Grace, Delight, and Foolishness: Devotions & Responses

In addition to writing for this blog, I write for such publications as Upper Room, These Days, and Stand Firm. Writing these devotionals is an exercise of faith for me and a way to connect with others hungry for the Word. This month I was fortunate to have a series of devotions ("Our Unbelief; God's Faithfulness") published in the Aug/Sept/Oct issue of these days. They hit home for several persons -- from a psychologist in Tempe, Arizona, to a retired minister in Bradenton, Florida, and many others. Perhaps the most gratifying response came in the mail - letters from a homeless person with a Ph. D. in political science who had schizophrenia and had been living on the streets of Nashville, Tennessee until an hospitable congregation took him under their wings, found him housing, welcomed him into Bible Study and encourage him to become an advocate for the homeless. I [...]

Grace, Delight, and Foolishness: Devotions & Responses2019-09-22T17:12:09-04:00

I am ; even me.

I’m writing this on September 11, 2019. World Suicide Prevention Day. About an hour ago I read the tragic news about Pastor & Mental Health Advocate Jarrid Wilson, who died two days ago by suicide. Here is how Christianity Today described Wilson — His wife, Julianne Wilson posted a photo tribute of her husband on Instagram. The photo slideshow shows him fishing “in his happy place.” She described her husband as “loving, giving, kind-hearted, encouraging, handsome, hilarious.”... “Tragically, Jarred took his own life,” [          ] Eaton said. ”Over the years, I have found that people speak out about what they struggle with the most.”   I did not know Jarrid Wilson, but I know his story well. His story is the story of far too many persons who try so hard to care for others yet are unable to receive care for themselves; not so much out of stubborn [...]

I am ; even me.2019-09-11T12:07:27-04:00

Can we prevent suicide? How? {Note: Trigger Warning}

“When people are suicidal, their thinking is paralyzed, their options appear spare or nonexistent, their mood is despairing, and hopelessness permeates their entire mental domain. The future cannot be separated from the present, and the present is painful beyond solace. ‘This is my last experiment,’ wrote a young chemist in his suicide note. ‘If there is any eternal torment worse than mine I’ll have to be shown.” ― Kay Redfield Jamison, Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide   "When I came to my senses in the hospital bed after my suicide attempt, I had to face the reality that I had tried to abandon God. At the same time, I discovered that God had not abandoned me."  --Tony Roberts, Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission.   I have walked close to suicide, both in my pastoral and personal lives. I have seen it in the bandaged wrists of a teenage girl. [...]

Can we prevent suicide? How? {Note: Trigger Warning}2019-06-10T22:30:07-04:00

Musings of a Bipolar Soul

On June 13, 2009, I was driving along the scenic shores of the Finger Lakes region of New York wondering what I was going to do with my life.  I was 45.  I had spent most of the last two decades serving as a pastor while battling bipolar disorder. At my best, I had time and energy left to enjoy family life with my wonderful wife and four beautiful children.  At my worst, I either laid under the covers in a dark bedroom or frantically pursued plans ill-conceived and left undone.  I looked out the window and prayed for vision. Suddenly, it came to me. I would write a book about bipolar and the faith that either fuels us to distraction or saves us from self-destruction.  In less than 20 miles, I conceived of a collection of devotions, inspired by the Psalms.   That journey that began along the shores [...]

Musings of a Bipolar Soul2019-06-03T16:12:11-04:00

A Beautiful, Brilliant, Unquiet Mind

When I first received my bipolar diagnosis, the picture painted for me of my future was rather bleak.  The staff at the psychiatric hospital explained that I would likely not be able to continue in ministry.  I would go on disability, have repeated hospitalizations and the chances of remaining in my marriage were slim to none. My psychiatrist, however, offered a ray of hope.  He recommended a memoir that had just been published by one of the most world-renowned expert on bipolar disorder - Kay Redfield Jamison.  In Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness, Jamison beautifully describes her own life-long struggle and brilliantly depicts the love-hate relationship many folks with Bipolar have with their illness.  She defines what she prefers to call "Manic-depression" ...a disease that both kills and gives life.  Fire, by its nature, both creates and destroys.  "The force that through the green fuse drives [...]

