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. (You will notice many typos in older posts. I intentionally never corrected them, as they helped document my cognitive abilities at various stages of recovery.)

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. Jennifer 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 wheelchair-bound and needing 24-hour care. At 5 years, 7 months, God clarified Jennifer's theology on healing and showed how He was writing her story from the beginning.

Jennifer is currently writing more books and stays active on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. 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 temporary update note above!)

Monday, March 25, 2013

17 Months

My next monthly post will be a year and a half already! Unbelievable! I remember in the earliest weeks, or even first few months after the stroke, hearing of someone already 6 month into recovery, a year, three years, and thinking I couldn't even comprehend getting there. The day stretched SO LOOOONNNNNNGGGGGGGGGG and were so terribly tedious.

I've been thinking about some of the positive "little detail" changes in my life over the past year. It wasn't so long ago when I simply couldn't carry a purse. Now that I am working on holding my cane with my left arm, my right arm is free to tote a purse (something the left seems now strong enough to do as well, but I am finding to be very painful to attempt).

I'm still needing to sit for at least a portion /the majority of each of my showers. (I had tried two or three successfully, standing, so it is possible, but I just don't have the stamina nor stability to do it safely, on a regular basis.) But realizing that this week last year, I was barely taking showers alone at all, still needing supervision close by the stall, we've come a long way!!!

Today I had a six-hour test with my endocrinologist (we have been told insurance will pick up all but a few hundred dollars of the needed testing - praise the Lord!) and made some more progress with my next book (though much of it was finishing up a couple sections I had thought I had already finished but I had not). It took nearly an hour (and multiple pokes) to get my first blood draw, but thankfully only one poke (10 or 15 minutes from start to finish) for the final draw. By the time all was said and done I was gone from home about 8 hours and was fasting for nearly 19, so I was seeing spots by the time I got to eat again. Glad that test is over with and I pray it gives us some useful information!

I do have one funny story I have to share with you, about last Thursday night or Friday morning. I woke up sometime in the wee hours of the morning and tried to scoot close to my husband to snuggle. Mind you, I'm still rather uncoordinated with my muscle movements, so I scooted over and started to get peacefully settled back in only to hear my husband's muffled voice protesting, "You are kind of squishing my head!" Turns out, in the dark and will my inaccurate targeting skills, I had put my pillow right over his face and was resting the whole weight of my head right on his own.

As soon as I realized what I had done, I snatched my pillow off his face in horror, then tried again to snuggle, this time head-butting him in the process! His reply? "That feels better." Because of the BPA, while I didn't find the situation at all humorous, I laughed off and on for the next 15 minutes. I would just about be relaxed back into sleep and another giggling fit would jolt us both awake. :( Now, I do find it all rather humorous and I still can't tell the story, or even thing about it, without breaking into fit of body-shaking, uncontrollable laughter, as I have several time through the typing here. My family has pretty well figured out that when I just start randomly laughing and they ask me why, I will probably respond with, "That feels better!" My poor husband. It is a miracle he has survived all the physical trauma my strokes have caused him over these past 17 months!

I haven't posted this for several months, so I share again, if you are on Facebook, you can find these updates by "liking" my page at facebook.com/pages/Stroke-of-Grace-by-Jennifer-Saake/339888582731687 . If you don't do Facebook (or even if you do use this tool but don't want to join my page there) I would encourage you to "follow" me on the right sidebar here at strokeofgrace.blogspot.com, where it says, "Join this site", in the blue box. I am hoping  publishers will be happy with numbers when I eventually query to publish this book (my stroke story)! ;) You might also enjoy my Pinterest boards at pinterest.com/infertilitymom or my stroke board and Heaven reflections there. Thank you for your help and amazing support.

