Monday, February 8, 2016

this day 5 years ago.

when we are walking through something it is impossible to see beyond that day or that hour. so we endure and we live and we pray and we trust. we trust without knowing exactly what is ahead or what will come of our lives or our stories...it is in those times that we may choose moments of despair, fear, right alongside a desire to find a purpose and life and Jesus's goodness. despite the outcome my desire is to cling to His truth...

as i reflect on where we found ourselves 5 years ago today i can not help but weep as i watched the video justin made on the eve of my last and final chemo treatment. ava learning to walk, my wisps of hair hidden under a hat, and a husband who not for one second didn't walk alongside me in the depths of cancer. we look like little babies back then. i am thankful for healing. but more than that i am indebted to a Savior that allowed cancer to bring me to my knees. it's real easy to say we trust God when things are rolling just fine...but what about they aren't? i will always be grateful beyond words for how the Lord used our suffering in cancer to demonstrated the depth of his love for me. cancer will remain as one of the major life altering events that had it not happened...i would love to think my passion and trust and love for the Lord would be the same as it is today...but i will never know and i don't really care. I am madly in love with a Father who will use any means possible to bring me to Himself. our purpose isn't about our job or our marriage or money or stuff. although those things are nice. but that is all but a moment compared to eternity with a God that would do ANYTHING to spend eternity with you and with me. that is crazy. that is an invitation. take it. nothing else will fulfill you or give you life. i promise. not even a million dollars. even though a million dollars would be nice.

i have thought of this verse all morning as i prepare to share our story with my bible study tomorrow morning. i love the timing of it all. sharing on the exact day of last chemotherapy and sharing what the Lord is continuing to do in me five years later.

2 corinthians 16-18. i would encourage you as you read this verse which you have maybe read or heard a hundred times to ask the Lord to allow His words to deeply imbed themselves in your heart today.

"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."

wherever you find yourself today hold His truth close to your thoughts & your heart. He is with you.

***
from justin. 2.8.11

Dear Libby,

I cannot remember all the chemos individually. I can just remember seeing you suffer and sleep and I hated them more and more each time. I remember taking pictures to send to family and friends and you smiled in the beginning every time! The smile gradually faded, but your faith did not. I am so thankful that you BELIEVE, really believe, that the Lord's good hand has been apparent in this from the beginning. Because of that I am so thankful for you as my wife, our friends and family who prayed through this -- I will not think back to those times and hate them. I will never forget what this has taught us.

I am so proud of you babe! Whether today or tomorrow, you have endured. Having been carried along by the prayers of many, you have made it through. Seriously, all Glory to God for this day! I am so excited to spend it with you. Today, and thank you Lord, the rest of our lives.

It is a true gift, and I will not waste one second of it. I love you.

J

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Monday, February 1, 2016

not alone. not even a little bit.

thank you. last week i was welcomed back with such love and affirmation and encouragement from you. my friends. most i've never met but i consider you my friends because i know what its like to share in someones story and words and feel like i know them. i would hope based on what i write and share that you would get the best and most real version of myself. thank you for making that safe. thank you for the feedback and comments. but they were so much more. many of you shared your heart and your struggle to find purpose and life in the midst of the various places and seasons we find ourselves. grateful for each and everyone of you.

i read this on instagram this morning.

"one of the most important things you can do on this earth is let people know they are not alone" shannon l. adler.

i love that. i love that for timing. in just the past 7 days experienced friend after friend echo...you are not alone. what a joy to experience community even while being states and cities away. what a relief i feel in my heavy heart when i hear woman i love and respect so deeply say...

me too.
i feel that way sometimes.
i wish i had courage.
i am scared to take a risk.
i have this dream but it will never happen.
i want to do or say or write or create xyz but i don't even know where to begin.
i don't feel good enough.
i think i was created for more but what does that even mean or look like.

i think when we open ourselves up to other people and share exactly what keeps us up at night and what we toil with throughout the day...we begin the process of unpacking what our dreams, passions, fears, and obstacles even are and how often we allow our fear to paralyze us. because when we share it and say it out loud and give it some validity it creates a space for people around us to say...

you can do it. you are believing lies. don't let fear keep you there. i think you are stuck...do you want to get unstuck. i love you. you are valued. your dreams matter. let's do this together. how can i pray you. lets pray against those lies. lets look to see what Jesus says is true about you.

today i went to the doctor for 3 hours because i failed my glucose test. it is a test you take when you are pregnant that detects gestational diabetes. i will find out this week if i passed this second round. while i was there i reading and came across this in isaiah (i am studying isaiah in a weekly bible study i am apart of so i find myself there often).

