The other day we ran into some friends who hadn’t heard about Ryan’s tumor. Telling the story and reliving all the miracles was such a great reminder of God’s faithfulness, of His trustworthiness. We left the store where we had seen them feeling so refreshed and full of faith we were almost giddy. We got into the car and we started retelling the story to ourselves.
“Can you believe it’s only been six weeks since we found out about the tumor? Look at everything God has done in six weeks! He took us to the perfect doctors. He put so much support around us – of people caring for the girls and bringing meals…praying for us and talking us through each day. Family and friends who waited with Jen in the waiting room, waiting with tears and rejoicing. He blessed us generously through family, friends and our church family in Boone who sent gifts, gift cards and money to help us with bills. He provided for us in great ways through Ryan’s work and their support of us. He brought miraculous healing to Ryan. Healing him sooner than the doctors predicted each time he went into the hospital. Protecting Ryan’s ability of speech. Protecting him from a number of complications. Creating in him such a light and kindness that the hospital staff loved caring for him. He provided incredible understanding and comfort for our girls. He has healed Ryan so he can return to work after only four weeks. And amidst it all, he has given us great, great peace.”
I remember the evening Ryan received the phone call about the tumor. He was so kind and thankful to the doctor who called him. He gently and calmly told me that they had found a mass. Our girls were riding their bikes and playing at the park. We took the news in as we watched them play, smiling at them, and waving as they showed us their tricks. The one day we had to wait between the news and seeing the neurosurgeon was Amari’s birthday and He allowed us to focus on her and celebrate her without sadness or anxiety. He brought great joy in the midst of the storm.
Even in meeting with the neurosurgeon the first time, I remember such a deep peace in our hearts. This isn’t to say there haven’t been moments where fear and discouragement have shown up – they have. But we have never been without hope, and without thankfulness for what God is doing in our lives.
We’ve been somewhat quiet over the past couple weeks as Ryan continued his healing. The other day Ryan said he feels almost like he’s had a sabbatical – a period of time for God to do a deep searching within his heart, to confess and to declare faith, and to be thankful. During the most difficult, disheartening moments, the Lord has constantly reminded us of His love and faithfulness and our ability to find joy in Him.
We’ve spent A LOT of time together as a family. Ryan and I haven’t spent this much time together since we served and travelled with OneHope together, nine years ago. We’ve had conversations that we never took time to have. We’ve gone to the depths and the heights. We’ve shared our hearts with each other like never before, chosen deeper love, and the Lord has brought great healing. For the girls, they’ve always known that Daddy would be home and then back on the road. Having this six weeks with Daddy home has been so wonderful and refreshing for them. He’s been able to be there for them, without question, and to really be involved in their daily lives (including volunteering at school & being there for special events). We’ve taken time to make some wonderful family memories and received some incredible gifts of family time.
It might appear that with Ryan’s healing our journey of faith has reached a final peak. And yet, the Lord still calls us to great measures of trust in Him.
Before all of this happened we were in the process of purchasing a home in Franklin and the Lord had provided so many amazing miracles in the process. We had been walking the process out with little effort and a lot of faith, but unfortunately, we had to withdraw our offer this week. Disappointments will be part of all of our journeys – but they needn’t take away our hope. Future promise awaits.
Our next step of faith comes in looking for a new job for Ryan. His current contract ends January 22nd. Admittedly, this is a scary place to be. It kind of feels like being in the middle of a storm, afraid you won’t make it to the other side. A constant theme of this season for us is that Jesus has called us to the ‘other side’. And if He’s called us to the other side, He’ll be sure we get there. We can’t go around, we can’t stay on the shore, we have to get in the boat, exercise our faith in the storm, and see it through to the other side. We have to walk towards the wilderness and lean into the pain to see God move and take us through to the other side.
I’ve never seen myself as a giant of faith. But as we have shared our new need with friends, they have reminded us of all the trials God has brought us through over the years, and how His faithfulness has remained so evident and clear. We have always been in His hands and nothing can change that. In fact, we hear His voice more clearly than before. We know His love to greater depths than before. We see His hand in our lives in even greater measure than ever before.
We know that God brought us to Franklin and Ryan to this job for this season. And that part of His plan was the revealing of Ryan’s tumor and the healing. We believe that God allowed this time as a great time of inner healing for Ryan and our family as a whole.
We are continually, as a family, celebrating and thanking God for the many miracles He has done. With grateful hearts, we ask that you would pray with us for Ryan’s next step. We are in the beginning of this process, and January 22nd seems like it will be here so quickly. We know that God knows our situation and has heard our prayers. We know that He works behind the scenes and that faith is the evidence of things not seen, of things hoped for. We are believing for a future of hope and promise.
So, I know we have asked for a lot of prayer over the past few months. We continue to ask for your prayers as Ryan continues to heal, as baby Smith grows, and as we search and wait for Ryan’s next work opportunity. He would love to use his gifts and skills in a ministry setting. More than anything, we open our hands and we look to Him. These last six weeks have left us stronger, with increased perseverance, faith and hope. We count on His promises that He has not forgotten us. We choose faith rather than anxiety and we take it day by day.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. –Philippians 4:6
“During Advent, as we wait for the fullness of God’s promises in Christ Jesus, we are invited in humility and gentleness of spirit to whisper our longing to one another and to elicit a new depth of sharing with one another. Intercession is both a duty and a privilege, but we can only intercede when we learn to trust others with our unique yearnings. Naming the ache of our yearnings is indeed faithful. It opens wide the gift of receiving and embracing the prayers of others.” — Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent, Enuma Okoro
Thank you for your prayers, beloved friends & family.