Waking Up in Heaven: A True Story of Brokenness, Heaven, and Life Again

Waking Up in Heaven: A True Story of Brokenness, Heaven, and Life Again

4.3 66
by Crystal McVea, Alex Tresniowski
     
 

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An inspirational memoir of near-death experience, rebirth, divine mercy, and faith from first-time author Crystal Leigh McVea.

On December 10, 2009, McVea, a thirty-two-year-old mother of four, went to the hospital for a routine procedure. While undergoing treatment, her face suddenly turned a dark shade of blue, then black. Her mother screamed for help, and a

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Overview

An inspirational memoir of near-death experience, rebirth, divine mercy, and faith from first-time author Crystal Leigh McVea.

On December 10, 2009, McVea, a thirty-two-year-old mother of four, went to the hospital for a routine procedure. While undergoing treatment, her face suddenly turned a dark shade of blue, then black. Her mother screamed for help, and a nurse tried to revive her…to no avail.

Today, Crystal does not remember what happened in that hospital room during the nine minutes she was unconscious and unable to breathe on her own. She has no memory of the panic and the rushing nurses and the loud cries of “Code Blue.”

She only remembers drifting off…and waking up in heaven.

This unexpected meeting of a self-described sinner and skeptic with her God changed everything. Raised Christian, she had left her faith behind after childhood abuse and the subsequent struggles and suffering of her troubled teens and early adulthood. She longed to believe but felt abandoned, broken, and undeserving.

A moving autobiographical testament to the power of divine love and forgiveness, Waking Up in Heaven shares the message of hope, healing, and compassion McVea brought back from her brush with God.

This brave, honest account of years lost to shame and guilt will inspire those who’ve stumbled along their own spiritual journey, with the uplifting reminder that no one is beyond the reach of grace and redemption, and that, in the words of the author, “God is real. Heaven is real. And God’s love for us is the realest thing of all.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781476711874
Publisher:
Howard Books
Publication date:
04/02/2013
Edition description:
Original
Pages:
245
Sales rank:
66,119
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)

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Waking Up in Heaven

  • SOMEDAY SOON, ONE OF MY PRECIOUS THREE-YEAR-OLD twins is going to ask me the question “Mommy, what happened to you when you died?”

    Someday they will overhear me telling my story to someone and want to know more about it. They will look at me with their big, innocent eyes and try to make sense of what they’re hearing. It isn’t always easy explaining what happened even to adults, so how am I going to explain it to my kids?

    There is so much I want to share with them, so much I want them to know. You see, my story is one of hope and forgiveness and salvation, and of the glorious healing power of God’s presence. It’s the story of what I saw and what I learned when, during a hospital stay, I left my body for nine minutes and went to heaven and stood before God. And it’s the story of how, when I came back to Earth, my life was profoundly and permanently changed—changed down to the very core of my being.

    But it is also a story that, for the longest time, I didn’t want to tell.

    I live in a wonderful town in southern Oklahoma, in a community of friendly and God-fearing people, a place where passion for Jesus runs deep. Still, I know how much damage a juicy piece of gossip can cause. I was a teacher—someone parents trust to teach and care for their children—and I was afraid that if people heard my story, I’d be shunned and ridiculed and maybe even fired.

    I was afraid people would think I was flat-out crazy.

    And even though God’s instructions to me could not have been any clearer—“Tell them what you can remember”—I struggled to understand why I had been chosen and what exactly He wanted me to do.

    I struggled, because I’m the least likely person to be telling anyone about God.

    Put simply, I’m not ever going to be on any short list for sainthood. Early in my life I was a sinner, and I’m pretty sure I broke every one of the Ten Commandments. That’s right, not just some—all ten.

    Even the big one—Thou shalt not kill. When I was younger, I committed a sin I believed to be so grievous and so unforgivable, I was sure God could never love me, if He even existed at all.

    And that was the other thing about me—when it came to God’s existence, I was a skeptic. I had grown up in the heart of the Bible Belt, been baptized not once but four times, gone to church regularly, and heard a million sermons about God. And yet, deep in my heart, I wasn’t convinced. Over and over I challenged God to prove He existed, and every time He did. I’d set up a new roadblock, a new challenge for Him to overcome.

    I saw the hardships in my life as evidence that God had no interest in protecting me from harm. I questioned Him, and I cursed Him. And at times I vowed to cut Him out my life.

    And still—and still!—God chased me and wooed me and loved me and chose me, and then He sent me back to this world to share a message.

