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

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

by Stephanie Nielson


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Go on an unforgettable journey, with a woman who has unimaginable strength.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781401341985
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication date: 02/19/2013
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 1,237,383
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Stephanie Nielson was born and raised in Provo, Utah. In 2005, she began nieniedialogues.com, a popular blog about her life as a wife, mother, and Mormon. In 2008, Stephanie and her husband survived a near-fatal plane crash in which they were both severely burned. Stephanie has maintained a positive outlook in the aftermath of this ordeal and through her extensive rehabilitation, a journey she continues to share on her blog, which is visited by four million people every month. Her story has been featured on Oprah, The Today Show, and in People magazine. Stephanie lives in Provo with her husband and their four children.

Read an Excerpt

Heaven Is Here

By Stephanie Nielson

Hyperion Books

Copyright © 2012 Stephanie Nielson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4013-4179-4


A voice whispered, "Roll."

I fell to the ground and crushed the brilliant flames that licked at my clothes, my skin, my hair. The mangled wreck of our airplane blazed nearby.

I lay on my back at the base of a tree, looking at the clouds moving across the sky. Through my tears, I noticed a leaf that fluttered in the breeze, bright green against the blue sky, far above the chaos.

A stranger rushed toward me and knelt at my side. He cradled my head in both of his hands and put it in his lap. "It's going to be all right," he said, a hint of doubt in his eyes.

The fire roared in my ears. An oppressive wall of heat pulsed against me. The air was sour—a sickening mixture of fuel, singed hair, and burning flesh. That smell is me. I am burning. How did this happen?

Where is my husband? Just minutes ago, I was in the backseat of the Cessna, admiring how capable he looked staring out the window of the cockpit as we taxied down the runway. Where is he now?

I had pizza dough rising on the counter at home and four young children to feed. Christian and I had planned to pick them up from my in-laws in an hour and a half. I felt an irrational desire for someone to just pick me up, brush me off, and send me on my way. 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? I pictured her little red head climbing off the bus to an empty porch—no mother to hug her home from school, no little brothers playing in the yard. I imagined the bus pulling away, Jane locked out of the house.

People rushed in and out of my line of vision with a sense of urgency. Some of them wore work clothes, as if they'd been mowing their lawns or working in the garden until the moment our airplane crashed on their street and they'd been called to duty. I felt guilty for interrupting their Saturday. Like me, they all had other things to do.

"Thank you for being here," I said to the man who held my head. "You don't have to stay."

"I'm going to stay," he said. "I'm going to be right here."

Other people hovered around me a few minutes at a time. They tried to reassure me, but it seemed they needed convincing as much as I did. Their lips mouthed words of comfort, but their faces betrayed them.

They are scared, I realized. When they look at me, they are scared.

Until then, some miraculous dam of adrenaline or heavenly help had held back the agony of my injuries. But the faces around me were crowded with worry, and the dam buckled. Suddenly, pain spilled over, crashing relentlessly against me, wave after stinging wave. Every inch of my body throbbed, overloaded with agony.

"It's going to blow!" someone yelled. "Get the hose!" The burning airplane popped and crackled dangerously near a propane tank, and neighbors-turned-rescue-workers yelled back and forth above the noise. I braced myself for another explosion, but the roar of the fire held steady.

My jeans kept the heat tight against my legs. I rubbed my hands against them, trying to pull them off, but my hands didn't seem to be working. I lifted them to see why. Flaps of skin hung from my wrists. My hands themselves were gray and bloody. I saw my bones. I dropped my arms to the ground and willed away the image.

"Hey, you're going to be OK," the stranger said with believable conviction. The doubt in his eyes was gone. "You're going to be all right."

Above him, the leaf fluttered, alive and healthy. A feeling swept over me and took root in my heart.

I am going to be all right.

The dark smoke billowed around us, and blackened the sky, the tree, and my leaf.


Excerpted from Heaven Is Here by Stephanie Nielson Copyright © 2012 by Stephanie Nielson. Excerpted by permission of Hyperion Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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