Tuesday, June 25, 2019

10 Ways to Find a Little Peace In This World

What gives you peace? What puts you in 'the zone' where you lose track of time and senseless thoughts? As we get older, it seems like there's no time for hobbies or things that give us joy. If you're smart enough, you'll find the time for all the things you love. But what if you have depression, and your sadness makes you unable to enjoy things things you used to love? It happens to the best of us. I go through waves of each hobby of mine. I have many outlets since I've been a spring chicken. I'm kind of like how my mom was---if I was stressed out, I'd cook a big meal or clean the house to rid of the negative thoughts. If I was having a panic attack, I would pray to God, meditate and play my soothing music in my prayer room. Other times, I'd pick up my guitar and play for an hour or two. Another favorite of mine is throwing myself onto the sofa and diving into a really good book. For me, reading puts me in the moment---it makes me focus on words and visualize the environments the author is planting in my mind. It's the perfect escape.

I remember one day, nothing would soothe my tension. I was caregiving for my mom and working in a nearby office. I went downstairs and saw her in such agonizing pain. I made sure she took her pain medication and sat with her for a while, until she fell asleep. The sadness, the anxiety was all too overwhelming. I was so tired from a lack of sleep, but something made me get up and go outside. I just sat in a chair facing the sun and closed my eyes. Whatever reason---maybe the vitamin D, maybe the sounds of the birds or just being out in nature---it seemed to have calmed my nerves. I know that many people fear the sun due to its harmful rays, but in moderation, it has helped me feel better, sleep better, and it even helps with gastrointestinal issues. The lack of vitamin D can sometimes leave us feeling sick and full of anxiety.

Here are some things that may help you if you're having a bad day full of anxiety and depression.

  • Go out for a drive and turn up the music. Open up the windows and feel the wind against your arm. 
  • Put on your earbuds and listen to your favorite music.
  • Give CBD a chance. I once wrote a post on how it made me feel too tired, but I wasn't giving it enough time. Like with any medication, you have to go through the 'side effects' to get the good effects! I cannot tell you how deeply I sleep these days. Which brings me to my next suggestion.
  • Sleep 8 hours if you can! Sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on everything. 
  • Do something you're afraid of doing. Conquer something you thought you could never do. It gives you a feeling of accomplishment. 
  • Pray. Go to your Source. Become more aware and conscious of the answers God is giving you.
  • Ground yourself. Count 5 things you can see. Count 5 things you can hear. Count 5 things you can feel. 
  • Try the 4,7,8 breathing exercise. Inhale for 4, hold for 7, exhale for 8 seconds. Do this a few times sitting down.
  • Go do something nice for somebody else. Take your mind off of YOU. 
  • Try cooking a new recipe.
Everyone deals with anxiety differently. Some people actually prefer to be busy, not giving them a chance to deal with their anxiety, but what happens is, once you try to relax at night, your anxiety will then release and keep you up with either a panic attack or insomnia. A therapist once told me the reason why I would get my panic attacks in the evening once my partner came home. I always looked forward to seeing my partner, but for some reason, something would trigger my anxiety once she walked in the door. My anxiety would flare up. She started to get a complex. But by not letting myself have an anxiety attack or feel tension during the day, it would bottle itself up until it was time to relax. The door of emotions opens up and BAM---a panic attack. So now, when I'm working at home and feel a panic attack coming on, I let it happen. I feel the waves of anxiety and then take a break to breathe and ground myself. I pray, I read, I meditate. Dealing with the anxiety right there when it happens was the trick to relieving my nighttime panic. 

And remember, everybody is so different in dealing with their anxiety. What works for one person may not work for another. Find your remedy and stick to it. It's OK to not be OK. You don't have to have it all together. You don't always have to be the responsible one. You don't always have to be the 'go-to' person all the time. Sometimes you need a 'go-to' person, and guess what? That's OK! Allow yourself to feel everything. Also, allow yourself to rest and relax. We sometimes feel guilty for resting or doing something that's not work-related or "productive." You do you and watch how things change for the better. 

Oh, and feel better! 

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, June 18, 2019

How Can You Be a Christian If You're Gay? (Questions From a Reader)

Remember when you were back in grade school, and during recess the kids would pick their teammates for their dodgeball game? More and more of your peers were leaving your side because they were lucky enough to get picked. Your mind starts racing, thinking how nobody wants you on their team or that you're not good enough. The self-loathing thoughts start rushing through your mind, leaving you to feel nothing more than mediocre---you were one of those "last but not least" kids. With a lump in your throat, you did the walk of shame over to whichever team needed one more player. Even as you enjoyed the game, you still weren't giving it your all because let's face it, most of them didn't want you on their team.