    And so, eventually, I began to tell my story. I told strangers in restaurants, customers at Walmart, and patrons eating ice cream at Braum’s—anywhere and everywhere I felt God’s familiar nudge.

    “Excuse me,” I’d say. “My name is Crystal McVea, and in 2009 I died and went to heaven.”

    How’s that for an icebreaker?

    And what happened after I started telling the full story of my journey to heaven is a remarkable, miraculous tale all its own.

    Now I am sharing that story with you, in this book. Believe me, writing a book is not anything I ever thought I’d do. It’s not like it was on my bucket list (like taking my kids to see a Broadway show and going to the Grand Canyon), and every single day I worked on this book was a day I had to pinch myself to make sure it was really happening.

    But as soon as I got over my fears and started testifying, I knew that God’s plan for me was to share what happened with as many people as I could. And frankly I can only spend so many hours a day at Walmart accosting strangers in the checkout line. Writing a book will leave me lots more time to get dinner ready for the kids.

    Now, are there people out there who will think I’m a fraud, or a religious nut, or crazy? I’m sure there are. Maybe some people who pick up this book will toss it across the room midway through and write it off as fiction. Who is this mom from Oklahoma who says she stood with God? Why should we believe anything she says? One response I sometimes get is, “Oh, Crystal, I believe that you believe you saw God. I just don’t know if I believe it.” That’s just a polite way of saying I’m either lying or crazy without actually having to say it.

    The truth is, I know my story is hard for some people to believe. I know what I went through is beyond the realm of what we can experience on Earth. Listen, if someone had come up to me before this happened and told me they had died and stood with God, I’m pretty sure I would have been skeptical, too.

    But I also know this book deals with the biggest and most important questions of them all: Does God exist? Is there a heaven? What is God’s plan for us? Why are we even here?

    I certainly don’t pretend to have all the answers. In fact, I still have plenty of questions. Nor am I claiming to be anyone special. I’m a run-of-the-mill American mom living in the heartland. I spend my days begging my twins to take their naps, driving my older kids around to practices, and trying hard to eat better and lose a little weight (and not always succeeding). Before this happened I loved my life as a mother and a wife and a teacher, and that life fulfilled me deeply.

    But what happened to me did happen, and now I know—after a lifetime of not knowing—that God does exist. He gloriously, beautifully, wonderfully exists.

    And since God told me to share my whole story, that is what I’m doing—even though much of my story is painful and not always pretty. You will learn as you get deeper into this book that for most of my life I lived with terrible shame and horrible secrets. For the longest time I hated myself and believed I was worthless, and as a result I made so many bad choices.

    But it’s important to realize who I was in order to understand who I have become.

    Some of what I describe about my time in heaven may be familiar to you from other accounts of people dying and coming back—the quality of the light, the shimmering entranceway, the presence of angels—but some of it probably isn’t. Everything I describe is absolutely, 100 percent how I remember it—that has always been my one and only rule for sharing my testimony. Nothing is embellished or exaggerated even the tiniest bit. I always tell people, “If I was going to make this up, I’d have made it a lot more dramatic.” What I describe is what I experienced, nothing more or less.

    What I can say is that the things God showed me were simply astonishing in their power and impact, and now the reality of God’s presence bursts forth from my heart every day. The truth is, I was more alive in those nine minutes than I have ever been in all my years on this Earth.

    And now I can only hope that through my descriptions, however inadequate they may be, you will feel even a fraction of the power and the impact and the absolute glory of what I experienced.

    NOT LONG AGO I read about a national Pew survey that showed the number of young Americans who have doubts about the existence of God is growing. In 2007, only 17 percent of people aged thirty or younger said they had some doubt that God was real. In 2012, that number went up to 32 percent. That’s roughly a third of young Americans surveyed who aren’t sure if they believe God is real.

    Then there is a recent comment from Professor Stephen Hawking, the famous Cambridge scientist. “There is no heaven or afterlife,” he said in a 2012 interview. “That is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”

    Maybe the Pew poll and Hawking’s comment should upset me, but they don’t. And the reason they don’t is because I used to be one of those doubters. I understand the skepticism, because a skeptical streak still runs through me. As a kid I questioned everything, and as an adult I’m still nosing around, searching for answers.

    And while I no longer have any doubts about God and His power, I also realize that I am lucky, because I got to stand with Him. For many others, faith is about believing in a God they can’t see. And for some, faith means believing in a God they have questions about. Just because you have questions doesn’t mean you can’t have faith.

    My point is, I can’t prove that what happened to me actually happened. Reading this book requires some measure of faith. Ultimately, what you take from my story depends on what you believe.

