desperately want. But I struggle with finding a more delicate and purposeful balance for Christmas day. I want to paint a better picture that Christmas is not about our fleeting "wants". I strive for us to remember as a family how utterly blessed we are 365 days of the year. I am determined to NOT be blinded by the obsession of excess in our country, our state, our county, and yes, even in our home. I want more for myself and for my family. I want Christmas to be about the Christ. Just not by capitalizing the CHRIST in Christmas cards and on facebook,or being warm and fuzzy and having our ears tickled at the Christmas Eve services only to then have momentary memory loss when the clock strikes 12 on Christmas. I really long to communicate in word and in DEED that Jesus is ENOUGH!


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Healing Path

I am reading the book, "The Healing Path" by Dan Allender. If you don't own it stop reading right now and go to and BUY IT!

Here are a few of the quotes that have, um, changed my life:

"If we fail to anticipate thoughtfully how we will respond to the harm of living in a fallen world, the pain may be for naught. It will either numb or destroy us rather than refine and even bless us"

"...few of us enter the tragedy of living in a fallen world and simultaneously struggle with God until our hearts bleed with hope"

"Healing in this life is not the resolution of our past; it is the use of our past to draw us into deeper relationship with God and His purposes for our lives. We need a new understanding of how to deal with past hurts, one that acknowledges the damage to the human spirit while charting a path toward the abundant life God promises"

"We are to consider the path of suffering a sacred journey"

"The [grief] journey has the potential to heal us or harden us. It will harden us if we attempt to do an end run around the desert, valley, or craggy peak where God compels us to walk. If will soften, break, mold, and heal us if we choose to take sorrow and suffering by the hand and walk by faith into the damage of our past, the struggles of the present, and our fears of the future"

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sandy Hook

I, like many of you, watched and cried with that guttural cry that comes from a place of shock and horror.

I, like many of you, ran to my children, ran to my kindergartener, first grader, fourth grader, all elementary age, and breathed in the sweet smell of their skin.

I, like many of you, thought of my niece who is in kindergarten, my baby cousins and endless friends who fill the school size chairs around the nation. Then I thought of my brothers, my father in law, my uncles, my  cousins, and my many friends, who walk the halls of these schools as brave employees. And there is not a single question in my mind that they too would have done whatever it took to protect the children; even giving their lives.

I, like many of you, delicately sat down with Mark to explain to our children in an age appropriate way, the evil that took place in CT. Because Littlejohn's don't keep secrets. We answered even the hard questions that they came up with like, "Will this ever happen again?" and while there was a pull to just comfort and tell our kids that, "No, this will never happen again," that would be false hope. And in the Littlejohn house we comfort with things that we know are true.

The truth:
 Regardless, of the petitions and facebook statuses full of hock-a-ma-loogie, God in fact has not turned His back on the public schools. That goes against everything we know about His character. He promises throughout all of scripture that He will NEVER leave those who call on His name.  Over and over again kings, pharaohs, judges, rulers, inflicted way more "anti-God" establishments than our government has in the public schools, and God was there. Noah was found to be the only righteous one in a whole nation full of anti-God movements, but God was with Him. He was with Moses when the anti-God movement was chasing him with a malicious desire to destroy him. He was with Joseph when he was lived in and among the most anti-God people of his time. Rahab was the only woman in a town that had turned their backs on God, and He was with her. You can not open the word of God without coming across an entire book of the God who is there!

We are foolish to blame our government for kicking God out of schools, because let me tell you something, my God is kicked out by NO ONE! He is in all, above all, through all, sustaining all, redeeming all, refining all, overseeing all, and He is present regardless of the spiritual climate of a cultural.

On Friday, November 14th, God was in Sandy Hook Elementary School!

