Friday, February 14, 2014

Do Something - The Bystander Effect - Diffusion of Responsibility

You are in a place full of people and you hear somebody cry out for help. What do you do?

There is a term in psychology called, "The Bystander Effect" also known as Genovese Syndrome (though the American Psychologist Magazine in 2007 found that the story told about Kitty Genovese was greatly exaggerated by the media and has not been corrected by most textbooks because it was such a powerful example).

I have been the victim of a violent crime. Is that why I run toward a victim instead of ignoring it? Is it because I can relate?  Somehow do I see any victim as an extension of myself? I don't know, it all happens so quickly. I mean I literally drop everything, there is no thinking it out until I run toward the situation, then I start sizing it up in my mind on how I will respond. It is instinctive.  What would you do? Here is short video to help you understand the Bystander Effect.

Last night at our local county library branch I heard a woman crying out for help and yelling, "Leave me alone." Mind you, my eardrums have collapsed and I have lost hearing, yet I could hear it. I could not tell where it was coming from. I look around and realized not one other person was moving to investigate or help.

So I literally dropped everything and ran toward the cry for help. I realized it was coming from the bathroom and I knew I might witness a sexual predator in action, but I bolted in, alone. The moment I went in a woman came running out and told me, "I was just trying to get in that stall she was in to look for my phone, as that was the last place I had it." As I walked out with her, explaining her story that made no sense, the head librarian walked up to us and I allowed her to take over on how to proceed. Unfortunately, our library is now the hang-out of many of the homeless and drug addicts and is a scary place to visit.

People in the library just sat there, staring at me. Nobody was doing anything, but staring at me. I do not know what they were thinking, but I said to them, "I will never allow a crime to be committed and not get involved to try to stop it."  Nobody said a word, just continued to stare.

Later an older Asian man said to me that my husband must be a police officer. Nope. I explained to him I had been a victim of a violent crime and cannot stand by and allow another to be hurt. He told me that God favors me and allowed my past because I became a stronger and better person for it. I told him that I fully agree that God can work all things together for good, if we submit to Him.  I believe that and it is one more reason to choose life! 

Until we meet again, choose life! Giulianna xoxoxoxo

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Battle for My Mind: What Prevents Us From Accepting Life on Life's Terms AKA Reality

If one does not recognize "wishful thinking," instead of facts, how will they have hope to overcome? One thing most of us learn with age/wisdom is that we have to let go of a lot of our expectations of others and even ourselves. I will reveal an example of my own in this post.

One of the first truths we should learn in life is that we cannot control, nor change others. Manipulation will never give us what we are truly seeking, because we know we had to use trickery or deceit to get what we wanted from the goodness of another.

Which types of things prevent us from accepting Life on Life's Terms AKA Reality?

  • Magical or wishful thinking. It usually begins with "If only." Such as, "If only I were skinny, then he would love me."  "If only she would stop whining so much, then we would be happy."
  • Comparison thinking. Looking at others or what they have and allowing ourselves to become envious. 
  • Not dealing with facts. This is when we deal in excuses or half-truths, or just block the truth from our minds and live in denial. 
  • Self-pity mode. Self-pity and martyrdom serve to only keep us from moving forward and dealing with reality. 
  • Rejecting God at His Word. This is when we refuse to trust God moment by moment.

My personal example: When my husband and I dated, he kept all important dates with reminders in his pager and on his computer. Nothing slipped by him. Then we got married. With marriage come many expectations.

Generalized expectations from husbands are that their wives are always going to look young and beautiful and will continue to put his interests before her own.  
Generalized expectations from wives are that he will continue to treat us the way he did when he courted us with the intention of winning our hearts.
Then reality hits us and we are like a a pair of crash dummies slamming into a wall.

The wife does not look exactly the same as she did the first day he set eyes on her and she actually has interests outside of him and often a family to care for too. She gets to see him every day, so she may no longer cares to participate in all his hobbies just to be near him. She had put her world on hold to hang out with him, now she can finally get back to some of her own interests.

On the other hand, the husband has changed too. He does not remember her birthdays, their anniversary, etc. He does not take her out on romantic dates. He doesn't want to enjoy stimulating conversation, then make-out, before getting what he really wants. He now feels he has a license to get what he wants anytime he wants it. 

