The moment I first truly understood what it meant to be apart of a family was the same moment that one of our biggest members had left this earth as he fulfilled his breaths... I didn't know strength until I stood, hand-in-hand, next to my team as we walked out onto the stage of South Park Church to see the faces of every single person my dad touched on this earth. As I held the hands and looked to each of these four incredible people in my life, I saw so clearly five things that my family, truly my mom and dad, have engrained into our team. This team is unbreakable, and God gave me each of them to ride this crazy beautiful ride called life in which we love and are loved. And, above all, Live Large.

1. Keep every heart in mind.

Ever since I was little, my voice, no matter how small it was, was always heard. The beauty of my parents was that they invited our voices within the dynamic of our “Team.” They encouraged valuing every single person in the room.

As time has gone on, our voices that were rooted in our own “Team,” now are able to speak to the world and to every person that comes into our lives.

It is because my parents let us sit around the table, and speak our truth that I now value speaking truth to those around me. There is so much importance in having a conversation in which every voice is heard, and every heart feels valued.

Life gets busy, and the only person who will slow it down is you. All too often, I find myself caught up in my present, I find myself missing so many opportunities to slow down and value the person I am with, and the heart that I am talking to.

But, it has been through the hearts of each of my family members that bring me back to my roots and remind me to keep every heart in my life in mind.

2. Keep your Sunday night fires burning.

Every Sunday night was the same and it always ended with me crawling from my parent's lap into my bed, with the smell of bonfire stuck in the curls of my hair. No matter what happened in the week…

We always had our Sunday night fires.

Looking across the embers, I saw the faces of each member of my family. While our lives seemed to fly by, we were always able to ground ourselves every Sunday night. We are able to look at one another, and hold each other just a little bit closer.

Now that we are all miles away from one another, we don't let the fire stop burning on our Sunday nights. Each Sunday night, we all jump on FaceTime and although there is no fire, there is a fire in my heart as I am able to sit with the people I love in this world the most.

3. Keep the music on all night.

Nights at the lake, with Van Morrison playing throughout the house, and my parents laughing with a crowd of their loved ones below… that was my lullaby each and every night.

As I heard the familiar beat of each song, and my parent’s voices booming followed by laughter, I would smile and get butterflies. I remember thinking to myself that my parents were the coolest people in the world.

Often, I would be able to sneak down the stairs and see them, with their hearts shining on their faces as they surrounding themselves with those they loved and reflected on the moments that God has given them.

It is magical when you are able to see your parents' hearts spark fires in others. And it was through the nights, with the music on till the sunrise, that I saw my parents living. Living large and loving this beautiful life.

4. Keep building your Team.

My family has always been my “Team.” Team Harper.

I can’t find any other way to describe the people that have been placed in your life for all that comes. What I first found in my family, I have learned to carry out throughout my life. The people I love become my team. The journey we are on becomes our playing field.

Whoever God puts into your life to call your family, make sure that nothing in this world can break that bond; your team.

5. Keep Christ at the center of it all.

There is no better way to learn how to love, than to be a witness to someone who loves with God as their center. Ever since I could remember, I have been a witness to a love like this.

I have seen God’s love abundantly through the love that my parents shared, and the love that they have shared with the world.

And... there are endless moments when God gives each of us a wink, and shows us just how capable we are of resembling a love like his.

There is nothing, nothing, that is held higher than the highest of it all and the love that comes from living life in his name.

In honor of Michael Donald Harper and Kelley Kiernan Harper
November 6, 1993