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,


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Littlejohns Don't Keep Secrets

over the past few weeks mark and  i have been tossing around an idea that i first read about in one of my all time favorite parenting books, "One Tough Mother" by Julie Barnhill. it's this idea that we have a family creed, statements that our family strives to live by. ideally, mark would use his amazing painting skills and paint them on our dining room walls for all to see. since, we don't have a dining room wall to call our own maybe we will put them on canvases and tote them around with us from home to home until we "settle".  any who, the point is to use these as a means to build unity, purpose, and identity within the intimate relationship of our family. we've talked to the kids about it and over the past few weeks we've begun to come up with a few.

here is a sneak peek

Littlejohn means small porta-potty (this is a family inside joke and probably wouldn't make the cut, but it's fun to dream:)
Littlejohns always forgive
Littlejohns always extend grace
Littlejohns always share good things with others
Littlejohns choose silliness over seriousness
Littlejohns don't chase youth
Littlejohns have worth because of WHO they are not WHAT they do
Littlejohns love
Littlejohns are loyal
Littlejohns honor one another above themselves
Littlejohns only use bathroom words at home
Littlejohns never say never (a little bieber shout out)
Littlejohns welcome ALL into their home
Littlejohns keep surprises not secrets

you get the idea, right? the kids have randomly been adding some of their motto's along the way. i can not wait for the project to begin and to see how it grows and changes over the life of our family.

the last creed i listed was one i thought of this week. julia wanted a diary for her birthday, and since Grammy and Poppo faithfully came through with a Barnes and Noble gift card we were able to get her one. as we shopped i noticed lots of diaries had the word SECRET printed all over the cover.  now, i am all about people being able to journal, write personal stories, thoughts, prayers, hopes, dreams, crushes, etc...etc... but i want my kids to understand from a very young age that within the four walls of our home our "secrets" are absolutely 100% safe when they exposed. their dreams, fears, struggles, triumphs, are to be taken seriously and held with the utmost importance.  i want my kids to understand that there are dangers and pitfalls in the isolation of secrets.

consequently, that means that mark and i are striving to live transparent lives in front of our children. it means that we answer tough questions with honesty. we don't turn away from questions like, "Mama, if you and Daddy are killed in a tornado what do we do?" we don't give our children a lame answer filled with false hope like, "oh baby, don't worry about that, that will never happen". we have learned to never say "that will never happen". we answer with truth and love, "oh baby, that would be such a sad and scary day, but Mama and Daddy have made plans that if we both die that our families would step in and take care of all of you! And no matter WHAT happens you will never be alone in this world!"

i don't turn away from questions like, "Mama, is Grammy's boo-boo ever going to get better? Mama, why are you crying? Mama, why do people have to ask for money on the side of the street? Mama, what does abortion mean? Mama, do you ever get scared? Mama, how did Uncle Joshua die? Mama, why did Susie's parents decide to stop loving each other?" and on and on the list goes. i understand that the older my kids become the harder and deeper those questions become. but i am hell bent on being forthright with my kids. i want them to know that i have struggled and continue to struggle with junk that life throws my way. sometimes i am overwhelmed with fear, sometimes i am so sad i don't want to get out of bed, sometimes raising them is extremely painful and lonely, sometimes (a lot of times) i am a very selfish person who wants only what i want, i have done things in my past that i am embarrassed about and i have every intention of telling them about those mistakes so that together we can help them avoid those same errors.

it ain't always going to be pretty, but we are determined to tear down the walls of generational sin that plague our lives and offer our children total access into our past, present, and future heart stories.

above all, i want our children to know that they are being raised by really screwed up parents who are limping along trying to make sense of all that comes our way. we are broken and totally fallible, but in our brokenness we want to offer them truth and love that is only found in our unchanging, totally reliable, infallible, the very definition of Truth and Love; Redeemer, Yahweh, Savior, Almighty, Emmanuel, King of Kings, Prince of Peace, Savior..... Jesus!!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Seven is Heaven!

