Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Hoe Your Row

Hoe your row. That's what I keep hearing in my head lotsa ottsa days. No, not slow your roll. Although I probably hear that every now and then too. But hoe your row, Steph.
I did wonder where this idea is coming from so I googled it to be sure I wasn't just about to plagerize something I just read as my own because my brain tricks me like that. But the only reference is a Kasey Musgrave song. Which I will be listening to after I finish this post, but I am just gonna go out on a limb that that's not where I got it;) I do think she gets a lot of things right outside of a biblical worldview but I'm guessing I'm gonna tweak her message just a wee bit. Not hating on her at all. Just loving myself and a whole lotta Jesus more.
Over the last two years I've spent a great deal of time staring at, dreaming about, coveting other peoples' rows. God has been doing far more in me over the last two years as we invest in saying YES to Him in whatever capacity He demands. Taking care of 5 children, 2 of whom that I did not birth not have any say in their issues that I would be required to parent them through. 3 of whom I birthed of my own womb and yet still am required to also parent them through to becoming people that  teacher's, coach's and bosses don't hate. Nevermind the looming pressure to grow them up to obey Jesus and one day claim Him for themselves and live lives worthy of the gospel. The real deal gospel. Not the fake crap churches are pushing on the regular. Harsh, maybe, but I ate up the fake stuff for far too long, and it did NOT serve me well in the trenches. There is so much more to say about this but I'll save it because it does start to push my row over into your row and nobody likes crooked rows. My row is set to have some changes up ahead, down the row, where I can see it, but it's not where I need to be hoeing right now. Hoe your row, Steph. You can't jump ahead and hoe up there before you hoe back here. Got it. Get it?
We've all been given these rows. Places where Jesus has planted what He wants for us. We just gotta get our noses to it. I don't garden often. We don't live on a farm. I'm not amish. I am not even in the garden club. I am not really sure why this is the analogy that Jesus has used with me to get me but it really has me thinking. I guess that is His point. But as I've struggled over the row I'm on I've taken to looking at other peoples rows. Naturally taking me off task and off the subject. My row is being a momma to some people that really need me right now. Today. That's my row. I need to hoe it. But I can't hoe it with my hoe waving over my shoulder while I wish after others seemingly easier rows. I have no idea what their nose is down there looking at or what God has ahead of them in their hoeing. (Let me acknowledge my incorrect usage of verbing the words hoe and row.) But my row is right where He wants me. Your row, if you've sought Him for it and about it is right where He wants you. It's really none of my concern. Unless you get stuck in weeds, need a watering can or feel faint. Then you are gonna need help hoeing and if Jesus wants me there I'll be your girl. But right quick I'll be headed back to my row because I'm confident that's His place for me. I've been reading and praying and thinking a lot how the body of Christ is getting pretty cool when it comes to women and finally lifting each other up and not breaking each other down. My one downfall (or the one I'm gonna mention in this sentence) is comparison. It just helps that God has given us verses like Jeremiah 29:11 that let us know He knows the plans He has for us. When He prospers and protects us it might not feel so if we aren't hoeing our row. Peace is found in the process. In the working it out for Jesus on the daily. If we all commit to hoeing our own row. AKA getting in with Jesus and His work and finding which row He wants you to hoe and then just hoeing it in His strength with all your might. Then we might just get IT done. Everything might fall into place. Messy, weird, not cookie cutter place. But oh I just think it could be big.
Another problem I have (in this sentence) is worrying about what people see when they see me hoeing my row. What they think about my row. If they think it's pretty? If they can tell I worked real hard? If they can tell when I didn't work so hard? If they think I'm in the wrong row. What if God takes something out of my row and plants it in someone elses? Oh dear Lord, that will be too hard.  You see where I'm going with this?? Anyways, before I take a poll from anyone reading about how you think I'm doing at life let me just say this should NOT be. If we focus on hoeing our row and encourage our friends to do the same we would just be covering some ground for Jesus, ya know? God demands that we work heartily for Him, not for men/friends/haters. So, Hoe YOUR row, Steph. Just do it.
Lovely, I finished with an old saying/country song and then a Nike slogan. Yeah this is gonna take a while. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Been a minute...