isaiah 43:1-3

"But now thus says the Lord, "he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you: I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall now overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior."

the creator of the universe is providing us with his truth, his words...that we are his. whatever we walk through...no matter how wavering, deep, and scary...nothing can overwhelm us or consume us because the Lord has us. all of us. each dream. each fear. each lie. each joy. each trial. each broken heart. he holds us and deeply cares about each of our hearts. what a gift and treasure. one i so quickly forget. my desire is to stand firm on his truth has i lay down the lies and the fears. my hope is that you will also lay in bed at night and hold those lies captives (thank you laura wright) and hand them right back to the God that gave us the ability to think and dream and have a heart with such depth. but he didn't give us the lies. we sit there on our own as sinful and broken people. thankful for the endless grace and forgiveness our God that wants us to start new each and every day. praise the Lord for that.

before i get the girls to bed i have to share this.

since last week. unrelated to the blog because i don't think the people that called me here in NJ to hang out even know this blog exists. but either way i saw the Lord move in a very tangible way since i shared last week. people asked me to hang out and we hung out and it was fun. i am thankful for them and how the Lord answered a very real prayer for me last week. i had to share because i don't want us to miss the many times...big and small that the Lord answers our prayers. let's not miss that and move on to the next thing. ok? want to try that together.

my heart has felt more alive and purposeful than it has in a while. mainly because of this space. because of you. for texting, calling, emailing, commenting and engaging with me about your own fears, your heart, your own trials, the lies you find yourself paralyzed by...i am so grateful that grateful doesn't even do it justice. my heart is a little more full and a little more alive. this place has always provided that for me and i guess i forgot what a joy and passion it is to connect with people. we are not alone...never alone...in it with you forever. let's just keep reminding one another of that truth.

would love to hear from you. your heart. email me @libbyryderblog@gmail.com

Monday, January 25, 2016

12 months later

its been almost 365 days since i have opened blogger on my computer. that didn't happen intentionally. i didn't decide one day to just stop writing. i just gradually stopped writing. i made excuses. lots of excuses. some may have even been super valid. either way i am finding myself back on this page. trying to ignore the lies and stop allowing fear to win. since moving to nj i have day by day begun to only listen to one voice. the one in my head that is mostly lying to me.

you have nothing to say.

your story doesn't matter.

people don't even care. they stopped reading once cancer was over.

you aren't learning anything...why force it.

you have no friends. no one likes you. what is purpose other than "just" being a mom.

lie after lie after. but the thing about lies is that if we allow them to settle inside us...they make a home in our heart and our head and it they aren't lies anymore...they are our truth. before we know it we aren't even sure how we got from back there to over here to right now.

but i am making my way back to what i know is true. i never stopped believing that jesus loved me, i was enough, heck i am more than enough because the creator of the universe made me.

be back. children yelling.

i wasn't thriving. i wasn't choosing joy. i was settling for comfort. stuck. new place. new home. not many friends or fellowship. trying to rally. it just felt forced. i felt insecure. not sure of who i was. it sort of felt like i was in middle school. just trying to find myself and make a way in a new place.

now like most seasons of life it wasn't all hard. all the time. i wanted to add that.

but as i reflect and look back and see a girl i do not want to return to...i am holding tightly to the friends who in the past weeks have spoke truth. encouraged me. loved me. allowed me to be me. in those moments i felt more alive than i have in a while. so here i am. pregnant. praise the lord for this precious baby girl. that i am walking into a new season as a woman. than a wife, mother, and new mom to this new tiny life. it all seems fitting. as i am making my way out the lord is bringing a new life into our family and into our hearts. i am grateful for the timing. 4 more months for this baby to grow and for me to begin...every day, every hour to choose jesus and what he thinks about me and my life and my purpose and in that...choosing joy.

my prayer is that the Lord will make a way (isaiah 43). i am not sure what that looks like or even really means. i don't think it matters. i am convinced life is far more about the day to day than the big picture. so for today i am moving towards truth and leaving each little lie at the door and believing that the Lord will make a way for me in this new season and new place.

i want to come alive here. to thrive where i am. maybe even bloom where i am planted. but what if you don't love where your planted? can you still bloom? does that even matter? what do you think? seriously what do you think. leave a comment or email me. libbyryderblog@gmail.com. i am dying to know if i am alone in this or if anyone out there is struggling to find passion and purpose and life...in the midst of the mess of our head and our hearts and lies we believe.

i am peeling back the layers of my heart and exposing what i have been keeping bottled up inside.

thanks for making this a safe place for me to do that.

more to come.





