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Category Archives: Inspirational

Dear Long Lost Friend

Dear Long Lost Friend & Those I Have Loved,

If I take the time to look back over my life, I see moments and people swirling, never stopping. It always keeps moving. Life doesn’t stop.

But I am sorry I haven’t paused to thank you for being one of those swirling faces. Each one is special. Each one helped make me who I am today. Some encouraged me and gave me hope. Some broke me down so I had to build myself back up, stronger. Some tested my moral fortitude. And some held me and let me cry.

I see pieces of laughter and inspirations to be better. There are adventures and quiet moments.  Fear. Wonder. Loyalty. Love.

Each person in my life helped mold or chisel a piece of me. All are part, though some more so than others, of the masterpiece that I am, or hope to be. Because that’s how it works. “We’re all in this together,” and wow, isn’t that the truth!

You never know the words you say that will forever stick with another, so please, choose them wisely.

 

Forever Yours,

Terri Klaes Harper

 

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My Christmas Prayer 2016

My house is quiet this morning. The dogs followed me out of the bedroom but collapsed while I made my coffee. My husband softly snores yet with the cat. There are no excited children to open gifts. It is just me and thoughts.

Whether today is the true date of Jesus’ birth or not,  I am thankful that he agreed to come here and be born as a little baby who would suffer the trials of mankind, growing in communion and fellowship with so many imperfect people. These were the people who were looking for him, yet refused to see him.

Even as a baby he was born to die. He was a sacrifice. Imagine growing up knowing that. Then imagine him surrounded by the hatred and cruelty of mankind (not so different than it is today), and deciding to die for us anyway, Jew and gentile alike. In fact, he died for anyone and everyone who would choose him.

This Christmas, I am thankful for the greatest gift ever, God’s son. So many are lost, hurting, and confused. If I read the news, it brings me to tears more often than not. How can we believe in good when we are surrounded by so much evil? But I pray for this to be a day that gives hope. I pray everyone would have a small moment in their busy days to look past the commercialism and truly appreciate what Christmas represents. There is hope, if we only look. I pray we may all focus on the good and what we do have. I pray for hurting people to find peace. And I pray my little girl would always continue to love God and believe with her childlike faith.

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Merry Christmas!

O Christmas Tree

The tree stood a mere 32 inches off the floor. She reflected on the tree from the Christmas prior and figured she should be thankful. That one had been a literal sapling, meant to be planted outdoors after the passing of the holiday, but it had deteriorated and died before Christmas day had even come. It was just as well anyway as living in an apartment didn’t afford much of a place for them to plant the bitty tree.

She tried not to see the parallels in the trees and her own lack of thriving. The positive side was that one strand of lights made this the brightest little tree she had ever seen. And after scanning the living room portion of their one-room studio apartment, she could see that shifting the items from the small corner table to the desk by the bed would provide a better vantage point for the tree and give it the appearance of a being taller.

After placing the tree in its new home atop the table, she decided it was best to be thankful for what she had and placed their small star on top. With a feeling of contentedness, she settled down on the love seat with a cup of hot cocoa. Unexpectedly, her husband arrived home from work, emerging through the door with a six foot tree he had won at his company Christmas party.

 

Hope Changes Everything

A few Christmases ago, I discovered we somehow had this amazingly beautiful song in our collection of 2 days of Christmas music. As it played I realized I had never heard it before, so I paused my holiday scurrying long enough to listen. And then I hit the repeat button and listened again. Something about this song reached my heart like few other Christmas songs ever had and it became an immediate favorite.

Then my world changed. I am not going to say I am like Mary or anything, but last year I came to understand her more through this song, and by reflection, I understood the sacrifice of God to give us His son.

I’ve blogged this before, but in case you missed it, the short story is that my husband and I, intentionally childless, were asked in the summer of 2014 to take in a little girl. We were unprepared and felt we were not worthy of such an important task as helping to raise a child. But we knew we needed to do it, so we said yes. It was hard. Our lives had to completely change to fit her into our world, but we grew as a family and the bond of love became something I could never had imagined, I could never have planned.

She became our daughter… a child entrusted to us, of all people.

Then last winter, right before Thanksgiving, we found out we were going to lose her. No, she isn’t deceased. She just lives with her biological father now.

So when I heard this song last year, the meaning changed for me. I definitely felt the uncertainty of Mary, being chosen to not only give birth to Jesus, but having the honor of raising him. She knew he was the savior, but she did not know how he was to save mankind, that he would have to be sacrificed. She had nothing of certainty except that she had been chosen for the task.

It isn’t easy to give up your loved ones who have become part of your heart and your being. Trusting God’s plan when it makes no sense hurts like nothing I can describe. How must Mary have felt when she beheld Jesus, torn and beaten, hanging on the cross 32 years later, remembering when she had held him in her arms? She had to have felt broken and confused. Maybe even angry. Why had she been given such a wonderful gift only to have him taken from her in such a brutal way?