Many of you might ask, "Why didn't He do something if He was there?" And therein lies the mystery of the entire Christian journey. And the only way to begin to wrap your brain around the answer is to dig, and dig, and dig into the person of Jesus Christ. And after nearly 25 years of digging and pursuing the love of my life, I see Him....everywhere. I see His touch, His love, His care, His precise and intimate adoration of His children in the beautiful circumstances and yes, even clearer in the horrific circumstances. We are never promised a pain free life. We are never promised a life without immense hardship and struggle. We are promised something even more divine, even more life changing, we are promised the omniscient presence of the Creator of the Universe, Abba, Emmanuel, King of Kings, The Good Shepherd, Father, The Newborn King and Savior.

I, unlike most of you, did not have to send my kids to a traditional school today. But I woke up holding my breath and praying for you. Praying that He would be with you as you released their tiny (or large) hands and hearts into a building that you could not set up vigil at and protect around the clock (although, I am pretty sure my dad looked into it :) I cried as I envisioned them walking away from you, Hello Kitty back packs larger than their bodies in place, showing more bravery and courage than you and I could every muster up. And I envisioned a little, red, honda civic pulling into a staff parking spot and I wept.

I, unlike many mothers and fathers in Connecticut, have the blessing of watching my children extra closely today as we walk through our routine. I will take many more mental pictures than I usually do and hopefully the annoying will be less annoying today as I soak them up. ;)

God, unlike us, is perfectly in control. He is not pacing the floors of heaven wondering what to do now. He is oh so majestically sovereign as He rules and reigns. His heart beats wildly for His creation. And just like nearly 2,000 years ago when He came to heal the brokenhearted and set the captives free, He comes today inspiring the exact same kind of hope.

To the God who is there!


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I'll Walk With You

"I'll walk with you in the shadow lands til the shadows disappear." Andrew Peterson

He was there. He's always been there. From the beginning of this journey he has been there. Not a lukewarm, passive, uninvolved, there. Not an, "I'll observe from the sidelines" there, he played the game. All four quarters. He sustained major injuries, just like the rest of us. His game plan changed multiple times, he took some hard hits.... for her. He analyzed and reviewed film with the best of them. He lead and participated in endless team meetings. He helped execute many complicated plays on the field. He has been cheerleader when necessary, mascot for laughter, and chaplain in the middle of the night. It was never, "I am so sorry this is happening to YOUR mom and YOUR family" it was always, "I am sorry this is happening to OUR mom, OUR family!"

He was there. He stood at her bedside and checked her pulse. He watched her chest and rise and fall. He brushed her hair, he kissed her forehead, and he counted in his head the seconds between her gasps, and finally he whispered in my ear, "she's gone!"

He was there. When I fell into his arms and shook violently with grief.

He has walked with me in the shadow lands. And the promise that he'll remain until they disappear is what marriage, this marriage, our marriage is all about.

When walking, whether through shadow lands or green pastures, choose your company wisely.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Forever 2012

I was filling out my weekly calendar for next week and it dawned upon me it's time to get a new calendar for 2013. I love sitting down at the beginning of every year and filling in important dates. I love the emptiness of the calendar because it communicates this freshness. 365 days just waiting to be lived. I have almost everyone of our calendars since Mark and I married, and for me it's like a memory box full of goodness. I laugh and cry as a flip thru the calendar. Things catch my eye, like in April of 2003, "Doctor's Appointment for sonogram" and suddenly I flash back to laying on the ridiculously cold table with ridiculously cold gel dumped on my belly and I hear the word, "GIRL!" and my life changes....FOREVER! I see things like, "Julia's first step, Lucy's first word at Colonial Beach, missed period in July of 2008" and we all know what that means! :) "Mom and Dad coming to town, Larry and Jere over for dinner, Matt proposed to Jo, Jonathan flies to Baltimore, poisoned Zach with lasagna, Liisa and Andrew's wedding, friends over for dinner, one year check up (quickly turning into 9 year check up) small group, Christmas Concert Sunday night, MSU vs LSU,  Mark graduates, move to Twin Lakes, move to Starkville, move to Va, move to KS" and on and on the dates and events continue. It just takes a few words, and years and years of memories of incredible events flood my heart.

