Friday, September 30, 2016

Expectations Lead to Disappointment

Do things from the heart. Try not to remind people what you've done for them or what you expect out of them because you went out of your way. Giving without expectation is a mindset, and for some, it just comes naturally. The more you expect, the more disappointment will come into your life. Not everyone is a "giver" and not everyone needs to hear all of your good deeds, even if they were done with good intentions. In the book of Proverbs, it says, "Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth -- a stranger, not your own lips." Fact remains, nobody is obligated to do anything, or do anything in return for something that wasn't asked for. When you give -- give with all of your heart. Many people try seeking approval by doing good things for other people, but it's only revealed once that person is angry over "doing this" or "doing that" for "so-and-so".  The "good deed" has now become a burden and the person is not only bitter, but resentful over the fact that nobody seemed to have thanked them properly, or the way they expected. When you truly love someone, whether friend, family or spouse, your gifts or good deeds should never be spoken about by you -- but by the other person, and only if they feel the need to.

There's another old quote that says, "Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die." We never truly know what other people are going through. That's why it's important to remember that your life isn't the only "problematic" life, or the "busier than hell" type of life. Maybe someone suffers from chronic pain or an unknown illness. Maybe someone has an issue at home that you are unaware of. We all have problems, we all struggle in life, but to make someone feel bad about not reciprocating over your "good deeds" is worse than nothing being done at all. The act of self-entitlement screams out "Look at me! Look at me!" It has no real value other than someone that constantly needs attention for whatever reason. "Here, look what I did!" It gets old and although, the appreciation would always be granted, the praising of one's self can make people turn away from them.

Control.

You cannot control people. Unnecessary aggressiveness is a sign of weakness. It means you are too weak to control your own insecurities. So if you get angry that nobody has noticed your "gifts" or "good deeds" -- then it's time to evaluate why you are doing them in the first place. If it's from your heart, then not one word would pass through your lips, expecting anybody else to have any involvement. It would just come straight from your heart, from your love and good natured intentions. But when someone has an agenda, everyone and their mother will know how angry you are over those who didn't reciprocate, or the illusion that nobody had taken notice.

Give love, receive love, appreciate love.

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!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Nonfactual Mishmash Christian Conspiracy Theories

Isn't it strange how different people of the same faith can pray or practice certain rituals? There are many Christians who are disgusted by the "lukewarm" services that are being held at some of our churches who worship the same God we do. Baptists love to sing and dance and rejoice in the Lord's presence. Some people speak in tongues, while other Christians feel that it's "demonic". In the Bible it lists that some people will have these gifts. So why debate this?

In the Bible, there are quite a few references.

1 Corinthians 14:27-28 - If any man speak in an [unknown] tongue, [let it be] by two, or at the most [by] three, and [that] by course; and let one interpret.

1 Corinthians 14:23 - If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in [those that are] unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?

1 Corinthians 14:2 - For he that speaketh in an [unknown] tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth [him]; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.

Mark 16:17 - And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues.

Acts 2:4 - And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-47 - And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

This is not a "demonic act" or practice. It's the language between you and the Holy Spirit, where only you two are able to speak and understand, and perhaps, one can interpret if this was being done in a church. But many Christians seem to fear this kind of "magic" and call it "witchcraft" or "paganism". It's not. And I'm not sure why Christians debate this in the first place.

I've always been a believer with great faith. When I first wrote my book, I told the story about the first time I even saw God Himself -- perhaps more or less "felt" His presence, where it threw me down onto my knees crying hysterically. It was the most beautiful feeling I have ever felt in my life. Something happened after that. I changed. In fact, my whole path in life changed.

And as of late, I feel that shift again. I even want to say it was after my surgery last year, back in November when I felt that familiar shift. I had a very serious operation that left me in the hospital for a while. With the complications that were inflicted upon me, I remember being fed into one of those large cat scans while in the hospital for testing. When they gave me the contrast (a substance to view my internal organs better), I started convulsing and my heart spun out of control. They held me onto the small bed that fed me into the machine. I was shaking and I said to the radiologist (who happens to be a family friend), "I'm gonna die, wow...!'  She screamed, "Not on my clock you're not," and hugged me in order to keep me still while a crew shuffled me off into intensive care unit to monitor my heart for the evening. But while I said, "I'm gonna die, wow," -- over to my left, I saw Jesus standing there, almost as if He was waiting for me.  I wasn't on any pain medication or anything. It was Him, and I thought, "Wow, I'm going to die right now..." Call it my brain chemistry going haywire, or call it divine intervention, but something happened that night. Something changed me.  In fact, my mother went through the same thing around my age when she had the same kind of surgery done to her.

It's strange, how things that used to bother me now no longer taunt me like it used to. I keep my mouth shut in most cases, but overall, I usually don't need to because I already understand the situation better. If it was 'me' last year, I would've blew the entire situation out of proportion. I thought too much -- I assumed too much -- and in most cases, all the thoughts and assumptions were way off. I learned many things while convalescing at home. Someone told me, "What other people think of you is none of your business." Meaning, it doesn't matter what somebody thinks of you, or what you "should" be doing or "should not" be doing. The word "should", in fact, is the biggest misconception we can ever believe.

This is my singing bowl outside on my deck at home. 
As I began to delve deeper into my faith and communion with God, I have learned different ways to meditate, which brings me into a closer relationship with Him. Just recently, I bought a Tibetan singing bowl for meditation. I find that the binaural sound of the bowl helps to relieve anxiety attacks and helps with sleep. And if you know me well enough, you know how much trouble I have sleeping. I was having myoclonic seizures at night before I tried to fall asleep due to anxiety. This singing bowl helped reduce them, to almost eliminating them. I pray and seal my meditation time in Jesus' name. I always ask for a hedge of protection. You can never go wrong when you do that.

