My WHY

I stood, scrolling through the list of podcast titles, asking the Lord to show me what I needed to hear before I started a journey that I knew would stretch me and ask more of me than I would be able to handle well. I found it and prayed that God would help me surrender the things that were weighing me down. A long run was in order. Why? Because I would soon be surrounded by 85 people for 5 days in close quarters. I would not be able to disappear, be left alone with my thoughts or better yet find ways to quiet my soul the way I am use to. Life at Orton Ranch is rugged, if you were to ask me. Others like to point out that we are using running water and have beds to sleep in, but if I can’t take a shower daily, have to worry about mice getting into my food or have to listen for the bell ringing to warn of a bear on the grounds, then that my friends is called rugged in my book.

I was challenged on my run to look at my “why”. I have listened to this podcast many times, I have pushed play on this very title more then 2x. What I didn’t realize was that I could find another reason to apply this message to my current situation.

I came back feeling accomplished and ready to tackle what lied ahead, even though I heard from the Lord some things to consider, I was still unsure of my exact “why” for camp.

We spent the rest of our morning grabbing last minute things and loaded up anxious little bodies that could not wait to go back to a place they had been dreaming and counting the days down for. Orton Ranch has carved a special place in the Harney family.

The boat ride, 2.5 mile hike into camp with 22 kids went so much smoother then it did the year prior. There were no injuries, no bags to haul that couldn’t be carried by their tiny little owners, no suitcases with broken wheels to schlep over the hump over and over again. The biggest struggle we faced was a bound and determined 4 yr old that insisted to hike the WHOLE way on her own and let everyone know on the trail, as well as any living forest creatures that she did not appreciate any help. Even though it was so hot, we still found fun along the way and Richard realized the best way to keep Veil from whining was to break branches of blueberries and give them to her.

I won’t ever forget the feeling I had when I first saw Orton ranch last year, Ezzy asked if it was what the garden of Eden looked like. I wondered if I would find the same feeling, the breath slightly held, the quickening of the heart at the view and the joy of seeing everyone there waiting for us.

Orton did not disappoint yet again. It was hard to no want to run when the trees parted and the lush green lawn full of kids running and playing was finally in eyesight.

Our 1st evening at camp was surreal. It is honestly such a blur. We were the last group to hike in, which meant we didn’t get there until an hour before dinner. After arriving, we had to set up our gear and get ready for our first night of the bible lesson. Kids were anxious to find out who their group members were and the counselors quickly had to start learning names and establish trust so that they could try and break through whatever background, family situation, stage of faith their kids were going through.

Everyone welcomed their beds that night and I believe, felt that the first day went better than expected.

Little did the camp know that we would find ourselves woken to a naughty group of boys that decided to get up before 5 am, waking their entire cabin. Thanks to coach Harney, he showed them what life would be like if it happened again. Sprints, kalasetics, and drills were being ordered as they moved their anxious bodies across the green lawn.

The group Bible lessons were amazing. I had the privilege to lead the kids in worship, teach new songs and watch them as they digested what they were taught. It was really cool to see the lights come on for some of the kids who were hearing for the first time that Jesus rescues, saves, holds on to them when they are facing big things. I myself was in awe of the kids’ hearts and perceptions about the things they worry about. It was an eye opening experience.

Even though I was on little Harney duty, I still managed to get to know the campers, not in the same way as their counselors, but atleast enough to know each of them by name and be able to have conversations with them at meals, during elective time or anytime I was walking around the grounds, making sure Ya’el and her independent spirit was staying safe or Veil and her inquisitive mind didn’t let her wander to far.

I am not going to lie, it is down right exhausting trying to make sure that a 4 and almost 2 yr old stay safe, when there is a flowing river and nonstop bear visits. The only time I was able to let my guard fully down was when they were safely tucked in their beds at 10 pm each night and by that point I was too exhausted to hang with the other adults that needed to unwind by the fire each night.

I waited, still wondering if God was going to reveal my “why” for camp. Unsure if I was going to be able to seperate my head from my heart.

Then it happened.

I was sitting by the river banks, baby in my lap, 4 yr old being loved on by one of the many hands that willingly took a little Harney. I was sitting with a dear friend and the Lord told me to share what I had realized, to share how God had brought me through something. With tears in my eyes, I shared, deeply shared where I had been and where I was now. I was engulfed in a hug and was received. It couldn’t be denied the healing had come.

My “why”: healing.

I had settled for that to be the “why”, that we needed to talk about the past and see how far God had brought us to the now. I didn’t think there was going to be anymore big ah ha moments.

Oh ye of little faith, Sarah.

The very last day of camp, we found ourselves faced with a fever ridden puking camper. When you have 85 people crammed together, you know without a doubt how impossible it is to keep that from spreading. In passing a staff member said, “we need to pray over this camp”. When I found a group of willing adults, I gathered them around and we prayed that any attempts of the enemy to mess with the last day would not prevail. Unable to find the person who had suggested praying, I made up my mind to track them down and let them know a group had prayed. When I did find the person, I learned they had gone on their own and walked through the camp and dorms praying over each person and interceding for God’s divine protection.

Not a single person was hit with a puking bug. There were a few upset tummies that lasted for part of the day, but nothing else.

My “why”, yet again, was to witness: healing

Our last night, after tucking in kids from their “rave” at the campfire well past the normal bedtime had me wanting to spend time with the other staff. Thanks to my dear friend, I was gifted a 2 hr nap and finally felt like I could hang out with the rest of the adults and have some adult conversations not being interrupted by 2 busy little ladies.