2012 will be no different. While, the event listed on November 21st, 2012 will forever be lasered into our hearts, I am actually comfortable here in 2012. And it's with MUCH hesitation I flip the calendar to 2013.

2013 not only means a new calendar it means a new online picture folder. And in that calendar and in that folder something terribly important will be missing. Events that will include my mom and new pictures of her beautiful face. The permanency of her death keeps startling me; whether it's while cooking ground beef, plucking my eye brows, or staring at the tree. The permanency of our separation keeps leaving deep indentions on my heart. I know well enough that time will space out those startling moments and the indentions will not be so deep, but oh my, it takes my breath away how much I miss her!

2013 will be the very first calendar year in my whole life that my mom will not be apart of, and I am afraid to cross the great divide. Feeling as if I leave 2012 I leave my memories of her there. I leave her there. 2012 still holds her. Her pictures are easily found in the 2012 folder. 325 days of 2012 involved HER. I don't dread Christmas. I dread 2013. I know there are new memories to be made and still lots of life to be lived, blah, blah, blah... But I don't want new memories, or more life, I want HER. I want it to be forever 2012.


Friday, December 7, 2012

I thought I deleted you...

I've probably sat here for 20 minutes starting about 5 different posts and then I deleted them, all of them.

I am a little bit nervous about writing. Rather, a little bit nervous about what you will think about my writings. It ain't pretty. It's terribly raw, and probably inappropriate for this forum (most of that got unexpectedly spewed on my dear, dear friend) I am trying to be authentic in my grief, but I am tired.

Tired of what?

I am tired of words. Shocking, for the person who lives and breathes words. I feel like switching to interpretive dance or something ;)! Conveying my feelings with a few Justin Bieber songs or a Rascal Flatt's ballad, sounds therapeutic, "I've got moves you never knew."

If I could go live with the beaver family that C.S. Lewis created, I would happily crawl down into the heaven of that hole. I've already googled, "islands available for purchase in the middle of no where!" There are some beautiful options, let me tell you :)

Old man winter allows a perfect opportunity to hibernate in the shadow of his grey, quiet, peaceful, days. I can almost process my grief there if I am left alone. My inactivity simply blamed on the cold. While nature conveys what my heart seems to be feeling, "death is every where!" However, I find myself clinging to the riches in my life that are very much alive; my insatiable love for my husband, the laughter of my stunning children, the calming smell and taste of a deep, red merlot, and the promise that spring will some day find it's way back into my life.

Until then... winter it is,

Monday, December 3, 2012

Living In The Storm: Sucker Punched

We have laughed a lot about the little phrase, "sucker punched" these past 12 days.  What it means is when someone, some thing, some card, some commercial, some text message, some voice mail, some fb post, some smell, anything really that unexpectedly sends you to tears. Macy's Christmas department had me undone....

Here is my sucker punch from yesterday.

The very word Christmas turns my thoughts to my Mama. Everything about this holiday has my mom written all over it. In the past, I have been Christmas cheer in a bottle. It's my husband who always needs a little boost in his Christmas enthusiasm.  However, I must admit the thought of Christmas decorating, Christmas shopping, Christmas cooking, makes me want to curl back up under my blankets and stay there. Typically, I enjoy seeing your ridiculously beautiful Christmas trees on facebook, this year my heart groans.

Sometimes motherhood calls you to an entire life of doing something you don't feel like doing; labor in itself redefines, "I don't feel like doing this!" but you do it for your child... getting up in the wee hours of the night for months/years (secretly trying to out-wait your spouse in hopes he will get up this time) rearranging your entire social calendar to make it home in time for naps and bed time, sour moments of discipline that hurt you far worse than it hurts your child, watching your child leave and your whole body screams, "I don't feel like letting you go!" but you do it. Over and over again you convince yourself to set your feelings aside and pursue the painful for your children.

