Prayers Answered and Unanswered: Yes? No? Wait?

At age 55, my father-in-law was diagnosed with an advanced stage of colon cancer. He received an aggressive round of chemotherapy. Inexplicably, he went into a coma. We recruited prayer warriors throughout the country. In just a few weeks, one of his medical interns happened to read a case study that perfectly fit my father-in-laws profile. They adapted his treatment. He returned to full function. He is now 85 and enjoying life to its fullest. Prayers answered, "Yes." Some time ago, my (then) wife and I separated after 20 years of marriage. I desperately wanted to reconcile. I sought intensive counseling for over a year.  I met with church elders and deacons. I prayed. My family prayed. My friends prayed. My church prayed. After 5 years, it became clear marriage reconciliation would not happen and we got a divorce. Prayers answered, "No." I served in pastoral ministry for twenty years [...]

Prayers Answered and Unanswered: Yes? No? Wait?2020-10-25T06:42:56-04:00

Blessed are the Comforted Who Comfort Others

At Dad's funeral service, my Uncle Geoff read this passage from 2 Corinthians 1 -- 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. Comfort. Nine times in just five verses. In the original Greek, one extended sentence. Nine times! The Apostle Paul knew how [...]

Blessed are the Comforted Who Comfort Others2020-08-16T21:29:06-04:00

When Despair Meets Delight: Growing Closer Each Day

Things are speeding up as I progress toward the publication of When Despair Meets Delight. This week I have: Messaged prospective buyers about advance orders. Conducted an interview with a local reporter for an feature article. Met with a librarian about an upcoming virtual book launch. Spoke with a Christian radio station about appearing on one of their programs. Scheduled appearances on two Facebook live podcasts. All this while attending to my dying father and coordinating his funeral service. Am I manic? Perhaps. Should I slow down? Maybe. What happens if/when I crash? I don't know. One thing I'm sure of is I'm not manufacturing my mania. I am getting plenty of sleep. I'm taking my prescribed medication on time. I have a relatively good rhythm of work and rest. There are certainly improvements I could make in such areas as diet and exercise, but I'm doing my best. I'm [...]

When Despair Meets Delight: Growing Closer Each Day2020-08-07T15:28:38-04:00

To Veston E. Roberts, the Best Dad Ever

My dad died this week. A decade ago he was given a few months to live and he thumbed his nose at the medical establishment and lived life to its fullest, until he was ready to die on his own terms. He died with confident faith that this life is not all there is. He found strength for each day because of his hope that tomorrow would be better.  Dad didn't get to see my latest book in print, but I did read it to him. He knew I had acknowledged the huge part he and his wife Connie played in making it possible. The look of pride and gratification in his eyes is one I'll carry with me to my dying day.  My book went through  many transformations, the latest of which came after Dad's diagnosis in March. This excerpt comes from that...   From When Despair Meets Delight, [...]

To Veston E. Roberts, the Best Dad Ever2020-08-02T20:16:25-04:00

A John Prine Primer: Music and Stories of a Modern Day Mark Twain

Grief is a complex thing. Contrary to popular opinion, we don't all go through grief in easily understood stages from denial to acceptance. Instead, there are as many ways to respond to loss as there are people who suffer loss. And, if we are blessed to live long enough, we all lose someone important to us. In a time such as ours, losses are becoming multiplied. On April 7, 2020 John Prine died. I did not know Prine personally but like many who heard his songs, I felt like I did. Not only did I feel like I knew John, but all the people he sang about, who represents the whole of the human race. On the night he died, I stayed up listening to his music and reflecting on his life. I want to share this experience with you.   "I guess I just process death differently than some [...]

A John Prine Primer: Music and Stories of a Modern Day Mark Twain2020-04-10T00:26:21-04:00

How Are You Weathering This Virus Crisis? One Grieving Woman’s Response.

When this pandemic began, I started sending out messages to my Facebook friends that asked, "How are you weathering this virus crisis?" I got a wide range of responses. A few just responded, "Fine. You?" Some shared concerns over loved ones on the front-lines of healthcare, food delivery, law enforcement. Others mentioned the loneliness they felt separated from friends and family. Many expressed gratitude that I reached out. They found that the connection with a virtual stranger turned friend had healing qualities. One particular connection moved me in a powerful way.   Me: Hi P, just checking in with friends and loved ones. How are you weathering the virus crisis? P: My mother died this morning at age 92. We can't hold a funeral because of the lock down. Me: Oh my, I'm so sorry. P: My church is closed. I feel so disoriented. Me: How awful! P: What a [...]

How Are You Weathering This Virus Crisis? One Grieving Woman’s Response.2020-04-25T16:33:16-04:00

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

He Was in Heaven Before He Died

I wrote this story about a decade ago. It is not based solely on facts. I did have a Grandpa George and this was pretty much how he lived and died. But I didn't make it to the funeral. Instead, I was in a hellish heaven of my own on the psych unit of Columbia Presbyterian.   I got the call late at night that Grandpa George had died.  He had lived a hard life.  He didn't have the opportunity to get a good education.  He never learned to read or write because his demanding father made him quit school to help in the fields.   He worked hard to get by and managed to scrape together a living.  He met a woman - Maize - at the tomato factory where he worked.  She says he was throwing tomatoes at her, so she knew he liked her.   They were married [...]

He Was in Heaven Before He Died2018-12-30T14:48:02-05:00

Living Prepared to Die

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 [...]

Living Prepared to Die2018-01-19T16:10:04-05:00

Good Friday: Life at Affinity Place

Good Friday. The day Christians around the world mark the death of the One equal with God, who died a horrific death on a cross so we might live with him forever. John Witvilet says this about the day: "Making peace through the blood of his cross" is like saying that a nuclear missile has become an olive-branch, that Guantanamo has become a garden of healing, that a sword has been turned into a plowshare, that a tank has been turned into a tractor. The very thought of it leaves us weak in the knees with astonishment. ("A Crescendo of Wonder," Christianity Today) Good Friday is only good because of what happens on Easter. Death is swallowed up in victory. Christ who died becomes Christ who is Risen so he can be Christ who comes again. I'm not attending a Good Friday service this year. I planned to, but evidently [...]

Good Friday: Life at Affinity Place2017-05-30T14:09:43-04:00
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