The Far, Wide, Long in “Trust”

Proverbs 3:5-6“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

Dear Family and Friends,

As we continue to move forward and learn what the “new normal” is for us as a family, one thing we have come to realize is that we have changed and life will never be the same again.  Cancer radically changes a person. Not only their view on life and what is important but it also changes their view of God.

For me (Cindy) personally one of the many things that God has been teaching me is how far and wide and long do I trust Him. When I was 19 years old and on a mission trip to Mexicalli, Mexico I surrendered all of me to go anywhere, to do anything, to fully obey His voice and take the gospel to where it was needed.  That call on my life has looked differently during the different seasons of my life.  When I was single that call lead me to some amazing places in the world to live and I saw Him radically change lives. Then when I got married that call looked different then I expected as I learned to serve Him in new ways that brought encouragement to those on the field.

Now again, I find His call looks so much different then I ever thought. For months now Chris and I have prayed that we would go wherever He called us.  Through prayer God lead us to friends of mine who I served with when I was single in Houston, Tx.  My friends Doug and Lori Kothe are the pastors of a very small church in Lake Stevens Washington, which is about 40 minutes north of Seattle. When we contacted Doug and Lori to share with them what God was calling us to it and how we felt called to come along side a couple and do life and ministry together with them, they shared how they had been praying that God would raise us a couple who would do just what we shared with them. Washington is the least churched state in all of the United States and what better place to share the love of Jesus than by living there and doing life and ministry.

So we have decided to take a step of faith and trust God in His plans for our lives and we are moving to Lake Stevens, Washington. As I think about the verse that God gave me this last year through Cancer Proverbs 3:5-6 the word Trust stands out to me the most. What is it to trust God with our lives. By definition trust is firm belief in reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.   Again I am seeing how far and wide and deep is my trust of God really is. If I trust God in who He says He is and what His word says then stepping out in faith isn’t scary but a fun adventure of trusting God for everything.  So we are off on another adventure with the Lord! We are getting rid of everything, pulling our kids out of school, Chris quit his job and we are moving. Our pastor recently taught on Gideon and following Gods call even when we don’t understand.  That it took great faith of the part of Gideon to obey God and praise Him cause He had already won the victory.  So we are doing the same. We are stepping out in faith, fully trusting that God will provide a job for Chris that will provide for all of us and a great place to live where we can minister to others.

So what has changed? The BIG change for me in all of this is I will no longer be living on support.  God has graciously given us 3 months from our move date which is February 14th, 2016 to continue to live on support.  So that means for all those who are supporting us financially that your last day for giving is May 15th.  If you are giving electronically you will need to contact Jack Fletcher at Saving Grace World Missions  (714) 993-4801 or email him at jack@ccsavinggrace.com in May to end your giving. For those giving by checks please don’t send anything in past May 15th, 2016. 

If you feel lead to continue to help our family as we make this transition you can just send checks made out to us personally but you will not get a tax receipt.

We want to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all your love and support through out these years as you have so graciously given and been such a loving part of our lives and ministry.

If you have any questions feel free to email or call us.  Thank you again! We love you all.

If you want to continue to know whats going on in our world…Chris will be updating our blog once we get settled in.  You can check it at  https://trustinghim4everything.blogspot.com

In Christ,

 

Cindy

Praises: 

-For all the loving support from friends and family as we move!

-For a place to stay temporarly as we transition to a new place!

-For all the big stuff that has been sold or found a new home!

-For the amazing ways God moves and works in our lives!

Please pray…..

  1. For an amazing job for Chris that would provide for our needs and have great health benefits.
  1. For a great place to live that will meet our needs and be a blessing to others.  Also that it would be exactly what we can afford.  We are praying and trusting that God can provide a place to rent that will be below what the normal rent is or for Chris job to make enough to cover rent and living expenses.
  1. For unity for Chris and I as moving is very stressful but we have a special needs little boy that makes things so much more stressful and harder.
  1. For the kids to adjust to a new place and a new school.  They both will be going to public school so pray for Josiah as he adjusts from private christian school to public.
  1. For God to provide all the things we need to live.  We are getting rid of everything here but our beds and starting over there.
  1. For great closer as we say goodbye to friends here!
  1. For the drive to Washington.  That God would provide someone to go with us and for a safe and successful move.

 

Here is a look back through the years….

