Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Core Values

Most of my life growing up, I never ate dinner alone. We'd all sit around the table and eat dinner together. We were fortunate enough to always have had a homemade dinner made for us, and of course, the Friday night takeout was a given. I'd sometimes invite a friend over for dinner because their parents were both working, and there was always enough food to go around at our house. Mom was always gracious and hospitable, shoveling huge portions of food onto my friend's plate as their eyes bulged out from mere shock. I didn't understand how my friends could walk into an empty house after school, as I was always greeted by mom, making sure I got off the bus okay. There was never a day when she wasn't at the bus stop. Sometimes, we'd all get together in the living room and watch a movie that was rented from the local video store. That was like a huge event for us. Nobody was on their cell phones texting or SnapChatting  -- we were all together doing exactly the same thing as a family. It was really nice.

My parents with "Jumbo."

Dad going on about something at a family BBQ.
When I thought about my future, I never really thought "big and famous" or some bigwig at some corporate hellhole -- I thought more on the lines of my mom's position. I wanted to be someone who cared for other people, especially animals. She had nine Great Danes. We always grew up with dogs and cats. Summers were spent outside, while our Great Danes played on the lawn. Family BBQs included pool parties and extended family and friends visiting often. Mom cooked her butt off, making sure everyone had a drink (the adults of course) and people were fed beyond the comfort zones of feeling full. Coffee and dessert was served outside on the back patio overlooking the beautiful view of the lake and mountains. I've always admired what my mom did. Even during the week while all four of her daughters shuffled off to school, mom cleaned every corner and crevice of the house from top to bottom. When I came back home, my bedroom looked as though a hotel maid had been there. You'd expect to find a mint on the pillow.

I want to be my mom. I want to be that someone who takes care of everyone. I want to be the person my mom was: generous, welcoming, caring, strong and one helluva cook. And it wasn't like all she did was cater to people -- she went out a lot with my dad, went on vacations and did adventurous things. She had a nice balance. And isn't that what life's about? I remember working 12 hour shifts in a miserable office cubicle, wishing I had more time at home. And of course, vice/versa, when I was unemployed and miserable as well. Working from home after years of recouping from the corporate nightmare has not only changed my life for the better, but has given me an entire outlook of what I don't want in life, as well as what I do want in life.

Making vows to my best friend & life partner.

Before I started seriously dating, the most important thing in a person was their religion and faith. I wanted to be with somebody who believed in God. I didn't want some lukewarm believer or atheist -- I wanted a true believer. I have nothing against anyone of different faiths or lack thereof, but I would never want to spend my life with someone who didn't hold the same faith as myself. As friends, I would welcome anyone of any belief, but as a life partner, my choice is to have a person of faith. That's one of my biggest core values. When I get attacked by others accusing me that I'm not a "real Christian," it only demonstrates the lack of any faith they may have in themselves, as well as in any god they may seem to worship. A true Christian is Jesus -- perfect and flawless. Not one human can measure up to the perfection of Jesus. We can only hope to be more like Him, or at least, rely on His guidance.

Celebrating Madelene's birthday with family.
So when somebody belittles my beliefs as well as my political views, I try to explain the best I can where my core values come from. They come from my past upbringing, my true love for God, and my deep desire to have a good old fashioned 'little life', minding my own business and taking care of my loved ones. This world, in my eyes, is so fallen, cold, lonely and overworked. Nobody has time anymore to do the things they truly love. Everyone has to "look" busy, and if they don't, then they're somehow not contributing to society, sometimes even referred to a "loser." It's wrong on so many levels. I believe family should be close, visited often and loved with every fiber of your being. I believe that family can also be chosen as well. Your friends can totally be apart of your family in every way. I had "cousins" that weren't even related to me, but because we were so close, we became family. Nothing wrong with that.

Life is short. If all you ever do is try to make money to get from point A to point B, you'll find that you've walked past the most important things, like family, love, relationships, and even missing out on God's messages to you. In hospice, they had asked their dying patients what they would've done differently in their lives if they had to do it all over again. The most recorded answer was, "I wish I didn't work so much. I wish I would've spent more time with my family." And although work is important to survive, it has everything to do with the balance of life -- the healthy balance of doing what you love in life as well as sharing precious moments with loved ones and friends. Whenever my life gets a bit unbalanced, I try to correct it the best I can. As long as you're aware of it -- it can always level out to a perfect balance.

Just because I have old fashioned core values, does not mean that I'm a racist or a bigot, or that I wish to take away the rights of choosing what women do with their bodies. Just because I believe differently only means I come from a completely different place than you or anyone else who holds opposing views. I would never try to change anybody else's views, or make them feel 'less than' just because I don't agree with them. Once someone dismisses you because you have a completely different set of values, it only means that they're not 100% confident in their own core beliefs. We can only share with one another, we cannot change people's minds. We're not supposed to. We can however, coexist, if one chooses to do so. Sometimes, that's even asking for a lot.

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, March 16, 2017

Confronting Friends About Delicate Issues - Is There Ever a Good Time?

