Tuesday, August 30, 2011

i jumped the gun a bit.

the river house did have some water damage due to irene. not inside the house but under the house. it's pretty bad. all the insulation was destroyed along with the air conditioning unit. due to the damage we are moving tomorrow. the house is already beginning to smell a little moldy. we started packing last night and we will finish up tonight. the fact that i am blogging right now is a good sign. we are almost done with the last box, patching up frame holes, and other odds and ends. i have my last oncologist appointment in chesapeake tomorrow morning. then we will get the uhaul and pack the truck and head to harrisonburg. crazy. it all happened so fast but it is time to go. the Lord could not have been more clear. house got damaged...we needed to move out...so harrisonburg here we come. bittersweet. but more sweet. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

the little river house made it through the storm.

see she made it. irene was not too bad to us. inside the house is okay too. no water. 
we are very thankful. still no power. but hopefully that will be back on soon.
we are out of town. but our dear friends drove over to check things out and sent these pictures.

some poor little kid lost a periwinkle croc.

Friday, August 26, 2011

we have evacuated the river house.

the ryder family has left the area. it is not a mandatory evacuation for chesapeake but since we pretty close to the water we were advised to head out. so we packed up what we could. our photos. some electronics. important papers and ava. clearly we got ava. we are preparing ourselves and the house for some possible flooding.this may not be good. not sure what awaits us on monday. for now we are away from the storm and safe with friends.
please do not flood little river house. although we are leaving you very soon but we would prefer for you to not get all damaged by irene.
staying clear of the bad weather and playing with my new best friend levi. justin i think she might want a dog babe?

enjoy your weekend. stay safe.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

ava update.

i do not do this often. but i should. i will regret it later. i regret it now that i have not been that good at recording important milestones for little ava. i did much better in her first year with a little calender and stickers i received as a gift. it was so helpful. but since then i am been lacking for sure. but today i will write it down because this has been a huge month for her in terms of development and vocab.

currently she knows:
  • colors...vhite. bluuue. low. reen. red. purrple. black. grey. oange.
i love that when i said...picnic on the porch you came running.
  • letters...i hear her randomly saying her ABC's...i can tell it is the right tune but the letters are clearly all mixed up. she does like the letters O, E, and L the best. she will randomly see something with those letters on it and yell it out. she can recognize some other letters too. but it is hit or miss. (i swear by these preschool prep DVD's called meet the colors, shapes, numbers, letters, and words. a mom told me about them when ava was like six months old so i got a couple when i was sick so babysitters could use them. they worked for ava. i will just randomly have them on while we are playing or on road trips in the car. the repetition is obnoxious but the videos worked for ava).
lunch view. taking it all in while we can.
  • you sign for "more please" and "thank you" all the time now. even since last week you have gotten a ton better.
  • you love ducky, owl, and monkey the best.
loves chips and salsa just like her momma.
  • you love love love the water. no matter what form it is in you love it. stream, river, faucet, shower, pool, lake...you have to yell, "vater, vater, vater!"
  • you know where your eyes, nose, ears, mouth, elbow, knees, toes, hands, cheek, shoulders, eye brows, chin...and most body parts are located.
  • you are quick. we are still working on not running away and stopping when we yell stop. but it is getting better. but girl is on the move. all. the. time.
  • you can pretty much say everyone's name and loves to say "bye bye" to anything and everyone. you especially like to say "bye bye boy." to anyone. whether they are a boy or not.
  • you throw yourself around in your crib. it is hilarious. singing, talking, and rolling around. 
  • you say "uh oh" all the time. about pretty much anything that does seem right to you. spill something. uh oh. shoe falls off. uh oh. toys everywhere. uh oh.
much prefers my drink over her own.
  • favorite animal sounds include "neigh" and "moo" and my heart melts. just the way you say it.
  • you love to say "here you go." when you give me something. like your sippy cup, or my shoes, or a snack wrapper.
  • you basically understand everything we say to you...and it's awesome when you actually follow through..."please get in your car seat" and you do it. "go get your shoes please." and you do.
  • you are saying and/or accomplishing something new everyday. it really is incredible to get a first hand look as you become more and more of a little girl. a smart little girl.
 my dear ava.
i am so proud of you. you are strong. you are social. you are so funny. you love to dance. i love that i can already see that you are a natural leader. you are confident. i love that i know you are more than okay when i am not around. but when i come back you coming running. last night daddy put you to bed and i heard him singing to you and then ever so faintly you said, "momma. momma." even though you are know you are safe and loved in daddy's arms you still wondered where i was. i am trying to relax a little bit more. go with the flow. not be so distracted by what other people think. if i am good parent? if i am too easy on you? or am too tough? sometimes i feel like i am so relaxed and laid back and other times i wish i remembered that you are still 19 months old and no child is perfect. just like i am not perfect. or your dad. you are exactly who you the Lord created you to be. but we will do our best to teach you what it means to listen. share with others. not to hit. anyone. ever. how to be gentle. care for others. be friendly. say please and thank you. and about a thousand other things. 
my sweet ava who is no longer my baby. but my little girl. you finally have hair on your head and you want to help pick out your clothes. with either a "no" or a "yeah." i do not always listen but i like giving you choices. it is important for you to have ways to display your independence and decision making skills. you are a good problem solver too and you take risks. i sometimes find myself getting frustrated with you and the choices you make. but the same things that make you a handful at times are the same things that i would not trade from your personality for the world. keep being adventurous. take risks (but be safe. we will be here to help you navigate). i love that you know how to entertain yourself with pots and pans and dish cloths. but that you could sit with me in your pink reading chair all day and read (well part of the day at least). you have been throwing yourself around your crib for ten minutes. singing and yelling. but now you are asleep. peacefully resting. i love you ava. i love that you are a strong independent cookie who still becomes very concerned if someone gets hurt or is crying. i pray you continue to become a compassionate person. i think that is such an amazing quality in a person. to love and care deeply for others. not everyone has it. but i pray that you continue to grow more and more in the precious little person you were created to be.
thanks for making me a mom.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