    In the hallway of our home, just outside the bedroom where my youngest daughter plays with her purple stuffed donkey and my youngest son cooks up adventures for his little wooden robot, not far from where my oldest boy lifts weights and my teenage daughter texts her friends nonstop, a verse from the Bible is stenciled across the wall in black script. It reads

    “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,

    And the evidence of things unseen.”

    Hebrews 11:1–3

    Because of what happened to me, I know that God is real. But you don’t have to die and stand with God to know what I know.

    What makes God real for anyone is faith.

    And so, when my twins come up to me and ask me about my story, what will I tell them? I guess I will sit them down and start by saying, “Children, there is a heaven, and heaven is beautiful.”

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  • Meet the Author

    Crystal McVea is the author of Waking Up in Heaven. With a deep rooted passion for the needy and lost, Crystal speaks around the country bringing a message of hope and redemption. She is a schoolteacher and lives in Oklahoma with her husband Virgil, a US Army veteran, and their four children. To learn more, go to CrystalMcVea.com.

    Alex Tresniowski is a former human-interest writer at People and the bestselling author of several books, most notably The Vendetta, which was purchased by Universal Studios and used as a basis for the movie Public Enemies. His other titles include An Invisible Thread, Waking Up In Heaven, and The Light Between Us.

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    Waking Up in Heaven: A True Story of Brokenness, Heaven, and Life Again 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 66 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I can only imagine the glorious presence of God and the indescribable feeling of love, acceptance, and cleansing Crystal felt upon being in His presence. Thank you for sharing your story and journey with the world. It was the most powerful book I've ever read. I think I went through an entire box of tissues! Crystal, thank you for helping me to feel God's love more than ever before.
    Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
    "My name is Crystal McVea, and in 2009 I died and went to heaven. "How is that for an icebreaker? "I am sharing that story with you, in this book. I knew God's plan for me was to share what happened with as many people as I could. Now, are there people out there who will think I'm a fraud, or a religious nut, or crazy? I'm sure there are. The truth is, I know my story is hard for some people to believe. I know what I went through is beyond the realm of what we can experience on Earth. But I also know that this book deals with the biggest and most important question of them all: Does God exist? Is there a heaven? What is God's plan for us? Why are we even here? "I certainly don't pretend to have all the answers. In fact, I still have plenty of questions. Nor am I claiming to be anyone special. But what happened to me did happen, and now I know - after a lifetime of not knowing - that God does exist. He gloriously, beautifully, wonderfully does exist. "And since God told me to share my whole story, that is what I'm doing - even though much of my story is painful and not always pretty. You will learn as you get deeper into this book that for most of my life I lived with terrible shame and horrible secrets. For the longest time I hated myself and believed I was worthless, and as a result made so many bad choices. "But it's important to realize who I was in order to understand who I became. Some of what I describe about my time in heaven may be familiar to you from other accounts of people dying and coming back - the quality of the light, the shimmering entranceway, the presence of angels - but some of it probably isn't. Everything I describe is absolutely, 100 percent how I remember it - that has always been my one and only rule for sharing my testimony. Nothing is embellished or exaggerated even the tiniest bit. What I describe is what I experienced, nothing more or less. "What I can say is that the things God showed me were simply astonishing in their power and impact, and now the reality of God's presence bursts forth from my heart every day. The truth is, I was more alive in those nine minutes than I have ever been in all my years on this Earth. I can only hope that through my descriptions, however inadequate they may be, you will feel even a fraction of the power and the impact and the absolute glory of what I experienced." (pg 4-5). In the book, Waking Up In Heaven, author Crystal McVea shares her experience not only of her incredible nine minutes in heaven standing alongside God, but also the testimony of her entire life before and after that moment. It is painful to know and read how her childhood was and how often times, these things go on right next door and we never know it's going on. The people we may interact with may have stories similar to Crystals but we can never know unless we are willing to get to know them more and have them peel back the layers of shame and pain to reveal the person they really are on the inside. The book toggles back and forth between the moments of Crystal's experience in Heaven with chronologically walking with her from her childhood to the present through the chapters. I received Waking Up In Heaven by Crystal McVea and Alex Tresniowski compliments of Howard Books, a division of Simon and Schuster Publisher for my honest review and received no monetary compensation for a favorable review. I was excited to read this book because it's not just another book about a person's experience of dealing with a life after death encounter, but also incorporates a memoir of Crystal's life. It's not always easy to hear stories that aren't the happily ever after fairy tales, but then again, most our us have stories in our own closets we aren't willing to let anyone see. I applaud Crystal for taking the step to share her life story as well as her after life story with readers. The time she shares of her heavenly experience is one I have always imagined it would be. Difficult to capture in words that pale in their description in human terms and one is which I look forward to sharing in one day. I rate this book a 5 out of 5 stars and highly recommend it to anyone who questions if God exists and what Heaven will be like!
