Kim Harms

Life Reconstructed


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Sometimes You’ve Gotta Take Care of Some Crap to Get to Where You Want to Be

Sometimes our house smells like crap. Literally. (Not figuratively-literally. Literally-literally.)

And I love it. (Not the smell, the house.)

It’s been two months since we moved in, and I still have an overwhelming feeling of gratitude every IMG_20170330_103945088time I turn onto my cracked, narrow driveway.  God gave us this house. I mean, we bought it and everything, but there are some things in life that are clearly gifts from God. This house, with all of its quirks, is one of those things.

And it definitely has some quirks.

Like the crap.

Our basement seriously smells like a poop bomb on occasion. One night I plugged in my Scentsy warmer to mask the stink, and I thought I’d done a pretty good job.

 When Carter walked in the house from youth group, I asked him what he smelled.

“Sweet farts,” he said.

Yep. That’s about right. Sweet farts. Is that better than sour farts? I don’t even know…

When that unpleasant smell wafts up the stairs, my first thought is, “Oh gross, here we go again.” And my second thought is. “God gave us this place, so if he wants us to deal with crap, we’ll deal with crap.” (And we are by the way. The plumber is scheduled to come soon 🙂 )

I’ve lived in some nice new houses.

I’ve had granite countertops, hardwood floors, gorgeous 5-panel solid wood doors, cavernous tiled showers, huge mudrooms, stone fireplaces and even a theater room encased in concrete underneath our garage floor (known to us as the zombie apocalypse room.)

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Zombie Apocalypse Room

Those houses were beautiful.

But here’s the deal. Since we never intended to stay in those homes and chose some design elements for the purpose of making them more appealing to a buyer (stainless steel – oh how I strongly dislike you…), sometimes I felt like I was borrowing the house from a future owner. And because I grew up in a century old house in which my dad was always in the middle of a remodeling project, maybe I felt slightly out of place in the new. I think I’ve been longing for this different kind of housing adventure and didn’t even realize it.

So now I live in this 20-year-old house (which I realize is not very old) that needs some Harms TLC. And I love it. Even though – 

  •  Some crazy person painted all the grout. (Seriously. How many hours did that take? What in the world?)17125634_627051914170579_1753522107712536576_n  IMG_20170330_095855850
  • A flower garden exploded on the guest bath walls. (I could only stomache that for about 3 weeks before scraping it all off and painting.)
  • Light switches were installed on the wrong side of the doors.
  • Every single interior door has a keyed lock.
  • The laundry room is accessed through a bathroom. (Kudos to me for living here for two months without dropping a sock in the toilet.)
  • The mudroom is, oh wait, we don’t have one. 😦
  • The kitchen has this crazy big oddly placed island.
  • And the master bath was designed by someone who has never had to pee in the middle of the night.

But this place is still a gift. It’s just a little rough around the edges.

I’m excited to reimagine all the awkward spaces with Corey. I love that I’m married to a guy who gets an idea and then just goes for it.

He can see beyond what is visible and it doesn’t bother him when people give him weird looks or when his brilliant ideas end up acting like second full-time jobs for a season.

He has the end goal in sight from the beginning, and he sacrifices to get to that place. He just does the thing that will get him to where he wants to be. And he doesn’t let the crap stop him. (Though sometimes he lovingly waits patiently while I take my sweet time warming up to his brilliance.)

And I fully expect to see some of that brilliance here at 804 Timberlane…

…after we take care of the crap.


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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.

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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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Designed for His Glory (by Marie Steenlage)

Sanctity of Life month Post #6 – Anna was my best friend in high school. Marie is her mom. I have fond memories of spending many of my teenage evenings eating cookie dough and watching movies in her living room. I remembered Marie to be a writer, I knew of her story and I was thrilled when she agreed to share it. You will not regret taking the time to read what she has to say. – Kim

How do you put value on something and determine its worth?  I guess there are many things that come into play when I consider the value of something including where it came from, how it was made and who made it.  One thing is obvious to me…shouldn’t there be a big difference between how we treat something that we have determined is priceless and something that we think has so little value that we just throw it away? There was an important time in my life when I was faced with these questions.

About thirty-three years ago, I was a young mother with two young children.   For several years since the birth of my second child I was very sick and weak.  After a kidney biopsy I was diagnosed with an untreatable kidney disease.   I asked my doctors if I would be able to have more children, and they advised me that if I got my strength back I could.

My primary goal was to be healthy, so I did everything I could to get my strength back including following a special diet.  More than a year later I did regain my strength, so I was hoping to have at least one more child. A few months later I became pregnant.

