- Breast Reconstruction, Boy Momming and Believing God

Tag Archives

57 Articles

Body Parts I Never Imagined Discussing with My Kids (and it has nothing to do with breast cancer)

Body Parts I Never Imagined Discussing with My Kids (and it has nothing to do with breast cancer)

I wrote the following little story several years ago as a guest blogger at Leanne Shirtliffe’s website. I recently started receiving spam comments with advertisements for Cial@s and Viag@a and realized this post was the culprit. I guess if you mention male anatomy multiple times in a post, crazy drug companies will find you eventually. (You’ll notice I added an @ symbol to certain words in the hopes of avoiding more comments from prescription drug companies) 🙂

Reading through the story again made me giggle. I’m reposting it today in the hopes of making you giggle too. My Lewis was five when this fun conversation took place. 

Body Parts I Never Imagined Discussing with My Kids

Bears on Wheels is a one of Lewis’ favorite bedtime story books. My youngest son loves it because it’s one of those books he can “read.” Mostly my little man just looks at the pictures and states the obvious, but he can almost quote the whole thing verbatim.

“Four bears on one wheel. One bear on two wheels…” You get the picture.

Well, one night not long ago as we were reading the Stan and Jan Berenstain classic, Lewis was a bit distracted by one of the body parts that is ever so popular at our house. His p@nis. A mom of all boys, I often feel like I’ve been dropped onto another planet as I listen to their conversations and the noises their bodies emit. Though my three handsome boys have (what they deem to be) hilarious nicknames for their various body parts, we do not shy away from using the proper medical terminology either. P@nis is just another word at the Harms home.

If you were raised in a home like me where privates were never mentioned, much less joked about, I dare you to say p@nis out loud a few times. I’ll wait…

109 views

Flip Shots – How YouTube is an Answer to a “Mom Prayer”

Flip Shots – How YouTube is an Answer to a “Mom Prayer”

It has long been a prayer of mine that God would make me aware my children’s gifts and talents. And that He would help me to be a dream cheerleader not a dream squasher. I used to watch my friend, Cinnamon, (yes that’s her real name) and think, “She’s got this mom thing figured out. I want to be like that.”

When my boys were just toddlers, I watched her let her 15-year-old daughter play in a band. She invited that band to practice (drums and all) in her house. And she supported them when they sought out coffee houses and other small venues at which to play. She knew her daughter’s gifts, and she encouraged her to use them. Today that grown up daughter is one of my favorite guitar playing vocalists on the planet.  (If you follow this link she might become one of your favorites too 🙂 – My Redeemer Lives)

You may watch my Owen’s two minute Flip Shots video above, and think, ‘Oh that’s cute or funny or whatever.’ But let me tell you what I see.

80 views

10 Things I Hope for My Boys as They Enter High School

by KimHarms 2 Comments
10 Things I Hope for My Boys as They Enter High School
19657281_10214004825905615_986889829466747080_n

Photo courtesy of Rachel Vespestad

Every time I drive past the high school building looming by the cornfields on the outskirts of town, my palms start sweating. Maybe because my high school friends scarred me for life by making me watch Children of the Corn in the 90s.

More likely it’s because the sweet six pound baby, whose chest movement I observed closely on a nightly basis to be sure he was not dead, will soon be navigating the gauntlet of secondary education.

It freaks me out a little. And it’s gotten me thinking about the things I hope for all three of my boys as they traverse those formative four years between childhood and adulthood.

I hope they don’t unnecessarily stress out about grades.

Sure, they may get a bit more in college scholarships if they hang onto that 4.0 for 4 straight years, but I’ve seen what the stress of that can do to people, and I’m not sure it’s worth it. I want my boys to work hard of course, but I don’t want them to lose their minds striving for perfection.

In real life a 4.0 just doesn’t matter much. A fulfilling, successful career and a perfect GPA have very little to do with each other.

I hope they have a teacher like Professor Haws.

Professor Haws gave me the biggest boost of encouragement a professor could bestow upon an insecure 20-year-old. He could have easily let me slide through his journalism course at ISU, accept my grade and move on. But instead, he pulled me into his office, told me I was a good writer and suggested I change my journalism minor to a journalism major.

