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Sisterhood by Marti Skow (The Girl God Gave Me to Do “Life with Boys” Together)

by KimHarms 3 Comments
Sisterhood by Marti Skow (The Girl God Gave Me to Do “Life with Boys” Together)
I met Marti when I was 36 weeks pregnant with my now 16-year-old. We spent 2 hours getting know each other in the back of an extended cab truck on the way to an office lake party (our husbands worked together.) We then spent a whole day on the beach just talking and hanging out. At the end of the day, when the sun was setting, I was convinced those 8ish hours passed in about 30 minutes. That’s how it is with best friends, and that’s what we became.
Today, I’m reposting the story she wrote a few years ago. We had been through a lot together up to that point, but now we can add breast cancer, some pretty intense spiritual battles and teen drivers (Eek!) to the list. We don’t see each other often enough, but we always pick up right where we left off.  I treasure her friendship, her humor, her humility, her love of Jesus, her wisdom. Every woman needs a Marti. 

~~~

Sisterhood (originally published in 2014)

by: Marti Skow

I’ve been living this life of “mommy” for over eleven years now. This past December, like an assault from an angry lunch lady with a greasy frying pan, I was whacked over the head with a revelation. For the past eleven years I’ve been putting up a fight to my own detriment. My mantra has been, “I can do it on my own. I don’t need help. I’m just fine. I’ll figure it out. It’s okay. I can do it by myself.” Repeat.

Well, I wasn’t fine. Not even close to a resemblance of fine. Pretty much the farthest thing from fine a momma could be. I was confused about pretty much everything there is to be confused about as it relates to motherhood. I felt lonely even though my Facebook page says I have 650+ friends. I planned, re-planned, scheduled and re-scheduled. I organized and tore apart. I budgeted and filled out spreadsheets, but at the end of it all… I was back to square one, not fine.

You see, for years I’ve tried to “fix” the parts of my life I could wrap my arms around. I can whip up an Excel spreadsheet and make a budget to save for the new “used” car Dave Ramsey says I can afford. I can meal plan a month ahead for the new sugar-free diet I’m putting my family on. I can try to shrink everyone’s waistline, including my own, according to my plan. I can synchronize everyone’s electronic devices to the same iCloud calendar so as not to miss a meeting, game, match, event or planning session.

So, as I spun myself into my own “I Can Do This Myself” frenzy I began to quickly deteriorate. Suddenly, my Excel spreadsheet, which I had tweaked only days before, couldn’t answer my questions about why my current vehicle wasn’t enough. My sugar-free diet didn’t give me answers for why I turned to a Hershey bar every time my stress level rose too high. My iCloud calendar didn’t remind me to look deeply into my son’s eyes before sending him into wrestling practice to tell him how proud I am of him. At least 500+ of my Facebook friends don’t even know my birthday.

Now this is the part where I get whacked by the pan.

I was sitting at a beautifully decorated table at my dear friend’s church. It was a few weeks before Christmas and she was scheduled as the key speaker at the women’s dinner. I’ve known Kim for the past 12 years and over those 12 years we’ve seen each other through thick and thin. I’ve seen her become a mommy three different times. And I’ve seen her through a miscarriage. I’ve seen her through mountaintop highs and deep, dark, low valleys. She’s asked me tough questions and I’ve asked for her forgiveness. We’ve walked this journey of life together, and I have been the better for it.

friends

It was during this dinner, as she was talking to a crowd of eager women, that I saw her through a new lens. I’ve always known her to be my dear friend. I’ve always known her to be someone I could count on through thick and thin. I’ve always understood the bond we share. But that night, under the soft glow of Christmas lights, I saw her as my gift.

Ladies, there are few people in this life who have seen my real ugly. The real, down and dirty, no holds barred, nitty gritty side of Martha Ann Skow. Kim has. There are few people who have talked me through tough decisions that I knew would be breaking my children’s hearts. Kim has. There are even fewer people I call to share the latest poop joke my youngest son has concocted. I call Kim. Immediately.

