Owning Your Stuff

“We have to address the lid, because if we don’t, it’s going to blow, if we address the lid, we can start working through the things that have been stuffed down”

As those words were said, as her eyes met mine with compassion, not condemnation. I immediately looked at the little girl, who sees the world different then other girls her age. She was quietly coloring, getting lost in what she was doing. I wondered “what does she think about this?”

It wasn’t until days later that I started seeing a change in her. If I had not been careful or responsive to the Lord, I could have missed the very small stride she was taking.

This last year has been intense. I feel like I am always saying that, “it’s been the hardest day of my life” or “this has been the biggest trial”. Yet if I were to look back at 2017 with Ezzy, all that I can say is I.N.T.E.N.S.E.

The day that I saw my breaking point will probably be one of the biggest momentous moments in parenting a child with a scary disease for me. The spiraling downfall that happens on 75% of the mornings was in full swing. Me, overwhelmed with the huge responsibility of getting 4 kids to school on time before the preschool doors were closed. Her, overwhelmed with the never changing to dos in the morning, nebulized medicine 1 & 2, vest, pills, bathroom break #2 and then finally getting to the to do list of a normal child without CF.

We collided.

In the weakest part of me, I parented in anger. I saw the color red. Which invoked the deepest “survival/fighter” instinct in her.

The siblings, stood in shock. Not a single word was uttered after we lashed out on each other. We exhausted the pent up frustrations of CF in our lives to one another.

The car door slammed and I couldn’t help but think “thank God I don’t have to see you till 3:30”.

Minutes after driving away, seeing her slowly walk to the playground, the still small voice that tried redirecting me a mere 15 mins ago, was no longer a whisper, but instead a heart wrenching firmness that came from Godly discipline.

I cried and cried. I found myself on the phone, telling the receptionist, “I don’t know what else to do, we need help, before we break her”

Why is there such shame is seeking out help, especially mental/emotional help? What happened next was such an act of grace.

I received a call, from someone I didn’t know. I was told “I believe I am suppose to meet you, but not in an office, but at a church…I believe you are an answer to my prayers”

As we sat across from a stranger, and two parents that have stuffed and stacked pain, fear, anger and only shared small pieces we could handle to others, unloaded. There we got real. There we took the lid off and didn’t leave anything back.

Ever since that first meeting. Ezzy has been blessed to have a safe place, a place, that she is asked by a trained professional, her daily dealings with CF. A relationship has began to form and a now a voice of reason and truth is able to help unpack the things she has stuffed down.

This year, watching her class go to swim lessons for two weeks about did her in. Her daily journal was filled with words about seeing their wet hair, hearing their stories of the pool or missing out on snacks that she didn’t get to eat while she was home with me.

Thanks to friends who loves at just the right time, Ezzy got to ride in the fire truck, no tagalong mom came. She was sent a care package of art/crafts and was taught how to make a blanket by a patient woman who loves her fiercely.

We talked about the hard stuff as we would drive her to school. She would tell me that it wasn’t fair, but what she finally was able to say, due to the counseling sessions, was that she doesn’t know how to handle it. How she wonders what it’s going to be like when she gets older. What other things will she miss out with her friends on.

I think when they are little the wonderings of adulthood are so heavily laced with an altered reality. Pain, hardships, never ending laundry, bills that show up monthly, hard work environments don’t enter their innocent minds. It’s all, Prince Charming or careers that are shiny and bright that take up the conversation.

When she shared with me, her new discovery of seeing the unknown to be forever impacted by CF, I realized she had lost yet another piece of childhood, that it was robbed.

I believe because of the gift this person has given us to counsel our family in their own personal time, to talk openly about faith, God, the broken world, it has given Ezzy a new perspective on what she can’t escape.

As I read her words on our thanksgiving table cloth, I realized it again, that God has protected her heart. That even when it has felt he is far away and he has not swooped down and picked her up when I thought it was the right time, he has been there laying the ground work for her.

There has been more releases of joy from her, more times in the last few months that I can remember. Like laugh out loud, no hand over the mouth or muffled giggle. It has been real and for everyone to get a ripple from.

I get little notes left for me. What seemed unrepairable, has begun to mend as we address our lids. There are more hugs given, there is a vulnerability to talk and not stuff with each other. As if we have forgotten our broken ways of not showing weakness and not letting people in.

I have seen the power in having a safe place to share your stuff and to be able to own it.

Because somehow, she has decided to own CF. Yes there still have been hard days, days where she just wants to be normal like her siblings and not have to be stuck to a machine. But those days have lessened. Instead she has put her energy into identifying that she has been given this life and she is going to find a way to not let CF ruin it.

After being denied the life changing med, her team has decided to run tests again to see if her body has healed and we can start it. We are patiently awaiting news anyway now and are hopeful that the answer will be yes. But if it’s not, we are all willing to address the lid and own our stuff through it.

Ezzy May,

Today you are 8! It’s crazy, because you have made me take mental pictures of your life and it seems impossible , because the doctors placed fear and doubt in my heart that shouldn’t have been held onto. I could be angry with them, but instead I am seeing how it has brought beauty. Because I have so many vivid memories of your childhood.

It wasn’t until you were asking your daddy last night about your birth story that I realized, 8 yrs is really long. My brain was in over drive recalling so many events. When you brought up the picture of me crying as I stood over you with all the wires, you looked me straight in the eyes. I believe you needed me to take a step of bravery and own that moment and not stuff it away and shut down. So I didn’t stuff, we talked about how scared I was. But then you quickly moved on to one of your favorite stories. The one that had the nursing staff on the Giraffe floor cheering and giving high fives over your first bowel movement.

Thank you for helping me work though my stuff. Thank you for modeling the healing that comes when we are willing to take the lid off and let the other things be addressed.

Thank you for helping me replace the sad memories with your laughter as you see them in the innocence of a child.

I pray this next year, as you are learning new tools to get you through the tough stuff that you keep your hope alive. That when the fears you have begun to dread about the unknown and what CF will do to your life, won’t define your days. Instead, that they will awaken the survival/ fighter mode that I have seen in you.

Ezzy girl, I love that you watch me. It’s not weird to me anymore, because I pray that as you see me own my junk, that you see I am unpacking it with our Heavenly Father, the wonderful counselor, and he is ready to help you too.

Ezrah May, means “a great discerning help”. I have watched you live these words this last year and am thankful that you are helping shape me into the woman/mother a God intended me to be.

Happy birthday my love, I think it’s pretty special God gave you the gift you have been asking for SNOW!

