Category Archives: Life Issues

Diving Into A Sea of Books–Rambler–A family pushes through the fog of mental illness

Photo Credit: Pexels.com

As an avid reader, I get excited about the great number of books out there to read, either for entertainment, education, inspiration or with some books, all three. The quantity available in print, audio, and e-books reminds me of the vast amount of life in the oceans, so I call these book reviews “Diving Into A Sea of Books”. As with diving into an ocean looking for interesting objects, diving into books means you come across mixed results: over here, a book you don’t bother to finish, over there, a “treasure”–one that you like so much you can’t wait to reread it, and over there, a book you read and think, “meh”.

Caution: Possible Triggers

Last Christmas Eve I drove the four miles to church in a fog so thick everything was a whitish-gray. Familiar landmarks disappeared, swallowed up in the enveloping fog. I went off the road once.

Reading Rambler, Linda K. Schmitmeyer’s memoir of her family’s struggle with her husband’s mental illness, reminded me of that scary experience. The landmarks of family routine and roles shifted like the images at a carnival fun-house and the bonds of love were tested as her husband’s mind grew unstable in the swirling, thickening fog of mental illness. As the illness manifested itself, Steve, who had a bachelor’s degree in engineering, couldn’t concentrate on his work enough to be the chief breadwinner. He couldn’t do things that formally he had no problem with. He acted in ways far out of character. At times, Steve drove hundreds of miles away from home without telling anyone. Other times, he threatened suicide. The illness thwarted his ability to be the husband and father he wanted to be.

Linda was thrust into the new role of head of the household, while working everyday, trying to understand her husband’s condition, helping the three children understand, and grieving the life that was slipping away. In the early days, she was frustrated by Steve’s behavior, believing that he could control it. Gradually she realized her husband was not in full control of his mind.

Eventually, through months and then years of treatment, doctors diagnosed Steve as schizoaffective, after an original diagnosis of manic-depression (as bi-polar was called in the 1990’s).

Told in topical format, rather than chronologically, Rambler gives a first-hand account of a family’s life in the midst of mental illness, of trying to hold it together when it feels as though the ground underneath is sliding away.

Because of the subject matter, Rambler can be a painful read at times. Ultimately, it is instructive and life-affirming.

It is instructive because the book points out a correct diagnosis takes time, as does finding the appropriate medication and dosage. Any medication has side effects, and those must be dealt with.

The book shows the approach that doesn’t help: insisting that the person can beat this, if he tries. Mental illness doesn’t result from a lack of willpower. Nor is it a character flaw. More and more research proves it is the result of processes in the brain which go awry.

Rambler also illustrates the approach that does help the patient and the family: a listening, caring heart, one that does not judge the person or family. Linda found the support of several people, especially her sister, Nancy, absolutely essential to helping her and her family make it through those tough days.

The book is life-affirming because the family didn’t give up. Steve and Linda continued to support their children’s activities, even through the hard times. Steve committed himself to getting better: he went to weekly therapy, and participated in clinical studies. He and Linda became active in NAMI–the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill–a support group for patients and their families. They remain active today. Steve and Linda’s three children–John, Luke, and Elly–are grown and say the experience, hard as it was, deepened their compassion for people who are struggling in various ways.

Rambler shows that mental illness doesn’t have to define a person; the person is so much more than the illness. Steve’s life shows a person can go on, as the three hundred fifty-five mile bike trip Steve, Linda, and Nancy took proves.

Note: Discussion questions appear in the back of the book.

For further info.: http://www.lindaschmitmeyer.com. You can also follow her on Twitter@LKSchm.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author, for purpose of review. This is an honest review.

P. Booher


Leave a comment

Filed under Diving Into A Sea of Books, Life Issues

Love is—

People have many different ideas about love. I used to think of it as a progression: you like someone, then you love someone. Other people think of “love at first sight”. Still others think love is weak, powerless, to be despised, a wimpy sort of emotion.

Check out this definition of love:

Love is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful, proud, or rude. Love isn’t selfish or quick tempered.

It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs that others do.

Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil.

Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting.

Love never fails!

(I Corinthians 13:4-8, Contemporary English Version of the Bible)

Something I need to think about along with the definition of love:

“…God is love”.  (I John 4:8, NIV)      NIV–New International Version

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (I John 4:10, NIV)

“We love because he first loved us.” (I John 4:19, NIV)

 

©P. Booher

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Country Ripples, Faith Matters, Life Issues, Tips to Avoid Stress

Keeping a Blessings Journal

person uses pen on book

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”(Philippians 4:8, KJV)

Many times in the Old and New Testaments God urges (and sometimes commands, as in Joshua 4:5-7) us to remember His blessings and what He has done. King David had many low moments, but came out of them by remembering God’s mercies and blessings to him and Israel. Remembering how God acted in the past gave David renewed faith and courage for the challenges ahead.

