Rogers Family Christmas Newsletter
Christmas Greetings to our Dear Family and Friends!
As always, we do hope 2017 has been a good year for you and that our annual newsletter finds you and those you love doing well. As I sit here typing this, the late afternoon sun is kissing the mountains behind our house. We had a dry Fall here and it seems as though the trees held onto their leaves longer than usual. It looked like Fall color was going to be a bust but then we got a couple of inches of rain and everything suddenly went from drab to dramatic seemingly overnight. We’re finally having a good dose of cooler weather. We’ve had some temps down into the low 20’s accompanied by those sparkly blankets of heavy frosts in the hayfields that are so lovely. I still have pumpkins on the front porch, but, they’re going out to the garden tomorrow.
So…where to begin? It’s been an interesting and exciting year. I guess I’d have to say there were two highlights of our year: the first was the birth of our sixth Grandchild, Jonah Michael, to Tim and Samantha. He’s a darling little guy and reminds me so much of Tim. The second highlight was our first and extremely spiritual and emotional trip to Israel in October. More about that later. Then, there were other interesting tidbits here and there, but, I’ll start at the beginning and bring you up-to-date on how everyone in the family is doing.
Jon and Kara and their three kids, Asher (12), Sadie (10) and Elsie (5) are doing well. Jon’s business seems to be doing well, although I’m not certain about all the details because I finally retired from doing the bookkeeping and being involved in the business a couple of months ago. But, from what I can see, things are going great. Asher is in his second year of Middle School, plays trombone in the school band, tennis and is going through all of the adolescent ups and downs. He’s so handsome. Once he decides to really like girls…well, we all know how that’s going to go! Sadie is gorgeous with some of the most beautiful big eyes you’ll ever see and a sweet temperament and has turned into a voracious reader, winning awards at school for reading more books than anyone else in the entire school. This is her last year in elementary school. Elsie is now in Kindergarten and is just as exuberant about life as ever. She’s still ‘the princess’ and still has fun entering local beauty pagents. Kara is head of the parent association at their school so between tennis lessons for all 3 kids, piano for the girls, that and helping Jon with the business she is constantly on the go.
Tim and Samantha are doing well. Samantha finally decided that she was tired of all the ups and downs of the job she had and Jon was looking for a Financial Coordinator for the office, and she ended up getting the job. She’ll be great at it and is very excited to have this new opportunity. Tim is still at Premium Waters and is thankful to have a job, but, it’s not an easy place to be because it seems like the company is constantly making changes. However, he does the best he can to roll with them and enjoys being a Team Leader. They are both very busy between work and managing their family. Aiden (8) is in 2nd grade and has a vivid imagination. He’s doing really well in school and we’re very proud of him because he’s really worked hard to get where he is. Noah (almost 4) is in daycare as is Jonah who will be 1 towards the end of January. Noah is a darling and very smart and strong willed little boy. Jonah is just a sweetheart; easy going and always with a smile. He’ll be walking soon I think and he’s a busy little beaver now. I believe life has much in store for them and look forward to seeing all it has.
Michael is still working up at the community dental clinic about an hour north of here. For a time we considered moving to Cookeville (about 3 hours from here) because a seemingly great opportunity opened up for him there. So, in August he quit one of his jobs and we travelled back and forth while he ‘tested the waters’ but, after a month or so it became clear that it wasn’t going to work out. We went between being a bit disappointed because Cookeville is a neat place, and relieved because we love it here by our mountains and being closer to family. He still wants to practice fulltime and there is a temporary opportunity about an hour south of us that he is looking into through the middle of March. After that he’s not sure exactly what he’s going to do but we trust that the Lord will direct him.
I guess it was around September or so that the Lord called us to leave the church we’d been at for a number of years to get involved with a little country church out here in our community that was in need of a worship leader. I had met a number of the ladies through our Ladies on a Mission for Ghrist (LOAM) service group I joined last year who attend that church. We visited several times and when it was clear we weren’t going to Cookeville, Michael stepped forward to answer that call and it’s been a blessing to see him leading worship again. We love the Pastor. He’s a great teacher and we love that, for the most part, he teaches expositorily and it’s so refreshing. It’s a small church but we’re enjoying that, too, and it’s only about 5 minutes from our house.
So, how is Michael’s health? He’s really doing well. He’s back to doing everything he was doing prior to the transplant and I couldn’t be happier about that. The only issue he struggles with is chronic sinusitis that has been a significant problem for him for a couple of years now. Both his family doctor and his Vanderbilt hematologist are working on it, but, so far nothing seems to have caused it to resolve completely. We just keep praying and hoping for some resolution. Other than that he’s great.
So, what else have we been up to? Well, one thing that’s significant is that we’re putting an addition on our house. We actually had the plans drawn up in 2011, but, I just kept dragging my heels on it for a number of reasons. However, after looking for a house in Cookeville where I saw at least 100 houses over the span of 6 weeks, we saw a lot of different features we liked. After that was all over we sat down and discussed what we’d really like to do for our future and staying here was the decision. So, why not change the house as much as we could to get more out of it what we wanted? Thus…the addition. Hopefully, it will be completed in late February because it sure is a mess around here.
