Tuesday, May 31, 2011

smith mountain lake.

justin and i both love the water. he grew up going to cherokee lake in ky and i grew up going to lake michigan. my grandparents own a home on the water and i have countless memories of spending many hours swimming, putt putt golfing with my grandpa, playing card games at the lake, and enjoying the beach. we ate good food too. justin talked about playing all day at the lake. never getting bored. there was always something to explore. as we drove over a bridge and saw a few docks of houseboats we realized yet again, how much we miss his dad's houseboat in ky and spending memorial day at lake michigan. living far from our families does not make it easy to spend weekends on the water like we did growing up. we miss it and we miss all of you. please know that.  but we still want ava to be around it and to love it like we do. thankfully we found out this weekend she does. running around the dock, going on boat rides, and playing on the raft in the water. she did not stop all weekend unless it was to sleep. she slept long and hard. but when that girl is up she is on the go and does not sit for more than a second. it made playing around the dock and near the water fun, but a little nerve racking too. thankfully we had her purple life vest and we never needed to test it out. she stayed close. but she is not scared. not even a little bit. she ran after the dogs all weekend. she even did a somersault down one of the steps to the water. it was almost like it was in slow motion. when i got to her she just laid there and looked up at me. not crying. not hurt. just seemed a little confused on what just happened. that's our girl. busy. brave. tough and adventurous.
 we were looking for "goldies." since one of ava's favorite food is goldfish crackers. she now calls all fish...goldies.
 sweet juanita. she is a cancer survivor too. she had leukemia when she was younger. twice actually. laura's cousin micheal is also a cancer survivor. he had it when he was young too. both their stories are amazing. they were so young and so strong. listening to juanita's story made me yet again realize how it could have been so much worse. i hope you know what i mean. juanita went through a lot. she wrote me a letter while i was sick. we had met a couple times at the lake. but when she came down to the lake and we were talking i actually did not realize it was her who had written me this lengthy letter and shared her heart. sadly it got lost in the mix of all the letters i had received. but once i realized it was her and put it all together i remember exactly what she wrote me. it was typed. it was long. in a good way. i sat in bed and read it and it's actually right on the middle shelf of my nightstand. its encouraging to be around fellow cancer survivors and hear their stories and how the Lord carried them through. reminds me yet again how we are not alone. cancer is not just in our story. but in hundreds around us. the three of us survived and it's incredible. 
uh-oh is our new favorite word. along with no. whenever anything. i mean anything is not as it should be we hear a couple uh-ohs from ava. her shoe fell off in this picture and uh-oh. spill her animal crackers on the ground and uh-oh. part of her popsicle falls on the ground and uh-oh. we hear it about fifty times a day.
momma is tubing. have not done that since college. ava was a little sad. but she had her aunt laura.
the last three remaining. i can't take too much credit. i was on the inside and its way easier to stay on the tube oppose to the outside. either way i didn't fall off.
 thanks guys for helping with the mulch. you all are so manly and tough. thanks justin for taking this last minute snap shot of Q. he did not want to miss out just because he was working in the front yard.
thanks guys for giving your lives away for the sake of Christ. leading young life in college is incredible to me. i am always so encouraged to see college students who get it. really get it. who could be spending the four years of college in a thousand different ways other than sharing Christ along with their lives with high school and middle school students. don't stop.
 avas godparents. thanks for loving her so well. she has great examples in the both of you. we are working on teaching her to say lala and iffy. maybe by assignment.
yay for new mommas. sarah (far right) you are looking so good and so natural at being brently's mom. sadly i did not get any pictures. but she is real cute. oh and carter you are a good dad too.
loves to have a popsicle in each hand. just like her red and green suckers.
it was a great weekend. relaxing. i mean sorta. after ava went to bed it was real relaxing. and even though people were sceptical of her sleeping in a dark work room...who slept from 7pm to 10am? ava did. little girl was exhausted. she literally did not stop moving from when she woke up to when she went to sleep. i like that though. as much as i feel like all i  do is follow and run after her all day. secretly i love it. i love that she is learning and exploring. i love that she is discovering this great big world and we get to introduce it to her. just remind of that when i am so too tired to move. that it's worth it. all of it. i was reminded again this weekend as i talked about cancer a little when people asked...how thankful i am. yet again that ava was not this mobile when i was sick. i would have missed out on so much. i know it. we would have needed more help. thank you thank you thank you that i did not miss this. the right now. the non stop i do not want to sit down for more than a minute unless i am eating a popsicle or a sucker stage of life. i am glad i am here. to take her on her second boat ride. to take her into the lake for the first time. to look for goldies. to take walks. to run after the dogs. even then they knock her over she can not seem to get enough. that's our girl. oh, our sweet ava. awesome weather. more food than you could possibly ever need to eat. great conversation and fellowship. i love this family and i love this place. thank you for welcoming the ryder family in. we feel so loved and cared by you all. you all began loving ava when she was inside my belly and you threw us a baby shower on the porch over labor day in 2009. agness, lizzy, and grandmom you rocked her and held her last memorial day when she was just four and half months old. she even got her first bath in the infamous henderson kitchen sink. we missed this past labor day and we all know why. but you prayed, sent gifts and letters. you loved us from afar. and now this past weekend you ran after our little girl, took her exploring, helped her play with the dogs, read her books, gave her cups to stack, gave her lots of goldies, hugged and kissed her. a lot. thank you thank you thank you. someone even told me this weekend that they liked how we parented ava. i think as a mom. especially a mom who stays at home full time and finds a lot of identity in being a mommy...best compliment ever.
thanks ava for making us a family and for doing amazing in the car on our five hour trip.
seriously. best kid ever.

