From Despair to Delight: Inspiration

In his seminal book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King tells this story -- A friend came to visit James Joyce one day and found the great man sprawled across his writing desk in a posture of utter despair. "James, what’s wrong?" the friend asked. "Is it the work?" Joyce indicated assent without even raising his head to look at his friend. Of course it was the work; isn’t it always? "How many words did you get today?" the friend pursued. Joyce (still in despair, still sprawled facedown on his desk): "Seven." "Seven? But James… that’s good, at least for you." "Yes," Joyce said, finally looking up. "I suppose it is… but I don’t know what order they go in!"   In March of 2014, I published Delight in Disorder, a devotional memoir about my life as a pastor with bipolar disorder. It was nearly 5 years [...]

From Despair to Delight: Inspiration2019-10-13T20:20:51-05:00

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 Reflection2019-09-01T21:55:07-05:00

My Angel of Mercy

It's been a busy week. We are at the National Correctional Education Association (CEA) conference. I have come along to support my wife Susan, who is President. While she attends to many various and sundry presidential matters, I am staffing her display table, selling her book Kicked to the Curb, encouraging people to subscribe to her blog, and sharing information about her business Nexus Point Consulting. Often, a week of being around people would do me in. While I flock to the spotlight, I can be consumed by the energy of crowds. When I took the Myers-Briggs I scored off-the-scale Introvert. I have learned to endure public duties, but they clearly drain me. As I write this alone in our room, listening to the white soul sounds of Slaid Cleves, Susan is still going strong at a reception honoring teachers of the year. It may take me a week or [...]

My Angel of Mercy2019-07-29T20:22:58-05:00

Readers Write: Testimonies to Delight in Disorder

My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. (Psalm 119:50) "Easy reading is damn hard writing." ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne. Someone once said, "I don't enjoy writing. I enjoy having written." My experience is far from this. I delight in writing. Many times in my life it has been the sole thing to keep me sane. As I write, the voices within and around me are orchestrated through my fingers, inspired by the Spirit, and guided by the Scriptures. My writing is by no means God's Word. It is one saintly sinner's attempt to say something that gives glory to God and uplifts God's people. I've been struggling to write this week. Daily devotions. Encouraging emails. Blog posts. Nothing is coming to me and it is terribly frustrating. Often when I have struggled in the past, I draw from current experience. What have I found joyful? What [...]

Readers Write: Testimonies to Delight in Disorder2019-03-03T20:09:31-05:00

Meet Rev. Tony Roberts, Faith & Mental Health Advocate

On January 7, 2019, I was introduced to the staff at St. Peter's Lutheran (Columbus, IN) as their new Faith & Mental Health Advocate. This position is both an extension of what I do with Delight in Disorder ministries, and a big step forward for St. Peter's. I believe God will bless us both and others as we work together. Why is such a position needed? In spite of perceived improvements in the mental health care system, we still have a long way to go. St. Peter's already has a staff of quality, trained counselors responding with Christian care to the needs of many with emotional, relational, and behavioral issues. Pastors, principals, teachers, a social worker, support staff, and volunteers work hard to better understand those impacted by a mental illness. My role will not be to replace any of them, but to enhance what they are already doing with insights [...]

Meet Rev. Tony Roberts, Faith & Mental Health Advocate2019-01-09T20:47:33-05:00

Revealing Voices — Dr. Susan Lockwood, author of Kicked to the Curb

I'm excited about our most recent recent Revealing Voices episode for a number of reasons. For one, it is our first foray into the intersection of mental illness and criminal justice, particularly the prison system. Studies show that on any given day fully 10 times as many persons with severe mental illness are in prisons than in psychiatric hospitals. Secondly, our guest, Dr. Susan Lockwood, is uniquely qualified to address issues related to correctional education, particularly for youth. She served 34 years as an educator, first in the public school system, then with youth who were incarcerated, and finally as Director of Juvenile Education at the Indiana Department of Correction.  Currently, she is the owner of Nexus Point Consulting, LLC, specializing in correctional education and workforce development, and the Director of Education Strategy for American Prison Data Systems (APDS.) She also serves as President of the national organization, Correctional Education Association (CEA.) [...]

Revealing Voices — Dr. Susan Lockwood, author of Kicked to the Curb2018-11-25T21:23:31-05:00

Bruised, Not Broken: Resilient Hearts

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. (Isaiah 42.3) My parents divorced in 1975. From then on, I have been identified as a child of a broken home. This brokenness certainly describes the nature of the family we once had, or hoped to have. That image of family is forever broken, shattered, never to be fixed. But I am not a broken person. Bruised, yes. Even deeply wounded, but not broken. At least not forever broken. Fractured, but capable of being mended. In time, with plenty of prayer and much care, I have passed through stages of recovery to become a wounded healer who intimately feels the pain of others and, by God's grace, responds in love. In her soon-to-be published book Kicked to the Curb, Dr. Susan Lockwood describes resilience is the life of a young woman named Rose. Rose is a twenty-something [...]

Bruised, Not Broken: Resilient Hearts2018-09-19T11:53:23-05:00

Van Gogh & Our Vocations

On July 2, 2018, I published the following post entitled "Van Gogh & Me: Pursuing Our Vocations." My friend Mark Rockwell shared it on his Facebook page with this comment: Interesting topic that I'd love to hear from friends of mine in the visual, musical, and word art worlds. Can you imagine pouring yourself out in art, relative to your spiritual life, and not making a penny from it, but, instead, depending upon the support of just a few? Would you be able to sustain your production of art without the affirmation of the public during your lifetime? Is there a border between the art that you create out of need, as a release valve, and the art that you make public and hope that others will see/consider/purchase? Is there art that you create purely for the glory of God or as a natural fruit of your relationship with Him? [...]

Van Gogh & Our Vocations2018-07-26T01:11:19-05:00

Van Gogh & Me: Pursuing Our Vocations

Dear Theo: The Autobiography of Vincent Van Gogh is not only a fascinating art history, it is also the story of a spiritual quest by two brothers who love each other dearly. Van Gogh originally set out to follow in his father's footsteps as a pastor, but for reasons that are only somewhat revealed, it didn't work out.  During this period of preparation for ministry, Van Gogh describes a foreboding sense - These are really happy days I spend here, but still it is a happiness and quiet which I do not quite trust.  Man is not easily content: now he finds things too easy and then again he is not contented enough. Though not terribly dissatisfied, Van Gogh senses something is missing.  Something is not quite right.  He wonders if this "dis-ease" could have a spiritual basis. There may be a time in life when one is tired of everything [...]

Van Gogh & Me: Pursuing Our Vocations2017-06-12T17:29:35-05:00