Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission2017-06-24T18:57:55-04:00

What to Pray When Prayer Isn’t Called For

It has been almost forty years now that I have been in some form of ministry. During this time, I have asked thousands of people if I might pray for them. People of all ages, various social and ethnic backgrounds, political perspectives, sexual identities. Believers and non-believers. Christians of all stripes as well as people of other faiths and those who claim no faith at all. In four decades I can count on one hand the number of persons who were not grateful for my prayers or offer to pray. And many, many times, bringing the subject up has opened the door to spiritual intimacy that is tremendously nourishing. In my Hope for Troubled Minds Facebook community, I have been messaging members for prayer requests. I then write their responses in a notebook and look them over at various times through the week. Their prayers are unique, but they also [...]

By |May 3rd, 2020|Categories: Hope for Troubled Minds|Tags: , , |0 Comments

A Burning Fire; A Wisp of Smoke

Writing, then, was a substitute for myself: if you don't love me, love my writing & love me for my writing. It is also much more: a way of ordering and reordering the chaos of experience. ― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath I keep a daily journal of happenings in my life. Some of these things emerge in my public writing. Literary quotes. Character sketches. Story outlines. You will also find less assuming material in my journals. Financial profiles. Schedules. Contact information. To call these daily journals is generous at best. Sometimes weeks go by without a single entry. Then I'll go on a binge and nearly fill a book in a week. If my journal could speak in those gaps, it would cry out in anguish, wail in sorrow, moan in despair. But the pages are blank. Like my mind. Unborn words. Aborted sentences. Silent stories. Flannery O'Connor [...]

By |April 27th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

When Bipolar Mixed States Threaten Your Relationships

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?     Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;     if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,     if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me,     your right hand will hold me fast. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me     and the light become night around me,” 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;     the night will shine like the day,     for darkness is as light to you.  (Psalm 139)   Time will pass; this mood will pass; and I will, eventually, be myself again. But then, at some unknown time, the electrifying carnival will come back into my mind. ― Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness It's been over a [...]

By |April 22nd, 2020|Categories: Mental Illness|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Gratitude for Passionate Turbulence

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5.16-18) “While she might not have opted for this illness, neither does she entirely regret it; she prefers, as she writes so movingly, a life of passionate turbulence to one of tedious calm.” ― Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness.   I am grateful for many things. I’ll name five: Food to eat. A roof above my head. Family members who care for me. Faithful friends who make me laugh. And my mental illness. Yes, I am grateful for my mental illness. I have come to prefer the “passionate turbulence” of bipolar disorder to the “tedious calm” of being “normal”. This is not to say I enjoy all aspects of my illness. Sometimes it is a pain in the ass. Sometimes it robs me of hope and challenges [...]

By |April 19th, 2020|Categories: Spiritual Reflections|Tags: , , |0 Comments

The New Asylums: A Dialogue on Mental Illness Behind Bars

I have been aware of the prevalence of persons with mental illness who are incarcerated. I also know first-hand how quality in-patient psychiatric care has all but disappeared. Still, this chart portrays the crisis of mental health care in our nation. And, from the numbers I've seen, it's only getting worse. What follows is a dialogue that took place in perhaps the best Facebook groups I belong to: Advocates for People with Mental Illness. I wish these folks were in policy-making posts rather than the ones we currently have.   J:   Neither peak seems to be healthy, at least not long term. I wonder where the curve would be in a good system. D:  The community health care system that was promised after institutions closed is a dignified response to caring for people who live with mental illness. Much cheaper than institutions and so much more effective and respectful. [...]

By |April 16th, 2020|Categories: Mental Illness|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

My Pandemic Prayer Journal

I have been keeping an pandemic prayer journal. Like everything in my life, it is irregular. Intermittent. It comes in fits and starts. But as I look back over my Facebook posts the past several weeks since COVID-19 hit home, I have a good record of my life in quarantine. I want to share some of this with you: April 3, 2020 When Hope is Hard to Come By I was sitting on my back deck, listening to “Ode to Billie Joe” by Bobbie Gentry. It is one of the best country songs ever written. Certainly one of the saddest. My wife came out and asked why I was listening to such miserable music. I said something happens when you set suffering to song that gives purpose to pain, adds rhyme and reason to what seem like pointless periods in our lives. These are hard times and it is essential [...]

