It’s that time of year again. Last night Donna and I took Spencer to his first ever Candlelight Service at New Life Church, and I think it’s safe to say he had a blast (I sure know we did). On the way home last night I got to thinking about how special this Christmas is going to be for our family this year since Spencer came into our lives and started kicking myself because I didn’t do a Christmas letter this year to sort of chronicle the past year of our lives so that one day Spencer can read over it and know exactly how much he meant to each and every one of us, so I made up my mind this morning that I would pop into my office and hammer out this post after my workout and before Donna got out of bed, so here I am at 6am.
It’s no great secret that this past year has been filled with ups and downs for our family, fortunately we are determined to finish this year on the “upside” of everything and nothing is going to get in our way! As I am sure many of you that read my blog are already aware, Donna and I lost our daughter, Shelby, in January and at one point I was concerned that I might lose Donna too. Fortunately that wasn’t the case and she made a full recovery and we were able to return home. I can’t put into words how heartbroken we were when we started out this year, in fact I don’t know that we will ever get over losing Shelby because we had made it so far and she was doing so well when Donna’s body came under attack. Having to say goodbye to that precious baby girl hurt really bad, and I’m not going to lie, it sometimes still does, and probably always will. Earlier this year Donna and I were at a wedding and it came to the part of the wedding where they had the father / daughter dance and they played this song, I don’t even know what it was – but I looked over at Donna and we both started balling. That totally hit us out of the blue and we didn’t see that coming, fortunately we quickly got ourselves together before anyone saw us. All of this to say that even though Shelby didn’t get to physically come home with us this year, she still did in our hearts.
Again, if you follow this blog then you probably already know that it wasn’t long after we were feeling pretty low that things started turning the other direction. Through an awesome chain of events an amazing lady that had known my in-laws, and actually babysat Donna and Bridgette when they were kids, somehow read our blog post about losing Shelby and she immediately reached out to Donna’s mom to let us know that she knew of a baby that might be looking for a home, she said that it might be a long shot but that she would do some checking and get back to us. Well, one thing led to another and finally one day we all got a photo of this amazing baby boy on our phones and from that day my Dad kept that picture as the screensaver on his iPhone. After having been through as much heartache as we had in the past trying to adopt I was really wanting to keep Donna’s emotions in check about the whole thing because I didn’t want to see her have anymore health issues related to stress, etc., but God had a plan and even when the attorneys told us that we didn’t need to get our hopes up, and that lots of things can happen before this adoption is ever finalized, we miraculously got a phone call one day from our attorney in Kansas who basically told us to get in the car and head that direction because the judge was going to award us custody the next day at 1:30 in Wichita, Kansas. Needless to say, we dropped everything and headed that direction, driving through the night still trying to guard our emotions because we still weren’t for sure that something couldn’t happen but then we realized that God had worked this whole thing out so that not only would we be getting our baby boy the next day, but that next day was significant in a way that only he could have really known, you see.. that was one day before Shelby would have been due. Got goosebumps yet? Yeah, I know many of you have already read my blog and know that story but I couldn’t help but share it one more time for those that might not have heard it. Also, be sure to checkout my first Father’s Day!
Well, fast forward from that day 7 months ago when i pushed Donna out of the way in the lobby of the Martin | Pringle Law Firm in Wichita, Kansas to take my grinning baby boy from his amazing foster parents. I won’t ever forget squeezing him so tight that I was worried I might be squeezing him too hard, he didn’t seem to mind though because he just kept grinning at me with that same grin he has stolen so many hearts with the past 7 months through my millions and millions of Facebook posts, I know, I’ve turned into that guy. Sorry, I just can’t help it, I’m so in love with this kid that there aren’t words to describe it and I know Donna feels the same way, God answered our prayers in such a huge way that we still sometimes find ourselves without the words to describe it.
Being a new dad has been somewhat of an adjustment for me this past year, not so much in how my day to day routine goes (because Donna is an amazing stay-at-home mom), instead I look at things differently now, the fact that I have a kiddo in this world now governs a lot of my decisions these days as to where there were a lot of other considerations when it was just Donna and I. It’s sort of hard to describe, I guess if you are a parent you probably already know where I’m coming from. Needless to say, both sets of Spencer’s grandparents have absolutely fell in love with the kid (and for good reason), he is such a blessing. In fact, we are leaving in a few hours to head to the farm to spend the weekend with my parents at the farm (or as it is now called, Papaw, Arkansas) before we all head back to Conway together to do Spencer’s first Christmas at our house together. It’s definitely going to be a special time for all of us, Donna’s sister Bridgette and her husband Dustin will be driving in with their beautiful kids on Christmas eve and it should be nothing short of a hootenanny (whatever that is), stay tuned for photos of my nieces and nephew, they are also pretty amazing themselves!