After my “revelation” on that cold night there have been some things that have changed inside of me. Through my new lens, I’ve realized that some of the items I’ve placed so highly on my list need to be drastically pushed to the lower rungs of the ladder. You see, it’s the relationships we’re investing in today that are going to carry us beyond a failed budget spreadsheet, a fleeting diet plan, an ever growing social calendar, and 660+ virtual friendships. It’s about getting down and dirty in this life with those God has gifted to us. It’s about getting real, sometimes real ugly, with those we’ve been blessed with. Entrusted to. It’s partially through these relationships that God grows us, molds us, and forms us into who He has intended us to be.

So, my advice to you out there in the land of the Webinets… log off, pick up the phone and meet one of your besties. Drive over there right now if possible and sit with her. Have coffee, tea, water, spritzers, Moutain Dew or kombucha with her. Laugh until you pee or cry until you shake. Whatever floats your boat. But please, I beg you, pull your nose out of that “How-To” book and “10 Step Blog” and find someone with experience, and a pulse, who can “Let’s Do” life with you. Life is not meant to be done alone. We were created to do this thing together. Now get going…. I’m serious!

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Love Proven on a Twisty Slide @ Inspire a Fire

by KimHarms 0 Comments

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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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 17 – Forgiveness

 Proverbs 16

Proverbs 17:9 He who covers an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.

Without forgiveness friendships become superficial. They become catty. They can even fall completely apart.

When I began dating Corey, I kind of dropped the ball on a friendship with a close friend. Where I used to eat with Rachel at our kitchen table, I now would head over to Corey’s apartment or go out to eat with him. My study dates with Rach became my study dates with Corey. And all the movie nights Rach and I used to have? Well, now I was having them with Corey.

Rachel could have gotten angry with me. She could have started talking behind my back to others. She could have given up on our friendship. But instead she confronted me.

After that confrontation, I could have gotten defensive. I could have gotten angry. I could have walked out on our friendship. But I knew she was right, and I knew I had to ask her forgiveness because I didn’t want to lose one of my dearest friends.

Asking for forgiveness is tough. I’m not a big fan of admitting I am wrong. But I did ask for Rachel’s forgiveness, and she readily gave it.

That was years ago, and Rachel and I only see each other once or twice year now, but we can always pick right up where we left off. And this year our friendship has taken on a whole new depth because of breast cancer. She underwent a bilateral mastectomy about four years ago, and she has been invaluable to me as I’ve been on that road this year.

I hate to think of what I’d be missing out on if I had let my selfishness ruin our friendship, or if she had chosen not to forgive.

As my boys grow into young adults and their friendships deepen alongside their voices, I hope they leave room for forgiveness. I hope they will value their friends enough to work out their differences and understand that covering an offense does indeed promote love, but excluding forgiveness can ruin friendships.

Prayer

Dear Lord, I pray that you will help my boys to understand the value of forgiving their friends when they have been wronged. That they will both offer forgiveness to others and ask forgiveness when it is needed. Amen.

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BOY MOM MONDAY Proverbs 12:26 Friendship

by KimHarms 0 Comments

 carterjosiah

12:26 A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.

One of my oldest son’s best friends is the son of one of my college friends. It is not by accident.

When our boys were in third grade, my friend and I became proactive in their friendship, orchestrating times for the boys to hang out together. Theirs is a friendship that probably wouldn’t have blossomed without a little push because the boys didn’t naturally cross paths. In all of their years of elementary school, they were only placed in the same classroom one time, and our families attend different churches so they didn’t see each other on the weekends either.

But Jen and I knew that they would be a good pair, so we made the effort to help them develop a friendship. They are now teenagers, and they are pretty tight. From shooting hoops, to playing video games and watching movies they spend a lot of time together. Sometimes they even get up to work out together before school in the morning.

I don’t regret the role I played in their friendship. I would do it again in a second.

Carter and Josiah’s friendship is a blessing, but I know I can’t handpick all of their friends. I can, however, pray.

I’m happy to say that my boys have picked some pretty awesome guys to hang out with, and I am not concerned that their friends are leading them down a wrong path. As they get older though, the temptations from the world will get stronger, and it is absolutely vital that I pray for my boys to be cautious and wise in developing friendships.