Some years ago I began keeping a blessings journal. I bought a 4″x6″ notebook and recorded blessings—like the time I was driving and almost caused an accident (the “almost” is the blessing part), the time I was standing outside a local store, waiting to cross the road, when I felt something brush the back of my leg. I thought it was a bug. Instead, it was the tail fin of a 1960’s-era car! I could have been run over! But I wasn’t hurt at all. I wrote about other events that “almost” happened and would have been disastrous, but they didn’t happen—blessings to me.

I wrote about things that did happen, like getting together with friends. Just last fall two of my friends and I went to a nature reserve and walked on one of the trails. We meandered around, listening to the birds, watching the fish in the pond, and enjoying each other’s company. Then we went to a restaurant to eat. My friends didn’t realize it, but that day was the day before my birthday. I knew I’d be working on my birthday, so I hadn’t planned anything, but just being with my friends was celebration enough.

I keep my little journal in my purse. I look at it when I have a few spare moments—on break at work, or even right before I go to bed. It reminds me of the many times God has blessed me. Taking just a few minutes to reflect on God’s goodness to me helps me combat worry and anxiety. God does not change; He has helped me before, He can help me again.

Resources: Psalm 63 and Psalm 142, among the many psalms David wrote, are especially timely.

©P. Booher

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Country Ripples, Faith Matters, Life Issues

A Surprising Benefit of Being an Introvert

person laying on sofa while reading book

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

The past few weeks taught me, a self-proclaimed “Queen of the Introverts”, a surprising benefit to being an introvert, that is, someone who gets his or her mental/emotional energy from ideas, from within. Extroverts get their energy from being around people, from without. Neither way is good, or bad, just different.

My inclination towards introversion carries over into being uncomfortable around crowds of people. I’m not a “party person”. I’m happy to be at home, read a good book, write, take in the sights and sounds on the nearby nature trail, or do yard work.

In the culture I live in, extroversion is the preferred tendency at school, at work, and in organizations. Since introverts are generally quiet, they are looked on as being odd, or “standoff-ish” perhaps.

In this strange time of stay-at-home orders, self-isolation, and quarantine, I’m realizing an unexpected benefit of being an introvert: I can be happy in the lifestyle I already have, no adjustments necessary.

I never thought this season would show a benefit of a tendency much of the world considers odd.

©P. Booher

Leave a comment

Filed under Life Issues

God in the Darkness

A couple months ago the pastor of the church I attend suggested reading and dwelling on Psalm 139. Since then I’ve been reading and re-reading this Psalm. It’s one of the passages that’s been drawing my attention lately.

The writer, King David, asserts God’s knowledge and interest in him. He says that he cannot flee from God’s Presence, no matter where he goes, he finds God there. He writes, “If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.” (Psalm 139:11,12, KJV)
These verses provide comfort to me. They tell me that even though dark, uncertain circumstances bother me, they do not bother God. He knows where I am, and what I am feeling. I can cry out to Him and know that He knows and cares, and will act in some way on my behalf. The darkness is never too great for God, since darkness and light are the same to Him.

starry sky

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Pexels.com

A Sky so Blue, (new)

Photo Credit: Author

©P. Booher

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Faith Matters, Life Issues

Fighting a War Against Fear

“What if this happens?????? What if that happens?????? What happens then??????” What will I do??????”

These are the questions that popped up in my mind often, even in little situations. You know what’s behind those questions? FEAR. Fear nearly drove me crazy; I mean to the point of losing my mind. What was worse was I knew I didn’t have the answers for those questions.

Last year, after a bout with painful, limited mobility, and depression, I finally said I’ve had it. I couldn’t take any more of the barrage of questions in my mind, or the heavy feeling of responsibility, so—I gave them to God. (I pictured myself giving a huge, car-sized box of fear, anxiety, and blackness to Jesus) I told Him, “Lord, I give this to You. I can’t handle it.” I pictured Him taking the heavy box as though it was a light feather. He said, “Trust Me. It’s OK. I can take it.”

Since then, when FEAR attempts to make an entrance and take over my mind, I picture a soldier standing guard with a spear. The soldier growls, “Don’t even think about it.”, and lunges at the fear-thought, which hastily retreats.

I thank God I don’t have the fear/panic cycle anymore. I’m free, and it’s such a relief; I can just live my life, and let God handle the “What ifs?” etc. He alone is big enough to do it; I’m not.

