Spring Arrives; April 9, 2014

The sun shined today.

I didn’t see it coming.

I was back in bed,

covers over my head.

But the sun kept shining

into the afternoon,

penetrating my dark mood

putting some spring in my step.

I traveled north talking to a friend,

the light connecting us from miles apart.

A cool breeze from the open window,

replacing the stale stagnant air contained inside.

Sometimes spring comes suddenly

and goes by with no warning at all.

But today the sun was shining

And for a while, it shined on me.

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Expect the Unexpected: Throwback Thursday

     The following reflection is gleaned from a sermon based on John 20:1-8 delivered at Cochranton Presbyterian on April 16, 1995.

It was Easter morning, 1987. I was riding along in my 1967 Chevy Pick-up, with a wooden bed my Grandpa and I had built. I was headed for the Grammer Presbyterian church, a small country church where I would be received as a member. I felt good, there was a cool breeze blowing and the roadside flowers were starting to bloom. Sweet smells mingled with the exhaust from my pickup like a smile on a toothless face.

I thought back on my journey of faith, where I’d come from and where I was going. It hadn’t been an easy road. I remembered my baptism and Vacation Bible School, learning about God’s promise of love. The songs about Jesus and the Bible. The good times in the church. I also remembered my parents’ divorce.  I remember people treated me different then, some feeling sorry for me and overwhelming me with affection, others looking at me strangely and walking away. The promise of God’s love seemed distant to me then. At least I wasn’t finding it in the church.

But the road had taken another turn as I looked down at the gas gauge and over to my watch on the dash. I was headed to church. It was Easter. Things were going well.

Then, something unexpected. My truck broke down in a bank parking lot. As I steered it into a bank parking lot, I noticed a woman wandering around. She was an older woman, with a scarf tied around her head, carrying a large bag. She looked lost. I walked up to her, hoping to help.

She was confused. She said she was trying to get her purse which she left at the bank that morning. She looked hungry. I offered her an orange and she put it in her purse. I told her I would call my father and that we could take her home.

My father picked us up and we drove all around town looking for this woman’s home. The more we drove, the more confused she became. Dad and I were running out of ideas. Finally, I told Dad to pull into to the parking lot of the downtown Presbyterian Church where people were filing in for Easter worship.

Now it may seem like no big deal to ask for help in a church, but for me this was a big step. This high steeple church for the upper crust of society, I thought. I still had enough of my grandmother’s poor but proud attitude in me to have a healthy, sometimes unhealthy suspicion of people like this.

I walked up to that big steeple church, still smelling of exhaust with the woman beside me, thinking to myself, “If these people are really Christians, they’ll help us.” But I had my doubts.

When we got inside I could feel the stares, upon us. From the corner of my eye came an older man with a cane. He asked if we needed help. I told him about the woman and he walked us into the church office, sat us down with coffee and a sweet roll. He didn’t seem to be in any hurry. You could see the tension slowly lifting from the woman’s face. They were able to help her find her way home.

I walked out of the church that day in tears. Two things has struck me. First, own helplessness, that as much as I could not help that woman find her way home. I needed help. I couldn’t do it alone. Second, that I had gotten help from people I didn’t even trust, didn’t even like. People different from myself. I had a pre-conceived notion about these folks that proved false this Easter morning.

I had expected to go to church that day, to be received as a member, and go on about my life as usual. That Easter morning though I was struck by a holy intrusion that became a turning point in my life.

Easter is a time for intrusions. When Mary Magdalene first saw the empty tomb, her heart sank. What next? First, they crucified him and now they had stolen his body. The one man who believed in her; the one who helped her believe, the one she had trusted, now was humiliated even beyond death. What next?

Mary cries. She no doubt recalls the time she had spent with Jesus. He respected her, like no man had done before. To so many others, she was a common prostitute, but to Jesus, she was God’s cherished daughter. He could see in her the desire for change, the thirst for a new life and he helped her along this path.

Now he was gone. They had taken him away to be crucified. The power of the world was proving stronger than the power of love and Mary’s tears as she knelt beside the tomb were tears of submission. The world was too strong. The changes she had witnessed in her own life now meant nothing. She would go back and again they would treat her as a an object to be used and abused. Jesus was different. But now he’s gone.

