Saturday, May 23, 2015

10 Important and Simple Life Lessons I've Learned After All These Years

For the longest time, I struggled with my ego. I always had to be right, I always had to hold a grudge and became complacent in my self-centered world of, 'it's all about me-me-me'.  I was always the victim and held onto my past with everything I had -- whether it was good or bad. The "good past" made me hate the present moment, always hoping for something better just around the corner. I took a lot of things and a lot of people for granted. The "bad past" made me feel angry, bitter, resentful and heartbroken. I walked around with a huge warrior's shield thinking I'd get hurt once again. I turned down quite a few social opportunities because I was living in my own little bubble. If someone intentionally or unintentionally hurt me, they were shut out of my world and never contacted again. But, even so, I did have a soft spot in my heart whereas if someone were to apologize to me, it was always accepted. The bad thing about that is -- I always expected an apology and never was the first to initiate the apology. I learned a lot of things this year and I guess I just want to get it out there and share it with you.

Here are the 10 things I have learned:
  1. Your last words spoken may be the last time you ever get to see or speak that person again. Make sure every departed word to your loved ones are kind, loving and of course, sincere. I remember a friend of mine called me one night hysterically crying. She had a horrible argument with her brother. She verbally attacked him so badly, thinking that they'll make up the next day, but unfortunately, he died in a terrible car accident when a truck took a wrong turn onto a ramp that led him on the wrong side of the highway. And just. like. that....he was gone. My friend had no way to say "I'm sorry" or to explain why she did what she did. She still till this day thinks about the 'what ifs' and what would she have said if she had that one last moment with him. 
  2. We're not here forever. Parents may seem invincible, but I learned the hard way that my superman -- the strongest man in the world turned into a weak and fragile man from his struggles with cancer. Thing is -- Mom and Dad are supposed to live forever, right? ......Right? One day they're here, and the next, you're secretly praying to them asking, "Where are you?" Dad was the protector of the family -- the one who you went to for safety. And when that safety net was taken away, my sense of feeling unstable in life -- insecure about our everlasting existence that doesn't even exist. I was then faced with the realization that life is very short. I am grateful that my last words to Dad were, "I love you." I still wish he was here, but not in pain.
  3. It doesn't matter who's wrong or right. Apologize anyway. You may find that you connect with that person on a much larger scale because of it. We all go through challenges in life -- things that sometimes make us act in a ways that aren't loving or kind. Read through someone's 'bad mood' -- read through someone's hurtful words. When someone lashes out, it usually means they are struggling with something we have no knowledge about. 
  4. You can't change people. If you're dealing with someone who is stubborn who constantly keeps repeating the same offense, then do what Jesus did when Peter asked Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven." Some people will never change their ways and you can never change it for them. You either have to accept their personality and character and also the way they react to things, or you can simply just cut them out of your lives if it affects you that much. Forgiveness does not require the offender to still be in your life. But realizing that the person is the person they are -- it might make things a little easier if you do really care a lot about them. 
  5. Love yourself. Like yourself. Appreciate who you see in the mirror. I don't mean this in the conceited sense -- I mean to really approve of yourself so that you will never need somebody else's approval. I have learned through my own self-deprecating ways that the approvals of others was more important than my own approval of myself. Once I learned how to like myself better, I was able to do more for others, be there for others, love more deeply and genuinely, as well as be comfortable in my own skin with who I am physically and spiritually. I also found I didn't always need people to be around me -- I became more comfortable with my own company. And that's a beautiful thing. I admit, sometimes I can get emotionally drained. That's when I have to reel it in, refuel and pamper myself spiritually, mentally and physically. Fill up that love tank! 
  6. Unanswered prayers are usually a blessing in disguise. I believe God has a plan for each and every one of us, and if we pray for something that is not in God's will -- or it is not suitable for our destiny, then it will not come to fruition.  I remember losing some of my faith a long time ago when my prayers were not being "heard" (so I thought). I prayed for something that I know with all my heart, I would have regretted today. It was not in God's plan, nor would it have been healthy for me. So thank God for His unanswered prayers. You could be dodging a bullet! 
  7. Nurture yourself, your mind, your soul, your entire being. Without taking care of yourself, you are unable to take care of anybody else.  It wasn't too long ago when I found myself in a terrible depression. I was explosive, defensive and downright miserable. I found myself on the brink of suicide. I even wrote about some of it on this blog during that time and got some great support from my readers. I was very honest and blunt with how I felt and what I was going through. I was secretly referred to a wonderful social worker who was very spiritual and of an entirely different religion than what I believed in. I saw her for about four months, and in those months, I discovered new ways of living, even picking up books that I would think were 'not of God' -- but it taught me basic principles of loving yourself and loving others -- the same principles that the Bible gives. I gave myself time to study these principles, time to meditate, time to pray, time to delve into my passions and in due time, I changed. My entire mindset changed. I stopped feeling guilty about taking some time out for myself, because it only meant that I would take better care of other people since I was "okay".  
