Fading to White, The Kid Next Door, Keeping it Chaste, Rhythm, and The Monster in Your Closet: Friday Featured Followers

fading  to…WHITE

“For me to live is Christ, to die is… gain.” “For I HAVE died and my life is hidden in Christ. The life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God who LOVED me and GAVE HIMSELF for me.”

Chronicles of a kid next door

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people. Titus 2:11 ESV

Keep it Chaste:  gone wilder or gone wiser in a world gone wise

Noise. Rhythm. Breathe.

Hi, I’m Chad and this is my blog. I have bipolar disorder and try to use my struggles to support others in need. I intend to talk about my struggles, moods, and recovery as life happens.

The Monster in Your Closet… is quite friendly, actually.

Life moves a little more slowly now than it used to, but it’s infinitely more beautiful and complex than it was before. I’m not writing as much as I thought I once wanted to, and am content with that. After 30+ years without cooking more than macaroni, I’m able to whip up (usually) edible dishes. Most of all, I’m loving every minute of motherhood, which is so, so very much more than soiled diapers, sleepless nights and endless exhaustion.

So far, my life hasn’t gone at all according to my plans. I hope I’ll be able to say the same at 70!

 

Sometimes following your heart means losing your mind

One Little Town: Throwback Thursday

          The following reflection is drawn from a message entitled, “One Little Town” based on Micah 5.2-5a first delivered on December 18, 1994 at Cochranton Presbyterian in Pennsylvania, USA.

Great movements begin in small places. On the outskirts of the village Bethlehem a young boy David is tending his sheep. He thinks of his brothers, soldiers for the King. He imagines himself a soldier, places a smooth stone in his sling and heaves it toward a distant tree. Wham! Direct hit. Lost in his dreams, his sheep begin to wander, which pulls him back to the moment. With his staff, he gently guides his sheep back on their path.

Guiding his sheep along, David had time to think. He thought of the stories he’d learned from his mother. Stories of his people, Israel. How God had delivered them from slavery in Egypt. Stories of Moses-an unlikely leader, who stuttered when he spoke. This Moses spoke against the Pharaoh and when Pharaoh refused to budge, Moses led God’s people across the Red Sea, through the barren desert, into the Promised Land.

David composed songs, celebrating the goodness of God. God’s power, justice and mercy. At night he would take out his harp and sing across the open fields, with the stars as his light celebrating the glory of God in the midst of God’s wondrous creation.

There was nothing exceptional about David. He was a young boy from a small village 5 miles west of Jerusalem. To choose a leader, you would think God would look in the temple in Jerusalem, at the scholars or maybe on the front lines-those waging war against the Philistines. You would think God would choose the wisest, the smartest, the one everyone would look at and say, “Wow! Now there is someone I can respect.” Instead, God chooses David, a young shepherd boy from the village of Bethlehem.

It is years later. The Kingdom David ruled has become divided. The people Israel are in exile, living under foreign rule, struggling to maintain their community, their faith. The prophet Micah speaks a hopeful word:

“You, O Bethlehem, one of the little clans of Judah.”

From you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel. “He shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord.”

What a vision! A righteous leader-God’s chosen one, born in Bethlehem-the city of David. A great leader who empowers the people in the strengths of the Lord. Again, it is the village of Bethlehem, not the great city of Jerusalem, which becomes the birth sight of God’s chosen leader. God’s glory is to be found in a little village, a small town.

Great movements begin in small places. God often chooses what the world deems insignificant. God works through people overlooked by society to accomplish great things, to bring glory to God.

As Joseph and Mary set out for Bethlehem, they didn’t know what to expect. Their child would be born any moment. They had no place to stay. All they knew was that they had to go. They prayed and trusted that God would provide, just as God had throughout their relationship, keeping them together through difficult circumstances.

To Joseph and Mary, a child is born-in a manger feeding trough, in someone’s barn.

Big things begin in small ways. We are often tempted by the illusion that bigger is better. Go for a bigger paycheck, move to a bigger city and buy a bigger car, a bigger house, a bigger computer, a bigger stereo system. Some people find great pleasure and satisfaction in obtaining bigger and better things. Others struggle with the frustration of wanting things they can’t have. People in Central America watch those wealthy Americans on their TV screens and wonder-how can I get what they have. Poor people in large cities are bombarded by large billboards that show beautiful people having such a great time smoking cigarettes, drinking Jim Beam or Colt 45 beer.

