Update: The In Darkness Sing blog at JenniferSaake is experiencing prolonged technical issues, so I'm temporarily posting back here on my old Stroke of Grace blog.

Thirty-nine-year-old Jennifer Saake (founder, Hannah's Prayer Ministries), experienced 6 strokes via vertebral dissection at a chiropractic office, including brain stem and cerebellum bleeds, in Oct. 2011. Jenni remained hospitalized for nearly 2 months 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. At 5 years, 7 months God showed how He was writing her story from the beginning.

Jennifer is currently writing more books and stays active on both Facebook and Pinterest. Stroke of Grace became In Darkness Sing in early 2018 and has moved, along with all five of Jennifer's active blogs, to one location at JenniferSaake.com. (Please see above temporary update note above!)

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Time Sensitive

I'm hosting an online Pampered Chef party on Facebook. I knew it started on New Year's Day, but somehow, in my blog planning, I thought I had one more day to talk about this. In reality, you will need to register on Facebook to join the "event" before midnight TONIGHT if you even possibly want to place an order with the next week! If you wish to join there, the link is https://www.facebook.com/events/239856262841978/?notif_t=plan_user_joined. Ordering will open Jan 1st and we will take orders online through Jan 8th. Orders will take about 2 weeks to be delivered after we close the show.

To order (or browse the catalog) directly from the website, the directions are as follow:
Go to www.Pamperedchef.biz/C2406
In the left hand corner click on “Shows your invited to or hosting.” Then click on “Looking for a specific show.” Search Jenni Saake’s name (Reno, Nevada). Click on Jenni’s name once it loads and you will now be connected to her show. On the right hand side you can click shop now and get busy!!
Once you click shop now, I great way to look at PC’s products is to browse the online catalog. This will be located on the lower left hand side of the webpage.
DON’T FORGET…. While in your shopping cart make sure to change the shipping address to your own. Each item has a drop down option under “ship to”, change to other and enter your information below. You have to do this for each item in your cart, if now everything will get shipped to Jenni and she may want to keep it forever!!

While we are talking Pampered Chef, I have to tell you about an exciting way I found to adapt a standard kitchen tool to meet me post-stroke needs. I still can't hold a fork in my left hand in order to stab and stabilize food and cut it with a knife in my right hand. I was excited to find this $5 little adaptation by using the Hold ‘N Slice®, designed to "protect nails and fingers when cutting foods" and "cut down to the very end of the food without any waste," as my left--handed "fork" at the dinner table. While my son and daughter have used it to protect their fingers while cutting tomatoes and potatoes in food prep, I set the diner table with it whenever I need to cut my own food. It has a short, squatty (compared to a standard fork), chunky design that allows me to grasp the handle with my limited mobility and sink the sharp, stainless steel prongs into whatever I need to hold. Great for puncturing potatoes for baking too! Dishwasher-safe. :)
Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland. - Isaiah 43:18-19

one word

I've been doing some thinking and praying on my focus word for 2014. I started with the "one word" idea before I even knew it was trendy, mostly just noticing patterns of themes God seemed to be teaching me each year, reflected in my blogging. A few years ago, I stumbled across a bunch of articles about intentionally choosing new focus words each year, and became more purposeful in themed, year-long word pursuits. My past words are listed on the left sidebar at my InfertilityMom blog, under "Jenni Chats About...Theme Words God works in my life:" (perfect, peace, joy, hope, waiting), but my 2013 word, restore, was just recapped at on Christmas Eve at Stroke of Grace.