Over the years, I've learned several things 'not to do' while living in this crazy world. It's hard to make the right choices when you'r'e conflicted about what's "right" and what's "wrong" -- and granted, sometimes there is no right or wrong, it's just a matter of opinion in most cases. In most circumstances where I think I should let someone know my opinion, it usually is...until it isn't. And what I mean by that is -- have you ever told someone you care about that their spouse or significant other was cheating on them? 9 out of 10 times, you'll find that it will always backfire. You then become the "bad guy" -- and morally speaking, you would think that you should be able to go to your friend with this crucial info -- but the bearer of bad news can quickly become the enemy, or at least, "the one who told me" -- which gives them a bad feeling every time they see you. So in my opinion, it is best to remain silent with personal affairs. Move on. Eventually, the person being cheated on will find out. It always happens that way.

Keeping silent can be pretty hard, although the most seemingly easiest thing to do, it's so far from the truth. It's especially hard to keep silent when you feel a friend only comes around when they want something from you. And of course you can say that I took it the wrong way or that I'm overreacting -- but when it happens over and over again, two things have to happen: either silence or confrontation. I'm not a huge fan of people inviting themselves over, especially 'on the spot' with one phone call to ask if they can 'drop by' -- and in some cases, that's perfectly fine. But the one thing that always seems to get me is when one of my friends never acknowledges that my work during the day is "work" or that I can skip out and find the nearest bar to hang out with her in. I'm not upset that she wants to hang out with me, but upset that she thinks that I do nothing all day. Her visit usually requires weekend sleepovers. If we ever go out to eat, her arm never extends out to reach for the check. It's not that I mind paying for a friend's lunch or dinner, but out of the 100 times, it starts to get old. It starts to feel like you're being used. Another thing is when someone brings up their birthday for the umpteenth time as soon as the month starts, to remind you that you need to celebrate it or perhaps, run out and get that special gift. You don't have to remind me -- Facebook does a good job of it, however, Facebook only reminds people the day of, and well, that's just not good enough for some people. So I keep silent about it -- I mean, SUPER silent about it. That's my way of coping with it. And when her day comes, I shower her with love.

As an entrepreneur/artist/freelance kind of gal, you need to get creative of how you make your money. I was fortunate enough to have companies pay me for link placements within my archive articles inside my blog from all the way back from 2005. Advertisements, especially websites who mirror my blog onto their site as a "column" also trickle into my bank account, which is an awesome way to make a living while working from home. I make more money doing this than I did working in the finance department in a beautiful office for IBM. It's my dream come true! So on the side, I use Periscope as a way to communicate with my followers and readers on Twitter. I don't care if I have 5 - 50 people in there at a time, I'm just happy to have the live stream out there so that they can see and hear their author and columnist 'speak' instead of write. I think it's important to get to know who you are reading. I once had placed a PayPal link onto my profile, because I saw many others doing it. But what happened was, a random guy who found me on Periscope chipped in $400.00. At first I was very happy and super grateful. But it came with that $400 price tag. I started receiving 7am texts asking, "Good morning, how did you sleep," -- it was getting out of control. He felt that he had bought my friendship. So with that, I refunded his money. I graciously declined his "tip" and thanked him profusely.

Here's my point: this man wasn't quite 'well' mentally. I didn't realize this at first. When I say mentally unwell, I don't mean "crazy stalker guy" -- he has an intellectual disability from birth. I'm not sure what type -- I just know that he even lived in an assisted living home for a while. I believe this person gives other people money in hopes for the return of friendship. They usually cannot make healthy decisions, and I think it's unfair if anyone takes his money and then tosses him aside. You have to be careful when you decide to make your money off of social media, in terms of donations or tips. So yesterday, as I was live streaming, I noticed something strange in my room. I realized that one of my fellow live streaming friends was actually accepting money off of someone who was also intellectually disabled. I guess it's hard to know offhand if someone is or not, but with this person, they already admitted to living and now working in an assisted living type of situation, due to her having this disability, even though she is highly functioning. I guess you can say that I lost a little respect for this person when I learned of this. So instead of becoming silent, I confronted this person. It didn't go so well. It was shot back to me with vile words of anger, to which I returned the email with nothing but love, but more so for concern and the possibility of a misunderstanding. Nonetheless, if anyone is taking advantage of a person financially who happens to be intellectually disabled, my respect for you diminishes greatly. Is it any of my business? It is when that person is my friend too.

People "online" are real. They're sometimes lonely, and in some cases, their only source of communication with the world is through social media and live interactive streams. They feel like they have a place. Be careful if you're making money off of other people's tips, because you might come across someone who is begging for your friendship, who doesn't realize that a tip is a tip. I have no regrets confronting the person who did this. I'm just very disappointed that this "loving person" who speaks so much about "coexisting" all the time actually did this. So we ended our friendship because I chose to confront them. I wish this person well, but I also hope that in the future, when you receive a tip for your live streams, that you accept with discernment. Usually, if you're a live streamer, you get to know your viewers for a more interactive experience. When I received $400.00 -- it was no longer a "tip" -- it was a price tag on my friendship. Know the difference, because many people are expecting much more than what you're able to give.

Sometimes silence is the best answer, and sometimes, a confrontation is needed.

