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

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Picture Update on the Boys...

Here's a little picture update. The boys are doing well, as you can see. Jackman is eating more, and we've cut back on his tube feeds just a little to make room for some hunger per his nutritionist's instructions. Now he wants to eat. He's not eating anything solid yet, but he's eating some, nonetheless. He's also making leaps and bounds in his speech. Speech is tied very closely with the mechanics used when eating, so he has been behind other kids his age. But his speech therapist says he is a few years ahead of others in the sounds he says, and his counting, etc. It's just the pronunciation that he has to work on. He hasn't been refluxing (or throwing up) at all. He's about 50th percentile in weight and height - awesome for a tube-fed kid. He doing great right now. Brolin is doing really well. Talking up a storm, eating everything except strawberries. He's in the 75th-100 percentile in height, and 50th in weight, and still growing like a weed. He likes reading books, then tearing then to shreds. The boys are great together. Check out the pics. Hope you like them.

Jackman is kind of a depressed kid. Sometimes he can barely get out of bed and go to work. All he does is complain and whine about the economy... No wait... he's pretty much like this all the time.

Lately, because of this towel that that was given to Jackman by a good friend of ours, Brolin pretends to be a dog all the time. And Jackman loves it, because he has a pet. It's kind of like a two-for-one deal, so if you have a second kid, forget the pet, just get yourself a dog towel.

Rare photo opp indeed! This was taken without the use of duct tape or Benadryl. I merely hypnotized them with a new cartoon, and jammed them into the chair with the footstool. 

Okay Einstein, I need my specs back... Jackman was taking my goggles for a test drive. Lisa liked this one so much, it earned a spot on the lock screen of her phone.

Maybe Brolin will be an archaeologist. That sure sounds more promising than being a dumpster-diver. This is one of his favorite pastimes.
Step 1: Climb in the toy box.
Step 2: Dig the to the bottom of the box.
Step 3: Beg for help out of the box.

Grandma Brenda had a good idea - Jackman's first Happy Meal. He may not have swallowed much of it, but he sure enough chewed it up, and drank a lot of that shake. He's come a long way since we brought him home.

A Walmart diaper just can't contain all that manliness. Well, if he doesn't become an archaeologist, maybe he can fix your sink! Brolin exudes potential from every direction.

Priceless! Taken on the road at Lisa's grandmother's house, in South Alabama. Long day of traveling, playing, rambling, and finally, crashing. 

Guess which one Daddy dressed? Both of them! Jackman specifically asked for the dinosaur pants, and he's been working hard on his speech, so he got what he asked for. Now, dressing Brolin before bedtime is like trying to skin a cat. You want to make sure that you have on long sleeves and eye protection before you start that battle.

It is amazing how fast those little plastic things can get coming down that driveway. It's a good thing we have a chain link fence to catch'em before they launch off into the woods. Jackman is pretty daring on his little red car at three years old, but Brolin (one year old) gives me multiple heart attacks trying to keep up with his big brother. There's nothing he won't try five times.

Be sure to check out my new blog. Please follow, bookmark, and add it to your favorites:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Brand New Blog!

Hey Folks,

You may have noticed that this blog has always kind of focused heavily on Jackman, and Brolin managed to squeeze his way in there just a little bit before I got too busy to keep it up. I don’t guess I’ve ever explained, but since Jackman was born, I’ve been back in school. For three years now I’ve been working toward a B.S. in Religion – Biblical Studies at Liberty University, and now I only have a few weeks left before I graduate. That is one big reason I wasn’t able to keep up the blog after Brolin came along. It was a tough choice – pick two out of three: blog, family, homework. Well, the blog lost out for a while.

Anyway, there are still things I’d like to write about, and things I’ve learned that I would like to pass on. But the boys just aren’t quite ready for that stuff yet, and I really don’t have a platform for that at the moment either. Hence, the new blog: Public Servant’s Announcement. Needless to say The Harper Times has become “sacred,” so it will remain devoted to the family and what God is doing with us, through us, and for us. This story ain’t over.

The new blog, Public Servant’s Announcement, will tackle some things that would just seem out of place and awkward here. Please check it out, and please follow the blog. There’s also a gadget on the right sidebar so that enables you to follow by email. Keep in mind that I will be covered up with homework (both kinds) until December 14th, but I am almost finished with school. I’m looking forward to this. If you have any suggestions, let’s hear ‘em. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

All Was Quiet…

Harmless... Right?

