Undeserved Grace

Kyrene Grace Harney

How are you a decade old? I have been thinking about your scrunched-up little face and you walking around with your piglet from Disneyland as a barely 2 yr old.

You were so quiet. You just wanted me, close by you at all times. I remember having to peel you off me to go to Naani and daddy.

I remember when I would look in your eyes there was always more behind what everyone saw. The wheels are always turning, you are fully aware of your surroundings and can interject an opinion to something when we all think that you are not paying attention.

I have become more aware of your desire to be heard, but only when you have a parent during a random one on one time. I can’t believe how many words you can fit in one breath. I realized it when I came home from quarantining from Covid…the silence that I had come to know in isolation was inundated by all the things you had been thinking in your 2 days of quarantine. When I would come to check on you in the hotel with Daddy while you were both isolated, I saw the crazed look in your father’s eyes…relief that there was another adult to listen to you.

Often, I don’t find you running the conversations in groups, you don’t have a lot of opinions, you listen, watch and process and usually don’t share unless you are asked.   I need to get better at that since the louder siblings tend to run the show in decision making time.

I was so blessed to experience a dream coming true on our recent Hawaiian vacation with you. Your love of horses since your early years has not waned. Look at the pure joy on your face, I almost tear up every time I look at this picture.

In fact, you have plans on being a horseback riding tour guide one day. When we presented you and your siblings with any special event in Hawaii, you picked horseback riding. I was so excited to experience this with you. It had been 20 yrs since I had ridden a horse. You were beaming on the drive there, anxiously holding your hands together, looking out the window for a glimpse of your dreamed destination.

When it came time to meet your horse for the day, I about gasped. He was the largest in the group, but they promised the gentlest one. I saw the hesitation come for a brief moment, your eyes widen as you stood on the step, holding your breath and then bravely climbing on top.

When you turned to look at me and our eyes met…that was when I decided that moment will forever be seared in my mind.

You took control of your horse and let him know you were not afraid…I wish I had your bravery. I fought my own set of fears as I realized I was at the complete mercy of an animal and no longer in control. You were so relaxed throughout the entire trail and beach ride. You led the pack and had a smile that never erased in the 2.5 hours.

I was so amazed with your confidence and ease. This massive horse named Leonard did not intimidate this tiny 9 yr old. Instead, he helped me see you in a new light my girl.

Kyrene Grace, I love your quiet confidence. You have excelled in so many things, but people have never said that you walk around like you know it. Sure, you joke with trusted people, but you encourage your team, you carry them, you don’t know that you are the best on the field. Your ability to read living creatures amazes me. I know when I am being read…sometimes I will tuck away so you don’t have to peer into my soul when I am needing a moment to figure myself out.

Animals run to you and yes sometimes run away when their love cups are overflowing and you still want to pour into them. When we had the sudden loss of Candy, your little heart was the one we were most concerned about. Not only do you feel deeply, but you love God’s creatures more than most people do. There is no living thing that you don’t care for…really, I remember having to explain to you that our chickens did not want or need hugs from you or talk you out of thinking you could have a sleepover in their coup with them.

On our last day in Hawaii God again invited me to look at you and your growing grace.

We visited a new beach while we all prepared ourselves for re-entry back to the real world. While the surfers caught some waves, you Kyre gathered the stray dogs on the beach. They tucked their heads under your hands, they wagged their tails…they knew there was no fear to be had with you, instead just love

That’s you Kyre, you love the lost, you are patient to the kids at school that need extra grace. You never leave a kid out, you are an includer…in fact it is upsetting to you when someone is left out

Your gentleness is becoming more apparent to me. The softness of your heart at times can be a little much for your “suck it up buttercup” momma…but then why else would God have given you to me Gracie? Because my hard heart that formed after Ezzy and her diagnosis, needed a quiet gentle soul to chip it away.

When we walked back to the house, heads kind of dropped as we all prepared to say goodbye to paradise, you came running to us to show us the baby geicko that you not only saw but was able to catch. Even your brother asked how you not only saw it but caught it. Awesome, not only do you have robot ears, but laser vision…

I am so thankful that God is faithful to bring us Grace, especially when we don’t deserve it.

I am so thankful that God entrusted your soul to us, quiet yet loud at times, competitor yet patient teammate, serious yet goofy at just the right moments and gentle yet stronger than you realize.

Kyrene Grace Harney, you are 10 yrs old today

Can’t wait to show you your surprise after school today

Love you Gracie

OUR GOODBYE

“Daddy will I get over this?”

Her words…things that she is having to process at such a young age.  I look up from my ipad to wait and see what he will say.  Knowing that every interaction we have with them during this time will shape how they grieve now and as well as adults.

“You will…it will get easier”

“my eyes can’t cry anymore”

I look her in the eyes and tell her “mine too…” and yet there they are again, running down my face

You are never prepared for loss.  It comes in moments that leave you questioning if it really happened.  You look around at your surroundings and take inventory…nope, it wasn’t a dream.  The waves of sadness come as the pull of anger brings them back out to sea.  The “what if’s”, the dreadful “should have’s”, they have way too much space in your heart and mind.

Yesterday our family had to say good bye to Candy, Ezzy’s therapy dog.

I wondered if I should keep this close, that it wouldn’t really matter to share. Yet I was reminded when we asked people to love and support Ezzy and raise funds to get Candy, all the funds were raised in 2 days and we had to shut down the Go-Fund me page well before we thought we would. So, I share this because many of you shared generously with us. You helped us get the sweetest little pup that fit in my hand when she was a baby.

