Dear Boo

Dear Boo

Its an entire month after your birthday, thanks to travel, sickness, travel and well, just plain life, I broke tradition. I went back and forth on if I should write this since I was so behind, but then I thought you might actually laugh one day about the crazy family you were born into and totally understand.

It an understatement when people say that you look like me. I have lost track of the times people have called you “little Sarah”. Your big dark brown eyes, your brown skin that is darker than mine…which you love to point out and your matter of fact statements are dead give-aways to you being my mini.

One of my favorite memories of our recent trip to Arizona to see family, showed me yet again that maternal instincts in you are strong. After a few days of Veil throwing a fit at stores and various places, you waited until we were alone and pulled me aside and told me, “tomorrow we need to put Veil on a schedule. She is getting up to early, so after lunch we need to have her take a nap. We will all get out of the pool, so she won’t get mad and have her nap so she isn’t so grumpy”. I was holding back a smile the whole time as I realized that you were no longer in agreement with my parenting skills. I smiled even more when I recalled a time that my mom told me that even at a young age I would parent my sisters. Telling them when they were walking too far ahead of me in public places.

When it was time for you and Veil to get your long awaited “real big girl pedicures”, you patiently waited your turn. Offering up the next available chair to your little sister and pumped her up when it came time for her turn. I think you get joy out of watching someone you love get loved on, I can totally relate to that.

But a memory that I hope I forever remember is the one of the big shopping day. We took you and your siblings to Arizona Mills Mall, a big mall to go back to school shopping. It was hours of going from one to store to the next as your older siblings tried on their piles of clothes. I sat down to rest my tired legs and you came and stood right next to me, leaned in and made sure we were touching. You didn’t say anything, but needless to say we were so close that we were breathing each other’s air. When I turned to you and asked “do you need something?” with a smile on my face, you immediately said “No” but smiled back and chuckled to yourself. Your sisters asked “what are you guys laughing at?”. You responded “nothing…you wouldn’t understand”. I get you boo, physical touch is so important to you. You are always in a lap, have your arms around someone, give the biggest hugs and playfully nudge people when you want attention.

What I hope never changes in you is your JOY. You look for it, you believe that it is possible to exist in the world. I often find you laughing to yourself and baby girl, it makes my heart soar.

In a world where people are so quick to take offense with others, where it’s a “me first” or “if you don’t support me than you are the enemy”, you Boo, you don’t buy into that.

I have seen childish fights try to lure you in and you don’t bite. You don’t pick a side. You don’t fight back with the strength that we all know you have. You don’t belittle. What you do, is you love, you are matter of fact with your explanation and you often say “come on, let’s just go play”.

Boo thanks for teaching me that life is too short to get caught up in the weeds. Thanks for bringing the joy when you see those around you need it. Thanks for making sure I don’t let Veil get away with everything as the baby of the family and instead ensure she has structure. Thanks for being so giving of your heart. Watching you love to serve and be the first to do it is really humbling. Your soccer coach told me recently that you stayed back to haul things from the car to the field, while your team mates ran off and you chatted with her along the way. Deep down, I know you are an old soul, just like your momma.

Having a soccer coach come and ask us if it was ok that they call you “boo” made us and the other parents laugh. When we said “yes”, the coach then informed us that you said “will you call me boo, since you can’t say my name right?”. That’s my girl, saying things plain and simple…

I can’t believe that you are 8 years old. I never knew how much I wanted you until the dark clouds came and then we were given a rainbow, you, my sweet girl.

I pray a blessing over you this coming year. I pray that God will protect that bottle of JOY you always have on reserve for others when they are running low. I pray that you continue to see the needs of others and don’t find it to be a burden, but instead a gift to love them well. I pray that your need to be touched, held, cuddled and hugged is always met in your daddy’s, momma’s and naani’s arms. I hope that when hard things come you way you continue to choose to laugh. And more importantly, I hope you fulfill your dream of moving to Hawaii, because as you said “I am going to live in Hawaii, so that you will come and take care of my children”.

Happy birthday Ya’el Ariel Ruth, our boo

Dear Boo

Dear Boo

Its an entire month after your birthday, thanks to travel, sickness, travel and well, just plain life, I broke tradition. I went back and forth on if I should write this since I was so behind, but then I thought you might actually laugh one day about the crazy family you were born into and totally understand.

It an understatement when people say that you look like me. I have lost track of the times people have called you “little Sarah”. Your big dark brown eyes, your brown skin that is darker than mine…which you love to point out and your matter of fact statements are dead give-aways to you being my mini.

