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$1,626
pledged of $100,000pledged of $100,000 goal
32
backers
Funding Canceled
Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on Sep 12 2018
Last updated September 13, 2018

Dear Billie- Salvation in the Poconos (Canceled)

With my faith in Jesus to guide me, each day I balance immeasurable blessings and the seemingly unbearable torment of mental illness.

Dear Billie- Salvation in the Poconos (Canceled)

With my faith in Jesus to guide me, each day I balance immeasurable blessings and the seemingly unbearable torment of mental illness.

$1,626
pledged of $100,000pledged of $100,000 goal
32
backers
Funding Canceled
Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on Sep 12 2018
Last updated September 13, 2018

About

EDIT: I have found a printer who will be able to do smaller print runs, while maintaining the same quality of the book I promised everyone. Because of that, I am able to drastically reduce my funding goal for Dear Billie, though I must do it on a seperate campaign to comply with Kickstarter rules. PLEASE SEARCH FOR "DEAR BILLIE" on Kickstarter to back me and order your copy of the book. Thank you!!!!!!!

Ben 

____________________________________________

Dear Billie is a blending of my life’s story of blessings and crippling mental disorders, intertwined with a series of deeply profound moments of divine clarity that I experienced at a secluded B&B in the Pocono Mountains. It was in those times that I felt Jesus was right beside me, guiding and comforting me.

The trip was intended to be a weekend getaway to celebrate my wife’s birthday, but God had other plans. Over the course of a few days, I relived some of my happiest and most painful memories in what could only be described as a sort of heavenly psychotherapy. Our stay at Trakehner Inn changed my life in ways I never expected. 

To start things off, let me tell you a little bit about myself. I’m a lifelong member of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Nazareth. I was baptized in the same font as my own children and was confirmed as a teenager. I attended Sunday School at St. John’s, served as an acolyte, and sang in the children’s choir. Today, my seven-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter sing in that choir, and my wife is Director of our church’s preschool. 

The baptism of my daugher, Allana, performed by Pastor Schaeffer
The baptism of my daugher, Allana, performed by Pastor Schaeffer

I am a husband, father of five, and disabled veteran of United States Naval Intelligence. In the Navy, I worked as part of America’s NATO contingent during the Bosnian War. My job was to monitor and track people who were killing each other, sending their locations and activities up the chain of command. Some of those people were later killed in NATO bombings. I was cleared Top Secret, with access to sensitive compartmented information, keyhole satellite intel, and specific aspects of communications intelligence. 

That may have been a long time ago, but my experiences changed the course of my life.  For over two decades, I have struggled with mental health. What began as Panic Disorder and PTSD, grew into Agoraphobia, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Depression. Suffering in the mind is a hell I would not wish on my worst enemy. 

I also have six ruptured discs in my spine, from injuries and early-onset degenerative disc disease. My spinal problems led to stenosis, peripheral neuropathy, and scoliosis. I also have Meniere’s Disease, osteoarthritis, and Rheumatoid Arthritis, which is actually an autoimmune disorder that attacks the soft tissues around joints, organs, blood vessels, eyes, and more.

I am honorably discharged, with my bachelor's degree from Lock Haven University, I'm a bestselling author, historian, and the founder of Donate My Weight. Donate My Weight was an international campaign I created in January of 2008, to help feed hungry men, women, and children around the world. 

I appeared on radio and television programs all over America to promote it, made the rounds of Philadelphia morning talk shows, and there was even appearance on the Rachael Ray Show. Through my efforts and those who followed in my footsteps, millions of hungry people were fed. I feel a deep sense of gratitude to God for giving me the opportunity to make such an impact. 

 Men are taught to be tough and strong, but with my mental conditions over the past 20 years, I have felt like I was neither. I nearly lost my battle on the night of October 26, 2003. 

I was a raging alcoholic by that point and “self-medicating,” as my doctors call it, with massive amounts of food and alcohol. One night when I was particuliarly drunk, I put a pistol in my mouth and prepared to end my life. Through the grace of God, I passed out before I could pull the trigger. I woke up the next morning, realized what I’d almost done, and knew it would happen again if I continued to drink. I called my dad and asked him for help.

My dad and me
My dad and me

One of my dad's closest friends from childhood died of alcohol-related causes and he had recognized the signs in me. My dad also knew I had to get my liver functions tests run twice a year, due to a run-in with tuberculosis overseas, and a combination of strong medications that were used to treat it. 

