Tuesday, April 30, 2013


It is really important to me and Mark that our children love one another, not just a tolerate with disdain sibling love, but a relationship that extends beyond their time here at home. I've said it before and I'll probably say it again, one of the greatest gifts our parents ever gave us was insisting that as siblings we loved one another. Looking back, I realize how much long suffering was required of them to ensure these principles took root in our hearts.

Overseeing the love-ing-ness among our four cherubs is a full time job. While, I understand that I cannot make my children love each other, I have the power to make it very uncomfortable when they show signs of not loving one another.

Something happens when the calendar strikes spring, internally everyone senses that they should be awakening from winter hibernation. Running around outside expelling the winter blues and being renewed by vitamin D. When it snows in April or rains for 4 days straight, everyone gets a little stir crazy and the squabbling can being. Everyone seems to be a little grumpy like the character in "Bear Wants More!"

It can be difficult to eat, sleep, do school, and play together with the same 4 people everyday. You can get irritable. That's kind of been the tune to our April showers around here.

Yesterday, I had a rare, totally calm, cool and collected parenting moment. I did not raise my voice, lock myself in the bathroom, or threaten extermination from the planet Littlejohn. Katie and Julia were fighting over stuff, and I have a zero tolerance rule about fighting over stuff. I would rather they take their Uncle Zach's advice and punch each other in the nose than fight about worthless, meaningless, stuff that is not going to add one second to their life, and it ain't coming with them when they leave this world. DRIVES.ME.CRA-CRA!

Any who, back to yesterday  While my 9 year and 7 year old stood staring at me I informed them that in ten short years I hoped that these conversations between the 3 of us regarding their ability to get along were a thing of the past.  Otherwise, I would want to stab myself repeatedly in the eye if they were still bickering like toddlers ten years from now. Then I explained to them that is why we were going to take the time and effort NOW to solve these problems, because they get to share with each other for the REST OF THEIR LIVES. (This is one of my all time favorite parenting lines!)

My "punishment" was that they were going to lock themselves in their bedroom, (on a gorgeous 80 degree day) and not emerge until they had come up with a plan on how they were going to solve this problem of perpetual nagging and selfishness. The plan could not include a list of rules and guidelines (that would only satisfy Katie's conflict resolution desires), and the plan could not include the statement, " I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, no matter what, because I feel like it," (that would only satisfy Julia's conflict resolution desires). I gave them permission to sit in silence until they cooled off if they needed to, but also made it clear that they were not to reemerge until the plan was agreed upon by both parties; 100 percent agreement!! And if they came out without a plan.. it would not be pretty.

Off went my very own Judy and Betty.

They were in their room for well over an hour. Confession, I totally forgot about the whole ordeal until they returned with their hand written plan. *Mother of the Year award given here*

I could have not been more surprised, and shed-a-few-tears-with-some-blubbering kind of proud, when they returned with their plan. And really it wasn't a plan, it was FAR, FAR, better!

The plan the girls came up with is straight out of a conflict resolution solution counseling book.

Drum roll please!
They wrote out a list called

"Sameness About Katie and Julia Littlejohn"

  • We have the same favorite colors.
  • We both LOVE manicotti.
  • Hummus makes both of us gag and puke in our mouths.
  • We are both overjoyed about going to camp this year at CRS!
  • We both like mysteries.
  • We agree, Piper Reed rocks!
  • Our favorite subject is math.
  • We both like homemade cupcakes and Glace ice cream.
  • We are BSF (best sisters forever)!
  • We both like the radio show Odyssey.
  • We love Cosby.
  • We love shopping.

I almost cried.

I love that they solved their conflict by remembering what they had in common to begin with. That is way better than a list of rules, or a list of non-rules, or anything I could have mustered up on my best parenting day.

Wouldn't we all be better to stop and remember what we have in common with each other instead of focusing on our differences?

This is where I have issue with evangelical denominations. Instead of spending the last few centuries focusing on all of our differences and writing millions of books to fill a world wide book shop about our differences, shouldn't maybe we have spent some time in a locked room focusing on our sameness, and putting petty differences aside?

What if couples, instead of spending their time in habitual fighting, sat and wrote out their sameness list instead? It's easy to forget what we have in common when our every days emphasize our differences?

What if churches, businesses, families, communities, schools, missions organizations, and ministries focused on their sameness list? Pouring their time and energy into "reemerging from the bedroom" with a little less fight and a lot more similarities.

All along I thought I was teaching Katie and Julia a valuable sibling lesson, but really, once again, I came out of the situation the student, and they the teachers.

Here is to finding some sameness in your bumpy relationships today!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Breaking The Fast: Wrap Up

I would be remiss to not share with you some of the "thread" our group shared throughout the entire 7 Experiment. I CANNOT imagine walking through this study without them; their hilarity, wit, encouragement, tears, and tender, teachable spirits. These women are among some of the most brave women I have EVER met.  They each intentionally made empty spaces in their pantries, stomachs  closets, basements, wallets, schedules, garbage cans, computers, televisions, and their whole entire lives, to see their Savior more clearly. It was PAINFUL, but oh so amazingly beautiful. I am not the same person I was just a few months ago; HALLELUJAH!  So much of my core has been flipped on it's head, and I am still grappling with such resonating changes in my thinking, motivations, and entire being.

Thoughts Before the Fast (Each paragraph is written by different member in our group)
As we prepare to enter our first fast I have been praying specifically that legalism will not play a role in our hearts regarding ourselves and obviously regarding others (although, I think most of us are more gracious with others than we are with ourselves). I've been praying that our hearts would seek JESUS! Nothing or no one else.

My Husband and I have decided to do the fast together, to seek the Lord individually, but also as a couple. We are praying that this fast not only brings us closer to Jesus but that it changes our perspective for His Kingdom sake-so that we can better understand how truly blessed we are, that we have more than we think we do-more that we can share with others, and that we can live more moderately than we do. We want to be more generous with what we have, and desire to be more aware of the world in which we live and the needs that truly exist in it.

