Monday, September 01, 2008

Mission 4 Monday : Trust during rough times - A Firm Place to Stand by Marja Bergen

My friend, Peggy, has just started a new meme on Monday called "Mission 4 Monday".

The purpose of MISSION 4 MONDAY is to share YOUR MISSION each week.


I am so thankful that I can participate in Mission 4 Monday.

It is helping me to reflect anew on the mission of this blog.

When I first started this blog, my purpose was to share with others God's goodness and mercies to me in managing clinical depression and bipolar disorder. I also wanted to share with others coping resources that I have found useful. I am thankful to God for bringing me into contact with many of you, my wonderful friends, and we can mutually encourage one another in our management of clinical depression, bipolar disorder and other illness.

As times go by, God brought me into contact with many of you who are very encouraging friends at Word-Filled Wednesday and Thankful Thursday. I got to know Word-Filled Wednesday through Michelle of Ozarks sew n' sew. Thanks Michelle! And from there on I read about Thankful Thursday. Word-Filled Wednesday and Thankful Thursday. has helped me to grow spiritually.

As I reflect on the Mission the Lord has given me in my life and through this blog, I thought of the following:

1) To glorify God through the testimony of His love, goodness and mercies to me.
2) To share with others resources I have found useful in managing clinical depression, bipolar disorder and other illness.
3) To share my passion in photography and God's Words with others through Word-Filled Wednesday.
4) To share God's goodness and mercies to me through all the changing scenes in life through Thankful Thursday. May God help me to cultivate a thankful heart and find reasons to rejoice in the Lord daily and to praise Him for His unchanging and everlasting love, unfailing mercies and sufficient grace.

We face many challenges in our life, whether it be in terms of illness, family, relationships, work, etc etc. It is a great comfort to remember that God is with us and He will see us safely through. No matter what God allows us to go through in this life, He is able to work something good out of it for our benefit, for His glory and the good of His people (Romans 8:28). And we are more than conquerors through Christ Who loved us (Romans 8:37)!

For this reason, I found much joy and comfort in the Lord, in my daily walk. My struggles to manage clinical depression and bipolar disorder, has drawn me closer to God as I experience His love and goodness in many wonderful ways daily. God's Words comfort and strengthen me. I know God loves me and He is with me. I saw Him working very wonderfully in my life and in others life.

I am thankful to God that I can serve Him through this blog. It is my prayers that God may use this blog to glorify Himself, help other Christians to grow in Him and lead others to seek and know His saving grace and love.

For this first Mission 4 Monday post, I like to share with you a very encouraging article from a book my friend, Marja, just published. This article is very helpful in encouraging us how we can trust in God in very rough times, whether it be a time of illness or other afflictions and trials.

My friend, Marja Bergen, has just launched a new book entitled "A Firm Place to Stand" on how God has enabled her to find meaning in her life with bipolar disorder.

Marja is from British Columbia, Canada. She is a person with bipolar disorder and a faith in Jesus Christ. Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a mood disorder with extreme mood swings ie. mania and clinical depression.

Marja is interested in writing about mental health issues, especially encouraging a more understanding view by the church. In an effort to help her church give support to people with mood disorders, Marja has started a support group called "Living Room". Now she is encouraging groups to start up elsewhere. Marja has been a great blessing, encouragement and help to those who attend Living Room and those of us who read about her experiences there.

This new book "A Firm Place to Stand" is a very encouraging book as Marja shared about how God gives her grace and strength to live a meaningful and fruitful life as she seek to manage bipolar disorder. Her suffering has drawn her closer to God as she learn to look to Him and find comfort and help from Him. Her suffering also taught her compassion and it has helped her to help others coping with their pain.

In this book, Marja shared many of her own struggles and victory over the various issues associated with bipolar disorder. She shared her faith in God as well as her coping strategies.

I was reading this portion today and found much comfort and encouragement from it. I can identify with much of the sentiment expressed in this article. Like Marja, I am learning to trust in God especially in very rough times and I have experienced His love, mercies and faithfulness sustaining me time and again. This has strengthened my faith in God and given me courage to press on daily, living as meaningfully and as productively as God enables me.

