Monday, August 31, 2009

Receiving His Word

O My Soul:

It works (not great but) well enough.

The text to speech software is working.

On my lazy and grumpy mornings, I cut the daily lectionary reading from Bible Works and paste into Notepad. Microsoft Anna (still trying to find Sam or John) then reads to me and I listen.

After several hours of trying to figure this all out, it now takes than less than 5 minutes for me to set up the readings for morning devotions.

Then I hear. I meditate. I receive. (Regardless of how grumpy, lazy, anxious, or depressed I may be.)

And I'm starting to pray the name of Jesus.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Website correction

The website link to Doxology is corrected.

Morning Hymn

O My Soul:

A hymn for morning Matins (Lutheran Service Book 507)

Holy, Holy, Holy

Holy, holy, holy!
Though the darkness hide Thee,
Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see,
Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee,
Perfect in power, in love, and purity. (Nicea)


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What's in my head?

O My Soul:

Vivid memories and powerful emotions go together.

I visited Cambodia's S-21 prison a few years ago. It was a grade school converted into one of Pol Pot's prisons in 1975. A former teacher became the chief of the prison.

I talked to many Cambodian church leaders. I heard their stories. Every family lost a family member during Pol Pot's reign from 1975 - 1979. They showed me some of their own physical scars.

In 1975 I was a third grader in rural America. In 1975, Cambodian third graders were having their pictures taken. They didn't live another two months. Many of the pictures are on the web but I'm not linking you to them.

That evening I went to my little hotel room. They had a t.v. channel of foreign music videos. Special treat for me, they said.

I saw this video for the first time the same day I saw S-21 and heard many stories. Not to confuse Cambodian (my memories) and Irish (topic of video) history but the visual of S-21 and the emotion/poetry of this video fused together for me.

And it's all in my head this morning. I'm going to pray Matins and spend some time with my Savior.

Collect for Grace:
O Lord, our heavenly Father, almighty and everlasting God, You have safely brought us to the beginning of this day. Defend us in the same with Your mighty power and grant that this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger, but that all our doings, being ordered by Your governance, may be righteous in Your sight; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.


A Lamb Goes Uncomplaining Forth

O My Soul:

Receive from the Lamb.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Long Run

O My Soul:
You gave up daily short runs for three slow long runs per week. It feels great. It's relaxing. It fits my schedule much better, too.

I like to read about running. My favorite author is The Penguin. Here is his homepage at Runner's World Online. The Penguin: No Need For Speed

I also met with my doctor. My cholesterol counts are in range for the first time in years!


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Chronic Stress and the Brain

O My Soul:

Is it possible for chronic stress to take on a life of its own?

Yes, says this New York Times article on chronic stress and the brain.

I experienced several years of high stress. Some of that stress was my ravage idealism. Some of that stress was placed on me by several others. I said no to both only rarely, but when I needed rest I was able to get it.

Then something changed. My environment changed. The stress load was reduced. However, I couldn't calm down. I could not rest. Chronic stress became normal. My brain changed.

Now it takes hard work to relax. I schedule downtimes. I take medication. I'm learning how to live without chronic stress. I feel like I'm learning to walk for the first time.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Clinical Depression Video

O My Soul:

This video has some good general information in it.

And I like the music.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Anxiety Image

O My Soul:

I disagree with Sir Winston Churchill's imagery for depression. He called his depression his black dog.

I use the (snarling) black dog imagery to describe anxiety. Anxiety is no fun but easier to handle than depression.

I have a better handle on anxiety just like I am better able to handle attacking dogs. I learned to handle dogs delivering newspapers in Jr. High School. I kept the sack of newspapers on my left side and carried a tightly folded newspaper in my right hand. If a dog attacked I would swing the sack of newspapers between me and the dog then hit the dog on the nose with the folded newspaper. And, yes, sometimes I ran as fast as possible. Once I learned this system I rarely ever got bit. But each attack scared me nearly to death. Anxiety through the roof. I did it for the paycheck.

Depression is different. Depression looms large even in the absence of anxiety.

More on that later.


