Caught Between Heaven & Earth: My Profound Encounters with God, and the Remarkable Truth of Our Existence.

Caught Between Heaven & Earth: My Profound Encounters with God, and the Remarkable Truth of Our Existence.

by Nancy Van Alphen


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An Incredible True Story of Awakening

In Caught Between Heaven & Earth, Nancy van Alphen takes us on her unexpected spiritual journey that changed her from agnostic to believer. A humorous peak into her childhood, during which she had but a mere smattering of religion, paints the picture of an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. As a teen she concluded God was unprovable and never looked back-until God decided He wasn't content being a mere possibility. Alone one night, Nancy happened upon a video of a young man given little time to live. Heartfelt compassion morphed into anger as she raised her fists and railed about suffering to a God in whom she didn't really believe. To her utter amazement, God responded. Thus begins her journey in which she traverses a surreal chasm between doubt and belief, caught between Heaven and Earth, as she struggles to understand messages she was given about suffering, reincarnation-including her own-and humanity's true identity. With a sprinkling of light-hearted family anecdotes, Nancy recalls her progressively more profound experiences within the context of earthly reality. Interactions with God, Jesus and angels chip away at her agnosticism, until one day something so amazing happens it obliterates all traces of doubt. Between scenes, Nancy looks at various religious traditions and present day near-death experiences, uncovering information supporting what she was told by Divine source, helping her round out her new picture of reality. Her conclusion presents four habits of LOVE by which to live to foster evolution of one's soul, as well as the spiritual evolution of humanity.

Praise for Caught Between Heaven & Earth:

"I am proud of Nancy for her courage in sharing her story with us that we might find light in it! It is valuable that she is open and sharing of her reproachment to God. Nancy went in as an agnostic and exited as a full-on believer. Kudos to Nancy for her persistence in continuing the work, in having courage and resilience, and in doing it in a world too often filled with darkness. What a lesson for the rest of us!"

- Dr. Doris Eliana Cohen, PhD Repetition and Dreaming on Both Sides of the Brain

"Nancy van Alphen takes you by the hand and ushers you into her mind and then into her heart where you experience her intimate and breathtaking journey from agnosticism to spirituality. Her authentic report begins with angels at her door. That day marked the beginning of her transformation which she describes in honest detail. Hers is a journey similar in its mystical nature to that which I and countless others have experienced in this time of rising awareness. The truths that unfold to Nancy in surprising, even astonishing ways will resonate in the heart of experiencers and non-experiencers alike."

- Emily Rodavich Mystical Interludes and Mystical Interludes II

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781982221065
Publisher: Author Solutions Inc
Publication date: 03/27/2019
Pages: 196
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.45(d)

About the Author

Nancy van Alphen's unexpected Divine encounters propelled her from agnostic to full-time activist in humanity's spiritual awakening. Semi-retired, she is a volunteer with the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) and facilitates an IANDS Philadelphia group. She has been a long-time hospice volunteer and has been a big sister in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program. Nancy received a bachelor's degree in anthropology from Oberlin College, and an associate's degree in journalism from Lorain County Community College, where she served as newspaper editor for two years. Later, she worked as a copy editor for the regional daily newspaper, The Chronicle Telegram. Nancy grew up in a middle class family in rural-suburban northeast Ohio. Currently, she and husband Eric, a native of The Netherlands, live in southern New Jersey (or South Jersey? as the locals call it), minutes outside of Philadelphia. With children on both sides of the pond, and a husband who travels extensively, she manages her life around time zones and flight schedules. Her step-children, Jasper and Danique, reside in The Netherlands. Danique provided cover art for Caught Between Heaven & Earth. Bailey, Nancy's daughter, resides in Ohio and recently graduated from The Ohio State University. A seasoned traveler, Nancy has visited Jerusalem and Ireland, both significant to her spiritual journey. She has also visited Paris, Rome, London, Bangkok, Amsterdam, and a host of other locations throughout the U.S. and Europe. Her hobbies include travel, reading, snorkeling, cooking, and exploration of all things spiritual.

Read an Excerpt


Angels at My Door

Just when you think you've got it made — boom! Something happens to turn your world upside down. Life for me had never been better. Years of hard work and long hours were winding down. I'd spent much of my life in corporate jobs that measured worth in overtime hours — how much of my life I was willing to sacrifice. Leave work at five o'clock? Don't make me laugh. That would only get sideways glances and sarcastic questions feigning concern like, "Is your daughter sick?" To which I would furrow my brows and lie, hoping for sympathy, "Yes, she came home early from school today." Those kinds of jobs.

