Friday, April 13, 2012

Blessed be His name......

Ryan's workmates from
Dirksen Construction made his coffin

Friends leaving messages
of love.
As unconventional as it gets.
Resting among the mountains he loved.
Mom leaving her rock for the Carina
a mound of stones to direct a path-
   Ryan's Carin

Goodbye is not forever my son.

Big breath...heavy is finished.  The rush to celebrate Ryan's life well and in a way that he would want is over.  Ryan's outer body is buried in love and his soul is dancing with Jesus.  As you can imagine, we experienced extreme highs and lows yesterday.  But overall, it was a day of celebration.  I think Ryan was giving us one of his huge smiles saying, "Good job Dad and Mom.  You did the best you could within the confines of the world's conventions."

I was so extremely blessed with the hundreds of people that came out to celebrate Ryan's life.  I hear there were hundreds.  I hear there were a few buses of kids from Ryan and Luke's high school.  I say "hear", because I was so shored up by the Lord that I really only saw the immediate area around me.  One of Ryan's friends from Canada brought me some "Happy Tea" she and Ryan loved.  I'm not sure what was in it, but I do know I felt an inner strength through the day that was definitely from my Savior, and maybe a little Happy Tea.  Thanks Natalie.

The worship during Ryan's funeral was, for me, an out of body experience. I felt so close to my Jesus, and my son.  I now wish I would have turned around to see if others felt the same thing.  I pray they did.  But for me, I felt Ryan dancing along side of me, raising his hands and praising our Lord, unashamed.  Some of you are asking how I could be praising the Lord when he took my son.  I can and I did and I will.  We sang a song that I have wept through many times in my life, "Blessed be Your Name."  There is a phrase that says, "He gives and takes away, He gives and takes away.  My heart will CHOOSE to say, blessed be your name." There have been so many times in my life when my heart has been broken, torn, confused, joyful, etc....but no matter what my heart has felt, I purpose to CHOOSE to say, "Blessed be His name".  Why would I do that?  Because, what is the alternative? Depression, giving up, sinking, despair.....these are all words I want as little part of as possible.  I cannot manufacture the kind of strength this journey is going to require of me.  So no way would I rely on myself to get me through.  Why not allow myself to be shored up and strengthened.  It seems like a no brainer to me.

I want you to know that because I am relying on God's strength this doesn't mean I won't allow my heart to feel the loss.  I am confident I can grieve and feel strengthened at the same time.  Last night Tom and I had our first moment of being in a "normal" conversation with someone and then realizing, "Oh, Ryan was going to help us put on a new roof this summer."  Yes, our eyes teared up, our hearts felt that vise come over us, but we felt it and then moved on.  That is going to be the choice we will have to continually make.  Some days it will be easier than others. 

Tom and I attend Woodmen Valley Chapel (WVC).  I cannot tell you how incredible the support and love we have received from them has been.  More shoring up from the Lord.  WVC has been diving into the many tough questions of Christianity.  Wouldn't you know, this Sunday's topic is, "Is there life after death?"  Of course that is the topic for this Sunday.  That is how God works.  They have asked if they could share Ryan's story during this service.  I believe they took video of Ryan's funeral and will be showing parts of it.  We didn't bat an eye and said we would be honored.  Hundreds of people were impacted by Ryan's death and life at the funeral and wake.  Thousands will be impacted now through WVC's 5 services this weekend.  We couldn't be more honored and thrilled.

If you are dealing with this question, please attend one of these services.  And please, keep sharing your stories with us.  I already know of lives that were changed.  We need to keep hearing the impact God is making on people's lives through our son's life, and death.

Thank you friends.  We love you all.  Those we know and those we don't.


  1. Gail,
    Thank you for sharing your journey. I have been blessed. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. You are such an inspiration.

  2. Gail, I responded to your first blog with a story about you in church at Calvary chapel singing that same song when the boy's school got shut down. You've spent your life "blessing His name" no matter the situation. The pain is evident on your faces in the pictures and yet you are making a clear statement of God is God and you will honor Him no matter what! I'm blessed to call you my friend.Our hearts are with you!!!

    1. Hey Shelly. I know! Your post is what reminded me about the song and how it is exactly what my heart was crying. Thank you so much for the reminder. By the way.....we so enjoyed having Jordan with us. He was such a delight and so helpful to have around in so many ways. Thank you for sending him to us. He was a blessing.

