(April 11, 2008)

I feel so very grateful for where God has brought me. Somewhat overwhelmed when I let myself truly think about it.

I was talking to a friend yesterday about how I had never been able to have a regular job because of my bipolar disorder. I had truly wanted to work and to be “something” and to help contribute to our family income. Many times I tried, but even part time jobs proved to be too stressful. I did work for a couple of years as a freelance photographer, but eventually had to give that up as well.

This friend told me, “But you’re working now.” And I realized that although what I do now is not a paid job I am working pretty steadily at keeping Living Room going and trying to help others set up. As part of that work I give support to individuals within the group when they need it, acting as somewhat of a counselor – a peer counselor – but mostly just being a friend. And then there’s my writing and publishing my second book that I will hopefully have ready to distribute in a few months.

I’m feeling blessed to know that I am now able to work at something worthwhile and that it’s not too hard or too stressful for me. In fact, I’m finding great joy in this work and would not think of giving it up.

When I think back to where I was 43 years ago…a young person in a mental hospital, behind locked doors and with bars on the windows…. I was psychotic for so long, paranoid, thinking there were men trying to kill me because I knew of their secret plan to destroy the world. During the day I marched up and down the hospital hallway, away from the windows where my enemies would see me, singing Onward Christian Soldiers in an effort to make them think I was not afraid. I have read my hospital records from that time. Doctors did not hold out much hope for me.

But twenty years later I found God and he has made a big difference in my life. Gradually he has been transforming me until I’ve become the person I am today – a leader. I still have frequent trouble with symptoms, but I’m able to live with confidence, able to weather the storms when they come.

In the past few years, during times of struggle, I’ve gone to Jeremiah 29:11 and found encouragement and inspiration there:

“For I know the plans I have for you,”declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

God has a plan for each of us. We just need to learn to let God lead. It’s amazing what God can do in our lives when we truly trust him.

I’m so very thankful for where God has brought me.