Here's my new Stroke of Grace "button" my oldest son taught me how to design this weekend. (I need to give our 10-year-old daughter credit too, as she had done a great job showing me how to use the "Paint" program weeks ago, but I just couldn't quite figure out what she was explaining in that lesson.) So I figured out (thanks to their instruction!) how to do one of the things I had asked if anyone knew how to help me do. Not bad for someone who is brain damaged and "should" be dead! ;) Feel free to download this button on your computer (for PCs, you right click your mouse over the image and select "save as" then add it to your picture or downloads folder or wherever else you want it) and help me out by sharing it anywhere you can think to post the link. :)

Psalm 42:7-8 I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me. But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Combat Boots

 I ordered myself some combat boots this week. Yes, you read that right, combat boots!

When I told my mom she was incredulous, saying that when she was a kid one of the highest insults you could give out was, "Your Mama wears combat boots."

Well, hoping they fit well and I can use them, that's exactly what this Mama plans to do!
Why? Because it will be a regular, visible reminder to me that the battle belong to the Lord and to Him alone. Yes, I need to be willing to work with (rather than against) him in these battles (the spiritual and the physical of stroke recovery), but as long as I am doing what I should to suit up for battle (putting on my figurative "combat boots" and the rest of my spiritual armor as well as working hard on my therapies) I need only rest and wait on the Lord for victory.

You may still be scratching your head over why on earth I would ever make such a fashion choice, Confession time here - I would have never imagined myself in combat boots until I saw some adorable flower ones (pictures coming, if I find out they fit my needs). They immediately spoke to me that while I am in daily battle here, the journey is cushioned and liberally sprinkled with God's grace, just as these otherwise ugly, utilitarian boots are sprinkled in beautiful roses.

I can't get the picture to post here today, but I found them on No Moe Rack and ordered these $150 shoes that were clearance priced down to $33, then stacked discounts, rebates, a free shipping event, and an Ebates rebate sitting in my Paypal account, so ended up getting them for free! :) If you are thinking about investigating No More Rack, I have to give an honest disclaimer and say that the website, shopping cart and check out system were highly frustrating for me to navigate (though my mom was able to successfully order on her very first attempt), the online custom support initially non-existant, but the guy who quickly responded to multiple private messages on their Facebook page was very attentive and caring, doing all in his power to check in, make sure my orders got through, that I was satisfied, and went very far towards restoring my confidence in the company. I can't yet report on my shipping, product quality, or details of my order satisfaction, but if I have anything further to report, I'll let you know.

I'm comingback later, because I think I have found a way to finally share a picture of what I have ordered:
As far as progress here, ever since the strokes, if I was down on the floor and had to get up, I had to try to crawl (not pretty with such poor balance and disproportionate strength on each side!) over to a chair or table or sometimes could manage with the help of just a wall, and pull myself up with my arms and whole body, often placing my forehead on the chair for added leverage. As recently as early this week I was still surprised and frustrated by this process, because I have been working so hard to strengthen the muscles in my legs, but the nerve connections, balance and coordination just weren't there. We have been working on this skill in therapy. On Wednesday I finally managed to get myself up from the floor by myself (without holding on to or even touching anything for mental feedback about my environment) for the very first time!!! Yesterday I attempted several more times and managed it three times! :) It still isn't easy, or pretty, or steady. I still make my care givers nervous when I try and they are on high alert for my fall risk in the process. It is still both highly time- and energy-consuming and is more often unsuccessful than not, but at least I can say that I have now done it a few times, another skill (like walking or jumping) I thought I might never regain!!! I will keep working on it. :)

One other new think I am challenging myself on is my cane. I walk around the house (well-known surroundings, with close walls to catch myself, and less mental processing/stimulation than there is around other people) without it almost all the time, but I still rely on it pretty heavily any time I go out. I am to the point when it is often more of a "security blanket" than a necessity, though I cannot be totally without because I still catch myself to prevent falling several times per outing. I have tried just carrying it an inch or so above ground and walking, then putting it down when I need to catch my balance, but that doesn't work as well as I hoped. What I started trying yesterday was carrying it in my left (significantly weaker) hand, rather than the right where I've always held it. I'm not sure that arm is really strong enough to support me if I trip, but if nothing else it is forcing me to walk with straighter posture, focus hard on balance, and is good arm therapy, especially for my terribly weak wrist on that side. Today I more dragged it than effectively used the cane for support, but I'm giving this a try for now and will see how it goes.