By the time my daughter, Bailey, entered her junior year in high school, I had already taken the exit ramp out of the corporate rat race. My plan was for us to spend more time together before she graduated. I'd worked her entire life, going back to the office after fewer than six weeks of maternity leave. I often had mom guilt and dreamed of unencumbered, carefree days with her. Thanks to Eric — my ever-supportive husband — I was finally able to do that, launching out on my own as a marketing consultant and dictating my own hours.

Eric was doing exceptionally well at his job, so for the first time since I was fourteen years old, I didn't have to work. I chose to start my business because — well, hard work is all I've ever known. Besides, I couldn't leave Eric forging the way alone for the entire family. I would have felt too guilty. Still, it was a great gig. I provided services only for clients who truly valued my work, although most of them seemed to have limited budgets. I guess there's a correlation, but I didn't care because I was happy. Eric was happy that I was happy. Bailey was happy that I was happy. So we were all just three happy peas in a pod. I was fulfilled and enjoying life, and certainly not looking to upend that.

Spending quality mother-daughter time with Bailey didn't work out as I'd dreamed, though. She was a teenager and preferred being with friends and the dreaded boyfriend, three years her senior. She also had schoolwork, her part-time job at a pizza parlor, college entrance exams, and admissions tasks with which to contend. What little free time was left she spent in her room with her guitar and a head full of teenage angst lyrics, hammering out new songs. I realized I was too late. I backed off and stole moments when I could. At least I could attend school functions without begging for time off from work.

When not stealing moments with Bailey, I focused on my marketing projects but kept them to a minimum. I was having too much fun enjoying the previously elusive life-of-leisure, and I wanted it to last. I had freedom, I had nice clients, the bills were paid — heck, we'd even started saving for retirement. I browsed the mall again for no particular reason — something I had not done since a teenager — and I bought stuff! I bought new-fangled kitchen gadgets and experimented with recipes. Eric bought me a hammock swing, and I often swayed myself to sleep on the porch in the middle of the day reading the latest New York Times bestsellers or fluff magazines. Sometimes I slept in and went the entire day without makeup or changing out of my pajamas.

There were times I felt guilty for enjoying such freedom when nearly everyone else I knew was still laboring away. I didn't let that bother me too much though, because I knew such a luxury couldn't last — nothing ever does. So I relished every minute, certain we would hit a bump in the road and eventually I'd have to get back to the old grindstone.

That bump turned out to be more like a giant mountain dropped unexpectedly smack-dab in the middle of my comfy life. But it wasn't a financial hurdle. As I would soon discover, that mountain detoured me onto a beautiful new path of spirituality and communion with God that's changed my life forever.

It was mid-May 2013, just as dusk swept the sun below the living room window. I was home alone winding down from a busy Saturday doing errands. Lying on the couch, I perused miscellaneous articles and media on my iPad as I often did: the news of the day, followed by a link to a recipe, followed by a link to heart-healthy living advice, followed by a link to a story about a boy — a teenage boy who had recently died from a terminal heart condition known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). It was described as a stiffening of the walls of the heart, causing valve and blood-flow abnormalities.

The article linked to earlier YouTube videos the young man had made of himself talking about living with his condition and his impending death. He looked to be about Bailey's age and was vibrant and handsome. I couldn't help thinking at this moment she's out with friends enjoying life, while his was tragically cut short. I couldn't imagine the parents' grief.

Holding up hand-written note cards in the video, Ben Breedlove wrote that due to his condition, he had never been allowed to play sports alongside his buddies, and he regretted missing out on that. My mind flashed to all the lacrosse, soccer, and field hockey games our kids had played in over the years, and that Eric and I had joyfully attended. I imagined for a moment how horrifying it would be if one of our children died. I was certain I'd never recover from such a loss. The thought of it turned my heart inside out. His family must have been devastated.

I'm an innately sensitive person — one who easily cries at the movies or over a dead deer on the side of the road. When I was young my parents often cautioned me to toughen up. In our society a bleeding heart is a sign of weakness, so controlling my emotions became second nature as I grew older. Something about Ben caught me off guard, though. I felt a lump in my throat and couldn't fend off tears as I watched the first of the two-part video he'd made.

When it was over, I laid my iPad on the couch and headed to the kitchen for a glass of water. As I approached the large counter peninsula that divided the living room from the kitchen, my sadness morphed into anger and I yelled and shook my fists at God, whom I'd never really acknowledged as being real.