For me, Christmas will be pursuing the painful in order to recreate the "new normal" in our lives. For me, it's about seeing Katie's eyes light up about the tree, watching Julia sort the ornament boxes looking for her "grammy" ones, laughing with Lucy about the silly snowman we've collected over the years, and listening to my boy sing, "Joy to the World!" at the top of his 3 1/2 year old lungs. No, I don't feel like doing this, but I will do it because my mom would have done it for me. And after all of this is said and done, I just want to be the mom that my mom was for me!

Happy Decorating,

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Living In The Storm: Incomplete thoughts.

The time will come when I have every intention of walking back thru the last 10 days and explaining the transforming moments along the way. For a while though, I might just only be able to write in incomplete sentences and incomplete thoughts (I know, Matt, really no changes at all :). Today, I wanted to share a few of the really special things that people said to me over the last 10 days that just settled in my heart. Obviously, I have been on the receiving end of many people's love and condolences, so this does not minimize anything you shared, rather these are the ones that I wake up thinking about. Some of these I am even unsure who said it, but it stuck.

1. My sister (quoting her pastor) "Love shows up!"
2. In my pep talk/cry fest with one of the best friends a girl could know, "You do not have to be appropriate or kind tonight!"
3. Lucy's breakfast prayer yesterday morning, "Thank you Jesus, Grammy is all better!"
4. In the midst of trying to figure out why the heck I literally couldn't get off the couch, a wise, wise, woman said, "Baby, I think you are just sad, and that's ok!" Ah, such truth!
5. "Your grief path is going to look very different than everyone else's. There is no manual for grief. Sometimes grief shows up in the strangest ways!" Paraphrased from my in house counselor ;)
6. Sweet Leon, "Y'all put the F.U.N. in funeral!"

There is a line from sleepless in Seattle that keeps going through my head when people ask, "How are you doing?" I think, "Well, I'm gonna get out of bed every morning... breathe in and out all day long. Then, after a while I won't have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breathe in and out... and, then after a while, I won't have to think about how I had it great and perfect for a while."


Saturday, November 24, 2012

You Alone

The morning Mama slipped into a coma I was getting ready to post this video. Obviously, I dropped everything and went to her side... It's one of those songs I have had on repeat all week.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Living In The Storm: Mama's Storm is OVER!

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!     Serve the Lord with gladness!
    Come into his presence with singing! 
 Know that the Lord, he is God!
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise!
    Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good;
    his steadfast love endures for ever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations. 
Psalm 100

I think it's a pretty amazing gift that on this, Thanksgiving Day, I get to share with you that yesterday was the last day that Mama had to live in the storm of this journey.  The resounding emotion that is flowing through my heart is this kind of thanksgiving I have never experienced before. Thankful, thankful, thankful, that my Mama is whole, that her Thanksgiving meal will in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, thankful that she is free, thankful that it is finished, thankful for the people who have been with us in the trenches from the beginning of this journey, and through the hell of the past 3 days. Thankful, that on this Thanksgiving Day, I will drink in memories of my Mom and let the tears spill over (as they are now). In continuation of the great tradition my mom started, when we go around the table today and we each say what we are thankful for I am unsure my voice will be strong enough to speak but even if it's a whisper, my answer will be, "Mom, Mom, Mom, I am so very, very thankful for my Mama!"

Undeniably relieved. And not just this day or during this month, but eternally, THANKFUL!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Be Near

My father in law penned these beautiful words months ago and they have been on my mind so much this week. I am often overwhelmed by the deep, rich, blessing I have in my mother-in-law and father-in-law. I am very much looking forward to being with them SOON!

Be Near 
Larry Littlejohn

I often see the shadows; I often live with fear.
But I know You are with me and care for each tear.
So come loving Father; come with great might.
Show me Your glory; show me Your light.
Illumine my darkness; banish all my fear.
Come loving Father, and always be near.

The world is filled with hurt, and evil does abound.
But heaven ’s not a dream, and help can be found.
So come living Jesus; come with great grace.
Show me Your glory; show me Your face.
Illumine my darkness; banish all my fear.
Come living Jesus, and always be near.