I have a flip calendar from Barbara Johnson, called "Daily Splashes of Joy" (I'm guessing based on her book "Splashes of Joy in the Cesspools of Life"). Today's quote is, "Play on your one string as optimistically as you can."
2 Chronicles 20:17 (NKJV)
You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.”
1 Samuel 17:47  (NKJV)
Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.”
and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace
- Ephesians 6:15 (NKJV)

10-12 And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.
13-18 Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.
- Ephesians 6:10-18, The Message

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Good Fruit

Whew! Today is my only full day home with no appointments and nowhere to be all month (other than a couple unscheduled Saturdays). The wind is rattling and has me a bit on edge (the high winds and drop in temperature absolutely do not feel like the first day of spring) so that the day feels unusually long, but it has been great to be with my kids all day. It seems they will all be going to the charter school next year, so I especially treasure days like this now! Here are some recent thoughts about the whole stroke scenario and their education.

If you could please pray for my daughter's best friend's mom, K, she is in the hospital with viral meningitis. Tomorrow is B's (daughter's best friend) 10th birthday. It is a scary and upsetting time for all involved. Thank you for your prayers!

Yesterday I started the morning with another ocular migraine before I could even get dressed or make it out of the bedroom. All day I just felt several steps (months) back-stepped in recovery, having significantly harder issues swallowing food, choking on rice, being off balance, staggering and having little stamina. It was dramatic enough that I even questioned if I had possibly had yet another stroke, though there would be nothing to attribute it to if I had. But today everything seems back to my normal again (Kendra, except for acne, which has suddenly come on with an unexpected vengeance again this week), so I guess it was just an off day yesterday and nothing more. Who knows?

I am on a special diet this week (for blood testing early next week) that is low sodium, no processed or canned foods of any kind, and no dairy. It is making for some interesting eating and meal planning. Fortunately it isn't officially low carb too, but it is kind of turning out that way by default. If I don;t loose any weight this week (that isn't the point of the diet restrictions, just would be the expected result), I think I am going to cry!

Happy first day of spring! :)

Colossians 1:9-11 "So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy"

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Is It Getting Better?

Good morning!

I've been pretty quiet this week. Nothing particularly "wrong" as much as just busy! Doctor's appointments and/or therapy every day since Tuesday (I had to cancel Monday because I was home with a sick boy) had me out of the house pretty much "full time" hours all week. On Tuesday and Thursday, I was home less than an hour between 8:30 and 5 each day! Yesterday we at appointments, thus out of the house, from 9-3:30. Today I am home from church with a sick little boy again. :( I told me mom (usually my chauffeur) that she had no idea that me having a stroke would put her into such an aggressive stroke recovery schedule, especially nearly 17 months after the events began!

As my husband put it yesterday, "People keep asking if it is getting better and you want to say yes, but it really isn't getting any easier!" Now, when we really look at things now compared to when I first came home from the hospital or even six months into recovery, we can both point to many things that have significantly "gotten better," but it is still so very much harder than we ever dreamed it might be, plain and simple.

My attitude and emotional outburst have undoubtedly improved. The kids are home (even if homeschooling isn't going to remain a viable option past this school year) and we are resettling into family routines. Even with the schooling changes, God has/is opening some amazing doors that seemed humanly impossible! I am walking (with a cane), something doctors predicted would never happen. I can see quite clearly over 99% of the time. Surgeries have restored enough hearing to my left ear that I am usually at least be somewhat aware when sound is being made on that side now, even if I can't decipher it. My left shoulder is gradually strengthening enough so that it doesn't slide in and out of joint even daily anymore (was still doing this several times each day, even a few months ago, but we seem to have finally hit on the right combination of restorative exercises and enough time has lapsed that it is getting stronger) and isn't always such a constant source of such severe pain. I have regained some large motor skill and voluntary movement with my left arm. Only a portion of the left side of my mouth retains total numbness. We have traded sides of the bed so that I am generally in less danger of further injuring my sore side in my sleep. My right side, while possibly always retaining some mild deficits that I am quite aware of because I'm the one who has lived in this body both pre- and post-stroke, is pretty much back to normal and in no way visibly stroke damaged any longer.