This Christmas is also going to be special because Donna’s Aunt is in town from North Carolina and her sister and brother in law will be driving in from Oklahoma City. I think I forgot to mention that Dustin & Bridgette met us in Kansas and were with us part of the time we were there waiting on all of our paperwork to be finalized and they got to spend some of that bonding time with Spencer as well, in fact I don’t think I will ever forget us standing in some store looking at diapers when Spencer, who had only been with us a few hours, opened his mouth and hurled projectile style on Bridgette, I think there’s a YouTube video out there of this. We all got a big kick out of that (except Bridgette I guess), which was sort of sharp contrast to just a few months earlier when Bridgette and I stood at Donna’s bed and watched as she gave birth to our daughter while the doctors had left the room to attend to another patient. We’ve definitely endured some highs and lows as a family this year, which is going to make this Christmas just that much more special.
Aside from our two biggest stories of the year, a lot of other things have been happening. My company, Pleth, that I co-founded with my partners Greg & Stephen Smart, has continued to grow beyond our expectations, in fact this year was probably our biggest year in terms of growth since we have been in business. We opened a new office in Jonesboro and have been blessed to have some of the most talented people in the country join our team. We’ve even got some exciting things going on internationally that have allowed us to expand our product and service offerings, which has helped us weather this crazy economic downturn. If you haven’t seen photos of our new office in Jonesboro, here’s a link…
Outside of work we obviously spend most of our time with Spencer, and why wouldn’t we? His grandparents decided that the swingset we had picked out for him just wasn’t fancy enough so his Papaw had him one custom ordered and shipped to our house and assembled. Without going into a lot of detail, it’s pretty much the Taj Mahal of playsets, and most days when we are not caught up in our daily tasks we can be found outside swinging (he can’t walk yet, but he loves to swing). We’ve also had a lot of fun hanging out with our friends this past year, this is going to sound weird but I think we made more friends this past year than we have since we’ve been married, and that’s a really cool thing. One of the coolest things that we’ve ever had the opportunity to be a part of was a birthday party for our friend Melisa Ortner that we hosted. Her friends came together that night with the purpose of calling people and soliciting donations to help toward their adoption, at last count I think we were well over $20,000 raised that night, you can read about the entire operation here, and it’s going to be featured in an upcoming magazine article very soon.
Something else really cool started coming into place for us this past year as well. As many of you that know us in real life know, we’ve been attending New Life Church for about two years now and absolutely love it. Not only has the church helped us through some tough times but it’s also brought a ton of happiness and joy into our home this past year through our service to various ministries. Donna helped out with the huge Woman 2012 conference this past year as well as being called upon to help organize other various activities throughout the year, something she is very good at. We also hosted a small group at our home this year that turned out to be one of the coolest things I’ve ever been involved with. Just this past week our group adopted a family that was in need of just about everything this Christmas season and not only did we deliver by bringing gifts for the single mom and her three kids, but we took it a step further and will be in touch with her in the coming days to help her furnish her trailer just as soon as it’s delivered to her. I could probably go on for a long time about how her story and attitude in the presence of adversity blessed us, but that’s another blog post.
One other really cool thing that I’m not sure we’ve really announced publicly is that Donna and I have also found our way into ministry at NLC after having attended for the past two years. After meeting w/ NLC Conway pastor Neil Greathouse one morning for breakfast he sent me home to pray about the possibility of taking the existing NLC Internet Campus and running with it. After a little bit of prayer (it honestly didn’t take us long), I started getting vision for what the Internet Campus could potentially be one day and it lined up completely with the vision that Neil had cast during our breakfast so Donna and I started staying home on Sunday mornings to operate the internet campus during the 9:30 GLR service and the 11:15 Conway service. If you are ever online on a Sunday morning be sure to stop into the chatroom and say hello! We have a lot of plans of building an online community around the vision of New Life Church so stay tuned for some very cool stuff moving into 2013.
For those of you that might not have visited my blog in a while, the enemy decided that he was going to throw one more jab at us this year because I think he could sense that despite the fact we started the year out on our knees we were going to close out this year triumphant holding our baby boy as proof of God’s faithfulness. I was talking to our pastor, Rick Bezet, last night and I told him that in no terms did I want to see another member of our family in the hospital again, we started the year there and almost ended the year there. If you follow my blog, you probably already know where this is going. I was hospitalized 2 weeks ago for 5 days because I went to the doctor complaining about sharp pains in my left side and continued problems urinating (10-12 times a night), turns out those sharp pains in my side might have saved my life. My Liver, Kidneys, Spleen, and Pancreas were extremely enlarged and upon further investigation my blood sugar was off the charts. Doctor Rook looked me up and down and more or less told me that I was going into the hospital for a few days that this was serious.