Julia Waitz turns seven years old today. I love seven. Seven is an age where so many wonderful achievements are made. And a certain independence begins to take over.

This last year Julia has continued to blossom into this incredibly independent child with a style and a rhythm  of her own.

Major accomplishments this year include:

  • learning to tie her shoes 
  • growing in her love of reading and math
  • writing that impossible five that we talked about here
  • being more specific about communicating her thoughts without the accompanying melt down
  • riding her bike like a fearless banshee
  • showing a little bit more of her feminine, delicate side in her ballet classes
  • relishing in her siblings love of public attention and affirmation. but she, being totally satisfied tucked up close to Mom and Dad with a smile on her face and in her heart.
  • losing two teeth (i.e. captured in the picture above)
  • and bearing the fruit of the spirit more and more with each passing day

Julia would pick cuddles over food (although, when she is lacking in either category, WATCH OUT!)
She would pick vanilla over chocolate, and jelly over peanut butter.
She would pick carrots over cucumbers, and purple over pink.
She would wear patterns over plain, and run instead of walk.

Julia adds fire and passion to our daily lives, with a loyalty and realness that runs as deep as I have ever seen.
Julia means what she says and says what she means.

Julia, your daddy and I are continually blessed by you just being YOU! We find great joy watching you grow and change, but at the same time it stings a little. We have no doubt that God's goodness will sustain you everyday of your life.

We love you oddles and oddles, Julia Waitz, Jules Vern, Jule Bean, Beaner, Beanie, B....
Mama and Daddy 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Lessons in Line at the Grocery Store

from the time katie was born i have been a firm believer in exposing kids to the grocery store. i figured that we were going to inevitably be spending oodles and oodles of time at the grocery store, making it a necessity for them to learn how to behave. nine years and four children later, i am still a firm believer in taking kids to the grocery store. over the years that has meant driving 80 miles round trip, nursing in parking lots, cleaning up accidents in aisle 12, and ultimately braving a really difficult task. for awhile, when i had 4 children 5 years and under, i had to have two buggies, a buggy full of children and a buggy full of groceries. when katie was 5, she learned how to push the grocery buggy behind me so i wouldn't have push one buggy and pull another. grocery stores make buggies for families that have the perfect 1.86 children in tow... not for the "insane" 4 children in tow. so we improvised.

sometimes it meant that my kids had major meltdowns in a very public arena. but that just meant that i had the perfect opportunity to teach them what the expectations were for their behavior in this public arena, and we had a weekly opportunity to practice. have we been "those people" in the grocery store? heck yeah, more times than i can count! but you better believe that each of my children have quickly learned that i will not be bullied nor embarrassed for ANY reason in ANY location; private or public. this grocery store mom means business.

there is not a book big enough for me to list all of the life lessons my children have learned in the line at the grocery store. invaluable moments have been captured.  my children have witnessed grown ups acting like children, and they take note. i do not let the opportunity pass me by to discuss with them on our way home how inappropriate, unkind, and impatient some of those people have acted. no matter what our experience is in the line (and let me tell we have had some experiences), we are overly kind and sensitive to the cashier. what a hard job! and if we are the only ones all day long that can offer a "thank you" and a smile we have accomplished something real and life long. you can determine a lot about someone's character based on how they treat people in a grocery store.

my kids also know that grocery store time does not mean that the little devil inside of them gets to scream "give me" or "i wanna". sure, there are trips that require a little something sweet at the end to reward appropriate grocery store behavior, but that is the exception not the rule. they have learned that it is ok so see things that they really want and for that desire to not be instantly fulfilled or ever fulfilled. they have learned to distinguish a need from a want.