Monday, May 30, 2011

80's night.

thursday night we celebrated our friend ally's upcoming wedding. it was great. i kinda felt old. since most of the girls there are not married and still in college. but it did not really matter because i still dressed 80's, wore a mohawk, and stayed out until almost 3am. i still know how to have a good time.
 the bride. leslie you look cute too.
 sweet katie. what fun we had.
 we all knew (minus the bride to be) that we were headed out for a little night of dancing. but not just any dancing. um 80's night. who does not love..."girls just want to have fun" and a little tiffany "i think we're alone now." we danced to both. here's ally all dressed in her 80's bride outfit. 
shan shan gave me a mohawk. never. i mean never in a million trillion years did i ever think i would have such short hair. i am not that confident. i swear. but since i was not given a choice in the matter i a trying to rock this pixie with confidence and even a little mohawk when necessary. not everyday. but this seemed like a good night for it.
the whole group before we headed out dancing. thanks queeny for the pictures.

it was such a fun night. seriously just a good night of dancing and being with girlfriends.

ally i hope you felt loved. i know i speak for all of us...we are very excited for you and josh. what a precious gift it is to be married. i count it as one of the greatest things to ever have happened to me. being able to do life with justin. forever. enjoy the last month or so before the big day.

incredible weekend at the lake. our little ava is one tough adventurous little girl. we love it. more to come tomorrow. its date night.

happy memorial day.

Friday, May 27, 2011

off to the lake...

we are headed to smith mountain lake to spend the weekend with some of our dearest friends and "family". we are not related to any of them but they have taken us in as if we were there own. we love that. so we are busy cleaning out the car, cleaning up the house, and packing up to head out in an hour. we will see if that happens...

this morning was special. one of those times when i really got a glimpse of how thankful i am that we do what we do. our house was filled with like twenty college students who either lead young life or went to young life in high school...but it does not really matter why or how we know each other. but we love each other. my husband made about thirty too many chocolate chip pancakes but more is always better than not enough. we drank coffee, we played with ava, and enjoyed the amazing porch on the river. i love this house. mostly because it allows us to have people here. to welcome friends into our home day or night. everyone knows our door is always open. not literally. but you know what i mean. i think its been so special to me lately that we live where we live because right when we moved in we did not have many people here since i was sick. but now that i am better we are able to have people over more and more. i love it. i like to entertain. i always knew i liked the idea of it and wanted to be hospitable. but now its actually happening and i love it. we are living it.

a few of our young life leaders are headed to windy gap to do summer staff for the month of june. something near and dear to our hearts. justin and i met at a young life camp back in june 2005. we are working on writing the story of how we met. like all love stories they are special. often in ways that you will never be able to articulate to anyone else but each other. and sometimes trying to put it into words never seems to do it justice. i promise it will be written eventually. so we gathered together for some fellowship around food, conversation, and prayer. how grateful i am for the community of leaders and dear dear friends we have here.

they love ava. i have not even written anything down and i am tearing up. there is nothing else in the world like seeing people care for and love your child. we get to see it all the time and it's a gift. this morning was extra special because as our friend jacob was walking out the door headed to windy gap...our little ava crawled down the steps as fast as she could and yelled..."bye bye jaja." justin and i both looked up and caught each other's eyes and we both teared up. she did it all on her own. girl is smart. i tell you what she is saying and doing something new everyday.

i want ava to know what it means to love people. to live life with people. be intentional. go deep. be real. and throughout all of that see Christ and who He is in all of our lives. she will never grow up seeing anything else and that is a treasure. as we held hands and prayed as we sent our friends off for the month...ava was there. in the middle of the circle. talking and not being the least bit quiet. but she was there. she was in it and that is all that matters to us.

enjoy your weekend. its gorgeous here. boats and boats and more boats.

