Rising above the sea of online video offerings on YouTube is a “Mormon Message” from a mother who has an inspiring story to tell.
Stephanie Nielson, a popular blogger, is a mother of four who was involved in a near-fatal plane crash in 2008. She survived and, along with her husband, is carving out a life that nearly slipped from their grasp.
"I'm just grateful that I am here on this earth and I have the opportunity to be a mother and do the things that I love and enjoy," says Nielson in the video. "I view my role now as more divine."
“There’s a lot of depth to her story, a lot of elements we left out,” said Patrick Parker, one of the producers of “My New Life,” the latest in a series of Mormon Messages from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Parker was joined by Christopher Clark and Travis Deming in retelling her spiritual journey by culling through hours of raw footage to produce an eight-minute video that is drawing thousands of viewers.
175,000 viewers have viewed “Stephanie’s story” from the Church’s YouTube channel. The video is also being shared and embedded on blogs.
Since 2005, Nielson has had a blog that often depicted the behind-the-scenes life of a mother. In 2007, after hearing the message of Elder M. Russell Ballard, a member of her Church’s Quorum of Twelve Apostles, she forged ahead with a new purpose to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. In 2008, following the plane crash, that effort gained greater clarity.
“Stephanie’s story has been told, over and over: Oprah, The Today Show and USA Today,” said Parker. “We wanted to move beyond the news story and come to understand her spiritual side. There’s no doubt we are spiritual beings.”
“To date, nearly 11 million have viewed Mormon Messages from our YouTube channel,” said Dallas Petersen, product manager for Mormon Messages.
Two days after its release, due in part to a subscriber base of 34,000 and a groundswell of bloggers sharing the video, "My New Life" appeared on the YouTube homepage and became the number one video in the Nonprofits category.
“This is a beautiful story,” according to an online comment, “this is truly inspiring. I will pray that you heal entirely.” From another, “Stephanie, over the past year and some I have followed your blog and your life. You have inspired me, touched me and made me want to be better.” Said another, “Me and my sister have this thing together, where we say, ‘Stephanie would like that,’ or ‘Aw, this reminds me of Stephanie’ when we see a picture or example of something beautiful, colourful, or fun. You're in our thoughts every day...all the way down in New Zealand.”
Through moving pictures and her personal narrative, “My New Life” creatively shows Nielson in a way that doesn’t focus on her injuries but on who she is and the optimism, hope and fulfillment she feels as a modern-day mother.