Double Digits

Dear Cayden,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your mouth…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You were you, protector, fighter, responder.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy birthday, my one and only son


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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