Friday, April 29, 2011

nashville rock and roll 1/2 marathon

ava and i are in nashville for the rock and roll half marathon. its finally here! all the runners and spectators will be arriving today. so excited to meet everyone who is running and supporting them from the sidelines. as i will not be participating this year. since i am not much of a runner. so humbled that so many people have been training for months to run in honor of team libby. its going to be a great weekend. the race will be documented so look for a post next week. i am loving nashville. enjoy your friday. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

from my dad...

first off...thanks for all the emails and responses to the last post. it was real. it was my heart.

secondly...we had a wonderful easter. it was relaxing and fun. will post about that on wednesday.

lastly. but most importantly my mother's surgery went well today. from my dad via text...note to my 3 girls. surgery went well. preliminary pathology report suggests its benign. will have full pathology report on friday. prayers have been answered. love you. thank you to those of you that emailed and sent texts. thank you for caring about my mom. it's incredible. my mom did text me last night to say she was feeling pretty rotten, but had medication to manage her pain. will update as we find out more.

now a little more love from my daddy. i do not call him that usually or ever really. i mean not since i was ten. but i did once when i was sick. cancer brought out the little girl in me for a second. but then i got tough.

so now a little guest post...

Libby had encouraged family members to share our perspective on how her journey through cancer diagnosis, treatment, and recovery impacted us. As her dad, this has been a journey that I never hope to repeat as I can acknowledge there was nothing more difficult than the day I spent with Libby at one of her chemo treatments. No parent wants to see their child suffer but to see Libby be so courageous was a true inspiration to me. 
I write this note on a beautiful day here in Washington state. It’s the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter. This is the time on the Christian calendar when we pause and reflect on the agony and humiliation of Good Friday while living in the hope and knowledge of the fulfillment of God’s promise on Easter Sunday. Libby’s experience over the past year has reminded me that as Christian’s we’re not immune from pain and suffering. However, we possessed hope in Christ that she would be healed from this dread disease. Fortunately, she has been given new life, in more ways than one.
As her dad, I was there, along with her mom, from the beginning. I can confidently and proudly say that Libby was a great daughter who loved life and gave us little cause for worry. Her mom and I strived to be Christian role models for her and her two sisters. Prayers were answered as she professed her faith in Christ and married a Christian young man. I recall challenging Justin to treat Libby with respect and that the most important thing he could do for his children, was to love their mother. Those prayers have been answered as well.  
Life is good and then out of nowhere cancer strikes. My initial reaction was disbelief as this disease strikes other families, not ours. As reality set in, I realized my role was to provide Libby, Justin, and Ava love and support. While most of that support occurred from the other end of the country, her mom and I got to Virginia as time permitted. Regardless of the many challenges to be there, we never doubted Libby’s strength and fortitude as these were characteristics she displayed as a child. I certainly don’t need to spend much time communicating that strength or her love for the Lord. She’s done that effectively throughout the publication of her blog.
While there could be more to share, there are some things that are best left to be pondered in our hearts. I never made comment on her blog but I often texted Libby to tell her how proud I was of her as she traveled this roller coaster road. She has truly been an inspiration to me throughout the past year as I came to realize that she’s stronger than me (she’s also a good writer). Healing has occurred and prayers have been answered. Thanks to the Great Physician, Easter 2011 will be especially special. (and it was) 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

why we do what we do.

disclaimer. this might be a little heavy for some of you.

i have thought a lot about that this week. the whole why we do what we do. mostly in the context of leading young life. basically you walk through life with high school and middle school students. its more than mentoring or being a role model because its all about jesus. building relationships with students and earning the right to be heard by going to where they are. not just inviting them to an "event" on a certain night and then not seeing them again until the following "event". its about doing life with students. going to games, out to eat, getting coffee, etc. or in my case having girls over to the house because its a lot easier with little ava.

when you decide to lead young life you are deciding to go through life with students. making the team, getting cut from the team, passing the test, failing the test, new relationships and break ups. you sign for it all and sometimes it gets heavy. divorce, addiction, cutting, suicide, and unexpected deaths. you experience the joys of life and the heartaches of life. sometimes its so good. and sometimes its hard and you feel unprepared, inadequate. unsure. nervous, fearful. but its always worth it. because you know you are not alone. you are not in this battle by yourself. do not forget it.

