Monday, January 21, 2013

Morning Time...

Jackman and me big chair 3 by gharper356

Jackman and me big chair 3, a photo by gharper356 on Flickr.

Most every morning while the boys are asleep, and sometimes before Lisa wakes up, I get up and go downstairs to the living room. I go down there to sit in the big chair and read my Bible and pray. When I’m done, I wait.

I know Jackman will be coming soon. Sometimes he even comes before I can get finished. 

He’s over three years old now, and he’s been in his own little bed for a while. At first when he woke up, he liked to lie around in the bed like a teenager. I would have to go and drag him out. Now he’s got something that he seems to like better than that, which makes me happy. He likes to get up early and come sit with me.

He’s usually awake by around 6:00, sometimes earlier. As soon as he gets up, I hear him jump out of bed. The house is still dark then, and I can hear him walking slowly and carefully down the stairs. Then he peeks around the corner to see if I’m in the big chair. When he sees me, I just motion for him to come on and sit down. He hurries on down the last few stairs – always with Stitch and his Toy Story blanket in-hand. Then he crawls up beside me and under my left arm, and we just sit there together looking into the dark. Sometimes we sit there without making a sound for nearly and hour. It’s one of my favorite times of the day.

I wish I were like him. It occurred to me that I should be exactly like him, be as punctual, as enthusiastic, as eager to wake up every morning and go sit with my Heavenly Father downstairs in the big chair. I must admit that at times I do it out of habit or obligation. But for Jackman it never is – he just wants to come sit with me. I want to be like that so badly. We should all want that. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Give Credit Where Credit Is Due II

I recently got an email that I've been anxiously waiting for – My Bachelor in Science degree in Religion from Liberty University was officially conferred January 10, 2012.

I received my Associates degree 14 and 1/2 years ago from George Corley Wallace Community College Selma. Although I took a year off to work, I was still basically fresh out of high school. I had all the time in the world to study, and a flexible schedule. I was only taking core classes. No pressure at all. I graduated with a 3.87 GPA.

This time around, almost 15 years later, everything was different. I had to learn how to actually use a computer. I had to master MS Word. I never once picked up paper or pencil.

Not only that, I had a family – or rather grew a family. When I started at Liberty, Jackman was a baby in the NICU at Children’s Hospital. Lisa and I were both working then, and both driving up to see him at least once a day. Then Brolin came along, and things got even crazier. Many Saturdays, Lisa would take the boys to play at her parents while I spent all day working on a paper. The whole time I was in school my mother came over to babysit these wild young’ns so that I could get my work done. The pressure was almost unbearable at the end.

I should have just scraped by.

I graduated summa cum laude; a 4.0 GPA.

But I left out something. The difference was that this time I devoted it to the Lord. Before I did any work, I would pray, and ask God that instead of this just being purely academic, that he would allow me to get to know him better. It’s true that when I want something I go for it persistently (my wife and my mother will both attest to that). I wanted nothing short of excellence, but I made the conscious decision to seek the Lord first and put my desired perfection on the altar, so to speak. That was hard on my pride. Now, I’m not prideful (maybe I should say as prideful) as I would have been – I’m humbled.

See, in light of the obstacles, this wasn’t an accomplishment of my own sheer determination. There’s no way I could have done this own my own. It was too hard. I would have fallen short somewhere along the line. Heck, I came close to quitting. This wasn’t an achievement at all. It was another one of God’s many ways of showing off what he can accomplish with weak, tired, worn out, regular folks that love him. And it brings to mind one of my favorite passages in the Bible:

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 
(1 Corinthians 1:26-31)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Next Project On The List...

This will be a bit of a departure from what you’re used to reading here. Since we found out we were pregnant with our first son, this blog has been almost entirely devoted to the boys. It wasn’t actually supposed to be that way. No, it was supposed to be about all of us, hence the title – Harper Times. But naturally, Jackman became the focus of the blog for a while, then Brolin came along and there was barely a free moment to fool with it. Well, things are a little different now.