Without much hope she decides to take one more look into the tomb. She sees something. Two figures in white where the body had been. “Woman, why are you weeping?” they ask. What do you mean, why am I weeping? They’ve taken away his body! Then she turns around a man is standing beside her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”

What is this some kind of conspiracy? Look, fellow, if you know where his body is tell me so I can at least make sure he has some peace in death.

And then, the man spoke her name. “Mary!” She knows the sound of his voice, the loving respect. “Teacher” she calls back, this time with tears of joy welling up inside her. She wants to cling to him, to reach out and hug him to know that it’s not a dream, that this is Jesus who had helped her change her life. This Jesus was real and is standing before her now.

I can’t stay, he responds. I go to the Father. But go and tell everyone what you’ve seen and heard. Mary runs, repeating over and over as if still trying to convince herself, “I have seen the Lord.” I have seen the Lord.

Easter is a time to expect the unexpected. Just when you think you’ve got life figured out, just when you think you know the difference between the good guys and the bad guys, the sinners and the saints, the prostitutes and the prophets, Easter comes along and blows your expectations wide open.

Mary Magdalene (Mary of Magdala) was present at the two most important moments in the story of Jesus: the crucifixion and the resurrection. Mary Magdalene was a prominent figure at both these events.  Here she is at the empty tomb on Easter morning... (1) Luke 8:1-3 (2) Luke 23:49 (3) Luke 23:55-56 (4) Luke 24:1-11

Leaving for Good: Pursuit of Happiness Wednesday

Steven Jacobson’s day was about to get much worse.

It started off with his usual bowl of honey-nut cheerios with banana slices on top. Orange juice and coffee on the side. He felt some pain in the hip that was replaced a year ago. It was irksome, but he could bear it.

He looked across the table and saw Rachel staring into her coffee cup. She was not a pretty woman, but she was very lively for her age. He could have done worse. Careful to get a bite of banana with each spoonful of cereal, Steven sighed. He suspected life could be better, but he had grown accustomed to life as it was.

“Steven,” Rachel said abruptly, looking up from her coffee mug.

“Yes.” He replied. A banana fell from his spoon.

“Steven, I’m leaving you.”

“How long will you be gone?” Steven asked, fishing for the banana he had lost.

“I’m leaving you for good.”

“For good?” he asked. It seemed a strange expression. “Leaving… for good.” An oxymoron.

“I’m not happy, Steven. I want to be happy.” Rachel stood up and poured the rest of her coffee, which had grown cold, down the drain.

“Of course you’re happy,” said Steven. “You’re a happy person. That’s one thing I’ve always admired about you.”

“No, Steven. I used to be a happy person. I’m not anymore. At least not with you.”

“What do you mean, not with me?” Steven put his spoon down. His cheerios had grown soggy.

“You’re not a happy person, Steven. You’ve never been happy. You’ve stopped even pursuing happiness. You’ve settled for less. I want more.”

“Where are you going to find more?” he asked, tentatively.

Rachel took a deep breath.

“I didn’t want to tell you this, but I’m moving in with Saul Linford.”

“SAUL LINFORD? That dolt!”

“Saul is not a dolt.”

“How will you live? He has nothing. He lives in an apartment with his daughter. His grandson lives in the basement.”

“If you must know, Saul won the lottery. We’re moving to Vegas. We’re going to pursue happiness while we still can. Unlike you.”

A sharp pain shot from Steven’s hips to his heart. Rachel was right – about one thing, anyway. He was not a happy person. He never had been. He didn’t consider it necessary. He thought Rachel had always been happy enough for the two of them.

“I guess that’s it, then.” he said.

“I’m sorry, Steven.” said Rachel.

“You, um… ” He stood up as if to make a pronouncement. Or a plea. Something to convince her to stay. Or, something to bless her on her way. Reaching out to her with one hand, he bowed his head and said –

“I’ll do the dishes.”

***

Steven rose and put his apron on. It was a retirement gift from his daughter Monica, a subtle hint that now he had more time available he should at least help Mom out a little around the kitchen.

He turned the water on, adjusted the temperature, put in the stopper and added some detergent.

Rachel then rose from the table and headed into their bedroom. Steven stared at the sink and listened. He could hear the sound of drawers opening and closing. He put on his music.

