“When I stand face to face with Jesus Christ and He says to me, ‘Do you believe this?’ I find that faith is as natural as breathing. And I am staggered when I think how foolish I have been in not trusting Him earlier.” ~ Oswald Chambers
Hello to all of you. It’s been two months since we’ve updated. I’ll try to fill you in on life a bit, but I’m afraid this update will be a little bit long.
Scott: Thanks so much for continuing to pray for and ask about how he’s doing. We have settled into what we think will just be his new normal now, but it’s a very “live-withable” new normal, and we thank God for bringing us through those really tough months. So far, his bloodwork seems to indicate that the treatments worked, but we won’t know for sure for probably another year. While it’s unusual for prostate cancer not to respond to treatment, it does happen. A dear friend just lost her husband a few months ago from prostate cancer that didn’t respond to treatment. So as we are praying for a number of precious friends who are fighting more aggressive cancers with higher chances for recurrence and even death, we ask God to help us rest in Him if we ever start to feel afraid about the possibilities out there. And we praise Him for Scott’s good health right now.
Nathan: Again, thanks to all of you who have prayed for Nathan through these tough couple of years of pain and mystery surrounding his residual lower limb. The surgery we did in the spring has definitely worked! He is pain-free, and the slow-healing surgery site has finally healed completely. Nathan and his prosthetist are working hard together to get Nathan into a new, improved, and correctly fitted prosthesis now. We hope to have him settled into that new leg before Christmas.
Roslyn: Our sweet girl did so great through her surgery, but did have a number of problems with her drains during her long recovery. She lost quite a bit of weight during that time, but we started her on some hefty protein shakes, and she is quickly regaining all of that. She still has one drain in place, and we hope to have that removed next week. At that appointment, we will also be discussing with the surgeon which child should go next — Lilyan or Jaden? It is our goal to have all three children through these bladder reconstructions and recoveries by this time next year.
The family overall: We are doing well. There have been some ongoing emotional struggles with a couple of the kids, and while they are responding well to the steps Scott and I have taken with them, and while we truly love the life God has called us to, it can be exhausting to walk these tough paths with them day after day. We feel like we are still a little hmm . . . not sure what word I’m looking for here . . . fragile maybe? or frail? or tender? from the whole cancer thing and the tough summer months of recovery. We seem to tire and become discouraged more quickly in the midst of hard times. We’ve also had some up and down medical challenges with several of them, and a respiratory illness hit the house and dragged on for over a month. That’s the first time we’ve been hit like that in over 2 years. We were very glad when that was finally over.
One of the most challenging things for us has been trying to catch up with all of the children’s appointments that had to be put on hold during the cancer detour. I sat down one afternoon about 3 weeks ago to make a list of all of the appointments I needed to make in order to get everyone all caught up. There were 56 of them. I was able to get 36 of those scheduled that day, and then gradually managed to get the rest of them on the calendar over the next week. Now we are actually doing those appointments, and that kind of constant running is hard. But we are hoping to keep the month of December mostly open in order to keep the holiday season calm and restful.
Another area that has been very tough for us is family finances. We have not felt that God was “giving us permission” to share this aspect of our lives until now. But now, we would like to share some of the ways in which He has been so faithful to sustain us even when we felt we were going under.
As we’ve mentioned before, there are times when God blesses us so much that we can barely catch our breath, and other times when He remains very quiet and takes us through rocky and frightening waters. Fall and Christmas last year; the time surrounding Scott’s cancer diagnosis; and the period of travel for Scott’s treatment were examples of these times of showers of blessings. Since returning home, though, God has been so very quiet, usually only sending answers to prayer when they reached past the point where we thought they were urgent. As we have shared before, Scott’s paycheck as director of TSC has never been large enough to cover all of our monthly expenses. We knew, back when we followed God as he led us away from Scott’s engineering career, that we would have to depend on Him to provide over and above that new salary that He had waiting for us along this path we now walk. He has done this so, so many times over the years through extra gifts sent to our family through many of you. But for His own loving and perfect reasons, He sometimes takes us into places where many of those extra gifts stop coming in.
Whenever that happens, He reveals so much about our hearts. And we are always saddened by the reality of how much our faith still needs to grow and how little we still trust Him when clouds hide His face and His voice becomes quiet. We so long for our faith to be “as natural as breathing.” But He never leaves us, and our tired hearts begin to pant for more of Him as He feeds us drop by drop during those times.
