What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Do you know . . .

The effects of insomnia on mood? It has been studied many times and results can be found in scholarly journals, medical journals, psychology journals, psychiatry journals, social work journals. And there are many anecdotal accounts by sufferers themselves. The effects of not enough sleep are exacerbate in individuals that already have mood disorders such as dysthymia (chronic mild depression), moderate depression, clinical depression, or bipolar disorder.

The cause of the emotional and mood disruptions is kind of like the chicken and the egg. Which came first? The lack of sleep? Or the onset on mania? The research, and common thinking among those who treat sufferers, does not try to answer those questions. The focus is on treating the insomnia allowing for more accurate assessment and treatment of the status of the mood issues.

So why am I talking about this? First I have a “mood disorder.” It has a name. Bipolar disorder. I have suffered from mood swings, periods of insomnia, and hypersomnia (sleeping abnormally long) since I was a child. There were times when I was so full of energy that I would stay up all night writing or drawing (and occasionally doing homework). There were other times when I couldn’t bear to face the day because I was sure nothing good, and probably lots bad, would happen.

Lately, I have not been sleeping well. A couple hours a night are not even close to enough to maintain a healthy mood balance. I recognize that. Even though I do not want to admit it, I can tell there are increasing signs of mania, the energetic part of my bipolar. The problem is that energy, combined with the lack of sleep, has in the past led to losing touch with reality (psychotic). So I am again struggling with my mental illness. I know it is cyclical in nature, but I still get tired of dealing with it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Big Q Question

Thirty-three years ago, as a new Christian, there was the comfort of connectedness. The connectedness came from being “born and raised” in a hot-house of Christianity. The people – fellowship – kept the vision alive. There was a sense of purpose and the opportunity to grow with limited interruptions, like going to class and doing homework. The basics, the nuts and bolts, of Biblical Christianity, were taught with the expectation they would be passed along to other new believers. Names were given to each practical skill: Prayer, Fellowship, Quiet Time, Witness (later as a more “mature” Christian this became “Evangelism”), Praise, Worship, Bible Study, Memorizing Scripture, Disciple, Disciple-making, and Making Disciple-makers.

When encountering one another, the questions were the greeting. It seemed “Hi” and “Good morning” were not enough. A favorite: What’s your latest [memorized] verse? Also: What did you read in your Quiet Time this morning? (Notice the assumption that a Quiet Time was actually had.) And another goody: What are you applying in your life from God’s Word? These questions held each of us accountable to practice God’s Word, a lifestyle that enabled an overflowing, godly example to those encountered every day, Christians and non-Christians alike.

Recently, Andy Whitman (see http://andywhitman.blogspot.com) wrote an article for Image Journal’s web page about a reunion of those people who were a part of his “hot-house.” All of the idealistic, commune-like living, real New Testament individuals and families get together once a year. The article focuses on this year’s the 35th, reunion and Andy’s observations of the previously self-proclaimed “Born Again Jesus Freaks.” He wondered what happened to them and wanted to ask the question, “How is your soul?” of each of the fine, upstanding, middle-class, mega-church-attending group. But he didn’t. Why? Andy wrote:

“This is the question I want to ask [the man who was my best man], but I don’t ask it. I don’t ask it of anyone. It’s the question that united us in the first place, the big Q Question that drew a bunch of idealistic misfits who couldn’t countenance the thought of stained glass windows and polished pews and Country Club Christianity into an alliance that lasted the better part of a decade.”

This last July, I experienced a similar experience. We hosted a gathering of some of our college friends. The purpose was to meet, greet and support a couple from those hot-house days who are missionaries with Mission Aviation Fellowship. We were gathered for a “spiritual” purpose and I found myself wanting to ask Andy’s big Q Question. But I did not. It felt awkward, inappropriate somehow. So, we talked about our jobs and our kids. We touched on current politics and the things influencing Christianity. But, no one asked the Question. And, no one asked the questions that were the greetings we used in college.

Don’t get me wrong. It was good to see those people. However, we are in different places than we were in college. Expecting more than chit-chat is unrealistic. But, I still want to know, “How is your soul?” Yet, I didn’t ask.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


So I went to an Ears, Nose, and Throat Specialist. I was tired of hearing other people tell me I couldn’t hear them. It was easy to hear them saying I couldn’t hear them, so I didn’t know what the problem was. Actually the problem still exists. My hearing is well within the normal range. The doctor said that technically my hearing is better than his.

The doctor did say that it is possible that I am not hearing as well as I used to. Of course, he avoided saying something like, “As we grow older . . .” First off, the “we” would be totally wrong. He was at least 10 years younger than me. He doesn’t know what growing old is like. I thought better of him for not trying to “identify” with me (especially with the old part of me).

He said I could tell my family, co-workers, and friends that my hearing is fine; their speaking is unclear. I don’t know if the family and friends will believe that or not. There is probably something I need to do. Blaming others does not make me a better listener.

Blaming others or my past does not make it easier to hear – whether it’s my spouse or God. I might as well wear earplugs. If I’m not willing to actively listen, I will miss things. I’ll miss the soft, “I love you” at bedtime. I’ll miss the quiet, still voice of God whispering to my spirit, “I love you.”

I also want to be heard. There is nothing wrong with that. It is something we all need, but many did not (and maybe still do not) have people in their lives willing to truly hear. I can get caught up in that. I can blame others for not truly listening and trying to understand me. But, just as God is actively trying to get me to hear Him, He also always hears me. The obvious: I need to give Him something to hear.

I still need to find ways to hear, listen, and understand what others are saying to me. I now know I do not have a physical reason for not hearing. I have some work ahead of me. However, God does not need help with His hearing or His speaking. He is there.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Resolutions vs. Goals

Deciding to earn a teaching certificate meant going back to college, five years after earning my Bachelors degree. One course was called “Methodology.” Basically, it was a course about the practical tools and the nuts and bolts of ways to teach. I only remember a couple of things from that class that I use today in my role as a teacher – and as part of my personal growth.

One thing I learned was how to write “objectives” that would help the students see what they were expected to learn, and how the teacher was going to determine if they had learned it or not. Writing behavior objectives, based upon an ultimate goal, gives students a chance to see the process involved to go from simple tasks to complex thinking. One suggested method is simply called The ABCD’s of Behavioral Objective writing. The “A” is for Audience. Who are those we are trying to teach? “B” is for Behavior. What measurable, observable behavior is desired? “C” is for Condition. What situations, practices, instructions, or demonstrations will provide the information and skills needed for the student to accomplish the objective? And, “D” is for Degree. How important is this objective? Is 100% (mastery) required? Is 80% enough? Three of five correct?

It has recently been suggested that I write a goal (or several) and determine the intermediate steps, the objectives, needed to move me towards reaching the goal(s). I confess. I’m stuck. I don’t believe in making New Year Resolutions. So I use that as an excuse for not making goals. Yet the conflict comes from what I do believe in: Every day is another chance to change, do something different, be more loving, be more compassionate, be more comforting, be more willing to do the next right thing.

In AA there is a saying that identifies what insanity is like: Doing the same things over and over, expecting different results. So doing something different, may give different, better, results, and isn’t that what we want?

Time to make some goals. Time to write out what objectives I can complete, one by one, to reach those goals.