Friday, August 29, 2014

where we've been.

this is for my friend ashley. who we lived with almost all summer and did life with almost everyday. she told me to write, to blog, and to share. i never did. this is for you. thank you for being one of my best friends and for pushing me to write and share my heart. i am so thankful for you.

so here we are. it's been a while. but it is good to back. i have been thinking about writing almost everyday for the past 3 months but never sat down to do it. its funny how i work like that. think about something. something i am passionate about. even write posts in my head at night when i am laying in bed. but for one reason or another they never made it to this page. but today they will. ava has been waking up really early and it frustrates me so much because i know around 3pm she will be exhausted and crabby and if she naps she will never go to bed. but today after asking to her to go back to bed several times and she was not capable of doing so...i decided to get up. the house is quiet. she is playing in her room. i made coffee. texted with a good friend who is in a very similar life change as we are...nice to have people in your corner. even from separate states.

so here i am. living in highland park NJ, in an apt (in a building with all old people. it is funny and they are kind). we are unpacked. it is just the decor and organizing part left. i like our home. we have a great view and the girls love the elevator.

before we head into where we are right now let me quick share about where we have been. we sold our first home very quickly. praise the Lord. we sold a ton of stuff. i even sold our king mattress to the termite inspector. we had a giant garage sale with 3 other families and packed it up and moved. justin had to get to MI for young life camp in june so he left a few days before the girls and i. that was crazy. thank you to those who helped me with the girls, move boxes, clean, donate stuff, cut our lawn, clean out our fridge, and the million tiny things that come with moving out of your house and storing your goods for 3 months while you head to MI for camp and then live with friends for july and then move at some point in august. honestly it was all so crazy that there really wasn't time to process it all. i cant lie and say i don't like stuff or furniture or clothes. because i do. i really enjoying decorating and making a house a home. but i found freedom in the riding ourselves of stuff. even with all we gave away and sold we still have so much. i don't want to miss that. i know we can't take any of it with us but when you spent weeks assembling a truck load of furniture and then you sell it off...i just needed a little second. but now i am over it. it's just stuff.

so packers and movers came (thank you young life) and took our stuff to NJ to store. i then loaded up my van with my bestie laura and our 4 kids and drove to MI to meet our husbands to spend a month at a YL camp. our van was exploding with stuff but considering we had a 4, 2, 1.5, and an 8 week old...our kids are awesome and so is a DVD player. this month is something special. i came into it all worn out and exhausted from the past 6 weeks but am thankful how we were swooped up from the chaos of our lives (our friends were moving to charlotte, nc for yl later this summer as well). i needed that break. to breath. to be present. to think about what had just happened. not in a bury inside kind of way but in a perspective kind of way. change is hard. duh. and we were about to embark on some serious change and i loved that we were taken out of our daily lives and brought to camp where someone prepared our meals, cleaned our rooms, relationships developed, kids played, students heard and started a relationship with jesus, my husband made me laugh, and i got spend a lot of time with other women who are wiser than me. i like that. most of my family made the trip to camp and experience a week of camp. having them see what we do and how funny justin is and how its all for the joy of the Lord is such a gift. thank you for coming and for supporting us as we move and walk in faith and it's scary and unknown. i am grateful you are in it with us. it makes the difference.

after a great month we drove home and pulled into a residence inn in harrisonburg b/c we were homeless by choice. got up at 6am the next morning to take ava to get her tonsils and adenoids removed. i always thought tonsils were like no big deal. i learned that yes surgery wise it isn't anything serious. i know that. but man the drugs they put ava on made her crazy. honestly it was like someone had taken over her body. we had to stay over night in the hospital so made it all seem way more serious and real than it actually was. physically she healed so well but one of the hardest parts was having her stay at minimal to no activity for 2 weeks. note to self...tonsil removal is way easier in the winter when you are stuck inside anyways. she was irritable, mean, inpatient, and bedtime was the worst. on a few nights she told me over and over how much she hated me and hated her life and her friends and i was the worst mom and she was the worst person. it was scary and awful. tonsils were way harder than i had prepared myself for...just an fyi.