i just got home from our friend helen's memorial service. although i did not know helen for a very long time or even very well. we shared a few things in common but mostly our bond was cancer. we went through treatment at similar times and she was an incredible encouragement to me. she joked with me back in august that maybe we would be chemo buddies. but that ended up not being the case. so we emailed and shared our hearts and our pain. she even bought me my wig. she sent me an email after reading the blog where i said i was more of a scarf girl. she said that maybe i would want a wig for quick running to the store and not wanting the attention that a bald head and scarf can bring. i ended up not needing my wig. but for some reason because a fellow cancer patient offered to buy my wig  meant so much to me. she decided to shave her head when she started treatment and after she saw me in church one sunday and later emailed me...your hair still looks so good! I am jealous. funny what you become jealous of in cancer. but it made me laugh. i have re-read most our emails as i am writing this. (i just went back and read every email we exchanged. helen is a better person than me. she wrote such long beautiful emails and mine were short with bad grammar and zero punctuation. i am thankful for her. more than i even realized. i was going through my own treatment and overwhelmed with life. but she always seemed to stay in touch. i love that. says so much about her character). i just appreciate that while she was in the midst of her own fight. she entered into mine and me into hers. i like that. the last personal email i received from helen was on march 13. she had sent out a mass email and i responded with this:

My heart hurts. I am in nyc with justin celebrating life without cancer and am sitting in a cab reading your email. I can not help but wonder why certain stories...though similar can be so different. The ryder family is praying for a miracle. I will begin mailing cards to update you on our life and ava and what my future holds as a wife and mother...its a new brighter season for me. But praying for your pain...chemo is so so sucky...we love you and I would love love love to care for you and your daughters in however I can...xoxo. libby

she responded thirty minutes later with this:

Libby, enjoy your time in New York!  I’m glad that you and Justin were able to take that trip.  Please don’t feel too sad for me; it has taken a long time to get here (and I certainly haven’t fully arrived yet), but I do have a peace about what God is doing in my life.  His will is perfect, and though I still don’t fully know what His will is, He has brought me to a place of acceptance.  If His choice for me is that I go home to be with Him, I welcome my future in glory!
 Looking forward to hearing more about your life—struggles and joys.
 Love you,

it was incredible. in the midst of sadness and tears there was so much hope. because for followers of christ death is not the end. its the beginning. her husband wrote this in the email that was sent to inform people of her death.

We are writing to say that Helen passed on out of her pain this morning very early. She died quickly and with no suffering, something she prayed for earnestly, something that her Father in His mercy granted her. She had prayed recently--and asked many of you to pray--that there would be a way to manage her pain and give her some relief from the physical suffering she was in, and God answered her prayer.  She is not suffering any more, nor will she ever suffer again. And we are trying to count this all joy.

i understand why death is such a scary thing if you are not sure what's next. or where you are going. or what your life is about. christ is for everyone. no matter how broken and messed up you might think you are. in christphilippians 1:21...for to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. wrap your head around that?

as i was sitting in the service today i could not help but think about my own life. my own death someday. what would my funeral be like? what would people say? what would people say about you? my deepest desire is that people would see christ in how i live. it was so clear in helen's life. it was all over the service. in the songs. when people spoke. including her four children. the scriptures. the heart of the entire service was indeed recognizing the immense pain and loss in helen's death. but more than that it was about celebrating helen and rejoicing that she is with her heavenly father and free of pain in paradise. it was beautiful. praying for her family and those close to sweet helen.

back to young life. i mentioned the death of a young middle school girl named kelly. she was 13. she dropped her cell phone in the street and when she ran back to pick it up she was hit. it hurts to type it. i did not know here or her sweet older sister katy. but i learned throughout our cancer that some of the most incredible love and support came from strangers. yesterday a lot of kelly's friends were all together at a friend's house and some of katy's friends came too. just so people could be together. to cry and hug. provide some sort of comfort. then to eat, laugh, and just not be alone. it was incredible to be there for a little bit with ava running around. thank you for those of you that cared for her and made sure she did not fall down the steps. there is nothing like watching other people love your baby. but when we were there i could not stop thinking...this is why we do what we young life and wyld life leaders (middle school young life) we rally around our friends when things happen. sad things. there is nothing much to say so instead lee made milkshakes for everyone. they ate pizza. they sat together in a big room and cried and shared memories and wrote letters to kelly. celebrating her life in the midst of pain. deep pain where we often ask why? and that's okay. i do not know why kelly died. or why helen died. or why i got cancer. or why anything horrible happens. i do not specifically know why. but i do know that we live in a broken fallen world that God never intended for it to be this way. what he created was perfect and we messed it up. not him. it was us. but my prayer. my deep prayer is that the Lord will provide a peace. a peace that passes all understand to those literally crippled by kelly's death. and helen's. we are not alone. we may feel like it sometimes. but we are never alone. today a friend of helen's shared a story where helen said something like this...i am a tree. with deep roots and i am planted by the streams of living water. i will not be moved. her faith in Jesus Christ was unwavering.  

