Sunday, June 19, 2016

Happy Father's Day

I can't just put into a short post on facebook about how I feel about my father or as Tim as a father. So, as you know I am like to do, I will tell you a story about my daddy.

It was the summer of '12 and our first trip to the beach as a family. There had just been a hurricane or tropical storm, something big to make the waters fun/ dangerous all week. Being a new mother, I had avoided going out to the ocean all week long, I was a new MOTHER, I needed to be responsible FOR MY BABY!! Also, it was a great excuse to chicken out on the huge waves. But one day, while K was napping, the urge to ride one of those big ones got to the best of me, and so I went out in those crazy waters with my brothers, sister, and cousins. Let me tell you some things first: 1. I do not surf. Ever. I like to body-board or boogie-board (yes, like a child, but it's super fun, so don't judge me) 2. I specifically remember being out in the ocean boogie/body boarding since before I could touch the bottom of the ocean (don't judge) so, I feel comfortable in the ocean, even when the waves are larger than normal, and 3. My family is highly competitive, like beyond, maybe borderline we need therapy cause we compete against each other so much, but whatevs.

So, I'm watching Matthew, Jennifer, Mark, all my cousins and brothers in laws, and cousin (in laws?) (is that a term? Cousin-in-law? idk) catch these massive waves, riding them all in, and the competitive voice speaks: "you going to just let them catch all the good ones, have all the experience?" And I answered with a resounding NO, plus, I also felt the need to prove myself, that I could CATCH A WAVE TOO. (Side note: that is not a thing, needing to prove I can catch a wave, I've gotten lots of help since then, lol) So, I grab a boogie board, and head out. The first warning for me, should have been that even AFTER the waves had crashed the water was still over my head. No biggie for me, I'm a strong swimmer, I can do this. So I finally make it out to the sand bar, and the perfect wave comes. And about five or so of us take it, but I'm a little bit farther down the beach because the current drew me a little bit a ways from the others. However, I catch the wave too soon, and when it drops, the tip of my boogie board went straight down and so do I, right into the wave, hitting the bottom of the ocean (not fun) and then tumble ashore (scary, and not fun). I come up in time to see the rest of my family had hit their waves perfectly all making it to shore safe and sound with resounding screeches. And as I am badly shaken up, it hits me:

 NO ONE saw what happened to me. 

They are so wrapped up in their happiness and their experience, no one saw me get tossed like a rag doll by the wave. No one asked if I was OK, no one ran to see if I was bleeding. Yes, I saved myself some embarrassment, but it would've been nice if someone would've checked in on me. Who am I kidding, I would've loved to have been coddled just for a bit and told me what a big girl I was! Still 11 on the inside I guess, sometimes! But anyway, I just quietly got up, grabbed my board and headed out again with some other ones going out. But, right before I went out my daddy called out to me, "He babe, you ok?"

My daddy saw me

His eyes still count the children in the ocean. We are all grown, and have children of our own, but my daddy still counts me in the ocean. He saw the whole thing, and I can guarantee you, he was counting the seconds it was taking me to get above water, and He would've been there the second I didn't come up in a timely manner. He never made a big deal about it. He never got out of his chair. But my daddy watched the whole thing happen. He SAW me. I was accounted for. I AM loved. 

(Just fyi, I went back out the ocean, caught the next wave and road it in all the way, everyone cheered for me, it felt great)

My friends, my father is a flawed human being, there are some ways he is far from perfect, and there are ways I've had to really work out my faith trying to figure out who GOD is as a father, because He is not like my daddy in ways. However, BECAUSE OF MY FATHER, I know that I am SEEN, ACCOUNTED for, and LOVED. Always, without question, and unconditionally. To my men friends, please know that as a father, you're job is HUGE, you can never be replaced, and you are important. I mean, look at me, this super small event happened four years ago almost to the day, and it will be burned in my memory forever. 

I love you daddy.

