Monday, April 9, 2012

A heavenward heart....

Amazing! We made it through our first day and second night without our first born.

I won't lie.  I'm exhausted, numb, constantly on the verge of tears.  But as I sit alone on the couch this morning, in the wee hours of the morning looking through pictures of my son, this picture stopped me in my tracks.  Look at our eyes.  Really look at our eyes.

Ryan's eyes are heavenward and mine are looking straight forward.  This was Ryan's heart his entire life, heavenward.  I am a realistic mom.  I know his actions did not always match up to where his heart was (life's constant battle for each of us). But deep down no matter what shenanigans he was up to, his heart was for the Lord.  I never had a single doubt about that.  This is what has allowed me to move forward in life without fear and trembling of what might happen to this live it large and out of the box son.  This is why I was able to be the mom of a son who lived on the edge.  Because I knew his heart was for the Lord and I believed strongly that God would use his life in a big way.  I didn't know what that would look like...but I am beginning to have a glimpse. 

I have had so many wonderful texts and Face Book postings and phone calls and messages and cards and words of comfort in the last 48 hrs. I can't tell you how much that has meant to me and the family. The common statement has been, "We are praying for you".  Yesterday, about midway through, I began to answer with, "If you are praying, please pray that Ryan's death is worth it.  Pray that whatever God purposed from it will come to be.....otherwise it will have been a waste."

I've always preached strongly in my belief in Romans 8:28, "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to HIS purpose." Well the rubber has met the road.  I am being called out on this verse.  Do I really believe that any good can come from my son's death?  What could possibly be worth my son leaving this earth?

 When I prayed with Luke last night before bed we prayed that God would show us glimpses of why this had to be. A person doesn't always see why things happen, but we are specifically asking for that gift.  We committed to taking one step at a time and walk forward through our pain in obedience with the hope that Ryan's life and now death will have the meaning and purpose God designed.

This blog is part of those obedience steps.  I am going to journal my findings. I'm going to move forward. Perhaps you will come along for the ride with me and see why this son, brother, nephew, grandson, friend, mentor, acquaintance, stranger left this world at the early age of 20.

Galations 5:5 "But we, who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised us."


  1. Oh, Gail! I am so glad that you have had the courage to start a blog. My mother's heart has been with you and your family ever since I heard the news on Sat nite - Easter weekend, no less. Our son Jonathan was a good friend of Ryan's. I was so stunned when I heard. What would I do with these emotions that are very much at odds? How does a Christian deal with such a blow? This is truly where the rubber meets the road, as they say. I admit, I had to chuckle a bit thinking about Ryan and this accident. I was so sad for you, for his friends, for my son, even for myself because I loved Ryan, too. He was an "outside the box" kind of guy! Yet I couldn't help but think that one minute he was climbing, then flying (sort of) then, in a split second, in the arms of Jesus. I can't help but think that Ryan wouldn't want it any other way.

    Ryan made such a great impact on my son's life and their friendship made me smile. Ryan was a great young man with a heart for Jesus and a smile that made you want to find out more. And, while his life was short lived, he did live it large and I am confident, that he has made a bigger impact in the lives of others for Jesus than most of us will do in a life spent three or four times as long. Oh to have the faith and courage of this incredible young man.

    I know you are proud of him. You should be. And, while the next days and weeks will certainly be the hardest you've ever gone through, God will answer your prayer with Luke that you will see glimpses of God using this very tragic event to work very good things for His kingdom purposes.

    I stand in prayer with you and your family. And I look forward expectantly to what God will do to bring joy and gladness from this very sad and difficult time.

    I am encouraged by Paul's words in Philippians 1:12-21. I won't quote it all here but here's a bit that reminds me of Ryan... "Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel..." "What then? Only that in every other way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice, yes, and I will rejoice." "according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I shall not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ shall even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."

    Yes, Gail, Ryan did live for Christ and his death is a loss to us but gain for him and for the Kingdom of God. May you be comforted with the knowledge that his death is not in vain.