Friday night I received a text message no parent wants to receive. I was in an important meeting. I immediately called Richard. The news came and I was left in complete shock.

Ezzy, our little warrior who has seen the fragility of life was faced with the unimaginable. Her therapy dog was run over by a car and left in the street with no one to help. The person didn’t stop…we were later told you could hear her dog yelping the next street over…Ezzy had to pick up her hurt dog and was bit 3x times due to the dog being in shock. Her bravery to think quickly and get help still amazes me. She arrived at the vet barefoot and wouldn’t leave her side until they told us, we would have to wait and see what would happen.

We prayed and asked God to help us. We waited. We held her as she sobbed in our arms.

A shattered pelvis, meant surgery…but surgery only done by a grade A orthopedic surgeon and off island, IF they felt they could even do it. Candy was sedated and couldn’t walk, bruises were already forming.

Yesterday we received the call…there was no fixing Candy

I had heard God prepare me on Sunday…she wasn’t going to make it. I went for a hike with our other dog yesterday morning and processed with God. “How do I help them grieve?”. I am fully aware of my brokenness and how I cope…which is not healthy. Isolation and shutting down is not healthy. I wanted to protect them and their little hearts. But God told me “Stop asking them to grieve how you do, you need to help them learn a new way”.

I took them to the beach to squeeze in some distraction, but ended up sitting at the beach crying with them all as we wrestled with the probability that the vet couldn’t fix Candy. I let them ask questions. I let them see me cry. I let them in. I went against the fibers of my brokenness. I saw these moments as sacred. Moments that were and are shaping their soulds.

The call came…its was time to say goodbye… I packed up the kids and headed home.

The vet gave Candy a dose of pain meds and Richard picked her up to bring her home to say goodbye to the kids.

There is nothing more heartbreaking then listening to your children say goodbye to a loved family member. “I am sorry” was uttered more than I want to hear again. “I am going to miss you” … “I love you Candy” …

I sat by them, I didn’t go and tuck away like I wanted too. Pain, my number one thing I run from. But instead, I listened to their hearts. We painted her toe nails and everyone held her one last time.

We placed her under her tree for one final picture…the place that would be her final resting place.

Richard and I held her in our arms and prayed over her and thanked God for the gift she was to our family. She brought so much joy and comfort to Ezzy throughout the last 6 years. I never knew that a family pet could be such a vital part of our story.

As her body was placed in the ground. Each Harney said what they would miss as they put the freshly dug dirt on the box.

The prancing of her little nails on our hardwood floor that Daddy would miss

Late night snuggles on the couch with mamma

hikes with brother

vest time with Ezzy

sock game with Kyre

face licks from boo

playing with bean

So, to answer the question that was asked…we are helping our kids learn that grief doesn’t have an end point. It comes and goes. It will hit us when we don’t expect it too. It will get easier, but it will forever be a part of us now.

As a friend told me, pets help us learn to love.

And Candy dog, Candy corn, sausage, Candy Harney…we are thankful for our time with you and love the thought of you running up in heaven and no longer in pain.

Thankful for the wonderful staff at island to island. Their care for Candy and our family was so compassionate.

A cup overflowing

Ya’el Ariel Ruth Harney

Today you are 7 years old!!

I loved how last night while driving, we started to tell your birth story.  Your sisters’ eyes all widen, there was intrigue on their faces.  They were hanging on every word.  They wanted to hear what was next in your story.

There were giggles about the popsicles I walked to school with on the hot sunny last day of school for your older siblings. They heard how your daddy made me a meal I was craving just to spend the evening with me standing behind the couching swaying with every contraction, unable to eat anything.

The laugher that followed when your dad explained to them that he had to convince me to go to the hospital I didn’t want a lot of interventions, I didn’t want the wires and blood pressure cuff.  I wanted to birth as much as I could at home…but I let it go to far and your dad freaked out when the contractions were too close.  I stubbornly refused a wheelchair and it was the longest walk to the delivery ward.  By the time I got there the nurses were moving frantically.

Boo, my little love

You came so quickly.  I barely had to push.

But that is you boo. You are not demanding. You are pretty easy going. Always ready for a laugh, you are chill. In fact the more I have been watching you grow, the more I realize how compassionate you are. I love watching you in the early mornings with Veil. You are so patient. You take your time with her. You grab her cereal and pour her milk to keep her quiet when everyone else is still sleeping. You will give up your tablet, your will give her your blanket You are not a selfish child. You are so giving.

Boo this year I watched you mature even more. You are hungering for a deeper understanding of God. You told me last year that you wanted to get baptized. I listened and didn’t say much, because I don’t think you are ready. Because I didn’t respond to you the way you had hoped, you then went and talked to our pastor one day at his house and then the children’s leader. You are willing to take the time to understand something. You will ask questions. You want to know the truth.

That is one thing I have to say about you. You are a go getter. You don’t wait for someone to say “go ahead”. You are not timid. You don’t question your strength, but you don’t flaunt it either. You don’t power up. It’s really beautiful, actually. Seeing such a strong confident soul that is balanced with humility.

I love that joy is something you search out. It is something that was created to be poured out of you. You never miss a joke and when you laugh it is with your whole body. Your eyes squint just like your daddy and your dimples come through just like your momma. You love to laugh and don’t mind being the one to make another laugh.

Your heart is so tender. In the midst of your strength that is more mature than others realize, your heart is so giving. I have often heard from people who are hurting, “boo came up and hugged me” or “boo just came and held my hand”. You don’t ask permission to give affection and many times when you do, you are giving it to someone who is at the end of their rope. God has created you to love others even when they don’t ask for it, to press in and give them what they need even if they are not aware.