Your Princess

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Dear Daughters: A Forward

Dear Daughters,

Oh my dear girls, what a strange and weird world you will grow up in. Some things have changed for the better, some things, in my opinion have made life a little more murky. You will have to hold very close to your Faith and Trust in the Lord, (and hopefully close to your momma and daddy as well!) to get you through, to guide you. Your life growing up will be different. But it will also be fun. I want to post somethings that I think about a lot as I go throughout your life and  mine. Things that I want to tell you, but you are too young to understand or care about right now, so I put them away in my mind. But I think a lot about these things. So I write them down here, and I'll print them out and put in your baby book. So hopefully, when the time come for you to understand them, I will have a reminder (possibly a script!) of things I want you to know.

But first, before we get to those things, let me tell you about me and you. I want you to know that you two, and any of the children that come after you, are the greatest things that have ever happened to me. You are my best motivators. It's because of you I finally understand what MY mother has been telling me my whole life: you are the jewel in my crown. Let me preface it with this. There are things I wanted to do with my life, big things I always thought I would want to get around doing one day but was never really that motivated to do, UNTIL I had you. I want to be a woman that makes you proud, a role model that you need. Because when you see me, I don't want you to see a woman who had dreams and aspirations and let them wilt with time and children, but instead, with time and children my dreams flourished and blossomed. And just let me tell you something you two (and the others, whoever they are!) ARE  one of my dreams come true!! A great BIG dream!! And I have so many more! Not that you are not enough, it's just that God didn't create us to just have one goal in life. He made us these crazy ambitious human beings with amazing gifts that He wants to use and flourish in His time. You two just happened to be my first dreams realized. I pray that as you grow older you will appreciate that in me. That I will never be a fully realized human being. That I will always be changing, and my dreams and goals will change as well. I hope you find strength in that. I hope you find me a person who is not afraid as you grow older. That is there is something that is off the beaten path that is weird and unusual, you will find me a person you can trust to talk to about this. I hope you find me trustworthy with your dreams.

Most importantly, really, for me, I hope you find me Brave because I want YOU to be brave in all aspects of your life. 

That when the off the beaten path "thing" (whatever it may be!) calls to you, because you have seen me go out of my comfort zone, that you will hold your head of high as you walk in uncharted waters. I hope you will know that I will be in your cheering section. Shouting as LOUD as I can: You CAN DO THIS!! YOU CAN BE BRAVE!

Also know, brave looks different all the time. There are times when we try new foods that we are brave. There are times when we are brave in loving others, when we are not certain they will love us back. There are times when we are brave in helping others. There are times that we try a new sport. Or, there are times when we go to another country. Or times when our Faith is challenged. Bravery looks different all the time, but the heart is still the same. It's roots are always in Trust. And my greatest desire is not only that you trust me, but that you Trust in the One Who Made You. He never fails us, and loves us dearly.

I love you my girls,

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

My Early Autumn

I promised you a blog because I had so many words about Autumn. I have so many words, and not enough umph to get in front of the computer to write them down. But I think she deserves this, I want her to be able to look back one day and see how she changed my life for all the good ways. I am eternally indebted to this child for how much more of a person and a parent she has made me.

Many of you do know, many don't, Autumn was not a necessarily "planned" pregnancy. We knew we wanted a second child, it's just that every time the conversation came up, we kept pushing the date further and further back. I'll give you some insight as to why: Karis. I won't talk much about her, because this is A's post, but she was not an "easy" child. I know most children aren't saints, but even as a very young toddler many people who came in contact with her would put her smack dab in the middle of the "strong-willed child" category. Sweet? Sugary.  Tender-hearted? absolutely. Go-with-the-flow? Never. I couldn't imagine trying to raise another human while dealing with the tantrums, the transitions, the not-sleeping-through-the-night (I'm talking about K there, not baby Autumn). Pregnancy was just not going to happen until K was potty-trained and could tie her shoes. Right. Needless to say, without going into further detail, whether or not Tim and I did or did not take preventative measures to have a baby, we got pregnant!