Life seems so busy; hurry here and there.
But I have Your filling, and I have Your prayer.
So come Holy Spirit; come with great rest.
Show me Your glory; show me Your best.
Illumine my darkness; banish all my fear.
Come Holy Spirit, and always be near.

Come Triune God, You are the One.
Come Triune God, Father, Spirit, Son.
Illumine my darkness; banish all my fear.
Come Triune God, and always be near.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Littlejohns Dance!

Littlejohns dance!

I believe in the power of dance. I love dancing. I love watching my kiddos dance. I love watching my nieces dance. I love watching my husband bust a move on a week night, in the kitchen, with dish towel thrown about his neck. I mean, attractive doesn't even begin to describe that moment. ;)

I wish more people would dance. I wish more people saw the beauty and freedom in dancing, and less of the carnal, nasty, booty bumping on MTV.

We needed some dancing in our lives this week!

" For there is a time to mourn, and a time to DANCE!"

One of my favorite parts of Sunday was when Lucy looked at herself for the first time in the mirror after her hair and makeup were done, and said, "I am smoooking hoooootttttt!"

Happy Dancing Feet!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul

Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul
1. Dear refuge of my weary soul,
On Thee, when sorrows rise
On Thee, when waves of trouble roll,
My fainting hope relies
To Thee I tell each rising grief,
For Thou alone canst heal
Thy Word can bring a sweet relief,
For every pain I feel

2. But oh! When gloomy doubts prevail,
I fear to call Thee mine
The springs of comfort seem to fail,
And all my hopes decline
Yet gracious God, where shall I flee?
Thou art my only trust
And still my soul would cleave to Thee
Though prostrate in the dust 

3. Hast Thou not bid me seek Thy face,
And shall I seek in vain?
And can the ear of sovereign grace,
Be deaf when I complain?
No still the ear of sovereign grace,
Attends the mourner's prayer
Oh may I ever find access,
To breathe my sorrows there

4. Thy mercy seat is open still,
Here let my soul retreat
With humble hope attend Thy will,
And wait beneath Thy feet,
Thy mercy seat is open still,
Here let my soul retreat
With humble hope attend Thy will,
And wait beneath Thy feet
©1998, Kevin Twit Music.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Living in the Storm: Can Anyone Hear Me?

fifteen minutes before we were due to leave for an event today i announced, (as i always do), "alright kiddos, we are leaving in fifteen minutes, please get ready to leave!"

i returned to washing dishes and unloading the dishwasher, because as soon as we returned home we were going to have company, and i knew if i didn't get it done before we left it wouldn't get done.

ten minutes later, "alright kiddos, five minutes... please start turning off lights and go ahead and make a movement to the car." when you have 4 kids things have to be done in phases. there is no, "just go hop in the car" any more. it's a process... sometimes a painful process.

five minutes passed, i grabbed my sunglasses, car keys, and headed for the van and i said, " i am leaving now, meet me in the car!"

once outside in the cold november air i realized that two of my children were without shoes and two were without jackets. for real? we are passed the babying stage in our family, everyone here knows how to get dressed and prepared for an outing. we've done it hundreds of times. everyone knows, now that it's november, shoes AND socks are required. and a jacket... no matter the temperature.

but here they were with an ample AND kind warning, and they stared at me like lost puppies. they stared at me as if the previous 15 minutes i was speaking in a foreign language. i turned in my seat and frustratingly asked them, "for real? why aren't you ready to go?" to which one of them replied, "we didn't hear you!"

deep, cleansing, breath. and then hot tears down my cheeks...