A fall down the stairs ended with me crawling back up the stairs and elevating the ankle that I heard rip…I going to have PTSD from that sound for a while.

The medic had gone to bed, richard was finishing the devotions with his group and I was silenting crying inside. How was I going to hike out? I am not going to be able to walk for days, ran through my mind. This injury was not new to me. I knew it was not going to be pretty.

Thanks to a quick thinking person, I had my ankle wrapped up in a frozen bag of cheese. As I waited for my husband to show up, I was anointed with oil and prayed over by a bunch of teenagers. Hands were laid over my ankle, intercession for my health was made, tender hearts were talking to our Abba Father, for me…I don’t think that moment will ever leave my memories.

Being the person that I am that struggles to fully trust God, I was wavering with thoughts that I would really be ok the next morning. It was then that a very perceptive youth, who had the audacity to call me their elder just minutes before, challenged me. They said, “I can’t wait to see you tomorrow when you get up, because you are going to be healed”, I must have flashed a quick look the revealed my wavering faith, because they then said, “faith like a mustard seed Sarah, you just have to believe”.

Wow…

Very early the next morning, I woke to a stiff throbbing ankle. I repented and told the Lord, “I want to believe Lord, so I am choosing to believe”. I went back to bed and waited for the camp to wake up. The true test was going to be when I placed pressure on my foot. I readied myself to have to quickly grab something due to the lack of being able to bare weight on my foot. I however was met with strength. The swelling and massive bruising that should have been there, was barely noticable. I walked out of my room in awe and found the youth that had challenged me the night before. We praised God and I thanked them for challenging me.

My “why” yet again: healing.

There were many other wonderful experiences, conversations that breathed life into me, and times that I found the surrealness of Orton Ranch take me over.

Ya’el intently listened to the bible lessons and shared her heart with the counselor that let her tag along with their group.

Ezzy didn’t miss a single vest treatment, yet again thanks to her brother who ran a half marathon to get her a generator.

Kyre found her identity outside of the shadow of her sister and faced her fear of water!

Cayden had a learning lesson that provided other strong faith believing adults speak into his life.

Veil got to be loved and snuggled by many different mommas that had loving arms and hearts to receive her endless need to be held and loved on, plus she was the only one to get a bath out of 85 people.

Richard was able to serve alongside a friend that he has needed in his life, one that has been a brother to him as they have walked growing in the Lord.

Kayaking the whole way out and going down the ramp was a new experience that I can’t wait to do again.

Watching a friend, who had told me their desire a year ago while standing on the front porch of the main house, enter the waters of baptism was really special. To see someone follow through, to grow more in their faith and to be a testimony to so many others over the year, it was inspiring. To know they met God deeply in a way that only Orton Ranch could do a year ago, it made me realize what this place does to souls.

It is a place of healing.

I am home, have had 2 hot showers, there is more laundry than any sane person would want to do, I am preparing my family to detox off the sodium, beef and simple carbs they ate non stop, I slept in my own pillow top bed and have avoided jumping in to quickly to normal life here.

I don’t want to forget what happened. I don’t want to fall to quickly into the rhythms that can water my faith down, I don’t want to fill up on things that leave me wanting to retreat, because I let them hold too much power over me.

Believe it or not, my heart is already longing to go back. Back to the place that God designed long ago to shine his light over and bring healing to many souls.

Orton Ranch, my “why”: healing

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Who & Who’s

“Momma calls me Miss Bossy Pants”

This was shared with me as I was given the run down of spending the day with my soon to be 4 yr old. I was also informed that even though she was invited to have breakfast with papa and Grandma G, she however managed to debate her way through getting an ice cream cone at 9 am 🙄

In her short 4 yrs of life, one thing that has remained consistent is the fact she has always known what she wants and has never felt stifled in sharing her opinion. Many sundays she walks down the hallway of church with such authority, as if she has an important meeting to head too, but in reality she is trying to find a willing sibling to come and play whatever game she has decided must be played during Momma’s worship practice.

Even though she is so certain in her beliefs, I still for some reason think she might throw a curve ball from time to time. As Kyre’s gala drew nearer, I was preparing myself for a little sister to be so enthralled with ballet and a case to plead for her future involvement. I spent many mid mornings, doing chores or tackling work from home, watching shows she would put on with Veil, complete with ballet shoes and ballerina attire. The day came to watch her big sister on the stage. I was ready to hear it. The show ended and she turned to me and said “I still want to be a karate girl”, as she slid off the seat and was ready to go and congratulate her sister. As if she had read my mind, without missing a single beat.

This is life with Boo.

She likes to talk about emotions, they aren’t scary to her or something to hide, she wants them out on the table and to process them with you. She wants inside your head if there is any silence that lingers too long for her super busy brain. Her persistence to get an answer is the strongest I have dealt with in the years of raising 5 Harney babies. Her siblings would either pick up that I was consumed with something and hold their thought until I was free or would just find someone else to pester with their question.

Not Ya’el.

She will stand there, hand on her hip, eyes piercing through my brain fog as I attempt to manage all the things on my life. No response just makes her volume increase, “yes or no momma, yes or no”.

I managed to just get roped into carrying her train with clear instructions to use both hands, after being corned in my bedroom putting away clean clothes. Delighting tasks is an art form for her.

There are days I wish I had the courage to be more like my 4 yr old.