And I cried, a lot more than I probably should have!

Overwhelmed? Yes. Scared? You betcha! We needed a bigger house, with not a bigger budget. We were still adjusting to moving to Peachtree City. Tim had just moved to a new facility, and moved to another one while I was pregnant. To say life was calm would be a lie.  I was having to think about all the parenting that would need to happen while pregnant, while with an infant. We were entering into terrible two's way before K turned two. But even as I was pregnant, A was having me dig in my heals in my life and in my faith. Trusting God to find a new house for us, putting faith in the Lord when Tim moved to a facility in Atlanta, asking for daily Grace when all I wanted to do was lay on the couch because I felt half a second from puking, and so I did, lay on the couch all day, it felt like.

God used Autumn to help me find the Grace to fully accept all of those circumstances and many more. Some people judged me, and I won't go into that, but I've felt the very cold eyes of judgement, but it helped me to feel the very warm embrace of God's love in Grace. So it all worked out. But all of that was from Autumn.

Somehow when Autumn was born, I grew up. Somehow her birth feels like a turning point in my life. I stopped caring what other people thought about my parenting. I stopped trying to explain my whole life away about why I make the choices I do. I stopped letting people run over me. Doing things the way they would because they didn't like the way I did things. I put my child on the schedule I wanted her to have, and I never looked back. I breast-fed my child until I couldn't, and I never looked back. I told the doctor he needed to recheck her ears for an earache, he did, she had one, and I never looked back. All of these are tiny examples of me, standing up for me. And while I know that Karis was a learning experience, it was Autumn who catapulted me into a different realm of  "I'm the parent, I do it this way, you don't like it, go away." I guess what I'm saying is that Autumn helped me draw boundaries around our family like never before. And the feeling is a feeling of indebtedness like I stated before. I'm so grateful that she was the person to bring out a new kind of confidence.

I could go on about Autumn, about how smart she is. About how BIG she is. About how she's two years behind her sister, but it only feel like one because of all the ways she tries to keep up with her. I could go on about her temper, and how she chucks things when she's mad. How she picks out books and sits in my lap and asks me to read her. When she puckers her lips to kiss she sticks her tongue out too. How she constantly asks for her daddy, and I LOVE it. How she loves animals (maybe even more than her sister!). How she insists on going bare-foot all the time. But I'm crying just writing those sentences. I can't believe I've gotten to have her for two years already!!

So grateful to God for knowing we needed Autumn and giving her to us much sooner than we planned! His ways are always higher...


Sunday, July 26, 2015

On Moving, and Moving On

The house is all packed (ish), calls have been made for cancellation of accounts others switched to the new address, detailed planning and arranging has been made in regards to the children, we are moving on WEDNESDAY! Praise the Lord, no seriously, Hallelujah!

We are moving to THE house, the one with the exact amount of rooms that we needed, the exact type of land and acreage we could only dream about, the exact zoning we needed in order to have goats (those who know me, know how important this is!), the exact amount of money we needed for an amazing renovation that I got to personally redo my new house, the perfect contractor God sent our way, everything is perfect!

And yet, here I sit, anxious, experiencing small panic attacks every once in awhile, nervously pacing throughout the house trying to find things to pack. Just. Nervous....

BUT WHY LaurieAnn? Why are you nervous!? Isn't this the house God promised you? Isn't this the dream you and Tim have been talking, planning, dreaming about for so long? Isn't this the house that some (not all) people said you were crazy to want and possibly not afford to have? Isn't this your PROMISE LAND? What is wrong with you????

And the answer to the last question is: LOTS.

Oh, how the Israelite in me wants to turn around and just stay here (I am not Jewish, Its a metaphor). We have a nice home, with lots of room. Yes, it has more leaks than a sinking boat, I would never pick out probably any of the paint colors, and there is shoddy craftsmanship everywhere we turn, but it suits us just fine, and we can live comfortably here. Why risk it? Why move on? Could it really possibly be better than here? Here is just so, fine, ok, doable. Why move?