Last week, my wife came home with a book she had purchased online called, Power Prayers with the subtitle of, Warfare that Works, written by Sheila Zilinksy and Carla Butaud. I have never heard of these two women before in my life. So I opened it up and they have sections like, bedtime prayers, prayers for healing as well as prayers regarding conflicts. As I flipped through the pages and read more of their prayers, some of them felt strange to me. Ones that were called, "Prayer Against the Spirit of the Bride of Satan", "Prayer Against the Curse of the Bastard", "Prayer Concerning Our Air, Water and Food Supply", "Prayer Concerning Weapon Systems" and "Prayer Against the Spirit of Kundalini".

Who?

First of all, my initial impression while reading these titles were more on the lines of suspecting these two authors were one of those conspiracy theory tinfoil hat wearing kinda girls. I mean, they DO have great faith in God, but the overall theme seems to hold a lot of fear and paranoia.

But first, let me address the one thing that baffled me.

Kundalini got me. I didn't know what this spirit was or where it stemmed from. 

Here's what it reads: "Awakening the Kundalini is the expression used by mystics, Hindu gurus, and New Agers for practice of focusing on a "serpent spirit" energy in the form of a coiled snake located at the base of the spine. Through meditation and physical body positioning, the aim is to "raise the Kundalini" through spiritual waypoints ---called Chakras --- located along the spine. The goal is to elevate the Kundalini spirit to the "Crown Chakra", which is located at the top of the head and is the source of originator of presence of the third eye, which the kingdom of darkness depicts in the center of the forehead that opens one to receiving demonic vision, etc. These practices are often linked with yoga, eastern meditation, and mysticism. Yoga positions, chanting, visualization, and self-hypnotic routines can be one way to receive this demonic Kundalini spirit. Also people that are involved in any form of martial arts can receive this spirit as well."

It then lists every single Yoga pose which you have to repent for.

So, since I had a few questions, I emailed Sheila, the author directly. I asked in a very respectful email about what she thought about the singing bowls being used in our churches today, as well as practicing meditation to gain closeness with God.

Sheila Zilinsky
She responded.

"Tibetan practices are dangerous and inviting demons to operate in your life. This is pure idolatry and witchcraft. Do what you want with that info-- but I assure you meditation and bowl practice is PURE eastern mysticism and I have studied this out very intensely. If you're actively engaged in this kind of demonic activity, then I see no room for these prayers to work in your life.
Regards,
Sheila "

I completely understand when somebody has great faith in a particular faith and practice, but to tell me my prayers won't work is like playing God in a way. She also dabbles with really whacked out conspiracy theories, pointing prayers out to chemtrails that are feeding our crops GMOs as well as HAARP dictating our weather system. Whether or not these claims are true or false, this is not listed in the Bible anywhere. Also to note, none of her claims regarding Yoga or even all the demons she has listed in the book are referenced in the Bible. This is all generated due to great fear and paranoia. It's not rooted in faith so much as it is in great fear. And fear is not of God. So I do not believe these two women are speaking from a godly viewpoint, nor understand that we are not of this world. That's what it says in the Bible. We are not to concern ourselves and involve ourselves so intently on political matters. This is all out of control and God has already overcome the world, as it is written.

So my advice would be to pass up this small book of prayers that's listed for $30.00. I'm wondering why my wife got it in the first place. I also want to make a note about Sheila Zilinsky. She was banned from Facebook because she was writing some pretty nasty racist and Islamphobic comments onto her site. She is also an antigay conservative who thinks we're all going to perish in hell.

We decided to write some realistic reviews on Amazon among all of the fake ones. But something hit me late last night. God pointed out that it was useless to do this and that one day, she will come to grips with her faith as well as her paranoia. She has websites and videos out that are so over-the-top with conspiracy theories that it's really difficult to address anything with her. Her Twitter account alone is vile. She attacks people, calls them names and challenges them to debate her. She's a very angry individual. So instead of leaving my 1 star review on her account, I deleted it and just prayed for her.

And that's what we have to do when we come face to face with someone who is of the same faith, but has a whole different view on how we should practice. PRAY on it. Don't lash out, because the other person feels that what they are doing is OK. And in Romans, it clearly states that we should not judge those who think, eat or live differently.

Paul addresses the question directly in the book of Romans: One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. (Romans 14:5-6)

So let people practice how they need to practice. Let them worship God the way they want to worship. If it feels bad for you, then don't do it. But don't shove a bunch of controversial nonfactual mishmash down other people's throats. And of course, it's always our choice to research our authors before buying their books, (which I wish my wife had done). Lesson learned.

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!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Is It TRUTH or FAITH?

The one power that all of us have is the power to choose. Most of us were brought up with something higher than ourselves to believe in. Some of us believed our parents when we were told that Santa Claus was a real person, possibly weighing 300 lbs, who could actually wiggle his way down our narrow chimneys to give us presents under our Christmas tree. We were raised to believe. As we grew older, we began thinking for ourselves and choosing things that possibly angered our parents. As we experienced the world in a much more independent state, we began to discover new things, different foods, as well as various types of other religions that people believed in. I think it's safe to say that all of us raised that one important question in our mind: "Which is true?"Aren't we all searching for the "TRUTH"?


