Happy Harper Home Journal 2: on staying

Summer has ended, and school has begun. For the first time, I wasn’t nervous for school to come. I found its presence to be the same as the day before – only the flip-flops are at home, and the tennis shoes are on, and the house is silent.

There is a familiarity in the school schedule now – like an old married couple has, so I embrace the day ahead. I rise early. Daniel cooks bacon and eggs. Elijah wakes 30 minutes earlier than his early bird time. The girls sleep sweetly, and I wake my Annabelle. They dress and eat. I brush hairs and heads.

We take first day of school pictures. I am eager to take memory shots of this day not because everyone will post their photos on social media, but simply for me and our stories.


We ride to school. We listen to Toby-Mac sing about “me without you.” I sing; I dance, and I imagine my neighbor gets a kick out of this as he sees me dancing to school in his rear view mirror.

We listen to Wally. Then, we pray for the first day jitters. I feel relaxed. Not rushed or worried we will be late. I know that in the days to come, traffic will thin, and navigating the route will be smoother, easier, and we will arrive earlier eventually.

Even though there is a familiarity, there is a tension in sending them to school. I still want to keep them with me forever. I continue to sense God leading us to stay there. Things could change, but I go where God goes.

Libby has started preschool, and there is a chaotic busyness to the school schedule, and in some ways, I am always falling behind.


In the days since school has started, I’ve gone from a heaviness to a lightness in trying to mold myself back into comfort, but still, I find my spirit still searching for truth and all the questions of what should I do?

At the heart of this season of a new pastor, I have waffled. I have not fully trusted man, but I have fully trusted God. This trust allows me to stay because I feel called to this holy ground.

At times, I’ve wanted to tuck my family in tight under my wing, and find a new place to be. The changes I have gone through at church have left me feeling all the feelings, and on any given day, these feelings arise. This year has been an emotional roller coaster, and there is still much year left. I sometimes cry and weep. Sometimes I am angry and mad. In the midst of the pain, I want to run and flee, far, far, away, and make my world smaller. Less noisy, less chaotic, and less fluent. Less painful and wearisome. I’ve just tried to be accepting, and where I am settling now is re-entry. I am trying, albeit not easily, to reattach myself to leadership roles and positions even while the questions remain unanswered.

Is there post traumatic stress syndrome for church change? The people are hurting, and the Savior is listening. I am afraid of writing too much – of affecting people’s emotions because I am not alone in trying to find my footing in the changes. People have at times found comfort in this blog, and I’ve found myself afraid of leading them astray.

There are some people loyal to their place of church. I have heard some members of my church called “Valleydale men,” meaning they will never go anywhere other than Valleydale. There is some admiration in this. I love my local church, Valleydale, but I am not a Valleydale woman. I am willing to move if the Spirit moves me. We must first be Jesus men and women, not devoted to institutions over God, as deceivers can arise anywhere. In the study I just finished, “Children of the Day” by Beth Moore, she said this,

“We are blessed to have limitless opportunities to study under many pastors and teachers but, if we do not go diligently to the Scriptures for ourselves, the question is not whether we’ll be deceived, but how often.”

This was part of her commentary of 2 Thessalonians 2:3, “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way.” I realize that it sounds like I think my pastor is a deceiver, and I’m not trying to say that. I am saying that he is definitely a puzzle to me that I don’t think I will figure out anytime soon. What I aim to mainly say is be loyal to the Spirit – stay and go where He goes and leads you.

My friend, Dana, wrote this as her facebook status on February 7, and it seems fitting to share here,

Living in reaction to the religious spirit is still living under its control. Living in reaction to having been wounded is continuing to empower that wound.

The enemy wants to convince us to BUCK our previous bonds, flip the world (or the church?) the bird, and swing to the opposite extreme — sometimes even in the name of Jesus.

But Jesus invites us to take His hand and walk meekly into the freedom He purchased for us, radically empowered by His Spirit. There’s a high road of humility He calls us to walk with Him. A road on which we’re hidden in Him, defined wholly by Him, and out of that place we are set ridiculously free to live wholeheartedly out of our core.”

I might be a INFJ (meaning I do let my gut guide me at times), but I don’t want to move in reaction to all the feelings alone.

Listen to the still small voice of God guiding you. Not man’s agenda or your own agenda or your bitterness or how could you’s, but the sweet sound of Savior calling you. Do you hear Him? Is He calling you to stay? to leave? to let go?

I think of Hosea marrying the prostitute, and retrieving her again and again – a picture of God’s tethered love to me. I am the prostitute and He is pure. He’s making me new, calling me to suffer well.

If I ask a church to love, I choose to stay in love, otherwise, my words mean nothing.

Could it change? As sure as the wind blows, I will go where the Spirit leads.

childlike me


She pitter-patters into the room even in her four-year old body.

I suppose it is more like a hop-skip-leap of joy that she does.

She is my girl, and all the mysteries of the world live inside of her.

She is full of life, joy, and love.

She tells me about her blankie. I ask if blankie has magic. She says there is magic in blankie’s heart.

I ask her if there is magic in her heart, and she says no. She says love is in her heart.

It is true, and no one could deny it. I tell her love is the best kind of magic.

ooooah, she says.

It is love that turned water into wine.

It is love that turned God into a man.

It is love that gives my dying and dead bones new life.

It is love that turns the world upside down.

I don’t know what it is like to be famous or a christian celebrity, neither of which I want to be, despite old thoughts.

Sometimes, knowing that people are reading my blog makes me feel stuck, unable to come to worship through writing.

This past week a new reader mentioned the blog at church – my kids told me that I was famous when they got home.

And it made me fidgety.

And then I went to a service where a message that was preached that reflected my previous post, so I shared it with the pastor.

His response scared me – he called me revolutionary.

The me that you see is not innovative or contemporary, but…

love turns me inside out, makes me unafraid to talk or be and helps me to see.

love gives me eyes like a child, and only through the lens of a child could these words of mine ever be

worth reading or sharing or telling.

Love moves me to write in spite of me,

keeps me unstuck from people pleasing and self-consciousness and

whispers to me that faith like a child is revolutionary.

And this is the only way to be.

Even though I will always think of me as a wooden spoon,

Love chases me, and I come undone.

A radical alchemist child – that’s Him in me.

“Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Luke 18:17


The truth is I am all tangled up in fear.

And even though I wrote the words above to encourage myself a couple of weeks ago, I’m still stuck.

Because this year has been a long process in which God has allowed me to sleep in the lions’ den

and be thrown in the fiery furnace.

I don’t feel like a revolutionary – but maybe children never do, they just are.

I am stuck not in the way of not having things to write, but in knowing what is okay to write

and maybe it is okay to listen to the nudges He gives that cause you to be still,

until the heart is refined and made tender

like the fire that purifies iron, and iron that sharpens iron,

in blazing attempts of perception,

maybe the fire sheds the adult, like a cicada in the summer,

so like a child I become again – fear free

by love’s renewing grace.

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (or fear), but a spirit of power, of love, and of self control.” 2 Timothy 1:7

ps. I’ve been reading Madeleine L’Engle. Even though, Erika Morrison introduced me to the beautiful blending of alchemy and anthropology, Madeleine L’Engle’s book “A Circle of Quiet” begs me to join in holy alchemy.

photo credit: irinaraquel via photopin cc

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