grocery store managers are scandalous! they know exactly how to highjack a happy grocery store trip by placing all the little gadgets that every child could possibly want on a small aisle, at their eye level, while the mother is totally preoccupied with unloading her buggy and paying for groceries. infuriating. again, we just have learned to take it in stride and every time we walk down that aisle of doom closer and closer to the cashier my children can say word for word what comes out of my mouth, "you can enjoy these toys while we wait in line, but not a one is coming with us.... so don't even ask!"

my kids have learned about a budget and price matching. they have learned to calculate prices and determine the best deal. consequently, they have learned that mom and dad are not made of money and every penny that we spend is a penny that Daddy has worked extremely hard for and we must be diligent to spend it wisely.

they've learned about nutrition and how to read an ingredient list and spot tricky, misleading, labels.

they have learned all about different people groups and their attire.

they have learned that christmas decorations should not come out in october based on my loud gasps and horrified looks.

they have learned how incredibly blessed we are with the resources we have at our finger tips.

they have learned about farmers and their hard work to supply meat, fruits and vegetables.

.......and so on and on forth....

for me, it wasn't just about them learning how to behave in the grocery store, it has been about FAR more than that. we still have our trips that are totally exhausting, but more often than not these days we are making it through the grocery store with hilarious conversation, lots of random knowledge exposed, and ONE buggy full of goodness.

happy grocery shopping!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

fabulous fall

i love this time of year for a million different reasons. if you are friends with me on facebook you know that one of the reason is because i can burn my pumpkin candles and make pumpkin muffins.

another reason i love fall is because there are endless special dates in our family which are cause for reflection and celebration.

i turned 31 this month. no, i refuse to be one of those people who is embarrassed by their age. i am going to tell anyone who asks my whole life how old i am. getting older for me just means getting stronger, wiser, and becoming more of who i was made to be. i am just like a good wine, getting better and better with time! i love this time in my life. i love being 31. my in-laws reminded me in my card that this is a "prime" year for me, and to be honest, i feel prime.

i love the colors this time of year.  i love how the grays of the fall sky just illuminate all of the rich and fiery colors and make them POP!

my mom has always loved the fall. she was never fond of the time change, but she ALWAYS insisted that we watch the trees change! my brother jonathan, took this picture of mom and dad's block. i love it!

hope you find some time to enjoy the changing of the seasons.


Friday, October 12, 2012

trucks and matchbox cars!

the next two pictures were like watching many dreams come true in my heart...

today, the girls and i were having a fall cleaning party in the bedrooms, complete with microphone brooms and justin bieber lip syncs (i make a mean ludcris if i say so myself :)!  i came out of the bedroom to dump some trash and found this little guy doing something i imagine all little boys have done or will do. this little boy is such a blessing in our home. as of late, he has just managed to be the calm in the midst of lots of drama. he has such a sweet way of loving his Mama, he makes me feel special and set apart, just like his Daddy makes me feel.

as i zoomed some monster trucks and raced some cars something clicked inside my heart, and tears began to flow. you see, i've been unsuccessfully and desperately trying to make my life and all of it's circumstances line up nice and straight and neat like this row of trucks and cars. life seems to be SO uncertain right now in so many different areas, and it appears as if i do not do quite as well as i thought with the unknown. just last week i told my dear friend that everything is NOT fitting nicely into the "everything is fine" box right now. i've moved from waffle square to waffle square in our lives attempting to control to the unknown.  because there is so much i can not control i am trying to at least pretend i am in control. i am not a super numbers person, i don't think in numbers, but recently i have been obsessed with the budget to make it look different so that i could feel like i was more in control. (laughable!)  i have mulled and mulled over Mom's care and the predicted outcome, and i have tried to come up with a rescue plan to make it all go away. i want to scoop down and eliminate all the hurt, pain, and internal conflict i see in my mother's eyes, and use my magic wand of control to make it all disappear. i have been picky and unfair with kids, consequently i am swimming in the quick sand lie of motherhood guilt; "they deserve so much more than me!" i whisper in the dark of night.

