And now to find a way to speak it aloud.
the written word is so much easier...
-Why your family is unique (do they volunteer, etc)
We’re active within our church community… in the Youth, Drama, Worship and Sound Ministries. The time we spend with the youth within our church is some of the most challenging and exhilarating of our lives right now.
We’re a big family… in more than one way. Charlie and I have 5 biological kids and at least a dozen others who have come through our home over the years. It was our dream way back when we only had one child to live our lives in such a way that we could open our home to those in need… whether for a place to stay, financial assistance or any other spiritual or practical need. We’ve been blessed to be able to do this in times when finances were strong and even now, when we’re struggling just to keep food on the table and lights on. Currently, in addition to the 4 kids still at home, we have two other ‘kids’ and expect a third in the next few weeks. They are 12, 15, 17, 18 and 19 years old, so there’s never a dull moment.
-How you all have overcome adversity
I’ve struggled with mental illness my entire life. I was in and out of hospitals in my teens and early 20’s and written off as hopeless by more than one doctor. In 1998 I was finally diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder… What Charlie and the kids had lived with our whole lives together was finally identified and the road to recovery began. The next 8 years were focused on somehow balancing an intense journey of recovery with raising a healthy family. My multiplicity was normal to the kids. It was what they knew and a part of our daily lives. Somehow we managed to navigate through it all, even after Charlie lost his job and could no longer work, we’ve kept our home open and a safe haven, especially for young adults. I blogged the last 6 years of my recovery and have worked online for years to create awareness and understanding of DID and mental illness.
I don’t know how we make things work right now. But our home is open and we're making it work. We’re living pretty much on faith…
-How much you all love each other
How do you describe that? In a large family everything is multiplied… the joys, the sorrows and the squabbles… but of all our imperfections, Charlie and I know beyond a doubt that if we’ve done anything right, it’s raise each of our kids to know they are loved intensely and without condition. I couldn’t imagine a moment of life without the joys and adventure of life with Charlie and our kids.
Oh, and laughter. We know how to laugh, loud and often.
-How it would improve your lives if we make the house over
Krys and Becka are both pregnant. The young woman coming to stay with us in a few weeks is also pregnant. This soon-to-be grandma wants to be available to help with childcare while the adult kids continue with work and school. We can’t do that right now. The house is unsafe for us already. I don't want a newborn having to live in these conditions.
The physical health of everyone in the house would improve if we received a makeover. Our youngest, John, has Autism… I don’t know how much if any of his challenges would be improved if he didn’t have to live with dust mites and mold but I hope it would help.
-Why do you all need a makeover NOW?
The carpets are nothing but a health hazard at this point. We have no heat or air-conditioning. Some of our windows don’t have screens, allowing flies and other bugs into the house. Fire ants have moved into a downstairs wall, shorting out electrical circuits, We have holes in the ceiling from an AC unit that was never large enough for a house of this size, much less such a large family with so many fur bearing members.
-Tell us why your kids/parents inspire you
One of the best gifts we have in this house is the ability to laugh. Charlie, especially, has taught us all to find humor in nearly everything. That ability to laugh in difficulty has helped encourage us and keep us going when things get rough.
I’m in awe of my kids… constantly. They’re smart, they’re hysterically funny, they’re challenging. The girls especially had to grow up pretty fast during my recovery… their maturity, compassion and understanding of others in incredible to witness. The boys think with a depth beyond their years and their comments and observations often amaze me. They simply are my inspiration and my joy.
- Tell us a short funny story about your family- (something that when you think back- it still makes you laugh)
We used to answer the phone, “Summerville Zoo, how can I help you?” It’s been common knowledge among our friends and family, literally worldwide that human or animal… if you need a place to go, call the Feathers. Yes, we’ve learned to say No when it’s needed but Charlie and I tease each other about having “SUCKER” tattooed across each other’s foreheads… it’s simply not in us to turn a life away without good reason.
-What is your biggest fear for your family as it relates to the condition of your current home?
I’m afraid that with our current lack of health insurance, Charlie’s breathing equipment will totally wear out and he’ll stop breathing at night again. Before He was treated for sleep apnea, he’d frequently stop breathing for a minute or more if I didn’t wake him first. It’s becoming harder and harder for him to navigate the stairs, move, sleep or even sit comfortably. I’m terrified of losing him.
The mold in this house can’t be dealt with if we have to keep windows open year round. I know that’s making all of us ill, with frequent headaches of not more.
Constantly having to spray for the ants that get into the walls under the siding can’t be good for anyone’s health and I’m afraid to flip a switch one day and start a fire because of ants in the wiring.
I’m afraid my grandchildren won’t be able to live or visit in this house because it simply isn’t healthy to be here.