How to put Organization into Your Chaos

~~ Psalm 46:10a (NIV) ~~  He says, "Be still, and know that I am God..."

Downtown Toronto, Ontario at Top Speed
Photo by Carley Cooper  All Rights Reserved
Everyone has a busy life these days.  Are you one that has 78 things on your To-Do list, and they’re all #1 priority?  You have an early breakfast meeting, shopping for cousin Emily’s wedding gift, get the kids off to school, a presentation for an important potential client, 6 dozen cupcakes for the church’s bake sale; and if possible, maybe time for a pee, and to kiss your spouse on the way out the door.  You are on system overload.
Is Chaos is the Theme of Your Life Sometimes?
Yea, me too.  My head has been like Union Station on a holiday weekend, lately.  There’s noise and people coming and going in every direction.  These scurrying folks are much like the mind of a person with Bipolar Disorder.  Racing thoughts is one of the basic traits (I hate the word symptoms... oops, there it is again).  It’s up there with:
  • Extreme Mood Swings (from Depression to Mania)
  • Taking on too Much
  • Extreme Energy Changes
  • Impulsive Behavior
  • Damaged Relationships
  • Increased Creativity
  • Poor Judgement
  • Heightened Senses
  • Hyper Sexuality
  • Talking a Lot (and fast)
  • Delusions
  • Decreased (or No) Sleep
  • Poor Concentration
  • Risky Behavior
  • Loss of Appetite
  • and Mental Breakdowns
  • (And those are just the basics; there's more). 
That’s a lot of chaos to put into an already full day.  Racing thoughts are not a question of “If?”, but “How fast?”  Am I going the speed limit on a busy city street, or at maximum speed (in a fast car) on a German autobahn?  Make no wonder our brain’s can’t seem to turn off. 

When You Can’t Prioritize Your List, God Will
In the past few weeks I have been getting messages from God everywhere that says:
  • Quiet
  • Rest
  • Be still
and the scripture verse Psalm 46:10a (NIV), He says, "Be still, and know that I am God..."

I’m not just talking about a few times here and there, but a few times daily.  Obviously God is trying to make me rest.  I’ve tried hard to quiet myself.  My brain, and sometimes my body, doesn’t want to be still. 

Every morning before I get up I do my devotional time.  I read some email devotionals on my Blackberry that came in overnight.  Then, one or two from my books.  Then, I have prayer time.  If I have time, I listen to some worship music.  Other times, maybe a 30 minute meditation program on my MP3 Player.  This morning, again a couple of devotions (from different sources), had the message ‘Be still’.  As,  I began talking to God, I very  clearly felt Him saying in a quiet whisper “Stop”. 

I thought “Huh?

He said “Stop  talking.  Just listen.

“Uh, OK”, I said.  I laid down, closed my eyes and listened.

He said “I love you, Child.

I listened more.  I felt a sensation in my head as though He were touching my mind.  I was aware He was showing me how to slow down my mind, but it wasn’t going to happen in one fell swoop.  I waited to hear what He would say next.  Then, my brain began jumping to different thoughts.  Random items not related to each other.  Emotions and sensory perception is always heightened in those times.  I didn’t move as I laid there.  As if I had turned away from Him, He turned my face (yet, I didn’t move, physically), saying “Me.  Focus on Me.

My focus went back to Him for a few moments.  My thoughts started jumping to all sorts of things from bills I had to pay, to stressful things happening right now, to conversations I’ve had, conversations I would like to have, and more.  He touched my mind and brought my focus to Him, every time I drifted.    

You Will Be Amazed at the New Prioritized List
I knew immediately that He wasn’t about to drop a miracle cure on me, though He could have.  I also knew it was because there wouldn’t be a lesson in it for me, and I wouldn’t have the tools I need to help others later.  Truthfully, that was totally fine with me.  As hard as this road is to travel, and as much as I’ve longed to fit in, the idea of being normal when I’ve never been there is kinda very scary.  Research for my new book, Cocoa with Jesus; about my life, mental illness and abuse, has taught me that many Bipolar patients feel the same.   

