Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Your Spirit leads me on

Hey, I'm leading a worship session! I have another great song I'd like to share, one of my favourites. Drink deep.

Power of Your Love

Lord I come to You
Let my heart be changed, renewed
Flowing from the grace
That I�ve found in You
Lord I�ve come to know
The weakenesses I see in me
Will be stripped away
By the power of Your love

~ chorus ~
Hold me close
Let Your love surround me
Bring me near
Draw me to Your side
And as I wait
I�ll rise up like the eagle
And I will soar with You
Your Spirit leads me on
In the power of Your love

Lord unveil my eyes
Let me see You face to face
The knowledge of Your love
As You live in me
Lord renew my mind
As Your will unfolds in my life
In living every day
By the power of Your love

(repeat chorus twice)

And I will soar with You
Your Spirit leads me on
In the power of Your love

You are my strength

The perfect song for my mood - and maybe yours as well?

Jesus, you are my strength when I am weak. You are my all in all. Thank you, God, for such beautiful songs that say so much.

You are my strength when I am weak
You are the treasure that I seek
You are my all in all
Seeking You as a precious jewel
Lord, to give up I'd be a fool
You are my all in all

Jesus, Lamb of God
Worthy is Your name
Jesus, Lamb of God
Worthy is Your name

Taking my sin, my cross, my shame
Rising up again I bless Your name
You are my all in all
When I fall down You pick me up
When I am dry You fill my cup
You are my all in all

Jesus, Lamb of God
Worthy is Your name
Jesus, Lamb of God
Worthy is Your name

It's a beautiful day here on the west coast. Sun shining, flowers blooming. Thank you, God.

Thank you God for forgiving

As you know, I've been dealing much with the effects of my disorder, the shame of sometimes saying or doing things I would not do if I were more balanced. But then, I guess everyone at some time or other does things they're not proud of. And yet...I feel I'm worse than those "everyones." Or is this an oncoming depression talking? Or am I being overly self-centered, thinking of me and my own concerns instead of the concerns of others? I'm sure if I were thinking of the needs of others I would not be worrying so much.

And yet the shame has been hard to deal with lately. I've had a hard time fully realizing that God forgives. I've had a hard time remembering that Jesus died on the cross for sins like mine. He took them all upon Himself and suffered an unimaginable death. I should be grateful! I should accept His forgiveness. I should thank Jesus! Why is it so hard to do that?

A couple of days ago I watched The Passion of the Christ, a gory depiction of all Jesus must have gone through. And I thought to myself, He did not have to do that. He did that out of obedience to His Father and out of His great love for us. What wonderfully great love!!!

Please God, help me to realize how much you love me and all of us, to have given up your Son to such a death, for our sakes. Help me to be thankful. Thank you, Jesus.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Surrendering to God

The question I'll ask at tomorrow at Living Room is "What does is mean to surrender to God?" What a wonderful topic to focus on right now! Don't know exactly how I landed on it, but it's certainly something I need myself. As usual, as I explore it and prepare I'm learning a lot. I'm encouraged to trust God more with my troubles. I'm encouraged to let God have control.

We will discuss how "[our] attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5) We will discuss the three barriers that block our total surrender to God: fear, pride, and confusion.

1. Fear: Can you trust God? The more you realize how much God loves you the easier it is to surrender to Him.
2. Pride: Who is in control? The desire to have complete control is the cause of so much stress in our lives. We want to be God.
3. Fear and pride are the greatest barriers to knowing God. These often lead to:
Confusion: How can I know God?

Off and on lately I've felt ashamed of the way my disorder often makes me feel, think and act. I'm not really ashamed of having bipolar disorder as such, just what it does to me at times. And I realize what I need to do is to give these feelings to God. I need to trust that He loves me and that He is in control. I can use the way He made me if I live for His glory, giving all I am to Him.

And when I place my trust in Jesus I experience a sense of peace and freedom. I'm stronger to continue doing what I believe God made me to do.

A song on Youtube has been a real blessing to me. I share "I surrender all to Jesus" with you, hoping it will bless you as well.

How great God's love is!! He loves us no matter what we do or say.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dealing with it

Recognizing that the up and down moods I'm experiencing are the result of anger and frustration helps, I think. There are things I can do about anger, things not as easy to do with depression.

I can talk about it with someone. I can resolve the source of the anger. I can give it to God and move on.

Over the past little while I've tried very hard to get closer to God. Not to put Living Room first, but put Him first. That's not so easy to do since I think at times my Living Room work becomes an obsession, something I'm not very proud of.

On Sunday Pastor Don had us reflect on a series of questions. The last ones I really needed to think about: What are you most devoted to? What is the last thing you'd give up to help someone in need? What do you organize your life around? Do you love that more than God?

That really made me think. And I realize these are questions I will have to keep asking myself, especially when I get so busy doing Living Room work. I definitely need to stay close to God if I'm to do this work. It's God's work, after all, and how will I know how to do it if I don't let God be part of it?

This morning I was looking in my Bible for something and came upon a very apt verse for me - Psalm 143:10:
Teach me to do your will, for you are my God;
may your good Spirit lead me on level ground."

