Tag Archives: Friendshp

When God Moves in Mysterious Ways through Mental Illness


One of the most shocking biographies I remember reading was that of William Cowper.

Even if you don’t recognize his name, you’ve probably sung his hymns (including “There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood”) or used the phrase he coined, “God moves in a mysterious way.”

It’s been years since I read his biography, but in recent research, I came across his name and reflected for a few minutes on some of the most extraordinary and meaningful aspects of his life.

Cowper’s salvation testimony is remarkable because he was saved as a direct result of admittance to a mental asylum after failed suicide attempts. The doctor who treated Cowper was a born again Christian who shared the gospel with him. The night and day difference in Cowper’s life after his salvation is undeniable.

Most of us would be very comfortable with Cowper’s testimony if it ended there. But it didn’t. Although he didn’t struggle mentally to the same degree after his salvation as he had before, he did battle mental illness (including severe depression and two more mental breakdowns) for the rest of his life.  Continue reading

The Four Best Words I Heard Today

Without a doubt, they were these:

“I’m praying for you.”

And to think, the friend who said them actually apologized! She said, “I wish I could say something really wonderful, but…”

Suffice it to say, she did say something really wonderful. Because I know she meant it.

Who have you sincerely prayed for today?

What To Do When You Can’t Fix Your Friend or Her Life

Don’t you hate it when your friend comes to you with a prayer request you can’t answer?

I know, the very fact that it’s a prayer request means that it’s supposed to be a need that only God can answer. But I confess, I like to answer them too. (Sometimes I even try to claim solutions that weren’t my idea. Like when the friend says, “I wonder if I tried…” and I say, “You know what, you should try…!”)

I like to suggest the answer that works.

Especially, I like to be the answer. (It’s far more heroic to be the answer than merely to suggest the answer.)

Sometimes, if I can’t suggest the answer or be the answer, and especially if I can’t even see the answer, I tend to lose interest in the need.

I guess I just like to fix it. Continue reading

The Saint Syndrome

From a doctrinal standpoint, we become saints at the moment of salvation. But one of my younger sisters, Natalea, observed that from a relational standpoint, the distinction isn’t quite so clear. In fact, her observation was that as each member of our family left home, we entered “sainthood” in the eyes of the remaining family.

Where those at home had once been frustrated over toothpaste left in the sink or excessive talking, or whatever the weaker points of one member’s character had been, they now received a phone call or email from the departed loved one as if it were a treasured honor bestowed upon them.

Natalea’s observation rang so true (in a sort of ridiculous sense) that my family has adopted the prefix of “saint” for a family member visiting at home. Once they even posted a sign, “Welcome, Saint Daniel.”

But even before “sainthood” entered our family, another author observed this phenomenon:

To live above with saints we love, oh, that will be glory;
But to live below with saints we know, now that’s another story!

Isn’t it true? Even the most gracious and godly people are still just people. And as such, they tend to look better from a distance.

Read the biographies of great Christians, and you will find flaws. In a biography the flaws are often contained in one paragraph or page, but in real life? Imperfections of character are more grating when they are daily encountered face to face than when breezed over on the written page.

And yet, in retrospect, we deeply appreciate the Christian giants whose co-laborers may have at times felt frustrated. We willingly forget their habits of the flesh and appreciate their heart for God and their example of surrendered service to the Lord.

We don’t mind briefly mentioning, “Oh, yes, so-and-so could sometimes have a temper” or “Sometimes she could be demanding and difficult to work with.” And then we move on to note the incredible works of faith in that person’s life. But when we are personally impacted by those same flaws in a fellow-laborer? That’s another story. No longer is it “she can sometimes be demanding,” now it is “she just always thinks she knows the best way to do things and never listens to others’ input and…”

Perhaps we should take the same approach for those with whom we rub shoulders every day. Perhaps we should induct them into our annals of “sainthood” while we have the opportunity to closely appreciate their Christlike qualities (mixed as those qualities may be with the flesh with which we all struggle).

