Saturday, March 30, 2019

Are You At the End of Your Rope?

Sometimes it can be frustrating to have unanswered prayers. Even the message behind praying for stuff is convoluted somewhat. Some Christians believe that you shouldn't pray for "stuff" and that if you do, that it's a form of idolization -- for instance, you'd rather "things" more than a relationship with God. But biblically speaking, that's just not true at all. A lot of pastors will try and say that you should ask for deeper things and to only use prayer to praise God. Well, yes---praising God and being grateful for what we have now is important. But God wants us to go to Him for everything else too. It's up to Him whether or not those 'orders' get fulfilled. If our own earthly loved ones can provide "stuff" for us, then what makes us think that God can't?

In Luke 11:9-13, it clearly states:

"And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks. You fathers---if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! If sinful (all people) know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them who ask Him?"

What about this scripture?

"You have not because you ask not." --James 4:2

The other day I was reading a devotional, and part of it made me realize why some people feel bad for asking God to help them. Many of the messages that Christians or clergy give out, even if they say it's biblical, can be a little confusing.

Part of the devotional stated this:

"Do not seek Me primarily for what I can give you. Remember that I, the Giver, am infinitely greater than any gift I might impart to you. Though I delight in blessing My children, I am deeply grieved when My blessings become idols in their hearts. Anything can be an idol if it distracts you from Me as your First Love. When I am the ultimate Desire of your heart, you are safe from the danger of idolatry. As you wait in My Presence, enjoy the greatest gift of all: Christ in you, the hope of Glory!"

Many people rely on these devotionals because they're easy to read and it gives them a new message for the day. But sometimes, they're not so biblical as one may think. They're not word for word biblical statements. Compare the biblical scriptures I provided above to the devotional section. It doesn't match up. And if you are asking God (being a devout Christian and believer) -- that is not idolatry. It's asking your Father for help, even if it's financial. Why wouldn't God want the best for you?

But there is a bigger picture than just money...

Many people live their lives just to save and save and save more money so they can be *comfortable*, during their lifetime and especially for retirement. And of course it's okay and good to have wealth and to live comfortably---I'm not saying otherwise. But some people spend their whole life working their tailbone off, towards a goal that's only a fraction of their entire life. They miss out on 'today' and focus on that small tiny timeline of their retirement and golden years. They miss out on family, friends and just life in general. They have no concern about the afterlife---or that when it comes, it comes. But listen to this pastor named, Francis Chan who explains this so beautifully.

If you cannot see the video below, please click HERE.

There's gotta be more to this life, right? Like what's the point? Are we here to leave a mark? Are we here to help people? Are we here to just have fun and never get out of our comfort zone? Nobody---and nobody really knows their mission in life, unless they've seen their life affect millions....or perhaps, even just five people. God may have put you here for just a few people and you have no idea. We all have no idea.

A friend of mine asked me an interesting question yesterday. I always take advice from her being that she's a highly intelligent businesswoman. Her brain goes right to the business side of anything. So with my writing or other side freelance projects I have going on, she likes to give her suggestions which I appreciate.

She asked, "Why so much 'God' and serious stuff in your work? You're so funny--why not focus on that and gain popularity?"

She also made an observation about my personality. If you know me personally, I kinda have a funny sense of humor, and I'm not perfect in the least. I'm just somebody who has a great deal of faith in God due to my past experiences as well as upbringing. I can see logically how anyone can ask that question. My personality hasn't changed---if you read through my work, and every single article I have ever posted, you can see how much passion I have about topics such as mental health issues and how God has saved me from my worst tragedies. I can't leave God out because that would be a lie. My faith is my passion---it's the most important part of me---it's my core.

"Well, don't you want to make money?"