we moved in with our friends ashley and greg bellamy. a separate post should be written for them. but considering my writing track record for consistency i wouldn't hold your breathe. but they gave us a home, freedom, food, help, friendship and joy. thank you for taking us in and for so long. for caring and loving our girls. it wasn't always easy...but not because of them. since they are easiest humans to live with on the face of the earth but more for myself. living in harrisonburg. our home. but not having a home so it felt like i was there but wasn't. justin went to yl camp right after we got home from MI with all the high schools in our area. great week for him and leaders and students but for sure the beginning of his transition out as we prepared for our move to NJ later in the summer. it is all so emotional and difficult because you are leaving people and a place that you've grown to love to move to place where no really cares you are there. it's not like when the movers arrived in NJ anyone was like..."oh, we are so happy you are here. heard you sold your house and most of your stuff to come here and start YL. we've never heard of it but i am sure it is great or maybe it's not. we don't really care. oh, you left people you love...sorry about that." now that would have been nice. but instead it is all about faith. the Lord opened this door and brought us here and will not leave us. it may have challenges but i know that life is full of hard stuff. thankful two of our good friend's from Syracuse came down and made our move in weekend even possible. thank you katie and billy truly. i needed you here. not just for ikea assembly but having familiar faces in an unfamiliar place really helped me our first few days. thank you.

but i skipped a little bit. living with your bestie is fun. justin kind of likes his own space and i do too but mostly i like hanging with my friend, ashley whenever i want so that was a perk of living with good friends for almost 6 weeks. wow that is awhile.  but they travelled and we travelled so we weren't on top of each other for days on end. i tried to soak it up with friends and with ashley b/c i knew that friends. the real, deep, special ones don't happen over night. i am thankful that we didn't live in someones basement for the summer (we were offered that i turned it down only b/c i knew that would make me sad and very separate from all our people) but instead shared life with some of our dearest friends. i mean who doesn't want to drink diet coke, watch each of your kids love one another and fight but mostly love, watch hgtv, e, friday night lights, and parenthood at night with your friend on your old white couch that you bought for your bedroom and sat on twice and then sold to your friend because you were moving to a smaller apartment. see i want all those things and i got all those things. thankful for the friendships in harrisonburg. the forever friends. those are the best kind. please come visit.

i didn't want to move to harrisonburg. it was not easy at first. but to think what the Lord provided and did in 3 little years...well that gives me great hope for our new home in NJ. i miss people in harrisonburg and leaders and friends at jmu. i have a heart so of course it is sad. but. but it is getting better here. everyday. i am thankful for my husband and for my girls and for ava and how resilient she is and how she transitioning just fine. i am so grateful. lyles has no clue the difference. praise the lord for that.

before we moved we had our annual vacation to flordia with justin's sister and her family. we changed it up this year and rented a house in seaside fl. before we met up our family spent a couple days in atlanta and we loved that. a little mini vacay before it all really began. seaside was magically. bike rides, great good, pool, ocean, kids playing (loudly) and being with some of our favorite people. i thankful for the summer vacation tradition that justin's dad started. we don't plan to ever stop. i am thankful for a sister like sara. our time together is always real and fun and easy. i love vacation. it wasn't restful and kids got up early and we swam all day but these years of little one's is precious and i don't wanna miss it even though the whole concept of adult conversation is a rarity. it's how it goes with 5 kiddos under 5. thankful for family.

it is hard to recap 3 very full months of our lives. so about a thousand things were missed. but this was a summer of joy and also heartache. trying to stay on the same page with your husband when you don't have a home and are living out of a suitcase and your kids are wild and you are terrified for the future and starting over. but in the midst of arguments or frustration with the kids or mommy guilt about the chaos of it all. i tried to stop and remind myself of truth. it is all ok. we have each other, food, a place to live, clothes, and about a hundred other things we take for granted daily. this time of change was constantly about perspective. a lot of times it felt very #firstworldproblems. meaning things really were not that bad. the Lord is for us and in this with us. that is where my hope is found. it isn't all easy but when is it ever really "easy." this time has been refining for our marriage. who i am as a mother to these 2 girls. i am more present than maybe i have ever been. i don't have anyone to hang out really but them. honestly i love that. i mean i don't always love playing kids stuff like when ava wants to pretend she is dog and i don't feel like it. i dig. i dig deep inside and engage and pretend and explore and take walks, get ice cream, cuddle. it is all a gift. it doesn't always feel that way. but i don't always feel like a lot of things. so i will show up. everyday. as a wife and a mother and a women and a friend. we are not alone. no matter how hard it feels.

more to come this weekend on NJ and what we are up to and how we are adjusting. just wanted to recap our last few months. thanks for stinking in this with us and for praying and supporting us in this new endeavor.

to see our summer in photos check out my instagram feed: @libbyryder 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

from grace...let's rally. for real.

Hi everyone! My name is Grace, and I’ve hijacked the blog for today (thanks Libby!)