He briefly browsed his collection. Another retirement gift. His grandson Philip had transferred his favorite albums onto CDs. Steven carefully selected a disc and placed it in, adjusting the volume slightly.

Your cheatin’ heart,
Will make you weep,
You’ll cry and cry,
And try to sleep
,

Steven glanced in the direction of the bedroom, then turned the volume up.
But sleep won’t come,
The whole night through,
Your cheatin’ heart, will tell on you…

 

He turned it up some more and started singing along.
When tears come down,
Like falling rain,
You’ll toss around,
And call my name,

As he sang, his volume increased. He took a step toward the bedroom. The sound of drawers opening and closing had been drowned out.

Suddenly, he heard the sound of water running. He quickly turned back to the sink and hustled to turn the spigot off as the suds overflowed.

***

By the time Steven had finished the dishes, Rachel was packed and ready to go.

“You aren’t taking much with you,” he said. She only had one suitcase.

“I don’t need much. I’m buying new things. I want to start over,” she said looking nervously out the window.

“Is he meeting you here?”

“No. We’re meeting at the diner.”

“The diner?” he said. Some of his neighborhood friends would be there. Not that he had any close friends, but acquaintances. What would they think to see her alone with a suitcase, leaving with…. SAUL LINFORD?

“Don’t you want me to take you somewhere? Somewhere….to meet him?” He looked away.

“No, Steven. I think this is best.”

“I could at least drop you off at the diner. You don’t want to walk.”

“It’s only two blocks, Steven.” forcing a chuckle,” The walk will do me good. I need to lose weight.

So many changes, thought Steven. So much loss.

“Will you call me?” he asked. “Let me know how you’re doing?”

“I’ll be in touch with the children. They can update you.”

He shook his head slowly. “Has it really been that bad, Rachel? Have I been that bad? Where did I go wrong?

“Steven, it’s just….you’ve never been happy. I could never please you.”

“I don’t want you to please me. I want you to stay with me. We’re married, for God’s sake!”

She picked up her bag, walked over to him and kissed him on the check.

“Goodbye, Steven.”

He didn’t hear the door open, but knew when it was closed. The pain in his hip had become a dull ache. He sat in a chair and wondered what to do next.

He sat there for some time, unable to focus. After some time, he noticed a bright light coming through the window, blinding his eyes. For a while he stared into its brightness. Then, he rose to his feet, walked over, and shut the shades.

     (This piece is the second draft of chapter one of a short story I’m composing called, “The Pursuit of Happiness.” In the coming weeks, I will be posting subsequent chapters and would appreciate your feedback.)

The thing that counts most in the pursuit of happiness is choosing the right companion

Good Boundaries: Delight in Disorder Tuesday

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;

surely I have a delightful inheritance. (Psalm 16:6)

One thing I’ve experienced in the time I’ve spent at psychiatric hospitals is that there are many rules. Rules about toiletries and other personal affects. Rules about visits and contact with others. Rules about schedules—times to sleep and meet and eat and rest. Since I am one who generally functions best with good, clear boundaries, these rules haven’t bothered me so much. I’ve benefited quite well from them and have come to appreciate their value. There’s a part of us all, though, that constantly tries to get around the rules.

Like the man who found a staff person willing to bring him Starbucks coffee (at a steep price, no doubt) to replace the lukewarm dishwater coffee they served us from the cafeteria.

Like the woman who gained permission to use the exercise room as a space to listen to loud hip-hop music on her boom box.

Like the couple who found a way to prop a broom against the laundry room door so they could get around the “no-fraternization-with-the-opposite-sex” rule.

One thing to learn as psychiatric patients (and people as a whole) is that rules are generally good for us. As chaotic as the world is around us, and as distorted as our mind is within us, rules provide order and clarity to prevent us from harm – from others as well as from ourselves. Rules help establish clear, consistent boundaries within which we can live safely and safely let others live. Only when we have good, firm boundaries can we survive (and even thrive) within this crazy, often unpredictable world.

Praise be to God who gives us such boundaries for life. As the Psalmist says, “It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth…” (Psalm 74:17a).

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 .