Those of you who have kids know (and those of you that may should know) that when there is silence mixed with two little boys, more than likely, a good ole-fashioned diaper-dusting is soon to follow. It is like the calm before the storm. Like the eye of the hurricane. That is the preface to this little episode.

The boys were having a grand ole time as usual this morning, playing in the cardboard bathtub box my pop drug in the house and left last week for them – all the while ignoring their toys like they were works of art in a museum. Well, they can only run through the box so many times. There are, in fact, a limited number of scenarios that two diaper-clad boys can imagine while chasing each other through a tub box. So, I figured I would be a hero. I gave Jackman a big, black plastic spatula, and Brolin a matching big black plastic spoon.

And I commanded the boys, saying, “Of the cardboard box you mayest freely beat:
But of the furniture of the rest of the house, thou shalt not beat it: for in the moment that thou beatest thereof thou shalt surely get a spanking.”

Jackman got it. He grinned his signature grin, and led the charge. Brolin immediately picked up on it, and they commenced to beating that box like a redheaded stepchild. I peacefully returned to my now soggy Cheerios and the Hunting, Fishing, & Guns section of the Mule Trader, confident that this latest enterprise would satiate their appetite for destruction for at least an hour or so. But just as I finished my mush, all was quiet…

In an instant, my heart sank. I knew they were up to something. Where was all the beating? Where was that noise that told me their exact location and what they were up to when my eyes weren’t fixed directly on them? Was Jackman snapping the window blinds in half? Was Brolin climbing the bookshelf? Had they already discovered the boyhood joys of fire? Do I dare even walk in the direction of absolute silence?

The moment of truth… the point of no return. As I rounded the corner I saw them, with the very tools of destruction that I had given them, excavating a half-dead plant in the hallway, and merrily heaping the soil into a large mound on the hardwood (anyone remember those field trips to Moundville?). For just a split-second I was conflicted. I didn’t know whether to be angry, or proud. I didn’t know whether to chase them off, or take a picture. Then it occurred to me: “They ain’t gonna shovel this mess up!”

I gave chase…

…and then I cleaned up the mess.

They were already into something else before I was finished, and never missed a lick. They ain't got time to slow down. Anyway, although it was somewhat aggravating, this wasn't quite one of those “spank-able” offenses in their far-reaching spectrum of their punishable little-boy-crimes. So I just took’ em upstairs to our bedroom and spent a few minutes teaching them how to perform various forms of the powerbomb on the bed. They got to be the Hardy Boyz.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Happy Birthday, Brolin.

(nobody panic... those diapers back there are new ones...)

As I figured, Brolin has not been featured nearly as much in the ole blog as Jackman was. But since tomorrow is his birthday, it's about time he gets another day in the sun.

Feast your eyes on the one-year-old Brolin, or as he has been affectionately nicknamed by Jackman, Bro-bro. He's getting big and shaggy. He's been walking for months now. He's even saying a few words. The really crazy thing for us is the way he eats. Even though he is a year old now, we can't get used to the way he puts away food when we have worked so hard with Jackman to teach him just to taste things. 

He's a completely different person than Jackman. Somehow, I guess I was under the impression Brolin would end up being like having another little Jackman around. Man, was I ever wrong. I can say this much... Brolin's name suits him. There ain't nothing mild-mannered about him. (I know what you're thinking - He's so cute and looks so sweet). This boy has got everyone fooled except his old man. He is as bossy as they come, and can be as mean as a snake. He will tear through a wall to get what he wants. If you try to put him down for a nap too early or too late, he will scream bloody murder. 

But he also has a soft side that surprised us. He loves teddy bears. The first thing he does before every nap, after every nap, and every night before he goes to sleep, is squeeze that little teddy bear in his bed. (That's him in the left-side background - his name is Hammer). He also likes to share with his brother... yeah, and I'm a Chinese jet pilot.

I can't believe a year has gone by already. I can barely remember what it was like for him to be an infant... he already seems so tough. One thing that he has in store is a haircut. Unlike Jackman, who got his first haircut not long after he got out of the hospital because it was down his back, Brolin has not had one yet. He's going for that seventies look, and rockin' it pretty good. When he wakes up from his nap in a bad mood, he looks just like Lou Ferrigno as the old Incredible Hulk with that frizzy, shaggy hair. When Brolin gets that haircut, he's really going to look grown up.

Don't grow up too fast.

Jackman certainly loves having Brolin around, and we do too. Happy birthday, Bro-bro. We love you buddy.