I met Justin and Libby a few years ago when they moved to Chesapeake to lead Young Life at our local high school. I could spend this entire post writing about how amazing and inspirational Libby is….but if you read this, you already know that. Instead, I’d like to tell you about something she’s inspired me to do - The RALLY Campaign.

When Libby was diagnosed with lymphoma, it was the first time anyone in my life had been touched by cancer. But just a few months later, one of my close friends from high school was also diagnosed. And then a coworker. And then a friends’ mom. After every diagnosis I felt helpless –  people I cared about were fighting for their lives and there was nothing I could do to help. So I started running marathons with a program called Team in Training (TNT). TNT trains (slightly crazy) people for "endurance events" - mostly marathons, half marathons and triathalons. In exchange, the participants raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). Fundraising for LLS made me feel as though I was making a small difference....while I couldn’t make my friends feel better after a chemo appointment, I could raise money to help find a cure, and to help make life a little easier for current patients.

Earlier this year, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society honored me with a nomination to run for the 2014 Woman of the Year award. Woman of the Year is a 10-week fundraising campaign in which candidates compete to raise funds for LLS.  At the end of the 10 weeks, the candidate with the highest fundraising total wins the title of Woman of the Year. While the title itself means very little to me, raising an incredible amount of money for this organization would mean the world. With the support of my team, The RALLY Campaign, we’re on a mission to raise $150,000 in just 10 weeks.

We’re 8.5 weeks into the campaign at this point, and I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished so far. I wish I could share our progress with you, but candidates are asked to keep everything confidential until the end of the campaign. What I can say is that I’ve been amazed at the generosity and support from our friends, family, and even complete strangers. The RALLY Campaign has brought so many people together to pursue a common goal: to raise an insane amount of money. We’ve hosted multiple events, asked hundreds of people for donations, and applied for countless grants and sponsorships. And now we’re asking for your help as well.

I hope you will consider joining The RALLY by making a donation in support of our campaign. All donations are fully tax deductible, but must be received before 10am on June 5th to count towards our total.  No donation is too small – every dollar counts in this fight.

Thanks in part to campaigns like this, we’ve made huge strides in the fight against blood cancers. But despite the significant progress, the fight is still an uphill battle. Every four minutes someone is diagnosed, and every ten minutes someone dies. Blood cancers are the third most fatal form of cancer in North America, and cause more deaths than any other cancer among children and young adults.   

I rally because almost four years after their diagnoses, my friends are all alive and healthy. And Ava now has a little sister. I rally so more families can celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and first steps. And fewer families have to sit through chemo. I rally for the families who had to say goodbye too soon. I rally so future families don't have to. But mostly, I rally with the hope that one day, we won't need to rally anymore. Will you rally with us?

Please visit www.rallyforlls.com to donate, or to learn more about our campaign. If you have any questions, comments or would like to learn about other ways to be involved, please email me at grace@rallyforlls.com

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Moving ahead...

Our house sold. Our first home. Well not our first home. We've lived in 6 different homes since we were married 7 years ago yesterday. Whoop whoop for marriage and my husband who surprised me with a night away and a 10 course meal tasting. To which I was nauseous with a headache and barely ate. I asked him last night when I was starving if we could try again...maybe next year. But our first purchased home is sold and we move out in a few weeks. Store our stuff for two months and live elsewhere for June and July. Thankfully June we will be at a young life camp in MI so our housing is set and we will find a place here for July. It's a lot of logistics and storage units and movers and details. But it's coming right along. sitting in my living room after a morning of a school drop off, a dr appt, target, screaming lyla (teeth are hurting her), calling storage units, emailing the moving company, selling items on Craigslist, and catching up on the one with friends. Now I am sitting in my living room. My favorite spot in the house because of the incredible light and feeling a little paralyzed. With a growing list of things to do and needing to shower and laundry to put away...I am here. On this blog. To share a bit about where we were are at...because right now feels like a lot. Not too much. Not stressed. A little anxious. Not sure where to begin or if I should begin or if sitting here is ok. as I teared up a second ago my mind was filled with relief. This is not it. This isn't what we life for. Houses and furniture and stuff. All fine things. Houses are precious and full of life and gifts and memories. But this isn't it. Our life is about a life beyond this world. An eternity in paradise. But today I am experiencing both. The peace that this isn't all I live for alongside with the need to make plans and pack boxes and possibly buy a house in New Jersey this weekend. The two exist together and I love that. 