our next adventure.

blogs are funny because they really only display a small snippet of your life. as i look back on the past couple months i can not believe how many things went unwritten about. it was a lot. sadly the lack of blogging does not mean it was not super fun or real important there are just not enough hours in the day. but i do believe you make time for what is important. so with that said...i may or may not post about things that happened a month or so ago. but we will see. but for today i will share something pretty big.
we just back from rockbridge yesterday afternoon. we unloaded the car and unpacked a little bit. there are still piles of laundry and suitcases that are still all zipped up. i hate unpacking. i would rather wear clothes i do not like very much than unpack and do the amount of laundry i need to do. so instead ava and i napped. i was exhausted. when she woke up we did our usual. popsicles on the back porch. a few boats went by. we swing on the swing. ava gets bored and we walk outside. it was an incredible day. not too hot. a nice little breeze off the water. it does not take much convincing that this place really is very special place to live.

this house. the emotion. we have only been here 13 months but in many ways a lifetime. i healed here. i was sick and then i wasn't in this house. ava walked here. she learned to talk here. i spent endless hours in this house when i was sick. so many significant conversations with friends and family took place here. on the porch. in my bed. upstairs overlooking the river. i have never felt so deeply for a place in all my life. i mean it is only a house. but wow it is so much more. my baby became a little girl here. her first christmas was here. i healed here while looking at the water. justin and i spent more time in this house than we did in all the other places we lived combined. i love it. i can not deny it. i am bursting inside as all the memories of this past year flood into my head. so many visitors. so much help. so many special memories happened here. i used to think it would maybe be hard to live here after my cancer was gone. but it has been the opposite. the emotional attachment i have to this place is more than anywhere else i have ever spent time. because this year changed me. justin. even little ava in such a way that the river house will always. i mean forever. be so significant to our lives. or mostly just mine. i am not sure. but even as i type this i can feel the emotions run through my body. the fear. laughter. sickness. fatigue. the fun. the conversations. the books we read here. the games we played. where ava learned to use chalk and go down a slide. this neighborhood. how i was too tired to do much but ava and i would try and take a walk when i knew she must be going crazy inside this house all day.  the peace and joy i experienced when justin called me and said..."we are moved in. come see the house." i knew i was home. really home. i knew i could be sick here and still be okay. i knew i could heal here and then be even better here. maybe this seems like a bit to much to you as you read this post...i am okay with that. because i am not sure i will ever be able to articulate what is going on inside when i think about what this place means to me.

with all that said...i tell you this...we are moving. we are moving to harrisonburg, va on september 19th. justin will become the young life area director. James Madison University is there along with many many young life ministries. my tendency is to write about how great and exciting all this is but instead i will give you some back ground. it helps in showing how we got here.