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He is for me

During a recent conversation I was asked where do I see myself in 5 yrs. It wasn’t just a simple question, it was being asked in reference to a bigger picture then I thought was on the table. The answer came quickly. Quite frankly I was shocked at my inner-self for saying what came next with such ownership as well as clarity. But after I replayed the conversation in my head (because let’s get real, that’s how I constantly operate) I knew what I had said was as true as it gets. There was no filter or preplanned response. I spoke from the heart.

Before I share what I said. I believe what took place in the waiting is what matters most in this little story.

By the way, to all of you who take the time, yes, TIME to read my ponderings. Thank you. It seems so small to write these words. For so long I wondered if blogging was really important. I journaled for me, the thought of sharing my innermost thoughts with the big wide world terrified me. “What will they think of me” or “how will this change the way they see me” or “man, she is a MESS”, taunted me more times then I want to admit. My greatest foe is my mind. Ha, there goes another rabbit trail. But seriously thank you. Your feedback, support and willingness to say “hey I see you and still like you” means a lot.

I believe I started to dream for my future the moment I realized that it wasn’t dependent on someone else. That I could pave the way and not wait around for Mr. perfect. I had planned to work in the medical field. I didn’t end up in the career I had hoped to, but still found my way, passionate as ever and willing to try to make an impact.

I had every intention to never let the 50s mentality of a “woman’s place” in the home be something I ever aspired to. Yet as I looked into the big deep black eyes of my miracle first born, I found immense grief at the thought of leaving him with someone else for 9 hours each work day. Through Gods design, I have yet to ever experience something my heart never wanted as I realized being a mom was what I was made to be. I have survived, treaded water, and yes, thrown the towel in more times then I could count. Tears, sobs, spilled milk, interrupted bathroom breaks, and nap time success being the measure of a good day has defined my identity in the work force for the last 9.75 years. I have fought resentment with my husband and his always growing PTO days or sick leave. I have envied…I am getting real with you, my friends who I run into at Safeway with their clean clothes, makeup, painted nails, holding a freshly brewed Starbucks. All while I stand there in yoga pants, a stretched out shirt, messy hair and more then one child wielding their power over me and my hopes of leaving the grocery store without being the train wreck everyone can’t take their eyes off.

When the call to ministry took place in my life. It came during a time that I couldn’t have felt more ill prepared or better yet equipped. I was 11wks away from having Kyrene. I had served in such a minimal role that I didn’t think or believe what I brought to the table could or would have an impact. I didn’t even see myself as a bandaid. I was the gauze or alcohol wipe that would only have mere seconds of use, not a chance of a few days of surviving the washing and fuzz that gathers around a few days old bandaid.

September 11,2011. I said, “here I am, God use me”.

Ever since that day I have experienced joy greater then my heart could contain and pain deeper then my heart thought it could mend. What no one wants to tell you when you are a new ministry worker is that the pain and attacks won’t come from those outside the flock, but instead those within. I faced my fair share of attacks. With that said, I absolutely had my part in them. My brokenness. My coping mechanisms or better yet my self preservation tactics kept me from truly knowing my enemy and I waged ware against humans and not against the very ruler of the dark world.

Many, many, many times I went to my mentor and said, “I don’t want this, let someone else do this”. Ken in his godly wisdom wouldn’t let me run. Run from the fear, pain and reality that if I claimed to be a child of a God that it meant that I needed to be pursuing a life of holiness, peace or love.

In the last 6 years I have witnessed restoration in ways that I never saw in my mind as I wondered what God was doing.

So flash forward to the recent conversation. Had I hoped it would take place sooner the later? Um, yes.

But it wasn’t until I filled out the application. Until my hand cramped from the 11 page document. When I pushed the packer back, with sweat dripping from my forehead and the heaviness on my heart that I realized I was not ready until that very moment. The thing that I had thought I was ready for, dreamt of, or suffered long as I awaited, was something that in my deepest need of redemptive love I would have messed up had it come on my time line.

You see, I was so wrapped up in the checklist of grace, that I convinced myself that if I faked it until I made it that eventually I would believe it. That somehow if I played the part, the hurts and memories would fade. But they never did.

As years went by. As more time was poured into the role, without earthly rewards, I found myself question my worth more and more. I needed affirmation…I needed to hear that I was important. I had in mind what it would take to make me feel valuable. Years went by, I didn’t receive what I needed. Not because I was undervalued. But because they very validation I needed, I was running to man and not God to give me.

It wasn’t until very recently that I sought out a person who had deeply wounded me. Who’s hurts against me I had carried, watered, loved, tended to. I prayed with every step as I walked towards them. The norm of running or deflecting when I saw their face was gone. Nope, not that day. I humbly approached them. Head tucked, tail between my legs. Every possible way of showing humility was given, I didn’t want even a hint of a fight to be wrongly perceived. I asked, “will you pray with me?”. That day. As two people filled with hurts to heavy to carry anymore, weights that were drug here and there, wrapped tightly around ankles and causing bleeding with each stride were broken. I prayed blessings over their life, marriage, family, their calling in the kingdom, the restoration between us that we have not seen, the power to believe that we are for each other. I released my hand off their shoulder, I looked right into their eyes, something I hadn’t done in years and thanked them.

That day I walked in the very identity that Christ came to the world to show me was and is mine.

I have allowed for far too long the grip of death that the enemy of our hearts brings as we lean on ourselves instead of going to the Wonderful Counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace brought when he entered the world.

This advent has a whole new meaning for me.

The little girl that could stare at Christmas lights as all the other lights were out, now sees the light in the darkness (Jesus), expels the shadows that have been there for too along, and leads me out of the darkness that wanted me to never seek or pursue restoration.

As the star was placed on our tree by my little caboose tonight it served as the hope of a savior that propelled wise men to pack up, journey a far distance to a lowly place. A small city that meant nothing to the world, to search for a child that the hope of the world awaited for.

Yes, for the next 20 days, I am choosing to seek and search for God in the hard stuff. But also rejoice as I see that he planned long ago for me to be victorious in things that I thought could never be redeemed.

I am excited to share with you all, that after 6 years of volunteering as the worship leader at my church. I will be staffed come January 1, 2018. I will also be managing the teaching ministry at our church and begin to preach more as it is needed. This last year of preaching and filling in has been a massive learning curve, but never more humbling and such a blessing. Feeding his sheep, those 3 words bring tears to my eyes as I embrace what I know God desired for me as he knit me in my mother’s womb. I will be working towards consecration and ordination as well, with the hope of being a licensed pastor once all my courses are completed.

Yes, as I drew my breath 33 yrs ago, God said “everyone, come and see, that’s my baby girl! Wait till you see what she does!”

