Lucid Just Before Death?

Death may simply be an alteration in consciousness, a transition for continued life in a non-material form.”  Edgar Mitchell

We’ve seen it again and again.  A terminally ill patient has been unresponsive for days yet just before his death he suddenly becomes lucid and is able to communicate.  Is this just a coincidence or is there something more going on?

CallfromHeavenCoverTerminal lucidity is a term used to describe the unexpected return of mental coherence and responsiveness in a patient who was previously incoherent.  Family members and even some medical personnel may see this as a sign of recovery only to find that death is imminent. Is there a logical explanation for this phenomena and how can this be explained to the patient’s grieving family?

First off, it is important to understand that terminal lucidity is nothing new.  In fact, one of the most incredible cases on record occurred in 1922 with a woman named Anna Katharina Ehmer (1895-1922).  Ehmer was severely disabled and lived in a mental institution located in central Germany.  Reportedly, she never spoke a word her entire life until the day she died when she suddenly began singing for about 30 minutes before she passed. Since then many such cases have been reported and science is finally starting to study the phenomena.

While working on my book, A Call from Heaven: Personal Accounts of Deathbed Visits, Angelic Visions, and Crossings to the Other Side/New Page Books, 2017, I had the honor of interviewing Professor Alexander Batthyany, PhD who is conducting a study on terminal lucidity involving patients with Alzheimer’s disease.  His findings have thus far suggested that normal cognition can occur despite a nonfunctional brain. Batthyany is a professor at the University of Vienna in Austria where he teaches courses in the behavioral sciences and philosophy.

As you may know, Alzheimer’s disease kills nerve cells in the brain and patients eventually lose normal brain functioning and suffer from memory loss.  Yet, in many cases, many become coherent right before death with no known changes in the brain.  The nerve cells, for example, don’t suddenly become alive allowing patients to say their final goodbyes yet these cases of terminal lucidity are clearly happening.

Thus far, science has no explanation for this.  Professor Batthyany has called these deathbed phenomena “close to a miracle,” however, he admits, “I am not sure whether miracle is a good word but it is deeply mystifying given what we know about the relationship between mental function and brain integrity.” (A Call from Heaven: Personal Accounts of Deathbed Visits, Angelic Visions, and Crossings to the Other Side/page 26).

But maybe the answer is not a scientific one but a spiritual one.  Perhaps a higher source is allowing those on their deathbed to bid a proper goodbye to their loved ones.  Regardless of which stance we take, we cannot deny that these deathbed phenomena are taking place.

One of the most recent cases on record involves a doctor by the name of Scott Haig in New York.  An orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Haig wrote about a patient named David who passed from lung cancer which eventually spread to his brain leaving him both motionless and speechless.

David’s brain, he explained, was completely destroyed.  Yet just before his death, David suddenly woke up and was able to converse with his family.  He said his final goodbyes and after about five minutes he went comatose again and passed within the hour.

Interestingly David’s wife was a nurse at the same hospital and witnessed the occurrence.  Doctors may not understand how these cases of terminal lucidity are taking place.  We also don’t know why many experience it while others don’t.  But of more importance is the fact these cases are happening and are, in fact, very real.

A biologist named David Searles once said, “Seeing death as the end of life is like seeing the horizon as the end of ocean.” It may look like the end when we are looking at the horizon because that is as far as our eyes can see.   But when we die we will all come to know that death is only a transition.  It is not an end but rather a new beginning that is not limited by the constraints of a dying body.

As an author and afterlife researcher for over 15 years, I have been asked many times if dealing with the death of a loved one is easier for me given my stern beliefs in an afterlife.  My answer is always the same.  Yes, it’s easier but, no, it’s not easy.  Losing my loved ones hurts but I do find comfort in the knowledge that life continues.  I do find comfort in the knowledge that the bond of love is the one thing that transcends death.  Nothing is stronger.

College and Bust$!!!

“You can’t continue to have higher education tuition grow at a multiple of the rate of inflation.”

Mitt Romney

 No need to be hush-hush.  Everyone knows the rising costs of college is out of control and there seems to be no relief in sight as debt continues to skyrocket for both students and their parents.  Last week my husband and I officially became empty nesters as we dropped both of our daughters off at college. I’ve literally been suffering from withdrawals as I pass their empty bedrooms but I’ve also been having trouble sleeping wondering how my husband and I will deal with our mounting expenses.

