What is faith?

What is faith?

The Struggle with Faith

What is faith? “It is the trust, assurance and confidence in God” (Jim Haeeffele, What is Faith). This area has been one tremendous test for me. One of the biggest struggles of my faith have been questioning whether God is real, whether God hears my prayers, and what am I doing wrong?

All of my life, the church has been a strong foundation within my family and upbringing. We traveled to church almost every Sunday. The importance of service and love were expressed, as members guided me into ushering, singing in the choir, leading youth groups, giving Sunday speeches, and more. Even as an adult, service is still very important to me. However, at this point, the decisions were mine to make as to how my contributions would be invested in the church. My faith was in action.

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However, as my journey of life continued, more experiences arrived. It felt as though after eleven grade, my life was not going according to plan and my efforts were in vain. I recall a night as I slept in my truck because I didn’t have the money to buy a hotel room or pay my extended stay fee for the week, another series of unfortunate events leading to that moment.

Crouched down and hoping no one would see and question whether I was alive, drunk, or a number of things other than just having a hard time with life’s resources. Living check to check after having surgery, a boss that didn’t honor my FMLA request causing my funds to be depleted and losing my job and apartment, and so many other things had gotten me here. It was a bad year. And this particular night, pay day was in a few days. The goal was to survive until that point. Don’t even get me started on shuffling this experience with my kids and their dad. It was a true test of my faith.

Matthew 17:20 kept coming to my mind. “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain. ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” My faith was present so why was I in this position. Why had there been so many experiences that continued to keep me feeling broken, unheard, and unloved by God? Is God really real or a myth designed to control people?

What was I doing wrong? Why was I being punished? Prayer? Daily. Active in church? Of course. Authentically and lovingly, I motivated and encouraged others. Nothing was coming together, only falling apart. It was a strain to believe in a God that wasn’t listening to me.

Many times I thought why even try. Information was being presented to me from many sources that God wasn’t real and a work of fiction. Chasing truth caused me to follow a trail seeking answers, demanding concrete proof of God’s existence, and trying to remove my own doubts. My faith was struggling.

There are times questions still surface if God hears me or is punishing me. The biggest struggle sometimes is knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is here, protecting me, providing, and loving me. There are times when I feel God has finally heard my prayer and I’m making progress… and that gets derailed and I’m back at square one.

No, my relationship isn’t based on giving me a reward in order to believe. No, it is the desire for clarity more than anything. Have you ever heard people say God told them to do this or that? Well, I haven’t heard that voice.  However, my dreams while sleeping have put me in places that said, “God I hear you.” There have been many situations in which gratitude overflows for all the times that I have survived or been spared. Wisdom has been sought on how to use that knowledge to guide and help others.

Faith. It is exactly that. Believing when you can’t always see something but  knowing that a Power and love greater than you is watching over you. And it is all in God’s plan and for a purpose. Finally, my mind and heart grasped the idea that everything will not be understood, but remain focused toward the goal.  Externally, my life is still a work in progress. Yes, doubts still surface. My reward daily has been tapping into a place of peace in the midst of a world that can be unforgiving and unyielding from the weight it can bring into your life. My faith in God is my peace.

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Insomnia in popular culture

Insomnia in popular culture

Insomnia has been a featured disorder from many factors such as books and movies. Two cult classics one is a book titled Insomnia wrote by horror novelist Stephen King and the other is the Robert DeNiro film from 1976 Taxi Driver. There have been 28 songs written and recorded about insomnia and among the artists who recorded a song were Vanessa Carlton, Green Day, Radiohead, and Tenacious D. The most popular film based on the Chuck Palahniuk novel that was a hit about 6 years ago was Fight Club with Edward Norton and Brad Pitt and the lead character was a manic insomniac. This seems to be the most common form of sleeping disorder to the point that movies and songs were made about this problem.

People aren’t aware that this is a problematic issue for those who suffer from this. It’s not healthy to go without sleep because it can affect your immune system making you prone to catching things like the flu and colds. Not getting any rest can cause severe disorientation because your body wasn’t given an opportunity to rest and recuperate.