Perhaps we don’t have to wait until somebody leaves until we call them a saint.

Perhaps we can acknowledge the reality that our fellow Christians are saints. Perhaps it would help.

And on a more personal note, I’m thankful my saint-sister is coming to live with me. Welcome, saint Natalea!!

What “Use Me” Really Means

Carol Tudor was my Sunday school teacher when I was in second grade. She was a fun, energetic teacher when I was seven, and through the next several years, she continued to be an encouraging person in my life.

Last week, I had the joy of getting to see and reconnect with her for the first time in about fifteen years. We chatted like old friends, sharing the high and low points of the past decade and a half with each other. We exchanged cell numbers and promised to keep in touch. Without a doubt, that half hour was a treasured gift from the Lord.

Mrs. Tudor is a health care professional, and somewhere along the line, our conversation turned to health-related issues. She shared some research with me and offered to give me an over-the-counter supplement at church that evening. Continue reading

A Pesky Question that Works

“So, how will you use that today?” That’s it—the pesky question. And a dear, godly lady asked it to me twice this week.

All I was doing was telling her about some advice I had been given and something I was learning. It was sort of a big, vague, wonderful, and sure-to-be-helpful-in-the-future truth.

And then she asked, “So, how will you use that today?”

And I squirmed.

I hadn’t really thought that far. Actually, I was planning to use it in the future—hadn’t thought so much about today. It seemed like the sort of truth that would more clearly define itself along the way. Continue reading

The Price of an Education

Perhaps it was the crisp fall air from this morning, or perhaps it was the bag of apples calling from the fridge, or perhaps it was the fact that this was the first evening in over a week that I’ve had a few minutes without a specific obligation. But whatever the reason, I decided to make an apple pie tonight.

My mom makes the best apple pie ever. Of course, pie baking expertise is not absorbed by osmosis—as I am well aware. It’s the crust that always gets me. My mom bakes a perfect crust—thin and flaky. I can’t remember that I’ve ever baked a good crust in the kitchen alone. But, since it’s been years since I last tried and failed and since I couldn’t reach my mom on the phone, I decided tonight was the night for success!

I pulled out my mom’s recipe and began measuring and mixing. Yep, the flour and salt mixed together great!

As I began to cut in the butter, I called Kristy, a dear friend from out of state whom I haven’t talked with in months. We chatted as I watched what was taking place in the bowl in front of me with growing concern. This wasn’t looking quite right. In fact, it was looking very wrong. Continue reading

Why I Doubled My File Space

Tonight I tackled the project I’ve been putting off for weeks: “file all papers in box.”

It’s not that I don’t know how to file. I’ve known how to do it since my mother taught me  alphabetical sorting when I was six.

It’s not that I haven’t had time to file. I’ve made time for other things.

It’s just that my file box was already full, and I knew I had to sort through it and toss papers. I didn’t want to make that many decisions, so I put it off.

But tonight, with a determined mind and focused purpose, I pulled out my file box and set the tottering “to file” pile next to it. Be ruthless, I told myself. There’s no use keeping junk. Continue reading

Tell Me My Shoes Are Outlandish!

Unlike my sisters, I was not born with a strong sense for fashion. Even a few unfortunate snapshots of me as a little girl display my unique taste of color combinations. And to this day, I occasionally need an outside perspective.

At a recent church retreat, I asked my friend if a particular pair of newly acquired shoes looked okay. She suggested they may look better with a longer skirt (which I now know meant “floor length”!), and I put them back in my suitcase for later.

Later happened to be today, and I cheerfully showed them to her at work as I passed by her office—about 8:03 this morning. “Déirdre, do the shoes look better with this?” I fully expected her enthusiastic approval, but she shook her head and said, “I don’t think it makes much difference.” Then she couldn’t help it and laughed out loud. We both laughed, actually. (Later she described the shoes as “severely glamorous in a not-so-fashionable sort of way.”) Continue reading