Some people give into the temptation-trade in their food stamps for lottery tickets and pray to the God of fortune, only to be left with even less to live on.

God shows us that great things happen in small places. When an older woman crochets a lap robe as a gift to a stranger or friend, there is God. When a group of young people visit a nursing home to sing Christmas carols, there is God. When a group of boys and girls gather each Tuesday night, pretend to be animals and shepherds and sing about a special child born in a manger, there is God. When a Sunday School class visits home bound and nursing home residents and offers them the gift of their presence, there is God. When you spend time with someone, with anyone, talking about God’s love sharing that love in what you do, there is God. When you pray for someone you may not know, you may not understand, or you may not even like- there is God.

On The Road To Bethlehem #Plus Size Lingerie#sexy#lingerie

From the Middle of Nowhere: A Story Inspired by Wednesday Blog Hop Photo Prompts

IMG_2294  IMG_2116      Photo Credits: Tena Carr

He had come to the Middle of Nowhere with a purpose. Only now, he could remember just what that purpose was. He slipped off his camouflage  backpack, reached inside and pulled out a Power Bar.

What did he plan to achieve by leaving his home as he did? He had a good job, making good money. He had a devoted wife and three adorable children. For some reason, it just wasn’t enough. What was missing? He couldn’t tell. But here on this road in the Middle of Nowhere, he could see he had not found it. He now began to long for the comforts he had left behind.

He took his cell phone out of his backpack and pressed the “on” switch. To his dismay, the “low battery” icon flickered on and off, along with the sound telling him he would need a charge. But where? Surely, there was some way station ahead, but how long would he have to walk to get there? He zipped up his pack, pulled his cap down over his eyes and headed toward the Western skies.

Out of nowhere, a car pulled up beside him. The driver rolled down his window and motioned for him to get in. He slid into the front seat, putting his pack between his legs.

“Name’s James Carr.”

“Tom Jones.”

“Tom, I have to ask you. What are you doing walking out here in the Middle of Nowhere?”

“Long story. Short version is, I guess I’ve been looking for something.”

“Have you found it yet?”

“Nope.”

“So what are you going to do now?”

“I don’t know. Go home, I guess. I’ve got a wife and three children.”

“I imagine they’ll be glad to see you.”

“I hope so. I didn’t really say goodbye and I haven’t contacted them in over a month.”

“Well, Tom, I’m not exactly sure why you left or what you’ll face going home, but I can help get you there. Where do you live?”

“Tucson.”

“How about that? I have business in Tucson. Great city. Been there many times. Very nice. Though it can get as hot as blue blazes.”

They talked on. About the weather. The places they’d been. The things they’d seen. Favorite holiday memories.

The sun was setting low in the horizon as they spotted the “Welcome to Arizona” sign.

Tom turned to his window and took in a deep breath. It was not stale as he remembered it. It was fresh and clean. Even the desert sand seemed like a newly wrapped package waiting just for him.

He turned to face James. His face broke into a grin as James said,

“You’re almost there. Are you ready?”

This story was inspired by the Wednesday Writers Blog Hop photo prompts from October 8, 2014. To find out more about participating in the blog hop and voting for your favorite entries, visit Debb at Stanton Sunshine

The Highs and The Lows About Bipolar Disorder by Laura Philips

Bipolar Disorder, once known as Manic Depression or Manic Depressive Disorder, is believed to affect roughly 60 million people worldwide. For some of these 60 million, it is a soul-crushing, life-wrecking condition. Others may find it more manageable.

Symptoms

It is hard for medical scientists – who like things to be neatly categorized – to pin down a precise set of symptoms for bipolar disorder. Indeed, the disorder itself is somewhat characterized by wildly varying symptoms which differ markedly from time to time. Essentially, people with bipolar disorder experience an enormous variation in their moods, which manifests in swings between energized, hyperactive, ebullient states (which can become ‘manic’) and low-energy, morose, depressive moods. The severity of these moods varies from person to person – some may be able to manage each polarity with relative success, while others have mood swings so extreme that their lives are seriously disrupted as a result.