A good verse to hang onto today. May God's Spirit lead me on level ground.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

As a deer

Nancie usually knows exactly what I need to hear. How she gives me healing words! How she encourages! She's such a blessing to me and to the many others whose lives she touches.

Not long ago Nancie sent me the song, As a Deer. So beautiful and it touched me and continues to touch me deeply. I've been meditating on Psalm 42, which forms the basis of the song. It gives me peace and healing.

A blessing.

Thank you, Nancie, for sharing.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Anger or depression?

A few days ago my counselor suggested that the mood problems I've been having - the apparent depressed episodes - might actually be anger. She may be right. There are lots of things bothering me and frustrating me now-a-days. But how do you tell the difference?

The very focus of my life's work, reducing stigma, is a frustrating problem. I know I will never win the war. And yet it is my hope that I will win some battles. It is my hope and prayer that at least a few will benefit and that a few more will learn and repent of the way they have been treating the topic of mental illness. It is my prayer that people will be educated and become more understanding and compassionate.

But yesterday the futility of my efforts came home to me by a comment a fellow writer made on my writing. In my article I had shown the importance of treating the whole person - physical, psychological, and spiritual. This person underlined "psychological" and wrote beside it "not scriptural."

Normally that wouldn't have hit me so hard. This person has written other things I should have been upset about but wasn't. But yesterday I also talked to a counselor in our writer's group who expressed how and why what I had undertaken was such a big job. And just hearing that overwhelmed me.

Now I have a general down mood. Call it depression, anger or frustration. Don't really know what it is. I just know I need a beer to settle me down. I know. Not good to self-medicate with alcohol. Yet I need to do "something" and I'm finding it hard to pray. Am I angry at God too? No, I don't think so. Just don't feel very close to Him at the moment.

And yet I need my God and long for Him.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Doing good

Big disappointment. We had to cancel the plans for a seminar because a couple of the speakers weren't able to make it on the date we had planned. And there's no other good time this year for me to devote to it. A trip in late May and possibly a heavy presentation I have to make in October. I felt dejected to know my efforts to educate had been thwarted. Next possible opportunity for a seminar is next year sometime.

But an email I had received from Nancie about someone newly diagnosed with bipolar disorder aroused fresh passion in me.

In Nancie's words, "He has encountered much condemnation and misjudgment from his precious churches and Christian friends. He is very discouraged but yet know how important it is for him to find a good and supportive church, and to walk closely with the Lord. He is putting his trust in the Lord and learning to depend more upon Him. He is now in the midst of looking for a good church where there will be brothers and sisters who can love him with Christ's unconditional love and enable him to grow together with them."

Being bipolar myself and realizing the importance of supportive Christian friends, I felt I had to do something. I decided I needed to write again. I realized I was ready to write again. To empty the frustrations about all that is wrong. To try and encourage Christians to have empathy and learn how they can be supportive. To build some understanding. Though I can't have a seminar, I CAN write.

So yesterday I spent most of the day writing. It felt good. The words flowed freely. I was fulfilling the purpose God had given me life for - to help people with mental illness. There's a good chance this will be published on a Christian website that draws 1000 hits a day. They've been asking me for material.

Today I see my counselor and I'm not sure if she'll be particularly happy with me. She has been trying to tell me to not think so much about always doing for other people. To "dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture." (Psalm 37:3) My husband has been trying to tell me the same thing. And a friend at church who heard about the cancellation of the seminar said to me, "Maybe you should just live for a while."

But Psalm 37 also says to "Trust in the Lord and DO GOOD". How can I simply dwell in the land when there are things wrong with it, things that God leads me to bring improvement to? Now that I have written I feel much more secure, fulfilled, satisfied that I have done my part, through God's help, to make the land a safe one to dwell in.

Further along in Psalm 37, verses 5 and 6 say:

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

Yes, I want to commit my ways to God and let Him lead. And I'm so glad He led me in such a clear way in this writing. This article may do a lot more good than a seminar would. Maybe cancelling the seminar was not such a bad thing.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Trust and do good

Tonight I was once more overcome with regret for having bipolar disorder. I feel so bad for how it causes me to do things that I shouldn't do - my feelings, thoughts and actions not under control. I guess the main thing is how I lean so heavily on two or three people. Far too many emails. I imagine they must get quite tired of me. That makes me feel ashamed of myself.

As you know, I've been meditating on Psalm 37 for weeks now. And tonight I went to it again and found greater comfort there than usual.

Trust in the Lord and do good.

It's like a father telling his daughter, "Relax, don't worry, trust me. Do good and you'll be ok. Focus on doing good and don't worry about the rest."

Dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

"Grow where you're planted and enjoy your life. You're safe in my care," says my Lord. And I realize that I need to focus on the good I can do and not on the blunders so much. Do my best. That's all I can do.

Please, God help me to feel the comfort of your love, no matter how bad my disorder. And help me share that love with others.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Living Room times - healing times

I'm healing. Feeling rather quiet and not carefree yet, but healing. This morning I talked to the person who I had hurt and his response to my apology was comforting. I knew he would forgive, yet I did need to talk to him personally and hear him say he would. I needed to hear we were okay.

