Workout Routines

~~ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV84) ~~  Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

by Carley Cooper

Microsoft Office Copyright Free Images
Even for the most devoted healthy living fanatic, there are days when thought of healthy eating, or hearing the word ‘workout’ makes you feel like you’ve just been kicked in the gut.  It’s enough to make one feel like you have to climb a mountain.  Plus, if you’re new to the workout scene, there’s so much to think about.  I mean what’s the deal with cardio and strength training?  How many sets of how many reps do I do?  How healthy is healthy before it becomes obsession?  Is soy really good for you?  What’s the best between walking, running, swimming, mountain biking, aerobic videos, dancing; and the list goes on?  Should I eat potatoes or not?  And, what’s calisthenics anyway? 

Why is that taking care of ourselves seems so dreadful sometimes?  As someone who’s lost a lot of weight, and has changed my life so drastically in so many areas, I often get people asking me questions such as; what is the most important things I can do?  The disappointment that I see on their faces when I tell them that ‘the keys to success lies in motivation, education and self discipline’; is a common.  This is an unfortunate attitude, but the truth is those things are the keys to finding that place where your body is healthy.  I know this from traveling through that journey myself. 

At the present time I am somewhere in the midst of a journey about disciplines.  I know that because in the past couple months the  number of messages that I am hearing and seeing from God, about disciplines, are overwhelming me.  One of a number of specific things that I am getting messages about is taking care of my body.  Keeping our bodies physically healthy is a spiritual discipline.  By doing this we are worshiping God; and giving the Holy Spirit a nice, clean, healthy place to live.  Think about it... would you want to  live in a rickety, rundown dump of a home that’s filled with garbage and poor air circulation?  No, you wouldn’t, and neither would I.  Well, God doesn’t want that either.  Our body is His temple.  However, I did just that for many years.  I was up to way over 200 pounds once (how high, is not important for this discussion).  I didn’t eat well and I had breathing problems much of the time.  My energy was low on a good day and my mental health was... well, very bad, to say the least.  Even my hair and nails were different as an unhealthy person.  By not taking care of our bodies, and filling it with garbage fuel like processed foods, white flour, artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup, chemicals, preservatives, antibiotics; and the list goes on, we are giving God exactly that... a shabby shack to live in.   

My health routine to take care of my body involves a daily workout.  My standard workout routine has three parts to it.  I know what you’re thinking.  You know this already; right?  It’s cardio, strength, and cool-down with stretches.  Well, yes and no.  You’re right about those things; but no, those are not the three parts I am referring to.  My morning workout includes a spiritual workout, a mental workout, and a physical workout.  Our bodies are made up of three parts; the physical body, our mind and our spirit. 

First, when I wake up I spend some quiet time with God.  I talk to Him, then I do a devotional time; which involves reading the bible and a message from a devotional book.  Then I finish it off by listening to some worship music for at least 30 minutes.  I do this routine first thing in the morning because I believe that from the time we wake up our minds should be on God.  I have found that if I don’t start my day with Him, the day just does not go right.  Granted that’s not to say we’ll never have a bad day if we start it with prayer; but, I mean, that I’ve noticed that if I don’t start out my day with God, I’m guaranteed to have a rotten day. 

The next part of my routine is my mental workout.  I think this is fundamental for anyone, but for me and others with mental illness I think it is absolutely vital.  For me, this element is made up from meditation, reading and positive thinking.  I have a 30 minute mediation program that I listen to on my MP3 player.  It claims to help change brain chemistry.  There are no words.  It’s just sounds.  After I listen to it I do feel better, and I have more energy.  Because of my Bipolar Disorder, racing thoughts are a constant problem, and first thing in the morning is my worst time.  For me to sit and listen to anything without distraction for very long is impossible; let alone a whole 30 minutes.  As such, to keep my mind from racing too fast while I’m listening to my meditation program, I read a book.  It forces me to have something to focus on.  Even then it’s sometimes very difficult.  There are times that in those 30 minutes I will read only a couple of pages, because I cannot force myself to focus.  It’s common problem for Bipolar sufferers.  Other times, I can read 10 - 15 pages.   