In a documentary called The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive: The Stephen Fry Story (Video’s Part 1, Part 2 - 1 hr each) actor, screenwriter, author, playwright, journalist, poet, comedian, television presenter, and film director,  Stephen Fry said:
I asked many of my fellow Manic Depressives… if they could press a button to release them from their Bipolarity, would they do so?  Most, despite traumatic moments in their life, said ‘No’.  So, after all this, what would I do?  I wouldn’t press the button and live a normal life; not for all the tea in China.
God Will Organize the Chaos
I know God will be helping me to calm my mind.  If I can create enough strength to control this issue of a run-away brain, then I could have some control over Bipolar Disorder.  It would be much like what Tom Wooton; speaker, author, Bipolar sufferer, founder of Bipolar Advantage, and writer of a column of the same name for Psychology Today calls Bipolar IN Order; as opposed to Bipolar DISorder.  The mission of Bipolar Advantage is ” to help people with mental conditions shift their thinking and behavior so that they can lead extraordinary lives. “ 

It’s a fascinating concept.  It’s also a course offered to sufferers and clinicians alike, that is getting rave reviews.  They teach how to control the disorders in such a way the patient can still function in life.  It is NOT remission, but it makes that extremely wide zone, that is dangerous to the Bipolar patient, become controlled enough to be safe.  Life will still be in the extreme-personality zones without the danger, or restriction to a ‘box’ life that personalities just don’t fit into. 

I’ve learned God does not waste anything; not even mental breakdowns, mania, or bad decisions.  If I can still my thoughts, even for a few minutes each day, to allow God to work in my mind as He does in my heart, I could eliminate much of the chaos from the Bipolar Disorder, and put it IN order.  Then maybe I can help others do the same.  How cool would that be?!   

Nothing is ever so hopeless that God can’t organize, clean, straighten, lighten, vacuum, build, or fix it.  It’s when you are racing at top speed and can’t stop, be still, and listen; is exactly when you need to do exactly that.  Stop, be quietly, breathe, be still, and listen.  He will help you organize the chaos.

Let’s Pray
 ~~ Dear God ~~ Merciful, Loving Father; thank You for never giving up on me.  I know that sometimes You can be at the bottom of my To-Do list.  Help me to make You my very first priority each morning, and to go to bed each night knowing that I accomplished all the tasks assigned to me in a manner that is pleasing to You.  Please use my struggles and victories to further Your kingdom, and to help others.  In Jesus name, AMEN.

Worship Melodies Milestone!
'How to put Organization into Your Chaos' is Worship Melodies 100th Post!

Now It’s Your Turn
Thoughts?  Questions?  Want to share your story?  Ask for prayer?  Please consider sharing in the comments section; even if the link you clicked to get here was on another site(If you’re on the homepage, click on the post headline, and scroll down to find the comments section.) 

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What Weapons are More Dangerous?

~~ Ephesians 4:29 ~~  Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

by Carley Cooper

Microsoft Office Copyright Free Images
Trying to get this post published in the last few days has been as varied and uncertain as my moods and my psyche.  I've had several attempts, that have all been derailed for various reasons.  I’ve had another week of battles much like last week.  I am exhausted; physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  As I write re-write this (again) I'm still uncertain about so many important things.  I have no idea who or what is real.  If I listen to the signals my brain is receiving, it seems I am leaving a path of destruction behind me hurting everyone I know.  However, it honestly amazes me that God never misses a beat.  Not one.  Despite my confusion, He did let me see a few things differently.

