Thursday, October 30, 2014

the crossing guard made me cry.

so a few weeks ago i cried in the car-pool line. it isn't actually a line. it is almost funny how it difficult the simple task of picking up your child from school seems to be. due to lack of parking spots, one-way streets, and my inability to be on time. if you aren't at the door at 2:55pm she is in the office by 2:58pm crying because she was forgotten. it only has happened once. we all survived.

it was a rainy afternoon and the girls and i were headed to NY to spend the weekend at a young life camp called lake champion. i was a tiny bit rushed to pack the car and wake lyles from her nap and get to school on time to get aves and get on the road before the traffic got bad. the traffic in NJ is almost always bad but i was trying to avoid awful. so i am on my way to get her and the van in front of me stopped because it wasn't sure where to go for pick-up so as she was talking to the lady at the cross walk i sort of decided to go around her on the left side in an attempt to cross the street before i was going to be late. instead i got yelled it...she asked me to back up...what was i doing...not sure how they drive in VA (i still had va plates) but in NJ we don't do that. kind of a lie as drivers are crazy here but whatever. then another mom on the side of the road yells..."welcome to NJ get used to it." i am not entirely sure what that meant. was that welcome we love you so glad you are here or little harsher like...pull it together momma this is NJ and you need a thicker skin. i think it’s latter but i wanna give people the benefit of the doubt. so the crossing guard and i have an exchange. not heated but i wasn't super kind either. finally i am on my way (late) and the tears start coming. i pull it together to grab ava and get her in the van.

why are you crying libby? over and over i say this to myself. what is wrong with you? toughen up. this isn't VA and no one is against you and also no one really cares that you just moved here pull it together.

i wanted to scream...hello people. cut me some slack. i just moved. i need a second. left people i love. a house, friends, and nice little town. please someone give me a prize for being strong and selling stuff and moving for Jesus. please. anyone? anyone? 

in my tears and anger i decide the best thing to do is to pull ava out of this school and send her somewhere with adequate parking and kind crossing guards. that will fix it. maybe a nice little christian school...not this big bad public school.

so i call my people. i call a few women in my life who know when i need truth. not...oh, poor libby you got yelled at? oh, so sad for you. your life is so hard. i love you and you are awesome. sometimes you need that. of course we need that. find those people and hold on to them. they are a treasure. encouragement from people we love is so key. but not this time. this time i needed some truth and some perspective. 

i love when you dial those people and they don't pick up and you get pissed because they should know you need them like right now. but then one does. she listens. she is caring. she loves me. but then she points me to jesus and truth and what this is really about. it has far less to do with school and a crossing guard. but much more to do with myself and my heart and feeling alone. not like alone alone. just a little like....i want to scream to everyone...please be nice. i just moved. this isn't easy. go easy on me. 

the thing i have learned in these short two months is that no one really cares. (clarification. people care. my close people care. they call, text, email, visit, they love me. i know this. so thankful. truly). but the big bad world...well they do not really care. not in a bad way necessarily. just in a matter of fact kind of way. everyone has stuff going on. everyone is walking in something. in the midst of it or just got through it or man can't seem to move past it. we are all working through something. that is life. that is our nature and it is normal and real.

i require perspective a lot. i need to get outside of myself and my own head and my own woes sometimes. not in a way that is like...pull it together, be tough, you be strong, come on you can do it. i think its both and all of it and everything in between. i believe the fact that i cry easily is because i feel deeply about things and people and life. i am thankful that sometimes i am fragile and emotional and not very strong. i want that. i am ok with wounded and broken. my intimacy with the Lord has grown the most in the midst of suffering. not all the time. but as i reflect i see my own heart and perspective on life, my calling, and my passions seem to be shaped in my brokenness.

also i am prideful. i sometimes want a prize or some recognition. you see me? you see my family? we take risks. we leave what is safe, comfortable, and what we know. and we go. we leave it all. for Jesus? yes of course. but what if i have missed it and it is sometimes about being noticed and receiving praise. that is embarrassing to admit to you. but it is true. it is what i feel inside and some days i sit in it and get lost there. 


i choose to get out. to see what else is going on here. what in all this is about my sin? my pride? my selfishness? my comfort? my desire to want the world to fill me? praise me? care about me?  i think it is normal and human to feel and have these emotions and feelings. who wants to be a robot? i want to feel things deeply and passionately. even if in those places i get lost and see things about myself, admit to things about myself that are hard and ugly and gross.