Prayer

Lord, I thank you for the good friendships you have blessed my boys with. I pray that you will lead them away from friendships that will pull them away from you, and help them to be the kind of friend that in both their actions and words is trustworthy and committed. And may their friendships honor you. Amen.

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Beautiful Orthodoxy – Love Your Neighbor

by KimHarms 0 Comments

Bible

I had the opportunity to write a short article for Christianity Today’s new Beautiful Orthodoxy website. The thrust of Beautiful Orthodoxy is

In a world in desperate need of truth, goodness, and beauty, Christianity Today strengthens the church by richly communicating the breadth of the true, good, and beautiful gospel.

Take a peek if you have a minute. There’s good stuff there. Some of the articles on the site are pretty deep and heady. Mine is not, because my brain does not work that way 😉

The Beauty of Broken People

 

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Guideposts Magazine Best Friends Feature Photo Shoot

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Best Friends: Mothers in Arms

A cute little story I wrote about my friend Marti and me was published in the May 2015 issue of Guideposts.

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

It took place in mid-February. Outside. At a park. On a twisty slide. 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, but I guess they wanted to give Marti the opportunity to prove she is the friend I say she is. (A fair-weather friend never would have agreed to it. 😉 )

It was 20 degrees and that wasn’t a fan blowing the hair out of our faces for affect. It was an Iowa take-your-breath-away winter wind. The kind that forces tears out of your eyes and makes your nose drip.

Please take note of how my hand is so 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. My other hand is holding onto the red slide pole for dear life. If you could see the rest of Marti’s arm, you would notice that she was also clamping onto the pole with all her strength.

It is amazingly difficult to poise yourself halfway down a twisty slide (especially when you are losing the feeling in your fingers). I dare you to try it.

Following the shoot,  we went to my house, brewed some hot coffee and talked about things that moms of boys talk about while our six male children (3 of mine, 3 of hers) played Clash of Clans and entertained themselves by making fun body noises. I love doing life with this lady as my friend.

Everyone should have a someone who is willing to conquer a mid-winter, twisty-slide photo shoot with them. It’s proof of love I tell you.

*A special thanks to Guideposts for a memory-making afternoon, and to our photographer who made quick work of the whole thing.

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Every Girl Needs a Girlfriend Like This

by KimHarms 0 Comments

I still have a couple Sanctity of Life posts coming before the end of the month, but today I’m reposting this lovely tribute my friend Marti wrote for the Des Moines Moms Blog last week. I don’t know how I would have survived the early years of parenting three boys without her 🙂

Sisterhood

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I’ve been living this life of “mommy” for over eleven years now. This past December, like an assault from an angry lunch lady with a greasy frying pan, I was whacked over the head with a revelation. For the past eleven years I’ve been putting up a fight to my own detriment. My mantra has been, “I can do it on my own. I don’t need help. I’m just fine. I’ll figure it out. It’s okay. I can do it by myself.” Repeat.

Well, I wasn’t fine. Not even close to a resemblance of fine. Pretty much the farthest thing from fine a momma could be. I was confused about pretty much everything there is to be confused about as it relates to motherhood. I felt lonely even though my Facebook page says I have 650+ friends. I planned, re-planned, scheduled and re-scheduled. I organized and tore apart. I budgeted and filled out spreadsheets, but at the end of it all… I was back to square one, not fine.

You see, for years I’ve tried to “fix” the parts of my life I could wrap my arms around. I can whip up an Excel spreadsheet and make a budget to save for the new “used” car Dave Ramsey says I can afford. I can meal plan a month ahead for the new sugar-free diet I’m putting my family on. I can try to shrink everyone’s waistline, including my own, according to my plan. I can synchronize everyone’s electronic devices to the same iCloud calendar so as to not miss a meeting, game, match, event or planning session.

