Month: March 2018

Episode 3 – Tony E. Roberts Revealed

On this episode, Eric interviews co-host, Tony E. Roberts.  As an avid blogger and author, Tony is comfortable revealing his journey with mental illness.  In this podcast, we learn how Tony developed the confidence and calling to share the difficult intimate details that are part of his experience.

Tony shares the personal meaning of Psalm 37:4 – “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Some of the questions include:

How was Tony’s pastoral career affected after being diagnosed at age 30?

What is a manic episode like?

What inspired Tony to write Delight in Disorder?

How has stigma impacted Tony’s ministry?

What does healing mean to you?

Contact Tony:





Tony Roberts is Delighting in Disorder

My Story

In 1995, I was a young, ambitious pastor serving a small village church.  One Sunday, I delivered a sermon on human illness and divine healing in which I shared these words:

When we become ill, it is important to listen to our bodies and pray that God help us make necessary changes. Our ailments may be blessings in disguise. We may be expecting too much from ourselves, or avoiding things we need to face. As we listen to our bodies, talk and reflect with others, and pray together, we can gain spiritual insight which will help us live healthier, more productive, more abundant lives.

The next day, I was in the seclusion room of a psychiatric hospital. I was told I had bipolar disorder, that I would never work as a pastor again, that my marriage would likely end, and that I would spend the rest of my life in and out of psychiatric hospitals.

By the grace of God and with much help from many others, I served another dozen years of fruitful ministry, was married “for better and for worse” for twenty three years and have mostly progressed in treatment to enjoy what my psychiatrist calls “maintenance remission.”

My Message

Having served over twenty years in ministry while wrestling with a serious mental illness, I have a message of Good News to share. This is not just positive affirmation meant to cover up feelings and shame and fear.  It is not something I’ve picked up from one of the countless self-help books on the ABCs of analysis and treatment. It is certainly not that I have attained victory over bipolar through divine intervention alone and I no longer need medication or therapy.

The Good News we have to share is instead the hope that, with Christ’s saving grace, the hellish impact of mental illness will be bearable. God is with me even in the darkest valleys of despair. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ. Our hope, the Good News is that God has a purpose for our lives. And when we carry this hope, we find fellowship with others who struggle; we are emboldened to fight the stigma that often leads to dangerous silence; we find a measure of peace even during the worst moment that things will get better. We don’t know when, or how. Maybe not even in this life. But things will get better.

My Mission

Many people with mental illness are angry at God, at believers and at faith communities.  People within churches struggle to understand mental illness to connect what medical advances about brain chemistry with Truth revealed in Scripture.  I have lived in both worlds and wrestle daily with my dual identity as a Christian who has a serious mental illness.

My mission is to bridge the distance between faith and mental illness — fostering faith among those with disorders and diagnoses and promoting compassion within the faith community.  Sharing my spiritual memoir is the first step towards this mission.

Won’t you join me on this mission? Pray for those impacted by mental illness. Recruit them to share their stories within your sanctuaries. If you have a mental illness, set aside your assumptions and walk into a church one Sunday or ask to go with a Christian you know.

When we do these things, we reclaim our godly mission through the madness of the world.

Leanne Sype — What Healing Means

Healing means living better within the challenges of mental illness.

So often I want my daughter to be “all better” or I want feel “all better” in my eating disorder. But in reality, we can’t necessarily be “all better” with a mental illness like we can a cold or stomach ache.

Mental illness is ongoing, with days that are really good and feel great and other days that just suck. However, I’ve come to learn that while my daughter and I may not be all better, we can learn how to live better within our illnesses, celebrating good days, understanding our triggers, caring for ourselves on down days, and managing/adjusting treatment as needed.

Accepting and learning how to live WITH our mental illnesses as part of life has created, for us, a general sense of living better. This frame of mind has been healing for our whole family.

— Leanne Sype

Love Eats

Episode 2 – Amy Simpson is Unsatisfied

Our guest on this episode is Amy Simpson. Amy is an author, speaker, and life & leadership coach who is one of the leading Christian advocates for persons with mental illness. Her award-winning book Troubled Minds: Mental Illness an the Church’s Mission has opened many sanctuary doors to a topic largely concealed.
Listen to this interview and learn how Amy is “a gently blazing fire” of mental health advocacy.
We explore Amy’s latest book, Blessed Are the Unsatisfied: Finding Spiritual Freedom in an Imperfect World (InterVarsity Press, 2018). The book is born in large part out of her own family experience where faith and mental illness are intricately related. She then goes on to explore such crucial and, at times, excruciating questions such as:
Does Jesus really want us to be satisfied in this life?
What is her perspective on the prosperity gospel?
How does addiction relate to spiritual dissatisfaction?
How can we cultivate an unsatisfied life?
What does healing mean to you?
You can find Amy at…

Blessed are the Unsatisfied by Amy Simpson: A Review

God is blessing our podcast Revealing Voices in so many ways and we are confident  it will only get better. For one, we’ve managed to score an interview with Amy Simpson, one of the leading Christian voices on the subject of mental illness.
I was first introduced to Simpson’s work through her book Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission. As a pastor who has battled bipolar disorder, I felt liberated reading her passionate and compassionate call to open our pulpits and our pews to the voices and services of persons with mental illness. As the child of a father who served as a pastor and a mother who struggled with schizophrenia, Simpson speaks as one who knows inside and out both the failings and the blessings of the body of Christ responding to persons who too often fall through the cracks.

