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 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" 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.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Where to start...

Our lives got rocked to the core a little over a week ago. I got a morning wake up call that my sister had been arrested for drug possession. For those who've been with the blog for the duration, you know this drug problem has been around a long while. We thought she had gotten better. We were wrong. Bad wrong. I have so many thought/emotions swirling through my head even after a week but for now I just want some release as I record what's transpired this far. A jumping off point to see how far and how great God's plan is in a really hard, ugly situation. 

My sister has custody of her last 2 babies. A boy, who is 4 and sweet little girl who is 2. As soon as I heard the news I knew I had to go get them. Weeks before Mick and I had discussed the children's current situation and didn't think it was healthy. We weren't sure how to help the kiddos or if our concerns were valid enough. But we both agreed we probably weren't capable of taking that task on. But there I sat on my bathroom counter crying knowing God was calling us to rescue those precious children. I called Mick after the fact as I was literally driving to pick them up. There current living arrangements were so disappointing and I was immediately ashamed I hadn't seen this coming nor done something sooner. The transition to Aunt Steph's was amazingly easy... for everyone whose last name is NOT Harper;) The 2 littles just hopped up in my car and said, "let's go!". I was both thankful and tearfilled at their eagerness to go with someone they only see at Christmas and a few other times a year. The 2 year old girl has severe exzema and was covered in rash/bumps/dry skin. I only wish I had a picture if their current condition. But I guess part of me wants them and me to forget that part of our little journey so far. 

Right now the only thing for sure with our situation is...nothing's for sure. For those who know me you know that regardless of the fact that 5 kiddos under 6 is a wee stressful...the unknown is what overwhelms me most. I like plans, scenarios, back up plans and backup plans for the back up plans. To that God says " I am." Yup, that's what He says. I know, right? 

This blogpost is more for record keeping, prayer begging and lesson recording...but I needed a little therapy in there too.

We have temporary guardianship for now as an emergency plan and have all sorts of whatifs playing themselves out day to day. My sister is facing some major charges and consequences for the first time in her life. And quite possibly for the first time in MY life I have no desire to fix it for her. I want to see her well, being a Momma to her babies and living a "normal" life. But my focus is now on littles and what is best for them. The Lord has redirected my eyes to where He wants them and in trusting it to all work out. I am, I'm throwing this at His feet...begging Him to show me/reveal to me His plan purpose and my role in it. Prayers are greatly appreciated as the Harper 5 adds 2 new blondes to our mix for as long as He allows.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Simply Jesus

Simply Jesus. Well, no, not really,
The verses this week for is 
1 Corinthians 2:1-5

It's what this whole life is about. I have even less of my own words to say about this weeks verses. Shocking. 

But I do think the main point can be repeated. Preaching not just Jesus, but Jesus CRUCIFIED. Killed, for mine and your sin. That's all we need to hear. Shouldn't it be enough. But often it's not. We look for more...and while the Bible teaches much more, it'd serve us well just to back up off the legalism/hairsplitting/sinidentifying and just focus on sharing that big hunkoftruth called The Gospel. 

So, no more persuasive words from this girl (on these verses;)). I'm gonna think about the Word and do my darnedest to apply it in real life. I invite you to do the same.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

His Word. Last word. Always.

Real hard time writing anything for this weeks lent lesson for
Joshua 1:8-9 pretty much preach their own sermon. There is not much to add. 

Basically I get the truth is all we need. It's what we need to meditate on. Beth Moore is amazing, Billy Graham can still bring it, friends can counsel, preachers can preach, and teachers can teach. But all that greatness can't compare with God's Word. Sometimes I let all that greatness get in the way of meditation on the one thing that will truly quench my thirst. I'm thankful for the other stuff but I needed a reminder that His Word is all we need.

Then there's fear. Ugh. Worry causes fear. Which means I'm no stranger to fear. At all. But wow, a command to be strong and courageous; to NOT fear. Nothing else to say bout that cept meditate on it. Let it sink in and preach it to yourself daily. The conviction and change is a personal truth for me.

The Lord is with us wherever we go. My kiddos have the hardest time with this truth and frankly, I'm not the best at remembering it and comprehending it either. But all of these truths are ones I LOVE. They bring answers. I love answers. They bring contentment. I could use a big slice of that. They crowd out worry and anxiety. I would love to live a life free from fear. They remind us we are never alone, despite how often we might feel alone physically or just in our circumstance. His presence is constant.
Thank you Jesus for truth. It's truly our source. Claim it with me today friend.

Friday, March 28, 2014

She forgets truth:(

Sadly I haven't been getting my bible study emails this week and just now got the assignment for the week. This week was so busy trying to be crafty and celebrate a certain special girls birthday I didn't even realize it til the day of the assignment. So here's my way late take on the second half of Jonah. Jonah 3 and 4.

Gonna just give you a list of thoughts to think about on this one. Then ways to apply those thoughts. Wanna switch it up a bit.
- God's got this. No really, whatever it is, He's got this. Promise.
- God is compassionate and ultimately longs for us to come to repentance.
- God's way/plan/will is ALWAYS best. Pinky promise.
- God's in control. We are NOT. 
- God will speak in whatever language we need to hear it. Analogies, parables, life lessons. He is cool like that. 
- The older brother and Jonah were not very different. 
- We ALL need God's patience and forgiveness. Even if we think that big need is just for "those people". 