One of my favorite memories of our recent trip to Arizona to see family, showed me yet again that maternal instincts in you are strong. After a few days of Veil throwing a fit at stores and various places, you waited until we were alone and pulled me aside and told me, “tomorrow we need to put Veil on a schedule. She is getting up to early, so after lunch we need to have her take a nap. We will all get out of the pool, so she won’t get mad and have her nap so she isn’t so grumpy”. I was holding back a smile the whole time as I realized that you were no longer in agreement with my parenting skills. I smiled even more when I recalled a time that my mom told me that even at a young age I would parent my sisters. Telling them when they were walking too far ahead of me in public places.

When it was time for you and Veil to get your long awaited “real big girl pedicures”, you patiently waited your turn. Offering up the next available chair to your little sister and pumped her up when it came time for her turn. I think you get joy out of watching someone you love get loved on, I can totally relate to that.

But a memory that I hope I forever remember is the one of the big shopping day. We took you and your siblings to Arizona Mills Mall, a big mall to go back to school shopping. It was hours of going from one to store to the next as your older siblings tried on their piles of clothes. I sat down to rest my tired legs and you came and stood right next to me, leaned in and made sure we were touching. You didn’t say anything, but needless to say we were so close that we were breathing each other’s air. When I turned to you and asked “do you need something?” with a smile on my face, you immediately said “No” but smiled back and chuckled to yourself. Your sisters asked “what are you guys laughing at?”. You responded “nothing…you wouldn’t understand”. I get you boo, physical touch is so important to you. You are always in a lap, have your arms around someone, give the biggest hugs and playfully nudge people when you want attention.

What I hope never changes in you is your JOY. You look for it, you believe that it is possible to exist in the world. I often find you laughing to yourself and baby girl, it makes my heart soar.

In a world where people are so quick to take offense with others, where it’s a “me first” or “if you don’t support me than you are the enemy”, you Boo, you don’t buy into that.

I have seen childish fights try to lure you in and you don’t bite. You don’t pick a side. You don’t fight back with the strength that we all know you have. You don’t belittle. What you do, is you love, you are matter of fact with your explanation and you often say “come on, let’s just go play”.

Boo thanks for teaching me that life is too short to get caught up in the weeds. Thanks for bringing the joy when you see those around you need it. Thanks for making sure I don’t let Veil get away with everything as the baby of the family and instead ensure she has structure. Thanks for being so giving of your heart. Watching you love to serve and be the first to do it is really humbling. Your soccer coach told me recently that you stayed back to haul things from the car to the field, while your team mates ran off and you chatted with her along the way. Deep down, I know you are an old soul, just like your momma.

Having a soccer coach come and ask us if it was ok that they call you “boo” made us and the other parents laugh. When we said “yes”, the coach then informed us that you said “will you call me boo, since you can’t say my name right?”. That’s my girl, saying things plain and simple…

I can’t believe that you are 8 years old. I never knew how much I wanted you until the dark clouds came and then we were given a rainbow, you, my sweet girl.

I pray a blessing over you this coming year. I pray that God will protect that bottle of JOY you always have on reserve for others when they are running low. I pray that you continue to see the needs of others and don’t find it to be a burden, but instead a gift to love them well. I pray that your need to be touched, held, cuddled and hugged is always met in your daddy’s, momma’s and naani’s arms. I hope that when hard things come you way you continue to choose to laugh. And more importantly, I hope you fulfill your dream of moving to Hawaii, because as you said “I am going to live in Hawaii, so that you will come and take care of my children”.

Happy birthday Ya’el Ariel Ruth, our boo

Preparation

Christmas, my hands-down favorite season is when God decided to give you to me. I woke with so much joy and I remember giggling at the 6 am sudden alert that labor was starting. The pumpkin cheesecake, the smell of turkey that filled our tiny little home would never be eaten that Christmas day. There were presents under the tree for your brother, still unopened as we headed to the hospital, unable to wait it out at home any longer.

I remember being so calm, you were a foretold dream coming true.  God let us know you were coming months before we saw the 2 little pink lines. 

Preparation happened.

Our hearts were ready to make room for you even though we had just celebrated your brother’s 1st birthday.  There was no question in our hearts.

When you came out, in your broken little body, the urgency in the room was so thick. There was a holding of breaths and you were watched so closely as the brainstorming began. Thankfully I was in the post-birthing haze, and my fragile heart didn’t see the worry and concern that your daddy began to see.