What if the cost outweighs the risk? What if things don't work out as smoothly in the new place? And while we certainly don't have physical giants to slay at the new house, certainly lots of spiritual, emotional, metaphysical ones, right? I can't see them, but I know they are there, and my nervous heart beats fast just trying to imagine how in the world we will slay them.

Oh, and here's the last, but maybe most important point: we bought this house. This is a house of the permanent type. There was no signing of the lease, no wondering what we were going to do in two years when our time is up. Nope. Good, bad, or ugly, we stay. That seems so final. It seems so... is it getting hot in here to you? Is it getting harder to breathe?

To say I'm scared, it just one adjective on the wheel of emotions I am feeling.

The big F word is looming around every bend of the venture. What if we fail? What if it is all too much for us? The land too big, the up keep too expensive, the plans to improve and increase fall through. What if the "naysayers" were right?

What happens then?

The plans in our head, in the tiniest recesses of our minds, the most flimsy and weak things in the world, but the things we hold on to so tightly are threatened by every tiny bump in the process of the house buying and renovation.

I do not know the answer to all of the questions. I hold on to the things that God has shown me, in visions, in scripture, in prophecies (yes, there have been those) from trusted friends. But more than those things, because I don't know the timing and am not in charge of the way those things work out, I hold on to Jesus. I hold on to His right hand. I hold on to His Peace that passes all understanding. His Grace that saved me from a life of following my own plans. His Mercies, that truly are new every morning. I hold on to Him. I put my Hope and Trust in Him.

My heart still beats fast, but it will not faint, because I know who holds it.

Make sure you come down to visit the craziness and see what happens! I'm sure excited to find out!

Love y'all,

Monday, May 4, 2015

For the love of Mothers

Well, it turns out that as much as I love blogging, I love doing nothing more during naptime. However, this week is so important, in fact, I just realized I love the coming up holiday more than my birthday. It's mother's day! Mother's Day, y'all! The day where our husband, and one day (one day...) children, and all those around us, stop ignoring that fact that the house does IN FACT not clean itself, there is no laundry fairy, food does not purchase itself and find a comfortable organized place on a shelf, freezer or refrigerator, or my personal favorite (I mean, there are SO MANY fun chores to choose from!!!) The bathrooms DO NOT GET SPARKLY WHITE ALL BY THEMSELVES. No, moms do that. And on top of that, they kiss boo boo's, like all the time, at least in the Harper house they do, they discipline, we sing songs, and learn our ABC's, and 123's, I have some amazing friends that teach their kids the real names of dinosaurs, and all the continents. I don't do that, but certainly we can identify almost all of the animals at the zoo... so... I'm going off on a tangent. What I mean to write about is Mother's day is so important to me, and celebrating you as the awesome, loving, amazing mother's you are and ALL YOU DO is important, because at one point in my life, this whole thing was never in the picture.

At about the ages between 18-20, I was a young lady, transitioning into the world of adulthood, and while I knew I did not know everything, I was certain of a few things. I wanted my life to count for something, something BIG, and I never wanted to have kids. EVER. And this is going to be very gritty and honest, I knew I wasn't fit to be a parent. I was the most insecure, selfish,and unorganized person that I knew. But I had lots of ambitions. I wanted to be somebody and completely self sufficient. At first, that looked like me starting my own business and being my own boss, but then I realized I wasn't good with numbers (or anything that had to do with running a business) so I went in other directions, still holding on to the fact that I shouldn't be a mother. Why? I made too many mistakes to have to fess up to a kid, I didn't want to be responsible for raising someone to be responsible,

 I felt I wasn't a good enough human to raise another human.

And, I think I would say that, that's pretty self- aware for an 18 year old.