In the U.S., it's typically dominated by Christianity, although we are known as the "melting pot". Some of us truly never questioned whether or not Christianity was the one and only "religion" to follow. Since most of the nation were following Jesus, then this was the way to go. They went on blind faith, hoping that their afterlife would be somehow safe and secure. Some people like myself, had the fortunate opportunity to experience Jesus and the Holy Spirit, without questioning blind faith. In John chapter 20 verse 29, He says, "You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who haven't seen me and believe anyway." Nobody believed that Jesus was the Son of God. They all saw Him after He had died. I mean -- with their own eyes, they had seen this miraculous appearance and still, some rejected Him.

My point is, I understand blind faith and the imbedded childhood religion that stuck with some people into their adulthoods. You and I are just going to have to respect that. It's a given faith -- a given "religion". I also cannot prove which religion is TRUTH, but for myself, since I have "seen", I know what's TRUTH for me. It's just impossible to ever prove it to you. Anyone can debunk my experiences to hallucinations or perhaps they feel I did some sort of drug that made me felt some sort of"euphoria", which could explain my experience. But in my own recollection, it was early on a Saturday afternoon. I had just gotten back from having coffee down the street with my partner in Provincetown, MA. (No, I didn't see Jesus on a piece of toast.) I was sober in mind and body. There were no drugs or alcohol in my system to have made me experience something that I would never forget in this lifetime. If you'd like to read about the story more in detail, I explained everything in my book, A Prayer Away From Healing.

Let me just go into detail about something that happened to me a little more than two years ago. I was in a really bad situation and there was a lot of family conflict. We had just lost dad from cancer and now mom was trying to fight the big "C" and we were all feeling hopeless. All of us were so incredibly stressed out, and still mourning from our huge loss. It had gotten to the point where I held a gun and placed it on my lap ready to do the unthinkable. I didn't want to live anymore. It was such a volatile and destructive time for me, that I almost pulled the trigger. Instead, I turned to prescription drugs and numbed those feelings of hurt, sadness, bitterness and despair away. I also called a suicide hotline, hoping to hear someone with some wisdom, but they were less than excited to help out. They flung me a phone number of a nearby therapist and said to give that a shot. And although I have sought out a million and one therapists, this one therapist saved my life.

Even beyond the therapeutic help that I received, I began to realize a lot of things in life. I began to research beliefs, philosophical theories and even sought out other religions. As I was hunting for the "TRUTH", I found out why people act and react. I found out what the main cause of conflict was, and that being the ego. I learned that silence is better than a rebuttal and that silence can be more effective than words. I learned a lot about the pain-body, and how there are so many people who refuse to let go of past hurt -- even from childhood. It makes them neurotic and it also makes them place the blame on people who are currently in their lives today. Their mind is poisoned. They can't get out of this small, confining prison they live in. For each miserable experience they have endured, someone has to pay for it -- someone has to feel the same pain they feel. And with that, comes the EGO, because the EGO is always right. It's never going to admit that it's wrong. And so, it continually causes conflict with itself and with other people around them. They lash out, snap at their loved ones and ridicule and judge other people for not having the same luxuries OR challenges as they do. But even with luxuries, they are still so incredibly sad and miserable. They refuse to let go of their ego, of their poisoned mind...of their sanity.

I used to be one of them until the day I decided to let it go. I literally stopped dead in my tracks and let it all go.

The first thing toward letting things go that are affecting your everyday behavior is to realize that forgiveness is the number one step in becoming sane again. This can be forgiveness for something that took place more than 20 years ago, or forgiveness for someone who is always hurting you today. Forgiveness is not to be confused with being a walking mat. You also have the right to choose to remove yourself from someone who is too toxic to be around. If you cannot tolerate the toxicity of another person because it is affecting your mental health and wellbeing, then that person needs to be removed from your life. "Removal" of a person doesn't necessarily mean that you'll never see them again, more often, it means to simply not let them 'in' fully -- to set boundaries and set your own ground rules for friendship or maintaining a relationship with a certain family member. No words need to be said. Your actions or lack thereof will say it all.

The other day, someone asked me what makes me so sure about my faith. And besides "seeing for myself" -- my relationship with God is the one thing that makes my life complete. Since I have made God number one in my life, I have received answers that cannot even be explained. I have learned things that aren't published in spiritual books. But I have also researched other spiritual gurus about their own faith and journey in discovering the best way to live -- all correlating with my own initial beliefs.

Here are my beliefs...

True faith doesn't have an ego. True faith doesn't have to be "right" all the time. It doesn't need to call itself, "TRUTH". It just needs to be appreciated for the wonderful spiritual experience that it is. When somebody has true faith, you'll rarely get an argument out of them. And if you're fishing for one, true faith will step out of the picture and let you hear your own voice. True faith requires dedication. It requires to not only pray, but to meditate, "LISTEN" -- hear what the Source has to say to you in order to learn. True faith is learning. Someone who thinks they have learned all there is to know doesn't have true faith. They have an insecure illusionary "security blanket" type of faith. This type of faith always yells, "I'm right and you're wrong!" That's the ego trying to protect it's illusionary integrity. True faith, is believing in whatever you believe in, and yet respecting other people of different faiths. Their faith has no impact on you whatsoever. You do not need to convert them. If you feel the need to convert them, then try being a wonderful and peaceful example of your own faith.

This is my actual prayer spot. I use the Bible, anointing oils, singing bowls and of course, coffee! 
It sounds pretty simple, but it's not. You have to diligently seek out God every single morning and every single night. Constant communication with God is the key to living a peaceful life -- at least it is for me. I once heard a great analogy explained by Joel Osteen. He said that since you have so much faith, God will keep you in the frame. So, if you start to backslide or do something that goes against what your faith requires, or goes against God -- then God pushes you back into the frame. You may hit the edges, but you'll never leave the frame. Having faith, especially experiencing that your faith is real can never make you a nonbeliever. For instance, now that I have seen, I can never "un-see". Strong faith is similar as well. Once you have that deep faith for God, you can never be unfaithful. And if you try to be "unfaithful" and research what it's like to be atheist, or "pretend to be" because perhaps you're angry at God or people of the church -- it'll never "stick" so to speak. I do believe that there are real atheists out there in the world who are searching for scientific evidence. But the ones who tear down God and His people for being "silly and delusional believers" are the ones who seem like they have an ax to grind.