What do you think?

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, March 07, 2017

I'm OK With It

Sometimes it's hard to just write one word no less an entire article, so instead I'll just do a live stream and have that be my "blog post." Fortunately, I love to cook so I won't bore the heck outta people, well we can only hope. My schedule as I've yapped about before has been quite the rollercoaster. I'm awake until 6am. It used to 3am (no big deal) or even 4 or 5am. I decided to do most of my work at night now. I don't mind working at night, but I truly wish I was more of a day person like I used to be. Now, my body tires out when the birds are chirping outside. If I am not running around like a chicken with its head cut off, then my mind will do it instead. I constantly need to be busy, either cleaning like a lunatic or cooking for an army...of three, at most. Leftovers, right? My insomnia stems from anxiety. Someone asked me the other day if I was depressed. I'm not. I am incredibly grateful for every single thing, every single person and opportunity that has come into my life. Do I get sad when I hear my mom's in excruciating pain? Yes. It makes me cry. Do I get sad about still thinking about my dad here 'n there? Sure. I'll cry -- but it's healthy to get that all out. But it doesn't mean that I'm depressed.

"Well, maybe you're putting on a good face." 

I will give you my honest face, but I will also give you my inner most hopeful face. I believe that in this fallen world, there needs to be a light that beams through the darkness. (Too deep?) Ok, there needs to be a little more lightheartedness, and less focus on the negative aspects of life, like politics and people fighting so viciously over it. Sometimes it's difficult to be lighthearted once you hear bad news. That's just being human. But what if there was a way, that even at our lowest point in our lives, that we can have a subtle, yet strong sense of peace within us? See, that's what God does for me. We have to go through all of these annoying and painful seasons in order to appreciate when there is a restful period. Do we take those restful periods for granted?

Last night (or early morning) at around 4:30 am, my wife woke up and looked over at me sitting on the edge of my bed holding my head. My heart was pounding and my anxiety was at its highest level -- thought my heart was gonna just blow up. When this happens, my entire face, mostly on the left, becomes completely numb, as if there was no feeling on it. I used to get scared about this, until a doctor told me that this was a common symptom of anxiety. I'll either splash some water onto my face, or I'll take an Advil which for whatever reason, helps it. Madelene said, "Why don't you go in the other room and read your bible, Deb?" Usually, in my state of panic, I don't become so agreeable, and I'll chuck it up that I'm too anxious, but this time, I actually walked out of the bedroom and sat in the living room, lit a candle and read my bible.

I could not believe all that it pointed out to me which I am going to share with you, because I think it's important for others to read when they're going through something so stressful.

So here's what I read below. It's a segment inside my bible that gives you scriptures about whatever topic you need. But I wasn't searching for this. I just opened it up -- and voila, it was staring me right in the face. I hope this may help someone reading this.
Does suffering mean God doesn't care about me?

Psalm 22:24 He has not ignored the suffering of the needy. He has not turned and walked away. He has listened to their cries for help.
Suffering is not a sign of God's absence; it is a fact of life in this fallen world. God is still with us in the midst of life's struggles. He may not remove them from us, but he does promise to help us get through them.

Psalm 56:8-9 You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. On the very day I call to you for help, my enemies will retreat. This I know: God is on my side.
God's care is such that not even a single tear goes unnoticed. He knows our every pain and will one day lead us to victory.
As of late, especially within the last year or so, I have kept in constant communication with Him more so than I ever have. I'm starting to 'get it' -- although there is so much I still have yet to learn. I now understand that there is a spiritual warfare going on, but many people either don't take it seriously, don't believe in that sort of stuff, or just mark it off as "fairytale-ish" and crazy. I used to blow it off as only those possessed by demons, like the Linda Blair kind. Have you ever heard of somebody is dealing with their demons? It's quite literal, although most people don't even use the word as literal. Perhaps they mean "issues" and "problems" in life. But it is very real. In fact, after the other night, I will never chuck it up to something that's nonexistent, because that's what the devil wants you to think. He also wants you to think that he doesn't exist, so you won't fear him so much or do things that are bad for your spirit. 

God would never put the spirit of fear in you. That's what anxiety disorder really is. Is it a disorder, or is it a spiritual attack? God will never put the spirit of anger, jealousy or bitterness in you. He also won't place the spirit of depression over you. These are all negative emotions that the devil gives to you in order to make your world look way too cloudy to even come to God. It's more or less, a distraction. But realizing what it is in the midst of the suffering is absolutely crucial, so that you can be prayed upon, and also ask God for help. I stopped resisting the anxiety, the insomnia, the fear -- I started to replace it with courage and bust through it. My communication with God became stronger, more intimate and fulfilling. Well guess who doesn't like that? 