"does any one hear me?" i whispered.

i love being a mom. i love being a stay at home mom. i love that i am investing in THEM during this season of life. but on days like today, discouragement creeps inside my already fragile heart and screams, "no one hears you!"

i have no intention of being a polarizing political figure, but yesterday's election didn't go the way i wanted my vote to be heard. yes, yes, i am totally confident that Jesus is still King, i do know that He is sovereign, and i understand better than ever that there are way more pressing "life and death" issues in our world today (and i didn't even have to go to facebook to get all that) but it stung, i wanted to be heard!

 i wanted to be heard yesterday when i nestled my nose against my mama's cold cheek and i whispered in her ear, " i love you!" but the blank stare and the unaffected facial expressions told me that maybe in that moment i wasn't heard.

sometimes because of the way my personality tilts i feel everything super strongly. just like katy perry would say, "'Cause you're hot then you're cold. You're yes then you're no." my mother would stop me at this point and insert one of her famous, famous phrases, "and sometimes our strengths become our weaknesses...." grrrrrrr..... why is she SO right? while being passionate and high on the feeling richter scale has its bonuses, sometimes the prick of the thorn hurts. (does is seem odd to anyone else that i just mentioned katy perry and my mother in the same sentence? *giggle, giggle*)

tonight, doing something that has become one of my favorite "people" moments of our routine, we went and hung out with our worship team and rehearsed songs for sunday. while some rehearsing does get done, (in between stories and random rabbit trails) mostly fellow-shipping and just loving on each other gets done, and i deeply appreciate and need that.

when you are singing and playing to an empty sanctuary and the holy spirit feels like your only congregant, you can close your eyes and worship in different and soul satisfying way. when the sound of your husband's voice fills your monitor and the strum of the acoustic guitar floats through the air, your knees go a bit weak and these words pour forth,

"For greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City
Greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done here

There is no one like our god
There is no one like our God "

and in that moment, any doubt is flushed away and i know that i am heard. in the darkness of the night, when not a single soul stirs, i know He hears me. even when there are no words to convey the message of my heart, He hears. when my children are numb to my own voice, i know He heard my 15 minute warning and appreciated my kind tone. when i feel like i am living in a nation where fewer and fewer people get me or "hear me", i know that He longs to hear my thoughts, that He and He alone has placed desires and convictions in my heart, and He ultimately steers the compass of my life. and even when the words i speak to my very own mother feel as if they are falling on deaf ears,  i am assured that the one day, when i behold Him, He will have always heard me and He will hear me then say, "Savior, like a Shepherd LEAD ME!"

here is to hearing and being heard,

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Living In the Storm: Trick or Treat, Grammy?

My mom treated each holiday as if it were it's own.  Thanksgiving was never blended with Christmas. We celebrated Thanksgiving until 11:59pm on that fourth Thursday of November. Then we started Christmas decorating. Mom decorated the whole house for EACH holiday. I loved it. I still LOVE IT!

I am unsure if Grammy was ready for her trick or treaters last night. It might have felt more like a trick when Daddy inflated a huge pumpkin on her bed and six loud children came parading through the hallways, but nonetheless we celebrated with candy corn, chocolate, smiles, laughter and pictures.

Yesterday, in some of my reading I came across this quote from Arthur Christopher Bacon and it ministered to my heart on a day when I was really needing some encouragement.

"I can still believe that a day comes for all of us, however far off it may be, when we shall understand; when these tragedies that now blacken and darken the very air of heaven for us will sink into their places in a scheme so august, so magnificent, so joyful, that we shall laugh for wonder and delight"

I believe that statement with all of my being. I believe beyond a shadow of doubt that my Redeemer will make ALL things new, that He is orchestrating the events of my life so that HE might be high and lifted up. Joy will seep through the bleeding wounds this earth leaves on my heart and I will see like I have never seen before the beauty that He was making from ashes.

I know there are hurting hearts in my readers today. I know so many of you are carrying burdens, pains, wounds, fears, and concerns that are paralyzing you and making the face of your Jesus blurry. I beg that you resist the tricks that are being thrown your way to detour your eyes from the Prize. I pray that you will know Truth and Grace, and that you will rest easy in His arms.

He is good, OH SO GOOD!!
He has not forgotten you.
He will keep His promises and continue to pursue you and refine you until you reflect only Him.
He does not play tricks, but pours down His undeserved blessings on us day after day!

On this, holiday hangover day, may your hearts be encouraged!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

the ghost of halloweens past...