Not afraid to ask hard questions when people are being aloof, able to pierce through the societal norms of letting people just be distant and instead leaning in, striving to make connection. I wish I always knew what I wanted and was able to give up my incessant need to waiver back and forth, but instead own it and follow through with it. I also wish that my strength when it climbs out of its neatly tucked away box, would be something others willingly following because it’s so clear that I am suppose to lead, rather then walking on egg shells trying to harness my strength to not come off so “intimidating”.

Ya’el Ariel Ruth owns who she is.

I am excited to watch this little pint size boss grow and continue to hone her innate skills that God so clearly knit within her.

The world needs more girls and women, sure of themselves. Feet firmly planted in their beliefs, not able to be knocked over by the unending pressure the world delivers and wants to hold girls and women under its thumb. The world needs more women who will see their strength is a God given blessing that was given with the plan that injustice, darkness and inequality will not prevail against the very thing God has given to his daughters, especially my very own Boo Bear.

Dear Boo Berry,

You are 4 today and I still remembering walking to school with you contently tucked in my womb on the last day of school, past your due date and being the very little soul God intended you to be. Following your own plans and not the others. Your time here in our family has shown me many times, His ways and His plans are higher then mine. You and all your personality that doesn’t fit in your tiny little body has won the hearts of many people. I see the smiles and chuckles as you confidently go about your day. You were given free gifts, extra umbrellas for your drink and told many times how precious you were on the island of Kauai, and proved yet again how magnetic your soul is.

I pray that I run towards your hard questions, I pray that I help you not be afraid of your strength as you grow and others try to diminish it, I pray that in all that you do, you continue to know who and who’s you are.

God’s special treasure.

Happy 4th birthday my rainbow baby. You have the BEST flosser to date 👧🏽💃🏽

GRIT

Did you hit play on the above link? If you haven’t, please do so. It will make sense as you read my ponderings.

Ok, I am assuming that you have gone back and pushed play since I so kindly asked you to do so, so now I will continue.

It was late one evening, Richard and I were at the tail end of our nightly ritual. Hulu had been well loved and we were nearing the point that our exhausted minds and bodies were about to wave the white flag. I got up, thanks to the commercial break. BTW anyone under the age of 30 has NO clue what an actual commercial break is, am I right? I recall having to spend a minimum of 5-6 minutes while growing up, watching countless sets of commercial breaks for one measly episode of ER or American Idol. To top it off, it was a cartoon commercial. I really dislike cartoons, very few actually hold my attention.

I don’t know if it was the song that caught my attention, but something did. I found myself sit back down (I am sure Richard was trying to figure out what on earth his wife was doing). I watched all the way through and at the end I turned to Richard and said “that was my mom…I don’t know how she did it…sudden singleness, school, bills, loneliness”

Unable to allow this ridiculous commercial leave my mind, here I am writing about it. But I think that it has been following my heart and mind, like a stalker, because of what I have to share. I am sharing early because I am running another 1/2 marathon this weekend.

Mother’s Day is on it’s way. Less then 2 days to be exact. I have heard whisperings from my darlings’ little mouths and even heard a child inform my husband about the looming deadline for gifts to be done. I am patiently awaiting shutterfly to deliver my own contribution to this holiday.

There are so many different directions we can take on Mother’s day. We can honor a mom’s unconditional love, heart, care, gentleness, comfort, her ability to know where every lost item is in the house, even though it doesn’t belong to her, her ability to hold multiple family members’ calendars together, the endless life lesson talks with naughty children (only after she has come out of her own timeout) or we could talk about all the things she does to serve each individual in her family, based off of their own unique needs.

But I can’t this year. Maybe it’s the season I am in myself. I think that is why that commercial had me all overwhelmed with emotions.

This year I want to talk about a mom’s grit.

I was once told I had some grit, which is defined as “passion and perseverance over the long haul” (according to psychologist and researcher Angela Duckworth).

How many of you mother’s could raise your hand right now if I asked you “how many of you feel motherhood is NOT what you thought it would be?”

Now you would have to understand, if I came to a group of women (something that would be incredibly intimidating to me) I would be hoping that I would find open transparency. Because I myself would only ask that question because my soul would be craving for some honest dialogue.

What if I were to take it farther and ask you “what is the greatest struggle you are facing in this season of motherhood”.

I have been incredibly blessed to have some lifegiving conversations with mothers in the last 6 months. Waters parted, children were either not around or I found myself in the twilight zone and was able to converse in FULL sentences that were not interrupted every 2 minutes while my children played quietly.

You know what I have discovered?

Every single mom has GRIT.

Age, seasons of life, number of kids, husband or not, career, etc. All those things develop grit within us.

I have been reading about Jochabed. She was the mother of Moses in the bible. You can find her brief story at the beginning of Exodus 2. Some would think that a woman who only had 11 verses written about her would have little significance, heck her name isn’t even mentioned in the telling of her story. But I was intrigued by her. Here was a mother, who had 2 children and found herself pregnant during a time where Pharaoh had a decree to murder ALL Hebrew baby boys.

Her whole pregnancy was spent, I imagine in pure grief. She had no clue if she was going to be able to raise her child or if her newborn would be murdered the moment the first breath was taken and the gender was revealed.

Her 3rd baby came with a death sentence. Thanks to some brave midwives, she delivered a baby boy and was able to hide him for 3 mos. When she could no longer hide him (um I am still wondering how she kept him quiet for 3 mos). She developed a plan to hide him in a basket. Her next plan was to place him in the Nile River.

This is where the story gets a little wonky for me. I can quickly find myself making judgements about her plan. Create a woven basket, cover it in tar and float my baby down the river?!? What was this lady thinking?