Unquestionably, there has big large scale improvement. We thankfully acknowledge that we are in a much better place than we were even a few months ago. The dailiness and stress are still very real and disheartening, though. There are a million little things of daily life that I used to do, even to some extent in my bed-bound days (of prior chronic illness) that I simple cannot do now. These mostly fall on Rick's shoulders now. What I am physically capable of, I often forget (usually to do, occasionally how to do), so Rick can't even count on me doing that which I am able to accomplish. I think the feeling that it "isn't getting better" stems from the question of if it will ever improve or if this is our new daily (stressful) reality now?

Two somewhat encouraging things were said to me this week. The first was when I had a qualification review with special needs transit. I went in hoping they would approve me for the next three years (3 years is the maximum they can offer at one time, though last time was only for only six months, thus another interview this week), so that I wouldn't have to make time for another interview with them between now and then. They only recommended me for two years. I got the distinct impression from several things that were said, that this time-frame was chosen, in large part, to give me hope that I might be in a much better place in two more years.

The second was when my therapist and I were talking of the possibility of upping my therapy schedule again. D. indicated that we might see additional medical benefit from more frequent visits, but she ultimately decided we should stick with our current schedule because she didn't want to take away any more time from me "living my life" rather than living at the gym. We won't back off from current schedule, it just felt good to not be adding anything additional, to be encouraged into regular life rather than pushed toward more "recovery." In once sense, recovery will remain a lifelong pursuit. It is simply nice to be given some grace, some freedom, some gentleness, like this.

Here are a couple brief Facebook updates from the week:

I used public special needs transit today. It worked great and my drivers were absolutely fantastic! My 1 hour counseling appointment took 5 hours from the time I left the house until I got home again though. I'm one exhausted girl! Thank you to my dear hubby, Rick, for bringing home dinner, not only that but one of my *favorite* dinners!!! ♥

Friday morning:
I don't have to be anywhere for any appointments until lunch time today! (OK, that means we bailed on regular water therapy today, moving it until tomorrow, but it wasn't workable today.) I am so excited!!! A whole morning, uninterrupted with my kids! What luxury. I feel so spoiled. :)

And a quote from a friend's page:
"Jesus didn't just preach a gospel. He lived one, and now YOU are His hands and feet. hands that are for more than writing personal checks. Feet that are for more than walking to Church or to the mailbox so someone else can be resourced to go."
~The Resolution for Women

I may be called to be a "resourcer" if that's what God equips me to do, but I have to remember to do all that He does call me to do! If we are called, we must trust God to equip us according to that call.

Ecclesiastes 9:10
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Boots and a Baby

I'm not even sure where to start...

I guess bad news first. We are pretty overwhelmed. Since last summer (less than a year) our kids have given us a broken bone, head stitches / staples, a significant learning disability diagnosis, revisiting a possible genetic illness concern, and at least 3 major rounds of family-wide sickness. They tell me this would be overwhelming even if I weren't fighting my own health battle. (We also found out yesterday how terribly gullible I am now and that while, at times, I feel pretty smart, and other times I KNOW that I don't know something anymore, but the scary times are when I think I am being wise and knowledgeable and I'm not at all.)

As I write, I am fighting significant vision distortion from another ocular migraine, my husband is taking time off work to drive our daughter to the orthopedic surgeon who said it isn't another break this time, just a nasty sprain around the growth plate, that requires another several weeks in her boot/cast she still has from last break, and our son is throwing up! I still am supposed to have (had to cancel for today) nearly-daily therapy and/or doctor appointments for stroke recovery.