The last part of my mental workout is training my thinking patterns.  For some people, this may not be much of an issue.  All my life my thinking was negative in every aspect of my life.  I wasn’t necessarily aware that it was negative.  It was just the way the world was; I thought.  This was how my mind was trained to think from the beginning.   After I lost the weight, I knew the next step toward mental healthiness was to change my thinking patterns.  This venture was, by far, the hardest part of my lifestyle change; and it continues to be.  To alter what is, essentially, one’s brain chemistry is no small feat, but for those of us with mental illness, who know that our brain chemistry is already off course, as compared to others; it is an even bigger undertaking.  For this, I read positive affirmations.  I have a stack of index cards with positive affirmations written on them.  I also have some books filled with positive quotations and mantras; and, of course, God’s Word.  Plus, as often as I can, I journal, but this can be done anytime of the day.

The final part of my workout practice is my physical workout.  I get my cardio by doing power-walking in the park; when the weather is nice.  On not-so-nice days, I workout with videos.  Then there’s a strength training routine, and stretches. 

Granted, I’m not perfect in my workout or healthy eating routines.  There are days when I just don’t have the mind for it; but I do pray about it.  My standard practice has been to allow myself one day per week to have some treats, so that I don’t feel deprived or left out, if I’m at a public or family function.  Sometimes when I’m not feeling well in the morning or if I have to rush off somewhere and I’m short on time; the first thing that gets cut from the program is the worship music.  Then, if I’m still short on time, the mental health element is the next thing to get slashed.  And my strength-training routine is the hardest part for me to keep on track with.  Plus, sometimes there are days when I over eat, or when I don’t eat at all.  I never cut prayer time, and almost never cut devotional time though.     

What I do know for sure is that to be truly healthy and to reap the benefits, I have to discipline myself better.  I know God wants me to do that.  He has blessings in my future that depend on it.  My motivation is Jesus and spending eternity with Him.  My education comes from God’s Word and a continuous need to know more about healthy living through reading.  My strength for my self-discipline comes from the Holy Spirit.  So, what’s your routine made up of?  Go ahead, climb the mountain; it’s a great workout!

~~ Dear God ~~  Thank You for teaching me how to do a complete workout.  Please give me the passion, willingness and the strength I need to develop the discipline to do it daily.  Help me climb the mountain, so I can reach the summit and be with Jesus.  In Jesus name, AMEN.

Happy 1st Birthday!

~~ Exodus 15:26 (NIV84) ~~  He said, “If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes... I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.”

by Carley Cooper

Free Source Photo - No Copyrights Claimed
We’re having a birthday!  Worship Melodies is one year old.  To celebrate the occasion of our birthday today, I thought it would be fun to share with you, the story behind how Worship Melodies was born.  You see, it really wasn’t my idea in the first place to do this.  Here’s how it all happened...

One day last year in 2011, somewhere between mid to late April, I was sitting on my couch with my laptop in front of me; working on one of, at least, a dozen big projects that I have on my desktop at any given time.  That issue, of too much work at hand, is another whole blog by itself.  It stems from a problem that lies somewhere between insufficient time management skills and racing Bipolar mania-episode thoughts.  Anyway, as if someone flipped a switch, my mind suddenly went from my task at hand to “I have to start a blog site.”  Before I even realized the thought was there, I had spoken it out loud to myself.   The flipping the switch part, could be a Bipolar matter, but after I spoke those words I realized what I said.  Wow, I’m staring my own website.  Cool!  Sometimes, I think, the racing thoughts matter can be a good thing, because in the next few minutes I had come up with a basic website plan and purpose. 

First, the whole point would be so I can share my journey; the ups and downs of the lessons I’m learning on my way toward God. 

“However, if I’m going to do that”, I thought, “I absolutely have to make it so others can be helped and learn as well.  Otherwise, what’s the point?  I have to lead others to God by using my own life and talents.” 

I saw the whole concept immediately.  It would be a travel theme.  You know... my ‘journey’; like a travel log.  Then I spent the next several hours writing down the specific goals that I wanted to accomplish, and by knowing these goals I would have a title for my blog. 

“Ah ha!  That’s it”, I said.  “I absolutely love that title.  My new site will be called ‘Enlightened Expedition Diaries’.”  

I know what you’re thinking; “Huh?!”  Well, bare with me.  You’ll hear the music in a minute. 

