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