as a young life leader. i know that i signed up for the joy of life with students and heartache of life with students. i know that i will go to weddings. but also some funerals. and that is hard to think about it. this week has been emotional. beginning to realize my own doubts and insecurities that were magnified through helen's death. will my cancer come back? i think about that. not everyday but some days. i try to cling to what is true and for today i am cancer free. so i rest in that.

death is sad and hard and difficult to understand. but thankfully i know that death is not the end. but only the beginning of life. the life we were always meant to live.

we sang the song "on jordan's stormy banks i stand." i love the chorus. with the echo. gosh, its good.

i am bound, i am bound
 i am bound for the promised land
i am bound, i am bound
i am bound for the promised land.

why do you do what you do? 

Friday, April 22, 2011

good friday.

its been a long week. a hard week. glimpses of joy throughout. but mostly emotionally exhausting. i thought today in the midst of it all. all that is going on here that being sick was easier than this. there were no expectations except for going to the doctor and getting my chemo. honestly that was it. not really but you know what i mean. but real life is hard. its full of pain and tragedy. a friend dying of cancer and a thirteen year old girl dying shortly after being hit by car. more to come tomorrow. but for now i am too tired. i have nothing else to give. in the midst of this day. a day surrounded by high school and middle school girls and lots and lots of tears. i found comfort in knowing that my Jesus knew pain deeper than anything i will ever experience. he bore it all on the cross. all of it. so that i might live.

these words have been on repeat in my are my strength when i am weak. you are the treasure that i seek. you are my all in all. thankfully i do not have to be strong all the time. because i am not that strong and i am beginning to realize that more and more.

in three days He rose.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

my hat.

the plan was to burn it. but i can not seem to get myself to do it. ava loves it. i guess it reminds her of me. but it reminds me of cancer. so maybe we will save it or maybe we won't. not sure yet. when i was driving home from my hair cut i called my sister and she told me find a bridge (chesapeake has a lot of bridges) and throw that hat as far as i could into the water. but i have not done that yet. maybe we will one day. at my one anniversary of being cancer free. or not. i am slightly indecisive. but mostly it does not matter. its just a hat. but for me it represents so much more. the loss of my hair. my long precious hair. the embarrassment. the insecurity. the fear of ava pulling it off or the wind blowing it away. because then everything i was trying to hide would be revealed. ava did pull it off in front me people. and i would get a little red and without making eye contact put it back on my head while acting cool. i look back and think who cares? but at the time i cared so much. i hated how i looked when i was sick. because i was sick. pumped full of poisonous drugs. as i am writing i am shocked of how much this hat impacted me during cancer. even though it maybe was not really the hat. i think because i do not need to wear it anymore that i realize how much it was dragging me down. but now i feel more confident. i think i look more like myself as the drugs have left my body. pretty soon all that will physically remind me of cancer are my scars. my two little scars. one from my biopsy and one from my medi port. but i can handle scars. (sara i think we need that little bee quote back up for this post) when my port was removed they gave me recommendations for plastic surgeons to help with my scars. i thought please...these are with me forever. they are a part of my story and i like that. 
a few weekends back when the girls were here they did some crafts. some of the girls are crafty and they painted rocks. we have a ton of rocks all around our house and near the water. the painted rocks are now scattered randomly amidst the others. when i was cleaning up after they left and as i was wiping the dresser off i put that rock on my hat. not thinking anything of it. my hat had not been put away, burned, or thrown off a bridge yet because it was just a day after the pixie cut. the rock and the hat stayed there for at least a week. i would randomly glance at it while walking out the door and think...yup it is finished. cancer is done. and as a follower of christ i of course think about the significance is finished. jesus' last words on the cross as he died. for us. for me and for you. we are free because he bore the burden. the cross changed everything. i liked seeing that hat on the dresser not on my head. it was a good reminder that those days have passed and new fresh cancer free days are ahead. funny how a simple hat and a little rock can stand for so much. but it does.

*time for a new header picture. minus the hat and sporting the pixie. i need my sister sara to live closer.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

if all else fails...

be still my heart. those lips. 
justin and i love this porch swing and now ava loves it too. whenever we out there with people its usually the first two seats taken. everyone loves a good swing on a porch. i love the look she has when she is staring intensely at something. she loves watching the boats. we have started walking to the end of dock to wave at them as they pass by and her excitement is contagious. i find myself getting all excited about the boats only because i know how much she loves watching them.