The great mystery of life has always been debated. TRUTH is, nobody "knows". They can only experience, believe or not believe. Whatever journey you're on, just make sure that you respect other people's journey, even if it's on a different route than yours. Because being angry over somebody else's journey (religion or faith) will only hurt you in the long run.

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, August 18, 2016

If Your Religion is "TRUTH", Then Why is it Just a Belief?

Last night as I was prepping dinner, I walked outside with a glass of wine and my phone and started Periscoping the beautiful view of the lake and mountains. The sun hit it just right, making different parts of the mountains light up. I started talking about spirituality, faith and atheism. The point of the scope was to point out how faith is purely an unseen belief. Although I claim to be Christian and believe that Jesus is my Savior, I would never condemn anyone to hell because I don't want to play God. Those are some big shoes to fill. And although I believe in the Bible, I also believe that much of the book was written by man and yes, inspired by God, but how much do we actually know is true? So I rely on the book and read it with discernment. There are many contradictory scriptures in the Bible that leave many unsure.

Why am I a Christian?

Because it makes me incredibly happy. Is that a lame excuse? I'll elaborate on it. The euphoria I experience while meditating and praying to God is enough for me to say, "YES! This is real!" I have had spiritual experiences, that without a doubt in "my mind" -- God spoke to me. I once tested it and asked if He could tell me something I would never possibly know and say words that I am not familiar with. These are my types of confirmations that tell me "this is true" -- "this is God". You can call it hallucinations, or call even me delusional, but you can also say that I'm filled with joy because "I believe" I have The Spirit living inside me. And that to me is unlike anything I have ever experienced in my entire life.

I had a very "religious" vegan hop onto my live stream and went full steam ahead on me about the sin of eating meat. She said that I am making animals suffer just because I prefer a specific type of food. She also stated I should only eat plant-based foods and then went on to say that it was listed in Genesis.

In an article I read, it stated the scripture listed in Genesis: Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. "But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. (Genesis 9:3-4)

Later, laws were instituted that declared certain meats to be "clean" and others to be "unclean." The system provided a means of proving one's obedience to God and had some health benefits. After Jesus Christ came, God declared all meats to be clean.

Current slaughterhouse practices comply with the dictate to remove the blood, so virtually all meat today is acceptable to eat according to God. God was the one who instituted the sacrificial system for the forgiveness of sin.

The blood of the Passover lamb was symbol chosen to cleanse from sin and to cause the Lord to pass over the first-borns. The New Testament calls Jesus Christ the Lamb of God, a clear symbol of the sacrificial system set up by God.

One major premise of Christianity is that we are free from the Old Testament ceremonial laws, since Christ is the fulfillment of symbols they represent.

Paul addresses the question directly in the book of Romans: One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. (Romans 14:5-6)

Therefore, the Christian is free to eat or not eat meat according to his own conscience. However, all eating should be done giving thanks to God."

I mean, if she truly wanted to get technical on me, I would also have to ward off shellfish, for it's an abomination to eat, written in the Old Testament. Many other "sins" to list. She kept saying, "It's wrong to eat meat! It's so wrong! You're wrong! Wrong!"

"Wrong" she said.

Here's the thing: when people are so passionate about a certain topic, let's just say for example, telling someone they're going to hell for being a Muslim or a Jew or any other non-Christian faith -- you are threatening their afterlife. And it's not about "saving people" so much as it is about enlarging your own ego to be "right". So when somebody screams, "You're wrong" -- it's their own ego screaming. The need to feel right is essential to the ego. But if you're strong-minded enough, you'll realize that you have absolutely no control over what people believe or don't believe in. It is not your business to brainwash them on something you cannot prove.

And there's another thing that people got upset with me for.

I stated that even though I have faith in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit -- I am not going to tell you it's "TRUTH", because there are no factual evidence for this. Christians say "TRUTH" a lot, and they always capitalize it so that people will "HEAR" it better -- maybe it'll sink into their little heathen-ridden heads. But for whatever reason, *cough-hack-EGO-hack-cough*, we'll just say the notion of disagreeing on someone else's faith is basically threatening their own afterlife. A fear-based religion or belief can set someone's ego into high gear.

Here's another example of truth vs belief... I have had spiritual experiences, seen and heard -- all that wonderful, glittery, euphoric-causing sensations that would let me know that there is a God. But many can chuck it up to a hallucination or that my brain chemistry is a little mixed up --whatever the theory, it happened to me. It's not truth for them, and rightfully so. They didn't "see" it for themselves. I love the scripture in John 20:29 where Jesus said, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  Meaning -- blind faith is much more impressive than God letting you see or hear Him. Do you remember ever having blind faith over something? Or just ridiculous beliefs, like believing in Santa Clause, (even though there was a guy back in the day who did distribute gifts) -- or believing in the tooth fairy? I remember catching my mother slipping the envelope underneath my pillow one night, and she got startled and said, "I was just checking if she gave you the right amount!" After that, I slept with one eye open, hoping that my next tooth loss would cost her much much more.