  3. “You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”
    ― Anne Lamott

    I got to be one of his leaders on his DTS in New Zealand. The quote above speaks such truth. Bless you and all that was touched by his life and death. It is more than we will ever know.

  4. <3 My mom and brother were able to go to the wake and the funeral and I am so glad that they could even though I could not. My mom said it was pretty amazing and that there were a LOT of people. It warms my heart to hear that his story will be shared this weekend to thousands of people!! Such a huge impact!! I miss you all and love you all. Stay strong!!

  5. I want to assure you, Gail, that others at that service were close to Jesus in that worship as well. He was there, and I don't think anyone in that room couldn't see it. You were not alone in reaching your hands out to your Father, hundreds of people had their arms outstretched in praise also. I was so moved by every aspect of what I've learned about Ryan's life here, and ever aspect of the celebration of his life eternal next to his "Papa". Praise be to God.

  6. The ripple effect of your son's death reaching out to people continues to widen as I'm sure it will even further after Sundays' service. I did not know your son personally but someone who did has passed on your blog to me. Reading your blog has touched me so much. I fell 50 feet while climbing in 2005 and sometimes it seems like God reaches out to remind me of the gift of life and health after my accident. Hearing you say that Ryan could do more fore Jesus in his death than in his life, makes me rationalize that I am here after my climbing accident because I can bring more glory to God here on Earth. I wonder "How can I best serve God with my life?" Hearing about Ryan makes it feel so personal. Your confidence in Christ inspires me so much and I hope that I can demonstrate this same confidence we have as believers to my own son and family. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

  7. The worship during the funeral yesterday was one of the most amazing times of worship I've experienced in a long time. At times I almost felt like I could sense Ryan up on the stage worshiping with all of us, arms outstretched before the Father. I know that God was honored through the memories of Ryan's life, and the time and thought you put into making a unique celebration were amazing. I pray that now that these major events requiring so much energy are behind you, that God will give you strength and rest and continue to show you how He WILL make it worth the pain.

  8. Gail,
    What a unique, beautiful, and love filled celebration here on earth. And so amazing it will be shared with others on Sunday, continuing your ripple effect. Thank you for posting the pictures. I love seeing carins on our hikes up 14er's and now I will think of Ryan next I see one. He is dancing. Chris shared the day was very special. So glad he could make it out to be with you both, and we all loved seeing him too! Many Blessings, Sarah

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  10. Hi Gail, I'm reading along with everyone else and so touched. My son, Chris Harrington and his wife Bri, knew your Ryan. I wanted to share that after my dad died, we were singing Alleluia at Woodmen. I could really feel my dad's presence. I remembered a verse about God inhabiting the praises of his people. And then I thought how our loved ones are praising God around his throne. So it made sense to me that my dad was praising God and God was there in the praises so Dad was there, too. Singing praises might be a time you are really close to Ryan.

  11. Dear Gail,
    I don't think you'll ever realize how powerfully your grace, courage, love and faith has impacted so many of us... Never having met your son, I realize through your testimony, how beautiful a person he was (here) and is (with the Lord). Thank you, thank you for sharing your heart, your son, your journey and your faith. Again, between yourself and Ryan, the Lord's work has and is being done. Continued prayers and blessings to you and your family.
    Take care,
    Jenny and Ron(we you in a small group with the Shonts)

  12. Gail,
    I cannot stop thinking about you and your family. From a distance, I am deeply moved by Ryan's life and death. It is like God is speaking to all of us through you. He is placing his hands on our shoulders and saying, you can do better. Have faith. Believe in me, you are not alone. I am inspired by your faith and strength and ability to communicate your deepest feelings to us. I have been a better version of myself this week because of you, your situation and your passion to share the word of God. So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for being so open and thank you for being such an unbelievably great person. I feel blessed to be able to read your thoughts each day, reflect, pray, & take advantage of each precious day. xoxo, Carrie

  13. Dear Gail and Family: I am a member of Walnut Hill Bible Church. I just want you to know how inspired I am by your faith and strength. Many years ago I met your mom, & dad. I have been touched by their faith in our Lord. I cannot stop thinking about you, your family and your Ryan. May God Bless each and every one of you. Many prayers are coming from Wisconsin for all of you. Thank you for your beautiful blog and testimony.
    I will continue to pray. Much love. Debby Penzkover and family.

