Friday, December 14, 2012

Why are you smiling?

I had just arrived at my office and was looking at a beautiful gift from my colleague, when a student passed by my door.  While looking at the gift, I was pondering the many blessings in my life.  What a privilege to work with such a wonderful lady!

The previously  mentioned student stopped backed up and said, “You ALWAYS have a smile on your face.  No one is around and there you are smiling.”  My response at first jumbled, ended with, “I’m serving Jesus, I have so much to be happy about!”  

It is true.  This season I’ve been overwhelmed with the beauty of God wrapping Himself in flesh to come as a humble infant…then live a sinless life as an example of us to follow.  Then the amazing sacrifice of His life for my sins…making it possible for me to have relationship with Him.  

So, this season, I have much to smile about!  Much to praise God for!  When you walk by, you might see a silly grin on my face…yeah, that’s because I’m one blessed lady!  

Last week, I was asked to tell a Christmas story in chapel.  I won’t include the part from the Best Christmas Pageant Ever, but here is the rest.  

May God bless each of you, dear readers!  Have a Merry Christmas!

Chapel Friday, December 7, 2012

Good morning and Merry Christmas to all of you.  I am full of thankfulness this Christmas season.  Not only is the wonder of the incarnation overwhelming this season, but I’m so grateful to be here with such wonderful students and faculty. 

When Mrs. Watters asked on behalf of President Avery to share a Christmas story, I originally thought that you might enjoy hearing about my second Christmas.  I celebrated that second year by expressing my joy for the season in a rather odd fashion.  Yes, I in my little one year/9 month brain decided that the tree was so beautiful…in fact, it wasn’t just beautiful…it looked tasty.  My parents tell me that I had consumed quite a bit of the tree before they caught me.  Now, one would think that my loving parents would rush me to the nearest doctor; however, this was not to be the case.  Ruth and Lewis Ryder instead took me to the nearby funeral home.  Lest you get concerned and begin filling out paperwork for Child Protective Services, I should inform you that in our tiny town, the funeral director’s sons happened to be the EMT’s!  All was solved without lasting damage!

I thought over the many Christmas’s since that time.  Many of you may have known my brother, Lucas, so you can imagine the silly moments that occur around the Ryder house for Christmas…but there is nothing too exciting in share, so instead I’ll share a favorite memory that happened about 5 years ago. 

He had the most beautiful blue eyes that I’ve ever seen.  Blond curls on the top of his little head that came to my waist.  I had been the teacher of his two older brothers.  James and Dakota had required extra help in Reading and I, being the Title I teacher, had the wonderful opportunity of working with both of them.  In fact, one summer James needed to attend summer school, since I was teaching this session, I drove to him to and from the school.  One particular day, I remember having to knock on the door.  Aunt Heather cracked the door open and inside I could see magazines, newspapers, peelings, and the like piled around the room.  James and Dakota informed me one day that they had a large rat in their home.  We later learned that a tree had fallen on the trailer and a possum was living in the home with them! 

A few years had passed and now Marshall was in my first grade classroom.  I could tell that he was drawn by the love of Jesus in my room.  I remember one particular day as Marshall came up to me at recess.  “Miss Ryder,” he said.  “Yes, Marshall.”  “Miss Ryder, when you were reading in group time today, you looked so beautiful.”  He was seeing the love of Jesus.  

Well, Christmas was quickly approaching and students in the public school system were writing their lists of wants for Christmas.  Marshall quietly informed me one day that he didn’t think he’d get much for Christmas.  In fact, Aunt Heather and Grandma had informed them that their wasn’t quite enough money that year.  Several of the teachers gathered together, we pooled our money, and went off to solve this problem.

Christmas Eve arrived and the gathering of my father’s side of the family occurred.  After this, we attended the little community Christmas Eve service in our small town.  Then my brother, sister, and I loaded the large black bag into the car and made the trip to Aunt Heather’s home.  By this time, they were living in a small apartment in a nearby town.  As quietly as we could, we snuck the bag outside of the door/in the stairwell and made our escape.  I’ll be honest with you, when those blue eyes met mine on that Monday after Christmas they were dancing.  “Miss Ryder, you’ll never believe what happened…”  My eyes on the other hand were nearly ready to “spring a leak.”

