My Hero

All a little girl wants is a Daddy who treasures her. Who shows her the love of her heavenly father. Your dad is the mirror through which you see yourself and everyone else. This one relationship affects everything about you. My dad always worked so hard for us. I never doubted his love and faithfulness to my mom or our family. I always knew he loved being a Dad and he loved us with all his heart.

He was there. He was present in our lives. He taught me how to ride a bike, play ping pong and shoot a basketball. I still remember the time he took with me teaching how to put an arch in my shot and I think about it to this very day. My Dad had a ping pong table set up in our garage and a basketball goal on the driveway. We had pogo sticks, hula hoops and a jungle gym and a merry go round in the backyard. He set up a bit of a mini Disneyworld for us as kids. He made stilts for us. My dad was always making something or fixing up something around our house. He had always worked so hard but I believe he wanted to give us the childhood he never had. Dad said that he worked six days a week when he was a young boy. He even worked on Saturdays when his dad would go into town. He stayed behind to do his chores. He is the hardest worker I have ever seen and he was and is like a superhero to many of our friends and neighbor kids.

He is quite the storyteller.

My Dad definitely has the gift of storytelling. When he gets started there is not a dry eye. He tells stories about his childhood and growing up in Falkner, Mississippi and it is so hilarious. It’s just the way he can weave a story. I love listening to him when he starts telling us about all the people he grew up around. He is such a comedian and I especially love when he and my Uncle Bub get together. There is no stopping those two. I promise you will laugh until you cry. The best part is when his face turns bright red and he starts laughing too.

He always made a joyful noise.

My dad cannot carry a tune. My mom said that both times she was pregnant she prayed that we would not get our musical talent from my dad. He loves to sing and praise the Lord! I remember when we were little and our friends came over to the house he was singing in the shower a couple of times. They would look at us all funny and ask us what the noise was. We replied “Oh, that’s just our Dad singing in the shower.” He would worship the Lord and pray in the spirit and I am thankful for that.

He is a man of his word.

He is the kind of man you can depend on. If he says he is going to do something, fix something or be somewhere you can believe he will follow through unless he has a very good reason. We knew where we would be every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night. If there was a revival we knew that we would be there every night as well. My Dad was a faithful man and a deacon in the church. He was called on many times to repair things around the church and did so quietly. My dad has the heart of a servant.

He is passionate about lots of things.

I only heard my Dad cuss once. It’s kind of a funny family story. Now that is. My brother and I were out walking on the beach when we were teens and meet up with some other kids on the beach. I thought I was cool and started smoking a cigarette. About that time my dad came up walking behind us and saw it in my mouth. He took one look at me and said “Girl, I’m gonna kick your ass.” My brother and I took off running.
At least I know I did. He was right behind me and tried to kick me in the behind but slipped on the sand and missed me. Cigarettes were never cool again after that. I knew he did it out of love. Parents do crazy things sometimes to get through to their kids. Dad loved us so much and he was quite passionate in expressing his affection. He did not want me going down that path.

He is a man who stands on the word of God.

There are things that should never be said to a child. When you download false information into a child it takes years to erase the damage. For my Dad the words played over and over in his mind. Negative messages from adults and coaches that he looked up to. My Dad is an overcomer. He has studied and meditated on the Word and he knows who he is in Christ. Others opinions fall away when you know you are truly loved by your creator and spending time in his presence changes your very mindset or outlook on life.

He is not afraid to share his struggles.

He is full of wonderful stories and he knows exactly the right time to share them for encouragement and sometimes for comic relief. When I was at a very low point my dad shared a story from his childhood with me. We have had some of the same struggles and have so much in common. He gives me a window to look through into his world. He looked fear right in the face for most of his life. He is the most courageous man I know. He won many battles because he knows who he is in Christ and what had been done for him on the cross. My Dad carried a pocket size book of bible verses with him to work each day. I remember it sticking out of his pocket. It was worn and marked in and underlined. I know that the scriptures were his lifeline.

