Blog Archive

Friday, November 6, 2015

We're Here!!

Have you ever tried drinking from a fire hose? Neither have I, but I've heard it's almost as intense and overwhelming as moving a family of five to Manhattan! After a month of hanging on for dear life I'm so excited to send out a quick update: We ARRIVED! 

In light of the hurricane threatening to send rain into Manhattan, we shortened our cross country trek to two days and arrived around 8 PM on October 2nd.  

We managed to hire movers over the web while driving down the interstate in Pennsylvania, happily unloaded our Uhaul trailer, circled for an hour at midnight to find a *cross-your-fingers-it's-
legal* parking space, and promptly got our car towed! 
But if there's one thing Matt loves more than a happy ending, it's a dramatic story, so even that had an upside. 
Matt traipsed downtown and uptown and then downtown again in the pouring rain, and at the end of the day the tow-yard was closed for the weekend, so --good news-- we had free parking until Monday morning! No sooner had we claimed our van, then we parked it on Riverside drive and it was lovingly assaulted by a too-close driver and our drivers' side mirror was no more!
Suddenly, we were official New Yorkers! We've found we're part of a large brotherhood and have learned that being towed is part of owning a car here and our van will likely get its share of bumps and bruises thru the years. Now isn't that reassuring?!

We had three sets of visitors in our first week and it gave us a great chance to explore our new city and make sure we remembered, in the middle of all the moving craziness, to celebrate Matt's birthday!

We live in Washington Heights (Northern Harlem) and are surrounded by folks from the Dominican Republic. I'm delighted that we get so much time interacting with new cultures and the girls love speaking to our neighbors in Spanish anytime they get the chance. Because we home-school, we're often moving about the neighborhood during school hours, and this mama and her three exuberant clones draw quite a lot of attention at the grocery store and on the subway. They just skip up Broadway and spread joy wherever we go. Our apartment (a furnished sublet for the next 9 months) is delightful. It's on the Hudson River, and we wake each morning to watch the sunrise reflecting off the palisades and the river itself.

After being led on a bit of a rabbit-trail in the search for faculty housing, we, who had no idea where we should live in this great big beast of a city, have been plopped down in such a beautiful space!

We are a quick walk from a running/walking trail along the waterfront, very near two awesome parks and along the way get to breathe in nature and beauty and marvel at God's extravagant grace.

While things have technically slowed down, I still find that it takes every one of my brain cells to do ANYTHING with three kids in tow, so we're spending all of our energy learning new ways of doing everything.

Grocery shopping: we walk six blocks to the grocery store, learn Spanish words for breakfast sausage, sweet potato and  'yes, all these children are mine", say hello to our favorite checker, Darlene, and then carry our food home with us.

Laundry: the girls and I parade down to the spacious laundry room on the ground floor of our building and using our "laundry credit card", for the price of a grande vanilla latte with an extra pump of coconut syrup, we get clean sheets! Bonus, we get to meet our neighbors, "si, tres ninas"..."si, solo ninas"...(everyone likes to comment on our three girls!) and meet people who have lived here in this very building for 50 years!

Errands: What? Errands? Skip them. Not worth losing our parking spot. OR better yet, ride the most amazing subway system in the world! But remember, you'll have to carry whatever you purchase home with chose wisely! Suddenly, those daily trips to Target (lets face it, they really were just about getting out of the house) are a thing of the past! We're either homeschooling around our table, walking to the park, or hauling groceries. Go figure, we moved to the big city and our life got surprisingly simplified!

The girls have transitioned amazingly, and God is answering my prayers to grow my trust in his specific care for each of our girls. He's taking such good care of them and I'm blown away by their confidence and peace and enjoyment of this crazy city life! Hannah loves to test herself on the subway train to see how much jostling she can take before she has to hold the bar, Elizabeth loves to run downstairs (4 floors) to check the mail, and last week I pointed out a suburb in New Jersey to Ruby and said, "this is the kind of place where Grandma could live if she moves here" and Ruby quickly said, "No, Grandma should live in our building. That way we won't have to move our car [read: lose our parking spot] to go visit her!" They are quickly becoming city kids!

Our neighbors ran in the NYC Marathon last weekend, so we got to make signs and cheer them on with a group of new friends from our Church.

