He Was in Heaven Before He Died

The following is not a story based solely on facts. I did have a Grandpa George and this was pretty much how he lived and died. But I didn't make it to the funeral. Instead, I was in a hellish heaven of my own on the psych unit of Columbia Presbyterian.   I got the call late at night that Grandpa George had died.  He had lived a hard life.  He didn't have the opportunity to get a good education.  He never learned to read or write because his demanding father made him quit school to help in the fields.   He worked hard to get by and managed to scrape together a living.  He met a woman - Maize - at the tomato factory where he worked.  She says he was throwing tomatoes at her, so she knew he liked her.   They were married in less than 3 months. [...]

He Was in Heaven Before He Died2018-08-02T00:11:28+00:00

Remembering

Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you. (Deuteronomy 32:7) Memories are pliable things. They are easily bent by life experiences and influenced by the shape of our faith. What happens to us and what we believe colors our memories. No two persons share identical memories, even should they grow up in the same family -- perhaps especially if they do. This weekend we are having a celebration of life for my grandparents. With their passing, we have lost a generation that may never be replaced. There has been a tear in the fabric of our family. No one to unite us in faith. No one to gather us for games or work projects. We miss them terribly and we don't want them to just disappear as if they never existed. We want [...]

Remembering2018-06-21T00:14:56+00:00

Happy Daddy Day

It's Fathers Day. I've celebrated with my Dad the blessings he has brought into my life. Now I'm doing an honest assessment of who I have been as a father to my four children. I want to steer clear of a depressive pity party as well as a manic recounting of my amazing moments. Just remember. The good along with the not-so-good. I was not prepared to be a father. Is anyone? But when they handed me my bundled baby girl, my heart melted. I was as grateful to God as I have ever been. The prospect that this child was mine filled me with delight as well as desperation. How would I provide for her? What if I screw up? Who the hell did God think I was to deserve such a blessing? It's been over 26 years now since that glorious day and here are three things I [...]

Happy Daddy Day2018-06-18T01:22:50+00:00

Briley “The Biscuit” Roberts

“Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.” ― Mark Twain. This week I got a new best friend. Her name is Briley "The Biscuit" Roberts. I have spent the better part of six days now with Briley and we have become quite attached. I find that I can no longer do things on a whim. I have to think through how it will impact Briley. Can she go with me? Will I put her in a crate? What if I'm gone a long while? Could I get someone to check in on her? Since becoming a parent, I have not taken such a life-altering step. And I'm loving it. I have been a dog owner before. Growing up, we had a dog named Sparky. Actually, if you ask my sister we had a series of dogs named Sparky that kept [...]

Briley “The Biscuit” Roberts2018-05-30T21:16:25+00:00

My Mom: Parenting, Pills, and Prayer

This past Sunday was Mother's Day. Earlier in the week, as I was driving my mom to get groceries, she took me by the hand and said, "You know what I would like most for Mother's Day? For all of my children to come to church with me." Three of us joined her as the pastor preached about mothers who pass on faith in Christ to their children. I have not given much credit to my mother for passing on her faith to me. There is a reason for this. For much of my childhood and up until very recently, Mom has battled with various ailments that have consumed her attention. Shortly after I was born, she started taking "nerve" pills, like Valium, and "pain medicine" like morphine. This was common practice in women of her generation. Rather than listen closely to the needs of women, doctors shut them up [...]

My Mom: Parenting, Pills, and Prayer2018-05-17T20:01:26+00:00

My Sister, My Psych Shepherd

This post was originally published on January 14, 2018; 6 months and 13 days from when I moved away from my self-destructive life alone, into the home of my sister and brother-in-law. I don't pay enough for room & board, so now and then I like to boost them up with a good story. Here is one of those. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. (Psalm 23.1-2 KJV) My family of origin was crazy. I mean crazy. I dealt with the craziness by retreating and became a psych patient myself. My sister responded with an urge to treat the problem and became a psych nurse. But my sister ("Karen") is much more than any psych nurse. Many of my friends who have mental illness have great respect for her. My [...]

My Sister, My Psych Shepherd2018-03-18T16:15:26+00:00

One Angel Who Did Not Fear to Tread

I want to tell a story I've told many times before. But I can't tell it enough. It's the story of what happens when someone with a mental illness falls into the pit of despair is lifted up by the loving faithfulness of one who cares. December 1, 2016. I am in the Goodman exit lane off I-490 in Rochester, New York. An unusual light shines in my rearview. In seconds, I hear a loud crack and feel a tremendous lurch. Someone traveling too close, going too fast, hit me. Hard. I called 911 and a policeman showed up, followed by an ambulance. I was taken to Strong Memorial hospital where they ran tests and found nothing conclusive. But I became increasingly agitated. I became convinced that I was paralyzed. Three doctors ran tests on me at separate times and concluded that nothing was wrong. Physically. That's when I called [...]

One Angel Who Did Not Fear to Tread2018-03-01T00:50:49+00:00

Is Depression ‘of God’? – Leanne Sype

In 2013, I partnered with Leanne Sype to begin the process that led to the publication of Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission. I was thrilled with her work as editor, a crowdfunding consultant,a spiritual adviser, and friend. Here is some of her story. *** I have depression. It’s called “situational depression” because it was induced by the situation of both my kids being diagnosed with mental illnesses. My son has ADHD. My daughter has depression and anxiety, which, for her, include symptoms like self-harm and thoughts of wanting to die. Over the course of navigating treatments, advocating for academic accommodations, and engaging in the bulk of the emotional support for each kiddo, I felt depression slowly weigh down on my chest. *** I once had a Christian friend tell me that anything with the prefix de- isn’t “of God.” Depression fell into that category in our conversation. Whether [...]

Is Depression ‘of God’? – Leanne Sype2018-02-14T17:16:05+00:00

Reaching Out; Letting Go: Kelcey Rockhold

Kelcey Rockhold is an exiled Portlandier now living in Tuscon. I ran across her story as I was browsing for personal narratives about depression. We have followed each other over three years now and I have found our writing relationship very enriching and inspirational. Kelcey is in a much different place than where she was three years ago and it has been a blessing to see her grow. +     +     + For years, I was told by medical professionals that I most likely wouldn’t have kids. Sometimes I would hear that I “shouldn’t”. My mental state for quite a few years was rocky to say the least, due in large part to an eating disorder I was battling. My heart was broken for so long, believing deep down that I would never have kids, even though that was the only thing in the world I [...]

Reaching Out; Letting Go: Kelcey Rockhold2018-02-11T19:33:02+00:00

So you want to marry someone who has bipolar?

You may want to reconsider if he... ... follows you around the mall telling you how ridiculous you are for wanting to have a career as an at-home mom. ... refuses to leave your apartment until he has beaten you in more computer hangman games than you have beaten him. ... tells you to pretend you don’t know each other at the campus picnic so people won’t know you are a couple. ... proposes to you in bed by saying, “You don’t really want to get married do you?” ... jumps out of your moving car because you can’t agree whether to have plants or flowers at your wedding.   Then again, you may appreciate that he... ... sneaks into you apartment while you are at work, puts on “I Will” by the Beatles, grabs you as you enter and dances with you in his own goofy way. ... composes [...]

So you want to marry someone who has bipolar?2018-01-29T20:06:45+00:00