The Adventures of Bipolar Girl

Comfort for the Neurotic in All of Us

TMI Tuesday #1: Not Really

Went to Monday Night Worship again last night —
and I drove. I had a friend praying shotgun and
we got there is one piece without any threat of
dying
untimely deaths in a fiery car crash.
I’m not known for driving at night… but
things changed once I got off the lithium.
I’ve been driving early mornings with
only minimal difficulty. So driving last night
was sort of a test.
I felt like God was prompting
me to do it… and like I said… I had a passenger
who was full of faith with prayers on the ready.

I didn’t know most of the songs last night…
but that was ok. I felt like I needed to pray
with and for people last night and got
to meet some really cool folks.
The room was packed and I was
fully ok.
Best of all, some of the YWAMers
were there. I got to pray with them
as well as ask them to pray about today…

What to say about today??
That presentation I gave last Friday?
I asked the Big Boss if I could read the
letter to the assembled student body.
It wasn’t the full training that I gave
on Friday… just the letter.

But before the end of the day could come…
I had to wade through a whole bunch of
shtuff that wasn’t expected and it wasn’t
at all easy to deal with. Since I stayed out
late last night… I thought I was going
to be a zombie
and zombies historically
don’t react well to last minute schedule
changes and other things flying in from
WAY out in left field.

But none of it – nothing– had the power
to rob me of my calm or my joy. I am
finally living my life by being the woman
that God has called me to be and things
are just seeming so effortless right now.
I took everything that came my way totally in my
stride. And the “even better part” is that I can’t
take any credit for it.
It was SO God.

The coolest thing? I got a call during class
there’d been some schedule malfunctions at
YWAM … and they wanted to know if I could use
more of the  YWAMers today. It was almost
like finding out that you were going to have
six more unexpected dinner guests at a wedding.

I wanted to be hospitable… but I wasn’t quite sure
what table to put them at or where I’d put
Aunt Gertrude after I did all my rearranging
of tables. Knowing me the way that I do…
there is NO WAY that I could have pulled
off that administrative miracle by myself.
It wasn’t perfect… but pretty danged close to it.

I had six groups going simultaneously. Each group had
at least three students and 1-2 tutors. There were several
new students who’d never done the tutoring before.
I incorporated all six of the new volunteers.
Sending some to work with our ELL class. There  was one
special needs student who I arranged to get one-on-one help.
My diploma students were working independently…
and I was on my feet the whole time circulating
to put out any sparks before they could become fires.
And neither my feet nor my legs hurt.

And at the end of the day when we had our
assembled campus meeting… the YWAMers
prayed for me. I knew they were praying for
me as I got up to speak. On Friday, I read
the letter and basically delivered a rebuke
and a challenge to all the staff who were
present… a call for people to start changing
their minds and their behaviors.

Today I read the letter to students and staff
because it was a teachable moment
that I wanted to have with the students
in order to be a peace maker
rather than a peace keeper.

What’s the difference?
A peace keeper will do whatever it takes in order to keep
the peace even if it means remaining silent because you
don’t want to rock the proverbial boat. You might
be a peace keeper because you are being abused
and you’re afraid to speak up… whatever the reason,
“peace keepers” fall short of the mark. There might
be peace… but at what cost?

Peace makers, on the other hand, are agents
of change. They are not content to keep their
mouths shut and watch the status quo steamroll
over people who cannot, for whatever reasons,
defend or speak up for themselves. Peace
makers aren’t afraid to speak; never bury
their heads in the sand; and might count
the cost to their own personal well-being,
but they aren’t afraid to pay the price.

Peace makers say what needs to be said
in love. They may not like conflict, but
they don’t run from it either. They engage
in non-violent protests and aren’t looking
out for “me first.” They understand that
love is a choice and a feeling. They do
what needs to be done…
even if that means dying on a cross
or bearing witness to one who did.

I’ve spent too many years being a peace
keeper and had no real or lasting peace.

At the worship night they said something
about looking at what we see in the mirror.
I realized that what I see in the mirror now
is the reflection of Christ in me, the hope of
glory. I used to be this timid little thing
afraid to rock the boat for fear of ending
up drowning in the water. Last night I got
a mental picture of what I see in the mirror
now and it made me smile…

cat-reflection

Big Fat Friday Fun Fact…

I didn’t realize it until I got home, but I needed to cry.
In his defense, God did try to warn me.
In my morning devotional (Jesus Calling)
the verse was out of Matthew 28
and when I went to biblegateway.com
to look it up…the very first thing I saw
was the reading for today: Matthew 28.
The specific verse in question?
The one where Jesus returns after his
crucifixion and say, “Do not be afraid.”

I wrote it on my wrist in dark ink so
it wouldn’t wash off so easily. I knew I would
need the reminder at some point today and I
wanted to be ready.

Who knew that I’d be tested so soon after?
I was supposed to present that training
to the assembled staff today. Last night,
I was so nervous that I called a co-worker
and asked if I could read part of it to him.
The potential to piss people off was high, yet I knew,
without doubt, that this was the message God wanted
me to deliver. But it’s for situations such as this
that they came up with the notion of “shooting
the messenger.” I was certain I would take some
direct hits.

When I walked out of the house it was still dark
so I didn’t see the spider web inasmuch as I felt it
cling to my face. (Do not be afraid). It wasn’t a cane
spider (they don’t make webs), so I persevered to my car.
That the passenger door didn’t immediately open
didn’t surprise me. It’s been doing that a lot lately.
I shrugged it off, got in my car, turned the key and… nothing.