If I am honest, I have done this before, I have judged another mom’s plan to address the current hardship she is facing. Yet if you were to look at decisions I have made, many could go “yeah, that Sarah Harney, she is a little cooky”

Even though I sidetracked with her plan to save her baby. I was compelled to look at this mom. To acknowledge her grit. She was faced with a devastating situation. Her child had a death warrant. There would be no way she could keep it from others. Can you imagine if some embittered mother in her camp found out that her child was spared by midwives, when hers was murdered?

Jochabed hadn’t lost hope. She was resourceful. She fought for her child even though everything was stacked against her.

All I know is that in this season of mothering, I feel like a failure, more than I feel like I am doing a substandard job. The days that seem to come and go faster then I have a chance to digest them are filled with children who stretch me to my limits. They are growing, they are finding out who they are in this world, medical needs can take up the emotional and mental space I have left, I wonder if they feel loved more than I want to.

Jochabed’s baby gets saved by Pharaoh’s daughter who requests for a Hebrew woman to nurse and care for her newfound baby in the river until he is weaned (which meant around 3 yrs of age). Jochabed is paid to care for her baby.

Jochabed’s grit allowed her to raise her baby that should have been killed. Yes she didn’t get to have him past the age of 3, she didn’t get to watch him grow and celebrate birthdays and milestones with him, BUT she got to love and care for him more then her human heart could have hoped for in her current situation.

Why did I just waste 5-10 minutes of your time retelling you a story from the Bible?

Because I really believe I am suppose to encourage you mommas.

There are so many things you are facing in your life right now, honestly a today for a fact, something came crashing at your feet…right? There are fears and anxieties that seem to consume your waking and sleeping moments, hello 2 am worry sessions. Some of you are putting your flag up on a stick and can’t even say its a white flag because its all stained and tattered, just like your life. There are situations that you are standing face to face with and you are wondering how you are going to survive them.

But mommas. I want you to pause and see what you have. Even with all the things faced against you. You are still standing. You are showing signs of sanity, if not your family would have had you commited. You are taking a moment for yourself right now and ignoring the to do list. You are surrendering your children and their issues to God, yes, even your grown children you are continually placing in God’s hands. You are finding another way even though the massive detour you are on looks like a dead in.

“Passion and perseverance over the long haul”.

Whatever your situation is, I want to say thank you for finding a way to pick yourself back up. Thank you for not giving up when it seems impossible. Thank you for raising children who won’t expect others to be perfect and guarded, instead crave for real people, because you have shown them transparency. Thank you for making this world a better place and choosing life when we live in a society that believes in genocide as a woman’s right. Thank you for always pouring out, even when you feel empty, the world needs more selfless people. Thank you for paving the way for other mothers who are looking for a champion to follow. Thank you for placing your HOPE in the lord and trusting that He is the author of your story, especially on the hard days.

Because you, you my friend, have some GRIT.

Happy MOTHER’S day 💐

Thank you to my own mother Barbara, who found her own GRIT and could have been the main character of that commercial. Love you.

A Simple List

Somehow I managed to not plan for today, it’s not the first time I have done this. Mainly because this time frame in the year seems to be at the height of insanity and it is never attended to in the manner I would have loved to devote to. Yet, I am asking myself, better yet chastising myself to get better at this next time.

He doesn’t like cards, doesn’t care for unwanted gifts and definitely doesn’t care for filler gifts. A life of being the sole financial provider for a constantly growing family the last 11 yrs has made it impossible to buy things for him. If it’s a necessity, its worked within the budget, it is discussed with the financial advisor (me) and then it purchased. Buying for himself rarely happens and so it always makes this day the hardest for his family. What do you get a man that has embodied sacrificial love so well? He would give you the shirt off his back if you came to him and said, “hey man, I really need your shirt because…”

Thanks to the big change in my life, going back to work, I have found the balancing act even harder. He is met with a wife that is struggling in learning how to care for a home and family while meeting the deadlines, workloads, and expectations that come with her new job.

I dropped the ball. Nothing was laid out for him this morning, something he has done for me over the years, no heartfelt little hands drew cards, no dinner plans to look forward to (the man loves to eat) thanks to both of us working tonight.

Today has been like any other day.

I wasn’t even sure I was going to write something. Honestly I have phone calls that need to be made now that I have the baby down for a power nap before we go and get siblings from school here in an hour. But as I was wiping the goo off the counters that I didn’t get to before heading to the office this morning a list started to form in my head.

It’s not wrapped in a bow, it hasn’t been purchased from a store, but every single bit of it is true.

35 years ago, God breathed life into this man that we get to call hubby and daddy

William Richard Harney, here are the 35 things I love and am thankful for:

1. You call me beautiful when I first wake up, when you come home from work or when we have been separated for a bit

2. You always make sure to let me pick the 2 plates we are going to share at restaurants

3. You make sure I have clean sheets to come home to whenever I travel

4. Breakfast is made every morning for me

5. The dreaded nighttime routine has been your jam since Cayden was first weaned 9 yrs ago

6. When I am taking a moment to myself, while you man the circus we call children, you always say “take your time”

7. You deal with the pukers when they hit our home, knowing I CAN.NOT. do it

8. Dirty diapers have never been an issue for you

9. You support me and my need to run, even if it means saturday mornings don’t start until I get my miles in

10. When I catch you staring at me when we are in a crowded room

11. Your willingness to coach and not give up on the uncoachable kids

12. Your ability to fix almost anything that has broken in our house

13. When you hold our daughters and whisper in their ears and they giggle

14. How you care for my mom

15. How you are intentional with my nephew

16. How you LOVE my friends and never make me feel like I have to choose between you or them

17. Your level head when I am spinning like a top

18. The grace you have given over the phone at work when I have called in frantics for the 100th time over some disaster the kids (electrical fire), me (grease fire), lily (bear attack), Candy or the chickens created