1. early spring justin's boss asks us to consider moving to harrisonburg.
2. my husband comes upstairs to share the news with me and i cry. i say no thank you. we can't leave. this community just walked through cancer with us. the idea was so overwhelming.
3. but i know. i can see it in my husband's eyes. this could be where the Lord is leading us.
4. i do not really think about it or pray about it. not being feisty it just felt like too much for me.
5. one morning i was upstairs praying and i believe the Lord told me (not audible) but i felt it. i do not say this much. only when i know it was the Lord. because it certainly was not me. i wanted to live here forever.  but i heard..."you were only supposed to heal here." crap. but i know i need to tell justin and thus the process begins.
6. skip ahead. we say no. i do not want to go and justin does not feel totally at peace so we say no.
7. i prayed the Lord would take it away and the position would get filled. i knew it was still on my husband's heart. but i really wanted nothing to do with it. but i knew. we knew. the Lord was working in our hearts.
8. the position does not get filled. because the position was for us. we just needed some time to get there. i still need time. but i know it is right. so we say yes. we say yes and my dear husband looks like a weight had been lifted. you see i trust my husband. i trust that he is seeking the Lord daily and that he would never. i mean never ever take me and ava from a place and people we love if he did not believe that this was where the Lord wanted us. on at least five occasions in the last month told me if i felt like this was all too much we would stay. he would say no to the job. he say no to young life and yes to us. our family. what was best for us after the year we have had. i wanted to scream..."it is too much. can we stay?" but i could not do it. you see it is like i said one year ago in bed after i found out i had cancer...this is what it means to follow jesus. it is not about our plan but His plan and be prepared that He will interrupt the plan at anytime. but i trust the Lord. we will obey the Lord. forever. even when it feels scary. or exhausting. because i do not feel like packing up and moving to a new house. i do not feel like starting over with new friends, relationships, doctors, etc. but i do not think we make decisions based on our feelings. feelings are fleeting and i am in no position to make any large decisions right now. i am still very much processing cancer. but we will go. we are going. it is good. it will be easy in many ways and very challenging in other ways. this is life. things change. they do not go the way we want it to all the time and thank goodness. i would hate to be in control even though i secretly love it. the Lord is good. He is teaching me so much. what it means to trust Him yet again with something big and scary and new. to find the balance between believing this is right and simply not feeling super super excited. can you have both? i think so. it is natural. it is closing a chapter in one place and beginning a new chapter somewhere else. that is both so exciting and so unnerving. but i knew two things when i decided to follow Jesus and marry justin. our life would be an adventure.

but i have learned a few things recently. try like a thousand things recently as i feel like the Lord is moving in my life a lot and it is much harder than easier. but hard is okay sometimes. this is hard for me because i love so many people in chesapeake and i love this house on the river. but we will embark on a new journey. one in the mountains. with space and land and new beauty. a quaint little house right near campus and walkable to downtown. a dream of ours. with coffee shops, a children's museum, and restaurants we can walk to. i love that so much. living near college students who lead young life and some who do not. i love college girls. i love that time of life. i love discipleship. i love people in our home. i love talking. i love sharing my heart and hearing about someone else's heart.  what is good and what is hard and what is uncomfortable. where they are struggling. what they are learning. i love it all. i love that ava will continue to grow up with so many people around her that love her so much. i love that justin will be able to cast a vision for a city and for people. all for jesus. to work on a team. to meet new people. to give ourselves away to a new high school. new leaders. new friends. new is hard. but new can also be good. maybe even better.

side note. dear friends in chesapeake who are just finding out about our move via this blog. i am sorry. we are sorry. we wanted to meet with everyone to share this news but life does not always allow that. 

so i ask that you pray. pray as we transition. as we say goodbye and pack up this house. as we head into a new place. a new season of life. one that i feel very unprepared for. as i am a bit of a crier this month. or every month. but that is okay. i decided last week after our dear friend marvin shared a story about an earring and three pay checks that i will obey the Lord for rest of my life no matter what. even if it seems crazy, scary, lonely, not fun, strange, sad, hard, etc. because i know and believe one thing for certain.  God will never leave me. His plan is better than my own. even when that is hard to swallow and live out. but it is true. the same God that used cancer. deadly, scary, stupid cancer to show me how much He loves us. sure i will move away. i will start over. i will get to know a new place. build new relationships. sure. am i scared? yes. do i feel a little overwhelmed? yup. but no one said life would always be simple or easy or fun. but it is good. it is good because He is good. thank goodness for that.