And so comes the unhappiness as expectations go unmet. But this does not just happen in marriage. Truth be told we humans tend to do this with all relationships. Our mind selfishly predicts how it should go in our best interest. Then we expect those relationships to live up to our standard. They don't even know about our standard, because at the same time their selfish mind decided how it should go in their best interest. We fail to meet the expectations of one another and tension builds.

Author and motivational speaker, Stephen Covey, gave me a tool that really changed my perceptions: Seek first to understand, then to be understood. How novel to put the other person first. Scriptural teaching comes to mind that we are to love God first, then others as ourselves.

The greatest gift I have ever given my husband (even if he does not know it) was the day I put away my expectations of him to be the husband I expected him to be. That meant on birthdays and holidays, I expect nothing. I don't do this with a pathetic attitude either. I have come to accept he is not going to live up to that and all it will do is depress me and it also serves to incite envy in me of all the wives who brag about the flowers and gifts they received from their amazing husbands.

Instead, because "traditions" are important to the children and me, but not to him, I have taken over the creativity in that area of our home. I plot and plan all sorts of special things for him and our children. He enjoys some of it,  while some of it is not his thing. At first a part of me was still hoping it would trigger him to want to give back, but I realized he felt he already contributed first by going to work and providing for our family. So I let go of all expectations of him ever contributing his creativity to these things.

I let go of my huge expectation, that some day I would have a husband who loved me so much, he would see pretty flowers when he was driving, pull over and stop, and pick me a few and bring them home to me. You see, I thought that would be 100 times more romantic that just calling FTD to deliver flowers. is not going to happen. That is why God blessed me with so many children. Ones who picked me flowers and found "cute rocks" to give me. :)  God inspired that creativity in the heart of my children.

Part of dealing with life on life's terms is identifying stumbling blocks and avoiding them. There are times that I avoid the Internet on Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, etc so I don't have to see all my friends sharing the special things their husbands did for them. They have every right to appreciate it publicly, but I don't want to become depressed and envious. I want to enjoy our life. And when I gave up expectations, I became very content.

Jesus knew how humans tend to get false expectations about relationships, even with Him and He had no interest in deluding them just so he could brag about how many followers (members) He got this month, nor how many baptisms. That is why He did not promise a "bless me" ticket to heaven relationship. Instead He told those who were following Him to deal with reality and count the cost first, as they would pick up their cross to follow Him. He told them the path would not be easy. He told them they would be persecuted, but He promised He would not forsake them as they go through it (never said they would avoid it by faith).

Boy, you don't hear that taught in many churches today when they give an altar call, do you? Perhaps if churches taught reality instead of fantasy, more people today would have a clue how to deal with truth/facts. Our entire culture has become saturated in wishful thinking from education, religion, politics...and all of this affects us. Why do we have so many people seeking to escape reality by various vices, whether it be abusing drugs (illegal or prescription), alcohol, shopping, gaming, social media, TV, etc? Because they are not taught how to deal/cope with reality, accepting life on life's terms. You cannot be truly content/happy, until you do.

Choose Life, Giulianna xoxoxox

Monday, February 10, 2014

Battle for My Mind: Dealing with Life on Life's Terms

Reality Check! Dealing with Life on Life's Terms!
Reality Check! For me, this is essential. When I get into "wishful thinking" mode, I tend to self-sabotage my best laid plans. I am not Sally, the Olympic Gymnast, nor am I Mary, the Health Nut. Sure, I want to be those things ***WARNING - WISHFUL THINKING ALERT***, but I am not.

So here is an example of a reality check for me. I want to be in fine fettle and this includes eating healthier foods for my body type. What I would like to do is get up every morning and whip up a gourmet breakfast of the best fruits/veges, nuts, eggs, etc. You know, a powerhouse of nutrition. Meeting my body's every need.

Thus, I plan it out. The next morning I awaken and guess what? Six days out of seven I don't want to prepare healthy food and I am too groggy to play willpower games, as I am sure to be the loser. I am not a morning person. Yes, I get up most mornings at 4:30 AM, but stay out of my path at least for the first hour, as I slowly wake-up. I don't want to talk, I just want to contemplate whatever occupies my mind. The witty me is not awake yet, nor is the sweet me. Grouchetta and I battle for my mind, as I attempt to take every thought captive.