I didn’t take his advice, but his words are still with me. And those words gave me the courage to pursue my first reporting position after college. I moved on from newspaper writing to magazine writing, and now I’m working on my first book. A few words of encouragement from the right person can be immeasurably valuable.

I hope that each of my boys will have a high school teacher like my college professor who sees their potential and then takes the time to pull them aside and say, “I see a talent here, and I encourage you to pursue it.”

I hope they don’t focus so much on the now that they forget to plan for tomorrow.

High school kids are insanely busy. Some of them walk through the school doors before seven a.m. and return home in time to eat, sleep and start all over again. It’s not hard to understand how kids who live in such a harried atmosphere can get stuck in the now. When do they even have time to think about tomorrow if they are always charging full-speed ahead in today?

Though I know my boys will be busy in high school, my hope is that they don’t lose sight of planning for the future. That they will find the balance between being involved in what they love and being overcommitted.

I hope that they don’t focus so much on tomorrow that they forget to live in the now.

On the flip side, I hope my boys don’t get so concerned about growing up that they forget to have fun now. High school is the time to toilet paper friends’ houses in the middle of the night. It’s the time to drink cases of soda and have Lord of the Rings marathons. It’s the time to play basketball in the driveway, and football in the backyard. I hope they enjoy those four years and treasure the fun and friendships that will surely change after graduation.

I hope they learn to enjoy showering.

What a glorious day it will be when my kids happily hop in the shower to wash their sweaty boy smell down the drain. I hope for a day when hygiene is a welcome thing and not a dreaded task that takes precious time away from basketball and video games. (This hope came to fruition shortly after I wrote this. And it was in fact, a glorious day 🙂 )

I hope they appreciate their high rate of metabolism.

Seriously. My boys can drink two cans of Mountain Dew and eat a family-sized bag of Doritos and, as far as I can tell, all it does is make their feet grow. This will not always be the case. One day those washboard abs will decide they need proper nutrition to be maintained.

I hope they don’t outgrow a back scratch from their mama.

We aren’t all that touchy-feely at our house, but every night at bedtime I scratch those ever-growing boy backs. And the scratching motion seems to be directly connected to a mechanism that opens their mouths to give me a glimpse into their thought world. It’s one of those guaranteed moments of connection between me and my boys, and I will miss it dearly when it’s gone.

I hope each pair of crazy expensive sports shoes we purchase last a full season.

I believe their feet are the most expensive part of their bodies. So. Many. Shoes. Remember those unbreakable spray-on shoes Flint Lockwood invented in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs? He had something going there. Seriously. Million dollar idea.

I hope they don’t have zits on picture day.

Oh wait. Photoshop. Forget this one. Zits only exist in real life.

I hope they take the Proverbs to heart.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:5-7 New Living Translation) So many people will be vying for their attention and allegiance through their teen years. My hope is that my boys keep their Savior at the top of the pile.

*This post was actually written a couple years ago when my two oldest were in middle school. I found it buried in my files of written-but-unpublished-stuff and decided it was worth sharing 🙂

2 views

6 Things Every Dad Should Know About His Daughter @ Inspire a Fire

by KimHarms 0 Comments

June 2017 copy

Dear Dads, I don’t have a daughter, but I am one. And this list of 6 Things Every Dad Should Know About His Daughter is inspired by my experience.

1. She is paying close attention to you.

By the time I was four, I’d seen my dad build and fix a lot of stuff, so I was utterly disappointed when after I had a serious mishap involving a trampoline and a metal tractor toy, he wasn’t able to put my broken arm back together. Sometime over the course of two surgeries, a week in the hospital and four months in a cast, I realized that though my dad wanted to solve my problems, he couldn’t fix everything. If you show your daughter you are making an effort, she will notice.

2. Your presence matters.

Like a lot of dads, my dad wasn’t big on showing affection when I was growing up, but he was always there. Always. Every activity I took part in, no matter how boring or how long the drive, he was there. And his presence not only made me feel important, it made me try harder. So when you are physically able, just be there. Even if it means slipping into the back of an auditorium with your work clothes on.