bachelorette party last night. we dressed 80's and i had a mo hawk. pictures to come.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

no power and a little no more cancer update.

yesterday a storm rolled in and we lost power. although it was a little hot and we missed power and the luxury that it is...it was kinda nice. no phone. no air (i hated that the most. but we did open the windows). no tv. no laptop. just us upstairs enjoying each other and talking. even ava was able to sleep minus her fan. the noise she has slept with since she was born. thankfully around 2am i woke up to our fan along with the hallway light. power. finally.

we got up early to head to my doctor appointment. after arriving real late due to traffic i signed in. the receptionist looked at me and said she did recognize me for a second, due to the pixie. but gave me some nice compliments and said i looked healthy. it was awesome to hear. i sat down in the waiting room. the same room we spent so many hours. i remember looking around that same room back in august and thinking...we do not belong here. how can this possibly be our life. but we made it. its over. i am crying. not then. but now. its just so exciting to see how far we have come in such a short time. i am so glad its done. sitting there this time was not scary or nerve racking. nor was i nauseous even at the idea of what was to come. because this time it was not as scary. because i am healthy. what a gift that is.

i got my blood drawn and went back to see noura, my chemo nurse. it was great to see her and not want to throw up at the sight of her. we talked about life, ava, her new house, how i am feeling, her and her husband coming over for dinner at the river house, our summers, and how we can finally be friends because she is not giving me chemo anymore. it was good to see her. i am so thankful for her and how she walked through our journey with us. her role was just as important as the meals, babysitters, friends, and family who were alongside us the whole way. she had one of the tougher jobs in it all and we are so thankful it was her. exactly who we needed right in our situation. another gift in it all.

we celebrated with andi our p.a and dr. lee that my scan looks good and my blood work is fine. my levels are returning to normal. we are getting back to normal. our new normal.

this afternoon a couple friends came over. mandy and kristy. we talked about life, relationships, Christ, and cancer. they both read the blog while they were are school. its such an encouragement to me to hear how the Lord used it in their lives. how its hard to trust to God when tough things happen. believing that His plan is perfect. better than our own. even when we can not always see it or do not want to believe it. but He is good. all the time.  following Jesus is not easy. not sure where that idea ever came from. but its good. its better than anything else. knowing that this life is not the end. but living for a life in eternity with Him. but life is hard. sad. dark and lonely. but i told them today and will keep telling anyone who will listen...that without our faith in the Lord through cancer and for the rest of our lives...cancer may have been too much. too hard. too painful. too scary. the worst thing that ever happened to us. at times we thought those things. but what was always true. what we never wavered from was that He had us. never left us. not even for a second. even when we did not understand, we knew He did. so we trusted that. not ourselves.

last thing: getting new sponsors for june together. if you are interested in advertising something you sell that our readers might like send your info to libbyryderblog@gmail.com

Sunday, May 22, 2011

attachment and a little note

we just got home from church. ava hates the nursery. well not necessarily the nursery itself...just leaving me. we have not dealt with this yet at all with her.  she has always been so great with going with whoever and is used to different people watching her. but not the case in the past weeks. she cried one and off for almost an hour straight while i was working out at the Y. i tried to take a picture of her after i picked her up from the play center because i had never seen her eyes so red and blotchy and sad in all my life. but the camera on my phone was not working. along with everything else on my stupid droid. i hate it. get an iphone if you can. so i pick her up and seeing her sad little face was awful. but as soon as i get her she immediately stops crying, waves, and says "bye bye" to the workers. at least we have established that she is fine. nothing is actually wrong. the only thing that is wrong is that she is attached me. literally. i can not leave the room without her crying or running after me. and poor justin. she only seems to want me right now and it's breaking his heart and mine. i know this whole attachment stage is normal and most kids go through its just tough. it makes me not want to leave her. ever. quit going to church. quit working out. and never leave her with another person again in her life. exaggeration. i will do none of those things. i will keep bringing her places and leaving her even if she cries. but i will always come back. i want her to begin to understand that her mom and dad always come back. 

this morning at church it took two rounds. justin drops us off and goes to park and i bring her to nursery. i explain that she is having some attachment issues and may cry for a second. well she clings to me. she grabs my shirt. whatever she can to not let her go. but i do manage to hand her off with some tears. i go meet justin and we sit down. i can not focus so i go check on her and she is still crying. i take her out of the nursery. not sure what my plan is next. so we get a bagel and i bring her into church. thinking this would be her dream. she gets to stay with us. but nope she starts to fuss. so we leave. justin and i discuss what we should do. we decide to try again. but this time i go into the play area with her and start playing and sneak out. before i do that a sweet friend of ours comes into the nursery and offers to stay there with ava to make sure she is fine. um, thank you. seriously i was so thankful. so i sneak out and when we get her after the service and we find out she did great and did not fuss or cry once. progress. we made some progress. one step at a time.
ava is currently napping. i am getting ready for a cookout tonight at our house and heading to the pool with ava and some friends when she wakes up. 

so we have a little guest post today from our dear friend mandy. we love you and matt and your two little ones. thank you for walking through life with us...even from a distance.

from mandy...