My desire for control has really come to the surface when the "plan" isn't precise or efficient or even known. We just keep moving and show up and do what needs to get done. In times of change and transition and moves and houses and plans...I sometimes wanna quit and pretend it isn't happening. But it is and I am in and I am up for change and adventures and surprises. I want that. I am ok with risk and uncertainty. Maybe not everyday or all the time. But I am learning to live a daily life that truly rests in trusting The Lord. Trusting him with the big stuff and the tiny details. It doesn't mean I sit back and assume it will all come together. It takes action and plans and emails and phone calls and conversations. I can handle that. But I have a peace and a trust that regardless if this process is seamless or packed with bumps and mistakes we will keep moving forward. I believe that this move is right. Not just for me or my husband or our family or young life or Rutgers or anything. It's about Jesus and He is moving and stirring in this place and we will go and be apart of what he is already doing and will continue to do. Easy and hard. It will be both and a million things in between. I believe that The Lord is going before us and in the midst of my tears and lack of motivation to pack and prepare...He is with me and that is enough. Making plans and having it all tied up neat with a bow isn't real and isn't usually how it goes. Thank goodness for the freedom.

Today I am thankful that our house sold. Quickly. That is a gift. I don't want to miss that because I am so focused on storage units and move dates and details. I think both can happen because both are happening. The Lord is taking care of one piece of this transition at a time. I want to rest in that and live out of that. One thing at a time.

If you pray and think of us this weekend I would ask for guidance as we look at homes to purchase and to rent. clarity for to both Justin and I. 

Thank you for entering into our lives. Maybe it started with our cancer journey or with lyla's birth or this move. Whatever the time or season I am grateful for a place to share and be real and know that people from all over are in this with us and the community that has been created is real and authentic. I am thankful for you and for this life and what is next...


Thursday, May 1, 2014

to the kids out there...

ava had a real simple little thing this past week. just a sleep study. nothing crazy or serious. but man it has messed with me a lot since. i guess seeing your little love all full of wires and tubes just does something to your insides. for me this was the first thing we've had to do with ava in regards to medical stuff. my mind has been tricking me all week that when it comes to my kids i am weak. i fall apart. i believe those are lies. you can be both weak and strong. i think that is possible and must exist alongside one another. i cried laying in bed with her during her study. she hated that silly tube they put in her nose because it was scratchy. but our girl. well she did it. she let them put wires all over her head, face, and chest. she did it. mostly because i think she does really like doctor stuff and because it didn't hurt. it was harmless. mostly annoying to sleep with your face covered in tape and electrodes. what an awful word electrodes is. she slept. they got the information they needed. she got pancakes for breakfast and a new stuffed puppy from target. all is well.

mostly i am writing today because our routine (just making sure she is getting all the oxygen she needs while asleep) sleep test is nothing. i mean nothing compared to those of you out there who have dealt with some stupid hard stuff when it comes to your kiddos or siblings or grand kids or friends. it does something unnatural to your heart to see children in pain. especially when they are too young to possibly understand why it is happening to them. had i not had cancer i do think i would have this outlook or maybe i would. we wont ever know. but i learned that we are capable of more than we ever might imagine we are. i know this to be absolute truth. if we were given a book with our entire journey written out we'd probably cripple under the pressure and anxiety and worry in what that book might hold. i would prefer no book. i do better with walking in stuff as it comes. not that i am good at it or anything. just that it gives us a little at a time instead of one big overwhelming book.

for those of you who have walked this road or started today (follow sweet maureen and her family. we love you, tiny john, his life and for each step ahead) or maybe next month. i am sure you could echo that in the midst of heart break and worry the Lord has provided at each step and in every way. even when it was all way too much. i lived through cancer and often continue to think...how did we do that? seriously. how? 

in the midst of tuesday night with ava and this tiny little test my heart grew. far deeper and wider than before we walked into that room. to all of you who have walked a tougher road. not being able to take the pain away from your child. tests and tests. chemo and chemo. shots. surgery. and death. i am sorry. i hate it. today my heart is for you. lifting you up and praying that the Lord gives you more joy and strength and hope and community and whatever it is you need to sustain yourself another minute or hour or day or month or year. i am pleading on your behalf. i simply had never dealt with more than a little shot at the pediatricians office. even though ava did not experience discomfort or pain it brought something to the surface that i didn't know was in me. i mean i hoped it was. i figured somewhere inside it was there. but tuesday i experienced it for the first time. i felt it and acknowledged it and thought...this is nothing. our girl is going to be okay. but what about those that aren't or will be but first need some surgery or medicine to get them there. thankful i live in a place where that is accessible.

i was going to share a little picture of ava from tuesday but it seems trite in comparison to the battles being fought out there today. thank you for standing by your babies and making the painful decisions on their behalf and the exhaustion and stress and questions. oh, man the questions and the options. i pray you are carried today in a way that you've never felt before or even knew existed. you are not alone.

from one mother to another. you can do it. even though you don't want to and it would be easier to fall apart: feel free to do that though. you are noticed and thought of and prayed for and even if only for a second the burden and weight you carry will feel a little lighter.


psalm 138: 7-8a
though i walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me. The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever...