19. Your willingness to do the dishes after dinner

20. Your desire to never put out my fire, but instead flame it and show me my voice matters

21. Your adventurous spirit and desire to try something new, since I love routine

22. Your heart to build men up within the church and your desire to be a disciple

23. Your love for christian rap

24. Your bow ties

25. Your silver hair – its sexy

26. How you put us first in everything thing that you do

27. Your willingness to play board/card games against the women in my family knowing you will always loose

28. Your tender heart, the tears you shed when I can’t, your transparency with feelings

29. The opportunities you let our son learn to be a man, when his mom isn’t ready for it

30. How you handled our son when he was exposed to indecency from another kid

31. The advocate you are for your daughter and the countless phone calls you have made to ensure her continued healthcare coverage

32. How you cared for me during the labor of each baby

33. Your ability to forgive and forget

34. Your playfulness, even if I find it annoying half the time, someone needs to see the world different then the black and white that I see

35. How you love us with every part of your soul

Happy birthday my love, I pray that we can show you through our words and actions that we are so blessed to have you as our protector, provider, husband and father.

What Kauai can do

It’s hard to believe that a whole month has passed since we returned from the most amazing family vacation. Years of foregoing eating out, buying the unnecessaries and always tucking money away, even if it was only 20 bucks is how we pulled it off. A few years ago, someone on FB decided to post an easy savings plan.

I to be honest, never really knew how to do it, when overwhelmed I tend to avoid and not dig in. So that is what I did for years. How could a constantly growing family, every other year, save for a tropical destination on one steady income. My side jobs never provided anything substantial to our income. The FB post seemed fool proof, so that is what I used. That simple savings plan covered the cost of our condo rental, our suburban rental and some groceries for the 2 weeks we were on the island of Kauai. The next step I had to tackle was tickets. Thanks to alaska airlines, I paid everything I could with our CC. I paid utilities, gas, groceries, fuel for our tank, walmart, etc. Anytime there was a chance for the bonus miles, you bet I signed us up. After 5 years of saving miles, we were beyond blessed to “purchase” 5 miles tickets and with the help of the companion fare, we covered the remaining 2 tickets needed to get our family there.

We didn’t leave with any disillusionment of detours that we would find ourselves on. In fact, the worrier aka always waiting for the shoe to drop, person was watching for it. When we found ourselves stumbling into bed at midnight after a long drive to our condo from the airport, it was then that I discovered our first detour. In the chaos of traveling with 8 people and ALL our luggage (car seats, strollers, pack and play, etc) we managed to leave our cooler at the airport. Not just any cooler, but the cooler with Ezzy’s $3k medicine in it that has to be special ordered and takes days to get anywhere not on the mainland of the US. I was crushed, angry and went to bed unable to sleep. Morning came and with great urgency we found ourselves back at the airport pounding on the door of the office that refused to answer any calls for the last hour and a half. There I found our prized cooler and there I uttered my first Mahalo with tears down my face.

When Ezzy’s vest broke it didn’t derail me. Murphy’s law right. Also everything comes in 3s I have found. So we switched to manual therapy and called her amazing vest company and they started working on sending a new one out. But what was the 3rd incident?

2nd degree sunburn on day 3 of our 14 day trip.

We found out we had a faulty bottle of sunscreen and everyone who used it got the color of tomato on their skin. Ezzy was the worst. Blisters on her nose and her entire back, fire red. No longer able to do manual therapy and the weekend approaching, meant that we were going to go even longer without airway clearance.

It was then that I was left with nothing, but to ask my village to pray for Ezzy, that God would protect her lungs and the vest would show up sooner than we anticipated. We spent 3 days waiting for the vest, 3 days of hearing her get gunky and 3 days of me surrendering to God. Honestly, it is where He always wants me. Never reliant on myself, but reliant on the fact that He is her provider, He is in control.

The vest arrived on Kauai day 6 of our vacation and we became the proud new owners of her 3rd machine.

Everyone told us that it was going to rain when we got to Kauai. Richard and I kept watching the forecast, days leading up to our trip and were so defeated when we saw the predicted weather. Staying on the north shore, meant that we were hammered the hardest. Thanks to my adventurous, find another way husband. We loaded up everyday and made the trek to the other side of the island and chased the sunshine. We didn’t spend a single day without sun, even though the locals kept telling us “this is the worst it has been in years”.

Our days began around 6:15, thanks to little bodies that arose with the sun and thankfully due to Nana, we were able to lay in bed and await until true chaos hit after breakfast.

Richard made sure to make a hot breakfast on the days I would sneak away for a morning run.

Due to the lengthy drive we had to take each day, we learned to pack for a whole day away from our kitchen and were so thankful Kauai has a costco.

The long drives weren’t too bad. We got to know the WHOLE island really well. We saw amazing scenery. The kids learned to keep themselves busy without the use of electronics and with good old conversation, games and drawing. We only busted out the ipad for a movie when everyone was too tired to use inside voices or manners. What I enjoyed the most is how the LOUD car would go silent the moment we pushed play on one of the many sermon podcasts we listened too. You want to talk about church trained kids. As soon as the preacher started, they zipped their lips and the whole energy in the car died down. As soon as the sermon ended, within seconds they were back to themselves. It was crazy.