Ya’el Ariel Ruth

My prayer for you, mighty one on your birthday, is that you will be the fearless warrior for the kingdom of God that He has created you to be. He plans to use in you ways that will lead the hurt to His heart. He is going to send you to places where the people you are serving, loving, helping are going to be the ones that others have given up. He has put within you a holy fire to not be afraid to understand at such a young age to “do all things in love”. That joy cup that is overflowing in your life, its going to be your greatest weapon. Those that have been hurt deeply are going to be afraid to hope for joy, they are going to be hesitant with you, but you are going to bring the fun and light wherever you go. You are going to restore their joy deficits because you are going to lead them to the heart of God. People are not going to be able to deny that you are His. The enemy, the ruler of darkness should be afraid of you, because the light of God shines so purely from your heart.

I pray that you will not let the world shame you for your strength. Ever since the garden, the enemy has feared a strong woman with an inquisitive mind. The world wants to silence strong women. They want to give you labels when your strength is too much for them. There will be those that don’t want to see you succeed, that will want you to doubt yourself.

But baby girl, if you rest in how you were made, if you choose to give God the final say of your worth , if you keep your eyes on Him, if you let Him have your heart, He will never fail you. He will be your strength when the world tries to strip you of it. He will be your voice when the world tries to silence you. His heart will be what keeps your joy cup full.

To my sweet 7 year old. Momma and daddy are so thankful for the day you came into the world, wide eyed and ready to take in your surroundings. To my rainbow baby, God knew what He was doing, that you would heal the loss we experienced and He would reveal His perfect plan in you for our family.

Boo, happy birthday!

Another first

W. Cayden Harney, today you are 13 years old. No longer in the category of a child, but now a young man. Although I would argue that you left childish ways years ago, because of your old soul, but officially today, I can say I have a teenager.

Harney birthday pancakes

I remember the morning I found out about you, my legs were shaking, my arms were shaking, the hot Arizona late July sun had temps already in 100s before 7 am.  Your dad was still sleeping when I saw the two pink lines fill the little box.

My heart stopped; I remember everything spinning.  The way your dad found out about you was different.  He walked into the bathroom in his morning haze and only until his eyes adjusted and he began to wake up did he see a little present laying on the floor of the bathroom…

The first time we heard your heart beat, we finally believed you were real.

The first time we held you in our arms, we couldn’t believe you were ours.

The first time you flew in a plane, little did we know we would be suddenly moving back to Alaska.

The first time you ate solids, you were insulted and only wanted mom’s milk.

The first time you walked, we were living in a small little apartment on Carlanna street.

The first time you learned to care for others was when I was pregnant with Ezzy and you would find me my slippers and put them on my feet when my big belly stopped me.

The first time you learned to grow up quicky was in the shuffling between Ronald McDonald’s house and the NICU for Ezzy.

The first time you learned the loss that comes with cystic fibrosis was when we stopped ALL playdates after Ezzy’s diagnosis.

The first time you went to school, you cried and didn’t want to leave my side, but a few minutes later the office called and said you were fine.

The first time you killed an animal (with dad’s supervision) you shed a tear, understanding that life is fragile.

The first time you had a sleep over, your parents didn’t sleep at all, we prayed you through the night.

The first time you corrected me when I was wrong, you did so with such conviction that I immediately apologized.

The first time you realized the “great commission” you asked our church for enough invites to an outreach event and hand wrote each kid in your class name on it.

The first time you really pushed the limits with me and left me speechless, your dad created a plan of intense manual labor to prove a point.

The first time you ran a half marathon you were 9 years old, all because you wanted your sister to be able to camp and not miss a treatment.

The first time you traveled without a parent, was because of your love of soccer and the team needing their team captain.

The first time I realized that you have a big call on your life I heard the Lord tell me to pray for your heart, because it is going to be big.

The first time you became a teenager, you called me and asked me “when are we running”, because the Totem to Totem is just 8 weeks away…

The first are still coming. There are more to celebrate. I can’t believe that I have been given the gift to be your momma for the last 13 years.

I love that you still call me momma after all these years. That you send text messages to me any night that you are away from me saying goodnight. How you yell up the stairs to your sisters and tell them “goodnight” and “I love you”. I love that you are quick to be the man of the house and take the role seriously. I love that your teachers, coaches and other adults in your life have seen the unique gifts God has given you in leadership and they are helping you grow it. I love that you still talk about wanting to be in the military, but that other possibilities are forming in your mind now that you are discovering who you are. I love that you still ask for specific prayer when things are hard.

Cayden, today you are 13, you are entering into young manhood.

We even got to have a little bar mitzvah for you tonight as well! You read so well and confidently!

Happy birthday, my one and only son!

THE Animal Whisperer

Dear Kyre Grace,

I recently just told your dad, “how do we have a 9-year-old”? It doesn’t seem possible. Just like a true middle child your life is sandwiched in between older siblings that are pioneering their way through the world as we learn with them and you have the babies who are in the sweet years of being the benefactors of less stressed out parental units. Then there you are, quiet in the background, rarely demanding of our attention and only forceable make your presence known when you have had enough with being looked past because they are being louder or asking more of us.

Upper Silvis

My favorite memory of you this year was when I had to call you back from one of your first playdates since Covid came crashing in. I was at home with the babies and had gone to take the garbage out and was met with one of our hens standing at our door looking inside our home. I immediately called your father who had just gone back to work from lunch and couldn’t break away to help me. Without hesitating, I knew I could call you. You know that animals are not my jam, I don’t willingly let them in my space, it’s a choice for me. You however are not afraid of God’s creatures and never withhold affection to them. They intrigue you; you study them. You came running down the hill from your friend’s house and immediately scooped up the naughty bird and put her back where she belonged.