Problems 

Of course, everyone on the planet has mood swings. It is when the extremity of these ‘swings’ becomes problematic that doctors must consider a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Depending upon the individual, both the high and the low state can be dangerous. Bipolar sufferers on a ‘high’ may often feel themselves invincible, which can lead to recklessly dangerous behavior. They may also find that their exorbitant hyperactivity puts them beyond the bounds of ‘normal’ human activity. This may well damage their relationships, their careers, and so on.  During the depressive phase, symptoms may mirror those of clinical depression, which is in itself a very serious condition which can and does destroy lives.

Causes

Nobody knows exactly what causes bipolar disorder. Some believe that it occurs due to an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Some believe it to be a genetic condition. Still others think that the development of bipolar disorder is brought on by environmental and societal factors. Many believe the condition to occur in response to a combination of all three. It is certainly true that triggers such as recreational drug use, taking steroids, childbirth, and lack of sleep can set off an ‘episode’. It is also true that bipolar disorder can be managed through medication which regulates neurotransmitters (and, consequently, moods). These factors support both chemical and environmental theories as to the causes of bipolar disorder.

Treatment

There is currently no ‘cure’ for bipolar disorder – but it can be managed with a degree of success. Therapists are getting to grips with the condition, and psychiatric treatment can do sufferers an awful lot of good. The mood swings can also be managed through drugs which will help to regulate moods when they do swing, and help the stable period in between swings to last for longer. People with bipolar disorder are no longer considered ‘mad’ or ‘dangerous’ – they are people with a recognized mental health condition, for which there is plenty of help available. Indeed, a multitude of people with bipolar disorder have managed to lead incredible lives – including Florence Nightingale and Carrie ‘Princess Leia’ Fisher.

About the Author:  Laura Philips has battled depression for most of her adult life. When Robin Williams died this year, she decided to truly face her depression problems and to begin writing about them.

another project we are waiting to put through the neuroaccelerator www.neuroaccelerator.org

Avoiding and Encountering “A Grief Observed”

A Grief Observed

I had been avoiding reading “A Grief Observed” for years. Truth be told, I started it several times and couldn’t push my way through the pain of the opening section.

“No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear.”

A stab at the soul’s gut.

Lewis neither glorifies the pain nor bemoans the misery of his grief. He does not contend it is on a par with the physical pain his wife endured.

“Grief is like a bomber circling round and dropping its bombs each time the circle brings it overhead; physical pain is like the steady barrage on a trench in World War One, hours of it with no let-up for a moment. Thought is never static; pain often is.”

Yet, the pervasiveness of grief is all-encompassing and very real.

“Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.”

While I have not known the intense grief of Lewis and others whose beloved dies, I am going through the grief of a marital separation. I can identify what it feels like to have a part of your body amputated and to deal with both the pain and the adjustments necessary to keep on moving forward.

I can’t say this book helped me feel better about my grief. I’m not sure it even helped me “process” it more neatly. Yet, it did get me thinking more deeply about my condition and drew me closer to the One who gives and takes away.

Writing, Inspiration, ADHD, Style, Prozac, Craziness, Bipolar: Friday Featured Followers

The Writing of Life: Life as a mentally ill person in a chronically sane world.

Umeko L. Walker

The Controlled Kaleidoscope: Living the ADHD Life

My Journey, My Style: It’s a Big Deal

The Prozac Queen’s Court: Musings about life and love, with the occasional chewy sweet tart.

Beneath the Smiles: Welcome to the craziness of my mind…

Navigating Bipolar 1: The truth about a bipolar diagnosis.

Sometimes following your heart means losing your mind

Homecoming: Throwback Thursday

The following reflection is taken from the sermon “Homecoming” based on Zephaniah 3:14-20 first preached on December 11, 1994 at Cochranton Presbyterian in Cochranton, Pennsylvania (USA).

The people Israel were homeless; a small fish swimming between the huge whales of Egypt and Assyria. Israel, a once proud nation with much land, great wealth, a huge temple, now lived as exiles alone, depending on the mercy of strangers.

The prophet Zephaniah addresses the situation of Israel’s homelessness with a word from God. The day of the Lord is at hand. On that day, the Lord will restore the faithful and displace all who have turned away. The tables will be turned: the wealthy will be driven off their land, the faithful remnant of Israel will have their fortunes restored. The power of foreign rule will be cut off, Israel will once again live under the reign of God and no other.

