Archive for the 'Personal Stories' Category



31
Mar
09

Tending the Garden

Not being accustomed to gardening in the Northeast, I am somewhat amazed to see perennials starting to shoot out green in March. Past winters, except for the one spent in England a few years ago, have been suffered in less hospitable climates than upstate New York. I remember the stares of incredulity as I planted Iowa gardens before Mother’s Day, as well as covering up those plants in early May to protect them from a deep freeze. Of course, there’s nothing to say that I won’t have to do the same here.

I view gardening as one part of participating with God, in some small way, in the act of creation, Continue reading ‘Tending the Garden’

30
Mar
09

Wrestling with Personal Theology

Over the last few years, one of my favorite preaching topics has been the abandonment of self-interest, selfish ambition and conceit that is extolled in Philippians chapter 2. The call to humility contained within that passage culminates with “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” (2:12) which, I remind the congregation I am addressing, is difficult to do with someone else’s theology tucked under your arm. To be free of your own conceit requires being free of theological tenets that establish authoritarian norms of belief. It is to acknowledge that certainty is the opposite of faith, not doubt. Continue reading ‘Wrestling with Personal Theology’

26
Mar
09

Critical Life Incidents – Entering Seminary

In August 2001, I began my seminary education as a “special” student. The special classification was because I had no undergraduate degree. I was allowed to take three courses for each of two semesters, after which the admissions committee would decide if an exception to the undergraduate degree requirement would be granted.

Two seminary professors I had met in different circumstances had originally told me of the exception. Each had been aware of my interaction with students who were experiencing difficulties – some while on an immersion trip in Mexico, and another while doing her internship at a church where I worked. In each case the exception was used as a trump card when I played my “I can’t go to seminary – I don’t have a degree” card. Continue reading ‘Critical Life Incidents – Entering Seminary’

11
Mar
09

I’m Feeling Musical …

… but don’t want to overrun the front page with video images.

Let’s start with a mini-concert from Melissa Etheridge – if she doesn’t move you, check to see if you have a pulse.

Then there’s the always incredible Ashley Cleveland and a good live piece from Sheryl Crow.

For some reason, it’s women that have caught my musical ear today. Of course, there must be the ubiquitous guitar work that get’s my blood flowing. I hope you enjoy these as much as I do. Continue reading ‘I’m Feeling Musical …’

25
Feb
09

Swimming Upstream – an Autobiography (Part 4)

Continued from LEARNING TO THRIVE. Or return to INDEX.

LEARNING TO SWIM – I was in the big pool now.

In the week prior to starting at seminary, I had moved into an apartment on campus – completely furnished and outfitted from the generosity of my Liberty Church supporters – and I had finished up a six-month, 10-hour per week consulting gig at Sterling Commerce, a division of the telecom giant, SBC. I had hated the thought of returning to the business world, but the opportunity had cropped up within hours of deciding to go back to school. Continue reading ‘Swimming Upstream – an Autobiography (Part 4)’

23
Feb
09

Swimming Upstream – an Autobiography (Part 3)

“I remember picking up my sharpest tool, a drawknife, and resolutely deciding I wasn’t going into that hole. I was ready to die.” Continued from: Learning to Live.    Or go to INDEX.

LEARNING TO THRIVE

The rest of the memory seems more like the recollection of a hallucination, except with much more clarity. I remember, with no sense of time, being aware of all of the times I had hurt others, even in the smallest way. I was fully aware of all my sins, a concept with which I was totally unfamiliar. I had an overwhelming sense of sorrow and remorse while, at the same time, experienced the peace, calm and security of knowing I was all right. I knew, for the first time in my life, the feeling that came with a sense of forgiveness. It seemed as though the thickest, softest comforter imaginable had swallowed me. Accepting that unconditional forgiveness has continued to be a difficulty. Continue reading ‘Swimming Upstream – an Autobiography (Part 3)’

23
Feb
09

Swimming Upstream – an Autobiography (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1 – Learning to Learn. Or go to INDEX.

LEARNING TO LIVE

The first few years in Ohio were emotionally devastating for my mother. We lived in abject poverty even by our standards, my mother’s family proved to be more dysfunctional than our own, and work, except for the lowest paid positions, was tough for her to find. I began working before and after school to help out, lying about my age to avoid problems. I also found my missing childhood. My ‘toys’ were different than anyone had hoped, but they succeeded in dulling the pain. By sixteen I drank constantly, was addicted to speed, and had forced my mother to seek a community more conducive to a normal childhood. We moved to Newark, Ohio during my junior year. The school administrators were a little worried about my record, but seemed encouraged by my high grade point average. I graduated in possession of a full scholarship from OSU, twenty-five credits when seventeen were needed, damage from a heart attack I suffered during a speed overdose, and a new addiction to qualudes, which the doctor prescribed for “sleeping problems”. I also held the school record for drinking the most beers in a single sitting. Life was good. Continue reading ‘Swimming Upstream – an Autobiography (Part 2)’