Ok. First a weird shudder, the lights came on,
and THEN nothing. My brand new car wouldn’t
start the very morning I had a big presentation
to give at work. (Do not be afraid). It was 6:25.
I wasn’t scheduled to present until 9. (Breathe)

Car trouble has been known to activate my
Bipolar super powers.
“God, if you want me to give this presentation,
you’re gonna haveta start my car.”
It started, but the MIL light wouldn’t go off.
And even though I didn’t know what that was...
I didn’t think it safe to try to drive it
all the way upcountry on the winding road
and risk an immediate and untimely death
in a fiery car crash… so I drove to the dealer (unafraid)
and waited.

I also called the only person I knew
for a fact would be going my way —
that staff member I’d had the conflict with
and had to confront earlier in the week.
I hadn’t seen her since our talk, so it seemed
like God wanted a follow up.

She gladly came to pick me up and we got a
chance to talk some more. She got me to work
with plenty of time to prepare for my talk.

As on Sunday, I cannot reconstruct exactly what I said.
Instead of notes hastily scrawled on my hand,
I had an outline and roughly stuck to it, but when
I’m in my element like that the words just come. Any fear
that I may have felt before getting up there vanished
when I started speaking because THAT  is what God
made me to do. Bipolar Girl is so in her element speaking
to groups. And before anybody remarks on my total
lack of humility… It’s what I trained for
and false modesty stinks
just as much as obnoxious pride.

I killed it.

The audience that I feared might get hostile
was hanging on to my every word. I had them
interested and engaged for the entire 45 minutes
of my talk. And though it was a heavy topic
and I was essentially rebuking them, my God-given
humour kicked in and I had people laughing
and nodding in agreement.

The true test came when I sat down.
My hands weren’t shaking. I’d asked a friend to pray
that they wouldn’t and since it was clear that I hadn’t made
a room full of my colleagues hate me, there was no need
for nervous hand tremblings. I had said what God placed
on my heart to say and people heard me.

The response I got was overwhelming really.
The Big Boss wants me to go to Oahu and give my talk
to our sister site there. He also asked if I would  be willing
to travel to our corporate headquarters on the mainland and give my talk.
One of my co-workers said that it was the best message that
he had heard in some time. The praise was as humbling
as it was effusive.

And that’s when I knew that I had passed the final test.

Before I knew Jesus I took all the credit for my speaking
and writing ability. It was all about me and all for me.
My head swelled with pride… the kind that made me think
that I was the queen of the world with no need for a King.
In my pride I fully rejected God in favor of following my own plan.
So I have always had a small, but ever present fear, that any kind
of success in writing or public speaking would go to my
head and cause me to forget about God as if he’d
handed off the baton to me and now it was my turn
to be in charge of my life again.

“Pride comes before destruction. A haughty spirit before a fall.”

When I fell, I fell hard and it hurt.
How to handle today??

Turns out people were talking about my presentation all day.

A guy who missed it came to see me in my classroom
and was gushing about how everybody was telling him
that he’d missed out on hearing me speak. He said one
staffer had tears in her eyes as she recounted how my talk
impacted her. Another staff member said that there was
something in what I said that would speak to everybody
in the room.

With that kind of praise…
how do you not get a head five sizes
too big?

You remember who gave you the gift
and then you get back to his business.
I put my notes away and got back to work.
I finished my day and my coworker drove me to the dealer
where I picked up my car. I went to Whole Foods and bought
dinner and then came home. I was watching the “Gilmore Girls”
reboot on Netflix when I started to cry. I hadn’t even realized
that I needed to cry, but there I was… crying after the best
professional day that I’ve ever had in my life.

God had called me to speak
the truth in love and then
He told me not to be afraid.
I stepped out in faith
using the gifts my God gave me…
and he let me toss in some humour
to do it… and I think I got to see
the beginnings of a wall
come crashing down.

I feel like God was telling me
that I no longer have to fear failure
or success. I just have to stay humble,
submitted, and obedient and He will
do all of the heavy lifting.

Personally, I think it’s lame when
people perform and, when complimented,
say, “Oh, it wasn’t me, it was God.
No. It was you using the gifts God gave
you to His glory.
Say, “Thank you” and
stow the false modesty.

Since the response I got was SO
far removed from the one that I was
expecting… I see my success today
as answered prayer.
God did what he had intended to do.
That he decided to do it through me
was cherry, but I didn’t want it to go
to my head. And THAT’S why I cried.

The next thing I know I was in the kitchen
singing my lungs out to God praising him
Because there was so very much for which
I had to be thankful.

Today was February 17th
and God told me not to be afraid
and, for once, I wasn’t.

lions-den

 

Thursday’s Child… is Full of Thanksgiving

Ok. So that’s not how the nursery rhyme goes, but in keeping with my new theme, today is “Thanksgiving Thursday.” With this title stuck in my head, I had to look up the nursery rhyme and then I had to google to find out what day of the week had made my grand entrance into the world.

mondays-child

I was born on a Tuesday… and as I look back over my life, the grace of God has surely been following me, but I was just too blind to see it. So what is this Tuesday’s Child thankful for on a  Thursday? It’s a given that I’m thankful that Jesus died for me and all the riches that spring from that… so it’s not on the list because without him, there IS no list.

Me being me, I could ramble off a top 10 list of things I’m thankful for… but I’m aiming to keep this brief. Today I’m thankful that I had the day off and that I bought a printer on Sunday. I love my new printer!! Tomorrow I’ve been tasked with giving a 30 minute training session at work for the assembled staff and I’ve picked a topic that is either going serve as a catalyst for change or it’s going to earn me a lot of enemies. I’m hoping for door #1. I spent most of the day listening for God’s still small voice and I’ve come up with a presentation that says what I need to say. I’m thankful that I can write and that I write well. I’m also thankful for Microsoft Word. I haven’t had either of those things since I moved (no printer/no Microsoft) and it has been like a carpenter trying to do his job without any tools. I’m a wordsmith. This printer and Microsoft are tools of my trade and I am thankful I finally have them.