Over the years, we have tried to figure out every conceivable option to save for our children’s college education with 529 plans and the like.  Now, years later, nothing could have prepared us for how bad things have become.  Even with all the extra savings and the HELOC (home equity line of credit), we are both scratching our heads wondering how to get out of this mess and we are not alone.

My college graduation from Glassboro State College (1988)

Recent reports put student loan debt as high as $1.6 trillion in the United Sates with graduates paying an average of more than $35,000.  This is a far cry from what things were when I attended Glassboro State College (now Rowan University) in the late 80’s.  Back then the total cost of attendance with room and board (in state) was a fraction of the $30,000 plus it is today.

In fact, the costs to attend college has risen over 200 percent since the 80’s.  The following is a breakdown of how costs have changed by decade with figures adjusted for 2017 dollars:

Private nonprofit four-year institution

  • Tuition for 1987-1988: $15,160
  • Tuition for 1997-1998: $21,020
  • Tuition for 2007-2008: $27,520
  • Tuition for 2017-2018: $34,740

Public four-year institution

  • Tuition for 1987-1988: $3,190
  • Tuition for 1997-1998: $4,740
  • Tuition for 2007-2008: $7,280
  • Tuition for 2017-2018: $9,970

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/29/how-much-college-tuition-has-increased-from-1988-to-2018.html

My older daughter Erica is a junior at the University of Maryland/College Park while her younger sister Lia is a freshman at the University of Delaware.  For the 2019-20 academic year, UMD raised tuition for out of state students by 4.79 percent while UDel raised it by 4 percent.  A number of factors contribute they say to the continuous rise in tuition including high demand, construction costs, increased administrative staff and less state funding.  I’m certainly in favor of raising prices when it is warranted but I’m not in favor of overpriced education.

The cost to attend college has outpaced both inflation and wage growth. While increased costs have certainly lowered the rate of return for many students, it remains difficult to compete in today’s economy without a post-secondary education. Students continue to borrow money and many parents are struggling to make up the difference.  So with high demand and the increase in student loans why should these institutions keep costs down?  It seems to be a vicious cycle.

As you may know, many countries offer free tuition.  These include, for example, Norway, Sweden, Germany and France.  Senator Bernie Sanders proposed a plan to make college free in the United States.  His plan would not only make two and four-year public colleges free, it would also get rid of all student debt.  Yes, all 1.6 trillion of it! He wants to do this by placing a tax on Wall Street.

Truthfully, I have no idea if such a thing would work or if it is even remotely possible.  Personally, I don’t see how asking a few dozen financial firms to come up with an extra $1.6 trillion (and still stay in business) could work but I do commend Sen. Sanders for attempting to fix a problem that seems unfixable.  If our foreign counterparts can do it why can’t we?

While my daughter is happy and thriving at the University of Maryland, she did not get to go to the college of her choice.  My daughter Lia is loving the University of Delaware which luckily was her first choice.  Of course, many factors were considered when deciding on a college (costs, scholarship offerings, grants, choice of major, etc.) We explained how much we can contribute to both of our daughters.  They are responsible for the rest.

Erica is in the scholar’s program at UMD and will be graduating with both a major and a minor in three years.  Lia decided to attend UDel despite the higher costs but has been working hard to offset her student loans.  I am proud of both of them but it saddens me to see how hard obtaining a college education has become. While the increased costs has made attending college less advantageous then it was years ago, it means the world to me to see them thriving and doing well.  I look forward to what the future holds for both of them.

The Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP), a nonprofit research firm in Washington D.C., has released a list of 25 ways to help reduce the high cost of college.  Here are some examples:

  1. Attend a community college: Attending a two-year college and transferring to a four-year university will cut costs considerably.
  2. Move more class offerings online
  3. Overhaul the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)
  4. Offer three year Bachelor’s Degrees
  5. Promote Dual Enrollment Programs: This includes taking college credit courses such as AP (Advanced Placement) Courses while in high school. My daughter Erica completed over 30 credits in high school which is allowing her to finish her college requirements in three years.
  6. Reform Financial Aid
  7. Eliminate Excessive Academic Research
  8. Reduce the Costs of Textbooks
  9. Reform Accreditation to Reduce Barriers to Entry
  10. Promote Competition Based on Value, Not Reputation: Colleges love to boast about their acceptance rates these days.  We need to care less about how many students they admit and more about the value they provide in relation to the dollars they charge. 

