Thursday, March 7, 2013

Heaven Is Here by Stephanie Nielson

I started following this author's blog through another blog a few years ago. It wasn't long after her accident and I was inspired by this woman. The book is about her life, she had the ideal life, handsome husband, four beautiful children and her looks. One fateful day all that changed when her and her husband were in a plane crash. She was burned over 80% of her body. She woke in the hospital months later, barely alive. The book is about her struggle to survive, the pain she had and continues to have just to move each day, her determination to be a mother to her children, her husband who stood by her side and showed her what real love looks like, her faith that she has a purpose here and God spared her. (I do want to preface the rest of this entry with saying that the author is a Mormon. I've quoted the things that she said about God and used my beliefs to explain them.) It truly is an incredible story and she is a very special woman. It is a great book to give perspective on what really matters in this life, and the way we look is certainly not one of them. "How he hoped they would feel God's love in the natural world, just as he did." Stephanie and her husband both love to be in nature and wanted to instill this love in their children. That by being in God's creation they would feel His love for them. I feel this. I look at all that He created and am in such awe. Nature makes me feel closer to Him. "I don't want being physical to get in the way of getting to know the real you." Her husband said this to her when they were dating. What a great thing for a guy to say. "I saw God in those eyes. I saw reassurance. I even saw a glimpse of triumph. I was still me. Those eyes were mine. The life I saw in them came from God, and that gave me hope for the life of my body." This was the first time that she looked at herself after the accident. Oh what a hard moment that would be. She was so disfigured. But in that moment she was given strength. Her eyes were still her. Beautiful. "Heavenly Father, are you really there? And do you hear and answer every child's prayer? Some say that heaven is far away, but I feel it close around me as I pray. Pray, He is there. Speak, He is listening. You are His child. His love now surrounds you." A child's song, a parents response. So simple yet what we all, young or old, wonder from time to time. "When lonely, cold, hard times come, we have to endure, we have to continue, we have to persist...Keep knocking on that door. Keep pleading. In the meantime, know that God hears your cries and knows your distress. He is your Father, and you are His child." And they do always come, don't they? But this life is about enduring, continuing even when it's oh so hard. And the best part is that we are heard, He does care. "We look for Christ's scars because they are evidence of what He did for us. They'll be the first things He shows us when we see Him again. Your scars tell a story, too. Although they may not make you feel attractive, they are a witness of a miracle, that God blessed you to live, and that you have accomplished very difficult things." What a beautiful sentiment. All our scars are a testament of what we have been through, how we have overcome and how God has done great things in us. We shouldn't hide them or be ashamed of them. God uses it all for His glory and our best. He loves us so. "I have accepted myself in a world that does not accept me, because I have learned-and more than any of the lessons of my accident, this is the one I wish I could teach everybody-that our hearts matter most. Your heart matters most, so be gentler and more patient with yourself, and their hearts matter most, too, so be kinder and more compassionate to others. It's a beautiful heart, not a perfect body, that leads to a beautiful life." Good wisdom to live by.

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