“A family went on a mission trip and came back and felt like they couldn’t go back to life as usual. They felt that God had wanted them to sell their things and go on the road to do acts of random kindness,” Joyce recollected of the article. “It was really penetrating and moved us all as a family. We thought if somebody else had done it, we could do it, too.”
“We knew we had to make a decision,” Glen said. “Can we really do this?”
In early spring the family made their decision. Next came the hard part. There were vehicles to be sold, a house to be leased, a beloved pet dog to be given away, an RV to be purchased and everything to be sold. Now, some 16 yard sales later, almost everything has been crossed off their to-do list (they still need to sell a 2001 Dodge Caravan so they can purchase a truck).
“It is very overwhelming. There’s a lot to take care of: not just changing your physical surroundings, but you’re changing the spiritual and emotional part, too,” Glen said. “It’s the right time, it really is. It has all worked one piece at a time. It’s totally on faith.”
The Rosemans have been married almost 22 years, hold degrees in music and have worked as music teachers as well as serving churches in worship for many years. Glen has faced mental illness since he was a young man.
“He has dealt with this for 20 years, and our marriage is functioning, and we have three great kids. He takes pills every day,” Joyce said. “I believe that God can heal just like that, but God also heals through medication and a process.”
The family’s basic goal is to help restore dignity to those with mental illness.
“When you talk about mental illness in public, saying the words out loud helps remove some of the stigma and stereotypes in our present culture,” Joyce said. “When you step forward as a family and tell your life story, that creates an avenue for people who are struggling who do not yet have a diagnosis.
“When they hear the story of somebody who has survived and come out on the other side, it gives them an opportunity to say. ‘Hey, I can relate to their story,’ and step out and speak. It gives the public the opportunity to understand that these people are legitimate.
“There is no such thing as normal. We are all different but all created in the image of God and that gives us dignity,” Joyce said.
The Rosemans plan to stay about a month in each town they visit. “That’s why we became mobile, so we could meet people where they’re at,” Joyce said. “Once the camper sits down, we’re there for 30 days,” Glen reiterated.
The Rosemans plan to speak at churches and colleges and to various civic groups. They maintain relationships with the National Alliance for Mental Illness and the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance.
“We have put together a Hope-Compassion Program designed to be taught in a Sunday school format for churches. It will help to educate churches on how to respond to the needs of people with mental illness,” she added.
They will use a variety of formats to make their presentations, including art galleries, witnessing and singing.
“People with mental illness are usually very creative. A lot of them are fantastic artists, writers, poets and sculptors,” Kyrsten said. “So we will work to display the artwork of these people in their community.(Glen has created a line of jewelry, Strung Up, using recycled guitar strings, which the family designs and sells to help raise support for Concerts of Hope Incorporated, a nonprofit 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization. The Internet address for their jewelry is www.thecreativeartist.etsy.com.)
“Dad will speak and share his life story, and Mom will offer the care-giving side. And we all have done a lot of singing together,” said Kyrsten, who described their music as inspirational and Christian contemporary.
The daughters, who had been home schooled for most of their formative years, have said goodbye to their Lebanon High schoolmates for now (Kaitlyn is a junior and Kourtney a sophomore).
“I think it will be really fun to travel and a great experience learning and seeing different sights, but I will miss playing soccer,” Kaitlyn said.
“I think it’s really exciting because we get to go to a lot of different places and meet a lot of different people,” Kourtney said. “It opens the mind to new things and experiences.”
For Kyrsten, a social butterfly, she said, “The hardest part for me is knowing I won’t be able to hang out with my friends any more.”
“It’s unscripted for sure,” Joyce said. “We plan to be in Florida for the winter, and after that we’re not sure where we are going to end up. We’re taking this a year at time. If it goes like we hope, it may be a lifestyle, a long-time thing.”
Ken Beck may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.