It does not surprise me to hear that more than 1 million default on student loans each year with 40 percent of borrowers expected to do so by 2023.  What does surprise me is that the government makes it extremely difficult—if not impossible—to discharge student loan debt in bankruptcy.  As I said earlier, it is a vicious cycle that leaves both students and parents with few choices.

Good luck to my fellow empty nesters out there.  May your children be happy and fulfilled with their college education and may your hard-earned nest eggs not run dry!

Advice about Life: A Final Facebook Post

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” John F. Kennedy

Why is it that we don’t appreciate what we have until we don’t have it anymore?  Why can’t we see the value in what we already have?  We are always thinking of the next best thing and wanting more.  In fact, what we had in the past and what we want in the future get so blurred and distorted that we can’t focus on what’s right there in front of us until it’s gone. 

On January 4, 2018, Holly Butcher, a 27-year old from Grafton, Australia, passed away from a rare bone cancer known as Ewing’s sarcoma.  Just before her death, she wrote a sad but inspiring message to her friends and family.  Below are her wise words taken from her final Facebook post.

So why is it so hard to appreciate what we already have?  I think Holly said it best:

hollybutcherphoto

Holly Butcher (Facebook photo)

It’s a strange thing to realise and accept your mortality at 26 years young. It’s just one of those things you ignore. The days tick by and you just expect they will keep on coming; until the unexpected happens. I always imagined myself growing old, wrinkled and grey—most likely caused by the beautiful family (lots of kiddies) I planned on building with the love of my life. I want that so bad it hurts.

That’s the thing about life; it is fragile, precious and unpredictable and each day is a gift, not a given right.

I’m 27 now. I don’t want to go. I love my life. I am happy. I owe that to my loved ones. But the control is out of my hands.

I haven’t started this ‘note before I die’ so that death is feared—I like the fact that we are mostly ignorant to its inevitability. Except when I want to talk about it and it is treated like a ‘taboo’ topic that will never happen to any of us. That’s been a bit tough. I just want people to stop worrying so much about the small, meaningless stresses in life and try to remember that we all have the same fate after it all so do what you can to make your time feel worthy and great, minus the bullshit.

I have dropped lots of my thoughts below as I have had a lot of time to ponder life these last few months. Of course it’s the middle of the night when these random things pop in my head most!

Those times you are whining about ridiculous things (something I have noticed so much these past few months), just think about someone who is really facing a problem. Be grateful for your minor issue and get over it. It’s okay to acknowledge that something is annoying but try not to carry on about it and negatively affect other people’s days.

Once you do that, get out there and take a freaking big breath of that fresh Aussie air deep in your lungs, look at how blue the sky is and how green the trees are; it is so beautiful. Think how lucky you are to be able to do just that—breathe.

You might have got caught in bad traffic today, or had a bad sleep because your beautiful babies kept you awake, or your hairdresser cut your hair too short. Your new fake nails might have got a chip, your boobs are too small, or you have cellulite on your arse and your belly is wobbling.

Let all that shit go. I swear you will not be thinking of those things when it is your turn to go. It is all SO insignificant when you look at life as a whole. I’m watching my body waste away right before my eyes with nothing I can do about it and all I wish for now is that I could have just one more Birthday or Christmas with my family, or just one more day with my partner and dog. Just one more.

I hear people complaining about how terrible work is or about how hard it is to exercise. Be grateful you are physically able to. Work and exercise may seem like such trivial things … until your body doesn’t allow you to do either of them.

I tried to live a healthy life, in fact, that was probably my major passion. Appreciate your good health and functioning body even if it isn’t your ideal size. Look after it and embrace how amazing it is. Move it and nourish it with fresh food. Don’t obsess over it.

Remember there are more aspects to good health than the physical body. Work just as hard on finding your mental, emotional and spiritual happiness, too. That way you might realise just how insignificant and unimportant having this stupidly portrayed perfect social media body really is. While on this topic, delete any account that pops up on your news feeds that gives you any sense of feeling shit about yourself. Friend or not. Be ruthless for your own well-being.