Our Living Room meeting was such a blessing. God so very much there. The person giving the devotional spoke from his heart, asking the question, "What has your mood disorder taught you?" After a bit, I spoke from my heart, telling them all I had been through this week - how I couldn't live with what I had done. How badly I felt about what my bipolar depression had caused me to do. I opened my broken and contrite heart and poured everything out, comforted to know that there were compassionate souls there to listen.

And others spoke from the heart. We shared from the depths of our being. No fear of judgment. Full acceptance and love for each other. What a special meeting it was! And how the Holy Spirit worked in each of us, healing us!

Thank you, God, for Living Room.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I hate this disorder

I've come to a place where I haven't been before, at least I don't recollect having been here before. I hate having this disorder and lacking the control I would like to have over my feelings and subsequent behaviour. Last week I was hard on a person, blaming him for the depression I was feeling. But I shouldn't have had such depression over what had happened and I shouldn't have laid the blame on someone else for it.

Now I feel such shame for adding to this person's already stressful life. I'm just so very sorry. And I'm ashamed for having a disorder that makes me do things like this. I just pray that he'll forgive me. Even more than this I hope and pray his life will become easier and less stressful.

In my writings and all my work I encourage people not to feel ashamed of their bipolar disorder. I encourage them to look at it as just another illness, one they're not to be blamed for having. And yet today I feel ashamed. I don't want to hurt people. I don't want to burden them with too much of me. I lean too heavily on two or three people and I regret that. And yet it isn't within my power to stop. I need their support. It's because of their support that I've been able to do as well as I have. Without these wonderful friends in my life there would be no Living Room.

I've had such a lot of attention as the founder of Living Room. People think so much of what I do. And yet without my supporters and their encouragement to always stay close to God, I would be nothing.

Just want to thank you, my friends, you know who you are, for all you've been to me. I want to thank you for how you've shown Christ's love to me. And I pray that I will find a way to burden you less, though I don't know if I can. I've tried before. I love you.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Church support

I'm now really getting into the planning of an afternoon seminar entitled, "Mental Illness and How Congregations Can Respond". Thing is - and this is an important thing - I first need to know I have a team in place to help me with it. If that doesn't happen in the next little while it will be very hard to pull this together for our projected date of May 15th. If I don't have a team, I will cancel the plans. I've wanted to have a workshop/seminar like this for years now. Even before Living Room was born.

At the seminar I - and hopefully we - will have someone give an overview of mental illnesses (what they are and how they're treated), have stories from people who live with a mental illness, and have speakers on how congregations can be supportive. I hope to include a psychiatrist, a pastor, a Living Room facilitator, and members of Living Room as speakers.

I've had my ups and downs lately - far too many - wondering if anyone was going to encourage this, wondering if God was really going to help make this happen. But today I'm feeling energetic, ready to get organized. I've had encouragement from a number of sources now.

Thing I'll have to try and maintain is keeping God close. Although busy, to remember to "dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture." To remember to take time to "rejoice in the Lord." (from my Psalm 37 meditations)

My husband and some others think I'm obsessed with Living Room work (have I told you that before?). But I think I'm okay. Don't you readers who live with bipolar disorder find it's part of the disorder to focus with zeal in what you believe strongly about? And isn't that how we get a lot done? Thing is, I'm not manic about all this stuff. I'm just humming along.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Submitting to God

It has been a long time since I wrote here but an email from Nancie reminded me how good blogging can be for me. And I do want to share some things.

I've been going through a lot of ups and downs, mostly brought about through plans I had for Living Room that I just haven't been able to bring about. Things standing in my way, though that's probably a good thing too. Maybe the timing was not as God would have wanted. Yet I've felt a lot of frustration and that brought me down.

My pastor, my husband, and friends have mentioned to me that maybe my identity is too wound up in Living Room. It has become as though I AM Living Room. It's hard to think of anything else. And yet isn't that what dedication means? I've dedicated my life to Living Room and to work for a better world for people with mental illness. It's what I live for. It's the work God gave me to do.

And yet, says one good friend, the thing I should value most is my relationship with God. That's what I should work on more than anything else. That should come first, before the work. I know she's right.

Over this past week I've had to learn to submit to God more than I have. To not get so frustrated if things don't go my way as quickly as I want them to. To "dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture," as David said in Psalm 37. I've meditated much on that Psalm over the past while and have come to a more restful place within myself.

Trouble with me is that I'm not good at resting. Psalm 23 is not my favourite. I don't like to be made to "lie down in green pastures." And yet, as my good friend tried to convince me when I was fighting so hard, "Remember to gaze on God's face." Not easy to do when you like to work hard and there's so much you see that needs to be done.

"Delight yourself in the Lord," says Psalm 37, "and he will give you the desires of your heart." I had forgotten how to delight in the Lord - so caught up in my own agenda. It's still not easy. I'm still struggling. Am off on another tangent now. But I'm praying that God will be with me in this work. That God will be in this work - through and through. And that I will never forget to pray and ask his Holy Spirit to guide me, one step at a time. Me following, not leading.