Working Through Depression, Emotional Illness, Taboo Topic, Mental Illness in Church, A Haven: Mental Illness Monday

Working Through Depression, Many Stay on the Job, Despite Mental Illness” (npr.org)

When a pilot crashed a Germanwings plane into a mountainside on the south of France last month, one word kept coming up over and over in the media coverage: depression.

What did the airline know about the pilot’s mental health and what was he required to tell them? Of course being depressed is a very different thing from wanting to take the lives of others.

But experts we talked with said that an event like this one — a violent act carried out by someone with a mental illness — increases the stigma for everyone with mental illness.

When the Illness isn’t Physical — Even Though it Feels Like It” (Healthy, Happy Me(d))

Your body responds to how you feel, think and act – usually without you even knowing it. The reality of this close connection is that emotional distress often presents as physical distress. In fact, many people with mental illness such as depression or anxiety can go years and years without being diagnosed because they don’t realize the conglomerate of physical symptoms they experience are a consequence of underlying emotional imbalance.

Mental Illness Remains Taboo Topic for Many Pastors(LifewayResearch.com)

One in four Americans suffers from some kind of mental illness in any given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Many look to their church for spiritual guidance in times of distress. But they’re unlikely to find much help on Sunday mornings.

Most Protestant senior pastors (66 percent) seldom speak to their congregation about mental illness.

That includes almost half (49 percent) who rarely (39 percent) or never (10 percent), speak about mental illness. About 1in 6 pastors (16 percent) speak about mental illness once a year. And about quarter of pastors (22 percent) are reluctant to help those who suffer from acute mental illness because it takes too much time.

A New Approach to Mental Illness in the Church” (Christianity Today)

Churches, we need a new approach to mental illness.

Or, maybe not new, but a more Christ-like approach to mental illness.

The Haven: A Metaphorical Life Story” (The Life and Writings of Emily Simone Lukaszek)

There once was a haven.

There was a tranquility blanket of finely-ground gemstones. The gemstone sand was so extensive that it spread itself like water of an ocean; so creative that it roared its personality through magnificent dune creations; so fearless that it ventured deep into every empty crevice.

Jesus at the Samaritan Saloon

She walked up to the bar

And ordered a whiskey sour

It was hot.

She was bone-tired.

She didn’t realize how thirsty she was.

A stranger sitting beside her

Look into her eyes and said,

“You know, you could use some water.”
She just glared at him.

“Do you know where you are?

Water isn’t exactly the specialty here.

You’re not from around here are you?”

She smiled at him in spite of herself.

“You’re thirsty

And I can give you

Life-giving water.”

“You don’t even know who I am.”

“Call your husband.”

“I don’t have a husband,” she said

Fighting back the tears.

“I know you don’t have a husband.

You’ve had five husbands,

And the guy you’re with now is not your husband.”

“You know what you’re talking about.

Tell me, what does God want from me?

Which church should I attend

To get right with God?”

“You can’t get right with God

Until you know who He is

And put your heart into pleasing Him.”

“You’re a wise man,” she said,

But I think I’ll wait for my Savior.”

He looked deep into her eyes.

“Your wait is over.

I’m the One.”

         “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony…” (John 4:39a)

One of my favorite stories in the New Testament.  LO  Woman At The Well By Liz Lemon Swindle "How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me...for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans." The Savior then taught, "Whosoever drinketh of the water I shall give him shall never thirst." (John 4)

Sacrificial Giving

41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41-44)

Jesus has just criticized the scribes — leaders of the religious community — who make a show of faith yet lack devotion to God. They “devour widows’ houses,” he says.

He then goes on to describe a widow who gives to the temple treasury all she has. There is a tradition that suggests that the last thing a widow would let go of, even after food and shelter, was her wedding ring. It was what tied her to her love, gave her identity, brought a measure of peace. Did this widow sell her wedding ring and put the money in the offering?

We don’t know. But we do know that her offering was not only the best she had, but all she had to offer. She withheld nothing from the Lord in giving for His work.

Putting these two passages together in our modern cynical context we might conclude that the widow was at best naïve and at worst foolish. Her paltry offering was only going to be misused by scribes who were out for their own gain. Why give anything, much less everything, if it is only going to be wasted in such a way.

