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“Forgiveness is not a feeling; it is a commitment. It is a choice to show mercy, not to hold the offense up against the offender. Forgiveness is an of expression of love”

-Gary Chapman

I have glass  embedded in my body. There is glass in my eyelids, on the side of my face, my scalp, and in my forearms. The windshield of my SUV crumbled into a million little pieces during my car accident. Mixed with dirt and gravel you get some nasty road rash. I still remember the nurse in the ER running a steal wool like tool across my injuries to get as much of it out before cleaning and dressing my wounds. I later asked the plastic surgeon why they did not go in and dig out every piece from my body. He explained that it would just cause more scaring and that my body would eventually shed the glass naturally. He proved to be correct for some of the larger pieces. Over the years at unexpected moments glass has worked its way to the surface of my skin and broken free of its prison.

However, it is 21 years later and I still have pieces of glass in my body and I know where every single one is.

I can run my fingers along my skin and feel where they are held captive. I often wonder how long will I keep each shard? Will they always be there to serve as a reminder of what I survived? Will I keep these foreign visitors until the day I die?

Earlier this year I spoke at a conference on forgiveness. I shared my story of the last 20 yrs along with some of the spiritual tools that I have found useful on my journey. It was a good experience. I came away from the conference feeling centered in God’s love and ready to take on what life had to offer.

Then it happened

Not but 2 days after the conference I received news that would put everything I had just taught to the test. It was the kind of life changing news that would cause me to forget everything I knew of forgiveness

I was overwhelmed by the weight of the responsibility that had just fallen on my shoulders. The life altering legal decisions I had to make for myself and my children. I found myself telling God “I did not sign up to be a mother under these conditions.” Asking the question “Why me?” and “How am I suppose to do this?” To intensify the pressure of the situation I discovered I had not dealt with some past experiences entirely. Old emotions erupted like a volcano that had been dormant. Filled with grief, anger, sadness, and feelings of abandonment. I found myself lost and in a fog.

Ironic.

So ironic that it was comical. I had just stood up and declared myself a “survivor” of these events, yet I still clung to anger and bitterness. Just as I still had glass embedded in my body, I found sharp painful emotions enclosed within my soul. Had I done work on these in the past? Yes. Like the glass, perhaps the “bigger issues” had worked their way to the surface but I was surprised to discover lingering pieces of darkness embedded in my heart and mind.

There I was. Faced with a choice. Fall into victimhood mentality or find forgiveness. Like a pendulum I found myself swinging back and forth on a daily basis.

It became clear that I needed a miracle. I petitioned my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ to intervene. I needed help to remove the negativity from my soul with the least amount of scaring. I knew it could be done. I had experienced it in the past and believed that it was possible again. It just felt impossible at the moment.

And then the miracle came. The first weekend in April I heard this:

“One key to forgiving others is to try to see them as God sees them. At times, God may part the curtain and bless us with the gift to see into the heart, soul, and spirit of another person who has offended us. This insight may even lead to an overwhelming love for that person.”- Kevin R. Duncan

I started to pray to see this person the way God sees us. It wasn’t long before small moments of compassion and understanding began to wash over me in my daily life. I began to feel acceptance of this new situation in my heart. Hope. Peace. I remembered the overwhelming love and light I was met with in heaven and I know that if this individual were to be in the same position I was 21 years ago, they would have been met in kind. It came down to one simple practice: remembering. I just needed to step back and remember who I was. A divine daughter of God. When I stand in that space and energy I feel God’s love, not the worlds love. And with God all things are possible. Forgiveness becomes possible. Grace seems possible.

 Forgiveness requires small daily commitments. A conscious choice to engage in a partnership with God.  I don’t wake up every morning and think “I am a divine daughter of God”, and leap out of bed like a shiny bright care bear ready to love the world! Instead my mind is usually flooded with my to do list. Or I am met with a grievance of one of my children. Yet I have faith that if I can just remember who I am,  all the anger, bitterness, and pain will come to the surface and leave me.

Everyday I will have to choose. I will continue to be hurt and have to practice forgiveness in small and large ways. Even just today I faced another crushing heartbreak, but I know that because I choose to remember, I choose the grace of God. Grace means “divine means of help”.  I am literally choosing to accept all the help heaven has to offer. Heavenly Father is eager to help me, but He does not work by force. He will not bless me with what I will not receive.

“All that is of God encompasses love, light, and truth. Yet as human beings we live in a fallen world, sometimes full of darkness and confusion. It comes as no surprise that mistakes will be made, injustices will occur, and sins will be committed. As a result, there is not a soul alive who will not, at one time or another, be the victim to someone else’s careless actions, hurtful conduct, or even sinful behavior. That is one thing we all have in common. Gratefully, God, in His love and mercy for His children, has prepared a way to help us navigate these sometimes turbulent experiences of life. He has provided an escape for all who fall victim to the misdeeds of others. He has taught us that we can forgive! Even though we may be a victim once, we need not be a victim twice by carrying the burden of hate, bitterness, pain, resentment, or even revenge. We can forgive, and we can be free!”- Kevin R. Duncan

How will I remember? How will I find freedom?  Notes on my mirror, meditation, praying, serving, and loving others. It will be a hundred little things. Mostly I will petition my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ for grace and do all I can to be open to receive it. Plus every time I run hand across my face or fold my arms to pray.  I will feel the glass in my body. It will serve as a reminder of the work left to do. Like the glass, one day it will all work it’s way to the surface and I will be free.

THE BRAVEST THING

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“OWNING OUR STORY AND LOVING OURSELVES THROUGH THAT PROCESS IS THE BRAVEST THING THAT WE’LL EVER DO.” -BRENE BROWN

 

In Boise, Idaho on March 5, 2016 I will stand up and tell my life story to a room full of strangers. My assignment is to speak on “The Forgiving God” and my near death experience while giving specific tools or skills that can be used to apply forgiveness in our lives. It is all part of a conference that Ashlee Birk and www.areasontostand.com are putting on. I have been a participant and also a presenter at  previous conferences.

I feel privileged, honored, excited, humbled, inadequate. I am a bit terrified, at a loss for words, overwhelmed, and confounded by this responsibility. I have been asking myself for several weeks now “Aren’t there 1000 people more qualified to speak on subject of forgiveness and God than me? So many people have been through much worst things than I have.” And the answer that keeps coming to me is “Why not your experience with forgiveness and God?” So, I will get over myself, realize life is NOT about me and hope that my story will help another.

Here is my Introduction that will be published on the blog spot before the conference:

One of the earliest memories I have of my father was when I visited the beach with my family. I was very young. I remember being thrilled by the waves and the water! I remember the smell in the air and how fascinated I was by the feel of the sand under my toes. I remember my Father warning me to be careful as I stepped into the waves. I did not know how to swim.  Next thing I knew I was under the water, unable to find my footing, and watching the bubbles in the waves sweep back and forth above me. I began to panic and then a thought came to my mind, “Daddy will come”.  I KNEW that my father would be there to pull me to safety. I stopped struggling, looked up through the water and waited. Moments later my fathers face appeared over me and I was scooped up out of harms way.

This is one of the only memories I have of my childhood. My name is Annie McGee and on June 19, 1995 I was in a near fatal car accident. In a trip from Washington to Utah I fell asleep at the wheel of my SUV and without hitting the brakes; rolled and cart wheeled my way down the median of an Idaho Highway.

Just as my earthly father came to save me from danger on the beach , my Heavenly Father came to deliver me that day with a choice. A second chance. To live or to die. I had a near death experience or NDE. I came to know of a God who is my FATHER first and foremost. I experienced love, light, healing, acceptance, and felt His intimate nature. I learned that I was a spiritual being having a mortal experience. I learned that we live on after death.  I was given a choice to stay in heaven and take the more peaceful road.  Or come back, suffer, struggle, learn, and find my purpose in life.

I have another memory of my mortal father. This time it was of him as a radiologist.  Shortly after the accident, I came out of an MRI tube, immobilized; but waiting again for my father. Just like that day on the beach.  I lay staring at the ceiling in anxiety for the news on the condition of my body. Once again, there he was, standing over me; reassuring me, loving me, supporting me.

In the years that have followed my NDE to say I have struggled is an understatement. I am a survivor. I have lived through debilitating physical injuries and surgeries, a traumatic brain injury, sexual and domestic abuse, infidelity, a high conflict divorce, post traumatic stress disorder, amnesia, depression, and the challenge of raising special needs children.

We all have trial. Some are the result of poor choices, while other trial comes as a result of another’s actions. Some trial cannot be explained. Life is unfair for everyone in one way or another. However, adversity is a gift. Pain can be the great teacher.  Without it how would we know light from darkness? Happiness from despair? Peace verse strife or the freeing power of forgiveness? Resistance makes us strong. Every day is a second chance. Do we check out, leave, take the easy road? OR come back fighting, accepting all the help offered and grace from heaven along the way.

What has carried me through these last 20 years? My fathers. I know that no matter what condition I am in, if I look up and wait,  my Heavenly Father will be there to scoop me up out of the waves. And I know that my earthly father will always come to my aid. This support and the love of many around me, has guided me through my darkest moments into the light. Especially the powerful light of forgiveness. Forgiveness to others, forgiveness of ourselves, and forgiveness to God.

We are not here by accident. Each one of us has a purpose and mission in life. We are here to discover it and live it with joy! There is a Father in Heaven who is mindful of our every need.  Even when we are under the water, feeling the waves pull us down, waiting for deliverance.

 

 

HARK THE HERALD ANGELS SEEN…

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“We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another.”–Luciano De Crescenzo

Several years ago I was directing a Christmas choir program. One of the members of this choir was a “special needs” young woman who loves to sing. She always came to every practice, sat in the front row and sang with all the energy of her soul. Her enthusiasm for Christmas music was contagious! All in the choir loved and adored her. However, there was one problem….she was unable to sing the notes on key half of the time. Some of the other choir members had a hard time finding their parts when they sang next to her and she has a strong voice. You could hear her over many of the  other singers. At times it made it difficult for me to “properly” hear the balance of the choir and what needed to be worked on. Yet there she was, every week, front and center , belting the music without reservation as a prayer to her Heavenly Father.

I spent many hours wondering why such a beautiful soul who had many physical challenges already was given what the world considered a “less than ideal”  singing voice. There were very few things that she loved more in life than to sing. It did not seem fair in my mind or heart and I questioned  my Heavenly Father over it.

Then something miraculous happened during the performance. The  choir sang a special arrangement of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and my eyes were opened to a vision. I looked at this special soul singing with joy on her face and for a brief moment I saw her in her perfected form as an angel. Her voice sounded pure, on pitch, and heavenly. The Holy Ghost  whispered to my heart the knowledge that she had been part of the heavenly host of angels that had sung the night our Savior was born. I could not hold  back my tears as we finished with “Oh Holy Night”. One question penetrated my soul…..WHAT did this glorious soul witness the night our Lord and Savior was born.

As I have reflected on that experience this holiday season it has left a few burning questions in my mind this year.

What do the Angels see?

And

Do We See Them?

Which leads me to wonder. Do we hear their song of hope and peace?

Reminders of the heavenly host that announced the arrival of Jesus Christ thousands of years ago comes in the form of a hymn that was changed 4 times both in lyric and melody to this modern day classic.

Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

The angels do sing. This I know to be true. People have often asked me if I heard music or singing during my near death experience. The answer is yes. There is music in heaven. It cannot be described. Why wouldn’t there be? We as human beings seek the healing and wholeness that comes with music everyday. My nine year old sings everywhere she goes…that is not unique to her. (by the way, her favorite band is Walk of the Earth. I have a cool kid. ) So why wouldn’t there be music in Heaven? 

But back to the questions at hand. What do the Angels see? Do we see them? What is their message THIS Christmas 2015? Can I even hear it? And would I be able to pass it on?


In speaking of Heavenly Angels Jeffery R. Holland has said 

“From the beginning down through the dispensations, God has used angels as His emissaries in conveying love and concern for His children…Usually such beings are not seen. Sometimes they are. But seen or unseen they are always near. Sometimes their assignments are very grand and have significance for the whole world. Sometimes the messages are more private. Occasionally the angelic purpose is to warn. But most often it is to comfort, to provide some form of merciful attention, guidance in difficult times.”

What do the angels see? I believe they see our most private moments. I believe they know when we are in need. I believe they see the motherless child and run to them in their heartache. I believe they see the broken , the ill, the homeless, the lonely, the lost, the forgotten, the bruised, the blind, the heartsick, the hungry, the grieving, the angry, and all the tears. I believe they see each human being no matter the race, religion, nationality , or economic status. I know many people doubt the reality of heaven and of angels. Let me say that I have personally felt them hold me up when I had no strength of my own. I am not better than any other human being in Gods eyes and if I have been the beneficiary of heavenly angels then why not you?

What is their message?

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

The message is not different than the message of that first Christmas . Jesus Christ brings light, life and healing.

In studying the New Testament or any account of Jesus Christ , one thing has always struck me. Jesus was found with the outcast of society. The homeless, the leper, the non jew. He went about quietly bring healing and comfort to those who needed it the most. That is the message and mission of heavenly angels. They are on the Lords errand. They are with us more often the we know. It doesn’t not matter if we believe them to be there or not. They are still there. Think about it. If you are in a dark room, how are you to know whom is or is not in the room with you?

“In the course of life all of us spend time in “dark and dreary” places, wildernesses, circumstances of sorrow or fear or discouragement. Our present day is filled with global distress over financial crises, energy problems, terrorist attacks, and natural calamities. These translate into individual and family concerns not only about homes in which to live and food available to eat but also about the ultimate safety and well-being of our children…But I testify that angels are still sent to help us, even as they were sent to help Adam and Eve, to help the prophets, and indeed to help the Savior of the world Himself. “-Jeffery R. Holland

I have a daughter named  Noelle Faith. Noelle in latin means a ‘New Beginning’. I named her that has a reminder that she should always have faith in a new beginning, no matter what. The sun with rise, there will be a new day, wrongs can be made right because of THE FIRST NOEL. The first new beginning for all humankind …the birth of Jesus Christ.

In this spirit of new beginnings many New Years resolutions are about to be made. I wonder what would happen if more than just a few of us resolved to see what the angels see and to be their mortal instruments. Many desperate prayers sent heaven bound are often answered by not only a heavenly angel but by a mortal angel. We answer each others prayers.

What do WE see?

What do WE hear?

What music do WE sing with our life?

I want to be more. I want to serve more. I want to answer more prayers because so many of mine have been answered and continue to be answered. I am administered to daily in my need and I want to be that to someone else. I hope to see what the heavenly angels see and be able to act on it. It is so difficult in a world of distraction and sometimes crushing responsibility, but I know that is where healing can be found. Face to face with another human being, listening, loving, serving. In the end all we take with us is the love, light, and service we have given and received. THAT is what the Angels see. THAT is the message of Angels. That is what makes the Angels sing with joy.

“Indeed heaven never seems closer than when we see the love of God manifested in the kindness and devotion of people so good and so pure that angelic is the only word that comes to mind.”- Jeffery R. Holland.

May we see more heavenly and mortal angels and hear the music of heaven this coming year. I think if we listen closely we will hear them singing ‘Peace on Earth …Good Will to Men’…  Happy Holidays.

 

 

 

MISSION I’M POSSIBLE

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“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive and to do so with some passion some compassion, some humor and some style” -Dr. Maya Angelou
There is a stunning “teenager” living in my home. I put “teenager” in quotations marks because she is an old soul. She has wisdom and could pass for an 80 year old at times. She is a force of nature. She makes things happen. Her energy fills up a room and when she is filled with laughter, silliness, and happiness, NO ONE can resist following her into the light. She is beautiful, funny, resilient, soulful, and a defender of the weak. She is my size but scrappy (what we affectionately call “fun sized”). She is trained in MMA thanks to her father and DO NOT underestimate her, she will step In front of anyone who is being bullied. People gravitate to her and the poor boys…..Lets just say that many a prayer have been uttered by me on behalf of the boys around her. Their hearts are constantly under assault and at risk. (Boys take this blog as an official public service announcement. You can’t blame me if she breaks your heart, you have been warned.)
She has always had her own plan and vision, even before she was born. When I was expecting her she came to me in a dream and told me what her name was to be. The doctors gave her a due date, but of course she had something else in mind.  She was 33 weeks gestation when I went into labor Memorial Day weekend. Ironically, I was sitting in the movie “Mission Impossible 2” . She was born and fought for her life, stubbornly. The nurses in the NICU would get a kick out of her because she would find a way around whatever they wanted her to do. Whether it was pulling out her IV’s or scooting down out of the oxygen box. For two weeks straight she refused to comply, because she had her own plan of healing. Everything about her case was unusual. She wasn’t breathing well, then pneumonia set in. The first and second antibiotic did not work. At one point we didn’t know if she was going to make it. All we could do was wait. It was up to her and she turned it around within 8 hours. I would sit in the NICU, hold her, and watch as infants coded and passed away around me many nights. I KNEW that the special soul I held was being blessed and preserved for a reason. Just like in my NDE, I once again sat with life and death for two weeks.
She had failure to thrive. At 3 months old she still weighed 7lb 2oz. which was her birth weight. She fought and struggled as the doctors worked to figure out how to nourish this little warrior. I watched her father cry every time he would change her diaper and find blood everywhere because her intestines were so ravaged by the antibiotics. We tried every thing we could to get nourishment into her. But of course , she and God were in charge. By age one, she caught up and was right on target with all her milestones. A miracle.
When it came time to choose a high school for her, I got her into several good charter schools…but SHE applied to a different one and got in on her first try. She did her own application.  It was a lottery. They only took 75 students in the district and it is a medical speciality school. Not a surprise as she asked for an anatomy book at age 5. Everything this girl sets her mind to, she accomplishes. She speaks it and it is. Call me bias but this girl isn’t just beautiful with a brain, she has many talents. Music, art, sports, writing…..the list could go on. I look at myself and at her father and wonder how in the world this child came from the two of us. I stand in awe and frustration at times as do all parents. What is my role as her Mother? Staying out of her way. Harder than one would think…TRUST ME!
Recently,  we have talked about her mission in life. What her profession will be, what is her role in life? How will she serve others? Will she choose to be a wife and mother? Will she become a doctor or go into physical therapy? What other languages will she learn? How should her musical talent play into all of this? What college will she finish her undergraduate work at? Will she serve a mission for the LDS church?
I have watched her countenance take on a new determination everyday as these critical choices lie before her. So the cycle of life continues, the same conversations I had with my parents I am now having with my oldest daughter. Critical decisions that will set her on a certain path to accomplishing her mission in life. A path that will lead to a life well lived, one with no regrets. Despite the fact that she has had to live through a high conflict divorce and has faced many a trial at a young age; this astonishing soul who was born the weekend “Mission Impossible 2” was released has become “Mission I’m Possible.”
I am alive because of a woman who was living her mission in life.
She was in the car directly behind me. She watched me go into the median and roll my SUV. She was EMT. A paramedic. Coincidence? No. Nothing about my car accident was “by accident”. It was a miracle.
She came to see me in the hospital a few days after the wreck and told me her story.
She was on leave from the local emergency response team because she had been the first to respond to a roll over accident in which the driver had been decapitated. It had been a traumatizing scene and she took a leave of absence questioning her profession and mission in life.
When she saw me go into the ditch, she pulled over and as the dust settled she panicked. She said she DID NOT want to go over to my car because she was afraid of what she would find. She gripped the steering wheel and said a prayer begging God “to not make her go over there.” Then the most miraculous thing happened, a calm and peaceful feeling came over her and she felt a voice in her mind tell her to go help the driver of the accident. She paused, and again the voice told her that it would be ok and to go do what she was trained to do.
“Courage is not the absence of fear; it is acting in spite of it. “- Mark Twain
This heroic woman got out of her car and came to my aid. She found me unconscious and went to work as she instructed a truck driver to radio in the accident. Little did she know my spirit was not there, I was having another experience, but she did everything she could to keep me breathing and alive. She was the woman I saw administering to me when I was told to “turn and look” and I saw my car accident from above. I saw her working on a bloody , lifeless body. She was the first voice I heard speak to me when I came back into my body gasping for air. She was the one that heard me say, “I cannot not feel my arms or legs”. She stayed with me every moment until I was safely in the emergency room where there were other mortal angels fulfilling their earthly mission to take over. She saved my life that day and gave me a body to return to. I owe the last 20 yrs of my life to this single act of heroism.
And because of that experience she returned to work the next week, to fulfill her mission in life. Saving lives. I know because she came to the hospital to THANK ME for helping HER find her way again. I laid there in astonishment as I listened to her THANK ME?!?!
I began to weep and thank her for saving me. It was an hour of tears and thank you’s being thrown all over the hospital room.
By discovering and living up to our mission in life, we answer each others prayers. We are each others help, mortal angels and mentors. How can we ever know or measure the spear of our influence in life. Just as a rock thrown into the middle of a lake causes waves to hit the shore, or a tsunami deep in the ocean can take over a nation; we do not know  or cannot know our influence on others.  Each one of us is a child of a divine creator…..CREATOR! GOD created us each with special gifts, talents, and abilities to bless those around us. Life isn’t about us. It is about finding our mission and living it to bless others.
I have heard it said that the two most important days in a persons life are the day they are born and the day they figure out why. Imagine if every person in the world knew their purpose in life and were to live it? There would be no political issue, no turmoil, no strife, no war, no famine that could not be solved or overcome. Humanity would triumph over evil.
What is it that keeps us from moving from “mission impossible” to “mission I’m possible”? Pain, grief, trial, anger, distraction, a lack of vision, illness, disabilities, circumstances we are born into, economics….the list could go on. Life isn’t fair. It just isn’t. Trying to make sense of all of it has made more than one person insane and mobs to follow dictators.
All we can control is ourselves. All we can do is discover what we can offer the world just as my daughter is discovering her mission and purpose in life. What prayers will we answer? How will God use us to save another? To make someone’s day brighter? To start a movement that will save a nation? God’s purpose for our short time on earth is so much more than each one of us can imagine. He can dream a bigger dream for us than we can for ourselves.
Right now one of my missions in life is to share an experience I had 20 years ago and to simply say that we are the love, forgiveness, light, and service we give in life. It is all we take with us to the other side. That is it. Nothing else. Trust me. I have been there.
It is our purpose in life to discover our mission to humankind and to nourish it. It will be painful at times, difficult, gut wrenching. Just like bringing my daughter into this world was. But it is worth the work. Trust me. I am here watching one of my missions in life discover her purpose in life.
LKB: this is for you. YOU SAVED MY LIFE. LOVE YOU!

JUST CALL ME ROSS, EMMA, OR A FOOL IN LOVE.

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“IF YOU CAN LOVE THE WRONG PERSON THAT MUCH, IMAGINE HOW MUCH YOU CAN LOVE THE RIGHT ONE.”- author unknown.

I am single and according to the world my love life is an epic fail. I have been divorced and married more than once and anyone who knows me personally would consider my love life to be catastrophic. I have been nicknamed the “female version of Ross Geller ” from the sitcom FRIENDS. My love life is the butt of many jokes and I will be the first one to laugh about it. And they are right. My dating/married life is the stuff dramatic comedy’s are made of. My family, friends, and clients hold their breath every time I date a man. I have gotten use to the look on their faces, the words of caution, the lectures about why I am perfectly fine single, why I should not date, and should stay single for the rest of my life.

I usually nod my head in understanding, agree with most points, make some sort of joke to deflect from the situation, BUT TRUST ME! I have heard every word of caution, advice, concern and pondered it for hours. I have spent countless hours in counseling addressing my issues and core beliefs. I have taken every personality test, read countless self help books, listened to relationship coaches, and spent hours on my knees talking with my Heavenly Father. (And let me be clear I shield my children from the men I am dating as to not drag them through this process)

As a result I know my faults and can list them on demand. I am also very aware of my strengths and why I am a great catch. I can hand any guy a five page “Annie manual”. Thats right..I come with an owners manual. It includes a list of simple practical things to do each day to love me. Turns out I am not a complicated woman and have VERY realistic expectations. Plus I have been schooled in how men “tick”, how to resolve conflict, and be a strong team player….Yet I am a epic failure at love.

Lets be honest, being single has some perks. I have a ” single plan” and It is a GREAT single plan. It involves travel, hobbies, my career, more education, raising my amazing kids, and serving more missions. I have NO motivation to marry financially. Being single is easier because you don’t have to answer to anyone except your children . You don’t have to negotiate a TV program. No one is stealing my grandmothers quilt or giving me grief over my choice for dinner. No one is questioning why I squeeze the toothpaste in the middle of the tube or why my socks never match. Plus being married or in a relationship is work. Full time work. Your going to get hurt, hurt your partner, and have trial. Who wants to sign up for that????

Then there is my heart. Trust me when I say my heart has taken a serious beating, the kind of beating that requires a special victims unit. The kind of beating that when people hear about my encounters with love, they ask me “Why don’t you hate men and how are you not paralyzed by trust issues?” Let’s just say that I have had more amazing examples of what love can be and what men can be in my life than the opposite. That is what I cling to. Plus it helps that Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson, and Pink have been part of my support group. Gwen and Adele have just started coming. ( We meet on Wed. nights, email me for info)  But the bottom line is this. Love is messy! Especially if your “special needs” at it.

On the other hand, let me tell you about one of the “perks” of failing at love:

I am AMAZING at setting other people up.

I am not kidding.

I am going to give you all just a minute with that statement.

My Mother has taken to calling me “Emma” referring to the Jane Austin Novel. To date, I have helped 12 couples find marital bliss. There are even two children out there named after me because of my efforts. Who knew that the intuitive nature I gained from my near death experience would benefit love in such a way? I have had moments in life where I would be praying about something and the thought would come “set so and so up with so and so.” I would think “Ok , Annie focus you are praying here!” However, after that happens for a week straight you just roll your eyes, do it, and bam! Or I will get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and think of a friend who needs to meet another friend. Then there are my clients. I have the advantage of asking people who have been successful at marriage what “the secret” is. The answer is different from client to client , but the wisdom and the stories I am told are inspiring and could fill a book. I always seem to be the one that people turn to for relationship advice and it is GREAT advice. I know it is. It seems to work and I have earned it, suffered for it, and paid a fortune for it.

So, apparently one way to become an excellent matchmaker is to fail at your own love life, be theraperized, and be intuitive. I have yet to successfully set myself up, but others? No problem. Talk about Ironic. Hysterical and ironic.

The second “perk” of failing at love is heartbreak.

Yes, I just called heartbreak a “perk”.

Going to give you all a minute to think about that statement too.

This happened to me recently, once again and this one was brutal. I am taking about the kind of heartbreak that keeps you from eating, sleeping, and thinking clearly. The kind of heartbreak where people around you are seriously concerned about your state of mind and if you should be driving. The kind of heartbreak that leaves pure grief and you have a  zombie like appearance just in time for Halloween. The kind of heartbreak where you can’t breath with a million questions that will never be answered. The kind of heartbreak that ruins most music for you and makes you question your own sanity. I didn’t just morn a man this time. It was his children and family whom I loved as my own. It was the whole package. The dream and vision. It was a great love affair while it lasted. I know I left this man better than when I found him. I granted this man a vision of who he is and what he can be. I know that with me he felt like he was enough and appreciated. And guess what? I am a better human being for knowing him as well.

When a relationship goes down in a ball of flames, human nature is to throw that back at the person you’ve loved when they break your heart and tell them all you did for them and what they’re going to miss out on….but they already know that. And you can’t take their actions personally. Everyone’s journey is their own and everyone has a reason for doing what they’re doing . Were there some signs I ignored, yes. But do I regret loving this man?No way! Let me explain why.

Because of my near death experience and the love that I felt in heaven, I know what it is to be loved and to love someone. I stood there in heaven and felt my divine origin, so I cannot help seeing it in others. I see the beauty in people, the potential. Even when the world would say they don’t deserve it. It is one of the spiritual gifts I was granted that day. I am built to love. Am I perfect at it every moment of every day? No, but I see souls and what they can be and what is divine about them. I can’t help but notice what is lovely about a waitress when she serving me dinner. I can’t stop myself from complementing a father on being an amazing father. I love to give compliments.  I love to tell people what is fabulous about them! On the flip side, there is a downside to this gift. Sometimes I give my heart away too soon, to people who don’t feel the same way about me and probably haven’t earned my heart. Do I regret that? At times yes, but generally no! Let me explain why.

First, that is a spiritual gift of mine and I will continue to exercise it so that I can keep it. It brings me hope in humanity. It helps me sleep at night, and it helps me cope with my own trials and tragedy plus all the tragedy that my friends, family, and clients have been through. I would much rather be the person that goes out in life making people feel good about themselves than the one who is always remembered for being critical.

Secondly, because on the morning of my car accident I got in an argument with my mother, I was faced with the reality that I may never get the chance to tell her how sorry I was. How much I loved her and thank her for everything she gave up for me. I learned in that moment that we are the love that we give and receive. That is all we take with us into the next life. We are the forgiveness that we give and recieve. We are the light that we give and receive. I never want to regret holding back my love, forgiveness or light, because it is all I will have when I cross over into the next life. Am I perfect at it every day? No,  but it is what I know to be true.

Third, through my heartbreak and pain I learn more about mortal angels and the heavenly angels that surround me. Never at another time in life is heaven closer. My friends and family rally around me. It brings gratitude to my heart and joy to my soul. It is often through my tragedy and trial that I see the best of humanity. I receive small acts of service, kindness, and love and in turn it motivates me to pay it forward. The tender mercies of the Lord are real.

Lastly, I don’t regret loving too soon or too much because I know I can be healed from my grief and pain. I have stood in heaven and felt whole and I know that it is possible to feel that here in my mortal state. I know that my pain is as sacred as my joy because Jesus Christ felt it for me. I know that only in my darkest moment will my heart grow bigger. I want a big heart! I want space inside of me to receive love and light to give away! I know that God works through my heartbreak to help me accomplish my mission here on earth. Heartbreak and pain puts us all on common ground and if I am going to put myself out there and be vulnerable, I want the growth and rewards.

I have a quote in my home studio….it is well known because of a book called “Daring Greatly” but it is how I feel when it comes to love…

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deed could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena. Whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood. Who strives valiantly; Who errs. Who comes short again and agin because there is no effort without error and shortcoming but who does actually strive to do the deeds. Who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions. Who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst , if he fails at least fails while daring greatly! So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodor Roosevelt.

Call me Ross…or Emma…or a fool when it comes to love. But will I love again? Yes. Will my heart probably be broken again? Who knows?  I am not worried about it. (However I am starting to think I should send all future date requests through a few friends of mine that I trust, let them sort it out for me. References will be required)

In the meantime I will keep my sense of humor. I will continue to joke about my catastrophic love life. I will dive into the new opportunities in front of me (www.howdoIgoon.org) but I REFUSE to give up on love and I believe in what can be, because nothing is impossible.

 

Welcome Home Sickness

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“I am homesick for a place I am not sure even exists. One where my heart is full. And my soul is understood”—author unknown. 

There are few things better in life than walking into a room, a friend seeing you from across the room, exclaiming your name all while rushing towards you in pure delight. They are thrilled to see you! This is a proper welcome.

I experienced this in church recently. I walked into the chapel and one of my favorite four year olds yelled my name “Annie McGee!!!” from across the room. He stood up, started waving like a mad man with the biggest grin on his face. It was loud. People turned to look, but I couldn’t even bring myself to care. I had walked into a chapel full of strangers and this beautiful boy had given me a proper welcome and made me feel at home.

There is nothing like the feeling of home. It cannot be replicated. It is a space, a moment in time, a feeling. When we feel at home it is like exhaling after a long hard journey. It is that moment when you arrive home from work, throw your shoes off and just relax. It is love, laughter, and all your favorite things and people.

“Where we love is home-home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts”- O. W. Holmes

Homesickness is the exact opposite of this. It is a longing, a deep sadness, a whole in ones heart. No one in the human race is immune to feeling homesick. It drives people to take on addictions in order to fill that whole. It can make the sane insane. Propel us into depression and despair.

After the initial rush and impact of crossing over into Heaven , you quickly realize you are not alone. There in the light  is your family (see post called The Five Senses). Loved ones you knew and family you never met. My Grandfather was waiting for me. He was young, handsome and clothed in white. He was divine and very real…He was just presently without his body. I felt his inherent playfulness. His wisdom. His compassion. He was there to welcome me home. He was there to escort me into the light if I chose to stay. What was interesting was that I quickly focused on what appeared to be a crowd of people in background and I knew instantly that they were my family that had passed on before me. My family was real after death. They were and are my home. They are the Heavenly angels that administer to me. They work on my behalf both in Heaven and here on earth.

My Grandfather was sent to welcome me home and for the first time in my life that whole inside of me was filled by the divine love Heaven has to offer. As I have reflected on this experience I am more and more convinced that what people are seeking in life is the feeling of home. That space where you realize that you are a spiritual being created by a Divine Being. It is that space where you realize your worth, that it can only come from one source…God.

Child development specialists consider the relationship between a child and parent to be one of the most critical in human growth. I once heard a quote ” If children are so resilient than how come there are so many screwed up adults?” If true, then one has to consider that our relationship with our Heavenly Father is just as critical if not more significant that any other relationship one can have one earth. It is a bond that will grant true self worth, peace and a feeling of home. It is what will fill up all our cracks and wholes inside. It makes up complete. It IS our home.

Being in that space is hard to describe. I can only describe it as this;  when one tastes black licorice, you never forget the taste or smell. It leaves that strong of a impression on your five senses, mind, and memory. Having your homesickness for Heaven removed is exactly the same. Once you have experienced it nothing in this world can replace it. Your divine nature is manifest to your soul. Your potential becomes your vision. You are spiritual. You have a Creator. He knows you perfectly. His love is all you need. No addiction, success, possession, amount of money, power, or fame can replace it. You are a Child of God. And that simple truth can conquer any trial or heart ache in life. It is our identity. It is our lifeline. It is our hope. It starts as a faith and then little by little , becomes knowledge.

“NEVER FORGET that you really are a CHILD OF GOD who has inherited something of HIS DIVINE NATURE”- G. B. Hinckley

Perfection

“It took me a long time to realize we are not meant to be perfect; we’re meant to be whole…” – Jane Fonda

I feel the urge to pause in this writing process and give a disclosure to the reader. No matter how many of you there are out there( I know my mother will be reading these, so I have one guaranteed reader. Love you Mom! ) As part of my injuries from my car accident I experienced a traumatic brain injury or TBI. I lost most of my memories as a child , simple math, ability to read music, memories of my high school friends. The list could go on, but what is important in this situation is this: I lost most of my english classes and spelling. Apparently I was not great at either subject before my TBI so one can only imagine what happened after. My grocery lists are notorious for looking like a 1st grader wrote them. My loved ones have finally given up and started writing them for me. And if any of you happen to meet my children one day…PLEASE don’t ever bring up the subject of how many times a day I ask my children how to spell something…I am pretty sure they have PTSD from it and will need major counseling due to the disfunction in my brain!

My point is this: This blog will have many, many, many, many errors and typos. I will probably set the world record for run on sentences. While I have an amazing  support system of friends and family who will humor me and proof read my efforts, please excuse my shortcomings. I beg you to over look my spelling and grammar mistakes. I will be eternally grateful.

“Have no fear of perfection…You will never reach it.”- Salvador Dali

 

THE FIVE SENSES

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“The World is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper”-

—W.B. Yeats

Sight, Smell, Sound, Taste, and Touch. These are the senses most of us are born with. This is how we feel and experience most of the world around us. It is how we live. Laughter, pleasure, humor, contentment, joy, love, comfort, bliss, satisfaction, wonder, and awe. Thru our five senses artists move our souls with music, beautiful pictures, and the written word. We feel the sunshine, hear streams running by, and become aware of snow as it is falling down. We hear the familiar laughter of our family and friends voices. The aroma of our favorite meal as we savor every bite. Our five sense. What a blessing they are to have in life….until they become an enemy at the same time.

PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. A traumatic event occurs and all five sense are overwhelmed to the point of destruction. Sensory overload. Your brain cannot deal with the information it is gathering. Everything changes. Your five senses are completely different.

You drive by a simple fender bender on the side of the road and quickly become thrown into internal disarray. Panic. Anxiety. You watch a movie and the sound effect of a car crashing causes you to leap from your seat. You shut down for days afterward. Playing different music to get the sound out of your head does not work. Depression. You go hiking and the smell of dirt in the air causes you to be right back in that car tasting dirt mixed with your own blood. Insomnia. Pretty soon you are spiraling out of control and the all too familiar metallic taste in your mouth accompanied by the urge to run away is your constant companion. It is a million tiny ordinary things assaulting your five senses every day. Jumpy . Irritable. Withdrawn. You cannot remember anything from the five minutes prior let alone what you did yesterday. Concentrate on something? Forget about it.  Negativity closes in on you like a thick fog. Dreams, Flashbacks, and feeling numb. Headaches, body aches..your soul aches.  The trauma replays in your minds eye…again and again and again. I never knew that it was possible to scream and cry inside yet be unable to shed a tear or utter a word on the outside. PTSD had become my escort in life. I never knew this much darkness and pain could be inflicted by my five senses on a daily basis. 

I remember stopping in Ontario for lunch. I was listening to Sting’s greatest hits. Next thing I knew I woke up startled because I hit the rumble strips. I swerved right and then left and without hitting the brakes I drove down into the median. I watched the ground come towards me and the sound of my SUV buckle and collapse all around me. I felt the impact of unimaginable pain. Then nothing. I left my body. 

When you have a “near death experience” (NDE) or “out of body experience”  you are without your five senses. A transcendent experience is perceived in an entirely different way. This is where your “ sixth sense” comes into play. Your “gut”….Your “Instinct”….. Your “heart” .  A NDE is only understood by that part of you inside that knows something to be true no matter what your five senses are telling you. No matter what logic says. No matter what people say. 

There was light, but it was not blinding. It was pure, bright, and simple. It was undiluted, complete, and all encompassing. It was tangible and radiant. It was matter. A whole new atmosphere. It wrapped around me and went through me at the same time. As the light penetrated my spirit so did an unspeakable amount of divine love, peace, and  joy. Celestial and abounding. Inclusive and accepting. Familiar and freeing. The warmth filled up all of my cracks and spaces. I was complete. I was home. The voice. It penetrated my spirit and I knew it right away. He told me to turn and look. I turned and saw my body, battered and bloody in my SUV.

When you do not have your five sense slowing you down in heaven… learning is instantaneous. It does not come line upon line…it comes all at once. He gave me a choice to stay in the light or to return to my body. I saw the consequence of both choices. The impact it would have on my family if I choose to stay in the light. What I would miss out on experiencing in life verses the tough road ahead if I went back. Although I cannot explain how, I was assured that if I went back my road would be filled with LIFE regardless of what my body looked like at that moment. My blessings would be equal if not greater than my trials or hardships ahead…and the choice was mine. Stay in the most glorious peaceful loving state or face mortality with all of the struggle of humanity.

In THE defining moment of my earthly existence I knew I was not finished!  My spirit, my soul, my heart, my sixth sense all told me I was not done with life yet! I wanted my body back! More than I have ever wanted anything! I chose to live.

I remember entering my body, startled, and gasping for air. My neck was on fire. The pain in my head was shocking. I could not see out of either of my eyes. All I could smell was blood, dirt, mechanical fluid from the SUV. People were talking to me. Telling me to stay still. Asking my name. Where did I feel pain? Did I know where I was?  Then sheer terror came over me when I realized I could not feel my arms or legs or body. I choked out “I cannot feel my arms or legs.”  The people went quiet. Trauma. Sensory overload.

In that very instant I felt the peace and calm of the light wash over me and I knew in my heart, my soul, my gut, my every fiber that I would feel my limbs again. I knew it. Despite what my five senses were telling me, my sixth sense knew the truth and I was calm.

In the moments , days, weeks, and years to follow there would be many times when all I had to rely on was my sixth sense, my gut, my heart, my soul, my intuition. It didn’t matter what the doctors told me, what odds were against me, or what trials I would face; I knew to trust the voice inside of me. The voice that told me I wasn’t done with life. The voice that told me I wanted my body back. The voice that told me I would use my limbs. The voice that told me that what I experienced in the light on June 19, 1995 was as real as the keyboard on which I type this post.

Too often in life each one of us doubt our intuition. Our five senses are telling us one thing when our sixth sense is screaming something contrary. The internal battle begins. Our minds take over. We over think the situation. We second guess ourselves. Question our very sanity. Our beliefs are reexamined. We try to explain every possible reason as to why our gut, our soul, our heart is telling us the truth we cannot always explain to others. I believe this sixth sense to be a gift from God. It is our internal north star and compass. It is our connection to the one who created our spirits. I often wonder what the world would be like if we all honored this voice inside of us.

 The Voice by Shel Silverstein

There is a voice inside of you

That whispers all day long,

“I feel that this is right for me,

I know that this is wrong.”

No teacher, preacher, parent, friend

Or wise man can decide

What’s right for you-just listen to

The voice that speaks inside 

There is another “syndrome” we don’t often hear about. PTG. Post Traumatic Growth. It is defined as a positive change experienced as a result of the struggle with a major life crisis or a traumatic event. I believe that this happens because of our sixth sense. Our inner voice. The voice that says “I choose not to be controlled by my trauma. I am not done with life. I choose to listen to the inner voice that God gave me and believe in a better tomorrow. I choose to live.”  Can a person have both PTSD AND PTG? Yes. I am living proof.

THE LAST WORDS SPOKEN

“ Nothing haunts us like the things we don’t say”.

“I know what I am doing! Stop telling me what to do! “ This was the last thing I spoke to my Mother on the morning of June 19, 1995. Words spoken in anger, pride, and immaturity.  I slammed my car door shut and drove off down the street to  gas up for my drive from Washington state to Utah. The argument with my mother continued in my head…one sided of course.

“No harm is going to ‘befall me’. I know what is best for me. My mother does not! It doesn’t  matter that I had only had 6 hours of sleep the night before. I am in college! I operate just fine on much less sleep! My Mother ALWAYS over reacts! Doesn’t she know how important this meeting is to me? I have to be on campus this evening!  IF we had gotten back sooner from our family trip to Canada I wouldn’t be on this time crunch in the first place! 40 hours of driving into Canada!  What possessed my parents to make such a decision? Why can’t we go to Hawaii  for once? I am so glad I decided to go to school out of state!”

I fueled my car, and my immature anger full of entitlement and  got on the freeway. I turned on my music. I relaxed into the familiar sounds and tried to put the argument with my Mother out of my head….and the nagging feeling that something was off.  I quickly pushed down that feeling with stubborn determination and set the cruise control. I WILL be fine today. I am NOT going to get into an accident. I am an excellent driver. I survive driving in Salt Lake City every day for crying out loud!

IF life had a “do over button” , I wish I had listened to my Mother that morning. It would have saved myself and my family a great deal of pain and suffering, but that is not what I regret the most.  What I regret is the last words I spoke to my mother. If Heaven had not intervened they would have been my last words ever spoken here on earth.

Lawrence J Peter said “ Speak when your Angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.”

My Mother was right. At 3:46 on June 19, 1995. I fell asleep at the wheel of my SUV and without hitting the brakes drove into the median and rolled my car head over tail 3 times and then 5 times to the side.

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Regret is defined as both a verb and a noun. It is to feel sad, repentant, disappointed over a missed opportunity or over something that has happened. No words can describe the regret I felt that morning for the words I spoke to my Mother, but thankfully Heaven gave me a second chance at ‘regret’.

The world thinks of ‘regret’ as a negative thing, however I disagree. I think ‘regret’ gets a bad rap. Regret is one of the great crossroads in life.  It can be a great teacher or it can paralyze. It can become wisdom, and experience, or it can cause insecurity and fear. It can motivate one to change the future or dwell in the past. Regret presents a choice. Do you play the the victim and drown in self pity or do you choose to learn ?

“Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh”– Henry David Thoreau

Never leave a word left unsaid. Be careful how you leave your loved ones every day or you will find yourself at regret’s crossroad, presented with a life altering decision.

 When the planes hit the towers on 9/11 as far as I know none of the last phone calls to loved ones were full of anger or hate….they were to declare love. “I love you” was echoed again and again and again….

Dr. Maya Angelou said “Words are things …You must be careful …Someday we”ll be able to measure the power of words. I think they are things. They get on the walls. They get in your wallpaper. They get in your rugs, in you upholstery, and your clothes, and finally into you. “

I understood very little of regret or the power of words that fateful morning when I drove off angry. Leaving in my wake words of destruction and pain. A choice that would have lasting consequences not just for me, but for my Mother, Father, and future life.  A choice that would lead me to regret’s crossroad…. a life of victimhood?  Or a life of courage?  A choice to live?  Or a choice to die? 

COURAGE IS CONTAGIOUS

Ashlee Birk walked into my home studio as a referral before she was to appear on the Dr. Phil Show. She needed her hair color done. I knew of Ashlee….her story…her tragedy….however I did not know her personally.  Surprisingly what I discover that day was that I did know Ashlee from another time and space….we just had not met on this physical earth yet. Our connection was instant. We had suffered many of the same heartbreaks and disappointment, but more importantly our spirits communicated and I recognized an old friend that day. Ashlee has since been a gentle force for good in my life….much like the constant sound of the ocean waves hitting the shore. She is ever encouraging me to share my story, to embrace the power within myself,  to love, to forgive , and to look to Heaven for healing. Ashlee pushes me to be better, do better, and become the woman God meant for me to be. This blog is the first step in telling my story…a journey I suspect that will yield many defining moments for me. And so I dedicate this blog, the story of my car accident, and near death experience to Ashlee Birk, that brave and beautiful soul who walked into my home studio and changed my life. Thank you Ashlee for helping me find the courage.