She will find herself planning worship services and finding ways to usher my children into my throne room, preparing their hearts to hear my voice and trust and know I am speaking to them! She will endure, face trial after trial and she will learn where her source of hope comes from and choose to stay planted in me against it all.

I spent too long wandering, trying to find my worth and identity in things that could never fulfill. I detested and agonized over the waiting. I questioned and doubted if I really mattered. I allowed the enemy to tell me I was easily replaced and served no real purpose.

But now I see that I had to be in the waiting. I had to go through things that made me see that my hope is in Christ alone. I had to understand what crazy undeserved grace was before I could authentically give it. I couldn’t fake it till I made it.

I don’t know what season you are in, but let’s face it, if you are here on earth, you haven’t reached fulfillment, things, job promotions, money, friendships, toys, stuff never make it all ok. Am I right?

I want to encourage you this advent season to be intentional in pursuing the King. To try and find out what it means to have a Savior. He came for you, me and everyone walking and breathing on this earth. It’s crazy to think that all those years I was being pursued. Now that I see that, I am content in pursuing him. To actively see him in the mundane, the pain, the stress, the good, he is there. He has never left me.

“The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free” Luke 4:18

Merry CHRISTmas my friends 🎄

The Process

I recently shared with my church family how thanksgiving snuck up on me. It seems as though I was just walking up and down Jackson street with our youth group and kids, racking in the candy. Then all of a sudden I found myself standing in the packed lines at Safeway with a cart full of all the fixings needed for the one day you forgive yourself for consuming 4,000 calories in one sitting. I recently learned that little tidbit at our church’s outreach event. 4 k is the average amount people eat at thanksgiving, um…That alone is the reason why you find family members showing up in loose fitting pants. Me, I rocked a pair of running shorts that were well loved while growing Veil and I had absolutely no shame as I enjoyed my stuffing with a side of turkey.

Our evening was just the way it should be. I don’t get to see my sisters nearly enough. We have different schedules. We are married with husbands and kids to keep us pulled in too many directions. My mom and great grandma also join us as well and the kids take turns deciding which grandma will get the most questions or better yet be their audience of one as they tell stories or want to show their favorite things.

It’s funny how so much time, money, energy, focus and intentionality goes into just a few hours.

Even though last night was more then I could have hoped for, thanks to watching Ezzy slaughter us all in a game I thought she was too young to comprehend, I found myself wake in a funk this morning.

The high was over, the week of planning, prepping, brining a turkey, making stuffing from scratch to fill tummies that have been finding healing since the big dietary changes started a few months ago, it all was over.

A quick slice of pumpkin pie shared with bean and some black coffee fueled my mid morning run as I pondered over why I was feeling the funk.

You know what I realized?

I spend so much time in the preparation of something, trying to get to the promise of the end goal and completely disregard the PROCESS it takes to get there.

I think I do this, because most of the time the process is the hardest part to be in. It usually calls for things to be uncomfortable. It usually requires more endurance then you think possible. It usually comes at the cost of yourself, something has to give.

Running for me is Holy time. Yes, as I write that I realize how silly that sounds. But it’s true. My mind, heart, ears, and eyes are never more clear then when I am running. So when this realization hit me, I went to the Lord and said “ok, now that you showed me this, what am I suppose to do with it?”

Immediately I was brought to a photo that brought tears to my my eyes.

That photo summed up my entire year. Folks, it’s been a hard year. It’s been hard to fight exhaustion, loss of identity, and yes, frustration when it has come to marriage. My little man has faced things I know I can’t fight for him. Ezzy’s health status has had fluctuations that literally shook the foundation we stand on. Kyre has tested my limits to love when irrationality is her only language. Boo and her independent spirit has caused me to be late to many things. Veil, veil has made me see to often that I operate out of self preservation and it’s not until I hold and nurse her that I see I am not being present in the day to day stuff. Mothering has just been plain hard.

Process.

It’s in the process that I can say that even though marriage is hard. Especially when new business ventures start. Especially when dates seem to far between. Especially when I just want to be seen as his wife and nothing more. The process of marriage has been the very thing that reminds me that love is a daily choice. A choice that I can say without a sliver of doubt we will always make for each other.

The process of working through big issues with my son this last year has challenged me to be in the word and pray more fervently, but also to involve him in those things. I have also realized after watching him run the half marathon in May that I have to allow him to find ways that challenge him, even it is scary and too big for my heart.

The process of coping with a fatal chronic disease, I don’t believe will ever get easier. I believe we will have seasons of manageable and then seasons of operating on pure blind faith. The latter has been it with Ez. It’s been hard. It’s required me to say something I can’t handle “I can’t do it anymore”, more times then I want to admit. Yet it’s in the process we have found an amazing family counselor. Someone to help us work past the trauma CF has done to us all.

The process of having an irrational child has forced me to look within and see that the “stuff and stack” method I thrive on is so incredibly broken. As soon as her hurts are released and she is heard, she is better. How funny the power of being heard, brings healing.

The process of accepting leadership skills seen so clearly by her preschool teachers, reminds me that I have a little girl that is watching her momma and says “I CAN do that!” She helps me see that leaders need others who see their strength and foster it. It also means that I am careful to add extra minutes in my day, knowing little miss Me Do will need them. I have learned that by stepping aside I am empowering her to take the lead and lead others.

It’s in the process, that I tuck her close too me and stroke her head and hold her little fingers in the early mornings or before naps that I shake away the “gotta go” and instead breathe in the now. Every first is cherished, in doing so, allows me to walk down memory lane and see how far I have come in this mothering journey.

To my friends out there, rushing to the next preparation of life: CHRISTmas, job, dream, etc. I want to encourage you to not be afraid or angered at the process. The promise of things to come, most likely when they get there will be short lived and you will be looking at the next preparation of something. Isn’t that true? Very rarely to we enjoy the end goal before we start looking for the next thing.

The process this year has been hard. BUT believe or not. I am in no hurry for the promise of yet to come. The process has not only drawn me closer to God, but it has allowed me to finally break free of things that want to hold me down to the earth instead of letting me be lifted by things that only come from above. The process helped me see that the new job I will be entering into at the new year is something he created me to do so long ago. I had to go through a lot to be ready for this job.

Rest in the process. Be THANKFUL for the process.

“God is the one who began this good work in you, and I am certain that he WONT STOP before it is complete on the day that Christ Jesus returns” – Philippians 1:6

photo cred: the AMAZING stephanie brissette (my dear friend who has been documenting my life as a mom and as our family has grown for the last 3+ years)

The Shadows Can Bring Protection

“Momma, why does no one ever ask ‘where’s Kyre?’”

… (quick glance over to Richard) insert dagger straight to my heart.