I’ve learned from others in the medical community that had I just kept going and not visited the doctor when I did, I could have potentially missed my 40th birthday and Christmas because I would have either been dead or in a weird comatose state. After being in the hospital a few days it was determined that I have type 2 diabetes, and probably have had for a long time now. Let’s face it, programmers aren’t healthy guys by nature, we typically sit on our butts all day, sip Red Bull, and never exercise. If you’ve ever been to a tech conference and noticed that on the swag table after sign-in there’s usually a large stack of 3x-large, 2x-large shirts and only a handful of smalls, just think about it… Well, long story short, things are changing in the Rohrscheib house!!
While I was in the hospital I had the opportunity to visit with several of my friends who are in the medical field and each one of them offered up some very valuable advice as to how I should proceed with my day to day living given the fact that I’ve been labeled a diabetic now. I also had the opportunity to spend a lot of time w/ Neil Greathouse, who is somewhat of an expert on the matter because he’s a diabetic himself. Not only did Neil encourage me to want to attack this thing even harder than I had anticipated, but he also confirmed my nutrition plan by basically sharing his own plan. My diet is more or less a hybrid of the American Diabetes Associations diet with a few more restrictions in terms of carbohydrates, and meal choice combinations. Over the years a lot of research has been done to determine the impact of foods have on our metabolism when eaten alone or together. For example, a strawberry cheesecake for breakfast alone will not have the same impact as half a strawberry cheesecake when chased with bacon (this is a wacky example, but you see where I’m going), anyway, my diet these days consists of simpler foods that haven’t been processed, or as I call it “screwing with God’s design”.
In addition to changing my diet I’ve also added exercise to my daily routine. Yep, the same guy that tossed the p90x dvd as far as I could throw it one evening is now working out, but it’s not really an organized workout, I started out walking / jogging in the mornings when the swelling from my spleen went down to a safe level, and honestly it felt fine but I was still dealing with some side effects of the diabetes called neuropathy, which would systematically make my fingers, hand and eventually arm go numb. Imagine trying to code a WordPress plugin w/ one of your arms numb, yeah, ain’t good. I was telling this to a fitness trainer who then recommended squat thrusts as a way to get my blood flowing in the morning, I hadn’t done a squat thrust since high school football practice but I knew what they were. Turns out doing squat thrusts help get your blood flowing from head to toe a lot faster than a brisk job or walking and after about two days of doing these exercises for 45 minutes or so w/ intervals as I fatigue, my neuropathy has gone away completely!!
The only other side affect that I’ve dealt with in relation to the diabetes was vision loss, which in fact turned out to be somewhat of an anomaly in itself. I’ve been nearsighted since I was 8 years old, could not see things far away like road signs, etc. In fact I was nearsighted two short weeks ago. Diabetes is a crazy thing, not only am I not nearsighted any longer, but I’m told that I could pass the Arkansas state driving test vision part for seeing road signs now (without my contacts or glasses), crazy thing though is that I can’t see up close anymore, not even well enough to read my phone or see the readout on my dashboard. Crazy huh? My vision did what’s called a diabetic shift and completely reversed itself, and if that’s not impressive it also went “9 clicks” the other direction, something my eye doctor said was pretty major. I just blogged about this in more detail the other day, if you are interested, here’s a link…
I’m happy to report that w/ some new contact lenses I’m at 110%, that’s right, better than before and 2013 is going to be the year that things continue to get better and better! As luck would have it, one of my best friends has been working with some partners to launch a startup this next year that is focused on nutrition and wellness. Since my release from the hospital I’ve aggressively been attacking this disease with one foot on it’s neck and the other aimed at it’s ass (I love saying that, it’s my combat talk –not kid friendly!). My blood sugar levels have stabilized to where they are within a range we can live with (and they are getting better each day). I have been looking into some of the products that my friend will be releasing this next year and after sharing some information with a dietician and two physician friends, they have encouraged me to give these products a try to see if they can speed along my progress a little faster, so sometime in January I will be doing a 90 day challenge to see if I can “guinea pig” these products for my friends company all the while reclaiming my body by restoring what I’ve been destroying all this time. I’m pretty stoked about this!!
I didn’t really intend to go on and on about diabetes in this post, but I’m pretty consumed these days with the topic for obvious reasons, but in closing Donna and I would both like to thank each and every one of you for your thoughts, prayers, and support you have shown us this past year as we have endured some pretty crazy highs and lows. We honestly don’t think we could have made it through the hard times without you, I mentioned in an earlier blog post about how even during the darkest hours as we lost Shelby we had a peace that filled our hospital room beyond understanding that confirmed to us that we were going to be okay. Also, we would both like to wish each and every one of you a very heartfelt Merry Christmas & a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous 2013!! With that, I’m going to hit publish, close my computer, and start loading my truck to head to the farm, or Papaw, Arkansas, as it’s now known!
Cotton, Donna, and Spencer Rohrscheib (and Bogey)