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”  1 Corinthians 3:18

…a reflection of our own marriage…
The first time I ever met Libby, I asked her to move in with us.  It was a bold moment for me, especially considering I had not asked my husband.  But there was something ringing in my heart and mind, and I know now it was the Spirit’s movement, coordinating God’s perfect plan.  We got to share an entire year with Libby and Justin, filled with true life…love and laughter, tears and troubles.  My husband Matt and I always joked that watching Libby and Justin interact was like looking into a mirror and seeing a reflection of our own marriage.  There were so many similarities in our personalities and our relationships…highlighted mainly by Matt and Justin making ridiculous statements or actions that they would later regret.  Libby and I always said to each other, “Good thing they are so funny.”

…a reflection of the light and hope for the future…
We were able to be a part of their wedding, and on that bright and sunny afternoon in May, we were honored to stand behind them as they professed their commitment to God’s plan and His purpose for them.  And on their faces we could see a reflection the light and hope for the future.

…a reflection of fear and faith intertwined…
I will never forget Libby’s voice on the phone that day in late July.  We were at my daughter’s swimming lessons, and I can still hear Libby’s voice saying, “…and you don’t know what to say, and that’s OK” as she finished the details of the past 48 hours--the diagnoses, the too many questions, and the not enough answers.  And in her voice was a reflection of fear and faith intertwined.

…a reflection of the darkness and uncertainty of cancer…
As I sat at their dining room table on a cold and dark November night, Justin and Libby shared their hearts with me, and in their words I caught a reflection of the darkness and uncertainty of cancer.  I listened as they traded thoughts, feelings, joys, and struggles.  I watched them wrestle with God’s purpose for them and grind out the realities of life and cancer.  And I could see them, in that moment, living out their purpose in God’s Kingdom.  Their promises made on that sunny May afternoon were being held to the fire, and here they were in front of me, really doing what we all talk about doing…accepting and leaning into God’s will for our lives.

…a reflection of her heart…
I checked her blog daily, and I could hear Libby’s voice poured out in lowercase letters—a reflection of her heart.  And we all caught a glimpse of a beauty that comes only from God.  A perfect integration of authenticity and faith.  The entries illustrated for us all how Libby and Justin had stepped up to the purpose and will God had for them in this season of life.  Only God has the full, panoramic view of how Libby’s words administered His Spirit to thousands of readers.  But just imagine all of the stories we will get to hear in Heaven…

…a reflection of the Lord’s glory…
Libby and Justin, thank you for taking us with you on your walk through cancer.  Thank you for changing our hearts and minds.  Thank you for living out God’s purposes for you in His kingdom on this earth.  Thank you for showing us how to truly reflect His glory in all situations.  Matt and I are so thankful for you and can only hope and pray that we might be able to look at our marriage and see a reflection of yours.  We love you.  

thanks mandy. this was good stuff. i love you.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

we are laughing. read the previous post first.

scan is CEAR. still cancer free. let's celebrate. we sure are. i can not even express my heart right now.
 i am so thankful. like so so so thankful. my heart could burst.

so lets all enjoy a couple pictures our dear friend matt took of ava and i at the young life kickball club. she hates to be held. it makes me sad sometimes.

that smile on my face is the best way to express to all of you reading how i feel right now. happy to be alive. thankful to be healthy and enjoying life. i am trying real hard to not allow cancer to rob me from our life. a cancer-free life that is full and rich (not necessarily money-wise) and bright.

the plan is to celebrate every three months that this body is cancer free. no else needs to celebrate. unless they want to. but the ryder family sure will.

the pixie is growing in fast. thank goodness.