My favorite memories with my dad were not our trips to Disneyworld or the beach growing up although I loved our family vacations. One of my favorite memories with my Dad was when he was driving a rig truck and came by the house one day. My mom lifted me up in his truck and I felt so special. I think this was my very first memory. As I got older I loved just being with him in his old F-150 truck as a young girl. I always felt special to ride with him whether we were going to our property or checking on the garden. It didn’t matter to me so long as I was with him. My Dad was my hero and he knew the answer to every question. I asked him so many questions he lovingly started calling me “Question mark.” I know I got on his nerves after a while but he tried to answer me the best he could.

He put up a tire swing on our property so while they worked in the garden my brother and I got to swing so high. We worked a little in the garden and sold vegetables at a little stand there on our property. Another favorite was when my dad would load up our four wheeler and take us to the Sand Pits on Sunday afternoons. We had so much fun riding around on all the trails and doing different stunts. I was a bit of a tomboy and loved every minute of it.

At the age of 18 when it was time to leave for college 14 hours away from home my Dad drove me from Tennessee to Florida with every inch of my red Camaro packed to the gills. We had the best talks on those car rides. He prayed with me and helped me get set up in my dorm room and made sure I knew where all the main roads were. When I dropped him off at the Orlando airport he made sure I knew my way back to the college. He thought of everything.

I am so thankful for my Dad and the time we get to spend with him. He was in a terrible accident in 2001 and he miraculously survived. We almost lost him but it was not to be. The Lord had praying people stationed around my dad that day. On the side of the road they prayed over him as he lost consciousness after being ejected from the van. God had other plans. He got to meet five grandchildren he never would have met on this earth had he left us that day. He is so good with them and they all adore their Poppa so much! I get to call him and tell him when one of our babies loses a tooth or asks Jesus to come and live inside their heart. He gets so excited whens he hears that they want to be baptized and that they are following Jesus. Our family is so blessed for generations and generations to come because of my Dad and the choices and sacrifices he has made. I love you Daddy!

Happy 69th Birthday to you!

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The Amazing Woman Who Raised Me

When we were little my Mom sang a lot around the house. She loved the Carpenters and sang so many of their songs. One in particular stands out which is “Close to You.”  I loved the way she sang “Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near… Just like me they long to be close to you.”  There were family gatherings where she would receive many requests to sing a Patsy Cline song “Crazy” and “Where the Boys Are”  by Connie Francis.  She really belted it out at times and hammed it up with my cousin who always asked her to sing.  She really sounded great and I was always proud and loved listening to her. Her alto voice was so smooth and she really enjoyed singing whether it be with her best friend and sister or my brother and I.

On family trips we always sang a lot. Listening to soundtracks on tape and harmonizing together. Mom taught Chad and I how to harmonize and the two of them made fun of me plenty of times when I was way off!  My Dad cannot carry a tune so most of the time he sat back and listened to the three of us.  He does his best singing in the shower as most of my friends found out when they were visiting the house.  He was always so proud of us when we sang in church.

Music always played a huge part in our family. Big family gatherings were also some of the best times.  We had Christmas get togethers with family at several different houses in Collierville and Mom worked so hard to pull this off. She had a little help from us but really did enjoy having her family over and all the good times we had.  Mom, Peggy and Aunt Jan usually ended up singing all the family favorites like Going to the Chapel, Let’s Jump The Broomstick , Country Roads and Yesterday among many others.  With the Harper side of the family comes plenty of quick wit.  Mom and I were always behind and were always the last ones to get the joke.  They would all laugh and carry on while Mom and I looked around.  Finally Mom would get it and laugh out loud:) This was something that was endearing about her though and I just loved sitting with them and listening to all the family stories.

Mom is not one to just laugh at anything and it does take a lot to get her going.  But when something happens *usually involving my brother or my Dad* and it hits her at just the right time she laughs so hard that she can’t talk and has tears streaming down her bright red face.  Usually it was when my Dad was ordering at drive thru windows or when Chad was doing something silly on vacation. Another incident involved listening to a guy who spoke very robotic at Kennedy Space Center with my brother and Dad on vacation.  Mom and Chad could not stop laughing out loud. I was not there but can only imagine.