So I put off eating until I "feel" like preparing healthy food, but then REALITY comes storming in like she owns the place. My stomach acid begins churning a mean dance. I am going to end up very sick if I don't eat something and eat it "how soon is now." 

Oh look! There is something convenient to just pop in my mouth to calm the erupting volcano. So I try to placate the fierce acid gods by feeding them a handful of my family's junk cereal that my husband demands we keep in the house. And my self-sabotage cycle begins. I know once I have eaten my personal, forbidden foods, why even try to be healthy today? We will start again tomorrow and you know how often tomorrow comes.

Why, why, why? Why would I do this to myself, time and again? Good question. Now we can deal with reality.  
What are my facts, not my *wishful thinking*?

☑  I am not a morning person, even though reality dictates I get up early.
☑  I crave convenience food in the morning.
☑  I tend to want something sweet and made of grain.
☑  I will not whip up a gourmet breakfast six days out of seven.

Now that I am dealing with reality, I can come up with a solution that is workable. It may not be my fantasy idea of how my morning should go, but it will be a better foot forward than my wishful thinking.

Paleo Breakfast Gingerbread
Here is an example of my solution. For my body type I need to cut out most grains and refined carbohydrates. There is a recipe for this delicious grain-free breakfast bread that I can alter in a few ways to come up with different flavors. I make it twice a week and I have my "convenience food" ready to eat, before the god of hunger demands tribute.

This breakfast bread is "naturally" sweet, low in carbs, and has a decent amount of nutrition. I also use it when I am craving a bread or sweet type product during the day, as a snack that makes the willpower battle less difficult.

That my friends is dealing with life on life's terms in just one small area of my life, but I hope you can see how dealing with the truth/facts, even when we don't like them, can help us find real solutions to implement in any area of our life. That is healthy thinking and how we win more battles for our mind.

Choose Life, Giulianna xoxoxox

Friday, January 3, 2014

Battle for My Mind: Praying the Names of God

Praying the Old Testament Names of God
One thing we quickly learn when reading through the Old Testament, is that names matter.

They are not just a word used as identification of a person, but they speak of the person's characteristics.

God reveals Himself to His people through various names throughout Scripture.

We will be covering those names, as they are powerful and another great resource for your arsenal.

You can click to save or print this photo and put it somewhere to help remind you of His names when you are praying.

Here are some of the Old Testament Names of God.
  • El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty)
  • El Elyon (The Most High God)
  • Adonai (Lord, Master)
  • Yahweh (Lord, Jehovah)
  • Jehovah Nissi (The Lord My Banner)
  • Jehovah-Raah (The Lord My Shepherd)
  • Jehovah Rapha (The Lord That Heals)
  • Jehovah Shammah (The Lord Is There)
  • Jehovah Tsidkenu (The Lord Our Righteousness)
  • Jehovah Mekoddishkem (The Lord Who Sanctifies You)
  • El Olam (The Everlasting God)
  • Elohim (God)
  • Qanna (Jealous)
  • Jehovah Jireh (The Lord Will Provide)
  • Jehovah Shalom (The Lord Is Peace)
  • Jehovah Sabaoth (The Lord of Hosts)
In future articles we will go in depth regarding each of these names, so that you will understand the power they unleash into your life. :)

Choose Life, Giulianna xoxoxox

Battle for my Mind: Demons, Visions, Old Hag Syndrome - Sleep Paralysis

Battle for my Mind: Demons, Visions, or Sleep Paralysis
Today, I am going to cover some "taboo" territory. This is a topic that is often hidden from most in our daily lives. If a person lives it, they are afraid of being coined mentally ill by some or evil by others. If they don't live it, they either don't want to believe it or it fills them with fear to consider this might actually be true. Thus, we sweep it under the rug.

I had some terrifying experiences from the time I was a child (as a toddler I had a vivid dream of the devil dragging me down to hell and locking me in a chair with flames around my feet until Jesus and my parents showed up to save me) until I was a young adult. Whether they were visions, nightmares, or real, the demonic torment was unnerving. Some of it may have even been old hag syndrome for which there is scientific research. [1] Understanding how old hag syndrome or sleep paralysis works, also helps calm my mind, as it could explain at least some of my former issues. Remember truth is our friend, it helps defeat fear.