  14. Thank you Lord for the gift of worship you have given us, when times are good and when times are bad your name is blessed. Minister to our friends with your love and comfort....Gail, the Lord is being magnified in all of you right now, glory to his name. If you ever want to get away please come on down we have a great place for you to hang. We just plain old love you guys. We will continue praying for you.

  15. I am a friend of Alie Benson and went to your blog because of her sharing the link to it on her Facebook page. I too lost a son, my firstborn son, Paul III. He died nine years ago after being struck by a car in front of our church (he was a pedestrian). He was 14.
    I feel a kindred spirit with you, especially after reading about "Blessed Be Your Name". Our son was airlifted to a nearby hospital the night of the accident and when we arrived, they told us that he was probably brain dead immediately after the accident. We decided to donate his organs, so he remained on life support (I call it "organ support" because I believe that he was already in the arms of Jesus). So we went back to our home late than night after deciding to drive back there the next morning with our surviving children (Paul was our third of then ten children).
    The next morning as I dressed, I heard a preacher on the radio talking about Job's wife, and her only known words, "Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!"
    I IMMEDIATELY had a new view of Job's wife -- she was a GRIEVING MOTHER! She had lost ALL TEN of her children in ONE DAY with NO WARNING! In the days to come I experienced that many folks gave me grace as a grieving mother. But that morning I saw Job's wife as a REAL PERSON. This was not a fairy tale or an allegory. This really happened! And if I were Job's wife, I would NOT be going to say goodbye just to Paul III. I'd also be saying goodbye to Suzanna AND Julie AND Joseph AND Mary Ellen AND Thomas AND Simon AND Daniel AND Rebekah AND Nathan!
    Now "Mrs. Job" is my hero!
    I will add you and your family to my daily prayer list.
    In Christ,
    Eileen Lass

  16. Gail-
    I went to Rampart with Ryan, and although I did not know him super well I have been so impacted by everything I have read/seen since his passing. I sit here after balling from reading your entries of a truly inspirational woman seeking God. Your heart is so evident and I hope you know that Ryan is not the only one who is inspiring right now. You and your family have and will be in my prayers. I pray your heart will stay focused on God and that He will continue to reveal His purpose for this timing. Your amazing insight and passion have struck me like none other and are a perfect reminder of how we should all seek after the Lord. So, this is my thank you for this blog and for your ability to be so transparent with people (even those of us that you don't know). So glad to be able to call people like you my family in Christ!

  17. I have watched you and your family, from afar for the most part, for the last 35 years. You have always been a light for Jesus and an encouragement and testimony to me as I learned and am still learning to walk with Jesus, too. Thank you for all that you have done throughout your life and do now to bring God up close; to make him real, touchable, and attainable for so many. I think of my own son and my love for him and know, without a doubt, that it is only by the strength, the grace, the power and the love of the Lord Jesus Christ and the hope we have in him that you now are able to walk in the same, lighting the way not only for other believers but for those who have yet to open up their hearts to Him and believe. My heart aches for you and yet I know that the Lord is breathing on you and through you and is walking every step with you. This is sorrowfully and beautifully evident. May the beauty of Jesus, our blessed and beautiful Lord and Redeemer, continue to be the reflection others see in you. God bless you. We will continue to lift you and your loved ones up in prayer. Keep looking up.
    With so much respect, love, and admiration,
    Denise (Dominguez) Wenzel

  18. Unfortunately the first time I met Ryan was on the side of a steep, cold mountain last Saturday, at the time not knowing anything about him. What joy to find out from mutual friends that he is a fellow servant of out Lord Jesus! After learning so much about him since then, I regret that our paths never crossed earlier. I look forward to meeting him again and serving the Master alongside him. --Kyle Moritz

  19. Gail, I continue to read your posts and every time I have to struggle to see your words through my tears. My heart aches in my own grief story and your words echo the same desire of my heart since I lost my fiance. Your passion for the Lord and continued trust in His plan encourage me that I am not alone on my journey through grief and pain. Thank you for the honesty you share from your heart and soul. When I lived in Colorado Springs I attended Woodmen Valley Chapel as well and I continue to listen to Matt Heard's teachings via the internet. They are an amazing body of believers and I am so happy that they are helping you to share your son's life story. I wanted to let you know that I have been sharing your posts on my facebook page and asking friends and family to please be wrapping you and yours in prayers for overwhelming peace and strength. The Lord be with you and carry you in the palm of his hand.