3 months and a ct scan.

today marks our three month anniversary of cancer free! what a joy. really. three months. wow. so fast and yet seems like yesterday in some ways too. but in the midst of that joy i got to begin the day with drinking a large berry "smoothie" in prep for my scan. its not a smoothie. not at all. but they call it that. it creates a contrast inside you to help them see if there is cancer or no cancer. we are praying for no cancer.

its been hard around here lately. some cancer stuff and some not cancer stuff. justin and i did get to sneak away to virginia beach on tuesday for the night minus little ava. it was good to get away. to enjoy the ocean. we love the ocean. and enjoy the amazing gift we have of living on water. its incredible. we like little getaways. even if its for less than 24 hours. its nice to talk, take a walk, read, rest, and be together. that time with my husband is so good for me. to just slow down in the midst of it all.


sometimes when we slow down i do begin to over think everything. like why am i so tired lately? is cancer back? no its not back. not possible. how could it. its only been three months and lymphoma is a slow growing cancer. i am just tired for normal reasons. that little pain in my hip. its in my head. i am sure of it. its not as bad as it was before so it must be nothing. round and round i go. who am i? this is not me i don't think. i am pretty tough. i try and see what's good in the midst of what's not so good. i do trust the Lord. i am just having a hard time slowing my thoughts down before they get out of control. praying for peace. lots of peace. and resting in Him. i got a text this morning as i was driving to the my scan and i said...i am not as strong as i used to be. to which she responded...it's okay, He's got you. true and true. He does. everyday. if i allow myself to rest in what is true not become overtaken by the lies in my little head.

cancer has been on my mind a ton lately. not in a good way. in a scary way. but two things have come from it.  although the idea of cancer returning causes a big lump in my throat and tears form in my eyes. we will do it. we will go through it again if we have to. because His plan is the prefect plan and i trust His over my own. and by next week when we get the results i can laugh about this post and how crazy scared i have been lately. that's my hope. laughter. lots of it over my week of anxiety.

thanks for those of you that this read blog and are continuing on with our family as we entire into many new phases of this whole cancer thing. there has been a little more cancer talk on the blog lately than i would have hoped. but its heavy on my heart and it's what's going on in this house right now. not overtaking it. not at all. but a little subtle underlying tone.

good thing life keeps happening...laundry, mopping, ava's doctor appointment today, cleaning my car, grocery store...the usual.

will post results when we know something. thanks for your encouraging words and prayers. it really has and does make all the difference.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

ct scan

i have a ct scan tomorrow. our first real cancer thing since february. please pray that the results indicate that my cancer is still gone. i am real anxious about this. we will not know results until we see my doctor next wednesday. please keep us in your prayers aa we continue this new stage of life: post cancer. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

i am not sure how to do this yet...

i am having a hard time with figuring out how to live in this new place in our life. in lots of ways it's easy. not that life is easy. i do not mean that. but i have heard that sometimes people who have had cancer have a real hard time adjusting after they become cancer free. which seems a little silly because...'um the cancer is gone. be grateful and move on. but its not always that easy i don't think. i am thankful that for the most part our life is returning to normal. in some areas its totally back to what it once was. the big difference for me is that i will never be as busy as i was before i got sick. i found a lot of worth and value in how much i had going on. how many things i could get done. how i spent my time and the more i had to do the better. although i do love to relax and hang out...our family keeps a pretty busy schedule. but don't we all? i am yet to meet anyone who feels like they have all this time on their hands and are not sure what to do with it...its just not how people tend to role these days. and i do not think its really even bad or anything like that. it just is. but i am less busy now. i am okay with not having every hour of my day planned. justin joked with me yesterday that his schedule and how my planner just said...9:15 little gym and then nothing else was written down for the day. i did do more than just that though. i am able to embrace doing "less" as i lived that for most of this past year. not many plans. not a long to do list. but instead doing what i could and not feeling like i owed anyone an explanation for that. but cancer ends and then all of a sudden you are not fighting cancer anymore so you have the time and energy to get back into life and do what you love and what's life giving.

so your healthy. you have a little seven month old baby. find out you are sick. it's cancer. which is crazy. so you treat the cancer in your body. a few months later the cancer is done. yay. treatment worked. done and done. you celebrate. but then randomly every three months you have to think about cancer again. you do not have it. i keep saying to people i am living like i am cancer free, because i am cancer free. until someone tells me otherwise i do not live in a constant state of fear. i refuse to live in fear. i believe with every part of myself that in Christ we are free to live. really live. fear is gone. but i am having a hard time with that now. as my first follow-up appointment approaches i am thinking about cancer and the possibility of it coming back. it's messing with my heart and my head. i know lymphoma is a curable cancer. but i know people die from it too. i know the likelihood of it returning is a very small percentage. but so was the percentage that i would even get cancer in the first place. i get emails and read stories of people who are five, ten. twenty years cancer free. but then i also get emails from people whose cancer did return. its just a tough place to be. i know what is true. i believe i have a greater understand that my life is not my own than i ever have in my life. but i am scared. i am scared about cancer coming back. i do not want to do it again. will i always feel anxious about follow-up appointments? maybe and is that okay? or will i feel better after i have had a few...all clear check-ups. i am not sure. i am not totally sure how to live in this place. this new place of you did have cancer and now you don't...but cancer will always be in our story. i say that a lot. because its true. but i am discovering that i am saying that mostly in regards to how cancer changed us and how we grew and what we learned. the good stuff. not the reality that for the rest of my life i will circle cancer on a medical info sheet. and that if it was in my body once am i more susceptible to it returning? i feel like the answer is yes. i am not sure the stats. i hate those anyways. i am just seeing myself in new territory. a place i have never been. cancer free, yes. but figuring out how to not be consumed with fear in the midst of rejoicing that the cancer is gone. i am almost three months cancer free. can you believe it? i can't. but its true.

