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Book Club Friday: Heaven is for Real

 
Today I am linking up with Katie from {the nerdy katie} and Heather from {blonde… undercover blonde} for Book Club Friday. I have been reading a lot of faith centered books lately because I have felt a little scattered, and needing some good reading to ground me. I just finished Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo, which details the story of a young boy’s trip to heaven and back.

The story begins with the specifics of the family’s life. Colton lives with his pastor father, his mother and his older sister, Cassie. They live a pretty average life and are a tight knit group. When Colton is four the family goes on a trip which ends in disaster. Colton begins complaining of a stomach ache, and he begins to vomit with a high fever. So, like any family, they seek the attention of a doctor. The hospital in their hometown runs some tests and decides that his white blood cell count is not high enough for it to be appendicitis, so they send him on his way with a flu diagnosis. Things get a lot worse from there. Colton’s color fades, his whole demeanor shrinks. His parents then decide to take matters into their own hands, and transport Colton to another hospital. Right away the staff there know whats wrong. Appendicitis. So severe, and left untreated for so long, that Colton’s insides were essentially being poisoned by the day. Surgery begins immediately.
It is after this surgery that Colton starts to tell his tales of heaven. His father is cautious, wondering if these are simply Sunday school teachings being regurgitated in Colton’s own way, and asks open ended questions. But Colton remains firm and certain, he details many accounts of his time in heaven including:
That he got to sit in Jesus’ lap
He saw John the Baptist
God told him about a coming battle with Satan
He met his grandfather (who died before Colton met him)
He saw Jesus’ marks on his hands and feet (left from the cross)
All people in heaven have wings, except Jesus who moves up and down as if on an escalator
It never gets dark in heaven because God the Father and God the Son are lights
Nobody is old, no one wears glasses

But there are more intriguing, personal, accounts that Colton tells. He first tells his father that he could see his parents during surgery. That his mother had been on the phone crying, and his father had been in a room praying. His father was alone in this room, and he knew that no one had seen him crying, except little Colton who was in heaven looking down. Colton’s father asks him why he came back if heaven was so wonderful, this part was my favorite line in the book, “well (replied Colton), thats because Jesus came to get me. He told me I had to go back. I had to go back, because he was answering your prayer.”
The most touching story of all however is the one of Colton’s second sister:

“Mommy, I have two sisters,” Colton said.
I put down my pen. Sonja didn’t. She kept on working.
Colton repeated himself. “Mommy, I have two sisters.”
Sonja looked up from her paperwork and shook her head slightly. “No, you have a sister, Cassie, and…do you mean your cousin, Traci?”
“No.” Colton clipped off the word adamantly. “I have two sisters. You had a baby die in your tummy, didn’t you?”
At that moment, time stopped in the Burpo household, and Sonja’s eyes grew wide. Just a few seconds before, Colton had been trying unsuccessfully to get his mom to listen to him. Now, even from the kitchen table, I could see that he had her undivided attention.
“Who told you I had a baby die in my tummy?” Sonja said, her tone serious.
“She did, Mommy. She said she died in your tummy.”
I knew what my wife had to be feeling. Losing that baby was the most painful event of her life. We had explained it to Cassie; she was older. But we hadn’t told Colton, judging the topic a bit beyond a four-year-old’s capacity to understand. From the table, I watched quietly as emotions rioted across Sonja’s face.
“It’s okay, Mommy,” he said. “She’s okay. God adopted her.”
Sonja slid off the couch and knelt down in front of Colton so that she could look him in the eyes. “Don’t you mean Jesus adopted her?” she said.
“No, Mommy. His Dad did!”
Sonja turned and looked at me. In that moment, she later told me, she was trying to stay calm, but she was overwhelmed. Our baby….was–is!–a girl, she thought.
Sonja focused on Colton, and I could hear the effort it took to steady her voice. “So what did she look like?”
“She looked a lot like Cassie,” Colton said. “She is just a little bit smaller, and she has dark hair.”
Sonja’s dark hair.
As I watched, a blend of pain and joy played across my wife’s face. Cassie and Colton have my blond hair. She had even jokingly complained to me before, “I carry these kids for nine months, and they both come out looking like you!” Now there was a child who looked like her. A daughter. I saw the first hint of a moisture glint in my wife’s eyes.
Now Colton went on without prompting. “In heaven, this little girl ran up to me, and she wouldn’t stop hugging me, ” he said in a tone that clearly indicated he didn’t enjoy all this hugging form a girl.
“Maybe she was just happy that someone from her family was there,” Sonja offered. “Girls hug. When we’re happy, we hug.”
Colton didn’t seem convinced.
Sonja’s eyes lit up and she asked, “What was her name? What was the little girl’s name?”
Colton seemed to forget about all the yucky girl hugs for a moment. “She doesn’t have a name. You guys didn’t name her.”
How did he know that?
“You’re right, Colton,” Sonja said. “We didn’t even know she was a she.”
Then Cotlon said something that still rings in my ears: “Yeah, she said she just can’t wait for you and Daddy to get to heaven.”
“Our baby is okay,” she whispered. “Our baby is okay.”
From that moment on, the wound from one of the most painful episodes in our lives, losing a child we had wanted very much, began to heal.
Book recommendations, book reviews, quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists

Powerful. I would recommend anyone to read the book, and follow my GoodReads account for more on what I am reading at any given time.

What are you reading? Anything you want to read but don’t have time for?

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