“Kyre Grace, it’s because we don’t have to worry about you. You always stay close, you always know when it’s time to go. Ok baby?”

… “yeah” (turns her head to look out the window as the attended event starts to fade in the distance)


Kyrene Grace Harney is the typical middle child. She feels like she has to fight to be seen or heard. Her siblings demand and get way more attention from her parents then she does. I recently read an article on middle child syndrome:

“people tend to not notice they’re there. They end up feeling left out and forgotten. Parents tend to not notice their needs but focus on their dire emergencies only. Middle children seek love and happiness through friends and become social butterflies”


Just reading those words that describe my middle child, I felt sorrow, yet saw a strength that is being formed through the critical years of living in the shadows.
One day, I do plan to tell Kyre that she was the biggest best surprise that God had wrapped up in a bright shiny box for me. I know I won’t be afraid to tell her that I was fearful of having another sick baby and didn’t want another child to walk the hard, constantly evolving road of Cystic Fibrosis. I will see her pin point dimples in the corner of her smile as I tell her that God worked extra hard to knit her inside me as I grieved my dream of a big family, unaware of his big plan that would come when I least expected it.


Even though we found out her life would not come with the diagnosis that rattled and left her parents having to peel themselves off the floor of depression and grief each morning, nothing would prepare me for the role she would find in our family.


Mary Jaworski, who wrote Shadow Children, says:
“Parents overwhelmed by the draining daily demands of caring for a sick spouse or child unwillingly or inadvertently overlook the needs of the well children. The healthy children may end up feeling helpless, isolated and unable to cope with the anger, resentment, jealousy and fear and other powerful emotions that bubble up when a sibling, a parent or a beloved grandparent faces a life threatening disease. These are the shadow children and their numbers are growing as advancements in treatments help those with chronic and catastrophic illness live for years”

If I am honest, I fight for memories of Kyre in the tender years of infancy. The little things that I have carved space for with her siblings, seem to overwhelm the few I have of her. All I can think is that she came during such a scary time, Ezzy’s second hospitalization. Ezzy’s first lung infection. Ezzy’s second bowel obstruction. Yet I know that her little life is what kept me sane. I had little baby that only wanted me, only wanted my milk and only wanted to be held close at all times. She became the soul that would provide hours of playtime when Cayden would go to school and Ezzy had no one to play with since the school year always meant tons of colds, flu and other sicknesses. If I was too overwhelmed with therapies, cooking high fat meals, or just working through my own junk, Ezzy was there to watch all of Kyre’s firsts. Ezzy was almost 3 when Kyre was born. I watch Ya’el who is 3 now and her phenomenal memory and desires to interactively play with others, affirms that Kyre was sent to a little CF warrior that desperately needed somebody as we lived in our 4 walls, tucked away safely from the world.


With all that said, it has become a very present issue for us now as we see the years of growing up in Ezzy’s shadow is taking a toll on her. Because as time as gone on, Ezzy’s needs have become more time extensive, more detailed, more rigid. It never fails that when Kyre is in need, it is right in the middle of an important therapy or day to day battle of CF.

Having two little sisters has caused the feelings of neglect to well up and erupt at the most inopportune times as well.

Whether she looks ahead or behind, there are others fighting for the space that she has already given up on.

It was Kyre who said “I don’t know” after we asked her how she felt about Veil growing in my tummy. Kyrene had never been shy to show or say her true feelings.

After spending too many nights laying in bed worrying or early morning nursing sessions mulling over her. I recently had some time to see a very tender side of her that I believe is forming because of her life.


Our 14 yr old dog Lily, just passed away. It wasn’t sudden, yet it wasn’t immediately expected. We had honestly been praying a solution would happen for awhile. Her quality of life had gone down and high demands of her care was too much for a family of 7, who already have detailed care plans for a human. When both Richard and I woke and spoke over coffee and shared what had come to us in the morning hours, we knew her time was coming. We did our best to set aside time to show our children how we handle the looming possibility of loss. It meant more work to our week then we needed with the never ending stressors, but this dog was the first living creature we cared for in the early years of our relationship. It wasn’t Cayden who helped the most (the kid that teared up when we weren’t sure she would survive her bear attack this summer) instead it was Kyre Grace that provided a level of hospice care for our dying dog.

Kyre would be found right along side Daddy as they bathed Lily everyday, trying to keep the skin rot smell to a level I could handle. It would be Kyre that would dry her off, get a snack and rub her head when she would come home from school.

Maybe it’s because Kyre knows how it feels to be in need of love when it seems like there isn’t enough to share.


She recently told me that when they go to the library at school that she always gets books on animals while everyone else gets books on people. She rolled her eyes the other day when she told me a joint teacher that shares all the Harney kids, calls Kyre “Ezzy” all the time and she has to correct the teacher.


This year was her turn for a big party. We alternate every other year on a family or big party. So that way we don’t have 5 big parties a year. Richard and I had shared we were excited to see her in the setting of her friends. Not the tag along friends. Meaning the friends she gets to tag along with when they are playing with her siblings. These kids were HER friends. Each invited by her. Yes every single invite had a clause “if you are sick (cough/runny nose we ask you don’t attend). People said, we didn’t tell the kids we were coming until the drive here (because they were holding off, making sure their family was healthy and could help protect Ezzy).

A week out from the party she began the countdown on her own. She couldn’t sleep for several nights in a row, because the anticipation about something being about her was too much for her little soul to contain.

Today I watched my little girl float around the room from friend to friend. Hugs, laughter, dimple laced smile permanently engraved on her face was all that I could see. People had showed up for her, not anyone else.

It was today that I was shown that God has created Kyrene Grace to not be afraid of the shadow. Because it’s in the shadow that she will find others that need her strength and light. She will be able to comfort, offer love and friendship to those who feel forgotten or unloved. It’s in the shadow she takes in the whole picture. She watches, listens and sees there is more to every story. She recently told us verbatim what I had said to Richard when we thought she was eating breakfast, unaware of the conversation I was trying to say with hushed tones.

This intro to another article I found sums up Gracie:
“Children who have siblings with chronic illnesses or disabilities often find their lives are constantly interrupted by medical emergencies that trump regular kid cares like birthday parties and soccer games. These children learn at an early age to put another person’s needs first and are often better adjusted in the long run” (Siblings of Sick Children, Learn a Life Lesson Early. NPR 2010)

I know the design of our family is orchestrated by the one who has written Kyrene’s story. I also now, through the trials I have faced, he has always been faithful to bring me out of them alive and better for it. He will do the same for her.


God is up to something mighty in my child that at times does not feel like she is seen. He whispers to her, in her moments of sadness and heals what only he can, because I have seen her love and care for others when most wouldn’t.


