The Stuff of Life


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Free Mastectomy Pillows

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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.

 


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Great and Unsearchable Things

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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.


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6 Things I’m Gonna Do After My Exchange Surgery

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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.

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  • 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?”

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  • 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.

 


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

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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.


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BOY MOM MONDAY – Proverbs 22:6 – Direction

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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.


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BOY MOM MONDAY – Proverbs 21:9 – Marriage

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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.

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