I like what Ann Voskamp wrote on Facebook yesterday, "Hey Soul. I know -- it's Monday. Right on the cusp of a brand new year. Can be... intimidating. There will be resolutions &plans &words for the year. Needed one...s, good ones, life-changing ones. And just maybe... the Cliff Notes version of everything boils down to one plan, one word, one commitment, just to keep whispering this over & over again: Jesus. Time with Him, keeping company with Him, walking with Him, resting in Him, living in Him, growing in Him, changing in Him, becoming like Him. It's okay... deep breath. You don't have to get overwhelmed: you only have to hold on to one thing: JESUS. And the grace of it is? *He's already holding on to you.* New Year, New You: Just Jesus.... "He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together." Colossians 1:17 ‪#‎PreachingGospeltoMyself"

http://forthefamily.org/one-word-one-year-transformed-forever/ - great "how to" if you like this idea and are wondering how to get started, very simply

Yes, Jesus need to ultimately needs to be all of our "one word" this year. But in thinking of how He would like to direct my life this year, I've focused down onto the seemingly odd word choice of "context" for next year. Why? Several reasons, actually.

First, and foremost, it has always been my prayer to be "rightly dividing the Word of Truth," especially when I write. My dad teaches "context, context, context!" when reviewing any given verse/passage of Scripture. It has always been my goal to explore God's Word in light of the historical, cultural, linguistic and full contextual intent and experience of each human author in each specific time and place in which they have recorded God's message. And yet, two different trusted friends have called me on use of various verses apart from intended context within just a few recent weeks! I am guessing this is another new aspect of stroke brain. But whatever the reason, now that I am aware, I can't ignore the issue, especially since I'm striving to write books! This is a wake up call for me to be terribly careful. I guess I should start with the context behind all these verses:

And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. - Genesis 1:14-15


Saturday, December 28, 2013

4th Day of Christmas

I've known this for years, and my memory is such that it probably won't even mean much to me by the new year, but right now I'm rather taken with the concept of "The 12 Days of Christmas," the meaning behind the words of the Christmas carol we all know, the literal observation of 12 calendar days, starting on Christmas Day and extending for the next 12 days of Epiphany. "Epiphany : a Christian festival held on January 6 in honor of the coming of the three kings to the infant Jesus Christ" (even though there is solid, historical reason to believe that the king came to visit the toddler Jesus, up to 2 year of age, in a house, not a baby in a stable.)

In brief, the song was is thought to be a teaching tool for times and places where the open practice of Christianity was banned. The "days" each represented something specific of Christian, specifically Catholic, theology. While there are slight variations on this schedule (for example, a few count day 1 as the 26th, while most count it as Christmas Day), here in the general idea behind the celebration:

Day 1-December 25- partridge in a pear tree is Jesus

Day 2-December 26- 2 turtledoves are the Old and New Testament

Day 3-December 27- 3 French hens are faith, hope and love

Day 4-December 28- 4 calling birds are the 4 Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
Day 5-December 29- 5 golden rings represent the Pentateuch - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy

Day 6-December 30- 6 geese a laying represent the 6 days of creation

Day 7-December 31- 7 swans a swimming represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit

Day 8-January 1- 8 maids a milking represent the Beatitudes

Day 9-January 2- 9 ladies dancing represent the 9 aspects of the fruit of the Holy Spirit

Day 10-January 3- 10 lords a leaping are the 10 Commandments

Day 11-January 4- 11 pipers piping represent the 11 faithful apostles

Day 12-January 5- 12 drummers drumming represent the twelve points of the Apostle's Creed

Speaking of New Year's, here are my dream shoes I would love to be able to wear this Tuesday night. Don't they remind you of a fairytale princess? Yes, I really would have worn something like this before the strokes:

Instead, I still find myself unable to wear anything as simple as this, because it won't hold on to my foot, so I can't keep it on to walk:

But I did get some new combat boots for Christmas. Just like my first ones (same brand and style), but with a pretty, bright yellow background where the other are black. :) Not my old "dream" by a long shot, but now a source as much joy. :)