Kyrene Grace, you are 6 yrs old today and even if it feels like the shadow seems too big, I pray that you will see that shadow is a protection God has given you and trusts that you will continue to have a responsive heart and eyes to those who need a tender soul.


Happy birthday my best biggest surprise

Fix Our Gaze

I have wanted to write this blog for awhile. But life, you know? I know that most of the mommy friends I spoke to this last month, we all shared the same sentiment. Going back to the school routine and schedule takes so much stinking time to adjust to. Not only was I facing a new routine that was against our whole summer motto of “we will get to that eventually”, but I also was asked to preach, which meant that I would be giving up my fringe hours to prepare, listen, and deliver a word for my church family. To top it off, the back to school crud came pounding on our family’s door, which took more out of us then I anticipated it would. Now that I survived yesterday and did what the Lord asked me to do, I am now free to write this fun memory ❤️ 

When our friends asked if we wanted to join them on a camping trip, we immediately said yes. We were broken in on our Memorial Day camping trip and felt like we were bordering veterans after 5 days at Orton Ranch in July. But when the realization of what the YES would entail, my anxious, overly cautious soul found itself in knots.

 

I did a good job holding it together and not letting Richard or the kids pick up on the fact I had a little person jumping to and fro in my head screaming all the “what ifs…” or better yet “you willingly signed up your family to go through Clarence straight?!?” Or “what are you thinking?”

 

After pushing the little person in a dark closet in my mind, I did my best to move on.

 

So we began to pack our things. Laughing as the pile got bigger and bigger. I even sent a text to my friend saying, “um, I promise, I did leave the kitchen sink behind”.

 

As departure day got closer, the weather forecast was not in our favor. We couldn’t leave a day earlier due to Richard’s work schedule. Both families hoped and prayed the weather would lighten so we could get there safely. The night before I yet again texted our friends and asked “how hard core are you guys?”. My true colors were showing, but I was getting nervous people, there were white caps all over the seas 😳.

 

We woke to the sound of rain beating on our roof and windows. You could hear and feel the gusts of wind as they came with no break. The men loaded the boat up that would carry 12 people to their much anticipated destination. When Richard walked back into the house, not a single thing on him was dry. He even got soaked in the monsoon while wearing heavy duty rain gear.

 

I sent a text to my mom and our bonus parents, asking for prayer. We loaded up and placed our faith in God, but also in the fact that our boat captain, my friend’s husband is an experienced boat captain and diver, Clarence straight was not foreign territory to him, he had been in seas, much bigger then 5 ft, which is what we were going to face.

 

The boat ride…well…

 

Puke ✔️

Sea sickness meds ✔️

5ft seas ✔️

Stressed out sarah ✔️

 

The rational side of me was fighting with all its’ might to chill out. But let me tell you, it had a mighty opponent to face. At one point the boat captain mentioned my white knuckles that hadn’t let go of the metal railing since the first roll was hit. It was clear that I was not enjoying the lovely southeast fall storm.

 

Then as I started to breathe, as I fought to keep my stomach from joining the other stomach that was now in the A&P fried chicken container, I began to do what I always do when I am stressed. I started to sing.

 

“You walk on waves, you run with clouds, you paint the sky for me to see, your majesty, your majesty is why I sing”🎶

 

It’s funny how I could have solved the problem 45 mins earlier if I had had my heart in the right posture to acknowledge that the maker of the waves was in control and that he loves me more then the waves crashing, I could have handle those seas so much better.

 

We arrived to a quiet little cove and saw our cabin that would be our home for the next few days.  Kids had boots on in no time to board the skiff that would get us to dry steady land, but it was the mommas that made sure we were on the first trip over. Little babies that needed to be fed had put their requests in.

 

We were completely blown away with the cabin. Full kitchen with real counter tops and running water, a couch by the wood stove and big windows to sit and look at the beauty our Heavenly Father created.

 

The kids were let loose to explore their new surroundings and we began to unpack our gear and set thing up while the men ferried it to us from the big boat.

Our first night we dined on halibut and did our best to dry out after getting soaked from earlier in the day. The rain didn’t stop the kids from exploring and there were wet clothes, muddy boots and countless layers that would need to hang dry all night.

 

The kids were all piled in one room together which meant that bedtime was a figurative time frame and it came with lots of laughs, giggles, songs and flashlights going every direction.  

 

Thankful our sweet little babies slept through the nighttime shenanigans and let the adults stay up and share stories, views on the current world issues and the heart/mission of the church.

 

I have found as social media has become a bigger giant then I think people realized it would in the last 10 yrs, forming and building relationships can be really hard. People can save the “best” of them to only show the world and edit and delete the heck out of anything. True, transparent, open dialogue is hard to find. Add being a parent to more the one child makes it even harder with the need to keep countless appointments in check. Then add a kid with a fatal disease to the mix and it is SO hard.

 

We had prayed and prayed as a family, that if the lord intended to give us rest from the hustle and bustle he would protect Ezzy and the other kids from colds and we would be able to go with everyone being healthy.

 

The morning light came way too soon for parents that stayed up like they were young 20 somethings and didn’t have a care in the world. Thankfully our friends had coffee perking as soon as little feet hitting the ground was heard. After a big breakfast we ventured out on a hike with the kids.

 

Did we hope to see deer?

 

Um, yes.  

 

Did we expect 8 kids under 9 to be quiet in the woods?

 

Um, no.

 

But I will tell you, it was fun listening to the conversations going on. To listen to the questions that would pop into inquisitive minds. To hear how the kids would answer each other’s questions. Relationships were forming. Even with the purest little souls.

 

We stumbled on a baby fawn and got exited and hoped that a daddy might be around later.

 

We didn’t see anything, most likely because we had scared anything with working innate self preservation away.  

 

But after 4 miles we had worn out tired kids that had brought the level of crazy to a manageable level.

 

I had a chance to sit and talk with my friend as the kids played in the break from the rain while the hubbies set the skate. Honesty was delivered. On both ends. My love language: quality time, was met in abundance with her that afternoon. I never ever intend to come off intimating, yet I get labeled that a lot. But praise Jesus, he brought her to me, because as we walked through, talked through some of my giants, she gave me solid Kingdom principles, not easy to hear, but spoken in truth and love.

 

When the men had developed a plan to go hunting early in the morning we were given a brief gun lesson. Neither of us had loaded and shot a gun in a long time. If we were going to be left on our own with little kids that embraced the freedom of camping life and had shown a tendency to go farther then yelling distance we needed to be equipped.