    Blessings and peace to you, dear sister.
    Yours in Christ,
    Dorothy Steel

  2. This is perfect. I will definitely be along for this ride with you. I will also be continually praying for God to reveal His plan and that Ryan's death will bring Life to those who need it <3

    ~Ariel Alire~

  3. Gail, Not only do I believe God will use Ryan's life powerfully, I believe that He will use your response to it to bring life to others as well. Thank you for sharing the strength and vision God is giving you with me through this blog. I am with you in Spirit... xoxox Jodi

  4. Gail, Your unending grace and faith inspire me in profound ways. We are all on this journey with you and know that there will be good to come from the beautiful life and sorrowful death of Ryan. I know there is a great purpose to all of this and will continue to pray for those "glimpses" as to why for all of you. I am glad that you felt moved to document some of your journey on this unknown path with us and know it will benefit so many who know you and Ryan and so many who do not. We love you all and our hearts are heavy for all of you but know they will become lighter with each day as you hear more and more stories of Ryan's unending faith.

  5. Riding with you Sister....with much love.....

  6. So little that words can communicate in such a painful time. But you do so much with the words you have penned here Gail. Our entire family is thinking of all of you, praying for you, and believing that God is especially near to you.

  7. Morning time here in Truckee and I'm crying again as I read this blog... I had a vision of you in church at Calvary here in Truckee with your hands raised in praise and worship and tears streaming down your face...the charter school had just been shut down and you were heart broken trying to decide where to send the boys to school. You may remember the song, it was about loving and trusting the Lord in spite of the hard trial in front of you. I was thinking what a loving FATHER we have to prepare us for the BIG trials with little practice runs. God is already using Ryan's life and death here in Truckee. Jordan has been deeply affected and posted on his FB page about it. We are with you on this journey and look forward to hearing the stories as God "Causes all things to work for good."

  8. I too want to follow you here on your blog. GOD alone can bring you comfort when we cannot. Thnaks for sharing your thoughts from your heart, Gail. May the LORD continue to bless you and the rest of your family during these difficult days, and may the death of your son Ryan make others thing of how short life is and that they will trust the Saviour that Ryan knew.

  9. Gail, thank you for sharing about Romans 8:28 on this blog. The Canino family has such heavy hearts and tears. Erin is so devastated that Casey went to San luis Obispo from LA yesterday to be with her. Erin said that Ryan frequently texted her, sometimes everyday, to ask her how he could pray for her. The last time he texted her was on Saturday morning. Your son has such a beautiful heart and cared so deeply about others. He kept in touch with Erin, and I'm sure many other friends, through this and what a beautiful way to do it: how can I pray for you? I've been thinking so much of Ryan since we heard the news and it is never "Ryan was" but "Ryan is" I think the timing so close to Resurrection Sunday has just emphasized that point that Ryan IS cause he's in heaven. I will tell Erin to follow your blog to find comfort as you comfort others as God comforts you with Romans 8:28. Many prayers go with you and I know that Romans 8:28 will become so deeply real as God works His word and life into your heart.

  10. Gail, I am a friend of Heidi's and stumbled across this because of a facebook comment alluding to your blog post. Ryan sounds like he was an amazing young man. We've been praying for your family since we heard the news on Saturday. We will certainly be joining in praying for God to be glorified through this.

  11. My dear friend,

    Only a women that has her hope in Christ alone could walk this road the way you and your family are walking it. I agree that God allows little trials to prepare us for the big ones, and you have responded to God with each one out of obedience and total dependence on Him for direction and peace. I don't believe God causes tragedy. We live in a fallen world, and we live with the consequences of choices and nature. God never promised comfort or happiness, but He does promise peace because He is present with us, and He promises, as you said, that He can use all things for His glory. God has already used Ryan's life and his death for His glory. It is written all over Facebook and through the letters you receive and the phone calls.

    Yesterday when I picked Karl up for Easter after he had been in Mexico all week we just held each other and wept. He was so broken as we are. He said that Saturday night when he was worshipping he saw Ryan worshipping as well with the Lord. May the ways Ryan touched others be multiplied as people in turn practice what Ryan did and said to love others well.

    I love you tons sweet friend. My heart is moving in waves of joy and sorrow with yours. Thank you for being so open and sharing pictures and thoughts with us all so we can walk this journey with you and Tom. Even now, your desire to be obedient and to give to bless others is testimony of what a great God we worship.

    "We know that the one who raise the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. 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. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.. Therefor we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away form the Lord. We live by faith not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it." experts from 2 Corinthians chapters 4 & 5

    We have always said that we only get to borrow our children for a little while. They really aren't ours. You have had the privilege to borrow Ryan for 20 years. To love on him, discipline him, mentor him, model for him, play with him, all the while hoping and praying that he would embrace his heavenly father and live a life pleasing to him. Ryan Wahl made it his goal to please the Lord. He is at home now, absent from the body but present with the Lord. That is what our purpose in life really is. So while we wait for the glorious day that we will be absent from the body and home with the Lord we will live to please Him! Ryan's life and death is bringing eternal changes in the lives of so many, Even if it were just for one person to draw near to the Lord it was worth it all. But I can see God has bigger plans. His ways are not our ways, obviously. We will continue Trust and Obey.