since I've made a post...made my blog public...or even written for therapy. But things they are a changin'. So, why not jump start all the changes with putting myself and my thoughts back out there? Well, I could give you a list of why nots, but I'm choosing to find areas where I can be with Jesus, share Jesus and also share the things Jesus has taught me in the last two years. This would be the natural spot for that. I have contemplated starting a totally new blog because boy am I not the same girl that blogged about cute firsts and birth stories...and some of the surface stuff I posted is no doubt embarrassing. But, it actually is who I am or has been apart of my journey so I dare you to get lost in my mindnumbing scrapbook of finding my children awesome. Kidding. Please don't.
We are a few weeks in the the new year and I had planned on starting to blog January 1st. But isn't that just me that I arrive 24 minutes, I mean 24 days late.
God has done so much with The Harper 7 above and I can't even begin today to put it all into words. I am going to start at the ending that is coming near and then work my way back in the next few posts. Because that is how I work, backwards. We found out at our most recent court visit that we will be transitioning our sweet blondes, my niece and nephew back to their mom over the next few months. Ending in May when they will (barring any crazy changes) be put back into my sister's custody. This is a hard and crazy ride we have been on with Jesus and I have FINALLY decided to just wait on Him for the end of this story. So after 2 years with our family they will gradually visit with their Mom until the last day of school, where they will move back in with her. This is where my emotions start working too hard and my rational self takes a back seat so I am just going to say that while I have peace that God knows how this is all going to work and that I will hopefully finish this part of the race with at least some of my sanity I do have lots of trouble with circumstances and logistics. BUT, He does keep working those things out so I will continue to wait. I have trouble verbalizing these things that seem so final and hard so that is another reason I hope that blogging will get me to a place where I can type and then hopefully talk in a way that brings God glory and doesn't revolve around self pity and worry. A wise friend told me at the hearing of this decision that I shouldn't be afraid to grieve deeply, because loving deeply would then require the grieving deeply. So you've been warned. I might not want to read any of my deep grievin;)
If you are reading this then that means you are either super nosy (I mean you like to read blogs) or you love me. Either way I hope that you will be blessed by Jesus and His work in a very dysfunctional family and the way that He compels me to share the real in the reality of following God where He wants you to be when it isn't/wasn't the cookie cutter blog I had planned.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Don't name me bitter...

Our #shereadstruth assignment this week feels like a natural process for me this time. 

We've been studying the book of Ruth these last 2 weeks and I have over and over again been amazed at how God reveals the parallels in different circumstance/same God kind of ways. 

You see, it's that whole, I've read this story alotsa times but God's still got something new here just for me. Probably you too.

Here's where it all connects for me. Ruth didn't have to go with Naomi. She chose to, because she was following Naomi and her God. The one true God. It wasn't the easy choice and it probably wasn't the one she was just dying to make ... but she knew somewhere deep down it was right. Then she worked hard. In the field. She got dirty. She provided for Naomi and she trusted the plan. Naomi actually resigns herself to be called bitter in light of she and Ruth's current circumstance. She can't see past the present. She doesn't know the future. Shockers. But still. Then the story changes direction (to the girls, God knew it was the right direction from the get-go!) and we've got love, marriage and the baby carriage. Seriously though, there is provision beyond both women's dreams. There is a birth of a child that gives way to the very lineage of our Savior Jesus. It doesn't get much sweeter than that...redemption in its truest form. Redemption for the women, for Boaz and then for all if us through that same blood line. 