I have a couple of close friends, and my family that I know for certain love me.  When I know nothing else for certain, I know that.  I also know despite what I keep 'hearing', it is OK to need people in my life, and that being single is hard for me.  One of my best buds, Spicy, took me last week to someone who will help me.  I didn’t have the strength to do it for myself.  I didn’t sleep the night before.  My racing thoughts were over the speed limit.  Was this a good idea?  My gut instinct said ‘NO’ (with extra emphasis in a glowing, red, flashing, neon).  However, God knew my biggest fear and put a solution in place before I even got there.  I got to tell my story, and Spicy said I did the right thing and very well.  The results: I felt like me again for a while so I’m a little stronger, I know there are others that care, I will have regular therapy in the future, and I learned a couple interesting things I didn’t know before.  Plus, I was reminded, again, God has everything under control.  He won’t forget me or leave me.  The memory gaps are still there, but truthfully, sometimes I’d rather not remember some of the details.  Maybe that’s why I don’t. 

There were a few other helpful points as well.  One; someone important to me who was in a bad accident a few weeks ago is getting better.  Yay!  A huge weight is gone.  Then, some wonderful Sparklers glittered, reflecting the glory of Jesus when I needed it most; when I can’t see Him myself.  Finally, I got to spend some quality Skype time with a very important friend that I don’t get to talk to often.  He said if I didn’t start realizing how much God loves me, he would be right over and kick my butt.  I was left with the age-old question: Why do quick and witty come-back's never happen fast for funny until much later? 

Those are Fightin’ Words!
Whether an experience is good or bad, a Bipolar (BPD) patient lives it BIG.  There’s a long-winded biological explanation which I won’t go into, but negative views are part of the result if the episode is depression and not mania.  I have studied and worked hard in the past 6 or 7 years, to progress a lot toward being positive; but it’s an ongoing war and education.  Maybe it will always take extra effort, though I hope not.  I don’t want positive thinking to be something I do, but who I am.  My brain’s natural programming was installed with negative information.  Good or bad, this is the fact of the matter.  Reprogramming makes everything else look easy.  Social Anxiety (SAD) adds a quandary.  Part of me needs people to stay alive.  The other part is dying if I get it. 

Most negative thinkers are not aware they are.  Thinking is just thinking; right?.  Who knew there are subcategories?!  No one ever taught me to notice mind-set in myself or others.  Therapy since trained me in patterns of self-thought; and everyone falls into at least one.  I am called ‘The Critic’.  Many have argued, insisting, I see myself as ‘The Victim’, even insulting when I disagreed.  Turns out, they were wrong. 

These words are among the most dangerous and destructive weapons there are (Proverbs 18:21).  Words can tear down one person or build a whole country.  But, how does God feel about words we use on ourselves?  Does it matter that health issues contribute toward it?  The condition of our hearts is what God sees (Matthew 5:27-28).  Hatred is equivalent to murder because it is as if we have killed in our hearts (1 John 3:15).  Self-hatred is no less of a sin.  I have work to do. 

You Already have the Enemies Battle Plan
Human beings have a natural tendency toward sin (Romans 3:23).  As hard as it is to fight, the good news is we do have an advantage over the enemy.  God has given us the enemies battle plan.  He will deceive, divide and destroy (Jude 17-19).  To win, we have to keep faith in the Holy Spirit to keep us strong.  In the mean time, we are to help those who are struggling.  The only thing we are to hate is sin itself (Jude 20-23). 

We have Victory!
Jesus died to save us from ourselves; which includes negative thinking when we are not capable of seeing the good things.  We don’t need our own strength to keep positive.  If we focus on Him, He will fill our hearts and minds with loving, glorious things.  We are called to love our neighbours as  ourselves (Mark 12:31).  Logic says if we can’t love ourselves, then we can’t love our neighbours.  It’s a sin to hate, use bad words, and not to love (Colossians 3:8).  God supplies every need we have (Philippians 4:19) and He has promised to be close to the broken hearted (Psalm 34:17-20)

Yes, I am broken; but it turns out I’m not the only one.  We each have our own battles to fight, within our own wars.  Words can be used as weapons or useful tools (Proverbs 16:24).  When the enemy is messing with me; using circumstances, mind and body against me, I only have to look at the wonderful things Jesus promises.  

On a side note: if you're actually reading this, the publishing conflicts have been defeated as well! Woo Hoo!

