Sunday, February 26, 2012

Our life as adventure

I've been enjoying Erwin McManus's Chasing Daylight: Seize the Power of Every Moment. Although it's my third time reading this book, it still inspires me in the same way. McManus writes that life is an adventure which "comes at great risk and at significant cost. And life as God intends for you to live is nothing less than an adventure."

This book is hitting home so well for me right now as I'm gradually hoping to become more fully engaged in Living Room work again. A while back it was thought that I should avoid all big stressors and try to keep myself safe from excessive mood problems. But my new medication is working. I have regained the stability I lost. Thank you, God, for medicine! No need to continue playing it too too safe.

And I prayed, "Lord, what kind of life would I have playing it safe all the time? Life is and adventure and I'll need to live it, even if it means getting overwhelmed once in a while. God, I need to trust you again, as I trusted you from the beginnings of Living Room.

Yes I trusted, but You know how I faltered a lot too, Lord. There was a lot of fear. But You never failed to bring me back to the realization that I don't have to do the work alone. In fact, it's mostly You doing the work. All I have to do is to be a foot soldier for You. I just do what I'm told, taking advantage of opportunities that you provide, responding to those delicious urges to write - those urges that I know come from You. I want to be a voice for You, Lord."

Erwin McManus also wrote the following: "This is about stepping up and making sure life counts. It's about volunteering when God is asking, 'Who will go on my behalf?' I'm talking about our silent abdication of responsibility, our choice to move to the backdrop when someone is needed on the forefront."

Yes, Lord, to keep playing it safe now that I'm more stable would indeed be abdicating my responsility.

I know that our God is very much present in all of Living Room's work. Through it Christians living with mood disorders are finding safe places to openly be themselves, dealing with their emotional problems with the help of God, in an accepting and loving environment. It is a worthy adventure.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Off to a warm place

Just want you to know I won't be posting for at least a week. We are off to Mexico for a get-away we have been longing for since October or so.

I'm looking forward to lying in the sun with my books. Hope to write a bit as well.

See you soon!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Crisis prayer line

Yesterday a very distraught and confused lady called me. She is bipolar but is only just getting started on medication. She was under the impression that the enemy was causing her to go through the psychosis she had been experiencing. When I told her that bipolar is a medical condition she was very relieved. She was amazed to be talking to someone who had the same illness as she did.

I was happy that I was able to be there for her.

It made me think how good it would be if there were prayer lines specifically for Christians living with mental illness. These prayer lines could be manned by people who had an understanding of mental illnesses or had lived experience.

I myself could benefit from something like this. My Christian friends don't always understand what I'm dealing with. They might not know how to pray for me. Quite often I've been at a loss for someone to talk to - someone who would be sensitive to where I was at - someone who could pray for me.

There are crisis lines. But they don't provide people who will pray with you. And there are prayer lines. But these are often manned by people who have no understanding of mental illnesses.

I called a prayer line once when I was in crisis and very much needed someone to talk to. However, the lady who prayed for me seemed to think that my condition was my fault - something I had power over. I don't think I'll ever call a prayer line again.

Monday, February 13, 2012

What is love anyway?

The devotional planner I use had a very good definition of love. It is "an intense feeling of tender affection and compassion for someone." The comment:
People are longing to be accepted. When we show care and concern for them they will find their deepest emotional needs being met.

And don't we all hunger for this kind of love? Especially those living with mental illness - those who are so difficult to understand. If only we could receive such unconditional love and acceptance, we would do so much better!

Unfortunately, there is a lot of misunderstanding of those living with mental illness. There is a lot of stigma. We often don't feel loved. And how very painful that is! How much that increases our suffering!

How I pray that people will become better educated about mental health issues! I pray that people will try better to put themselves in our shoes and understand the pain we feel.

We who live with mental health problems are best equipped - best understanding - to show this kind of love to others who struggle emotionally. How we would bless others if we could give them the unconditional love they need! And, in a very mysterious way, we ourselves would be blessed at the same time.