How could I forget the time you decided to sit as still as possible and allow a squirrel to come and grab food out of your hand at one of our summer beach dinners. Your obnoxious older brother tried to do the same thing and found himself with a little nibble on his hand. The squirrel knew who it could trust, YOU.

Just like a Disney princess

I was looking at your baby pictures, because that’s what a tired exhausted mom of 5 does, when she realizes that yet another child of hers is older and bigger than she can accept in the moment. It’s one of my favorites of us. You were around 2 months old and you were fast asleep on my chest. But what most eyes would glance over, mine did not. There your little fist is tight on the neck of my sweater. I should have known that would describe your need for me. You needed more then any other baby. Being separated from me, even in our home, in the arms of another person what something you couldn’t handle. Your dad and I just recalled how when he would reach out to you, to finally give me a break, you would tuck your arms in and bury your face.

When you reach your breaking point and start demanding for attention and love in the least inviting ways, it’s because you are craving intimacy and it’s not happening. You have an intimacy tank that I am not sure is always met, if I am honest, it’s really high. Quality time is absolutely one of your love languages.

Deer Mountain

The best hugger hands down in the family. We are always squeezed harder than we expect and when humans can’t give you the connection you so deeply desire, animals always fill the void. Candy may be Ezzy’s dog, but really, we all know who she really belongs to.

Carlanna lake

I am sad that Covid has altered yet another birthday in our family. But really for you. Because you are the only Harney that can rely on your birthday falling on a school day. Everyone else has holiday or summer birthdays. We have always tried to make school a place to celebrate and not get lost in the crowd, all about you and no siblings to steal the show. Yet today, here you are, pulled from school because the cases in our small community are too high and your older sister is sick.

Being the best respiratory therapist and cleaning Ezzy’s nebs

So, what have you done? Found a way to deep down inside and be thankful for what you have. Magically I was able to find you a red velvet cake mix at Walmart per your request, we all have presents to watch you unwrap and last night you focused on the fact that you get to spend today with close family friends who have decided to take measures to be in our bubble and you haven’t let us know you are disappointed in things looking different.

School time with Candy

I do believe that we will look back on 2020 and wonder how we all stayed sane and if we are not careful, only focus on the things that didn’t go well. But if I just take a few minutes, I can think about all the fun that I got to make this year different with you. Because you didn’t get lost in the chaos of the family. Covid gave us more family time then we knew what to do with it. We stayed up late playing ticket to ride with you and laughing when you would forget what track you were trying to accomplish, watched old Disney movies with you, your favorites always had to do with dogs, we baked apple crisp thanks to your assembly line, painted nails have been your signature look, beach dinners were always your request and we did our absolute best keeping up with you on all our hikes, you have always been a mountain goat.

I am sad that Covid didn’t allow you to be surrounded by your classmates or have a party, but Kyrene Grace Harney. If we were all honest with ourselves about what you really desire: it’s intimacy. So, a big party, a classroom full of kids singing “happy birthday” would have been special, but I know you my girl and all you want is our full attention as we watch you blow out your candles tonight!

Birthday tradition: new number pancake

Happy birthday my 9 year old

Your baby chick

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” –Anatole France

“Animals are such agreeable friends—they ask no questions; they pass no criticisms.” –George Elio

A light in the darkness

Dear Veil Eden,

You are 4 yrs old today!!! There was a moment of stillness that I was enjoying this morning, where your little tiny soul entered into and I couldn’t help but smile because your presence is never intrusive or unwanted. Truth be told, we all want you, we want your affection, your words of affirmation and your sassy little self.

Recently I was recalling the day of your birth. The anticipation as well as the awareness that you were going to be it. There would be no more labor and delivery ward. There would be no more testing of my strength and limits as I labored with yet another Harney baby. There would be no more little hospital bands with the label, Harney baby.

I have spent the last 4 years enjoying every single moment of your existence. Yes, including the months I carried you in my womb. You were loved immensely by your siblings before they even held you. You had story time from Kyrene, your brother made sure that you heard his voice daily and Ya’el asked about you every day. Ezrah, she made sure that I was always tended too, water, snack, hugs, she knew what the big belly meant and she wanted to make sure I was taken care of.

So much has taken place in the last 4 years of your life.

I didn’t blink.  I didn’t fall asleep at life.  You helped me make sure to stay present in every moment.

Every first was a last for us as your parents and siblings. We treasured each of your milestones. You had a full-on crowd of spectators as you learned to take your first steps, talk and do many other rights of passage. Behind you has been a family that has known you are the last chapter of making space for another.

Was it hard to make room? Sure, we all had to shift and learn how to adapt to yet another family member’s need.  But you Bean, made it easier than the rest.

Veil Eden, Bean Bean, Veil-Z, baby, Veil Eden Bean Harney

We sure love you

There isn’t a morning that doesn’t go by without you holding the remote at ransom, standing toe to toe with the older sibling that THINKS they might actually win the battle. The amount of cereal you can pack away leave us wondering where it all goes. You walk into my room every morning and ask me “are you done with your tea yet”, knowing that you are going to get the first hug of the day. You greet your dad with “so you decided to finally show up” when he walks in the door for lunch and you always make sure that your brother doesn’t assume your love is expected, but instead earned. You have learned that Ezrah is going to be your second mommy, whether you like it or not, but secretly I know you do, even if you question her every step of the way. Kyrene drives you crazy, but I think that is because you are both creative, love to imagine and see things the polar opposite from the other. Boo, is your favorite person, outside of me and Nana, honestly, she ranks the highest.