Isn't this kind of similar to what we think about when we try to belong to a church? When I was younger, I attended Catholic school, or (CCD) so I can get my communion and confirmation. Most Italian Catholics did this, even if they were lukewarm in their walk with God. It was kind of like, "Well in case we die, we have this" kind of mindset. I was always uncomfortable when people would put these high expectations on me, and felt that God was going to do the same. "Religion" was just too hard. It was too much effort. I didn't know anything about having a relationship with Jesus---I just knew a bunch of stories that sounded so 'way out there' and how we were supposed to follow a bunch of rules and laws that I barely even understood at that age. And although I did believe in God and prayed to Him once in a while, it brought out feelings of guilt and shame all the time. When I went to church, I'd ask my mom while people were getting up to receive communion, "Should I go too? I didn't go to confession in a long time." She always let me go up, but in my heart, I felt that I wasn't worthy enough to receive communion. I felt like I literally stole bread from them, even though it tasted like dry cardboard. By eating the bread, I just wanted God to be apart of me. I've always longed for Him, but people kept putting this scary image in my mind---like God throwing me into a lake of fire if I didn't do my chores or if I fought with another classmate.

Planting the Seed

At the age of 23 is when I became born again. I attended one of those Assembly of God churches where did they did praise and worship, along with a "service" (not mass) that the pastor did for about an hour after the music and dancing. I welcomed Jesus into my heart and was never the same after that. I have never seen a church so happy before. It was a 'spirit-filled'' church as they call it. I learned about God's undeserving favor and grace. I learned that you could repent to God by yourself through prayer. I also learned that it's never too late to get baptized and that you can actually have an intimate relationship with God---not just a Sunday morning meetup with other people listening to some priest say the Lord's Prayer like a robot.

Where Do I Belong? 

Struggling through life as a Christian, there were conflicting thoughts of whether I was 'right with God' due to other Christians judging me. I soon left the church so I could study the Bible more and to study God to a degree I never knew was possible. I realized that "church" starts at home first. "Religious people" can sit in the front row pew every Sunday morning, yet when they come home, God is no longer in their lives. What I've learned through my journey of getting to know God more, was that you can have heaven on earth---you can talk to God anywhere, anytime. I made it a point to make what's called a "prayer closet." This means, you choose a particular room or spot in your home that's conducive to your prayer time. Keep in mind---prayer can be anywhere you want, even if it's all spoken in your mind. But the act of verbalizing prayer is much more effective and beneficial for us. Just as I find writing down scriptures to be more beneficial for memorizing them. Same concept.

The Bible Can Be Scary

If you're a new Christian, the Bible can be quite scary if you randomly open it up and point your finger down on a paragraph where God's destroying cities and blasting people out of this world. But if you read the story, absorb the meaning of what's going on, it'll become much clearer. Before you open up the Bible, place your hands on it and pray to God for understanding and discernment. Sometimes when I would open up the Bible, it was all Greek to me. I had no real understanding of it when I first started. And now? The scriptures are as clear as day. The Bible is alive! I know this is true, because many times, that bible has given me the answers to already spoken questions to God minutes afterwards. When you believe---that's when the magic happens. And as they say, even if your faith is as small as a mustard seed, you can move mountains.

Why Do So Many People Disagree With Some of the Bible? 

The Bible was written a very long time ago. It was written by man and inspired by God. Nothing should be added or taken away from it. So don't get discouraged when you hear that there are other 'books' or scrolls missing. During those times, it was customary to have servants (yes slaves) and although many people of today will shun the Bible due to that historical fact, it was quite different than what some of our ancestors have encountered. There are laws in the Bible that condemn certain foods and general everyday practices, but most of them do not apply to Christians. The Old Testament (most Jews rely on) will keep most of these laws, like not shaving their beards, eating crustaceans of the sea (shellfish), wearing two different fabrics or even sitting next to a woman who is menstruating. No tattoos or marking of the skin, no pork, no consuming blood from an animal or mixing beef with milk (kosher laws.)
Although the Old Testament is important for everyone to read---we have to remember that when Christ came to die for us, the old law was abolished for the gentiles. Jesus came to fulfill the law by dying on the cross for us. For it says, "'So we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be accepted by God because of our faith in Christ--and not because we have obeyed the lawFor no one will ever be saved by obeying the law." --Galatians 2:16


"For if we could be saved by keeping the law, then there was no need for Christ to die." --Galatians 2:15-21

What Does This Mean For Christians? We Can Sin? 