3. She sometimes chooses activities based on how she thinks you will respond. Take notice.

Sure I had a crush on a guy on the wrestling team, but the real reason I took stats throughout high school is so I’d have a common interest with my dad who wrestled at Mankato State. It gave us something to talk about. Dad even took me to the NCAA Wrestling Championships and let his friend, who happened to be the Athletic Director at the University of Iowa, sneak me mat side to meet my favorite Division I wrestlers. That was a big deal for a 17-year-old girl.

To read the other three pieces of advice, head over to Inspire a Fire.

 

0 views

The Evolution of Motherhood @ Inspire a Fire

by KimHarms 0 Comments

May 17

My monthly post is up at Inspire a Fire.  Talking about motherhood today.

The Evolution of a Mother’s Role

“It was sorta okay.”

That may not sound like much of a sentence, but when as a mother you hear those four words exit the mouth of a child who has been in the midst of a struggle, they are good words. Good words indeed.

From a Tired Body to an Aching Heart

My boys used to be babies. You know, the kind that needed fed all the time and changed all the time. The kind that continually spit up on their clothes and in my hair. The kind that couldn’t verbalize what they wanted so they cried, or screamed or rocked back and forth with a vengeance (Rocking was the go-to stress reliever for a couple of my babies.)

That phase of life was physically exhausting. It kind of felt like I was living the movie Ground Hog Day sometimes. Every day a slight variation of the same thing. An unending cycle of the fatiguing madness of mothering babies and young children.

But those boys are not babies anymore. And mothering them is no longer physically exhausting. They can feed themselves. They can read. They remember to flush the toilet, and I don’t have to fight them to get into the shower. They can set the table, load the dishwasher, empty the garbage and mow the lawn. Two of them can even drive a car. Yikes!

Somewhere between the helpless baby stage and the responsible human stage, there was a definite shift in the type of exhaustion I experienced…

Follow this link to the rest of the story  Inspire a Fire

0 views

When Breast Cancer Came to My House

(I was asked to write my breast cancer story for our local paper as a part of Breast Cancer Awareness month. The following is just a little piece of 2016 in the Harms house. It’s a bit longer than my typical blog posts, but I am publishing it as it was printed in the paper.)

img_7576

The hardest part is telling your kids.

Watching your child navigate heartache is painful. But when you are the one who causes the heartache, it is almost unbearable.

We sat in front of the fireplace, Corey and I. It was January 21. Two days after my biopsy.

Carter leaned against the living room wall. Owen against a couch. Lewis beside him.  Our two teenagers and the 9-year-old who will always be my baby.

There was a surreal, fear-tinged atmosphere surrounding that moment.

The boys knew about my biopsy.

They knew there was something not quite right with my body.

But they were as ill-prepared for the blow of the diagnosis as I was.

That diagnosis was Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. Breast cancer. Corey and I had allowed ourselves 24 hours to process the news, and now it was time to bring the boys into this undesirable circle.

I don’t think I could have physically spoken my diagnosis to the boys. As I watched them quietly brace themselves for whatever news was coming, the pathway from my vocal cords to my lips grew tight and suddenly there was not enough air in the room to form words. So I just leaned on Corey hoping somehow that his strength would seep into me. And praying that his words would not get lost like mine.

“We got the biopsy results back, and your mom has breast cancer.”

Silence.

The world stopped for a minute while we watched our boys’ insulated lives bust wide open.

Tears don’t often flow freely at our house, but that night they did.

I saw the fear in my boys’ eyes and more than anything I wanted to take it away.

It’s going to be okay. Breast cancer is treatable. The doctors will fix this and then we’ll get right back to normal, is what I wanted to say. But the truth is I was drowning in fear myself.

Fear of the unknown. Because all I had at that point was a name for my tumor. I didn’t know if it had spread beyond the lump I could feel under the skin of my breast. I didn’t know what my future looked like. Chemo? Radiation? Surgery? Death? I just knew that something was growing inside of me that was not supposed to be growing inside of me, and I was helpless to stop it.

Overcoming Fear

Fear can do crazy things to your mind if you let it. It can take you down paths you don’t want to be on. And there were days that all of my energy was spent fighting ugly thoughts.

But even as those thoughts bombarded me, one scripture verse kept coming to the forefront of my mind.

“Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” It was from Isaiah, and I had memorized it during high school to get me through the jitters I always felt before the gun went off at a track meet. Who knew at that time how much more I would need those words at 40 than I did at 15.