Since Jackman was born I’ve been taking courses, but now I have completed my B.S. in Religion. I have recently found that I even have some “free time,” though not much. I’m going to tell you what I have planned, and hopefully you’ll stick around and help me see it through.

I started this blog in May of 2009, which was nearly 4 years ago. The blog really took off because of Jackman’s time spent in the NICU at Children’s Hospital, and our struggles and victories that followed – including the mad-dash birth of our second boy, Brolin. The blog has grown all along. And all along readers have complimented me saying, “You should write a book.”

Well, I always shrugged that off as something that people say, but I heard it a lot, it was in the blog comments, Facebook comments, Twitter replies, et cetera. It got me thinking… That really is something I would like to do. I’ve really gotten to like my wife and the boys, and it is actually kind of fun to just spend time thinking of them. I like to remember them, and more especially the things that God has done in our little family. It has been truly amazing, and I am still amazed.

So here’s the plan. I’m going to use all the material I can gets my hands on. The blog posts, the comments, stuff from Jackman’s Facebook page, my sporadic journaling attempts though the years, you name it, and put that into a short memoir of sorts. I’m also going to write a lot of new content to tie it all together into something smooth and cohesive. And then I plan to tease the heck out of you with bits and pieces of it until there’s a finished product.

Make no mistake – I DO suffer from delusions of grandeur… so it’s a good thing that I am, as strange as it may seem, also a realist who is being perpetually humbled by the Lord. So, I’m going to try and figure out some practical way to get this into your hands if you want it.

Last but not least, I dread putting in writing what I plan to do, especially when it’s and undertaking of this magnitude. I know that the probability of tiring of a project like this and dropping it is high. I’m doing this in part to keep me honest – so some of you will periodically ask, “Hey Greg, how’s that book coming along?” I’m also doing this in part for help and encouragement. I plan to ask a few of you who read this for help, and that has always been an embarrassing thing for me to do. I’m a loner and do-it-your-self-er, but I know when I need help. I’ll need encouragement too. I get bored with long projects and want to move onto new ones, that’s why this one scares me a little bit. Encouragement will help. One way you can help out right now is to join the blog as a follower if you aren’t one already. Just go to the left sidebar and do it real quick… Yeah, it takes a minute but hey, I’m writing a whole book.

Stay tuned for further developments…

Monday, December 31, 2012

Ten New Year's Eves Together...

The younger us, over ten years ago... but the happier us just keeps getting happier.

A decade is a period of ten years. As of today – New Year’s Eve, 2012 – that’s how long Lisa and I have been married. Happy anniversary, Lisa!

Ten years is a long time in marriage years, especially the way society has become so comfortable with the idea of divorce. As of about 6:15 P.M., Lisa and I will officially hit that ten year mark. That’s 120 months, or a little more than 521 weeks, or 87,672 hours, or 5,260,320 minutes, or if we could pinpoint it, 315,619,200 seconds. It’s a milestone to say the least.

I’ll never forget, before we got married, our pastor Daryle Nichols said to me in our one marriage counseling session: “Greg, do you realize that God is going to hold you responsible for…” I forget exactly what he said after that, but those were the most important words I’ve ever heard in my life. He meant that the vows I was going to make weren’t a joke – God was going to hold me to them. And God fully expected me to keep them all. Marriage and family became serious business that night, and although I don’t remember much else about that session, it was a life-changer.

Brother Daryle married us in the old sanctuary on a Tuesday night – New Year’s Eve, 2002, at 6:00 P.M. To our surprise, it was standing room only. We had a simple wedding; my brother was Best Man, and Lisa’s brother was the other Best Man (or Maid of Honor as we like to kid him). We wanted a simple wedding that kind of reflected who we both were, but we did splurge on our wedding rings. That was important to us.

We had a verse engraved inside each of our rings. Lisa’s just has “Matthew 19:6” because hers is so small, but mine reads, “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate. Matthew 19:6.”

