The Stuff of Life


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Talking Breast Cancer and Marriage at Christianity Today Women

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When I started writing my article that went live today at Christianity Today Women, my intentions weren’t to share the story with the world. I was writing for myself. Therapy on paper.

But in the midst of it, the call out came for marriage articles, and I knew (if Corey would give me his blessing) I needed to submit a query.

We are in this marriage thing together, Corey and I.

Last year we met in sickness head on. (Dang you breast cancer.)

As we walked with in sickness, we also met up with for worse.

We fought them both and won. But it wasn’t a cake walk. Thinking of it still makes my heart hurt. And probably always will. It is a hard hard thing to find yourself in a gridlock with the person you love most in the world. But God is good. And he not only got us through it, but made our marriage stronger for it.

I have been learning this year, and have mentioned before, that sometimes the good gifts come through the hard things.

I hope that’s what you see as you read my words at CT Women.

How Breast Cancer Marred My Picture Perfect Marriage


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Just a Mom Shamelessly Promoting Her Boy’s youtube Channel

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He’s being creative (albiet crazy) and it makes me happy.

This one involves basketball, tabasco sauce, a freezing cold creek and 30 seconds of oh-my-goodness-my-son-has-lost-his-mind at the end.

Watch and give Owen a like if you feel so inclined.

EXTREME GAME OF PIG CHALLENGE (Flip Shots youtube channel)

 


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Without the Hard Things

Given a choice between the hard things and the easy things, I’d pick easy. But sometimes God doesn’t let me choose.

One year ago today Corey and I faced a really hard thing. A 5-hour surgery to remove my cancer and my breasts.

I remember it with an ache in my heart. But right beside that ache there is joy. JOY. Because God is good and the giver of the good things. Even in the wake of bilateral mastectomies and reconstruction.

  • The good thing of experiencing  peace that passes all understanding deep down into my bones as I was poked, prodded, injected with blue radioactive dye and wheeled around the hospital before surgery. I have felt the peace of God many times in my life, but never have I experienced it like that.img_20160225_181228780
  • The good thing of Corey sitting beside my bed that first night in the hospital, holding my hand all night long, as I slipped in and out of sleep. (Seriously, the man pulled the recliner right up beside my bed and sat close enough to hold my hand for the entire night, only releasing his grasp to scratch the incessant itch that I could not reach at the end of my nose.)

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  • The good thing of my boys visiting me in the hospital because they needed to see for themselves that I was going to be okay. (My boys, and my mom who brought them to see me, are the best. Also, Carter and Owen have each grown like a foot and turned into man creatures since this photo was taken.)
  • The good thing of the hazy, nearly silent, but super-naturally peaceful hour with my bff, Marti, who came to sit with me while Corey met a friend for lunch, so I wouldn’t have to spend one minute of my hospital stay alone.
  • The good thing of the 20-something nurse who, at the end of her shift, said to Corey and me “You guys are so cute. I just had to say it.” (And we are cute, darn it. She was speaking truth.)
  • The good thing of the release nurse saying “You have a very nice husband; how he takes care of you. Not all husbands are like that.” (Truth again. He’s the real deal.)

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And look at us now. Because of what we endured together, this year’s family photos will probably always be my favorite. (Plus I think we would make a sweet Under Armour ad.)

I believe what it says in the book of James, that every good and perfect gift comes from above. From my father in heaven. I also believe that sometimes those good and perfect gifts can only be delivered through the hard things.

So I will endure the hard things. And I will find joy in the good things that saturate the hard things in light.

 

 

 

 

 


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My Son is Pretty Cool – Trick Shots

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Thank you Dude Perfect for inspiring my 8th grader. Love that he is actively creative in setting up trick shots and mentally creative in editing video footage. Below is a link to Owen’s latest trick shot video on his youtube channel Flip Shots.

CRAZY MINI HOOP TRICK SHOTS


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Love Proven on a Twisty Slide @ Inspire a Fire

My monthly blog post is up at Inspire a Fire.  It’s a little tiny blip of the whole story of my friendship with my best friend. I think about 16 years ago, God was like, “Well, these women are going to need each other because I’m going give give them a boatload of boys. I should probably I’m going to introduce them before that first boy arrives.” (We met when I was 8 months pregnant with my oldest.)

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A photo of those 6 boys before they became giants.

Love Proven on a Twisty Slide

A cute little story I wrote about my friend Marti and me was published in Guideposts a couple years ago.

The photo shoot is actually more exciting than the story, so I’ll take you behind the scenes.

It took place in mid-February. Outside. At a park. On a twisty slide. In Iowa. No coats allowed. What?!?

I suggested a photo at a coffee shop, because drinking a hot caffeinated beverage in a warm locale is more our style than balancing precariously on giant plastic playground equipment in arctic temps. But I guess they wanted to give Marti the opportunity to prove she is the friend I claimed her to be in my article. (A fair-weather friend never would have agreed to such unpleasantness. )

It was 20 degrees with an Iowa take-your-breath-away winter wind. The kind that forces tears out of your eyes and makes your nose drip.

In the photo my hand is nicely relaxed on the slide. It had been clenched in a fist in an effort to calm my shivering body, but the photographer told me it made me look like I was cold. With my other hand I held onto the red slide pole for dear life. Marti too was clamping her hand around that pole with all of her strength. (You can see that photo here.)