Deep down I had hoped that this trip would reconnect us all. Regardless of how hard we try to make time for each other, because of the various things we do, we are always going here and there. My prayer was that we would return closely knitted, that any wears and tears that happened over the years would mend. Especially with my oldest kids. They have seen alot of change. Careers for both mom and dad, new siblings, new callings. There have been days I wondered if they even liked each other. Towards the end of the trip, Richard caught a glimpse of the mending. Ezzy was sitting alone on a log and Cayden ran up behind her, gave her a huge hug and pulled her to the ground. They laid there laughing and Richard said, that made the whole trip worth it. The kids learned to be each other’s friends Ezzy told me she whispered to Cayden one day and said “you are my favorite part of this trip”, he did roll her eyes at her, but she knew he heard her and it was received. Yes they fought, but they also played so much with each other. They had evening races in the huge backyard. They had evening swimming competitions. They shared shaved ice with each other. They learned about each other in ways that only Hawaii provided. Cayden helped Ezzy learn how to swim and cheered her on as she swam the length of the pool.

Hawaii brought a sense of identity back to the Harneys. All the to dos that are stacked high were gone. They didn’t have stressed out parents trying to squeeze in one more thing before our minds and bodies gave out. They weren’t being shuttled from one practice or after school event to the other. We just got to be. Be with one another.

As ANY woman would tell you, I had an idea of vacation body in mind. I believed in my hearts of hearts that I would be disciplined, that I would push myself hard and that I would reach my goal of what I thought was enough. Life had other plans. So I didn’t pack the too small for me bikini that I had planned to wear months and months ago when I got it. I packed my one piece with shame along with the shorts I wore the summer after having Veil. I was going to have to go as Sarah, mother of 5 and not hungry/over worked out Sarah.

Much to my surprise, every single beach I went to had the same crowd of women. What was that crowd? It was a crowd of every single shape and size of women in 2 pieces. They didn’t hide behind one piece bathing suits, they didn’t drown themselves in hot cover ups. NO, they walked, with smiles on their faces, deep in conversations with their man smiling back at them and their beauty. They didn’t shift or quickly cover up when people walked by, but instead drank in the laughter of their children swarming around them, the very children that gave them their stretch marks and cushion.

I then realized that I was allowing my altered view of myself dictate how I enjoyed and embraced this trip and honestly season of life. I went to Richard, admitted my shame and asked him to take me to find a 2 piece bathing suit. That man needed no bribing and I found myself with a new suit that I felt I could be me and never put back the dreaded one piece on my body.

I didn’t know that Hawaii would bring wholeness to my shattered body image. I didn’t know that Hawaii would help me love my body. Something I have NEVER done in the 33 years I have walked this earth. Even at my smallest weight, I was miserable and completely a slave to what I had to do to be that small. Hawaii helped me own this amazing body that grew and cradled 5 amazing little souls that call me mommy.

Hawaii.

My heart is saddened to watch the news reports of the massive flooding taking place in Kauai. The north shore got hit the hardest and we saw our favorite breakfast burrito place surrounded by water. There are many who have lost their homes.

But I also remain completely confident that when the Harney’s return to Kauai, we will see it back to normal. There is something so enduring and iconic about Kauai. The people are not what you would expect. They don’t meet you with Las at the airport, they don’t go out of their way to make you feel welcome, it’s not a tourist destination. In fact they don’t care for you at all. The first week locals were short with us. They were less than helpful. Then after seeing us past the week mark and seeing us at regular places, they began to become friendly, the gardner would say hi in the mornings, the grocery store clerk would ask how our adventures were going.

Kauai was the perfect place for us to unplug. To not get caught up in countless tours, city life to explore in the evenings or crowded beaches to fight for a sliver a sand. Instead, we found ourselves many times having miles of sand to pick from and now and then someone who wanted to comment on the size of our family. Kauai’s spirit is so chill yet so strong. They don’t have to rush to do anything. The to do list is probably: sun, friends, family, food. They know their priorities and they don’t compromise.

Today Ya’el curled up on my lap and said “I miss Hawaii”.

Me too Boo, me too.

#prayforKauai

Double Digits

Dear Cayden,

For quite a few years I have felt honored to write “about you” and not “to you” on your birthday each year. It was always a joy to walk down memory lane as I recalled the year I had spent with you and all the things you taught me while we learned together, this whole mother and son thing.

I loved it more then anything, because it gave others a chance to see you in the light that I see you. Every mother loves her son, her children, in ways that no other person on the earth can love them. I am not an exception to the rule, but I will say that my love for you is really hard to define.

Because the word love doesn’t seem adequate when I think about you. So this year, instead of writing to recall the memories, I want to change it all and I want to speak a blessing over you as you enter the new world of double digits.

Cayden, you my son are going to move mountains. Just this very morning, driving back from our morning run, the run that you smoked me in, I asked you your “why” for training for your 2nd half marathon. I had anticipated to have some serious heart felt reason to why you want to abuse your body and push it limits that most sane adults will never attempt to do.

Instead as we drove down one of the many hills I begin to despise during training season, you showed me another side of you. “Because I want to better myself as a runner…because I want to be faster then…” was your reply.

