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

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 Tread2018-03-01T00:50:49-04:00

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 Rockhold2018-02-11T19:33:02-04:00

No One Cares About Crazy People: A Review

I hope you do not "enjoy" this book. I hope you are wounded by it; wounded as I have been in writing it. Ron Powers knows craziness inside and out. His book is part-expose, part-memoir. Not only does he unveil the atrocious way demoniacs/lunatics/maniacs/mentally ill have been abused throughout history, he also shares a very personal story about how mental illness has ravaged his family. Powers primarily examines schizophrenia, the mother of all mental illnesses. The most debilitating. The one most resistant to treatment. This is the illness Powers's sons Kevin & Dean have. But this diagnosis does not define them. They are creative, compassionate young men. Powers describes how his sons were moved by music and this passion for artistic expression gave them direction and purpose. But, as their minds gave way to the mental illness within, they would lose the capacity for anything coherently creative. Only chaos. [...]

No One Cares About Crazy People: A Review2018-01-19T16:09:36-04:00

Revealing Voices: The Launch

I love to write. I love it even more when people read what I write. And I love it the most when people respond to what they've read that I've written. Today I got an email from Natalie M. She writes about our upcoming podcast, Revealing Voices: the mental health podcast raising unanswered questions, sharing unanswered prayers -- What a wonderful, amazing, much needed and Holy Spirit-filled idea... My husband just six months ago took over as a Senior Pastor of a small church... and being in ministry we realize how important mental health is...It's something I've struggled with over the years, it's something  that God brought me through, though I have occasional  down days. God brought healing and beauty from the ashes and has allowed me to share my testimony. Depression is not something that Christians don't experience. It's a growing issue that pastors need to speak about, [...]

Revealing Voices: The Launch2017-11-20T15:57:31-04:00

Mental Illness: Explanation or Excuse

This is not something I want to write. It's something I feel compelled to write. First, an explanation. Mental illness is a serious problem, both for those of us who have it and for our loved ones impacted by it. It is a also a major societal issue. How we care for those who are most vulnerable is a reflection of who we are and what we believe. If we let "the least of these" fall through the cracks, we will be judged by our consciences and by our faith convictions. God does not look lightly at those abusing His children. Mental illness is a medical condition stemming from faulty brain chemistry which current medical science can treat, but not cure. My own bipolar disorder is considered a serious mental illness (SMI). SMIs are disabling conditions that are chronic. You can't just take a pill and make them go [...]

Mental Illness: Explanation or Excuse2017-10-19T14:49:19-04:00