What happened to me the other night is something I was hesitant to tell ANYONE. I mean, it just sounds completely crazy. But I have to tell it only because someone out there may have gone through this, and my story may make them feel a little less crazy. Who knows. But as I was flipping through the channels watching mindless TV around 3am, I clicked on Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Eh, this should bore me to sleep, so I thought. They switched the scene over to Bruce Jenner (this is before the transition) and he was being interviewed briefly on some drama going on. As he was sitting in his captain chair, the picture completely froze. It remained still for about ten seconds. Then, as everything else was still, his face came alive, and his eyes became watery, red, and focused on what it appeared to be on me. The face kept coming toward my screen, but this time, appearing as a demon! Something inside me rose up, not afraid, not timid toward this thing, and at that moment, my body jolted (as if some force inside me zapped him with something) and my cable and TV shut off at the same time with a loud popping noise. It wouldn't come back on for a good 30 minutes or so. I thought it completely knocked out my TV set. I knew right then, and by the way I felt (very light) -- that the Holy Spirit fought my demon. I know that sounds strange, but it happened! Funny that Bruce Jenner would be the "demon" to taunt me, but I guess they come through many sources.

Of course I had to look up if this happened to anybody else, and I got a slew of videos and articles about Bruce Jenner being possessed by demons. (Or were they just taunting Caitlyn for being trans?) One can only imagine. But they have seen the eyes of Bruce and saw something strange. I don't know what to tell you -- but my story is legit because Madelene woke up instantly once she heard the popping sound of my TV going off along with the cable. Afterwards, I slept like a baby. I felt like God fought whatever was attacking me that night and I was left in a long deep slumber. Something happened. I don't know what it was, but all I can say is, thank GOD. 

I realize that this part of my article will make me look a little crazy, but I don't care. This is something that I need to speak about. This is my testimony and my own valid proof that demons are real. Demons can attack you in ways that are so seemingly normal, like phobias, anxiety, depression, "disorders" and addictions. They come in forms of everyday life problems. It may come in a subtle way, or it may come on full steam ahead -- but try to overcome these 'spirits' with courage. Pray to God and trust in Him. He will fight for you. Fear never goes away, unless it is handled with courage. The courage will fight off the fear. And then, you'll no longer fear whatever it was you were scared of. It's really hard, but it's possible. For me, I have to stay close to God, live by the Word and focus on all of the things that I am blessed with. I have a gratitude list that I do every morning. It keeps your mind from focusing in on the negative aspects. Sometimes, we think that our life is so horrible due to ONE negative problem occurring, which will make you become oblivious to the many blessings you have right in front of you. Only one problem can erase all the good that you're missing out on. Focus on the good. While praying, God taught me something valuable. Learn to say while things are going really bad, "I'm OK with it." When you do this, you crush a demon.

"I'm OK with it." 

Say it.

This not only means that you are strong enough to endure this challenge, but you are also relying on God to handle your problems for you. Give your cares to God with thanksgiving. This is just one of my many testimonies, and I'm sure that there will be much more to come. And you know what? 

I'm OK with 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!

Saturday, March 04, 2017

The One Thing Keeping Me Alive

It doesn't matter how close you are to someone, even if you live with them, the fact remains: you will always be oblivious or perhaps, out of 'the know' about something about that particular person. I always say that I will never truly know my wife 100%. I say that as a good thing, because I'm constantly learning new things about her, even after 20 something years of being together. Remember the good ol' 7 year itch? Well, that "itch" is true. The "itch" can also mean that it's just the process of growing, changing or setting new beliefs. In fact, our bodies develop new allergies every 7 years. Think about where you were 7 years ago today. You were quite different, weren't you? Think about your political views and even religious views... Weren't they a little different back then? I do know one thing, (maybe two or three) -- that we are constantly growing and evolving into different people, gradually. I'm not saying that every 7 years it's like, presto -- brand new person. "I don't even know them anymore." When I was in my early thirties, I remember my sister saying something very interesting. She said that when people turn 40 (especially women), they develop more desire to learn, but more so, more ability to absorb. This is why they suggest that people wait until they reach the prime age of 40 before they study the Kabbalah. If you open it beforehand, less gets absorbed and you won't be so 'enlightened' as you would if you were older than 40. As for my faith in Christianity, I recall Joyce Meyer, a Christian author and speaker, she would use the phrase "still on the milk" -- which would means, not fully absorbing the new information --or-- not a mature level of spirituality. So basically, still learning.

But "religion" is taught. Spirituality is developed over a period of time.

I've never reached such a high state of consciousness as I have when I turned 40 years old. It took some rough spiritual beatings to actually get to where I am right now, but I will say this: I am an entirely different person than I was before 40 years old. And that's just a couple of years ago...ok, a few years ago. I mean, what's better than reaching your highest level of spirituality other than learning about it first. But the deeper you go, (the more you meditate) and not only pray, but listen to God -- that's when you know you have reached a higher level. And remember, the word "silence" has the same letters as "listen." And when I say a "higher level" -- I do not mean your highest, because you can only go higher and higher without limitations. I truly believe that. Many atheists will laugh at my "fairytale-ish" kinda faith, but this fairytale kinda faith saved my life and it has also given such an amazing amount of peace, even if I was in the middle of complete chaos. I'm not perfect, which is why I still need God to guide me every step of the way. I fully depend on Him for all my needs. If he takes care of the sparrows, wouldn't He then take care of you? I trust in Him to the point of remaining in the present, not worrying about tomorrow, but keeping the necessary amount of worries for today and giving it up to God.