 

October 2008

October 2008

 June 2009

June 2009

June 2010

June 2010

January 2012

January 2012

June 2013

June 2013

March 2015

March 2015

November 2015

November 2015

The kids Fall 2015

The kids Fall 2015

The Difference Between Ministry and Ministering

“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'” Matthew 25:40
I hope you were all as blessed last month by my wife Cindy’s update as I was and that this letter finds you well & enjoying the fruits of the holiday season. If you don’t mind I’d like to share with you another valuable lesson I learned this past year walking beside my wife in her cancer/chemo battle. And that is what the difference is between ministering to a particular individual as we are led by the Spirit of God especially in times of suffering and being a part of a particular general ministry at church. Allow me to explain. 
As a former worship leader, children’s ministry worker, Jr High youth leader and custodial assistant I have done my fair share of being a part of a church ministry. And yet it wasn’t until my wife was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin Lymphoma & I was forced to take care of our three small children completely on my own at times, that I was forced to really see what it looks like to minister to another person one on one outside of the confines of what we call ministry (when no one is looking). That is what the God of Heaven has slowly and methodically worked into the fabric of my heart over the past year. That is what I want to share with you now: the difference between being a part of a visible, tangible expression of public Christian service in the abstract impersonal and intentionally going out of one’s way to sacrifice one’s time energy and resources to serve an individual most are unaware of when no one is looking.
Now I need to clarify. I’m not saying that general church ministry is inadequate or unbiblical, quite the contrary. But church ministry in the corporate sense is meant to be the outflow of ministering to people in the individual sense not as the source but as the fruit of God’s overall work by the Spirit in His body. Furthermore being in church ministry can become an excuse to isolate from & worse yet even ignore the people we interact with on a daily basis both at church and more specifically in the world we live in.
Francis Schaeffer wisely remarked (I am paraphrasing) that the difference between the secular humanist and the Christian is this: The humanist will typically (nearly always) publicly address some general human need, trumpeting causes that never really touch them where it hurts or make them vulnerable where they live as an individual (I think of the Syrian Refugee Crisis and the outcry it has created, or hunger & poverty in the abstract). Where the individual Christian is called by God in Christ to practically minister to EVERY individual they encounter personally as they are led by the Holy Spirit. And there is a big difference between the two, huge, if we are willing to see it. But that is just the problem. Most the time we are not. It is far easier and less invasive to send a meal from a distance than to show up in person and sit beside the hurting or worse yet…dying for a few hours. It is far less time consuming to write a check than to visit the broken and downtrodden in our own neighborhood or further, far less difficult to send our love with a card, a Bible verse or even a Facebook or text message than it is to manifest it in person, much easier to send a prayer than ask how we might be involved in the answer to one. Is it not?
I know that is the case for me. And I am certain I am not alone. The problem with the American church as I see it (and I am included in this) is that we are far more willing to speak of being led by the Spirit than we are of actually being led by Him especially in the most practical ways, far more willing to study the scriptures and apply them to others than be exposed by the scriptures ourselves for what we are and be sanctified by the Spirit through them as we interact with other people. We are far more willing to speak about the ills of our country as a whole than interact with them as individuals and we are far more able and willing to serve when others are watching us than love when no one is. And that is the truth. It is our nature as human beings, Christian or not to do so. And that again is the problem.
But that is exactly why God gave us His Spirit to begin with: to sanctify us out of our old humanity and way of doing things and conform us into the image of His Son as both individuals and a corporately redeemed body of believers both representing & partaking in the reality of the new creation. We want the world to see Christ and yet we refuse to be changed by Him in the core of our being through the revelation of the gospel and our own need for it as we interact with both fallen and broken humanity. Now I am not saying we can or will do this perfectly. We can’t and we won’t.
But we CAN try and begin by submitting to the Holy Spirit as He leads us to minister to the needs of others in person according to His will. We can grow in our willingness to sacrifice when no one is looking to the praise and glory of our God. We can admit when we fail and repent in faith that God will use us in spite of our self and redeem the time we have wasted on ourselves. And above all we can saturate ourselves with the gospel and cry out to God in prayer that He would change us from the inside out through it so we can reflect more of His heart for the individual and less our own to the watching world.
I know this is a heavy topic to be discussing during the holiday season, but honestly what better time? What better time than now, in the hustle and bustle of church pageants and Christmas shopping, of planning parties and spending time with the ones we love to get outside of our comfort zones and ask if God would not lead us by His Spirit to reach out to whomever He wills for their own individual benefit even if it costs us our own? I pray that this word is an encouragement to you even if it is painful to hear at first. I know for me it has been the healing work of God in my own heart, even if I daily fall short to live up to the glorious ideal it represents. And I know it is because of my very failures in this area (and so many more I don’t even know about) that God sent His beloved Son to begin with to that lowly manger not only to die on my behalf but live in it as well. Merry Christmas Friends and a Happy New Year. I pray it is a glorious and God centered one for you and your families.
We love each and every one of you and thank you for your support.
-Sincerely
Chris, Cindy and the Family
Praises-
-We got to spend thanksgiving with family in the Central Valley this year!
-Noah is improving in potty training.
-Gods amazing provision for our financial needs!
-Josiah got awarded the character award for thankfulness!! What a special award!
Prayer Requests-
1. Cindy’s health… She has some unusual symptoms in November so she will have another PET scan December 9th. Please pray for clean scans and for all the details cause she can’t be around the kids. Pray also that Cindy would continue to heal and get stronger.
2. Pray for Noah at school. He is in special Ed preschool. Pray for his continued development.
3. Pray for Rebecca as she adjusts life with her brothers during the day.
4. Pray for us as a family as we figure out what things as we move forward as a family!
5. Pray that we would continue to trust God to provide for all of our needs.
Thank you for praying!! Please let us know how we can pray for you and your loved ones!
Christmas family pictures
Noah_s 4th Birthday
Brotherly love
Mommy and Becca