i am learning that when it comes to this stuff. this move. the crossing guard. being uncomfortable. first impression after first impression and the game i play in my head afterwards...was that nice? did i ask her enough questions? wait did i sound rude? did i talk about myself too much? it is exhausting. starting over is exhausting. i am tired. i want deep and authentic friends here and that takes time. but more than that i want a deep and authentic life and i think it happens in seasons and months and years. but i do not want to miss the moments and hours and days either. they are rich too. when the tears and loneliness come and i get lost in my own head and begin down that slippery self-loathing slope. i want to feel those feelings. express them. cuss about it. cry about it. share it. hand it over to Jesus and yell out loud..."does anyone care?" does anyone care that this isn't easy and you know what? thank goodness HE does care. He cares deeply about my heart and my tears and my fears and my pride. and that my friends is enough. i may not always believe it or live it out. but man in my core i believe it with every ounce of my being. i pray it is more than enough for all of us. because people will fail and they will miss it and wont ask how we are doing or maybe they can’t ask. maybe there own pain and hurt is too deep. but it makes me more and more thankful for a God who has a capacity that is never ending. 

all these thoughts and feelings i have written down are not able to be tied up in a nice little bow. i can't reconcile it all or make it all come together. because i think we need to feel. feel the hurt and pain and sadness and joy and frustration and gratitude. but alongside all of that is learning how to climb out of it. maybe it is slow. for me i got the feelings thing down. i can feel. i feel a lot of things. but i do not want to be defined by a feeling that is very real and has merit and deserves recognition and attention to be all that i am about. the world is not about me and my family and our moves and our starting overs and the exhaustion that comes with the newness of it all. that is a part of it. but a far grander part is that we are all living a story that the Lord is writing. 

but i don't want to be stuck in my own stuff forever. it is the tension of...this is about me and also this really isn't about me. can we have both? i think we must. who we are and what we are about is very real and very personal but i also desire a life that looks outside of myself. learning to love people deeply because Jesus did. i want to be about things that matter. eternal stuff. big stuff. i think this one life it is all about bringing them both together. i want it all. i think you can have it all. if your ALL is in Jesus. He wants to give us every ounce of Himself to better understand ourselves.

what a God we serve. i will take it. the hard the ugly the being yelled at...when it is about stretching and growing my heart for Jesus and who is creating me to be. forever and ever. 

Friday, September 5, 2014


when i talk to friends i keep describing our place as "airy." not even sure what that means. but i guess to me it means open, white, uncluttered, simple, a little tidy (some days). it is also higher in the sky because we are on the 8th floor so i do feel a bit like we are in the air being as we are above the trees. we lost the place i instagrammed above chipotle so we are in an older peoples home and i love it. i promise to take some pictures as it comes together.

in this "airy" place i am finding that our life. at least mine. my husband is starting a lot of new things and meeting people and making connections and doing a lot of detail type work. just imagine all the things...the big and little that come with a "start-up" of any type of business or work or ministry. so he has full days. but they look different. for now our nights are a bit more open. we are accustom to many at least 3-5 nights a week where he or i would have commitments. so this change of least for me is a treasure. a little gift. as things begin to grow (the lord willing) i know our schedule will change again and it may look more like the past 7 years that we have grown to know and love. but for now. for this little change of season i am welcoming it with open arms. making dinner. eating as a family. taking turns putting the girls to bed, spending time together alone at night...just us.

back to my heart. this time and this new place has felt surprisingly not as lonely as i feared it would be. starting over is never easy. i know that. but for now it doesn't feel hard or scary. it feels right and ok. spending intentional time with the girls during the day. taking walks. running errands. going to the gym (i have started working out regularly for the first time in nearly 8 years). watch out. discovering our new home, finding parks, checking out the library, farmers markets, and lots of target runs. it feels nice. it feels slower...because it is slower. but with a lot more traffic.

monday ava will start school. that will give our life and schedule a little more structure and a welcomed routine. but mostly i am just thankful. thankful that this...this big, fat, scary, i didn't really want to move...this whole "thing" well it is going well. we are adjusting and i feel content. slowing down, less busy, and hectic than i have been in years. i think our family needed this. i just didn't realize how badly.

our apt is smaller than our house. we sold a lot of things and the simplicity...not that it is that simple...i have made several ikea and target runs. but still it is less stuff, with less going on. and for me, for now a little less going on. it certainly will not last forever but it is a cherished gift. it is teaching me a lot about how i have lived my life in the past and where i want to go next and what the Lord has for me in the midst of it all. every season of life holds growth and truth. i learning about where i have found my worth in the past and how much of my identity i find in the magnitude of what i have going on and how busy i am and how needed i am. right now in nj not many people even know i live here or even care. so it has basically been about our family and i like that. but also ready to see where the Lord opens doors and where new friendships will begin to grow. i am certain nj has some good mamas i just need to meet them.

my writing view because i like to see where people live. 
again i will not be posting many pictures on the blog so instagram @libbyryder is the best place follow along with us.

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 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

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 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


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. 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 me at

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.