But it's not so easy sometimes.

I find myself tossing and turning at night, thinking about things that are out of my control. My mind spins faster and faster, spiraling out of control until I look up at the clock and it says, 5am. But when I get into the mindset of looking forward to tomorrow and going to sleep in a good mood -- I sleep like a baby cub. Any negative energy (thoughts, happenings in your life, situations) will keep you up at night if you don't 'put it to rest' literally. Nothing is going to change between 9pm and 6am, so you might as well sleep. There is NOTHING you can do about ANYTHING other than trust God, give your problems to Him (I do this mentally) and just go to sleep, knowing everything is in His hands. And they are. When I do this, I realize that not only did I sleep for 8 hours, but whatever I was worrying about the night before was no big deal that morning, nor in the afternoon or evening. Most of the things we tend to worry about never come into fruition. Isn't that difficult to wrap your mind around? That's the bulk of what most people's underlining anxiety and phobias stem from.

There's another thing I learned over the years too. I realized that there are people out there who pray to the same god I do. They pray differently, they live differently, some even having different beliefs within the same "religion" -- and you know something -- that's OK. We're not meant to walk the same exact path. We are each designed a personalized journey to which we discover God, or not. And that's up to you -- free will -- the right to choose your path, and hope for the best. Faith is not "TRUTH" as some Christians will say -- science cannot cover faith. But if you make your faith your own truth, then that is the most beautiful thing you can ever experience. It's gotten to the point where Christians are judging one another so harshly, even the way we pray or worship God has been ridiculed, or "not good enough."

“And now about prayer. When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I assure you, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father secretly. Then your Father, who knows all secrets, will reward you. When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered only by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!” ~Matthew 6:5-8

Sometimes I have a difficult time praying with other people, or praying over somebody else, which is the most amazing thing you can do. It says in the Bible, that when two are more are gathered, He is in the midst, when it comes to healing someone, or the laying of hands when somebody is ill. I'm pretty shy when it comes to praying publicly, or even just with someone. Yesterday afternoon, I was really upset. My mom didn't feel well and my friend Eva texted me at just the right moment and asked, "Are you ok?" She called me up and prayed over the phone with me. It meant the world to me. More and more I'm getting used to praying with other people. My mother and father in-law were over last week, and we all got into a circle, held hands and prayed for my mom's health. The feeling, the power, the anointing that came over me was so overwhelming -- I felt God there. There was no denying it. It was the first time in my life when I fully believed that praying with others is one of the most powerful ways to receive God's favor. It doesn't mean that God doesn't hear your prayers when you pray alone, it just means, there is more healing power in having more people of faith along with you, helping you, instilling their own love of God into the same prayer of favor. Now I understand why so many people are addicted -- yes, addicted to fellowship and going to church every Sunday. They feel that huge presence by being surrounded by others who believe in the same thing. It's absolutely magical.

I should've been dead two years ago, but because of my constant communication with God, I'm giving all credit to Him. Maybe I'll write about it sometime soon, but I will say one thing: any time I don't pray, communicate, meditate -- my entire day is 'off'. I feel weak, defeated, I tend to delve into my own sinful nature and that's when the devil attacks the most -- when you're at your weakest. But if you admit to God your weakness, your weaknesses becomes God's strength. So even if I'm too tired to pray, I do it anyway. And when there are days when I can't, or just feel too defeated, it's a day I repent for. The devil wants you to feel guilt, this way, you feel ashamed to come to God -- which only puts separation between you and God. That's the whole purpose. We all fall short, but we can go strong with constant communication and meditation. When I say "meditation" -- I don't mean go sit somewhere Indian style on some flimsy gym mat and "ommmmmmm" your way through it. (You can, and that's OK) -- but what I mean is, LISTEN. Wait for His answers, whether it's an impression on your mind or if it's a sign from outer circumstances. And remember that sometimes, unanswered prayers are the biggest blessings.

My keys to maintaining a "constant joy" -- not what the world deems as "happiness" -- but just a constant feeling of gratitude.

I mention three things that I am grateful for that day. I do this every single day. And ever since I have been practicing this into my prayer time, the world looks different. It doesn't look as drab as it used to. I'm starting to see the good in things and holding less pity parties for myself.

I thank Him for my daily bread -- the manna that He provides. If I hoard it, or become cheap and stingy, it'll be taken from me. I learned this through a Bible story.

In Exodus 16, God provided the Israelites with manna from heaven. It was called “the bread which God has given you to eat." That manna was given to sustain them for that day. Fresh manna was provided by God on a daily basis. But what did the people do? They tried to store it up, to hoard it, to find some other security in knowing that there was “sufficient for tomorrow,” etc. But the manna of God was not for storing up purposes; it was to be eaten on a daily basis. When they got away from the simple commands of God, they soon discovered that “the manna from heaven” very quickly degenerated into a stink ~ “it bred worms and stank." We would ask, “How could it be that such a gift from God could be turned so quickly into something we would reject because of the way it turned out?” We find it hard to equate that something from heaven could become worm-ridden and carry such an awful stench. Yet, unfortunately, that is the way it can be. God wants us to live in such a way that our relationship with Him is a daily relationship, where He supplies us with that “bread from heaven” (revelation) of what He is wanting of us at this very present point in time. We have to know His voice to live like that.