Growing Downward

In his book The Master’s Indwelling, Andrew Murray compares the deeper works of God in sanctification to the development of an oak tree. He writes, “How was the oak born? In a grave. The acorn was planted into the ground. A grave was made for it, that it might disappear. It died and disappeared; it cast roots downward, and it cast shoots upward, and now that oak has been standing a hundred years. Where is it standing? In its grave; all the time in the very grave where the acorn died; it has stood there stretching its roots deeper and deeper into the earth in which its grave was made, and yet, all the time, though it stood in the very grave where it died, it has been growing higher, and stronger, and broader and more beautiful. And all the fruit it ever bore, and all the foliage that adorned it, year by year, it owed to that grave in which its roots are cast and kept.” As I (Chris), consider what the Lord is doing right now in our family, it is this. He is teaching us to stretch out even further in our dependence on Him, through even the most difficult of circumstances.

I wish that I had something more outwardly glorious to share with you, a change of some kind in our circumstances or some great provision of God that I could relate to you about, but I don’t. Even though God has given us little moments of rest to enjoy here and there (for instance our 4th of July family vacation) we are still very much in the same place we were last month: still learning to make our way through the slow process of recovery, still learning to assist and adapt to our son’s special needs. And while Cindy is doing much better than before (and we are so grateful for that) she is still very weak and still in need of assistance. We are still trying to adjust to the many different challenges and changes that come with losing a year of our lives. And we are still very much in need of all the prayer we can get to know how to do it all.

And yet, we are exactly where God wants us to be as a family, no less important to our development than when He first brought us together or walked us through the difficult journey of cancer & chemo. Even though it feels at times that very little has changed for us, it turns out that much has and God is still very much on the throne and still very much at work in our lives. It’s just that it looks very different to us now than it did before. And I think we are both learning to adjust to that. Like that little acorn I mentioned before, that was planted in its grave, we are both learning to stretch our hearts and hands, our family & our finances even further down into Christ then we have before, to place our faith in His ability and surrender more of our own, that we might grow up a little bit more into His image, the image of the only begotten Son of God who loved us and called us to this place to begin with (Romans 8:29) according to His mercy & goodness.

Maybe one day we will both look back with great fondness on the season we are in, not as a pair of budding trembling acorns stretching their feeble hands down into the soil of inward death, but as two tempered oaks lifting their grateful hands to the sky in praise to the One who planted them. For now we are simply learning to be content in our surroundings, to look for any opportunity we can find, or which the Lord presents to us to serve those in need, to enter in and assist those who are suffering as best we can. And is that not the point of our suffering in this life anyways: to glorify the only one who is sufficient in it, to bring comfort & consolation to those who are going through it right now? At least that is our perspective these days and we are grateful for it, because it was given to us by One more glorious & wise than we are, quite in spite of ourselves.

In closing, I would like to say once more (I don’t think I can say it enough) how grateful we are for the kindness & charity of those who have and continue to walk through this with us. I don’t know where we would be without your love. If you would, please allow the Lord to broaden your kindness & charity toward others even further by asking Him to lead you into giving more of yourself to those around you who are suffering, to enter into their pain and walk beside them in their misery. Like I said it’s my prayer that He would do the same for us. I want our family to be a companion to the broken-hearted, the emotionally & physically crippled who languish in this life for a little bit of comfort to no avail. I want our hardship to always be in the service of those who are suffering. I want to say that we did not hesitate to stoop down in the dust or assist those around us in need, in much the same way that God in Christ has done for us.

Lord bless you and keep you in these turbulent uncertain times and add to you and yours more abundantly every day, the riches of his endless grace in Christ.

-Sincerely,
The Broniste Family

Here are some prayer needs at the moment:

Cindy- for her walk with God to be rich and full. That she would serve her family and others out of her walk with God.
Cindys health- She is continuing to heal slowly. Please pray for her upcoming blood work to check her electrolytes. She is also will be having an X-ray soon because she has lots of pain getting up from a seated position.  Recently she is having pain in her jaw with lock jaw type symptoms. This is a side effect of chemo. She also has been having a hard time with heat and it being very painful due to neuropathy.  She is still very tired and struggles to take care of our kids. Please continue to pray for healing and strenth.

Josiah- our big boy is about to start school! He will start all day kindergarten on September 8th. This will be a big adjustment but exciting one for all of us. Please pray for him and us as we prepare him for school.

Noah- we are in process of getting him early intervention through the public school. This means he will have an IEP (individualized education program) which will include occupation therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy and possible ABA (applied behavior analysis) therapy. This is a HUGE learning curve for all of us. This means that he will start preschool this fall five days a week for half day. For the school purposes they are saying he is ASD (autism spectrum disorder) high functioning. We are still seeking a medical diagnosis as this will help open up with more services for him. Currently we are still going to occupation and physical therapy once a week. Please pray for us as we learn to balance his needs along with the needs of our family.