i am scrambling. i am being scrappy. when i played basketball it was always a compliment when someone told you you were being scrappy on the court. unfortunately, being scrappy on a regular basis does not reflect my desire to be steady, strong, and courageous.

it was inevitable, i was going to eventually come to the end of myself and my futile attempts would run out. i had a really ugly cry over lined up trucks and cars. who does that?

recently a very wise man told me that according to Psalm 77 God is in the sanctuary as well as in the raging sea. right now i feel like i am spending 90% of my life in the raging sea. therefore, i take great comfort in knowing the precious promise from Isaiah 43:

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
   I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

 i love that word "redeemed". i am not a big tattoo person, but if i had a tattoo it would say redeemed.  that's a word i could live with being etched into my skin forever. i love the letters and the double e.   i love the way it feels when it rolls off my lips, "REDEEMED!" but mainly i love what it means when it falls on all over the waffle squares of my life that i can't control, and my gracious Savior says it to me over and over again while the dump truck bed fills with my tears., "REDEEMED, REDEEMED, REDEEMED! MY child, you are REDEEMED!"

as one of my best friends would say in her sweet southern accent, " you are one hot mess right now." it's SO true. but i am seeking out the sanctuaries of my life and embracing the words, "be still!" i am learning to acknowledge all my glaring weaknesses and destroy my "everything is fine" box.  it's not comfortable. it's not as pretty as lined up trucks and matchbox cars, but it's a necessity.

here's to the raging sea and the company that we have there!!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Living In The Storm: The White Board is Full

We keep a white board in Mom's room on her decorative shelf. Mainly, it's to keep all of us Halls well informed about her daily events. There are a lot of us popping in and out throughout the day, so it's a great record of who has been to visit and what the latest is in regards to food, moods, etc... The kids love to sign their names and leave little messages and pictures. Yesterday, Anderson drew a shark attack. I mean what Grammy wouldn't love that on their white board? ;)

The last three weeks that white board has been filled with YOUR names. It has been such a blessing to see all the familiar names up on that board when I sneak up to visit Mama in the calm of the afternoon. Most afternoons she has been sound asleep from the excitement of all of her visitors. The nursing home and hospice have both mentioned multiple times the countless friends Valerie and Clint have. Mom's white board has not only been filled up, but Mom has been filled up and lit up with more life than we have seen in months. Your visits, songs, flowers, laughter, hugs, kisses, and prayers have ministered to her heart (and our hearts)!


1. Mom has been very alert, bright eyed, and talking. Now, is a great time to see her!

2. Her blood pressure is up.

3. She has not lost weight this week, which is the first time since July.

Prayer Requests:

1. Please pray that as we enter the fall/winter seasons that Mom would remain healthy. Her body is so fragile and her immune system so weak that even the smallest infections could wreck havoc.

2. Pray that peace would continue to sustain Mom and Dad, especially when visits come to an end and people have to leave. Because Mom is more aware, saying goodbye seems to be upsetting her more than usual.

3. Continue to pray for a good nights sleep for Dad.

4. Pray that as a family we can continue to have wisdom on how to love and care for Mom the best way possible.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

He just makes it better...

11 years ago this Saturday,  mark and i vowed before a church full of family and friends this promise:

""I, enter into this covenant of marriage with you. I promise to love you, and to completely give myself and all that I have to you. I pledge to care for you in sickness or in health. I will honor and cherish you all the days of my life, whether our life circumstances are better or worse, our days sweet or sour, and whether we have plenty or are in want. I will purpose to live before you a life of faith and trust in Jesus Christ. If anything but death separates me from you, may the Lord deal with me ever so severely."

there are two parts that choke me up every time i read them.

first, "I will honor and cherish you all the days of my life, whether our life circumstances are better or worse"

honor and cherish, these are meaty words, it's why we chose them.
honor means to respect, revere, dignify, and esteem.
cherish means to protect, foster, to hold dear, to care for tenderly, and to cling to fondly.