Even IF there was no God or heaven or hell -- for me -- I'd rather believe. It feels good. It makes me happy. And if there IS a God (which I truly believe), then why not believe instead of debating this all your life? Wouldn't it be a nice surprise if your time runs out and you start to float up into the heavens and God said, "Hey! Do you believe me now?" For some, maybe that would be a scary situation, but nonetheless...

There have been countless accounts of near death experiences, where people have had similar cases to where they saw a light at the end of a tunnel, or perhaps they saw loved ones about to take them back "home". Many neurologists debunk this account and explain that it's what our brain does when it tries to shut down. Like a computer logging off, it'll go through all of the microchips and memory board in order to shut down properly, which explains "I saw my whole life flashing before me" theory. But can it be that simple?

Dr. Eben Alexander 
"A successful neurosurgeon, who has taught at Harvard Medical School and other universities, spent his life dismissing claims of heavenly out-of-body experiences and refuting such talk with scientific logic, until he himself had a near-death experience. During that time, Dr. Eben Alexander says he saw heaven and knows the afterlife exists. Now he’s telling the world in his new book, 'Proof of Heaven.'"-----read more here.

There are so many things that cannot be explained. But my question is, if you see somebody incredibly happy with what they believe in, then why would you want to tear them down or throw away their belief? Many believe that religion has gotten into our politics, threatening our rights as Americans. And yes, there is that one stipulation of concern. Sometimes religion can be a bad thing once it starts judging, ridiculing, and leaving people out in the cold if they believe in something entirely different. "Freedom of religion" has also been known to be used to discriminate against certain groups, claiming it was "against their religion" when it was really about their hatred towards whatever "sin" they were committing, and that also goes for the sin of not believing in their religion. It may also have a lot to do with fear of the unknown. Most cases of hatred or bigotry are rooted from fear.

So let me ask you: does your faith make you fear things in life? Do you find yourself very uncomfortable sitting in the same room with somebody of another religion? Or, do you find yourself getting anxiety sitting next to someone of the same faith, possibly judging you? I find that most Christians judge one another so harshly based on whatever sins they've committed. But the greatest commandment of all is to love God with all your heart and to love others the same. Judging others leaves no room for love. "Righteous judgement" does not exist unless you are God. And remember, playing God is a tough role. Those are some big shoes to fill.

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, July 21, 2016

What Happens to Our Faith When We Lose Someone We Love?

Many times I've thought about this. I've heard some people cry out, "Why did God let this happen?" And sometimes, there are those who completely lose faith in God because someone they love had passed away. Death is inevitable. Losing loved ones is inevitable. We know these facts to be true, so why do some of us get so incredibly angry once they lose their loved ones? If your faith in whatever religion you practice is strong, then why can't you comprehend that all life goes -- and in most faiths -- go to God?

Today is July 21rst. On this day, four years ago, I lost my father at 12:21 in the afternoon. He lost his battle with cancer. For some strange reason, most of our relatives die on the 21rst, and on the 21rst minute. And for some odd reason, I always see the number, 12:21, or 1221, as those who see 11:11 all the time on the clock.

My father was sent to hospice one week before he passed away. The thing is -- it happened so suddenly -- he declined really quickly after he had taken a hard fall which left him with a broken hip. After that, it was just spiraled downhill from there. I remember him saying to me, "Deb, all I want is another ten years!" And all he had was another week left. My family and I all trekked up to hospice every single day. On day seven, on July 21, 2012, I decided to take a "mental health day". My wife was home with me. I asked her to take the day off with me -- I don't know why, but now looking back, I do. I had grabbed a cup of coffee and sat outside on the deck with Madelene. Something strange happened though. I felt different. I felt a wave of calmness. And at 12:21, this moth with a descending angel on it appeared right on my coffee table outside, right next to my mug.

Funny, I seemed to have strengthen my faith due to losing my dad. I've had so many signs and dreams  that cannot be explained. It rejuvenated my faith to a much higher level. It was like, I knew that I knew that I knew...that something out there, someone out there, a God, a deity, a higher power was definitely evident and willing to show proof. Not many people get proof of a god or their own faith. Some people lose hope and turn to atheism, hoping to get questions answered, hoping to find themselves, and most of all, find God again.

When Dad left us, there was an unspeakable and indescribable sense of peace that overcame us. We were all able to sit down during dinner and talk about Dad in positive ways. It's not like we wanted him to leave us -- but we wanted the suffering to end. We couldn't bear it any longer. All of us, tired and exhausted from being "on call" for another trip to the hospital in the middle of the night, or taking turns sitting with him while he zoned out on all those pain meds that made him into a zombie. Most of our suffering was during the time of his suffering. So when his suffering ended, it almost felt like our suffering lessened, but now with the remaining loss, the remaining void of our father and my mother's husband. And as I've said before, the silence around here is almost deafening. His prominent energy, loud laughter, and his powerful personality is all a memory now.

If you've ever dealt with watching a loved one suffer with a disease, especially the big "C", it's just excruciating to endure. It truly puts your faith on the line. Many prayers go unanswered, but in reality, they were answered. We feel ignored by God or somehow, ripped off. During times of desperation during our grief, we sometimes want to reach out to psychic mediums and find out if they're okay -- as if we could possibly do something about it. We wander over into other faith systems and see what their beliefs are like. We then seem to close off "religion" or "God" a little, because sometimes, it angers us that we have to go through this heartbreaking time in our life. No one's immune to death or immune to losing someone through death.

For me, I delved back into my faith because I noticed the miracles. Be open to the little "hellos" and the subtle signs of God speaking volumes to you. It may not come in the form of a voice, a letter, an email or other types of "black and white" messages. You have to be open to seeing the possibilities of the afterlife. I became more aware and conscious. I started to wake up and when I did, I saw all the blessings of life and death.