One of the things that came about as a result is that we lost water and power out to the chicken house and trekking things out there was becoming cumbersome. So, I decided to rehome all my chickens to a local ministry and start all over next year. The very day the guys were coming out to pick up the chickens the Project Manager told Michael they should have the power and water out there in a couple of weeks. I had understood it would be more like a couple of months. I didn’t have the heart to tell the U-Turn guys I was going to keep them after all and they took all of them. A couple of days later I decided I missed having my own fresh, delicious eggs, so, the hunt for new chickens began. I now have 5 chicks in the garage and will be adding more in the next month or so.
The other animal-related thing was the sad point of our year. Our beloved Polly whom we’d had for 13 years got sick and after a few months of seeing her in pain and understanding from the Vet that her illness was not recoverable, we made the heartbreaking decision to put her down. Oh, how my heart ached! We missed her so much that we began another search for a Chocolate Lab and found a breeder near Cookeville. That’s when Molly entered our lives and came home with us July 4th. She’s a typical Lab…all energy, chews on everything and plays incessantly. She even chewed parts of several of the pumpkins on my front porch! I left them there anyway deciding it gave her something to do and them some additional character. But, she’s a load of fun and smart as a whip and is in puppy training classes. She will eventually settle down and when she does she’s going to be just as great a dog as Polly was.
Another highlight of our year was a return trip to Germany in December. We first went up to Northern Germany, an area new to our travels, to meet Patrick, the young man who donated stem cells to Michael. While we know that God did the real healing, it was Patrick He used to save Michael’s life. That meeting was extremely emotional and we are so glad we were able to meet him. He’s just a wonderful young man. We also traveled back to Bamberg and went to a number of Christmas markets as well in Nuremberg, Frankfurt and Bayreuth. We had a wonderful time revisiting the places we’ve been so many times and seeing what’s new. Bamberg has changed a little bit, but in most ways it’s still the same town it’s always been. We also visited with Erich and Annaliese Bauer, longtime family friends as well as my friend, Christiane who owns a small quilt shop outside of Frankfurt. Great memories.
So, what’s new for me? Well, I’m now leading one of our Wednesday night Bible Studies at church. I’m slowly introducing that group to inductive Bible study and everyone is enjoying it as am I. I was also leading a different study on Thursdays which has now ended. Between that and our LOAM group, Molly, helping with Tim and Samantha’s kids due to their work schedules, my life is pretty busy. I was watching Jonah fulltime until the Cookeville move possibility came about and then he joined Noah in daycare. I loved watching him but it was more of a time commitment than I anticipated and I just couldn’t go back to doing that fulltime. It did allow a wonderful relationship with Jonah to develop and it’s one I hope to always have.
I didn’t plant much of a garden this year because I didn’t think I was going to be here, but…next year…watch out! The seed catalogs are already rolling in and I’m already drooling over them and planning, planning, planning.
Our trip to Israel was a dream come true. It was everything we always hoped it would be and so much more. We went with the Christian Medical Dental Association and made some new, good friends. For me, the most emotional and spiritual highlights of the trip were a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, being baptized in the Jordan River, and following the footsteps of Jesus in the Old City of Jersualem. As we walked along parts of the original Via Dolarosa, I did so with tears reflecting on the pain Jesus experienced as He labored along that path. Now, when we read our Bibles or listen to our Pastor teach, we exchange looks because inside we are silently shouting “We were there!”. We were in Israel for a week and then went on an extension tour into Jordan. I could talk or write about that trip for hours. It was life-changing and unforgettable. I’ve done quite a bit of traveling in my lifetime, but, I’d have to say that for me, it was the most memorable trip ever. I hope to go back and rejoin that piece of my heart I left there. In fact, it’s funny. I was telling Michael just yesterday that Germany fuels my creativity, but Israel…well…it has captured my heart.
One of the worship songs we did at church yesterday was “Come, O Come, Emmanuel”. I love that song and there’s so much rich theology in all the Christmas hymns we sing. Sometimes we miss it because those songs have become so familiar to us over all the years that we just sing them without really meditating on the words. As we were practicing that song I just broke down. We’ve been to Israel. We’ve seen the place Jesus was born. We’ve seen Jerusalem both from a distance and close up. Israel is in lonely exile here and it desperately needs it’s Savior. But, we can rejoice! Romans 11 explains to us that God has had a plan for the ages and part of His plan was to harden the heart of the Jews so that the fullness of the Gentiles could be completed. What a blessing it is to know that we, ‘the wild olive branch’ have been grafted onto Israel’s tree of life so that we can share in the Covenant blessings of God. You see, when Jesus returns as Israel’s Emmanuel, we, too, will be delivered. We will rise up and meet Him in the air as the trumpet sounds just as 1 Thessalonians explains. We will be delivered from this world and from this body of death and that, my dears, is reason for rejoicing!
The news is troubling today but every day, it seems, we are seeing the pieces for the fulfillment of God’s prophetic plan being fit together. It’s exciting really, because all these things simply hasten the coming of the Lord. So, dears, just as is sung in “The Little Drummer Boy”, as you are looking up preparing for your redemption, be asking yourself as he did, what gift can I give Him? The only gift God really wants is our undivided, obedient hearts. A soft heart, fully surrendered to the Lord is the best gift we can give because those are the hearts that are listening to His great commission, sharing His love and His truth with a lost and hurting world. Amen?
As always, you are in our hearts, ever near and ever dear.
With much love,
Michael & Jan