Be grateful for each day you don’t have pain and even the days where you are unwell with man flu, a sore back or a sprained ankle, accept it is shit but be thankful it isn’t life threatening and will go away.

Whine less, people!  And help each other more.

Give, give, give. It is true that you gain more happiness doing things for others than doing them for yourself. I wish I did this more. Since I have been sick, I have met the most incredibly giving and kind people and been the receiver of the most thoughtful and loving words and support from my family, friends and strangers; more than I could ever give in return. I will never forget this and will be forever grateful to all of these people.

It is a weird thing having money to spend at the end when you’re dying. It’s not a time you go out and buy material things that you usually would, like a new dress. It makes you think how silly it is that we think it is worth spending so much money on new clothes and ‘things’ in our lives.

Buy your friend something kind instead of another dress, beauty product or jewelry for that next wedding. 1. No-one cares if you wear the same thing twice 2. It feels good. Take them out for a meal, or better yet, cook them a meal. Shout their coffee. Give/buy them a plant, a massage or a candle and tell them you love them when you give it to them.

Value other people’s time. Don’t keep them waiting because you are shit at being on time. Get ready earlier if you are one of those people and appreciate that your friends want to share their time with you, not sit by themselves, waiting on a mate. You will gain respect too! Amen sister.

This year, our family agreed to do no presents and despite the tree looking rather sad and empty (I nearly cracked Christmas Eve!), it was so nice because people didn’t have the pressure of shopping and the effort went into writing a nice card for each other. Plus imagine my family trying to buy me a present knowing they would probably end up with it themselves . . . strange! It might seem lame but those cards mean more to me than any impulse purchase could. Mind you, it was also easier to do in our house because we had no little kiddies there. Anyway, moral of the story—presents are not needed for a meaningful Christmas. Moving on.

Use your money on experiences. Or at least don’t miss out on experiences because you spent all your money on material shit.

Put in the effort to do that day trip to the beach you keep putting off. Dip your feet in the water and dig your toes in the sand. Wet your face with salt water.

Get amongst nature.

Try just enjoying and being in moments rather than capturing them through the screen of your phone. Life isn’t meant to be lived through a screen nor is it about getting the perfect photo . . . enjoy the bloody moment, people! Stop trying to capture it for everyone else.

Random rhetorical question. Are those several hours you spend doing your hair and makeup each day or to go out for one night really worth it? I’ve never understood this about females.

Get up early sometimes and listen to the birds while you watch the beautiful colours the sun makes as it rises.

Listen to music… really listen. Music is therapy. Old is best.

Cuddle your dog. Far out, I will miss that.

Talk to your friends. Put down your phone. Are they doing okay?

Travel if it’s your desire, don’t if it’s not.

Work to live, don’t live to work.

Seriously, do what makes your heart feel happy.

Eat the cake. Zero guilt.

Say no to things you really don’t want to do.

Don’t feel pressured to do what other people might think is a fulfilling life… you might want a mediocre life and that is so okay.

Tell your loved ones you love them every time you get the chance and love them with everything you have.

Also, remember if something is making you miserable, you do have the power to change it – in work or love or whatever it may be. Have the guts to change. You don’t know how much time you’ve got on this earth so don’t waste it being miserable. I know that is said all the time but it couldn’t be more true.

Anyway, that’s just this one young gal’s life advice. Take it or leave it, I don’t mind!

Oh and one last thing, if you can, do a good deed for humanity (and myself) and start regularly donating blood. It will make you feel good with the added bonus of saving lives. I feel like it is something that is so overlooked considering every donation can save 3 lives! That is a massive impact each person can have and the process really is so simple.

Blood donation (more bags than I could keep up with counting) helped keep me alive for an extra year—a year I will be forever grateful that I got to spend it here on Earth with my family, friends and dog. A year I had some of the greatest times of my life.

..’Til we meet again.

Hol

Xoxo

 I share Holly’s inspiring, beautiful words and dedicate this blog in her memory.  As Holly said life is unpredictable and “each day is a gift, not a given right.”  Appreciate what you already have before you don’t have it anymore. Go out and enjoy the breathtaking sunset and if you can, watch the sun rise again and again.