We who have compassion can be a good example to others about how to treat a person with mental illness. When we treat others with love and compassion, others will start learning to do so as well. Imagine what can happen in a congregation when such caring is modelled by several people! What a welcoming place it would be!

Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1John 3:18

Friday, February 10, 2012

Being myself

I love it when I'm around people, able to be sociable. However, far too often I feel awkward in social situations - nervous - self-conscious. Is it the social anxiety disorder, still haunting me? I thought that was in my past, but maybe it isn't completely gone. Maybe it won't ever be completely gone.

It's strange, though - and wonderful - how at Living Room meetings I always feel like I can be myself. I feel outgoing when I'm there, looking forward to welcoming people as they arrive. I feel happy and free.

What is it about Living Room that I can so easily be that way there?

I just hope that others who come will be able to feel that sense of freedom too. I hope they will experience it as a place where they can be totally open about who they are, with no worries about saying the wrong thing or revealing things about themselves that will bring shame upon themselves. At Living Room we're accepted, no matter where we are emotionally or spiritually. How wonderful! It's like a little slice of heaven.

Thank you God for Living Room and for your presence - always with us.

Thursday, February 09, 2012


In Ephesians 2:10 Paul writes:
"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

How encouraging that is! Does that mean that the limitations I have had and that I have been worrying so much about should not hold me back so much after all?

Will my new medication help me become more stable so that it will be easier to make promises? How wonderful that would be! Will I be able to photograph adequately, in spite of the tremors?

I'm doing so much better moodwise. What a blessing! How grateful I am! How hopeful for a better life!

Paul had his "thorn in the flesh," didn't he? Yet it did not hold him back. He believed in the good work God made him for and God gave him the strength to carry it out.

I am encouraged. Hope for my future has greatly increased. Thank God for helping scientists come up with medications to help people with bipolar disorder! We are indeed fortunate to be living in this day and age.

Monday, February 06, 2012


Did I forget my own advice in Riding the Roller Coaster?

I've been enjoying my reading again, able to focus where for so long that had been almost impossible. I have a writing project on the go. These acitivities both make me happy and are good for me. Yet last night I started feeling somewhat low again. What's the problem?

The lithium I'm taking is helping a great deal, but I'm realizing more than ever now that meds alone aren't going to be the answer. I need to lead a balanced lifestyle too. Some quiet activities like reading and writing is good, but I also need to have more physical activity in my life: Cleaning, shopping, walking. And I need to take time with friends.

I also remember the exhilaration I felt a few weeks ago when I photographed the plants in our garden while they were covered by a slight layer of snow. Yes, being creative too is so very important.

I pray that I will remember this lesson and plan my days to include this kind of balance. It should almost be a doctor's prescription, shouldn't it? Doctors need to prescribe far more than medicine alone.

So now that I've had lots of quiet time, I must do something else - something I don't generally enjoy. I need to clean up our messy kitchen. But I know that I can almost make it enjoyable if I play some good music as I work. ...The work is almost starting to sound appealing :))

Wednesday, February 01, 2012


I've been feeling so frustrated about the tremors the lithium are causing me. How can I do the candid child photography I so much love to do?

And I have a dream:

At Missions Fest I met Marie Ens, the missionary in Cambodia who started Place of Rescue. This is an orphanage for children of parents who died from Aids. She started this ministry in her senior years and it is truly amazing what she has done.

My dream is to visit her and document her work with photographs. How I would love to do a photo story of Place of Rescue. It would be so very much the kind of work I'm good at...if I didn't have the tremors.

However, my mood is stabilizing. I've become far better organized. I'm feeling more normal emotionally. And that is something to be grateful for. And I AM very grateful.

With more stable moods I'll be able to work better for Living Room, and that - right now - is probably a more important work for me than photographing children. Maybe I should accept and welcome this time in my life as a season to work for Living Room. And maybe - some time in the future - we can work at getting me off the meds that are causing the tremors. Maybe - some time in the future - it will be safe to change meds again.

There is a season for everything.