On the last day of our escape to Naples, Florida, John and I decided a breakfast al fresco on Fifth Avenue would be the perfect finale. Armed with a stack of books, off we went.
The aroma of dark, rich coffee lured us in. Grabbing a table by the street, we began to take in our surroundings. One couple with an older pug and a younger maltese sat next to us which thrilled us immensely. We were terribly homesick for our wild child, a/k/a Gracie, our very wired wire-haired fox terrier.
Dog fix satisfied, we inhaled our buttery rich croissants stuffed with eggs, cheese, and bacon (Hey, calories don’t count when one is on vacation, right?). John dashed back inside to refill our coffees. Now we were settled in to sit and read under the palm trees.
One of the many books I packed surprised me. It had two things going for it before I ever opened it up: 1 – It’s a gift from my sweet friend Meredith along with her thumbs’ up recommendation, and 2 – Heaven is the subject manner. Few things fascinate me more.
What I wasn’t ready for was how glued to the pages I’d become, not wanting to put the book down. The book? Appointments with Heaven—The true story of a country doctor’s healing encounters with the hereafter by Dr. Reggie Anderson with Jennifer Schuchmann.
Reggie’s a family physician. He and his wife, Karen have three daughters who are married and one son who’s in nursing school. Oh boy, you must read how Reggie and Karen began dating and got married! Huge proof our Lord has a gigantic sense of humor.
One of many cool connections in the book is Reggie and Karen’s daughter, Julia, is married to Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman’s son, Caleb.
Steven and Mary Beth wrote the powerful Foreword to Reggie’s book. The friendships forged between these two families is so clearly woven by God, they’ll take your breath away. (You can watch a video of an interview with the Chapmans talking about Reggie and his book. Go to: www.appointmentswithheaven.com )
Near the end of the book, Reggie shares the tragic story of the Chapman’s daughter Maria’s death. Reggie relates their experience with bittersweet details, making you feel as if you’re in their home with them. The timing of everything is another only-God orchestration.
Reggie opens and closes the book with him treating his Father as a patient. Be sure you’re equipped with Kleenex. You’ll need them more than once. Reggie’s journey in his faith and experiences helps him cope with his Father’s death. The hope of heaven is never more real.
Reggie also tells beautiful stories from his childhood, his coming to faith, and the tragedy that caused him to walk away from his faith. The lengths to which the Lord goes to rescue him, bringing him back to faith, are beyond amazing.
His faith is challenged more than once, however, and he candidly shares his doubts. Over and over again, the Lord proves Himself trustworthy despite the temptation to ask, “Why?” It’s a gift for the reader to learn the answer to this question.
How Reggie winds up in med school is another divine deal. Any of you docs out there will appreciate the details of Reggie’s cases. Many are humorous while the more serious are covered in prayer.
Dreams are an added detail both from Reggie and his patients. They bring everyone, us readers included, a swath of comfort.
The power of prayer plays a big role in Reggie’s life personally and professionally. His mother prayed faithfully for him during his prodigal years. Many answers to prayer included in the book further encourage us to press on.
The first time Reggie is alone with someone who dies, something strange happens. We readers get to read about Reggie’s experiences with several patients . Each “appointment” brings with it more comfort and reassurance to us for our own peace of mind, plus for those of our loved ones who have gone on to Heaven.
Reggie’s senses become heightened. He keeps mentioning smelling citrus and lilac. When the soul leaves a body, He feels a warm sensation. He sees a soft glow always above and to the right of the patient. He feels a sense of peace as well as God’s presence. You must read each of these, because each one becomes more fascinating.
When one of his first patients, Irene, died, he felt the same warmth pass by him. He said, “I knew it was her soul carried on a fresh breeze slipping to the other side into the warmth of God’s presence.”
Not all of Reggie’s patients are believers however. After one patient died, Reggie recognized “evil had entered the room.” He said, “Everything about the room that day was the antithesis of heaven—no warmth, no breezes. Just a stagnant coldness.”
This frightening experience made Reggie more thankful he knows where he’s going. He realized, “It also made me more intentional about making sure others knew where they were going too.”
Finally, Reggie offers us readers a tip. He says some of his “greatest insights into heaven come from a resource that is just as available to you as it is to me: Scripture.”
You can bet I’ll be sharing this quote with my Bible study buddies. The benefits from reading God’s Word are innumerable.
Reggie suggests we read Scripture “attentively, listening for what God’s Spirit is saying to you and asking Him to make you mindful of the many ways he is at work in the lives around you. Then you will hear and see and know the reality of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, both here on earth and in our forever home—heaven.”
He says the “one passage that perhaps best reflects God’s grace in my own life is:
Grab this book to add to your queue. You’ll more than likely want to give it to your friends too!
Blessings to the Andersons. Thank you, Reggie, for having the courage to share your story. It’s the boost we readers need to endure life here on earth, expectantly awaiting Heaven.
‘Til next time!
P.S. If you live anywhere near Louisville, be sure to head to Lifeway on Hurstbourne Lane next Tuesday, October 18th. Liz Curtis Higgs will be signing her newest book, 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. I’ll be writing about it next week. It, too, would make a great gift in addition to enhancing your own library. You can also use it for Scripture memory. We’ll get into that challenge next week!
Also for your calendar: DOUBLE BONUS: Liz and Bill Higgs will be joining us at Book Club, Monday, October 24th from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Middletown United Methodist Church. Guys and Gals are welcome. Bring your friends!
We’ll be discussing Liz’ novel, Mixed Signals, plus Bill’s novel, Eden Hill, and Liz’ newest book,, 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart will just have released, so it’ll be available as well. Crazy fun in the forecast from the Higgs’ household. More on that next week too.