I paused, quickly formulated my response and told you “son, you have to have a good reason to want to run, one that is not laced with pride. Pride will lead you to places that won’t ever satisfy”. I then told you that Ken told me that every good runner finds their why and doesn’t let go of it, because without a why, a runner eventually decides to find other things to do.

I didn’t want us to pass this opportunity to discuss one of the things you are going to face, over and over again, because of the very man you are growing into. Manhood, mini-manhood for you has been one INTENSE year for this momma of yours.

You have proven more times then I want to admit that you are in fact a man in training and a you aren’t afraid of your calling. The near electrical fire that happened this summer, showed me that you had a more level head then your stressed out mother. I was met with your cool calm demeanor and a quick action plan to my slightly hysterical reaction.

Your quick thinking had you grab your sisters and get them outside to safety while I was running for the fire extinguisher. On that day, you showed me that you were and are ready for your call.

So many times when we butt heads, its not over another round on the game console or whether or not you are allowed to stay out just a few minutes later. Instead its over things like allowing you to stay up and watch a comedian with us, because you can understand each joke that is geared for adults. Your sarcasim and quick wit can be the thing that makes my head go 360 when those thoughts rush down your head and out of your mouth before you had the chance to determine if the risks were worth it.

Your mouth…

Will you remember with laughter or distain the little white bar of soap that has teeth marks in it when you have a mouthy son or daughter of your own?

As you have learned the ups and downs of making and keeping friends in the entitled generation you are growing up in, I have never spent more time praying for you. You see the wrongs, you don’t bend and you can’t comprehend why the world always is forcing their beliefs on you and they can’t accept yours. Justice fighter is a role that you valiantly own.

I recently heard you inform your sister to go and change her clothes, after you told her “reach up and touch your toes, if anything shows go change your clothes”. She told you that you weren’t her boss, which you replied, “go change your clothes, nobody is going to see that”. I hesitated. I wondered, am I suppose to get involved?

But then, when I saw her in a changed outfit, she wan’t sulking, she wasn’t pissed off, instead she was laughing with you in the kitchen as she was packing her lunch. She knew in her 8 year old wisdom that she had a brother who cared about her value and how the world sees and receives her.

It was on our recent trip to Hawaii that I got to see the pieces of you that I have wondered if the world in its darkness had began to chip away at.

You see, I only get to see you for an hour or two in the morning, most school afternoons are tied up with sports or a commitment your dad and I are carrying, which leaves us with a few hours in the evenings with you. You spend the bulk of the day away from me. Which means, alot of the times, I see the hard unfilterd moments, knowing, because of assurance from your teachers that you are the star pupil, helper and friend to everyone you come in contact with.

We were visiting some friends who were in Kauai as well and we had been enjoying their beautiful beach lawn. You and your sisters made quick friends with the other traveling kids and your parents were lost in conversation with our friends. It was then asked, “where is boo (Ya’el)”. Your dad, with Veil in his arms quickly went one direction, Nana went another. But what happened next, still brings too many strong emotions to my heart.

I found myself in a nail biting race with you, the iced drink in hand on the hot day was all over the lawn and there you and I were in a dead sprint, barefoot feet on the pavement. You were the first to scoop up the screaming 3 year old that had concerned people trying to comfort from a safe distance. Even though in her fear and misplaced anger at you, she fought you off, you still held her until I was there. The wall of lost kids on Walmart’s wall has left a permanent awareness of the evil in the world for your heart.

You were you, protector, fighter, responder.

Cayden, you my son, are no longer a child. You don’t think like a child, you don’t reason like a child. I don’t know how to feel about it. I wonder if this broken world has robbed you too soon of things your little body and mind should be enjoying with some innoscence.

Your first counseling session with our family counselor exposed the very thing that we believed has been the root of your anger. Your inability to place trust in God, trust him with Ezzy and the cystic fibrosis, has left you feeling utimately responsible for her. That somewhere in your 9 years, you have carried her longevity of life as your own battle. Yes, you were angry when we didn’t devulge the whole truth of the meeting that day, but you came home and told me what you learned. How “it wasn’t your job” to keep her healthy.

It has been a year that I believe we are going to be able to look back with fond memories as we look through the endless photos I have taken, documenting your’s and your sister’s stories. We have had big moments that shaped our family, made us dig deeper into our faith, but also moments that have caused us to step aside and watch you grow into the man God created you to be so long ago.

William Cayden Harney, I pray that God in all his goodness will continue to be the loudest voice in your head. That the desire to do better, will not come from the world’s standards, but instead come from heaven above. I pray that as you continue to learn to be a friend, while still standing for what is right, that you will lead your peers to truth and not lead them astray, that you will never misuse the influence God has given you. I pray that your humor will be something that is not used as a shield for your emotions, but used when you see hurting people that need something to laugh about. I pray that as you care for the women in your life, that you will continue to learn to give them love and patience because you care about their hearts, more than you care about being in charge, that you will continue to sacrificial love in a way that your friends are compelled by.

Today you are 10 years old. Today you are leaving behind the single digits, the digits that are laced with boyhood, a naiveness of the world and instead entering the doubles where you are going to continue to develop a keen awareness of how things work.

Don’t forget that God called you to be his soldier, not the world’s. I know that you have many battles yet to face, but I believe that as long as you, along with the help from us, keep going back to God to be your general, you my son are going to change the world.

Happy birthday, my one and only son

Seeds

I knew this day was coming. The month of March is laced with joy as we celebrate the birth of such an influential person in our family. Our first born child, the very soul that caused us to think of another life, other then our selfish selves, this is the month that he was born.