* my heart is very heavy today. a friend of ours from church passed away this morning from cancer. she was such a huge encouragement to me when i was sick. even though we barely spent time face to face.  the words in her emails we exchanged displayed such wisdom and grace. please pray for her dear family.

* mom update. thank you for those of you have asked about how she is doing. she has surgery set for this coming monday in bellingham, wa. they will remove the enlarged thyroid with three noduals (masses). praying that the report finds them all benign with an uncomplicated recovery. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

i got nothing. that's okay right?

i have thought a lot about the blog today. mostly how it's monday and i should probably post something because i haven't since friday. i tried. i forced it. i even have a few posts saved in my drafts that will maybe appear tomorrow or wednesday. it all just felt a little lame today. so i decided not to try and make something out of nothing. i really do not have anything real exciting to share today and i think that is okay. things have felt so busy for me. they are not that busy so i am not sure what my deal is. i mean once ava is in bed i have had time to do stuff. but for some reason my days have felt like they were a little too much for me. but we all feel that way so i know i am not special. i get that. maybe its more about my heart and less about being "busy." i just feel like for today i got nothing real special to say or to offer anyone who reads this blog. sorry about that. i hope to bounce back soon. maybe tomorrow.

the whole blog thing is funny. its started to keep family and friends informed about cancer. and then a few other people started reading it. which is cool. and now even more people read it. which is even cooler. i love it. but i think sometimes it messes with my head. i mean i know i am not famous or that big of deal. trust me i know that. really. but i do think i sometimes feel like i am supposed to share something real insightful and deep and exciting so people will continue to want to read and share in our story. in one way or another. so if i write lame stuff people might begin to hate it and stop reading. its less about "supposed to" and more that i want it to be something that matters. not just post something for the sake of posting something. sorry that this might be the most boring post ever to exist on dwyc. you like that. how i just used the first letters. first time for everything. i changed the font to italics because its a little side note in the midst of the post. back to normal now. but i am just feeling really tired and since i do not have cancer anymore i can not blame it on that. i guess i am just normal mom tired. i never want to put anything on this blog that does feel like me. so i decided not to share my few other attempts at a blog post today. although i almost pressed publish post like ten times today. instead i will share my thoughts about the blog and how sometimes its okay that i really do not have anything to say. even though i know i do. its just not coming together so i will stop trying for today.

instead i will sit on our back porch and read my book for a little bit because ava is sleeping. actually she is not sleeping. she is exhausted and crabby and has been rubbing her eyes since 6pm. but that girl is still in her crib rolling around and singing old mcdonald. why? just go to sleep little girl. i will never understand why children fight sleep. i love ava. if you know me or know justin or if you read this blog you know how deep our love for ava is. but she is one active little girl and she is wearing me out.

maybe later on tonight i will see what is on bravo. i like bethenny frankel what can i say. please do not judge me.

enjoy your monday evening. its seriously beautiful here in chesapeake.

Friday, April 15, 2011

if you are local...

2nd annual laps for lymphoma walk

april 30.2011 @ 3pm

grassfield high school track
chesapeake, va

you can sign up at the race. its only $20 to walk and all the proceeds go to lymphoma research. they raised over $11,000 last year! let's double it this year. i was given the amazing opportunity this morning to share our story with hundreds of high school students and staff at grassfield high school. i know more than ever the importance of raising awareness and money to help find a cure for this disease. we do not take it for granted. not even for a second. the chemo drugs that exist today which were used to destroy the cancer inside me. ava even made an appearance this morning and stole the show.

let's make this a community event. come out and walk with your family and friends. its going to be a great day. i will be in nashville for the 1/2 marathon but justin will be there on behalf of our family.

any questions email

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

our view.

our view from the river house over the weekend. thank you leslie for capturing it. the water and the sun is incredible. as it begins to get warmer out i am appreciating the absolute beauty of the elizabeth river more and more. this was a magnificent place to heal and is quickly becoming an even better place to live. really live. 

we moved into this house two days before my first chemo. thank you to some dear friends of ours. last night as i was cleaning up the kitchen and looking through the windows above the sink out at the water. it struck me in a deep way how much this house will always hold such a special place in my heart. this is where we lived through cancer and through healing. with friends and family who cared for us while i was sick. this is where ava learned to walk and to talk. she is discovering the outdoors here. justin and i dance here. specifically the first time we danced on the porch after chemo number one (read about it here) and i thought for a quick moment...he will dance with ava on this porch more than he will dance with me. fearing for that split second that maybe i wont make it. i will hold on to that moment forever. not the part about me not making it, but the intimacy of dancing to over the rhine. one of our favorite bands. we sat in the porch swing and talked with many of the people we love the most about cancer and life and what we were afraid of and what we knew was true. in the midst of the most uncertain time we have ever experienced in our lives we clung to what is true. Jesus and his love for us. that had to be enough and thankfully for us that was enough. maybe we forgot it at times. but that does not change the fact that it it true. everything else was too scary. so we stuck with what we know. not what may or may not happen.