  8. Take time off. Smell the roses. Get out and live life and spend it with those you love the most. Time goes by quickly -- don't waste it. People spend most of their days and hours at work more so than even spending it with their families and loved ones. There is this story that I want to share with you. I think it's very important to read if you truly want to know what your loved ones need from you. One night, this man came home from work late, tired and irritated to find his five year old son waiting for him at the door. The son said, "Dad, may I ask you a question? How much do you work for an hour?" His father became angry. "That is none of your business. Why do you ask such a question? It's $100 dollars per hour." So the son asked, "Dad, may I borrow $50 dollars please?" His father became furious and said, "I know you only wanna buy toys!" So the father walked upstairs to rest as the little boy quietly went to his room. The father sat down and got angry about the little boy's question. "How dare ask such questions only to get some money?" After an hour, the father had calmed down and started to think: "Maybe there was something he really needed to buy with that $50 dollars -- and besides, he doesn't ask very often." So the father decided to go to the child's room and open the door. "Are you asleep?" the father asks. "I had been thinking, maybe I was too harsh on you earlier, please forgive me. Here's your $50 dollars." The little boy sat straight up, smiling, "Oh, thank you dad!" Then the boy reached underneath his pillow, he pulled out some crumpled up bills. The father seeing that his son already had money, he then started to get angry again. The boy slowly counts his money and looked up at his father. "Why do you want more money if you already had money?" The father grumbled. "Because I did not have enough, but now I do," the boy replied. "I now have $100 dollars. Can I buy an hour of your time? Please come home early. Mum always feels lonely when you are away. I also want to have dinner with you." 
  9. We are ALL equally important! Just to give you an example of what I'm trying to convey here is this: the other day while waiting in my doctor's office, I noticed that there was a huge amount of people all waiting for the same doctor. This doctor is really in demand, that not only do they schedule your appointment out two months, but you usually have to sit in the waiting room for at least one or two hours. This is a normal occurrence. Bring your smartphone and headphones and maybe even lunch. So this beautiful Filipino lady walks in all dressed up and well manicured. Everyone gave her a quick once over. She looked like she was on a mission though. She headed right up to the receptionist window and says, "Hi, I'm Lynn, how long is the wait?" The lady said, "Oh he's a bit backed up so you're looking at an hour or more." The lady started screaming and said, "I called before, and you said he was on schedule! This is unprofessional! My brothers are all doctors and when they say they'll see you at 4pm -- it's at 4pm! This is disgusting! I work in the medical field! I have a long line of family members who are doctors and surgeons who know the doctor personally!" So basically, she thought she had some sort of 'pull' when all of the sudden, this tiny little lady who was the head nurse in the back overheard everything. She came storming out and said, "We are very professional! Who do you think you are that you can just barge through our office and step in front of all of these other patients! The doctor is that good, that's why his patients wait! And so will you! Either wait or leave!" She then slams the door and goes back inside. Lynn turns her head to look at all of us waiting and says, "This is so ridiculous, right?" One of the patients said, "You were out of line. We're all here because he's that good of a doctor. We're all waiting the same amount of time." So my point is: there are people who think that what they do, or who they know will give them a better standing in life. Your job is no more important than anybody else's. We all share an integral part in life, whether we are homemakers, lawyers, doctors or cashiers -- we are here for specific reasons. When you deem your life to be much more valuable than another's, you have just devalued your entire purpose in life. You can't see another person's worth because you can't get out of your own way. It's not about you. It's not about how "important" your job may seem or "who you know" or how much money you make. It's about regarding human life as precious as your own -- to relate -- to be in it together. Otherwise, everything else in this world is meaningless. 
  10. Accept that everything is out of our control. Just like the woman I mentioned above -- if you're a control freak and things are out of your control, you. will. explode. Being a control freak will not only make you crazy, it'll nearly drive you over the deep end because nothing is in your power -- nothing is in your full control. The more we accept that -- the less we care about "perfection". I remember I had to have everything my way and when it didn't go the way I planned it -- I would either get really depressed or angry. The illusion of having control nearly destroyed my own relationship. I finally started believing the concept of holding on too tightly. The more you hold onto something or someone, the more they slip away from you. I love the saying, whatever we resist, persists. We are not the controllers of the universe -- God determines our fate. And whether you believe that the Universe is your god or that God is the maker of the universe -- our destiny is determined by each step of our journey. So if the step you're taking is the wrong one, I believe God (or the universe) will push you onto the right one, even if that means losing the wrong step that you wanted so badly. 
I honestly just felt the need to share all I have learned just within the past year. Wow, can you imagine -- it took me over 40 years to learn some basic things in life -- things that truly, truly matter. Better late than never, I guess. Kiss your children, kiss your parents, tell them you love them. Cherish your siblings, your friends and love your spouse unconditionally, without any control. Let them fly and be the magnificent people they are. Each person is on their own journey, and it's a wonderful thing if we get to share our journeys with the ones we truly care about. 

