Saturday, February 21, 2015

Happy birthday, dear Ryan, happy birthday to you

Today we remember you, Ryan.  Your fire, energy, drive, passion, love for family, and above all, utmost devotion to your Savior.

To remember him on today, his 29th birthday, I asked some of Ryan's closest family members and friends to tell me why they are thankful for his years with us, and what they miss.


"Ryan was a great friend. He always did the right thing, because it was the right thing to do.  I looked up to him for it and respected the man he was.  He put his faith, family, and friends first and did it with dignity. I listened to him speak in my patrol car  on the radio one day, and I'll never forget the topic: 'living your legacy'.  He was discussing the importance of thinking about your legacy as you live your life. It was as if an angel was talking to me at that very instant, telling me to think about how I will be remembered, about living my own legacy.  I think about that day often and will never forget it.  Also, about one month after Ryan passed away, I could not sleep and was restless. I had just separated from my girlfriend and was stressed from work. When I fell asleep, I began to dream about Ryan. I saw him in a cowboy shirt and hat. I saw beautiful rolling hills and an open space ranch that glowed in the morning sun. Ryan was looking at me with that distinct smile and in that moment, I knew it was not a dream. I felt peace, calm, and free of any worries. I knew he saw me hurting and wanted to help me. That is the kind of friend he was and I miss him." -David

"I am thankful for Ryan for many reasons.  I love that he loved the Lord and how courageous he was. I love that he set the bar high for us to follow so that we could continue his legacy.  As a small boy, he was so determined and ready to take on the world.  He taught me a lot about a strong-willed child, and a lot about myself as well.  I love how he was with us as a family, always going out of his way to support Brandon and our family. Some of Brandon's favorite memories are hunting weekend with Ryan and his Nerf gun fight at his birthday party.  I love how he adored Kendra and Colton and even in his illness, he strived to have relationships with his family." -Aunt Marjie

"I'm thankful for Ryan because he was the big brother I didn't have. Because of him, I think I'm a little tougher, understand boys a little better and have experienced more farts and burps than I would've liked. [Editor's note: hear, hear] But Ryan also taught me not to apologize for my age or my wiring, that it was ok to be passionate but always with purpose and to be caring at the end of the day. There are still times I want to tell him something, to hear his response and it aches. I'm thankful for his larger-than-life personality that makes remembering that much easier." -Abby

"I'm thankful for Ryan for so many reasons, but I so admire his sense of purpose and determination. Oh, and he always made me laugh. I remember the first Sunday I saw you two at GLBC.  On the drive home I said to Nate (my husband), 'Did you see the cowboy?' In that moment I had no idea what a huge impact you would both have on our lives! I'm so thankful for your couple of years in Lansing. Friendship, accountability, laughs, small group, and spiritual growth.  Happy birthday, Ryan!" -Lauren

" 'Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful,
       **And let us consider how we can SPUR one another toward love and good deeds.'
We believe Ryan lived this passage and many were encouraged to live faithfully for the Lord." - Grandma Jean

"As his 29th birthday was approaching I have been filled with a kaleidoscope of memories. The one I am most proud of was his commitment to live his life surrendered to the Lord. He became a man of great faith. No matter how hard the circumstances were he chose to be radically obedient. He never put it on; it came deep from within through the Word of God that he embedded into the core of who he was. Ryan was so in love with Kendra. She was the best thing that ever happened to him. Together they created a lot of energy, and out of that came Colton. The memories of Ryan as a husband and father keep me smiling. I miss Ryan and his passion for Grace Adventures. He shared in our vision for Grace to reach this generation of young people and strengthen the family to Impact the World with Jesus Christ.  Happy birthday, my son.  I love you to heaven and back." -Steve, his father

"Ryan, today you would be celebrating your 29th birthday. I still often wonder why it was you that was chosen to leave this earth at such a young age. I miss you horribly and think of you often. I miss watching sports with you, even though we weren't always cheering on the same team. I thank God for the memories and time that we did have.  Happy birthday in heaven." -Chris

"Ryan didn't hide behind a mask, he was who he was and he was fine letting people see the rough edges along with the depth. I appreciate that transparency and time with Ryan challenged me to be genuine in my interactions with others and not try to be who I think they want me to be." - Jenny

"'As iron sharpens iron so shall one man sharpen another.'  There is no man who I felt as loved by or whom I loved as deeply, with whom I debated as intensely, and with whom I served side-by-side as passionately as Ryan Prudhomme.  He sharpened and honed me into a usable instrument of God. I like to think I sharpened him some too." -Chad

"I am thankful I knew Ryan because Ryan stood for Jesus. My first memory of him is as a young freshman in high school standing for truth, and my last memory is a young man weakened with disease continuing to proclaim the same truth. I am thankful to have known him and even more thankful for the promise of eternity to see and be with my friend again." -Crystal

"I'm thankful Ryan broke trail for me in life. Even when the conditions were tough, he always had a heart of perseverance and righteousness. I am thankful for his sense of humor. I miss belly laughing with him all the time. I am thankful for and miss our time fishing or watching a game or talking about things that matter in life." -Jeremy, his brother