You see, our story is no romantic love story like Ruth so I'm not thinking the two are gonna relate. Yet we've got these 2 blonde cuties that we've watched from afar. Concerned about their well being but unsure of how we could help. Actually I knew deep down exactly how we could help, but I knew that would be way hard. But when the choice game down for the Harper crew we were in agreement. Hard was the right choice for us. The Bible tells us to care for the "orphans and widows". Not to mention thinking of others as more highly than ourselves. I don't need to go on to let you know that the hard choice was the right one. We knew this. But then as we began to "work in the field" we have been like Ruth, tired and unsure if this God we are following is leading us the right way. The discipline is hard. 5 children is more than 3, it just is...shocker, right? Working these fields of paperwork, dfcs and potty training has made me weary. The need for support beyond what we are being given has made my husband question if I'd like for him to refer to me henceforth as...you guessed it...bitter. There are days where I'm just not sure I should've "left everything" and come this way. But then I hear a sweet song being sung by a blonde head. Or a friend rescues me for an hour. I hear my oldest remind ME what the Bible says about our situation. With or without these moments, I'm ultimately reminded daily through Gods word and affirmation that I don't need to see the end to resist the "bitter" name. I can trust that this plan is His and I'm blessed to have the name of Jesus as my cover and shield. Bitter is indeed NOT my name. But satan sure would like it to be. Then God wouldn't get all the glory. 

While I can't see the end of this journey we are on I know the one who does. I also have the privilege of knowing that regardless of how the next few moments or years look...God is in control and Jesus is the end result. Ruth and Naomi knew God and their story had a joyful ending ultimately. God honored their obedience. I believe He will do the same for each of us. That doesn't mean it'll look the same or make perfect sense at the time. But in His time we will see. I'm not on the other side of this circumstance yet but I have been given fresh perspective for my lifetime. As two wise women found in following and trusting God, I will choose to just continue in that light. Anxiously awaiting how God is going to work each situation for His good. Every now and then I might need a friendly reminder though that my names not bitter.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Maybe I'm getting it all wrong.

Maybe I'm getting it all wrong. But at least I'm getting it, right? Right. Maybe. These last few months where we've added two more little blondes to our brunette banchees have been like nothing we could've prepared for or dreamed of on our own. God surely is working things out and stretching us beyond description. The statements I get most often now are:
- I couldn't do what you are doing.
- I bet things are busy at your house.
- They are so lucky to have you!
And the #1 quote from friends and strangers alike is ....
- You've got your hands full.

These things are always hard to respond to. I'm awkward in social settings after any dramatic changes/transitions so my response is usually a smile, nod or shoulder shrug. The main reason I don't know how to respond is because I know these people have no idea about the above pictured chair at my house. Or at least most of them. They don't see it, or that the chair pretty much also mirrors my brain, heart and speech! They don't hear the voice in my head taunting me, saying ..,Maybe I'm getting it all wrong...this living life, ministering to children, wiping booties, potty training, timeout enforcing and just overall run raged feeling. The truths I've been writing about are all also in the "chair". They are somewhere neatly folded in piles but somehow a bunch of unfolded undies and pj's got thrown in top. I know that God's called our family to this new season. I know He commands it in His word even. But days upon days of piled up clean laundry make me feel as though I'm taking crazy pills. I wanted to say somewhere somehow, to all those people who are doing what they know God is calling them to...maybe we are getting it all wrong, but at least we are gettin it. I know I'm guilty of only putting the right "filtered" pictures of my life out there for others to see. But the truth is no, I couldn't do what I'm doing either. Yes, things are busy at my house. I'm not sure if anyone is lucky to have me and I do indeed have my hands full. I am writing a blogpost instead of folding the laundry in the picture above and I've had to stop twice in the last paragraph to wipe someone's rear end. So, maybe ANYBODY could do what I'm doing, right? 
My point in all of this is that we've all got our chairs. (Well, almost all of us) But we've all got stuff we are trying to deal with and we are all wondering somewhere if maybe just maybe we aren't getting it quite right.
Once again, Jesus steps in and tells me I might never get it just right...if I did I wouldn't need Him in the first place would I? Would you? 
So I'm tackling that chair real soon and all these "messy clothes" in my brain...trusting that Jesus will meet me there just as He will at church or in my quiet times. Maybe even more...yep, that's getting it right. Press on friends. I'll pray for your chairs if you'll pray for mine.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Don't forget me, Lord.

This is another "She Reads Truth" challenge. So, here ya go...