  12. Gail: You are an inspiration, as Ryan was for others. Your faith and expression of trust in God at this time is remarkable in a sense, but also affirming because of your daily walk with Jesus. No words from any of us can truly bring you and your family the comfort over the loss of Ryan. But our prayers are meant to help ease the pain if only for a short time through these difficult days ahead. So, in Jesus' name, I pray that God brings you all comfort and peace today, tomorrow and in the days, weeks, months and years to come. Remember Ryan as you write these and future words. Share Ryan with us and in time, perhaps you will find the Why?

    Father, there is no way to remove the pain or grief of this family. The only comfort is to know, to believe, in a life beyond with you. We trust you and your promise that while Ryan's life on earth is done, his life beyond has just begun. These servants of you, Lord, release him and let him go into your arms. By faith, may they receive the boundless comfort of your presence. Amen.

  13. I do not know you, but have just found you through Dannette Arney posting your blog on facebook. I will be following your journey, for inspiration. I am the nana to a 2 year old boy that was born with a terminal genetic condition, Spinal Muscular Atrophy. I look for strength everyday, and thanks to Dannette (and God), you were brought to me today. I cannot imagine the loss that you have had, but please know that already.....Ryan is making a difference in my life.

  14. Your strength and love of The Lord is so very inspiring Gail. We will continue to have you and your loved ones in our thoughts and prayers (specifically that the purpose of this tragic loss comes to light). Your sister Miki is a huge part of our lives and we love her so much...we also know how much my brother Scott loves you and your family. We share the same sweet nephews and neice and I pray someday I will share the same ability to trust that God has a plan for each one of us and will have the ability to trust where this precious and fragile life will lead. <3 Carrie

  15. Gail, this blog is the ultimate testimonial for a mother who has strong convictions that God does indeed do everything for a purpose.
    No one can imagine what you must be going through but we are inspired by your faith. Today in my high school class room I asked my students to think of Ryan...he will continue to live among many, including those who never met him. God Bless you Gail, and your family, as you live one day at a time in God's grace. Julie Andrews and family

  16. I don't know your family, but we are 'family' in the Lord. I am praying God would reveal how He can be glorified through your unfathomable loss. Your church is with you, and is here for you and the rest of your precious family.

    Sandy Housley

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  18. Gail, you have met extraordinary loss with such extraordinary faith. You've doubled down on God's promises. Praying for comfort and peace, and yes, that God's glory would increase through it all. Oh, and I miss Skyping with you!

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  20. Gail, I don't know you or Ryan, but I know people that know the both of you and my first born son is Ryan's age. Your blog is an inspiration to me. I pledge to pray for you and your family...the prayer you request. May God show you His purpose. Look to Him in your darkest moments. God's Peace, Nancy Smith

  21. My Dear Gail. Finding you and Tom on FB just yesterday made my heart smile with memories. Then today I just saw of your deep lost and our hearts are heavy with sorrow for you and the family. I'm sorry we've not had a chance to know your precious boy. I can't imagine he was anything less than amazing considering what I remember of his young parents all those years ago at Foothill. Keep pressing into Jesus dear friends. His answers will come in His time. May His nearness surround you, hold you, comfort, and strengthen you for the journey ahead.
    Love you,
    Mark and Nancy Dobrin

  22. Hello Gail. What courage you show during the darkest and most difficult time. I pray that God would be SO NEAR to you these days, and that beautiful peace - the one that surpasses all understanding - would be yours. Your eternal perspective is so inspiring. Your absolute trust in God, during Ryan's life and now his death, brings glory to His name. Continued prayers for you.

  23. Gail, thank you for sharing your is treasure. I've never met you or your son, but I am meeting God in my bedroom because of your story. I've never seen such humility in faith before. Thank you.

  24. Gail and Wahl family,

    The Lyons family is with you on this journey. We're here for you if/when you need us. Please know that Luke is welcome to hang out with D.J. at anytime.

    Our hearts are devastated by your loss but also rejoice in the knowledge that Ryan is with the Lord in all His glory.

