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2012 Year in Review

~~ Romans 8:28-39 (NIV84) ~~  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.... If God is for us, who can be against us? ...Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? ... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.




Photo by Carley Cooper.  All Rights Reserved.

Well, here we are at the end of another year.  Have you made any New Year’s resolutions?  I’ve made the typical ones... I’m gonna restart my healthy living program, stick to it, and reach my goal weight for the final time.  Other than that I don’t tend to make many new resolutions.  But, you don’t want to hear about those anyway, I’m sure.  As  you look back on the past year, what do you see?  What memories are the highlights and the lowest points?  What did  you learn?  How have you grown?  Did  your relationship with God grow as well?

High to Low & Back Again
My year started out on a high point and quickly turned into a downward spiral.  An upsetting incident triggered a bad Bipolar Disorder episode which lasted six months.  I went into a series of breakdowns and had the worst mixed episode I’ve ever had.  (A combination of depression and mania episodes that quickly change from one to the other are what BPD people call a ‘mixed episode.)  The incident that triggered all this was when things went bad between me and my counsellor.  I lost my spiritual therapist and one of my most important friends at the same time.  I had more medication changes and adjustments than I’ve ever had in my life.  Counseling and therapy was at a close second to that.   

There’s Always an Up Side
On the  positive side of things, I have learned I am stronger than I thought I was.  I also came out the other end with some incredibly strong relationships.  I know that God will not lead me through anything that I’m not strong enough to handle.  This year; my writing improved, my patience was enhanced , the peace inside my heart has grown.  I had a man say to me that he loves to see me around our apartment building because I ‘smile with my eyes.’  It made me feel good to hear that. 

The highlight of my year happened this past week.  As I write this I’m in the car traveling with my family.  Eight of us had a vacation in Florida together.  We spent four of our vacation days at Walt Disney World.  It was my first time there.  Wow!  The Magic Kingdom really is... well.... magical!  I got to have my photo taken with most of my favorite characters.  Eh hmm... the big guy himself kissed me twice.  Yep, Mickey Mouse kissed my hand and my cheek.  How cool is that?!  I also got to take a river boat ride, a train ride, an African safari (at the Animal Kingdom park), beat an African drum, experience a tiny taste of Italy (my dream vacation) and a few other countries (at Epcot), and watch the big Disney Christmas parade live (twice).  It was a  once in a  lifetime experience and I highly recommend it to everyone who is a child at heart. 

However, you know what I think the highlight of my vacation was?  It wasn’t the music, colors, animals, people, or the magic of the kingdom.  It was Christmas Day and it happened during one of the parades I watched going down Main Street, Disney.  There were two people who wore t-shirts; and written on the back in large letters was “Happy Birthday Jesus”.  It really brightened my whole vacation.  Another day, I saw a sky writer write “Jesus” and “God” across a clear blue sky.  It filled my heart with joy to see these things.  It’s what I think about first when I remember the wonderful days that I just experienced with my family. 

God Does Not Waste Anything
That counselor that I had lost the friendship with was eventually worked out.  It’s not the same as before.  I miss it, and he’s told me he does as well.  However, we’ve both grown from our experience together.  He’s told me many times that God does not waste anything.  My problems have helped me grow in so many ways.  What problems did you have in 2012?  How did God use them to create a blessing for you?  Share with me in the comment section below.  I’d love to hear your stories.            

Let’s Pray
 ~~ Dear God ~~  Your ways do not always make sense to our limited human minds, but I know that everything I go through will be used by You for my own good, if I keep Jesus in focus.  Thank You Father for everything, including the difficult times, for I know that those times mean You care enough about me to want to mold me into someone like Jesus.  In Jesus name, AMEN.

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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The Truth Hurts (Response to the Newtown, CT Massacre)

~~ Romans 3:12 (NASB) ~~  All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.




Photo Credit
Like the rest of the world, I am in shock because of this latest tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.  But I can’t help but wonder, are we any different?  When I first heard the details of this story, I couldn’t help but go back and remember the Columbine massacre.  My reaction to that one wasn’t quite like most  other reactions either.
 
Oh, the Pain they Must Have Felt
That was my first thought when I saw the horror of the Columbine bloodbath.  However, those first thoughts and reactions weren’t about the victims.  My thoughts went to the killers.  “What did they do to those two guys to make them feel so much pain that they wanted to kill other people?”  “They” meaning the other kids at school; the ones who were now victims.  Of course,  now I understand no one can “make” us feel anything.  It’s our choice to react a certain way or not.  But, my first sympathies were for the “bad guys”  I know what it’s like to be teased and tormented to the point that I longed to escape that pain.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not excusing the killings.  It’s wrong to kill.  Period.  And, our hearts ache more when the victims are innocent children.  My first thoughts for Sandy Hook Elementary was simply a heavy heart for everyone involved, though I did have to wonder what kind of pain the killer must have been feeling to feel the need to do this.  Some want to blame mental illness, but those thoughts come from the stigma surrounding mental health issues.  Truth is mental health patients are four times more likely to be a victim than others, but that’s a whole other blog by itself.
 
The Truth Hurts
It’s taken me these several days since the tragedy to write this because I simply couldn’t get my thoughts together.  Then, a friend on Facebook posted this message.  It sums up my own feelings very well. 
The Truth is, we ALL have within us the same evil capability that was acted upon today. NONE of us are exempt from this nature... it affects us all.  A quick glimpse at God's Word confirms this... Romans 3:23 "All have sinned and fall short of the glory (Holy standard) of God." and Psalm 53:3 and Romans 3:12..."There is no one who does good."  Apart from Christ, we are NOTHING.  Apart from Christ, we are lost, degenerate, evil, self serving creatures who are capable of any and all degrees of evil.
But, Don’t Fear, there is Good News
My friend goes on to say: 
There is a fine line that separates the perpetrator of the horror that played out in CT and China from you and me... It is called the Grace of God.  There but for the Grace of God go I.... It is easy to say, "How could anyone do this?"  Rather we should ask "What keeps me from acting the same way?"  If your answer to that question is anything but JESUS... I implore you to pull that Bible off the shelf, dust it off, and begin to read about the degenerate state of all men... and how you can be saved from evil... both inside and out.  God have mercy on us all.
You see, according to scriptures, hatred is equivalent to murder (1 John 3:15) and lust is equivalent to adultery (Matthew 5:28).  Have you ever hated?  Felt lust?  Who hasn’t?  That means, in God’s court we are on equal footing with killers and adulterers.  The whole idea that one sin is worse than another is a man-made concept.  However, we have been saved from our sins and the pending sentence due to us.  Jesus paid our fines and completed our sentence for us when he died on the cross.  The one catch is that you have to be willing to reach out and accept this gift by believing in Him and what He’s done for us.  If you haven’t accept this gift, do it now.  Tell Him that you want Him to be Your Lord and Savior and that you are willing to completely repent.  We have no way of knowing if the killers in these massacres knew Jesus, or if they had asked Him for forgiveness.  But I assure you that if they asked, they were granted forgiveness.  None of us has escaped doing evil, but God loves us.  He’s waiting for each of us to come to him.  All you have to do is ask.

Let’s Pray 
~~ Dear God ~~  Merciful, gracious, loving Father we know that we have all sinned and that not one of us has escaped the clutches of evil.  Thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus to take my place on the cross.  I want to know you personally.  I know that I have done wrong and I am truly sorry.  I am willing, with Your help, to turn away from my old life of sin and turn to you.  I believe that Jesus took my place on the cross and died to pay my sentence.  Please come into my heart and my life.  I want Jesus to be the Lord and Savior of my life.  I receive Him right now.   In Jesus name, AMEN. 

If you just prayed that prayer for the first time, please contact a bible-based church for more direction in your new life.  Congratulations.  It’s the most important decision you will ever make.   

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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Success Story: 'I Was Made for More!'

An article has been published about me in the dailySpark (the official blog of SparkPeople.com- my healthy living program). I am a success story. This means my pics & story can be used in other places in the media. Also note, that my 'Before' pic... is not at my biggest weight. I didn't have a pic of me at my biggest.


By: : 12/11/2012

 

Meet Carley Cooper (username SPARKYCARLEY), a SparkPeople member who pledged to heal her body so she could heal her mind. Read on to learn about her inspirational journey! 

Click here to read the whole story.... 


50 Things I Believe

~~ Matthew 7:12 (NIV) ~~  So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.




Free source photo
I’ve been planning this list for a while.  What you believe in says a lot about who you are.  Have you ever stopped to seriously pay attention to what you believe in?  Do you know yourself as well as you think you do?  Here are a few of the things I believe in.

I believe:
  1. Jesus (the Son of the only living God, the virgin birth, the death & resurrection)
  2. I believe God
  3. I’m stronger than I think I am
  4. that one of the ways God talks to me is through the messages I read in so many places
  5. in the gift of saying good-bye when it’s needed
  6. that positive thinking can be a cure
  7. anything is possible if you have faith in God
  8. in big family Christmas’s
  9. in the Golden Rule (Do onto others as you would have the do onto you)
  10. I have nothing to fear as long as I keep my eye on Jesus
  11. forgiveness can change your world
  12. showing your emotions is a sign of strength not weakness
  13. dogs are family too
  14. all people and races are equal
  15. God loves me
  16. giving is more fun than getting
  17. as long as you don’t quit you’re not a failure
  18. getting lost in a good book is a wonderful way to escape
  19. in honesty
  20. that sometimes honesty is really hard, but important in the end
  21. in good friends
  22. in great sex
  23. in the power of chocolate
  24. pizza is the perfect food (Oh, and Dorito’s too!)
  25. in the rain; it’s good for the earth and for dancing in
  26. in hot, sunny summer days
  27. in lying under the stars on a summer night
  28. in dancing to Motley Crue and Nickleback in my living room
  29. Gary Allan is one of the sexiest men alive
  30. God will take care of me
  31. red is my best color
  32. well designed interiors are good for your soul
  33. in Rock & Roll
  34. it hurts more to hurt a friend than when they hurt you
  35. there is a husband in my future
  36. the need for shoes is way over rated (& long pants too)
  37. television is sucking out our brains
  38. I have forgiven those who hurt me
  39. menopause should be outlawed
  40. I see God in my pets
  41. we have a responsibility to take care of the earth
  42. that God gave us certain animals as food
  43. that God meant for peanut butter to be extra smooth and creamy
  44. no one in the history of the world has waited as long as I have to get their first car
  45. it’s really not fun when a plastic container melts in the microwave
  46. it’s also not cool when your paper shredder eats your computer-mouse cord
  47. the thought of God curing me from Bipolar Disorder is scarier than not being cured
  48. that I mess up on a regular basis, but God forgives me
  49. I can’t survive without God’s grace and mercy
  50. it’s time for me to hear what you believe.  Share your beliefs in the comment section below. 
Let’s Pray
 ~~ Dear God ~~  Your ways are perfect.  I am not perfect.  Thank You for giving me the freedom to form my own opinions and beliefs.  Thank You for this wonderful country of Canada that gives us so many privileges and freedoms that others around the world do not have.  Please help me to always share my beliefs about Your Son, Jesus, with all that I meet.  In Jesus name, AMEN.

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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