And to know His voice, we have to ask for discernment from God -- to fully understand when He is the one talking. Many people are praying and communicating, but sometimes, it can be from different sources. You truly have to be careful when you're opening that veil of communication. Seal it with the name of Jesus, and try to ask for discernment when you are praying and communicating, especially when you are listening, or at least, trying to.

I know this is a longwinded article, but I wanted to share my faith with you. People see me live stream and cook, make light-hearted jokes and what have you. But there is a much deeper side to me, something rarely seen by my friends or family. Be rest assured, I am always praying for my friends and family. I also pray over the food I cook for them, asking God to bless it with love, health, laughter and happiness. I may not look like your "typical Christian" or act like it sometimes, but my faith is even stronger than my own earthly reality.

It's the one thing keeping me alive today.

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, February 17, 2017

The Inevitable Change

Change. Is it really a bad thing? I think the biggest reason why people get depressed or develop anxiety is the constant change that happens to all of us at any given moment. It's the unpredictable nature of life that leaves our hearts unsettled. Change happened to me when I found out my father was diagnosed with cancer. And even though you watch a loved one going through the struggles of an illness, and realize that their time is coming to an end, the inevitable change is almost still the same as if someone left your life suddenly. Many would disagree with that, only because there's the element of preparation involved. Nonetheless, it's a huge change -- the change that your life will take on once someone you love and known has gone away for good. It doesn't feel "normal" and creates a sense of fear. It's just a "new normal" for many of us.

Change can also mean a change in atmosphere -- a big move (whether moving on up or moving on down), getting married, divorce, finding out your pregnant, a new career -- all of these with the element of surprise and excitement, and some that causes anger, grief and anxiety. Think about this: if life were to remain the same all the time, how would we progress from point A to point B? We would have no challenges, eliminating strength and endurance, and even experience to make us strong and knowledgable. If you haven't let go to an unfortunate change, like clinging to the past of an ex lover or a loved one who has passed, your nostalgia will not only drive you nuts, it'll hold off your life. It'll prevent you from finding a new love, or it will leave you standing in the same emotional state (depressed and withdrawn) until you realize that everything needs to change. Everything needs to move on, pass on, so you can live on.

Your health can change at the drop of a hat. One day, you're able to run 2 miles or perhaps, do simple things like drive to the store, go shopping, cook and have a good time with your family and friends. Sometimes, a change in our health will prevent us from being able to do any of that. We take our health for granted. We sometimes complain over a simple cold (I'm guilty of this), and we sort of morph into big spoiled crybabies, when there are people out there doing more in their wheelchairs that we can ever imagine doing with our own healthy and able bodies.

Perspective. It's all how you see it. I've learned that you can actually have peace in the midst of chaos. You can change your thinking around in order to prevent you from going crazy. The myoclonic seizures that I was suffering from at night has been calming down. I do attribute much of it to the effects of the vitamin D, which I have now stopped, but most of it was due to the way I was thinking right before bedtime. Why is it that most of us start to overthink about negative things in our lives once we put our heads onto our pillows? I think about my mom, and how concerned I am about the cancer coming back. I get worried that she's sleeping alone, now that she lost my father. I worry about the next day, and the things I have to do or edit and publish. I especially overthink about preparations for guests coming over, which makes me insane, because I obsess over every detail. So now, I give all of those thoughts to God right before I sleep. One by one, I tell him, "Here, take this thought, and oh, here's another one, and don't forget to take care of this big one too." He grabs all of my worries for that evening and reassures me that they'll be taken care of, or at least, put on hold until tomorrow with tomorrow's own set of worries. After I adapted to this habit of giving my problems to God, I rarely get myoclonic seizures or "sleep jerks" any longer. I get them once or twice a week as opposed to every single night, leaving me awake until 5am. Big change! A good change!

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us--they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. --Romans 5:3-4

I wanted to share my thoughts with you in case you are having a dilemma with letting go or just simply accepting 'what is' -- accepting the change that occurs all the time in life.

Another note I want to say is that on my Facebook page, I will no longer be promoting it like I used to. For some reason, it is drawing a very young (13-18 years of age) from Vietnam that don't even speak English. I'm worried that the promotions are drawing 'bots' and I want to keep my site clean from unauthentic viewers, and more interactions with real people. Twitter and Facebook both have been dealing with this issue. Periscope just recently deleted millions of bots, so the follower count went down dramatically. As on mine, I lost 1,000 followers due to them being unauthentic. I am happy about this 'clean up' in social media. I hope that it'll bring in more of a meaningful discussion in the comment section.

Thanks for reading!

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, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day to My Country

Today, I saw a few posts and some live streams of a couple of my friends a little bummed out about today. There are three ways to enjoy love: give love, receive love, BE love. There are a number of ways of just BEING love. For instance, donating to an animal shelter, purchasing items for the person behind you in line at the supermarket, or even spreading some good positive vibes out there in the world. This world has become so angry, full of people with enormous amounts of resentment. To approach them on a bad day would be an explosive catastrophe. It didn't make things better once the election was over.