Jesus said, "There are many rooms in my Father's home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly." --John 14:2

"We know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down--when we die and leave these bodies--we will have a home in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long for the day when we will put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will not be spirits without bodies, but we will put on new heavenly bodies. Our dying bodies make us groan and sigh, but it's not that we want to die and have no bodies at all. We want to slip into our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by everlasting life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit. So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. That is why we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident and we would rather be away from these bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord." --2 Corinthians 5:1-8

Planting a tree for Dad.
A couple of weeks ago, a friend had stated that it was going to be her mother's 4th year in heaven in a couple of days. The dates of our lost loves ones are hard to deal with. But if you can think of it in a positive way and do something constructively positive, like planting a tree in their name, or perhaps celebrating their everlasting life through cooking a nice meal -- then that day alone will feel "special" and not so dreadful. Be open to signs and hellos from your loved ones, especially on their day of passing. Let it strengthen your faith or see beyond this third dimensional world. This veil between life and the spiritual world is so incredibly thin, that we need to be open and receptive to actually feel their presence with us. Because they're right here, all the time, at any given time.

Have faith.

And may all of us rest in peace. Our minds are overloaded, overwhelmed and saddened by losses of our loved ones. They're at rest and we're not. Think about that for a second. They're actually telling us to "rest in peace" while their souls are free and painless. We suffer so terribly. Let them see us conquer this dreadful world. And let them also see us appreciate this beautiful world. There is good and bad, depending on how our minds perceive it.

Never lose faith.

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

Friday, July 08, 2016

The World's Gone Mad

The world has completely divided, separating into groups who are against other groups. Political, religious, racial -- we're all at odds with one another. I am opening up my eyes to one thing: just because one bad egg in a particular group goes haywire, doesn't mean all of them are bad.  For instance, I had a moment of insanity yesterday afternoon when one Trump supporter insulted me. I almost had a knee-jerk reaction to detest the entire group. But then, a few of my friends who are Trump supporters took the time out to explain their views to me, which were far from hateful. Then I saw one of my friends on Periscope. He's a black man in his mid 30's or so who was speaking about what happened to Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. He stated that all blacks and all whites should separate and live in their own societies. He was angry. He also said that the reason why most black people are poor and live in the ghetto with drug and alcohol addictions is because of white people. He said to me, "I bet you have a nice house and a car, right?" He assumed it was only because I was white. He blamed white people for "making" black people alcoholics. He said that white people pushed alcohol on them, leaving no accountability for the person drinking. As I kept listening to him, more and more people were commenting about his views on white people. He said, "All white people are racists -- you can't tell me otherwise." So I told him, "I'm white and I have no ill feelings toward you, or anyone else who's black." He then said, "Oh yeah? I bet your parents wouldn't let you date a black man...?" So I just told him it would be hard since I'm a lesbian. (Trying to lighten up the mood, but he wasn't having it.) I just left it at that. But the fact is, I wasn't allowed to date black guys when I was younger. I didn't understand it either, and I can only contribute it to the old fashioned Italian mindset...ignorance...lack of exposure...handed down views...and so on. I wonder why I never accepted the mindset as I was brought up with it. But he was way too angry to even talk to.

My friend, now former due to his anger toward white people, is angry and rightfully so I guess. Why are there some cops who shoot black people? Why are there some citizens who kill cops? And the people they are all shooting may not even be the opposition. We're labeling them as a "whole" and not getting facts. We're furious and taking it out on anyone who seems to be apart of the group we're against.

Why are we so against...?

The hardest division for me is that some (not all) Christians are against me being apart of their faith because I'm gay. I even heard one person say to me, "Either call yourself a lesbian and lose the Christian part, or be a Christian and stop being a lesbian." What a simple solution! I was pushed away, shunned and even reprimanded by my own church who said it was a "dead end road". Not all Christians treated me like that though. I was welcomed by many who accepted me. I even met Christian pastors and Lutheran priests who were also gay. I am incredibly thankful that my bad experiences with just a few Christians didn't make me "hate" the entire group. And I say "hate" because that's what we do when we feel oppressed. We feel resentful. We want justice and we start acting upon our initial fear and bitterness. When you act on fear and bitterness, it's "hatred".

Not all cops are racists. Not all cops are trigger happy. The same applies: not all black people have guns or cause violence. Not all black people are drug addicts. But we assume the stereotypical traits of a particular group. Just as you have with Trump supporters: not all supporters are racist and uneducated. Many at these rallies seem to hold that trait, especially in my local town, Sugarloaf, NY.  There's a really great Mexican restaurant named, The Cancun Inn owned by the nicest people. They inevitably got run over by the Trump train. A lady named Esther Levy and her friend, Alvin Goldstein said they got kicked out of the eatery because Esther was wearing a Trump hat and a Trump pin. But as it turns out, stories are being told that the couple had one too many drinks and started badgering the staff, saying that their ancestors came here legally and demanded proof of their citizenship. They were definitely invoking a reaction, especially wearing the Trump gear. You can't tell me that it shouldn't matter. If you know how hurt and offended Mexicans are by Trump's views, then you should also know that you're also going to get less than desirable service if you're doing something intentionally to hurt somebody. It's just common sense. As I stated before, not all Trump supporters are out to start a fight. Unfortunately, these people were.

