The two books in todays blog certainly cover all of those points and more. I have read both of them this week and although both different, they each demonstrate that we as humans have a teancity of will and spirit which can go beyond what we could ever think we could bear.
The first, and this is in no order of favouritism or liking one more than the other is Hiking Through: One Mans Journey to Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail by Paul V. Stutzman.
This book had me so engrossed I literally could not put it down, starting to read at midday and finishing at midnight. The book starts when the authors wife is firstly diagnosed with and then dies of cancer. In order to fulfill a promise to himself whilst she was ill he hikes the whole length of the appalachian trail in order to come to terms with her death, and work out his relationship with God, who he is busy blaming for her death. This book had me gripped from the get go. From the inital preparations for the hike, to the very final step I felt like I had gone every single step right alongside him, at all times being completely immersed in his story. Paul is an excellent writer and he brings the breathtaking scenery, the storms, the sunlight, the pain , the joy. the good days and the bad completely to life. I could imagine every single detail as though I were actually there. Paul at times hikes alone and at others is accompanied by a cast of colourful characters, these being the other hikers on the trail. At times eccentric, they still demonstrate the rich tapestry of people who each year take to the trail to complete its 2100 miles. But this is so much more than a physical tale it is also one of a spiritual seeking after God. Each person has their reasons for going on the trail, and for Paul this journey is one of finding himself closer to God. At times he speaks to, and is answered by, God. Although God is talked about and Pauls faith is real, this part of the story does not overwhelm and is a natural part of the story. There are moments of sadness, moments of laughter, moments of joy and many moments of just putting one foot in front of the other, but they all add to the richness of the story. When the final step was taken I felt like I was losing a good friend. I celebrated with him, and then had to move on. An excellent book which I would highly recommend.
My next book is The Mansion Across the Street: Abundantly Beyond all that We Ask or Think by Rose Anne Daniels.
In this book the author gives an honest and brave account of her life, particularly her struggles with bipolar disorder. Having had a somewhat difficult and, in some ways, unconventional upbringing, her childhood and early life was not the easiest. Then in her twenties she was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and committed to a psychiatric hospital without her consent. This could be a book which is as depressing as the disorder of which it speaks, yet it is not. It is full of hope and courage and Rose Anne's faith in God shines through in every page. She does not feel sorry for herself, but lives her life to the full and in the way God would want her to. Her life and everything she does is firmly rooted in scripture. As I say the author is extremely honest and I felt that I was right there with her throughout. During this time Rose Ann knew that God was with her and would help her to get through anything.There were many times in this book where I found myself crying, but there are also many moments of joy, and sharing in Rose Anne's excitement of life. Despite being told she would never amount to much she now has a nursing degree and works with Brain Injured patients. This is a moving account which fills you with hope and gives you the courage and determination to deal with whatever situation God has put you in. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has or is interested in bipolar disorder, and to anyone who is struggling with their own issues. It will bring you hope.
As I say, two very different, but eqaully honest and encouraging memoirs. I am cetainly glad that each of the authors wrote them as they give me hope and strength that I can cope with any situation which may come my way. I feel as if I have made two friends, and far from leaving them behind, I know their words and actions will be with me well into the future. I hope you enjoy these books and until next time, keep reading.