    In His Grip,
    Donna Lyons
    Ashleigh's, Amanda's and D.J.'s mom

  25. Wow! Amazing grace is evident to me already even in this tragedy and only BUT God. I confess I have been so moved and touched as I read about the love, loss and the compassion of your mother's heart yet I see beauty and feel encouraged. I believe in part because I see Light and Hope a reflection of Him. It reminds me how like light catches a facet of a diamond and it catches your eye. In a similar fashion I believe some will look again thru this because what is being seen really is that Light and Life of His love even in death. It reflects a facet of God's heart and I believe you are perhaps revealing a facet of that by letting Him SHINE brillantly thru even now in this.. I do not know you personally but I found you from a fb friend who shared this. Thank you! Truly with the strength and grace and courage of your actions and obedience already it is awe inspiring to me. The transparency of your heart also is a beautiful picture of the reality of our living God who is always near us thru it all.. I so agree with your prayers and heart here. Your yielded heart reflects His beauty and grace even in the darkness you see the Light and Hope of Chirst. Praying for the God of all comfort to be with you and your family as only He can bring at this time and truly for Him to use this in unfathomable ways for His glory and honor.

  26. Dear Gail,
    I have always thought that you were amazing - in fact I remember one night in particular sitting by Ry in the kitchen. I literally thought to myself "I don't know how this woman does it, but she is so incredible!" Incredible mom, wife, teacher, friend, mentor... However this blog and this idea and your words are the most inspiring thing I've ever seen. I can't imagine the pain and the questions, and I'm so so sorry for what your heart must be going through. But instead of being angry or spiraling into a delirious depression, you are taking things as they come, and seeking God first. That is one of the most courageous and beautiful things I've ever seen... It reminds me of something that Ryan would do, to draw even closer to God in a time like this. Truly, Gail, seeing your strength and your motivation and peace in this has helped ME with my grieving process, and I can't thank you enough. I am going to be reading this every day, my heart with you while my body is across seas. I know already that this blog, your journey, and Ryan's passion-filled life, is going to change other people's hearts and minds and direct them straight to the heart of God. Your faithfulness to God is already bearing it's fruit. Oh, how He loves us so.

    Thank you for everything you are and everything you've done. Thank you.

    John 15: 8-9 "This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love."

    Kellie Prophet


  28. Gail,I was thinking.As I and many others will be sharing this journey with you,I promise not to complain about my responsibilities as a mother of 4.Ages 18,16,14,and 12.In Ryans honour and for my heavenly father,I will be more intentional with my time regardless of how sore my body is when I wake up.I will be more involved in my friends lives and love more deeply.I had prayed many weeks for inspiration,and so gently the Lord has used your son,to give it to me.Thank you for sharing your heart.Gourete Rothenbury.

  29. I am here with you, kneeling in the presence of our Lord with you, crying with you and loving you.

  30. Hi Gail,
    I'm so glad you've opened up your life for people's comments and thoughts. My only thought is that God loves you and God loves Ryan. If God has any fault at all it's that he loves us too much. He puts the measuring tape around our smallest faith commitment and finds it large enough to bring us to His heavenly home.
    God bless,
    Pastor Ed

  31. I do not know you, but thank you for being such a great light to the world. It's awesome to see the strength you have found by putting your trust in Christ. I just shared your blog with my 319 FB friends. I pray that you and your family will make an impact on them also.

  32. Dearest Gail,
    I will join you on this journey, and I and our girls are praying for you daily, and even minute by minute. I am also asking for clarity to see the good that God will and is doing through this process... I can see you ducking your head when reading all the words of praise for your courage and grace - you have always inspired me, and continue to, in how you always direct everyone back to your loving Father and his responsibility for all you are. God bless you, dear sister... we are with you.

  33. Gail,
    I don't know you or your family, I happened across your blog from a friend on Facebook, Gina DeWitt. I have been touched by this blog and will be following you and praying for you on this journey.

  34. Like many above, I don't know you, but we are sisters in Christ, and my heart grieves with you even as I rejoice in the hope you so clearly put forward for the world to see. I chose Romans 8:28 as my life verse years ago before I had any idea what comfort it would give me over a lifetime, including the loss of our first tiny baby boy some 29 years ago. I am confident that you will find great comfort and strength in our Lord and His promises to His people. May God bless you richly as you see what He does with your son's life, and also with your response to this unexpected turn in your life. Never forget how much you are loved.