Rebecca- she is growing like a weed and becoming her own person. Please pray for her as we learn to teach this feisty little girl who has to out do her brothers! Also pray for her especially with the adjustment of both her brothers being in school.

Chris- please pray for him as he balances everything with work and home. Pray also for his anxiety level that has been high due to the strain of this last year. Pray especially for our financial needs. Pray that his walk with God would be full and give him confidence as a husband, father and leader. Also pray for wisdom and direction as he continues to lead our family as the Lord leads.

Thank you for praying! Please email us how we can pray specifically for your family and their needs.

Summer fun in photos

Daddy and his boys!

Daddy and his boys!

Celebrating together!! One year later and in remission!

Celebrating together!! One year later and in remission!

The kids on vacation at the beach

The kids on vacation at the beach

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July!

Rebecca and mommy enjoying ice cream

Rebecca and mommy enjoying ice cream

The God of the Blank Page

Being the romantic that I (Chris) am I love to sit on a cold dark day and drink in the cloudy and tempestuous sky. That’s because the sky is like a canvas to me. And like a canvas I prefer it be filled with a spectacular image of some kind and not just blank. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it gives me something to look at. I appreciate the warmth of a sunny day as much as the next guy. It’s just that an empty sky does nothing for me, in much the same way that a blank canvas doesn’t. I enjoy the substance.

Now God in His infinite wisdom has chosen to do something quite different in our lives. And I imagine it’s because He doesn’t view the world the way I do (I mean how can He? He is so far above it all). Instead of blessing our pre-existent life together, He has forced us to begin again. Instead of blessing our little work of art, He has chosen to erase it & paint over it. Now at first glance this seems like a horrible idea. Who wants to work hard at something only to have it destroyed in front of their face? Not me. But as God would have it we are finding out that neither of us really knows what living is all about and it shows. Every difficulty we face together lately in this season only seems to deepen that reality.

Sunshine in the Rain

Sunshine in the Rain

You see as Americans we pride ourselves on our sense of accomplishment and sanctification (at least for Cindy & I) has always been something of an accomplishment. We have invested a great deal of time into working at it and value our growth. But it turns out our God is NOT an American at all and is not impressed by any of our accomplishments not even our (poor) attempts to grow in sanctification. He values the person and as such is more interested in their overall health & development than their personal accomplishments, even the ones they do in His name. It’s not that He doesn’t appreciate what they do, it’s just that He already accomplished everything for us on our behalf in His Son. And He knows that we will never come close to doing what He has already done for us in Him, no matter how hard we try because we are finite & limited by our personalities (the reason He sent His Son to begin with).

So the Master has taken it upon Himself to expose the futility of our previous efforts by smashing our paltry little works of self improvement into tiny little bits. And that is really the point. What do we do when the Creator decides to destroy something we have worked so hard to accomplish? How do we respond to our sudden unemployment, handle a divorce or rejection by a loved one. How do we endure the loss & pain, grieve for our stollen health or live with a newfound handicap? How we do move forward in life when the Creator Himself has cut our legs out from underneath us? What do we do with the blank page when it is God who does the erasing? How do we let go of what we cannot change? How do we trust the One who led us here to begin with?

These are the questions burning in my mind as I contemplate the place that God has us. How do we trust the Lord in our uncertainty if it is God that led us here? How do we trust Him when our gut impulse is to complain at Him for all the terrible things that have happened to us, to challenge His judgment or question His goodness towards us. How do we trust the One that led us TO the pain to begin with? How do we rest in the God of the blank page? And yet in spite of being tempted to think such foolish thoughts, to ask such faithless questions, to think that we somehow know better than the One who made us, I am compelled to remember His faithfulness toward our family and trust Him yet again even with the uncertainty of the blank page HE created. You see the truth is the problem is not Him. It is me. I just don’t understand the beauty of uncertainty, the glory of the decimated life or the naked dependence that comes from knowing nothing about the future, being completely powerless to do anything about it even if I did.

 Our Handsome Boy

Our Handsome Boy

Bruised & Beaten but No Less Good looking

Bruised & Beaten but No Less Good looking

Again that is really the point isn’t it? Sure I might speak of walking by faith but it is only ever in the abstract. I might quote the right Bible verses with the best of them and look real spiritual to others. But at the end of the day when push comes to shove and I am prompted to step into the unknown, if I am honest, I am terrified of uncertainty and resistant to change. I cling to my comforts instead of my prayer closet, my television instead of the Bible, my intellect instead of God’s Spirit (I mean is that not why Jesus had to live & die in my place to begin with?). But that is no way to really live.

The Ancient of days did not sacrifice His life so I could live mine in fear and desperation. I was set free for liberty was I not? At least that’s what the Bible teaches me (Galatians 5:1). Being afraid is not living in freedom. And it is certainly not the liberty we have in Christ. But why am I sharing this with you? Why be so transparent all of the sudden? If I’m honest it’s because I do not believe my wife and I are in some extraordinary place of sanctification, the exception if you would to the “ordinary” life. I think it’s that for the first time, we are finally beginning to live the way we were created to: in the sanctifying liberty that comes from a total dependence on the One who made us & saved us in Christ, by surrendering our own efforts & relying on His.