A Beautiful, Brilliant, Unquiet Mind2019-04-03T21:43:19-04:00

Sharing Delight in Disorder

Since my book was published, I've not done much to get the word out. As a result, I haven't sold many copies. People who have read it tell me what a difference it has made in their lives, but I have not followed up on this and reached out to others. I have a hard time walking the fine line between bragging about myself and celebrating what God is doing in my life. Lately, I have come to accept the importance of the mission God has called me to carry out. There are so many people impacted by mental illness who are in desperate need of saving faith. As the body of Christ, it's our delightful duty to show compassion for hurting souls. The emotional anguish caused by brain diseases like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression, is as real and agonizing as any bodily pain caused by a physical [...]

Sharing Delight in Disorder2019-04-02T18:17:15-04:00

Faithful Friends: Eric Riddle

{first published May 8, 2017} I first met Eric Riddle in March, 2014, a week before the release of my spiritual memoir, Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission. We went on to form a faithful friendship that, well, I’ll let Eric tell you about it.. (My words are in italics.) Thanks for joining us, Eric. We’re here to talk about faith and mental illness, two subjects I know you are passionate about. First tell me how you came to faith. I was raised in the church. As many who grow up in the church, I was following in my parent's tradition. I became more serious about my faith after my daughter was born. Going on a "Walk to Emmaus" retreat was a turning point in getting much more serious. I’ve heard those can be very transformational. Yes. The retreat was for men only and about 40 guys representing many churches [...]

Faithful Friends: Eric Riddle2019-02-17T21:13:40-04:00

Why Your (Bipolar) Story is Important

This week I received an email which said this: I am writing to explore your interest in talking with me about living with bipolar disorder. I am supporting the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) on an educational project related to living successfully with serious mental illnesses. You came to our attention through your blog, Delight in Disorder, and we are inspired by both you and your journey. We are looking for someone to profile in a short, candid personal video who is living with and managing life with bipolar disorder. The project is part of a national effort to reduce the stigma of mental health disorders, increase hope that living a successful life I is possible, and encourage people to seek help and stay in treatment. The video would be posted on SAMHSA’s website (www.SAMHSA.gov) and promoted through social media [...]

Why Your (Bipolar) Story is Important2019-02-15T18:27:19-04:00

Growing Delight in Disorder

One thing I have learned in my spiritual life is not only is it more blessed to give than to receive, but it is more rewarding. As a pastor, I observed many who came to church sporadically, made no effort to participate in service, and gave only a few small bills whenever the mood struck them. One common feature I consistently noticed in these folks is that their spiritual growth was stunted.  I saw first hand that those who withhold their time, talent, and money from kingdom work, isolated themselves from God's abundant grace experienced in generous community. I am no longer in pastoral ministry, but I see the same principle apply to my mission here at Delight in Disorder. Over the course of the last five years, I am reaching a growing number of persons impacted by mental illness. These folks need encouragement, support, and spiritual counsel. I have [...]

Growing Delight in Disorder2018-10-17T23:19:36-04:00

Get Your Personal Delight in Disorder

Since publishing my spiritual memoir, I have been blessed to see the many ways God has used it to reach the lives of those impacted by mental illness. At a library book signing the night it was released, over 100 were in attendance. As I shared some of my story and read portions of the book, expressions of recognition came over the faces in the crowd. In the Q & A section, one man said, I have lived with schizo-affective disorder for over 50 years and I've tried to keep it a secret. Thank you for showing me the value of sharing my story. Also at that gathering was a young Eric Riddle who, like me, has bipolar. Eric had recently been hospitalized and was looking for a way to put his life back together. We agreed to meet weekly for prayer and discernment and from this was conceived our [...]

Get Your Personal Delight in Disorder2018-10-15T15:21:42-04:00