God gifted me to be a writer, for which I am immensely thankful. He also gifted me with natural public speaking ability which he allowed to be honed at UC Berkeley. Today I had the day off to pray and to prepare and you won’t believe the lesson God had going on in the background! I’m a big fan of the “Parable of the Four Soils.” It speaks to me on so many levels. I got to watch through the picture windows as a modern version of it played out in our yard.

My housemate had landscapers come today. There’s no other way to say this: Our yard is an embarrassment. When I lived in that critter infested studio I invested a lot of money in landscaping, since all the money in the world wouldn’t de-critterfy the inside of that place (though I spent a small fortune trying). My mamma was house proud and had the nicest lawn and yard in the entire neighborhood and probably in a 50 block radius… and I am my mother’s daughter. I have been dying to get students from school over here to attack this jungle, but my housemate declined my offer to help. If our yard was the “parable of the four soils,” then I was living on the thorny soil… even though God was showing me again and again that I was, in fact, finally living on the good soil. Funny how I was full of anxiety and woe when I lived in the beautiful cottage on the manicured property. Every garden has its snake and the landlord was ours. I’ve been living amidst this wild jungle and have felt nothing but a growing peace and joy. I’m on the good soil, alright.

Sunday’s experience at church proved it. I’m finally on the good soil. After my short testimony at church, the response was amazing. I asked for workers and people were stepping up to get involved.

Watching those landscapers chop down wild shrubs, cut down wayward trees, and remove offending weeds almost felt cathartic. I have felt like God’s been removing spiritual thorns and weeds from my life of late, and now I get to see it happening in the world around me.

Bitterness, resentment, self-pity, fear, and anger have all been thorns in my side for far too long. God has been painstakingly removing those thorns from my life. Lies. My life and my faith was nearly choked to death by lies. Tomorrow I hope to speak truth causing light to shine in and pull those liars out by their roots. I feel like the words for my presentation have been “living in my head” for seven years just waiting to jump onto the page. I hope to use my words to do some landscaping of my own at work that will result in a dramatic change of the landscape there. So, in order, today I’m thankful for :

  1. My writing and public speaking — those things are gifts from God. What I do with them are my gifts to him.
  2. Vacation time – Combined with federal/state holidays,  I’ve accrued enough vacation time that I can work 4-day work weeks for most of the year. God told me to rest and has given me time to do so.
  3. My friends: They have given me so much prayer and support over the years. I couldn’t write without them in my life. They are praying for me as I prep for tomorrow but, then again, they have always been praying for me.
  4. Healing – I was broken and now I’m healed. I want to help other people heal. I want to help bring healing to my workplace.
  5. Pain– “Before I was afflicted I went astray.” Pain has been a powerful and compelling teacher. I was in pain today, so I didn’t go out and about. I stayed home and prepared for tomorrow. I am ready and I am not afraid.

Of course, there are a million thing that I’m thankful for, but this is only the first Thanksgiving Thursday post… there are many more Thursdays to come and I have a long way to go before God calls me home. Today is February 16th and I am giving thanks with a grateful heart because this is the day that the Lord has made.

Wisdom for Wednesdays: What NOT to Say to a Suicidal Person

Tonight I had to counsel a student who they thought might be suicidal.

How’s that for “Wisdom for Wednesdays?” I thought I’d be posting warm fuzzy nuggets of truth that I’ve gleaned from some of my wiser friends. I didn’t know this first Wednesday would force me to dig deep into my own murky past and pull up some wisdom by the roots. When that woman spoke at church and said that “the broken had healed and become healers,” I knew that she was talking to me. There are so many points of brokenness in my life that I can speak quite knowledgeably into a wide variety of life traumas and dramas because I’ve been there. I may not know what to say or do… but I always know what not to say.

I guess that’s one reason I’m so harsh on well-meaning friends who speak out of complete ignorance. Scripture says that we should “comfort others out of the comfort we have received.” Most of the people I’ve known who were suicidal are dead now. They didn’t get much comfort… or the comfort they got was of the cold variety. But for some reason, I am still here. I hate that I’m “wise ” in this area, but the fact that I’m still breathing has to count for something. Personally, I think that unless somebody is a trained first responder, when it comes to dealing with a suicidal person, I think less is more. People should speak less and listen more, because saying the wrong thing could cause things to go south quickly. I once had a friend tell me that if I committed suicide I would die and go to hell. She said that I was being selfish and had no right to kill myself. I do not recommend you take this approach.

Fortunately, the situation ended well. She was trying to run from the building and I stepped in and got her to talk to me. I told her all the things I wished people had told me over the years. I got her to calm down. And rather than continue to talk at her, I got her to answer very pointed questions as I tried to assess her mental state. After talking with her at length, my fear for her subsided. I didn’t think she was actually suicidal. Us writer types tend to pour out all our darkness onto paper to get it out of our heads. She hadn’t meant the paper to be seen by anybody.

Was it a cry for help or attention? I don’t know. I stayed until the transition was made to get a professional on site to talk with her and when it was all over and done with, the professional agreed with my conclusion. Crisis averted.

I cringe when I think about how wrong this could have gone. I praise God that he was able to use me. Right now? I’m exhausted.. I’m also hating the fact that I am able to speak knowledgeably into this kind of situation. I hate that depression and suicidal ideation are a part of my wheelhouse. But the fact that it IS, helped me comfort this girl. Later, when she was calmer I asked if I could pray for her and she agreed. Then I had to let her go and trust her to God.