i also invite you to enter into this new journey with us. like many of you did throughout cancer. we ask yet again. justin has started a new website. he wanted to be like me. it is www.justinryder.com. check it out HERE. it will give information and further details about our life, the move, ministry, etc. if you would like to partner with us through prayer and/or financial support please check it out for details. young life is a non profit ministry. therefore all the funds to run young life, get paid, have health insurance, etc. is only possible because of the support of thousands of people all over the world that believe this ministry matters. if you would like to join the ryders look HERE. we are committed to raising $30,000 throughout this upcoming year. if you have further questions or want more information or just want to say "have fun in harrisonburg." please email me under the contact me header.

wow. here we go. good news is that we still have a porch at the new house. just no river.

Friday, August 19, 2011

a little update from camp. but not much.

camp is good. it is family camp this weekend and then on monday we head home. it has been a fast two weeks. time always seem to fly by. it has been great to get to know other wives whose husband's are on staff with young life and really get to talk and share about our lives. i have loved that. but i am exhausted. justin is too. probably way more than me. everyone here seems a bit tired. it's normal i guess.

ava is full of energy. she runs so fast. she does not always listen. i know she will not always listen but we need her to work on her listening skills a little bit more. she is wearing us out. she is tough and strong and i love that. she is also beautiful to us. clearly we are her parents. but she hits other kids and i am mortified. every chance i can we have little talks about being gentle. playing nice. sharing. giving hugs. but most of the time she is not that sweet or gentle. it makes for long long days. i love her more than i knew was possible but i am for sure having a hard time with her behavior and the amount of energy she has. i am not in denial. we do not make excuses. it is just hard. she is a broken sinful little girl. it is her nature to test the limits and for now it is just hard. i think parenting is full of many joyous moments but also some tough ones too. but i am pretty sure we all know that.

we got some big things happening in our life. some good and some hard. some are both good and hard at the same time. this has certainly been the toughest month for me since chemo ended. i am a bit of an emotional roller coaster. beginning to process things for the first time and allow myself to really cry and grieve over the fact that i had cancer and figuring out what life looks like now and it is draining. but i am learning new things. God is in all our seasons and post cancer has been a tough one. more to come on that when i have more time. so thankful i am not alone in this. what a comfort He is.

Monday, August 15, 2011

ice cream and rockbridge.

it has been incredible here at camp so far. ava is loving camp. we are too. great to get away and be with people you love but rarely get to see and most of all. the best part. share jesus with students. some for the very first time in their little lives. i love being a part of this ministry.

a few highlights. most important. the reason we are here. a lot of students began a relationship with jesus last weekend now into week two we are praying the same prayer.
1. everyone loves ava. there is nothing more special than watching other people love your child.
2. program is hilarious. ava loves it. i love that i am married to someone who is seriously funny.
3. i play a small role in the program as justin's girlfriend. my name is veronica. i went out on stage and could hear ava from the very back yell..."momma!" and then begin to hisartiaclaly cry and was quickly removed from the club room pretty sweet that she knew it was me even though i was dressed horribly, had glasses on, and my hair was wetted down with water for an extra cool look. girl knows her mom.
4. i love being at rockbridge because this is where justin and i met.
5. tommy and sara had a little boy. cash harrison floyd. precious.
finally. on our night off we headed into town and went out for dinner with a few other couples. we decided it was the perfect night for ava to have her first cookies and cream ice cream cone. without any assistance and any napkins. she went at it. it was everywhere. but we loved it. the pure joy that an ice cream cone brought to her life. it was a good night. reminded me of how much i love ava and how i sometimes need to relax and let her get messy. also how thankful i am that we have such great people in our lives. we may not live in the same city or town but it is good and real and i love it.

more to come later this week. we are having fun and therefore i am having a hard time blogging. texting and using my phone. but it is a nice break from the routine of life.

lastly please pray for a miracle inside my aunt deb's body. there is a lot of cancer. i am having a hard time even beginning to process it at all as this has been a very difficult month for me as i look back to where we were one year ago. unbelievably thankful and yet very very sad.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

spearmint baby.

i love spearmint baby. i discovered them while reading a friend's blog and now it is one of my favorite sites. so many wonderful baby things. check it out. ava's birth story is featured on the site today.
read it HERE.

we are at camp...so a little love from my big sister.

