Thursday, August 15, 2013

Day of Forgiveness 2013

Dearest Mikkie,

We once again observed the Day of Forgiveness in your honor. I love this tradition and love how it helps make such a painful day a more bearable one, to focus on something positive and carrying it out with so many loved ones.

I tell you, daddy and I are astounded by the amounts of love and support from so many, near and far, in person and in spirit. I'm continually inspired to see just how much people really care. It truly means so much to us when others get involved no matter how big or small it may seem. An email, a note, a text, a phone call, pictures, acts of kindness, gifts and service, and helping the memory of our sweet angel live on.

"Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten". I was reminded of this quote and it has stuck, it's exactly how I feel. You will never get left behind OR forgotten, especially by me. Never. I think it's extremely important to get together every year with loved ones and keep your memories fresh in our minds and honor the legacy you've left behind. I don't know if many people do that or not; some people prefer to be alone, some don't talk about the deceased at all, but personally one of the most important things to me is keeping your memory alive and making a difference, turning something tragic into something inspiring and uplifting. If any angel can touch others hearts so tenderly and inspire them, you are most certainly one of them! I want to help you in any way I can with that. You have touched my heart the greatest.

Here's some inspiring pictures I've been sent of others being involved in honoring your memory! You are so very loved by so many.

And here's a glimpse into our special memorial for you that night:

Love you so very much,


3 Year Angelversary

Sweet Angel of mine,

Three years, can you believe it? Like I've told people already, it doesn't get any easier.

Towards the end of July, things get a little harder and the anxiety and emotions build up in me. It's not that I don't feel peace and comfort, I do, my emotions happen anyways and the tears flow freely without warning.

I try to keep myself busy, my mind occupied. I've noticed though on your Angelversary, I need to take it slow and not have so much to do. That's what half the day was like, but as I was rushing to get things ready and get dinner before the Memorial at your resting place, I felt anxious and irritated. Irritated with myself that I didn't start earlier so I could take my time and relax. As soon as I got to the cemetery though I allowed myself to breathe for a few minutes before people showed up. Taking time to just 'be still' is important. Clearing your mind of any negativity, rear your focus back to the present and what's important.

Daddy stayed home for the first half of the day, which was nice. Faith came up to me with a sad face and asked to watch Mikkie's movies. :) First we watched the slideshow with your song, having a most tender moment as Faith and I hugged each other and shed many tears. She loves watching your home videos, so many precious and fun memories.

It was crazy how the tears just kept coming that whole morning and the night prior. By mid afternoon I was so emotionally exhausted. I thought for sure I was out of tears, then someone would call and send a message and drop by to give us something, and the tears flooded back up.

I wasn't sure what to feel or expect about the whole day and the memorial at the cemetery. But after I had gotten there and took a few minutes to compose myself, I realized that it's not a bad thing to smile and be happy. I don't have to be crying every minute of the day and at every sweet, tender thing I hear or see.... if it brings tears to my eyes, then I let myself cry freely; if tears don't come but I feel this immense gratitude and joy, then I let myself soak it in and let myself be happy. You want us to be happy.

I felt like the whole night was just sweet and tender, full of tears, memories, laughs, smiles, heart-warming thoughts and incredible supportive family and friends (with us in person and spirit).
There was no doubt that you were there with us, sweet girl. Listening to people talk about their memories and things they've learned from you greatly touched me. Their tears brought tears of my own. It warms my heart to see people remembering you and that they have such fond memories of you. You are indeed a very special girl. It was especially sweet to see the little ones playing around and the babies gathering around your headstone, and hearing some of their memories of you... that's so precious to me to see your cousins remember you. It was great weather, and the sun was just shining a brilliant red-orange color, it was amazing. I wish my camera could've captured its full brilliance. Bright and vibrant, just like my little Mikkie :) That's what you were and are in my life, and always will be.

As I drove home after, I felt an inexplicable feeling of a sweet presence near, and a huge feeling of peace and happiness washed over me. My heart was full of gratitude. Oh Mikkie, I couldn't see you but I sure felt you, and I loved the conversation I had with you. :)

I love you always and forever,

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

How to forgive

We're told a lot to forgive and know that it's good for our health, and it's just all around an important thing to do. As I was talking with some people recently and thinking about it more myself, I realized me, including others want to know how to forgive. It's easy to tell everyone including yourself that we need to forgive but how to get it done? Like really forgive.. having our hearts full of Christ-like love towards others, especially those who have wronged us no matter the extent. The kind of forgiveness like Chris Williams, and so many others who soften their hearts and allow the love of Christ to work through them, healing not only themselves but the person needing forgiveness.

I'm convinced that forgiveness and love create miracles, they are very powerful. Imagine if the world was full of a lot more of this instead of revenge, grudges, judging.... unconditional love is the answer.

Learning how to forgive does not come naturally to us. In fact, forgiveness runs counter to our human nature and our desire for revenge. We want justice. Sadly, we don't trust God with that. We need more than just our own strength.

Reading around, some things specifically stood out and inspired me as far as how to forgive.

Understanding our worth.
We are all wounded. We are all inadequate. On our best days, our self-esteem hovers somewhere between feeble and fragile. All it takes is disapproval—or perceived disapproval—to send us staggering. These attacks bother us because we forget who we really are.

As believers, you and I are forgiven children of God. We have been lovingly adopted into his royal family as his sons and daughters. Our true worth comes from our relationship to him, not from our appearance, our performance or our net worth. When we remember that truth, criticism bounces off us like BBs ricocheting off a rhino. The trouble is that we forget.

We seek others' approval. When they reject us instead, it hurts. By taking our eyes off God and his acceptance and putting them on the conditional acceptance of our boss, spouse, or friend, we set ourselves up to be hurt. We forget that other people are incapable of unconditional love.

Understanding others.
Sometimes our critics have ulterior motives. An old proverb from India goes, "Some men try to be tall by cutting off the heads of others." They try to make themselves feel better by making others feel bad. You have probably had the experience of being put down by a nasty remark. When that happens, it is easy to forget that others are broken just like us.

Jesus understood the brokenness of the human condition. No one knows the human heart like Him. He forgave tax collectors and prostitutes, and forgave his best friend Peter, for betraying him. On the cross, he even forgave the people who killed him. He knows that humans—all humans—are weak.
For us, though, it usually doesn't help to know that those who have hurt us are weak. All we know is that we were injured and we can't seem to get over it. Nevertheless, if we want to be forgiven, we need to forgive.

Understanding God's role.
When we have been hurt, our instinct is to hurt back. We want to make the other person pay for what they did. But exacting revenge steps over the line into God's territory.
Ever heard of the saying, "Let go and let God"? We need to let it go, like Chris Williams stated, and leave it to God to take care of. Trust that He knows our hurt and how to make things right.

How can we let it go when we have been unjustly hurt?
Rolling our burdens onto the Lord—that's the secret of life, and the secret of how to forgive. Trusting God. Depending on him instead of ourselves. It's a hard thing but not a complicated thing. It's the only way we can truly forgive.

I can remember the day my Mikayla died and the raw, unbearable pain I felt. I could barely do anything but just try to survive. I had no strength of my own, I had no will to move on. Then, all of that turned into anger and I was furious! Turning the blame from myself to God.
God, how could let this happen to me? What have I done to deserve this!? I don't understand, why would you take my sweet, innocent baby girl away from me so early? Don't you understand how much I love her, and how much this hurts? WHY?

I cried and cried and sobbed and just wanted this all to end. I needed someone to blame, didn't I? My little girl has been ripped away from me and I need justice, right?
Wrong. I fought these feelings for a while, it didn't happen just overnight. But overtime I felt my heart softening as I was putting my burdens, sorrows and broken heart on Christ. I turned them over to Him and He has helped heal me more than I ever could on my own.

Some other thoughts that I liked:

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” ~Mahatma Gandhi
 Wow, that's powerful!

"At my angriest point, I was convinced the person who hurt me did it with full intention and cruelty. I felt not a shred of compassion; just unadulterated pain and rage. Then I realized: unless someone is a sociopath, they are rarely without feeling. And if they’ve hurt another person, even if their ego prevents them from admitting it, odds are they feel remorse on some level.

No one is purely bad, and everyone carries their own pain which influences the decisions they make. This doesn’t condone their thoughtless, insensitive, or selfish decisions, but it makes them easier to understand.
After all, we’ve all been thoughtless, insensitive, and selfish at times. Usually, we have good intentions."

So how do you forgive someone when every fiber of your being resists? How do you look at them lovingly when you still have the memory of their unloving action? How do let go of the way you wish things had worked out if only they made a different choice?

  1. I remember them as a child and it’s much easier! -Joy Thompson
  2. I remind myself that I forgive not for them but for me and that it’s easier to forgive than to hang on to so much anger, hurt and betrayal. -Sarah Clark
  3. I just acknowledge that we are humans, so we are allowed to make mistakes. -Haydee Lizbeth Lopez Cruz
  4. Remind yourself that they are not separate from you; they only appear that way. Then you will realize you are one, and it is yourself you are forgiving. -Justin Hayden
  5. Do not keep thinking of the past or the bad thing that happened; when you let go of it, you get over the anger/bitterness that you felt and it clears the path of forgiveness! The best thing is time! -Ashna Singh
  6. Remember that we are all doing the best we can at the time. -Diane Paul
  7. Remind yourself of how much forgiveness would mean to you if it was your turn for a mistake! – Carol Mcbride-Safford
  8. Wayne Dwyer describes how hate is love which has been turned around. Seeing the expression of what can’t be forgiven as love makes it easier to forgive. Were also all doing the best we can, according to our own evolutionary state, including those we find hard to forgive. – Lise Heeley
  9. Because it takes less energy to love and forgive than it does to stay angry and hold a grudge. It brings peace to your life. -Linda Adams
  10. I know that I need to forgive someone, not for their benefit, but for my own peace of mind. Don’t do it for them, do it for you! -Cathryn Kent
  11. You remember why you love them. Love is about forgiveness.- Holly Chapman
  12. Forgiveness comes easier with the passing of time. I tend to find that, if I am wronged, I forgive the person before they forgive themselves, and when I am in need of forgiveness, it is I who feels the guilt for longer. -Mandy Richardson
  13. Stop thinking and just do it. Open your heart and forgive. -Lindsey Windrow
  14. Don’t force it. If I don’t feel forgiving, I can at least not act on my anger. Eventually forgiveness will come if you welcome it. -Julie Trottier
  15. Just learn to smile and let things go. -Sudharma Lama
  16. Give up on all hope of a better past. -Matt Child
  17. Every time you think of them send them love. After a while it gets easy. -Crystal Chang
  18. Meditate, meditate and meditate some more until it’s gone! -Margot Knight-Guijt
  19. The harder it is to forgive someone else, the more I am responsible. When I understand and forgive myself, forgiving others is easy. -Pamela Picard
  20. Two different approaches. One involves restoring your boundaries and sense of protection first. The other involves focusing on what your body is feeling and stop dwelling on the offense. Both involve being present. -Chris Campa
  21. Forgiveness comes easy when you know that what people say or do is about them, it’s not about you. -Kim Kings
  22. Shift the focus, feel the pain and think of the thousands of others in the world who are also feeling the same pain, then send a loving-kindness message to everyone to be relieved of this suffering. -Nick Ong
  23. When it happens I often ask myself “What strengths must I develop further from this?” Often the feeling of resentment just goes away, slowly but surely, because I wasn’t focusing on the person that wronged me, but the lesson that the event was trying to tell me. -Natassia Callista Alicia
  24. I allow myself to feel again whatever I didn’t express “in the moment” when I was with them. Forgiveness always seem to follow those (usually) difficult emotions. -Cynthia Ruprecht Hunt
  25. Write a brutally honest, emotionally raw letter telling them how much they have hurt and angered you, then tear it up and burn it. As you watch the smoke rise, think about the fact that you are not that hurt and that anger. It is fleeting, just like everything else. As the smoke carrying your hurt and disappointment disappears into the air, you can let it go. -Renate Wuersig
  26. For some wrongs, I just have to remember that they are responsible for their actions and then it is easier for me to just let it be. -Karen Garland
  27. By remembering that it will free me from the burden of the stress I feel, also, if I can’t forgive then how can I expect to ever be forgiven? -Leslie Brown
  28. Just look to the future instead of focusing on what’s past…think of creating new good memories to wipe away old bad ones. -Elizabeth Lindsay
  29. It becomes easy when you remember a time when you were forgiven, centering on how it made you feel. -Louisya Graves
  30. Understand this: whether you like it or not, over time, you will stop feeling the pain, so why hold on to something that’s going to go away anyway? -Nirav KAKU
How did I forgive when it was hard? I came to this realization: no one ever gets to the end of their life and thinks, “I wish I stayed angry longer.” They generally say one of three things: “I’m sorry,” “I forgive you,” or “I love you.

This REALLY helped me to read. I hope this helped more than just me. There is power in understanding people and there is power in forgiving and loving. These are really great thoughts from others.
Now I have to ask, how do YOU find a way to forgive? What helps you? I'd really love to hear.

Importance of Forgiveness

Dearest Mikayla,

Here we are again, coming up on August 14th. I'm grateful to have turned the awful day into something that will hopefully inspire many. I love having something to do in your honor, in your memory.. and plus it helps us to be better people. It's just a good idea all around.

My mind has been racing with all sorts of thoughts on the subject of forgiveness. I've been seeing how just within my own marriage how important.... hard, but important, it is to forgive. No matter what. Period. It does not matter what they say or do, we always have the choice to act or react. React with anger and revenge or Act with forgiveness.

A certain story keeps coming up in my mind, an experience that is awe-inspiring. One that brings great peace to my heart as I think of the hope this world has with people who can forgive like this. This story of Chris Williams, who lost half of his family in a car accident, is such an experience. The spirit felt while listening to his story is undeniable, there is no doubt that Christ is working through him.


What I was witnessing was absolutely unreal. I couldn’t take it anymore. I turned my head forward and closed my eyes. I was ready for death. I tried to will myself to pass out; I wanted to succumb to the process of having my spirit leave my body. From deep inside my body came a sound of excruciating anguish and pain, of body and spirit being crushed. 

It was more profound than just feeling helpless or powerless or feeling physical pain. As I struggled to make it stop, I opened my eyes and turned to look out the driver’s side window. I saw the car that had just hit us resting upside down on its roof about 50 feet from my car. Suddenly an immense peace and silence filled the inside of the vehicle, my soul, and my thoughts. 

"I had no idea who had just hit us, and my mind didn’t think to consider if they were all right or not or what circumstances might have caused them to cross the median and strike us. I simply looked at the car in silence. My thoughts went quiet, I felt at peace, and then I heard a voice that was not my own in my mind as clearly as if it had come from someone seated next to me. It wasn’t a peaceful, whispered voice, nor was it the still, small prompting of the Spirit; it was straightforward and filled with power, and the voice said, “Let it go!”
 As I lay on that gurney I could feel the love the Savior had for that teenage boy. It was a soul-transforming and refining experience.
I felt no anger, no desire for retribution or justice, no questioning as to why this had happened; just an earnest desire to say the things the Savior would say, extending the same tokens of mercy and love that He always extends. 
Immediately I knew what I had to say, and it wasn’t anything that I had prepared. It was a short and simple expression of what the Savior wanted me to say:

This truly is a bitter cup that my family has been asked to partake of, but with such a miraculous outpouring of love and prayer from the community, I know that it will all be all right one day. 

On behalf of my sweet wife, our children, and my extended family, we would invite you if you are in a position to extend a single act of kindness, a token of mercy, or an expression of forgiveness. Would you do it by Valentine’s Day and then, if you feel to do so, write that experience down and share it with my two surviving boys by sending it to the address that the radio and TV outlets will provide. I can think of no greater valentine that you could give to someone, or that my sons and I could present to my sweetheart, than that. 

May God bless every individual one of you for your goodness. Thank you.

When I made the initial request at the press conference, I had no idea of the responses that simple challenge would create. I received thousands of letters and e-mails from all over the world describing acts of kindness, mercy, and charity that were offered. Hundreds contained this line of reasoning: “If you can forgive someone for doing that to your family, certainly I can forgive,” and then they would describe to me what they were newly committed to letting go of.
“If there is anything you have seen me do, or heard me say, or have read about me regarding forgiveness, you should know that it was merely the Savior working through me.”
"If my prayers weren’t being answered in the way I expected, they would be answered in a much better way, and it would be worth the wait."

What burden could you lay at the Lord’s feet, today, that He might be allowed to work miracles in your life?
Thursday, August 8, 2013


Hello my sweet girl,

I've been writing to you, just haven't 'sent' them yet. When I sit on my letters too long and revise them too much, I get distracted in the meantime and have a harder time getting back into it.

I've also been busy redesigning your blog. Do you like it? I have something in mind a little more personalized I wanna do in the near future but for now I thought it was cute.

Why am I spending so much time on it? August started last week, and I didn't even have to look at a calendar to know that, my spirit and emotions told me. I keep myself involved in something or a few things... I usually become more busy this month to help keep my mind occupied. I chose to update your blog and organize things. It's a lot more time consuming than it sounds.

I finally planned your Angelversary, are you proud of me!? A week before, that's not too bad. right.... I wish it wasn't so hard for me to plan, I always want to do something special for you. My ideas and thoughts always feel like they fall short of the greatness this day deserves.

I've been having so many mixed emotions. In some ways I'm coping better, but also feel like I'm still falling apart at times. As I was redoing this blog, I was going through older posts and some of the comments... it brought me right back to that time and tears involuntarily streamed down my face. So many sweet and comforting thoughts/comments shared. People are good, you know that? I've been blessed to see that more these past few years. More opportunities for people's goodness and kindness to really shine.

I'll be back soon, my angel. I promise.