Friday, January 11

heaven is for real

Hey there, beautifuls!

I have officially finished my 2nd book of 2013, and I have to say --- I haven't had a book impact me in this way in a while! I read Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo.

Heaven is For Real chronicles the experiences of the Burpo family in 2003. Todd Burpo is a Protestant Pastor in Nebraska, and had known since he was 13 years old that he wanted to be a pastor. In the Spring of 2003, Colton got very sick with an acute case of appendicitis that went undiagnosed for 6 days before he eventually underwent emergency surgical removal of his ruptured appendix. The Burpo family was relieved and grateful that Colton survived the ordeal, and everyone was ready to put the incident behind them. 

However, over the next few months, Colton started mentioning things that puzzled his parents. He had a real concern about whether people had Jesus in their heart when they passed away. Why would a 4-year-old boy be frantic over whether a deceased stranger knew Jesus? The more Colton's parents began to probe and ask questions, the more they realized something incredible had happened to Colton. Colton nonchalantly told his father that while the surgeon was removing his appendix, he was watching everything outside of his body, while sitting in Jesus's lap. Colton was able to describe what his parents were doing during his surgery, information that the parents had not told Colton. Colton was able to describe Heaven in terms that are consistent with the Bible, disclosing details that are not taught in 3-year-old Sunday School. Colton told stories of meeting other children, and of meeting his Great Grandfather (whom had passed away long before Colton was born).

For me, the most jaw-dropping moment of the book was when Colton described meeting his sister in Heaven. Colton's mother had miscarried a child when she was 8 weeks pregnant, and grieved that loss deeply. They never knew the sex of the baby, but experienced a void where that little life would have been. Colton's parents had certainly never told him about this miscarriage, not exactly a conversation you have with a then-3-year-old. Colton told his parents that he met his sister, who has no name, and that his sister told him she died in his mommy's tummy. How would Colton know all of this? 

The story of Colton meeting his deceased sister in Heaven was poignant for me. I have always been pro-choice. I believe that in every incident of rape or incest that results in pregnancy, the woman should have the right to decide how to proceed with the pregnancy. Though I have been confident in my pro-choice beliefs, I have always been unsure about when exactly "life" starts. Is it at conception? Is it at birth? Is it at the 3rd trimester? This segment of the book changed how I look at abortion. Pursuing a career in medicine, it is fairly easy for me to depersonalize abortion and think of it as a few cells that have been multiplying...not yet a child. But the fact that Colton met his sister in Heaven, and that he proclaimed, "She's okay. God adopted her" --- really has got me second-guessing my previous feelings on the topic.

The cynical and scientific side of me immediately jumps to questioning the validity of the story. How do we know what Colton really revealed to his parents? Was Todd Burpo looking for a payout by writing a book about his son's experience? Was he looking for a slice of fame or to increase the numbers within his congregation? But all of these questions I found myself asking go against the very purpose of the book - and that purpose is the strengthening of faith - faith in God, faith in Jesus, and faith that Heaven is real. 

It made me smile to read Colton's accounts of what God is like, what Jesus is like, what angels are like, and what Heaven is like. It bolsters my hope in a wonderful after-life, and uplifts me. His description of beauty, rainbows, light, and peace are exactly what I hope for Heaven to be. I also smiled when I read that Colton told his dad there are lots of animals in Heaven - it's comforting to know that our on-Earth companions will be at our side once again in Heaven. 

I HIGHLY recommend this book to you! It is only 150 pages, and reads super super quickly. Even if you aren't a religious person, I think you'll enjoy it. At least your curiosity might be piqued enough to investigate the notions of religion and Heaven further. It can't hurt to take a look at this one!

Have you read this book?
What did you think?
Cheers to this beautiful read :)

Monday, January 7

francesca's kitchen

Howdy! I hope you are all enjoying the new year! I have really cleaned up my eating habits, and I feel wonderful! The sunshine is shining bright in the sky here in Colorado, giving me lots of opportunities to get outside and be active with my puppy dogs without freezing my butt off!

I finished my first book of 2013 --- and of course I had to share my read with you :)

Francesca's Kitchen by Peter Pezzelli

This lovely story follows Francesca Campanile, an elderly Italian woman with a great love for good food and big families. With her husband having passed away years ago, and her children grown and now living all across the United States, she has a persistent loneliness and lack of purpose. She decides to answer a local advertisement for a nanny position. Loretta is a single mother to Penny and Will, the loves of her life. But she can't seem to catch a break. She feels like she is drowning and can't find the piece of her life puzzle that brings calm and happiness. Francesca's presence in her home brings a new love for cooking and re-instills the value of "togetherness" in the little family. Francesca needs the family, and the family needs her.

This book is happy and warm, a little gem. Not necessarily the best book I have ever read, but it is encouraging to read stories where hope leads to happiness in a world where much sadness is experienced. 

I started Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo last night, and of course I'll report back to you with what I think of it when I'm finished :)

Happy reading!

Friday, January 4

welcome to twenty thirteen

Hey all! I know it has been a month since I have posted! I am surprised at myself, because I finished finals for my 4th semester of PA school on December 14th, so I figured I would be on here before this! I had an intense and amazing fall semester, and I can't believe I only have 1 semester of classes left before I hit my clinical year! SO EXCITING!!!

First things first --- just want to inform you all that I did meet my goal of 12 books read in 2012. Kind of had to cram books in on break time (summer, Thanksgiving), since after studying 8 hours a day every day, the last thing my eyeballs usually feel like doing is reading a book, even if it is for leisure! My last book of 2012 is something special to me, it is a little book called 

God's Minute: 365 Daily Affirmations for Positive Prayer

Each night before bed, my husband and I would read the quote and the accompanying Bible Verse. It took no more than 30 seconds, and it was always a great note to end the day on. Reminded, right before bed, that God is looking out for me, holding my hand through trying times, and supporting me to be the best version of myself I can possibly be. It was a great habit to get into, and I'm glad we saw the entire book through! 

I recommend this little gem for sure!

I am currently reading Francesca's Kitchen --- and I hope to be able to finish that + at least one more book before I get back to school! I would like to say my goal is to read 13 books in 2013, but I think I'll stick to my one book/month goal --- let's not get too lofty, here :)

Any recent book recommendations? I think next on my list is Fifty Shades Darker and Heaven is For Real {I realize I sound like an insane person, listing those two vastly different books int he same sentence}. Whatever, I like variety :)

Cheers to a good read!
Cheers to 2012 --- the experiences it brought and the lessions I learned!
Cheers to 2013 --- may I become an improved version of myself!