Next I went to work on the design.  I spent the next two weeks, day and night, working on it.  I had the URL reserved, and the background shot was an old treasure map with a compass sitting on top.  The fonts were all picked out to match in designs that fit an old world, pirate-type theme.  After two weeks, I was almost done. 

“Just another day or so”, I thought “and I’ll be finished the design and ‘assembly’ work.”


At that point in my website design work, one afternoon crashed.  People all over the internet; all over the planet, were freaking out and in a major panic looking to string someone up in a painful way.  In the end, the only way for the Blogspot team to get the site up and running again was to roll back to a past maintenance backup.  Everyone’s work for the previous week was gone.  Forever and ever, AMEN; gone!  There was a lot of very upset people in the world that day; and I was one of them. 

LESSON ONE learned in this journey: Backup as you go!  It’s not just a cute and fluffy theory.  It could actually be handy sometime.

I was back to a website that was only half finished.  “Grrrrrrr”. 

However, I got right back to work and spent the next week redoing everything I had just finished.  Then the day came.  The site is done.  I just need to write a few posts to start.  So, I went online to do some research to see what would be a good first post. 

Stop!  Wait a minute!  “It’s all wrong”, God said.  “It’s gotta be a music theme.”

Truthfully, my heart sank.  “What?  Are you serious?  Oh, but Lord, this is so awesome.  Look at it.  I got a great design and a super cool name, and a treasure map!”

“Music”, He said.

“I’m not a music person, not that I wouldn’t wanna be someday, but I don’t even know how to play any instruments.  The only thing I know about music is what I like to listen to”, I replied.

LESSON TWO: When God gives you an idea, or a command, stop and listen to Him about the details of how He wants it done!

But, there I was, back to designing it all again.  Granted, I was a little cranky about it at first, but the more I worked on it, the more it grew on me.  Some of the work, such as layout I was able to save and use, so I wasn't really back to square  one.  I just needed a new name, URL, background, fonts, email address, and other such things.  So I spent another afternoon coming up with a new name, based on the idea that we are to ‘sing’ God’s praises, even through the tuff stuff.  After another week, I was finished;  again! 

Ta... da!  “This is awesome", I thought.  "God was right.” 

LESSON THREE:  Don’t argue with God.  You won’t win.  God is always right.  Huh, funny thing... it seems that I remember learning that lesson once before. 

Well, I knew then when I finished my design, that this endeavour would be a success.  I don’t necessarily know in what form that success will come, but I know that God told me to do this.  He even picked out the theme.  I pray always, that He would use me to write messages that will touch other’s hearts.  God is leading me in this at every step. 

So, I decided on the topics for my first few articles.  I had read that one should always begin a blog site with, at least, a few posts.  The first one I called, conveniently enough, ‘The First Post.’  

I know, some would say, “for a creative person you’re not very creative.”  But, I liked it. 

Then, I came up with the next couple post ideas and I wrote all the articles.  The next step was to ask Pastor Henry to proof read everything before publishing them; to make sure my writing was good, and my theology was biblically sound.

LESSON FOUR:  Pastor Henry is a cool dude... that is, for an old guy... and especially when he likes my work!  That’s why I've since started baking him a batch of Chocolate Chip Cookies every once in a while.  My Grandma used to tell me “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”  Granted, she was talking about finding a husband, but I figured I could apply the theory to any situation involving keeping a man happy.  Hmmm, that reminds me.  He might be due for another batch. 

The last step was to publish everything and announce it to the world... well, at least to everyone I know anyway.  Which I did in a mass email, and by telling all my friends on Facebook and Spark People

LESSON FIVE:  the blessings never stop when you listen to God.  So on that note, it already is a success. 

My writing has grown and improved through this venture.  My self-confidence is improving.  I am growing closer to God.  And, I am told all the time, by you, my loyal readers, how much I touch your lives with my work.  This is my own little ministry that takes place here in this little corner of the world wide web; and all I really long for is to let others know my heart, in hopes that you will be drawn closer to God just like I am.  Therefore, you too can know His wonderful love and grace through the miracle of His Son, Jesus Christ.  You tell me how much I bless you.  Thank you so much for that from the bottom of my heart and soul.  However, I feel that it is me who is blessed the most, by God through you.  I love each and every one of you.  It’s a very Happy 1st Birthday!     