Thursday, August 13, 2009


O My Soul:

Here is an old Wall Street Journal article on Bibliotherapy. I have been working through one book on Depression and another on Anxiety. It is helpful but very difficult to do on my own.

My current therapist is emotionally supportive and has brought me a long way in reducing outbursts of anger and some anxiety over the past nine months. The depression is another animal.

I accept that I may be more susceptible to depression than others. I also accept that my behavior influences family dynamics in the home. But, do I have to accept that this is my personality type and I can only hope to lessen its effects. Is cure not a possibility? Can't depressive thoughts and behaviors be changed? Well, then what are my depressive thoughts and behaviors and how do I change them!

I am looking for a new therapist.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

O Lord open my lips & my mouth shall declare Your praise. (He did & then I could) Amen. -oms

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Not Cryin' Over Spilt Coffee

O My Soul:

It's not easy being around family 24/7 this vacation. Work is my common excuse to get away from the noise. I don't have that excuse during vacation. I love my wife and children but many times I can reach a point of irrationality that can make good times evaporate.

Take today as an example. After breakfast, I brought a cup of coffee into the hotel room and my six year old jumped on me. She is overjoyed I'm spending so much time with her. She wanted to tell me she missed me during my brief trip to get the coffee. She jumped from the bed to give me a flying hug. I spilled the coffee over both of us. Fortunately, I drink my coffee warm not hot (two ice cubes per cup) so neither one of us were injured. This may sound strange to the non-depressed but I am happy to report that I was more concerned about my daughter and never yelled. Things are improving.

For lunch, my wife made the special effort to buy me a Starbucks coffee to enjoy on our family picnic. This stuff was black as tar...perfect. While setting the picnic table she spilled half the coffee. I was able to laugh it off, help my apologetic wife clean and set the picnic table, and enjoy a half-cup of great coffee.

A few months ago the frustration would have been too much. Anxiety, anger, and depression leading to withdrawal would have resulted in an unpleasant vacation. This time I didn't cry over spilt coffee. Vacation is going well.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Vacation Day #1 Lunch at the Burger Lust?!? with family and friends & then to the zoo. Great start and relaxing.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

O My Soul:

I came home from an early morning Bible Study to watch the homecoming of Euna Lee and Laura Ling. The journalists have spent the last 140 days in a North Korean prison and were sentenced to 12 years hard labor before being pardoned. For a good overview of the story click on this link to the CBS Early Show

A CBS commentator briefly mentions Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Here is a definition of PTSD from the Mayo Clinic.

I wonder how Euna and Laura will address the trauma of their imprisonment.

I lived in Asia for several years as a missionary. I visited several prisons, heard stories, saw things, and am still adjusting. PTSD is real.

If you have had a traumatic event PTSD treatment is available.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

To Tell or Not To Tell

O My Soul:

You are thinking about talking to the chairman and the elders to tell them about your depression and anxiety?

Overall, I think I would be ok but I don't think the congregation would handle it well. Such a stigma to mental illness. If I broke my leg or had cancer or had heart disease, allowances would be made. No stigma. Depression has a lot of negative stigma. I think other hard issues in the congregation would get sidetracked. At least my influence as pastor would be greatly diminished.

For now, I am not talking the council about my depression. I'll let the Lord continue to do His good work in the congregation through teaching and preaching and elder meetings on the two hot topics. And I will let the Lord continue His good work on me through my wife, doctor, therapist, pastor, and a few friends.

This may have to change. How will I handle the fall schedule? I'll let you know over the next few months.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Private Confession Absolution

O My Soul:

It was a good weekend. Today, is my first day off in two weeks due to funerals and a few other crises.

This morning I have the privilege to visit my pastor for lunch and Private Confession. The first part of Confession is to confess my sins. The second part is to receive the absolution (forgiveness) from my pastor. And this forgiveness is as valid and certain in heaven as if our heavenly Father spoke it Himself (John 20). This is why He sent His Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ to die for me; for you too.

This is receiving Christian joy in the midst suffering under the cross. The cross I have been given to bear is clinical depression.

Thank you pastor.