we arrived at rockbridge on sunday. ava did well on the four hour trip here and so far things are going great. about 400 students and leaders arrived at camp yesterday afternoon. ava and i are doing a lot of hanging out. playing on the swing set. swimming in the pool. running around. she can pretty much go anywhere and be safe. it's a dream. she is acting hilarious and dancing around and saying "hi" to all the kids as they walk by. i love that she is so social. it makes it so fun.

excited that tommy and sara (justin's sister who takes all the pictures for our blog header) is welcoming their third little baby into the world today. no news yet on his arrival. but we are praying for momma and baby. 

because my time on the computer is a bit limited i am sharing two emails i got from my big sister. one after we found out that i can for sure have more babies and from our one year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis. i reminded more and more of the gift it is to have such a wonderful family who was in this fight with us. even at a distance.

Seriously had tears in my eyes as i read your last post. babies!!!!! yeah!! so happy for you, justin, and ava. she is going to make the best big sister. can't imagine you with only ava, never did. you are such an amazing mom and so glad we get to be on this motherhood path together. hopefully once and awhile I will have some good advice for you. so looking forward to seeing you all in a few weeks. feel like it has been forever. the boys are are looking forward to it too! thank you for the super extra long phone call the other day. feel like those are few and far between with how busy everything is. looking forward to our week together and to the 3 days with just you. can't believe we are a month away from when we got the insane news that you had cancer. you called that friday to say you were having an ultrasound but that is was probably nothing and in our family we have been so lucky, usually with big things it has been nothing. but this time it was different. I was at work when you called me and from the moment i talked to you i knew it was not the outcome we were hoping for. I can't even remember what went through my mind first except this family doesn't work without you. I wanted you close so that i could hug you and for the first time i really realized just how far away you were. For me it didn't matter what kind of cancer or what the odds or how it got there or how long it had been there,  i just wanted it out of you and for you to be healed. you handled it with such strength and poise. our week in the outer banks last august you seemed so healthy. we played putt putt with justin and dad and hung out and swam and i remember combing your hair and not wanting to stop thinking next time i see you your beautiful long brown hair would be gone. i have learned so much from you this past year and so glad it is over!! So glad we are all here today with you healthy and that you can have more babies. Every few months there will be a PET scan and we will continue to pray that each of them are clear. We will pray that God will give you the strength to get through them. Know that i am here for you and i know that i have not been perfect though this whole journey but one thing has not changed, and that is how much I love you. Can't wait to watch our babies play and probably wrestle with each other on vaca! We are have been so blessed by God this past year and i pray He continues to heal you. I love you lib and am honored to be your big sister. Your blog has been such an amazing testimony and who would have ever thought it would have turned into what it is today. i look forward to reading each post and to be updated on what you are doing that day. i weep as I write this remember all the emotions of the past year. I hope the future hold lots of tear of joys!!
love you.

Sitting here now, I can't believe this year is over. in the midst of everything it felt like it would never end. what an answer to prayers that we are sitting here today celebrating no more cancer. can't imagine the mix of emotions you are feeling today. the whirlwind of what 7.26.10 meant and how we are sitting here today thanking the Lord for His answer to our prayers. i love you so much and so thankful to have my sister back. it was a long year and being with you for a chemo treatment changed everything in my mind. watching what those drugs did to you, unless you watchvermeulen family got together to celebrate grandpa's birthday and we were talking about all the things the family had been through i watched how so many people's eyes filled with tears after your journey was mentioned. it is still so raw as we try and move forward after this year. what a blessing for you to know so many people have been praying for you and loving you near and far. i hope this day is filled with more celebrations than not of how far you have come. love on ava and justin today and hold them close. sending you lots of hugs and kisses. i love you so much. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

my aunt deb and my friend jen.

my aunt is spending the weekend in northern michigan. trying to get away for a bit before the chaos of cancer begins. we are waiting for a final diagnosis after she has surgery later next week. if you are interested in following her story read HERE she started a blog too. our family covets your prayers as yet another family member begins this journey. something that is all to close to home for us.

we are leaving for rockbridge tomorrow for two weeks. it is a young life camp in goshen virginia. it's where justin and i met in june of 2005. he will write the story of how we met...someday. we are excited for ava to experience camp and share in what has become a very special place to justin and i. we are packed and ready to go.

back in march i emailed some friends and family about sharing their heart about cancer for the blog. (many of you did not respond...maybe the email went to spam/trash)

anyways i am leaving you with a guest post from our dear friend jen. along with a picture too.