"Why do people have to suffer like this?" I demanded through gritted teeth. "I just don't get why people have to suffer," I yelled accusingly. I made my way to the other side of the counter and rested my torso on the cold granite, my face buried in my folded arms. "Suffering is bullshit!" I pounded my fist on the counter. "Nobody should have to —" A loud knock on the front door startled me. I wasn't expecting anyone and rarely did anyone show up unannounced. I wiped away the tears still on my face, walked back through the living room, and without thinking, opened the door — unusual for me as I'm generally more cautious, especially when Eric is away on a business trip. I don't know why I was so nonchalant about opening the door, but I was.

"Hello?" I said, half intonating a question.

A robust older gentleman with white hair, a cane, and glasses stood at the door, while a heavily built older woman with a black open-knit shawl draped over her shoulders stood two steps down where the walkway met the porch. The old man peered over his spectacles — his eyes a beautiful shade of sky blue and surprisingly clear for his age — as he spoke the only words either would say to me, and that I will never forget:

"We just came to tell you that suffering isn't going to last forever."

My heart raced, and my mouth fell open. I looked to the woman, who was nodding in agreement. I barely noticed the gentleman handing me a small leaflet. I was lost in the surreal moment. I had just used that exact word — suffering — again and again in my tirade at God. It's not a word I use often, and I remember it felt odd coming out of my mouth, but it had kept coming anyway.

"Okay, thank you," I managed, dumbfounded.

There was a momentary awkwardness as they smiled and continued nodding but said nothing further.

"Well, good luck with your mission," I said, assuming they were from a local religious organization. More nodding and smiles. I closed the door slowly, giving them an opportunity to say more, but they didn't.

I strode the approximately eight-to-ten paces back to the couch, and in one continuous motion sat down and sprung up again, racing back to the door to find out to which church they belonged. An unencumbered blast of cold air rushed over me as I flung the door open, mere seconds having passed. I expected to see their backs, with them just having turned to walk away, but they were gone — utterly and completely gone.

I leaned out the door, looking up and down the short, empty street in front of our house. Nothing. Venturing onto the cold, rough concrete in my bare feet, I tiptoed down the porch stairs and followed the walkway that curved around our corner lot. I examined the street that ran perpendicular to our side yard, then scanned the entryways of surrounding houses. The neighborhood was deserted and eerily silent, though that was not too unusual. It had become, as of late, an almost empty-nester community. I scurried back to the front of the house and scanned the small street again. No one.

How completely bizarre, I thought. The man had a cane and they were both old. They couldn't have walked away that quickly. Nor was there a car in sight. The sun had not fully set and there was still plenty of light by which to see. I was stunned and tried to grasp the situation.

What just happened? I fought the overwhelming feeling that God heard me yelling at him, and had sent angels in response. Crazy, I thought. No way.

I went back inside, leaflet still in hand, and turned it over looking for information. Nowhere was there written a name, local address, phone number, or email. In a small, yellow highlighted box, in tiny seven-point type, however, was a listing of international addresses to which one could write to request more information from — Jehovah's Witnesses. Aha! That made sense (as if I'd caught them). I spotted the even smaller web address:

For sure it was them. When I was a kid my dad used to flip on a deafening security siren whenever Jehovah's Witnesses came to the front door. "Ha! That'll teach 'em," he'd laugh as they ran away, scattering literature on the lawn. "And don't come back," he'd yell after them. I guess my reaction was inherited.

Even so, I puzzled — If they were Jehovah's Witnesses, it doesn't explain the serendipitous nature of their visit. How is it they seemed to respond directly to my ranting and raving at God about suffering? How did they suddenly disappear? Why didn't they try to finagle their way into my living room and attempt to convert me, or at least invite me to their church (or "Kingdom Hall," as I later discovered they're referred to)? Logically I could not explain it, so I brushed it off.

I milled around the house a bit, fluffing pillows and emptying the dishwasher until the dazed-and-confused feeling subsided. My dry throat reminded me I'd never gotten that drink of water, so I filled a glass and settled again into my comfort zone. I lay back down on the couch and continued where I'd left off ...

"This is My Story, Part II. Ben Breedlove." My surreal night wasn't over yet. This video was different from the first. In it, Ben talks about the third time he cheated death. He was at school when he had a heart attack. Emergency medical service workers arrived and tried to shock his heart into beating again. As the EMS team zapped voltage through his chest, his consciousness was transported to another dimension.