Yet this very month is interwoven with deep sadness, heavy regret, too many conversations that are left unfinished and most of all the all consuming weight that a deeply loved soul left this earth. March 15, 2015 Ken Teune claimed his heavenly reward.

Our family just came back from a 2 week vacation. It was something that we painfully saved for, for over 5 yrs. Giving up anything that could be labeled excess. pinching and saving for a tropical destination was our goal. I think that Ken would be so proud of me, saving and being accountable for our money to get 8 people to Hawai‘i was a huge task. His intense skill to be accountable, to know where and how his money was spent is something that has stayed with me all these years. In fact did you know that when a Christian organization made a public announcement that impacted their world view and what they deemed to be acceptable according to the Bible, he pulled out of supporting them? With some conviction as well as his burning desire to know the truth, he called them up and drilled the soul that answered. After he was assured that his money would be used to glorify the kingdom, he reinstated his monthly donation. Many of you who know him can’t help but smile knowing that Ken had the gumption to call this organization up and ask his list of questions. Ken was so thrifty with his 100 pack Bar S hotdogs and western family buns, because there was a good sale. Ken was thrifty with life in general.

Have you ever gone into Walmart and seen the “Dooms Day” emergency preparedness food? That man could not pass those up. One day, in my wondering I asked him, why he spent all that money on those scar tactics. Wouldn’t God, the one who watches over the sparrows, watch over him? I mean I really needed to understand. I thought maybe there was some memo he had gotten from God that somehow skipped me or could this solid man of faith actual have some fear? So yes, I asked. I was then told, “Sarah it’s our job as Christians to meet the needs of the poor and needy”. He challenged me and told me, if something were to go wrong in our constantly changing health of our country, providing food for the masses would be another way for Ken to feed souls, spiritually and physically. He told me, when crisis comes, people run to those of faith, because they know we are different, there is a peace they can’t comprehend. It was Ken’s hope that over a can of Mac and Cheese that had a shelf life of 24 years, that he would be able to offer them hope of a future that could only come from Christ. I am not sharing this so that you can laugh in mockery or scoff and what he did, but instead evaluate some choices. Ken was so meticulous, he didn’t leave out details and he never wasted a chance to use ANY opportunity to tell someone about Christ. ANY chance.

One of the many drives our family took to chase the sun, we pushed play on leadership podcasts or sermons from some of our favorite preachers. It was on one of the drives that we heard the term “genesis of leadership”. The speaker was talking about how leaders, if you were to sit down and talk about the start of their leadership journey, they would be able to identify the 3 most critical people that shaped them. These people where the ones that identified and believed in them, helped open doors for them and sowed leadership seeds in their lives.

Stupid silly emotions, the very things that Ken assured me to never be ashamed of, found me on the Kuhio Hwy. The speaker kept on going and I found myself in and out of important conversations that I had shared with Ken as we talked about the “hows and whys” of kingdom work.

When Ken met me, I was not where I am today. I had been asked to be a part of the worship team and served minimally my first two years. It wasn’t until a sudden change came, that I found myself serving in a completely different way. He walked side by side, sometimes ahead as I lost my focus or hope, but he never left me as I learned to lead in a joint leadership role with two other leaders. Iron sharpens Iron, he never let me off on the easy side when I wanted to jump ship because emotions, feelings or a person’s view of things challenged mine. Nope, lean in Sarah, fight for the kingdom. He was there to offer me the Worship Leader role in our church and continued to humbly lead me as I became his boss. In fact one Sunday when we disagreed with the tempo of the song he stopped and in front of everyone realized that he was suppose to be a team member not my boss and he changed his tune. Humbly.

Ken saw leadership potential in me. In fact he made sure to help sow those seeds. He encouraged and helped me to stay the course.

At the beginning of this year I found myself in another shift. I was offered the staffed position of being the Worship & Teaching leader at the church. I celebrated, something that I had worked for, survived many battles and experienced great joy in my life. But if I am honest, it didn’t feel like I could truly celebrate. Someone who believed in me from the very beginning, before I had done the time to prove my worth, was not there.

When someone leaves this earth, as time comes and goes, as major life changes take place, their absence is felt more then ever. Time makes memories fade, life and the ups and downs can make their absence be misplaced too.

As we drove and I got myself pulled together I finished the podcast and knew what I needed to do.

If you are reading this, then you clicked on the blog. You saw something pop up in your feed and saw his name. My hope is that you clicked it because of what you will do next.

It’s been 3 years, yet it wasn’t until we were sitting in a church on a vacation and hearing a organization present their cause that I remembered the conversation Ken and I had, about knowing how and where his money went. It wasn’t until we were driving that I remembered him telling me how critical it was for me to always choose freedom and not slavery when I am dealing with hard situations with my brothers and sisters in Christ. One of the preachers said, if you haven’t been offended in the church you are attending, you aren’t really attending. He said, it’s through relationships with others, as we grow, that we learn what Christ really died for, how we truly understand redemptive love. Ken preached that sermon to me many times, not just through words but through his life. I missed his high five that he would have given me or his check in phone calls that I would get, as he asked how my soul was doing or what battles I was facing. His absence is real as I embrace this next step in my leadership journey.

If today, you find yourself reading this, I want to ask that you will leave a memory of when Ken breathed into your life. Let us celebrate his life and encourage each other as we remember the Hebrews 11 man we all miss. I am sure his loved ones would love to read about how their dearly missed and loved husband and father impacted you.

Plant some seeds, you might be the person who makes a way for someone else as you share