Me? You let me know with every “momma” that I hold your heart in my hands. Your arms held up to me all throughout the day, remind me of all the times you insisted on laying your head against my chest to hear my heart beat…something you still do. You kiss me non stop and usually are the one to get me sickest the most, because you are always in my face.

I can’t wait to see what this next year brings. You have grown up so fast this last year. I credit COVID and being stuck in an 1800 sq ft home with a highly verbal home. You interrupted us in the middle of a conversation and asked “is this appropriate for me?” when something didn’t sit right. When I have done something that you didn’t anticipate, you have said “I didn’t expect you to do that”. And when you ask to pray for someone, I always pay attention, because your discernment is something to not ignore. You were and are whispered secrets from Heaven, because God knew you would listen.

You are the tiniest Harney we have ever raised; I think it’s because God was being too kind to us. Everything you do, comes with extra joy and blessings, because you are so tiny. Your voice is tiny, your little feet still look like baby feet. Your body…we just graduated you to 3t and you are now 4 yrs old.

You know who you are, what you want and you are not afraid to say it. I pray that is something that never goes away. That people don’t mistake your tiny frame and assume you are something to defeat.

You speak out to fear and things that are dark and say, “I don’t like that”. You are quick to pray and remind us that Jesus is in our hearts, in our homes and everywhere. You don’t let the darkness of the world steal your light.

So today, Veil Eden Harney, we celebrate you. In the middle of stupid COVID, you were able to understand why we couldn’t do a party. You accepted it, because you know what the “bug” is.

We sure loved celebrating your precious soul today. We are giving thanks for God’s plans that were always bigger than ours, because you baby girl are the icing on the cake. I think daddy and Ezzy should be the ones responsible for family birthday cakes.

As you blow out your candles, I smile, because the world may try with all their might, but it will never be able to put your light out.

Happy birthday my favorite 4 yr old!

That Is Who You Are

Dear Boo,

I smiled today when I was reminded that you were born on the anniversary of D-day.  Anyone who meets you knows that you do not back down, you will keep going and that you are a defender of the weak.  You are so strong.  You are so confident.  You know who you are.  In fact, when you opened up your present from brother, you immediately said “yup, she looks just like me” after realizing you got a Pocahontas barbie.  You don’t apologize for your strengths.  You find it strange when others don’t embrace their own strengths.  Many times, I hear Veil being cheered on to do something she thought she couldn’t do until you came along.  But that’s you.  Weakness doesn’t scare you; it inspires you into action.

Recently when we were working on another worship song for our church, you heard the recording and stood in front of the microphone and started to sing your little heart out.  I love that when worship songs come on, you don’t sing gently and quietly to yourself.  No, that is not you.  You sing at the top of your lungs with strength and vibrato.  If the words are coming out of your mouth, then they are going to be sung with conviction.

You taught me one of the most valuable lessons I will hold onto in my adult life, this I am certain of.  We had recently purchased a used mini iPad to help us get through online school, since the school chrome books were never able to handle zoom meetings.  Mom and dad went and laid down for a much-needed nap and everyone found a corner in the house to be quiet.  We had a successful nap.  The next day when I was looking for the Ipad for school, you were reluctant to give it back.  You final caved and sheepishly brought it to me.  It was after peering into the large eyes that were bouncing back and forth between my face and the ground, that I realized the screen was completely shattered.

My shock scared us both.  I sent you to your room and went and found your father.  I was steaming mad and put myself in time out.  We don’t have nice things, we try so hard to take care of the expensive things we have.  My brokenness when I am met with anger always tells me, steam, stew, stay mad, give the silent treatment and withhold affection.  A vicious cycle that has loomed for too long in generations.

BUT then…

God whispered in my ears, He tugged on my heart and I found myself, sitting on the floor of your room.  I asked you why you didn’t tell us when it first happened and hid the tablet.  I explained we wouldn’t have been so upset had you told us right away.  Without missing a beat, you looked up from the blocks you were staking and looked me straight in the eyes, with tears running down your cheek, “but that doesn’t make sense”.

It was then that I was faced with my own sin.  How often I think I can hide my failures and mistakes under the couch cushion and hope God never asks about them.

I reached out to you, I told you “it’s because in this family truth always wins, telling the truth means that you are taking responsibility for your mistake and it’s our job to love you, no matter what”.

When you are older, I hope to tell you that that very conversation over a broken Ipad was the lesson of GRACE that my stubborn heart could finally fathom, it only took 35 years to do so.

I have no idea what you are going to be when you grow up.  Your other siblings, I see threads of their character pointing them into certain professions.  When it comes to you, I have to smile and say with complete humility “I don’t know”.  But I think it is supposed to be this way.  You weren’t meant to fit into a box.  You don’t like being told what to do, because anything you do, has to be your own conviction.  You can’t stand it when I try to help you on something and many times I learned its easier to walk away and say “let me know if you need help” rather then standing there telling you how to do it, because then your dad ends up needing to come and separate us.

You laugh, oh you laugh and it is infectious, because you don’t laugh at everything, you have a quick wit and when you have understood the bottom layer, you laugh and laugh with your whole face, your eyes and eye brows tell us everything.  Which makes me laugh even harder.

Its always on your birthday that I am reminded that you were the promise that came in the form of a rainbow.  A little life that we will only ever meet in Heaven was taken so that you could come and change the world.  It doesn’t make sense, but more times then I can count I have heard God say “see, you needed her”.

