Several months ago I was contacted by one of my readers and asked if I'd be interested in reading and reviewing her mother's new book. I have never been one to turn down a free book and so I happily said I'd read it. A few days later I got the book "A Glimpse of Heaven: One Woman's Life-Altering Visit with God" by Joanna Oblander in the mail. I will admit that when I saw the title I was a bit skeptical. Near death experience books have always seemed a bit kooky to me, but I figured I'd give it a try. It arrived the day before we left on our family vacation to Oregon and so I stuck it in my purse intending to read it on the trip. My in-laws were kind enough to sit by and entertain my kiddos on the airplane and so I found myself with two hours of uninterrupted reading time, in which I --surprisingly-- devoured this book. About an hour in to the trip Jon gave up trying to talk to me all together because I wasn't listening to a thing he said. The book isn't long, only a 110 pages, but as I read Joanna's beautiful message I felt my heart changing.
Joanna's book starts off with her sharing hard time in her life. Even though she was a happily married wife, the mother of six children, fulfilled as a woman, and active in the church she had been suffering with severe headaches and depression for so long, with no relief in sight, that she was planning on committing suicide. Joanna writes:
" I didn't make any requests for help that night. I was certain I was beyond help. I calmly explained to God that He knew and I knew that I had given my fight everything I had. I told God that I was done and that I had nothing more to give. I apologized for not being able to do better. I thanked Him for the good things He had blessed me with. Then, I told Him that I could not endure the pain any longer and that if He chose to send me to hell that would be okay-- I knew with certainty that hell could not be worse than what I was currently suffering. I explained that I would be ending my life the following day and from there what happened to me would be in His hand. I then crawled back into bed and cried myself to sleep." (pg.2)
That night Joanna recounts that she had a vision and felt her spirit actually leave her body. She was taken back to the pre-mortal world, the world we lived in before we were born, and saw the spirits who were being prepared to come to earth and what they were being taught. She saw Heavenly Father and had "the veil" removed from her eyes. She writes,
"... with the veil removed from my mind, I realized that the veil that is placed over our memories of our premortal lives is more like a wall of armoured steel... As I looked at Him, I was amazed at how familiar I was with His face... only a powerful block could keep me from remembering this Being whom I knew so well, loved so much, and had been so devoted to." (Pg, 5, 6)
As her visions continues Joanna talks about how she was able to see herself and her husband and how they sat down with Heavenly Father and, even though it overwhelmed them, accepted the mission He had for them on earth-- with all its challenges. Most importantly though she got a glimpse of who she really was. She writes,
"Once the blocks were removed from my memory, I was a completely different person. Gone were my insecurities and doubts. (Gone was my depression). Eternal truth and God's love dominated that realm. As a result, my confidence was supreme. I struggle to find the words that can even being to describe what it felt like to be me in that sphere of existence. My entire being was infused with love and gratitude and devotion to God... Being allowed to know my strengths and my abilities again was the most wonderful reunion I have ever experienced, and the reunion was with the real me." (pg. 5)
Her vision continued on and she had some other really beautiful experiences, but I will make you read the book to get those! When she woke up from her vision her depression was not gone but she had the strength to keep going. Eventually Joanna shares how she was able to find the cause of her headaches and find adequate treatment for her depression.
In addition to the vision of the pre-mortal world Joanna also shares some of the powerful spiritual experiences she has had throughout her life including a vision of her children before they were born and several incredible revelations about a little boy that the Lord told her she needed to find and adopt. Her story is absolutely incredible and is such a testament to power of prayer and personal revelation.
As I read about her experiences I felt the spirit so strongly. I've had a few experiences in my life where I have got the faintest glimpse of who I was-- who I am-- and what I am capable of. Those experiences have changed everything and I yearn for more. Reading about Joanna's vision was like drinking a cold glass of water, filling my body and spirit with nourishment and joy. When, at the end of the plane ride, I stuck the book back in my purse I felt a new determination to improve my prayers, follow the guideance I get from the spirit, and to love people more freely. I looked around the plane and felt so much love for everyone-- I am pretty sure I had an idiotic smile on my face-- but Joanna's book had reminded me just how much God loves all of us, no matter what our flaws.