This is what drove the designer coffee movement up like the sprawl of coffee shops from Starbucks, Gloria Jeans, Seattle’s Best, and Caribou Coffee since you had a lot of late-nighters consisting of mainly people working in hospitals and college students who had to pull late nighters and cram sessions and needed to stay awake so when coffee wasn’t working they bought this over the counter pill called Vivarin which is equal to about 2 cups of coffee when you take the prescribed dosage.

It’s usually not a good idea to take Vivarin because it can interfere with your body’s ability to sleep and rest normally. You’ll find more college students getting sick a lot because they’re forcing their bodies to do things that aren’t normal like staying up super late and not getting at least 6 hours of sleep. Rest also provides your body’s digestive system to rest which makes up about 70% of your immune system so it’s ideal to sleep when necessary and taking short naps also works as a re-energizer to give you a burst of energy that works much better than coffee or caffeine pills.

That can become resistant since a lot of coffee drinkers tend to get very tired after a certain point and that’s due in part to the fact that you build up a resistance after having a few cups of coffee or cans of Coke so meaning it won’t keep you awake it will accelerate the rate of how fast you’ll start to feel sleepy.

So seeing pop culture idolize such a disorder is unknown unless the person who wrote the book or penned the song has a problem with it and decided to write or sing about it. The reason for it is unknown, but it’s rather interesting since a song can tell a story and the same of a book, but it’s obviously influenced a slew of songs, a few movies and a series of books where the characters are suffering from some kind of sleeping disorder from mild to severe.

A healthy diet is essential for optimal energy and a night of restful sleep. Avoiding certain foods is as important as including others in your daily diet. Eating a wide variety of foods and drinking plenty of water will keep your body well- balanced and provide a more stable energy level. Avoiding food that is grown, treated, or processed with chemicals, and limiting the amount of sugar and caffeine will also help your overall physical condition. Many foods promote restful sleep and are helpful in relieving some of the symptoms of certain sleep disorders. Eating the proper snack before bedtime can increase natural serotonin levels. Serotonin acts as a natural sedative and is made in the body from the amino acid tryptophan. Foods that are rich in tryptophan include chicken, turkey, cheese, cottage cheese, fish, milk, nuts, avocados, and bananas.

Many people use herbs and natural supplements as an alternative approach to treating their sleep disorder. There are many nutritional supplements and herbal products on the market. It is important to know how a specific product acts on the body as well as on the specific sleep disorder. For example, many people with restless leg syndrome have iron or folic acid deficiency. Taking an iron supplement may alleviate some of the symptoms of RLS. Many herbs are well known for promoting natural sleep. A clamming tea of chamomile or lemon balm can be very relaxing for many people that suffer from a sleep disorder.

Exercise and relaxation techniques, whether used alone or together, can reduce stress and muscle tension. Many people that use these techniques to lessen the symptoms of a sleep disorder do these before going to bed. They not only ease physical tension but they calm the mind and prepare the body to sleep. These techniques include mindful exercise, progressive muscle relaxation, breathing exercises, and yoga.

Meditation and visualization are also used by some sufferers of sleep disorders to calm the body before sleep. Two common forms of mediation are a meditation on breath and mantra meditation. Both of these types can have a positive effect on relieving stress and calming the body. Many people focus their energy on a healing visualization as a method of alternative therapy for their sleep disorder.

Sensory techniques that people use to lessen the symptoms of their sleep disorder are hydrotherapy, and aroma therapy. The two main techniques included in hydrotherapy, which means water therapy, are relaxing in an Epsom salt bath and a lymph stimulating footbath. Aroma therapy includes the use of therapeutic essential oils in baths, massage oils, room sprays, and simple inhalants.

Alternative behavioral and cognitive strategies used to combat the symptoms of a sleep disorder include improving a person’s sleep hygiene, stimulus control therapy, and journal writing.

Alternative practices and techniques can help many types of sleep disorders. Often they are used in conjunction with traditional medication and practices.