Boo, its true.  Your identity that has been rooted all along in Christ is being lived out before my eyes.  You know you are a daughter of the King.  You know that Jesus loves you.  You ask me when ever there is music playing, “this is Jesus music right?”, with one eye brow raised.  Reminding me to change my station back to elevation worship from Ed Sheeran.  I love hearing you sing yourself to sleep.  After an incredibly hard day, after another hard day in our country, you were singing “way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper, light in the darkness, my God that is who you are” and just when I thought I couldn’t cry, you began to crescendo “that is who you are, that is who you are…”  You were leading an orchestra of angels in your bedroom, that I am for certain.

Today you are 6 years old!  It is your golden birthday!!! 

We got you a “speed bike” and I heard countless times, “I just love feeling the wind in my face”

It was supposed to be the year you get a party, but Covid.  So instead you got to spend the day with your best friend.  You guys road your bikes to the park, ate fancy lunchables, painted, drew with chalk and literally told me to “leave you alone” while you caught up with your bestie.  And being exactly who you are, you insisted on a 3 layer cake with fresh blueberries and strawberries.

We loved celebrating you booberry blast

May the Lord always keep your feet firmly planted.  May you always believe you are who He says you are.  May you always be the defender of the weak and one who lifts them up.  May your voice of praise be the greatest weapon as you face trials and may Grace be what guides you through this life on earth.

Happy birthday Ya’el Ariel Ruth

 

A Story to Tell

A week and a bit ago, I had this feeling.  I couldn’t shake it, it wasn’t sudden, it actually slowly started to creep up.  When I realized that I could no longer just hold on to it for myself, I had no idea where we would be today.

I had watched the news reports of COVID-19 since January.  I would sit at the breakfast bar while Richard made us our breakfast after our morning workout and update him and whatever child cared to listen to the number of cases emerging out of Wuhan.  I was intrigued, I think that I could have had a successful career in epidemiology.  I have always been aware of bugs, I was a germaphobe growing up and I believe God used that to protect Ezzy as much as I possibly could the last 10 years.

After Richard and I decided we could no longer hold off and needed to move our daughter and our family into isolation because of her battle with Cystic Fibrosis, we made a small checklist of things we needed to do before we made this jump.  We watched the majority of CF families make the call the week before us, but we held off, believing that we were not suppose to yet, because, at that time when we moved into isolation, there was only 1 case in Alaska.

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Now there are 32.

10 days ago we had one, we now have 32, 6 in our small little island community.

All that being said, I have told Richard countless times as we have fought the anxiety of “what ifs” for Ezzy and I am reminded that God gave us direction before we knew this was going to be where we are today.

One thing we were blessed to do, was take my old iPhone and add another line to our data package.  We had been weighing the pros and cons to allowing our soon to be 12 yr old have a cell phone with access to the deep dark world of the web.  But the nagging in my heart wouldn’t go away and we decided it was time.

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We grabbed a few other little gifts for our birthday boy, got ingredients to make his cake and prepared to go into a hole and ride this thing out.

What I didn’t know, better yet, what we didn’t know was how much this virus was going to impact us.

The party that he had been planning over the last month is not going to happen.  The pizza he intended to be consumed by his soccer brothers, the late-night movies and Xbox, the take over of our family den is not happening.

We are so thankful we got him the phone, he has been able to stay in contact with his friends during this unknown time that has changed how we connect with others.

We have had more conversations about adapting, adjusting and turning the focus off of ME and towards WE in the last 6 days then I can count.

This is not the first time that he has had to learn this.  In fact, Facebook decided to remind me that on his birthday last year, I woke up to make him the Harney birthday pancake in the shape of his age, something that dad normally does, because Richard was in the ICU with Ezzy, for her 2 yrs. hospitalization in a month.  He has learned many times to step aside for others.

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In fact, this seems to be the story that God has written for my little man, who really isn’t little anymore.

When I think about him and who he has become in the last 12 years, I smile thinking about how much he has grown and then I stumble thinking about how old I REALLY am, I am in denial over the grey hairs that keep popping up.

His birthday this year is going to look different.  But that happens when we starting growing up, right? We start to put aside the childish things as we begin to grow up.

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So, in honor of his 12th year orbiting the sun, I want to share 12 things about my son that you might not know.