Saturday, April 26, 2014

rutgers.

with joy and tears i share the news that our family will be moving to new brunswick, new jersey this summer to start young life college and young life in the surrounding areas. if you are reading this and just finding out i am sorry i wasn't able to share this personally. it has been quick. so here we are...

what a spring it has been. we were asked to pray through the possibility of this job back around christmas. we talked and we prayed and without clarity or peace we turned it down. not because we are not mobile, up for change, into adventures, and above all completely and utterly willing to follow the Lord wherever He leads our family. we will go. every time. anywhere. wow i just wrote that. so even though that terrifies me i know that is where we stand.

side bar. i have been thinking a lot about calling and discerning the Lord's voice and direction. not an easy thing to navigate in my opinion. but i do believe the Lord is far clearer than maybe we want to acknowledge. mostly because change is hard. i am not sure i have met many people who say...."i love change. i hope my life is full of change and change and more change." mostly it sounds a little more like this..."i have a really hard time with change. can't i just get a break from it all." i think that is ok. i think change can bring fear, hardships, and trials. i know they do. i've lived it. but i have also experienced growth, intimacy with the Lord, depth with my husband, new relationships, joy, and memories that i would not trade. in my own life i can not think of many things i would trade. because i do believe that what we walk through is making us into who we are going to be forever. i am less fearful about new jersey not because i am strong and i handle change well. but because i have seen in tangible ways the Lord take care of me and provide me what i have needed in every major life transition thus far. graduating from calvin and moving to lexington, ky for a boy and a MSW. big move and best move. some of my closets friendships have come from that year. then we headed to chesapeake, va. i only ever had a couple friends my own age in a similar season of life. that was not always easy. i longed for my college roommates, my sisters, and just a few woman to really do life with. but the Lord provided for me in ways i would not even know to ask for. friendships with high schools girls through young life that now...a few years down the road we do life together. from all over the state we celebrate marriages, births, heartaches, and joys. the age gap doesn't matter. thank goodness i was not too ignorant to think we all have to be the same age to be friends. in addition were woman on our yl committee and community around us that literally made the chemo road feasible. meals, child-care, house cleaning, healthy smoothies, talks on the porch, prayer, gifts, cards, and tears. since my own mom was across the country the Lord gave me with other "moms" to care for us on a daily basis. for that i am grateful and for that i know that change and moves do not have to be as paralyzingly scary as i thought them once to be.

then harrisonburg. a few months post cancer we left a place where i think i experienced the most growth and change to date. newlyweds, a baby, cancer...those are just the big things. i became a wife and a mother and a fighter and a survivor and a hundred other things in that place. my heart is now scattered all over grand rapids, mi and lexington, ky and chesapeake, va and harrisonburg, va. some parts of that are hard. i often dream about living on the same street as my sisters and my parents and our kids growing up together. there may still be a season where that exists but not right now. oh, harrisonburg. i arrived here tired and depressed and scared. fighting to be happy and serve and smile and care for others. i like relationships and doing life with people. but it was coming from a place where i had nothing to offer. so in that first year i tried. i tried my best. but i know for a fact a lot slipped through the cracks and that is okay. we can't do it all. we were never meant to. but after some healing i built friendships, entered into the lives of college young life leaders, and we had lyla. this place now has my heart as well. i love that. this place has taught me yet again...that the Lord will give me what i need even if it looks different or feels different than i thought. i happy to admit i am usually wrong and that is fine with me.

in chesapeake and harrisonburg i have never seen people genuinely love our daughters simply because they want to. no obligation. but because they want to serve our family and love out girls. even if ava and lyla wont remember everyone (i hate that and i am sorry) but i know that my girls have seen community and fellowship and love and investment and joy from those of you, our dearest friends who have gone above and beyond for them. thank you.