i love this house. since we have been married we have lived in four different homes. one apartment, one condo, one townhouse, and now the river house. although our first apartment in lexington will always have a real special place in our hearts...along with the other condo and townhouse...because memories were made at each of them. really really special ones. but the river house is different. we changed here. we grew here. we got sick and we healed here. i changed. justin changed. our marriage changed. our hearts changed. i really believe this was the place where we grew the most as individuals and as a couple. that is huge for me. i am only 27 so i have a lot more changing and growing to do. i know that. i have not arrived. not even a little bit. but for me personally this is the place where i wept, laughed, danced, and experienced more life than i knew was possible in the midst of death. and that is cool. that's how great our God is. that He took us through a valley. a dark scary one. but carried us through to the other side and now we understand life and His healing in a deeper and more real way than i ever would have known had i not had cancer. 

i love right now. i love that i am processing and learning more about cancer and how it changed me than i ever realized when i was actually sick. its a very special time for me and i consider it all a gift. i am crying as i write this because its all still so fresh and raw and real. none of it seems like memories yet, because we are still living it. i guess that is life. what we went through and what we will go through and how it will shape us and mold us into who we are becoming forever.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

our first guest post

*maybe its just my computer but the blog appears to be under construction a bit. sorry about that. not sure what the deal is.

anyways. great exhausting wonderful weekend. will write about it another day but for now we have a little treat. i emailed some family and friends a few weeks ago and asked if any of them ever wanted to write a little guest post for the blog. sharing their heart in terms of cancer and how they were impacted as they walked through that season of life with us. 

today we begin with a letter from our dear friend aimee.

When Kess told me you had been diagnosed, it seemed like it had to be a mistake. It couldn't be real. I still, to this day, can't even compreheand the surrealness of those early moments for you. I had an ache in my heart that I don't think went away even a little until we saw you later in September. It was hard not to see you, help you, talk to you, watch Ava for you, just be able to be there for you.
I think, in all honesty, in those first few weeks, I was paralyzed by the fact that I couldn't be the friend I wanted to be. Sounds so lame and selfish --- I mean, you were the one who had cancer. But, as so much of life shows me these days, life is not about me. God had already swooped you and Justin in to His arms and was carrying you on the path He'd so carefully carved before you were born.
So here's a few thoughts on things I learned....mainly on what it's like to try to love (imperfectly, of course) from a distance.
-- When crisis hits, people tend to "circle the wagons"....they draw in and link up with the people they need to the most. You may be in the circle and you may be outside of it. Whereever you are, it doesn't matter. What matters is showing the person with cancer you're with them through it no matter what...
-- So that may mean sending texts, e-mails and leaving voice mail messages...that may go unreturned for awhile. Don't expect a response. Give that person the space to have the energy to work toward healing, not maintaining relationships.Call/text/e-mail whenever you think to. Text on chemo days. Don't worry if it's a bad time. They won't answer if it is. Don't be afraid... But maybe don't just drop by their house unannounced :)
-- Find out what makes them smile. The little things really do seem to make a difference. Libby loved cards so much. I tried to pick one up whenever I saw one that reminded me of her, or send something cute that I thought she would like, or flowers...I think I realized that for her a little love in the mail said "you are not alone in this because we're thinking of you." If anything could even momentarily lift their spirits and take their mind of chemo, nausea, etc.then it is a good thing to do.
--Pray, pray, pray. As I read the blog those first few months especially it drove me to constantly pray. I never realized that someone who is sick can actually feel those prayers. Libby did. She felt the prayers of hundreds of people praying for her.What an amazing thing. Because of Libby's life, I will never again doubt the real work that prayer does. I talked to God about Libby while I did dishes, while I was driving, while I was folding laundry, when I would say bedtime prayers with my son. I think I know why God wants us to pray without ceasing, because it kept me acutely aware of His presence.
Thanks for the opportunity to think on and process that. I am so grateful for your battle, your victory and the amazing ways you brought (and still bring) glory to God. I was so encouraged and forever changed.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

the petting farm.

