Penance: Spiritual Self-Harm

penance: (n) punishment inflicted on oneself as an outward expression of repentance for wrongdoing. ‘he had done public penance for those hasty words’.   When I first separated from my (now) ex-wife, I was miserable. I wrestled with a sense of guilt and confusion, searching my mind for what I could have done differently to make a better marriage. It wasn't as if I had shut God out of my life, or the life of my family. Faith, while admittedly mixed with many of my own flaws, was evident in who we were and how we behaved. My mental illness had certainly played a strong role, but even that didn't seem like an adequate reason. Granted, over 90% of people with bipolar who marry wind up divorced. Yet, I held out hope that God would bless us to be the slim exceptions. My time alone after I left my family behind [...]

Penance: Spiritual Self-Harm2019-01-06T21:22:13-04:00

12 Blessings in 2018: Featured Posts to Encourage and Inspire

2018 began with modest expectations. It is ending with endless possibilities. Along the way, God has blessed me with new new opportunities, new friends, a new life partner. I still experience chaotic mood swings that require diligent treatment such as medication and therapy; but with a caring network of family and friends and a strong connection to Christ's body, my sanity is maintained and I can contribute to the common good. Most particularly I offer friendly counsel to those like me who have troubled minds by sharing the inspiration of God's word and the encouraging Way of Christ. Now that the year is winding down, I thought it would be good to look back at the journey. Below I have 12 featured posts (one/month) with a brief excerpt. The titles contain a link to the posts. I hope you will review these and enjoy reading through the blessings of 2018. [...]

12 Blessings in 2018: Featured Posts to Encourage and Inspire2018-12-30T15:38:54-04:00

The Meaning of Marriage: A Bipolar Perspective

Last week I married the woman of my dreams. She is smart, compassionate, beautiful, kind, and caring. She has a sharp wit, a keen appreciation for the absurd, and an abiding faith. We have much in common, but we also have distinct passions that help us grow day by day, like iron sharpening iron. We believe God has called us together and we have vowed to live out this bond in good times and bad as long as we both shall live. It's hard as hell to make a marriage work. There is so much sin within and around us that threatens to separate us, to tear apart what God has joined together. Both my wife Susan and I know the agonizing labor and painful repercussions of marriages that have ended. We have spent many hours, decades even, scrutinizing who we are and what we need, to ensure that we [...]

The Meaning of Marriage: A Bipolar Perspective2018-12-26T21:30:23-04:00

Running from the bipolar that runs in me.

One of my readers recently  contacted me with a heart-wrenching life story. As much as I wanted her words to be unique to this one family, I was trapped by just how much they applied to me and so many other persons with bipolar disorder: "... my husband was diagnosed with bipolar four years ago, and was on medication. However, he decided to stop last summer (unbeknownst to anyone) and then, in the midst of a manic phase, left me and our family in November. He still professes Christ, but has filed for divorce and has accumulated $40,000 in debt. I have struggled with trusting him and anything he says, as you can imagine. Yet here, I see you are a man of faith, and some of the same issues have taken place in your life. As it stands now, this is in God's hands. God has been good [...]

Running from the bipolar that runs in me.2018-12-10T17:05:19-04:00

He Was in Heaven Before He Died

I wrote this story about a decade ago. It is not 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 [...]

He Was in Heaven Before He Died2018-12-30T14:48:02-04:00

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 [...]

Remembering2018-06-21T00:14:56-04:00

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 Day2018-06-18T01:22:50-04:00

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” Roberts2018-05-30T21:16:25-04:00

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 Prayer2018-05-17T20:01:26-04:00

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 Shepherd2018-03-18T16:15:26-04:00