Yes and no. God gave us free will, right? But the question should be: what are the specific laws for Christians? For instance, The Ten Commandments are still applicable. When you have the Holy Spirit inside of you, it's by no effort of your own that you become right with God. It takes time, and little by little, you'll see that you're less interested in things that were not really good for you. As the Bible even states, the more you try to keep the law, the more you learn that you can never "earn" God's approval. It's not by good deeds that you go to heaven, it's by faith alone. However, faith without works is dead. So if you truly do not accept the Holy Spirit, then they'll know you by your fruits. So if a healthy tree provides good fruit, you know it's good. But if the tree's roots are rotted, it can't produce much of anything. The most important commandment in the Bible for ALL of us, is this:

"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself."---Luke 10:27

Aren't You Gay Though? Isn't That A Sin? 

I am a person who is in a same-sex marriage with my partner of 25 years, who also happens to love God just as much as I do. Homosexuality listed in the Bible first started in the Old Testament with Leviticus. It says,

"You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination." Chapter 18 verse 22.

"If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them." Chapter 20 verse 13.

I'll point out a couple of things here: first, this is being taken out of Leviticus, laws which only apply to Jews. Secondly, it speaks of only a man with a man---if you read it over, "to lie with a male as with a woman," ---this was an act of promiscuity and uncleanliness, due to the man's genitals being defiled, and then entering his wife afterwards.

In the New Testament, when they do speak about homosexuality, it's about sexual immorality and promiscuity.

There is a specific progression that leads to this “orgy” of anger. First, men “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (v. 18). Then they exchanged “the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (v. 25). Next, “God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity” (v. 24). They “exchanged the natural [sexual] function for that which is unnatural (v. 26). Therefore, the wrath of God rightly falls on them (v. 18); they are without excuse (v. 20).

In layman's terms, it's essentially stating that these people put "idols" before God---not to be confused with worshipping other gods, but to put their lusts and desires before the Lord. I mean, if you really wanna get silly with this, even watching too much TV or going on social media too much is an "idol." If it takes more time than your time with God, then it can become an idol.

In Romans, they were having orgies---having sex with anyone, whether it be male or female. This was "lust"---not love. This was promiscuity and reckless sex---not two people uniting as one who love one another. These scriptures were taken out of context and used as a way to condemn those who were gay or lesbian. In Sodom and Gomorrah, the story is solely about rape and humiliation. The men came to Lot's door and asked for his sons---not his daughters, in a way to rape and humiliate them. This had absolutely nothing to do with being in a same sex relationship or marriage. This had everything to do with unnatural ways to humiliate somebody for punishment.

What Does Homosexuality Really Mean Then? 

The origins of the word "homosexuality" doesn't necessarily mean same gender sex. The passage in the ancient Hebrew is clearly talking about male-male sex acts, specifically anal sex. The issue was penetrating an anus with a penis, this making the penis literally “unclean” to the point of forbidding entry into a vagina. (Thank you Pastor Nick for showing me this, and God rest your soul. RIP buddy.)


I'm OK With Who I Am and Who I Am In the Eyes of God

To conclude, my faith and relationship with God is the most important aspect of my life. I believe in Him so much, that it's just become my knowledge. It's more of a 'I know that I know that I know' type of faith. Through deep prayer, meditation and through studying the Bible, I realized how easy it is for many of us to read one thing, yet it mean another to somebody else. I also believe that the Bible speaks to all of us in such individualistic ways. I've been told that I "cherry pick" my scriptures, or that I twist the scriptures to suit my own needs. Not at all. I read what's there, I pray about it -- (prayed about it for years upon years) and I receive revelation and truth. God knows our hearts. If what you do in life goes against God and you have the Holy Spirit inside of you---you will no longer desire those things. My life has changed so much after I gave my life to Christ. I know that I'm in right standing with Him, because I don't feel the guilt or shame---things that the devil would like you to feel. I'm not perfect, I even curse here 'n there and sometimes I make mistakes. God loves us and all of our imperfections. The most important thing to remember is where your heart is. Pray without ceasing and when you feel unsure about anything, ask God---talk to Him about it. You'd be surprised by how He answers you. I'm living proof.