    LDofNM More than 1 year ago
    This is a fantastic look at the other side...one of which many of us either don't consider or have so many questions about. No matter WHO you are...our Heavenly Father IS looking out for us, despit our attempt to ignore this fact or ignore Him - thinking that He is not really concerned about us. Truth of the matter .. He IS concerned about us - as this book reveals. I know that Heaven is REAL...our Heavenly Father is REAL...and the Angles are REAL...despite what some people think. For reasons I will not go into -- I, too, have had a glimps of Heaven...and it's beautiful. This is a great read..for anyone who has questions. You'll like this book.
    VicG More than 1 year ago
    Crystal McVea and Alex Tresniowski in their new book "Waking Up In Heaven" published by Howard Books gives us A True Story of Brokenness, Heaven, and Life Again. From the back cover: Tell them what you can remember. On December 10, 2009, Crystal McVea, a thirty-two-year-old mother of four, stopped breathing. Her face turned a dark shade of blue, then black. Her mother screamed for help, and a nurse tried to revive her . . . to no avail. Today, Crystal does not remember what happened in that hospital room during the nine minutes she was unconscious and unable to breathe on her own. She has no memory of the panic and the rushing nurses and the loud cries of "Code Blue." She simply remembers drifting off. And she remembers waking up in heaven. For most of Crystal's broken life, she felt utterly beyond the reach of God-- if God was even real. Then came December 10--and the nine minutes that changed everything. Waking Up in Heaven invites readers along on a journey to witness the relentless pursuit of God in a life that was shattered and seemingly beyond hope, an awe-inspiring account of love, forgiveness, and redemption, and the healing power of God's presence. And that is why I want to share my story with the world. Because I was a skeptic and a sinner, and I didn't believe in God or in heaven. But God is real. Heaven is real. And God's love for us is the realest thing of all. If you have any doubts that Heaven is a real place then you must read "Waking Up In Heaven". If you believe, like many individuals seem to that there is no after-life and certainly no Heaven, and by extension, no Hell, then you must read "Waking Up In Heaven". Crystal McVea was there! She died. She was gone for nine minutes before coming back to tell us her story. Ms. McVea does more than just tell us of what happened in Heaven she tells us of her life story with all the good and bad. Why is that important? I feel it is important because it makes her real with experiences that all of us can relate to in some fashion. This is not some college lecture that will make your eyes glassy. "Waking Up In Heaven" will keep you interested and flipping pages until the very end. Thank you Ms. McVea for giving us this wonderful story. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Howard Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
    teachu2 More than 1 year ago
    Reading this book was life-changing for me! I had read many other books about people dying and going to heaven and returning to tell about it, but this book made it so very real to me. Crystal doubted over and over again and God proved that He was real over and over again and then God made her die and go to heaven to meet Him to prove how real He really is. How amazing is that???!!! My husband who never reads anything even picked up my Nook and started reading this beautiful story. Thank you for showing me again that our God IS an awesome God!
    vb22kk More than 1 year ago
    Incredible journey. We all have sinned and fallen short. This is a true account of the glory of God!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This read was exceptional and helps to make more concrete the promise that God is with all of us ALL THE TIME! I feel that anyone who questions the hereafter only need read this account of spending 9 minutes in heaven to begin to understand that God is with us and died to save us from sin.
    storms1 More than 1 year ago
    "waking up in heaven" is a very inspirational book. crystal mcvea had a very tough life and was facing some harsh surgery and did not wake up from the operation and went to heaven and saw God and got her tough issues taken away from her and was given the choice of staying or going back in the book she tells how beautiful iit was for her and how her problems were released for her. this book is a real blessing and would make a great gift for someone special. also recamended the heaven awnser book by billy graham,the reason for my hope salvation by billy graham, heaven by anne graham lotz
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    The author says early on in the book that she likes to talk alot. The book reflects this. Too much ya-badda-ya-badda-ya-badda. While it took some courage to discuss some of the things in her past, I'm not impressed. The book amounted to her complete autobiography. I wanted to read more about heaven and what it's like, not her life story. Also, the format of the book was a little strange. After writing some chapters, at the end of one of them, she would write only a part of her experience in heaven. It was interspersed throughout the book. My guess as to why she would do it this way is, if she were to put the experience in one chapter, you would easily discover how little she REALLY has to say about it.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    It was really amazing the visit to Heaven and her survival of such of sad life. I though the book was way to long, repeating the same story over and over again.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Its a must read