Yesterday, they found a black man hanging from a tree in Piedmont Park in Atlanta, GA. The police department stated that it was consistent with a suicide, but still have yet to do a full autopsy. They said there were no signs of a struggle or foul play. Some people said that the Ku Klux Klan were seen passing around flyers that day. Many do not believe this man's death was a suicide. And honestly, I don't even believe it. I mean, on one hand, I can definitely see someone getting so frustrated over the racial wars that've been going on and just decided he didn't want to be apart of that world any longer. But you can't just leave it at that! There's so much anger on both sides. Black people are angry, white people are angry -- everyone seems to be angered by all this. Nobody's going to believe the police that it was just a suicide. Nobody. Even if it's consistent with a suicide, INVESTIGATE more.

There is a past that's not being forgiven. There's also a past that some people aren't letting go of, whether you are white, black, gay, Christian or Jewish. There are many black people who simply cannot let go and forgive the past of what their ancestors went through. At the same time, there are many white people who refuse to let go of racism, i.e.: KKK, southern white supremacists, political racists, etc. And because of this tragic history of ours, we continue to live in the past and not the present. We're making things worse and worse. Our egos are getting bigger and bigger. The anger we're holding onto will only manifest in a much larger capacity. It's almost as if we're moving backwards in society. The progression we've made has gone down the drain. The hidden resentment and anger has reared its ugly head. We're now seeing the true colors -- the true opinions, the true intentions and feelings towards certain groups.

It was really disheartening to see that anti-semitism still exists in the town that I grew up in. Kiyras Joel is a small Hasidic section of Monroe, NY. It used to be small, but now they have expanded and continuing to do so. They wanted to annex 500+ acres and expand their community within the town of Monroe. The citizens of Monroe are outraged, only because of the unethical ways they have obtained their land and water supply. Many are on Medicaid and welfare while maintaining high paying jobs in NYC that's supposedly not accounted for. Kiryas Joel is, at least on paper, the poorest community in the entire United States.  The incomes are not reported and section 8 is prominent in this community. The amount of corruption in this seemingly "small" community has the people of Monroe ready for war. Even though their anger is justified by the dishonesty of some citizens in Kiyras Joel, there are "some" people of Monroe who are so angry, that they are pouring out anti-semitism all over social media. I wrote an article about Kiyras Joel here. It speaks about my own experience dealing with this community. From observations alone, and by working for the local telephone company, they would provide me with a social security number in order to open up a new account. Most of the social security numbers were from a deceased loved one or a very young child. They used a dead person’s identity or a child’s, in order to open up an account.  I wasn’t going to say, ‘all of them’ do this, because that would be wrong. Many of the residents of Kiryas Joel were found on fraudulent assistance from the government or using somebody else's identity from Medicare or Medicaid to get a discount. So the bulk weren't all "disabled" or "poor" --- they were using fake identification cards to get a lower cost. The village of Kiyras Joel also paid off Gov. Cuomo under the table in order to buy more land that wasn't agreed upon by the neighboring towns. And so, the war begun. For a few of our Monroe residents, it was no longer about the corruption. The anger intensified so much so, that it became more bout anti-semitism than it did about the illegal business they were doing. Is anti-semitism a legit and rational response to the corruption of this community?

My point of this is: just because a few bad eggs have ruined the reputation for whichever group, you cannot place blame on all of them. Just like my black friend on Periscope -- he blamed ME for his oppression. He blamed ME for the alcoholism in his community. He blamed ME for his family and friends living in section 8. He blamed...me. I'm on his side, but yet he doesn't believe me. Why should he? I'm white. So now, in his mind, all white people are racists. He mentioned that I was never oppressed. I'm a white Christian lesbian. I have been with my wife for 22 years. It was only in 2008 that we were "allowed' to marry each other. And while I admit that it's not like being black and driving in a white neighborhood and getting pulled over, I also know that I always give the benefit of the doubt for all people: cops, blacks, criminals, white people, Hasidic Jews -- anyone who seems to be getting the backlash for their own people. It's not fair. I will never put a label on you just because you belong to a particular group. I will never assume "you're one of them", or that you hate me because "I'm one of them".

Shouldn't we all be one?

In a perfect world...in a perfect world.



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!

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

When You Love Yourself, You're Able to Love Others the Same

"Is your god better than my god?"
Losing a friend is strange, isn't it? I've lost a couple. I guess you can say it ended due to a conflict of interest for the most part. Some of my friendships ended on some sort of strange political view, to which I decided to just end it altogether. The thing is, friends and family members really shouldn't discuss anything political. On a religious note, if you share the same faith -- fine. But there are people who just can't "share" -- they have to use their bullhorn and blast you out of the park with their "GOD" and how you should worship who they worship.

No. It doesn't work that way.

Many of my friends are usually Christian heterosexuals who feel the need to tell me that I'm going to hell for being married to my wife of 22 years. And of course, I'm confident enough in my own faith to believe otherwise. If you'd like to read about my theology -- click here. Trust me, it's not some "gay agenda" I'm trying to sell you. It's just my faith. But like my friends who worship another God -- we respect each other's beliefs. We don't call each other sinners. It's so strange because one would think two totally different people of faith would be of more conflict, but it's not. Christians are fighting with Christians more than they do than those who reject their god. It's not that I'm weak in my faith in God, but it shows that my faith and confidence in my God is much stronger than petty fights with someone else's ego.

And there's that word again: ego.

The ego needs to be right all the time. It needs to have you agree with them. And if it fails to do so, then the ego goes into fight mode. It's impossible to argue with someone with an extremely large ego. It's not even about the topic at hand anymore -- it's about them and their faith and that if their faith is wrong, then they basically lose. (Or lose it.)

So one day, since my highly religious friend continues to pray for me because she's convinced that my destiny is in a fiery lake of hell, I then decided to end the friendship altogether. It was too much maintenance and too much "explaining" to do. There were too many bible verses that were going to be tossed around like a volleyball. I mean, come on, let's face it -- it's totally pointless if you're not going to use scriptures to uplift someone. People are getting way too comfortable reading off scriptures and using it to bash other people with, or to make them feel bad about themselves. This is so wrong. The only thing they're doing is scaring them away from God.