so in those twelve words the basic message of our promise to each other went something like this;  i will chose everyday, until my very last day, to wake up and hold you (your thoughts, your desires, your needs, your preferences) higher than i hold my own. my job is to make you look good. whether we are sitting in the same room or we are thousands of miles apart. my actions, my words, my motivations, my very being as your spouse is to love you in a dignified way.

i am also going to chose everyday, to hold you so close to my heart that the distractions of the mundane, the glitz and glamor this world wants to entice you with, and the distortions of our flesh, will not have room to grow. i will cling to you physically, emotionally, sexually and spiritually, in such a gentle, selfless, and tender way that you will be unable to refuse me. i will resolve to protect the entity of our marriage because i chose you, i choose you, and i will continue to make choosing you an everyday, non-negotiable option.

sounds impossible, right? humanly, it is. not one day, not one hour, have those promises been perfectly kept.
but you should know by now we are not about perfection. that's the beauty of being in a marriage where both people are fueled, filled, and fortified in the grace of Jesus Christ. love covers, lays on, removes as if it never happened, a multitude of sins. when you are empowered to love with that kind of love, then the promise to honor and cherish no longer becomes a desire it becomes reality.

which leads me to my second favorite part of our vows, "I will purpose to live before you a life of faith and trust in Jesus Christ"

if we say with our mouths that we love Jesus, than our spouses should just be dripping with the overflowing fruit of our abiding relationship with the King. the world should know that we love Jesus simply by watching the way we love our spouses. that doesn't mean we just love each other when it's easy, convenient, beneficial, or feels good. it means that even when "the worst" comes knocking on our door and threatens to shred everything that embodies our marriage, we fall on our knees and beg the God of the universe to flood our hearts, our intentions, our very being with HIS UNFAILING LOVE! 

i am crazy about my husband. i am so overwhelmed and so humbled when i reflect on our marriage. a marriage that has been fought for with tears, blood, and endless prayer. a marriage that has been built on Jesus, built on forgiveness, and built on the promise that though we do not have it in us to keep the promises we made 11 years ago,  the One who indwells us will finish the good work He began in our marriage.

mark adam, you just make everything better.
oh, the deep, deep, inexpressible joy our marriage fills me with!
i love you.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

today my is my dad's birthday.

it is indeed a great day to celebrate a really, really, AMAZING DAD!

over the weekend, the church i grew up in celebrated it's 50th birthday. my dad has been apart of westbrooke since 1987, that's 25 years. for half of the church's history, in some way, shape, or form, my dad (and mom) have been apart of the life story. i think that's really, really, special.

yesterday, my dad was to give a brief synopses of his time at the church. brief has not always been dad's strong point, but brief he was ;) although, i have to tell it was not the words that he spoke that moved me to tears....  it was this incredible moment, when after my dad was introduced by the senior pastor, that the whole church stood to their feet in the sweetest applause you ever heard. it took me so off guard that i could not stand, i just sat and wept and wept and wept. i think for me, their applause and standing ovation was everything i could not say. their cheers for him (and sweet Mama) went beyond, "thank you for 25 years of loving, serving, leading, guiding, and shepherding this congregation.  but it was as if their hands were saying, "thank you, thank you, RIGHT NOW for what you are doing by being a living example of Jesus to your wife, and to a whole world that is watching!" their applause for my humble, humble dad communicated exactly what i wanted to say of him today.

daddy, the two very hands that you held from the moment i entered this world, clap in appreciation of who are you. i stand in testimony that the man who preached behind the pulpit is the man that lived in our home. that you practiced what you preached even when the whole world was not watching.

i feel as if i won the "father lottery" when God placed me in my father's care.

i am so proud of my dad.
i am so overwhelmed when i watch how people have been effected by the very life he has lived and continues to live.

i want to wish him a sweet, sweet, birthday!! full of all the greatest things that this day has to offer; time with Mama, time with family and friends, and of course some delicious food!

i love you, daddy!
~ your nupa