God Works in Mysterious Ways

“You have no idea the numbers of people that God may want to influence through you.” Andy Stanley

One of my favorite Bible verses is, “Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.”  (Matthew 7:7 NRSV)   But what does it mean exactly?  Does it mean God will give us whatever we ask for no matter what?  No, of course not.

In Matthew, Jesus goes on to explain that God will only answer to what is good.  Our requests and prayers must also not interfere with the lessons we came here to learn. I once had a deep conversation with a Catholic priest about this verse.  Why is it that some prayers are answered and others aren’t?  Why are some cured while others aren’t?  Why do bad things happen?  His response was, “God doesn’t cause bad things to happen, He only allows them to happen.”

Growing up, I was raised Roman Catholic and always believed in the power of prayer.  My Godmother Lucy was extremely religious and I loved going to Sunday mass with her.  Despite so many hardships in her own life, her faith never wavered.  Lucy was one of the first to teach me how to pray but as I grew older my prayers have become more conversational than formal.

birdEach night before I go to sleep, I always ask God to help me do what I am meant to be doing.  I ask that He guide me in everything that I do.  As an author and motivational speaker, things are sometimes so overwhelming.  I feel a tremendous obligation to my readers and to the members of my Facebook groups, etc. but I also need to put my family first.

Last month, I was having a tough week and asked God if my work was really making a difference.  I felt like I wasn’t giving my work the attention it deserved and asked for a sign that I needed continue writing my books.

That same day I had to make an appointment with my daughter’s pediatrician in order for her to get her required immunizations for college admission.  When I called I was told that my doctor could not see me but since my daughter was only getting two vaccinations they would give me the nurse practitioner.   I did not recognize the name of the nurse practitioner and had never taken either of my daughters to her before.

When we arrived for my daughter’s appointment we waited in the office for the nurse practitioner to join us.  After about 10 minutes, she walked into the room and introduced herself and I told her why we were there.  I noticed her looking at me but didn’t think much of it until she said, “Varga?  Are you the author, the one who writes about near-death experiences?”

You have to understand that this doesn’t happen often and when it does I am always thrown off.  Yes, I am an author but it is always odd when people recognize me.  I looked over at her and said, “Yes.  How did you know that?”

“Because I read your book,” she responded.  Remembering my request for a sign, I looked at her dumbfounded.  She told me how much she believed in the afterlife and how much she admired my work.  I thanked her for her kind words.  But she gave me much more than kind words, she gave me the encouragement I so desperately needed.

Recently, I asked for another sign.  In September, I will have two daughters in college and have been worried about how we are going to make ends meet. One night I was again feeling very conflicted.  I know if I take another full-time job it will take away from my afterlife research.  It will certainly impact my work as an author and motivational speaker.  So on this night I asked for another sign.  “Tell me Lord if I am meant to stay on this path.”

The next morning I sat at the kitchen table drinking my coffee when a bird suddenly appeared.  I watched it as it sat on my patio chair for several minutes.  (Actual photo is above.) I was amazed by how long it remained in front of my window seemingly staring straight at me.  I wondered if this could possibly be a sign and grabbed my phone to capture a picture just as it took off.

Our loved ones in heaven are in spirit form and are pure energy.  This means that they can direct their energy into animals when they want to bring us a sign.  When this happens the bird or animal will act in a way it typically would not act.

Later that day I went on to my computer and found a private Facebook message from a woman named Anabel.  Her message read, “I recently bought your book and I was listening to your podcast and I just wanted to thank you.  You opened a part of my heart and I am so grateful.  I recently lost both of my parents and I have felt so lost without them but your books have helped me.  You gave me the biggest gift.”

Unbeknownst to Anabel, she had given me the biggest gift.  She went on to tell me how she had followed my advice in one of my podcasts and started talking to her mother asking for a sign.  That night she had a dream visit from her mother.  Her dream proved to her that her mother did, in fact, hear her.

At one point in the dream she asked her mother if it was really her.  In response, her mother replied, “Of course, it is.  Who else would it be?”  Anabel’s letter truly warmed my heart and literally brought happy tears to my eyes.