As I was reading the book there were a few questions that I really wanted to ask Joanna, so I emailed her them and she was kind enough to answer them. Here are my questions and her responses:
Heather: I was very moved by your account of the vision you and your husband had of your unborn children early in your marriage. In it you said you saw four spirits and so you knew that when your fourth was born that she was going to be your last baby. I have always wondered if the Lord has an "assigned" number of children that He will send to us if we are willing to accept them and so I am wondering if after the fourth you felt prompted to take measures to prevent more children coming or if you didn't take any measures to prevent. Did the Lord just not send you any more children?
Joanna: When my last was born (girl) we did not do anything to prevent another baby - another one just didn't come (which did not surprise me at all - given that due to female issues I should not have been able to have any children). I still consider each of my first four children a miracle in their own right even though the guy upstairs is clearly in charge when it comes to the size of my family!
Heather: I was impressed with what an incredible prayer you are and your ability to receive personal revelation. My personal prayers are really suffering lately and I so I would love to hear more about how you made your prayers more powerful and personal-- especially when you were young and had little children. It seems like I can never find a place or a time to be alone enough to say good prayers! I would love to hear your thoughts.
Joanna: I don't know that I really learned to be an "incredible prayer" until certain situations called for it. My youngest of the first four was approximately seven years old when I was told to find Andrew (her adopted son). The shooting a Margaret Leary and my search for Andrew really taught me a lot about prayer. As you might have guessed - prayer is all important to me now. It was important when I was a young mom too but I understand its power now in a way that I didn't when my children were young. Andrew is now 17 and Dina 22 and my oldest daughter (child) Melissa is 33 so I am definitely not a young mother any longer!
I would have to say that prayer is a very personal thing. I often use my car as I commute with the radio off. Finding quiet time with my thoughts - like washing dishes is important because listening for answers to prayers is so important. Although I know that it is a struggle with little ones - meditation time and diligent study of the scriptures, the Ensign and other church publications have been really important for me. Just always remember that Heavenly Father is completely aware of you and knows the struggles you have with little ones. I ask a lot of Heavenly Father now - in ways that are different than how I used to ask. I really try to allow the spirit to guide my prayers so that I am asking for the very things that Heavenly Father knows I need and that I am asking for the very things He wants to give me. It is a learned process but I can tell you that after a time, practice with allowing the spirit to guide your prayers can be powerful and educational at the same time.
Heather: How or when did you feel prompted to write this book. Was it your idea or someone elses? I would love to hear more about how this book came to be.
Joanna: I was commanded by Heavenly Father to write my book..and that heavenly command was a real test for me as I really did not want to write this book as I knew that it would require that I reveal a lot of personal things. I also thought that there was a real chance that scorners would step forward with less than kind words but so far, that has not been my experience. I have been blessed thus far in that the spirit has communicated to members and non members alike the truth of those things that I share in my book. It has actually been a sweet experience (not what I anticipated at all) in that many have come forward and let me know of how my book has been able to help them and increase their understanding.
Joanna's book is a real treasure and I promise that reading it will help you get a glimpse of your divine nature and remind you about who you really are. Her testimony and example are so powerful. This book is one that I will read again (which is why I am glad I have my very own copy) and share with others. If you want a nice-- easy-- fill- your- soul- summer read this is the perfect book.
And.... Joanna has offered to give away ONE copy of her book to one of my lucky readers!
If you would like to win a copy please leave me a comment letting me know which one of the following you have done (you do NOT have to leave a separate comment for each). You can do all of them or just one or two, each one will give you an extra chance at winning.
1. Visit Joanna's website "A Glimpse of Heaven" and "like" her page on Facebook (the button is in the right sidebar).
2. Follow Joanna on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or subscribe to her blog feed (the buttons for those are also on the right sidebar).
3. Share this post (either on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or on your own blog)
4. Leave me a comment telling me a time when you have received a vision or when you have received and acted on personal revelation from the Lord.
The giveaway will end on Tuesday June 26th at Midnight.
Best wishes! I hope you win because this book is awesome.