A Few of My Favorite Words
Sometimes Jesus uses others to give us words that build us up.  I am reminded; I am loved, wanted, and cared for.  Jesus is strong enough to defeat disorders.  Below are some of my favorite quotes, said to me by some of my favorite people (in no particular order).  Who wouldn’t feel wonderful after hearing these things?  
(Out of request for privacy initials being used.  First names & links provided in cases where they don’t mind.)
  • “I love you.”  ~MC, SC, PD, SB, Francine, BG, TM, BH, CP, PG, Jesus
  • “You have a wonderful sense of humor.”  ~CF
  • “You’re fun to be with.”  ~PHD
  • “You’re so smart.”  ~CP, AC
  • “This is gonna be one wild ride with this chick.”  ~ GO
  • “My little Carley.  I love you more than anything.”  ~Paul
  • “God does not waste anything.”  ~PHD
  • “You’re so hot.”  ~GO, DF, DC...
  • “When you’re hurting you kinda want the sympathy from someone.”  ~CC
  • “You are a way better Christian; a way better person than I am.”  ~CP
  • “Life is not a journey.  It’s an adventure.”  ~AC
  • “I really miss our friendship.”  ~PHD
  • “If your dreams don’t fit your reality, then change your reality.”  ~Chris  
  • “Your writing brought my friend out of depression... your gift touches lives so please don't take your light away... your family in Christ needs your fellowship.  Pray we are a light to you as well!  God bless!”  ~Lisa
  • Conversation:  I said “They’re called ‘Fluffies’”.  He said “No, they are ‘Woofy Fluffers’”.  After a five minute giggling session / argument, my brother, sitting quietly in his lazy chair (this is the favorite quote part), simply said “Lint”. 

Let’s Pray
 ~~ Dear God ~~  Merciful, loving, gentle and gracious Father; sometimes the enemy that I am fighting against the most is myself.  Thank You, for never giving up on me; when others have, and I even have given up on myself.  Help me to be strong in Your mighty power.  Help me to put on Your full armor to take a stand against the enemy.  Help me put on the girdle of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, and the helmet of salvation.  Finally, Lord, I pick up the Sword of the Spirit, so that I will be protected from all the weapons that are being used against me, including the ones that are hurting myself.  In Jesus name, AMEN.  (Ephesians 6:10-20)

On a more personal note, Lord, I humbly ask Your forgiveness for the negative self-thinking, self-hatred, anger, self-harm; and for all those I leave behind me, hurt at my own word.  Help me to forget the selfish need to be heard and understood; and to focus on You.  In Jesus name, AMEN.  

Special Personal Message
To all the Sparklers that I connect with daily:  You are like bright sparklers in the dark night for me.  You are showing the sparkling glitter of God's light back to me.  In four years, you haven’t let me down.  The Carley Show has been cancelled, but it’s a good thing.  If I remember right Truman eventually found his reality too.  Thank you. 
Now It’s Your Turn
Have you ever stopped to pay attention to your own thinking patterns?  How do you see yourself?  How do others see you?  What are some of the awesome things people have said to you?  Please consider sharing your thoughts here in the comments section; even if the link you clicked to get here was on another site

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Forgiveness: Is Getting it as Important as Giving it?

This isn’t my standard blog post.  I’m not thinking about my writing rules, or blogging edict.  I don’t have a theme scripture verse to quote because I don’t know which one apples.  I just need to ask some questions; or maybe I just that I need to vent.  Today, as I write this, I’m not sure I know the difference.  

What should I do when I’ve tried to forgive those who hurt me, and I really mean it in the pit of my heart; but they don’t forgive me in return?  I get angry at my hurt.  But mostly I’m disappointed in myself.  I’ve broken too many hearts in my lifetime.  Everyone is disappointed in me.  They don’t know, or want to know, how to help me.  Everything is broken, and they don’t want it fixed.  That’s how I know I am not forgiven.  I had a bad reaction meds and it turned into a bad situation.  As a result everything is broken.  They don’t want to help me anymore.  They don’t want to be around me anymore.  I know my disorders have a long list of symptoms, some of which include not seeing things as they are.  But this has been going on for half a year now.  If it were all in my mind, the truth would have shown itself somewhere by now.  The place I love the most, and the people there, want to wipe their hands of me.   