At first, I don’t know that I fully believed all the words of verse that played on repeat in my mind. But the more I took the fear and covered it with the fear not the more I trusted that God knows what he’s doing.

That he wasn’t looking down from heaven saying, “Oh shoot, I screwed that one up. Kim wasn’t supposed to get that tumor. Oh well. She’s got it now, I guess we’ll go with it.”

I think what he wanted was for me to learn to trust him in the hard stuff. And by watching me trust him, he wanted my kids to learn that they can trust him as well.

The Path Through the Treatment

The boys survived that night in the living room. They worked their way through the fear. And they helped me make it through a really tough season.

After my bilateral mastectomy, they (along with Corey) became my physical strength. They helped me out of my recliner. They opened my refrigerator door. They refilled my water bottle. The adjusted my footstool.

And they graciously kept being themselves as well. They still yelled at the Xbox when their games weren’t going right. They still ate their way through a million boxes of cereal. They still wrestled on the living room floor, and they still got passionately involved in viewing Cyclone basketball games on TV. Together, we found an “unnormal” normal. And we grew to have a deep appreciation of each other and our time together.

While the boys helped me out and worked through the cancer in their own way, Corey was doing the hard things too. He came home at lunchtime to help me shower. He blew my hair dry and helped me get dressed. He emptied my drains, and he told me I was beautiful when my scars told me I was ugly.

On the Other Side

We are on the other side of this cancer thing now. I spent a couple nervous weeks after surgery waiting to be informed whether or not I would need chemo. (I didn’t. Hallelujah!) And because of the type of surgery I chose, radiation wasn’t necessary either. I am now healed and released to a 10-year prescription of an estrogen inhibitor (my cancer likes estrogen) and bi-annual appointments with my oncologist.

I can look back and see clearly that even in a disease like breast cancer, beauty can be found. I have grown in ways that would not be possible without that significant bump in my road.

I saw God remain trustworthy when my circumstances were out of control.

I gained so much compassion for those with cancer. When I spot someone whose hair has been stolen by chemo, my heart is immediately drawn to them.

I witnessed my boys maturing right before my eyes. They made it through those broken hearts. And I am confident that the next time they are exposed to cancer (and I don’t doubt there will be a next time) they will have a compassion and understanding that would have been impossible to achieve without walking through it with me.

Cancer was the hardest thing our family has ever done together and most definitely not something we would ever choose. But in ways I have a hard time putting words to, it was also the most beautiful.

(First published in the Tri-County Times and Nevada Journal.)

26 views

Boy Mom Monday – Proverbs 23:22 – Parent and Friend

IMG_20150722_173331894

Proverbs 23:22 Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.

I had a friend years ago whose relationship with her mother was strained. They talked regularly. And though they honestly loved each other, it was not uncommon for their conversations to end in utter frustration. You see, they loved each other, but they didn’t really like each other.

One expected too much, the other couldn’t let go of the past.

I have lost touch with that friend and don’t know where her relationship with her mother stands today, but I do know that I don’t want that kind of relationship with my kids.

Right now I am my boys’s mom first and their friend second. We can enjoy some benefits of friendship, but my primary role is to guide them into adulthood. Sometimes that will tick them off because my decisions are not what they would choose. And sometimes it will tick them off because the decisions I make are wrong. I’m not infallible, and of the millions of decisions I will make throughout their childhood years, I will surely make some stupid ones.

My hope for my boys is that they will see my mistakes with forgiving eyes, and that when they test their childhood in my home on a scale they will see it was heavily weighed down by love. And that that love will lead to a mama/son friendship.

Prayer

Lord, I know I will screw up in the parenting years. I will make mistakes that will hurt my boys. I don’t want to, but I know I will. I pray that as they cross from childhood to adulthood they will dwell on my love for them, and be able to forgive or overlook the offenses. I pray also that as they pass from childhood to adulthood our parent-child relationship will develop into a true friendship. Amen.

0 views

BOY MOM MONDAY – Proverbs 22:6 – Direction

IMG_5060

Proverbs 22:6 Train a child up in the way he should go and when he is old he will not part from it.

Whew! That verse puts a tremendous amount of pressure on us if we read it to mean that if we raise our kids right, they will become followers of Christ. Putting the full responsibility of our children’s faith on our own shoulders will surely lead to feelings of failure when one of them strays.