Read More

Amy Simpson: Author, Advocate, Life & Leadership Coach

Eric and I are very enthusiastic about Episode 2 with Amy Simpson (to be released March 15). I first became aware of Amy’s work when I was writing my spiritual memoir, Delight in Disorder. She had recently written Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission. This book opened the doors of the sanctuary for conversations, prayers, and outreach with those who have mental illness. It still inspires individual believers and bodies of Christ to be more engaged in mental health ministry, to see the image of God even in those whom many would judge to have unsound minds.

Amy is deeply committed to seeing purposeful people make the most of their gifts and opportunities. As an author, speaker, and life & leadership coach, she helps influencers get clear on their calling and thrive in times of transition.  She inspires others to see clearly, lead boldly, live true, and fully engage in life with guiding purpose.

A creative professional and a former publishing executive, Amy has a heart for leaders who are ready to thrive through change and come out stronger. As a member of a family affected by serious mental illness, she holds strong convictions that each person’s life has purpose and that points of crisis are opportunities for transformation. As an experienced leader, filling roles from executive to entrepreneur, she knows how to help others turn challenges into resources.

Whether speaking into a microphone or through the written word, Amy is a gifted communicator with a prophetic voice. She is author of the award-winning books Blessed Are the Unsatisfied: Finding Spiritual Freedom in an Imperfect World, Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission, and Anxious: Choosing Faith in a World of Worry (all InterVarsity Press). She serves as an editor-at-large for Christianity Today’s and a regular contributor for various publications. She also serves as a member of the board for Minds Renewed, a national consortium of Christians who serve those impacted by mental health concerns and addictive disorders.

As a life & leadership coach, Amy helps influencers thrive through change so they can see clearly, lead boldly, and live true. A firm believer that life is too short to waste time living out of sync with God’s purposes, she challenges clients throughout the United States to step into their calling with authenticity and excellence. She specializes in working with people who find themselves on the edge of something new, whether a new role, organization, approach, project, or career.

Amy holds an English degree from Trinity International University, an MBA from the University of Colorado, and CPCC certification from Coaches Training Institute. She loves to travel with her husband, Trevor, their two teenage girls, and their lovable dog, Rosie. She lives with these wonderful folks in the suburbs of Chicago, where she is committed to perfecting her dry sense of humor and reading nearly everything she can.

You can find Amy at…




Twitter: @aresimpson


Instagram: amy.r.simpson



Our episode with Amy will be available on iTunes and this website March 15. We hope you will join us as we discuss with Amy such things as what inspired her to write about faith and mental illness, how we can be blessed to live an unsatisfied life, and h0w loving the church and loving persons with mental illness can make a difference in our lives and ministry.

A Long, Strange Trip and We’ve Only Just Begun

Thursday, March 1, 2018;    6:00 p.m. ;    The Riddle household.  ; Columbus, Indiana.

We posted episode 1 while recording on Facebook Live. Half an hour later, we were celebrating with 15 of our closest friends in our mental health ministry!

It’s been a long, strange trip since we first stepped out onto that country road that crosses the Columbus Reformed Presbyterian church.  How did we move from the germ of an idea to the uploading on iTunes? Much of the journey is shared and will continued to be shared here in this “Behind the Scenes” Revealog. Today, I want to go behind the “Behind the Scenes,” and dig into some of the hustle and tussle, the push and pull, the punch and counterpunch, that makes every creative collaboration produce a work that is greater than the sum of its parts.

1,   It’s all about the length, man!

From the beginning, Eric and I held strong and vastly different ideas of how long our podcast would be. Eric referred Inglorious Pasterds: Three guys from the Midwest talking about spirituality, the news, and all the things. It clocks in at 2+ hours. I preferred Mike Rowe’s The Way I Heard It : short mysteries for curious minds with short attention spans. It runs a consistent 10 minutes. We knew we would have some compromising to do in the editing process and, quite frankly, that was none too fun. It required much prayer to come to a common mind even on the opening episode. But we did it. And early feedback tells me we did it well.

2. Lynda, Lynda, wherefore art thou?

Along the way, there have been many technical challenges that required many calls and emails. Then, Eric found Lynda, shimmering in the glow of a midnight moon. Lynda is a training website for everything from computer programming to website hosting to podcast development. Eric fell madly in love and tried desperately to share her affections with me, even setting us up on a date Valentines Day. But there was one big problem. Lynda shows you her ways through video tutorials. I am not a visual learner. More than this, I still belong to the old school that says videos are for entertainment, not education. So Lynda and I were doomed from the outset. I will now need to learn the podcast dance from Eric.