And yet, I do make money by freelancing and writing articles for other websites, like BetterHelp and non-profit organizations who want what's called "link placements" added onto my blog so they get more exposure to a a topic that's related to their services. They mostly deal with mental health or cancer fundraisers. Does it make me rich? No, but it does make me happy that I'm paying my bills by possibly helping other people out there in the world who either need to read an article about my experiences, or those who clicked on a link to get help from the sites I provide. I never wanted to be 'rich'---I mean, if I won the lottery, sure that's great and I could just throw it in the bank and call it a day, but my life has never been focused on money and I do alright.

Even God has mentioned the dangers of wealth in the Bible and how when we only focus on money, we let it become an idol.

"Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to get into the Kingdom of Heaven. I say it again---it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!'" --Matthew 19:20-24

This was a story about a rich young man who had everything. He was asking Jesus about his eternal life and how he kept all of the commandments. But having faith and believing in God is much more than keeping the commandments. Faith without works is dead. And what that means is---your actions prove your loyalty. "You will know by their fruits." So the rich man said, "What else must I do?"

Jesus said, "If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come follow me." But when the young man heard this, he went sadly away because he had many possessions.

This story isn't saying to give up all you have. It's basically saying to give freely, to help others and to put others first. Nobody has ever gone poor by giving---and that's a fact. When people place money over their own faith in God---over their own destiny in the afterlife, it only proves that there's a huge lack of faith somewhere. For me, I will never compromise this website or what I do in order to gain popularity or money. I can write freely from the heart, not being dictated by some "company" that I don't fully stand behind. The companies that support me in my writing and other social media aspects---I stand behind them firmly due to how many people they have helped as well. My sponsorships and employers are not huge "profit makers" (sponsors) so much as they are helpful to various communities who are suffering, from either cancer or mental illness. That to me is worth very second of writing.

"If you gift is to encourage others, do it! If you have money, share it generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly." Romans 12:8

One of my favorite scriptures says this:

"This should be your ambition: to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we commanded you before. As a result, people who are not Christians will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others to meet your financial needs." --1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

I want to know that when I leave this earth, I want to be sure that I left a mark, not only for myself, but to encourage others of how real God is. I want people to read my work years and years after my death and say, "Wow, this has changed my life." I have a friend from years ago I met when my book first came out. She was inside her car in the garage with the doors closed, contemplating suicide. I asked her to please just hold on and to read a few pages from my book to show her what I went through and how God had helped me. She went back inside and never thought of suicide again. Today she is happily married and living her best life. That's because God worked through me to help her understand how important she was. Even if it was to help one or two people, it was so worth it.

The Starfish Story

Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions. Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching. As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. 

The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?” The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied.

“When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.” The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.” The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!” --adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)

Going back to the video above, what are you doing in the middle of your 'rope'---the LIFE portion that'll affect your eternity portion? Or are you just living for this world?

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

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Don't Cry

Even the Strongest People Cry

Throughout my entire life, I was always told, "Don't cry, baby, don't cry," by both my parents. They wanted to see me happy---they wanted to see me OK and they certainly did not want to see me fall apart. Maybe in a way, they'd take the blame and say it was all their fault somehow. Or maybe, they didn't want to cry themselves. Most of me believes that they loved me so much, that it hurt them to see me in some kind of pain, whether emotional or physical. I remember many years ago, I had to go for lasik eye surgery. I was legally blind and the surgery was risky. They made me sign all of these forms saying that it was an 80/20 chance of me going completely blind, with the exception of a cornea replacement---not in my favor of course. I said, "I'm blind anyway, just do it." When I came out of surgery, it was more intense than most would go through, because my cornea was too thin, and needed much more time to heal. I had patches on both eyes, plus plastic barriers taped on with huge black Terminator-like sunglasses they usually give to people with cataracts. As we were walking out of the clinic, my partner called my parents to let them know we were okay and that the surgery went well. When my dad asked to speak to me, Madelene said, "She can't see right now so I have to guide her to the car." I had no clue what would happen after that call. When I walked into the house, my dad was hysterically crying. We're tawkin' about MY dad---300 lb tall and strong Italian guy who could take out an army with one hand. (Well, maybe.)