~~ Dear God ~~  Thank You for the journey.  Thank You for the struggles because, without them, I would not have lessons to write about.  Thank you for the awesome site concept, and for my online friends and readers who support me with each and every post.  Thank you for bringing me into this ministry.  I look forward to seeing where it will lead.  I love You, Lord.  In Jesus name, AMEN.

~~~~ Birthday Gift Give-Away! ~~~~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ GIVE-AWAY CLOSED ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

See comment section below for winner announcement

Worshipers... to celebrate Worship Melodies 1st Birthday, I'm giving away a Birthday Gift!  Please leave a comment about the blog in the comment section below, and you would win a Chris Blakley prize package!  The package contains his last 3 CD’s; plus, a copy of his new book, Words of Thought......or not

Chris Blakley, based out of Clearwater, Florida (with connections to Barrie, Ontario), is a musician, singer and songwriter that preaches the gospel.  His music will thrill and inspire your heart.  He is an inspiration and encouragement to people of all ages.  His soul stirring songs draw people to Jesus.  His style of music varies from rock, contemporary and southern gospel.  

CD’s titles include:
  • Chris Blakley
  • Redemption
  • 4Given – including the song ‘I May Be Down’ from the video below. 
PLUS, if you are the winner and would like the CD’s and the book all autographed personally to you, I will personally ask him to do that before I ship the CD’s and book to you.  Note, however, it will be 3 – 4 weeks before I will see him again in order to ask him to do that. So shipping time will be 4 - 6 weeks before you receive them.  ~Carley

DEADLINE: Friday, June 1st, 2012 at 12:00 Noon (EST)  

A winner will be drawn from the names listed in the comment section below, here on this post titled 'Happy 1st Birthday' on the Worship Melodies website.  The name of the winner will be posted in the comment section here on this post 'Happy 1st Birthday' after 12:00 Noon and before  12:00 Midnight on Friday, June 1st, 2012.  So please come back to see if you’re the winner, and email me your contact details.  If the winner doesn't contact me by the following Friday on June 8th, 2012 at 12:00 Noon (EST), a new winner will be chosen.  (See the Contact page for Worship Melodies contact information).  

Chris Blakley Prize Package

Click this website title link to see Chris's website:

Chris Blakley Ministries Website

Click this website title link to see the Blakley family website, and to hear more clips of Chris's music.  If you're in the Barrie, Ontario area and would like to see Chris preach and perform, he is in town once per month.  Message me and I'll send you the deets:

Note: that Pastor Garnet Blakley, from Barrie, Ontario, passed away in January 2012 from cancer.  He was an incredible evangelist and a man who led many to Jesus.  He won't be forgotten.

~~~~ Photo Opp ~~~~

June 24, 2012 - Carley with Chris Blakley 
(Right after He autographed the CD's for winner, Ravyna)

The Invisible Woman

2 Timothy 4:16-17 (NIV84) – At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me.  May it not be held against them.  But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it.  And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. 

by Carley Cooper

Free Source Photo - No Copyrights Claimed
Remember your favorite superhero’s from when you were a kid?  For that matter, maybe they still are your fave's.  That's totally cool, if that's the case.  Every kid played superhero’s with their siblings and friends.  Growing up I lived in a rather isolated area, I had brothers to play with and I didn’t have many close friends to hang with; so I was the only girl most of the time.  That meant, while my brothers were Superman or Spiderman, I always played the part of Wonder Woman.  She was and is my favorite female superhero.  

The only superhero that never seemed possible was the Invisible Man.  That’s because we couldn’t become invisible.  My brother always figured that we could just pretend he’s invisible.  I never understood that because the fact was I really could see him.  Pretending only works if there’s a little bit of truth behind it somewhere.  It never occurred to us that I should play an invisible person.  Maybe it should have since my own truth has always been that I feel invisible to everyone.  If I did, maybe it would have helped me workout some of these issues.    

