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About The Author

The Family Bible Plan is written by Shelley Withem. Shelley currently lives in Anchorage, Alaska with her husband, Ron, and their youngest Son, Andrew. She currently has 5 grandchildren who live in Phoenix with her two older sons and daughters-in-law. Shelley has taught music, Bible, math, and humanities to many children through lessons, tutoring, and home school group. She graduated in 1975 from Western Baptist College (Now Corban University). Shelley is known for her love of family, music, scripture, and God.

Shelley’s Testimony

I was born and raised in Yakima, WA. Christ called me into His familywhen I was 5. I came from a Christian family, so church and serving the Lord was a part of my upbringing. I chose to go to a Christian college to get my degree in music and there met my husband Ron. We married and things were going great; I didn’t even know that safety nets were needed. My balancing act of life was lived on the safety of level ground. Then the Lord intervened in 1987 and since then…life’s been a circus!
Ron and I were eagerly expecting the imminent arrival of our third child. We already had 2 sons, Rob – 10 and Michael – 5. We figured one more would make our family perfect. I went in for a routine sonogram (they were fairly new back then) and since this was my first one I didn’t realize they usually don’t have every nurse and doctor in the facility come and look at the images. They quickly sent me back tomy doctor and the first sense of unease took hold of me when I was ushered straight into his office – usually it was at least an hour wait to get in! He came in and gave me horrifying news. My baby had a severe case of hydrocephalus (this used to be called water on the brain– cerebral fluid builds up and doesn’t drain – causing brain damage) – infact they thought the baby might have no brain at all.
I was devastated. I went home and shared the news with my family. I had an emergency C-section that night and Andrew Mark Withem came
into the world. What followed were some of the worst times of ourlives. Andrew immediately was airlifted to a Seattle hospital (we wereliving in WA at the time) and had shunt surgery. Several weeks later hehad extensive brain surgery in an attempt to close the skull around hishideously expanded head. The doctors gave us little hope – they said it was the worst case they had ever seen. He would probably have to beput in an institution. One nurse told Ron that usually parents of these kinds of children never even come to the hospital to see them – the babies immediately become wards of the state.
My easy life was over and miracles were nowhere in sight. I did not handle this well. I had come to accept Christ as my Savior as a youngchild and had tried to follow Him as much as I could. I had attendeda Bible college, where I met Ron, I graduated and was serving as the worship leader and choir director at our church. Our kids went to a Christian school – I had done everything that I thought God wanted.Why was this happening to me?? I was angry, afraid and heartbroken.
During this time I began to hear God clearly and completely for the first time in my life. You see, God had (I didn’t realize this until much later)prepared me for this time. Just the year before I had realized my walkwith God was predictable, dull and lifeless. I had asked God to changeme – to really make me what He wanted – no matter the cost. God already knew He was sending Andrew to us, but He wanted my heartto be ready – He was the One who had given me the thirst for a deeper knowledge of Him.
I came to realize that I had two choices in my situation – I could walkaway from God and all that I had said I believed or I could rely on Him– to see if He was really enough. Could He get us through what to mewas the worst thing that could happen to a mother? We were told that marriages with a disabled child had a 50% chance of failure – now that number has risen to over 90%! So I worried about our marriage. I worried about the effect a seriously disabled child in our home wouldhave on Rob and Michael. I worried about how we would keep ourinsurance – I worried and worried and worried. BUT God was faithful.I clung to the verse God gave me during those difficult months whenAndrew went through multiple surgeries: Deuteronomy 31:6, “Bestrong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified… for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
After all the surgeries we finally brought Andrew home – a pathetic,weak barely alive scrap of humanity with a huge head that had tobe protected at all costs. We hadlittle hope of being able to care for this child. We were armed with dismaying statistics and prognoses – Andrew had a 50% chance ofdeveloping epilepsy and/or cerebral palsy. He might never walk and hewould have little brain function. However, we were also armed withthe knowledge that Jesus would never fail us. He gave us the strength to get through each day – that is what He promised. God IS able to dowhat He says – we experienced that and we continue to experiencethat through the miracle that is Andrew.
You see as the days and months went by the prayers that had goneup for this our sweet little boy were being answered as we saw himgrow and develop. Little by little the promise of a young man who would learn, laugh and love the Lord was seen. Andrew’s case has actually been called a miracle by his neurosurgeon in Phoenix. Actually, though, the real miracle of Andrew is what God did in my life and the lives of all of us as a result of this trial that actually turned into a treasure.
Today Andrew is 23 years old and has endured much with grace,perseverance and a fantastic sense of humor. Actually,that’s the meaning of “Andrew” – enduring. Things haven’t been easy – he did develop both epilepsy and a mild case of cerebral palsy and he has dealt with multiple learning disabilities. Yet he finished high school and has had a job at a daycare for children with disabilities. He also volunteers with the kids’ ministry at our church and at thelocal hospital. He was baptized in March 08, 2009. Rob and Michael, his older brothers, have said that the difficulties our family experienced and seeing how God worked through them is what hasmade them strong in their faith. Ron and I have been married 35 years– God is good. We wouldn’t change one thing.