  1. When he walks into a room and sees me in it, he immediately starts cleaning up, knowing how much clutter drives me NUTS. I never ask him, I will be sitting at the table drinking my tea, sitting on social media or attending to a sibling and he immediately starts to tidy
  2. He HATES hotdogs, mac and cheese, and spaghetti – so much that it’s a running joke that it’s what is on the dinner menu on a regular basis just so we can see him get worked up
  3. He killed his first chicken at the ripe old age at 4…I was so pissed at his father and worried that I might be raising a psychopath until he told me that Cayden shed a tear after beheading the egg-eating chicken
  4. He stands up for his sisters and tries his hardest to protect them from profanity, I just learned that he told his neighborhood friends to chill out on their language because his little sisters were around and “they didn’t need to hear that”21900BCB-0524-43D0-87FD-A603E7DB5F09.JPG
  5. He studied and studied for the geography bee he competed in January, he has tried out in the past but never made it. This year he won…only to have it taken away due to COVID.  In it, all he was able to let go of the disappointment after he realized that is was due to protecting the fragile, like his sister
  6. He plays whatever rhythm is in his head on whatever hard surface he can and yes, it drives many of us bonkers in the house
  7. He has such a sweet tooth, especially for chocolate. Something that made me so sick and would give me migraines my whole life.  I couldn’t eat a Hersey kiss without getting a headache. Until I delivered him and all the Easter candy went on sale and as a breastfeeding mom, I tried one and have been able to enjoy chocolate ever since!
  8. One of my favorite memories of him this last year was asking Ezzy to play UNO with him over Facetime while she was in the hospital because he knew how lonely she was after 6 weeks of no school, friends, hours and hours of therapy and hospitalizations
  9. He LOVES to hide in random places to jump out and scare me or stand still and say something really loud when I walk past…he has gotten good at dodging my arm or filtering the words that come out of my mouth.IMG_6873.JPG
  10. When he learned that schools were getting shut down in the lower 48 and it could be a reality for us one day, he asked that his birthday could be a canned food drive so that we could stalk up food for the pantry at our school for families in need
  11. He is a phenomenal orator, I love hearing him read stories, he uses voice inflections, he changes the tone for each character, he is so engaging! Books come alive to him and he doesn’t like graphic novels, because he said “it takes away his imagination”738F47B5-FB1F-4808-BE80-A9284A975A48.JPG
  12. 12 is the number of times we have threatened to take away his iPhone since we gave it to him 5 days ago…can’t let you think he is not normal

Here is to another year of having my firstborn, grow up.  It is the most trying and yet most life-giving thing to be his momma.  God knew that I would need him, someone, who would make me play, call me out when I am being too demanding in my unrealistic expectations of things and who is ALWAYS there to help me with his sisters.  So much that I still have to remind him to let me parent, when I am standing in the room with him.

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This birthday is one that I know he will never forget, the time he was in lockdown, unable to celebrate with friends or get his soppapeias from Oceanview and instead will have to settle for facetime birthday wishes, family dinner with just us and no extended family, BUT at least he will have a story to tell one day!

Happy birthday W. Cayden Harney, love you more than you know and still remember singing to you as you rested your little body on my chest, you have become more then I could have dreamed of 12 years ago.

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A Decade of Living

After a year of hard hard hard things to face, endure and somehow still find the courage to keep going, I chose to interview my girl for her birthday.  Christmas morning when I walked into the bathroom, I immediately had a smile on my face, a smile because I recalled Christmas morning 2009.  6 am I had walked into the bathroom with the awareness that I was in labor.

Memories of that day and many of the days after have not brought a lot of good feelings.  Instead, they have been hard, hard to relieve, hard to forget.

This year, this Christmas, instead of painful memories, God gave me a really good one.  One that was full of excitement, hope, and joy as I realized I was getting ready to welcome a new soul into the world.  I am thankful that is what He gave me.  Because I want to believe that is the new chapter we are getting ready to write as we leave behind this decade and getting ready to start a new one!  Goodbye sorrow, hello JOY

 

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Ezzy May, I hope that as you read these blogs when you are older, you see that in my openness, in my willingness to say things/write things out loud and on paper that you will see I was and am a work in progress.  Your story has been the greatest driving force to help me face my fears, find help when I couldn’t do it on my own and more than anything grow my faith.

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Thanks for letting me interview you on your 10th birthday!

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Here we go:

  1. Describe yourself?
  • A smart kind friend, I have CF, I like reading, I love my friends, I like helping people who need help
  1. What are you thankful for this year?
  • My best friend always being there for me (when I was in the hospital, taking care of me at school)

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  1. What do you want to be when you grow up?
  • Author and illustrator (want to write about my stuffed animals, my friends and my life with CF)
  1. What is really important to you?
  • Friends and family
  1. If you could go anywhere, where would you go?
  • Phoenix, Arizona. Go see my aunt Jana, Uncle Ronnie, and my cousins and go swimming in their pool
  1. Who do you admire and why?
  • Heidi Bauer, I want to be friendly and kind like her…and crazy and not shy

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  1. What are you afraid of?
  • Clowns, (not Lbow because he is kind and funny) because of the way they look and act

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  • Friendships when I get older, don’t know what it will be like with them when we grow up
  1. What is one of your favorite memories?
  • Ice skating at Ward Lake with my family right before I got sent to Seattle Children’s to live for a while and going to the movies to see Frozen 2

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  1. What is something you want to learn?
  • How to sow sea otter fur into clothing like aunt Suzy
  1. What are you looking forward to this coming year?
  • Changing into a big girl and learning how to do stuff the right way and not act like how I did this last year. For a White Christmas hopefully
  1. Bonus: (anything you want to say)
  • I want to be better at taking my pills (enzymes)

 

Ezrah May Harney, you are 10 years old today.  There was a day 9 years and many months ago that I was unsure you would even get to this birthday.  The things the doctors said early in your life ripped all the hope of reaching even the simplest of milestones.  I am so thankful that you have reached this day.  I can’t wait to celebrate you with friends and family.  You have been my greatest opportunity to constantly reframe my thinking and try to find the sliver of good in all the hard.

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Keep defying the odds baby girl, keep holding onto big dreams, keep letting others in as you learn how to trust them even if they can’t or don’t understand all the things that you are going through.

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Happy birthday 10 yr old, here’s to a new decade of memories to make!

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Love you

 

Just Like a Snowflake

Dear Kyrene Grace, I was talking about you and your birthday blog with your dad. I told him that what I had originally wrote that day didn’t feel right. Something was off. He asked me, “as you long as you wrote it to her and no one else, then it doesn’t matter”.