I am excited and nervous but also looking forward to the growth I am praying this brings. My prayer is that this fast will change my heart towards all of my overindulgence's so that I will always be aware of how blessed I am and take less for granted.

I am realizing about how much of my life is centered around food. Not just for survival but for pleasure. Having a bad day? Drive through Starbucks. Bored? Plan a new recipe for dinner. Meeting up with friends? More coffee. Treat for the kids? How about Mr. Goodcents....seriously, I have some issues.... I too am getting a great picture of my bratty, spoiled, selfish, self. I keep praying and praying.
Words from a worship song at church yesterday called "The Desert Song" by Hillsong, rang very true as we sang about our hunger and need and God being our provider. 
anyways, hope everyone is hanging in there, even though it is hard. I am praying for you all.

So not only are they passing out salted caramel chocolates at work this morning, I had to divulge my fast to the women who sit around me because they all looked at me cross eyed when I declined (they know I am addicted) and they all said- oh how cool so are you losing weight? Really? I couldn't help but share what it's doing to my heart and diving into how truly bratty I've realized I am when it comes to not being able to have what I want. Telling them it's opening my eyes to just how blessed we all are and revealing to me how much we take for granted. Not a peep out of anyone since....ha! I wonder if they even know what fasting is? Why we do it....what it means....? Hope everyone else is hanging in there- praying for everyone!

Good Morning! 34 hours left ladies, we can do this!!I gagged on my spinach last night, and the grocery store is totally out of eggs until this afternoon. So, now I am really feeling the foreign experience. Can't just go to the store when you need something. So 7 became 6,  I hope in these final hours we desperately seek what God has for us...

I couldn't eat breakfast this morning because even the thought of eggs made me gag! And then I felt badly because so many people would never pass up food, no matter what. Sigh. I am feeling burdened to become less wasteful with our food leftovers after this fast, I will say that much. I have realized how tremendously blessed we are to have the SELECTION of food we do, in the QUALITY, and QUANTITY we like. Amazing. All that to say, I can't wait to see you all tomorrow and celebrate and learn together!

On a side note--those of you who fasted from most foods---did you feel kind of strange eating today? I fasted from lunch and when I ate it today, it almost felt strange---like unnecessary. Interesting what just a week does! Will be praying for everyone!!

"People who are ready to face and endure danger or pain."
I just wanted to let you ALL know how thankful I am for EACH of you. Choosing this study is really a true example of bravery to me. Thank you for stepping up and pursuing the heart of our Jesus!
Boy, I'm spoiled! This whole process is definitely opening my eyes to areas of excess I haven't given much attention to. Just like I stock my pantry for apocalypse, I've also stocked my toiletries and cosmetics! Praying for each of us and thankful for you! 
Hi All! I have to say I've found this week's fast much easier than food week! Although, I will be honest, I did not realize how much I depended on my clothes, makeup, etc. to make me feel better about myself....it's very sad! 
Confession: I just changed back into my pjs so I could wash my 6 clothing items. I feel like this fast is more of reflection on my laundry problems than clothing issues. Haha. This is too much like my normal life. 

We have A LOT of crap!! Excess can be found in every room, every drawer, every closet, of this house.
Pretty sure no one needs 6 sets of queen sized sheets, when there is only one queen sized bed in the house.
Oh, and the t-shirts. Someone kill me. Some where out there some big, wig business man decided that there needed to be a tshirt for every event, every summer camp, every marathon, half marathon, 5k, walk around the block...TSHIRT! Good bye crap!

No one posted during media week because we were all fasting from the computer ;)!
I set alarms on my phone and am so glad I did, because otherwise I would be forgetting some of the pauses. I am really enjoying this fast, even the midnight alarm, which I had thought would be really hard. God has been faithful to bring to mind different groups that are suffering to pray for, even in the wee hours 

I'm so glad you're heart is encouraged! I'm failing miserably! I cant remember to save my life and can't have my alarm/phone on me here at work! Ack! Haha at least He knows my heart! 

There was radio silence during the waste fast; we were busy painting ourselves green and researching compost piles and what the heck we could recycle. Everyone was just letting things settle into their hearts and garbage cans.

7. Spending
 It has been FARRRRR more difficult than I imagined. For instance, between Friday and Sunday I had like 5 random things I needed buy at places that weren't on my list. Copies for church because the projector died? Kinkos, not on my original list. ( I had to make an exception in the name of church for this)  Tires need to be rotated on the car? Shore Tire, not on the original 7. Ran out of olive oil? Unfortunately, The Tasteful Olive not on my list. A box of summer clothes to mail to my brother? Yep, post office not on my list. A new lamp for the living room because the other one busted into a million pieces? Savers, not on my list. UGH! So, I am seeing how quickly Jen got to that 67 vendors in one month. I am so used to buying what I need, when I need it, from where I need it from. Definitely a wake up call

My week has been good, but it is hard to stick with your minimal list. I thought the same thing, about how quickly she got to 67 places--we're so use to having things at our fingertips! This is such a good wake up call.

Definitely running into the same, hmmm this wasn't on my original list scenarios and much more mindful too of how MUCH $ I'm spending....so often adding over my debit card and then not even heating or registering a total until later!! Grocery shopping tomorrow and I think that max spending challenge I set will be a challenge for sure! 

Can't tell you how many times I've had the urge to break this particular fast with justifications like, "well, our GRASS seed NEEDS a new sprinkler, or that swimming suit may not be on CLEARANCE next week,"...sheesh. This is a good one

I have a confession....I went into a store (Aldi) shopped for groceries and happily left, after paying my 19 dollar bill and was driving home and realized that ALDI wasn't on my approved list. YIKES!!! It kind of scares me that I didn't even think about it...I mean seriously:( I really did have the best of intentions, but my brain let me down. Anyways, thought you all should know. Just goes to prove how much I take for granted...Sorry!!!
Love to you all!!!