my friend melissa and i headed to a local petting farm on thursday. it was the perfect day. sunny but not too hot. we decided to go after nap time so both kiddos would be ready to play. well ava decided not to do that. after singing in her crib for nearly two hours i finally got out her out because we needed to go. we ate a quick lunch and loaded the car. i was a little hesitant because this was the first time in her life she has not taken a nap and i knew that she would probably not make it until we got home. but hoped she would sleep in the car or the stroller if needed. we picked up melissa and her little boy gray and headed out. after being in the car two minutes ava was screaming. i knew she would be tried but i thought she would just fall asleep. but she decided not to sleep but instead scream. and ava does not really do as i sat in front with melissa talking about how..."sometimes you just need to break the schedule and let them cry it out..." easy to say but hard to do when she was hysterical in the back seat. she would take her water, a cookie, nothing! i kept thinking during our thirty minute drive she would fall asleep, but she was not interested. we arrive and i put her in her stroller because i thought that would help her fall asleep. but instead she screamed because she wanted to be held. also not like ava since she is pretty independent and does not particularly love to be held. so the petting zoo started with this...ava in her stroller. finally settled down. never slept but eventually stopped crying. i was bummed because i knew she would love the animals. this little girl is fearless. but instead we walked around as we soon found out gray was not to into the animals that much either. he preferred the tractor.
after walking around for a bit we took a little pit stop for snacks and a diaper change. i decided to get her out and let her explore. she did great. she did a 180. totally back to her normal self.
she gets a little confused whenever her hands get dirt on them.
 girl wanted in that chicken coop...
and she made it. it was cute and gross at the same time. proud of her for not fearing the chickens. but a little nasty because she crawled through chicken poop. she loved it.
yes she likes to sit in the trough where the chickens and roosters eat. 

gray wanted to try too.
 the best part yet. after a tough start to the farm she pulled it together and played. played hard. but within minutes she was out. there is something very precious to me when i look back and see my baby fast asleep after a long fun day.
after a fairly peaceful drive home (minus gray yelling. not crying just wanted to make sure we knew he was still there). we dropped off melissa and gray. thanks for a fun day! we headed home. before we got there i talked to justin and he was working at starbucks on a paper so we brought him dinner. and ava got her first ice cream cone. she pretty much loved it. just like her daddy and mommy do.

it was a good day. one of those days that even while its happening you know it's something you will never forget. it was special. i texted my sister later that night...
i wanted to share with you that today i felt alive. at the petting farm with ava and getting her first ice cream cone. just thankful that i am alive. as cheesy as it is just all such a gift.  

Thursday, April 7, 2011

team libby bracelets.

no i am not trying to sell anything here. team libby bracelets can no longer be found on ebay. all that's left is a zip lock bag of about 20 bracelets that ava likes to play with. no need for a team libby anymore because we already won. my cancer is gone. but thank you for buying them and wearing them. it was an incredible gift that our family had a team behind us through cancer. many people we do not know and that means just a littlle bit more to us that people rallied around us who we have never met. but hope to someday. i love all the emails that start with..."you don't know me but..." no, i do not think its weird that people i do not know have so openly shared their heart with me through an email or a letter. it was more encouraging than i will ever be able to articulate. so thank you. i was given a rare oppourunity to get a glimpse into people's hearts and i am forever grateful. not everyone gets that chance and i consider it a gift.

back to the bracelets. since i was sick when most people starting buying them and wearing them i never really got the chance to see how many poeple in chesapeake we sporting a lime green bracelet. but now that i am getting back into the game i get a little chocked up when i see a freshman guy at young life club wearing a team libby bracelet. or a mom i barely know at the grocery store with one on. many who did not know me personally, but maybe knew justin. some i just met for the first time and many who know me better than i know myself. but thank you to all of you who wore a little team libby bracelet. thank you for being in this with us. i love it because that is what community is all about. we were never meant to do it all on our own. to try and make it without any help. its not how its supposed to be. even though asking and allowing people to help you can be was for me...i can now look back and understand more and more what it means to walk alongside people when they are struggling. that is how it was meant to be and i love that. i love that we were created to be in relationships with other people and when we try and do things on our own we rob people the chance to love us. and carry us. and enter into our pain and struggles. its okay to let people in. even when its not so pretty. because my house was messy and people cleaned it. i was throwing up and too sick to care for my daughter so other people came in and cared for her when i couldn't. with some resistance at times i was forced to allow people to pick up the pieces when i couldn't do it. and the bracelets. oh, the bracelets. what a gift they were. because it allowed people to feel like they were in this with us even if they did not see me for 8 months or are yet to meet us...they were in it. i love that. i love that many of you kept your bracelet on (that did not match anything you wore ever i am sure) to important business meetings, the opera, nice dinners, weddings, etc. that is cool. someone told me early on that they were not taking it off...not once...until i was cancer-free.  you will never know what that meant to me. 

i got a little emotional last night because i was campaigners (young life bible study with high school students) and i looked around the room and saw those bracelets. and it just hit me how thankful i am that people care. whether they knew me or not they cared about cancer and about our family and that means more to me than anyone will possibly ever understand.

important side note. many of you loved us, prayed for us, and helped us without wearing a team libby bracelet. we know that and that's cool. this is just a little blog post shot out to those of you with a lime green bracelet.

