Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Life's Inevitable Change

Nothing truly stays the same, even if you're standing in the same place. I've learned a lot over the course of ten years, and still continually learning that change is inevitable. You can't stop change, you can't avoid it, however you can welcome it---even if it seems to be your worst nightmare. I didn't welcome the thought of my parents dying of cancer within 5 years of each other. I didn't welcome the change of losing my ancestral home and I certainly didn't welcome the intense amount of grief that came along with it. It's normal. It's the process. The only thing that saved me when both parents died was drawing nearer to God. My faith increased somehow, through miraculous signs, prayer and studying the Bible. My outlook on death sort of changed too. My acceptance increased---yes, I want mom and dad to be free of pain and living with our Lord. My own selfishness of trying to keep them here forever didn't work. It was letting go that truly opened the door to a positive change. God wants us to let go and trust Him. God wants you to hand over past rubbles of your grief and walk through this new and transformed life with Him. But you have to let go. You have to. This doesn't mean to "move on"---it simply means to move forward. Keep going. God has something better in store for you. Remember, He will give you beauty for ashes. You just have to trust Him.

Months after Mom passed away, I would wake up every morning with this sense of dread. It consumed so much of me, that I would run to the bathroom and throw up at least a half a dozen times. This happened for about 3-4 months. My esophagus burned and I needed to be on this liquid medicine called Carafate. It's basically cement made out of aluminum to protect your esophagus and stomach lining, as well as to heal ulcers. It also prevented my 4 mg of Ativan from working due to the lack of absorption. But it protected me when I wanted to down a few glasses of wine. I self-medicated and walked around like a zombie for quite some time. I went to anything that would soothe me, like food, alcohol and a ton of isolation. I didn't want anyone to pity me, or put them in an awkward situation of trying to console me. It wasn't their job, although their intentions were sincere. I pushed a lot of people away. Soon after, I became really sick and had to be hospitalized for pleurisy and pneumonia. This didn't go well since I already have asthma. I was sick for 3 full months and the cough lingered on for weeks afterwards. They had me on prednisone, albuterol nebulizers, inhalers, Advair and Singulair. Needless to say, with all my emotional eating, those medications make you blow up like a tick and it ain't easy shedding it off when it's a steroid-induced weight gain.

This is not written so you can pity me. I'm sharing with you how I self-destructed--how I crashed and burned before God started rebuilding me.

The second year was probably just as hard, as I was left living in a very large home by myself. Since I worked from home---my home then became my prison. Granted, my wife would come home around 6ish and some nights after 8pm, but needless to say, I was up in a desolate area by myself trying to not go crazy. I stopped using our main living area, because it reminded me of mom too much. I kept remembering all of our good times, as well as all of her excruciating pain, sitting in front of the TV waiting for her pain meds to kick in. So the bad memories sort of outweighed the good. God tested me though. He needed me to be alone for a very good reason. For me, being alone was bad---but to Him, this was an opportunity of growth and learning. I began studying the Bible--not just reading some paragraphs and scriptures, but truly absorbing each story as it unraveled in my head. I began getting to know God and incorporating His Word into my life. I stopped drinking for almost a year, because it was getting out of control where I was relying on it, instead of enjoying it. Jesus loved His wine too, but He didn't chug the entire bottle down every night. My life, my outlook on everything had changed without me trying. Just trusting in God had taken my life from a tragic scenario into this new and hopeful experience. And then another test: foreclosure. I wasn't quite ready for that one, but seeing the real estate agent plop a sign onto my property (or the bank's property) had me in tears. Again, I was grieving. This was the home that kept us safe, that kept us warm in the winters and cool in the summers. It gave us shelter from hurricanes and snowstorms. The memories inside this vessel with my parents and siblings were irreplaceable. But I've learned that they're not in any place or building, but in my heart.

God took away our ancestral home, but He replaced it with a suitable and beautiful townhome, that I personally didn't believe we could afford due to the high cost of this general area. God made a way where there was none. And I'm living proof of that. A month before my mom passed away, she kept telling me, "Debbie, get a townhouse. Don't get a house with all this property to maintain---get a place where you can come and go as you please." I said, "Well, let's get one then!" She looked at me, and I knew right there, she already got her "death sentence" from her oncologist. That shattered my heart than anything I've ever experienced. She wasn't planning on moving. She wanted me to move forward after this heartbreaking "goodbye."