One day Mom had office duty when she was selling Real Estate. She was in a hurry and left so fast she realized she was only wearing her slip after she got in her Camry to drive off.  She worked so hard and showed so many houses and took so many phone calls to help provide for our family.  Mom is really good at what she does and no one else I know can crunch the numbers like her or answer questions like her.  She was wonderful to call on when we were buying our house and helped us so much.  It is definitely a gift and people just like her and trust her from the moment they meet her.  She is honest and straight forward with people and can explain things in a way that most anyone can understand.

The teen years were pretty rough at times.  I know my mom prayed a lot during those years for me. My choice in friends was not always the best and I made plenty of poor decisions. We always went to church no matter what and mom was always there whenever I needed something or just needed to talk or cry.  I do remember one day she was dropping me off at the high school.  I was embarrassed to be riding to school with my mom and wanted to be dropped off before we got to school.  She was so mad and said for me to get out right there on the main road which ensued much drama.  Oh the joys:) Mom had a fiesty side too at times.

When we were teens Mom made sure that Chad and I went to church camp every year as well as Convention at the Opryland Hotel. I remember her writing out those checks faithfully every year.  We always had fun and looked forward to going but one year it stuck.  I gave my life completely over to Christ and there was no going back.  Thank God for a Mom that sent me away from my comfort zone and negative circle of influence so that God could speak to me and change me completely from the inside out.

When it was time to go off to college I was ready to go off to Springfield, Missouri.  I had already applied to Evangel College as my youth group visited there for College Days.  The summer of 1990 I went to youth camp and knew I was called to go to Southeastern.  When I came home and told my Mom she had such a peace about me going even though it was 13-14 hours away from home.  My Mom said later that she didn’t have a peace about me going to Evangel even though it was 6 or 7 hours away.  She prayed and let God work in my life and let me go even though it was very painful at the time.

My Mom is the kind of mom that your friends like to hang out with. She was just really cool and fun and easy to talk to.  We did a lot of shopping and going out to lunch when I was growing up. Mom would drive me to Tempo Fashions and the Hickory Ridge Mall in Memphis and spend hours with me as I looked through all the clothes racks.  After that she sat in the dressing room helping me find just the right outfits.  We stayed up late many nights watching our favorite shows like Mel’s Diner, Mama’s Family and lots of movies.

Mom always has time to talk to me, encourage me and is so positive.  When I came home from college for the summer we walked and talked a lot and lost weight together.  I always could talk about this guy or that guy or anything that was on my mind.  She was there to listen and listened well.  She gave and still gives the best feedback ever when needed. I am a blessed daughter!  She loves Shane and the kids so much and would do anything to help us out. She still is the best listener I know along with my husband and the most real person. She really doesn’t change who she is no matter who the person or whatever the situation.

My Mom has had a rough start to this year but she knows there is still a work for her to do.  Of course she wants to relax and enjoy life and travel but her heart is always about helping others whether it be single moms, working the homeless ministry or finding those around her to minister to.  She is a blessing to everyone who comes into contact with her and the Lord is leading her into some very exciting things to advance and further his Kingdom.

My Mom grew up in a small country town in Kennett, Missouri. She was Miss Holcomb High and was just beautiful.  She is not out to impress anyone or to change for anyone to accept her.  She knows who she is and has quite the backbone.  She loves the Lord with all her heart and loves His Word. Her name~ Kay or Katherine~means Pure.  From everything I know about my Mom that one word encompasses who she is. Elsa Katherine~ You are a gem and I Love You! Thank you Mom for ALWAYS being there for me! I hope you have a Fabulous Mother’s Day!

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February 29

February has me thinking of many things and it has flown by so fast.  The thing that stands out to me the most is that this year is a Leap Year. Why is that?  You might say to keep our calendar in sync with the solar cycle.  Hmm.  You would be right and all but all I can think about was that one of the most spectacular people ever created was born on this very day.