*one week since the pixie cut and i am lovin' it.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

our first sponsors.

i am beyond excited to introduce you all to our first group of sponsors. i love all of it. be sure to check each of them out. their images link right to the site. take advantage of the discounts offered just to our readers. which is you.

:: Stella Bella Boutique ::
Stella Bella Boutique is an online jewelry store that offers pieces that are dainty, bold and everything in between. All jewelry is handmade and vintage inspired. Stella Bella Boutique welcomes custom orders for individuals or bridal parties – all you have to do is ask! THIS MONTH ALL DON'T WASTE YOUR CANCER READERS CAN RECEIVE 10% OFF YOUR ORDER! Simply type DONTWASTEYOURCANCER as a coupon code in my ETSY shop –

:: One Delightful Button ::
It all started when I found a jar of old buttons at an antique store.  I knew there had to be some fun things I could do with these vintage buttons.  My shop features jewelry, accessories and other fun things all surrounding the buttons.  All the items are handmade by me & come packaged ready for gift giving.  Please feel free to contact me about custom requests.  This month receive 10% off my shop by typing "libby" as the coupon code.

::Neve Inspired::
Neve Inspired is a handmade children's clothing company by husband and wife design team Bob and Kris Galmarini.  It was born out of the simple, pure joy their daughter, Neve, and all children experience on a daily basis {hence the name Neve Inspired}.  Building on the desire to keep the art of hand screen printing alive, Neve Inspired is a growing collection of super soft, eco friendly HAND screen printed t-shirts for boys and girls as well as custom skirts and dresses for the little ladies.  We are incredibly excited for the growth of our brand and are looking forward to incorporating our shirts into a full clothing line within the next year {fingers crossed}.  Please visit our website {} to keep up with our growing line of frocks and don't forget to become a fan of Neve Inspired on Facebook for discount codes, drawings, and an overall good read.

:: Katie B Designs::
Katie B Design Shop creates gorgeous handmade jewelry inspired by nature, fashion and everything in between using colorful stones and many types of metals.  Custom orders and orders for bridal parties are welcomed!  50% of all purchases go to benefit Bonnie Blue Rescue, a Richmond, VA dog rescue whose main goal is to save unwanted and "left behind" dogs from kill shelters and place them into loving, forever homes across the nation.  Receive 10% off your order by using coupon code PUPPYLOVE10 at checkout in my ETSY shop-
if you are interested in advertising on this site email
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Sunday, April 3, 2011

a beautiful weekend.

this weekend was very special. weekends like this do not happen all the time so when they do you hold tight to what is good and real in your life. my sweet friend katie emailed me a while back and said she wanted to plan a weekend to celebrate no more cancer. so we did. and it happened this weekend on the river. i know all these girls through young life in some way or another. but what i love the best is that for many of them our friendships began when i became their young life leader while they were high school...but now more importantly we are friends. walking through life together. even though we maybe in different stages of life we are doing life together. these relationships are special. not something everyone gets to experience. but as young life leader i am given the honor to walk through life with these women. the joys and the sorrows. when things are good and when nothing in life seems right. i love it and i love them. although i did not spend a lot of time when these girls when i was sick...i knew they were in this with us. through phone calls, package, letters, babysitting, cleaning, bringing meals, and praying. oh, man do these precious girls know how to pray. in many ways these girls are young...18, 19, 20...okay they are young. but the desire they have to know the Lord and follow His will is something inspiring to watch. i lead young life because of my own leader erinn. the way she loved me and walked through life with me and continues to do so is why this matters to me. this being these girls lives and that they know one thing or maybe two things. that they are loved and that nothing else matters in comparison to knowing Christ in a real and intimate way.

