Dearest friends, family,
I cannot thank you enough for the many messages, texts, cards, posts on Facebook, flowers (thanks, Delynn!), and other tangible demonstrations of support that Ryan's family and I have gotten from loved ones this week. One of Ryan's former campers even wrote an open letter to her baby son about where he got his middle name of "Ryan", and it was powerful! I still consider myself to be so fortunate to forever be linked to this incredible person that left such an indelible mark upon the world around him. Thank you, Ryan, for making us all better and for bringing glory to your Savior.
That six-week stretch of time from Ryan's birthday through this week has been challenging at times as I have reflected upon the incredible loss that we all experienced a year ago. I am so grateful that the God I serve is the same God for which this verse is written: "When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me." (Psalm 86:7, NIV) The unbelievable peace and joy that I've been able to still have even in the midst of grieving is only because of the mercy and goodness that my heavenly Father has poured out on me over and over again. When I'm afraid, sad, confused, hurt, or lonely, He is more than enough! It is the same way with Colton and his mama. When Colton heard an enormous clap of thunder during a storm last night, he came running to me and jumped in bed with me. His mom is his safe harbor. Our God is a safe refuge in the midst of a storm (Isaiah 25:4). I can't imagine having gotten through this past year in one whole piece without the grace and protection that I have received from God.
But I would also like to share with the readers of this blog about the most incredible experience that I've gotten to have as a parent. This past Monday night, one year later (almost to the minute) from when Colton said goodnight to his dad, Colton prayed and asked to receive Jesus into his heart! He was quite insistent with me that he wanted to follow God at that very moment. I was so blessed and honored to be able to do that with my precious son. He turns four tomorrow (April 14), and his dad was also four when he first followed the Lord. I am amazed at God's timing, and so excited to know that someday all three of us will be together again in eternity.
Life continues to go well for Colton and I. We've had the opportunity to travel a little more, make some memories together, and we have had people come into our lives that have been timely friends and have brought much joy. Colton still asks about his dad a few times a week, and we get to have wonderful conversations about his dad's character. He did go through a period of time not that long ago where his sadness about his dad was perhaps a little overwhelming to him, but now he seems to have evened out a little bit. He is doing amazingly well and I'm grateful that God seems to have given each of us (and also gave Ryan) a little extra share of resilience when he created us.
Again, thanks to all of you for continuing to pray for us and to think of us and reach out. I'm grateful for every message sent my way and I can feel the grace that you are asking God to give me! With God behind me and the body of Christ around me, Colton and I continue to stay upright and moving forward.