Remember me for this, O my God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and it's services.
Nehemiah 13:14

Nehemiah has been working His booty off. Doing everything in his power to get the people to worship His God. He has seen progress and He has seen ignorance and defiance. He has obeyed regardless. He has fought the fight. He has towed the line. Yet things don't just end up in a perfect ending in Chapter 13 of Nehemiah. And that is ... Ok?.? Is it?
Well, it'll have to be...because that's what we got.

All I've got right now are current circumstance. It's hard (near impossible) to get outside of them, but I do believe that's by design. As I read this end of Nehemiah I find myself relating wholeheartedly to Nehemiah. How often do we as Christians work hard to be light, to obey, to tow the line, and yet our days end in a tangled, ugly mess. In my house right now it's a daily occurrence.

To that God says, follow the plan. So I cling to God and I cry out just as Nehemiah:
Remember me with favor, O my God.
Nehemiah 14:31

Such a peace in knowing God sees, God remembers and the only thing He forgets is our sin. Ahhhh...resting there. God doesn't forget us in the times where it would appear He has...He is in control and knows that we, like Nehemiah, can learn in that place.

God's word is powerful. It is active. I am thankful.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

God WILL Give You More Than You Can Handle...

...and for me, He's done it so I would HAVE to ask for help, accept help, aka lean on the body of Christ.
The above excerpt was from my Bible study I'm doing and it explained what The Lord is doing in my life without me even realizing it. Our current situation has left us in need. We are planners, savers and a family who "might" pride ourselves on being pretty prepared regardless of circumstance. But add a couple kids to a crew that was already under some hard financial and emotional times and viola we are "needy".

I have struggled hard since becoming a Momma with control issues of ever admitting a need for help from others. I can admit easily that I need Jesus and His help...but the help of fellow Christians, umm, that's for weaker women;) Or women with waaaaay serious problems. Ha! Turns out I'm both.

While running this morning I MET with Jesus ya'll. Like felt like my face was gonna be shining when I came back in the house and not just from sweat. Hand raising, tears streaming, can'thelpmysmilin', kind of coming to Jesus party and I loved it. Maybe one day I'll write a post all about it...but for now I'll discuss the portion that applies.;) God was affirming in my heart something I "knew", that I could invite others to join me on this mission He is calling me and it wasn't about weakness, or need even, but about serving Him and being OBEDIENT. 

A year ago my baby girl got real sick and I wrote a post or two about all the ways the body of Christ pitched in. But I failed to mention the most memorable one to me (ok, one of the...) 
For Mother's Day I got a dress. The type or color don't really matter...what matters is that a few of my friends knew I wanted it...and it appeared wrapped and beautiful in the hospital waiting room on Mother's Day! You see, the few friends called other friends and they all got together, pitched in and bought me that dress. It was about so much more than cotton or Matilda Jane. It was about a momma who had been in a hospital room on days unending and a dad who'd been keeping the night watch. There wouldn't have been a Mother's Day gift without the help of my people and they saw a need and made it happen. Everytime I wear that dress I think about those girls; some of whom I'm not even aware; saw a way to be Jesus and they were obedient. 

It's been no different this go round (coincidentally or providentially a year to the date from the aforementioned situation) "my people" have arrived right on time. The clothes, shoes, breakfast bars, prayers, cash, grocery cards, hugs and helping hands have come from all directions. I have people that I didn't even know were "my people". It is an awkward place to be, accepting help from others and being a recipient of their undeserved graciousness. But I'm grateful for it, because the very thing I don't want to admit is that is exactly what I need. I am learning that it is a privilege to serve God, not a hardship, like I initially anticipated. My people have seen a way to be obedient and they are simply doing the same. 

Chances are if you are reading this, then you are apart of "my people"...to you I say I can't say how grateful I am. Your obedience to The Lord and His call to help the "orphaned and widowed" is overwhelming. If you are a random follower then I challenge you to find someone to serve. God is blessing the Harper 7(for now) in ways we never knew possible while we choose to lay our lives down and do the same for these babies under our care.