we started the weekend with dinner at plaza azteca because people in chesapeake love this place. saturday morning we ate dunkin donuts and shared our hearts. i cried the whole time. because i can not seem to keep myself composed when reading scripture anymore. and i was given the chance to get a glimpse of these girls hearts. how cancer changed them. what is different now. how they will never be the same. not because of me and who we were in cancer but the ways God allowed us to be apart of His story. its awesome to know that you are a part of something bigger. not only did cancer change us but it impacted these girls and that makes me so thankful i am not sure what to do with it. God is big and He is good. even when nothing seems to look or feel good. saturday morning was special. so special that you are sitting there thinking as its happening...this is big. and it was big. i know what its like to plan something and so desperately hope it turns out as good as you imagined. so when its better than you imagined and its only saturday morning you know you are in for something good. thank you girls for loving me. loving ava. wow you guys love her so well and that makes me love you all more and more. just to see you care for her the way you all do. its rare. and the fact that ava is able to experience this much love at only 15 months of life...i get emotional thinking about her little life and how you all are making imprints in it. thank you.

on saturday night we watched our wedding video. it was the first time since i was sick that i have watched it. and it was hard. but in a good way. listening to our vows. where we talk about healing. we know health and healing a deeper way then we ever imagined that day in may. and one other part. when our dear friend chris kessick, who was marrying us, said i want you to remember one (it was slow and drawn out so i added some periods in between the words). and what is incredible about those three words. these seemingly simple words. they are the three words we constantly share with people when we talk about cancer and what we learned. through it all. from day one. God loves us.

gotta love the fake laughing shots.

the weekend was full of a lot of relaxing, talking, and snacking. a few of my favorite things. it was nice to be at the river house and just be. no plans. no agenda. just celebrating life and how thankful we all are that that cancer is gone. i felt alive and i felt free. and we danced. its good to dance. thanks for creating an environment that felt easy and simple. although our lives may not all be easy and simple we were able to stop and just be together in the midst of it all. and that is important. many of you shared some really special things with me this weekend...i cherish your willingness to really go there with and be real. i love it. keep doing it.

thank you ally, allison (wants to be called ally but i keep forgetting), alex, shannon, alex queen, ariel, becca, sarah, katie, leslie, jes, kb, katie. for driving home. for sharing your hearts. for praying. for loving me through cancer. who would have thought that cancer would be in our story when we are all so young. but i hope and pray that it taught you about Christ and what is real and who He is. its enough. He is enough. trust me. my life is more full because you are in it. thank you for my sweet box full of letters from you all that will soon to be stuffed full with the hundreds of letters we received when i was sick. i love the gift. another thing became real clear to me this weekend...we have moved past that i am just your young life leader. but we are friends and i hope to always be in your lives and you in mine.

this weekend was documented. video to come. and thank you to our friend matt benson for the mini photo shoot.

cancer is done and done. my favorite phrase that justin hates.

the pixie. three days later.

unforgettable weekend. i will write about it later tonight. but for now...

i meant to include this on thursday when i wrote about the pixie but i forgot. which i often do. forget parts of my heart in a story or something that stuck out to me that was significant but when i sit down to write so much gets lost and forgotten. but i had to include this. even three days later.

after my hair cut was finished i picked up ava while i was sitting in the chair. she looked at me. she moved her little head around and slowly checked me out from the side, the front, and the back. with a curious little look. not bad not good. just checking things out. which she often does. she then took her hand and touched the back of bed. and my heart melted. after she touched my head she smiled. like she knew. i think she was thinking...i know you are my momma but you look a little different. but i know you are still my momma. its true matter what. my looks will change but it will always be me. it was a special moment between her and i that i never want to forget. i could just tell the wheels were turning in her head. but after checking out the new look she knew it was me the whole time.

it really was crazy how many times i caught a glimpse of myself and for a second did recognize myself. or when i walked past a mirror and would stop for a second because i am still in shock. i have said so many times this weekend...i can not believe how short my hair is. its just taking some getting used to...but i am not sure how to express how much i appreciate the kind words in regards to my new pixie. when i got home on thursday i was nervous and insecure. but honestly the feedback from you all really did boost my confidence. its short. real short. but i like it. i had no idea how much my thinning hair and grey hat had literally been weighing me down. i did feel good about myself, i was always nervous about ava trying to rip my hat off my head, hating how thin it was, constantly wondering if it looked ok or not, and not being able to pull my hair into a pony tail when i did not feel like getting ready for the day. and maybe you would think putting on hat would help with that...but it didn't because of what was underneath it.

the comments on the blog come directly to my phone and there was a steady stream of them over the past days. so thank you thank you thank you. i am rocking this pixie. i got to. and i feel good about it. i know i am holding my head a little higher now. not in a prideful way, but i really had not realized the anxiety i was carrying around when it came to my chemo hair. but now its gone. over. like my cancer. and we are loving that and my new hair over here at the ryder house.