A walk with my brother

Yesterday I went on a four mile walk with my big brother.


He’s the brother who was the strongest and toughest man I knew.  And he knew it too.

He got married when I was about 5 or 6, so I don’t remember a lot about him as I grew up.  But he was always a big presence in my life.  And sometimes I was a little afraid of him.  He knew a lot about so many things.

Yesterday we walked in the mild-for-January sunshine and talked about Parkinson’s disease (his thorn in the flesh) and depression (mine).  We talked about how much he hates it that his voice is giving out on him and how he wonders if it’s worth trying to sing in choir this year.  We talked about our latest reads,  High and Low by Keith Foskett for him–and Changing My Mind for me. (My book is Margaret Trudeau’s memoir of her life with bipolar disorder. She’s our prime minister’s mother.)  We talked about how our walk with God has been characterized by choosing sheer faith in His love and grace, not the emotional closeness marked by wonderful experiences with Him that some people have. We talked about anointing with oil and our uncle who took his own life in desperate depression. David read me a few verses from the Psalms that he had saved on his phone for me.

My brother’s body is not as tough as it once was, but his spirit is stronger and more beautiful than it has ever been.

As we parted with plans to walk again next week, he said, “Come here.” He gave me a hug and we said “I love you.”

Today it’s grey and cold.  There are very cold temperatures and snow predicted for the weekend.  In my quiet house, I battle depressed feelings, just keeping them at bay.  But I pray that these ugly thorns will make us better people-softer, stronger, kinder, and more honest.  It’s a good day because I can frame those words in my mind and mean them.

In Philip Yancey’s book, Prayer, he says this, “Most of my struggles in the Christian life circle around the same two themes: why God doesn’t act the way we want God to, and why I don’t act the way God wants me to.  Prayer is the precise point where those themes converge.”

I pray hope and faith for each of you today.  And would you pray it for David and me too?


15 thoughts on “A walk with my brother

  1. And I love both of you. Wonderful shadow picture, with that Bay Tree winter sun on the snow and the wide landscape! We’re having a sunny day here, too, along with cold temperatures (below zero F this morning). Would love to do that “walk around the block” with you if only I could! Ben and I pray for you both

  2. Sure, I can and will pray for you and David! What a wonderful big brother!!! I have two brothers birth younger than I, one in his early twenties and one right after me in birth order who’s marriage is on the rocks . . .

    If you want you can pray for me as I relate to them . . . None of us siblings are really close enough in relationships to discuss things like that . . . And my hope for that and prayers for that often get left in a pool of discouragement that it will ever be anything more . . . Just being honest here . . .

  3. What a sweet time you described… I always thot(growing up) if only I had a big brother, he would’ve solved all my problems…. he sounds like the brother I longed for…

  4. I just witnessed your sweet daughter singing on the SMBI chorus tonight.
    May God answer all your prayers as He sees best, and in His Time.
    There’s a brand new book out that might interest you, its called
    ‘The Lookout After The Climb’ by my friend Anita Martin
    Its her story, a well as a compilation of other’s stories on bipolar illness as well as depression and other factors of mental illness- from a Mennonite perspective primarily.
    A very encouraging read.
    I am also blessed reading your blog.
    (I used to know you many years ago when we were very young and your dad came to preach for us in Fairfield Montana.)
    Prayers and Blessings.

  5. lol well my hair is turning white now- but yes, my maiden name is Derstine.
    I am Beth Hershey’s baby sister, as well- so I have had little updates of you and yours through the years even before discovering your blog.
    After I wrote I saw my Friend Keturah already recommended the book to you.
    We are both friends of Anita and helped with the book.
    You are not alone in your journey- and while there are no easy fixes or cures- usually- God does have a purpose in what He allows and many times amazing gifts to others are borne from great suffering. Empathy if nothing else.
    Also, Spring is coming.
    Love n blessings

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