libby forwarded me an email written by justin the day after they were certain it was lymphoma.  like many, i had no idea what that was but i knew it wasn't good.  so many thoughts rush through your head: we're so young!  this couldn't happen to our friends.  they're newly-weds, have a brand new precious baby & they are so faithful - God uses them in so many ways - why would he have libby be sick?  at this time i had no idea how much this hardship would mold them to look like Christ and shine for the Kingdom.  i mean i knew it in theory, look at Jesus of course, and paul & the rest of the apostles - but I hadn't seen it personally, with my eyes...yet.
i felt scared for them, for their little family.  i was scared of the news that they would continue to get (what stage, what treatment, how it would all turn out), all the things that were so uncertain.  anytime that I thought about lib as a mom or a wife i would basically just cry and pray.  in justin's email he wrote: "Don't doubt a miracle, when I see Libby's sweet face, I always think, "she would be perfect for a miracle".   thinking of that would make me cry & pray more.  i fully agreed, libby would be perfect for a miracle.
they started the blog which was such a relief.  we desperately wanted to be updated on how they were doing but didn't want to be pests - after all they were already juggling so much.  i think a lot of people probably feel like that - you're interested & care but don't know what to do about it, you don't want to be a burden.  living 10 hours away, it was just a blessing to feel so connected.  knowing the details, the appointment dates, the emotions, the needs, the ways that God was moving {especially to fill those needs}, the ways that their hearts were growing & aching all at the same time - it was a gift to experience that with them - you likely feel the same way.  after realizing what a powerful witness their lives were going to be through cancer i wanted everyone to read their story.  i wanted to encourage my brothers & sisters in Christ with this awesome example of God's grace & the ryder's genuine & faithful response. i wanted people to know how real these people are - vulnerable & full of life {even when they're scared & sick}.  that this could be our reality too - life to the fullest, unshakable hope no matter the circumstance.  i wanted people who don't know Christ to know this story too - i knew God would use it.  He is/was showing up, moving in huge ways.  ryde & lib are/were reflecting his glory, even in suffering - it's beautiful.
they asked for prayer & you better believe they got it.  i know they were covered in prayer - lifted up by faithful people all over the country, maybe the world.  libby would say they could feel people's prayers over them.  i wanted to shout it from the rooftops, rally God's people and ask for that miracle.  i loved hearing that they felt comforted.  i wrote to just about anyone i thought might possibly pray and asked for their partnership - it was the only thing i knew to do.  i'm sure each of our friends did likewise.  our young life leadership (most of which didn't know the ryders since they had moved years earlier) were praying, my family, ben's family, even extended-family started praying for the ryder's {and we're a big ol' family}. we contacted friends that we knew would have a giant praying community around them as well, they had to know to be lifting them up too!  i posted on my blog, on facebook, talked to our friends from high school & college, basically anyone who would pray, prayed.  it was really amazing to see the body of Christ mobilize like that, have compassion, join the fight.  not only in prayer but to provide for physical needs as well.  how awesome to see your friends be so well loved - babysitters, people to help clean, giftcards, meals, money to live, money for medical bills, marathons, golf outings, t-shirts, bracelets, jewelry & the list goes on & on.  God's provision is so complete, and to see the love & generosity that just poured out of people to support the ryder's, even from total strangers - just incredible.  a gift only God could produce. 
witnessing how cancer launched the ryder's into complete and utter dependence on God for each and every need gripped me, it still does.  to see friends that you have always looked up to, stand so firm in the face of something so terrifying was more than an encouragement, it was kind of life changing.  seeing people really live their faith out - doesn't that slap you in the face & and scream "WAKE UP!  WHERE DOES YOUR HOPE LIE!?"  that's what it did for me anyway. 
seeing how cancer affected their marriage, gosh what a blessing.  my husband ben & i watched as this trial bonded them as one.  how deeply do you love & serve once you're jolted by the reality that we aren't promised tomorrow?  {about 12 bad country songs just popped in my head} but seriously!  this was a gift to us, a reminder to be humble, passionate & real servants to each other - glorifying God all the more as we see the day approaching.
i don't know how people could do this without Jesus.  the most comforting thing during this past year of watching the ryder's endure was having full confidence that God is good & that Libby knew & loved him fervently {and that likewise, the Lord felt the same way about her}.  there is no fear in that - regardless of the outcome of cancer.  ben & i couldn't help but put ourselves in justin & lib's position mentally.  what if that would have happened to us - would we be so bold, would be so steadfast & firm, would our hope be concretely planted on Truth - founded in Christ, would we waste our cancer, would we love each other so deeply, would we persevere?  we are praying that when our trials do come & in our everyday that we will be able to live out our hope just as ryde & libby have.
thank you friends for being such an encouragement & example to us. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

julie the fish. yay for august.