You'll never know the power of being Jesus to someone by simply being "their people". 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

God stuff.

I'm well aware that if you believe in Jesus give your life to Him and begin a personal    relationship with God almighty, it is indeed ALL, "God stuff". But for the sake of no better terminology I wanted to share how amazing God is in preparing, meeting and changing my heart when He decides it's time to refine/stretch/challenge me in a particular area. 

This whole bringing 2 little people into our home was not something I'd term "easy" nor has it been all sunshine and roses. At. All. But I can see a teeny tiny part of God's great big ole plan and I'm already, somehow feeling privileged to be apart of it. When it began, a few short weeks ago, that was not my primary feeling.

Here's some background on how cool my God is...
- I've been praying in the last month or so for our family and ministry. We've got stuff that Mick and I do. We have areas the kids are involved in and we talk about living life for Jesus. But lately I've felt this overwhelming sense that as parents we weren't doing enough for them to "get it". You know, the great commission, Jesus' commands to help the poor, just being Christlike in general. We'd catch a glimpse in giving to a homeless person or giving money and praying for someone in need. But I had started to pray for a way for ALL of us to have an opportunity to serve. I was making a list of food pantry's. God had bigger and better plans.

- One day recently riding in the car with SB I was praying/singing/screaming "oceans" to Jesus. I was overwhelmed to sobs over the line
"Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander..." 
The sheer magnitude of opening myself up for His plan, without MY initial nudging both moved me and frightened me.

- Another car ride realization (notice all my alone time is courtesy of car seats and 5 point harness separation, I used to have these thoughts in shower/bathroom time, but that is no longer sacred:() While I was driving to Target, I began praying for my kiddos and I took the following to heart:

-Lastly, I have been getting a wee bit of alone time and feeling sortof dare I say, confident in my own abilities as of late. I've been playing tennis, doing a few of my own things and just generally getting a little comfortable with life. Thursday before we added our blondes to the Harper 5, it occurred to me while driving home that I sortof was enjoying this "suburban" life I was living. Maybe I'd get a spray tan and get ready for summer by the pool. Yeah, I'd look up the stuff about the food pantry later.

Then Friday morning comes and our life is shifted. I'm faced with an opportunity to truly show my kiddos servanthood in a whole new way. So much for my plans. At first I was anxious and scared and a little bitter that our family would get to learn in this way. Telling Micah (my hearts twin) our plan shed true light on the matter. His first response was fetal position tears and complete resistance. I'm an adult so this kind of behavior would have been unacceptable for me in response to the current situation but it took some restraint for me to not follow suit. Truth is, I've got 3 kids, whom I love dearly. I was good. Had my cup full. I like things neat and tidy, black and white. Grey areas are not my friend. Grey isn't in God's vocabulary anyways...but when I can't decide direction, things seem grey. Taking on 2 more kiddos is one thing, but my sister's children? Surely that's too complicated for us. Better not go for complicated, even God couldn't work this situation out...wrong!!

I'm now 2 weeks into whatever this is God is calling our family to...but the point is, He has already given me encouragement and affirmation that this isn't about me at all. It's about Him. Deny myself. Take up His cross. Turns out, all the worrying about my kiddos "getting it" should've been applied to my own life as well. Granted our family is learning and growing in ways we never could have otherwise. I'm not saying a weekly trip to work a food pantry wouldn't have had the same end result...or maybe I am. The point is, God knows exactly what we need, even when we are kicking and screaming we disagree, or when we are begging Him to do something big. We've got our own ideas, but He is the one who leads/directs/controls our paths. It's the same lesson for me, but brand new at the very same time. I honestly do not know what the future holds, but I do know who holds the future. He's showing me (again, in a new way) that's all I need. Truly can't wait to see what He does next. Trusting Him for grace for each moment. 

PS. I have nothing against tennis, spray tans, swimming or living life where God has planted you. In fact I hope to continue with as many of the aforementioned as possible. In light of, not in place of my current situation. It's just that those things are just things and I needed to loosen my grip on things like that...hope you hear my heart per usual here.