Read the rest of the story at Inspire a Fire.

 

 

 


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Breast Cancer and Tree Houses

One year ago today I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Today Corey and I closed on our tree house. (Sometimes I name my houses 🙂 )

These two things don’t seem connected, but they bookend a chapter in the same story.

Building/Moving/Selling/Moving is woven into the fabric of our family life.

Many of our decisions are weighed on the moving scale. When we build, I choose finishes and fixtures more for resale than for my preference. We base furniture purchases on three things: style, comfort and weight. If it’s too heavy, it’s not worth moving no matter how beautiful it is. And that 2011 family vacation to Colorado? Postponed for a year because it collided with a closing date…

The Harms family moving plan going into 2016 was to list our pi house (314 Centennial) in June. Then I got cancer and all plans for every part of life were put on hold while Corey and I brushed up on our knowledge of useless facts by playing Trivia Crack in Medical Clinic waiting rooms.

By June I was feeling pretty good. The cancer was gone. I didn’t need chemo. And I was in between reconstruction surgeries.

And I just wanted to be normal again.

Normal to me included listing our house. So that’s what we did.  img_20160617_124656627

When we were preparing to put our house on the market, we decided that we were ready to get off this moving rollercoaster. We wanted to find a place or build a place that would be permanent (well maybe not permanent, but closer to permanent than we are accustomed to.)

So Corey was like, “What do you think about buying a duplex on main street and living in it for a couple years while we wait for something we like to present itself?”

I am not opposed to adventurous housing scenarios, but within two seconds of walking in the door of the duplex with our real estate agent, my response (internally) was a resounding “No Way. Uh-uh. Not Ever. My husband has lost his mind.”

When I got home, my prayers went something like this. “Please Lord, don’t make me move into the house with overflowing poop toilets and grease dripping down the walls.”

We all know how that turned out.

God has a sense of humor, and he moved me into the place with the overflowing poop toilets and the grease dripping down the walls. Thankfully, the poop and 95% of the grease img_20160708_195421724_topwas gone when we moved in. I eventually captured my hubby’s vision (I usually do. Sometimes it just takes me a while.) And together we spent a month gutting and remodeling the place before moving in.

The original plan was to live in our newly remodeled duplex for one to two years. For a variety of reasons, we decided not to build this time around, so Zillow became my friend. In the mornings I made my coffee, did my devotions and checked my Zillow for new listings. (You see, I got on board with moving into the duplex, but I just wasn’t convinced of the two year plan.)

One day this fall, Zillow was good to me.

Listed was an in town acreage with a house hidden back in the trees, smack in the middle of the neighborhood most of the boys’s friends live in. (Did I mention it comes with a tiny house by a ravine?) Be still my heart. img_20161215_141100758

We looked at the house that day and made an offer (that was accepted) that night. Corey really liked the place. I really LOVED it.  And the boys immediately started making plans for ziplines and trails through the woods.

But some issues that turned up on inspection made it very clear to both of us that we couldn’t go through with the purchase.

That was hard. I so very much wanted that place, but I knew that God was telling me no.

Fast forward two months. The price has gone down and some of our concerns have been resolved. We began negotiating with the seller again and came to a price we could agree upon.

It turns out God wasn’t saying no. He was saying wait. The waiting part was key, because without it we would have missed the sweetest part of the story.

Because we were totally flexible on the moving date, we left it up to our real estate agent and the sellers.

The date picked? January 20.

When we told the boys about the closing date at the supper table, Owen said, “God knew he was going to do that, didn’t he?”

Yes buddy. I have no doubt.

One year to the day after receiving the hardest news of our lives, Corey, Carter, Owen, Lewis and I are walking through the doors of our tree house.

God, in his lavish love was like, “See guys? I took care of you through the hard stuff and now I am giving you this gift.”

That’s who God is. He is healer. He is sustainer. He is a father who loves to give his children good gifts.

 

 


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The Santa Dilemma @ Inspire a Fire

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My post at Inspire a Fire this month is about my experience with Lewis and the question of Santa Claus. You can read the first part here and follow the link to the rest of the story at Inspire a Fire.

The Santa Dilemma – Keeping Jesus at the Center of Christmas

“Mom, is Santa real?” my curious six-year-old asked as I tucked him in and kissed his cheek.

‘Here we go,’ I thought. I took a deep breath and went the history route as I did with his older brothers. Speaking truth, but leaving a little to the imagination.

“Well Lewis, there was a guy who lived a long time ago. He was called Saint Nicholas, and he was a very kind man who gave gifts to the poor and who loved children very much. His kindness is how the story of Santa Claus began.”

“Oh. I didn’t think he was real. Tomorrow I’m going to tell Michael that Santa is really Saint Nicholas, but now Santa is dead.”

Not exactly the response I was anticipating.

It is entirely possible he went to school the next day and attempted to dash the hopes and dreams of his classmates. But I’m pretty sure most children would choose to believe their parents over their classmate with a mohawk, so I didn’t feel too bad.

I take no issue with families who play the Santa game. Who create elaborate schemes to keep their kids believing in the jolly fat guy for years. I can see the fun in it. I just couldn’t do it. When my son asked me point blank, I could not look him in the eye and tell him this guy actually exists.

The rest of the story… The Santa Dilemma