i am a little late on our august sponsor post. i was a bit too obsessed with the idea that i had cancer again and was fighting the flu. but now i am ready to enter back into reality.
Julie the fish is back! yay we love her.
A few years ago one of my friends wore a simple necklace hand stamped with her son’s name.  I loved it and thought, “Maybe I could make that.” That is how the journey of juliethefish designs began.  Now I spend late night hours hammering away while my loved ones sleep.  juliethefish designs is an online shop full of handmade, custom keepsakes.  Each piece is created uniquely with your personalized information.  I am honored to make hand stamped keepsakes for customers all over the world.  I am inspired by their lives, the stories they share, and their occasions for giving. please visit the website at www.etsy.com/designs/juliethefish.  
I'm going to be having a two day sale on August 8th & 9th.   

Next Monday & Tuesday, August 8th & 9th shoppers can use coupon code TWODAY20 to receive 20% off their entire order.  This will be a great opportunity to do some *early* holiday shopping or get a great deal on something you've been wanting for yourself!
then for the rest of the month dwyc readers can use the coupon code LIBBY811 at Etsy checkout to receive 10% off your order!

enjoy your friday. 

leaving you with a few things i am happy about.
1. i finally took a shower today. don't judge. i was so sick.
2. needed to run errands today and the five places i had to go were all in the same place. serisouly. in a row. best buy, babies r us (new monitor), teacher store, old navy, and target. a mother's dream.
3. i can now see ava when she sleeps.
4. we go on assignment for young life at rockbridge 
in less than 48 hours.
5. i am feeling better. not 100% but maybe like %60.
6. hopefully going out with some girlfriends tonight to celebrate katie.
7. sonic happy hour.
8. laundry is done. not folded but clean.
9. when ava does something she is not supposed to she comes up to me and says, "sorry momma. sorry momma. sorry momma." she gets the repeats sometimes. but it is precious.
10. my cancer is gone. my cancer is gone. my cancer is gone. no matter what my little head seems to tell me i know the truth. i am cancer free.

that is all for now. enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

some FAQ's and my heavy heart.

this post will start out light (answering some questions i have received over the past month or so) and then end with a little glimpse into my heart.

1. back in june you might remember THIS bridal shower i had for ally (she is now married by the way & what a day it was). i had a few requests for the mini caprese bites that my friend gaye brought to the party. here it is.

1pt. grape tomatoes halved
10-14 fresh small mozzarella cheese balls, cut into thirds
32 (4in) wooden skewers
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
6 thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
kosher salt and pepper to taste

-thread 1 tomato half, 1 piece of cheese, and another tomato half onto each skewer.  Place skewers in a shallow serving dish.

-whisk together oil and next 3 ingredients.  Drizzle oil mixture over skewers; sprinkle with basil and salt and pepper to taste.

-pour the mixture over them in the serving glass. enjoy!

2. the song played on our family vacation VIDEO in williamsburg is josh garrels "further along."it is so good. he is so good.

3. the burlap piece with our wedding date on it from our bedroom. i am not that crafty and i like things that are easy and do not take too much time, money, or materials. but i like burlap and i like numbers and i love to spray paint whatever i can get my hands on. the whole idea started because we have an electrical box in our room that is not cute. so i knew i wanted to cover it with fabric because getting a picture that size would be expensive because it's a custom size. i had some extra burlap in the house and have been loving all the burlap pillows with numbers and letters on them from etsy (a website that literally sells pretty much anything you could ever want). but i never ordered because i knew i could make them. i need a sewing machine first. maybe for christmas this year. anyways i decided to do our anniversary because it's for our bedroom and i already have the letter R or J or L throughout the house so numbers would mix things up a little. i printed off ten inch stencil numbers from online and then taped them to the burlap and spray painted them white. because burlap has openings in it i had to spray a lot and some wet through but it was fine. i waited for it to dry. i am lying i never wait for things to dry i hung it immediately. it was seriously so easy. hope that helps.

4. the 8mm Vintage Videos we have posted on the blog are from a video option that is on the iphone.