Just a few examples of His provision over past few months:
- We prayed and prayed for months for curriculum money to start the children’s homeschooling. God remained silent. We had hoped to start school in August to get a little bit ahead before having to take a break for Roslyn’s surgery. For some reason, this was not God’s plan. In fact, even as schools all around us got going again, we were still crying out for God to send money for us to purchase curriculum. Eventually, He did answer this prayer in a beautiful way, but we weren’t able to start school until after Roslyn came home from the hospital. He sent this gift through the death of a dear lady who loved books and learning and education and even homeschooling. Our hearts were so touched when this gift came to us in such an unexpected and fitting way.
- There have been a number of weeks over the past few months when we weren’t able to buy groceries at all. God always provided for us in this area in spite of this. Sometimes it was in the form of anonymous Kroger gift cards mailed to us; sometimes we scrounged through the house and found ingredients that, surprisingly, made a healthy meal. Other times, He would send us a surprise gift of money that would be just enough to cover groceries for one or two days. The amazing families who are part of the Rosenow Meal Ministry, and those who participate in our church’s Just One More ministry for our family, continued their delivery of food and grocery items during that time and had no idea how badly those gifts were needed.
- A few times, birthday celebrations and gifts had to be postponed, but God has, so far, still always provided a way for us to make each birthday person feel special, even if they had to wait awhile for their turn.
- Our precious children have learned even more about being a team as we’ve had to swallow all traces of pride and borrow money from them. We have a running list of money we’ve had to borrow from them so that we can eventually pay them all back. This list even includes $0.50 loans from our youngest ones as they offered up their tooth fairy money. Personally, I’ve fluctuated between tears of frustration and sadness over this, and tears of joy about the lessons of selflessness that our children are being given the opportunity to learn.
- Our big van, which is very old and breaks down frequently, finally went all the way down. The brakes were gone, only one door could be opened from the outside, and the transmission was shot. It sat in our driveway for weeks, making it impossible for us to go anywhere as a family, while we prayed for God to send us money to get it fixed. An anonymous gift provided all that was needed to repair the transmission and the brakes, and we are so thankful to be able to go places as a family again now. As long as we can still open one door from the outside, someone can get inside and open the others, so we aren’t too worried about that.
- Some of the kids are in need of shoes and other clothing items. One son’s shoes are so badly worn that the flapping sole was causing him to trip every time he tried to run. A gift from someone who knew nothing about this need has allowed us to replace his shoes and begin getting some of the things the children need.
In spite of how hard it sometimes is, we are thankful for these opportunities for our faith to grow, and we will continue praying and waiting for Him to meet all of our needs. God wants us to release our hold on anything other than Him, and if we ask Him to grow us and deepen our walk with Him, then He will bring us into situations that will cause us to see just how tightly we still cling to things of this world that mimic security. One of these for us has been the financial health of The Shepherd’s Crook Orphan Ministry over the past three and a half years. While walking through these tough months, we have thought (and even sometimes said aloud), “Well, at least TSC is still healthy and going strong.” As I just said, God wants us to find our security only in Him. And that leads me to my final area of updated news.
The Shepherd’s Crook: We are once again (and for the first time in three and a half years) in the midst of a financial crisis. This crisis is urgent and very real. We need to be rescued or we are, once again, facing the possibility of having to fold. You can read a letter here for more details. At the moment, we mostly feel peace as we wait on God. It’s easy to let our minds start to dwell on the scary possibilities, but we don’t believe God is finished with TSC yet, and we do believe that He still has much work for us to do. We are continuing to work every day just as if we will continue to exist, and we continue to advocate for the orphan. This Sunday (Nov. 13) is Orphan Sunday, and our family will be doing a presentation at Living Hope PCA (Fairfield East Elementary School – 6711 Morris Road). The service begins at 10:00 am. We would love to see any of you there.
In the meantime, please pray for TSC, read the attached letter, spread the word, help financially if you can; please pray for our family and our hearts; please pray that God will give the two of us wisdom as we guide these children through life and that He would make us worthy examples of His love for them.
I’ll close with a few pictures and captions that we are posting on Facebook this month. November is National Adoption Awareness Month, and I usually try to post pictures throughout the month that powerfully illustrate the theme of “Adoption Did That!”