I was in denial for quite some time, because I wanted my mom to live forever! Who doesn't, right? But having the means to afford this place and even having a low mortgage was like winning the lotto! I could not believe that He placed me in an area where I have all the local stores next to me, while living in a beautiful complex in a quiet neighborhood. Even as I look back in my grief journals, I wrote about how I was scared that I was about to become homeless, or living in an undesirable and perhaps dangerous neighborhood. The other option was moving south, away from my family and friends. I was so scared. But God knew my concerns, He heard my petitions and I thank Him every single day of my life. I had to let go. He had something better in store.

I'm also grateful that I went through that period of isolation. It gave me a new outlook on enjoying my own company. Granted, I'm not gonna become a shut-in anymore, but I'm not afraid to be alone anymore. I had a fear of being alone for a long period of time. That doesn't bother me anymore, because I know for a fact that I'm never alone. We are never alone. But with trust comes comfort. Don't get me wrong, my life isn't perfect and I still suffer from panic attacks here 'n there, but it's not what it used to be. As I go through this huge life change, it's like walking with new legs. I'm a little wobbly, but I'm doing my best to make better choices. I'm not perfect and I still make mistakes---and that's OK. I still have this miraculous way of pushing people away, and it's something I'm working on. I know that I need to be more communicative. That's been a huge challenge for me. At times, I feel like I either did something wrong or that I was judged harshly, so I back away. That's on me. From here on out, instead of picking the flight over the fight, I'm trying to manage a healthy response instead of shutting it down completely. People shouldn't be shut down just because you think they made a mistake...in this case "me." So as I'm learning to forgive others, I'm also trying to forgive myself. The one thing I never want to do is blame my behavior on past traumas. I don't want to make excuses for bad choices. I want to be held accountable, and if I ever hurt anyone, I want to apologize without a "but" at the end of each "I'm sorry."

I want to change for the better. I welcome this new change that's currently happening to me. With each change comes a whole new learning curve. Sometimes it throws you for a loop, and sometimes, it can just be a forever changing grace from God.


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

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Terminal: Our Last Trip Together

It was 2pm and I was finally done packing up for our trip to the Jersey Shore. Mom surprisingly packed up all of her clothes and toiletries pretty quickly. I asked if I could help, but she never would let me. This would be our very last vacation together. It would also be her very last Mother's Day. She had recently received her six month life sentence from her oncologist. She was terminally ill and didn't tell me. While we were in the car driving down to the shore, the song, "Sign of the Times," from Harry Styles came on and she asked me to turn it up. She was never really interested in music---or at least music that was recently made. She said, "Debbie, listen to the words of this song. I love this song."

And I did. But funny, because I didn't let the words sink in until she was gone. Mom used to say a lot of these phrases in this song. This song is poignant in many ways, especially saying that her end was near. She would often hear me crying, because I had anticipatory grief. I cried a lot, hoping she didn't hear me. I would watch her in such excruciating pain that my heart shattered into pieces every single time. She always used to say, "Don't cry, mama...please don't cry."

Instead of posting Harry Styles' original, I want to post Jasmine Thompson and Sabrina Carptenter's cover. If you can't see the video, please click here.


Just stop your crying
It's a sign of the times

Welcome to the final show
Hope you're wearing your best clothes
You can't bribe the door on your way to the sky
You look pretty good down here
But you ain't really good
If we never learn, we been here before
Why are we always stuck and running from

The bullets?
The bullets
We never learn, we been here before
Why are we always stuck and running from
The bullets?
The bullets
Just stop your crying
It's a sign of the times

We gotta get away from here
We gotta get away from here
Just stop your crying
It'll be alright
They told me that the end is near
We gotta get away from here
Just stop your crying
Have the time of your life

Breaking through the atmosphere
And things are pretty good from here
Remember everything

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

Thursday, July 25, 2019

You Might Be the Only Bible Somebody Reads

Have you ever been welcomed into a circle of Christian friends who seem to publicly blare their faith around the world, and yet aren't familiar with the fundamentals of their own faith? I'm not saying you have to know every little piece of the Bible, but there has to be some level of love for others, just as the most important commandment in the Bible states: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. It's funny, because I've always seen the "least expected Christian" to be the most giving, the most knowledgable, and even having much more faith, without having to belittle others. I think it's important that we as Christians should never judge another.

The book of Romans talks about the dangers of criticism among Christians.