5. pictures like these are all from Instragram which is an app for the iphone. i also like Snapbucket.

i am a little obsessed with it since the lens on our canon rebel is not working i have been using my iphone way more for pictures and video. they are not nearly as good but it's a real easy way to capture moments since my phone is always with me.

6. our video monitor for ava. i love it. ours is the silver slim&secure from summer infant. i wish they were paying me to endorse them since i am pretty sure i have told every friend who is having a baby or knows someone having a baby that a video monitor is a dream. a must have. it was my sister who suggested we get it before ava was born. i was a little hesitant since it is not cheap ($200). but i am pretty sure it is one of the best things we bought for ava. i love it. the peace of mind of not only hearing her but seeing her. ava likes to run back and forth in her crib and throw herself into her bumper and it cracks her up. it is hilarious. i really had no idea the peace of mind it brought us at night and at naps until this happened...
yup. it broke and we are not exactly sure what happened. but her name is ava. she got a hold of it when we were all upstairs playing and then when i went to turn it on after we put her to bed i saw this. now we can only hear her. which is all you need. but when you are used to being able to see your baby sleep it is hard to not have that option anymore. i seriously have anxiety over it at night. planning to call summer infant and seeing if they will hook we up with a replacement. it's worth a try. i love video monitors.

now my heart. it has been an exhausting week. physically and emotionally and spiritually. this weekend i started coming down with a cough. nothing crazy. people get coughs all the time. but then it turned into a fever. pretty high. 103 last night. achy body. pain in my left hip (where my cancer was). tingling feeling all over my body. leg numbness. lost some weight. have not had an appetite. but the problem is that most of things (besides the cough and fever) were happening before i was diagnosed and ignored them for months. but they are also very normal flu like symptoms. however, it was nearly impossible for me to believe that it was only flu. my cancer was back. i was sure of it. seriously. last night when my fever broke and i was laying in bed freezing but sweating uncontrollably i began to sob in bed. it was back. i was convinced. i was so scared. i have never been scared of health problems. i never had any reason to be. but when i got cancer last year that changed everything and i had no idea how it was going to manifest itself when i got sick for the first time. this is the first time since that i have been sick. so in my fear i assumed the worst. how could i not? it does come back. people go into remission and then come out of it. it's just a whole new road we are on now. another way that cancer changed us forever. how do i not jump to conclusions when ignored all my symptoms before? i do not know the answer. not sure if there is one. maybe this is just a part of life post cancer. especially when it is still so recent. will it get better as the years go on? the more and more i hear from my doctor's..."you are fine libby. everything looks great." will that make it easier? i hope so. i earnestly pray it will. because this week as been full of anxiety and fear. especially when my dear aunt just this week began her own journey with cancer. it seems to be everywhere and i know my awareness is so so heightened now. i see it on commercials, billboards, magazines, all over the internet. it is just hard and sad. it was not so good for justin either. he is stronger than me. for sure. but i did realize that if he seems worried it makes me worried and vice versa. he is good at reeling me in. i need that. but in an attempt to put us both at ease i went and saw noura today and got my blood drawn. i sat in the waiting room and teared up. sat in a chair in the chemo room waiting to talk to noura and got so nauseous. i have no idea how i went to that place. 12 times. i seriously have no idea. but i think it was so hard today because i had convinced myself that i would sitting in those chairs again soon. and as my eyes filled with tears while eaves dropping on noura's phone call. because i thought she was discussing my blood work results with dr. lee and they were talking about how to tell me my cancer was back. that is how fast i spiraled. she got off the phone and said, 'hey, lib...results look good. normal. probably just the flu." i quickly pulled myself together and we chatted about ava, justin, and her husband. i should probably learn from this experience. it's what happened before my last visit too. so i will try. i will remind myself what is true. no fear in Christ. i trust him with my life. i want to. i try to. i think i do. but sometimes it is just hard.

Monday, August 1, 2011

my aunt.

my mom just called. i had two missed calls because my phone was upstairs. my mom's sister. my aunt deb just received a preliminary diagnosis of cancer. it seems serious based on what her doctor's are telling her. she is expected to have surgery soon. we do not know what type yet. but we would ask you to pray. we believe more than ever in the power of prayer. my heart is broken. there is just too much cancer out there and because i know that road. a road i had only heard of but now have walked. i can not help but feel my aunt's deep burden of fear, anxiety, and all the unknowns. we love you and are in this with you. just from a few states away.