crystal_heavenI have lived on the plains of Oklahoma my whole life. In fact, I was 8 years old before I realized that not all dirt was red! I grew up with buffalo and wheat fields, tumble weeds and tornados. I am not a total country girl, but I am pretty close. I say “ya’ll” and “fixin to”, and like the red dirt, I just assumed it was like that everywhere else.

In late 2009 my life looked pretty good. I was married to the love of my life and we were blessed with 4 amazing kids. I was a school teacher in the very town that I was born and raised in. From the outside, all looked well.

But then, on December 10, 2009, while in the hospital, I stopped breathing. My face turned a dark shade of blue, then black. My mother screamed for help and a nurse tried to revive me… to no avail. Today, I don’t remember what happened in that hospital room during the nine minutes I was unconscious and unable to breathe on my own. I have no memory of the panic and the rushing nurses and the loud cries of “Code Blue.” I simply remember drifting off.

And I remember waking up in heaven with God.

You see, although my life looked pretty on the outside, what I carried inside of me was a much different story. For most of my life, I felt utterly broken and beyond the reach of God—if there even was a God. I was a sinner and a skeptic who kept asking God to prove to me that He was real. I felt lost and hopeless and alone. And then came the day that changed everything.

My book, Waking Up in Heaven, tells the story of God’s relentless pursuit of a life that was shattered and seemingly beyond hope. It is a story of love and forgiveness and redemption, and of the healing power of God’s presence. It is the story of how God used my death to change my life.

I hope you will go on this journey with me and take to heart my book’s simple message—that God is real and heaven is real and God’s love for us is the realest thing of all.