3. Podcasts that have inspired us.

We knew from the outset that it would be foolish to reinvent the wheel. We spent much time researching podcasts that dealt with the topics of faith and/or mental illness. We contacted some hosts who have responded very graciously. We hope to develop mutually beneficial relationships with persons sowing some of the same seed in God’s kingdom garden.

Two shows of particular note —  CXMH a podcast at the intersection of Christianity & mental health, with Robert Vore. And, Fresh Hope for Mental Health, with Pastor Brad Hoefs. These shows are more than podcasts; they are ministries blessing folks like us and many others.

4. One down, how many to go?

When deciding on how we would list our episodes, we noted that some podcasts name theirs with three digits, like 001, 002, 003, etc… This numbering system is both ambitious and limiting. What if you end the show at 003? You’ve left people hanging. Then again, what if you come to 999 and there is nowhere else to go, like Y2K? We opted to modestly and accurately number ours conventionally 1, 2, 3, etc… We hope this doesn’t disrupt some Podcast Dewey Decimal System, but it seemed the spiritually humble thing to do.

5. Where do we go from here?

God only knows. By God’s grace, we have met or exceeded our original goals. Fundraising figure. Equipment purchases. Four interviews on the computer before opening episode. World premiere March 1. Now what?

We have some idea of what lies ahead, but we are also open to where the Spirit leads. And one way the Spirit leads is through the work of the body of Christ, believers with passion for God’s kingdom ministry.

We’ve had a lot of help along the way and we trust God will continue to provide. What can you do?

a.  Pray, pray, pray.  Prayer won’t get us all we want, but it will give us just what we need.

b.  Listen, share. Mental health ministry is not to exist in a vacuum. Care enough to share.

c.  Subscribe, so you will get the latest episodes the moment that appear.

d. Review and rate with 5 stars. This will help us reach more with Good News for mental health.

Yes, what a long, strange trip it’s been. And we’ve only just begin.

Episode 1 – Faithful Family

Our guests today are Jen Riddle (Eric’s wife) and April Cohen (Tony’s sister).

April graduated with a B.A. in Nursing from University of Indianapolis in 1997. She has worked 21 years in the field of psychiatric nursing, both in-patient and out-patient. In addition to being Tony’s sister and principal caregiver, she is married to Dan Cohen. The two of them have 5 children and 5 grandchildren. Her favorite form of therapy is bargain shopping.
Jen is a recent graduate of Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, IN.  For nearly 15 years, she has worked with children with autism and their families.  She is an elder at The Living Room non-denominational church in Columbus, IN.  A native of Buffalo, she enjoyed watching the Bills NFL playoff run this year!
On this episode, Jen and April discuss what drew them into their spiritual and healing professions. April shares what it is like to care for an adult brother who has bipolar disorder, and Jen reveals how she and Eric navigate a relationship with a mental health diagnosis.

Faithful Family

April Roberts Cohen was born, um, er, well, two years before I was. Her name was going to be Karen, but when she was born April 9, our parents were divinely inspired to name her April. From a human perspective, this helped them remember her birthday.

As mentioned, I came along two years later. From an early age, April assumed the role of surrogate mother. She was exceptionally caring. At three she was found to have taken me off the bed and was cuddling me with her blanket. It can’t be proven, but I think she dropped me on my head in the transition. That would explain a lot, anyway.
Our lives followed distinct paths, but merged when I was diagnosed with a mental illness and she became a psychiatric nurse. Now, in addition to being my sister-friend, she helps me monitor my moods and meds, advocates for me in the often complex world of mental health care, and encourages me in my walk with Christ.
Perhaps the greatest thing I can say about April is I have made her my medical power of attorney. I literally trust her with my life and death.

Jen Anne (Johnston) Riddle and I met in April 2009 while I was visiting my sister in Boston.  Jen was my sister’s roommate.  I was there to see my sister run in the Boston Marathon.  They were part of an intentional Christian community and I was the lucky man who had brother privileges. I stayed in an empty room next to Jen’s room. About a year later, we struck up daily phone conversations that led me to two more Boston trips for long weekends of dating around the city. Our first kiss was in a public park in Salem, Massachusetts. You may say I was bewitched.

She had courageously left Boston to live close to me in Columbus, IN in August 2010.  She was able to transfer Masters of Divinity credits to Christian Theological Seminary and continue her career working with children with autism.

In 2012, I proposed to Jen in a labyrinth in Bloomington, IN.  My youngest sister secretly hid behind bushes about 100 feet away and took pictures. Jen left the labyrinth with a ring on her finger.
The picture above was taken in October 2017 during our 5 year wedding anniversary trip.  The labyrinth is carved into a gentle sloping hill at Kent University in Canterbury, England.  In the background is the Canterbury Cathedral.
Jen is now an elder at The Living Room church in Columbus, IN.  She continues to serve children with autism. She is very good at what she does, including being an incredible wife.