The Stuff of Life


Leave a comment

Milk Cartons, Tears and a Change in Seasons

september-pic-2016

(In my September post at Inspire a Fire, I reflect on the change of seasons in life and reminisce about the day I sent my baby to school.)

Homemade cheesebread with marinara sauce.

“Oh no, what if Lewis can’t open his milk carton?”

Those were the first five words on the back-to-school lunch menu and that was the thought that ran through my head sending a fresh waterfall of tears down my face. Yes, I read the school lunch menu and cried. And cried. And cried.

That was several years ago, but I remember it like it was several blinks ago.

Lewis was (and still is) my baby. The one I had to myself for four years while his brothers were in school. The one who sang wonderful made-up songs, daily made me laugh out loud and liked to wear the same way too small orange shirt. Every. Single. Day.

The one who wasn’t supposed to grow up.

What if he can’t open his milk carton? What if he gets lost? What if he gets hurt and wants his mommy? What if he gets tired and needs a nap? There was no end to the (often irrational) thoughts that filled my head as I sent my little man off to begin his own life adventures.

But I know deep down the reason I kept crying was not because Lewis might not be able to handle school. It was because I might not be able handle life without Lewis…

Head on over to Inspire a Fire to read the rest of the story – Milk Cartons, Tears and A Change in Seasons


6 Comments

How to Spend More Than $600 on a $269 IKEA Futon

img_20160914_182156499

It’s possible.

And here’s how to do it.

First, drive 3 hours to the Minneapolis IKEA with a friend. Realize when you get there that the futon you came for is out of stock. Enjoy your day anyway and come home with a few items of lesser importance.

Cost of Trip

Lunch – $12

Gas – FREE (Your friend won’t let you pay for gas because she’s pretty great.)

Then, four days later, drive 3 ½ hours with your hubby (who is awesome) to the Kansas City IKEA where the futon is in stock. Buy said futon. Eat way too much Mexican food and stay overnight in a hotel.

Kansas City IKEA

Kansas City IKEA

Cost of Trip

Gas – $30ish

Dinner out – $40

Hotel – $130

Arrive home and realize you bought the wrong mattress. Get very frustrated. Maybe even almost cry a little.

One week later, cram the wrong mattress into your vehicle and drive 3 hours with your husband (who is ever-growing in his awesomeness) to the Minneapolis IKEA to exchange it because the futons are back in stock there. Eat way too much Italian food and spend the night in a hotel again. This futon has already cost a ridiculous amount of time and money, so you might as well make it fun.

img_20160909_195732945_top

Minneapolis IKEA

Cost of Trip

Gas $30ish

Dinner out – FREE thanks to a gift card.

Hotel $100

Arrive home and realize that though your futon is now complete, you left your new memory foam pillow in the hotel room.

Cost

Pillow $20

This whole IKEA fiasco will make you look like a super high-maintenance chick who spends money like water. But you’re pretty much the opposite of that, so this scenario will kind of kill you a little on the inside.

But you have a solid defense for your IKEA insanity. Ever since cancer, you’ve had trouble sleeping for a variety of reasons. Stress. Pain related to the cancer stuff. Discomfort from those annoying chest expanders. Neck pain which is related to the stress and to the fact that some of your muscles have been moved from their God-given place in your body. Your husband’s snoring (Oh wait, I guess that isn’t really related to cancer).

When sleep alludes you, you always head to the spare bedroom. But you just moved to a new home. And you downsized. Like, a lot. Which means no spare bedroom. No place for an extra bed.

Thus, your crazy futon adventure, though extremely pricey, is ultimately worthwhile.

And though you really, really like IKEA, you will have absolutely no desire to go back anytime in the foreseeable future.

img_20160914_191005464_top

 

 


4 Comments

Free Mastectomy Pillows

pillow

I used several breast cancer specific supplies as I recovered from my bilateral mastectomy earlier this year.

Some were useful- like the above mastectomy pillows.

Some were not- like the two post-mastectomy camis that someone convinced my husband I needed for $70 a piece. And they gave him their sales pitch when he was in the hospital waiting room during my surgery. Good golly! Leave the poor men alone while their wives are in having their breasts removed! I’m still a little perturbed by that.

My mom and two of her friends have started making mastectomy pillows to give away FREE to women who need them. The three women have each had daughters diagnosed with cancer this year (2 breast, 1 skin). And the three of them also love Jesus and when he gives them an idea for serve others, they follow through.