23
Feb
09

Swimming Upstream – an Autobiography (Part 1)

I was tempted to call this “Nobody’s Autobiography”, but thought that may be just too self-deprecating. I love autobiographies – not of famous people – just of ordinary people with ordinary lives. They reveal details about the individual to which most people can relate – rather than the larger-than-life situations of the rich or famous that, if digested, lead to hero worship and fantasy. A good autobiography, it seems to me, is less concerned with fact and more concerned with perception. It is entirely plausible, then, that an autobiography may not be factual down to the last jot and tiddle, but reveals truly how an individual perceives themselves and the memories of their lives. In that respect, it is a more accurate portrayal of someone’s life than an encyclopedia entry would be.

There is an ego trip involved in posting an autobiography, I suppose. I mean, why would I think anyone would care? Well, I am supposing there are others out there like me, who find the famous boring and the mundane interesting. I also think that, while we are each individual, there are commonalities to people’s stories that give cause for community building and empathy. Anyway, as egomaniacal as it may or may not seem, the following portions are the snippets of my life thus far that I consider integral to who and what I am at this moment in time. Continue reading ‘Swimming Upstream – an Autobiography (Part 1)’

16
Feb
09

Two Poles are Better than One

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In response to some inquiries that have been made about my rather cryptic title for this blog, I am going to unveil at least some of my thoughts behind the choice, and ponder further on the possibilities.

Gestalt – The obvious and, of course, most pedestrian assumption would be that it is based purely and simply on the fact that I am Bipolar. While, admittedly, that gave some impetous to choosing the moniker “Ministry From Two Poles”, it does not explain the rest of the name, “… or Preaching From Both Ends”, or the choice of header art. Continue reading ‘Two Poles are Better than One’

12
Feb
09

Oooh! You’re Bipolar?

THE INTRICACIES OF “COMING OUT” TO A CHURCH

Thomas Covenant walks down the street feeling the stares and witnessing mothers grabbing their children before he passes by. Is he a child abuser? A criminal of another sort? Perhaps, evil incarnate? Thomas is the lead character in Stephen R. Donaldson’s series, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, and he is a twentieth century leper. When I read the series many years ago I remember thinking, “People don’t react that way anymore. The world is not that archaic.” But, perhaps it is. Have we learned nothing from the Bible lessons about lepers?

The reaction to all kinds of emotional disorders and mental disesases can be interesting, especially in my line of work. While you would think that church folk would investigate before coming to conclusions, that is really a quite rare occurance – church folk are no less prone to believing myths than any other groups. I have found this out firsthand recently. I announced to my Committee on Ministry and my church that I had been diagnosed with Bipolar II disease and, after twenty years of misdiagnoses, I am now on a much lower regimen of pills than I previously took for depression. The reaction has been – well, shall we say, interesting. Continue reading ‘Oooh! You’re Bipolar?’

03
Feb
09

The Storm of the Century

-or- The Idiot of Pensacola Beach

 By mid-March 1993, the storms occurring all over the Eastern half of the US lined up perfectly with those occurring in my body, mind and soul. It was a time when every part of my being was railing against the abuse I was inflicting upon it, just as the winds, ice and snow battered communities already preparing for a change of season. I had undertaken the impossible four years earlier, and had poured all of myself into creating a miracle for which I, in my own mind, would be solely responsible. The storms were relentless, however, and my body and mind were beginning to snap like the heavily ice laden power lines in the coastal south. Continue reading ‘The Storm of the Century’

14
Jan
09

The Mind is a Terrible Thing

        It’s difficult, I suppose, for people who are emotionally and mentally healthy to comprehend the thoughts and mind patterns of those who struggle to keep clarity or sanity. I, for one, have no concept of what a “normal mind” functions like, or even if there is such a thing. I also assume, with no particular evidence to back me up, that the minds of those who suffer any one of the various emotional or mental problems function differently – that one would not recognize the cognitive patterns of the other. A counselor once shook her head, looked down and described me as a having a chaotic psyche. I thanked her profusely, and she looked shocked when she realized I was serious. Continue reading ‘The Mind is a Terrible Thing’




... or, preaching from both ends

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That's too bad - I'm so sorry. Oh, well, just try to make the best of it. What you'll find here is a variety of essays and ramblings to do with things theological, social, whimsical and, sometimes, all three. I don't write to get famous - trust me, I've been told how futile that would be - but to express myself. I love to communicate and browbeat - ummm, I mean dialogue - about the things I find intriguing. Since you're here, and the door's locked, why don't you stay a while. There's a page bar under the header with links to information about us - I mean me. Don't forget to tell me what you think - in a nice way, I mean.

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