Thank the Lord we grow, and we change, and we grow and we change. Constantly, all the time! We learn to ask for forgiveness, to forgive ourselves, we learn that just knowing that we are selfish doesn't make us a better person, we must actively ask the our Father (who is the giver of all good things) to give us more Grace to make this life about Him. We give up false dreams, that are attached to lies, so we can start planting seeds of real dreams, that are attached to the Giver of Life.

And that is what HE did. He saved me, He raised me, and then He gave me the dream of Motherhood. Oh, the beautiful promised blessing of motherhood.

And of course, like a human, I decided to barter with God.... "Oh God, give me a thousand children, and make them ALL BOYS!! I can wrestle, play spies, and watch sports with the best of them. But girls, oh Lord, please, no girls. You know what is best, You know that my plan is still best. Amen."

I don't know if that is the exact prayer, but it felt like that.

On September 29th, 2011, God had a different plan, and it changed my world. Again, on September 17th, 2013, He changed my plans again. For the better. Forever.

Having children, especially girls, has never messed or hindered my dreams that lie outside of having a family with Tim. They have only enhanced them. Having my girls has challenged me more than ever to be a woman that they can look up to. That they can know growing up that being a mother is amazing, and all things wonderful, and that they can CO-EXIST with other dreams as well. Being a mother is beautiful and wonderful. One of my friends calls it her vocation, I LOVE that! It is a vocation, but I have other callings too, and they are planted in the river of life. I trust the Lord with my beautiful dreams, I trust Him that He will guide me in the path that best leads to me fulfilling these dreams, and raising strong, God- loving, Kingdom builders.

That is my heart on mother's day. To be a mother who loves being a mother, that I was given a direct calling from the Lord to be a mother. To be a mother who inspires and challenges her children to love and follow the Lord, through my life.

Just finding the nugget of Truth that motherhood was not the end of all dreams, but just the beginning makes me excited for what God has for me, Tim, and the girls for the future.

Happy Mother's Day, y'all. God bless you in your motherhood journey!


Friday, January 16, 2015

Chariots of Fire

When Tim and I attended First Baptist Church of Orlando, under the encouragement of our pastor, we were encouraged to seek the Lord every year to see what our "word of the year" would be. And even after leaving Orlando, I have continued having words of the year. Last year my word was Joy. And while I learned a lot of lessons of what Joy truly is, and what it is not, mostly of what it is not, I honestly didn't put too much time or effort into the pursuit of mastering Joy. I feel like I mostly hemmed and hawed through the year, going through highs and lows that were ruled by emotions. So, as I had a good year last year, it was not one of spiritual journeying that I would have really liked to have experienced. This year, my word is, well, weird, but I can explain it.

My word of the year is PLEASURE. I know, a lot of times we don't really think of pleasure as something godly, or that pleasure comes from selfish places. But let me turn this word on it's head for you, the quote popped in to my head as I was going to pick up Karis from school.

Eric Liddell: I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.

Most of you may recognize this quote from chariots of fire. Eric Liddell was a devout Christian and told everybody he came across about Jesus. And I think one of those reasons he did was because he was doing what gave him pleasure, and that pleasure was God's pleasure. He didn't overthink it, he didn't reason that running was not preaching to thousands, so it must not be from God. Nope. He knew with most certainty, that he felt God's pleasure running (SO SIMPLE! right?) And so he did that. And doing that opened up SO many opportunities to tell others about Jesus.

I want to do that. I need to do that. I need to feel that sweet spot in life, that when I hit my stride in whatever thing it is, that I feel that pleasure. Almost like a runner can feel the wind against their face. I just want to experience that full pleasure. And that requires me to be a little more active in my life, than just passively looking for that word of the year.

It requires me blogging and telling whatever it is that God wants me to type. Even if I know that only 10 people read what I put out there, I put it down anyway. It means if all I do one day is sit on the floor and play with my children and completely shirk off all other responsibilities. It means if I do straighten up my whole house and keep it in order, because that ministers to my husband. It means helping people when they are in need. It means encouraging others with kind words, even when I think I'm being stupid for saying those things.