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Choosing to Let Go of Emotional Pain

How sad is this message above? 
It's not the first time I have seen the above message or something similar posted onto someone's social media account. I remember being this person. I remember the fear of trusting again, or at least, being vulnerable enough to let someone back into my life. And like it says, "behind every fake smile is a backstabber" -- that alone, when you truly believe that with every person you come across, you automatically limit your life experiences. I love that old saying, "Bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die." Holding resentment blocks every energy channel you have. It prevents you from living a fulfilling life. I'm not just saying this to 'seem wise' or to pretend I'm some sort of spiritual guru because I'm not -- I can only speak from experience. I once shut the doors, the windows, the blinds on every. single. person. in. my. life. for a very long time. I went through terrible periods of depression after I was hurt by people I cared about. I was angry and I took a lot of my anger out on innocent people. My misery had to be felt by everyone. It wasn't fair at all. I didn't smile all that much because that meant I may become vulnerable enough to let people in. I kept my friends at an arm's length, and some rarely heard from me at all. But I learned a very important lesson in life: everybody has an expiration date, whether they intentionally leave your life by choice, or through death. And that's something we cannot control.

Control.

I gave it up. I gave up trying to control every single action or offense that was thrown at me. I stopped expecting perfection from people who were imperfect just like me. The biggest step toward my recovery from bitterness was that I truly learned the art of forgiveness. Forgiveness is not just a word -- it's an act of also forgetting what the other person(s) had done to you. It's starting a new leaf, whether you choose to have that person in your life or not. That's up to you. Forgiveness does not require you to have the offender in your life, but it does require you to let go. That in itself can be the hardest thing to do. You also (and most importantly) have to forgive yourself. I never knew that part. I had a terrible time with self-depreciating thoughts and distorted images of myself. 

So I’m going to change that quote that many people post up on their Facebook walls.

“You know what? Yes, I have changed. I’m not as angry as I used to be, because I realize we’re not perfect. If I tell someone a secret, it means I trust them with all my heart. A smile is beautiful, especially when it’s sincere. I started letting people back into my life again, because in the end, they’re only going to enhance my life. And if they decide to leave, that is totally out of my control. I’ve changed because I now realize that life’s not worth living if I don’t take risks.”

There are way too many people walking around with the word "damaged" tattooed on their foreheads.   They feel victimized and hold heavy grudges that they just can't shake off. I have to say, the feeling of letting go has a process. It's comparable to child birth (or from what I can imagine of it). It hurts like hell at first, but once you let all of those negative emotions go and truly release them, forgive them, forgive yourself and wish well for whoever it was who tore your life apart -- you'll find the most incredible relief you have ever felt. The euphoric sensation of freedom is something that nobody who is bitter or resentful can ever feel. I do believe that this action alone (forgiving/releasing/letting go) is God's favor to you. It's also a gift that you are giving to yourself. And what I mean by that is -- you cannot get to that type of spiritual level unless you go through the labor and hard work of manipulating through your emotions and releasing all the bitterness that's been left. You then have nothing to be angry over, and for some, that's a very strange feeling. Some people want to feel that anger because the other person "deserves it". Think of it like this -- that person probably doesn't even know you're still stewing over whatever. So who's the one suffering? And if we're all connected in some cosmic way -- nobody deserves unforgiveness. If we're all connected through God, then we should show the integrity of our faith.

There are many people attached to their pain. They associate their emotional pain with the present, making everyone that they come across a potential threat. They place all of the blame of their past onto those they come across today, especially if it's a romantic partner. I guess that's one of the biggest reasons why they call it "emotional baggage".

I was reading Eckhert Tolle's The Power of Now -- and I occasionally read it on and off like a reference book, even though I have read through the entire book. This is probably one of my favorite paragraphs in his book:
"To suddenly see that you are or have been attached to your pain can be quite a shocking realization. The moment you realize this, you have broken the attachment. The pain-body (past emotional or physical pain) is an energy field, almost like an entity, that has become temporarily lodged in your inner space. It is life energy that has become trapped, energy that is no longer flowing. Of course, the pain-body is there because of certain things that happened in the past. It is the living past in you, and if you identify with it, you identify with the past. A victim identity is the belief that the past is more powerful than the present, which is the opposite of the truth. It is the belief that other people and what they did to you are responsible for who you are now, for your emotional pain or your inability to be your true self. The truth is that the only power there is is contained within this moment. It is the power of your presence. Once you know that, you also realize that you are responsible for your inner space now -- nobody else is -- and that the past cannot prevail against the power of Now." 
If you choose to remain bitter because of a failed or an abusive relationship, then that is your choice alone. But if you can realize that the pain-body (emotional baggage) is stagnant energy which can make it difficult to let other people in, or to have successful and fulfilling relationships now, then you've freed yourself from living in the past. Emotional hurt from the past can still fester inside our minds, inside our very being and give us an attitude of resentment toward not just the person who hurt you, but to the people who genuinely want to be apart of your life right now. I have seen quite a few people live their lives alone after failed relationships. They never sought for another partner again. They chose to live by themselves with no intimate and emotional attachments. "Why should I? I'm only gonna get hurt again." Their pain-body predicts their future relationships if they choose to still live in the past. It's not only unfair to the people who want to be with you, it's mostly unfair to yourself to deny yourself true happiness. But, that's not to say that there are some people who actually do prefer to live alone or without another partner. That's entirely different and not associated with bitterness from the past.

To all my overthinking, over-analyzing damaged souls, repeat these affirmations every single morning, until it finally becomes who you are. You are beautiful. Now believe it.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Speak Your "Faith", Even If Your Voice Shakes

Whose truth? 
There seems to be this illusion of "truth" when speaking about faith of a particular religion. I find that most Christians use the word "truth", while only relying on one source -- one source that is written by man and inspired by God. When you have this enormous book of rules and stories, you also have to take into consideration who wrote it, when it was written and how many times it has been translated as well as how many origins have been lost through the translations alone. Even the word "homosexual" has been translated -- well more like convoluted into something entirely differently. While newer translations used the word “homosexual,” what it comes down to is a tragic loss of translation of two key Greek words, “arsenokoitai” and “malakoi.” If most Biblical interpreters weren’t pacifists, there’d be all-out war between them on the meanings of these words. The explanation that I prefer comes from Biblical scholar D. B. Martin, that “arsenokoitai,” due to its context clues, has something to do with sexual exploitation, like prostitution, not sexual orientation, like homosexuality. You can read more about that here.