 I definitely failed the spending test. Two weeks in a row. : ) But I did appreciate how much more aware I was this week and do think I cut down on extra expenses.

3 years ago my hubby & I decided to quit using cc's entirely. So, I have to say that spending isn't really an issue for us. We only buy what we can afford to pay for entirely so it has limited us tremendously...in an amazing way tho!

Wrap Up

I need change in my life. I am selfish from the core. I need more of Jesus and waaaaay less of me! I need to care more for others than myself. I feel like all of this fasting will be in vain if I don't actually start making changes to live more generously and more like how Christ calls me to. I love This quote from Jen Which sums up my point -"we don't think our way into a new kind of life; we LIVE our way into a new kind of thinking." Love it. I've found myself doing lots of thinking about how to make change and not nearly as much action on those thoughts. I love this study, I love all of YOU!, and most of all, I love our sweet Jesus, who loves me thru all of my failings. 

I was gripped with fear before we started. However, despite that initial freak out, the Lord has used this study to absolutely transform my heart and my thinking and in great ways! It takes work and it takes commitment, but the key to any of our success is resting in that place of grace. Our prayer for ourselves and each other was to not make this something legalistic, but instead a means in which He opened our eyes, hearts, and spaces for His kingdom! Jen helps walk you through that, and each week every one of our fasts looked different than any other members. allow each other that opportunity to pray, wrestle through the decision of what specifics you'll fast from, and then simply encourage each other.  I'd honestly do it all over again....

In conclusion, I wept as I listened to this song that seemed to convey everything I could not have penned better.

The problem’s not a gun, not a color, not a hundred dollar bill
We think the struggle can be won with simple thoughts like 'come together be good willed'
The gap between the rich and poor is spreading out all the more or so they say
We ignore the claims

O my soul, faint not, no, faint not
O my soul, keep up, up
In love

It’s not that we don’t know or we’re not shown the proof of poverty
It’s not that we don’t have the tools to go to break this yoke of slavery
We quit because it’s not an easy fix and then forget that they are even there
We forget to care

O my soul, faint not, no, faint not
O my soul, keep up, up
In love

Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, let me pardon
Where there is darkness, let the Light come, come

O my soul, faint not, no, faint not
O my soul, keep up, up
In love

O my soul, faint not, no, faint not
O my soul, keep up, up
In love

Faint not
Faint not

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Who Insulated My Thighs?

Why do nicely folded clothes get dumped on the floor,
And why is there always someone begging for more?

Why are there cheerio's in my bed,
And constant recordings of small voices in my head?

Why is silence a stranger to my days,
And child-friendly, sacrifice permeated all my ways?

Why do I sing, "All aboard the choo-choo train",
And use my lips to kiss away pain?

Why do I wear a pony tail,
And am labeled a fashion-ista fail?

Why is the bathroom the place I hide,
And pray my hormones survive the ride?

Why is there children's underwear in my purse,
And why can't my mouth blurt out that curse?

Why do black circles highlight my eyes,
And who added the layer of insulation to my thighs?

Why is my brain malfunctioning and fried,
And are you sure it was the bathroom you tried?

Why do I drive a minivan you ask,
And please tell me that's not a lipstick mask.

Why would I stay in this line work,
And wrestle and wrestle with their every quirk?

Why should I pause the other white noise,
And memorize their every poise?

Why would I agree to such a calling,
When each day includes multiple fallings?

Why I know that someday soon,
And all alone I'll be at noon.

Extinguished, the pitter patter of their feet,
And holding my breath until we next meet.

It is only for a season I get to hold their hand,
And pushed from my nest they'll learn to land.

It is why I choose to not escape these endless days,
And learn to treasure all their ways.

This moment is fleeting fast,
And I am determined to not let is pass.

Exhausted, insulated, weary and fried,
These kids are my everything, my joy and my pride!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

My Mother Spoke

In the nearly six months since Mama has been gone, it has been so endearing to experience the pure intentions of others and their desire to comfort us with words. Words remembering Mama and words forecasting what she is possibly doing with her time now.  We giggle a little (ok, a lot) when people assure us of our mother's presence like a guardian angel hovering over our shoulders. Secretly, we really hope she is filling her time with much more glorious happenings then following us around on a daily basis. In fact, I KNOW she is filling her time with far more important coffee dates with Paul, Peter, Moses, David (she loved David), Judy Wilkerson, Dee Williams, Joshua Paul, Shaylin Marie, and the countless others (including a special child she never met) who have gone before!

But yesterday, I am pretty sure mom asked God for an opportunity to come take a ride with me in my chevy venture. I was all alone, which is totally rare, and she saw my heart needed some much needed "Mama comfort!" I told you earlier this week I really needed to talk to her. This week, she talked to me.

When I got in the van I turned on 88.5 (my mom's all time favorite radio station) and Pastor Chuck Swindoll was speaking (my mom's all time favorite pastor, besides my dad, OF COURSE :) and he was speaking on the family (my mom's all time favorite topic). Chuck was using an Edith Schaffer quote (my mom's role model for the foundation and shaping of our home). It was like the trifecta of my mother's entire being shouting through the radio at me.

The entire 15 minutes I was in the car *alone*, Chuck Swindoll preached on the value of creating memories with our families. Each home viewed as a sacred museum of memories; the sweet memories as well as the very painful memories. Edith Schaeffer then correlated my role with the role of a curator of a museum. It was a breath of fresh air. A clear reminder that while I am in the trenches of motherhood right now; I am creating, upholding, preserving, protecting, standing guard over the very memories my children will carry with them forever. That seemed so much more endearing and valuable than the way I was viewing my role this week as "forever house maid to 4 slobs who can do nothing for themselves" ;)

On our trip to Virginia last month, we toured the National Gallery of Art. If you know me, then you know I have the artistic ability of a 4 year old. I can draw a mean stick figure and that's about all. Going into our tour I thought this would be a good cultural experience for our family. Something I could brag about to my art friends to make me feel more "artsy". I was thinking only people with hip recycled clothes and art history degrees would actually get something out of this place. WRONG! I was moved to tears numerous times (and my children moved to nervous hilarity as we passed the naked statue room) in our short thirty minutes there.  I could have spent days inside of that museum. It was awe-inspiring.

We also got scolded by the museum security for getting too close to the precious pieces and showing intent to touch. Imagine that, the Littlejohns and Bentzs getting into trouble?

All this museum talk reminded me how much more treasured my children are to me then those breath taking pieces. How they too, need someone in their life protecting them from people, propaganda, and agendas that have ill intentions to "touch" their vulnerable hearts and minds. They need a curator just like Monet, Kadish, Abrams, Babbit, Rubens, need a curator.

And that's what sweet Mama was telling yesterday in our mini-van trip, "You are museum curator. You are right where you are suppose to be. Your work is valuable. Your time well spent. Pieces of true art and moments of real history are being made in the confines of your home museum."

And more than ever before in my life, I know the importance of memories. Because sometimes I spend my today's curled up in the lingering scent of memories. Because sometimes awful diseases only leave the mind the ability to live in memories. And in those memories are museums of beautiful worth.

So here is to a day well spent in museum building!


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Less Words, More Pictures

Dear Readers, you have put up with A LOT of words from me lately. How about some pictures? 
I hope you enjoy. 

Mark's new "engineering" glasses. Snort. Snort.
 Katie looking too big in "appropriate" shorts for camp.
 "Sisters, sisters, there have never been such devoted sisters." Katie came with Julia to urgent care so as to make sure she was taken care of properly by the Doctor. Here they are fake sleeping.
 Anderson and Lucy getting ready to go on a run with Grandy over spring break.

 Grandma and Grandy helping with Katie with school.
 Finally some boy toys around here!

 Vomit Week

 Finally spring
 Fire tower, Sunday afternoon climb.
 More of vomit week

 Watching our soldier hero; Captain Grant Flynn

 Before braces
 After braces
 She thinks she needs glasses.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

I Cannot Abolish Abortion Today

Honestly, this past week I have been totally overwhelmed in almost every area of my life. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that this was vomit week in the Littlejohn house. And if you have ever navigated a vomit week, you know that alone can be overwhelming. But for me it was so much more than just the vomit. Maybe the total bombardment of the abortion links on facebook, ending human slavery and sex trafficking,  thoughts of inadequacy when all the happy runners post pics running their 5k's, or all the do-better-be-better-make-more-money-by-selling- this-product-links. Maybe it's because I am reading a book called, "Sleeping Naked is Green" (an eco-cynic unplugged her fridge, sold her car, and found love in 366 days) and feeling like I am the least green person walking on planet earth. My brain spinning with things like; Organic! Local! Farm raised! Less plastic! Recycle more! Waste less! Turn the lights off! Take quicker showers! Flush the toilet less! Decrease your carbon footprint, etc.  All of these areas are worthy areas requiring education and change. But sometimes when it all comes crushing down on your heart it feels too heavy. It feels like, "I am a lone reed, standing tall, waving boldly in the corrupt sands of commerce," (that's for all of my You've Got Mail, fans) Actually, feeling more like a trampled reed.

Last night, we watched Lincoln and I was so impressed with the absolute determination in the character of Lincoln. I went to bed thinking, "How can I be more effective? How can I make a difference in an overwhelming fight like abortion? How can I be a better steward of my Father's world? How can I even begin to leave a legacy for this world when the past ten years I have lived in the trenches of child rearing? In the fog of vomit week?

Last night was one of those nights I so, so, desperately wanted to call my mom. Pleading that she remind me what it is that I am doing. "Mom, tell me again that being in the trenches with these kids is making a difference! Tell me that cleaning up vomit, wiping bottoms, living in the kitchen with a broom in one hand and a hot pad in another is important. Please tell I am right where I am suppose to be. Tell me that my calling is worthy, and not cheapened by public opinion. Tell me, that I am something even though my resume is empty and without the bling of degrees, referrals, and stories of successes. Tell me what I am doing matters, please mom, please!"

When the melt down of such magnitude begins to happen in my heart, I know what the solution is, it is the same solution it was 31 years ago when my dad began whispering it in my ear, "it's time for bed, you're exhausted!"

I went to bed, whispering this prayer in my heart, "Help me Lord, what should I do with all this heaviness? How can I be effective? How is posting a link on facebook going to stop even ONE abortion? How is a red X on my hand helping the eight year being raped right now in India? " Am I a bad person because I hate running?  How can YOU be high and lifted up with my "green" efforts! I am a mother lacking in patience and love, how does that make me qualified and called to raise four children? Help me, God! Help me!"

And the Spirit just began recalling beautiful truths to my mind. When I look back at the political climate my Savior was born into, I gather much perspective. Jesus was born in the middle of a massacre of boys under the age of two. Something that could probably rival even Dr. Gosnell. Abuse of children, women, and anyone deemed irrelevant was rampant. Political drama was everywhere. Slavery in every town. Injustices in every culture of people.

How did Jesus respond to all the heaviness of His time? How did Jesus change the tide of public opinion regarding life? Did he post articles on the wailing wall or something? How did he feel about those who abused children?  Was Jesus green? Did he recycle his sandals, tunic, loincloth and belt? How did he respond to the injustices of His time? Did Jesus run 5k's for charity?

In Psalm 139, some of the most poetic lines are penned regarding the creation and formation of the mysterious happenings in the womb of a woman. No woman who has ever given birth can claim that they were intimately in control of the creation and formation of their child. When the nurse puts that baby in your arms for the first time all you can think is, "How did this happen? How did this grow inside of me and just come out of me?" But the Psalm says that His eyes saw our unformed substance, and that He skillfully wrought us into being. That is how the Creator of the world feels about His created life in the womb. He knits them together, piece by piece, moment by moment, intelligently, carefully, with purpose and intent. He knows each baby whose life has been stopped because of natural causes, and each baby whose life has been stopped by the most egregious causes. He knows.

In the teaching of Luke 17 and Matthew 18, anyone who causes calamity, entrapment or disaster for a child,  would be better off having a millstone thrown around their neck and drown in the sea than receive the punishment that will become him.  Want to know how Jesus will respond to those responsible for raping children, abusing children, neglecting children, child trafficking, etc..etc...etc..? Look no further.

In regards to if God is green or not, I believe the very first verse in the Bible can quickly help us answer that question, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." And verse 31 of chapter one, "And when He beheld all that He had made and it was VERY good." God is passionate about His creation, from infants in the womb to the jars of rain He stores in the skies.

The scriptures does not speak about Jesus running any 5k's. Phew... off the hook ;)!

What does all this mean for me? How does one 31 year old woman, who is preoccupied with her face in the porcelain bowl, effectively do any.thing?

And once again, the truths of what my Jesus did flood my heart with hope.

In Luke 7, He let the most unclean hands of a prostitute wash over His feet with tears and perfume, and she was declared forgiven and her soul cleansed and saved.

In Luke 15, He received sinners and ate with them.

In Mark 10, he rebukes the "twelve dudes who did" and told them to let the children come to Him! He desired the very company of the unruly, smelly, rambunctious, simple minded, children. "For theirs is the kingdom" He announced.

In John 2, He turns water into wine! Hallelujah!

In John 4, He speaks with a woman who is an outcast and validates her heart.

In John 11, Jesus wept. ( I don't know about y'all, but I am getting good at this one!)

Throughout the entire ministry of Jesus He lifted up the unworthy, the unclean, the down trodden, the leper, the possessed, and the outcast. He pursued the lame, blind, hungry, hopeless, sick, needy, poor, broken, and dirty. He sought out those whose hearts were teachable, pliable, changeable, and ready for His glorious work. He taught Peter to keep His eyes on Him. He called Matthew, the deplorable tax gatherer, to be in His inner circle. He saw Thomas' doubt and befriended him regardless. He saw Judas' betrayal, but loved Him. He saw potential when others saw pauper. He saw priceless when other's saw prostitute. He saw worthy when other's saw wimp. He saw value when other's saw vulture. He saw redeemed when other's saw reckless.

All the answers were there for me. While, I might not abolish abortion, slavery, and reduce my carbon foot print TODAY. There is SO much I can do! I can smile at the cold grocery-checker-outer, love the outcasts of our culture (instead of rage against them on facebook), have my widowed neighbor over for dinner and a glass of Merlot,  hug the stranger at church, make cookies for the post man, recycle my magazines in the name of Jesus, pour life and time into the poor and needy. And yes, even for this very short, short season, I can clean up more vomit for the future inheritors of the kingdom ;) Because in the eyes of Jesus, my actions, whether monumental or minimal are effective. Because they are born out of a spirit desperately trying to be captivated by Him! And therein lies my motivation for one more day.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

I am NOT a Proverbs 31 Woman

I have heard more sermons and read more articles about being a Proverbs 31 woman than is healthy.  I have seen it used as an outline with bullet points highlighting weaknesses; a call for women across the globe to pull  up her boots straps and do it better (or more realistically melt into a sea of depression, guilt, and a permanent state of discontentment). I have seen husbands hand this passage over to their wives and say, "Go and do likewise!" I have this verse for those husbands, "abide ye here with the donkey." Genesis 22:5

I am NOT a Proverbs 31 woman. Well, I am not the redefined American, Proverbs 31 woman. 

So many gorgeous and REALLY important things get lost in translation when one does not understand the Jewish culture.. First, the title of this section. In our English translated bibles the titles are as follow: "The Capable Wife", "The Woman Who Fears the Lord", "The Wife of Noble Character", and my personal favorite, "Description of a Worthy Woman".  For the love, I cannot even thread a needle. I miss the mark of a "worthy woman" by a long shot; "she makes coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple." For real, if my family depended on me for clothing we would look more like a family of Adam's and Eve's, roaming the earth with fig leaf coverings, rather than fine purple linens. And let me tell you, not one person would spare a penny for garment I made, "She makes linen garments and sells them!" Mark and I would have to trade roles if being a, "capable wife" meant I had to sew, because Mark is a master seamster, (you see, I am not even sure what a male seamstress is called, so I made it up!) The American, pop-christian, culture has royally (with purple linens) spoiled the beautiful meaning behind this passage.

The title for this chapter when translated means, eshet chayil (ay-SHET HI-ul)  "The Woman of Valor". Awe, savory balm to the deflated confidence, isn't it?

In the Jewish culture, women did not memorize this chapter and then use it against each other at women in the church meetings, to exploit a failed to do list. Rather, the men memorized it word for word and sung it over their wives on the Sabbath as a means of blessing. 

Did you catch that? Men memorized it and SUNG IT over their wives as a BLESSING. Not a curse, not in a commander and chief, controlling, manipulative way to motivate his wife to be good, good, good-er; but to bless her!! Bless her!! Scripture gives us another opportunity to see a groom singing over His bride, "He, (as in the creator of the world) will rejoice over you with singing!" Zeph 3:17. That is something we can all, with much enthusiasm, get behind and say, "go and do likewise!"

My sister and I have had this on-going, eye rolling, hair standing up on the back of your neck, moment; when this passage is used to burden and lay bondage on women. Honestly, I never liked this passage. I loathed it. Not because I was afraid of it's calling, but rather the abuse of it's meaning.

Recently, that has all changed after reading this article and living through an incredible experience I'll never forget. On November 26th, 2012, I watched the words form from the mouth of a broken-hearted husband, as he sung the blessings of Proverbs 31 over the memory of his wife; each line not a chapter from her real life, but each line holding such blessing and reflection of the heart this woman possessed, and her husband's adoration and deep love.  In my book, this woman embodied for me the truest definition of, "Woman of Valor!" After all, her name, Valerie, means one with valor!

From that moment on, I have embraced the beautiful passage of Proverbs 31, the way it was meant to be embraced. Needle or no needle, purple linens or fig leaves, wake up call at 5am or 8am, head covering or no head covering, Hamburger Helper or a feast for a king, vegetable garden or produce aisle at Wal-mart; it's time to return to the heart of this passage; full of grace, blessing, and VALOR! And put to death the law, the to-do lists, and the falsified standard it has become.

May we be a blessing to one another, each other's biggest fans during this journey. Instead of each other's biggest enemies and critiques.

As I learned from Jen Hatmaker, (who I desperately would like to befriend) let's sing over one another at every triumph big or small;

a new baby, eshet chayil!
returned health, eshet chayil!
a job promotion, eshet chayil!
college graduation,eshet chayil!
vomit week navigated, eshet chayil!
working moms, eshet chayil!
stay at home moms, eshet chayil!
surviving the first year of parenthood, eshet chayil!
fighting for a struggling marriage, eshet chayil!
raising toddlers, eshet chayil!
helping the poor and the abandoned, eshet chayil!
attending to the sick and needy, eshet chayil!
a trip to the store without a child melting down, eshet chayil!
the wonderful projects of women, who unlike myself, sew, eshet chayil!
a home cooked meal, eshet chayil!
an inspiring piece of art created by a daughter, eshet chayil!
accomplishing a new goal or an old goal, (like not killing our husbands at the city gates) eshet chayil!

Let's with one voice shout blessings all over one another ; "eshet chayil" women of valor!!


Monday, April 8, 2013

Littlejohns Dance

Littlejohns dance.

Typically around 6:30 pm, the Littlejohn house is rocking with a dance par-tay!

For years, the kids have filled our video camera with "shows". Many of you have sat through these priceless moments with us; (currently there is a video of them on fb) Anderson singing, "Butterfly Games", Lucy with her pop movements, Katie and Julia with their endless choreography suggestions, and so as to not be left out, Mark and I can bust a move every now and then ;) Jumping, spinning, laughing, cartwheeling, doing the sprinkler, mashed potato, worm, have all been tools to release stress and knock the "crankies" to the ground.

Littlejohns dance.

Each of the girls has participated in some type of dance class over the years and we have watched them grow in coordination, confidence, and rhythm. They have been taught by some of the sweetest, most talented teachers out there.

Littlejohns dance.

Mark and I grew up in schools were dancing was not allowed.

Littlejohns dance.

Psalm 150:4 says, "Praise Him with tambourine and dance!" We are so very thankful to be apart of a church were dancing is an act of worship. Some of my most breath-taking and worshipful experiences have happened while watching Ballet Magnificat. AMAZING!!

Littlejohns dance.

In Ecclesiastes 3, dancing is the opposite of mourning, just like laughing is the opposite of weeping.

Littlejohns weep.
Littlejohns laugh.
Littlejohns mourn.
Littlejohns dance!

Here is to a week full of dancing! And if you need a little inspiration come on over, I am sure we can help you break it down :)!!!


Friday, April 5, 2013

B.I.I Stress balls and a compost pile

After I wrote the title, I almost changed it when I read it out loud, but it had me laughing so hard I figured everyone needed a good Friday laugh.

The past few weeks in our bible study we have addressed the excess of stress and waste in our lives. Many of you just rolled your eyes pleading, "How do you fast from stress?" Such a fantastic question! In the insane, over committed, soccer and ballet, mini-van, mom society (whew, long run-on sentence moment, sorry Miss K ;) that we live in; we all have areas that need evaluation and trimming. Our dear friend, who happens to be a high school English teacher and lover of words also, sent me this fantastic quote, "When things don't add up in your life, start subtracting!" (thanks, B!)

We have four kids, and each kid is allowed one extra curricular activity. That's it. I think during this season of their lives they need quality, daily life interactions with Mark and I, far more than they need a cranky chauffeur who totes them to and from Parks and Rec activities in a flurry of stress. Now, please do NOT hear what I am NOT saying; extra curricular activities are fantastic! They certainly can add tons of fun and skill to every child's life. We have just chosen to keep tight reigns on what that looks like for our family. We do this mainly to protect our marriage, our precious and limited time with our children, all of our health, our sanity, and our rest.

We talked a lot protecting the Sabbath this past week, and I could write and write about the beautiful purposes the Sabbath contains, but one thing stuck with me; when God created the world the very first thing He declared as holy was the Sabbath. He had made man, woman, animals, oceans, vegetation, constellations, etc..etc.. but it wasn't until He intentionally and graciously created the Sabbath that He spoke blessings of holiness upon it. Something that is worthy of protecting and celebrating EVERY WEEK!!

"This is My Father's World!" is one of my all time favorite hymns. This could have been our theme song for  our week of waste. This whole experiment in 7 has been for me a wake up call; that if we claim that we love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind, but then comfortably keep Him at arm's length when it concerns our pantries, bodies, food, health, our clothes, our closets, our possessions, our basements filled with crap, our media, our time, our stress, our care and keeping of HIS world, then we are a clanging gong. We have totally missed the point of a Savior who wants to be in and about ALL areas of our lives. He wants every area to imitate Himself, not just the areas that are taught about in Sunday School.

Job 38-40 left me totally speechless this week. If you think that your God is not obscenely passionate about His world and His creation, then you are mistaken. And what we purchase, consume, and waste is a direct reflection of our ignorance, or how we really feel about our earth and the one who created it.

A few quotes to chew on, "The ecological teaching of the Bible is simply inescapable: God made the world because He wanted it made. He thinks the world is good, and He loves it. It is His world; He had never relinquished title to it, that oblige us to take excellent care of it. If God loves the world, then how might any person of faith be excused for not loving it or justified in destroying it?" ~ Wendell Berry

" I wonder if we enjoy such a cavalier attitude about creation care because we're so removed from the effects of its squandering? We are Americans. We are above the nuisance of depleted resources. We'll just buy more. Surely there is always more. " ~ Jen Hatmaker

"When science advances and reveals something we didn't know before, something we understood incorrectly, it doesn't mean God was wrong; it means we were. Believers once thought the earth was flat and sin caused blindness." ~ Jen Hatmaker

"Creation care is a prophetic opportunity for the church. Theologically, our response here has great effect. According, to Scripture, it is fully integrated with appropriate worship, justice for the poor, and a healed land. We do God's story a great disservice to relegate creation care to the margins, imagining it has nothing to do with discipleship or redemption or worship or holiness. " ~ Jen Hatmaker

I hope your weekend is celebrated with moments of rest, and more green than ever before!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Big Love

We are having some SERIOUS holiday-vacation hangover around the Littlejohn casa this week.  Lucy must have sensed her demotion in the rankings yesterday, because I woke up to this picture this morning.

My favorite part? "BIG LOVE!" Not just, love. But big love!

Here's to hoping for some big love in your life, today!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The was of her being

Nine short hours after Mama went to be with Jesus, Thanksgiving stared us in the face. 34 days later, Christmas bells were waiting for us. 51 days after that, Cupid slapped us with the fuzzy heart holiday. And 45 days after that March 31st, was a double whammy; Easter and what would have been Mom and Dad's 40th Anniversary. And 35 days from now will be her birthday. In the short span on 165 days that Mama has been dancing on the streets of gold, we will have crossed through 5 major holidays without her, and 160 non-holiday days without her.

It's been exhausting, (and rumor has it that the second year is only more difficult ~ yippeee :) Each holiday highlighting a specific characteristic and memory that widens the hole of her absence.

Last night, after dinner I sat staring outside sharing with Mark some of my memories from the day she died. I wanted to know why we all left the room after she died? Why didn't I stay with her until the very last second possible? Mark gently reminded me that we had been with her for 3 days straight and we had done and said everything that we wanted to do and say. I guess, looking back I would take one second of being with her again.

Each holiday has been mind over matter. Each holiday, I would have preferred to stay in bed all day long with the covers over my head, but  Halls do not work like that. It's not our mother's way. This year my children went Easter egg hunting with Wal-mart sacks, TOTAL FAIL! I can hear my mom now, "Sara Suzanne!" We have relied heavily on our sweet extended family to bring energy and happiness to the family gatherings, while the rest of us graze on the appetizer table and try to carry on as best as possible. (Fry family, you are life savers!)

I have struggled with that word "would"; it "would" have been my parents 40th Anniversary, but my gracious Healer has put those thoughts to rest. Simply put, if I believe that God is absolutely sovereign, (and I do) and if He is the creator and sustainer of ALL life, then there are no "could's and should's" with Him. On November 21st, 2012, the story of Valerie Sue Hall on earth was concluded. It wasn't like there were four more chapters of her life written and put on hold somewhere. Her life's work was fulfilled. Would we have liked to have had many more years with her? OF COURSE! But as little time as I can possibly spend in the "could's and would's" the more I can dwell on what WAS!

And what was, was a beautiful life full of holiday days and non-holiday days. A marriage of 39 years that reflected the very love of Jesus Christ, 8 children who love her, 7 grand children that will be told of her, sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews that have pages of love and laughter to recall, and loads of friends who smile when they remember. Memories that will walk with us for a long time.

It's not the would's and could's that matter, it is the WAS that lingers in our hearts and minds!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A DP for JP

We are getting really excited around here for our 2nd annual DP for JP event on April, 20th. For those of you that are new around here on April 20th, we honor Mark's brother, Joshua Paul (JP) by drinking a Dr. Pepper (DP) and snapping a photo for all to see. Joshua went to be with Jesus on September 3rd, 2001. April 20th, marks his birthday, and this is our way of celebrating his life here on earth.

Joshua struggled with seizures the majority of his life and I would like to use my blog this month to debunk myths about seizures, and overall, hope to inform people more about seizures.

There are MANY different types of seizures, here are a few of the more common ones.

Petit mal seizure, also known as absence spells. Most commonly found in children 6-12. This seizure sounds like it's name, someone appears to be absence minded, starring off and losing the ability to focus. Sounds like most 6-12 boys you know, right? :) This type of seizure isolated without any other symptoms is very difficult to diagnose.  Often times a child is labeled as distracted, oblivious, and ADD. Most of the time person doesn't even know that the seizures has happened, especially in young children. Any time a doctor suspects that seizures are occurring an EEG is done. This test measures the brain activity. Just because you have a normal EEG doesn't mean that you do not have abnormal brain activity. Depending on the type of seizures taking place, but for the most part the EEG is a pretty good standard to determine if something is not right.

Grand Mal seizures, also known as clonic-tonic seizures, are full body convulsions. Typically, followed by unconsciousness. This type of seizure is what people think about when they hear the word, "seizure". Grand mal seizures can be triggered by low blood sugar, stroke, high fever, or other health complications. Most people who have a grand mal seizure because of other complicating health issues, only have one. People who experience multiple grand mal seizures that are not related to other health issues, are typically labeled as having epilepsy. Grand mal seizures can be scary especially for those looking on. It is important to assist a person who is having a grand mal seizure to the ground gently and let the seizure take it's course. Do not ever restrain a person who is having a seizure and DO NOT put anything near their mouths. When someone is seizing they can not hear you, so do not try to speak to them. After they have the seizure they go unconscious, so it is pointless to try and awaken them.

The brain in amazing. Amazing and so, so, complex! Neurologists only know a tiny fraction of the, "why's, when's, and how's" of seizures. But they have come a looooonnnnnngggg way.

April is autism awareness month. I know scores of people, including my brother Zach, and life long friend Erin, who have given their lives to help children with special needs. One post I saw on facebook said, "She doesn't see autism. She sees possibilities (thanks, Mariah) The same can be said for people who struggle with seizures. See THEM, don't see the seizures. Don't shrink away from something you don't understand, EDUCATE YOURSELF! Don't see them as a seizure people, see them as PEOPLE first who happen to have seizures.

I hope you are scouting out just the right Dr. Pepper and just the right place to take the picture. This year the winner (determined solely by our preferences) will win a case of his/hers favorite drink :)!!

Happy Scouting!

Enjoy last year's picture!

Monday, April 1, 2013

I am not good, and that's not bad!

Well, hello blogging world!!

Sorry for the inconsistent blogging during March. We had company week, media fast week, vomit week, and vacation week during the month of March. Not much time for deep writing and contemplation with all that going on.

Yesterday was Easter, and if you read my flashback post you know why there are no pictures of our family from yesterday. ;)

However, we did have another classic Lucy Littlejohn quote that I could not wait to write about. While, we were all in our cozy bathroom getting ready for church, Lucy was talking to herself in the corner and this is what she was saying, " I am not good, annnnnd that's not bad!" It wasn't til later that I found out that in fact this was not a Lucy original, it is from Wreck-It Ralph.

Nonetheless, it was a spring board for me for my Easter meditations.

I strongly, strongly, strongly, dislike the word good when it is used in the context of behavior. I cringe when I hear people say to my kids, "Oh, you are such a good little girl!" The word good, when referring to behavior, should only be used when praising a dog for accomplishing a trick. Mark and I have this running joke whenever we hear someone use that word, or when someone alludes to performance based ANYTHING; we turn and look at each other, and with our best southern, pastor accent we say, "GOOD! GOOD! GOOD-ER!" We have officially scarred our children. More money to the therapy fund.

I think it doesn't sit well with us  because as we have grown to know ourselves better, each other better, our children better, and lived more life, we realize there is not one ounce of natural goodness any where! AN.Y.WH.ERE! 

That's what makes Easter/Resurrection Sunday/The Third Day, just another Sunday, (whatever you call it) all the more spectacular. We have done nothing as is NO-THING to have mercy poured on us through the cross. There is not a single moment in any of our lives when we,  like a Three Amigo, can shout to Jesus, "look at me, look at me, look at me!"

And the deceitful moment when we want to feel good, good, good-er about our works, Isaiah makes it pretty clear, "We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy rag. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away."

And that filthy garment isn't just like a rag you use when changing the oil in the car, this refers to a rag soiled with blood from menstruation. It is unclean by the strictest of Jewish codes.

I am not trying to be a Debbie Downer here, it just struck me so deeply yesterday, that "I am not good, and that's not bad!" Because it was in my darkest, dirtiest moment, Jesus, the Great Redeemer, saw me and came for me. He left glory, became a vulnerable infant, grew up in a broken community full of political nightmares. His feet were covered in the dust of this planet, His heart weighed by the woes of the abandoned and abused, His forehead and back stripped and dripping with blood as He willingly, obediently, humbly, and with JOY endured the cross... Not because there was one ounce of goodness residing in these bones. He chose me for Himself, in all my badness.

That is why I love Easter. I love that we set a specific Sunday aside to reflect on that one moment that changed eternal badness into sweet, sweet, goodness.

Now y'all be good, ya hear?


The Peeping Peep (flashback)

Journal Entry from April 2010 (before I was blogging)

Easter is not Easter without a peep.  While, I think they are quite gross, Easter is not complete without a peep at least making an appearance in a Fry (my mother's maiden name) home.  You might as well kiss your family genes goodbye if you pass by the peep section at Wal-mart and don't pick up a few :)  Thankfully, the peeps came to me this year in the mail (thanks Grandma and Grandy!)

While, Easter is the celebration of the risen Lord, Satan prowls around homes on Easter morning simply looking to destroy the celebration!

Example 1:
Easter is incomplete without a few break downs in morning as we are getting in our "Easter best".  The children can absolutely adore their outfits a short 12 hours before the clock strikes "Easter!"  But for some reason (the devil himself) by Easter morning everyone is put-off by their hideous outfits and they want to wear jeans and t-shirts instead.  The clothes battle is one I refuse to fight because I don't think it's a moral issue, rather a preference of mine that my children look the way I think they should look.  Pretty selfish at the core, right? So when the melt-downs began I automatically laid down and said, "whatever you want to wear, I am not having this argument!" To my surprise, everyone did end up returning to their Easter best before we left for church, even Mark! ;)

Example 2:
I also learned a few years ago that the devil himself waits in my camera on Easter morning. Us moms are somehow inclined to take a quick photo before we run out the door because everyone looks so cute... BAD IDEA!!! That camera comes out and it all goes to hell in a hand basket. Tears, frowns, sobs "I want a chocolate egg!", more tears, etc..etc. I know you are laughing moms because you guys tried this yesterday morning and you were late to church as a result!!! ;0 This is why there are no pictures of the Littlejohn crew dressed in their Easter clothes.  Haven't you seen enough pictures of my kids?!

Even after the melt downs, the lack of pictures, a late start to the church place, the message of the sweet resurrection was not lost. During the sermon, Julia drew a picture for me.  Isn't it great?

 The best part for me was the huge smile of Jesus' face as He left the tomb.  That is exactly what the scripture tells us about Easter...Hebrews 12:2b "who for the JOY set before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of God the Father." That word JOY gives me the goose bumps. Obviously, the excruciating pain on the cross was not where the joy was found, but rather the JOY was the redemption of our souls.  "It is finished!" was the joy. The reconciliation of our heart to His was the JOY!! At long last, sin was crushed and life was now our's to live.

Hallelujah, what a Savior!!