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, June 13, 2019

Is ASMR An Effective Sleep Disorder Cure?


Written by: Donald Eide

Wouldn't it be great to just nod off at a click of the fingers? Well, you wouldn't be alone: 40 million American’s suffer the same problem; insomnia being the most common case. And when you reach the age of 65, there’s a 50% chance you’ll have some form of sleep disorder.

It’s important to note ASMR would be highly unlikely to cure a multitude of sleep disorders. There are more than 70 recognized sleep disturbances after all. What it really helps with are issues involving a lack of sleep: insomnia and shift work sleep disorder (because you work night shifts).  The other two types of sleep disruptions are disrupted sleep disorder, the prime example being OSA: obstructive sleep apnea, and excessive sleep being the other, where you sleep too much: narcolepsy being an example where you really can sleep at will.

P.S. we also have a post on the overall health benefits of ASMR. Sleep, although incredibly important, is only part of the picture! We have to take a holistic approach to health.

A state of relaxation
ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response, which is the result of psychological and physiological responses in your body to certain stimuli. It can be both visual and audio. Personally, I prefer to watch the videos as I think the cosplay/role play is a highly immersive experience, which relaxes me a lot. But others may prefer to slip on some noise-canceling headphones and chill out in bed.
Figure A - beats per minute (bpm) curvature whilst sleeping
Sounds of brushing hair, flipping magazine pages, finger tapping on desks can induce goosebumps. Heck, I even watched a video of an ASMR therapist shaving soap and found it to be the most pleasurable thing ever! Whatever it may be, you’ll find the content promotes calmness and a great relaxation state before bedtime, lowering the heart rate.

Stress and anxiety disappear, as your body is enveloped in a warm tingling sensation. Moreover, the four prime triggers are whispering, personal attention, crisp sounds, and slow movements. This is why the video content can be very effective as all the attention is on you, and its human beings natural tendency to kinda like that…
Whether that is a video experience for getting your haircut, a massage or storytelling, you feel that you are the focus of attention. Coupled with the gentle, soft-spoken voices means you can’t help but enter a transcend state of comfort and wellbeing. It's the perfect recipe for sleep.


Will it work for me?
ASMR is highly preferential. Even for the people that get to experience it, it may only be certain triggers, sounds, visuals, and specific ASMR therapists that do it for them. Think of it like food – you get some people who will devour anything in sight, but others are a bit pickier. Some people lean towards a certain cuisine (Chinese, Indian, etc.) and that's perfectly fine. The same goes for ASMR. For example, my two personal favorites are WhisperAudios ASMR and Gibi ASMR. Both of these therapists are females, so maybe it's the soft tones of a woman's voice that triggers the relaxation for me. There are plenty of popular male ASMR therapists out there who are great at what they do, but it just doesn't work for me.

Also, I recommend at nighttime you ditch the phone screen and watch the ASMR content on your TV. Especially from a distance, the light isn’t as intense, and a phone’s light could counteract the effects of ASMR. Blue light will penetrate deep into the eye and cause hyper-arousal. Have you ever noticed if you’re on your phone at night, whilst in bed, that you can literally stay up all night?
Yeah, that pretty much explains everything.
Macintosh HD:Users:donaldeide:Documents:Blogging:Blogging Photos :bluelight1.png
Figure B - the effects of blue light on your sleep
But if you’ve experienced the warm tingles of ASMR in everyday life, like an involuntary response, you’ll probably find it’ll work very well as a sleep aid. And the vast majority of ASMR experiencers would likely have encountered their first episode in childhood.