The tests showed my liver getting progressively worse each time and my doctors also urged me to stop drinking. Thanks to my dad's refusal to give up on me and many hard times for us both as I sobered up, this October I will mark 15 years without a drink. 

Without alcohol, my food intake increased and I nearly doubled my weight from the Navy. I was positive that I would never find a woman who would want to spend her life with me between my weight and mental conditions. Thinking about kids was painful, because I yearned to be a dad, but felt like it was an impossible dream. By that point, I had just about given up my faith in God, though he never gave up on me. 

This picture of me in a wrestling ring was taken in 2004, not long after my father died. The other images are all me at different points in my young adult years, prior to everything falling apart.
This picture of me in a wrestling ring was taken in 2004, not long after my father died. The other images are all me at different points in my young adult years, prior to everything falling apart.

The Lord led me to my wife in the most improbable of situations and blessed me with five kids who make my heart sing. He helped me find a new purpose when my disabilities worsened in severity and the life I had planned was no longer possible. By 2008, I was no longer able to work, and my disability rating was increased to 100%.  I experienced ups and downs after that, but I've never been able regain the productivity or the quality of life that I lost. 

A typical good day for me is still a lonely one, with half of my waking hours spent by myself in the bedroom. Being around other people, even those I love, is extremely difficult for me. My mind tries to analyze every detail of what’s going on in my surroundings and I’m constantly processing the sights, sounds, smells, and the way things feel, all at once.  

I get easily startled and quickly overstimulated whenever I’m around other people or outside of my house. I still push myself to go out and try to be as active as I can, to provide some semblance of normalcy for my wife and my children.  The internal struggles are heightened when I'm out and along with the intense anxiety, I'm always on guard. Still, I'm able to put on my invisible mask and hide those cerebral challenges from the world.  

On a bad day, I don’t leave my bedroom all day. I spend the time fighting in my head to try and maintain some sort of control. The panic attacks cycle, meaning I will have one, then a few minutes of calm, followed by another attack. That repetitive cycle continues for hours and on especially bad days, I eventually pass out from exhaustion. I have missed many family celebrations on the holidays, school and church events with my children, and other special events.

My wife has always been creative in finding ways to work around my bad days and include me in the family fun. On my birthday one year, I was going through a rough patch, so Andrea and the kids brought the party to me.
My wife has always been creative in finding ways to work around my bad days and include me in the family fun. On my birthday one year, I was going through a rough patch, so Andrea and the kids brought the party to me.
I missed my Nana's 90th birthday party, because I wasn't able to leave the house that day. My wife and kids went without me and passed along my birthday wishes to Nana.
I missed my Nana's 90th birthday party, because I wasn't able to leave the house that day. My wife and kids went without me and passed along my birthday wishes to Nana.

I don’t choose to live this way and have done everything humanly possible to get better. I’ve tried all sorts of different medicines over the years and found the side effects of most were more intolerable than the “benefits.” Some do help me, and I follow a regimen each day, taking meds at 9am, then again at 8pm. I see a private psychologist regularly, a private psychiatrist every other month, and a psychiatrist from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) several times a year. 

I'm a life member of the DAV (Disabled American Veterans)
I'm a life member of the DAV (Disabled American Veterans)

My life might not be what anybody else would choose for themselves, but it’s the only one I’ve got. Without my faith and the knowledge that Jesus is walking through this life alonside me, I'd be lost. My faith brought me to Trakehner Inn and when I stepped through that front door, I felt decades of burden lifted off my shoulders. 

It came without warning and happened in a flash. I blinked my eyes and felt like my old self again. The sensation made me downright giddy in the beginning, because it had been so long since I felt that absence of mental pain.  For the first time in a long time, I felt hope.

At Trakehner Inn, I experienced a near cessation of symptoms that had never happened before. I felt the way normal people feel each day and take for granted. I know that, because I used to be one of them.  The sensation didn’t last long, and my struggles returned almost immediately after we left. Even so, I will forever be grateful for that reprieve and thankful to the Lord, who gave it to me.

God had continually found new ways of letting me know I was on the right path, something I rarely recognized at the time. I would get so wrapped up in my own pain that I was blind to virtually everything else. It was only in looking back during that brief respite from the mental battlefield, that I was able to realize how long God had been trying to reach out to me.

The Lord made his presence known during our stay at Trakehner Inn and all subtlety was cast aside. There were more than a few times when it felt like God was sitting right next to me and I spoke to him as if he were. A sense of divine peace and love emanated from the walls of that gorgeous old home and the expansive grounds around it felt like walking through the garden of Eden, sans the apple tree.   