“Therefore,” says the Lord, “wait for me. Wait for the day of the Lord, when the humble will be lifted up and the arrogant brought low. Celebrate the coming of the Lord! Sing, rejoice, exalt! The Lord, King of Israel is in your midst.”

Zephaniah encourages the people by reminding them of the faithfulness of God. God will restore Israel, as promised, those living in exile will be brought home. Fortunes will be restored on the day of the Lord. It will be a great homecoming.

What does their promise mean to us today? First, it is a warning to not become so attached to our worldly homes that we lose sight of our true home in the Kingdom of God. Jesus told the story of a wealthy farmer who stored up riches, believing he could find security, that he could preserve his home, only to lose it all in a great storm. Nothing on this earth can provide us the security God provides us in Christ. If you spend most of your life building your dream home on earth and neglecting your spiritual home in Christ, the day of the Lord will consume you.

Kris Kristofferson wrote a song about Cecil Darby, who loved his wife, who labored all his life to provide her with material possessions. He built for her a home, made of the finest wood and stone and the building soon became his sole obsession. As he pours himself into this building, he neglects his wife and their relationship. One night he hears voices in the corner of his castle, and in the moonlight, he sees the shadows where two bodies lay entangled. That’s when Darby’s castle tumbles to the ground. Our obsession to build a bigger and better home, to earn more money, to purchase the biggest and best computer, to keep up with the Joneses can rob us of our true home: our priorities become jumbled, our faith becomes bankrupt. The day of the Lord will come and neither silver nor gold, nor castles, nor BMW’s, nor microchips will be able to save us.

But there is also good news. For those of us who feel displaced. For those who long for a home that is lasting, dependable, secure. For those who live as one writer has called us, Resident Aliens in a land where values are mocked, truth is distorted, where good morals are ignored and evil acts hit the headlines. For us, the day of the Lord will come as a welcome relief. We can celebrate even as we wait for the day of the Lord, because we know God’s promises are true. There will be a great homecoming. It has already begun in Christ.

Zephaniah 3:17 - "The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you; he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

I Will Not Fear: Overcoming Depression and Anxiety

I fear not, for God has given me a spirit of power, of love, and of a sound mind. God is on my side. (2 Timothy 1:7, Romans 8:31) — Prayers that Avail Much , Germaine Copeland.

I am on quite the roller-coaster ride of late. It started with a deep depression that hit after coming back from a family visit. I love to visit my wife and children and will continue to do so as frequently as I can, but the solo travel and emotions tug-of-war between the joy of seeing them and the sadness of leaving takes its toll on my body and mind.

I spent the better part of a week in bed or in my recliner doing much of nothing. I ate unhealthy foods. I missed church and Bible study. I wasn’t even taking showers.

Sleeping past noon, I got off schedule with my medication. Two days last week, I forgot to take my morning medication. These meds address my psychotic symptoms as well as provide mood stabilization. As a result, I veered off into a manic episode. I went almost 48 hours without sleep. Fortunately, I was able to channel my energy into a productive project — making a Christmas gift for a good friend. But I knew that I would ultimately pay. The higher you go, the harder you crash.

Sunday I was able to wake up in time for church. But, as I was sitting through an opening prayer, the voices inside my head became overbearing and I thought it best to leave. The good news is I did come home and enter into a time of prayer, listening to and reflecting on God’s Word. The voices subsided somewhat and I was even able to feel a measure of peace.

Knowing how I cycle, though, I figured it would be best to devote a couple of days to restoring balance through devotional practices. It helps a great deal that I’m on disability and can take the time off.

Monday and particularly Tuesday I had wonderful mental health days. My sleep pattern was re-established. I started eating healthy for the first time in months. I spent much time in prayer, devotional reading and writing. I even did some housework (rare for me).

Then, while walking the family dog late Tuesday afternoon, it hit. A wave of despair struck me like a semi truck. I could barely move.

I know enough about my illness to know this was part of my chemical imbalance. I knew there was basically nothing I could do about it. I prayed. I read Scripture. I talked about it at my evening support group. But nothing would relieve the weight of despair or fill the pit in my stomach.

I  reached out to a friend in an e-mail. She sent back words of encouragement, assurances of prayer, and she challenged me to consider what was causing my depression. Was Satan attacking me or God testing me?

I’ve yet to come to a clear conclusion. I know Satan will do anything in his power to discourage me yet God is by my side to strengthen me. And knowing this, I will not be afraid.