Consistent nighttime routine
ASMR is definitely effective at signaling to your body its time for bed. But you can’t get around the fact there’s a little more to it than that. We can think of this as a healthy evening ritual. Based on my research, here’s what I propose:
  • Don’t eat for at least 3 hours before you go to bed
  • Set the phone aside, quite looking at social media and playing video games 1 hour before bed. Television is fine but the best thing you could do is read a book with a nice bedside light on, and/or with some nice background music. OR immerse yourself in your favourite ASMR experiences!
  • Avoid caffeine for 7 hours before bed – coffee AND tea. So, if you go to bed at 11 pm, have your last cuppa at 4 pm. However, if you still need a warm brew, try herbal tea like chamomile and lemon tea. Just make sure it’s caffeine-free and remember that decaffeinated may mean all the caffeine is extracted, but it could also be the concentration has only been reduced, so read the label
  • Wake up at the same time and go to bed at the same time, EVERYDAY. You’ll feel way better for it as your body isn’t sent into a ‘shocked’ state. Make it easy for the poor thing
  • Avoid napping during the day – you’ll really feel its time to hit the kip for your recommended 7-8 hours sleep (if you're an adult) when its time to do so. And you’d have really earned it. If you are getting less than 6 hours sleep/day, you’ll want to increase this in small increments each week by 15 minutes until you’re in the healthy 7-8 hours range
  • Meditation – you could couple this with ASMR, or substitute it if you found meditating wasn't your thing. Both have many similarities because they reduce your heart rate and promote a feeling of wellbeing. And they both have physiological and psychological benefits
  • If you don't already have them, some black-out curtains and a temperature controlled room (goldilocks environment 15.5-19)

Of course, you could find other methods that work for you. But the important point is you want that winding down time before your shuteye for 1-2 hours. Plus, make your bedroom ‘sleep-friendly’. What does this mean? Well, your bedroom should be separate from the rooms where you take phone calls, work at the computer or watch TV, etc.

What you’re doing here is creating the perfect environment for you to become sleepy. Your biological circadian rhythm (body clock) will signal to you that you’re tired instead of alert. It will signal to the part of your brain that secretes sleep hormones, such as melatonin, which will rise in the evening and remain elevated whilst you’re asleep.

The dreaded phone screen
This deserves a special mention again. I think the infographic below explains the effects of blue light perfectly. So basically, if you want a surefire way of disrupting your sleep routine, stare deep into that laptop or phone screen for hours on end…
Macintosh HD:Users:donaldeide:Documents:Blogging:Blogging Photos :infographic-melatonin-2x-2_orig.jpg
Figure C - what smartphones do to your sleep
ASMR has a strong connection to mindfulness. If you’re already stressed from everyday life, then this will only compound the problem. You see, the University of Sheffield carried out a comprehensive study on ASMR effects, and they analyzed 475 people. All of them were ASMR experiencers, and 82% of them used it for sleep, with 80% saying it positively impacted their mood. This is the total opposite of depression and anxiety, which have many disruptive effects on sleep. ASMR, on the other hand, is the ultimate form of passive relaxation

Sleeping list
I’ve compiled a list of my top ASMR videos – we’ll call it the sleep playlist! You’ll notice that they’re all quite long: 45 minutes or above because they allow you to listen until you drift off. You can even listen to this popular playlist on Spotify: ASMR Sleep Sounds.

All the videos incorporate a variety of techniques to help you sleep – I’ve even included one where there is nobody speaking – just crisp noises. Again, because it's a personal thing and you may find listening to somebody talking quite distracting, but rest assure, they will ALL alleviate stress, which is amazing for your mental health and you’ll sleep better because of it. None of the videos have any sudden volume changes to surprise you.

Now, ASMR is a very new technique that's only been catching momentum these past few years. There are very few peer-reviewed studies at the moment, but I think its simple to understand how ASMR reduces anxiety and stress. I experience the sensations myself, so I can honestly vouch for that. If you are in an induced state of wellbeing brought on by ASMR, you’re going to sleep better.

A simple, natural technique to solve a complex problem. Give it a try ☺




But please note – this article and ASMR isn’t intended to replace your medication or professional advice. If you experience bouts of depression and are struggling with mental health, please seek out your doctor.  

Donald Eide is an e-commerce business owner of Honey Gusto, specializing in medical devices and healthcare products. He enjoys providing informative, easy-to-understand articles over on his blog.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

You Just Can't Disprove God

Have you ever gone through something so terrible, that along the way, you kind of lost your faith--or perhaps you thought that God was punishing you for something? Many of us get thoughts like, "Why would God let this happen to me?" Even questioning the loss of a loved one, loss of a child, the loss of a parent or some type of other traumatic event that took place can really test your faith. But that's life. We lose people. All sorts of things happen to the human body: we live, we sometimes get sick, we die---these are just the biological, scientific facts of life. We're not made to be immortal. We don't live perfect lives, even though you may think other people do. They don't.