Even though the Bible has a lot of discrepancies as far as the time it was written, the 400 years of silence before the New Testament as well as all the books being put together as one canon -- 360+ years later -- something somewhere has to be lost and I stand firm when I say that. The New Testament was put together (not written) nearly 400 years later after Jesus' death. Spiritually handicapped Christians as I call 'em will only learn through text and never read it with spirit and discretion. Religious people scare me because they are never willing to ask questions, to learn more and to reach out spiritually for guidance. Instead, they read literature from 2,000 years ago that's been altered, translated and misinterpreted for centuries and pull that out as "TRUTH".  Faith is not "truth" -- it is clearly believing in something without seeing it for yourself. Shouldn't we be respecting those who believe differently, instead of trying to grab those "lost souls" and brainwashing them with our faith-based religion? There is no scientific evidence of your Bible nor your faith whatsoever.

Which brings me to my next concern. I follow a particular blogger, and even though I typically disagree with many of his posts, I still read it. There's something intriguing about someone who calls faith "truth" and then bashes other people so brutally with the written words of his bible. I follow numerous people who I don't necessarily agree with. I think it gives a clearer picture of my own faith when I read such opposing views. He recently had a post about how Christianity is dying out in America because people are just bored to death in regards to the church. Some are spirit-filled while others are very mundane and downright boring. His concern is that some churches are pretty lax in their ways of teaching about their religion. There's no fear mongering or condemning people to hell -- just loving messages to give you that "feel good" adrenaline when you're there. Well, he pegged me out, because that's exactly why I left the church. There were way too many judgmental people who were not only self-righteous, but they were hypocrites. I had a couple who condemned me to hell. They were living together and both divorced. So, I mean -- which is worse? Your sin, or mine?

Of course I commented because I stated that I knew many people who have steered clear of the church for that very reason alone. Most people I know have a personal relationship with God and pray on their own, instead of fellowshipping with other Christians in a "holy" building. He did point out references to homosexuality for whatever reason -- kind of just threw that one sin in there while leaving a ton of sins out (to which is focuses a lot on), but I brought it back to the center again.
"Thing is, not everyone shares the same beliefs. Beliefs are varied within the trinity-based religions. I do think it’s safe to say that our own walk with God — our own relationship with God is most important. Why isn’t church supposed to be a 'feel good' experience? I have personally gone to a born again church and felt that 'feel good' experience because I felt God Himself. That’s an amazing feeling. Every single one of us are on our own journey. I guess I’m on a different level of 'Christianity' — where I have studied and taken apart the Bible to where the translations have been greatly exaggerated beyond just the black and white written word that we see today. There is the 400 years of silence and with that, comes the New Testament when Jesus was here, which took centuries to include it all in one canon. 'Written by man, inspired by God.'"
I used to love going to a Christian church. I was raised Catholic and went to mass every Sunday, but slept through most of it because it was so monotone and rigid. Once I went to a born again Assembly of God church, I felt the spirit — and that is a wonderful thing to experience on a Sunday morning. What made me push the church away were the followers. They were very judgmental. I feel like the people in the church are trying to play the role of God, and that to me is a very scary place to be.

I respect anyone’s belief. I don’t care if someone has a tattoo (Lev 19:28) or eats shrimp scampi (Lev 11:10). It’s none of my business. They’re not hurting anyone.

The one sin that really bothers me is the 9th commandment. And this particular sin I have mostly seen within our own churches.

The Ninth Commandment: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. (Lying, gossiping, slandering, backbiting, spreading rumors, deceit, extortion, railing, slander, defrauding, breaking promises, craftiness, hypocrisy, dishonesty, whisperers, idle words, withhold all of the truth, double-tongued, bragging, boasting, flattery, exaggerating the truth, whining, speaking evil of others.)

Maybe you’ve seen the above in your church as well. Personally, I am very discouraged by any church, especially the one I used to attend. While on a retreat with our Catholic school, we were supposed to tell our sins to the priest, who happened to be in one of the small bedrooms that looked pretty much like a jail cell with a huge cross on old painted brick walls. He patted the side of the bed for me to sit there with him and tell him what I’ve done wrong. I got a creepy feeling and tried to leave, but he grabbed me, ripping off part of my shirt. I ran over to where the bus was parked and cried. The nuns grabbed me as if I did something wrong. I went home that day. About 5 years after that incident, the priest was thrown into jail for molesting young children.

My point is: I don’t have faith in people any longer, especially those in a higher religious standing. I put my faith in God only. I believe the Bible was to control the masses for more of a "moral" society. Being sexually repressed has it’s consequences, as I’ve seen with my own priest. I personally think all of them should be married to control some of their perverse desires, but then again, people just go ahead do it anyway. Through negative experiences that many people have regarding the church, it makes it that much harder to trust anyone who says, “This is a sin and that’s not a sin!” And if “the Bible tells me so” without investigating the origin of the meaning, then it’s completely lost all meaning through twisted scriptures by ‘man’ alone. I hope that makes more sense. I appreciate your responses."

The response I got from another commenter named, Mark Reimers was pretty typical.

He said, "Debra, I don't think you speak for many people. For one, the truth isn't even relevant to your comment. Second, yes, the church often doesn't love as it should and I would argue that mostly stems from poor doctrine leading to selfishness and less of a focus on the body of Christ. Just remember, unity only come via the truth. You have to embrace all of what God says or church becomes nothing more than group therapy. Third, I think you underestimate the current level of interest in liturgy -- something you are completely ignorant of or you wouldn't imply that it is boring and mundane."