this move is emotional. i often think emotion just means sadness and tears. not sure why i narrowed it down to those two emotions. but i did. i am experiencing daily and sometimes hourly the range of emotions that come with leaving a place and people you love. like really love. sell your first home, buy a new home, and all the details that can sometimes feel really paralyzing. justin is way better at managing things than me or maybe we just manage different things so it looks different. we are a team in that way and support each other in the areas we serve and work out of and i am beyond thankful for that. this move brings me to tears in two ways. sadness to leave and sadness that for nearly half a millions students in new jersey that don't have a young life leader to walk through life with. or hear about jesus from and experience a far grander life that the Lord has for them than ever could create for themselves. but there is joy. i love that we will be close to nyc. we love that city. i love the adventure, culture, diversity, and opportunities that await us and our girls. i am looking forward to what is ahead while also grieving for who and what we will leave.

but...as my husband shared in his last leadership meeting with our 80+ leaders that our eyes set on an eternal life far grander and far more real and right than this place. our eyes are on heaven. that is not to minimize or ignore how difficult this move will be but to rejoice in that this is far bigger than any little earthly move. someone told me that they think i am strong.  i think strength is viewed highly in our culture and that is not necessarily bad at all. strength and perseverance are essential in life. along with humbleness and patience and grace. it is ok to be a mess. i think we need to hear that more. IT IS OKAY TO BE A BIG OL' MESS. you can stay there for a bit or a lot a bit. but i do believe there is danger is staying in the mess indefinitely. we can do hard things. you see it written everywhere. believe it. we can. we can do things we never imagined we could. believe that truth. and with God? well there is no ceiling on Him. get ready. its real and its big and its major and He wants you. all of you. believe that He will do whatever, whenever, however He wants to bring Himself glory and bring you to himself. that is the life i want. so am i strong? sure i am. you are too. but i know that a lot of where my heart is right now about heading to place i had never been before last month is experiencing more confidence than any other move because HE TOOK CARE ME THEN AND HE WILL TAKE CARE OF ME NOW. that is in caps and you know how i feel about capitalization so clearly i am passionate. the confidence and direction and call we are experiencing about rutgers university in new jeresey is because He hasn't failed me yet. not in leaving my hometown, leaving ky, leaving chesapeake, and now leaving harrisonburg. i know it wont be easy. not many things are easy. except turning on the tv for your kids to watch indefinitely while you nap. but other than that most of life takes drive, energy, time, willingness, and an hourly belief that because of Christ we can live.

i know it will be hard. big bad new jersey is going to be different and that is alright with me. justin says all the time..."do you think when we die we will say...why did i take so many risks for Jesus?" we personally doubt that. so we are taking a risk and we are on board and we are united and we feel sent and care for and we are seeing the Lord go before us in countless ways. thankful He is beside us and behind us and we are covered in prayer and support. i want that. we need that.

more to come this week on moving and calling and when to go and when to stay. i don't know much about staying but i do a lot about going and both are good and right and necessary. the Lord has us where we are for a season or a lifetime and i LOVE that. risk doesn't have to mean moving or new cities or new countries. it certainly can be that but it can be digging deep in a place for 60 years and you know what...those are the people that have made our moves and transitions possible.

i am not sure where we will end up and right now i do not really care. new jersey is what is next. we are thankful for the support and encouragement from young life as a whole as they send us to this new mission field.

if you have any connections in the area of new brunswick near rutgers or live there and i want to be my friend or want to move there and start young life in the nearly 500 high school and middle schools around us...email me at libbyryderblog@gmail.com

this is big for us. it is good for us. we want it. we are in. we are sad. we are joyful. we are scared or at least i am a little. but my husband is a man of vision and training and he is a dreamer. i will follow him anywhere and i am good with that. especially when we are united in the way that we are about new jersey. the Lord moved in me at a meeting 7 weeks ago and i was so overwhelmed with emotion and the holy spirit that i could not stop crying. my head was flooded with this..."move. move your family. go. adventure. risk. it might not go smoothly. but move. move. move. move." so after prayer and counsel and the Lord showing us in very clear ways we will go.




Thursday, April 10, 2014

hope spoken

last march when tickets were released for hope spoken i had no idea what it was. i kept seeing the picture/logo show up all over instagram. the ladies organizing the event were not blogs i had read but now i do and i only recognized a few of the speakers. however, one of the key note speakers was going to be shauna niequst who wrote bittersweet and bread & wine. two books i recommend and bittersweet was sent to me by five different people when i had cancer. i am drawn to her writing and wanted to hear her in person. a few girlfriends from ky whom i know through justin (and have become dear friends) were also going so i tagged along. cory, jen (she blogged the details of this weekend) and rachel our woman that i respect immensely and love and barely see. so a few days in dallas, with some girlfriends, no babies, worship, sharing, and hearing about all different aspects of life and hardships and joy that all...i mean all...point back and directly to Christ.