Ben found himself standing in an endless white room with no walls or ceiling. He was greeted by his favorite rapper, the style-savvy Kid Cudi. They were both dressed to the nines. Cudi pointed to a mirror. Ben turned to look at himself and understood that his beauty as a human being went far beyond his boyish charm and good looks. His entire life was reflected back to him in that mirror, and he could see it was a life well-lived. He felt satisfied and proud of himself. Throughout the experience, Kid Cudi's song, "Mr. Rage" played. As the lyrics When will the fantasy end? When will the Heaven begin? rang out, Kid Cudi touched Ben's shoulder and indicated it was time for Ben to go back.

"I did not want to leave that place," Ben had scrawled on a notecard, shaking his head "no" for emphasis.

He apparently had more to do back on Earth. He re-entered his body, once again aware of the physical world and the resuscitation activities surrounding him.

That was December 6, 2011. Twelve days later Ben recorded the two-part video. On his last notecards, which contained his final thought-provoking message, Ben asked, "Do you believe in God or (and) angels?" He responds to his own query with a simple but powerful, "I do," the truth in his eyes piercing straight through the camera lens. He died exactly one week later on December 25, 2011 — Christmas Day.

The fleeting thought I'd pushed away earlier refusing to give credence confronted me again: Could God have sent angels to my door?

I watched Part I of Ben's video again, this time giving it my full attention. I listened earnestly as he described the white light he encountered when near death at age four. I'd glossed over it earlier, attributing it to wishful thinking. I had focused instead on his condition, the family's sorrow, and the burden he carried at such a young age.

Ben however, was adamant that the light had comforted him and had brought him peace and happiness. I had the uncanny feeling Ben was telling me personally to believe. Physically, I was in my living room, but I felt light-headed from all that had transpired that evening, as if I were caught up in a different realm.

It all started with heartfelt compassion for Ben and his family, and then for humanity in general as I railed against suffering. If God had sent angels in response — or even if he'd guided human witnesses to my door — my proclivity was to deny Divine intervention. But Ben reached out over space and time, imploring me to think again with his poignant question, "Do you believe in God or (and) angels?"


A Brief History

Logically minded people would have chalked up such an occurrence to pure coincidence, and I was no different. As supernatural as the "angelic" encounter seemed, in the days that followed I convinced myself I was being flighty. I didn't believe in a spiritual realm, and I felt the same way about angels as I did about God — there was absolutely no way to prove either existed.

I'd come to this conclusion while still a child. If Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny weren't real, maybe God wasn't, either. All were associated with religion, yet nobody had ever seen any of them, at least not in my limited awareness.

As a teen my thinking went deeper (barely), and I decided I was agnostic before knowing there was a term for it. I proceeded through life cautiously and on my own terms, rather than trusting in imaginary protectors such as God or guardian angels.

It wasn't always like that, though. Up until I was about ten years old I was a "believer"; which is to say, I believed because that's what I was supposed to do. Even then, my exposure to religion had been spotty at best.

When just a baby, I was baptized for the first time. I had no say in the matter. The Catholic Church requires baptism soon after birth. If at all possible, it would have happened in drive-by fashion on the way home from the hospital. Catholics believe in the damnation of the soul if not baptized. Of course, I remember nothing of it, but I know it occurred because on the rare occasion my family visited my Aunt Phyllis and Uncle Rich, I was reminded they were my godparents. Growing up, I assumed they had a mystical ability to report to God on my behavior, which meant I had to be extra good around them. This wasn't difficult however, because my sister, brother, and I were reared with the oppressive mantra that children are to be seen and not heard. This ultimately shaped my introverted personality, which I fought to overcome as I got older. I was a good, quiet and shy little girl.

I do recall seeing pictures from my baptism, particularly one in which my mom is holding me, with my aunt and uncle standing behind her and peeking lovingly at me over her left shoulder. Unfortunately, after my mom's death many years later, the big cardboard box of jumbled family photos she kept, disappeared. Any evidence of my first baptism is lost to history — although Saint Anthony's Parish might have a record somewhere.


Excerpted from "Caught Between Heaven & Earth"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Nancy van Alphen.
Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword, xi,
Author's Note, xiii,
Introduction, xv,
Angels at My Door, 2,
A Brief History, 10,
Witnesses, 22,
Suffering, 28,
An Examination of Angels, 36,
Vision of Christ, 46,
We Are One, 56,
A Past Life Revealed, 70,
Mayhem in David's Kingdom, 78,
Nothing Alike, 90,
Confirmation I, The Tree, 96,
Confirmation II, Ireland, 104,
Understanding Reincarnation, 116,
Confirmation III, The Cleveland Museum of Art, 134,
Voice of God, 140,
The Grander Lesson And Four Habits of LOVE, 150,
Afterword: Sharing My Story, 156,
Photos, 163,
Bibliography & Suggested Reading, 171,
About the Author, 177,

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