I'm so tired of hearing the word "TRUTH" by fear-mongering Christians. Your convoluted bible should be a means of guidance with a grain of salt. It bothers me when I hear "truth" only because faith is not scientific. And the other thing is -- I'm on a writer's blog, not a church's website. The writer has a photo of himself with tattoos and a glass of scotch or a bottle beer smoking a cigar most of the time. I mean -- if you're gonna throw stones, let's talk about Leviticus 19:28. But I'm not going to do that. I don't think people will go to hell by having a tattoo and relaxing with an alcoholic beverage. For the love of God -- Jesus turned water into wine for a wedding!


For instance, a woman named, Jenny Maria Holzhauer stated this as a "loving Christian":

"The Christians who actually do set themselves apart and avoid blatant sins are weird in the eyes of the worldly Christians. Somehow we are drastic and "serious Christians" "over religious". La di da. When actually, no. We are following what the Bible says to do and letting the power of Christ change us from the inside out. It isn't some new fangled idea to avoid disgusting sins and be better. And it isn't some sort of agenda and we aren't trying to make others feel bad. What happens is our non sinful lifestyle makes their sinful lives stick out and then people get guilty and blame the Christians. It's about time people stop claiming Christ. If they want to live sinfully, go do it and leave Jesus out of it."

I've seen this before. Christians would rather have you denounce your religion (Jesus/Christianity) rather than claim Christ as your Savior and live your life the way you believe it to be true. They usually come off extremely angry. Why? Why do Christians attack those who live different lifestyles? It's not up to them to "save us" if they feel that we are sinning. But what about the idea of repression? Do you think that maybe in some way, they see how people like myself have peace in my life, yet I have taken the burden of guilt away? Negative emotions like guilt, bitterness, depression are all products of Satan (to which I believe exists). What about priests who aren't allowed to marry who go around molesting young children? Repression can bring out the worst in people. Repression brings people to extremes. God wants us to live a fulfilling life -- a life where you are not hurting anyone -- a life where you are content and at peace with who you are and who you love.

Anger is usually a deep-seated issue when it comes to Christians condemning other people. Most fear-mongering Christians (the ones who tell you that you're going to hell) are usually the ones who have only recently come to God seeking forgiveness for a very extreme sin.

Jenny also stated, "I choose to separates self from gross worldly behaviors. Things I used to do that are so sinful, things I have given to the Lord."

So guilt brought her to the church. But who brought her to the emotion guilt? Other Christians. They made her feel like she was a bad person, when in fact, she's probably a wonderful human being. This is another reason why there are ex-gays. Christians will scare them half to death by letting them know how much God is disgusted with them (aka the Christian who bashed them). Anybody can manipulate someone's thinking by instilling emotions of guilt into their brain. That's how they get people to the church in most cases -- by scare tactics. It's also called, brainwashing.

Having seen all this, it only makes me more sure of my decision to leave the church for good and to rely on my own relationship with God. You know the term, "misery loves company"? That's exactly what they are doing. They're miserable in their own confined and rigid lives that they were guilt-riddened into, that they want other people to live the same exact way. They're not trying to "save you" and they certainly don't pray for those who are seemingly "sinful" in their eyes -- they are trying to get you to live a certain way -- a way like them -- a drone -- a person who is brainwashed to control the masses.

Mere sheep.

God loves you more than anybody can possibly love you. God knows that we are all sinners and that we all fall short. God will not push you away, and He'll always be there if you stray and decide to come back.

Nobody has ever been saved by "obeying the law". It's only through faith that they are saved.

Galatians 2:15-16 —You and I are Jews by birth, not “sinners” like the gentiles. And yet we Jewish Christians know that we became right with God, not by doing what the law commands, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be accepted by God because of our faith in Christ - and not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be saved by obeying the law.

These people might want to brush up on their bible skills.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Ignorance Is a Choice

Last night I received an interesting comment that came to me as an email by Shelagh Watkins. She wrote, "About bathroom spaces and who should use them. We are berated constantly about transgender people's rights to have their feelings respected. However, little is said about the rights of the remaining 99.9% of the population to have their feelings respected. Many females have phobias about using public bathrooms. All kinds of phobias, from fear of attack to the fear of urinating in public. These irrational fears and phobias are very real. Just knowing that men dressed in women's clothes, of any sexual orientation, could be present in a female bathroom or changing area, is deeply distressing to some females. I'm using the word 'female' because the word 'woman' has been usurped by the trans community and has lost its original meaning, which is sad. We lost the word 'gay' and now we are about to lose the words 'man' and 'woman'. As an author, I lament the loss of any words in the English language, much as I would lament the loss of my birthright, which gives me the right to be treated as a female. A right that a small minority of the population is willing to give up in order to be happy. Something that a man without child bearing capabilities tries to claim as his right because he 'thinks' like a woman (but not like a female)."

Our ill-informed society makes it very challenging when accepting something that seems so incredibly new, when it has actually been here for many, many years, even before Jesus' time. First, let me address the phobia of sharing a restroom with someone who is transgender. With lack of exposure comes ignorance. It's very understandably so that a cisgender woman may feel uncomfortable if she recognizes a woman to be sharing the same restroom who is transgender. My own mother who happens to be very open-minded even stated that she would probably wait until the transgender woman left the restroom. She has a phobia of using a public restroom where they have numerous stalls -- so probably a bad example. But remember the woman who complained about a transgender woman using the restroom at Planet Fitness? She got banned for her complaint because they are protected under a "no discrimination law". I do however, understand the concerns of cisgender women. If a man wanted to just play 'dress up' and invade their restroom, they can and that's the fear that haunts them. But I mean -- what are the odds? Transgender women need a restroom. So what's best -- going inside the men's room and possibly getting a beat down by some infuriated cisgender man? Or going into the ladies' room and truly not being noticed? And if they are noticed -- most cisgender women wouldn't feel threatened anyway. But there is still a valid concern. Transgender people are not just going to "go away" because of a restroom issue. They need a place to go.

I don't think people are overly concerned about losing the word "gay" -- from merry and jolly to homosexuality and same sex relationships. I've never heard anyone use "gay" in terms of happiness to tell you the truth. Your concern about losing the words, "man" and "woman" isn't the issue. I kind of think you're upset that maybe, these "men" are going the 'easy route' to become a "woman", without the pain and agony of menstraul cycles and childbirth.  I personally, would rather go through 20 childbirths and a lifetime of dysmenorrhea than to have lived a lifetime of emotional torture of not being able to be who I was meant to be -- of not being who I truly am.  They say that emotional pain is far worse than physical pain. I have to agree with that myself through experience. Transgender women aren't just playing "dress up" or trying to "find themselves" -- they have been and always will be women, regardless if they decide to undergo reassignment surgery. You said you were concerned that cisgender females lack respect of their own concerns, but they also lack a huge amount of education and exposure to what is and what always has been. They lack the willingness to learn about something that has always been around. With that, comes ignorance and intolerance, which can quickly escalate into hatred.  I want to even venture to say that you probably don't have any transgender men or women who are personal friends of yours. I'm only saying that because if you knew the struggles that transgender people go through on a daily basis and knew the history of their agony of being in the wrong body, you would understand a little more about what it's like to "pick" a restroom out of fear.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Saturday, May 09, 2015

To the Strongest Woman I've Ever Known, Happy Mother's Day!

"Love as powerful as your mother's for you leaves its own mark...to have been loved so deeply...will give us some protection forever." --J.K. Rowling
There are many "best moms in the whole world", but let me tell you why my mother is the best mom. Mom didn't have it easy with me. First of all, I came along seven years after my three older siblings. She was free and clear from raising yet another baby. But I surprised her and thankfully, she accepted me. I was a breech baby -- my foot came out as my dad was driving toward the hospital while my mother was in labor. She kept quiet, not wanting to stress out my father more than he already was. The birthing was the most painful and excruciating thing my mother had ever gone through. They had to turn me around while still in the womb. The umbilical cord twisted me in ten million ways, leaving me with clicking hips and a squished nose. We both were not supposed to make it out of that birthing alive. But, we made it. She had no epidural or any pain meds to relieve her from the excruciating pain that she endured. So thank you for going through hell and back for me. You're the strongest woman I know.

Mom worked so hard, taking care of all four of us and of course, taking care of Dad too. From cleaning every single room in the house from top to bottom, to doing all of our laundry and having a new meal on the table every single night.  Since I was too young for school and too young to play with my older sisters, Mom would keep me company and play with me for hours upon hours. She was my best friend. I was never out of her sight. She took me to the grocery stores and lugged me around everywhere she went. I never had a sitter, unless she went out to dinner with my dad, to which my grandmother would then help out.

One winter day, Mom took me out to the department store to buy me new ice-skates. She was nervous because I was only around 6 years old, but I wanted to ice-skate so badly like my other friends did. We went to the large pond in the middle of our town where everyone gathered to skate and play ice hockey. I put my new skates on and hobbled over to the edge of the pond with my mother holding my hand.

"You can let go now!"
"No, you'll fall and hurt yourself -- hold my hand and I'll walk along the edge with you."
"Ma, just let go," I said, trying to do it on my own.

She let go and I glided toward the middle of the pond without falling. Even though the ice had quite a few bumps along the way, I made it through like a champ. When I returned back to where Mom was standing, she smiled and said, "I can't believe how well you skate!" When we left the pond, we went to a Polynesian restaurant and ordered a Pu Pu platter which used to be my favorite thing. I looked over at Mom and said, "This was the best day of my life!" And it was.

That's how it was like growing up with Mom -- she always supported me with anything I wanted to do, even if she had to let go a little. She always stood at the edge of the 'pond' waiting for me to return, in case I needed her. If I hit a bump or two in the ice, I'd look back at my mother and would know that without a doubt, she was right there to help and support me with whatever I was going through. Her unconditional love was the one thing I could count on in life, and it still is till this day.

She's been through so much these past few years. She also stood at the edge of the pond for my father when he was ill. She took such good care of him, letting him feel reassured that if there was a bump on that icy path, that she'd be there to hold his hand. I watched how strong she tried to remain for him, while holding his hand on the edge of his hospital bed. Dad didn't like to see anybody cry, because that meant something bad was happening.

But it was that moment, when Mom said something I thought I'd never hear come out of her mouth.

While holding Dad's hand, she said very softly, "You can let go now..."

It was then I knew that without a doubt, Mom was the strongest woman I've ever known. And even now, while dealing with her own health issues and extreme pain, she still manages to hold all of our hands, making sure we don't fall and hurt ourselves. She's my best friend, my superwoman. She's the most loving, selfless and compassionate woman I know. I wish I was more like her, and maybe one day I will be.

So today I just want to say, thank you Mom for being our superwoman. Thank you for always being on the edge holding all of our hands. Thank you for all the support, encouragement and unconditional love you have given to each and every one of us. You're the real deal -- and without a doubt, the best mom in the world.

Happy Mother's Day!

I love you.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Thursday, May 07, 2015

LGBT of Faith: Till Your Garden

Maybe some of you who are reading this are saying to yourselves, "Oh no. Not another negative religious post in self-defense."  Well, yes and no. "YES" because I have come to the conclusion that the people who are against the LGBT community who rant about how sinful our lifestyles are.....are absolutely crazy. And "NO" because I am taking a much needed break from the craziness of it all. And I'll tell you why: nobody hones in on just one thing and tears is apart until it is completely dead who isn't already spiritually dead themselves. The other day I received a very disturbing email. I mean -- I've received some top of the line disturbing emails, but this one struck me differently. It was like a cry for help. I'll just post some of it below without revealing his name, only because this poor guy has a rap sheet longer than the ancient scrolls of the Bible.

I usually either ignore these messages or blast them out of the ballpark with their misery by exposing their emails. But something was different and one of my friends went into "detective mode" and found that this guy was a petty thief who had strange sexual perversions posted everywhere on his own FB account. One of his posts said that he was mentally ill and couldn't help it. Automatically, I felt bad for this man. Think about it -- you get this vulnerable mentally ill person who is relying on other people's direction. Then you get some religious zealot to help him out (to which he'll trust because he's religious) and sort of run with all the negative speech that goes along with it.  It makes sense. There are two extreme sides of Christianity: one is loving, compassionate, tolerant, unconditional and forgiving (to which this is explained in Corinthians) and the other is just hateful, bigoted, revengeful and intolerant. How did this religion get so incredibly messed up? Which is right and which is wrong? Which feels right and which feels wrong. I'll let you sit on that for a while. 

You can't even imagine all the hate mail I get just because I try to let people know how much God loves them. I've been called a "false prophet", "the devil himself", "a pagan", "an idol worshipper" and of course, that I'm hellhound and the list goes on and on and on. There is an underlining reason why these people write with such passion and conviction in their emails to me -- a reason that may relate to me on many levels. A reason why they are searching for answers, perhaps in a way of debate or sometimes even just inquiring about my lifestyle. In my experience, the theory about homophobes being homosexuals themselves have always proven to be true. I have seen so many people try to tinker with me, and then email me later on either letting me know they're an "ex-gay", or that they were fighting off the "demon of homosexuality" themselves. I would never release their names because they were trusted and confidential emails, but it explains a lot. I mean -- why would you even want to know about homosexuals or poke at them if you weren't curious to begin with. And right there I thought, well maybe that's a bit extreme on my part, until I started getting flooded with emails by very damaged people. And hey, we're all damaged in some way, it's just the way we deal with the "junk" in our lives. 

Instead of writing another semi-political piece on the LGBT community, I decided to go to the farm to pick up some flowers and soil and get my hands dirty in the garden to make our place look nicer. I took some time off from writing just to clear my head and my soul. I took some time to recharge my battery from all that negative energy that was blasted at me. But since I now understand where it all comes from, I look at it differently now. I look at it with sympathy and wonder how long they can survive in that prison of theirs. I remember when I was "in the closet" -- it was a prison. It wasn't "me". I wasn't living "my" life -- the life I was intend to live. I tried to 'fake it till I made it' and well, I was miserable. I realize that there is much more to life than defending yourself and trying to be an advocate to those alike, but sometimes you just gotta reel it in and pamper your heart and soul with what makes you happy and peaceful. This isn't to say that I'm going to quit standing up for what I believe in. I guess for now, I'm just taking a break from the topic alone instead of debating with people who have much larger issues that I can possibly contend with. 

Thing is, we're supposed to encourage, edify and uplift people -- not tear them down and pick 'em apart. When you're faced with adversity of any type, it's important to really zoom in on the reason for the madness. It's not just because "the bible tells me so" type of blabber -- it has an underlining, deep-seated root that's hard to pull out. They can blame it on what the bible says or they can own up to their own bigotry and hatred. Just think of them as weeds in your garden. Just pluck 'em out one by one so that your beauty, your flowers, your true colors can be as vibrant as possible.  Till the garden until there is nothing left but fresh new soil and room to grow magnificently. Because in God's eyes, you ARE magnificent. For now, I am turning my back from the hatred and turning towards those who show me love. So if you don't see a post here tomorrow or the next day, just know that I'm in the garden, perhaps drinking a beer and letting this shit fly off my back. I guess someone will say that I'm sinning by drinking a beer. So be it.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What Lies Beneath the Consciences of Antigay Christians

