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

Sacred Rest

Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.(Psalm 116:7) I write this from a loft in Somerset, New Jersey. I’m here playing Uber driver, concierge, and social director while my wife does some consulting work. Much of my day will be my own to do with as I choose. I’m already making lists of how many activities I can fit into a 24-hour day, leaving a little room to cram in sleep. One of the marks of bipolar disorder is a sense of restlessness. Often, I struggle a great deal with this. I pace. I sit. Then I stand up almost at once. I toss and turn in bed. There seems to be no rest for my weary soul. But the Psalmist here assures us that we can lay claim to a promised rest. It is our possession as we grow in our relationship [...]

Sacred Rest2019-09-18T22:35:52-04:00

Work Worthy of Eating: A Labor Day Reflection

For we hear there are some among you who are idle. They are not busy but busybodies. (2 Thessalonians 3:11) Some time ago, due to health reasons, I was encouraged to resign from my paid career. While I have worked at various tasks -- writing a spiritual memoir, founding a support group, creating a podcast -- nothing quite replaced working for a paycheck. 2 Thessalonians has caused me to consider the nature of what I do with my life and wonder if I can say I earn a living. If not, do I deserve a seat at the Lord's table? First, a little context about first century Thessalonica. Many Christians believed that Christ’s return was imminent. So why work? Some carried this even further to become armchair quarterbacks -- busybodies, as Paul puts it. Not only did they not work, they also criticized the work of others. As one of [...]

Work Worthy of Eating: A Labor Day Reflection2019-09-01T21:55:07-04:00

Wave After Wave

O Lord, God of my salvation; I cry out day and night before you.  (Psalm 88:1)   I'm finding it difficult to breathe right now. My chest constricts. My heart aches. My gut churns. Tears are welling up inside me. I'm near collapse. What is happening? I am under attack both within and beyond. Wave after wave of enemies envelop me. Overwhelm me. Cut me off from the Breath of life. I believe; I also have doubts. Not about God, but about myself. Why would God pay attention to me? What if God wants to teach me a lesson by losing? I'm clenching my fist to a thread of hope as the waves crash around me. I see no raft, no rescue ship -- only the mist at sea. Where is this coming from? I have a marvelous life... A wonderful wife. A loyal dog. A loving family. Faithful friends. [...]

Wave After Wave2019-08-25T22:31:34-04:00

To a muse, myself.

Originally published September 10, 2018....   My senior year of college, I set out to write a book. To accomplish this, I had to get a muse. All great writers have muses. I made a list of qualities my muse had to have: 1)   She had to be beautiful. 2)  She had to be smart. 3)  She had to be passionate. I looked across campus and my eyes lit on a Botticelli Beauty with flowing blonde hair. Monique. She was reading The Stranger by Albert Camus, jotting down notes in her black leather journal. I later discovered this was filled with incisive quotes she uncovered to satisfy her thirst for inspired truth. Beautiful. Check. Smart. Check. I introduced myself and we soon became friends. We shared a common disdain for pop culture. We were disgusted by the same people, hated the same things. One might think we were a [...]

To a muse, myself.2019-08-22T16:16:50-04:00

Soul Eating Shame: Internalized Stigma

Shame is a soul eating emotion.  ― C.G. Jung Guilt can be good, if it leads to a change of heart, a transformed mind, reformed behavior. Shame, however, is a wicked parasite that feeds off not what we have done, but who we are. Shame is an external imposition. At least it starts that way. We are taught to feel ashamed. The 3-year old child of a friend once hopped out of the bathtub and took off running through the halls, shouting “I love my body. I love my body.” This innocent exuberance is soon replaced by quiet discretion which, if handled too roughly, can become shame the child feels over his body. Shame is not part of God’s created order.   Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.  (Genesis 2.25)   Shame only came about as a result of disobedience, of willful separation from [...]

Soul Eating Shame: Internalized Stigma2019-08-19T00:55:15-04:00

Even in the chaos, there is encouragement.

I find delight when I write. More delight when people read what I write. And even more when readers respond to what I write. But I am perhaps most delighted when someone is moved in such a way by my work that they offer me an encouraging word or, one that challenges me to do better. Like this from a reader named Bev:   Tony,  I understand the focus of your email is mental illness.  However, it seems that examining your mental illness and dwelling on it makes it more intense.  I suffer from anxiety, and yet, I know that if I were to spend too much time thinking of it, it would be worse.  There are so many ways to become and stay stable that I don't want to spend time irritating a wound.  Today the sky is so lovely, and I will dwell on the good and the [...]

Even in the chaos, there is encouragement.2019-08-14T21:29:19-04:00

The Relationship Between Creativity and Mental Illness

I start this post with one basic assumption. Not all persons with mental illness are creative. Some sit around all day playing video solitaire, watching episodes of Judge Judy, counting the cars that pass by. Some persons with mental illness have neither the desire or the capacity (or both) to do anything that resembles creative expression. (Though you never know the depths of creativity lodged in their brains.) At the same time, I find my mental illness plays out in a creative way, primarily in my way with words. I'm not Hemingway. It's not quality, but quantity for me. Most of my waking and sleeping hours are spent plotting how I can use my words to the best effect. When I am under unusual amounts of stress, you will likely find me tucked away in a corner, Pilot G-2 gel pen gliding across a composition journal, describing the world [...]

The Relationship Between Creativity and Mental Illness2019-08-07T22:29:13-04:00

How Women Are Crazy: Pyschiatric Abuse Through the Ages

I was speaking with a friend this week about his grandmother who had been a missionary to one of the Asian nations. She had kept personal journals of her years in the mission field and my friend was prayerfully hoping to obtain them and possibly write a biography. One of his motivations was to celebrate the life and service of a woman of faith who had gone largely unnoticed in the shadow her famous husband cast. To acknowledge that women have been unfairly silenced for no other reason than their gender is more than just a radical feminist statement. It is a harsh and sometimes cruel reality. For centuries, women who somehow deviate from the societal norms placed upon them have been "put in their place" by the psychiatric profession. ... psychiatrists were often hired by husbands and fathers to probe their wives’ and daughters’ “abnormal” behaviors. The reasons men [...]

How Women Are Crazy: Pyschiatric Abuse Through the Ages2019-07-31T21:43:31-04:00