Map detailing The Thumb, in a general definition.

Map detailing The Thumb, in a general definition. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hi, this is Beverly, although my friends call me Bev. I grew up in the thumb area of Michigan among lots of great farmers. My best memories are visits to my grandparents who farmed in the upper part of the Thumb. I loved swinging on the barn swing over huge mounds of hay. I enjoyed getting to know the newest kittens born in those mounds of hay. I “helped” my grandpa in the milk house, washing the milking machines and hosing down the bulk tank that stored the milk. Those are terrific memories.

Our family loved music. My dad was a talented music director at the local school, and all my siblings sang. Since we were spread out over 15 years between me and my sister, the five of us siblings never sang together as a group. But three of them did. They became known as the Smiley Singers. However, I grew up playing the piano and saxaphone and bassoon. At one time, I even considered taking up bassoon professionally. But I didn’t.

In my Junior High years, I attended a special evening service at our church where a family friend accepted Christ as his Savior. I saw the changes in his life and I wanted the same thing. So it wasn’t long before I accepted Christ as my Savior too. We had gone to church all our lives, but I knew at once that that hadn’t redeemed me in God’s eyes. I was well aware that I was a sinner, and once I knew Jesus personally, grateful that He forgave me all of my wrongs, I started studying the Bible as if I were drowning and couldn’t get enough air.

What a difference knowing Jesus has made. Not in my behavior so much, but my perspective of life. I prayed constantly when I realized in my high school years that something was not right in our family. I was having mood swings that were awful. I was sick to my stomach at almost every meal. Tension hung in the air. My relationship with my Mom was all but nil. I was a good kid and prayed for the times when I overacted with her. It was a relief to go off to college where I could bury myself in studies. Since I love to learn, that wasn’t much of a problem. I enjoyed those years at CMU. But deep down I knew I was having trouble relating to people, making friends, and handling some really nasty mood swings. I successfully kept it hidden from most people, but I felt like a lier, being almost like two different people. I even had difficulty keeping a job on campus.

Once I graduated, I got a teaching job near where my husband and I lived. After a year, I taught at a school closer to our home. But after 5 years of teaching, I felt beat. I had trouble getting enough sleep, and felt tired so much. I was having a few conflicts with some of the parents of my class. My principal visited me one day and said he was not going to renew my contract. He hedged about the reason. I didn’t know myself if there was any one reason for being let go. It seemed he thought I was experiencing burnout. Years later, I look back and realize that I was having some mood swings and SAD in the winter months, explaining why I would get so tired.

For the next few years I taught piano lessons from my home. Then I got involved with the American Family Association of Michigan. Homeschools needed my certification to make them legal, so I started a decade of being an itinerant teacher, going from home to home, helping parents teaching their children at home. I tested them, gave them tips on reading comprehension, coordinated field trips and extra curricular activities. I had a Special Education background and it came in handy for some of the homeschools who had special needs children. I have a lot of great memories of those early days before I had children of my own.

Eventually Michigan’s atmosphere became easier for homeschools and I was out of work. I continued teaching piano lessons and a few instrument lessons at home. Eventually my husband and I had a daughter and a son. That’s when I realized my emotional state wasn’t quite normal. So when we felt that my son needed to get medication for his diagnosis of ADHD, I saw a psychiatrist for him and asked the professional to help me as well. It took about a year, but I was finally diagnosed with bipolar. It was a relief to have a final diagnosis, and I started on a treatment course to level out those peaks of mania and fill in the dips and valleys of depressive episodes. That was almost 20 years ago. I still take medications and am so grateful for them.

I still have trouble relating with people, face to face. I seem to read body language all wrong, and they apparently read things from my own body language and facial expressions that usually lead to conclusions that are way off the mark. So I have only a few faithful friends who put up with my seemingly “two-faced” (but bipolar) personality. But God has lain on my heart a compassion for others who have an invisible “mental” illness like mine. I seek them out wherever I am, especially online, and try to help educate, to empathize, and let them know how Jesus can help them if they will let Him. I try to be there when they need to blow off steam. It helps them knowing how I understand their mental struggles.

In the meantime, I have discovered how reading can help me through the worst of swings and how cathartic writing can be. So eventually, I’ll work up the guts to talk a little bit more about my bipolar and pray that it will help someone somewhere. Because yes, you can be a Christian and still have a mental illness besides. Thank you for reading this!


9 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi, Beverly! I remember reading your About page a while ago (so many blogs out there, I lose track!). I’m now reading Stashes a novel set in Michigan (central Michigan) written by my friend PJ Colando. What a small world!


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