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’s Prayer: How Long?

I have little to say. The thought of composing a post from scratch seems insurmountable. But I don't want to give up. I know there are people who read my work looking for encouraging words. Not false hope, for sure, not even a hope that can be seen, but a hope that is rooted in the Good News of Christ:   The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  (John 1.5)   I do a lot of self-reflection here and there is a method in my madness. I have found working in mental health ministry that more people are willing to explore their own emotional struggles if you first share yours. But there is a great danger in this. You can get so caught up in musing on your misery that you bring others down rather than lift them up. I'm determined  not to do that. So, [...]

Grandma’s Prayer: How Long?2019-06-23T19:44:51-04:00

Darkness is My Closest Companion

My friend and my neighbor have put away from me, and darkness is my only companion. (Psalm 88:18; Book of Common Prayer)   "... depression is not just sadness or sorrow. Depression is not just negative thinking. Depression is not just being "down." It is being cast to the very end of your tether and, quite frankly, being dropped... The sick individual cannot simply shrug it off or pull out of it. While God certainly can pick up the pieces and put them together in a new way, this can only happen if the depressed brain makes it through to see again life among the living."  ~ Kathryn Greene-McCreight, Darkness is My Only Companion.   It's been 14 days that have passed like 14 years. Some days I lay in bed into late afternoon. One it was 6 p.m. Other days I'm up well before dawn. Up or down, the [...]

Darkness is My Closest Companion2019-06-19T06:02:20-04:00

Life and Death with Bipolar

A friend of mine, who also has bipolar, was in an auto accident when she was in college. She was taken to the emergency room where she had an x-ray and cat-scan. Neither showed any physical damage. She called her resident adviser to come to the hospital to pick her up. By the time he got there, she was livid with the staff, crying out to anyone who would listen, and many who wouldn't, that she was paralyzed. Three doctors and several nurses examined her and found nothing physically wrong. As the night wore on, however, she became hysterical. She said she had a massive inflammation in her spine. She was admitted to a medical-behavioral unit where she was diagnosed as having an acute manic episode. She was given psychotropics. They also performed an MRI and found a mass in her lower spine.  Another cat-scan also revealed a mass in her [...]

Life and Death with Bipolar2019-06-05T17:19:29-04:00

The Personal Cost of Freedom

I went to a fast food restaurant for dinner some time ago. The guy ahead of me had just come home from Afghanistan. He was buying dinner for his son and himself. The total came to over $20. He didn’t have enough. They said they would give him a 10% military discount. Still not enough. He started taking away food from his order until he could afford it. Sad. Then I saw a man who had heard this haggling hand him $100 bill and say, "Thanks for your service." The soldier teared up and said, "You don’t know how much this means to me." The man smiled and said,  "You don’t know how much what you do means to me." I posted this story on Facebook and it got well over 100 likes and a dozen shares. It shows that people really want to care about those willing to give [...]

The Personal Cost of Freedom2019-05-26T22:12:21-04:00

Briley “The Biscuit” Roberts – One Year Later

Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in. ― Mark Twain.   May, 2018: 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? What if I'm gone a long while? Could I get someone to check in on her? Ever since I became 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” Roberts – One Year Later2019-05-25T19:31:02-04:00

Baking Cookies; Confronting Abuse

{first published on October 2, 2018} by Amanda Ladwig... One of the many amazing things about truly working through childhood sexual abuse is the act of taking every single thought, and terrible memory captive and watching Christ redeem them. Facing them. Feeling them. Without making excuses. Without placing or taking the blame. The abuse and abuser no longer linger in the darkest parts of your mind controlling or tainting the memories you have. They are front and center. Begging to be defeated. Every day, and sometimes minute-by-minute, there are battles fought to reclaim simple things, innocent objects, smells, and sounds. Things that may seem trivial to others represent a great victory. That being said, today I fought a battle and won. Today, I reclaimed what should have been a pleasant childhood memory. Today, I ate an Italian wedding cookie and enjoyed it. That won't mean much to you, but to [...]

Baking Cookies; Confronting Abuse2019-05-12T15:46:19-04:00

April’s Cruelty in the Wasteland

 April is the cruellest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain. (from The Wasteland by T.S. Eliot) The sun is hidden behind thick, dark clouds. A cold rain has been falling all day. I didn't know this, however, until I crawled out of bed this afternoon and asked Susan how the day was. "Not good." She said. An understatement. Cruel is more like it. Eliot could have been standing on my deck when he wrote these lines; breathing in the nascent scent of lilacs along with the stink of liquid manure; envisioning unspoken hopes and mislaid dreams floating on the surface of ruddy lawns. April has indeed been a cruel month. Look at the weather. Devastating floods along the Missouri River. Tornadoes in the Southern US, an earthquake in Indonesia, a cyclone in Mozambique causing over 1,000 cases of [...]

April’s Cruelty in the Wasteland2019-04-24T23:09:48-04:00

Karma vs. Grace: A Psycho-Spiritual Analysis

Karma means action and action motivated by compassion is good. To complain that what happens to you is just the result of your karma is lazy. Instead, confidently recalling the advice that, "You are your own master," you can change what happens by taking action. ~ Dalai Lama.   If you want God's grace, all you need is need, all you need is nothing. But that kind of spiritual humility is hard to muster. We come to God saying, "Look at all I've done," or maybe "Look at all I've suffered." God, however, wants us to look to him... ~ Timothy Keller.   I have a good friend (I'll call her Trish) who practices Buddhism. Trish says she likes having a teacher tell her what to do to gain spiritual enlightenment. She claims this is just what Jesus did with his disciples. He showed them the right things to do, and [...]

Karma vs. Grace: A Psycho-Spiritual Analysis2019-04-17T23:04:09-04:00

A Faithful Response to Suicide

Prelude: Since I first wrote this, another friend has died. I wonder what I could have done to prevent it. I had not heard from him for several weeks. Should I have checked in? My heart burns in my chest and I feel like once again death has punched me in the gut. One thing I want to stress to the family members and friends of all whose life has ended in such a tragic way is that there is nothing you could have done to change the outcome. Don't beat yourself up wondering what you could have done to prevent it. Instead, let their legacy live on in the life you live. Let your memory of them shape your walk of faith in making a difference for those God brings your way.   {this was originally published on June 11, 2018}   I am a man of faith who [...]

A Faithful Response to Suicide2019-04-14T19:58:54-04:00