I had a close friend kill himself years ago. I was holding on too tightly and felt a tremendous sense of blame for something over which I had absolutely no control. Second guessing what I could’ve done differently accomplishes nothing. I know that I said and did all the “right things.” His demons were just to strong for him to fight. This girl is a scrapper. She’s going to be fine. So what’s my nugget of wisdom tonight??

What NOT to Say or Do to Comfort a Person Who Might Be Suicidal:

  1. Do NOT make them feel bad for expressing their feelings.
  2. Do NOT pressure them to talk if they don’t want to talk.
  3. Do NOT act as if you care more than you actually do.
  4. Do NOT put blame on them or yell at them or tell them not to cry or what to feel.
  5. Do NOT act like you have all the answers or understand their situation (unless you actually do).
  6. Do NOT bash them over the head with scripture/Do not become all Holy-Roller-Bible-Thumper.
  7. Do NOT talk when you should be listening.
  8. Do NOT speak first and think later.
  9. Do NOT ask them to do things they cannot.
  10. Do NOT say stupid stuff — that’s going to make things worse for them.

That’s a pretty long list of what NOT to do or say. What about the actual comforting stuff…? I’ve got a bit of wisdom to share about that too. I’m mentally exhausted and falling asleep at the keyboard (and it’s only 8:17)… so I will keep this brief. What do I think you SHOULD say or do to somebody who might be suicidal?

  1. Listen to them.
  2. Pray before you speak.
  3. Love them.
  4. Understand that unless you’ve been there… you can’t understand.
  5. Know that while you might want to “fix” their situation, you can’t.
  6. Leave the heavy lifting to God.
  7. Accept that God can work through mental health professionals and medications.
  8. Pray some more.
  9. Listen some more.
  10. Keep praying.

I will take prayer over well-meaning advice any day, so as I talked to my student I didn’t try to “fix” her situation. I didn’t even think I could. She’s safe now and that’s what counts. Ok. I’m falling asleep on the keyboard. I’m going to log off and go to bed now. Today is February 15th and while I hate that coping with suicidal situations is in my wheel house…it’s part of my story and I was able to draw on the comfort that I’ve received from God to comfort this young girl. I may hate that my adventures includes a bunch of train wrecks, but I believe, without doubt, that God uses everything, even train wrecks, for the good of those who love his and are called according to his purposes. Please pray for her and her family. Pray for me too.

Goodnight and God bless.

SONY DSC

Manic Monday Meets TMI Tuesday

So I’ve decided to try blogging every day again, but with more of a focus. Yesterday was supposed to be my first “Manic Monday” post.  Unfortunately, one of my students was hospitalized and I went to see him after school. By the time I finally got home last night, it was too late to even think about posting, so “Manic Monday” blurred into “TMI Tuesday.”

But I still want to reflect a bit how on THIS Monday was so very different from most of my other Mondays. Fast forward past the actual day and go straight to what happened later last night. Even though it was a school night, I went to Monday Worship on the other side of the island. So much had happened on Sunday that I couldn’t wait to go there and be a part of what was going on. One heart. One voice. Each time I’ve gone it’s been amazing and I needed to add my voice and my heart.

Unfortunately, I started having persistent chest pains that wouldn’t go away. I started to get scared and then I started to tense up.  If there was an Olympic medal for jumping to conclusions, I’d win it hands down. I started thinking that if I was going to have a heart attack — what better place to drop dead than in a room full of worshiping Christians??

SO… there I was mid-angst when I feel this guy’s arm go around me and his hand rested on my shoulder. That this didn’t weird me out was a minor act of God. I knew who it was though we’ve never really talked. He’s another one of God’s beautiful young men sent to minister to me. He immediately started talking to me… whispering sweet somethings in my ear. I can’t remember exactly what he said… but it made me want to smile and cry all at once. He told me that I am so full of joy and that when I come into a room I make people happy. Nobody has ever accused Bipolar Girl of being full of joy. And after teaching for nearly 20 years, I’ve been accused of being full of a lot of things… but joy has never been one of them. He went on to comment about what I said in church on Sunday and my heart swelled. His words cut right through my anxiety and literally made my rapidly beating heart be still. The squeezing chest pains subsided as I tried to figure out if I needed to smile or cry or both. And then, the moment was over. He stepped away and we both started singing again.

At the end of the evening, he got all prophetic on me praying about something that only God knew about. I also had a chance to speak to The Older Gentleman and his Lovely Wife. To say that I floated home on a cloud would be an understatement.

I drifted off to sleep with worship music in my head. Unfortunately, a few hours later that I was forcibly ejected from bed by the most excruciating pain I’ve ever experienced (and this coming from a woman who had surgery to remove a 10 lb uterine fibroid). It was crazy. I felt crazy. I was trying to stand without falling. It felt like the veins in the front of my legs were clogged and ready to burst. It wasn’t bone. It wasn’t muscular. It felt like there were big knots forming in my veins trying to rip their way out. I debated about waking my housemate to take me to the ER, but I promised myself the last time I went to the ER that that would be the last time I went to the ER unless I was dying. Since I wasn’t dying I decided to pray. I tried to walk it off. I tried massaging the site of the pain. I prayed some more. I kept praying until I was too tired to stand and fell back into bed in an exhausted sleep.

I woke up feeling emotionally fragile. What had happened to me? Between the chest pains, my chronic low pulse, and the pain in my legs I immediately visited the worst case scenario and camped there: surely, I had blood clots in my legs that would result in my immediate and untimely death. I can joke now… but  this is what too much WebMD does to me. It takes a legitimate fear I’m already feeling and amps it up so that I’m paralyzed by terror. Today could have gone very wrong. I could have morphed into my altered ego.  I knew that part of last night was spiritual attack. I also knew that I wasn’t going to the hospital or going to call my doctor. I’m tired off all the tests and the poking and prodding.