Anabel, thank you for allowing me to share part of your story.  You wrote, “You have opened a part of my heart that was so lost.”  Thank you sincerely for your immensely kind words.  But I hope you can now see that you opened my heart as well.  God works in mysterious ways.  It is up to us to listen.

Get Ready for a Heavenly Deposit

“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2 (KJV)

Angels, those wonderful spiritual beings who perform God’s will, appear everywhere in the Bible.  Sometimes these angels have taken human form.  So if it was possible for angels to walk among us then wouldn’t it seem fair to assume that they can still walk among us today?

This month I had the honor of attending the East Coast Premiere of Heavenly Deposit starring George Vincent and Kristina Denton.   The film tells the heartwarming story of a struggling, jobless actor named Peter Ranos who loses all faith until a divine encounter turns his life around.  The film is based on real events involving Vincent and his wife Christina Svoronos.

An actor for more than 20 years, he started out working in theater before landing a recurring role on the popular Soap Opera, One Life to Live.  I was first introduced to him by a mutual friend who called and told me that I had to meet him because we had something in common.  I never realized then how true that statement would be or just how much I would be able to relate to him and his spiritual experience.

As a young boy, he had denied the existence of God after his father’s untimely death.  And as an adult, he lived with the belief that everything was up to him, never wanting to ask for help.  But everything changes when he and his wife Ellie (Kristina Denton) are about to lose their home.  On the verge of complete despair, he finally cries out to God for the first time since his father’s death.

I’m going to out on a limb here and say he probably didn’t think anyone was listening.  But, as they say, God works in mysterious ways.

Speaking of his spiritual beliefs prior to his experience, he admits, “I was lukewarm about my faith.  I knew God was there, but I just felt like he was too busy for me.  But as the film shows, accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior turned my life around. I went from being hopeless to being hopeful.”

His joblessness and stubborn pride also created many marital problems yet his wife Christina said she never let go of her faith.    “I never gave up hope,” she explained.  “I was always hopeful that things would work out.  I have always believed in God but I feel my walk with him has gotten stronger and more pronounced.  These days, I find myself praying daily and being more grateful for his guidance.”

Reflecting on her past struggles, Christina said she believes everything happens for a reason and we are meant to hopefully learn and grow from them.  “Our issues are so relatable yet many think they are the only ones struggling. I believe God uses people to help others.  We went through this experience to be able to make a film and help others who may be experiencing similar things.”

Soon after his spiritual awakening, Vincent began to share his story with anyone who would listen and was humbled by the overwhelming support he received.  One day while talking to a man who happened to be a minister Vincent was encouraged to make a film and share his story with the world.  Needless to say, making a movie is not an easy task and he had never before even written a screenplay.

(Left to Right) Rick Irvin, Kristina Denton, George Vincent and Christina Svoronos

Yet time and again the universe seemed to be pulling him toward making this film a reality.  In fact, he noted, many coincidences or what I prefer to call “Godincidences” occurred throughout the whole process. When he shared his story with fellow actor and producer Rick Irvin he found the encouragement he needed.  The two met in 2013 while working on another film project in which Vincent was the lead actor and Irvin was the producer.  Irvin recalled, “We met for coffee one day and I told him that I only wanted to produce faith based content from that point on.  That’s when George decided to share his amazing story with me.”  Irvin was immediately drawn to the story and told his friend, “Time to write the script.”

From then on, Vincent went to work on writing the screenplay and the pair joined forces producing and directing.  Both will tell you that securing the funds to make the movie was by far the most challenging part.  However, with a little trust in the divine, things started to fall into place and they found some investors who wanted to help bring the story to film.

When meeting Irvin, I was struck by his genuine and kind demeanor.  I felt a connection to him that I could not immediately explain but perhaps it’s because we both share a kindred desire to help others and make a difference. “George’s story is very relatable and I knew the audience would be able to go on this emotional journey with him while watching the film. I wanted to be involved because I wanted to make a film that uplifts the Lord. Sharing a personal testimony has much more power behind it than anything I could make up.”

As the author of several books highlighting personal spiritual accounts, I certainly couldn’t agree more.  Heavenly Deposit is truly a heartfelt film that shows just how far our faith can take us.  We need only trust.