I’ve not been in a good place lately.  Love and support are as vital, if not more so, than the correct meds.  The bible says we are made for relationship.  I don’t have a husband.  I know that I have to be obedient enough to get that blessing.  I’ve failed.  In the mean time, my psyche falls apart a little more each day because I don’t have the love connection in my world that most others have. 

I had some good support.  Then, as my doctor puts it, I was hit in the chest with a two by four.  I lost my support, and my health issues have spun out of control.  But, I’m left with just me and my prayers to muddle through.  I’ve lost count of the med changes.  I’ve started having memory gaps.  There was a time in my past about 8 or 10 years ago when that happened for a while; my state of mind was so bad that I lost periods of time.  Now, I find myself in front of my computer, or in my room, or the kitchen, and I have no idea what I’m supposed to do with this.  I stare at whatever it is in front of me and I have no idea what this is for or what I am doing with it.  One day this week, I forgot the name of a guy I know.  We haven’t been close friends, but I know him.  We had one ‘date’ where we hung out at my place and watched a movie.  We often talk.  I tried for several minutes to remember his name, and in the end I had to look it up.  This memory gap is something that I thought left me years ago.  Now it’s back.  It’s a scary place.  

What’s wrong with me?  Everyone wants me to will myself better.  They talk like I should be able to do it.  This tells me they must have, or know people who have.  I can’t.  So why not?  What’s wrong with me?  

I know that God forgives me.  Does He believe me that I really forgive, or want to forgive, others?  But what those about others?  Do they forgive me?  Do they believe me?  Does it matter?  What if I need it anyway, and I'm not getting it?   

Forgive me for not being the courier of a great message, today, that so many of you tell me you’ve come to count on.  I really do love and appreciate all of you.  I hope I haven’t disappointed you too much.  

Think Your Home is Safe? Think Again!

~~ John 3:16 (NASB) ~~  For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Photo by Carley Cooper
July 2012 - All rights reserved
Picture this: you’re exhausted, the world is way too loud and demanding lately, and you finally arrive home.  Ahhhh.  Peace, comfort, and your own bed!  This describes the average multi-tasking busy person in our North American society. 

What if your Home was a Painful Place?
For some, home means being controlled, isolation, insults, depression, walking on egg shells; and often threats or horrible violence.  Church family can be vulnerable to snakes slithering in as well.  Even in God’s house the enemy can put himself in the midst of the worship, destroying relationships.  Lots of people have negative experiences with church, resulting in changing churches, or stop going completely. 

I used look forward to ‘Church Day’ all week long.  Three years ago I found a church that is unique, solid in the Word, and accepted me into their midst.  For the first time I was learning how to be part of a community and how to develop a relationship with Christ.  After a while there special friendships formed; one in particular stood out.  Then, I had some bad side effects from a new medication, which caused some problems.  The next thing I knew, my ‘solid’ friendship changed without warning.  He became someone I didn’t know and hurt me; leaving me to feel confused, alone, rejected, and judged.  Turning to others made things worse when I heard “Sounds like a pity party.”  My tears stopped in therapy when Doc said (while shaking a finger) “See, that’s proof that they don’t understand Bipolar Disorder.”  Others changed the nature of our friendships without discussing it; thinking I wouldn’t notice the subtle changes.  Doc said, “It’s blaming the victimYou did nothing wrong.”  Behind closed doors, my friend said he misses me; yet won’t make a connection in public.

God does not Waste Anything; Ever. 
I’m left not knowing who or what is real.  I ran out of service crying on Sunday morning because looking at him, not seeing any compassion was just more than I could bear in that minute.  Doc says he is “taking up residence” in my mind, but “not paying any rent.”  The friend I was sitting with said it appeared I had a panic attack.  Maybe.  I’ve had them before.  I told God I was sorry for disappointing Him, and myself.  But, I am aware I am in this season for a purpose.

Nothing Compares to the Joy of Knowing Jesus.
After service on Sunday someone said ‘You have a very soft heart.’  It’s often gotten me in trouble.  I try showing him kindness at every opportunity because that’s what we are called to do, but my questions go unanswered.  Doc says that I am subconsciously relating this to the abuse in my past because control was taken from me.  Part of me concludes I have to live for me; ignore pain.  How do I do this in a manner that is godly toward others?  Going backward, now, is about as desirable as the other guy’s donuts after having Timmy’s, or settling for mediocre lover after having mind-blowing sex;  or worse, shopping for large sizes after living as a skinny person.  I’ve experienced all of these things.  The enemy says a hard heart will protect me.  It’s tempting.  But I’ve learned to love following Jesus.  Letting Him go would be even more painful.   

God will Always Answer Prayer.
I can’t help but wonder; why don’t our lessons stick the first time?  ‘Standing back’ I can see a repeat of certain lessons in a cycle that resembles the BPD cycles.  Are they related?  Probably; in part, anyway.  The enemy is distracting me and using my disorders to his advantage.  I prayed, again, for some enlightenment.  God sent me these messages:
  • Redemption can only come to those who are lost.”  ~Stuart Mclean on the Vinyl Cafe
  • As we learn to laugh more and cultivate our God-given sense of humor, patience and the ability to deal with the difficult relationships in life will flourish.” ~ Mary Sutherland
  • Be true to what God has put in your heart and don't look to the left or to the right.  Stay focused on what God says.”  ~Joel Osteen Ministries
  • Do you serve God or do you serve your feelings?  Believe the Word of God over and above your feelings.”  ~Joyce Meyer Ministries
You Will be Victorious!
In an abusive household, the goal is to stop it or escape.  Many abused women need help to get out safely (If you are in a violent situation and need some instruction; contact me and I will email you an ‘Escape to Safety plan.)  We are called to have a church family, to socialize and worship with like minded people (Hebrews 10:25 NIV).  Even Jesus went to church regularly (Luke 4:16 NIV).  I don’t want to be one to leave because I don’t have motivation to hold my ground until the darkness ends.  I’m tougher than that.  So are you!  I know I am a member of Christ’s body; and I can’t be a functioning, productive member if I cut myself off from that body (2 Corinthians 6:14 NIV).  The world is filled with churches full of flawed people.  It’s why Jesus came; to save us from our errors.  In church family the only danger is the enemy who has slithered in through a back door. 

Like my biological family, I love my church family even though they make me nuts sometimes.  I know it is where I’m called to be.  I got a very specific message from God one day, that said “God’s grace is enough to fix a friendship even when one of those hearts doesn’t know it needs to be changed.”  I know my heart needs changing.  It not easy to admit or submit to; but I am willing.  God’s grace will cover the rest.  This tells me I don’t need an escape plan; I need a pest control plan which is clearly laid out for me in God’s Word.  The season is difficult, but I’ve learned:
  • if I don’t admit I’m lost and submit, I can’t be saved. 
  • Friendships, like any other relationship worth having needs to be tested to see if it is real.  If not, I have to let it go.  It is not one I should have in my life anyway. 
  • I have to stop relying on emotions, the disorders I have, other people and wanting to please them.  I have to follow Jesus.  He will show me who I am to befriend, confide in, and invite into my heart.  When the time is right, it will all make sense and be worth the journey.   
Let’s Pray
 ~~ Dear God ~~   Thank  you for the dark times, because without them I would not realize how beautiful the Light really is.  Jesus came and died for me so that I wouldn’t have to worry about following escape plans or pest control programs.  Please help me to let go of pain and trust that Jesus will never let me down.  In Jesus name, AMEN.

Now It’s Your Turn
Thoughts?  Questions?  Want to share your story?  Ask for prayer?  Please consider sharing here in the comments section; even if the link you clicked to get here was on another site(If you’re on the homepage, click on the post headline, and scroll down to find the comments section.)

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