I actually got several other useful gifts this year as well. It was a kitchen adaptation Christmas. I feel very spoiled / blessed! I got a new hand mixer / immersion blender that will allow me to do so much more with one hand! I also got a so got a hands-free can opener and an electric throw blanket to keep my legs warm when I'm sitting in a chair AND a tangle-free hair brush since I still have such a hard time brushing my hair! (Kendra, I got a new CrockPot to match your too, but mine is silver, not red.)
If anyone has kitchen items on your wish list, but didn't find them under the tree, I'll be opening up an online, low key, Facebook Pamper Chef "party" at https://www.facebook.com/events/239856262841978/?previousaction=join&source=1 on January 1, 2014, for just one week. I'll be posting more details (and a review of a product that I've found especially helpful and why) soon. To order, you need to be active on my Facebook list as "going" to this event, prior to January 1, so feel free to come on over or send me a message between now and then, if you are interested. I'm trying to help a young mom from my mom's church, who lost her job this year and her husband took a pay cut, to keep her new business rolling so she can be home with her toddler and the new baby that's due next month, while still helping compensate for their monthly budget deficit.
Because I know I will want to revisit this article, here are 5 Things Christians Should Never Say. Excellent thoughts!
Just after writing, last week, that my shoulder doesn't bug me much anymore, today it has been REALLY sore and popping in and out of joint like crazy. :( My kids helped me rearrange two recliners in one corner of the living room yesterday (I'm so happy with the more useable outcome!) and while I though they did pretty much all the furniture moving, I must have tried to help more than I realized, thus using weak muscles that just weren't used to or ready for the task yet!
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” - Matthew 2:1-2


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Jesus' Birthday

I am setting this to pre-post today to simply say Welcome, Jesus!

The kids and I tried to make a Rice Krispy train yesterday. They say it is nearly impossible to mess up rice crispies. Guess what? I am the master of "impossible"! :D Culinarily, it was a dismal failure. Memory-making and the all-too-rare gift of laughter to the point none of us could catch our breath, I wouldn't have had the entire messy disaster any other way!



Fellow author and young mother / strokie (the same year!), JoAnne, The Simple Wife, wrote an eloquent piece on post-stroke Christmas observance, grace and the flip-side to the emotions I posted yesterday. So This is Christmas - I found myself nodding all the way through. I think we would both readily tell  you that God's still on His throne (and we are so thankful to be where we are today rather than back where we were to Christmases ago), but I was so touch by this oh-so-true description of the sorrow of grace.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death
        even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father. - Philippians 2: 5-11


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve

Tomorrow will commemorate the birth of Christ and mark 26 months since my first strokes. I will likely be too busy to give much (any?) update tomorrow, so I brought you into my home today to wish you a merry Christmas (we never managed pictures nor Christmas cards this year):

I've had a pretty off week, emotionally, mentally, physical. Yesterday morning my coordination was so low I had to use a cane to even get to the bathroom. But by yesterday afternoon I was no longer terribly cringing at loud noises (or commotion in general) and able to handle life a little better again. This morning I crashed into the sliding glass door in our bedroom pretty hard when I woke up to use the restroom, but I think I am generally doing pretty good right now. I'm walking without a cane again, fairly straight lines even, and getting ready to make rice crispy treats with my kids this morning, the extent of our holiday "baking" this year. :D

As for the normal monthly update stuff, this is kind of more a year-end reflection post I think. You may remember that I started off 2013 with the theme word "restore" (I haven't picked a word for 2014 yet, any ideas?) and I truly think God has worked that word in my heart and life on so many levels this year. Yes, if given the choice, there is still absolutely NO doubt in my mind that it is better to be absent from the body and present with the Lord, BUT, something I can say today that I absolutely could not a year ago, is that I am content here while God has me in this season of earthly life. It has been a huge wonder to find God awakening joy within my heart, this year, restoring the joy I so lacked and longed for! I think the holidays profoundly illustrate this to me as I recall how very differently I felt about them last year.
Is the physical still there, still painful? You bet. But I have been greatly blessed to see much improvement with things (generally) like my jaw (oh, it still is pretty much always painful, but no longer demanding constant focus, usually at an underlying tolerable level most of the time now, except when it particularly flairs up, to some degree a few times each day, and excruciatingly every couple of weeks) and my left shoulder (still weaker than my right, by far, but much stronger and less painful that it was a year ago). CPS is anyone's guessing game, moment-by-moment, if a gentle touch will set me off or a nice firm hug will only comfort me right then? The left of my mouth is still, and likely will forever be, pretty numb.