It means telling that small nagging voice in the back of my head that is always talking me down off of doing things, to SHOVE IT.

It means I'll stop being afraid of people's judgement of me, good or bad.

It means I may look like a fool and possibly feel like a fool sometimes.

But, if all of that is the small price of feeling God's pleasure.

I'll do it.

I know this is late to the game, but happy New Year y'all!


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

This Season

Merry Christmas Y'all! I love this time of year, kind of. I really do, I love seeing how you have dressed your children in the cutest Christmas outfits, that match. I love seeing the cookies you are making with your children and your mantles that you have decorated with Christmas words, like JOY and PEACE, my mantle says NOEL, partly because it is such a pretty word to me, and partly because it reminds me of a wonderful friend:)

But the Christmas season is not what I wanted to talk to you about.

And I want to be very careful in not making this about me being whiny, I mean, it is my blog, so it will be about me, but hopefully the tone will not be whiny. I was tempted to whine, but then I thought, we dont need a whine post (a wine post, maybe?) We need an encouragement post. So, here's what I'm going to do, I'm going to tell you about my Season I'm in, and then I will encourage you, I promise!

I just realized I'm in a TIRED season tonight. Physically, yes, kinda, but it's mostly one of those mental, spiritual, emotional tired seasons. Like when your in the middle of a (ok, lets be honest, I've only ever run a 5K, but you put your race here___) and I realized I've given a lot and I've only reached the 1/4 of the race mark... That kind of tired. Like, 'THEY ARE ONLY CHILDREN AND I HAVE SO MANY MORE YEARS AHEAD OF ME" tired, and "I CANT BELIEVE WE WANT TO HAVE A THIRD CHILD AND I WILL BE HERE ALL OVER AGAIN ONE DAY" tired. Like when Karis has a complete meltdown in the middle of my grandfather's singing performance, and I have to get up and leave an everyone is staring, and her angel of a cousin ( who is ONLY 4 mos older) is sitting next to her, perfectly content) This is after I feel so proud about how well she has been doing and how far we've come with her, obviously NOT FAR ENOUGH? Like when K's automatic answer is "NO" to everything. Like when she looks at me and says she wants to sleep in my bed, let me be clear, that's not sweet, that is her little mind working in ways to get out of going to bed. Like Autumn is crying all the time, she has FOUR upper teeth coming in and she is crying all the time, and wants to be held, all the time. Like my house is not as clean as I would like it, Ever. Like I fall behind on planning meals for our family and feel like I'm scrambling, all the time.

I mean, this list could go on people.

I honestly write this, because I have gotten compliments from people (lets be honest two people) on various aspects of my life, and while anyone always appreciates a kind word, I don't want to put on airs, I am not doing too well, friends! Or at least, it doesn't feel like I'm doing too well. It feels like, if this were a baseball game, they would need to call in the relief pitcher. However, there is no relief pitcher in life. Its just me and you, being moms all the time.

And here's where I'm gonna encourage you;

Thank God it's Christmas time! Jesus has come. He does come to give us clarity, not just moments, but pure unadulterated clarity when we are focused on Him! Jesus does give me peace in the midst of the crazy, when I chose to look to Him. And when I've failed (all the time) and I want to just throw up my hands and give up, I feel His Grace. And if I can't feel it, I specifically named my oldest as an Ebeneezer that I will always remember it. His Grace doesn't give a second chance, His Grace keeps you going. God doesn't give second chances, I believe He gives rebirth. A complete new start, new life. And it all started with a baby.

So maybe you are feeling encouraged cause you're like, well things may be bad, but at least I am not as messed up as LA! Wonderful. And maybe you are encouraged because Jesus didn't come to just be a beautiful baby boy resting in a trough. He came to become our Peace in troubled time, our Hope when there is no relief in sight. And our Grace, when we feel like we've messed up too many times. That is where I hope you find the real encouragement!

Merry Christmas, y'all, I love you!