I’ve been doing a lot of reading and research in recent months about my own mental health issues because I need the information for the book I’m writing.  I talk a lot in my blogs about Bipolar Disorder (BPD), but there are other issues that I deal with as well.  In the past few years, I’ve experienced Panic Anxiety Disorder (PAD); with several full blown panic attacks.  Wow, that was a shocker, and super scary the first time it happened to me.  However, the big issue that I have dealt with my whole life; the one that’s always been there, is Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) (also called Social Phobia).  Granted, back then, when I was a kid, they didn’t know it was a problem, let alone a disorder that needed attention and treatment.  My first panic attack, insolently, happened about two and  half years ago while I was at church, and I never understood why it happened at that time.  Unlike most social events; that day, I wasn’t feeling super stressed. 

In my research, I have learned that there are studies showing abnormalities in the brain chemistry of people with SAD.  However, that’s only half the problem.  The other half is believed to be learned behaviour.  The latest medications available have been very successful in treating SAD, especially when combined with Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), which helps to change thinking patterns. 

Also, as part of my research, I watched a documentary on SAD.  In it, a man called James said, in reference to his SAD, “I felt a lot of times like a freak, just because of this.  I mean, how can I be… be, I mean, so afraid of other people?  I’ve never heard of that.”  He goes on to say “There’s always outsiders in every high school but I felt like I was on the outside of the outsiders because I was just completely alone with everything that I was going through.  And everything I went through, it was tough seeing other people having at least some… even one friend just to get through it all with.  I didn’t fit in with the other kids and all that so… I had a lot of bad experiences just getting through high school.

James is me; and we both are like every other per person with SAD.  Young children with this disorder sometimes completely shut down and can’t talk as a result.  James’ words resonated within me to the very core of my bones.  I have always felt like a freak and an outsider, and that I am alone.  In my mind it’s as though I am screaming at the top of my lungs and no one sees me or hears me.  Then when people say things like “Just pull yourself up by your boot straps”, or “Just look at the bright side”, I am made to feel that I have no right to be heard.   I feel like it means I am broken for feeling the way I do, and as such it means I messed up... again!  Our loved ones often don’t want to learn about the disease.  Whatta ya do when your family, or friends, don’t want to know more; so they can get along with you, or save the relationship?  I don’t know.  I am invisible. 

For example, I was in a situation with a friend, that I’ll call Jamie, that was very upsetting.  The stress from this problem caused me to have a bad Bipolar episode that lasted about three months.  It was the longest and worst episode that I had in a very long time.  I asked Jamie if we could get together and talk about it.  So, I penciled in the get-together on my calendar.  In doing so I realized that I should make an attempt to put some accountability into this situation.  So, I confided in a third person; another friend, that I’ll call Bailey.  I believe that Bailey’s heart was in the right place but the truth is the advice I got was not necessarily good.  Bailey told me that, what I believe to be God talking to me was not; and that it is only the thoughts in my head.  In reality, no one can know that except me and God.  The enemy was using the situation, my disorders, and my friends against me.  I felt hurt, confused and rejected because I know that certain things are indeed God talking to me.  As someone who doubts so much just because I know the nature of SAD and BPD, a seed of fear was planted.  Bailey went on to say that the list of questions that I had regarding the original problem with Jamie, that never got answered for me, did not exist, that they were all in my mind.  I was left feeling more disoriented than I started out to be. 

In both SAD and BPD, sufferers often have great difficulty learning how bond with others in lasting relationships.  And because of the isolation that accompanies SAD, often the opportunity doesn’t present itself for many years, if at all.  In my mind, it seemed that neither of my friends wanted to understand my mental health issues.  SAD and BPD both mean that I am wired to overreact.  What a ‘normal’ person sees as a baseball-sized situation of stress, SAD and BPD suffers see as a beach-ball sized situation.  Even if the ball isn’t that size, we see it that size and experience the interaction with it in that size.  We are reacting to a situation that really is that big... in our own reality. 

As such, I realize I am not always sure I should believe what I am seeing or hearing (in good situations, as well as bad).  Both of my friends told me I was just ‘over reacting’, and neither of them desired or asked to know more, or let me finally ask the questions I needed answered.  So, again, I felt like I was never given the opportunity to be heard in the situation.  I came out the other end feeling like I was invisible and that my feelings didn’t count; as such that I’m broken, un-forgiven and not lovable.  The whole attempt at accountability caused me to go into two more bad episodes (short ones, but it still took me days to recover from them), and a feeling that I can’t confide in either of these two anymore.  As a result when I finally got to see Jamie, with the intent on fixing things between us, everything went from bad to worse because I went there with a fearful attitude and was asked to leave before the discussion even got started. 