All this on top of still trying to home-school the younger two (wouldn't be possible without amazing parents!!!) and learning the public school system for the first time mid-school-year, starting two months ago, for our oldest!

It is to the point where I feel the current devotional book I'm writing (includes themes on spiritual warfare, does talk of Job a little, but I'm wondering if that should be a bigger focus of the book) can't be finished up quickly enough! There are other major stresses in our lives right now too. Last night it all got to be too much. I just broke down and sobbed (and post-stroke crying isn't at all pretty with all the snot and ragged gasps for air and emotional instability to factor in).

I am so thankful for these amazing kids and so many other blessings in our lives. Just feeling pretty beat up right now!!! I asked Rick if he ever feels discouraged, feels like the more he prays, the worse things seem to get. He agreed that often thing do get worse before they get better, but also pointed out many blessing God has given this past year.

The good new is (and if you have been reading here long, you know we are talking MAJOR victory) that I hadn't broken down at all (even alone with Rick) in a couple weeks now!!!

Almost two weeks ago, my physical therapist got me walking on a treadmill (starting at .1 MPH, gradually up two nearly 2 MPH over 15 minutes) for the first time since the strokes. My Dad has since closely supervised me in this activity at the gym. I can actually feel much more of my need to "weight shift" more onto my left leg. I can remember hearing this instruction, over and over ever, since they first started working on helping me stand again in the hospital, but couldn't really grasp what they wanted because what felt "straight" to me was actually way over to my right. What they tell me is "straight" has felt like I have been significantly leaning over left. It is such an amazing difference to have straight actually feel somewhat more straight now!!! I know I still am not fully balanced yet, as my left foot still slides when I walk sock-footed on a smooth floor, so I've got to keep working on more evenly putting weight through my left leg, but there is notable progress on stepping more evenly with both legs.

 On a related note, I sucessfully wore something other than tennis shoes to church yesterday morning (yes, we had to leave even before the service started, because our little guy started throwing up at church). I got to thinking about how I had previously tried full shoes (with a solid back, not just a strap), thinking this would make it possible for me to wear them. Since I easily kept walking out of them, I realized that shoes that are easy to get on are still way too easy to get out of as well.

So I found a pair of my old boot (dressy, not snow boots) and it took me over 15 minutes to wrestle them on (it used to take me this long to wrestle my way into tennis shoes, that now I can put on in a minute or two), but once I got them there, my feet did not slip out! They are really flat, but since there is a 1/4 inch big, flat, steady back heal, I still turned my left ankle several times trying to wear them because I am just not used to any heal at all. There was no question that I was dependent on the cane for walking again while wearing them. It just felt so nice to have another potential option beside tennis shoes, for when I want to dress up a bit!

Last Wednesday, I was scheduled to do a medical test. It required fasting and I lost my instructions so I did eat breakfast. :( I'll try again this Wednesday (if the tummy flu doesn't mess up those plans). For all the testing and procedures I am constantly going too, not a bad track record that I messed up just this one!

Also, if health permits, I'm going to give the Access transit system a second attempt tomorrow. I'm nervous, but it will good for me to find out I can do this. My mom will travel with me tomorrow. If all goes well, I will try on my own next week.

Sorry to the eight people who have already read this, but I have to add in something AMAZING that I can't believe I forgot to share!!! I accomplished one of my long-term goals last week! For well over a year I have been sad about, and for many months I have been working with both my counselor and my physical therapist over, my desire to hold a baby again, something I have been unable to do since the strokes and something I deeply grieved. On Thursday, a mom trusted me to hold her 4-month-old little girl! I was seated, held her with my strong side, she arched her back like she didn't feel very secure, and I held her for less than five minutes, but I got to do it at all! How like God that her name is Hana! <3

Instead of a specific verse today. I would like to share a prayer containing so many Biblical concepts. I have tagged a therapy video on to the very end, but don't know how to turn it for you, so it is what is is. We will hold the camera differently next time!