Standing in the NICU at Seattle Children’s the next night at 12 am was surreal. Mountains were moved to allow your tiny family to be standing near your crib, complete, as we heard the daunting news. Yet, I still can’t deny….

Preparation happened.

I wasn’t a foreigner to the inpatient setting. In fact, I had worked at an inpatient Neuro Rehab Institute with brain trauma and spinal cord injury. I worked with patients and their families as they began to digest their forever changed storylines. My job was all about helping them learn how to adapt to not let the state of their bodies impact what they could and could not do. Again…

Preparation happened.

The day came, the day that Dr. Jacob walked in the room, calm with compassion in his eyes. I was alone. Your daddy was with your brother at the sibling playroom. I was wearing a grey shirt and black jeggings. The words, Cystic Fibrosis, left his mouth and I felt my knees give way. The ability to form words disappeared as the thoughts fled to dark corners in my soul. “Sarah, remember all that God has done for Ezzy” and with a little nod to his head, Dr. Jacob walked out the room. The same Dr. that came and held your mom and dad’s hands and prayed over you, just a few minutes before your life-saving surgery. Isn’t that so God?

Preparation happened.

Do parents ever recover from being told “you will stand over your daughter’s grave and there is nothing you can do about it”?

No, no, they don’t.

However, they do wake up one day and don’t think about the clock ticking away, but instead get caught up in the miracle of life, that every day is not promised.

Today Ezrah May, Ez, Ezzy, you are 12 years old. This is the last year before teenage years hit. I remember holding you in the middle of the night as the monitors beeped to your heartbeat and the wires covered your tiny little body. It was in those moments, as the world slept and I was wide awake afraid to miss one moment with you, that God told me “she is mine”. He encouraged me to pray over you, to be brave enough to ask Him to give you abundant life. So that is what I did, I rocked you to sleep and sang songs of victory over you. Begging and pleading for the chance to watch you take your first steps, to go to preschool, to get your ears pierced, score your first goal, lose teeth, and have your first crush. Guess what?!? I have seen ALL those moments.

Preparation happened.

When God began to let me truly see the fire he built inside of you and I thought that I might lose my mind.  He sent a kind soul our way to walk us through hard conversations as a family and became a safe place for you to say big things.  When you began to wrestle with the mortality of your disease and you admitted your fear of death, of being separated by your family, our Children’s Leader was right there to sit with you on the steps of Orton Ranch, while all the other kids played without a worry in the world.  When you faced the loss of your dog and realized that fear was your companion and grief was heavy, you sat on the steps in our church and poured out your soul to our Pastor, and asked questions that you had been carrying.  God didn’t let you deal with those big things alone.  Why?

Preparation happened.

I can’t believe that you are 12 years old. You are saying goodbye to the childish years and are entering into the years of womanhood. I now know what it feels like to have my mascara disappear or my shoes are worn without being asked or clothing finds its way into your closet. You linger at the adult table and no longer can handle the kids’ table. You have developed your own relationship with some of my closest friends and I have been reminded countless times I am not alone in raising you, there are other mommas who feel honored to hold your confidence. You love to write and tell stories, which can get you in trouble at times, but I can see that long-ago God revealed what was behind the veil to you. You don’t just see the surface, there is always more. More of the story to write. There is so much more to write Ez, why?

Preparation is happening.

Happy birthday Ezrah May. I have watched you grow and mature so much this last year. You are my constant help in running the house. You fill in on nights mom and dad have to work late and get dinner in the oven for us. You make sure the babies are tucked in and teeth brushed on nights we steal away for a last-minute date. You have learned how to process big things without massive outbursts and now articulate the inner workings of your soul that remind me of what a deep soul you are. With this birthday I am realizing that the things that were scary and unknown for me have become the very things that I have witnessed God work in mighty ways.

I don’t know what tomorrow brings us or you. I don’t know what the team of specialists will say at your appointments in January. I don’t know if the flu season will give us a scare. I don’t know if you will grow up to be an illustrator like you dream of doing. But this I know.

You are God’s cherished child. His plans for you are greater than any I could dream up. You were fearfully and wonderfully made. I get the best seat in the house to your story, front row, cheering you on each step of the way. Day by day, learning to trust the very God that breathed life into your lungs on December 26, 2009. Can’t wait to keep watching you reach milestone after milestone, why?

Preparation is happening.

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