Because I know that I can’t trust what is happening around me, I really do forgive my friends.  Outsiders are not always aware that they are witnessing the effects of mental health disorders.  It’s not like I have a broken limb, where my problem is obvious by a cast or crutches.  Mental health disorders are hidden inside the brain.  Only the results are shown on the outside; if you know what you’re looking at.  Though it can often take me some time to calm down from the hurt I’ve experienced, I am certainly not going to hold a grudge or blame anyone for reacting to something they weren’t aware was an issue.  As for those who really are aware, and yet still don’t care; well, I’m better off without them, because they do not have Jesus in their hearts.  Pastor Henry, at church, has told me many times that “God does not waste anything.”  So, I know that my disorders, and my issues relating to others will all be used for His glory and to bring me blessings, as long as I keep my eye on Him. 

Granted, despite all this, I’ve come a very long way in my journey to overcoming SAD in the past five or six years.  Treatment has helped tremendously, but I still only feel about 75% better, most of the time.   The best treatment, though, has been learning and seeing that I am not invisible to God.  Even the little things count to Him; and even when the rest of the world is blind to my existence, I am still visible to God, and He loves me and He wants to listen to me.  In His eyes, I am not the Invisible Woman; I am a Wonder Woman.  People will always let you down.  When everyone else rejects, brushes you off, embarrasses, or ignores you; Jesus doesn’t.  He’s the only superhero we need.  Psalm 118:8-9 (NKJV) says “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.”             

~~ Dear God ~~  Please clear my mind of confusing and untruthful thoughts that are placed there by the enemy.  Please help me to always see every situation as You it.  I don’t ever want to place any human being in a position of superhero in my life.  That place is reserved only for Jesus.  Thank You, Lord, that You see me as one of your Wonder children.  Help those around me to see  the effects of my disorders on the situations and relationships in my life; and lift the stigma that the public has, in general, toward those with mental illness issues.  In Jesus name, AMEN.

Here’s something I wrote a long time ago when I took part in a 30 day blog series, where each day was a different topic.  

Today's topic: A picture of your favorite super hero and why it's your favorite. 

Hand's down, it's Wonder Woman! I like her because she represents strong, self-assured, and independence in women. She's awesome. I miss those old Wonder Woman shows on TV, with Lynda Carter. Growing up, this was one of my favorite shows. 

I even dressed up as Wonder Woman for Halloween once, for my Girl Guide Halloween Party. I got first prize! Yeaaaaa! My costume was so great (thanks to my wonderful Mommy) that it didn't even matter that my hair is blonde rather than brunette. 

I haven't participated in any Halloween parties in almost 20 years. I have some adult friends that go to parties such as this all the time. I don't go because none of the men in my life over the years were interested; and this is one of those things that is best done as a couple... the reason I don't go as a single woman. 

Anyway, if I did, I think I'd still like to go as Wonder Woman again. It might be fun to see that from an adult point of view, as opposed to my teenage point of view before. I'd dye my hair this time, though, with some of that temporary hair color. The only thing I never figured out was that spin thing to change my clothes. I'll have to keep working on that! :-D 

Wanna know the story behind the creation of Wonder Woman?... Click this link to see a video telling the story. Cool!   Here she is, Lynda Carter, the only ‘real’ Wonder Woman. 

Mixed Blessings

~~ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV84) ~~  Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

by Carley Cooper

Carley's Traditional Holiday Cheesecake
Photo by Carley.  All copyrights reserved.
So, you’ve finally purchased that dream home; but it’s huge and now you have to keep it clean, heated in the winter, cool in the summer, and the lawn kept looking great.  It’s practically a full time job.  However, your family is so happy living there!  Or, maybe you had a rich uncle that passed away and left you millions; but it didn’t last long because your extended family and long lost friends that you didn’t know you had asked for so many handouts.  Nevertheless, you feel great about helping others.  Possibly you’ve finally let yourself have that cheesecake on the dessert menu at your favorite restaurant; but now you have to work out twice as long tomorrow to make up for it.  On the other hand, it tasted super yummy!  Some things in life bring just as much heartache as they do pleasures.  Ever wonder if it’s worth it?  Is the higher pay, benefit package, and rubbing elbows with the brass in your promotion at work really worth having to put up with a longer commute, road rage, and spending half the time with your family as you used to? 