I went to my local doctor, and he confirmed that I was pregnant; however, he shocked me when he suggested that I should have an abortion because my health was at risk.   I was stunned at his words and thought of his previous advice to me about having another child if my health improved.  To be honest, even as I sat there listening to what he was saying about having an abortion, as far as I was concerned it wasn’t even an option.

Many years before, I gave a lot of thought to what value I place on human life.  I believe that God, the creator of this world we live in, is the source of all life.  Aborting my baby would be throwing away the life that God had created in me.  How could I destroy something that I value so much?

In my heart of hearts I knew that I had made a choice to do all I could do to be a healthy mother.  I had also made the choice to try to have another child.  God had blessed me with the new life within me.  So without any discussion I said to my doctor, “No, I won’t have an abortion.”

My local doctor sent me to a specialist for high risk pregnancies.   I was shocked when my local doctor advised me to have an abortion, but even more shocked when the specialist advised me to do the same.  This doctor told me that if my kidneys failed not only would I die, my baby could also die.  But I said no to abortion again.

In the days ahead I had friends who were fearful for my life who advised me to have the abortion, due to “the health of the mother” argument.  But I was unmoved.  I prayed, “Lord, I don’t want to die or lose my baby…that thought scares me.  But if you are so powerful that you created this world and all life within it, I can trust that you will care for me and my baby.   But even more importantly, even if I get sick during this pregnancy, and my kidneys fail and I lose my life and possibly my baby’s life too…I will still trust you.”

I believe God gave me the faith to trust Him through that pregnancy.   The church prayed faithfully and diligently for me and my baby too.   On August 8, 1980 I gave birth without incident to Eli, a baby boy.  I can’t imagine my life without my son Eli anymore that I could imagine my life without any of my children.   Eli’s God-given life has had and will have a lifetime of impact.   In fact, I just ran across a Christmas letter that Eli sent out to family and friends several years ago after he had finished college.  He wrote, “My vision of God’s greatness and purposes that prevail over our world has grown so that God is able to show me how my desires were designed for his glory.”

Marie Steenlage is a single mom with 3 grown children and one grandchild. Her latest adventure is moving to Eau Claire, WI in October to work with 17 counties in North West Wisconsin for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.


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God, Provider of the Orphans (by Alphonsine Imaniraguha)

Sanctity of Life Month post #5 – I had the privilege of meeting Alphonsine at a conference in Chicago last June. Beautiful on the outside and even more beautiful on the inside, I am so blessed to have met her. Her life is an incredible God-story and I look forward to the day a publisher picks it up and puts in book form. I know you will be blessed by this small piece of the big story of God’s work in her life.

***

My name is Alphonsine. I was born and grew up in Rwanda, a tiny country in the heart of Africa. During the 1994 Genocide, I lost my parents and two siblings, neighbors, friends and fellow citizens in the period of 100 days. I survived with three younger siblings who were all less than 10 years old at the time. It’s been 18 years. God has been not only a Father to us, but also a Comforter, Provider, Best Friend and everything to us.

There are so many days that I did not think I would make it to this day: finish school, get a job that I had always wanted and so much more. But here I am, trusting, loving and believing in God more than ever. Even if things don’t go well today, I know tomorrow will be different. I certainly don’t know what my future holds, but I sure know the One Who Holds my future, and that’s God.

I hope that you are encouraged. Know that it is possible to rise and soar above life’s challenges, and to make a difference. You are not in this alone. (Bio taken from here)

***

   My search for employment began shortly before graduation. I focused my efforts on finding an off-campus position in co-op education to gain experience (as well as improve my finances), but it was no use. I upgraded my resume, networked and did all that I could to seek employment but still couldn’t find a job.

Staying positive is important, and I refused to accept that the economy wasn’t improving. I had several interviews, but the answers were always the same. Unfortunately, your application cannot be considered at the moment, we hired someone else, or we regret to inform you that you were not chosen for this position etc.

Meanwhile, I had to finish my graduate thesis and present before the end of the year.   Even when the situation is not well and stable, the clock does not stop running. No one can tell the days and months to not fly by, unless they are perhaps like Joshua at whose request God caused the sun to stand still over Gibeon and the moon stop over the valley of Aijalon until the nation avenged itself on its enemies. (Joshua 10: 1-15 ESV) Sometimes I wished I could tell the days to stop rolling. I wished they could listen and obey.

