About tonyroberts

I am a man with an unquiet mind who delights in the One who delights in me.

To a muse, myself

Originally published September 10, 2018.... My senior year of college, I set out to write a book. To accomplish this, I had to get a muse. All great writers have muses. I made a list of qualities my muse had to have: 1)   She had to be beautiful. 2)  She had to be smart. 3)  She had to be passionate. I looked across campus and my eyes lit on a Botticelli Beauty with flowing blonde hair. Monique. She was reading The Stranger by Albert Camus, jotting down notes in her black leather journal. I later discovered this was filled with incisive quotes she uncovered to satisfy her thirst for inspired truth. Beautiful. Check. Smart. Check. I introduced myself and we soon became friends. We shared a common disdain for pop culture. We were disgusted by the same people, hated the same things. One might think we were a match [...]

To a muse, myself2020-05-11T20:17:37-04:00

When Despair Meets Delight: The Journey

In June of 2019, I began to conceive the notion of doing a second book with the working title of When Despair Meets Delight: Stories to Cultivate Hope for Those Impacted by Serious Mental Illness. It didn't gel until around August and I had a number of false starts. In October, I hit my stride and within that month had a rough manuscript of 27,000+ words. I sent it to my personal editor, Leanne Sype, who spruced it up. I then sent it to Moody Publishers for consideration. Amy Simpson, an acquisitions editor from Moody, reviewed my manuscript and wrote back: Thanks for sending your manuscript my way. I have had a chance to review it, and I’m sorry to say Moody is not the right publisher for this project. We generally don’t publish memoirs, and while your manuscript is extremely well written, we simply aren’t the best fit. I [...]

When Despair Meets Delight: The Journey2020-05-07T02:33:25-04:00

What to Pray When Prayer Isn’t Called For

It has been almost forty years now that I have been in some form of ministry. During this time, I have asked thousands of people if I might pray for them. People of all ages, various social and ethnic backgrounds, political perspectives, sexual identities. Believers and non-believers. Christians of all stripes as well as people of other faiths and those who claim no faith at all. In four decades I can count on one hand the number of persons who were not grateful for my prayers or offer to pray. And many, many times, bringing the subject up has opened the door to spiritual intimacy that is tremendously nourishing. In my Hope for Troubled Minds Facebook community, I have been messaging members for prayer requests. I then write their responses in a notebook and look them over at various times through the week. Their prayers are unique, but they also [...]

What to Pray When Prayer Isn’t Called For2020-05-03T20:08:25-04:00

A Burning Fire; A Wisp of Smoke

Writing, then, was a substitute for myself: if you don't love me, love my writing & love me for my writing. It is also much more: a way of ordering and reordering the chaos of experience. ― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath I keep a daily journal of happenings in my life. Some of these things emerge in my public writing. Literary quotes. Character sketches. Story outlines. You will also find less assuming material in my journals. Financial profiles. Schedules. Contact information. To call these daily journals is generous at best. Sometimes weeks go by without a single entry. Then I'll go on a binge and nearly fill a book in a week. If my journal could speak in those gaps, it would cry out in anguish, wail in sorrow, moan in despair. But the pages are blank. Like my mind. Unborn words. Aborted sentences. Silent stories. Flannery O'Connor [...]

A Burning Fire; A Wisp of Smoke2020-04-27T19:05:51-04:00

When Bipolar Mixed States Threaten Your Relationships

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?     Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;     if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,     if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me,     your right hand will hold me fast. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me     and the light become night around me,” 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;     the night will shine like the day,     for darkness is as light to you.  (Psalm 139)   Time will pass; this mood will pass; and I will, eventually, be myself again. But then, at some unknown time, the electrifying carnival will come back into my mind. ― Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness It's been over a [...]

When Bipolar Mixed States Threaten Your Relationships2020-04-22T17:34:33-04:00

Gratitude for Passionate Turbulence

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5.16-18) “While she might not have opted for this illness, neither does she entirely regret it; she prefers, as she writes so movingly, a life of passionate turbulence to one of tedious calm.” ― Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness.   I am grateful for many things. I’ll name five: Food to eat. A roof above my head. Family members who care for me. Faithful friends who make me laugh. And my mental illness. Yes, I am grateful for my mental illness. I have come to prefer the “passionate turbulence” of bipolar disorder to the “tedious calm” of being “normal”. This is not to say I enjoy all aspects of my illness. Sometimes it is a pain in the ass. Sometimes it robs me of hope and challenges [...]

Gratitude for Passionate Turbulence2020-04-19T20:53:18-04:00

The New Asylums: A Dialogue on Mental Illness Behind Bars

I have been aware of the prevalence of persons with mental illness who are incarcerated. I also know first-hand how quality in-patient psychiatric care has all but disappeared. Still, this chart portrays the crisis of mental health care in our nation. And, from the numbers I've seen, it's only getting worse. What follows is a dialogue that took place in perhaps the best Facebook groups I belong to: Advocates for People with Mental Illness. I wish these folks were in policy-making posts rather than the ones we currently have.   J:   Neither peak seems to be healthy, at least not long term. I wonder where the curve would be in a good system. D:  The community health care system that was promised after institutions closed is a dignified response to caring for people who live with mental illness. Much cheaper than institutions and so much more effective and respectful. [...]

The New Asylums: A Dialogue on Mental Illness Behind Bars2020-04-16T14:10:02-04:00

My Pandemic Prayer Journal

I have been keeping an pandemic prayer journal. Like everything in my life, it is irregular. Intermittent. It comes in fits and starts. But as I look back over my Facebook posts the past several weeks since COVID-19 hit home, I have a good record of my life in quarantine. I want to share some of this with you: April 3, 2020 When Hope is Hard to Come By I was sitting on my back deck, listening to “Ode to Billie Joe” by Bobbie Gentry. It is one of the best country songs ever written. Certainly one of the saddest. My wife came out and asked why I was listening to such miserable music. I said something happens when you set suffering to song that gives purpose to pain, adds rhyme and reason to what seem like pointless periods in our lives. These are hard times and it is essential [...]

My Pandemic Prayer Journal2020-04-13T19:48:38-04:00

A John Prine Primer: Music and Stories of a Modern Day Mark Twain

Grief is a complex thing. Contrary to popular opinion, we don't all go through grief in easily understood stages from denial to acceptance. Instead, there are as many ways to respond to loss as there are people who suffer loss. And, if we are blessed to live long enough, we all lose someone important to us. In a time such as ours, losses are becoming multiplied. On April 7, 2020 John Prine died. I did not know Prine personally but like many who heard his songs, I felt like I did. Not only did I feel like I knew John, but all the people he sang about, who represents the whole of the human race. On the night he died, I stayed up listening to his music and reflecting on his life. I want to share this experience with you.   "I guess I just process death differently than some [...]

A John Prine Primer: Music and Stories of a Modern Day Mark Twain2020-04-10T00:26:21-04:00

Hosanna in the Highest: Palm Sunday Perspectives

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: 5 “Say to Daughter Zion,     ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey,     and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’” 6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. 8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went [...]

Hosanna in the Highest: Palm Sunday Perspectives2020-04-04T17:19:48-04:00
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