"Accept Christians who are weak in faith, and don't argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. For instance, one person believes it is all right to eat anything. But another believer who has a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Those who think it is all right to eat anything must not look down on those who won't. And those who won't eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. Who are you to condemn God's servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him tell them whether they are right or wrong. The Lord's power will help them do as they should." --Romans 14:1-4

"So why do you condemn another Christian? Why do you look down on another Christian? Remember, each of us will stand personally before the judgment seat of God. For the scriptures say, 'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow to me and every tongue will confess allegiance to God.'"--Romans 14:10-11

You may appear to look like the "perfect Christian"----Church going, married with kids with the white picket fence, but your actions say otherwise. Your real life tells a completely different story. God isn't looking for perfection in the worldly view---He looks for believers---He looks for their hearts. He wants to know how much you love Him. He wants to know how much time you can spend with Him. He wants to be the focal point of your life---not just a weekly trip to Sunday service. He wants you Mon-Sat as well.

Keep close with other believers, but also welcome unbelievers as well, because you may be the only Bible they ever read. You may be the one example they see that lets them know how real God is. Never make someone feel like an outcast, just because they hold different beliefs, or that they live a different life than you. Jesus hung out with prostitutes and the tax collectors. He never shunned them out of His circle. He welcomed all. Aren't we supposed to be Christ-like? Aren't we supposed to help one another, instead of making them feel unworthy?

So lately, I have been seeing a lot of Christians who are kind of hypocritical in their thinking---in their mind. They blurt out "love everyone" while slamming others down for either not being Christian enough or that they may be demon possessed, just because they have a different opinion than they do. I've seen them run down the rabbit hole of warped sense of thinking, assuming the worst in others, when in fact, their own lives mirrored just that. I have to say I have a keen sense of liars, or those who are trying to hard to "look" a certain way. They stutter, having a difficult time getting their points across, or they have this awkward way of sharing their faith, and if someone dares to disagree with their way of thinking, then they either don't respond, or chuck it up to that person being a narcissist because they knew something they didn't. It's all relevant really. Aren't we supposed to share what we know and believe? Aren't we supposed to help one another? Usually, when a person calls everyone a narcissist, it's a sign of psychological projection. It's the same concept of jaded women calling all of their past loves their "evil exes." There's three sides to every story: yours, theirs and the truth.

As a believer, I spend more time with unbelievers. For some reason, I find that they're less judgmental, and they don't have this egotistical way of tearing you down just because you don't fit the  'exact mold.' Most "Christians" I know, don't even know the Bible or they twist and turn things to make people look like "evildoers" and "heathens." We are supposed to edify one another---not tear one another down. A friend of mine judged me for being friends with someone who is Pagan. Hey, if I'm not subscribing to Paganism, then why worry about me? Most Christians practice Paganism by plopping a big ol' Christmas tree in their home and calling Jesus' resurrection "Easter"---dealing with Easter eggs and a rabbit, which represents sex and fertility. I'll let you Google that one when you have a minute. But all in all, we are all one. Whether we believe in this or that---be confident who you are in Christ. Be open to surrounding yourself with all different types of people, because again, you might be the only Bible somebody reads.

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

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Christians Who Believe In Conspiracy Theories

First off, I wanted to note that I was asked to write about this subject months ago. I was hesitant, only because I have a handful of friends who are into this stuff. I also dabble here 'n there, entertaining myself with conspiracy theories, but overall, there is usually zero proof of what's spread around the net, as well as zero disproof. This is why it's called a "theory." It's more about belief, or an assumption, rather than basing it on facts. And that's OK! Who knows---some or most may be true, but we'll never truly know. I really have no opinion on conspiracy theories, only because I tend to think up some wild things that are thrown back 'n forth and I've also seen contradictions in what's put out there, as opposed to what's assumed. My point: I'm guilty of believing in these things too, (as I put my tinfoil hat on.)

Who Are More Prone to Believing in Conspiracy Theories?

In my experience, I've known more Christians to believe in these sorts of things. Politically, I have seen both sides of the spectrum believe in them too. This is what gets me: if you're a Christian and believe that God has overcome the world, then why are we instilling fear in ourselves? Because the overall emotion in believing a conspiracy theory is fear. God says to fear not, because He is with you. There are also 365 verses in the Bible telling us not to fear. Besides, there's nothing anyone can do if you report a plane that seemingly has a chemtrail, or if you think you saw a UFO, they're going to say it was a plane or some sort of military project. I won't even get into the flat earther conspiracy theory.
When we as people don't know what is truly happening and can't connect point A. to point B. -- believing in a conspiracy theory creates a satisfying emotion. There are some Christians who are highly against them, because they feel that it's bearing false witness. In Exodus 20:16, we are commanded, “Do not give false testimony against your neighbor.”