"What happened! My baby! What did they do to you! What happened?" as he cried and hugged me.

I was confused. ...What did just happened?? 

When Madelene said that I couldn't see---she just meant that my eyes were covered up with all the bandages and plastic crap. She didn't mean I went blind. But this was the first time I saw my dad fall apart---I mean completely apart. I felt so bad, but at the same time, I felt so loved. He cried over me possibly going blind. This is why I believe children live longer than their parents in most cases. We can handle it better. A parent can't see their child hurt or God forbid, pass away before them. They would never make it. I also believe that's why my dad passed away first. He couldn't possibly bear seeing my mom not only suffer, but seeing her pass away and saying his final goodbyes. No. No. No. Never.

Everyone Left

There's are other types of reasons why people cannot handle seeing others suffer. Some say they're "empaths," which is partially true, but I'm guessing it tugs on their own fear of the same thing happening to them. If you've ever lost a loved one before---I mean someone who was very close to you---you probably experienced the weird phenomenon of the people in your life becoming invisible. After the funeral and all of the 'call me anytime' offers, most of those people are no longer there. Some stay, but most don't. It's actually a proven fact that this type of thing occurs and it's talked about in many grief support groups. Some people don't know how to help you. They may say the wrong things with good intentions. We may get offended by those sayings, thinking, "How can you say something like that," when in fact, it was intended to be comforting. People in general are very uncomfortable being around someone who is grieving. It's hard to watch especially if your loved one is still alive. And sometimes, it's hard to watch a loved one grieving in fear that you may cry yourself, making their sadness only worse. There's so many reasons.

Most of all, I think it's important to forgive somebody who has withdrawn from social events---and maybe even society altogether. Forgive them for not coming around as much, and commend them on whatever effort they made to just show up. We tend to get caught up in this whole, "Well I visited you last time now you have to see me," type of mindset, and honestly, it's just childish. We need to be more compassionate and forgiving---not angry because someone can't walk out of their house because they're up to their neck in grief. So many families have split apart because they didn't feel loved enough, or felt like their friends and loved ones just didn't care anymore. My rule of thumb is---if you miss someone, call them. Don't make your significant other call them---you call them. If you want to visit them, invite them. If you want them to come over, ask them. If you get a "no"---forgive them. Then ask, "Well, when?" That's fine. There should be no rules when it comes to being together, being a family or having a close relationship with your friends. It should be when everyone is OK with their own schedule. And it's OK to not feel OK and want to just stay home instead.

We're All Too Busy

We're all hurting in our own ways. We all have our unique lives that sometimes leave us "too busy" to do anything. But my thing is, nobody is too busy not to check in on a loved one. Nobody is "too busy" to pick up the phone and say, "Hey, how are you?" Nobody it sooooo busy where they risk losing ties with their friends and family. Nobody. One of my biggest pet peeves is that many people make broken promises. I'm sure there are legit reasons why a promise may be broken, and of course you should forgive them, but our society is lacking integrity. We throw out promises to get together, or to be there for someone, to only not show up. Part of this stems from the lack of real communication: real life as well as picking up the phone. We make plans through group texts or a random text that says, "Hey, wanna have dinner next week?" Then you never hear from them again. I'm a firm believer in confirmation calls. "We still on for tomorrow?" Simple. But I blame it on technology and having "receipts" that people said, "Yes, I'd love to come." But that doesn't confirm the date in my book.

Broken Promises 

During the past year, my anxiety got worse and I was trying to figure out why. I should be getting better. What was happening was stored up resentment and bitterness, but I wasn't consciously aware of it in the least. I was resentful over broken promises made by a couple of people in my life. It drove me nuts to think about the lack of integrity on their part---even as far as forgetting about it altogether. I had to come to terms with forgiving them and realizing that relying on people 100% is just not feasible anymore. If you do rely on people 100%, you will always be disappointed somehow. We live in a very different time. People tend to be more self-absorbed, "busy," and offended if you ask about why they haven't come through on a promise that was made. Everyone's offended.