The story of the widow’s offering teaches us that it is our responsibility and our joy to give sacrificially for the work of the Lord, regardless of how it is used. Now, I’m not suggesting that we be poor stewards and support wrongful causes. But, it is our devotional duty to give and to withhold our gifts because of an excuse that someone, somewhere, at sometime has misused gifts is nothing short of sin.

 

The Perfect Game (For Beginners)

Some time ago, I came upon a choice post called “Baseball for Beginners #Kill Me Now” at The Number Kevin.  Kevin humorously describes his effort to find meaning and purpose in baseball game.  His reflections prompted me to write a rather long response that was just too good not to share (in a slightly redacted form).

This post really brings a smile to my face.  I came to know baseball before I came to know Christ (and for many years grew much closer to it than him). 

I’ll never forget going to a Cincinnati Reds game when I was at seminary with a group that included a South African man who had never even seen a baseball before. 

There was a rain delay and I (on his left) and a friend (to his right) spent 3 hours instructing him on the intricacies of the sport – the deceptive flight of a curve, the infield shift for a lefty hitter, the blasphemy of the Designated Hitter.

He just smiled and kept repeating, “I see.  Okay.”

The game finally started and nobody could get a hit.  It was boring.  By the 7th inning, we realized Tom Browning (for the Reds) had a perfect game going.

So, putting our love of the game above our Christian ethics, we gathered our South African friend and snuck down to watch the end from some abandoned seats along the first base line.

We carefully whispered to him the significance of the event without jinxing it by saying the actual words “Perfect Game”.

With two outs in the ninth, we were bursting at the seams.  The third batter grounded out to third.  Our South African friend was the first to jump up and scream repeatedly at the top of his voice,

“PERFECT GAME!  PERFECT GAME!  PERFECT GAME!”

Yes, I witnessed one of the rarest feats in all of sports.  There have been over 132 seasons of major league baseball.  Currently, 30 teams play 162 games each, which amounts to 162 x 15 contests (it’s too late for me to do the math).  The number of teams and games have expanded over the years, but a low estimate would be 132 x 150 x 12 = ? .

Do you know how many perfect games there have been?  23.  I saw number 12.

23 out of (aw heck, I’m going to find a calculator) 237,600.  Roughly speaking, that means the odds of you seeing a perfect game when you go to the ballpark are 1 in 10,000.  (That’s about as likely as a politician campaigning on a tax hike).

And I saw one.  More than this, my South African friend, who had never even heard the crack of a Louisville Slugger walked right into Riverfront Stadium that night and witnessed history being made.  This would be something akin to a guy who just happened to be on the moon with a film camera running to catch Neil Armstrong take “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

I may never win the lottery (especially since I don’t buy tickets).  I may never write a best-seller (especially since I cringe at graphic sex and violence).  But, by golly, I have seen a perfect game.

The Ministry of Hospitality (Throwback Thursday)

This reflection is based on 3 John, excerpted from a sermon entitled “The Ministry of Hospitality” delivered on April 23, 2006 at Ovid Federated Church.

Hospitality is essential within the faith community.  When brothers and sisters in Christ show and share hospitality, God’s love is truly present.

The third letter of John is a letter about hospitality – the joy of experiencing and expressing hospitality as well as a warning about the danger of not expressing or receiving it.

It was so important in the early church for people to express hospitality.  When missionaries traveled, they often had no idea how they would get from place to place or how they would get by while they were there.  There were no traveler’s checks, Master Cards or VISA’s.  There were no Holiday Inn’s or Friendly’s or McDonald’s.  Missionaries were at the mercy of caring brothers and sisters in Christ to be provided for as they went about sharing the good news of Christ’s love from place to place.

We don’t know exactly who wrote this letter.  He simply calls himself “the elder”.  In it, the elder praises a “beloved” Gaius for his hospitality.  He writes –

“Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the friends, even though they are strangers to you…” (3 John 5)

          The Bible tells us – “Whatever you do, in word or deed – do so in the name of Jesus Christ.”  This means more than just saying his name.  It’s more than just calling yourself a Christian.  It is saying things he would say, doing things he would do.  To be a Christian, to follow Jesus, we need to share his healing touch, his guiding hand, and his loving embrace.  It is so important with everyone we meet to show Christ’s love with a smile, a word of kindness, a handshake – even (when appropriate) a gentle hug.

