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To Heaven and Back: A Doctor's Extraordinary…

To Heaven and Back: A Doctor's Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven,… (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Mary C. Neal M.D.

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Title:To Heaven and Back: A Doctor's Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again: A True Story
Authors:Mary C. Neal M.D.
Info:WaterBrook Press (2012), Paperback, 240 pages
Collections:Your library

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To Heaven and Back: A Doctor's Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again: A True Story by Mary C. Neal (2012)



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Badly injured in a kayak accident in Chile, the author briefly left her body, died, witnessed angels and then returned back to her body, leaving her profoundly changed. After her experience, her way of processing things and looking at life and events forever changed.

I'm not sure how I feel about this book. I do believe that there are guardian angels, I do believe in the afterlife. I simply thought the author was a bit to preachy. This is very objective and perhaps too critical. I may need more time to process my thoughts/feelings. ( )
  Whisper1 | Dec 7, 2014 |
What I liked: I loved Dr. Neal's no-nonsense writing style and story-telling. You can tell she is a doctor. She writes in detail and tells it like it is. There's no emotion mumbo-jumbo. I appreciated her sharing her story of the kayak accident, her brief encounter with heaven, her recovery, and the story of her oldest son.

The thing that stood out the most to me is the authors talk about coincidences -- that God has a hand in our everyday lives, weaving a tapestry, touching lives. On the last page, Dr. Neal encourages readers to keep a diary on coincidences in your life, writing down outcomes to see God at work. Cool idea.

It was a quick read and kept my attention!

What I didn't like: The author talked a lot of about being wrapped in God's love and feeling God's presence. She mentioned Jesus once, but not as much as I would have liked. Jesus is the way to heaven and to God, so I was hoping she would talk more about her faith. ( )
  DawnMHamsher | Feb 1, 2014 |
To Heaven and Back: A Doctor's Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again: A True Story In 1999 in the Los Rios region of southern Chile, orthopedic surgeon, devoted wife, and loving mother Dr. Mary Neal drowned in a kayak accident. While cascading down a waterfall, her kayak became pinned at the bottom and she was immediately and completely submerged. Despite the rescue efforts of her companions, Mary was underwater for too long, and as a result, died.

To Heaven and Back is Mary’s remarkable story of her life’s spiritual journey and what happened as she moved from life to death to eternal life, and back again. Mary’s life has been forever changed by her newfound understanding of her purpose on earth, her awareness of God, her closer relationship with Jesus, and her personal spiritual journey suddenly enhanced by a first-hand experience in heaven. To Heaven and Back will reacquaint you with the hope, wonder, and promise of heaven, while enriching you own faith and walk with God.
  oaklutheran | Aug 28, 2013 |
This is another story of a doctor's near-death experience. There have been a couple of similar books published lately and my guess is that it takes that MD title for people to find near death experiences credible. The book is well written and definitely gives some food for thought to believers and non-believers alike. I enjoyed reading it and would recommend it to others. ( )
  Lilac_Lily01 | Jan 6, 2013 |
I've always been inspired by people's accounts of being in Heaven. Whether they've had a near-death experience or they've been given insight into Heaven it's a sign to me that Heaven is real and that God's promise to us is true. So when I was given the chance to review this book I jumped at it. While I may be a bit impartial on the subject I did truly enjoy this book.

Mary's story is inspirational. What I loved about her story is she wasn't perfect. She admitted that when her life was crazy - school, family, work, and just life - she had put God on the back burner and went about trying to make everything work. And yet she was still chosen to be a messenger, this imperfect woman was taken to Heaven so she could share with people that it is real. It inspires me to think that even though I'm not perfect and I don't always put God in the fore front of my life, though I do try to be aware, I am still capable of doing great things for God. And I think that's at least part of what her story is about, you don't have to be perfect in your love for God because he realizes that we're not perfect.

Mary's life, like most of our lives is filled with great joy and great tragedy. Going through those emotional highs and lows with her really pulled me into her story. I wanted to see how she dealt with her experience in Heaven, how she dealt with her sorrow over being sent back, and how she took that experience and the instructions given to her and turned it into the positive and inspirational story she shares with us. Her life wasn't easy after her trip to Heaven and while she tried to do what she was instructed to do - share her story with the world - she had many upsets in her life that kept pushing that goal to the back burner. I can't say that I would have been able to deal with what she went through as well as she did, but I would hope that like her, I would be able to eventually push aside my insecurities and listen to what God was saying to me.

This was a really good book. I would have like more information about her time in Heaven and her meetings with angels, but I understand her feeling that some of that was veiled to her for a reason. So I can't really blame her for not being able to include everything. Even with out the overt details I would have liked to read I was still inspired by her story and hope that I can live my life a little better with the added insights this book had given me. ( )
  Justjenniferreading | Nov 4, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0307731715, Paperback)

Q&A with Mary C. Neal, M.D.

Mary C. Neal

Q. How did you feel when you died? Did you know what was happening?

A. I was acutely aware of everything that was happening. I knew that my efforts to exit the boat were not working, that I was out of air, and that I was too far from the riverbank for anyone to reach me. I knew that I would probably die. Having grown up with a fear of drowning, I was surprised to find my transition from life to death was seamless, peaceful, and beautiful. I felt quite wonderful.

Q. What was your faith life like before your death?

A. Before my near-death-experience, I believed in God and took my kids to Sunday school but was not particularly religious. Like many accomplished young adults, I felt like I was in control of my life and my future. Although I tried to be a "good" and "moral" person, my faith was not integrated into my daily life and the demands of work and family left little time to think about spirituality.

With my near-death-experience, the truth of God's promises and the reality of eternal life became a part of my every breath. I am in constant prayer and regardless of what I am doing, I try to reflect God's love and live for His glory. I try not to miss opportunities to uplift or encourage the spiritual life of others, and I live with gratitude and joy, knowing that I never face challenges alone.

Q. Why do you think you came back to life?

A. I certainly didn't want to return to Earth, but was given information about some of the work I had yet to complete and wasn't really given a choice. I was expected to share my experiences and my story with others, helping transform their faith into compete trust that God keeps His promises.

Q. Do you have any regrets about this experience?

A. I have not a hint of regret. In fact, my death and return to life is the greatest gift I have ever received, and I am continually grateful for having had this experience.

Q. How do you explain why this happened to you?

A. I have always been a private person, am not known to be a writer, and do not relish the attention of speaking. I have been asked this question many times. I do not know the answer, but I am a scientist by training, a skeptic by nature, and a very concrete, rational thinker. Perhaps, I was given this job because I have a developed a lifetime of credibility.

Q. How is your experience compared to others who've gone to heaven and come back to physical life?

A. I have not read many accounts of other people's experiences, but I have had many patients over the years tell me about their own near-death experiences. It seems that most stories, mine included, contain some consistent elements--that of an overwhelming sense of God's love and forgiveness, intense peace and beauty and no desire to return to Earth. Everyone recalls the details with precision and each person is profoundly affected by the experience. In these ways, my experience is quite similar.

Q. What do you want people to know about heaven?

A. God's unconditional love for each of us is intense, complete, and is reflected in all of Heaven. Before we return to Heaven, our real home, we have an incredible opportunity on Earth to face challenges that will help us learn, grow and to become more Christ-like in the fruits of our spirit. Our time is so short that we need to be about God's business every day.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:42 -0400)

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Neal shares the details of her life in which she has experienced not just one miracle, but many. Her experiences provide confirmation that miracles still occur, shows how God keeps his promises and why there is sufficient reason to live by faith.

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