If you are in the middle of a fear cycle, consider doing as I did. Tell God you can’t do it anymore; give it to Him, and see what He does.

Some resources for fighting fear—please note: the Bible has a lot more.

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6, KJV)

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7, KJV)

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”  (James 1:5, KJV)

“Casting all your care upon him;  for he careth for you.” (I Peter 5:7, KJV)

Jesus defeating fear in His disciples: Mark 4:35-40, KJV

©P. Booher

 

2 Comments

Filed under Faith Matters, Life Issues, Tips to Avoid Stress

What I Want More of in My Life This Year

I know, I know–we are almost through February, and I’m still thinking of New Year’s resolutions! What can I say–it takes me awhile to gather up my thoughts.

Here’s my list:

  1. to be more thoughtful of others
  2. to show more concern for others without being judgmental
  3. humility
  4. maturity, especially in more control over my emotions
  5. writing, in quantity and quality
  6. enjoy the outdoors more
  7. exercise (whether stretching, doing yard work or housework, or walking)
  8. resilience
  9. being intentional
  10. confidence
  11. a thicker skin, to handle criticism better, especially of my writing

If a store could hand these out, I’d be first in line! 🙂 As it is, since God is the only One Who can help, I’ll add “more prayer” to this list and see what God does.

©P. Booher

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Country Ripples, Faith Matters, Life Issues

A Different View of Accomplishments

pen calendar to do checklist

Photo by Breakingpic on Pexels.com

My idea of a to-do list used to be like the one pictured above. Sometimes it still is. I still write a list, and some days I accomplish quite a few items. Most of the time the items on the to-do list spill over into the next day, or even the next week—or two.

In the past year or so my idea of accomplishments changed. It broadened to include not only things you see on a list, but also things you can’t see, like victories over discouraging  thoughts and worries. Recently I engaged in a fencing match with the thought, “Your life isn’t worth much.”  You can read about that battle here. Last week or so I boxed with the impression, “You’ve fumbled badly in your work, your finances, and every area of your life.” Then a picture flashed through my mind of falling flat on my face. Not something to give a person confidence, is it?
I prayed, and once again, Faith came to my rescue, saying that I haven’t fumbled badly, and even if I have, God can and is willing to help me. I’m not alone.

These interior victories show me the most meaningful accomplishments aren’t ones you can cross off a piece of paper. They are ones achieved inside you.

micaela-parente-YGgKE6aHaUw-unsplash

Photo Credit: Micaela Parente, Unsplash

Resources:

“Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.” (Psalm 31:24, KJV)

“Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies.” (Psalm 60:12, KJV)

©P. Booher

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Country Ripples, Faith Matters, Life Issues

A Remedy for My Impatience

Sometimes I get impatient when helping my mother around the house. I want to move faster, get things done quicker, but she’s not able to. Lately I’ve been praying and asking others to pray about our relationship. One answer that came from those prayers is this: when I’m in a situation and feel impatient, ask myself: what practical steps can I do to move things forward? Is there something else that contributes to the project I can do–move objects out of the way, for instance? Asking myself those questions gets rid of my impatience and the stress that comes from it. My mindset switches from me to her.

©P. Booher

Leave a comment

Filed under Faith Matters, Life Issues, Tips to Avoid Stress

When I Feel As Though My Life Isn’t Worth Much

Earlier today the impression entered my mind: “Who are you to think you’re anyone special?  Your life isn’t worth much.”

At first glance circumstances agree: I am just one of six or seven billion plus people on this planet; lower sales after Christmas means I am working fewer hours on my retail job, so don’t have a sense of productivity/ worth there; I don’t have a boyfriend or husband who can lift my spirits. Even the weather got in on the act. The sun shone dimly through an overcast sky, so it was gloomy inside, even with lights on.

I prayed about that impression. Immediately Faith kicked in and said, “No! Your life is worth much because God loves you and created you. He sent His Son to die for you. You are valuable.”

God reminded me that the earlier impression of low worth didn’t come from Him; those were not His words.

After this, I called a relative who, like me, wants to put more emphasis on spending time with family. We agreed to meet tomorrow.

Then I spent some time outside (being in the fresh air always raises my spirits) feeding the birds, and raking leaves for mulch. It was cold, but I was helping the birds, doing something productive, and I could always warm up with a cup or two of tea back inside. As I raked leaves, the sun shone a little stronger, and beautiful blue sky appeared on the horizon.

Lastly, I am writing this blog post for anyone else who hears those words, “Your life isn’t worth much”. I am writing to tell you not to believe them. You are valuable.

©P. Booher

 

3 Comments

Filed under Country Ripples, Faith Matters, Life Issues