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!