Imagine a perfect life. No stress, no worries, the perfect house, the perfect family, no sicknesses, no deaths of loved ones or pets. No conflicts, fighting, loss of employment or divorce. Imagine there's no such thing as being less fortunate, or even being hit with poverty. Nothing hurt, physically or emotionally. We all slept eight hours every single night, waking up with energy and enthusiasm. Imagine having absolutely zero challenges in your life. Picture yourself being free from anxiety and depression, or whatever your doctor has diagnosed you with regarding your mental health. There are no phobias or fear of conquering something amazing!

Feels nice, right?

But let me ask you this: how would anyone be an example or an inspiration to others if they didn't go through hard times? How would we adapt to a world if it became imperfect? We wouldn't be prepared for it--to help ourselves, as well as to help other people.

Here's my take on the world. You can disagree if you'd like--but I firmly believe this to be actually factual to some degree.

If you've never experienced hard times financially, like being less fortunate or even having gone through poverty at one time or another, you could never be 100% grateful for what you have right now. In fact, some people have such a love for money, that they're never satisfied with what they have. They need more and more and more to maintain their level of happiness. And that kind of happiness is a temporary fulfillment---the novelty soon wears off, until the other new purchases or wave of wealth arrives.

On the flip side, if you have experienced financial difficulty, or have gone through poverty in some way or another, you're likely to be pleased with the little things in life and be grateful for the big things that arrived. Your happiness does not rely on how much you make or what kind of car you drive---it thrives on how peaceful you are, time with your family, time with friends, time doing the things you love that doesn't cost a thing. Your gratitude is sky high. You'll begin to notice, those who do have money who don't know what it's like to be less than fortunate complain more than the average person. Nothing goes right in their life, nothing makes them happy anymore, and of course, it's everyone else's fault.

If you've never experienced great physical pain in your life, you won't fully appreciate your mobility and health most likely. Having gone through horrible back pain, sciatica, fibromyalgia flare ups and dysmenorrhea--which led to my hysterectomy, you won't appreciate just walking outside without pain, or realizing that you're able to climb stairs without crashing onto the bed in agony. You won't appreciate that you didn't need to take a zillion ibuprofens and percocets that leave you 'backed up' for weeks.

My point is, there has to be a balance in our lives that give us that ebb and flow, in order to use our experience to be of help to other people.

In eastern cultures, they believe in Yin Yang.

When people see things as beautiful, ugliness is created.
When people see things as good, evil is created.
Being and non-being produce each other.
Difficult and easy complement each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low oppose each other.
Fore and aft follow each other. --Tao Ti Ching

In the Bible, it's clear that we definitely need balance.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace. ---Ecclesiastes 3

Take for instance, my personal story. Ten years ago, my parents begged us to move into their large home so we could take care of my father who was dying from cancer. This was a huge traumatic event for me and my family. After Dad passed away, we were worried about the painful grief my mother was about to experience. But soon after his death, my mom came down with 'the big C.' I cried, prayed, begged and even broke down where I could no longer function at times. But I did my best to care for Mom the best I knew how. There were quite a few family conflicts of who did what and who wasn't doing enough---many families go through that, but we made it through that rough patch. The worst fear of my life was coming true when she was told she only had a few months to live. I didn't want to believe it. In fact, she kept that a secret from me for a long time, until I saw her one day lifeless. She was on morphine, Fentanyl and Percocet. I thought I had lost her, but didn't. However it made me realize the extent of her pain. The day I said goodbye to my mother was the day that crushed my spirit. It felt like my soul was ripped right out of my body.

I broke down.
I shut down.
I. just. stopped. living.

I didn't want to see anyone or do anything. Even though I worked from home, it wasn't much work. I couldn't even think, no less do my job right. I was in complete isolation for a couple of years. I pushed away a lot of people, regretfully. I couldn't handle entertaining, as I always loved to do. I was now in a large house all alone, up on a mountain a mile high without a soul in sight, until my partner came home late at night from work. So I started praying and spending most of my time with God. I prayed without ceasing. At times, the silence was deafening. A friend suggested to turn on worship music in each room, this way it could change the atmosphere. And it did. I began to do more things as I clung to God with everything I had. He started giving me this sort of peace that He explains in the Bible. It's the peace that transcends all understanding. I understood what it's like to be completely alone, isolated and depressed. Countless tears could've flooded the valley below us. Physically, I had put on a lot of weight and my hair was literally falling out from stress. I went to see my doctor and although it'll grow back, she put me on an exercise regimen to maintain a healthier weight. She said with exercise and the balance of a good diet, my stress levels will go down and the hair will grow back in within three months. Stress can really do a number on you. At night, I used to suffer with seizures due to stress. I never slept. I'd go five days without sleep before I finally crashed. I began to develop tachycardia, where my heart rate would sky rocket up to 150 bpm. It was all stress, confirmed by my cardiologist.