 

The second night came quickly and was met with tired kids that had found their sleeping bags calling them sooner then the night before. We were blessed with another night of conversation and laughter and even more assurance that our friendship would not be brief.

 

The next morning while the men were out hunting, we fed hungry tired bellies and prayed that we would have fresh meat to eat in the evening. The kids enjoyed their pancakes that were made with the benefits of their labor from picking the afternoon before.  

 

Our quiet afternoon of card playing, being slaughtered at go fish came to an end when a bear cub was sighted and no momma bear to be seen. And you had better believe that of course kids were much farther then we had wanted. We managed to get them safely inside the cabin and felt comfortable enough to put away the gun.  

 

Nika, the most efficient guard dog refused to stay inside with us and sat out on the porch watching and guarding her family.

 

The kids went to bed in record time that night. We were all tired and feeling the effect of the long days of “relaxing”. Plus, feeding them marshmellows with a required promise of going to bed without resistance helped. We ended our last night staying up again, forcing an escort to beam a big light on us yet another night as the moms escaped to the outhouse, and went to bed with light hearts that had been heard.

 

We worked hard to pack up our gear and get the cabin put back together, it was our goal to leave it cleaner then what was left for us. We all found our roles easily and laughed at how we got the whole “commune” mentality. The kids enjoyed the low tide and explored all the way up until it was time to say good bye to our temporary home. (Even boo bear had to help haul gear 😉)

 

We weren’t ready to go back to the demands of life. Even though we were tired and wanted the comforts of our own homes, beds that didn’t squeak with each deep breath taken or the bugs that taunted poop covered hands to be swatted at on top of a head 💩🤢 or being eaten alive each time we stepped outside, we had all enjoyed this getaway.

 

Our souls need it, I didn’t have the forethought to know that this trip would be as meaningful to each of us, including Ezzy as much as it was.  

 

When we got home we asked each kid to tell us what was their favorite part of the trip was.

 

Cayden: the hunt with Adam and daddy

 

Ezzy: getting to sleep with everyone in the same room

 

Kyre: ALL of it

 

This trip was possible because of a dream a little man made. Because of a big goal that he dared to set and better yet accomplish. Each therapy session was done thanks to the generator. It even allowed for a mom to pump and get some relief. Because of Cayden’s heart,  Ezzy got to experience something so little, yet so huge in her life: a sleep over 3x.

 

After our recent trip to Seattle and the news of her lung function dropping, warranting the need to start a drug that when we first heard about it, her team said she wasn’t in need of. Her lung function has always been above normal, so much that when she started to do lung function tests, they didn’t have other 5 year olds to compare data with, because most kids that age can’t mentally and physically do them properly. But Ezzy hit them out of the park each time. This has allowed them to monitor her lung health more closely over the last 3 years.

 

So when a dip showed up along with a lung infection that wasn’t responding to antibiotics, our doctors came with the heavy news of her now being a prime candidate for the astronomically priced medicine. After years of being told she was above the norm, we had to hear from the doctor who has cared for her the last 7 years that she was finally in a normal range, which to be honest we don’t ever want her to be described as a normal CFer, we want her to not be the norm.

 

Armed with the information on the possible side effects of the medicine: tightness of the chest, cataracts, and liver enzyme elevation, we still left with peace.  

 

Peace, true peace, peace that rushes in when the weight of the world, its present troubles are piled high, when the peace of the Lord pours over you, you can’t help but breathe a sigh of relief.

 

The side effects, the high cost of meds ($300k a year), the decline in lung function, the realization that Ezzy will at times not get better despite the countless hours we dedicate to extra therapy sessions, time spent on high calorie meals, prayer, exhaustion from doing things on our own strength, the unending emotional battle a caregiver gives as they watch their loved family fight. All of those things don’t stand a chance against the very fact that Ezzy is and will always be God’s child, not mine. We have to actively choose to believe and trust he is always going before her.

 

There is going to come a time when I need to remind Ezzy in the midst of her tears about life being unfair of the time we all piled in a boat and watched ice age on repeat and tried to keep our food in our stomachs or watching Moana every therapy session


with everyone huddled around her and mommy’s iPad or cornering the gentle giant Adam and talking his ear off when he finally found a moment of quiet or the time when Autumn showed no mercy at go fish or the sweet baby Grayson who saved all his best smiles for her, every time she asked to hold him.

 

Thankful God is faithful to fix our eyes on the people he brings into our lives to help lessen the weight Cystic Fibrosis can bring to our family and their hearts to provide opportunities for us to make special memories with our warrior.

 

“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed everyday. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever. So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather; we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever” – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

 

 

 

Baby bean is 1

I just ran into my former OBGYN today. I was unloading the clown car, you know, the one that is really small, yet there is a continual flow of bodies exiting it at a rapid pace. 

“Well, hey there, look at that crew”

 

A quick turn revealed the identity of their voice, while I kept my hand on the door ensuring the poor person who was parked next to us would not have a permanent mark from a Harney child. I soon saw a gentle kind face that I deeply admire and am thankful to consider not just the person who helped deliver 2 of my babies, but actually a friend.

 

He walked right up to her, she gave him her gentle tender quiet smile.

 

“Can you believe tomorrow will be a year?”

 

“What? It’s crazy”

 

This seems to be the best way for me to describe how I feel about this little soul.

 

It’s when I pull out the next size of baby clothes and recall the times her older sisters wore them that I remember there was not suppose to be another bonus harney baby. Those clothes were suppose to be boxed up and headed off to good will. Actually truth be told, when we moved and bought our house there were a whole bunch of baby clothes that were suppose to be sorted through. Our move became a mad dash to the finish line which meant quite a few things that were stored in storage never got looked at before moving. It wasn’t until we started going through things during the winter months would we find out there was a baby bean growing inside.

 

Veil Eden Harney, baby bean, Veil-z (brother’s favorite nickname) is so precious. Actually we say all day long, “she is just SO sweet”

 

After raising 4 other babies before Veil, each with their own personalities, commonalities easy to see, differences apparent, we can honestly say, she is just the sweetest soul.

 

Over this last year, Veil has easily woven herself into our family and no body felt displaced by her presence. I believe God knew what a busy family with 4 kids under 8 could handle when he began to knit her inside my womb. I ran out of time in my days during her pregnancy and realized it wasn’t until bedtime that I thought about her or did a kick count. I would worry and fear, “if I am just now thinking of her at 10 pm, what am I going to do when she is here?”. I knew I was already stretched to what seemed to be my limit.

 

The gentle tender spirit God has placed inside of Veil is one that has been the biggest answer to my former worries.