Monday, February 2, 2015

moving forward. it feels good.

last night our house was filled with 15-20 rutgers university students. if you are new to this space here is a quick recap. my husband has been on staff with Young Life for 8 years and we recently made our third move with YL to new brunswick nj. we are helping to start YL at rutgers university and the surrounding high schools and middle schools in the area and eventually the whole state. we moved from a place we loved. harrisonburg, va. left many people we loved and a new home and a life that felt so good in so many ways. i miss it everyday. but the lord made a way for us here and we moved this past august. 

bc of hard work, prayer, courage, and the lord our home was filled with rutgers students we love. the only common denominator is jesus. 5 months ago we didn't know a student on campus. i still don't really. my husband and our dear friend morgan have paved the way. meetings, coffee, events, conversations, prayer and the lord...we now have 20 plus college students going through the YL leader training program to begin ministry with students in our area. 

since the beginning of all this i have been on board. not just a little bit but all in. selling our home, most of our stuff, saying goodbye to people i love, and starting our adventure in nj. no friends or family near us. but the lord made a way. he always does and he always will. but my heart. my heart hasn't been all in. i desperately wanted it to be. but i felt a separation between what justin was doing actively on campus and what i was doing at home. i am not currently serving in a specific roll with YL i didn't really know any of the people justin was meeting and what he shared never seemed to be the same secondhand. 

but i am watching my heart grow. my desires to invest in people and care for them and build new relationships. i think i needed this past semester to grieve a little. miss the people we left that had become family and cared for our girls and cared for me. it was really hard to leave. 

i couldn't or i didn't allow myself to be all in here. i needed some space. some time. i felt insecure and intimidated around people. it is hard to be uncomfortable in our skin. but haven't we all been there? i was fragile at times. 

i wanted to open our home. i wanted friends. i wanted to be brave. but instead i hid a little bit. i spent time decorating our new place. being more present with the girls. worked on our marriage and basically got to know a new city. how to get to target and costco and ikea. my time and energy was spent simply adapting to this new place. i am not beating myself up. it was what it was and now we move forward and reflect a bit.

but i am seeing growth. a desire to be bold. to take risks. to be uncomfortable. to ask questions. to invite people in. to share our home. to feed people. to love others. like in a real way. not just a "supposed" to kind of way. i think i was a little selfish. i was focusing a lot on me and often thinking...what about us? doesn't anyone care that we are new and starting over? but to be honest for the most part i was ok with it. more time with my husband as his work pace looked so different since this is more of a start up phase to his job. our family grew. our marriage grew. so it wasn't a waste. i know that. none of it ever is when we use it to grow and learn.

thankful for what is to come and for a home full of people who are willing to take a risk for jesus through the ministry of YL. i like to host. i like to feed people. even if it is in the form of lots of costco food where i can basically just use my oven to heat it up. but it doesn't matter. our home was full of laughter and knee football and joy and christ and fellowship and community. we all want to be apart of something. so i am in. i will begin to believe what the lord says is true. i am brave and i am ready and i am also scared and a little uncomfortable. praying for vision and bravery in my life and yours too. what a difference we will make if we start being honest and real and trusting the lord in every tiny little way. he is good. so good. trying to be grateful for all it. mostly the tough stuff.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

oceans.

I am back. More tomorrow. I swear. My heart is stirring and overflowing. I started exercising this fall and it's changing me. Watching my body do things I never thought it could. I felt so strong Friday as I was running and listening to oceans by hillsong. I was actually crying pretty hard while mouthing the words. I wasn't embarrassed bc maybe people thought it was just a lot of sweat on my face. Either way I am feeling alive and grateful and passionate. I haven't felt that a lot this fall but The Lord is working in me. I can feel it and I love it. Listening to oceans on repeat has been this continuous reminder about what is true. About Jesus and me and what he wants for me and what he has more me and that in my trust of him and the story he has for me...well it's hard and big and small and scary and awesome. I want more Jesus in my life and my actions and my heart. I am not that good at it. But I will never stop fighting to give every ounce of my fears and insecurities and frustratation and jealousy and judgement at the foot of the cross. It's all we have. It's all I want (and some new trendy boots i just saw online).

when I was sick people came out of now where and showered us with the most love I have known. Tomorrow a woman I don't know with a little baby like Ava starts her first round of chemo. Pray for jenna. May she feel clothed in prayer and comfort as she begins her cancer journey. Our journey was doable because of you. So thank you. 

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 nice...like 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 either...so 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. 

but.

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

airy.

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 pace...at 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.