Hello and welcome to my blog.
My name is Ryan. I am a follower of Jesus Christ and a pastor of a church plant in Worcester, England. In August 2001 I married my first wife, Annie, whom I met at a Christian youth conference in 1999. Four years into our marriage, Annie’s Mom was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. And two years later, so was Annie.
I was 32 years old when Annie was diagnosed and she was just 29. News of her cancer invaded our lives exactly one week before we were due to fly to the States for a year to study at a Bible college and possibly adopt a child. Our plans fell through and our world began a very different journey that we could never have anticipated – or wanted – when we made our vows to love one another through sickness and health.
The following six years of our married life were painful – so very painful; yet they were so precious and so very wonderful. The wonder of them echoes through my life even as I write these words today, Tuesday, September 9th 2014.
Suffering is one of those things that makes folks ask the questions that question God. Question His love; question His power; question His existence.
Our experience of suffering drew us nearer to God. Suffering enhanced our experience of God.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9
Annie knew suffering. She knew the agony of physical pain all through her body. She faced and endured the horror of it. She knew the unyielding assault of nausea and sickness. Cancer ravaged her body. She knew the pain of man’s attempts to rid her of the illness. She bore the scars – physically and mentally – of numerous procedures to eradicate the cancer that would not let her go.
But she knew the love of her Father God who held her and guided her all the way through.
In September 2011 she was given a terminal diagnosis. The cancer that we had hoped and prayed would leave her had returned as aggressive secondaries in her bones and lungs. The prognosis was not good but she outlasted the few months she was given. She spent every day of those following 18 months knowing Christ her Saviour and King more, enjoying Him more and sharing Him more with many others.
In October 2011 we began this blog as a means of journalling the experience of life with cancer and with Christ. Our desire then was to share our experience in the midst of cancer. A real glimpse into the daily reality of what faith in Christ looks like during a crisis. We didn’t want to give this a retrospective treatment which could become so easily edited and smoothed. We knew life was short and hard and Christ was Lord and good. This is a story framed in real life, forged in the flames and founded on the fact of Jesus Christ risen from the dead!
During the last months of her life, Annie often shared:
“If God was to offer me the last six years of my life back, without cancer, I wouldn’t accept it. My experience of Him has been so much more real through suffering that this would be the only offer I would refuse from my Lord!”
Cancer eventually took her life, but it could not take her hope, her peace and her joy because it could not take her Christ!
I continued this blog as a young widower. Pain’s theme ran through my life and so did Christ’s reign. And so I continued to blog as I trusted Him through this really difficult time. Before Annie passed away she often talked to me about me getting married again after Jesus called her home. They were always very uncomfortable times because I didn’t want to imagine life without her. After the Lord called her home – three days after my 38th birthday – I resolved that having found one great woman, my remaining life would be lived out as a widower.
But God had other plans and honoured the many prayers Annie had no doubt privately offered up for me regarding the future without her.
Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us… – Ephesians 3:21
God graciously provided me with the woman that I believed did not exist. A woman who would welcome my widowhood as heritage, not baggage. A woman who would continue to encourage and support me and love me in the work of serving Christ and His purposes on this earth. Our relationship blossomed in the Spring of 2014 and on August 9th 2014, Sarah and I were married.
He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favour from the Lord. – Proverbs 18:22
It’s hard to find the words to express how grateful I am to God for all that He has done. Having Sarah by my side in this new chapter of life truly is a blessing beyond measure. I thank God for her and love her dearly.
I have no plans to continue keeping this blog updated. It was right to update it during the season of suffering. It continues to receive many visits each day and my prayerful desire is that it remains on the internet as a testimony to the fact that Jesus Christ is alive today. He alone has conquered the grave. His word on why the world is in the state it is, can be trusted. His promises can be relied on. The Bible makes sense of this world and gives lasting hope! Jesus uniquely has the power to give eternally lasting life, hope, peace and joy.
I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. – 2 Timothy 1:12
We hope and pray that in reading this blog you may come to know this Jesus as your Saviour and King.
In His Arms,
Ryan and Sarah