So WHAT happened?? I prayed and left it with God. Today I went to work and did a damned good job. I didn’t morph into Bipolar Girl although everything about Monday seemed designed to screw with my mental health. While I’ve been having some majorly mountain top experiences, it seems like those moments are short lived before I get hit by a wave of trial. Monday itself may have been “manic,” but I wasn’t. All the ingredients were there in the wee hours when the pains in my legs woke me to make Tuesday a bad day too… but it wasn’t. I went to work and did my job with joy so that peace just seemed to follow me all day. My legs still hurt and my chest is sore. I’m exhausted, but today was a great day.

Today (February 14th) is rapidly turning into “tonight” and I’m beat. I’m hoping that I don’t have a repeat of last night because I don’t relish having the crap scared out of me again. Today was also Valentine’s Day and it was made that much more special to me because God has so completely changed my heart. Not only can I see that I have a greater capacity for love… but beautiful young men are telling me ridiculously cool things like I am full of joy and that I bring the happiness into a room. (Be still my beating heart. Literally.) With that memory treasured up in my heart, how could today have been anything less than perfect?

stick-girl

So Bipolar Girl Walks into a Church and…

They asked me to speak at church this morning.

I figured I’d lead with that rather than taking forever
to eventually get to my point.
It took me totally by surprise
seeing as he asked me about 10 minutes
before church actually started.
My first gut response was to say, “No.”

The morning had not been going my way.
The night before I was upset and wrote an email
EWE — (Emailing While Emotional) is never a good thing.
I accidentally sent said email to a dear friend, but since
it was about her, that email wasn’t meant for her eyes.
LOOOOOOOOOOOOONG story.

I thought I was going to lose one of my oldest
and dearest friends because I didn’t check
the destination before I hit “send.” I felt awful.
Not because the email was mean or snipe-y.
It wasn’t. It wasn’t gossipy or anything like that.
Her actions have been causing me to stumble
and I turned to another friend for prayer and support.
I mentioned no names and gave only general details.
I was upset when I wrote it and somehow, accidentally,
sent it to her instead of the other friend.

When she emailed me letting me know
that she’d gotten the errant email
I was mortified and then I was relieved.
The pink elephant was no longer in the center
of the Bipolar Bubble. No, I wasn’t speaking to her
but I was speaking about her and I had spoken
the truth in love. That didn’t mean that she
would see it that way though.
If our friendship could survive my honesty,
then God would work even this for our good.

Knowing that didn’t stop the fear. It didn’t stop
the tears either, so it was with an anxious heart
that I went to church.

So when one of the church leaders asked me to get up
and speak to the congregation, everything in me —
except for a still small voice, was screaming,
“NO!!!!!” I felt like a ratbag. What right did
I have to get up and address the body??

Then he said, “Only if you want to speak.
And then I knew that it wasn’t about what I wanted.
It was about what God could do through me if I got out of his way.
“And they overcame them by the blood of the lamb
and by the word of their testimony.”

There is power to pull down strongholds when somebody
who has been made new by the blood of the Lamb
shares testimony of what they’ve seen
Jesus do in their lives
and I have been seeing him do A LOT
these past few months.

I ramble. I know this.
So I wrote notes on my hand
(the original palm pilot)
and figured I’d stick to my
impromptu script and be done
with it.

I honestly cannot reconstruct what I said.
I just got up there and told the truth,
the whole truth, and nothing but the truth
and Jesus helped me.

Somewhere in that abbreviated ramble
I talked about obeying God, but not being
submitted to him. I talked about needing a
change of heart as well as a change of mind.
There was also something about how he used the
absolute last place I wanted to be…
as a means of transforming me into the woman He
wanted me to be without me even realizing it.

I often point out that I’m a Rhetoric major
from Berkeley. Public speaking was tattooed
on my DNA before birth. Before Bipolar Disorder
forced me to retreat into the Bubble I used to
compete in public speaking competitions
where I generally won the trophies, the prize money
and the accolades. I developed quite a big head
about my speaking abilities.

One of my most remarkable moments from
high school was when I spook at a city wide
youth rally at a local college amphitheater.
I brought the entire shouting and cheering
crowd to a standing ovation. Me.
They girl who squeaked like a mouse
at home could actually roar like a lion
on a stage.

Having Bipolar manifest in college
was both humiliating and humbling.
It is a wonder that I ever even graduated
because my life was such a train wreck
back then. I squeaked out of Berkeley with a C-
average because studying in between
being depressed or manic was impossible.

So while I’m proud to say that I actually
managed to graduate from college
while in the grips of an undiagnosed
and thus untreated mental illness —
I remember very little of my time there
so I count it all a loss.
I don’t even know what happened to my diploma.
A sister with whom I lost touch with years ago had it.
But it doesn’t matter to me.

But I don’t care.
I was a straight up atheist at Berkeley.
There was no place in my life for Jesus
and I couldn’t see my need of him,
so I pursued my own plan.
And look how that turned out.

Standing on that stage today in church
was way better than that amphitheater.
because I gave testimony
of what I’ve seen Jesus do in my life
by leading me into teaching and then
keeping me there despite the challenges
and setbacks.

I shared WAY more than I planned to say,
but I learned while I was getting
off the lithium, that it is never about my
plan… because God has one that surpasses
anything I could ever come up with.