Now and then it crosses my mind to wonder about some things in my life.  Such as my blog writing, getting close to others, or writing a book about my life to share with the world.  Is it all truly worth it?  I know that God led me to do this ministry that I’ve called Worship Melodies (that story in a future post).  It is a privilege and a joy to show God’s glory, grace and mercy by sharing my stories.  I get told all the time that I am blessing people.  You just have to go back through my posts and read the comments by followers to know that’s true.  I am honestly humbled so often because of what my readers say to me.  But, much of the time, for me to write that well; to share a story that has such a great lesson that it touches people so deeply, it usually means I have to go through a dark period.  I end up feeling depressed, alone, lonely, rejected.  That’s where my message come from.  It’s what  Worship Melodies is all about; sharing the lessons I’ve learned along the way in order to show God’s wonderful love.  Then, there’s the fact that I’ve always had a very hard time making and keeping friends, and holding on to relationships.  If you read my post called The Path of Least Resistance, you’ll know that difficulty keeping relationships together is fairly standard for those of us with Bipolar Disorder.  I long to have close connections, to have a commitment from someone, to feel like a friend loves me unconditionally and won’t snub or judge me no matter what.  We are made for relationship, but the truth is that people do judge, reject, and put conditions or their own agenda on a friendship.  When that happens, it sends me into a tail spin that I often can’t get out of alone without help from my doctors and medications.  Also, I’m in the midst of writing a book about my life; one that, again, I know God led me to write.  But, is sharing my life; the details of the bad stuff along with the good things, with the world really a smart idea?  Such openness will leave me more vulnerable than I’ve ever been.  Am I strong enough to handle it?

Well, you don’t have to doubt any more people.  That’s because God assures us in  2 Corinthians 4:16-18 that we are not to lose heart.  Though on the outside things look dark, the truth is that on the inside we are being renewed.  He says that all our troubles are actually just momentary problems that will be all worth it when we gain eternal blessings as a result of them.  We are not to focus on the temporary things that we can see.  Instead we are to focus on the eternal things that we cannot see.  As a matter of fact, God tells us in James 1:2-4 (NKJV) that we are to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”  He also tells us in 1 Peter 4:12-13 (NKJV)Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.”  No matter how miserable we feel in our current situation, it is nothing compared to the “glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18 (NIV84)).  Jesus promises us in Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV84) that if we come to Him when we are carrying our burdens that He will give us rest.  I don’t need to wonder if I’m strong enough to handle future events.  Jesus is with me.  God led me to this place, and He will lead me through it as well. 

Even when you’re sick and you have to wonder if the ‘cure’ is worse than the disease; just know that the struggle will be so worth it.  Though we may not see it now, in a mixed blessing as long as you focus on Jesus the disadvantages will never outweigh the blessings.

~~ Dear God ~~  Though sometimes it is difficult to see, I know that the blessings far outweigh the negative things.  I am being moulded to be like Christ, to produce fruits of the spirit, and to glorify You.  I am also learning not to sin, to help others, and I am getting stronger in my endurance and faith with each day that passes.  I am being prepared to walk into Your Kingdom.  Thank You for this journey, Lord, that You are leading me on and through.  In Jesus name, AMEN.

Blind Faith

~~ John 20:29 (NIV84) ~~  Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

by Carley Cooper

Casey - April 2012
Photo by Carley.  All copyrights reserved.
If you’re a regular Worship Melodies follower, you’ve no doubt read about my dog, Casey (a Shih-Tzu).  For those who haven’t, here’s the nutshell version of our long and complicated story with me and canine baby.  I would do anything for him.  Which is why he’s living with my friend now.  See Casey’s new home with my friend, Charlene (not her real name), was originally meant to be temporary until I could secure a place for us to live.  At the time, I knew he had several health issues including the possibility he could go blind.  Well, it happened.  Whether or not I can bring him home now, is irrelevant.  The important thing is what is best for my doggie.  His last sighted place is Charlene’s home.  He needs her and her house now.  I love him enough to give him what he needs most, whether I would prefer him to be with me or not.

