Merry Christmas 2019 from the Rostek Family!


Writing our Christmas letter is always an exercise in gratitude; 2019 was no different, there is so much to be grateful for this year!

This year felt like a pivotal year.  Rayna learned to ride a bike, we got rid of our stroller and booster seats at the dinner table.  No more soother for Allison. The kids sleep through the night for the most part AND WE BOUGHT A HOUSE (which 6 months later feels like the perfect house and feels like a lot of learning figuring out how to stay on top of house and yard maintenance!)!  Our kids are growing up and so are we!

Seven year old Rayna absolutely LOVES reading.  She is devouring thick novels in rapid succession, delighted by fantasies and mysteries.  She also played soccer and started taking piano lessons this year, though she says she doesn’t like doing either; she would prefer to be playing with her friends or reading a book.  Rayna takes pride in being a good example and teacher for her siblings and rises well to the task.  She is a responsible, thoughtful and mindful child.

Four year old Allison loves barbies, princesses, soft stuffies, snuggling, drawing, giving musical performances in our living room, and whining when she doesn’t get her way or when she has to do work.  She played soccer this year with variable levels of interest.  She enjoys time with her 2 closest friends at Treehouse, the daycare she attends, and is starting to take a keen interest in writing her letters.  Allison is a feisty delight!

Four year old Garrett likes to have a job to do.  He is our resident dishwasher emptier and always ready to take on a task.  He provides the capable means to the plans he and Allison innocently scheme up.  He likes being rough and wrestling with his older sister.  During soccer, his favorite position often was sitting in the net.  He LOVES being Dad’s helper and using his “tools” alongside dad.  He plays with many different kids at Treehouse and also enjoys drawing and stickers.  Garrett is easy going, energetic and loud, and full of so many hugs and kisses at bedtime.

My physical health is excellent right now.  I enjoy running a couple times a week, playing soccer in fall and (now in a house) have begun an at-home strengthening routine.  I still struggle with anxiety and work hard to take care of my emotional and spiritual well-being.  Furthermore, in September Ryan built me a website ( and I started focusing on writing my memoir, the story of my cancer journey, with the intent of actively and publicly sharing this journey.  In order to do so I have begun engaging the “cancer world” through social media.  I feel the call on my life to share my story in order to encourage and bring hope to others.  This has been both difficult and fruitful for me.    I wrestle with letting go of my “old life” and pressing in to this new brave challenge; however the more I press in, the more amazed I am at how therapeutic this is for me.  We are grateful that right now my condition is stable and that my MRIs are now at a 6 month interval.

This year has been a challenge for Ryan.  Starting with the birth of our twins and continuing through the chaotic trauma of when I was acutely sick and through what I call the wilderness and uncertainty of my remission, our family has been in a “holding pattern”.  It has been difficult to relearn how to press forward in life and to determine how many business changes and “risks” Ryan should take with my uncertain prognosis. However, he has begun making the necessary changes and progress for his business, The Blind Factory.  This is scary and exciting!  Furthermore, Ryan loves playing pickleball regularly, and also recently began leading the worship music at our church.  Also, we were gifted a piano shortly after buying our house and Ryan loves to sit down and just play.


Our family loves going on little adventures.  Despite the big move from our condo into a house in June, we enjoyed several excursions this year.  In January we met my sister and her family at West Edmonton Mall.  Ryan’s parents who love West Ed came along too.  The cousins (and adults!!) enjoyed waterslides, rides and fun theme rooms.

February our family met up in California with our friends Brad and Ashley and their kids.  The weather was cool but that didn’t stop us from having a blast.  We still went to the beach (though only Brad and Ryan went in the water!).  The USS Midway Museum was interesting and Garrett likes looking back at our pictures and remembering the fighter jets.  The highlight however was LegoLand!  We stayed at the LegoLand hotel for 2 nights, which was AMAZING!  There were nightly kids’ dance parties, lego building competitions, and the rooms were an absolute dream for the kids!  We capped off our California time with a couple days just our family enjoying hotel time and scenic beach time in La Jolla.

In June I traveled to Winnipeg.  I had fun celebrating my youngest cousin’s wedding (who was a flower girl in my wedding!) and reconnecting with extended family.  I was also able to spend time at my friend Rebekah’s, who I hadn’t seen for a couple years, and to meet in person for the first time, my friend Charlene.  This became an extra sweet memory I cherish since Charlene passed away in November.

In summer we enjoyed our annual road trip to Saskatchewan.  Since we had just moved it was somewhat an abbreviated trip.  We celebrated my Dad’s 70th birthday in Swift Current with extended family, popped in for a quick visit to Brad and Ashley’s, and had a delightful week at Camp Oshkidee.  We wrapped up our road trip with a couple nights in Edmonton with Brad and Ashley.

In November I flew with Rayna and Allison to Alberta to visit my sister and her family and spend some time with my friend Sarah who just had knee surgery.  Sarah and I had a delightful escape to Canmore for a night.

We also enjoyed many mini events through out the year: Going to Harrison Hot Springs with Ryan’s family twice, my mom visiting twice, movie in the park, Cultus Lake days, community fairy garden rebuild, going to the circus, numerous family hikes and nature walks, and celebrating birthdays and Cheryl’s 3 year survivor anniversary.

This Christmas my heart is full of so much good stuff and also aware of so much difficult stuff.  Life is not straight-forward and it is difficult.  This is why Christmas is so important to me; I celebrate the arrival of the Divine, of something so much bigger than me. I celebrate the good news that all those times I find myself “not enough” there is One who is enough.  I celebrate the arrival of the One who is gracious, never-ending merciful love.  I celebrate the One who says, “What is impossible from a human perspective is possible with God.” (Luke 18:27) I celebrate the One who calls me to live boldly, courageously, daring.  I celebrate the One who promises to go with me and to empower me.  I celebrate the One who says, “Cheryl, I’ve got your back!”  I celebrate the One who turns logic on its head and who praises humility.  I celebrate the One who is my anchor, my stronghold and the primary reason that I am thriving despite all my circumstances.

I invite you, if you have never encountered this sort of spiritual renewal but are in need of empowerment, love, hope, joy, peace, grace and serenity – this season look for Jesus and you won’t be disappointed.

However you find yourself celebrating (or grieving) Christmas this year, I wish you a peace-filled, joyous season full of hope and expectation of all the goodness ahead this upcoming year.

Merry Christmas

Ryan and Cheryl Rostek
Rayna, Garrett, and Allison.