I spent so much of my life trying to reconcile
myself to the world… trying to figure out where
I fit into it instead of realizing that I needed
to be reconciled to God. And that’s the one
thing that I totally remember about sharing
this morning.

They asked me to speak about what God
has been doing through having the YWAMers
tutoring up on our campus and how the congregation
could be praying for the needs of my school.
I had quite a list of prayer points scrawled
on the back of my hand…
but when it got right down to it,
my plan didn’t compare to God’s.
He put a scripture on my heart that
became my prayer request and my challenge
to the assembled body of Christ
this morning. It was out of 2 Corinthians
chapter 5, verse 17 to 21:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God

I asked them to pray about being ambassadors who were willing to show the love of Jesus and not just talk about it. The response was AMAZING… but that will have to wait until another day. Tomorrow is a school day and it’s late. Today is February 12th and God’s fingerprints were ALL over this morning.

wait2

 

Prayer Changes Minds(ets)

It’s Saturday and I’m still trying to figure out just how to talk about what has been going on at work this past week and have it make sense to somebody other than me.

I spoke to my mentor Thursday. I took the day off for in-town appointments and decided to call her up when I was done. Over lunch in a crowded food court I tried to unpack all that I’ve been seeing God do this past week and after trying to do that with her… I’ve concluded that less really is more.

Y’ever notice how the Apostle Paul references conflicts with people… but he doesn’t always go into specifics? Oh, he’ll mention names probably because everybody knew who he was talking about… but for whatever reason, he doesn’t dig up all the dirt and rehash it. It could be that he didn’t want to be labeled a gossip, but more than likely, it’s because that he understood the fact that love does not keep a record of wrongs. And while I’m not particularly liking that co-worker right now… as her sister in the Lord, I feel compelled to love her. I care about her well-being and I am interceding for her because she’s in the grips of terrible rage, hatred, and bitterness which I can see so clearly, because that used to be me.

Reminds me of the conflict between Eudodia and Syntyche mentioned in the book of Phillipians.

Whatever their drama was, it was serious enough to warrant mention in scripture. Paul even goes as far as asking other believers to intervene, but he never tells us what put these two women who had “contended at [his] side in the cause of the gospel” to be at such odds with each other. And I’m glad that he didn’t because, by leaving it up to speculation, he allows for the universality of it all. You find any organization, be it Christian or secular, where people don’t have conflicts and fractured relationships and… …I venture to guess that you couldn’t find one because it doesn’t exist. So by leaving out the juicy details, Paul could be speaking into any conflict anywhere.

Conflict happens and the temptation to go to respective corners to lick your wounds and to wallow in self-righteousness or self-pity is high. We’re human. It happens. But what also needs to happen is communication. After things blew up, I told that staff member that we needed to talk. Her response? She avoided me later that day and I was happy to let her. Then the next day life happened.

Literally.

That tutoring program that I just started up on campus where the young missionaries from YWAM come to our school to tutor my students had its second session on Tuesday. It’s like a wild fire has taken over the campus and the heat that it’s generating is life giving. Students who aren’t even in my class have been asking if they could get in on the action. Students who are involved are complaining that thirty minutes is just not enough time to spend with the tutors.

From 2:30-4:00 it’s all business: Five volunteers with groups of 2-3 students; 30 minutes each. It ran like clockwork. We are on the company dime, so no mention of Christ was made, but it didn’t need to be. These volunteers are, as am I, unashamedly Christian. As missionaries in training, their expressed and unexpressed goal is to share the love of Christ and given that we live in a world where so much hypocrisy abounds “in the name of Jesus…” seeing the love instead of merely hearing about it… was what my students needed. And it seems to be the light that is not only shining in this present darkness, but their light is shining so brightly before men that God is being glorified.

When 4pm rolled around I wasn’t sure if any of the students would show up for the informal conversation/music/fellowship time. It’s not officially a “Bible Study,” but come on… five young Christian missionaries willing to talk about anything? Their lives are relevant to my students because they have never seen people their own age so on fire for the Lord. One of the guys, the one playing my guitar, talked openly about turning his back on a life of drugs and partying to follow the Lord. So when they taught my students the words to “How Great Is Our God,” he was able to share passionately from his own life just why he is able to sing that song and give his own testimony about the greatness of God that he, himself, has witnessed.

Eight students showed up on Tuesday for the informal fellowship. One more other just poked her head in, but later told me that she was too embarrassed to come in when she saw so many people. We weren’t tucked away in a distant building like last time. We were in the main hall and the door was wide open to anybody who wanted to come in. Some people just passed through on their way to the basketball courts or the office… but two students were drawn in by the music. The ensuing discussion and the prayer was… (we offered prayer which my students eagerly accepted) …I can’t come up with just one word to explain what it was or how I felt about it.

The next day my boss told me that I have free rein to bring up more of the YWAMers on campus and pretty much do whatever I think is right. Originally, he only wanted three of them but I lobbied for five. Now, with more volunteers, we can either choose to extend the time or expand the scope to include math tutoring or stick to the current plan but add another day. He was really impressed with how organized and well run it was. Honestly? I was too… because six month ago the idea of being solely responsible for thirty-eight students and five volunteers with all the scheduling, paper work, and planning that this entails would have been beyond me. When I was on the lithium I couldn’t’ve pulled this off. Good thing God took care of that, isn’t it?

So, as I said, life happened. But what of the conflict with that other staff member? If, in our anger, we are not to sin, what was I to do about what had happened on Monday in order to stop it from ever happening again? I told my boss I was going to report her, but really I didn’t want to rat her out by filing a formal complaint and praise God I didn’t have to.