 

Veil has a soft little voice, she will pull her binky out and look you in the eyes and say what is on her mind. Not loud, not husky like Yaels voice was as a baby. Just soft and sweet. When Veil wakes in the mornings, she will wrap her arms tight around your neck and press her body into you as if there is too much space separating you. She will sigh and will make time stand still. She is the very response a soul, toiling on this earth hopes to receive from another living soul.

 

Veil loves to explore and the running joke is “where is Veil? Finding trouble again?” She is inquisitive. I have watched her just sit and watch something, the wheels in her brain fast at work. She will hold, turn, look at something for long periods of time, unlike an older brother, who would pick something up as a baby and immediately assess its weaponry ability. Richard and I love watching her experience new things.

 

Veil is patient, never demanding something right away. She will give a hint she is in need of your assistance, but she will look at you and give you a look as if she is trying to say “it’s ok, I know you are busy, so I can wait, but please don’t take too long”. She can easily entertain herself as she waits. Unlike Kyre who had the same sense to be patient, but would lock her eyes on me, watching and waiting for me to fulfill her request. Actually Kyre still does this…

 

In the last few months Veil entered the big leagues and decided food was worth giving a 10th try. She loves to eat and be a part of family meals. My gestational diabetes diet I had with her has paid off and the things she loves most is lean protein, beans, veggies and fruit. She is by far the best eater I have ever had and will even sigh in contentment when she thoroughly enjoys a meal.  

 

One thing that has eased guilt over Ezzy’s hard start in life was met with Veil’s easy going nature for her middle of the night feedings. I blamed myself that Ezzy wasn’t a cuddler, that she could nurse and be so easily put down, no longing for her parents arms, it was as if she didn’t need me. Silly I know, but I chalked it up to the fact she was held so little the first month of her life due to being in the NICU, recovering from surgery with a whole bunch of intimidating wires connected to her tiny body. Veil reminds me of Ezzy, she wakes, no frantic cries, just a simple “momma” and is easily nursed to sleep and snuggle into her bed as soon as her tummy is full. We are so blessed she is a great sleeper.

 

I am still her favorite person. She will tuck into me, pulling all extremities close into her body to inhibit hands pulling her out of her favorite place. I love the way she plays with my hair during our quiet moments while she nurses. More so, I am so thankful a friend told me that she rocked her babies to sleep every nap and feeding. I had become the “veteran expert” that didn’t think she needed to learn anything knew. That was until I realized how amazing it is to rock a baby to sleep, cradled safely in my arms. I have whispered songs to my king Jesus with her, I have kissed heavy eyes, I have rubbed little feet and a back, I have been present in the fringe hours. Why do I call them fringe hours? Because the 4 other Harney kids were not rocked to sleep, we had mastered sleep training and I refuse to say it was wrong, because there are so many ways to do things, but I needed those fringe hours, the extra moments to get something else done in a jam packed day, but what I have with Veil has been so precious.  

 

I have successful cloth diapered her this last year and stuffing diapers becomes a family thing. Never would have thought this would be part of my mothering story, but when I quickly did the math, it turned out to be a blessing financially for us. Thanks to a thoughtful friend who gifted us her stash!

 

So many things I thought I knew about parenting have changed with Veil.  

 

My inherent need to be on time, have everything in order has morphed into a more realistic expectation. Why I thought I had to be 5 mins early everywhere I went, have each child dressed to my standards and everyone emotionally in-check is just plain crazy.

 

I am rarely ever on time now, my car has layers of life on the floors. My kitchen table and chairs, cleaned a minimum of 3x a day, still have a base layer of goo…gross…but I am getting real with you. I laugh at the fact that 70 % of the pictures I take have a basket or two of laundry in them…laundry day no longer exists. I can’t remember the last time I cleaned my windows, no dead bird clean up happens on the Harney property. It never fails in the early morning when I am trying to sneak off for my me time in the form of a run, that I manage to stick my hand or drag my sports bra through partially dried toothpaste from the night before on the bathroom sink. My walls that have permanent marker, yes that, fuzz stuck on the goo left over from a massive squirt of medicine Ya’el sprayed across the living room and even egg people drawings from kyre’s expressive stage. The floors that once were pridefully noted to be clean enough to eat off, no longer stand a chance to be in that category anymore.

 

The birth of our number 5 didn’t break me.  

 

The birth of our number 5 didn’t make me lower my standards.

 

The birth of our number 5 reset me, she has helped me set my eyes on things above, not on things on this earth that store moths and rot. Instead the birth of Veil Eden has caused this rigid soul to slow down, to let things go, so more important things, matters of little hearts are attended to before the OCD monster gets in its way. Veil Eden has given us all a pass on being caught up in the world’s constant demand to stay busy and instead choose to be present and put family first.

 

Veil Eden, I thank the Lord every time I kiss your little toes that have mastered walking. I dream of the woman of God you will become as I experience you dance and clap your hands to worship music. I look forward to retreats you and I will keep taking when our loud family members consume all the space and air in the house, leaving no room for our quiet souls. I appreciate your playful spirit that already knows when the right time is to ease the current setting, may you always seek to bring joy with you wherever you go.

 

Happy 1st birthday baby bean

 

A touch of Eden 

I can’t help but write about the experience I just had over the last 5 days. Partly because I love writing things down and making sure they are stored safely so we don’t forget the memories we are making. Partly because I need to share what the Lord is teaching me, many times through my slow surrender to his work that can be painful at times. 

When I first heard the announcement at church there was a need for volunteers to step up for our church’s kids’ camp, I didn’t even give it a second thought. In one ear and out the other. There is no way I would sign myself up to go and live in the outdoors that would make me give up the one luxury in the world that I rely on to make me feel like a human being. A hot shower for me is never long enough, there always seems to be an intruder who invades my 7 minutes of me time, yet I still know how it seems to reset me as I wash away the day. A hot shower would be something I had to forsake and find a way to still be nice to people.

 

After another announcement was made about needing volunteers, I found myself being approached by my husband on the drive home from church. He said there were 2 positions we could fill that were still in great need. I heard all the things high on my list screaming in my head, fighting their way from my head to my mouth, trying to be the first one in line to be heard. Before I could say anything, my husband said “and Ezzy could go and be a camper, actually we all can go AS A FAMILY”.

 

Thankfully after years of being my best friend, sounding board, husband and the person who knows me better then myself at times, was ready for the silence that would come from the bomb that was dropped on this control freak, introvert, rigid soul.

 

Yes, the fears and doubts haunted me after I started to work through whether or not we could pull this off. The realization that the list of needs Ezzy would have could be my out, were soon squashed as we were affirmed countless times that whatever she needed, it would be taken care of. The generator Cayden raised money for would be the solution to one of the hardest scenarios. Her treatments would continue, nothing would stop her from her hours of therapy that needed to be done each day in the great outdoors.