IMG_3144After some reflection I realized that I was trying to write about you, trying to help the world see you, the way that I see you, the way that gets lost and missed by others because you can be just like me too often. But God was faithful to recall many conversations that I have been blessed to have with people who have seen YOU, the real YOU, not because of things I wrote about you or how I talk about you, because they had their own unique experiences with you and you carved a special place in their heart. So, this letter is to you, yes others are reading this on your birthday, but it’s because I want you to be celebrated. I want those who don’t get to be near you to still get a peek at Kyrene Grace Harney.

IMG_3326Today you are eight years old! While driving in the dark, cold, side ways rain I was brought to the memory of the two days before we met you. Your god-parents had gone in to have their special little boy. Knowing that they were holding him in their arms, witnessing the miracle of life wrapped in a tiny 6 lb. soul made your father and I so anxious. The doctor admitted us, even though your due date was 2 weeks away. The fluid that had kept you safe the last 38 weeks was too low. After the dreaded Pitocin for 12 hrs straight and no results, the team decided to give me a sleeping pill and told me to rest and we would try again in the morning. 2 hrs later I was in full blown labor. You needed to come on your own terms, not forced. Nothing has changed 8 years later. You came out crying, covered in vernex and we couldn’t believe we had such a tiny little bean to call our own.

IMG_6005You were easy to calm, easy to hold, easy to be around. That was your story for years. You were always patient, waiting to be fed, waiting to be changed, waiting and waiting. That role was yours and you owned it. You learned that there were two others before you that were louder and more demanding.

IMG_6013Over the years I watched you become the very friend and constant companion that Ezzy needed in her 4 years of isolation as we did our best to protect her. God often reminded me that you were created against all our attempts to not grow our family because Ezzy needed YOU.

IMG_6007When the school years came, you couldn’t contain your excitement. You were so ready. SO ready to experience on your own this whole leaving mom and making new friends. I smile that when we sat down and asked your pre-k teacher to speak plainly with us about you, she laughed and said, “oh I will”. You were competitive, always wanting to be the first, always wanting to get things right, so driven. You made my momma heart smile because I was so thankful that your ability to embrace who you were was something that you embodied at such a young age. Even though you love school and friends, ever since pre-k and still to this day, you come home and very quickly escape to somewhere quiet away from everyone else. Your soul needs to introvert to recharge after being in a world of extroverts. You know how to advocate for your mental health and you do your best to always make time for just you and yourself 😊 I wonder why we all find ourselves asking “where is Kyre” even though we know the answer.

IMG_6014I love hearing teachers that don’t yet teach you tell me that you are one of their favorites they look for. Because they know you will always give them a quick squeeze and go on your day, not asking for anything from them, but instead searching for them and loving them when they need it most. I recently learned that your sarcasm is loved as well. After questioning a teacher about walking with scissors and then praising them for not hurting themselves when they finished, still shocks and makes me smile. When you made the decision to get baptized this fall, I questioned it. I was raised that it was typically something that took place in the older years of childhood. But then when I sat down with you and your dad and asked you why you wanted to be baptized you replied very matter of fact, “because this is the next step after asking him in my heart and I want to be a new creation”. You confessed your love and need of a Savior and I heard the Lord tell me, “Sarah, she KNOWS me, don’t limit her understanding of who I am according to your adult understanding…childlike faith”. We rejoiced watching you make the bold choice to enter the waters of baptism.

IMG_4146Your courage to handle a new class this year with none of the close friends you have had the last few years amazed me. It wasn’t easy, seeing them all continue on without you, it was hard to watch you process the change. Yet you have thrived and made friendships with new people. I commend you, knowing its hard making new friends, trusting new people when you are an introvert. Its hard to find friends that accept that alone time is not rejection, it actually makes you a better friend. How putting thoughts to words instead of letting them take residence in your head can be exhausting. I love seeing you shine and let more people in. More people to realize how tender and caring of a soul you are.

AFFD4013-497B-4F02-9838-6C579133ADE2Thank you for always being there to hug me when I am struggling. The first to pray when something happens to one of us, you are quick to lay hands on us, pray over us with a solid faith that God is always listening for your sweet little voice. I love how animals are still drawn to you, that even the timidest of creatures are pulled to you. I often wonder what color you put off for them to see that you are safe (it’s a real thing…study epilepsy dogs. They see people’s auroras). I love that you are embracing your freckles, something you use to hate. You now see they make you unique and it brings the biggest smile on your face when someone mentions them.

A8D5FD5C-6D9F-4CD9-888C-7252283B56CBMy most favorite memory I want to share with you happened last Friday. You were finishing up your last day of swim lessons and had been so discreet when sharing all the fun you had when Ezzy was around. You would come and talk quietly about what you were learning, making sure you weren’t crushing her heart because she will never experience them. You lit up when you told me you jumped in the deep end. You are not a daredevil. Trying new things doesn’t come easily for you. Yet you did it! I came and watched you, wanting to see it for myself. I watched you with your new peer group and saw you fit in perfectly. I watched your quiet tenderness with your classmates. Watched you be the first one to turn their shirt into a floatation device. I couldn’t stop smiling. You were shining.

5466DD80-587C-4BA8-B80C-03EB8D885E17Kyre Grace, I pray that this coming year you continue to find peace in who God made you to be, that you continue to lean in and let others in your space. You are one very special kid. The world needs you in it, even though it can be taxing to be in it. Your awareness of others’ needs makes me relieved that you are in this world because you see lack and believe that you can help them find wholeness. Your love for God will ground you when you question your worth or where you fit in this world. He will remind you that just like a snowflake, he created you to be unique, to not be something that is copied. Happy birthday sweet girl, we love you Gracie

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