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Joe Deluca, Deseret News
Stephanie Nielson says she has plenty to be thankful for this holiday season as she talks duirng an interview Saturday, Nov. 201, 2011. At the top of the list is life - both hers and the new one she carries. A little more than three years ago, Nielson and her husband, Christian, nearly burned to death in a light plane crash in Arizona.

Editor's note: This is an excerpt from "Why I'm a Mormon" edited by Joseph A. Cannon, which includes the testimonies of 53 influential members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Being a Mormon means that I know who I am, I know where I am going, and I know, understand, and love the plan that has been laid out for families, particularly mine.

The Mormon church helps us understand that living as a family is God's plan, and we are taught how to rear our children in righteousness, following the Savior's example. This knowledge has changed the way I teach my children, how serious it is to me that they know and understand good choices versus bad ones and the consequences of each.

I also want my children to understand that it takes hard work to keep going in life sometimes, but there are sweet rewards that we will enjoy — not just in the end, but during the pain and suffering — that will come and give us that extra push we need to keep going.

My husband and I have had so many amazing experiences together that all started in the temple when we were sealed. And they have never stopped. They have blessed our life beyond words and continue to do so.

On Aug. 16, 2008, my husband and I, along with a good friend, were in a Cessna four-seater aircraft to travel home from a trip to our family ranch in New Mexico. On takeoff, the plane crashed and burned. My husband had a broken back along with burn injuries to 30 percent of his body. I was trapped in the airplane and was burned over 80 percent of my body, and our friend and pilot, Doug, died. I was placed in a medically induced coma for more than three months to help me try to recover and heal.

From the moment the airplane went up in flames, I was praying. I knew God would never leave me. I knew it then and I still know it now.

I never lost my faith in God or blamed him, even through my struggles to heal, my multiple surgeries, my physical changes and the role these all play in my children's lives (and mine). In fact, I am thanking him every day for this trial. I feel honored to carry it, and I hope I am doing it in a way that is pleasing to him.

Stephanie Nielson is the mother of four (going on five) children and the author of the popular blog at nieniedialogues.com. Since the plane crash, she has been featured on several national talk show and news programs. She has resumed skiing and doing yoga, and hopes to run in races next year.More excerpts from "Why I'm a Mormon":

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