By |April 13th, 2020|Categories: Passing Peace in a Pandemic, Spiritual Reflections, writing|Tags: , , |0 Comments

What to Pray When Prayer Isn’t Called For

It has been almost forty years now that I have been in some form of ministry. During this time, I have asked thousands of people if I might pray for them. People of all ages, various social and ethnic backgrounds, political perspectives, sexual identities. Believers and non-believers. Christians of all stripes as well as people of other faiths and those who claim no faith at all. In four decades I can count on one hand the number of persons who were not grateful for my prayers or offer to pray. And many, many times, bringing the subject up has opened the door to spiritual intimacy that is tremendously nourishing. In my Hope for Troubled Minds Facebook community, I have been messaging members for prayer requests. I then write their responses in a notebook and look them over at various times through the week. Their prayers are unique, but they also [...]

By |May 3rd, 2020|Categories: Hope for Troubled Minds|Tags: , , |0 Comments

A Burning Fire; A Wisp of Smoke

Writing, then, was a substitute for myself: if you don't love me, love my writing & love me for my writing. It is also much more: a way of ordering and reordering the chaos of experience. ― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath I keep a daily journal of happenings in my life. Some of these things emerge in my public writing. Literary quotes. Character sketches. Story outlines. You will also find less assuming material in my journals. Financial profiles. Schedules. Contact information. To call these daily journals is generous at best. Sometimes weeks go by without a single entry. Then I'll go on a binge and nearly fill a book in a week. If my journal could speak in those gaps, it would cry out in anguish, wail in sorrow, moan in despair. But the pages are blank. Like my mind. Unborn words. Aborted sentences. Silent stories. Flannery O'Connor [...]

By |April 27th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

When Bipolar Mixed States Threaten Your Relationships

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?     Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;     if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,     if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me,     your right hand will hold me fast. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me     and the light become night around me,” 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;     the night will shine like the day,     for darkness is as light to you.  (Psalm 139)   Time will pass; this mood will pass; and I will, eventually, be myself again. But then, at some unknown time, the electrifying carnival will come back into my mind. ― Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness It's been over a [...]

By |April 22nd, 2020|Categories: Mental Illness|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Gratitude for Passionate Turbulence

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5.16-18) “While she might not have opted for this illness, neither does she entirely regret it; she prefers, as she writes so movingly, a life of passionate turbulence to one of tedious calm.” ― Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness.   I am grateful for many things. I’ll name five: Food to eat. A roof above my head. Family members who care for me. Faithful friends who make me laugh. And my mental illness. Yes, I am grateful for my mental illness. I have come to prefer the “passionate turbulence” of bipolar disorder to the “tedious calm” of being “normal”. This is not to say I enjoy all aspects of my illness. Sometimes it is a pain in the ass. Sometimes it robs me of hope and challenges [...]

By |April 19th, 2020|Categories: Spiritual Reflections|Tags: , , |0 Comments

The New Asylums: A Dialogue on Mental Illness Behind Bars

I have been aware of the prevalence of persons with mental illness who are incarcerated. I also know first-hand how quality in-patient psychiatric care has all but disappeared. Still, this chart portrays the crisis of mental health care in our nation. And, from the numbers I've seen, it's only getting worse. What follows is a dialogue that took place in perhaps the best Facebook groups I belong to: Advocates for People with Mental Illness. I wish these folks were in policy-making posts rather than the ones we currently have.   J:   Neither peak seems to be healthy, at least not long term. I wonder where the curve would be in a good system. D:  The community health care system that was promised after institutions closed is a dignified response to caring for people who live with mental illness. Much cheaper than institutions and so much more effective and respectful. [...]

By |April 16th, 2020|Categories: Mental Illness|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

My Pandemic Prayer Journal

I have been keeping an pandemic prayer journal. Like everything in my life, it is irregular. Intermittent. It comes in fits and starts. But as I look back over my Facebook posts the past several weeks since COVID-19 hit home, I have a good record of my life in quarantine. I want to share some of this with you: April 3, 2020 When Hope is Hard to Come By I was sitting on my back deck, listening to “Ode to Billie Joe” by Bobbie Gentry. It is one of the best country songs ever written. Certainly one of the saddest. My wife came out and asked why I was listening to such miserable music. I said something happens when you set suffering to song that gives purpose to pain, adds rhyme and reason to what seem like pointless periods in our lives. These are hard times and it is essential [...]

By |April 13th, 2020|Categories: Passing Peace in a Pandemic, Spiritual Reflections, writing|Tags: , , |0 Comments