what went on during this weekend you can't fake. thank you danielle, emily, and casey for that. you can't fake genuine and raw. i love that. i love that it felt nothing like a conference where you feel more like you are observing all these really cool people who get to be the speakers and share about their lives. but instead it felt like i was a part of it all. like my presence mattered. not in a self-centered kind of way but more of that it didn't matter if you were "blog famous" or had lots of instagram followers or wrote books or sold cool stuff. we are all woman trying to make our way. but i would be lying if i wasn't a little intimated by the well of knowledge, life, humbleness, and really amazing woman that filled that room.

the weekend felt humble. not fancy. although the decor was impressive and creative. if we had all been in our pajamas it would have really been my perfect dream. i am drawn to humbleness because i was struck with how prideful i am. how much i want to matter. be important. be asked to speak. share my story. when i realized the woman who shared this weekend were nervous, intimated, shy, hated public speaking (which i totally do so i am not sure why i want to speak at stuff). my pride. i see it everywhere.

i not only watched and listened but i experienced other woman's lives as they shared on abuse, infertility, adultery, depression, anxiety, adoption, death, broken relationships, mounds of deep and dark pain. but the game changer was that in all of that. every ounce of the stories shared you saw surrender, joy, contentment, birth, forgiveness, life, adventure, risk, hope & life. this place was my jam. i am saying that a lot these days to work with me. i felt like i was with woman who were like-minded. no matter the age, state, story, or vision...it all pointed to the gospel and the ocean of grace we can all experience everyday from the Lord. i thrive in thinking and processing and rejoicing and crying in the midst of hard freaking stuff and then...when you can't take it anymore you see a glimpse of joy, sovereignty, forgiveness, life, purpose...a story. our story. my story. your story. the one that He is writing everyday for us. i love that. this weekend was about sharing those stories. no matter where you're at or where you're headed or what was behind you. the Lord is writing your story and the way i believe we honor Him the most is by sharing them. allowing others to enter into them. all of it. the messy stuff and the easy joyful stuff. i think woman have the ability to speak into one each other's life with encouragement and scripture when we share where we've been and where we might be going.

although i would love to give you all little nuggets of truth from the speakers...i cant find my notes and if i don't press publish now this post wont happen since i currently am not sure what lyla is doing. so instead here are the links to the blogs of the ladies who were real, humble, shy, hilarious, truth tellers. i love that. i want to give more of it and i sure want to experience that more with the woman i live life with...both near and far. to take off the masks and the fear and pretending that it's all ok. but man when it is all ok we need to praise the Lord and live out of a place of gratitude. the unique thing about the Lord is that He can provide us with that place of gratitude in the midst of wherever we find ourselves.

danielle & hannah && emily (one of the first blog i ever read and we ate most meals together. love her.) jami & leslie & casey & emily

in life i think we often find ourselves at a point where we can either choose fear or faith. i want to be a woman who chooses faith. i want to be convicted and broken and vulnerable when i know Jesus is the prize. His truth and grace. everyday. everyday single say until eternity.

this weekend showed me that so much of my life is bound up in this earth and my stuff and my family and my hopes and my dreams and my story and what i want. between seminar one and seminar two my heart flipped. i want more of Jesus on this earth. i want my eyes to be kept on Him no matter the season. i want more us to live like that. to talk about why it's scary and what we are holding onto on the inside and where we fail and where we thrive and that no matter how it all unfolds...Jesus is the one thing.

leslie passed photo cards out to those that attended her session and this has been written on my heart.




Monday, April 7, 2014

rally

 I RALLY for Libby. I RALLY because Ava needs her Mom. And Justin needs his wife. Because while every blog post was emotional, none made me cry as much as this one...

February 9th: we are home. we made it. we made it through 12 chemotherapy treatments. it was joyful and emotional. hard to celebrate because i really do not feel very well at all. but either way its over and i never have to get chemo again. i can not explain what this means to me. i have cried more today than i have since this all began. i had no idea i would feel like this. but i am so thankful its over. and i did it. we did it. we freakin' did it. its done. i could scream. justin did scream in the car when we drove home. i will scream when i feel less exhausted.

thanks for loving us. and for the texts, emails, mail, and flowers that arrived today. it helps that so many people are celebrating right along with us.

i am in bed. ava is sleeping. and we are watching top chef. our favorite. my husband is beside me working on his lap top. its so nice to be together. to celebrate how far we have come together. i thought we were a strong team before...but man...cancer does something crazy and special and deep to a marriage.

or this one...