The following excerpt entitled "Trust during rough times" has been published by canadianchristianity.com recently and Marja has kindly allowed me to reproduced it here to share with you.

Hope this excerpt will bring encouragement and hope to you too in your struggles, knowing that God loves you, He is with you and will see you through.

Trust during rough times
Excerpt taken from "A Firm Place to Stand" by Marja Bergen published by canadianchristianity.com
Republished here with kind permission of Marja Bergen


Depression can be a debilitating, torturous experience. During such times, I have to work hard to maintain my trust in God. I try not to be anxious but to relax and let God do his work in me and care for me. But it's difficult not to be afraid; it's natural to be afraid.

As my negative thinking takes over, I begin to doubt my ability to complete the projects I'm working on. I fear that friends no longer care about me and won't be there for me. I fear my depression will deepen and I might stop functioning altogether. I can't see how I could ever be cheerful again.

Fear is the universal response to suffering

Philip Yancey, in his book, Where is God When it Hurts? explains how fear is the universal response to suffering. And yet beyond a doubt it is also the single greatest enemy of recovery.' Fear is part of the extreme moods I go through, especially psychosis. The more I give in to fear, the worse my illness becomes. It is important to do all I can to escape it. The best way is to turn to God and trust in God. But it's hard.

David, the psalmist, fought similar battles. I need to pray along with him, "When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God, I trust; I will not be afraid." (Psalm 56:3-4)

Since the dramatic change in my life when I began to follow Christ, my faith in God has remained steadfast. No matter how bad things become, I know God is there. But belief in God and trusting God are two different things. Trusting means relying on someone, having confidence in God's power to help me. I cannot always do this. I have to work at it, over and over again. I have to remind myself to turn to God when things are bad. Even when it seems useless to do so, I need to read my Bible and pray.

A habit I developed a few years ago has stood me in good stead taking at least an hour of quiet time each morning. I start each day with Bible reading, prayer and journaling. These times do much to comfort and strengthen me, whether I'm excessively up or excessively down. Though my prayers are often awkward, though the words come slowly and with great effort, they help keep my focus on God. They help me stay close to God.

One of the symptoms of depression is a sense of hopelessness, the opposite of confidence. At times my trust has faded so severely I thought of giving up altogether. Yet my belief in God does not die, even when God feels distant. In my heart, I cry out, but I don't feel I'm reaching God. I struggle to find the patience I need. "Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." (Psalm 27:14)

And yet, there are times when I struggle emotionally and the reverse happens. God's Word becomes more powerful than it could possibly be during stable times. Bible verses help me find great peace and hope. At such times, I read "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest," (Matthew 11:28) and my entire being finds relief. I feel comforted. I know these words come from a loving God. These deep spiritual experiences sustain me during rough times; they provide memories I can go back to.

I will never forget the day my friend Helen came to me at a time I felt I couldn't go on. She impressed on me how much I had to live for. She told me she loved me. Whenever I need to remember how great God's love is, I think back to that occasion. Speaking to me through this caring friend, God became powerfully real to me. When I am waiting for depression to lift, I focus on how great God's love has proven to be, time after time.

I feel a kinship with King David who, in Psalm 40, wrote: "I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry." Waiting patiently is the only thing I can do as I recover from extreme moods. Remembering that God loves me. Trusting.

Marja Bergen lives with bipolar disorder and is the author of Riding the Roller Coaster (Northstone, 1999). The above is an excerpt from her new released book, A Firm Place to Stand: Finding Meaning in a Life with Bipolar Disorder. She is a facilitator and founder of the Christian mood disorders support group, Living Room (www.livingroomsupport.org). She can be contacted at marja@livingroomsupport.org.


Marja's blog is at marjabergen.blogspot.com and she can be reached at marja@livingroomsupport.org for more information or to speak to your group.



