Sometime this week the video of the memorial service will be uploaded. It was a long service (somewhere between an hour and a half to two hours), so it's taking some time to digitize and upload. It should be done sometime after Wednesday.
In the meantime, here is the text of the remarks that I made about Ryan at the memorial service and what it meant to Ryan to live in high definition - and what it means for the rest of us that are left behind. I have been asked by a few people to upload this.
"Living in High Definition"
Good morning. It is amazing to me to look out over this crowd of people and be once again reminded of the impact that my husband had on a number of people. While the pain that I and my families have felt this week has been suffocating, we have been blessed beyond measure of the response that we have had from around the world, hearing of how Ryan has impacted people – not just in the last two years, but for 27 years. Ryan’s passion for the Lord, his love for his family, and his desire to do things that made a difference for the Kingdom of God are all of the things that we admire about him and what draws us to this place today. Whether he was a family member, a friend, a coworker, a former teammate, a classmate, a counselor, or even just a guy whose blog we read and admired – Ryan has impacted all of us not just because of the smile, his laugh, his sense of humor, or his practical jokes – but because of the brilliant light of hope that he reflected through Jesus Christ.
One of the things that I think we all admired about Ryan was the fact that despite his response to his cancer diagnosis was extraordinary, he was in fact a very ordinary person in real life. I was married to him for almost seven years and dated him for four and a half years prior to that. I can readily attest to the fact that Ryan had faults. As a matter of fact, many of you may not know that Ryan had a criminal record. Yes. He was convicted of a misdemeanor three years ago. After we bought our house in Claybanks Township, we had a devious horse that kept coming up with ways to break our fence and bust herself and our other horse loose, and they always headed towards the freeway that was just a mile from our house. Deuce and Riata got loose three times in one month, and Ryan frantically kept trying to repair the electric fence that they had broken. After the third time they got loose, the state police caught the two horses on the entrance ramp to the freeway. As Ryan zoomed up in his green pickup truck to retrieve the horses, the very unimpressed state police officer gave him a citation for – wait for it - livestock at large. We did not have any idea that someone could be cited for such a thing! Ryan tried very hard to fight the citation, but he ended up pleading no contest to a misdemeanor and was fined. Although Ryan didn’t think it was so funny at the time, we had many good laughs imagining him having to declare his misdemeanor of “livestock at large” on a future employment application.
So despite his criminal record, I had the immense honor and privilege of marrying and being the best friend of this incredible person. Many people have asked me for the past two years whether or not Ryan really meant what he said on our blog and at his speaking engagements and if he was different at home. To answer that succinctly, absolutely not. While Ryan did struggle with the thought of leaving the rest of us behind – especially Colton and I - I never heard him complain about his illness, and he never once complained of how this whole situation was terribly unfair. Of course he was human, but his faith and his response never wavered throughout 24 months of heavy treatment, rollercoaster scans, and ultimately the blow that we received at the end of his long hospitalization and in his final days as he realized that he was close to death. Ryan was a person that was truly graced by God with the determination to praise his Savior no matter the circumstances that were thrown his direction. And he had the confidence and the burning desire to share this praise with the world at large, so that other people might also be impacted by Jesus Christ.
So what makes a young man, with his whole life ahead of him, be able to respond this way? I want to turn your attention to the passage on the inside of the program, from 2 Corinthians 4: 16-18. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” You see, one of the most remarkable characteristics about my husband was what he chose to fixate upon. He did not fixate upon cancer. He chose to fix his eyes on what was unseen, on things of eternal value. His ultimate hope was not just to be healed of cancer, but rather no matter what happened to him, his hope remained completely rooted in the salvation that he had through Christ Jesus. And because of that hope, he did not lose heart. Though outwardly his human body wasted away, each and every day he was renewed by his hope in the Lord. In that passage, Paul talks about “light and momentary troubles”. This is said by Paul – the Apostle Paul – the man who was beaten, shipwrecked, and imprisoned. Ryan also considered his troubles to be light and momentary – the radiation, the countless rounds of chemo, the side effects from medication, the loss of physical strength. However, both Paul and Ryan considered that their present sufferings were not worth comparing to the glory that would be revealed in them.
And that, my friends, is the very essence of what Living in High Definition is all about. Eternal perspective. I would like to share some of Ryan’s very own words from a blog that he wrote in March of 2012.
"Some days this cancer and the future feel overwhelming. I may very well have a lot of pain and suffering in my future. I may have the loss of dreams and goals and hopes. Continuing to work at being obedient and living our faith out is hard, very hard at times. Yes as bad as all this feels - what must Glory be like? If it makes this hell that we are going through seem "light and momentary" - what must eternity be like! Chew a moment on what could possibly make shipwrecks, beatings, imprisonments, poverty, sickness, and more seem "light and momentary". How does that not motivate us to do everything we can to honor God?
That is Living in High Definition. To see every situation and circumstance through an eternal perspective. Fixing our eyes on what is unseen, what is eternal! I can relate to Paul's feeling a death sentence, but I'm also starting to understand the incredible future that is called Heaven. It doesn't just give me peace, it drives me to serve Him more and more."
Ryan chose to see life in high definition. To trust God. To obey Him. To honor his family and to choose not to stress about things that were temporary. It was not always an easy decision to have eternal perspective or to be obedient. But time and time again, Ryan and I said aloud to each other – to live in high definition is ultimately a choice. It’s a choice that sometimes has to be made even several times a day. But all it is, is a choice. And when trials come, as they so often do, a person that lives life in high definition is going to be able to stand tall, as Ryan did, and handle trials with grace and dignity, knowing that Scripture promises us in Romans 5 that “suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
I know my husband very well. I know that he would be so touched by the fact that so many of his friends and family and supporters came here today to remember him and to support his wife and his family members. He would laugh at our jokes, and he would add several of his own, and some of those jokes would probably border on inappropriate. But he would also ask these questions: What do you believe? Why do you believe it? And if you have faith, what are you going to do with it? Are you going to use your faith to impact the world, or are you going to hide it under a rock? And when circumstances happen: does your faith define your circumstances or do your circumstances define your faith? He would want every single person here to know that it is possible to live life in high definition. It first takes faith in Jesus Christ. And then it takes total surrender to God’s purposes for your life. Life will not always be easy – it wasn’t for Ryan. But Ryan finished his short life well, and I imagine that as he entered heaven and kneeled before the throne, his Heavenly Father touched his beautiful dark hair and looked into his warm brown eyes, and said, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Welcome home.”
I miss him more than I ever could have imagined. My husband, my best friend, my son’s father, our inspiration, cowboy, comic relief, brother, son, grandson, nephew, friend. He has truly left a legacy so deep and so wide that the world will remember him for years to come, and even more importantly – Colton will keep learning the rich spiritual lessons that Ryan so bravely taught in the midst of his illness. Ryan will have left more of a legacy in his short life than many people do in a full life. Although I ache for the profound loss that my son and I will acutely feel for years, I do rejoice today in knowing that my best friend is safe in the loving arms of Jesus, where he will remain for eternity – and because I have the same hope that he had, I will once again see him before long.
Until we meet again, cowboy. I love you.