Brashinger: Frankfort family finds faith in adversity
By Ginger Brashinger Citizen Journalistemail@example.com November 8, 2012 1:58PM
James and Kathleen Littleton, of Frankfort, are pictured with their 14 children. | Supplied Photo
Updated: December 12, 2012 6:17AM
James and Kathleen Littleton, of Frankfort, are people of faith.
As practicing Catholics who have raised 14 children in that faith, the Littletons credit their belief in God with helping them weather what Kathleen describes as “Job-like trials and tribulations” the past five years.
Both of the Littletons have written about their family experiences, despite the deeply personal nature of their stories.
They believe in helping others.
Kathleen’s latest book, “Better by the Dozen Plus Two, Part Two: Lessons Learned through Loss and Leukemia by a Family of Sixteen,” is a sequel to a first book about her family, co-authored with her husband.
Kathleen said she “was moved” to write their story last summer after the family experienced “everything from foreclosure to death to serious illness of one of our children to Jim’s diagnosis.”
Kathleen said she wanted to update the many people who asked about her family after reading the first book.
She said she also wanted to record their story for her own children, especially the youngest, so they could “be strengthened when faced with their own ... trials” in life and know that “God was taking care of us all along the way.”
Kathleen said her most important reason for writing the book was to thank everyone who helped the family, “even complete strangers.”
“Ultimately, it was a complete stranger who donated bone marrow to Jim,” she said.
As his wife worked on her book, James was completing his own book, “Healed through Cancer, and Other Adversities,” while recovering from the life-saving bone marrow transplant, the only viable treatment left for his leukemia.
James wrote his book during the two years of his illness, chronicling his fight for life and revealing the depths to which his family had fallen financially, “not knowing whether I would live to finish the book,” he said.
“I really want to get my book in the hands of people who have cancer or a family member who has cancer or some other adversity,” James said. “I’m convinced that it’s going to help them.”
James said although the book reveals the “practical details and anecdotes of what I went through just to make it,” he believes it has a more important message.
“The book is really about God’s love, healing us through the cross, through adversity and how He is with us every step of the way,” James said.
Despite his own deep convictions and beliefs — which he came to know later in life — he said the book is not just for people of his faith.
“It was written for anyone of any faith or no faith,” he said.
James said he understands the difficulty of having that faith tested.
“There were times of extreme darkness and a sense of extreme abandonment (during the illness), while at the same time, having my faith every minute,” James said. “Faith is an act of the will. No matter how I feel, God loves me and He’s with me. I never lost that for a moment.”
The Littletons’ mission is to get that message out, but they believe their unique story is what set their books apart from others.
“We have a message, but there’s a strong story behind it,” James said.
In sharing their very personal story, the Littletons agreed that pride took a back seat to humility.
“One of the things a heavy cross does is it kills your pride,” James said.
James said the family accepted donations of all kinds from people who reached out to help them, accepting food “when there was very tiny amounts of food left in the house.”
“Even as I lay in the hospital fighting for my life, our checking account was being garnished,” James said.
The Littletons believe they can help others who have experienced the “financial meltdown” they have experienced, “especially in these times.”
Often the ones to help others before their own difficulties began, the Littletons are now concerned about giving back while rebuilding their own lives.
“Every day, every moment is a gem,” James said. “It’s a gift, and having gone through adversity, we can see its supreme value.”
To contact the Littletons, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact James, call (708) 309-2078 or visit www.healedthroughcancer.com.
To contact Kathleen, call (708) 334-1988 or visit www.formingfaithfulfamilies.com.