A Firm Place to Stand by Marja Bergen : Finding meaning in a life with Bipolar Disorder

"A Firm Place to Stand is a must-read for Christians who struggle with mental health challenges and the faith communities who minister to them.

For too long, society has misunderstood and feared individuals who live with mood disorders. This book dispels the lingering stigma attached to mental health conditions and encourages people to lovingly welcome the sufferers into congregations by understanding them better and supporting them in practical ways.

Most importantly, for the sufferers themselves, A Firm Place to Stand shows that it is possible to have a mental disorder yet be close to God and derive strong support from a growing relationship with Christ.

In her sincere and candid style, Marja Bergen reflects on her forty-two years with bipolar disorder, showing how faith in God can help a person with a serious illness turn weakness into strength. She describes how God transformed her from an insecure, withdrawn person into a leader, an activist, and the founder of Living Room, the growing Christian support group for people with mood disorders."

Find out more on how you can purchase this excellent book from Marja's new website.

Hope the above article has encouraged you. Do visit Marja's blog, if you can, and get to know her. You will be greatly encouraged by her. Drop her a note, if you can, to let her know how this article has encouraged or helped you. She will be encouraged to know that :)

Thanks again for stopping by! Thanks for all your prayers and encouragements!

Take care and God bless :)

For more Mission 4 Monday posts, visit Peggy at MAZES, MESSES, MIRACLES...aMAZING GRACE. It will be a very encouraging experience for you!

And we know that all things work together
for good to them that love God,
to them who are the called according to His purpose
... in all these things we are more than conquerors
through Him that loved us.
(Romans 8:28, 37)


Books

1. A Firm Place to Stand by Marja Bergen

2. A practical workbook for the depressed Christian by Dr John Lockley

3. An unquiet mind by Dr Kay Redfield Jamison

4. Broken Mind by
Steve and Robyn Bloem

5. I'm Not Supposed to Feel Like This by Chris Williams, Paul Richards and Ingrid Whitton


Excerpts from Books

1. Trust during rough times (Excerpt from "A Firm Place to Stand" by Marja Bergen)

2. Finding meaning in a life with bipolar disorder (Excerpt from Marja Bergen's article on canadianchristianity.com)

3. An illness like any other (Excerpt from "Roller Coaster" by Marja Bergen)


14 comments:

Peggy said...

Blessings my sweet friend Nancie...
What a coincidence! I just had clicked over on Thursday and read from Marja's blog! We need to keep her in prayer right now and surround her with Jesus comfort, love and peace as well as His wisdom! I'm hoping that I can get a copy of her book! I also appreciated that you shared the excerpt. You have done
us a great favor by continuing to share once a week on Bipolar issues
or mental health issues. Thank you for taking the time to share and also to visit my SONG day...I love MUSIC and enjoy so much Then Sings my Soul Saturday. It's my favorite day to visit but I'm getting to love WFW and the people! Again thank you for your encouragement and affirmation of who HE IS! The song is very powerful...I had another version of the actual singers...I may change to that!

May God bless your weekend!
May He comfort and direct your path! May you enjoy your time in His Presence this day of the Lord!
May His grace keep you and protect
you! May His love surround you and
embrace all your concerns and continue healing and strengthening of your mind, spirit, and body! For it is well with your soul!!!

Michelle-ozark crafter said...

That looks like a wonderful book. maybe down the road i can purchase it.

Peggy said...

WOW Nancie...what a beautiful MISSION and well written your intro into Marja's new book! You have connected everyone so well and set out with a good purpose, direction and rationale.

Your MISSION is needed by many and A FIRM PLACE TO STAND justifies your faith that GOD is making a difference and support of fellow believers gives you a Firm Place to Stand!

I need to visit Marja's place more often. I wish her much success!

Your 4 reflections encompass MORE THAN CONQUERORS very well! I am touched and honored to have you on my MISSION list to pray and be blessed by! I did sign you up but had to delete it because Mr. Linky put a big red X next to your name
because it was not posted from your blog (I have much to learn still about Mr. Linky). But it is up if you want to link now! I was so excited and delighted when you were ready so I moved up the schedule.