According to her, she only added one year to her age every four:) It’s true if you think about it. Her real birthday only came every four years. This of course meant that she was really only around 15 when she went home to be with Jesus.  The last time I remember seeing her was at the Fair on the Square in Collierville.  She and my Grandpa came out to support my Mom as she was selling her stained glass work at one of the vendor booths on the square.  I faintly remember seeing them and then saying goodbye.  That was the last time I saw her.  She went into the hospital the next week and we lost her.  When I say, we lost her; I don’t mean just my family.  She touched so many lives in her time here that I could never include them all here.  I was only 8 years old and these are just my memories.

Alma Mae

If ever there was an angel sent down to this earth it would be Alma Mae.  There was nothing she couldn’t do in my eyes.  She noticed all the little things that others may have just passed by.  Sitting outside, watching the birds, drinking coffee, and reading her Bible – that was how she started her day.  Always walking Grandpa to the door and giving him a kiss on his way to work. When we came to visit the first place we would go was Grandma’s candy dish.  After we gave her hugs and kisses of course.  There were orange slices, butterscotch candies, or circus peanuts.  It was always full when we came over.

The book drawer was another favorite.  It was full of books she picked up for us and she always had time to sit and read to us.  A box full of toys in her front closet was another constant and something we so looked forward to. My brother and I loved being pulled in her little wagon.  She took us on long walks and we usually ended up at a little store.  We were allowed to pick out little candies and gum and the store clerk gave us tiny brown paper sacks.  Then we got to enjoy our treats on the ride back to her house.

My Grandma was quite the homemaker, seamstress, and cook.  She actually made my mother’s wedding dress which was very intricate and beautiful.  She made Easter dresses each year.  The kind made for spinning.  Beautiful details and love were sewn into each outfit that she made for us.  Rolling out the cookie dough out while standing on my little stool in my apron she made was the best.  I think they were usually peanut butter and I loved making the little fork marks on top.

Summertime meant that my cousins would come to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for a week or maybe two.  I know they loved her so much and enjoyed their time with her.  My Mom said that after she passed my Grandpa who loved her dearly said, “Well you know she wasn’t perfect.”  This was because everyone said she was such a saint. Well she was perfect in our eyes.  I’m sure she must have had a few faults as we all do.  She was human after all but I just remember her being full of love and kindness even when I got in trouble;)

The backyard contained her beautiful garden and a little swing under a shade tree.  Grandpa took care of their little yard and I remember lots of trees.  One in particular was turned into a tree house for my older cousins.  There were Easter egg hunts at that house that we will never forget.  We have watched them on home movies so many times.  That is what I love.  What memories we all had together at that little house on Tuggle Drive.

Brushing her long gray hair which was longer than her back side… only a few of us knew just how long it was as she always kept it up in a bun.  Kneeling with her, praying beside her bed, and knowing that the Lord was listening to her every word – I believe her prayer and heart’s desire was for others to come to know Jesus in an intimate relationship the way she had.

She cared so much for others and always was ready to lend a hand.  She used her gifts and skills and never called out for attention for it.  I think I remember Mom saying she sewed all the choir robes for our church and that she had such a heart for families in the church.  There were precious times standing down at the alter with her at church.  She was definitely a Pentecostal and not ashamed of it.  I thank God for my rich heritage.  On Sundays, we usually came over to her house after church.  I remember ham or roast and slaw on the table and some sort of yummy dessert.

I remember her singing There’s Something About That Name

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus

There’s just something about that name

Master, Savior, Jesus

Like the fragrance after the rain

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus

Let all heaven and earth proclaim

Kings and kingdoms shall all pass away

But there’s something about that name.

I could write so many things about Grandma Harper.  The thing that stands out the most is one day when she was watching me while Mom went to the store.  Mom said when she got back Grandma said “Angie, tell Mama what you just did.”  I told Mom that I had asked Jesus to come into my heart.  I was around 5 years old and I remember kneeling down at my little table and chairs with her.  I miss her so much.  After she went home, I had a dream and we were in heaven together.  Everything was white but strangely enough, I just remember it looking like my elementary school cafeteria.  She walked me around holding my hand and introduced me to people.  I just remember having such peace after that.  How is it that 32 years later the tears still come so easily?  Her upcoming birthday just seemed like the perfect time to honor and remember this special woman in my life and so many others.  She will forever be in my heart.

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