Now, that may sound kind of un-romantic or anti-divorce, but you would be missing the point. From the very beginning, we recognized that our marriage was something God had orchestrated. He had brought us together as one flesh. Back then, we just knew that divorce was off the table, but as we grew spiritually, it became more about depending on God to preserve our marriage, through the good and the bad.

Lisa and I have faced some very rough… some awful times. But the worst times we’ve faced have all ended up being the best years of our marriage. How can that be? How can I honestly say that times when I have seen my wife in pain, times when I have seen her suffer, times when I have seen her heartbroken as we left our son in the hospital were the best years of our marriage? Because from Day 1, ten years ago, God has had our marriage in His hands, protecting us, lifting us up, and making sure we knew it was Him doing it all.

We are not special, and are not particularly strong… but God is. Today isn’t a celebration of us. It’s a celebration of Him. He took two polar opposites and made them inseparable. He has brought us through the impossible… repeatedly! We are just plain, messed up folks like everyone else, but we have entrusted our marriage and family to God instead of ourselves. Who better to preserve us that the One who joined us together?

Thank you Lord.

“Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?”
2 Samuel 7:18

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Keepin' Up With The Harper Boys...

It's been hectic around here, so here's a little picture blog update to catch you up on the boys. Things are going well around here. Check out the pics and see for yourself. I just wish the boys could get some shots of me and Lisa having this much fun!

Is that a choir boy? Is that an angel? Heck no! It's Brolin in one of my old dirty tee shirts, trying too look all innocent and stuff. I've got my eyes on you, boy...

The littlest cowboy... Not sure if he was a sheriff or an outlaw, but he ain't got no badge on that I can see. I'm guessing the latter.

Okay, this one is most certainly an outlaw, and probably an accomplice of the former. You can tell by the bandana (criminal apparel). Don't let that grin fool ya.

Best Halloween shot of the year. Our lil' bad boys, always in character. 

Jackman in complete awe of his first, up-close-and-personal firetruck.

Bro-bro, on the farm.

Little man walking the forty like me and Jeff used to.

Time for the Harper cousins to throw some rocks in the pond. Life's good.

We didn't plan to put 'em in order of age, but it worked out that way.

Jackman: The woodsman... He just needs a beard.

Brolin: He likes to beat rotten logs with sticks, and ask Pop to "open" them.

The thousand yard stare. Those eyes could burn a hole right through you.

Serious to silly... it happens just that fast, and Brolin is just checking things out.

Every daddy needs a $500 set of night vision goggles. This is what little boys do... take mama's iPhone in the middle of the night and watch Curious George on Netflix.

Knight Rider: A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a toddler who does not exist. Brolin Harper, a young loner on a crusade, to champion the cause of the innocent - oh whatever.

Good to know someone is getting in the Christmas spirit!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Must Read!!!

Jackman's Doc, Dr. Erik Hansen and his family

Some of you know this already, but one of Jackman’s surgeons is no longer at Children’s Hospital. He is now on staff at a somewhat smaller hospital… Kijabe Hospital in Kenya, East Africa. Dr. Hansen and his family moved there not long after Jackman was released from Children’s Hospital in 2010.

I’ve heard some people comment that he was crazy, because he’s a young guy. But Lisa and I are so proud to have had a man of God care after our son for six months, and then see him move on to take care of babies and children that simply do not have the luxury of the same treatment Jackman did. Babies are born all over the world with the same thing Jackman was born with (EA/TEF), but they die because it cannot be corrected soon enough.

Please… read this post on the Hansen’s blog:
Dr. Hansen briefly recounts the first successful surgery – like Jackman’s – at Kijabe Hospital.

Take a moment to consider the sacrifice and adjustments the Hansens have had make. Leave them an encouraging comment to remind them that they are highly esteemed. 

Also, consider supporting this family. They are radically obeying the Great Commission.
You can send a tax-deductible contribution to:

World Medical Mission
P.O. Box 3000
Boone, NC 28607

Account # 003900 on memo line

Or you can give onlinejust type in Hansen and select Hansen, Erik. You can set up a recurring or one time gift.

Baby "Moses" - EA/TEF patient like Jackman