Starting October 25 of 2011, "InfertilityMom," 39-year-old Jennifer Saake (founder of Hannah's Prayer Ministries), experienced 6 strokes, all due to vertebral dissection at a chiropractic office. The largest two strokes were brain stem and cerebellum bleeds. Jenni remained hospitalized until nearly Christmas and was not expected to live (near death experience) nor recover, but if she even survived, she was slated to live out her days in a nursing home or, best case, to maybe come home but wheelchair-bound and needing 24-hour care (please read more and watch short video). Jenni is now walking (with a cane or wheeled walker), has recovered much eye-sight, some hearing, partial use of her hands, cares for most of her own personal/toiletry needs, and is currently writing three books, maintains multiple blogs, and stays active on both Facebook and Pinterest. (The biggest ongoing losses at the 4 1/2-year point of recovery are left-side nerve pain, inability to drive, loss of homeschool teaching capability, significant sound processing issues (often triggering nausea), and some profound physical ability limitations.) Here is her resume.

Since Jenni's chiropractor carried no insurance and moved out of the country soon after the accident (thus avoiding any legal or financial consequences), if you would like to help contribute to the Saake (pronounced like the two small words, say and key) family's massive financial needs (medical expenses alone are estimated to cost between $1- and $1.5- Million in Jenni's lifetime), please visit Jennifer Saake's Stroke Survivor GoFundMe Page. (This support information has been added in direct response to several reader requests.) The Saakes sincerely thank you for your prayers and if God prompts and equipts you to send any monetary assistance as well, this is a significant added blessing.

Jenni is clinging to God's grace through the entire experience. Here is her unfolding story, documented in her own words (typing with only her right hand), as she perceives it happening in real time, messy, honest and to the glory of God...

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Vulcan Peace and Jewish Blessing

Sorry this posted a week early. I'm still trying to figure out saving drafts, sceduling, and all that fun technical stuff of blogging.

Did you know that the Vulcan Peace sign is actually a symbol of Jewish blessing? Read this Washington post interview with Spock actor, Leonard Nimoy to learn why he choose to letter Shin, used in Yiddish prayer, to bless folks with the phrase, "Live long and prosper."

I've been trying to reclaim the ability to make this symbol. For a long time I couldn't manage it with either hand.

A couple years back I got my right (less stroked, dominant) hand able to manage the sign again.

I'm still working on my left.

I can get my middle and index fingers to stand up straight and stick together.

My thumb even sort of corporates! And the pain that was rather constant and quite intense in the thumb for years (hand video from just over 3 years back posted at the end of this blog), had settled way down. Not gone, but much happier!

Now if I can just get my ring finger and pinky to play nice.

Maybe this is silly. Maybe you never have mastered the Shin.

Thing is, I used to be able to do this, and with both hands even.

It is a personal goal to someday be able to do this again.

You would think typing with both hands would feel more important. Actually, I'm pretty happy with single-handed typing now. But remastering two-handed Sign Language is pretty high on my priority list, so if I can get the Vulcan Peace sign down, that should help with the physical ability to do actual Sign Language again too!

June, 2013 (19 months) hand therapy video shows hand recovery at that stage:

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


I've had two friends this month, who both expressed surprise over my actual abilities in contrast to their estimation of where they thought I actually was.

My online friend had estimated my memory and abilities to be higher than they actually are, until she read a post here that detailed a brain issue she had never realized I dealt with. This explained an area where I had disappointed her. She sent me the sweetest note apologizing for so seriously over-estimating my recovery. If I could cry (lovely stroke issue, inability to cry!) I totally would have. Her words were so sweet, the gift of loving understanding, such a blessing!

My long-time, off-line friend, who has known me since high school, when she came to visit, indicated her relief that I am still (at least, once again) myself, the "me" she has always known, in so very many way. Yes, there are some stroke deficits, but she had been rather scared of who I might be now, how she might react to the changes. "I didn't know what to expect." She was pleasantly surprised, and oh so relieved, to find I am, at heart, totally her beloved sister still. We still laugh at the same inside jokes. We still have the same corny humor. She learned of some physical/ emotional/ mental struggles she hadn't realized, first-hand, while other worst-case issues she thought herself likely to encounter at her first visit since the strokes, are long-since overcome. Overall, she had tried her best to prepare herself for my deficits to still be much more significant, my actual recovery to be far lower, than it is today.

As hard as I try to paint a clear picture of my reality, I guess I am "too close" to my story to really give a crystal-clear explanation. And everyone's perspective is different anyway. Factors like if you knew me pre-stroke or met me after, if we are online friends only or know each other offline as well, if we see each other frequently or only sporadically (a couple of people I only see once or twice a year, always comment on how massive my improvements are since they last saw me, while it is very hard for me to notice changes day over day at this stage of recovery), are all going to color perception.