May God bless your Mission but mostly you and your readers! Thank you for joining Mission 4 Monday!

sailorcross said...

Nancie,

This is a wonderful and heartfelt blog. I can share the pains and the joys you are experiencing.

Sometimes, when we are depressed, God feels so far away. And, it's hard to remember that He's not--He's still right there--always there.

I, too, in desperaton, have just started praying about everything that is on my mind. Sometimes, I don't know the words to pray because I truly don't know what has brought me into the depths. And during thest times, I cry out to God--He knows what is in my heart and mind better than I do myself.

Thank you for encouraging me with your words, your pictures.

I know that when you are depressed that it seems as if you are alone in all of this. But, you are not! We are here. God has given you a very strong support system, your spiritual family, to sustain you.

Your quiet time in the morning is the best way to start the day-- communicating with God, asking Him what He wants to say to you today, and feeling His love for you.

So much is not known or is misunderstood about mental health issues. God is using you to open others' eyes--what a blessing to follow God's will for our lives!

The Patterson 5 said...

Thanks for stopping by and visiting from Edies blog! I am enjoying reading about your mission and purpose for your blog. I know you are helping so many others with your sharing of your personal experiences as well as adding other resources. What a blessing!

sharon said...

I got to know you over at Thankful Thursday and your life has been a blessing to me. Your simple faith in the Lord is what struck me first. May God increase you as you continue to fulfill his will for your life.

Edie said...

Hi Nancie - God has given you such a caring heart, and a beautiful mission. I'm so glad to hear that you are experiencing His comfort through your trials and that He is using this to help others. God Bless all that you do sister.

Liza's Eyeview said...

Nancie, thank you so much for sharing all these; and thank you for your kind words left in Emily's blog and Liza's Eyeview blog. God bless you and I pray that the Lord will continue to annoint you to fulfill this mission that He has called you to do.

Debra said...

I wish I had more words other than how beautiful you have displayed your heart here but I don't.

Thank you for being so transparent and may the peace of the Lord continue to surround you in times when you need it most.

God bless you!

Van said...

I appreciate all the resources about mental ilness. Thank you

Anonymous said...

Hi again Nancie,

You don't have to post my last message if it does not seem appropriate for this topic. I posted it here, because I found whenever I try to tell any "normal" person this story, be they a friend, a relative, just about anyone, they smile and nod, but then they always laugh and say,
"But Rob, be careful! I sense that you might *really* be getting high!", which at first I took as heartfelt sympathy or playful humor, but when I got that reaction from almost every "normal" person I tried to discuss the situation with, it began to bother me somehow. I concluded that only a sufferer of bipolar would fully appreciate the story, and not immediately suggest that I am possibly getting sick. Enough said.

Thanks for your blog. It lets me express things that the "normal" world cannot quite fully
understand!

-- Rob (maybe I am a bit crazy! Who cares!)

Nancie said...

Thanks Peggy, Michelle, Sailorcross, The patterson5, Sharon, Edie, Liza, Debra, Van and Rob for dropping by and your kind comments! Really appreciate your making time to come by, read my post and share your thoughts. May God bless all of you!

Hi Rob, Thank you for your 2 comments! I am glad that you feel comfortable sharing on my blog :). It is my privilege to provide you with an avenue to share your experiences and resources with me and my readers. I greatly appreciate your writing and your friendship! Thanks for making time to come by, read my posts and share your thoughts. Thanks for your first comment. I am delaying in publishing it because I need time to digest what you wrote and also to think of an appropriate response :-) Thanks for writing again. I hope to publish your first comment as a separate post and share my own thoughts and reflections there too. Thanks again for stopping by. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Take care and keep in touch!

Denise said...

Bless you, and your heart for this precious mission.

Nancie said...

Hi Denise, thank you for stopping by! I really appreciate your blog and your mission too! May God bless and keep you near to Him as you share your life and His goodness to others. May God continue to make you a blessing to many. I am so glad to meet you and be encouraged by you. Take care and God bless!