Last November 12th I ended up in the ER, feeling worse than I had in a long time. As I lay awake that night, fully expecting to be admitted in the morning, I thought and prayed. I had been living with recurring struggles for a long time. In various ways I had tried to rid myself of them. Sometimes it helped, but the pain always returned.

That night I realized that what I needed to do was to tell my story – the story about Living Room. How it came about and what it did for me. I want to share the wonderful things God had done in me and through me. How can I leave this earth without telling this story? I realized that God still had work waiting for me.

When I got home from the hospital I was surprised to come upon the blog I had started in 2006, the very year I had founded Living Room. It has lots of history that should be passed along. This isn’t dry history, as you might expect, but it’s full of life – the kind of life I had so much of in those wondrous days when Living Room had its beginnings.

I had suffered for most of my life with type 1 bipolar disorder, but with the beginning of Living Room I thrived emotionally and spiritually, despite bipolar depression. I had never felt happier or more complete. I had never felt closer to God. This is all reflected in the writing. I hope you’ll read and see what God can make possible – even in a life you may think is hopeless.

At the early Living Room groups many who had felt a need to hide their mental illness from church circles were for the first time able to be open about it. Not only that, but through interactive devotionals they learned how to better lean on their faith. The first years of my group showed how members had been affected by the lack of acceptance in church. They were eager. Attendances were large – from fifteen to twenty per meeting. My journal shows how twenty-two had one day come out in a snow storm.

Starting this week I plan to share a blogpost from Living Room memories every day. You will find them at www.marjabergen.com. If you want to keep up with the story and can’t read every day, just click the “Living Room” category to the right of the posts. They’ll all come up for you.

My hope and my prayer is that you too will be excited about the Living Room concept, still very much alive today. You may even get interested in joining a group or leading a group yourself. If you’re considering that, check out Sanctuary Mental Health Ministry peer support at https://www.sanctuarymentalhealth.org/peer-support/ They’re there to help you.

May God bless you – and inspire you – as you read.

marja