Confusion

In 1 Corinthians 14:33 it states, "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints." Spreading conspiracy theories and amping up people's anxieties is causing so much confusion in this world. I've heard about the illuminati and how Beyonce, Rhianna, and even Brittany Spears are all apart of it. "They sold their souls to the devil." Some Christians will believe their own friends are demon possessed---making false accusations based on a belief or a feeling that they have "negative energy," or that their eyes are "too dark." It's an actual sin to do these things. It bears false witness and it also spreads confusion. So when you tell your friend, "I'm not sure about so 'n so because he/she looks like their eyes are too dark" ----that right there is bearing false witness, and it's also considered lying if you have zero proof. We are all sinners and fall short in the glory of God, but when does it come to the point of creating a witch-hunt for people who are probably not what you perceive them to be?

Stand On the Word

If you're a Christian and you're unsure about claims made regarding any type of conspiracy theory, the answer is right in the Bible.

In Romans 8:31 it tells us that we are more than conquerers! It says, "What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?"

In Luke 8:17 it states, "For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open."

In Deuteronomy 31:6 it states, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

So if you're confused with all the conspiracy theories flying around the net and you're getting upset because now your paranoia has set in, go to the Bible. What does it say to do? Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5-6

He will protect you, guide you and keep you from the spirit of confusion. That's all you really need to know if you're plagued with these tormenting rumors.

And while some of these theories may hold true, God's got your back. So rather than trust in these rumors, trust in God instead.

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 05, 2019

When Your Soul Wounds Ends Up Hurting Others

A couple of therapists had told me, "But you don't look like the type who suffers with anxiety or even social anxiety. You look 'put together.'" That's actually the worst thing you can tell a patient. There are many smiles, many laughs and generous hearts who are walking around with wounded souls. A while back when I was working for this phone company, we had a monthly seminar/team meeting that would spark the fire again and keep us motivated. The manager who directed the meeting was always happy, always smiling and constantly encouraging us to be inspired, and look at challenges in a new light. I always wondered how she stayed so uber positive all the time. It was almost sickening. One morning while I was watching her 'cheer us on,' smiling and laughing throughout the meeting, I drifted off into a daydream and envisioned her having a complete mental breakdown. I don't know why I was thinking that because I would never wish that for anyone. But the fact was: I was seeing one side. There's always another side. Not even 4 months later, she took a leave of absence. She had a mental breakdown at work and needed time off. She never returned.

Therapists Need Therapists

So many of us try to 'hold it together' and be 'the responsible one'----the one with broad shoulders to help anyone who needs them. And while that's incredibly noble and generous of them, oftentimes, the one person they neglect is themselves. Many aren't willing to show their vulnerability. In their minds, it's looked at as "weak," when in fact, it's actually the strongest thing you can do. So many therapists feel like they have to hold it together, but they continually are holding others up. I know quite a few therapists who have opened up to me, explaining that they had a psychiatrist too, and took medication for their anxiety and depression. I actually thought that was incredibly brave of them to tell me that. I saw them in a different light. I saw them as human. Like, "Wow, they know from experience what I am going through." I didn't think it was unprofessional of them to tell me, I thought it was brave and made it more "safe" for me to open up to them. I never once felt judged.

One Wounded Soul Meets Another Wounded Soul

Sometimes it can get complicated being friends with someone who has deep soul wounds. Now put that together with two people who have deep soul wounds. There's only two ways this can turn out: it can be helpful and therapeutic, or it can turn into a game of 'who can hurt the other hurt person first.' Every single person (even the ones you think have the perfect life) has a wounded soul on some level. Ever hear of the quote, "Hurt people hurt people?" If you're not careful enough, you can end up on either side of the hurt stick: either you're the one hurting the person because you feel such emotional pain, or the other one is hurting you because of their emotional pain. There's a theory called, "painbody" by Eckhart Tolle.