But my point is, I now help other people dealing with caregiving for their elderly parents, and I'm also apart of a mental health support group, sharing my story and helping others grasp some sort of peace in this world. I was trying my best to be a blessing to other people. I relied on God to guide me through it all.

As I was in my childhood home wondering about when the house would foreclose, I started to see people taking photos of the home right outside of my property. I saw real estate agents put signs outside of our yard. I started looking at apartments in the area, to which were all too expensive for us. I prayed and prayed, that whatever happens to me, even if I become homeless, that God would remove every spirit of fear and give me His mighty inner strength to handle anything in life. The key was, I completely trusted Him.

Then my prayers were answered.

Somehow, my partner and I shuffled enough money to actually buy something in the south somewhere. I didn't even know I had a 401K that has been accumulating for the past 20 years! The taxes here in New York were way too high. Everything is extraordinarily pricey here. One morning, I got a call from my sister who's a realtor. She found something within our price range---something Mom always wanted me to buy--a townhouse! No lawns to maintain--no snow to plow! It was a beautiful 3 story townhouse, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a 2 car garage in New York! How can that be? The owners were selling their beautiful home and had to leave ASAP. The price was $40,000 under the average asking price of a neighboring townhome in that neighborhood. I started getting leery---"What's wrong with it?" Absolutely nothing. We put a bid in....and they accepted our offer right away. We're close to everything: grocery stores, pharmacies, malls, restaurants and the main route to trek off to the city if we want to. What I love about it is that we have friends who already live there and it's in a park-like setting which is beautiful. I can safely walk my dog around the park without having to look over my shoulder in case coyotes or bears are around, as I did with my childhood home.

Now, instead of fearing being homeless or in a tiny studio apartment to be near my family, God provided much more than I even asked for. But it didn't stop there. We still had to pay lawyer fees for Mom's estate and the house---to which wasn't cheap at all. So as I was shuffling a bunch of stuff around in my purse, looking for my phone charger, I grabbed onto something that felt like paper. I took it out and it was a $50 bill. Then I looked inside, and there were more $50 dollar bills, and more, and then even more! Turned out that somehow, $750 was sitting at the bottom of my purse. I asked every single person who I came in contact with. Nobody claimed it. I didn't rob a bank, I didn't take money out of an ATM or even hold cash for that matter. Where did this money come from? I believe God throws us miracles once in a while, whether through a generous person, or through no real understanding of our own.

He gives beauty for ashes, "...to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair."--Isaiah 61

It also states: "Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs."

Through prayer and by trusting God, I now sleep at night. If I'm awake at night, it's because I choose to be awake. I've been drinking less and in moderation. I gave it up for seven months for reasons of gaining self-control. Now, I have a couple of glasses of wine here and there---and it's all good. My level of peace has increased so much since I gave my life to Christ completely---by spending more and more time with Him, even if it means praying to Him in my mind when I can't get a moment to myself.

Trials and tribulations are good for us.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us--they help us to learn and endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” ~Romans 5:35

My level of faith has increased so much, that it is now a matter of 'I know that I know that I know' He is real---or more so, listening and being there in the midst of our lives. I've always believed, but wondered if He was around me, listening to me, or maybe just "busy." No, he was right here in my heart as I asked Him to be.

My life is still far from perfect, but I can definitely say that my level of happiness has increased so much due to God's blessings. Moving out of my childhood home has given me mixed emotions too. It's almost like my parents dying all over again. This is the house they started our family in. Every section of this house, every brick, every stone, every single room has a special memory. I pray that whoever does buy this home is blessed with love, health and laughter. I just have to let go and trust God right now.
I also learned, that when God blesses you in life, there's always something you have to let go of. There's always something you have to leave behind. And remember, whatever we have here on earth is only temporary fulfillments, until we are back home--our real home--with God.

If you're an unbeliever reading this right now, I dare you to start praying for God to work in your life. Ask Him to live in your heart, and remember, His timing is always perfect. It took ten years of agonizing traumatic events to finally 'be right here.'  I'm happy to know that there is no way anyone could possibly disprove God for me.

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!

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