February 18th: Final Test Results - i woke up early this morning. i could not sleep. i emailed my doctor and within minutes he called me. he said immediately, "I am calling with good news, Libby!" that was all i needed to hear. but then i asked to be sure, "So i am cancer free?" and he said, "yes, congratulations Libby!"

i hung up and just sat in my bed. i did not react. almost like when we heard i had cancer. i know i have emotion but for some reason i felt nothing. so i text justin asking him to call me asap and that it was good news. he asked, "how do you feel?" and i thought for a second and said, "good. i mean i knew it. i knew it inside that it was gone but this is the confirmation i needed. i feel relieved." he said me too. but i know myself and the emotion will come. its not usually immediate. its like i need a second. well its been over an hour and its sinking in. ava woke up and we got her dressed and justin made breakfast and we really did not talk. we ate on the porch and then my heart began to open up. not with tears but i am beginning to process that i do not have cancer anymore. I DO NOT HAVE CANCER ANYMORE.

i often think that our story is not that unique or special. people get cancer all the time. and people live and people die. and i found myself feeling guilty that our story of cancer was maybe not as tough as other people's. justin said that was dumb and not to think that. so i will try not too. but we changed. forever we are changed. and i would not trade that for the world. my heart is new. and i am still broken and sinful and clearly imperfect but cancer did something big to me. and to justin. and even though ava is so young i know our family's story will change her too. oh, i pray it does.


I RALLY because almost four years after her diagnosis, Libby is alive and healthy. Because Ava now has a baby sister. I RALLY so more families can celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and first steps. And fewer families have to sit through chemo. I RALLY for the families who had to say goodbye too soon. I RALLY so future families don't have to. But mostly, I RALLY with the hope that one day, we won't need to RALLY anymore.

(all the above was shared by grace ng on the www.rallyforlls.com website)

i have been trying to write this for a few days but i didn't want to just share a link and a story and ask people to just enter into this campaign. i want to articulate in the best way i can that this is way bigger than raising awareness or money. it is about dreaming of a day when cancer isn't a part of any of our stories anymore. because enough research has been done to obliterate this disease. but since that day is not today i want to share about our friend grace. her family has been long time supports of the ministry of Young Life and our family. justin and i have had the honor of walking alongside grace's two younger siblings, abigail and jon while living in chesapeake.

Grace Ng graduated from the University of Virginia in 2009 and took a job at Barclays in New York City where she currently works as an Assistant Vice President in Institutional Equity Sales, responsible for covering institutional asset managers with respect to their equity market investments.

After moving to NYC in 2009, Grace discovered the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) through their endurance sports training program, Team in Training. Team in Training trains individuals to compete in marathons, triathlons, and cycle events while they raise funds to support LLS. In the past four years, Grace completed 5 marathons and half marathons with Team in Training, and is currently training for a half marathon in June!

In addition to her own training, since 2012 Grace has served as a captain for Team Barclays, a Team in Training corporate team that has supported more than 350 employees in endurance events and raised over $1 million for LLS. At the invitation of LLS’s NYC Chapter, Grace also serves as a member of the Team in Training Executive Leadership Committee, an entity tasked with growing and developing the Corporate Team Division of the program. (this and more about grace can be found at www.rallyforlls.com)

Grace has accepted the nomination for the LLS 2014 WOMEN OF YEAR rally campaign. the rally campaign is a 10 week push to raise $150,000 for the LLS.The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) is the world’s largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research and providing education and patient services. Founded in 1949, LLS is relentless in the pursuit of its mission to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. When I was sick we were given a $5,000 check from the LLS to help with our medical bills, medication, and treatment. That significant contribution alleviated the financial burden that cancer treatment brings to so many people. 

will you rally?
no matter the amount it makes a difference. all those $25 donations add up.


follow them on twitter @RALLYFORLLS
connect on facebook

mostly this whole thing is very humbling. humbling that people continue to rally around our story, cancer, and finding a cure. when we were walking through cancer i share all the time that the reason we even made it through that time without going insane was because people rallied around us in every capacity possible. but it begins with a cure. 

email me if you have questions or want to get involved.
libbyryderblog@gmail.com



thankful that LLS had done enough research by the time i was diagnosed so we had treatment plan designed specifically for hodgkin's lymphoma. i was stage 4 when my cancer was discovered and i feel confident that because of the 4 drugs i was given at chemo in addition to the Lord's grace i was healed. today i am healthy wife and momma to little girls. i can feel how close we were to that not being our story.
 because campaigns like this exist i was able to be treated and healed.