I, James Francis Schroeder was born in Indianapolis on the 2nd of April in 1977, but was raised in Evansville, Indiana for much of my life. Just a few miles away, my future wife, Amy Lehman, was being brought up atop Reitz Hill overlooking the Ohio River. Both of us would share the same school hallways, modest homes, old cars and hardworking parents. After graduating high school, I attended Ball State University while Amy enrolled at the University of Evansville. We were married in 2000, and a few weeks later moved to St. Louis where Amy began teaching and I started the PhD program in clinical psychology at Saint Louis University.
The next six years would later be referred to as the first part of our marriage, as I was in graduate school in St. Louis for 4 years and Amy taught in nearby Kirkwood as a 2nd grade teacher. We moved in 2004 after I accepted an internship at Kosair Children’s Hospital through the University of Louisville, School of Medicine. Amy took a new job as a middle school teacher in Louisville, and again the following year upon our return to St. Louis for my postdoctoral fellowship at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Washington University School of Medicine.
After six years without children, an unforgettable visit to the OBGYN introduced us to our twins! Zachary and Emma were born in June of 2006, and the second part of our marriage officially opened. So did the flood gates, as Matthew followed in 2008, Noah in 2010, Will in 2011, Louis in 2013, Samuel in 2017, and most recently Katherine “Kate” in July of 2019. Just like that, the Schroeder’s had grown from two to ten, and what previously seemed busy was nothing compared to the blessing of the frenetic days upon us. “Dense and intense” became an often-repeated descriptor of our family, with boredom an unlikely, but welcomed commodity. God’s gifts were alive and real!
Meanwhile, as the family continued to grow, so did a number of other areas. Upon realizing that I was going to be the father of twins, I recognized even more that I had grown complacent with my health and felt called to make a positive change. So, a couple of months before Zach and Emma were born, I completed my first half-marathon. As Amy would later say, a spark was really lit after a serendipitous meeting years later. Throughout the next decade and more, I was blessed to finish the 2011 Louisville Ironman, 5 ultra-marathons, a 200 half-day bike ride, 20 biking centuries, and a number of backpacking and other endurance endeavors. I also qualified and competed in two Age Group National Championships for triathlons, most recently in Cleveland in August of 2019. Our family is also constantly planning the next hiking and backpacking trip together, with hopes of section hiking the entire River to River Trail in the Shawnee National Forest by the time Zach and Emma graduate high school.
As the endurance events and the family grew, so did the writing and speaking for mental health, medical, religious, and local media outlets. It all became part of a greater mission of “wholiness” – the synonymous drive of holiness and wholeness in all aspects of our being: physical, psychological, social, and spiritual. As a psychologist, father, and husband, it became apparent that the lifelong search of happiness, health, and harmony are intricately linked to the pursuit of wholiness. And so as the Schroeder family looks to grow in this way, we look to unite with others who desire this, too.