Stephanie Nielson: and the greatest of these is love

February 15, 2012

An incredible story of hope, triumph and everyday joy.

That’s what it promises on the cover and it may be the first time I’ve found a book that completely lived up to its cover blurb.

If you read no other book this year, make this the one book you read from cover to cover.

Let me explain.

I don’t know how I first came to Stephanie Nielson’s well-known blog, The Nienie Dialogues, but I do know that it was after the small plane accident in which she and her husband suffered terrible burns and that took the life of their friend.

Stephanie was burned over 80 percent of her body. Her recovery has been long and hard in ways that the words “long” and “hard” can’t begin to express. It has taken an immense amount of strength, courage and faith to go through hugely painful physical therapy and many, many hard surgeries. More than three years later, she’s still not through with necessary surgeries.

The mother of four young children, she also faced significant psychological healing. Always a physically beautiful woman, she emerged from the accident looking quite different than before. Imagine what it was like for her young children to adjust to the fact that their mom looked like a stranger–and what it was like for her as a mom when, at the beginning, her kids found it hard to look at her.

So what got her through it? Faith. Love. Hope. Family. Community. Church.

I didn’t plan to read this book. After all, I know her story. I read her blog every day. Did I really need to read the book? But in that weird way the Universe has of giving me exactly what I need when I need it, there was an advance reading copy of her book in a $1 bin at a San Francisco bookstore. I bought it and was riveted for hours. I didn’t put the book down until I’d finished it.

It’s a book that easily could’ve been sappy, but her ghost writer got the tone just right.

Stephanie’s story really is incredible. Like the blurb says.

She’s an inspiration, proof that the human spirit can be, in fact, indomitable. The book’s also a commentary on the definition of true beauty. I’m sure some of you, like me, will read her story and think I’m not sure I could rise to the occasion like she did.

Sometimes, we get caught up in the drama of our lives, things that seem so huge, significant and insurmountable. Steph’s book reminds us that some people face life circumstances much tougher than we could ever imagine.

It also reminds us of the power of love. Her huge, loving family played a significant role in her recovery. So did her faith.

Oh, did I say that I happened to meet Stephanie last summer at BlogHer ’11? She’s got an amazing hug and just reeks of kindness. Seriously. Reeks of it. Loving kindness.

One more thing. She’s expecting her fifth baby. A girl.

The book’s out on April 3. Do yourself a favor and buy it. I promise you’ll look at your own life differently.

2 comments on “Stephanie Nielson: and the greatest of these is love
  1. Anonymous says:

    I met Stephanie a little over a year ago. She was so approachable and genuine. I am sure her memoir will be just as authentic as she is in person.

  2. Definitely. You know, I don’t get Mormonism at all, but what I do get is how faithful they are and how healthy their lives are as a result (for the most part). The Mormons I know and know of are truly good people. Stephanie’s faith played a big role in her recovery and also in how her family supported her. The whole scenario is just a great example of how a family SHOULD be and so few really are. And I can’t say enough about Stephanie …and Christian. I find it inspirational.

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