The last time I had a visit it sent me into a panic, as now it was not only me involved, but my own child. I called my pastor expecting to either be ridiculed or scolded over it. I mean true Christians should not struggle with demons visiting them. Instead I found empathy and compassion. It turned out the thing I was suffering was not uncommon for Christians (or even secular people in fact) and I was not labeled evil, as I had expected.

To this day, calling Pastor Ed [2] that day is one of the turning points in my life. His advice to me was simple:

(1) Read Romans chapter 8 at least twice every day for a month.
(2) Read Victory Over the Darkness and/or The Bondage Breaker by Neil T. Anderson.

I obeyed both. The purpose of the Bondage Breaker was self-explanatory, to see if I was allowing a door to be open, where I have not repented from my past. To be honest, it was the first time I learned the church once used renunciation when one chose to follow Christ. Actually I have never acknowledged exact sins to Christ and wept over my former choices and chose to repent of them. I had done more of a general, "forgive me of all my sins." As time has went on, I do think it is good to grieve over who we were and rejoice in who we are.

Through the years, I have found that from time to time old sins come to mind. When they do, I acknowledge who I was, repent of that time, and acknowledge who I am now in Christ Jesus and thank Him. If I feel led to do so, I make amends to others during this process. People have received unexpected phone calls from me asking their forgiveness. The reaction for the most part, people tend to think I am crazy to call and ask forgiveness, but at least I have walked in obedience.

The big kicker was Romans chapter 8. When I began reading it, I could not see how it was going to help me. I felt as if I were following some "magic ritual cleansing formula"  except I did not expect my problem to magically go away. I mean through the years I had prayer teams pray for me and I had used the right wording when the demons showed, such as "in the name of Jesus" or "by the blood of Jesus" without great results. I mean eventually they would leave, but always with a promise to return and I would feel a mixture of relief and fear of the next visit. Yet, I trusted my Pastor's wisdom and empathy to help me. So I complied.

As weeks went on, one day it clicked. It finally had become "real" to me. I wept like a baby. I finally realized that spiritual warfare had left me living in fear. And while I was not publicly admitting it to others or myself, deep down I had a fear that demons/Satan could kill me and separate me from God, as if someday no matter how many times I claimed the name and/or blood of Jesus, it would be powerless. And as long as this fear owned my mind, I was not set free.

 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:35-39

To this day, Romans 8 is my favorite chapter in the Bible, though I have some others that come close. I finally knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that NOTHING could separate me from the love I have in Christ Jesus. Did I know that they might try again to scare me? Yes. But it was different. I did not feel the same terror over it. It was forever gone. I was set free in Christ. I knew whatever they tried to make me believe was not truth. I had the truth and I would end up with Jesus.

Satan and demons might try to scare me and might even succeed for a minute if they catch me off guard, but the victory is a done deal and they cannot rob that from my mind. 

Fear is a tool of the enemy, whether our flesh or Satan. Fear leaves us paralyzed or making unwise decisions based on what can be irrational. Jesus Christ came to set us free from fear.

As you come to understand Romans chapter 8 and how real it is to your life, I think the truth that perfect love casts our fear becomes a Scripture which makes more sense too. Jesus is perfect love...and only when we have a firm grasp on what He has accomplished for us and our security from the attempts of the evil one, will we find deliverance.

Choose Life, Giulianna xoxoxox

1. Old Hag Syndrome/Sleep Paralysis
2. Pastor Ed Rea's Teaching on Video

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Untangling the Root Causes - Fear, Anger, Anxiety: Part 2

Jesus comforting us when we fear.
In part 1 we began our discussion. Fears are a legitimate issue, sometimes even escalating into phobias. Research suggests the top fears are:

  • Snakes
  • Spiders/Insects
  • Scary Spaces (such as elevators, bridges, etc)
  • Other People (Public speaking, eating, drinking in public, etc)
  • Heights
  • The Dark
  • Thunder and Lightning
  • Flying
  • Dogs
  • The Dentist
  • Being Alone (Dying alone as well)
  • Terminal Illness
  • Failure
  • Rejection
What do every one of those things on the list have in common?  They share root causes. Why is a person afraid of the dark? The root cause is a fear of torture, pain, and/or death. Perhaps it is even realizing that we cannot control the outcome of every situation, even though we desperately wish we could.