But he was God’s gift to give, and though Mary could not see it in the midst of her pain, salvation came from Jesus’ death. And no one suffered as God did in that moment when He could not even look upon His own son. He knew what the sacrifice meant for mankind, but in that moment, He hurt and He wept.

I love Christmas decorations, the baking, the parties, the smells, the music, but I remind myself those good feelings of Christmas are meant to remind us of the greatest gift ever given. It’s wonderful when, in the midst of the commercialism, people are able to appreciate the general warmth of the holiday, the love and peace,  but it needs to be more than just that. Let’s remember where Love really originates and who gave it to us.

There is always a plan. It doesn’t always make sense. Sometimes it hurts, but we have been given the gift of Hope.

Hurricane Harper

On the last day of school of my first year as a teacher (so long ago now), while moving desks back in place after the final exam, I saw “Hurricane Harper”scribbled on a desk in pencil, and a swirl representative of said force of nature doodled next to the words. It amused me. I must have made some sort of impact on that student’s life.

It’s old news now, but about a month and a half ago a little storm named Matthew interrupted life as we know it and did some real damage close to home here in Florida. He threatened to come in as a category 4, and some tracks even showed him plowing across the peninsula, and making a loop back over the state again. Thankfully, that didn’t happen, and he even took a little, much needed wobble to the east.

We evacuated. Well, we had already planned a long vacation weekend, so we just renamed it our EVACation. Anyway, watching from a distance, not knowing if we would even have a house to come home to was scary. Meteorologists can only predict so much. There is an unpredictability to the extent of the damage that will come with a storm such as Matthew…

…or Hurricane Harper.

matthew-rainbowI wouldn’t say I am the dangerous or unpredictable one, but my life has been a storm for the last few years, and it keeps doubling back over itself. I guess I’m just getting tired of all this spinning.

It makes me dizzy.

However, eventually Matthew did lose strength and speed, so I have to believe this storm will too.  A few days after we were back I saw a rainbow while I was out running. A rainbow always gives me hope.

 

 

 

View the Uphill from Under the Hill

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In Florida, we don’t have hills, but we have bridges. On my out and back 5 mile training run, I began the tackle of the bridge and was at the peak when I hit mile one. I could say it was smooth sailing after that, or all downhill from there… but I hate cliches. I felt great though. Sure, it was humid, but the temperature was a good ten degrees cooler than my usual Saturday morning runs, so I considered that a win. The path I chose had small rolling hills, but nothing I couldn’t handle that morning. I guess I was in the right place mentally and physically.

I did the turnaround at 2.5 miles and headed back towards that bridge. I knew I would hit mile 4 right before I got to the peak. The run had felt exhilarating and I figured I’d just blast up that hill, er…bridge and be done with it.

The thing is, though, that for some reason I saw the bridge looming ahead, and it seemed more intimidating from this side. The incline is steeper headed inland, and my legs suddenly hurt. My breathing got out of whack. I was floundering. For about ten seconds, my mental battle just about clobbered me physically. I thought I would throw up. I began to fear being able to run over that bridge twice the day of the half marathon I am training for.

But I wouldn’t let myself quit. I wouldn’t allow myself to walk. I hated myself for those ten seconds, but I knew that I could do it if I just kept moving my legs. I had the strength. I was almost to the top, and I only had one mile to go. Downhill would be so much better, if I could just make it to the top. And then I did. I wanted to have a Rocky moment, but that would have held back my time if I stopped to jump up and down with my arms in the air at the top of the bridge, so I just smiled and kept plugging.

That has been my life for the last couple years. I have scaled, hiked, crawled, and run hills I thought would defeat me, but I have tried to remember that I am not in it alone. Peter walked on water. Maybe not for long before he doubted himself, but Jesus was there to catch him, and when I feel like I cannot crest the next hill, and it hovers over me, I remind myself I have never really been alone. Jesus is always there when I cannot do it by my own strength. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). I want to picture myself running into His waiting arms at the top of the hill.

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Then, when I completed my run, I stretched and walked along under that bridge that had almost defeated me, and I saw it from a different perspective. I saw its height and vastness, and I knew I had made it over the top, and I now rested in its shade. Getting over our hills can be a mental, emotional, or physical challenge, but once we make it to the other side, we can rest in its shade.

The Quiet Hours

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In the quiet hours, only I stirred… or so I thought. But the sky began to wake as well. Subtle, yet colorless, rising light began to peek above treetops and between branches, but even the clouds were still lazy and refused to move out of its way. The once eagerly twinkling stars seemed to fade as the sky phased from deep midnight blue to cornflower blue, while cotton candy pink streaks reflected onto the dissipating clouds and played in the growing light. Purple and fire-yellow seeped into the masterpiece, and I realized I had lost all my other senses in those moments. Now, silence fled as birds began to sing and flit about in the trees, anxiously awaiting a new day. I finished my coffee.