I love remembering. There is so much nostalgia in looking back and seeing the way "it was". Here are some shots of sweet Halloweens from the past...

L to R: Pig, Cat, Snow White, Cheerleader

L to R:
Julia: Ballet Fairy
Elisa Chamness: Lady Bug
Anderson: Spooked Spider Man
Elaina: Red Riding Hood
Lucy: Ballerina
Katie: Ballerina Princess

L to R
Cinderella, Little Mermaid, Ballerina Butterfly, Little Gentleman
L to R
Pillsbury Dough Girl, Ladybug, Dough
L to R
Cow, Lady Bug, Lady Bug
Snow White 
(Julia was alive this year just not present for the pic)
I was looking for Halloween pictures for this year and was disappointed when I didn't find any. Than I realized why..... Julia was 10 days old and let's be honest when you have 2 two and under you are too dang exhausted to care about Halloween :)
People time flies when you are making babies and raising them. I can not believe these tiny children were/are mine. Capture these moments and keep them safe!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pictures Galore...

Here are some fun pictures from the last few days... Mainly, for those who are not on facebook (they will remain nameless :)

Mark has taken up a new hobby, pumpkin carving... And as with many things my husband does, he does it well!

Cranky cowboy

 Happy cowboy
 Missy Franklin
 Princess, fairy, ballerina... combo
 Katie and Annie

 Pumpkin cleaning

 Pumpkin Magic

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Little Glimpse of Heaven....

The other night I stood outside of Katie and Lucy's room and cried as I listened to their father sing them a lullaby in Nepali. As of 15 months ago, we did know a single soul from Nepal let alone a lullaby. Now our hearts and our lives are filling with brothers and sisters from the country of Nepal and from ALL over the world.

One of the most difficult things about the constant moving we have done in the last 11 years has been leaving churches we love and walking through the very difficult process of finding a new church home. Being in community, ANY community, takes tons of effort and time.

After moving back to Kansas we began to attend a church called Woodland Ridge Presbyterian Church. I can almost guarantee that there is not a single church in all of Johnson County that looks, feels, and sounds like our church. :) We are a church made up of all kinds of tribes, tongues, and nations; American, Spanish, Korean, Nepalian, Brazilan, Ugandian, Algerian, Mexican, Puerto Rican, and some other countries I know I am forgetting.

One of our first experiences at WRPC that is forever sketched into my mind and heart, and solidified that we wanted to serve and be apart of this very body, was when I watched the people come forward and take communion. As people passed through the communion line I was overcome with the nations that came forth, all taking the bread and the wine in the name of Jesus. I could not understand the words that were falling from their lips, but I could not help but stand in awe that MY God was THEIR God, and He understood and created MY language and THEIR language. He was OUR God! And week after week I find myself in tears or almost in tears as these words echo in my heart,

 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands;  and they cry out with a loud voice, saying,
“Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

"We are participating in Kingdom worship" we often tell our kids. Glimpses of heaven are caught every week in our cozy sanctuary. Heaven, thankfully, will not just be white, middle class, evangelicals .... We will be the minority, and we will quickly learn a thing or two about worship and about the God of ALL nations. 

Is it always easy worshiping in a multi-ethnic setting? No. 

Does it have unique challenges and frustrations? Um, yes. 

It is worth it? Without a stutter on my lips.... ABSOLUTELY! 

The blessings, lessons, and the expansion of our understanding of our God and His people can not fit in this blog. 

Today, would you pray for our church? Would you pray for wisdom for our leaders on how go about continuing to build a church for all nations? Would you pray that discouragement would not have a foothold in our Pastors, Elders, Deacons, staff and congregation? Would you pray that God would be glorified in our weaknesses and that He alone would reign in our hearts?

I hope that if you are in the KC area you will come visit and meet our church family that we are growing to deeply love.

And thanks to Pastor Chris  for letting me "borrow" some of his pictures. And thanks to Purna, I was able to post a video of our worship team singing in Nepali!!
Be Blessed,