In the first part of this article, I mentioned my fear of snakes. I even had dreams of snakes attacking me. I'd wake up freaked out. Again, I chose to force myself to recall the dreams, then walk through them step by step and ask myself what I can do to kill the snake? Now when I have dreams of snakes, I kill them before it ends. I conquer my fear in my dream. That is huge. Do I still have the dreams? From time to time, but I always kill the snake(s).

Next is to deal with the deeper question. Why am I so afraid of snakes? Am I afraid the bite will hurt or is it a fear of death? So often our fears are actually rooted in fear of death. Whether death of our body, soul, spirit, rights, etc. Even anger is often a way a person expresses their fear of the death of their perceived rights, control over situations, etc. Maybe it is fear of what would happen to our children if we die, etc. Maybe we fear ridicule, being wrong, being unloved, etc.

See, we were created to choose life. Somehow, instead of choosing life, we spend more time trying to avoid the death of all the things that matter to us. We become like the servant who buried his talent in fear of something happening to it, instead of employing it with wisdom and increasing it. [1] If we were choosing life, we would have it more abundantly.

The thief lost power over our spiritual life the day we repented and believed in Christ Jesus as Lord. He cannot have that, but he still chooses to steal, kill and destroy us piece by piece in a battle for our minds. Sometimes the enemy is simply our own flesh. In any case, we have to recognize the roots of our fear, anxiety, and anger if we want to overcome it and choose life. Because once we know what we fear and why we fear it, we can learn how to choose life!

Reflect on this: "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love." [2]  (Remember, only Christ is perfect, we have yet to attain perfection, so the only perfect love we know is Christ Jesus.)

We will discuss this verse more in depth in the articles to come. 

Until then, choose life! Giulianna xoxoxox

  1. Matthew 25:18
  2. 1 John 4:18

Untangling the Root Causes - Fear, Anger, Anxiety: Part 1

Battle for my Mind: The root cause of fear, anger, and anxiety.
When we begin to deal with the baggage which holds us down, we sometimes find that there is a root that goes deeper than we had ever realized.

Let's talk about fear. Some people say FEAR means:




I am not here to say fear itself is ridiculous. God created our emotions for a purpose. Fear is one of them. Fear can save your life. When used appropriately it sets off our fight or flight response.

Let's say you hear a rattle, you look down, and you see a rattlesnake is not far from you. This discharges your sympathetic nervous system, which triggers adrenaline. Now you react with fight or flight, depending on how you perceive the danger and your ability to handle it. This is a legitimate use of fear as an emotion. It is a good thing. So let's not make all fear out as evil.

However, fear can also become debilitating.

Here is when fear becomes a problem. I have an organic garden which I love. It is dying from lack of water. I cannot go out and water it because I might run into a rattlesnake again. Is my fear legitimate? Yes and no. There is always a possibility I could run into a snake again, so it is not completely unfounded.

However, that organic garden gave me healthy food for my body and the joy of working hand in hand with God to make things grow. My fear is robbing me of joy and life. Something that protected me in a crisis has now turned on me and maimed me. It has paralyzed me. Guess what? This is a true story. I was bitten by a rattlesnake, in my own driveway. I have killed rattlesnakes when I was out in the mountains and there was a pair of them near me. Yet, to this day, I have never had one attack me in my garden.

Now what can I do? I can hide in my house the rest of my life, because there is always a possibility of a snake being outside. However, that robs me of my life and joy. When I live in fear, I am choosing death. And what is the root of fear? "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have [it] more abundantly." [1]

Do you know who the thief is? Who wants to steal, kill, and destroy your life? Who wants you to choose death?

Even legitimate fears can destroy our lives if we don't find a way to put them in check. God created you with a mind which is capable of great things, even creation of ideas and solutions.

A snake in my garden, what can I do? If I truly cannot get past this idea, then how about snake guards for my legs and leather gloves for my hands? Now I have on a type of armor as I go out in my garden and can enjoy the healthy joy and life it brings me. Eventually, I will probably not take the time to put on my snake guards, as I slowly overcome the fear step by step, unless snakes in my yard are truly a serious issue. For me, touching snakes did not fix the fear, only enhanced it. So work with a solution which your mind can accept. Often there is not one right solution for all people. We are individuals. I would like you to take a moment to figure out which things are destroying your ability to choose life and then join me for Part 2.

Until then, choose life! Giulianna xoxoxox

  1. John 10:10