The applications:
- Stop trying to control things. You can't . God can. No really, stop it.
- Jonah got mad at the plant. We think it's silly yet we often get angry ... In a very passive aggressive way...but angry nonetheless when we think something in our life is not fair. But the truth is the truth. If we were working on fair we'd all be in hell one day. So start living thankful not bitter. 
- Comparison with others is counterproductive. Run a daily assessment before The Lord about MY relationship with Him. Pour the energy I spend thinking/stressing/worrying by comparing with others into studying God's Word.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

It Can't Be!!

It just can't be days from sweet SelahBelle Ruth's first birthday! She was just born a minute ago, right? This last year has been one of the hardest yet greatest years of my life. Adding a 3rd baby has been a blessing, no doubt but even yesterday I was rocking SelahBelle to sleep and I thought about how "easy" life would be with just 2 sweet babies...gasp! I just put that in writing, didn't i? Don't judge, I'll get to the good part. But I had put the other 2 in bed and just wanted to get SB to sleep so I could go watch a show with Mick and she wasn't having it! I thought Lord, please just help a sister out! But then I almost heard Him laugh and then I got it. That's just it. It'd be easy, I'd not be sitting in that dark room meeting with my Jesus at that very moment...or the hundreds of nights this year when I've done the same. This little girl has fought hard this year to be apart of the Harper 5 and we've fought and prayed hard to keep her here. Over and over again The Lord uses a child to remind me of my continual need for Him. I have been looking back over my scrapbook/Instagram and I love seeing in weeks and pictures all that God has done in and thru SelahBelle's little life. 

These next few weeks will be a little emotional for me remembering what happened a year ago. But for this week we simply celebrate her birthday and give God all the glory for making that possible. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Everything I need to know... I learned from a snow day.

During the snow days.

Update on FB Hiatus.

Well, I think I'm past my 30 day trial period off Facebook and I made it. I have thoroughly enjoyed being more present day to day and not needing my phone at all times. I actually haven't even been counting the days or super excited to get back on. That is victory friends;)! I got on a few times to check messages but otherwise I really wasn't tempted. It turns out I CAN live without it and I'll be alright...even if I did almost miss one of my best friends birthdays! 

Now the question remains, do I head back down that spiral of time sucking or do I find away to be wise on the book  oooorrrr do I just leave it behind. Hmmm. I'd love to hear how you balance it. Not that you have a super addictive personality like mine; but I'm sure I could learn a thing or two from some of you wise women out there.

My plans as of now are to get back on, see what I've missed, get overwhelmed then stay off again for a while. I have a feeling when I tell my kiddos (especially Micah) their opinion will be to ditch it for good. I know Mick feels I've partially replaced it with Instagram, sorry for my multi picture days! But Instagram doesn't have the same stronghold/sin issues for me that fb does. Granted I still waste time there instead and am working on that. Technology. Grr.

I know this is boring but wanted to update my progress;). More excitement coming next few posts... SelahBelle is turning ONE this week!

Friday, March 21, 2014

I love my people.

Warning: this is for me to read on a day when I'm thinking "my people are gonna drive me to the crazy bin". So don't be pegging me to be one of "those Momma's". We both know who I'm talking bout and I'm not her. I'm not. 

These people are where I've been spending all my time lately. Like the last 7 years kind of lately. This week especially we've been having lots of togetherness because all 3 of them refuse to share anything til they get the stomach bug, then they share it likes it's their job. I've been getting one on one with each of them due to pukefacetime...and then more time recovering and quarantining so we are just bonding away over here.;) in between trash can runs and underwear changes! But seriously what I've noticed on this time is that I really like these people God has I entrusted to me. They are fun. They are funny. They make me laugh at and with them. Twice today we gave to strangers in need. They loved it. Micah actually insisted we give to a guy asking for money. Their hearts are on it. Even when mines not. They've got flaws...aplenty. But I'm sure glad God doesn't focus on all my junk all the time so I'm choosing to see their good too and not be so hardcore on them at times. SelahBelle continues to grow and change. I have no inkling who she's gonna be, but I can't wait to see! SadieJane continues to throw glitter at the world. Dancing, cartwheeling and intermittently becoming Mary Poppins in between. Hilarious and precious all rolled into one. Acting could be her thing if I wasn't far too afraid she'd become vain or a drug addict by 7. Yet, who knows who Shea's gonna be either. It's why I love these people. I do my best to teach, mold and disciple; but they are gonna be whoever God ultimately makes I pray they accept Him on their own one day. Then there's Micah, sweet baby bird. He is more like me than all the rest. I can hear the wheels turning in his head when anything the slightest confrontational takes place. I love to watch him play ball. Play with friends. Play anything really. He is so handsome and polite. 
That's enough. I want so badly to end this post with lists of their flaws because there are a few. And this is (almost) to sunshine and roses for my liking but there was that whole puke tmi so I think we're good. I wanted to just bask in God's goodness given to me in pint size refining packets. So I'm gonna stop there. God is good.