We have a church people! God is so good! We've been drawn to a warm community of believers in the Upper West Side and are in awe of how gracious our entry has felt. Three families from our home-school community attend there, as does our dear friend, Elisabeth, with whom we've been joyfully reunited after a 10 year hiatus. As far as we're concerned, NY is the friendliest city in which we've had the privilege to live. Everyone here is eager to help us get our bearings, find the subway, learn to speak/order food/purchase groceries in Spanish, cross the street without dying, and successfully get our kids on the subway.  We LOVE the constant interactions with neighbors and the frequent opportunities to explain the gospel in real life to the girls. They are learning so much, and so are we!

Matt's loving his work here, and is quickly making connections and is able to see opportunities to use his gifts. There are the institutional speed bumps and politics to navigate, but Matt has been well equipped with discernment and wisdom, so he's rolling with the punches and is seeing God's provision of favor and great working relationships. This week he's in Florida, later this month he'll travel to Mumbai to speak at a conference, and next spring he's heading to Japan! We're so proud of him and are overjoyed to see the fruit of his hard work and God's mercy.  I'm slowly adjusting to doing life in someone else's home with someone else's stuff! There are all the usual hiccups...but at the risk of glossing over some of the difficult parts of this transition, we really are so happy here, and even the hard and complicated parts are pointing us to areas where God wants to supply our needs.

Now that I've gotten caught up, I hope to post shorter updates and photos of our life on Instagram @saraeharms and here on our blog. 

We're also planning to send out a Christmas card for the first time in a number of years, so if you'd like one, and you don't think I have your correct address, please update us! you can PM me on facebook or use the email in the sidebar and send us your mailing address.

Much much love from our crazy adventuring family to yours!

Matt, Sara & the Girlies

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A New Adventure

In an effort to include ALL the amazing twists and turns, I keep delaying send in out an email...but it doesn't appear there will be a break in the action, so here comes the Harms Family Update! We're moving to New York City (yep, Manhattan!) where Matt has been offered the job of his dreams at Columbia University, and the girls and I will open the Big City campus of the Harms Homeschool! 

Friends, God is so, so good.

These past 10 years have been such an intense journey through grief, and sorrow, and learning to mine the dark and messy places for signs of God's goodness and faithfulness. Many precious treasures have been found, and He has carried us through much loss, but if I'm honest, the pain, which sometimes felt unending, has taken its toll on our hope and trust.

Shortly before moving to St. Louis, Matt and I had a conversation in which someone asked us about our dreams for the next 10 years. We stared blankly at the man, and had nothing to say. Dreams? We had none. How could we dream when at any moment our daughter could be hospitalized with a life threatening medial crisis, when her health, development and future were so uncertain? At any moment, all plans were laid aside. Our life was awash with uncertainty, and to hope and plan for anything was simply too painful. It wasn't even possible. Our hearts responded to our pain by letting go of our dreams, tempering our hope, and ultimately, protecting our hearts from being disappointed in God. We had no dreams.

But God! He has faithfully used all the heartbreak of the past few years to strip us of our self-protection, and is graciously reintroducing us to hope again.

And so, for the first time since Elizabeth was born, we are dreaming!

In the middle of May, Matt was invited to speak at Columbia, and while there he was offered his dream job doing patient centered research on ALS. We've been really happy here at Wash U and in St. Louis in general, so we hadn't even realized there was a dream job out there!  Thanks to the amazing success of the Ice Bucket Challenge, Matt will be able to use his gifts and talents at a world class institution to make huge strides in understanding ALS!

There is so much more to share, and I will as soon as I can take a breath! In the mean time, our dear friends are helping us sell our house, (Click to View Listings) God has delightfully provided us with a fully furnished sublet in Upper Manhattan near the hospital where Matt will work and we have seamlessly transitioned to an Upper West Side community for our Homeschool Co-op, ( 

Friends, we are really dreaming. 

Early on in the process, as Ruby processed the loss of everything familiar and her fear about the unknown, God gave us a Disneyland metaphor for this grand adventure.  He has invited us to a good and exciting place. And because HE has invited us, HE is planning the trip, outlining the route, scheduling the pit stops, arranging the hotels and buying the tickets! We don't have to handle all the details ourselves, and we certainly don't have to be afraid of the destination. We are learning that he is as committed to providing for our dreams and desires as he is for His commands. We are learning that sometimes a ride roller coaster can feel a lot like free-falling, but we are securely strapped into the arms of our loving Father and we really don't have to be afraid. 

So as long as we know He has us, we might as well throw our hands up in the air and enjoy the thrill of the ride!