"I am thankful that Ryan fully surrendered his strong will to the Lord. He always pushed me to raise the bar in whatever we were working on. I am thankful too that I was able to see him grow and mature as a man and in his faith! And that God allowed me to be a mini part of that process." -Ben

"I always saw Ryan as a person with the kind of faith I want to have. He not only knew and believed the Word of God, he lived it. I admired that about him and am thankful that he is a role model for me in that regard. I am also thankful for the FUN. I have great memories of dune rides, horseback riding, watching fireworks, making dough boys on the campfire, hot-tubbing in the winter, and watching Star Wars and the Avengers. I'm thankful for our friendship and for the adventures." -Kari

"I loved him for how hard he fought cancer, and how he spoke about it. He meant so much to so many and is missed daily. His nephew has had a tough time losing him and still will cry out of the blue.  He is definitely loved and missed.  I'm thankful that he was a great role model and great man in how he lived his life." -Ryan

"Ryan could pick on me, challenge me, and encourage me all in the same sentence. He did it all with the same big smile. He spurred me on.  Like spurs, he was not always the most gentle of tools but God used him to often direct my life.  For that I am thankful." -Mike

"I'm thankful for Ryan for: his skills in securing lawn chairs in a Jeep and safely driving the dunes, and providing first aid when he failed at both of those, his ability to make anyone and everyone feel welcomed and loved, introducing me to his parents and grandparents, marrying my dearest friend, giving the world the sweetest, most honest, and hilarious little boy, and living his life completely trusting in God's plan." -Monica

"I will always remember Ryan as a man of deep conviction and care. Ryan lived boldly and spoke honestly, and in our friendship that means he challenged and supported me. We didn't get to spend much of our friendship in the same geographical place, and yet I would list him (and Kendra) as one of the people closest to my heart - who knew me well enough to cheer me on while spurring me on to follow God's lead.  Friends like that are God-given and precious...I miss him." -Amy

"Ryan was always 100% dedicated to everything he did and everyone he loved." -Tricia

"Ryan's commitment until the end was so personally challenging to me. Tonight I heard the song, "10,000 Reasons". I now have a visual picture of what it looks like to when your strength is failing and your time has come, to have your soul still praise God. I know times were hard. I know Ryan and Kendra argued with God about His decision. But he made the choice to surrender, despite his circumstances, despite his feelings and despite him wanting to be in charge. I am so grateful for that example and hope it is an example that I can learn to follow." -Hannah

"Ryan became a good friend of mine after he asked me to be his mentor a few years ago. We talked at least once a month, mostly about leadership and his hopes for the future. But he also wanted to talk often about being the best husband and father he could be. He loved Kendra and Colton deeply and wanted his life to reflect his commitment to them by growing in his relationship with God. Ryan truly became a hero and role model to me over the last two years of his life. He added so much to my life – I’m certain it was more than I contributed to his. I think of him often and miss our conversations each month. In honor of Ryan’s birthday, if I could just get him to call me one more time (I wonder what the caller ID would say), I would tell him, “Ryan, you blessed me deeply by allowing me to share your life and your journey. God made you so unique and used you so powerfully to touch countless lives. Thank you for the gift of your friendship. I love you, man.'" -Gregg

"Ryan, you are missed.  But on your birthday I don't focus on how much I miss you.  Instead I choose to look at how thankful I am to have called you my brother.  You blazed a trail for me to follow and showed me what mistakes not to make...but more importantly, you showed me how to be a man.  How to accept the things in our life that we have no control over.  How to fight when the world says there is no hope.  And how to support others when you can barely support yourself.  Everyone saw all these things as you walked through your battle with cancer, but I had the awesome privilege of seeing them every day as we grew up together.  Again I will say, I'm so thankful to have called you my brother." -Corey

"Happy birthday, Ryan.  I'll always remember the day we met in 5th grade and how much I hated you.  But after many fists were thrown and hurtful words mumbled, we became best friends and brothers.  I'm so thankful for you in my life.  And I'll always remember, 'Jake...there's more to life!'  I love you brother, and I miss you a lot!" -Jake


On this day, I'm grieving for myself and Colton, and for all the people that would way rather grab a piece of cake from Ryan's birthday party than sit in silence and deeply miss him.  But today I also celebrate...I'm just grateful that he was born.  That he happened.  That I got to marry him and build a life with him.  That he passed along the same winning smile, stubbornness, high-octane intensity, and unbelievable charm to his only son.  If this high-energy, loud, maddeningly confrontational, thoughtful, deep, and mind-blowing intelligent person had never happened, I can't imagine how different I would be as a person.  Thank you, Ryan, for helping me be a far better version of myself, and for believing in me and pushing me to greater heights when I did not believe that I had it in me.  Thank you for demonstrating to me that surrendering my whole life and my whole purpose to Jesus will define who I am, what I do, and give me a framework for every decision.  I think that every single one of the above people would agree that our lives are richer and we are better people because of the influence you had on the world around you.  You are so loved!  Happy birthday in heaven to you; I'm sure that you are celebrating in a way today that is unfathomably awesome.