Self-Pity or Emotional Honesty?

"Mitch, I don't allow myself any more self-pity than that. A little each morning, a few tears, and that's all." I thought about all the people I knew who spent many of their waking hours feeling sorry for themselves. How useful it would be to put a daily limit on self-pity. Just a few minutes, then on with the day. And if Morrie could do it, with such a horrible disease . . . ― Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie. Self-pity, in measured doses, is a natural expression of grief and sadness. It is part of being human. God would expect no less from us. It can even be beneficial. As we get in touch with our personal emotions, we can be more empathetic towards others. But, there is a time and a place for self-pity. If it spills over too broadly, our relationships can become terribly imbalanced. This is particularly [...]

Self-Pity or Emotional Honesty?2020-01-15T20:29:31-05:00

Writing From Despair to Delight

Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters. ~ Neil Gaiman. This has been a good week of writing days. I was coming into the homestretch of my book and I just kept striding until it was finished. Now I have a completed draft which I've sent to beta readers for recommendations and to Moody Publishers for consideration. The book was conceived near the end of 2013, as I was going to press with Delight in Disorder. It has taken six years to brew, and just about six weeks to write. Edna St. Vincent Millay was once asked how much time in her day she spent writing and she said at least 24 hours. A writer is never not writing, even when she is away from keyboard and screen. But it feels exceptionally good on days when I [...]

Writing From Despair to Delight2019-12-29T19:15:08-05:00

What Child This Is!

first published December 24, 2017...   … Christmas is not only the mile-mark of another year, moving us to thoughts of self-examination: it is a season, from all its associations, whether domestic or religious, suggesting thoughts of joy. A man dissatisfied with his endeavours is a man tempted to sadness. And in the midst of the winter, when his life runs lowest and he is reminded of the empty chairs of his beloved, it is well he should be condemned to this fashion of the smiling face. Noble disappointment, noble self-denial are not to be admired, not even to be pardoned, if they bring bitterness. It is one thing to enter the kingdom of heaven maim; another to maim yourself and stay without. And the kingdom of heaven is of the childlike, of those who are easy to please, who love and who give pleasure.  (from “A Christmas Sermon” by [...]

What Child This Is!2019-12-26T01:32:59-05:00

Mystics and Madmen: When Faith and Mental Illness Clash

Well, I'm back in my writer's chair, in fits and starts that is. After pressing through a harsh spell of mental anguish, I had the good fortune of contracting pneumonia. It could be worse. Their first diagnosis was congestive heart failure. Pneumonia saps my strength and makes me contagious, but I can live with this. Truly live. As I sit here on a cold winter's night, the blank screen taunts me. I've decided to do what all good writers do. Steal the work of others, with citation. After all, even writers aren't God. No Creatio ex Nihilo for us. So what follows in the italics is a message sent to me on December 13 of last year by a woman named Carrie. Carrie is so thoughtful and articulate, I'll let her speak for herself then I'll make a few brief comments at the end.   Hello Tony,  I've been following [...]

Mystics and Madmen: When Faith and Mental Illness Clash2019-12-11T21:21:21-05:00

My Life Partnership: In Sickness and in Health

Susan is currently in California doing one of the things that makes her heart glad - being a grandma. I'm holding down the home front, playing with Briley, and sharing stories. Here is one I first published on February 24, 2019. Over Labor Day weekend in 2018, I met the woman who would soon become my wife. Susan is all I could ever ask for in a life partner. She is intelligent. She has a beautiful smile. She has a great sense of humor. And, most importantly, she loves me and shares my faith. She accepts my identity as one who has bipolar disorder and affirms my mental health ministry. She is a definitive example of “ezer,” a help-meet who enhances my life, not a slave subservient to me or a master who emasculates me. I am truly blessed. Susan and I have experienced this past year as if it [...]

My Life Partnership: In Sickness and in Health2019-10-06T18:50:34-04:00

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

Preparing for Fiery Trials

My soul is searing. Not from the burning wrath of God but from the fiery grace of Christ. The past month has been the most challenging one I can remember over the past decade. I spent 3 weeks in a dungeon of despair, lost in a thick haze of hopeless regret over perceived personal failings that left me feeling irredeemable. Then, around midnight 11 days ago  the fog lifted; my dry bones were enfleshed with spiritual sinews. I walked unweary. I flew like an eagle full of promise and purpose. The psychological diagnosis for this is bipolar disorder. The spiritual diagnosis I’m coming to discern is being tested by the Lord; or, tempted by Satan. Or could it be both? Reflecting on an emotional meltdown 24 hours ago, I’ve come to relate intimately with the baptism of Jesus followed immediately by his desert temptation by the Accuser. Jesus understood his relationship to [...]

Preparing for Fiery Trials2019-07-07T17:10:41-04:00

The Painful Best

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.  (Psalm 42:5)   As one who is touched with bipolar depression, I write about spiritual darkness. Yet, as a believer, I see the light of Christ shining through this darkness. The following are from posts written over the course of the last 6 years. If I have done my job as a Christian who has bipolar, you will find hope to handle despair with the strong arm of faith.   April 9, 2013   I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live...(Deuteronomy 30:19) When I read the news of Matthew Warren's suicide yesterday, I felt sick to my stomach.  I [...]

The Painful Best2019-06-26T03:18:53-04:00

Grandma McPeak. Just Grandma.

Today is Grandma McPeak's birthday. Some time ago,  I had lunch with her.  You know how people often have endearing names for their grandmothers — Nanny, Granny, Mama, etc…  Well, Grandma McPeak has always just been “Grandma” – as if she defined the role. She met me at the door with a smile. Come on in.  Make yourself at home. I brought you some good food for lunch, Grandma. Did you make it?  (sounding surprised) Well, no, Connie did. Bless her heart.  You tell her I said thanks. I set the broccoli salad, cantaloupe (or “mush melon – as Grandma calls it), green onions, and plums on the table, then fixed our plates with pork, ham and beans and green beans.  Grandma was standing by the microwave. Do you mind putting these in for a minute, Grandma? (looking confused) Well, I’m afraid you’re going to have to do it. What’s [...]

Grandma McPeak. Just Grandma.2019-06-24T18:59:11-04:00