 

2 Timothy 1:7 - For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

A Broad Place: Delight in Disorder Tuesday

When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord;

he brought me into a spacious place. (Psalm 118:5)

Before the birth of our first child, Sarah, I was battling a rough patch of depression. I was in a new pastorate and unsure of myself. Though God always provided, we had very little to live on. I was excited about becoming a father but also fearful about what kind of father I would be. I like to think I provided Alice the support she needed to have a reasonably enjoyable pregnancy, but I’m sure there were many days she wondered how I would function as a father and just how this whole marriage thing was going to work.

I turned to the LORD in some intensive prayer, asking for help to prepare for this major life change. I began to journal again, particularly on the Psalms. Not only did I lift up prayers, but I listened expectantly for God to respond. I could sense myself growing closer to the LORD, to Alice, and to this little baby growing within her.

By the time the baby arrived, it was as if God had set me in a “broad place” where I could function well. It’s actually fun to watch the video of the hours right before and after Sarah’s birth. I don’t look like my usual sullen self or like some maniac bouncing off the walls. Alice has said I look just like “the man she most wanted to marry.”

Prayer may not always be a magic panacea to cure all ills. It is, however, a lifeline we can draw on when we are in distress, when there is no place else to go. Rather than make it an occasional retreat, why not make it our first line of defense?

Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. For a signed copy, directly from the author, write to me — tony@awaywithwordsforyou.com .

The Death of Innocence, A Day in Life, Gold Medal Blues, Books and OCD, Schizophrenia and Jazz: Mental Health Monday

An Update on the Death of Innocence” (Alpinedon)

Well, it has now been three days since my beloved daughter Zoe attempted suicide. She has been in the Provo Canyon Behavioral Hospital during that time, and apparently, all is going well. She has been learning coping skills and seems quite happy there. Of course, at this point, I am somewhat suspicious of her happiness because she had pretended that she was happy in the weeks leading up to her attempt (and had been planning on it all along.) Still, I am hopeful she will find a renewed sense of purpose and life after her stay there.

A day in my life” (jenasauruswake)

10am. How did it get to be 10am? Almost two hours since K left for school and I’ve done absolutely nothing – more to the point I have no recollection of those 120 minutes. My CPN will be here in an hour – I need to shower, get dressed and nip to the cash point. I’m dragging her out for coffee and cake to celebrate her fb/twitter praise and recognition which I discussed here. I’m not sure celebrate is the right word, more like mercilessly take the mick. She’s worth the effort though.

Gold Medal Blues” (natural zero)

One of the female speed skaters for Canada gave a candid interview about the highs and lows of sports and how that can impact on your mental state: Winning is such a rush, but losing is treated very harshly, especially by athletes themselves. Failure often leads to a state of melancholy or rage, where the athlete blames themselves for not performing better. Many use that as fuel to train harder and “become better,” but sometimes, even that mentality backfires, as the goal of “self-improvement” becomes lost and extra training becomes more akin to punishment for not doing well enough or living up to expectations. Other athletes fail to find that a motivator at all; they begin to believe that they aren’t good enough, they will never be good enough, that they are failures and disappointments on every level. This speed skater felt the latter after a disappointing performance in competition, where she placed in the low twenties. She realized that her mood had begun to interfere with her training and her performance, so she sought help from health care practitioners. She was ultimately unable to stay on anti-depressants because of how they interfered with her performance physiologically, so while she did try them and found they helped her mood, she had to seek other methods of therapy – such as counseling and support groups – as well.

On Books and OCD” (ad hoc)

“Can we please read Madeline tonight?” I asked as if I were a toddler asking to read her favorite book for the fifth time.

She ignored my pleas and excavated through the piles of clothes and books that littered the floor of my room. She came up with Eloise Takes a Bwath.

“For someone with OCD, your room is a disaster,” my mother said.

I ignored her comment; she knew that OCD didn’t work like that.

Was Schizophrenia the Catalyst for the Creation of Jazz Music?” (Aspire Indiana, Inc.)

… because of his mental illness, Bolden “could not properly read music and had impaired motor function. The only way he could play his cornet was by improvising on the ragtime music popular from the 1890s to the 1920s. His lateral thinking influenced many classically trained bands of his time to play more ‘freewheeling’ music with upbeat tempos, beginning the evolution to modern jazz” (American Psychological Association).