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…