I will be talking more about perspective and post-stroke realities (specific to the writing journey) on some of my book blogs next week. Stay tuned.

In other news...
I've been selected to receive a free subscription to Runner's World Magazine.
The obviously know me and my abilities quite well! LOL

P.S. I'm doing at lot of my posts several days early and setting to auto-post now, in effort to keep blogging more consistently. As this post is going up a day before my month-a-versary, 4 years, 10 months now, I'll count it as my monthly update. My previous post, about butterflies, is more where my heart really is at this landmark though, if you missed it. 

What I wish people knew about me, even now, but very especially those first few years!
What I want strokie friends to consider about those who let us down after our strokes.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Butterfly Frenzie

My daughter claims that if one more butterfly comes into this house, she may have to move out. She says we are inundated. Already saturated.
I don't quite agree.

My very first painting.
It's not colorful, but I've wondered if I might incorporate it into a logo somehow?

I talk more about my logo thoughts at the end of this post. I wonder if this butterfly, posted above and bellow, could serve as a starting point for my logo?
I would love if if he had some pinks/reds and purple in him too! "All the colors," as my friend Caroline says!

She may threaten to run away from home, but when she leaves me notes like this, I'm not too worried of any real danger there. ;)

Over time, I've moved from just home decor to clothing and accessories. (Since I have so many pictures, I'll just put three here, then find them all at the end of the article.)

So why all the butterflies? I talk about that a bit here and you might also enjoy this video (butterfly part starts about 1/2 way into 3 minute interview segments).

Basically, it boils down to these issues for me.


Stroke is vicious, but...

Through God's grace, I have survived the worst of the attack and am now learning to thrive!


Since my near-death experience, this world seems dark, dull, devoid of living color. I literally cannot get things bright enough, vivid enough, colorful enough, to meet the soul hunger for what is lacking. Vibrant butterflies, rainbows, sunrises, celestial lights, all ease that ache a little. I guess you could say that butterflies represent a tiny reflection of Heaven for me. (See more attempt to combat thos longing on my Homesick For Heaven board on Pinterest.)

(Not a butterfly pattern, but yep, I really like bright and colorful now. What I'm wearing as I write this post, a six dollar find: )

My hubby know I love color. His gift today:


Mostly, why I gravitate toward butterflies is that they are a living example of deepest whole-being transformation. Renewed life. Something that was once resigned to a state of crawling is now a thing of beauty, able to soar far beyond her dark time of confinement. That's who I want to be. Not the person who got caught in dark circumstances and swallowed up there, but the one who could never become who she is without that forced sideline, but who, because of the strength imparted by God alone, leaves that time behind, pumps her wings until they can hold her, then takes to the world in glorious color, beauty and flight, going farther than that crawling caterpillar could ever have dreamed possible!

Becoming the character of a "butterfly" illustrates grace. Butterflies encompass the very concept of my blog name, StrokeOfGrace!

Back side of my business cards.
Front of my cards.
As I look at these three, they all overlap and intertwine quite a bit. Color, change, freedom, brokenness to beauty, grief receding into hope, God's sovereignty and strength, life; simply, it all points to GRACE.  Butterflies speak all of that and more to me. 

So next time you wonder why Kendra and I have adopted butterflies as our stroke recovery symbol (and how convenient that several stroke organizations also use butterflies as stroke survivors' symbol and/or in their logo - see also my post on the lightning bolt), there you go. 

Can't get enough butterflies either? Check out my butterfly Pinterest board and my butterfly fun things collection I've gathered on eBay!
Thanks Shelly at Renewed Daily for this banner!
Feel free to share widely.

Anyone love to do graphics and want to take on a logo attempt for me? (If you missed it, I talked about logo twice in my first set of around-my-house pictures at the top of this post.) 

Maybe something sort of like this does the words right in the design?
I make no promises to use it, but I would love to see some options if you want to play. If I love it, I might use it. I'm looking for something bright, colorful, simple enough to be a single-colored logo if needed, delicate/lacy, possibly incorporating the infinity sign (as the wings???) since this also speaks of God's infinite grace to me, and containing or easily incorporating the word Stroke of Grace.

I love roses too, if that helps with logo ideas. My favorite color is pink and second favorite is teal. If you send me a logo I love enough to use, I'll send you a little gift (likely butterfly themed)! Any takers? My email is StrokieGal AT gmail DOT com.

My butterfly collection: