Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Happy Birthday, Bug!

As a baby she hated to be held. She just wanted to be laid on the ground so that she could move and explore. At first I thought I was doing something wrong, (like all first time moms) but I quickly discovered it was just her way. Last night, her daddy and I were visiting in the living room when her eleven year old, almost five foot self crawled up in my lap. Her Larry Littlejohn legs draped over the chair while she nestled her head in the crook of my neck. How did did we get here? This amazing creature came from a single cell in the depths of my womb eleven years ago, and here she sits completely and utterly, ALL.GROWN.UP.  Her soul, her body and her mind the most awe-inspiring site to behold. We are crossing over from little girl to young woman and really, at the end of the day, when she curls up in my lap like she refused to do as a baby, I think, "we can do this, we can do this tween-teen thing! As long as she keeps coming home to the safety of this place, (and even if she doesn't) we can do this!!"

Katherine Suzanne,

Being your parents is the greatest joy of our entire lives! Watching you own your life, your love for Jesus, your love for others, and your determination for excellence is way too much fun! Everyone should have a Katie Littlejohn in their life! Everyone should be on the receiving end of absorbing such a delight as YOU!! We are proud of you! We are proud of the character and maturity you exhibit on a routine basis! We love all your ways. You keep turning your eyes to Jesus, fill your mind and heart with HIS truth. You keep allowing Him to use you to show love to the 'least of these'. Our hearts and our home will ALWAYS be a safe place for you to land.....

Happy Eleventh Birthday to our favorite STU-ENT!  

~Mama and Daddy

Thursday, August 21, 2014

She Didn't Say Goodbye

We are treating the next ten days here in Mississippi, the way my brother and his family treat Boston in the middle of February; we are exposing our skin to the elements as little as possible, running from our car to the nearest building for relief, and privately talking bad about any one who plans outdoor activities during this time of the year. It's a cruel time of year to live in the south. Eleven years ago, I was 39 weeks pregnant waddling around in it. Praise God, that is OVER! :)

Even with the extreme heat plaguing us, the shadows are getting longer and the days are getting shorter. Any time the seasons change, I spend more time than normal thinking about my mom. The woman celebrated each season as if it were her favorite season. Except, she loathed winter but adored Christmas. She was conflicted until January, and then made no bones about her disdain for winter.

This time two years ago, we were faced with horrendous task of placing mom in a nursing home. No family member EVER wants to embrace this reality, but at some point all family members will admit to being unable to give care to someone 24 hours a day, seven days a week without compromising the health and safety of the person who is sick AND the person who is the caregiver. My dad and my two brothers, did an amazing job of caring for my mom for absolutely as long as they could. Medical staff at the nursing home repeatedly commented about how shocking it was that Dad was able to keep mom at home so long. It was a gift.

There are seasons I allow myself the freedom to remember those days, not because I am wallowing in the past, but still processing the actual events themselves. Our brains have this incredible way of protecting our emotions from trauma for a long period of time, until we are actually able to process what took place.

It hit me today that my mom didn't say goodbye to me. We didn't have that inevitable conversation in which she told me everything she wanted to tell me before she could no longer tell me. And somehow we progressed through the stages so quickly, that before she or I realized it, she was no longer able to tell me goodbye. Sometimes when people are diagnosed with Alzheimer's, they write letters, they video themselves, they plan ahead for the time when their minds are no longer true to who they are, and their bodies wait in anticipation to get the memo.

That was not Mom's way. There was actually very little talk between she and I about a time that would come where I would be without her. She knew it. She was no fool. But while there was time, Mama lived. She took every opportunity to retell stories from her life, because there came a time when the past was far clearer to her than the present. She made funny jokes, and pushed all of our buttons just to make sure we were all still who her heart told her we were. We obliged, and often responded in our truest form, especially Zachary :) And Mom took every opportunity to remind us that if this disease was touching her, it had first come through the hands of her God. One day while she was having lunch with me, she reminded me again (there is lots of reminding with Alzheimer's ;) of this truth, to which I replied, "Mama, I know that is true and I believe it with all my heart, but it does not mean that I am not a little pissed about it and a whole lot sad about it!" She burst into tears, "It is shitty" she cried, "Oh, so very shitty, isn't it?!" We held each other and cried, and that was the closest we ever came to saying goodbye.

I can imagine now better than before, that her Mama heart would never let her resign to the fact that she must go on and leave her crew behind. As a mom, my children will always be just that, children. No matter their age or position, I'll always be their Mama and they will always be my children. Children; a word that evokes the need for care and keeping, and what had always been true for her was morphing into something unknown. She had always been the one to care and keep, and now for the first time ever, we were caring and keeping her. But in her own way, she kept caring and keeping us by being diligent to fight and never let us see her forfeit to the disease. Some might call it denial, others preservation :)

And while Mama maybe never officially said goodbye, she left me with an entire life time of memories to remind me of the way she felt about me. There is no doubt in my mind that my mother adored me, and that secretly I was her favorite :) (it's a joke, everyone relax :) My mom sacrificed her entire life to see that we were cared and kept. It wasn't always perfect, and she would be the first to tell you that, but she was there. And everyday, as I wipe the table for the tenth time, sweep the floor for the 5th time, make the 21st first meal in 7 days, fold another load of laundry, chop another onion for ground beef, and wash another dish, I hear her reminding me, "Be here! Live on! Don't miss this!"

Thanks for fighting mom, thanks for living!
All my love,

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My Name Could Be Robin Williams

A couple weeks ago, I posted a picture to facebook of our time at the ocean and said this, "It is significant to me how the vastness of the ocean makes me feel incredibly, peacefully, insignificant."

My heart has been so heavy and conflicted as of late. Many of you know I'm an avid reader and a partially hydrogenated news junky. As maturity (and many restless nights) has taught me, sometimes we have to turn the news and all the extra noise in our life OFF. Between hearing about the images of fathers holding their beheaded daughters and reading the goodbye letter Zelda William's wrote for her daddy, I feel myself going inward and downward. And thanks to the work of the Holy Skidmore (see instagram), no wait Holy Spirit :)... endless self evaluation tools, and the tribe of people who speak truth into my life; I can see the warning signs of my behavior and I do what I have been taught to do; run to the only person who is so wonderfully, graciously sovereign-- all knowing, and trustworthy; and find the comfort of my insignificance there. I do not speak of an unhealthy insignificance in which one buys the lie that we are worthless and without great value (the price He paid for us is immeasurable); I speak of an identity that is found tightly tucked under the great wings of my Protector. My insignificance is gloriously reflected in His amazing power and might. And I do not know about you, but I desperately need a MIGHTY WARRIOR fighting the battles and lies that seem to be currently plaguing me.

Mark and I have been running to Job 38-40 this week. (Ok, I've been like sprinting for them, devouring them, and panting over them while Mark very lovingly and stably responds, 'those are really good') I love these chapters because it confirms that my God is a literary genius. The way He poetically, gently, and with some delightfully dripping sarcasm, puts sweet Job in his rightful place. These verses wash over me with the same exact feelings that well up in when I stand in the vastness of the ocean.

Here are some of my favorite, give me chill bumps, snippets...

And the Lord replied,
"Job, where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me Job, since you know, who set the measurements of the Earth?
Job, have you ever commanded the morning, and caused the dawn to know its place?
Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
Have you understood the expanse of the earth, tell Me, if you know all this.
Have you entered my storehouses of snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail?
From whose womb has come the ice?
And who has given birth to frost?
Can YOU use YOUR voice to command the clouds to pour down rain?
Who can tip the water jars of the heavens?
Are you aware of when the mountain goat gives birth?
Will wild ox consent to serve YOU, or will he spend the night at YOUR manger?
Did YOU give the horse his might? Did YOU clothe his neck with a mane?
At YOUR command do eagles mount up and make their nest on high?
Will you Job, the faultfinder, contend with the Almighty?"

Now if you aren't sitting down, you should, because Job's response is timeless, breath taking, and so RIGHT ON! Because Job's response communicates EXACTLY what I'm feeling today.

Then Job answered the Lord and said," Behold, I am INSIGNIFICANT; what can I reply to You? I lay my hand on my mouth."

When we fill ourselves with the truth about WHO our God is, the richness of ALL of His attributes, and write on the memory cards of our lives ALL the ways He has been faithful to us; our only response is fall on our faces, with our hands over our mouths and worship.

As my friend Mark pointed out this week so eloquently on facebook, at some point in ALL of our lives we will see, understand and feel the awful brokenness of this world and the reality we can do NOTHING about it. But that is only PART of the story. We, I, know a God who is impatiently counting down the days to come rescue His people and right every wrong. Because while a world seems to be spinning out of control:


And if I didn't, if I didn't stake every claim of HOPE in Him, if every fiber of my being didn't lay hold to the truth that I am His and I am beautifully,significantly insignificant, my name could be Robin.


Friday, August 8, 2014

Dear Mama, You Will Never Believe This!!

There is something incredibly vulnerable about sharing your story with someone other than your heart. Four years ago this month, I started this blog in order to be able to communicate to our family and friends the story of my sweet Mama and our family's journey with Alzheimer's. Apparently, it has morphed into something more, and I began to bleed over into different topics I was passionate about. Primarily; my God, my husband, my kids, and our mundane randomness that makes this life uniquely ours. Turns out, that mundane randomness has become my greatest joy, my most precious muse, and my cheapest therapy.

Through your kind words and encouragement, you have allowed me to breathe my life here in this forum. A forum that is as fragile to me as the words and vulnerability I express here. This seemingly vague http has become safe and familiar.

For as long as I can remember, written and spoken word have been an everyday norm of mine. Over the years, I have been given the opportunity to use my words in different categories; acting, debating, singing, teaching, sporting, preaching, instructing, leading, administrating, planning, parenting, coaching, marriaging (it's not a word, I was just trying to keep the 'ing' pattern going) and my favorite, WRITING.

Recently, we talked here on the blog about the intentional purging going on in my heart and life to make more space for what I KNOW I was created to be; a wife, a mom, and a artist. Over the last 32 days of fasting and over indulging, I stand in awe of the path God has paved before me.

One of my intentional areas for property expanding, has been to zero in on my words and try and break through into the great, big world of professional writing. It can be beastly. I took a TWO YEAR course, ten years ago about the ins and outs of magazine publishing, book publishing, etc..etc.. A lot in the world of publishing has changed in the last ten years. A.LOT!

I have kept my writing on an alter of sacrifice before God and begged Him to have His way with it. So often, the answer has been, "not now!" There were days, I told Mark, I felt like a caged lion, knowing deep in my toes that writing was going to be apart of my life forever. But when you are raising four babies into functioning children, manuscripts and magazine submissions take a back burner. And I determined to embrace my role of heart molder (although someday's I reflect heart smoosher) in their daily lives. This blog space has been the perfect outlet to continue to write without the pressures and added stress of a professional audience.

Without any more additional wordiness, I am UNBELIEVABLY pumped to share with you, my dearest friends, family, and readers, that this chica has submitted some of her pontifications to a magazine and *GASP* they want to publish some my work!

Can I tell just tell you what this means to my heart? For a long time, people have been VERY generous with complimenting my art (and that just pours life into my soul) but is feels so surreal to be validated by someone whose world and job is words. For an unbiased voice to say, "Your craft is valuable. Your words are worthy of a forum other than your Mama blog." *sigh*

I've struggled on how to communicate in a humble, but freakishly excited tone, about this opportunity.  So many of you have been published twenty times over, and I think ya'll rock! So I feel selfish and immature celebrating this semi-insignificant moment in my journey. But I'm over that!


Ok, back to humble :)

I wanted you guys to be the first to know, because well, you have journeyed faithfully with me for so long and now you're stuck with me.

When the time is right, I will post everything you need to know about the article. Where it's being published, how you can get your hands on it, and how we can flood this magazine with new subscribers from around the globe.

Some would take the opportunity at this point, to encourage everyone to follow their dreams and never give up. In light of this small moment, I think that's dumb, over stated, and never the goal. People say that when they lack creativity. I have zero desire for you guys to pursue your dreams, because let me tell you, the majority of the life we have been called to live is NEVER, EVER about fulfilling our dreams. Today, I think of my brothers and sisters across the world who are watching their children be beheaded by ISIS, and I can assure you it's far from "dreamy".

However, I can encourage you to lay your specific craft, your precious art, your unique gifting, your undetermined desires, your heart, and most importantly your life on an alter of sacrifice before our Great God, and plead with Him to have His way with you. Warning: rarely does that lead you down a road covered with blooming roses, rather a road you never walk alone.

I started this blog to communicate with each of you the non-dreamy road my Mom and family had been called to walk. It is not lost on me that while she does not live and breath the air I live and breath, she is not at all absent from this undertaking. Her sweet fingerprints are all over it, and it is only right that my first "big, girl" published article, be about non-other than my Mama, and all the truths she molded into me.

Thank you for coming along side of me, (of us) and celebrating this super, exciting moment in the life of my writing!

Here's to all the crafting He has in store for us!