Someone taught me when I was in college to do something I continue to practice to this day.  When I leave a hotel, I leave a tip and a simple note to the housekeeper that reads, “Thank you for your faithful ministry.”

I’m always impressed by Christians who – no matter how busy they are – drop what they are doing to listen to someone going through a tough time.

There are people each week who take a “Gift of Love” card and send an encouraging note (no matter if they know the person or not) to let them know they are in their prayers.

There are so many simple ways we can express Christ’s love by showing hospitality. It doesn’t take a lot to show hospitality, but it means a lot.

The more you show hospitality, the more love you receive. This doesn’t mean you are any more or less loved by God for what you do or fail to do – but that the more you open your heart to others – the more your heart is open to receive the love of God within the fellowship of faith.

I have seen this time and time again.  People who are the most giving are also the most grateful for what they receive.  It may not be material goods – but it is just as real – even more so.

I think of a woman named Sally Orr who was a kindergarten teacher for many, many years.  She touched countless children with her love, with her hospitality, as she welcomed children to the world of school that at first seemed strange and foreign to them.

Years later, Sally developed various ailments that caused her to be in near constant pain and homebound.  Whenever I would visit her, though, she would welcome me with a smile, offer me a treat, ask about my family, even pray for me – make me feel welcome.

Often she would show me some of the pictures she kept in a scrapbook of many of her former students – now doctors and homemakers, lawyers and teachers, farmers and ministers – smiling in pictures with families – with letters attached thanking her for the impact she had on their lives.  Her face would light up with a smile as she shared a story about each one.

This is something I encourage you to do – contact someone who has shown hospitality to you and let them know what a difference they made in your life, let them know how much you appreciate what they did for you.

The more you show hospitality, the more love you receive.

There is also great danger in not showing hospitality.  The elder of third John writes about a certain Diotrephes who has not shown respect for authority, who has spread false charges, who refuses to welcome brothers and sisters in Christ and even expels from fellowship those who show hospitality to strangers.  His character is summed up well in the brief statement –

… he likes to put himself first … (3 John 9)

       When we put ourselves first, everything in our lives is out of order.  Our love for God is threatened.  Our ability to love others is limited.

We are all prone to put ourselves first.  We live in a “me-first” culture.

I was talking with a man the other day about some of the challenges of doing ministry with people beyond the church – particularly reaching families with young children.  He made a statement that is very telling.  He said –

The world encourages us to worship our children rather than God.

He pointed to the example of rushing our children from activity to activity, constantly praising their accomplishments yet expecting even more from them.  Kids don’t seem to have time anymore to just be the kids they were created to be.

When we do this, we can not only rob them of their childhood, we can also rob them of their faith.  We can put them in so many activities that they lack time for freely developing their relationship with God and with others.

Put God first, others next, and finally, ourselves.  When we follow this order in our lives, everything else tends to fall into place.  We will likely show more respect, demonstrate truth, share hospitality, and feel loved.

Celebrate Every Day With Me: Boiled Down Hospitality

Restoring Relationships — Delight in Disorder Tuesday

Create in me a pure heart, O God,

and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)

At a Bipolar Support Group meeting I attended, a woman confessed to having repeated affairs on manic binges throughout her nine-year marriage. Once caught, she felt compelled to leave home, convinced after a particularly angry confrontation that her husband could never forgive her.

It is possible she was right. But I urged her to reconsider the decision to leave for good and at least work on their relationship. While infidelity does wreak havoc on many marriages, it is within God’s power to purify our hearts stained with sin and renew our spirits so that love can be restored.

It doesn’t always happen, but what a blessing it is when God claims victory over the forces that divide us and unites us once again. The statistics aren’t good for persons with bipolar remaining married, but I have found tremendous reassurance having this sacred bond in my life to promote healing and wholeness.

Even now that I am separated from my wife and miss her daily companionship, I am still convinced of the permanent value of our vows and am grateful for her continued prayerful support. She is a wonderful mother for our children and a devoted “keeper at home.” There have been times I have abused her trust, yet she has remained faithful. I pray, in the years ahead, I will show her as much steadfast love as she has shown me. And with God’s help, I will.

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 .