"Love Trumps Hate" doesn't work so well when you're displaying hate yourself. The definition of a "peaceful protest" doesn't include burning up our own flag, carrying protest signs that say "electrocute Pence" or romanticizing about assassinating our President. That's not love. When you preach love, your actions should prove it as well.

In 1 Corinthians 13:4-6, it speaks about the true definition of love.

Love is patient and kind.
(Patience hasn't been seen by the left. They haven't given the president a chance. And they're definitely not displaying kindness in any way.)

Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
(Rallies at the *Pride* Parades for the LGBT have become extremely boastful, *proud* and rude.) 

Love does not demand its own way.
(They demand quite a few things, including the death of our president.) 

Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged.
(How many times have you seen irritable protesters destroying other people's property, blocking traffic and harassing other bystanders and beating the living daylights out of other Trump supporters? How many times have they brought up the same rhetoric of past 'no nos' by our president?)

It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
(To endure in every circumstance is to realize that there was a fair voting system and that our president elect won fair and square. To not accept this is to protest -- fine. To become destructive because you didn't get your way is not OK. It demonstrates hatred, which is going against all that the  left preach.) 

Sometimes I think it would be better to be a kid -- too young to vote and too young to truly understand the madness of politics. I wish I could just 'go out 'n play' without thinking about how crazy this world really is. I don't remember anyone becoming so incredibly vile and toxic when their candidate lost an election. They voted, the person lost, and it was back to the grind as usual. I mean -- there were a few protestors here and there, but the average adult didn't get into it with one another about whose candidate was the better choice. I remember more love when I was a child -- more acceptance -- more tolerance.

"He's NOT my president!"

No. He is. You're in the U.S.? He is. You can always go to the 77 other countries where they don't value women, throw gays and lesbians off from rooftops, behead Christians and circumcise young women. Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female genital cutting and female circumcision, is the ritual removal of some or all of the external female genitalia. The practice is found in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, and within communities from countries in which FGM is common.  The Women's March taken place all over the United States made me chuckle, thinking, "Wow, you really have no idea, do you?"

With that being said, I'm just going to say Happy Valentine's to my country! I am so happy that I am a born and raised citizen of the United States. I am very happy that we now have a president who not only wants to protect us and our rights, but wants to make our country a safer place to live in. We should LOVE that about America. But many who say they're all about "love" are truly all about hate.

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, February 07, 2017

By Faith Alone

Have you ever felt that intense heaviness on your heart -- the type of pain that only exists when you lose a loved one or when the love of your life parts ways with you? Some say that a breakup is very similar to a death, except the other person is still out there choosing not to be apart of your life. For some, that can be the most painful thing in the world. I wrote about the broken heart syndrome before in this post. It's similar to what I feel happened to Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher. The pain was too much for Debbie Reynolds to bear -- to see her daughter go before her. No parent should ever see their child go first. In that article, I also had spoken about my dad's passing and how I reacted to it. I kept getting severe chest pains. I finally had to be hauled away by the ambulance because I passed out. The EMT said, "I was the one who helped your father in his last days, you're going through the broken heart syndrome." And that was the first I have ever heard of it.

The American Heart Association gives us the definition of it.

Breakdown of a Broken Heart Broken heart syndrome, also called stress-induced cardiomyopathy or takotsubo cardiomyopathy, can strike even if you’re healthy. (Tako tsubo, by the way, are octopus traps that resemble the pot-like shape of the stricken heart.) Women are more likely than men to experience the sudden, intense chest pain — the reaction to a surge of stress hormones — that can be caused by an emotionally stressful event. It could be the death of a loved one or even a divorce, breakup or physical separation, betrayal or romantic rejection. It could even happen after a good shock (like winning the lottery.) Broken heart syndrome may be misdiagnosed as a heart attack because the symptoms and test results are similar. In fact, tests show dramatic changes in rhythm and blood substances that are typical of a heart attack. But unlike a heart attack, there’s no evidence of blocked heart arteries in broken heart syndrome. In broken heart syndrome, a part of your heart temporarily enlarges and doesn’t pump well, while the rest of your heart functions normally or with even more forceful contractions. Researchers are just starting to learn the causes, and how to diagnose and treat it. The bad news: Broken heart syndrome can lead to severe, short-term heart muscle failure. The good news: Broken heart syndrome is usually treatable. Most people who experience it make a full recovery within weeks, and they’re at low risk for it happening again (although in rare cases in can be fatal). ---read more here.

Here's what I learned from God speaking to me. Whether you believe God spoke to me or not is up to you. I can only share what I heard, felt and what was impressed upon me. He told me that it's impossible to experience the broken heart syndrome if you have faith. See, when you have absolute faith in God and your afterlife, as well as other's afterlives, you know that they're going to be okay. More importantly, you're going to be okay too. Faith is the one thing that's been scientifically, (yes, scientifically) proven to show that people who had faith, are more likely to cope with grief much better than those who do not have faith.