I might be timid and introverted in person, but God is taking care of that by having me work from within my strengths. There is more than one way to communicate and if talking to her was going to give me anxiety, there was another way. I came home Monday and wrote a letter to our director. For some time I’ve been thinking about situations like this one that happen more frequently than anybody will admit on our campus and not just from this one instructor either. In our organization, like any other group of people working together, there are people in positions of authority who do not know how to handle that kind of power. And out of ignorance or pride, they abuse people. Maybe not intentionally and definitely not physically (because that sort of behavior would be addressed immediately) … but emotional wounds can leave scars that last long after the tears have dried.

This was not the first student I’ve seen cry, but I was determined to be an agent of change so that she might be one of the last. I wrote a letter to the director that summoned all the passion that I felt, but directed it towards the larger issue of our campus culture instead of zeroing in on the Eudodia in my life.

We need to change our collective minds and then our collective behaviors if things are ever to be what they could be at our school. And with that letter in hand, I knocked on the director’s door and asked could I come in and read him a letter.

That was Tuesday and changes have been happening like wildfire. I am seeing God open doors that used to be locked and he’s granting me favor with the administration that I have never had before because he’s giving me a boldness that I’ve never had before. SO…If you believe, as I do, that prayer changes things… then pray and keep praying for the students and the staff at my school. And if you’re a friend on FB, I’d love it if, instead of just hitting “like,” you’d leave a prayer to show your support for my school… and for all schools. I doubt that this problem is unique to my school so the need for change is universal.

Today is February 11th and God is changing minds and hearts and I’m glad that he started with mine.

growth-mindset

I Get By With a Little Help from My Friends…

Tackling all the editing that it’s going to take to get that unfinished post about this week ready to actually be posted is beyond me tonight. It’s been a crazy busy week and I’m exhausted. It can wait until tomorrow., but what about today?

Blogging every day during The Plan was a journey of discovery to me. I saw God do some pretty amazing things and I am glad I have a record of it, but I’m finding that I don’t want to come home every day and have to dig deep into my thoughts and my soul to find something that I could (or should) share here. Much of what happened to me this week was not meant to be shared in such an open forum out of respect for the innocent and not so innocent. While it’s clear that I have few qualms about baring my own dirty laundry in the name of transparency, I don’t feel that it’s very ethical of me to share somebody else’s just because their adventure happened to intersect with mine. SO… I am going to edit that post in progress this weekend when I’m not so tired but I have been grappling with what to do with this blog on a daily basis since I completely discontinued the lithium.

I’ve been nursing the idea of bringing some levity into the Bipolar Bubble. I still intend this to be a Christ-centered blog where I actively seek what God is doing in and around my life… so I can bring comfort to the “neurotic in all of us,” but I don’t want to be so intense all the time. Plus, I wanted a format that I could stick to even when I don’t feel like blogging or don’t know if I should share sensitive information. I came up with an idea that sounded good to me. I do theme weeks in my classroom where we focus on a specific fun them for a week to get us out of the regular routine and thought that the idea could translate to my blog. After much thought I’ve come up with the following format so that my blog will conform to some easy to follow daily themes. I’m going to try it for a few months and see what I think. It seems like a good idea now, but it might turn out to be a big fat flop… but here goes…

The New and Improved Adventures of Bipolar Girl (complete with themes…):

  • Manic Mondays
  • TMI Tuesdays
  • Wisdom for Wednesdays (aka I Get By with a Little Help from My Friends)
  • Thanksgiving Thursdays
  • Fun Fact Fridays (I got this idea from my friend MH who would post Fun Facts about her life every Friday on Facebook. It seemed like a lot of fun, so I’m going to borrow the idea)

I’m not exactly sure what each of those days will look like, but once I start trying to follow the themes, things are going to start to gel for me. I think I will find it easier to write when I know that I’m not always going to feel like I have to bare my soul on a daily basis. I am introverted and very private by nature, so I think this new format is going to lighten things up a bit. I’m not sure what to do about Saturdays and Sundays yet… but I’m sure something will come to me. So for now, I’m going to cut this short by ending with my First Friday Fun Facts:

  1. I have seven sisters, two brothers, two half sisters, a stepbrother, and an untold number of foster brothers and sisters. I normally stop the count at 15. (Un)forunately, I’m actually estranged from all but one of them, but I trust that God can and will change things in his timing.
  2. Apple pie is the only pie worth eating. It is the one true pie.
  3. In Junior High school I studied Russian and can still remember how to sing the Russian alphabet.
  4.  Both my middle and my last names are hyphenated.
  5. I can swim, but I can’t tread water. I nearly drowned twice so I stay out of the water even though I live on an island.
  6. Ok. I really stay out of the water because I’m convinced that sharks like dark meat and I’m not taking any chances. 😉
  7. Back in college I was in a sorority (Which is shocking to people who actually know me now)
  8. In my sophomore year, I backpacked across Europe by myself one summer (which is also shocking to people who know me now since I get lost with alarming regularity)
  9. In High school I was in a Beauty Pageant and won “Miss Congeniality.”
  10. I like making Top Ten Lists and have a list for just about everything.

Today is February 10 and writing the First Friday Fun Facts really was fun!

Not Another Manic Monday…

Today a coworker made me cry.
I wasn’t crying because I was sad
or depressed…. upon reflection
I actually cried twice today.

My friend and colleague
lost her son three weeks ago —
has it really been that long?
Time flies when the bottom drops
out of your world or the world
of somebody you’ve come to love.
When I spoke with her today
she cried and my heart broke for
her. I would give anything
anything at all to take this bitter cup
from her.

I used to bargain with God.
My life has been such a train wreck
that I have often wondered why God
allowed me to live. There is so much
pain and suffering in the world, and I
used to think I was a waste of space
and breath.