"It is an accumulation of painful life experience that was not fully faced and accepted in the moment it arose. It leaves behind an energy form of emotional pain. It comes together with other energy forms from other instances, and so after some years you have a “painbody,” an energy entity consisting of old emotion."---Eckhart Tolle

For instance, have you ever stubbed your toe really bad, or have gotten physically hurt in some way that didn't really drum up a whole lot of pain, but it was enough to bring on the tear works? One day, I remember I fell outside in my driveway. I hurt my knee and started crying....way too longer than I had to. Then it hit me: I wasn't crying for my physical pain, I was crying over my mom being sick and possibly dying in the months ahead. During this time, I was hard to deal with. I became volatile and felt offended all the time. I constantly argued with everyone and became bitter. I wasn't a normally bitter person, but this angered me. It angered me that God was about to take my mom! And when somebody else has the same emotional pain, it's not a good combination to be around them. I became less reactive after my mom's death. I wasn't offended by much anymore. I learned so much from seeing both my parents get sick and die from cancer. It became a soul wound that I continually carry. Every year, from June 22nd till July 21st---I can become reactive if you poke me enough times. It's a very emotional time for me. Those dates signify so much pain and hurt that I literally isolate myself from the world. This year, during that time, I ended up losing a friend who also had a difficult time during these dates. Her soul wound hurt my soul wound, and I ended up extinguishing our friendship. I felt like I was getting jabs and underlining insults from someone who wasn't happy herself. Like, hey---join the club! We can either help one another out, or fight it out. I found her insults to be from a place of pain. I had shared something personal with her, to which she used it as an opportunity to hurt me with. I actually grin and beard it a lot of the times. She's done this quite often in the past. I sensed she was upset over something and usually ignore it. But this time, it was the anniversary of my mother's death and I couldn't stay silent any longer.

Sticks and Stones & Forgiveness

Words have power. You can either use them to edify and lift someone's spirits up, or you can decide to tear somebody down with them. And we also have to be careful, because sometimes, those words will stick, to where it's at the point of no return. You can forgive and forget, but you don't necessarily have to reconcile. When you know this is someone's true nature, and that their soul wound will always bring out that other bitter side, there's no going back. They'll do it again and again and again and again, unless they become new creatures in Christ. I do believe with all my heart that people can change once they accept God into their hearts. In Matthew, Jesus says that church members should forgive each other “seventy times seven times” (18:22), a number that symbolizes boundlessness. However, even though he preaches boundless forgiveness, he does not indicate whether that forgiveness has conditions. When you experience God's forgiveness, you become more forgiving to other people, who are extensions of God. It also clearly states in the Bible that if you hate any one of God's children, then you are murderers.

In John 3:15 it states, "Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him."

The greatest commandment that Jesus gave to us was to love God with all your heart and all your mind, and to love everyone else the same.

We are extensions of God. So when we hurt other people, we also hurt God. If we do not forgive one another, then God won't forgive us either.

The next time you overreact in anger and hurt someone, try to think about what was going on inside of you emotionally. What other things were you either sad or angry about? If you were stewing over something in your time of anger, then maybe reconciling is ok. But if you were only hurt due to the words of another hurt individual, then maybe it's time to forgive and just move on. I do believe that in some cases, patterns cannot be broken, especially if they aren't bringing their issues to God. I truly believe ALL things are possible with God. We all make mistakes, Christian or not---we all fall short. But isn't it nice to know that we have God who comforts and restores us---who forgives us completely without ever having to bring it up again? I wish more people were like that. We can be.

I believe...

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

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Spoke to My Mother In Heaven: "It's All Worth It In the End"

A death of a loved one can truly bring out different emotions in you, especially on the anniversaries of their passing. For myself, these anniversaries bring up an intense connection I've never fully experienced before. Whether the veil is thinner, or they're just closer to you spiritually, the communication you can receive (if you are conscious enough) is simply amazing. This past Sunday was my mom's second anniversary of her passing. That late afternoon, I grabbed my wine and sat outside to just sit and think about her and all of our wonderful memories. I thought I was hearing my neighbor play "Sailing" by Christopher Cross. The thing is, it wasn't my neighbor---it was in my own mind. I heard it word for word, including interludes and each individual instrument playing on inside my mind. It wasn't "me" thinking up this song---it was just playing as if someone turned on the radio. I thought back to when my mom was depressed when she was in her 40's. I was probably around 5 years old. I sat next to her and wanted to know why she was crying. The song "Sailing" came on while we were watching TV. She said, "When I die, I want you to play this song by my grave." And for me, the thought of my mama dying was terrifying! Plus, I was only 5 years old! But for some reason, that song and those words my mother said stuck with me throughout life. Every time that song would play, it would remind me of what she said. After the song was playing in my mind, I then called out, "Alexa! Play soft rock."

