Heaven is Here

I recently read “Heaven is Here” by Stephanie Nielsen of the Nie Nie Dialogues.

Dang.  That book will do a number on you.

It seems everyone by now knows of Stephanie Nielsen, but in case you don’t, she is a Mormon woman & mother of four from Utah who survived a plane crash, but was burned on 80% of her body.

I didn’t know of Stephanie until her plane crash story surfaced on many blogs.  It turns out her plane went down in August of 2008.  That was the exact month (nearly the exact week) that my first husband left the country on a trip and then never returned.  At that time, my husband’s exit was already becoming a sanctifying experience for me.  By then I had already become at peace with my infertility as well as the years of pain I experienced in my first marriage.  And so I was just applying all that I had learned to my upcoming divorce, too.  And it was working.  Even as I was alone in New York, being left to pay the mortgage & bills, working my butt of at my job by day and packing my husband’s stuff by night, feeling further away than ever from becoming a mother, & not knowing at all what my future held, I was still at peace & feeling more fullness, consciousness, and joy than I had ever felt in my life.  I felt like I was truly living.

And, so, when I started reading Stephanie’s words of deliverance & peace as she went through her healing process, I felt amazed and excited that the principles that were working in my life were working in hers, too – yes, even in such a horrible human experience as a plane crash and disfigurement.  Our trials and emotions could not have been more different, but the source of our deliverance and peace was the same.  And it is available to every single person in every single circumstance.

Now, I’ll warn you – a lot of this book is not necessarily an uplifting read (how could it be?)  It’s heavy.  I just couldn’t believe the story as it unfolded.  She shared the raw reality of going through that near death experience (and the aftermath) and of course that included many of her darkest times.  I often felt kind of awful after reading it.  BUT, I kept coming back for more.  Because I knew that things got better for her.  While her doctors helped her to survive physically, her faith and family helped her to survive spiritually & emotionally.  And so I was rooting along as I read – “It will get better!  It will get better!”  I’m glad she shared the dark times, because it just gives power to what her message is today……..That life is beautiful – – even though really horrible things happen to us.  That faith and hope and love for this life can trump any trial we could ever face and that “it’s a beautiful heart, not a perfect body, that leads to a beautiful life.”

Have you guys read the book?  What did you think?


P.S.  April 24th has arrived.  Tonight at 8:00 pm Eastern Time (5:00 pm PT) we will host our very first ever (!) on-line class called “Choosing Happiness.  The Basics.  101.”  And I guess this means I need to shower and tidy up my work space.  🙂  Cause you’ll get to really see us and hear from us.  You guys, it’s going to be so good.  I can say that because Danny happens to be a really, really great teacher and will cover for me if I choke while looking at the computer camera instead of your beautiful faces.  🙂  We wish you could all be in our living room for this, but doing it this way will be the next best thing.  We hope that it will be uplifting, moving and inspiring to all of you.  (Note: You need to sign up and register in advance and you can do so here.  See you tonight!)

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  1. Nora April 24, 2012 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    Okay, I think I have to go read that book now. And YEAH for your classes!!! I'm stoked for the ones I signed up for. Thanks for sharing volumes of your wonderfully positive energy!! xoxoxo

  2. Creole Wisdom April 24, 2012 at 1:40 pm - Reply

    I have read it, and did so in a day. I sat down and didn't get up until I was done. I've never done that with a book before.

    Her story is just transformative and faith building. I loved it.

  3. JEREMYandCHELSEA April 24, 2012 at 1:46 pm - Reply

    I got my hands on this book the second it came out. It was just beautiful. I cried thru a lot of it and felt like I was actually there with here. Her pain was so tangible. The whole thing is a miracle though, and you can feel the spirit so strongly. My copy is currently being passed around to all of the women in my life. How could you not share it?

  4. Rochelleht April 24, 2012 at 2:58 pm - Reply

    I read it and really enjoyed it. It was very uplifting. I did, however, find the first third almost too difficult to get through. Did anyone else feel this way? It just felt very unrealistic. Perhaps that was a literary tool to set up for the complete life change that was about to happen? Once I got through the first third, I could NOT put it down. Very compelling.

  5. Lisa Riley April 24, 2012 at 3:23 pm - Reply

    I am adding this book to my queue, as I do with nearly every book you suggest! I also just registered for the first class tonight and am SO very excited. Your words motivate, inspire, and move me every day, and I just can't get enough!

  6. Jacy April 24, 2012 at 4:07 pm - Reply

    I haven't read it…. yet…

    Once I found out about my husbands dual life, Stephanie (a perfect stranger to me) was one of the very first people I emailed… I'm not sure why I felt compelled to do so, but I did. I emailed her my trial and thanking her for her faith and strength and courage and that because she triumphed over her incredible trial, I knew I could too…

    She is such a marvelous example to us all!

    You always seem to post these posts that go so perfectly with what feeling and writing too. I just finished the final segment of my boyfriends sister's story (who was diagnosed with Leukemia the day she delivered her first child)…. I have been overwhelmed with joy and gratitude and sorrow and everything in between as I've recounted her incredible strength and trial. I'm so blessed to know this is not the end… it's only the beginning…

    Here's the link to the final segment


    I might have to sign up for a class D & M! Good luck tonight!


  7. tjandvanessastone April 24, 2012 at 7:03 pm - Reply

    I also got my hands on this book as soon as I could and loved every page of it. While it did include several tears on my part, I just love her message of determination and hope. She is so real and doesn't sugar coat anything which is so inspiring! Definitely a must read!

  8. Becky April 24, 2012 at 8:18 pm - Reply

    Are you classes live? Or if I sign up, can I watch it at my leisure? I would LOVE to take each and every one… but at 5pm my time… my house is a circus with 6 kids and a husband who wants to eat…. is there anyway that I can still take the class?

    Love you and everything that you and danny stand for.


    • mara May 1, 2012 at 7:50 pm - Reply

      Becky – the classes are LIVE 🙂 We hope to be able to offer the recorded class so that you can watch it at your leisure. Please stay tuned for that…we'll announce it on the blog if that becomes available (not sure yet how soon that will be!)

  9. Lauren April 24, 2012 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    Just finished reading this as well and yes, LOVED it. What an incredible reminder that we can all do hard things. Stephanie is truly a hero in my eyes- I've been enjoying her blog for a couple of years, but now I admire her even more.
    I did have to explain to my husband about "good crying" as I read, because I cried through most of the book and he kept saying, "Why do you keep reading it if it makes you cry?" 🙂

  10. Susan Siravo April 24, 2012 at 9:44 pm - Reply

    I got the chance to meet Stephanie and Christian when Stephanie had a speaking engagement in California last fall. She was so gracious and appreciative of the big crowd that came to see her. Truly inspiring. She stayed for quite a while after her speech to meet everyone individually. I remember thinking its really amazing how strong faith and a positive outlook can make such a difference in life! Good luck with your class tonight! 🙂

  11. Sage April 25, 2012 at 3:49 am - Reply

    Pre-ordered it. Carried it with me to church. Finished in a couple days (would have been less if I weren't so darned busy!) She is truly an inspiration. I started reading her blog just before her crash. It was so heart-wrenching to read of their accident and wait hopefully for their recovery. She is so open and joyful. Her love for her family is instructive. I feel like her example has helped me be a better mother and wife.

    Thanks for your great review!

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