The Rozenburg’s discuss their daily struggle as parents to a child suffering through substance abuse.
Steve Rozenburg: Our daughter Shannon is presently in a rehab facility. Shannon has had a real run with substance abuse. She has been through 8 rehabs. We have expended the vast majority of our savings for retirement along the way to try to salvage what we thought we could for her. When we knew that we couldn’t control anything about anything in our lives or hers, that’s when we pretty much just had to seek help from someone.
Narrator: Steve Rozenburg is a member of Grapevine First United Methodist Church in Texas, along with his wife Donna. All three of their children have struggled with substance abuse. Cindy Ryan, pastor at Grapevine UMC, recalls their first meeting.
Cindy Ryan: Steve and Donna came to me, made an appointment and just said, “We need to talk to you.” I didn’t know them or their story and when they came to me and told me their story about their three kids who all had difficult problems and then the daughter, Shannon who was missing. They basically said to me, “We know we’re not going to find her anytime soon and we know she’s got big problems but what do we do? What do we do in the meantime? And what about God? What about faith?”
Narrator: In today’s Experience Jesus Calling podcast, we continue with stories from individual members of First United Methodist Church in Grapevine, TX, who each share their personal experiences about the impact Jesus Calling on their lives.
Donna and Steve Rozenburg married in 1988 and started attending Grapevine UMC with their blended family. They recount their journey through the addictions of each of their children and the brokenness that led them to finally reach out for help.
Donna Rozenburg: My name is Donna Rozenburg. Being raised going to church, that was just the norm. We went to church every Sunday, brought the kids.
We didn’t really get too much involved as much as I would have liked, but we did our Sunday, attending every Sunday.
When we came to church community on Sunday before, we would be the, get in there, it’s over, let’s get out before somebody asks us how we’re doing.
My oldest son Brandon started struggling after his girlfriend died and became heavily addicted to drugs.
Steve: When she died in the car accident, that was pretty much all it took for Brandon to go off the deep end. It was very painful to watch and it was very hard for us to understand not having had that type of a background and not knowing really how to deal with that. Just seeing him disintegrate right before our eyes, basically.
Donna: Brandon was artistic. He loved sports. He wanted to be on any sports team in school. He was very involved in anything that had to do with sports. Overall he had friends, and very well-liked. Just a really normal kid.
Sean is the middle child. He was the clown of the family. Very smart. When he was little, he would act like Johnny Carson, I thought that what he would end up doing. He had a way with words.
We started struggling with him when he was 16, basically skipping school and hanging out with the wrong crowd, got into drugs and alcohol. We tried him out on a rehab, didn’t work.
Steve: Peer pressure really came to bear for Sean. He got into and wanted to be at all costs, part of the ‘crew’. They got in some mischief issues, then that led all the way up through full substance abuse issues that were uncontrollable for him as well.
Donna: Shannon is the very youngest, and she is 25 years old. She’s a very compassionate person. She would be the one, [who] would see somebody at the lunch table in middle school that nobody would sit by and she would go over there because she didn’t want them to be alone.
When Sean and Brandon were struggling, of course, she was 10-years old watching all this. That was the furthest thing from my mind that she would go down that road. So [the] first time we started seeing the big struggle was when she started high school. Then you start getting in your cliques. She got a boyfriend, and that boyfriend was her whole world. So she got involved with him, and that’s when we started to see the little clues of smoking and drinking and drugs.
Steve: It basically culminated with the use of heroin at the behest of one of her so-called friends. That’s when we finally discovered it, when Donna discovered it. That’s what led to her first trip to rehab.
Donna: We had gone to Colorado to see Brandon for his treatment for MS. As we were there, Shannon went with us. When we came home that night, she had gone off to do an errand and I had found in her purse that she had syringes in her purse… stunned. At that point I told Steve, “We’re going to have to send her to rehab.” And she talked us out of that and said of course excuses, it’s not mine, I only did it once, and just continued on. Then her boyfriend had called me about a week later and said ‘Shannon was trying to get into his apartment and I just want to break up with her, she’s doing drugs. She’s threatening to kill herself.’
Steve: Later in rehab, we found out that she endured not only physical but emotional trauma and had become addicted to heroin for a period of about 8 months.
She did go through several more programs. Finally, we had to gather her up as she left one of them against medical advice. She traveled across several states with 2 young men.
She would call us periodically, at that time, maybe every few days and make up a story and tell us this or that and she was fine and she was actually actively using at that time. That’s when things really came to a head for us.