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Touch me in a way that i see myself go down that road but believe that he is real and he does help in other ways. He cares for each and one of us .I believe he hadturn my past. In the right direction .If i didnt believe i wuoldnt be here and he never leave you he just makes you do. The right things if you dont he will gie up on you.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Thank you for sharing God's Love. Ky41
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Crstal McVea uses the word "skeptic" rather loosely. The proper word is "backslider." Sensationalism which includes christian possession by a demon. Not theologically sound. Skip this one.
    Anonymous 8 months ago
    I am reading the sample to this book and i almost clicked the buy button but i didnt because i dint have the money! I truely recommend this!
    Myfanwy11 More than 1 year ago
    I did not enjoy this book at all. I found parts of repetitious in the telling. Not a good read for me at all.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    i cryed i loved it
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    PegGlover More than 1 year ago
    Waking Up in Heaven is an uplifting memoir about a young woman’s journey into the heavenly realm. Crystal McVea was thirty two years old when she had a near death experience. She was being hospitalized at the time for pancreatitis, and received an accidental opiate overdose causing her to go into a respiratory arrest. It was during this time that Crystal claims to have traveled to heaven. Crystal McVea grew up in a dysfunctional and abusive household. The heavy weight of shame that colored every aspect of her life included childhood sexual abuse, teenage promiscuity, drug abuse and an abortion. Although Crystal prayed for help and forgiveness, she never felt as if God heard her prayers. Crystal even underwent several baptisms in the hope of ridding herself of her shame. But the cleanliness that she felt after each baptism was not long-lasting. This convinced her more than anything else that God did not love or forgive her. When Crystal McVea entered the heavenly realm, she realized that she had been very wrong. Her God was not a punishing God at all, but a loving and forgiving one. He even showed her what He sees when He looks upon her – an innocent child. His beautiful and innocent child. There were a few parts in this book that didn’t seem quite right to me. One that stands out in my mind, because it gave me the willies, was when Crystal McVea mentioned in her memoir that on a couple of occasions demons had spoken to her. Whether Crystal’s near death experience is an actual account of divine intervention or just a hallucination from lack of oxygen, is not for me to say. But whatever did happen on December 10, 2009 has caused a miraculous and long-lasting transformation in Crystal McVea. God is no longer a nonentity to her; but a real and loving presence, and one that comes first in her life. I found Crystal McVea’s story fascinating. Her message is clear: God is loving and forgiving, and heaven is real. If you are only interested in this book to find out what heaven is like, you’ll probably be disappointed. There isn’t a lot of information describing heaven. This book is chiefly the story of Crystal McVea’s brokenness and her testimony of how God made her whole again.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This 232 page book seemed more like a 2320 page book. In other words, even though not overly long, it drug on and on. The editing was good. I paid $2.99 for this Christian book. I am a bit skeptical about this book, it is classified as non fiction, but it seems like a fiction publication to me. The narrator seems to focus more on her life before and after going to heaven, then going to heaven, then what happened there. Instead of becoming wiser, she becomes less responsible and starts making decisions which will impact her life in a negative way. This book is pretty preachy. I had a hard time finishing it. I would stop and read other books, come back to this one read a few more chapters and repeat this cycle. This book felt choppy. The forward was the most interesting part. For ages 16 and up. Not chick lit. No adult themes of any kind. AD
    Kytiekat More than 1 year ago
    An amazing story. It captures you from the very beginning and you just want to keep reading. Great read for someone who is in need of a life pick me up.
    RosebudRZ More than 1 year ago
    This was a very sweet and heartfelt book. It was great to hear her experiences . She shares such very personal information. It is nice to know what heaven is like. It is also great to know that no matter what messes we make on earth our Loving Father has forgiven us and is waiting for us in His house. I so enjoyed this book.
    MartybMB More than 1 year ago
    A young mother has a serious health problem that costs her her life...or maybe saves her life now and in the next life. She is dies. But during that time she goes to heaven and meets God and finally finds what she always wanted, God. Though she could have remain there God allows her to return to earth to tell her remarkable story. Believer or not this story will fill your heart.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I found it hard to put this book down. Thank you for sharing your experince of heaven .