The bottom line in Casey’s eye health is that he had to have his eyes removed.  The surgery was scary and expensive.  I wasn’t sure it was a good idea; but the only other option was to put him down... and that in itself was not an option for me, or my friend.  Little Casey had the surgery in February.  Because Charlene lives out of town, I don’t get to see them often.  I finally got to go last week to see him.  Truthfully, I was nervous about it.  What was he going to look like with no eyes and his eyelids sewn shut?  What if he didn’t know me?  Or, worse, what if the fact that I was there and he couldn’t see me upset him?  What if he was depressed because of the issue?  What if I couldn’t handle it emotionally seeing him like that?  I so very much wanted to see him, and I miss him desperately every day; but I also didn’t want it to trigger a bad Bipolar episode in myself or cause Casey any extra stress. 

Well, the day came a couple Saturday’s ago when I went with my parents to see my long lost baby boy.  So what happened?  I’m glad you asked!  Well, in a word I can only describe it as “incredible!”  He was so well adjusted to his new situation without sight that it amazed me.  He knew who I was and was so excited to be with me.  He also knew where to find his food and water and how to get around the house and the yard.  He even knew his way back to the door when he was outside.  He’s also adjusting his behaviours to compensate for his lack of sight.  For example, Casey was never one to bark when he wanted out, or to be picked up.  He used to sit and stare at me as quiet as a mouse when it was pee-pee time.  Quite often I would say to him “Stop staring at me like that.  You’re creeping me out.  Why can’t you be like other doggies and scratch at the door to get out?”  Most of the time, I was sure that if he could talk he would reply with “’Cause I’m not other doggies.  I’m me.”; and for that I was very grateful because I love him just the way he is.  Anyway, in his new circumstances, because he can’t sit and stare anymore, he’s finally started to whine to go out, or get attention.

Immediately when I saw him, I could tell that he was feeling better.  The vet said that he was in a lot of pain before; which I didn’t know until late in the situation.  He’s not in pain anymore.  He’s blind, old (13 years), with a heart murmur; and he’s playing like he did at half his age.  My friends dog, Snowy (an American Eskimo), has taken it upon herself to be Casey’s protector.  She senses that he needs her and does things, like keeping him from wandering onto the road.  Snowy even got a little cranky each time my Dad got too close to Casey.  It’s wonderful to watch them together.

As I watched my baby and interacted with him I couldn’t help but see the wonders of God at work.  I realized that Casey is an inspiration to me.  He is totally dependent on Charlene and Snowy.  He has complete faith in both of them.  He trusts them to care for him, make sure there’s food and water available, to let him out, and play with him.  He doesn’t worry about things like “What if she doesn’t fill my water bowl?”, “What if I get lost outside?”, “What if she doesn’t love me because I’m blind?”  These things are neither here nor there to him.  He’s blind and yet completely happy.  He knows without a doubt that his needs will be met.

Casey - 2008 or 2009
Photo by Carley.  All copyrights reserved.
This is how God wants us to respond to Him.  How often do we give Him our total trust?  Even in the strongest of faith, we often have lingering doubts in our hearts.  “I know God won’t let me go homeless, but what if I can’t pay my rent this month?  Will He make sure I get money from somewhere else?”, “I know God won’t let me stay single forever, but what if He does?”, “I know God wants me to write a book, but what if He doesn’t have a plan for me to publish it?, or to sell it?”, “I had a falling out with a friend who I’m convinced no longer likes me.  God told me that things will work out, but what if they don’t fall into place and my friendship isn’t restored after all?” 

The list of doubts and “What if’s” are endless.  However, God wants us to trust Him.  He loves us and He will take care of us.  He won’t abandon us; ever!  He is longing for us to give Him our full blind faith. 

~~ Dear God ~~  Thank You for never leaving me, or giving up on me.  Thank You for the journey that You are taking me on; even the hard stuff because I know that this means You love me enough to want to mold me into the person You know I can be.  Please empty my heart of doubts and “What if’s”; open it up to be able to give full blind faith to You.  In Jesus name, AMEN.