And He didn’t do this in a foreign country or even in the bush of Africa on a missions trip, but right here smack dab in the middle of the global center of endless creature comfort, in the freest nation on the planet. The sovereign Creator chose to expose our inward slavery & destroy it by destroying what we hold most dear right where we are at. He decided to strip us of our comfort, our strengths, our dreams & our lives right where we live and replace them with something infinitely more valuable than anything we ever had on our own. By seemingly destroying our lives, and redirecting them, by ultimately demolishing our finite goals & rendering our family immovable and broken He has actually begun the process of healing and restoring to a far more blessed state than we ever imagined. It’s just that He had to destroy us first in order to do that. He had to expose & destroy the different idols we created for ourselves out of even good seemingly biblical things by first destroying our capability to do anything other than trust in Him for everything we have (a glorious & terrifying truth if you really think about it).

Our Sweet Becca

Our Sweet Becca

So here we are in the hand of the God of the blank page we know not where, but finally and tangibly free, learning to walk by faith in the practical things, to be led by the hand of the invisible, to lean on the arm of the intangible, to rest in the work of the Divine. We are learning to follow the leading of God’s Spirit in the little things & the big, to confront the darkest parts of our personalities in faith that we are already accepted in the Beloved, loved in Christ. We are learning to live a life of love outside of our petty fears, to live a life without the burden of the former things that only ever dragged us down, to rest in the finished work of our savior & rely on His love. It is a far better life than we ever imagined, far better than we deserve.

I want to encourage you to grow in the way that you perceive our Heavenly Father, to view His work in your life in a different way. I think at times we believe & pray as if God wasn’t able to do anything without our help: to think that we must first instruct Him in prayer if He is to do anything right in our lives. I know I have been convicted of late by this in my own life. And I think the point bears repeating. We can trust the Lord to lead us no matter what it looks like. We don’t need to fear His judgments or His wisdom. He is always good to us no matter what we do. It is in His nature to do so. It is never His faithfulness towards us that is on trial but our faith in Him in light of that truth, that is. So the question at the end of the day is really not is He good enough to trust in but are we going to trust Him no matter what He does or how we feel or are we going to rely on the works of our own hands and trust in our own understanding?

I know we have never really profited from leaning on our own understanding and I am sure it is the same for you. I can think of no higher more blessed life for the saint in Christ than to rest in everything on the One who made it all to begin with. Will you join us in walking this way and put your faith in the God of the blank page? I promise it will be well worth it in the end. I have seen it for myself.

The Nitty Gritty with Cindy:

– She is still moving forward in her recovery thanks to all of your many prayers and the tender mercies of our God. In fact she recently had a pet scan and it came back negative which means she is still in remission (yay!) She still suffers from neuropathy & has trouble remembering things. But she has come a long way. And we are VERY grateful for the improvement. Please continue to lift her in your prayers as you think of her though. She still definitely needs them.

The Kiddos:
-Josiah is getting so big and is almost ready for Kindergarten. Becca is such a cutie & quite the little communicator. Noah still gets nose bleeds and has trouble communicating but is improving a little every day.
Some Basic Prayer Requests to consider:

– Pray for Cindy as she begins to watch the kids on her own once a week.

– Pray for Noah as we look into different options for helping him further with his development & special needs

-Pray for Cindy as she makes preparations to get Josiah into school and for the special aid and understanding of the faculty regarding her physical state.

– Pray for our marriage & our family as we continue to walk through the recovery process

-And pray for our family as we consider the future

We are grateful to each of you for your continued love and support. You are the life blood of our little family, the means by which our God has chosen to speak and work and act. We thank the Lord for each of you and pray for your own continued blessing. Lord bless you.

-Chris and Cindy

A New Perspective

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Quality time with Mommy

As I (Chris) reflect on the past year there is so much that comes to mind in the way of what God has revealed to Cindy & I about our lives: who we are, how we need Christ & what needs to change. The Holy Spirit has revealed everything from idolatry of ministry, to deep rooted apathy & gross unbelief. But of all the different gems I could share with you that we are learning together, there’s one that stands out above the rest to me. And that is the generally impoverished way I now know I used to live before all of this happened and the rich way that God has begun to work in me to change that.

It humbles me, for instance, to think of the different ways I failed to appreciate my wife for who she is apart from my broken ideal of her before she was diagnosed with lymphoma, to see the profound contribution she has made to our life & our family in spite of me. In short it took the threat of losing her to see what a treasure she really is. But it also took the profoundly difficult & blessed responsibility of raising our 3 children nearly completely without her, to see how precious & unique they each are and how much they (and I) really need her. It took an ongoing series of practical needs to see the value of the body of Christ. And it took being nearly completely alone for almost a whole year to recognize the value of fellowship & friendship. In short it took the physical cancer in Cindy to finally expose the spiritual cancer in me: that greater disease of selfishness and the need for repentance of it.