This stone fireplace in the dining room dates back to 1891 and the baptismal font on the hearth came from an old church that had been demolished. The innkeeper's husband found it in the woods near the church and saved it.
This stone fireplace in the dining room dates back to 1891 and the baptismal font on the hearth came from an old church that had been demolished. The innkeeper's husband found it in the woods near the church and saved it.

Billie and her family are devout Christians and when I spoke to her about my experiences after our trip, she confirmed to me that she felt the same way about the inn. Billie had grown up there and views it as much more than a business. It's her family home. She told me the one question she’s heard the most over the years was whether the inn was haunted. As she shook her head, Billie shared with me her standard answer, which is as accurate as it is endearing.

“Yes, the inn is haunted. It’s haunted by the Holy Spirit!”

My Goals for this Kickstarter Campaign

1. Publishing this book and sharing my story with as many people as possible is the ultimate goal. I believe this book can help many people, from those who are suffering with the same conditions as me, to people looking for further affirmation of God's presence in their lives. Ultimately, I'd like to follow up on Dear Billie with at least two sequels. 

2. I want to remind people it’s ok to talk about their faith. It seems that God and Jesus have become taboo subjects in today’s world of anger, political correctness, and bitter divides. Oftentimes, Christians will hide their faith or avoid discussing it altogether, because they don’t want to be ridiculed. We are frequently the butt of jokes in movies and on television, jokes that those same movies and shows would never make about any other religion. The ultimate irony is the way many journalists stereotype Christians as hateful and judgmental… in reports that come across as hateful and judgmental. 

Nobody deserves to be mocked or derided for their religious beliefs, whether they’re a Christian, hold different religious beliefs, or they choose to abstain from religion altogether. Every major religion teaches its followers to love one another. What a world this would be if we could all agree to do that and show the basic human respect that everyone deserves. 

Mock up of the digital version of the book
Mock up of the digital version of the book
This is my wife, Andrea, sitting with me in the Presidential Suite. This space hosted two US Presidents in the early 20th century.
This is my wife, Andrea, sitting with me in the Presidential Suite. This space hosted two US Presidents in the early 20th century.

Please help me publish this book

I don’t know about you, but I’m not the kind of guy who believes in coincidences and I also don't think it's an accident that you’re on this page right now. Whatever led you here, I appreciate you taking the time to learn more about my book. Please make a pledge to earn whichever reward you would prefer and help me publish Dear Billie.

Peace be with you! 

Mock up of the hardcover version of the book
Mock up of the hardcover version of the book

Risks and challenges

There are no risks involved in this investment on your part. The book is already written and all that’s left to do is have it printed, which I will do with the proceeds of this Kickstarter campaign.

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    Pledge US$ 5 or more About US$ 5

    Digital copy of Dear Billie

    You will be emailed a PDF copy of the book that is viewable on computers, smart phones, Amazon Kindles or Apple products, via iBook.

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    Paperback copy of Dear Billie

    You will be sent a paperback copy of the book (6” X 9” paperback book with approximately 152 pages and full-color cover, front and back)

    ***To order multiple books, just add $15 plus the cost of shipping, for each additional book***

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    Pledge US$ 25 or more About US$ 25

    Hardcover copy of Dear Billie

    You will be sent a hardcover copy of the book (6” X 9” hardcover book with approximately 152 pages and full-color cover, front and back)

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    Signed Hardcover copy of Dear Billie

    You will be sent a hardcover copy of the book that’s signed by the author (6” X 9” hardcover book with approximately 152 pages and full-color cover, front and back)

    ***To order multiple books, just add $35 plus the cost of shipping, for each additional book***

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    Personal Thank You Package

    You will be sent a hardcover copy of the book and your name will be included in the acknowledgements section, thanking you for your support and help.

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    Pledge US$ 200 or more About US$ 200

    Business Thank You Package

    You will be sent a hardcover copy of the book and your business’s name will be included in the acknowledgements section, thanking your business for its support and help.

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    Pledge US$ 1,000 or more About US$ 1,000

    Personal Story Written About YOU

    You will be sent a hardcover copy of the book, along with a 1,000 word story written especially for you. The narrative will feature you with Ben, either inside Trakehner Inn or somewhere on the grounds. The focal point of the story will be an interaction between you and God.

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Funding period

- (30 days)