Book Summary: Heaven Is Here

Title: Heaven is Here: An Incredible Story of Hope, Triumph, and Everyday Joy

Author: Stephanie Nielson

Basic Overview:

In 2008 Stephanie Nielson and her husband, Christian, were in a horrific plane crash in Arizona. While both survived the crash, they each suffered from extensive burns with Stephanie’s covering over 80% of her body. In this book she writes about her life before she was married and growing up in a large family in Utah. She tells of when she first met her husband, the story of when they got married, and beginning to have children. She talks about the crash and her feeling that she was about to die. She talks at length about her recovery process not only from a physical point of view, but also a spiritual one as she writes about her hope and faith. As she returns home from the hospital she talks about her day-to-day routines and her slower pace as she adjusts to her new life. She talks about the victories she finds now as a mother, such as having all the children gathered around her on the couch reading a story. As the book concludes you feel like you have just been on the most inspiring journey with a best friend, a sister, a fellow wife and mother.

Parts I liked best:

I loved the parts that focused on Stephanie and Christian’s relationship. I can tell how much they love and care for each other. They almost seem like giddy newlyweds throughout the book despite being married for quite some time. I love how affectionate they are with each other, that they’re not afraid to show how they feel. She writes clearly and respectfully about their relationship including their wedding night and a romantic escapade out on the family ranch. She talks about the little games they play, like reciting movie lines and trying to guess what movie it is from. There was also a lot written about how deep and enduring their relationship is, especially during the recovery. They were there for each other and never gave up. She recounts one particular visit between the two of them in the hospital where she is telling Christian she doesn’t want to die. He says, “You are not going to die…. Let’s grow old together and die at the same time. Remember? That’s the way it’s going to happen, and it won’t happen for a long, long time.” (pg. 170)

The stories of them as a family were some of my favorites. They are a real family! Throughout the book you can tell that she knows and cares about her children. I loved how comfortable she tried to make them feel when preparing for their visits in the hospital. She made sure the fridge was stocked with treats they would like, had coloring books and movies ready, and was respectful when some decided not to come in the room. I particularly loved one story she related about a trip to Trader Joes. Her son Ollie had said he had to go to the bathroom and she told him he needed to wait until they got home. She began loading the groceries all the while unbeknownst to her he was peeing in the parking lot (pg. 12). It was a moment that as a mother of a boy I could definitely relate to!

How this book made an impact in my life, especially as a mother:

This book made such a huge impact on my life as a mother! From the very first page of the book you can tell how important motherhood is to Stephanie. As she talks about those first few moments after the crash she says, “If I didn’t get home, who would make Claire’s butter and honey sandwiches for her first-grade lunch box next week? Who would know to get Jane off the kindergarten bus in the middle of the day?” (pg. 2) Even in that terrifying moment one of her first thoughts was of her children. Her story of being a mother with these beautiful young children inspired me to focus on this time I have with my family. It inspired me to take the time to read that book, sing that song, play that game, and just be with my children. She was like that even before her crash, always looking for ways to be there for her family and meet her children’s needs and beyond.

Her return home to a new life of medicines, treatments, and therapies, all on top of being a mom, made me stop and reevaluate my priorities. One thing she talks about shortly after coming home is how much she tried to have dinner at the table with her children each night, even if she could only sit there for a few moments before going to bed. At one point in the book she shares a prayer she said, writing, “And please bless me to feel well enough to make it all through dinner tonight. Please bless our family that we can get through one normal meal together.” (pg. 263) How many times have I rushed through dinner, just trying to get to the next thing in the routine? Her experience has inspired me to stop taking for granted all of this time and energy I have to devote to my family. It has helped me to see things like cooking, cleaning, and caring for the day to day needs of my family as a way to serve and love them instead of mindless chores. And most of all, I have felt throughout her book just how important a family is. We need each other and we need to be there for one another, through the good and the bad.

 

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