Before I knew it, it was December and time for my siblings to return to school as the new January 2009 school year was approaching. I still did not have a job or money. I couldn’t bring myself to tell my siblings that they may have to drop out of school or there may not be money for food. I consistently prayed and asked God to never let my eyes see my siblings drop out of school.

During my two years of graduate school, every month I’d gather all the money I had made from my on-campus job and send it all to my siblings, my children, in Rwanda. Every academic year completed, I’d sigh with relief and praise God for another completed year. But, this year, my job had ended in August along with my student status. I had struggled in the past and could starve myself to save for their schooling, but this time I did not even have a job to save money from which to save money.  I left it up to God. My daily prayer was the same. “Those orphans belong to you God. They are yours, not mine. I am just a messenger.”

***

  My routine schedule is speaking to my siblings on the phone every weekend if not twice a week, in addition to e-mails throughout the day. The whole week, I just could not wait to listen to their beautiful voices of hope. Their sounds constantly remind who I am and why I am alive. The reason I escaped the edges of machetes. And one Saturday my brother asked,

“Béné (short for my middle name Benefice), where are you going to get this amount? Our schools increased the tuition. It is beyond too much for you this time. We are a burden to you.”

The men of God in the Bible are my role models in life. I reflected back to when Abraham was told to take away his only son to sacrifice him as a burnt offering (Genesis 22: 1-18 ESV). The son, Isaac, had no clue about his father’s plans.

“Father, the fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Isaac asked.

I felt the same way. I could not open my mouth to tell my only brother that I won’t be able to take care of their schooling expenses.

“God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering my son,” Abraham answered.

“God is capable. Do you think He can fail to help His orphans? It will never happen,” I replied to my brother. Abraham knew that even if Isaac died, God was capable of raising him from the dead. I was very confident that God would not let me and my children down. He always finds a way of doing wonders.

***

  During these days, I chatted on the internet with my best friend and college roommate, Zeljka, from Croatia. As always, she asked me how I was doing with the job hunting and how my siblings were doing. I told her that they were doing well and said, “However, the time for them to go back to school is approaching, and I need a large amount of money for them, and I do not know where it will come from.”

“How much do you need?” she asked.

“It is a lot. You don’t even want to hear; around two thousand dollars,” I told her.

“I understand that it is a big amount of money, but I will see what I can do to help with it,” Zeljka said. As always, I thanked her for all her help and placed my trust in God.

She was finished with her schooling and her job in America and was preparing to return home for good. She was also in the process of closing her US bank accounts. She called me the following day.

“Alphonsine, can I bring the check to you so you can deposit it as soon as possible before I close my account?” Then she drove all the way from her place to see me and took me to the bank.

As I was filling out the deposit slips at the bank, I opened the sealed envelope that she had given me and could not believe my eyes.  My vision blurred and I almost passed out as I read nineteen hundred dollars. I turned my head to look back where she sat and could easily see her embarrassment. Perhaps she had wanted me to deposit the check alone. She did not have to explain. We knew each other well enough to understand this was true.

Zeljka is modest and does not like praise. She knew I might cry; sensed she might too, and was looking at the other side of the hall with her innocent eyes.

My eyes were filled with tears as I walked to the counter to deposit the check. After the transaction was completed, I walked speechless to where she was sitting. I could not contain my tears.

“Don’t say anything. Do not thank me. And please, stop crying. Do you want to make me cry too?” she said.

How could I react any differently?  Such a selfless heart! We went for a cup of coffee, and of course, she did not let me pay. As we sat over our drinks, I began to sob.

“You deserve good things like this,” she said.  “You are not working, and your siblings deserve to go back to school. I always know that I have my parents as a backup in case things go wrong. You have no one. My parents raised me this way.  That is how they are.  I am just following the example they set for me,” she concluded.

I always wanted to meet her inspiring parents and was aware that they knew of me. “Keep me posted about everything. Let me know if you need anything,” she said as I hugged her goodbye.

We parted, and as she headed back home for good, I knew that though my best friend would be far from sight, she would never be far from heart and mind. I know my God will watch over her every move. She obeyed the Lord as He used her to help me in many ways. It is engraved on the pillars of my heart forever.

Alphonsine is a Network Engineer with Cisco Systems in Raleigh, North Carolina. She was born in Rwanda where she lived until moving to the US in 2006.  She is a motivational speaker through her non-profit Rising Above the Storms (R.A.S) with a goal to teach forgiveness, love and hope. You can find out more about R.A.S. at http://www.risingabovethestorms.org/.

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