These pillows fit snuggly in your armpit, providing a cushion between your arm and your sore chest after surgery. I used mine for about three weeks post-mastectomy, and they really did relieve the pressure. Each pillow is made of either fleece or flannel so they won’t slide around in your armpit. You can buy mastectomy pillows online for anywhere from $20-$50, but mom and her friends are providing them for free.

If you or someone you know could use a mastectomy pillow, contact me through this blog or through my facebook page and I’ll forward your info to mom. She and her friends would love to provide them for you.

 


6 Comments

Great and Unsearchable Things

jeremiah

A coffee and my Bible. An unanswered why and uncontrollable tears.

This is how I started my day.

I trust Jesus.

I know the Word of God is Truth.

I have seen beautiful things come from ugly things this year.

But I still have mornings of whys.

I’ve wondered why I got cancer. Not in a Why me? I don’t deserve this kind of way. (I have honestly never struggled with that.) But more in a What purpose does this serve in my life? kind of way. I know God wouldn’t run me through the wringer for nothing, but I don’t have a clear answer to that why.

I’ve wondered why, in a family with no history of breast cancer, my cousin who is one year older than me and who grew up two blocks away from me was diagnosed with breast cancer just three months after me.

I’ve wondered why Corey and I were presented with a challenging personal obstacle to work through in the midst of cancer. Some days this year I felt like I had to remind God I had cancer. Like Hey Mr. Creator of the Universe, are you sure you want to lay this thing on me right now? I’m kind of busy dealing with a bilateral mastectomy at the moment.

I’ve wondered why I often can’t seem to focus long enough to organize the words floating in my head into a cohesive sentence on my laptop. This makes me seriously wonder about my choice of vocation.

There have been a lot of whys this year.

But the unexpected why that hit me this morning?

Why can’t I stop crying?

Why, after having completed my reconstructive surgery and having entered the homestretch of healing, do I want to climb in bed and cry myself to sleep? I should be jumping up and down and praising God that it’s over. I should feel immense relief. Instead, this morning I just feel heavy.

I don’t have the answer. But I do have this.

As I sipped coffee on my deck (and blew my nose on a paper towel because we’re out of kleenex), I opened up my Bible to Jeremiah and read “This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it – the Lord is his name; Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:2-3)

Great and unsearchable things. I will probably never fully understand this year. I suspect I will teeter-totter from a heavy heart to unspeakable joy and back several more times. But God says when I call, he will answer. And not only will he answer, but he will show me great and unsearchable things.

And that gives me comfort in the midst of the heavy.

Comfort because I know his words are as true and real as these tears on my cheeks.


4 Comments

6 Things I’m Gonna Do After My Exchange Surgery

sleep

Sleep. I have slept in a reclined position or on my back since February 25. That’s 145 uncomfortable nights, but who’s counting? Praise God for my super hero Dr. Testroet. Those little white pills she prescribed for me are the only reason I currently catch enough Zzzzzs to function like a human.

13699958_10157183033845525_2054288022433484457_n

  • Hold Sully. My dear friend Mara has the cutest little baby. I could stare at him for hours. But holding him at this point is so very uncomfortable. I’m pretty sure he thinks so too. As he squirms in my arms I just know he is thinking “Wow, this is awkward. Does anyone else realize that mommy’s friend is part robot?”

jogger_silhouette

  • Run. I’ve read a few blogs written by women who resumed running during the months between their two reconstruction surgeries, and I kind of want to punch them. I gave it a try (actually I gave it 4 tries) but Holy Cow. Those bloggers who write about running with these rocks under their chest muscles are either superwomen, crazy or speakers of untruth.IMG_5045 - Copy
  • Backpack. We cancelled our plans for a family backpacking trip to Colorado this summer because a backpack and chest expanders are a bad combination. (Just wearing a seat belt across my chest right now about drives me batty.) Next summer the Harms family will be climbing some mountains.13510995_10209939054173393_4990042946785893752_n
  • Hug my hubby. A Real Hug. None of this gentle-I-don’t-want-to-hurt-your-sensitive-chest crap. Of all the things I miss, this is what I miss the most.life
  • Life. I’m looking forward to life. Biopsies and cancer and pink paper open-to-the-front gowns and a psychotic plastic surgeon who made jokes about porn may have gotten a piece of me this year, but that’s all they got; just a small piece. And I’m ready for life on the other side.