It matters not who you love, where you love, why you love, when you love or how you love, it matters only that you love. --John Lennon
Years ago, I had a straight friend who would ask me so many questions about being gay -- anything from what type of girl I liked to what I did in the bedroom. I was always uncomfortable being asked these things, because even if I was straight, I don't want to explain anything that personal to a friend. She always wanted to know details and "how" can two women be together 'like that'. Why was she so curious? A year later, I found out why. She had her own issues of being "bi-curious' -- she didn't know if she was straight or gay. Many people feel that way, they can go either way -- and that's okay. It's who you love regardless of the gender for some people. Even these days, I have had three people that seemed like they were badgering me about religion and sin and whatnot. I always take the time to respond and give them my views, interpretations and outlook on homosexuality vs. religion. Well, two of them happen to be ex-gays and the one girl happens to be caught up in a love triangle with her husband and her husband's friend. She eventually left her husband and married the new guy. In the Bible, divorce is a sin. What she did is considered "adultery" in the Bible. In order for it not to be a sin, her late husband needs to be deceased, before she can remarry. (Sounds like an episode on Snapped.) So let me just give them pseudo names for a moment. "Sam" knew the Bible inside and out. He quoted scriptures from Leviticus, Corinthians and Romans that "clearly" state that homosexuality is a sin. After I explained those scriptures to him and the context to which they were in, as well as where the word "homosexuality" derived from 2000 years ago, he was sort of stumped. I didn't mean to put Sam in a state of confusion, but the beliefs of other Christians scared him away from being himself. "Mike" came to me letting me know his distaste for "twisting the scriptures to suit my lifestyle". (That's a common phrase among many antigay Christians.) He was much more abrasive than the others, where he got super defensive in his argument. I told him that God doesn't see gender, He sees love. He disagreed, so I asked him, "What about an intersexed person (hermaphrodite) who has both, male and female genitalia? Do they have to remain single? What gender are they supposed to pick?" Nobody -- not one person can give me a concrete answer. That's why I know God does not see gender. Not even a week went by before I got another private email letting me know that he too, was once in love with a man. "Tammy" tried giving me a debate, but because of her own fear of "sin" -- she wanted to know more or less if she was going to hell for loving another man. The only thing that I can say is -- you have to have a relationship with God, faith and to be able to forgive yourself as well as ask for forgiveness. I do believe infidelity hurts people, which is why I believe forgiveness is in order, not for just the person who was hurt by the action, but for the person who initially did this for reasons unknown. I am not one to judge. I still have many stones inside my pocket.

Grindr pic from Dustin's phone.
But you see a common theme here? All three of these people who contacted me were asking me so many questions because they feared their own fate. My entire point is, whenever you come across someone so rigid and against gays and lesbians, (or whatever it may be) you have this underlining reflection of who they truly are. This is not the first time I have said this, but I truly believe that homophobic people have homosexual tendencies. The fear that goes into the "FEAR OF RELIGION" is what sets them apart -- becoming defensive in debates with other Christian gay people. Look at what happened with Rep. Randy Boehning, a 52 year old Republican legislator from Fargo, North Dakota who also happens to be a lawmaker who recently made a public retaliation against expanding gay rights. He sent explicit photos of himself to a 21 year old man named, Dustin Smith. Smith recognized Boehning by his photo on Grindr -- a gay hookup site. Boehning was under the name, "Top Man" while chatting with these young boys. Boehning also stated that there were people in his life who also knew he was gay and was glad that he is now outed. So why would he vote against gay rights? Was it to hide who he truly was? Was it all out of fear?

Aaron & Melissa Klein
Of course you heard about the bakery, Sweet Cakes in Oregon? The bakery owners refused to bake a cake for a lesbian couple for their wedding, citing their religious rights. A civil complaint was filed by the lesbian couple and on Friday, the judge fined the bakery $135,000 in emotional damages to the couple that they turned away. Aaron and Melissa Klein, the owners of Sweet Cakes set up a GoFundMe page. Melissa stated on her Facebook page that the amount owed would put them out of business. GoFundMe raised over $100,000 before it was shut down the very next day. Melissa wrote on her Facebook page: "Satan's really at work but I know our God has a plan and wins in the end!" The thing is, the Kleins violated the their state's anti-discriminatory laws, which gave GoFundMe the right to refuse service to the bakery owners. Now isn't that a kick in the ass? A little dose of her own medicine.

This is not about being "religious" and keeping your faith by discriminating against gays. This is pure bigotry, because you're not turning away people who have tattoos, those who are clean shaven, divorcees, or people of other faiths -- people who worship other gods! You're picking one group to demonstrate your bigoted views. And in return, when the same thing is done to you -- it's uncalled for. I mean, personally, I would've just left the bakery and headed out to another one. I couldn't care less if you didn't serve me, because I know that God works in mysterious ways and that eventually, you'll learn to do what Jesus did: accept and show love to all people. There are too many hypocrites in the Christian faith which makes it very hard to even call myself a Christian. But, because I have studied the Bible for over 20 years and have a relationship with Jesus -- I know that I know that I know -- that if you treat people like dirt, then you are treating Jesus like dirt. That's right in your Bibles too. The amount of energy and hatred that is demonstrated by Christians only tell me that they fear their own fate. They are guilty or "feel guilty" about something brewing within their own lives. We all have our 'thang', and none of us can throw stones, but when you feel "righteous" enough to tear other people apart in the name of God -- karma has a funny way of teaching you valuable lessons.

Just recently, a gay waiter over at Carrabba's Italian Grill in Kansas served diners who refused to tip him. They wrote,
“Thank you for your service, it was excellent. That being said, we cannot in good conscience tip you, for your homosexual lifestyle is an affront to GOD. Queers do not share in the wealth of GOD, and you will not share in ours. We hope you will see the tip your fag choices made you lose out on, and plan accordingly. It is never too late for GOD’s love, but none shall be spared for fags. May GOD have mercy on you.” 
They sound like good church-going folks, don't they? First of all, it's none of their business who he loves -- and how did they know for sure he was gay in the first place? (I mean, yes -- sometimes the gaydar does reach high frequencies) -- but to just automatically assume, is ignorant in itself. Then, they don't just put their twisted religious views down, they called him a "queer" and a "fag" and said he would not share in the wealth of God. Isn't it sad that there are so many Christians who focus entirely too much on the LGBT community -- as if they were envious of them in some strange way? This is why I love it when someone who bashes gays and lesbians comes out as a homosexual after the smoke clears. So next time somebody focuses on your lifestyle a little too much, ask them what kind of struggles their having with their own sexual orientation. I'm sure there's something brewing underneath it all.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog for some of her famous recipes!