What comes on?

"Sailing."

I'm not one to believe in coincidences, and I wouldn't be typing this if more didn't happen, because people could just brush it off as "Eh that can happen from time to time"----and while that's true, more happened.

Mom's voice came through. She was saying how she can see me crying out for her, still grieving. She said word for word, "Oh Debbie, if you knew how it was here for me, you would never experience fear again!" Trying to absorb it all, I entertained the voice and said, "What do you mean, mom?" And she said something I will never forget.

"All the pain, the suffering, even the bad times throughout my life---it was all worth it in the end. Everything you're experiencing, like seeing me die, losing your mother and father and going through such unimaginable emotional pain you've ever experienced---you will see that one day, it was all worth it in the end."

My hair stood on end---literally---my arms had goosebumps and I felt this strange feeling, like tiny droplets of cold water going down my back.

The next song that came on after Mom said this was "September" by Daughtry. Here are some of the lyrics:

Now it all seems so clear, there's nothing left to fear 
So we made our way by finding what was real 
Now the days are so long that summer's moving on 
We reach for something that's already gone, yeah 
Of all the things I still remember 
Summer's never looked the same 
The years go by and time just seems to fly 
But the memories remain 
In the middle of September we'd still play out in the rain 
Nothing to lose but everything to gain 
Reflecting now on how things could've been 
It was worth it in the end...

Then she continued on. She said, "You're so focused on dates and anniversaries. Here, we don't have any concept of time. Humans need dates and annual events to remember things, also to celebrate events. So I'm here celebrating with you."

I raised my glass of wine and secretly in my mind said, "Cheers, Mama. I love you."

I've always had a strange connection to 'the other side' that I tried so hard to avoid. Even days before the anniversary of my mama's passing, I was crying. Sometimes it got so bad, that I would let out a cry of "Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?" The moment I did that, a lady's voice was audibly speaking out from in the hallway. I couldn't make out what she was saying because it was too muffled and near the stairwell, but even so, I walked out and said, "Hello?"

Nothing.

Whenever something like this happens, I pray for a hedge of protection over myself with anointing oil, asking God to protect me from anything that is not of His will. Intense sadness, grief and depression can shake up the connections between you and the spirit world. Whether you're a believer of these things or not, it's a fact that some people experiencing "hauntings" in their time of grief or sadness. If it's a deep depression, their own sadness can drum up their own hauntings. It can also summons a connection with a loved one or an angel in your time of desperation. Strange things seem to happen, audible voices, maybe losing something and finding it in a place you never left it. But more so, if it is a deceased loved one from heaven or an angel, you won't get "hauntings," but you may receive beautiful messages. Be alert and do not entertain anything that is not familiar, and even if you hear a voice, pray to God to give you a hedge of protection and that anything that comes into contact with you is from God Himself or His angels ONLY. Tampering with what 'seems' like your deceased mom's voice (or any loved one) can be deceiving. Remember, the devil can mimic any voice he wants, making you rely on talking to what's called, "familiar spirits." It says in the Bible to test the spirits to see if they are from God. When you're this vulnerable, you have to be alert and try not to fall into these types of traps. They're very real. You can open up portals that cannot be closed. Don't entertain psychics or mediums. They're only communicating with "familiar spirits." They're not speaking to your loved ones.

Having a close relationship with God can open doors to the most beautiful experiences. Remember that God made your loved one, so talking to God is like talking to your loved one. I'd rather play it safe and talk to God than to be fooled. But sometimes, God will bless you with the ability to lightly communicate in a loving way under His hedge of protection. But when it happens, it's in God's timing only. I wouldn't suggest sitting down "praying" to your deceased loved one. Pray to God only. Anything after that is of His will, and He will comfort you in your time of mourning---even by giving you messages from your loved one who is doing better than all of us down here on earth.

When I got the message from my mom that "it was all worth it in the end," -- a part of me felt such relief and happiness. I know that without a doubt, something real, something beautiful, something even more wonderful than we could ever imagine is waiting for us on the other side, and it WILL be worth it. All of our troubles, our grief, our anxiety and depression will one day be lifted. All of our physical and emotional pain will dissipate into thin air once we leave our earthly bodies. When I heard my mom say that I would have absolutely no fear if I knew what was on the other side---it kind of took away some of my fear here on earth. It made me a little more confident and stronger knowing that our journey here is going to be worth it---even if we are crying in pain or sick from an illness---it is all worth it in the end.

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

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