My Dream

What I wouldn't do to go back as an adult to live in the 70's or 80's again. I wouldn't want to be a child (as I was back in that era) but I would love to be living my adult life during that time. Neighbors were friendly, so much so that they'd come by to visit you. Dogs roamed around freely to each other's homes and never a complaint. You didn't hear about vicious dogs or neighbors suing one another over 'your dog bit my dog,' to which had happened to me. My neighbors two German Shepherds attacked my 12 lb chihuahua while I was out walking my dog on my lawn with a leash on her. I had to send her to the vent because one of them bit her leg. $300 dollars later, they still have not paid. I decided to not pursue it just to make peace. Friends came over uninvited and it was actually OK! We didn't pretend to not hear the doorbell. Every weekend was full of family events and big BBQ's out in the yard. No weekend was spent in front of a computer, or my favorite...Netflix. We were out taking in the sunshine and loving every second of it. We had picnics, we walked more, we talked more, and now...we shut our doors off to the world and write what we're doing on Facebook. We take photos of our dinner on Instagram, instead of inviting the people who liked the post. We've become a society of exclusionists---only certain members allowed. We've weeded out our garden to a small mound of dirt with only one or two flowers we favor. We stopped loving everyone, until proven otherwise.

My advice? 
If you're worried about someone, call them.
If you miss someone, go see them.
If you think someone went missing, find them.
If you love someone, tell them.

You never know what somebody going through, unless you show up, unless you are in their lives, unless you are offering some part of you that may make them feel better...unless of course, you're "too busy."

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

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

How I Stopped Making Pain, Trauma & Grief My Identity

Years ago, I suffered from chronic pain. Some doctors called it "degenerative disc disease" while other physicians referred it to "fibromyalgia." They couldn't quite pinpoint what was wrong with me and why I was experiencing such excruciating pain. They admitted me to the hospital for a week to do some testing for autoimmune diseases and other possible diagnoses, to only come up with "myalgia." I guess it's another word for, "We don't know, but we're gonna slap a label on it." During that time, I also developed an ulcer due to all of the NSAIDS (ibuprofen) I was taking to relieve some of the pain. They also gave me Percocet, but it didn't work quite as well as the anti-inflammatories. I had no choice because my stomach would suffer. When I realized I was developing a dependency on the pills, I weaned off and tried smoking weed, which did nothing except make me high and hungry. I never understood why people used it for pain. It did absolutely nothing for the pain.

I spent countless hours online searching for support groups who had fibromyalgia and chronic pain in general. There was a word they used that I wasn't familiar with. They called themselves, "spoonies." I wasn't sure if this label was right for me, but I used it, hashtagged it, and created a pseudo identity for myself. Establishing that identity enhanced my involvement, but I also noticed my chronic pain enhanced as well---as if I'm supposed to have pain and constantly be in this group of "spoonies." It gave me a sense of belonging, since nobody around me truly understood it.

But that wasn't who I was. That wasn't my identity.

I then discovered a new identity: grief. I became apart of the support groups, the hashtags, the voice for those who also grieved---not realizing that the intense involvement somehow made my grief that much worse. See, by allowing the grief to remain is to allow the pain to occupy residency 24/7. You will never heal. I'm not saying that repressed feelings are good, but to constantly remain in the past, to remain in that pain without reaching out for the proper help to pull you out of that pit of despair can be a life or death situation.

I believe Langston Hughs said it best: Life is for the living.

Here's how I detached from those "identities."

