Here’s the last of the common questions and answers that I hear as I speak.
- Why did you write this book which exposed your life and thoughts?
First, I feel I must tell you that writing a book was not on my bucket list. For the most part, the only thing I wrote after high school was the dreaded Christmas newsletter. It had a circulation of about one hundred (we have large families, it really isn’t that popular.) In 2008, within a week I had two strangers suggest that I write our story. One was a nurse taking our family history for a study we were in; the other person I met and shared our story during a random conversation at a trade show. Their comments were almost identical, “People need to hear that a family can survive such things and thrive. I would read it if I saw a book like that.” I gave it some thought and prayed about it. I threw out the proverbial fleece like Jason in Judges 6:37. I wrote a piece for a local contest and prayed, “If this is your will, my piece will be accepted.” After that piece went to print, I felt compelled to share our journey through mental illness, along with how it affected my faith life. It is my hope that others can glean something from our story to benefit their life. I want to bring awareness of what happens to a family when mental illness knocks them down. I want people to see that recovery is possible, even for something as serious as schizophrenia, and that my strength to deal with everything that happened to us came from the Lord. I just had to ask for it.
- How is Amber doing now? (caution: extremely proud mom about to take over for the next two paragraphs)
I’m so proud of her. Since 2004, she worked hard to achieve goals that sometimes Roy and I felt were too lofty. But she pushed herself, sometimes too hard, and had to scale back. But that drive propelled her to where she is today. Amber recovered and has remained there for over eight years. Today, she lives two hours from us in a beautiful apartment. She works full-time, manages all of her own medical needs and finances, plus leads a social life that makes me tired. I tell her often that I think she should be the poster child for schizophrenia. To say she doesn’t struggle would be a disservice to her, because she does. She has limitations and continually readjusts things in her life. She tires easily and needs quiet time each day. She may have a down day, just like the rest of us, but her down days are much harder than mine. Yet, she gets back up and tries again. The prayer I asked others to pray all those years ago was answered. She understands her illness and that medication must be taken daily. Yes, I’m extremely proud of her.
- How are the rest of your family doing now?
I’m proud of our three boys and their families, too. All of them continue to thrive. Melinda receives a clean bill of health regularly at her cancer screenings. Both Mitchell and Melinda enjoy their jobs – I hear wonderful things about them both from those who work with them. Mitchell continues to research new ideas just as he did to help us when Amber got sick. Carter, now a teenager, stays active with school and sport activities. Madelyn, a tween, also stays active with school, sports, and she loves to cook and sew. Wesley and Suzanne both found jobs that allows them to use their talents and abilities. Wesley has had several promotions in the past few years. Ella, almost a tween keeps them busy with her studies and interest in drama. She also cooks and sews with me when she visits. Clinton met his wife and soulmate, , Evelyn, several years ago. Together, they follow their dreams, work hard for their careers, and have amazing adventures. Last, but not least, Roy continues to farm, an occupation that he loves. So, we are all doing wonderful. End of brag.
- Will you write a sequel or do you have plans for more books?
No, I don’t plan a sequel. Amber continues to stay in recovery and I wish to keep that part of her life private.
Yes, I’m working on a collection of stories with some humor, and/or lessons that I’ve learned throughout my life. I think God prepared me for the hard years by showering me with grace. Throughout my life, I learned how to deal with situations that I encountered. Those skills helped me to handle the hard years when they came.
I also have several ideas for novels that sometimes wake me up at night or fill my brain as I drive. I record my ideas for future use. At this point in my life, I try to listen to the Holy Spirit for guidance on the path to follow. So, as they say, “To be determined…”