 

Surrender.

 

The tug and pull, the dance that I seem to do with the Lord more times then I should, resulted in the very heart position the Lord wanted me in.

 

I said “YES”. Surprisingly was met with peace and we began to plan for this big adventure we would be taking.

 

A few days before leaving, we were presented with information that wanted to rob us of our peace, we sat in our living room after putting the kids down and asked each other “are we being careless? What if Ezzy gets really sick? What if she has a freak breathing attack? What if the baby chokes on something and we can’t get to the hospital, what if…what if…what if?”. We sat in silence. We turned on the Office and tried to drown out the ploys of the enemy. I prayed, talked with the Lord and heard him speak so clearly. I shared with Richard what the Lord said and we agreed. He had given us peace when we said yes and it is the enemy’s desire to stop us from following the plans the Lord makes for us.

 

After successfully packing 7 people for 5 days off the grid, I relented to the final pieces of me that couldn’t handle the unknown.  

 

At the leading of my husband I went for a quick run, well long run and ended with the most amazing experience. Those deer were fast yet so friendly!

 

We were tasked with leading 11 kids and 2 babies that had to be worn on a 2 mile hike to our destination after our 45 minute boat ride. The terrain was not little kid friendly, it was not for the occasional walker. It required determination and also the ability to distract and encourage 11 kids under the age of 10 to want to keep walking and stop asking “are we there yet?”. Even though we had a scary incident happen just minutes from the camp grounds, we pulled ourselves together and tried our hardest to not get discouraged. We were all alive, the injury turned out to not be serious and the momma bear and her cups that had just been seen at the trail head a few minutes earlier did not cross our path, thank God.

 

When we saw where we would call home for the next 5 days, Cayden said “oh mom, I think this is what the Garden of Eden looks like!” It was the greenest lawn, adorned with some cabins and a beautiful flowing river full of salmon and seals. I will admit, my breath stalled and I found myself wanting to run and join all the laughter that was heard from the trail. We were the last group to hike in and the others had all been able to explore the grounds. (If you ask me Ezzy’s drawing depicts the beauty of this place perfectly)

 

I set up myself and the girls in the cooks’ quarters and sighed as it began to sink in this would be home, away from Richard, away from a fan and black out curtains, away from my comforts.  

 

Thankfully after dinner and a chance to tune my ukulele I found the gathering hall to myself and a few others getting ready for the first group session. I asked the Lord what to do and he told me what to sing. After welcoming the Holy Spirit in song, I knew why the Lord had asked me there. Then began my job of always resetting and getting the gathering hall ready for the gospel message to be presented to the kids. As soon as the meals ended I would grab my uke and have a mini worship service while people prepped for the next activity. I was blessed by other souls who needed the time of worship before going and serving young souls. We all felt lighter after we sang from our hearts.

 

Our mornings started early thanks to my little girls who didn’t know what to do with the daylight and silence. I found there was a benefit to having the early wake up call because it let me get them ready and myself before leading worship for our early morning staff meetings.

 


Richard and I, the two people who can’t seem to handle receiving help, soon found ourselves slowly release our pride and hand over Veil or Ya’el in moments we were needing to fulfill the roles we came out to do. Funny how the burden we saw in our pre conceived notions were squashed in the joy that was met as people got to receive the most tender genuine hugs from two little girls who were loving all the extra attention.

 

We managed to figure out the best times to fit in Ezzys therapy sessions. She may have had to skip nap time or get up earlier then her bunk mates, but she was able to keep up with her treatments. The first day we didn’t plan right and the Lord went ahead and planted empathy upon her friends, who gave up campfire/free time to be with her.

 

Richard was a able to have some powerful moments with his team of campers, he was challenged, he was inspired, and we was living out his calling with abandon as he helped lead children to the Lord or to a deep walk. He was given the nickname Mr. Steele from the campers and campers from other groups waited patiently for him to assign them their own nicknames. He was even blessed to have a friend be his co leader, which allowed him to relieve me from time to time so that my back could have a break from wearing a baby that just wanted to crawl on the nasty floor.

 

I was blessed with an evening kayak adventure with some amazing strong ladies and we met five seals that followed us around and poked their heads up to check us out. There was a moment when we were all silent and you could hear the birds calling, the water running through the forest, the seals breathing on the water and the wind moving through the trees. It was unreal. It spoke volumes over my soul that was overstimulated with 51 kids and it rebooted me to keep going and gave me extra energy to keep pursuing connection with these kids.

 

The 2nd to the last day, we watched our kids enter into the waters of baptism and I think Cayden’s words summed it up. I worried if he understood the magnitude of the decision to get baptized. I wasn’t sure if it was the right time to let him do this. Ezzy, in an intense conversation led me to believe she was ready. With tears streaming down her face she said “I am a sinner, I need to be baptized and for Jesus to wash them away”. I don’t know why I struggled with their choice, but as the tears fell from my face and a few others around me, I knew why God had called our family to Orton Ranch.

 


My feelings of inadequacy and an imagined view that I had to fill shoes bigger then mine, left me fearful and timid at times. Yet on the hike designed to help us hear the voice of the Lord, I heard the lord sing over my soul “called, you have been called here”. I won’t forget what I saw, but it was delivered straight to me in the moment I needed it the most.

 

Watching the kids worship during each service, singing their hearts out, asking me to sing certain songs and even letting me explain what the lyrics meant, which resulted in one little girl telling me “I want Jesus in my heart”, renewed my soul. It reminded me of those adults who took their time to pour into little souls, including me so long ago, that could handle the gospel message and not fight it with the adult mindset that struggles with matters that call for faith.

 

I got to hear stories of kids accepting the salvation message and asking the Lord in their hearts, I saw tears fall from counselors faces as they shared how hurt, tough, broken kids were showing signs of the impact they were making in their lives.

 

The mouse and bat incident might have sent me packing the first night, the stench that grew with each day as 75 people didn’t shower, the long days and short nights, the layers of bug dope, the bear warning bell, the weak coffee and damp air that left clothing I had never worn outside, wet. ALL of that can’t steal from my heart what happened at Orton Ranch.

 

It really was a glimpse of Eden.

 

I built relationships with people that I will never be able to say it wasn’t worth it.

 

If you could pray for Ezzy who has a cold, we would gladly accept it. We are trusting our father is in control, he doesn’t leave things unturned and he is holding her tightly in his hands. But it never hurts to pray.

 

If you could also pray for wisdom and discernment for Richard and I as we act on something we feel the Lord tugging on our hearts.

 

Love to you all who took time to read this