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Daddy & Baby Girl

Only where Cindy’s was eating away at her body mine had begun to eat away at the very fabric of our family, (at least) my faith in God, our marriage & sadly every other relationship I had taken for granted. Where hers had forced her to reckon with her mortality, mine had force me to face a life without her. Where hers had forced her to rest and receive the aid of others, mine had forced me to step up and serve in ways I didn’t know I hadn’t before. And in the superior gracious wisdom of God this worked on my behalf to change and grow who I am.

As I look back on the past year I am not only humbled by the generous natural way that God chose to work in our life through the gracious gifts of other people. I am also humbled by the way He chose to work through the very suffering itself. That’s right I said it. I am not only grateful for the blessings IN the suffering. I am also grateful for the suffering itself and all the difficulty it brought us. Every conflict, every difficulty, every fearful painful moment that we experienced together this past year has only served to deepen us more, mature us & bless us, enrich our understanding of the gospel & deepen our love for one another. It has also served to cultivate & enrich a truly meaningful & necessary dependence on the Living God as individuals & a couple. And as I said before this has worked (at least for me) to change the very fabric of who I am, for the better.

So while I look back on who I was with a growing sense of regret. I also look back with an equally growing sense of awe for the miraculous way that God has chosen to work on my behalf (and my family’s) to not only change my poor behavior but also change who I am, how I think, how I see other people and serve them in practical ways. And for that as I said I am very thankful. If I can offer any general encouragement to you from my own experience this past year it’s this: maybe instead of asking God to help you escape from whatever trial you might find yourself in, ask Him to give you a deeper revelation of the gospel in it and change you through it. Because I personally think He waits for us to do that anyways so He can really get to work in us and bless us (and others) in ways we’ve never dreamed of, in ways that transcend the boundaries of this world.

Lunch Time!

Lunch Time!

Sleepy Girl

Sleepy Girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Different Ways You Can Pray for Us:

– The numbness Cindy’s feet to go away.
– For Cindy as she deals with post chemo fatigue. (It can last from 1-3 years and is worse then chemo tired. Pray for strength and energy for normal everyday tasks.)
– For Noah’s meltdowns and different delays. (His test results are that he is NOT currently on the ASD spectrum yet but his behavior shows signs of being on the spectrum later on. They will reevaluate him in six months to see if there’s progress. His adjustment issues to normal family activities puts more strain on our family. Pray for God’s wisdom to know how to balance his needs and without jeopardizing everyone’s needs as well.
– Please pray for our family in general as we continue to find a new normal. So far readjustment has been very difficult.

Thank you again to each of you for your fellowship, prayer and support. You are the love of God to us and we cherish each and everyone of you.
Lord bless you.

– The Broniste Family

Christ In The Aftermath

I (Chris) cannot think of a better way to describe the post-chemo recovery process than to liken it to the aftermath of a major earthquake. (I’m from So Cal after all.) You might also compare it to any other major disaster if you like (whatever is easiest for you to relate to). Everywhere we look we are forced to deal with some form of unthinkable devastation neither of us expected: something we have either lost which can never be replaced or something that’s been destroyed which will take years of hard work & the grace of God to rebuild. The emotional spiritual & physical toll that cancer & chemo have taken on our marriage, our family & our individual emotional states is simply beyond belief right now.

And although we didn’t ask to experience these losses, to have our lives reordered or dismantled in the way they have been, there is precious little we can do about it on our own because we were never in control of our own lives to begin with & we both know it, even if we forget it at times. We were led here by the One who made us for Himself & saved us in Christ to begin with. So whether by direct intervention or allowance, it matters very little in the end. He led us here for His own special purposes & glory. And we both must learn to except that and walk in that by faith. It is not like He hasn’t already proven to both of us that He is with us & for us no matter what happens to us. He certainly has. So we can put our trust in Him & rest in His work through this as well.

Although we have no idea what that will actually look like in the end or what good can possibly come from the craziness of this past year. we do know that He does. And that’s enough for us. Personally I can think of no better place to put my own faith than in Him. I’d rather live through 50 devastating storms with Him than travel the road of this life in ease without Him. And that’s the truth. But where does that leave us as a family practically? Where do we go from here in the long term? How are we supposed to assimilate back into an ordinary life after going through something like this? What IS normal these days anyways? Recovery is a slow & painful process, one that is clearly going to take a lot more time & patience to get through than we ever thought it would before.

And from where I am standing the only thing I can see that we CAN do is move forward in faith that God will see us through. We must learn to put our faith in Christ and rely on His sufficiency in everything anyways, right? Why Not here as well? Why not in the recovery process? After all, we are not alone in this. We have a Heavenly Father who gave the only Son of His love on our behalf to live & die in our place for our benefit. And we have the Holy Spirit who groans for us with words unspoken & points us back to Him when we falter and fail. And if that’s not enough we also have the church body to lift us up in prayer & stand beside us in the many difficulties to come. And that is more than enough for anyone; more that enough for our present needs anyways. So we are clearly in good hands.

Although it is true that chemo therapy recovery is a VERY difficult place for anybody to be in, we both agree it could be so much worse than it is. Despite the difficulty & damage that have followed we are both so grateful to God for all He has done on our behalf, so much more than either of us really deserve. So while anyone would agree it is not the ideal place to be on the surface, we have both seen it to be the gift of God to break us & change us, mold us & shape us & ultimately ground us in the deeper revelation of the sufficiency & supremacy of the Son of God who gave His life for us. For me personally I can honestly say, in spite of all, it has actually been a positive life changing experience, one that I have certainly taken for granted, one I am sure to look back on with great fondness and miss when it is all over & done with. And that is the truth.
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As for Cindy’s health, I’d be lying if I said everything is much easier post-chemo. The truth is as grateful as we are to be through it all, it is still not without its difficulties. For example she now has an edema in each of her feet and still suffers from pretty bad neuropathy. Her body still aches the majority of the time and it’s still very difficult for her to think clearly about even the simple things. She still struggles to help take care of our children and she can only do so much before she begins to shut down physically mentally and emotionally. Of course it doesn’t help that we are currently preparing Josiah for kindergarten or taking Noah to get tested for ASD (autism spectrum disorder) or even that our Becca has become quite the little ball of non stop energy keeping us both on our toes at all times. But life moves on just the same and we do our best to keep on keeping on, resting in the strength of our Savior.

In conclusion, we want to thank each of you again, for the many kindness you have shown to our little family through the past year. I cannot imagine where we would be without your gracious love and support. May the Lord bless you as you have blessed us and keep you in the power of His Spirit.

-Sincerely,
The Broniste Family

A Few Family Prayer Requests for the Road:

– Wisdom & understanding for Chris & Cindy to deal with Noah’s ASD results
– Grace for Cindy to adjust to helping with the kids & getting used to normal life
– Provision to pay for nannies until Cindy can take over
– Grace & wisdom in the increase of spiritual warfare (the result of sharing the testimony of Gods work in our lives this past year)
– For Chris & Cindy as they adjust to married life again (emotional & spiritual healing in the re-connection process)
– And finally for our family’s emotional state in general (there is a lot of hurt and pain to wade through as a family)

Thank you

All Together for Easter

Fun with Family

Turning 5!!

Quality Time With Mommy

 

A Valley is Still a Valley

Although I initially wrote this on Christmas Eve for my other personal blog, I felt it would still be fitting to use it for our monthly newsletter as well. It both shows where we are really at and reveals what God is doing in our hearts through it all in spite of it.  Lord bless you this winter season as you read it.
 -Chris

A Valley is Still a Valley (But a River Is No less Refreshing In It)

