Sylvia Harney rediscovered her gift for laughter in her early twenties while attending Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. The disappearance of laughter from her life is part of her personal story which she now shares with groups across America. However, that is not the main focus of her powerful messages. The real impact and strength of this young woman is her determination to reach for and grasp ALL that the Heavenly Father desires her to have…His presence…His freedom…HIS JOY! She most certainly walks in that freedom and treasure the privilege of sharing the way that anyone can learn to “lay down” the tethers that keep us locked up inside and nailed to the ground.
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A recent letter contains this comment of her time with a group. “Your Sunday morning testimony was absolutely sacred. Many hearts were touched. It helped to lead the meeting to that moment when many made decisions to follow Christ. I especially appreciated the way you spent time with the ladies during the free times. You gave 105% of ministry. Believe me I am spreading the word about the dynamic ball of laughter called Sylvia Harney!”
Although Sylvia’s speaking ministry demands extensive travel, she is most decidedly a self-described “home body.” “I love puttering around in my own house, singing at the top of my lungs when nobody but the Lord can hear.”
Sylvia relished the experience of decorating and most recently has slip-covered some old chairs, made pillows and cushions for the wicker in her “home office,” and painted a “wonderful old chair that was a thrift store find!” Her home reflects an appreciation of ‘stuff’ – books, pottery made by totally unknown potters, painting of some “slight value to others of absolutely no value to anyone but me!” Sylvia says, “I’m English, Scotch, Irish and French, my Grandad was a cowboy in Oklahoma and I had a fancy little 4’10” Grandmother who loved her nails painted, her dresses powdered and hated to sweat!” “No wonder my husband stays totally confused!”
When Sylvia marred her husband, Hank, twenty-two years ago, he “cam in a package deal…’all or nothing’…with three boys ages six, twelve and fourteen. Those boys became great subject matter for the books she would later write as well as many of the stories she would tell. Sylvia says that at her wedding one dear, older family friend said to her, “you just help raise those boys with that wonderful sense of humor of yours and you’ll do just fine.” Sylvia says, “three weeks later I couldn’t remember having a sense of humor!”
One of the reasons Sylvia gives when she is interviewed and asked how she lives each day or where her exuberance comes from she always tells them, I begin every day putting my entire life in God’s enormous, trustworthy hand, I ask Him to guide, shelter and protect, then I just stay in His Word, trust Him and show up expecting Him to be there! I live each day as a ‘brand new morning time from God’s own hand.”
Sylvia and Hank presently and quite joyfully are empty nesters and live with their yellow Labrador named Sophie, who at the time of this had just snatched and eaten with lightening speed a brand new package of cinnamon-raison bagels.
Sylvia said, “doesn’t she look guilty, ashamed and …miserable? Kind of like she just swallowed a sofa cushion?”
Sylvia is presently putting the final touches on a third book which she feels God had His hand on…as He has shaped her own life, He is teaching her how to “pass it on.”
Sylvia’s humor, encouragement and exuberance for life are being appreciated not only by numerous and varied church groups across the country, but she still is called upon by secular groups such as “Women in Health Care”, family gatherings of many groups related to America’s farming industry and because she has an education degree is often asked to speak to Educational organizations. Whatever her audience, Sylvia possesses a ‘gentle boldness’ to share God’s truths and to leave her audiences with ‘something lasting that goes straight to the heart and stays there.”
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