Kristina Denton gives a brilliant performance as Peter’s wife, Ellie Ranos.  “The story really captivated me,” she said.  “It’s so universal and relatable.  I loved the writing, too.  It’s refreshing to have material so well written to work with. When I learned that this was based on George and Christina’s real experience, I was so moved that they were courageous enough to share it.

“I connected with their story so much.  I felt like I really understood where they were coming from, having been through my own financial struggles.  I was so honored to be selected to portray Christina and share her journey through this film.”

Fortunately for Denton, her life has given her many reasons to believe in a higher power.  She has been blessed, she explained, with many signs and her role serves as a validation of her own spiritual beliefs.

In one pivotal scene, Peter (George Vincent) hears a voice telling him to go to the bank.  Once there, he is greeted by a man who gives him a life-changing message.  Who was this man?  Although this was my favorite scene and I would love to share more details, I won’t give it away.  Vincent, however, did share that this stranger knew things about him he couldn’t possibly have known. “I had never seen him before and haven’t since.  It was so surreal.  One moment he was there and then the next moment he was gone.”

Having known Vincent before he began to make this movie a reality, I watched the film not only with pride in his impressive accomplishment but also with a certainty I know all too well.  For more than 15 years I have explored a variety of metaphysical phenomena including afterlife communication, near-death experiences, divine interventions and deathbed phenomena.  For me, watching the film was a knowing beyond knowing and a heavenly reminder that I am on the right path.  Like Vincent, I too listened to my inner voice.

Denton explained this well when she said God sends us lessons in many forms but we need to be open to receiving them.  “Once Peter surrendered, he was finally able to receive the help he so desperately needed.  The moments when we are most vulnerable in life seem to be when we’re the most open to receiving the messages we need to hear.”

Vincent was born and raised in New York and comes from a loving, Greek household.  His parents, he said, instilled in him the core values of family, working hard and living a life of integrity.  Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the word angel is derived from the word angelos which means messenger in Greek.  For George Vincent is truly a messenger and his message is called Heavenly Deposit.

Soon to be released on May 28, Heavenly Deposit will be available on digital download on platforms like FandangoNow, Red Box, On Demand, VUDU, Christian Cinema.com and others.  It’s also available on DVD for pre-order at Walmart, Amazon and Best Buy.  For more information or to see the official trailer, please visit www.heavenlydeposit.com.

Connecting with Your Loved Ones

Unable are the loved to die.  For love is immortality.”  Emily Dickinson

People have been communicating with their deceased loved ones since ancient times.  The Ancient Egyptians, for example, believed that the world between the living and the deceased was actually very much connected.  And what’s more they believed their loved ones on the other side could intervene with the land of the living.  In fact, they even wrote letters to their loved ones with specific requests.

backyardskyIn modern times, inventors Guglielmo Marconi and Thomas Edison were both known to have attempted to create an apparatus which would allow for communication with those on the other side.   People are always asking me if it’s possible to communicate with their loved ones or how to initiate communication. And if it is possible, then why haven’t they received any signs.

First off, yes, it is very much possible.  They communicate in a variety of ways.  You don’t have to be a medium to communicate with your loved one.  Going to a reputable medium can certainly make it easier but it is not necessary.  Just yesterday, I was facing the mirror in my bathroom when I suddenly saw an image of my Godmother Lucy in my mind.  In my mind, I could see her standing behind me.  I turned around to look in that direction and could sense her presence.  I spoke to Lucy out loud and then proceeded to go down the stairs to my kitchen.

Suddenly, my home alarm began to chime for no reason.  In fact, it did so three times in a row.  My alarm was not on so the motion sensor would not have been activated.  However, the alarm does sound when someone either opens the door or certain windows regardless of whether it is on or not.  At first, I panicked thinking someone entered the house.  But when I checked my doors and windows, they were all closed.  I realized then that this was a sign from my Godmother Lucy acknowledging her presence.

However, signs from our loved ones are usually subtle and it is unrealistic to expect communications such as these all the time.  Since they no longer have the benefit of a physical body, they will communicate by using their energy.  When this happens, they will most often make their presence known through thoughts.

I don’t mean thoughts that you would expect.  For example, you are looking at a photo of your loved one and your mind is full of thoughts of them.  When our loved ones communicate, the thoughts seemingly appear out of nowhere.

Unfortunately, many people tend to ignore these thoughts and when they do they often miss the message.  At my godmother’s funeral, I clearly heard her (by thought) tell me to put a picture of my two daughters in her casket.  I was so sure of what I heard that I did what I was told.  A few years later, a medium told me that my godmother wanted to thank me for the pictures.

If you want a sign, just ask.  Talk to your loved ones.  You may even choose to ask for something specific.  Obviously, you won’t always get a response but our loved ones on the other side can and do hear us.  Once you ask, pay attention and try not to expect too much.  I was once given a reading by a friend who is medium.  I was given a message for someone else.  I was told that this person wanted to acknowledge the Lazy Boy. When I relayed the message, I was told very cynically that while there was indeed a recliner, it was not a Lazy Boy.

I mention this because while it’s important to be skeptical, it is also equally important to be open minded.  If you are too closed-minded, you will frequently miss the signs when they do occur.

As I’ve said many times, dreams are the easiest place for our loved ones to visit us.  Our subconscious is relaxed and open and we are not overwhelmed by the everyday distractions of our conscious mind.  Before going to bed, talk to your loved one or hold an object of theirs in your hand.  This can often help you to connect with their energy or even receive messages by thought.

There is a beautiful Eskimo proverb that states, “Perhaps they are not stars in the sky, but rather openings where our loved ones shine down to let us know they are happy.”  And perhaps those stars are always within reach.  We need only wish upon them.

CHANGE IS NOT EASY, BUT NECESSARY

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” Barack Obama

A Greek philosopher named Heraclitus wisely said, “Change is the only constant in life.” Just look around you—nothing stays the same; even the human body is in a constant state of flux as it replaces dying cells in the body.

ross-findon-303091-unsplash (1)We all know change is inevitable but that doesn’t make it easy.  In fact some of us down right hate change and do everything possible to resist it and keep the status quo.  It’s much easier to do things out of habit anyway.  It’s much easier to do what’s familiar. Change means uncertainty and treading in unfamiliar territory.  Doing things the same or out of habit means control.  Daily routines make things easier. We do these routines without even having to think about them.  Changing the way we do anything requires effort, time and the willingness to overcome the fear of the unknown.

That is huge hurdle for some to get past but it’s also the only way to continued growth and learning.  The late Dr. Leo Buscaglia, a well-known author, teacher and lecturer, said that change was the end result of true learning.  He believed only through change could we learn and experience real growth. “As experienced human beings we must certainly believe in one more thing than anything else—we believe in change,” he wrote.  He went on to explain that if we don’t like where we are, we can always create a new scene.

Stepping into this new scene may no doubt be scary but it’s sometimes the only pathway to realizing new relationships, taking advantage of wonderful opportunities and truly feeling self-fulfilled and happy.

Looking back over my own life, I’ve made countless changes.  I’ve realized over the years that although some were not the right decisions to be made, all were purposeful.  In other words, I’ve learned from my decisions; I’ve learned from those changes.  Whether or not it was the right decision for me did not matter.  None were without lessons to be learned.

I was once working for a nonprofit association as Director of Communication and Editor.  My job afforded me the opportunity to travel and meet wonderful people.  I also loved the people that I worked with.  It was my safety net away from home.  Although I felt safe and secure, I felt like I needed to make a very difficult change.

This change allowed me to work independently as a communications consultant and eventually gave me the chance to realize a dream and publish my first book.  I went on to have two beautiful daughters and today I’m working on my seventh title.

I’ve sometimes wondered what my life would be like today had I not taken the leap of faith and stepped out of my comfort zone.  Sure, it would have been easy to stay in a job I loved and was comfortable doing.  But I also know that I would have missed out on so many priceless opportunities; I would have missed out on so many beautiful memories. None would have been possible without my embracing change.

You can’t get where you want to go, however, unless you have a clear view of where you are going.

Our habits and everything we do on a daily basis literally change the very makeup of our brains.  The brain is very habit driven and truthfully doesn’t care whether something is good or bad for you.  It only wants to make the neural networks we use all the time stronger so that the brain can function more efficiently.  But you do know what’s good for you.  You do know what’s bad for you.  Only you can know what changes are necessary in your life and only you can put those changes in motion.