Trust me in your times of trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory. -- Psalm 50:15

Since I know it is all for Christ's good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. -- 2 Corinthians 12:10

When you trust in God and have absolute faith in Him, there is nothing you cannot get through. As the ol' saying goes, if He brings you to it, He'll get you through it. It may sound cliché, but it's my truth -- it's my belief. Times of crisis and hardships can strengthen our character too.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us--they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. -- Romans 5:3-4

Sometimes, I let my mind rule my emotions, especially when my mom's health is declining or she has to undergo some sort of procedure or struggle through the awful effects of the chemo. During this time, I'm very vulnerable. And even now, seeing her in such pain from her cancer and how the strongest of pain killers doesn't even help her much at all, it kills my heart, or at least, it feels that way. I've seen my dad suffer through this for some time, and now she's going through it -- almost in the same way.  Watching someone you love so much, suffer so terribly...really is painful. I wish I could take her pain away, I wish I could regenerate her cells to be healthy again, I wish...

My mom was losing a lot of blood due to her condition. We had to keep taking her to the hospital for blood transfusions all the time. Now she is taking iron intravenously every week. I thought about the story in the Bible about the woman with the issue of blood. Although these illnesses may have been different, I had faith that this can help us in our own situation. First, let me tell you the story about the woman Jesus healed who had an issue of blood.

As Jesus and the disciples were going to the official's home, a woman who had been hemorrhaging for 12 years came up behind him in a huge crowd of people surrounding Jesus. She touched the fringe of his robe, for she thought, "If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed." (So her faith was strong enough to believe this to be true!) Jesus turned around and asked, "Who touched my robe!" He knew exactly who it was, but the touch had so much faith in it, that he needed to find the woman that needed help. When he came up to her, he said, "Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well." And the woman was healed at that moment. Just by touching his tzitzis made her well. Tzitzis are specially knotted ritual fringes, or tassels, worn in antiquity by Israelites and today by observant Jews and Samaritans. So, I went out and bought a few Tzitzis and had them blessed. She placed them where her cancer is, and now her "issue of blood" has stopped, although she still needs her iron infusions. The story touched me because I believed that if my mom were to use these tzitzis, that her bleeding would at least stop for some time. By faith, she was healed in that respect. I still have hope.

My worst fear in the world is losing somebody I love. I'm sure I'm not alone with that fear. As I was praying, the sun was shining on my face, warming me in the midst of a cold day. I looked down and saw a bright silver heart made from the ice that was forming on one portion of the ground. I heard God speak to me and say, "The scripture in Psalm 91 that says, 'Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you.'" He said "these evils" can reference to the broken heart syndrome. Evils are anything that oppresses you emotionally: fear, grief, depression, anxiety, etc. And although this scripture references to a much larger scale of 'warfare' -- this applied to me at the time of my prayer. He promised that I would be okay. Even if I saw every single one of my loved ones go before me, that no "evils" should touch me. He said that there is no such thing as a "broken heart syndrome" for those who have complete faith in God. So by faith, I am saved from these terrifying thoughts and grief of what's to come. When people get physically ill or perhaps, die from losing a loved one, it means they have little to no faith in God and heaven. They don't believe or (doubt) that they're going to be okay.

They did a scientific experiment, showing people who were going through intense grief after the death of a loved one. One group had faith, while the other group did not.

People reporting no spiritual belief had not resolved their grief by 14 months after the death. Participants with strong spiritual beliefs resolved their grief progressively over the same period. People with low levels of belief showed little change in the first nine months but thereafter resolved their grief. These differences approached significance in a repeated measures analysis of variance (F=2.42, P=0.058). Strength of spiritual belief remained an important predictor after the explanatory power of relevant confounding variables was controlled for. At 14 months the difference between the group with no beliefs and the combined low and high belief groups was 7.30 (95% confidence interval 0.86 to 13.73) points on the core bereavement items scale. Adjusting for confounders in the final model reduced this difference to 4.64 (1.04 to 10.32) points. Conclusion People who profess stronger spiritual beliefs seem to resolve their grief more rapidly and completely after the death of a close person than do people with no spiritual beliefs.----read more here.

There are many agnostics and atheists who don't have faith, or at least enough faith to get them through their challenges in life. I'm not saying it's an easy ride when you have faith, but the burden is much less. I can't make anybody believe in God, nor believe any of the awesome miracles that have happened to me. I can just hope that one day, someone sees me as an example and gets inspired to believe. We can't push "religion" down anyone's throats. God gave us free will, and with that, people are free to choose to believe or not to believe. But by example and scientific evidence that faith proves and improves the state of health, grief or pain. Prayer is the most powerful thing anyone can do for someone in my belief. Prayer is the link between you and God. And when it comes to healing, when two or more are gathered in prayer, God is there to heal and restore whoever needs it. Many atheists who were former pastors tell me, "Well, you know that what you are experiencing is oxytocin." Well, if it is, let me be happy with my chemicals flowing through my body, because I not only have faith that it's the Holy Spirit, I know that for me, it's truth. God will never let science prove Him. It's only by faith to which He exists. And that's only up to you.

"You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who haven't seen me and believe anyway." -- Jesus (John 20:29)

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!