justin and i went out on saturday night for our anniversary. we sat across the table and talked about this past year and what has happened and how far we have come. i shared with him my fears about cancer. as i was working on this post before we went out for dinner. he looked at me with all the confidence in the world..."babe, it has never crossed my mind once that your cancer would come back."

alright babe, i am running with that. no more cancer for us

in case you missed them...check out our great sponsors on the right side of the blog and more details about the shops and great deals offered just for our readers HERE.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

we are busy celebrating/resting today...

because justin was "technically" out of town for our anniversary we decided to celebrate the big four years today. even though we did have dinner together on thursday. it was accompanied by the vast majority of young life staff in virignia. not necessarily romantic. but still great.

so its the perfect day for a guest post from my sister, becky. thank you for sharing your heart.

***To my dear sister Libby…I have written this in my head at least 10 times now, and no matter how hard I try to remember what I was thinking during those times, I can’t get it back, so I decided to just sit down and do it…so here it goes…I still remember how fast my heart was beating when you called that Monday back in July…at first it was just oh, I am getting this checked….then oh I need an ultra sound…and then my dr. wants to see me in his office as soon as I can get there, and to bring my husband…then lymphoma...then I have cancer...in those moments I felt the miles between us seem to grow…I hated that I couldn’t be there…because really we are just selfish and don’t like how it feels inside of us when we can’t be with the people we love, especially when they are hurting…August was a lot of just go, plans, calls, unknowns…I learned in that month that what you needed was a lot of the practical…you just needed things done, some things for you, and some you needed to do, so you felt you had some control over all the chaos and lack of control that cancer brings…I remember seeing you then back before treatment started and it was so hard to think, Libby has cancer because you were still the same beautiful sister I had always known…

During those fall months, I must admit I didn’t love you as well as you deserved, for those of you out there not knowing what to do, err on the side of just doing…I thought to much about what was right, what I should or shouldn’t do…that was dumb…just do…just love…just pray…just send cards…letters…gift cards…flowers…verses…just do…I remember wondering…am I calling too much or not enough??…I feared you would feel I was too overbearing or not interested enough, so I stopped guessing and just said, okay I will call when I want to call or talk, just like before cancer, and when you want to talk and can, you will, and when you can’t or weren’t up to it, then you wouldn’t…we talked about that and once we were on the same page I felt a lot more peace about my role in this…

I could write forever, but in interest of being respectful to readers I will try to be brief (for those of you who know me, that isn’t a gift of mine)…your 1st week long over night summer camp experience, was about my 4th, you were in tamarack and I was in blue spruce…we’d both gone without friends, and you were lonely and homesick (funny how Rockford seemed like hours away from home, despite it really being a mere 20 minutes)…the counselors let you hang with our cabin whenever possible, do you remember who was on my bunk, who loved you then…it was Erinn (vanden berg) jacques …back before any of us knew what God would do with YL in your lives…He introduced you to Erinn…through YL and your relationship with her, you met God in a knew way, and was born a ministry in your life, leading to adventures, showing Christ to young girls, and ultimately meeting Justin…I love thinking of this, being reminded of how far ahead of us God always is, He knows, he is there before we even see Him…your cancer has taught me that again…thank you…

I remember selfishly not liking that the Chesapeake community got to do the direct loving of you, Justin, and Ava…I was jealous and didn’t like that I couldn’t do that, yet through the distance from family, God rose up within a community to show the power of believers, so thank you Chesakpeake community (particularly YL people) for being the local “family” for the Ryders, that we as their family all wanted so desperately to be, I praised God then and praise God today for knowing all of this and preparing you all to serve my sister and her family…thank you

I am sorry that you hurt, I am sorry that you knew so much pain, but I can honestly say your grace and seriously no complaints attitude has changed my heart, I think I complained more about your cancer then you ever did…I hate cancer, I hated that port, I hated looking at it in your skin, I hated when your hair got thin, hated that you couldn’t play with Ava like you wanted to, but looking back I thank cancer for how it changed us all, by I am sorry that it caused you so much suffering…