Narrator: The Rozenburgs were at the end of their rope. Shannon had been through 8 rehabs, and each time would return to her drug problem, which grew more severe by the day. Not knowing their daughter’s location to be able to help her brought Donna and Steve to an even lower place. Defeated and losing hope, the Rozenburgs decided to they couldn’t handle this alone and reached out to Cindy Ryan at the church for guidance.
Cindy: Steve and Donna came to me, made an appointment and just said, “We need to talk to you.” So I didn’t know them or their story and when they came to me and told me their story about their three kids who all had difficult problems and then the daughter, Shannon who was missing. And They basically said to me, “We know we’re not going to find her anytime soon and we know she’s got big problems but what do we do?
We talked about how little we can control and then I just I recommended to them what had helped me, which was Jesus Calling. And I said, you just got to get this book. It will help you. It will calm you down it will remind you to stay on the present day. It will help give you scriptures that you can pull on. It’s a resource that I think will really help. You can read it together.
Steve: She talked to us at length and we came up with a plan that we had done everything basically we could, that it was out of our hands, that it was in God’s hands, and to do a lot of praying. Here, by the way, is an idea for you, and that was a recommendation for a small book that she referenced called Jesus Calling. And that’s where our story starts with Jesus Calling.
Donna: It was late that night and we got in the car. I said, “Do you want to go get the book?” and he said, “Well, it’s kinda late.” The next day kinda went by went by and the next day. All of a sudden we just happened to be somewhere to where I looked up and there is a Barnes & Noble. I said, “Let’s get the book.” Steve’s in the car and I go running in. I see lots of copies of this book. I said okay, this must be the one. I bought the one book, I came home and it’s changed our lives.
Steve: It was concise and it just gave a great punch of a message in a short amount of time. It was something that was easy to digest and it wasn’t too much to try to digest. It was something that we felt like we could deal with in a daily span. It just worked out well for us.
Donna: When I started reading this, it simplified everything. It just spoke to me. It was spot on. Every day would be spot on. For whatever situation I was going through, it just worked for me. Then the Scripture readings, it would make me go to my Bible and I would read it, and then I would start reading a little after and a little before it.
Steve: Jesus Calling made it possible for me to really relate to people on a different level. I feel like that I had been swallowing a lot of things for a lot of years. When people would really ask how are you doing, it was always a pat answer of ‘fine’. And really I found it much easier to tell people, well, things aren’t really fine, this is really what’s going on. If you have a minute, I’d be glad to tell you about it. That just led to more conversations that we found things in common that we didn’t know we shared.
I would say it felt like a tire that you just let all the air out of. It just was such a relief to finally have it all out there for someone else to hear at least the situation that we were in. As we came to know through Cindy and others, we weren’t the only ones that were facing issues. Although not the same, there were many issues and many families. We felt much more relieved and much more in tune with what we needed to do and how we could deal with our own lives.
Donna: As we were reading Jesus Calling every day. It was just a ritual every morning. And then I realized our story wasn’t much different from a lot of people. As we opened up just little by little, just opening up to Cindy was able to just start the process. That’s where I got in mind, I thought, if this book can do this for me, just think if Cindy could have a basket full of books. So when people come in that don’t have money or don’t have the time, people tell you go get a book, go get this book and go get that book. But the actual fact of just having the book right there and just hand it to you. And I thought, if she thinks it’s okay, I’m just going to get a whole bunch of books and take it to her and hopefully she can pass these out and maybe we’re not the only people with problems.
Narrator: Donna and Steve’s journey through their children’s addiction was far from over. But through their pain, they were able to reach out and reconnect with their church family and find hope for the future. Again, Cindy Ryan:
Cindy: I think it was weeks or months later that they came back and said, ‘We still haven’t found our daughter but thank you so much for recommending Jesus Calling because it made all the difference’. Then it was weeks after that, maybe even months more that they called and said ‘We found her. She called. She’s really hit bottom. She’s really addicted but we’re going to go get her and take her to rehab.’
Donna: On our way to Florida, taking Shannon to rehab, Shannon saw Jesus Calling in the floorboard of the car. And she asked me, “What is that book.” I said, “It’s Jesus Calling.” She said, “Oh, I have heard of that book “How did you hear of that book?” She said, “A lot of people had that book in rehab.” And I said, “well, Cindy Ryan had told us about it and we got it. It’s really spot on every day. Shannon, you really ought to read it.”
I looked at Steve, and it was my first copy. it was kind of meaningful to me. He just looked at me and I handed it to her and I said, “Well, it’s yours now.” To this day, [through] many ups and downs and where she’s been, she still has my book.