For those of you who do not know my wife was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkin Lymphoma in July of this year and has had to endure a rigorous schedule of chemo therapy since then. As a result I have had to take on the role of being the sole care provider of our three small children (with help) and maintain the sanity and morale of our home these past 5 mos or so in edition to working a full time job. Needless to say it has not been easy for any of us least of all my poor wife and nothing has been off the table regarding our individual and personal suffering not even Christmas. Everything from our relationship with each other to our physical health and financial standing has been attacked over the last five mos. Why not Christmas? And yet our God has seen us through it all, even Christmas. Through the most unexpected sources our God has proved time and again his undeniable sovereignty over the cosmos and everyone and everything in it.
And I guess that’s why I’m writing…to remind myself that our God is still on the throne in spite of my insatiable loneliness in the absence of my wife’s affection (who can think to be affectionate when they are suffering like she is?), my frustration at having to spend Christmas at home away from extended family without a real tree (petty i know but I’m only human), my anxiety at trying to single handedly help our children focus on Christmas and not their mother’s poor health (impossible I know but I have to try). Now it’s not like God hasn’t already gone above and beyond for us especially this Christmas, providing a magnificently large stocking full of unexpected gifts many loving saints went out of their way to give us, the likes of which you could fit at least two of our children into, not to mention an army of gracious mothers to cook and prepare a Christmas feast for our little family in edition to taking care of their own. The truth is I really do have much to be thankful for…and I guess I needed to mention that. But in spite of all this and so many more wonderful streams of grace and provision I could mention that God has provided in this valley we are in, it is after all still very much a valley and difficult as valleys go.
It still hurts to watch my wife suffer the way that she does. It breaks my heart how unsympathetic I can be, how brainless or clueless I can be when she needs me the most. In spite of my best efforts to care for her and bless her let alone this Christmas, the truth is I cannot really give her what she truly wants: her health. I cannot restore her body, make her hair grow in or make her nausea go away. I cannot take away her discomfort make her breathe easier or give her the last five mos she has lost back. I am utterly powerless to do anything she really needs or wants. And that is more difficult for me than I care to admit. So while God has and continues to bless our little family in this season it is still in a valley that he is doing so. It is still waiting for my wife to go through her chemo on Friday. It is still in the midst of great emotional physical and psychological suffering. And that is a reality I must accept, a reality no Christmas gift I give or receive can make go away, a reality no delicious dinner can eclipse. And that is the will of God for our family whether we choose to see it or not. I know that and believe that. The Bible even confirms it.
So why am I writing this on Christmas Eve? Maybe to give myself a reality check. Maybe to give you the reader something to be thankful for. Maybe to remind myself at the end of the day that the true meaning of Christmas is not gifts or trees or family or even friends. It is not showing love or being loved. It is not warm feelings or lovely songs, treats or memories. It is about a fallen world that the God of the universe loved so much he intentionally sacrificed his own Son to redeem it. It is about a little human baby being God incarnate waiting to willfully and joyfully sacrifice himself so that the creation His Father loves can be redeemed, redeemed from all the sickness and death that plagues it, the sin that corrupts and distorts it and the devil that manipulates and destroys it. Maybe at the end of the day God loves my wife and I so much that He decided in edition to saving us from His own deserved wrath he would put us through this awful season to deepen and refine our perspective of the redemptive reality Christmas was always meant to magnify and reflect. Maybe so I could write this in the middle of my own personal heartbreak and you the reader could benefit from it. Who really knows but him?
I only know that on this lonely Christmas Eve with my wife asleep in our bed struggling to sleep, and our three children waiting for the morning to come as quickly as possible that this daddy needed to pour out his soul somewhere in the hope that his own (though minuscule in comparison to his wife’s own but still no less painful) suffering is not in vain and can be used to the glory of God quite in spite of himself. He needed to express if only to himself the reality that this season is no less painful because of a great flowing river of grace and that grace is no less magnificent just because this season of misery in the valley is so awful.
I know it’s Christmas Eve. And on Christmas Eve we try to think of pleasant things. But on this Christmas Eve night I have been confronted once again with the horrors of chemo therapy and the destruction it has wreaked on my wife’s already fragile body. I have been confronted with the reality of the gospel. I have been confronted with my own inadequacy and the supremacy of Christ. I have been confronted with the true meaning of Christmas and the baubles and trinkets I tend to replace it with. I have been confronted with reality. And as painful as it is I am grateful for it. I can think of no more practical gift one can receive on Christmas Eve from their maker than to be confronted with their own desperate need for him and the glorious love he chooses to lavish on His children in that need. So if you take nothing from what I have written up till now please take this.
On this Christmas look at the people you are surrounded by, the gifts around your tree, the wonderful ways that God has shown you favor through the year and remember you deserve none of it. Neither do I. And we would have none of it if the Son of God did not condescend to take the form of a human embryo, become subject to the physical limitations of an ordinary lowly human being and die in our place. It is because of his unfathomable sacrifice before and during the cross that people like my wife (and others like her) can have hope in the midst of the most unthinkable suffering. It is because of His sacrifice that this time of year has meaning.  It is because of the enduring practical gracious love of the godhead that I can write this exhortation on Christmas Eve instead of feeling sorry for myself. It is because of that little baby in Bethlehem that you can read this and benefit from what I have written in it.
Merry Christmas who ever you are. I love you and pray that the love I have experienced in this valley will spill over into your life as well. It may be a valley I am in but the grace of God is no less tangible and real in it. You may be in a valley yourself and it may hurt something fierce. And that hurt may definitely be valid. But I guarantee you that if you are in Christ there is a river waiting for you in it. Don’t give in to the bitterness or self pity of your heart. Don’t be robbed by the deceiver into thinking you have nothing. Find that river which God has provided for you in your circumstance and drink from it even if it is only the remembrance of who Christ is and what He did for you and I. I guarantee you that is enough to satisfy you in the depths of your soul in whatever valley are in right now if you will only be willing to see it. Lord bless you and make His face to shine upon you this coming year. Remember if only by God in Christ, you are loved more deeply than you could ever comprehend. And that my friend is more than enough.

As for Cindy’s current health situation:

The results of her bronchoscope were negative for infection. It turns out that the damage is really the result of the bliomyicin in her chemo cocktail.
As a result they have put her on prednisone for the next two weeks or so to help w her breathing & lung function. Her last chemo minus the bliomyicin will be on the ninth. Then the lung dr is scheduled to check up on her a few days later. Sometime after that she has to go to a bone marrow specialist to see if she will need a bone marrow transplant. Depending on the results of that meeting they will monitor her for reoccurrence in the future. But that’s only if all goes according to plan. And as we have seen nothing hardly ever does. So your prayers are appreciated.

Baby’s first Christmas

A Few Simple Prayer Requests:

For Cindy as she endures the side effects of the prednisone she has to take for her lung issues

For the boys as they adjust to mommie’s breathing issues
For daddy as he takes on more responsibility in the home
For the grandparents as they continue to travel back and forth to help

And finally for Cindy’s body & mind as she takes her Final chemo treatment on the 9th of JanuaryThank you and Lord bless you this coming new year! We are grateful for your enduring love and support:)-Chris & Cindy

The boys being blessed by our Secret Angels!