I love the following explanation of Proverbs 22:6 from Captivating by John and Stasi Elderidge.

This verse is not a promise about faith. It is not speaking of training a child to follow Christ or promising that if you do, the grown child will continue to follow him. Sorry. The proverb is about raising a child to know who he is and to guide him in becoming ever more himself. In the way he should go. Not in the way you would like him to go in order to validate you as a mother and a woman. It speaks of teaching a child to live from his heart, attuned to it, awake to it, aware of it, and when that child is grown he will continue to live a life from the heart. It is about seeing who a person really is and calling him out to be that person.

Though it is important for us to direct our sons toward Christ, it is ultimately their own choice to follow or turn away.

But if while we raise them in the faith, we also focus on their gifts, talents and passions, we can guide them toward the life God intended them to have on this earth. We can help our kids become aware of who God made them to be. We can find those little seeds of talent and be our kids’ biggest cheerleaders and advocates.

And maybe it will be in the development of their God-given gifts that they will see the Savior most clearly.

Prayer

Lord, Help me to be aware of the gifts, talents and passions you have built into my boys. Give me the wisdom to best encourage them in the way they should go. Amen.

1 view

BOY MOM MONDAY – Proverbs 21:9 – Marriage

proverbs 21 copy

Proverbs 21:9 Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.

When my husband’s little sister asked him to read scripture at her wedding, she gave him free reign to choose whatever passage he wanted and opened the door for his crazy shenanigans.

Corey stood solemnly in front of the wedding guests and read Proverbs 21:19. “Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.”

After the laughter subsided, he flipped to the New Testament and read a much more appropriate wedding passage.

It’s easy to laugh at verses like Proverbs 21:9, but there is an important truth in that short sentence. So often couples get caught up in the wedding planning and the fantasy of happily ever after, and they fail to look at the hard parts of their relationship before they are married. But those hard parts of a dating relationship don’t magically disappear when the “I dos” are spoken.

Though our culture tells us otherwise, marriage is not something to be taken lightly. The fairytale doesn’t exist, but the vow is real and serious. And spending an entire lifetime with someone whom you are not compatible is a tough pill to swallow.

My hope for my boys is that they will not be drawn into a relationship with the wrong person or for the wrong reasons. Before they promise “til death do us part,” I pray they will work through areas of disagreement and understand the gravity of a wedding vow.

A lifetime marriage commitment is a beautiful thing, but many lives are broken when marriage promises are taken too lightly.

Dear Lord, I pray that you will give my boys the wisdom to choose well as they grow and begin to begin to date. I pray they will listen to what you desire for them above and beyond their emotions and physical attraction. Amen.

0 views

BOY MOM MONDAY – Proverbs 19:2 – ZEAL

zeal

Proverbs 19:2 It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.

Zeal is a good thing. To be enthusiastic and passionate about a goal is a great first step. But if zeal is all we have, we won’t get far.

After I watched Florence Griffith Joyner break world track records in Seoul in 1988, my 12-year-old self was going to follow in her footsteps. I would be a runner, and I would run in the Olympics (forget that those Olympics sprinters are not white girls.)

So I went out of for track in seventh grade. I did zero conditioning beforehand, and realized that running fast is hard. I didn’t run track in 8th grade. But something in me still wanted to run, so I joined the team again in 9th grade and ran throughout high school. And I loved it.

But I learned that I had to add some hard work and knowledge to that zeal I had back in junior high. I ran all year long, not just in season. I worked out before school in the weight room and I got together with my relay teammates to work on hand-offs outside of practice.

I wasn’t the fastest girl on my team, but my zeal + knowledge + effort did earn me a place at the state track meet a couple times. I look back on my track experiences as my best high school memories, and though I’m no speed demon, I still enjoy a good run.

My hope for my boys is that they too will learn to match their zeal with knowledge and effort so they can accomplish the desires of their hearts.

Prayer

Dear God, Thank you for giving us each zeal for different things. I pray that those passions that are in my boys’ hearts will lead them to desire to learn and grow and reach their goals and that they will not become lazy and give up because something is too hard physically or mentally. Amen.

0 views
%d bloggers like this: