Friday, April 27, 2012

Heaven Is Here

Maybe 2012 is the year of inspirational stories for me.  I have read a good number of this kind of book already in 2012, and I continue to find more and more that I am enjoying.
Recently I came across a blog,, that had me in awe.  Stephanie Nielson was in a horrible plane crash in 2008, resulting in burns on over 80% of her body.  Her husband, Christian, was burned on 40% of his body, and the two faced months of rehabilitation and surgeries.  Now four years later Stephanie has written Heaven Is Here, an account of her accident and the events and feelings she experienced after her life was changed forever.
Stephanie was just twenty-eight, the mother of four young children, when she and her husband took a day-long trip with Christian's flight instructor.  On their way home the unthinkable happened.  Four months later Stephanie awoke from her coma to discover burns that covered much of her body.  In her writing she makes clear the desperation and sorrow she felt during this time. She didn't have a desire to see her children - the most important people in her life - and even her husband was at first turned away by her.  Over time Stephanie was able to see her husband's love and commitment to her even though she no longer looked like the woman he fell in love with. 
Her strong Mormon faith and the love of her family continued to give Stephanie strength as she prepared to enter the real world again.  Despite the stares of strangers, Stephanie eventually embraces her life again, taking charge of her children and their care.
This story doesn't have any surprises in it, but just hearing Stephanie's voice and how she was able to persevere and overcome the obstacles set before her is inspiring.  For everyone who at one time or another has struggled with their appearance should take not of what Stephanie struggles with on a daily basis - and now smiles about. 
My oldest daughter read Heaven Is Here right along with me.  We fought over this book and who would get to spend time reading Nielson's story.  While both of us are sad the book is done, we continue to check in on Stephanie and her family on her blog,


Melissa Mc (Gerbera Daisy Diaries) said...

I won this in a blog giveaway!! Can't wait to get it in the mail.

Danmark said...

Stephanie's faith is woven throughout this book. I quite honestly do not believe she'd be here today if it wasn't for her strong faith in God (whom she and other Mormons call "Heavenly Father"). She firmly believes in the power of prayer--and the results of those beliefs come through--be it the strength to get through just one more therapy session or to handle the struggles with her children accepting her new limitations. When my husband was doing a surgical residency, the worst rotation was the burn unit. He would always come home very humbled after each day....and a full month in the burn unit was about all he could take. Stephanie was burned over 80% of her body when the small private plan she was riding in with her husband and his flying instructor crashed. Her husband was burned as well--I believe around 40-50%, as was the pilot/flight instructor (50%--did not survive.) I think the reason she survived were two fold--one her faith, and two her family. She was blessed with a large family as well as a network of church family which really came out to help her and her husband.