So, as I spun myself into my own “I Can Do This Myself” frenzy I began to quickly deteriorate. Suddenly, my Excel spreadsheet, which I had tweaked only days before, couldn’t answer my questions about why my current vehicle wasn’t enough. My sugar-free diet didn’t give me answers for why I turned to a Hershey bar every time my stress level rose too high. My iCloud calendar didn’t remind me to look deeply into my son’s eyes before sending him into wrestling practice to tell him how proud I am of him. At least 500+ of my Facebook friends don’t even know my birthday.

Now this is the part where I get whacked by the pan.

I was sitting at a beautifully decorated table at my dear friend’s church. It was a few weeks before Christmas and she was scheduled as the key speaker at the women’s dinner. I’ve known Kim for the past 12 years and over those 12 years we’ve seen each other through thick and thin. I’ve seen her become a mommy three different times. And I’ve seen her through a miscarriage. I’ve seen her through mountaintop highs and deep, dark, low valleys. She’s asked me tough questions and I’ve asked for her forgiveness. We’ve walked this journey of life together, and I have been the better for it. . .

Head on over to the Des Moines Moms Blog to read this in its entirety.

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My Friend Who Almost Wasn’t

by KimHarms 7 Comments
My Friend Who Almost Wasn’t

She stands over six feet tall and doesn’t mind sliding a cuss word into a conversation. I am five three on a good day and have been advised from birth that swearing is bad bad bad.  She moved into the gray house across the street just weeks after we finished unpacking our new home.

I had been a stay-at-home mom for several years by then, so this mama was pretty isolated from the outside world, spending my time officiating little boys’ living room wrestling matches and teaching them that “thou shalt not kill” applies to them too. The thought of befriending the woman across the street was unnerving.

She was not like me in stature or personality. She was outspoken, and I feared saying the wrong thing. She seemed to have it all together, and I figured she didn’t want Little Miss Christian to mess up her happy home.  Besides, if I said something she didn’t like, I was pretty sure she could crush me.  She was Goliath, only female and pretty. I was any one of those guys in Saul’s army who was too much of a weenie to go head-to-head with the big guy.

I wanted to hide out in my cozy house, but God had other plans. He blessed us each with boys who quickly became buddies, and it was like He said,

“There, now you have something in common. Go be her friend. You will like her. Trust me.”

Hesitantly, I stepped out my front door and talked with the woman who had so intimidated me. After that initial conversation, we had another and another and another. Though it took a while for me to relax around this stranger who was becoming my friend, I found the more time I spent with her, the more I liked her.

I also learned that though she looked completely self-assured, she wasn’t. And after I fumbled through telling her how much my relationship with Jesus means to me while we were on a garage sale marathon, she didn’t stiff arm me. In fact, she welcomed me into her life; the good, the bad and the ugly. As we started to share our lives my faith deepened and hers blossomed.

I taught her how to find a chapter and verse in the Bible. She encouraged me to be the confident woman Christ wants me to be. We no longer live across the street from each other, but we remain close friends with a bond of faith. I recently moved to a new home, and I’m sure I will meet neighbors who look self-assured from the outside, but I know that outward appearance does not represent what’s going on under the skin. And who knows, I may just make another friend. – ( originally published in Just Between Us, Summer 2012)

This story about my relationship with my awesome friend is  a reminder to me :

to stop making judgments  about what’s going on inside the hearts of other people

that just because people look like they’ve got it together doesn’t mean they do (We’ve all got our stuff don’t we?)

and some of the best friendships are with people whose personalities are quite different from my own.

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What a Girl Wants

by KimHarms 0 Comments

IMG_3058A note to my six-year-old story-writing self who blinked and somehow turned into a pushing-40-wife-of-the-most-amazing-husband-ever-and-mother-of-three-fantastically-wonderful-wild-and-crazy-boys.

Be thankful God doesn’t always give you what you want.

And to quote my friend Beth Moore (this is admittedly a quite lopsided friendship 🙂 )

“He will either bless you with what you want, or he will bless more than just you with what you did not know to want.”

Preach it Beth. Clinging to those words today.

PS – To the four friends whose pending departure is definitely not what this girl wants and has left a stinking annoying hole in my heart: I love you and pray you will develop new endearing friendships, but I FORBID you to replace ours. Got it?

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