Steve: It’s a process. It’s led to a lot of prayer, a lot of opening up, again that we have never experienced. The resources that we have found through Jesus Calling, through our church, through prayer that we have expanded in our minds and our hearts just a great depth to our lives that we previously hadn’t experienced. Something we never anticipated led to many many good things and hopefully will lead to more, that’s what we’re hopeful for.
Donna: It’s real strange, because when all of these kids go through rehab, a lot of them have just been successful, all they talk about is giving back, giving back. I get it, but now I really get it. When you’ve gone through so much and you have so much to share with somebody else, if I can give anybody any glimpse of hope that there is life at the end of the tunnel, then it just made me… it’s changed my whole perspective on I never thought years to come that I would ever want to be just thinking of things other than retirement or whatever people normally do — go to some city in Florida and sit on a beach and retire. All I can think about is wanting to help people and give back to people and share what I have gone through to help someone else.
Steve: I feel like there has been many opportunities for me to do things for others that normally I wouldn’t have been able to do through the grace of God.
I had experienced a very bad car wreck and probably shouldn’t be here more than once. So, I feel like that I’m here to support Donna, help bring my children back into the fold as much as God will allow and God is willing and to provide whatever I can for other people in terms of helping them find their way or comforting them along the way.
Donna: Shannon was struggling and had called us about, she didn’t know what she was going to do about moving. Steve said, “I wonder if she’s read Jesus Calling today.” And so I pulled it out and screenshot a picture of it and sent it to her. And she said, “That’s exactly what I needed to hear.” A portion of it was,
Thankfulness opens your heart to My presence and your mind to My thoughts. You may be still in the same place with the same set of circumstances that it is if a light has been switched on, enabling you to see my perspective. It is the light of my presence that removes the sting from adversity.
That just sums up what she was going through that day.
Steve: Shannon is doing well for the most part. She is clean and sober. We are 6 months out now as of a few days ago. She’s living in a sober home. She is employed full-time. She is paying bills, which is a new thing for her. She is not totally self-sufficient but she has taken giant strides. But we know with the help of Jesus Calling and our church family and God, that we will be able to make it on our own. We feel that we’re all moving in a positive direction.
Donna: Jesus Calling has given me hope that I never had before. It’s taught me trust and I can’t do it all myself. I’ve always been the fixer person to try to fix everybody’s situation. It’s out of my hands. I know that now. That’s what gives me peace.
Narrator: The Rozenburgs put their faith in God and found peace, even in the most dire of circumstances. Their desire is that others find the same peace they’ve found and through their faithfulness, have provided Jesus Calling books through the church for those who are looking for hope in their own circumstances.
Again, Cindy Ryan.
Cindy: Their story is still difficult. It’s not finished. It’s been years long in the struggle but they really began by giving the book to me and giving it to other people, sort of that same kind of step of faith that just has caused ripples that we’re just now seeing the results of.
Narrator: It is those ripples that swept through this congregation and touched numerous lives. In the coming weeks we’ll hear about the impact that Steve and Donna’s faithfulness to share their Jesus Calling experience has had on so many, and how they also found hope and peace in its pages.
Next time on the Experiencing Jesus Calling Podcast…we hear from another family at Grapevine United Methodist with their touching story of the legacy of a mother’s love.
Monica: My name is Monica Wicke. I have been attending First United Methodist Church of Grapevine my whole life. Amy Wicke was more than just my mom, she was my confidant and my best friend.
Brent: My name is Brent Wicke and my mom was my best friend as well. I was four years old when my mom was diagnosed with brain cancer, and I was very young. I just knew my mom was sick. I didn’t know how severe it was.
Monica: She told me that she wasn’t afraid to die, and that’s a very scary thing to hear as a child from your mom, but it’s so beautiful because she was so at peace with everything, and that’s the legacy she wanted to leave, and that’s the impact she leaves on me. To just know that even if things aren’t going the way you want them to, that it’s going to be okay.
Narrator: The story of one woman’s exceptional life, her love for her family, and the tangible gift her children are giving today, because of the peace she found in the pages of Jesus Calling…next time on the Experience Jesus Calling Podcast.
Our excerpt from Jesus Calling for this show comes from the November 24th entry:
Thankfulness opens your heart to My presence, and your mind to My thoughts. You may still be in the same place with the same set of circumstances, but it is as if a light has been switched on, enabling you to see from My perspective. It is this light of My presence that removes the sting from adversity.
Do you have an experience with Jesus Calling that has had an impact on your life? We’d love to hear from you. Visit jesuscalling.com and share your story with us.