When Trucker Dukes was diagnosed with
neuroblastoma, I tried to bargain with God.
I knew the family from church. I used to
watch the Dukes kids dance around in front
of the worship team on Sunday mornings.
I couldn’t believe that God would allow such
a nightmare to visit such a wonderful family.
In all sincerity, I told God to take my life for his.
Trucker has so much life ahead of him and
I was only half living mine.

So when I watched my friend grieving her
son anew today, my heart, which I have always
thought was rather hard and stony,
broke just a little bit more.
And the idea of a bargain crossed my mind.
But instead, I prayed with my friend and then
had to trust her to God.
I don’t understand why her young son
died. I don’t like it. I hate seeing
her like this.
But I trust God.

I got a new student today.
It did not go well.
In trying to protect this kid,
I threw myself under the bus
and got reprimanded by my
supervisor for my efforts.
The kid turned out to be really
ungrateful and it pissed me off.
Next time I’m letting him get
hit by his own bus because
I’ve got enough buses of my own
to contend with.
I don’t understand why God is sending
me another nightmare student.
I definitely don’t like how today went down.
But I’m going to pray for this kid and then
let him go,
because I trust God.

THEN I ran afoul of a staff member
because I was trying to protect a student
from said staff member.
When I was younger I literally used to have a
heart for the underdog and would go to bat
against injustice… that is… until I got the crap knocked
out of me trying to defend the smallest girl in the sixth
from being bullied by the tallest boy. I told him to
pick on somebody his own size…

When he hit me square in the chest and I went down.
I was smart enough to fake an asthma attack,
because he would’ve beaten me silly otherwise. I had
to take a number of emotional beatings over the years
before I finally stopped trying to look out of the underdog.

I thought that streak died in me years ago. Especially
after all these years spent trying to protect my
mental health. The walls of the Bipolar Bubble
were thick and all encompassing. I was so busy
trying to protect myself that I had no time for
protecting anybody else. I wanted to hide
in the Bubble and lick my wounds.

But God uses wounded healers.
He hasn’t healed me so that I could sit
in the Bubble and sing Kumbaya by myself.
He fully intends for me to help other people.
Helping people, however, can get messy.
In order to help other people, you have to feel things.
You get your heart hurt. Sometimes you get
your feelings hurt. Other times, you just plain
get hurt.

I tried to stand up for a student today
and got emotionally hurt.
Not one to rush in to confrontations,
I could have stood by and said nothing,
but bad things happen when good people do
nothing…right?!
Ok. A really bad paraphrase, but I knew I
couldn’t stand back and do nothing.
So I did somethings…
and I ended up standing in the hallway crying.

Not because I was sad or depressed.
I wasn’t.
I was angry.
An unfortunate fact of my
reality is that I cry when I am mad.
My mother assured me that I was stupid
for crying, so I’ve struggled my entire life
trying to stop seeing my tears as sign of weakness.

This staff member made me feel weak and helpless.
I was also angry. And therein lies the “teachable moment”
where I can learn something if I don’t get proud.
God doesn’t tell us not to be angry. He warns against sinning
in our anger. In my anger I cried. And then I went to talk
to my boss, because if I sit back and do nothing, then I am part
of the problem.

I have been praying a lot since the hallway.
I don’t understand why it had to go down that way.
I don’t like that it went down that way. But I’ve
prayed and I trust God….
I’m not going to try to bargain with him.
In this messy world of caring for hurting people
there will be times when my heart will get hurt.
There will be times when I will get emotionally hurt.
And there will be times when some bully is going to
sucker punch me, but instead of going down, I am
going to stand firm in the Lord and use my words.

Today has been a long and stressful day. It could have been
a “manic Monday,” and I could be really upset right now…
but I’m not. If I had to choose today with all its messiness
over a sterile, solitary life in the Bubble, it’s pretty clear
which one I would choose. I have no idea what tomorrow
will hold, especially after I file my formal complaint.
I can imagine that this staff member is going to hate me,
but I have to look out for the students.

I know I need to speak the truth in love, but there’s going
to be consequences. I could be all knotted up inside, worrying
about tomorrow… but I’m totally fine right now. I’ve prayed
and I trust myself and this awful situation to God.
I’d appreciate your prayers. Pray that my sleep would be sweet.

Today is February 6 and it’s NOT another “manic Monday.”

manic-monday

 

It HAD to Be Me

Today should’ve been a bad day
but it wasn’t.
Everything that could go wrong
did.
Which is why I’m glad that my
peace and my joy
are no longer contingent
upon my
circumstances.

Today I put my eyes squarely on God
and called upon the resolve that he’s
been instilling in me.
Things that I would have seemed like
insurmountable mountains
a year ago
looked like opportunities
to see what God was going to do
through me
and in me
today.

So rather than limping through
today hoping that tomorrow would
already get here…
I asked for help when I needed it.
I helped others when they needed me.
I said, “Please” and “Thank you”
and treated people the way I
want people to treat me.

Instead of seeing the worst in people
I tried to remember that we are all
in this world together,
each with our own trials
and challenges
pains and
passions…

And I didn’t limp through the day.
I didn’t even just “grit my teeth and bear it.”
Today was a day intent on seeing me rise
above my limitations and the pettiness
of my circumstance.
I didn’t just “get through” today
I thrived…
and not in spite of my
trials and challenges…
or my passions and
pains…
but because of them.

I am becoming who I am
because of all that God has
walked me through,
not in spite of it.

So that every step of the way today
I was conscious of God at work
in me and around me.
I don’t know if I’ve ever really
felt so connected to who He made me
to be
as I was today.

Today is February 2nd
and I got to be me.

 

hinds-feet

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