Leading by example: College senior hopes her blog will inspire, encourage others

By Devarrick Turner
Times-News correspondent

Ragan Riddle, a senior at Wingate University and a Burlington native, was diagnosed with Hodgin’s Lymphoma last fall. She created a blog to inspire and minister to others. / Photo by Pamela Kass

WINGATE — Burlington native Ragan Riddle is a 22-year-old senior at Wingate University. She enjoys spending time and laughing with family and friends, traveling and going to country music concerts. She works in the writing center at Wingate and commutes to Burlington to intern with Burlington Day School’s after-school program.
She is on the President’s List and is poised to graduate with a 4.0 GPA. She’s even been accepted into Elon University School of Law. Ragan Riddle is the typical busy college student. However, she has to deal with a little more than college life. Riddle was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in the fall of 2012.
Family and friends have been Riddle’s support system since the diagnosis. Her parents make it a priority to attend doctor’s appointments. Close college friends offer encouragement, plan special events and trips and visit during chemotherapy treatments.
“I am always astonished at the way people have served me and my family through everything.    When I’m having a hard day, having that support is what helps keep me on the right track and gets me through,” she said.
It became difficult trying to give everyone personal updates on her progress. Riddle decided a blog would be the best way to keep everyone informed. While Riddle does give medical updates, the blog is more than commentary on chemotherapy treatments and wig shopping. Riddle is using her blog to minister to others and share how her faith is helping her through this journey.
Several Bible verses appear throughout Riddle’s blog. She typically explains the verse in its biblical context then describes how it relates to her. The first verse she writes about is Exodus 14:14 — as Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt, he doubts his abilities to do so. The Israelites also begin to question the idea of going to the unknown. Moses continues because God has called upon him and says “The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.” This has become a motto for Riddle.
“On my hardest as well as my easiest days, I know that the Lord is fighting for me. When I don’t have my own strength, his grace and strength fill me and allow me to press on,” she said.
She also singled out verses from James and Proverbs. James 1:2-3 — “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” And Proverbs 31:3: “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and laughs without fear of the future.”
Riddle has used these verses to remind herself that this trial should not be viewed as a burden because it is all part of His plan. She should not fear the future because it’s not in her control.
“I get so excited when I read this. The future is the Lord’s. I like to plan but, you know, that isn’t really my job. My job is to be confident in where he is leading me. My job is to take the steps knowing He has this mapped out. And I laugh without fear of it because I am joyful in doing it,” she wrote in her blog.
Riddle said she updates the blog on His time. Whenever she is alone or praying, an idea or particular verse may come to her. Sometimes a song will give her inspiration. She immediately knows what the next post should be about when this happens. “Lord, let this blog post have nothing to do with me. Lord, don’t let me use my own words, God, but give me the words that you want me to say.”
The posts are not just about how each particular Bible verse applies to Riddle. She has challenged readers to apply it to their own lives.
“One has to wake up every day with the mentality that it will be a good day because that is what he or she makes it to be,” she said.
Seeing the goodness in others is another thing Riddle stresses. She has been overwhelmed by the selflessness shown to her. She wants everyone to feel this love and realize that everyone is fighting a battle or going through a hardship.
“Recognize this before you judge someone else, and make a point to be kind and reach out to someone, because one day, you may be the person who needs someone to reach out to you.”
Riddle is also using her blog and diagnosis as a way to give back. Her friends organized a fundraiser by selling Lymphoma awareness T-shirts they designed to help cover medical expenses. Riddle has decided to donate this money to a nonprofit organization that is close to heart. The 410 Bridge is an organization that helps implement community development in Kenya, Haiti and Uganda. She has taken five mission trips to Kenya with the organization.
Riddle currently has five chemotherapy treatments left for a total of 12. A re-evaluation will then be done to see which steps should be taken next. She remains joyful throughout this process and is using her blog to inspire, minister and, as she said, “make Him more famous.” If you want to follow Ragan’s Journey, go to www.raganriddle.tumblr.com.
If you would like to order or a T-shirt or want more information about the 410 Bridge organization, contact Ragan Riddle at r.h.riddle@wingate.edu or visit www.410brige.org.

 Devarrick Turner is an Elon University graduate and a Teens & Twenties writer.



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