We have a somewhat unusual tradition at the Ryder household.  Each Christmas we read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.  This tradition began when I was 10 years old.  Our school had a book give away and I just happened to pick up this delightful book.  My heart has always been tender toward the Herdmans of our world because of it. 

In case you don’t know the story, this is a family of terrible children…there father left and the mother is overwhelmed.  They have been passed through school to save extra headaches for the teachers.  However, due to a variety of circumstances they get “mixed up” with the Church and become the lead roles in the Christmas story.  I’ll share a couple of parts with you this morning…I’ll try not to be emotional, but I’ve never been able to read this part without crying…
This season may you share the glorious news that unto us a Child was born!  J

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


In an effort to get myself back on track physically, I have been preparing to run a 5K. Each day adds a bit more until I realized that I can now run for 9 minutes without passing out. My muscles are developing strength. Improved endurance is apparent. I am changing for the better. Although I have yet to notice a difference in the scales, I can tell that my body is changing.

 My muscles aren't the only area of growth, though. In some ways, I would take the physical pain of muscle development over that of other areas. I’m being stretched emotionally and spiritually, too. Once again, I see no difference on the scales, but I’m noticing a difference in my life.

So I will release my grubby fingers from my tight hold on things and trust my kind, Papa! He knows what’s best.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Thankfulness in April

Just thinking today about the faithfulness of God! I remember hearing stories of others and their walks with Him. They would testify about God helping in time of need. They would talk about their love for Him growing as the years passed. I tried to wrap my brain around it. I tried to understand, and yet it was difficult.

But, I have lived. I have a few years behind me now. I’ve had heartache, frustration, and pain. I’ve had times when I wasn’t sure if I would make it. I now have my stories. I have a relationship with God. He won’t let me down. I once had to choose to really place my trust in Him. Now, I can trust with abandon!

My heart is overwhelmed by a trustworthy God who knows exactly what I need. He meets those needs every time.

Father, Papa, continue to conform my will to yours, today! Make me to be more like you! I want to be a reflection of you to so many needy around me! Thank you for being a faithful God!

Your Daughter,

Friday, September 16, 2011


The blessings have been a bit overwhelming recently! I thought I’d just make a list here…may you have a day of focusing on blessings.
1. Last Saturday: My alarm goes off. I clean my home. Friends come. We read from God’s Word together. We dig into John together. We talk about our struggles and fears. We are real, with our hands joined as we help one another on this journey of following Jesus.
2. Saturday: I spend a quiet day in my little bungalow. I read, think, organize, etc. At 5:30PM different friends come to play games. We eat. We play delightful games. We laugh. At 8:30PM the conversation turns. Now, issues are discussed. Questions are asked. Answers are analyzed. It lasts late into the evening.
3. Sunday: I teach Sunday school. The children are precious. They’ve grown so much! It is a delight to teach them. I go to lunch in the cafeteria. The chicken is much better than my normal frozen pizza. Conversations again. Deep conversations. Questions are asked and hearts are opened.
4. Monday: Family dinner again. Everyone brings something. We gather. We eat. We discuss worldviews. We talk about following Jesus.
5. Tuesday: A wonderful student teacher is in my classroom this year. Fresh ideas are shared. I am challenged.
6. Wednesday: Testimonies are given during the evening service. There is a one sentence limit. God is good!
7. Thursday: Starbucks with good people. Fun activities are planned. Reminiscing occurs about the past. Short drinks are wonderful.
8. Friday: A chance to look at Face Book. A wonderful video. My heart is encouraged! I am blessed.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A New School Year

Another school year has begun. I’m continually more and more amazed by how quickly time passes. I am overwhelmed with thankfulness to have a job that I absolutely enjoy taking part in each day. It isn’t a chore to get up to see eleven shining faces, eager to learn!

This summer was full of business, but it was absolutely wonderful. I had the awesome privilege of enjoying the company of two of my most favorite people in the entire world. Lucas, Rachel, and I worked together on moving, VBSing, shrub trimming, etc. God has blessed me with two of the best siblings a girl could ask for!

Recently, as always, thoughts continue to churn inside my mind. I’ve been overwhelmed of the brevity of life! The cultural messages of what is important are overwhelming, but if I can keep this thought at the forefront, it helps me to weed through these faulty, fleeting views.

We are here to get ready for eternity.

It’s just a brief time that I must lose my life to find it….. It is only for a moment that I must bear these burdens…. It is only for a breath that I must work through the layers that make me who I am…

If I am found faithful….if I have done well…. I will spend

with the one who loves me, who knows what’s best for me, who died for me! Oh…..(she says with a bit of a squeal) ….I can’t wait!

“Heartache forces us to embrace God out of desparate, urgent need. God is never closer than when your heart is aching."
— Joni Eareckson Tada

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

It made my day...

It was passed to me secretly before class. I was at my desk answering before school questions and listening to the before school stories. A shy face smiled, dropped the note with a quick, "Please don't read it outloud." I opened the white evelope to find three notebook pages with fourth grade, double spaced writing.

Dear Ms. Ryder,
did anybody ever tell you that you are the Best teacher ever! Thank you for working with me throwout this year you corrected me when I kneeded it. If something happy happened you laughed with me if I did Something wrong you handled it Thank you

Your Student

P.S. You show me at Bible time about Jesus life and how to be content with all I have and to be loving of my neighbor I thank you helped me change my bad reputation this year and at tough times you pray for me and my family and the other kids You care about each and every one of us and you love us! Just to let you know we all love you to all 19 of us this year we learned a lot in the areas of Math, Science, Language and History :) Miss Ryder your the Best also I have never given anything like this to another teacher that's how special you are to me as this year comes to an end I want to say thank you and may God Bless you for ever and ever amen

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Shhh......we're sleeping......

Good evening, dear reader. It's nice and quiet here in my little cottage. It's been a busy Sunday and I should be snoozing under my comforter meandering through dreamland. But, I'm here, in my floral chair, instead...I'm thinking...about a lot...but especially about the sermon from church tonight.
So, Jonah...a character whom I have not spent tons of time analyzing. Yes, I've known the story for years, but I've been caught up in the adventure of the whale and the storm. Tonight Pastor Loper focused on Jonah being asleep in the boat. He had become comfortable enough with his decision to turn away from God that he was calmly resting while a storm was brewing.
Oh, Jesus, help me not be to a complacent Christian. Search my heart and know me! I don't want to be deceiving myself.
Here is a song that I found tonight as well. It seems to fit my thoughts this evening.

"While You Were Sleeping"

Oh little town of Bethlehem
Looks like another silent night
Above your deep and dreamless sleep
A giant star lights up the sky
And while you're lying in the dark
There shines an everlasting light
For the King has left His throne
And is sleeping in a manger tonight

Oh Bethlehem, what you have missed while you were sleeping
For God became a man
And stepped into your world today
Oh Bethlehem, you will go down in history
As a city with no room for its King
While you were sleeping
While you were sleeping

Oh little town of Jerusalem
Looks like another silent night
The Father gave His only Son
The Way, the Truth, the Life had come
But there was no room for Him in the world He came to save

Jerusalem, what you have missed while you were sleeping
The Savior of the world is dying on your cross today
Jerusalem, you will go down in history
As a city with no room for its King
While you were sleeping
While you were sleeping

United States of America
Looks like another silent night
As we're sung to sleep by philosophies
That save the trees and kill the children
And while we're lying in the dark
There's a shout heard 'cross the eastern sky
For the Bridegroom has returned
And has carried His bride away in the night

America, what will we miss while we are sleeping
Will Jesus come again
And leave us slumbering where we lay
America, will we go down in history
As a nation with no room for its King
Will we be sleeping
Will we be sleeping

United States of America
Looks like another silent night