Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Book Review: Heaven in Here

I haven't done many book reviews lately but I HAD to review this one. This book seriously changed my life. I would hope that everyone would go out and BUY it, not only to support NieNie and her family, but also to have a copy to reread and share with others.

Here is the book description:

Stephanie Nielson began sharing her life in 2005 on nieniedialogues.com, drawing readers in with her warmth and candor. She quickly attracted a loyal following that was captivated by the upbeat mother happily raising her young children, madly in love with her husband, Christian (Mr. Nielson to her readers), and filled with gratitude for her blessed life.

However, everything changed in an instant on a sunny day in August 2008, when Stephanie and Christian were in a horrific plane crash. Christian was burned over 40 percent of his body, and Stephanie was on the brink of death, with burns over 80 percent of her body. She would remain in a coma for four months.

In the aftermath of this harrowing tragedy, Stephanie maintained a stunning sense of humor, optimism, and resilience. She has since shared this strength of spirit with others through her blog, in magazine features, and on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Now, in this moving memoir, Stephanie tells the full, extraordinary story of her unlikely recovery and the incredible love behind it—from a riveting account of the crash to all that followed in its wake. With vivid detail, Stephanie recounts her emotional and physical journey, from her first painful days after awakening from the coma to the first time she saw her face in the mirror, the first kiss she shared with Christian after the accident, and the first time she talked to her children after their long separation. She also reflects back on life before the accident, to her happy childhood as one of nine siblings, her close-knit community and strong Mormon faith, and her fairy-tale love story, all of which became her foundation of strength as she rebuilt her life.

What emerges from the wreckage of a tragic accident is a unique perspective on joy, beauty, and overcoming adversity that is as gripping as it is inspirational. Heaven Is Here is a poignant reminder of how faith and family, love and community can bolster us, sustain us, and quite literally, in some cases, save us.

I just wanted to share some of my favorite quotes and thoughts I had.

"Maturing as a mother is a gradual, but steady, process if we let it unfold, and the decision to stop nursing before I'd originally planned to was one of my first steps. I can only do my best and that's all that matters."

"I felt myself shutting down again. I couldn't think about Christian or the children or the pain of being apart from them threatened to overwhelm me. Being awake was such a feat in itself that pushing away additional unwelcome details became a matter of survival."

"It was a moments consolation to learn that they had paused before they took the knife to my face, before they carved away the tissue that had defined my facial features, before they scraped my beauty away."

"Months earlier I had been changing diapers and now I was wearing them. This confirmed everything I'd felt about my lost abilities. I wasn't fit to care for my children as I was nothing more than a child myself. The sense of independence I considered part of my character was gone. I wasn't just asking people for help here and there because I was worn out from a long day' I was completely dependent on them for not just my comfort but my survival. The thought that I could do nothing for myself, not even go to the bathroom, haunted me and I swore I'd get strong enough to do it on my own."

"Even as the medication finally quieted the physical pain, there was no pill that could soothe the pain of knowing my baby boy didn't love me."

"I longed to feel strong again, to feel fully in control of my body. I had always thrived on accomplishments and to do lists, and now I had a list long enough to last a lifetime. For starters, I wanted to squeeze my own toothpaste, remove the cap off a pen, seal a Ziploc bag of carrots for Claire's lunch."

"Id been eager for them (her children) to start asking me for help with whatever they needed, trusting me to take care of them, believing I could help them.

"As we (Stephanie and Elder Holland) talked he told me to be proud of my scars, saying "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."

"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."--Jeffery R. Holland

This book, really Stephanie and her strength, made me want to be a better wife, mother, and all around person. As I read, I grew to appreciate my able body and the small things it can accomplish that may not be so small, that I take for granted. It made me realize the importance of staying focused on the things in life that really matter. Yesterday I happily went about cleaning my house, feeding my children, and caring for their needs. As I accomplished these things I tried to appreciate the ability I have to fold my family's laundry, clean up spills, change diapers. I also tried to celebrate in the quiet moments between me and my children and my husband and I.

Stephanie is very real and honest in her memoir. She doesn't sugar coat the immense pain, or skirt around being discouraged and down, but through her trial she never loses her faith in God and she and her husband stay strong together. One of my favorite aspects of the book was the way her family takes care of her, particularly her siblings. I am so glad to know this story has a happy ending, and while she will never be the same again, she is healing.

What a beautiful, talented person. She inspires me not only for the life she leads because she is a survivor, but for the life she led before. I cannot praise this book enough.

1 comment:

Eliza said...

Have you read her blog? I look at it almost daily for little bits of motherly encouragment. She's amazing!