The emotional / spiritual has been hallmarked by an "awakening" this year, finding "me" again, no longer thinking of my post-stroke self as totally disconnected from the "her" I was before the strokes. Borrowing words and a picture posted in my stroke group on Facebook, this picture best illustrates this realization / transformation / embracing of my new self and God's unfolding purpose here:
I am sure you hear the phrase, when will you be the old you again?
I am sure many of us would like to return to the old you.
Then I look at a butterfly and think to myself. That butterfly will never return to the state of a cocoon. No one e
xpects it to. I don't even think the butterfly would think that.
It may not have learned to fly yet, but it is beautiful in its own right.
Once it learns to fly and takes off, there will be no holding it back.
The butterfly would not be what it is, if it wasn't for the larvae, the cocoon, the chrysalis! We will all develop at the stage that is best for us. Not a moment faster, not a moment slower. We will all emerge at some point.
Embrace who we have become.
Learn to love the new you.
There is beauty everywhere, you just need to discovery it.


I have more on my heart (Kendra, I'll try to fill you in soon!) but am simply too tired to write more right now. So I leave you with several more pictures that have captured my heart this week:


A Musical Tale - Steven Curtis Chapman from lumel on GodTube.

It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we’re living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone. - Ephesians 1:11-12 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Crosswired Brain

Hmmm. I don't know what's up with my brain these days? Yesterday morning, I should have had a clue that my brain wasn't working well when I read the trivia question, "Who was run over by a reindeer?" and actually thought to myself, "Oh, that's an easy one! Rudolph, of course!" Wasn't until I started reading though other replies that I realized how very silly and mixed up I was since the obvious answer, based on pop culture song lyrics, was "grandma"! I thought my immediate response was weird, but just laughed it off instead of recognizing it as a first sign of trouble.

Yesterday was the first time I went out of the house since surgery two weeks ago (well, I went to my urology appointment on Friday, short and not overly exciting). I really had a good appetite and handled all the stimulation of being out in society quite well, when we took our son out to birthday lunch. But trying to stand, after lunch, my legs simply would not hold me and our son caught me before I hit the restraint floor. We came home and I slept 3 hours, got up, had a teary, traumatic evening while decimating my husband and two children, then went back to bed and slept another 11-ish hours.

Today seemed to start OK other than still dealing with the uptake in CPS, but I was crying and picking fights within an hour, then realized depression was really stepped up this morning as well. :( I couldn't handle the noise of the drum in church, having to go hide out in the bathroom for the band warm-up before service, then hiding out against my husband's shoulder, him plugging my good ear, during the two louder songs during service, tears (not exactly of physical "pain" but certainly neuro overload linked the noise, best described as "hearing hurt") pooled in my scrunched closed eyes. I came home from church and slept another 2+ hours. When I woke up I had very painful heartburn and Rick commented on how terribly pale I looked.

I feel pretty good this evening, just tired and ready for bed! The music trouble is a new experience for me, reminiscent of when I tried to put on blue jeans in the rehab hospital for the first time and simply could not tolerate them.

Weird how I have dealt with music just fine, even when first coming home from the hospital, until today. :( I'm also having trouble supporting myself or walking a straight line. I have no idea why.

Quote: "He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose" — Jim Elliot, missionary martyr who lost his life in the late 1950's trying to reach the Auca Indians of Ecuador
This is an amazing video. It is nearly 42 minutes long, so if you can't watch it all now, please watch at least the first two minutes (introduction) and last three (most important part of the message). But if you have the time, it is all pretty interesting.

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. - Ephesians 3:14-19
More information about my doctor, Dr. Gholdoian, father of two high schoolers, (who was shot at Renown medical center in Reno, Nevada last week) and a (short) memorial video.