I wish we could do play dates, I wish we could do dunkin together, I wish we could watch movies, talk until late in the night (face 2 face), do dinner parties, get pedicures, give you a hug, watch Ava explore her world, laugh at Justin being Justin, have a great bottle of wine (or even a cheap one from walmart), laugh, pray, be lazy on the couch, or go for a walk…but most of all what I have learned is that we don’t get all of our wishes, God hears us and He loves us, but He is in charge, and I praise Him for that…His purpose was to have you all go through this away from me (and the rest of the family), because that is it-it is His will and not ours be done…but I got the wish I wanted the most...I get to make more memories with my little sister, and that was my greatest wish and most heartfelt prayer…

PRAY…when you are not sure how to love on someone suffering with cancer, PRAY, all the time and everywhere, God is the ultimate healer…pray, He hears, He answers, not always how we want, but he does…and I am so grateful that He did answer our prayer for your healing…

I have said this before, but I say it now with even more conviction then on those prior occasions, “I never knew or imagined I could look up to my little sister this much, I want to be just like her when I grow up”…and today in 2011, those sentiments haven’t changed…I am proud to call you sister, friend, and fellow daughter of our amazing, healing, loving Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ…you are loved…forgive me for the mistakes I made…thank you for including me on your journey…I eagerly await what God has in store for you, Justin, & ava…

I love you, Becky

Thursday, May 12, 2011

four years.

babe. remember this day? four years ago. you just called and woke me up to wish me a happy anniversary and you asked where we were four years ago today. you and cliff were getting ready to golf. he didn't even know if he needed his clubs to be right handed or left. that's is so funny to us. i was heading to breakfast and off to get all fancy for our wedding. i am so thankful you are my husband. now more than ever. lets never lose sight of what's important and what we are about and who we are in Christ. promise.

i love looking back. we were so young...and we are still pretty young. but certainly much stronger and wiser now i think.
it's pretty incredible to look back and see how much we have grown and fallen more in love over the past years. i think right now is the best its ever been. don't you think? it has not always been easy. but it's always been right. you and me. because we know we are both in this no matter what. marriage, graduate school, leaving the life we knew and moving from ky to va, new job for you and for me, loving students, traveling, moving, our first baby, cancer. those are some of the biggies. with lots of little moments in between that make us...us. i think we were given a gift that summer at rockbridge in 2005. we both never planned to be there and then everything changed. in one month. how the Lord brought us both together when neither of us were looking. it was the best surprise of my life. i am so thankful for that and for you.
i think we will celebrate things a little differently now. knowing what a real gift it is to have each other and ava. the three of us. our precious family.
happy four years...here's to many many more. we are just getting started.

if you are interested in a few more wedding pictures. look HERE & HERE

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

our story.

a few weeks ago a real sweet oncology nurse emailed me about sharing our story. she recently started the organization H.U.G.S (hands unite to give strength) whose goal is to create a community of “cancer survivors” who come together to help each other sustain hopefulness and optimism when there is uncertainty. love it. love everything that they are about and honored to share our story. thank you for asking us to be a part of what you all are doing.

read our story HERE.

Monday, May 9, 2011

mother's day and two miles.

you know how you sometimes create this "perfect" days in your head and often times you are disappointed when things do not seem to go as planned. but then. sometimes it actually happens. where it exceeds those seemingly unrealistic expectations you can create in your little head. well for me that day was sunday. my second mother's day and my best one to date. last year we got in a little fight and ate lunch at plaza azteca (if you live in chesapeake you can see why that may not be the most special mother's day lunch. but i chose it. i wanted that homemade guacamole they make at your table). but this year my sweet husband really got it. not because i need all this attention or gifts. i just wanted to be loved a little extra on this day and that happened and then some. let's be honest i had cancer this year so its cool to celebrate a little more this year.

i knew justin would come through. he's good like that. the details. the letters. going the extra mile. he has always been like that, but cancer changed him. deeply changed him. hopefully you caught a glimpse of his blog post and video (check it out). i knew he was up to something on saturday when he was working on his mac for a while. but i did not ask. its best not to ask. just in case "what they are up to" is a surprise for you. he got up and grabbed ava and we sat in bed as he read his blog post and all three of us watched the video. i cried. through all of it. but listening to him read...I thought about one thing all day yesterday. What if we didn't have this day? What if Ava didn't have this day? I am so thankful today, maybe more than ever, for God and for you. This may not be what he meant when he wrote that...but i thought about cancer and what if i had not made it. so instead he and ava would have celebrated this day a lot differently than we did yesterday. i cry because i get sad a little about cancer and then i cry harder because i am so thankful for how it changed me and how i love my husband my daughter so differently because of it. yesterday was just special. so very very special. i was emotional because of how thankful i am for life and for my family. it was so joyous. remembering the last moments before we met our sweet ava and how incredible labor and delivery was for us. not always the case i know. how close i felt to justin. we were a team and we had just welcomed a new little teammate. little ava suzanna. not so little. she was nine pounds. but little to us. gosh, that was not even a year and a half ago and how our life has changed. but the Lord knew we need her during cancer. His perfect timing. how thankful we are for it.

we celebrated our mother's day with church, ava took a three hour nap (thank you) so we could watch a movie on a rainy sunday. then the sun came out and ava woke up and we took the back roads to the beach and ate lunch on the water. there was a monster truck show on the boardwalk in virginia beach. not totally our vibe. but we enjoyed the ocean and the sand. ava is not entirely sure how she feels about sand so we are working on it. but we walked and we played on the beach. took the back roads home, gave ava a bath, and relaxed for the night. it was good. it was so so good. thank you justin for how well you love me and thank you ava for making me a mommy. i love it more than i knew was even possible.

happy mother's day a day late to all you momma's. thank you to my own mom for helping make me into the mother i am today.

quick side note. not a big deal maybe to some of you and that is fine. i have not really exercised in a while. since maybe before we got married and then became utterly inactive for the past seven months. but i have been exercising a little bit more now and i want to run in the nashville half marathon next year. so i would not say i am training or anything yet, but today i ran two miles! its underlined because for me that is a big deal. i have never really trained for anything in my life and i am seriously excited about this. not excited really for the running. i do not like to run. but to train. to really commit to something and do it. i realized today how weak minded i am. but thankfully i had a tv to watch as i ran on the treadmill. that helped distract me. but you have to start somewhere and today i started with two miles. only 11.1 to go. i got this.

last side note: on the video justin asked me to say something to ava. i responded with "she tricked us." first off i was heavily medicated. that's why i sounded so strange. but she tricked us because she was three days past her due date and the day before we had scheduled an induction for the next week because i was not progressing. but little did we know that ava was going to make her appearance the very next day. hence the trick. but it was a good one.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Surprise! Happy Mother's Day, from Ava & Me

Dear Libby, 

I thought about one thing all day yesterday. What if we didn't have this day? What if Ava didn't have this day? I am so thankful today, maybe more than ever, for God and for you. What a rescue! Yesterday I drove down ferrel parkway... The first time since our last chemo. I do not miss it. But I remember seeing your courage everyday on that drive, holding hands, and praying! For big things and small things. I am thankful to have Ava's Mom on this sweet day. I am thankful to have you.

God has given you this day as a gift. And I want to give you a gift as well. Before you had cancer, the moment that came to mind when I remembered being most proud of you was when you became a mother. Those moments are etched into my mind. Being by your side, seeing you sleep, wait, push, and fall in love with Ava as soon as you saw her. Remember it? The breathing, Ava's first cry, the music. It was wonderful. You displayed such courage, and such passion. You need to be reminded of that day! Click here for a Mother's Day Surprise Video.

You have been an incredible Mom to her. Ava has someone fighting for her. She has no idea how strong her Mom is, but she will. I will sit down with her someday, in front of this blog, and begin to explain the miracles that have happened in our lives. I am so thankful that you can sit and fill in the details.

Ava has someone to guide her, disciple her, talk to her, laugh with her, someone to color with, someone to talk to, someone to be firmly attached to, to swim with, someone to teach her about relationships, life, and love. On this Mother's Day we celebrate that! We celebrate you, and what God has done.

Happy Mother's Day my wife !!!!

hapi moder's dae - ava (Deeeesh !)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

easter. a little late.

i have been meaning to post easter pictures for a while. i am finally doing it this morning before its way past easter and we are on to the next thing. easter is a big day. celebrating that our Jesus is risen and alive. 

we started this sunday morning off with a little easter basket, breakfast, stickers, and bubbles.

 special bunny cereal served in an easter egg. thanks roma she loved it.


 daddy reading her the story of easter. so there is no confusion. its actually not about bunnies and eggs. but fun to celebrate that way too.

 stickers. her new love. they are by far one of the less expensive ways to keep your child happy. they are a must have around our house.

 peeps on a stick. genius.
 determined to get those bubbles...

 got 'um.

 she loves a good scrunched nose.

 off to church. to celebrate.
  i mean who does not love a good family photo? well...ava sure doesn't.

 okay now we are good...
 and then were not.

check that nose on ava. i love it. great easter for us. sorry to be a sharing a couple weeks late.

quick team libby thing
angie. my dear friend has decided to blog about each team libby runner. a new runner or couple of runners each day. if you are interested in reading more about the runners...check out her blog. www.thirstyhearts.blogspot.com

amazing saturday here in chesapeake. i love that we are all in kitchen eating and drinking coffee together as a family. ava is drinking water. she just tried syrup on her blueberry waffle for the first time. 
pretty sure its a hit.