Your faith, my faith, anyone's faith is not science-based. (No I am not going into atheism here, bear with me.) Our faith is of a spiritual nature which nobody can prove. Nobody. And although I have had quite a few spiritual experiences which cannot be explained or proven, this is why my faith is so strong. I know for myself that God is here, and that God does accept me 'as is' and doesn't think I'm a filthy heathen as all of His followers seem to think. He knows my heart and He understands why people do the things they do.

When you threaten someone's faith system that has been instilled for many years, even maybe since childhood, you threaten their ego. You threaten the one thing that has held them together. You also "may" be threatening their own true sexual orientation or identity. So there's that. A topic for another time. When someone is confident in their arguments, there isn't any name calling, nor is there any desire to continue the debate, because debates happen when two unconfident people are trying to seek out the truth. I don't argue anymore because for me, I already know. But I'm not going to push my religion -- eh that word irks me -- my faith upon other people and make them feel uncomfortable. It's my own personal journey. If you want me to share it, then I would gladly do so. But I wouldn't share it in hopes it knocks some sense in ya. That's not how I do things.

Let me sidetrack for a sec...

When my dad got diagnosed with cancer back in 2010, we were all so terrified to lose him. I guess for all of us, losing a parent is most terrifying. When he passed over, my world was muted. It's like walking into a busy fairground filled with people laughing and having fun, and then all of the sudden, the sound disappears. It's the only way I can explain what I mean. Someone muted my world. His voice would fill a room (or two or three) and his presence alone was always noticed. His spirit, his lively being, was so bright, that you couldn't ignore it. His wheezy laughter is gone, his loud jokes are now evaporated into nothingness. It's so silent around here. Even his personal belongings, trucks and bulldozers and heavy equipment, one by one vanished. The property looks empty (cleaner) but empty.

He rarely spoke about God, even though he was brought up in a Catholic household. Both my parents raised me to be Catholic. I went through the motions of communion, confirmation, Catholic night school -- you name it. But dad rarely shared his feelings about God, until he got sick. He knew that my wife and I were believers and asked us to pray over him one day. He held my hand and stared at me like a little boy, scared and shaken from the excruciating pain. The sicker he got, the more questions he asked. Then one day, Madelene's mother came over with her husband, both who are apart of the church. They took my father in a private room and asked if he accepted Jesus as his Savior. He accepted and repented of his sins. That's huge for someone to do when they're new Christians. After that day, it was as if he was a different person. He didn't fuss over the small things anymore. My mom even noticed it. And so, I never question where my dad is right now. In fact, I see him in my dreams and he helps me with many things. We have conversations in the dream. The number that I constantly see is 12:21 on the clock, whether day or night. It was the same time he went to be with God. I've been seeing that number a lot lately, especially when I'm going through a rough time. I truly believe his spirit is around me, as well as in heaven.

So my point of this story is this: my dad came to me in a dream (whether you believe this or not), and explained why he was the "tough guy who didn't need God" all his life. He said that his ego couldn't get out of its own way. His ego led him to appear tough, strong, resilient, but he stated that inside, he was just a scared little boy hoping to scare off the bad guys. He wanted to protect his family, and so he puffed up his chest and pretended to be bigger than he was. And he was a big guy! It all made sense now. He had to play that role in order to make us feel safe. But he didn't have to do that in retrospect. All he had to do was accept himself as is, but at that point, his ego was large enough to crush mountains. And so he continued on as the 'scary big guy on top of the mountain'. And we loved him anyway.

The ego hides the 'little boy' or 'little girl' that's deep inside. The ego tries to protect the vulnerability, the humanness of one's being. It's also a survival mechanism that many use in order to navigate around this scary world. Even those who live in downtrodden urban areas use their ego as a safeguard against other large egomaniacs. It never ends and continues to thrive off one another, making itself larger than the other. When it comes down to politics, especially for those who are oppressed, the outrage by many communities will also have their egos puffing out their chests in order to become heard and seen by all. We don't have any candidates who we can safely stand behind without getting backlash for our support. Think about it: each side loathes the other tremendously -- more than any other election in history. It's gotten so bad, that people have done lost their minds. Friendships are ending and so is our entire sense of respect for one another.

Whenever you hear me talk about politics, it's never one sided nor is it ever clear on who I am supporting. In fact, I rarely ever participate in political conversations, unless I see someone hurting another person due to religious views. The non-scientitifc side of politics seems to override anything logical. And while I rely on my "non-scientific faith" -- I also don't use it to beat someone to a bloody pulp with. Religion is a 'bad' word in my opinion. Spiritual faith should not hurt! What are we doing to one another? Why can't people accept others who don't necessarily fit their view of "God"? Why can't they just live their life and let others live theirs? They can't, because their ego is blinding them. Most homophobic people are scared that other people's lifestyles will impact the way their children live or persuade them to live an ungodly life. Perhaps they'll become one of those "dirty, filthy heathens". I've been called so many horrible names by our Christian community, and yet I still stand strong, being a Christian and relying on my faith and my God to get me through.

In politics, each side of the coin is corrupt. Why lose friendships and family members over such nonsense? How large is your own ego? Can you safely sit down with someone of the opposite political party or someone who doesn't believe in your god? How much strength would it take to fully accept someone for who they are and what they stand for? How much strength would it take to just love people as they are? But first, you have to love yourself. Maybe that's the issue we should all be discussing.

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!