Stop Feeding the Beast

They say that whatever you feed will grow. I was at a point in my grief where the sadness and despair was consuming every portion of my life. It also made me lose friendships and it was also destroying my marriage. In the support groups, you'll always hear, "There's no time limit on grief," but I say---give yourself a time limit. If you don't, you will lose your life---either by losing everyone around you, or worse off, your own life. Broken Heart Syndrome is real. If you keep torturing yourself with added on "reasons why to be sad"  -- your heart will never heal.  Every single night, I slept with my mother's favorite sweatshirt. It made me feel safe and comforted. What I didn't realize was it also made me incredibly sad, to where I didn't want to get out of bed. After a period of time, and acknowledgement that this wasn't a healthy step to my recovery, I folded up her shirt and put it in a closet next to a very few items I still had of hers. On my phone, I removed the picture of my mother holding me in her arms at the age of 10 years old. I thought that by having that photo as my screensaver on my phone, that it would give me comfort. It didn't. It gave me a great sense of sadness---like I just wanted to jump into the picture and be there again, when I should be wanting to be in the present moment---the now--with the people who are still alive now. I stopped keeping her photos near, put her belongings away and started to focus on everything that was important 'in the now.' The day I told my mother on her deathbed, "It's OK to let go, Ma," I finally realized that it was also OK for me to let go too.

Whatever You Resist, Persists --Carl Jung 

The physical pain that I suffered as a result of being diagnosed with fibromyalgia was somehow making me believe that this pain was my entire identity. This was my life: pain and pain management. My life revolved around different treatments, physical therapy, trying different pain meds and dealing with the side effects on a daily basis. I'm not saying the pain wasn't real or that it was all psychosomatic---but I was feeding it more and more. So finally, I spoke back to it. I know, it sounds crazy, but I literally sat up in my bed and said, "Bring it on!"  For the first time, I didn't resist the pain. I started to thank God in the midst of all my pain and suffering, and somehow, through the grace of God, my pain lessened. I became stronger and able to do more things than I ever could. There are times when I still get pain, but I remember the remedy: thanking God in the storm, because this too, shall pass. Don't give it power. I am NOT a "spoonie," and I am not a victim of pain. I am not going to label myself a grief-ridden victim of LIFE---that's what life is! We live to die and we already know this. That's why it baffles me when someone loses faith in God just because they lost a loved one. THIS is LIFE. This is why you need God even more. The bigger picture is something we could never comprehend.

Trust God & Know That Your Pain Has a Purpose

My friend Jackee always says, "You're somebody's answer!" If we don't go through trials and sorrows in our lives, how can we ever be of help to anybody else? There's this power we all get when we experience such pain and trauma. We discover new inner strengths that we never thought we had before. Through trusting God, He gives us supernatural powers to plow through our worst nightmares that unfold before our very own eyes. He carries us through the fire without smelling like smoke.

"Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything." --James 1:2-4

I always notice that each time we get a bigger snowstorm, we keep getting people with bigger plows to help us get through it. That's how God works though. With each terrible storm comes a bigger solution or (plow) ---if we allow it, if we call on them...if we call on God to work in our lives. And in due time, after withstanding so many storms, you'll eventually have your own plow so you can help everyone else who's stuck. Just have patience and hope. Without hope, there's nothing to hold onto.

Who Are You? 

My identity is not my physical pain, it's not my grief, it's not my anxiety and depression. My identity is in Christ. My identity is trusting God with everything. I'm a believer. I'm a King's kid. I'm a child of God. I am not orphaned, even though both my parents died. I have a Father. I have a best friend I can turn to at any given minute of the day. I have a comforter when I'm lying in bed scared. I have a healer when I feel sick. I am not a spoonie, I am not a victim of my circumstances...I'm a believer that all things work for the good. How would anyone know what joy truly is if they haven't experienced deep sadness? I have a purpose here. You have a purpose here. Isn't it funny, how most of us can't really say what that purpose is, but eventually, after our lives have passed, others will definitely know.  What do you want to leave behind? What message do you want to leave for your children, your grandchildren, or just people who are still on their earthly journey? When they ask who you were---what will people tell them? Who are you? You don't want to be 'that person who was always complaining about this n' that,'---you want more than just your pain and agony to define you. You want to be a conquerer.

"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

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

Growth Spurts

Yesterday, someone shared a quote with me that resonated with me so much. She said, "Just remember, trying to hurt me by bringing up my...