January 4, 2019
My house still looks like Christmas. Decorations adorn the mantel, the lighted trees still bring a smile to my face, and the nativity sets remind me why I celebrate Christmas. I bask in the joy of the season until January 6, the feast of the Epiphany when my faith remembers the three wise who came bearing gifts for the infant, Jesus.
I remember a past Christmas as I look to the new year ahead. Now, I see it with clarity. I understand why things happened the way it did. I can see how my actions affected the situation. Let me explain.
Fourteen years ago, the joy of the Christmas season eluded me. Our daughter lived in the clutches of schizophrenia as her brain betrayed her. She lived in a world of paranoia, fear, and confusion. We’d moved her back home with us, but we didn’t understand what she faced. Our Christmas celebrations teetered between explosive and devastating as her brain disorder caused her to fling unfounded accusations at family members. Fears of a disjointed family unit swirled in my thoughts. Would our family unit survive? How do we survive?
We sought help from others who’d walked a similar path before us. We didn’t turn against each other. Instead, we worked together to find her the treatment and support she needed. Friends and family lifted our spirits as they assured us of their prayers as they visited us and Amber when she spent weeks in a hospital, brought her small gifts, and someone even brought a casserole to lighten our load.
As I look back, I know God worked through them and we weren’t alone, even though I felt like it. Over the next few years, Amber learned about her illness, accepted it, and the treatment she needed for long-term recovery. Fourteen years later, and I continue to thank God for the miracle of her recovery. She works full-time, has a social life, and makes me proud with her determination to give back to the world around her.
Because of my experience, I developed a new purpose. I want to reach out to other families caught in the snares of mental illness. I want to walk beside them and give them hope. This month, support groups resume in our area and I plan to attend the sessions. Together, we can learn more about the brain and how to help our loved ones – and ourselves in the process.
In a quest to grow as a person, I set some goals for 2019:
- I continue to write a daily devotional book where I deal with mental illness. In it, I think about Bible verses and the lessons I’ve learned about faith as I struggle with the messiness of life. I strive to steady my gaze on the Lord and invite readers to join me. I don’t know if a publisher will pick it up. I hope it happens. Plan B and Plan C bounce around in my head if it doesn’t.
- Last year, I started my first novel. I vowed to finish it this year. I’m excited to see how the story ends.
- My TBR (To Be Read) pile looms above me on my bookshelf by my chair. My list to read this year includes biographies, fiction, and spiritual enrichment. Nonfiction/Biographies: Crazy by Pete Early; Fiction: a couple of novels by Lisa Wingate that I picked up at a yard sale, Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Relly, Orphan Train, and Last Girl Seen by Nina Laurin; Spiritual Enrichment: Thomas Merton, Miracles in Our Midst, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, Having a Mary Spirit in a Martha World, and several books of prayer reflections. When I read a variety of authors, I learn more about the craft.
- Last month, I started on an organization spree for my house. It’s something that no one else notices, but it sure makes me feel wonderful to have nooks and crannies in a neat order. I plan to continue until I make it through each closet. It may take more than this year, but I’ll stay calm and carry on.
- I want to improve my stamina. My children gave me a wrist device to check my steps, etc. I get up and walk when it tells me I’ve sat too long. My last goal for 2019 is to meet the daily challenge it gives me in steps and stairs. So far, so good. Only 361 days to go.
Thanks for stopping.
Bye for now.