Lenten Prayer

Lent should be more than a time of fasting.
It should be a joyous season of feasting.
Lent is a time to fast from certain things and feast on others.
It is a season in which we should:

Fast from judging others; feast on Christ dwelling in them.
Fast from emphasis on differences; feast on the unity of all life.
Fast from apparent darkness; feast on the reality of light.

Fast from thoughts of illness; feast on the healing power of God.
Fast from words that pollute; feast on phrases that purify.
Fast from discontent; feast on gratitude.

Fast from anger; feast on patience.
Fast from pessimism; feast on optimism.
Fast from worry; feast on divine order.
Fast from complaining; feast on appreciation.
Fast on negatives; feast on affirmatives.
Fast on unrelenting pressures; feast on unceasing prayer.

Fast from hostility; feast on nonresistance.
Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.
Fast from self-concern; feast on compassion for others.

Fast from personal anxiety; feast on enthusiasm.
Fast from suspicion; feast on truth.
Fast from thoughts that weaken; feast on promises that inspire.

Fast from shadows of sorrow; feast on the sunlight of serenity.
Fast from idle gossip; feast on purposeful silence.
Fast from problems that overwhelm; feast on prayer that [strengthens].

- William Arthur Ward (American author, teacher, and pastor, 1921-1994.)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Glimpses and Glimmers

You know you have become a Pintrest addict when...
...you see an add on t.v. (I don't get out much, other than to doctors and various therapy, so t.v. is my primary window to the world) and think to yourself, "That is such a beautiful picture. I should pin it right away!" :)

This is kind of like (a question I answered on Facebook yesterday), you know you home school when...
...your husband hesitates to eat anything out of your fridge without first checking to make sure it isn't a science experiment. True story! :D

God works in surprising ways sometimes. I have felt (and even mentioned here a few times) for more than a year, clear back to some of my earliest memories in the hospital, actually, that God was allowing this story to unfold, not only to His praise and prayerfully, to His great glory as well, but to birth some kind of ministry, maybe something along the lines of Joni Eareckson Tada. One of the first statements I remember striving to comfort my own grieving family with, was, "God has a plan!"
I am already seeing a glimmer of this ministry unfolding in this very blog, but I really believe His plan is so very much bigger. I think it includes a book and probably a public speaking outreach. It is about this last idea I have been specifically praying lately, that if God wanted me to share my story, that He would begin opening doors in that vein.

Out of the blue, I have received an invitation to travel half way across the country, next year, to speak at an infertility conference. Honestly, everything humanly speaking screams that even the consideration of this possibility is an impossible idea (including the 45 minutes I spent today at therapy, starting to hash out my new fear of heights since the strokes so terribly messed up my equilibrium and now leave me terrified at the thought of flying), but God says He will supply the strength for anything He calls me to.

I really have no idea if this is a direction I am supposed to pursue, or simply God asking my willingness to go where He sends? The conference is totally in God's hands. I can't do anything to hurry up the decision (we are taking the month of March to pray through our answer), only God know His plan and the final outcome here. From the physical standpoint this is such a ridiculous consideration, that there is no doubt that God would be working here, not me, if everyone come to the conclusion that I should go. His strength alone! 

However He leads and impresses the hearts of the conference planners (they would have to figure quite a bit more than planned to help meet my current limitations and needs, including transportation costs for my mom to travel with me as a care-giver) and my husband, that will be the direction we move. At first it felt kind of helpless, having the situation totally out of my hands, but there is a unique peace and freedom in this too. Isn't that how we really should relate to doors God is leading us to investigate anyway?

I didn't think God would call me to start speaking at all, until my stroke book was finished and published. When I started speaking, I expected the focus would be on the strokes. Either of these presumption may (or may not) be true. But praying about speaking, I can't then refuse to pray about this newest possibility. Would you please join with us in praying for peace and wisdom as you consider this specific (and any other God bring along) invitation. Thanks!

On a totally different topic, I have come to the conclusion that weight management is a luxury only afforded by the healthy. Almost everyone I know living with any chronic health condition, struggles with being (often severely) overweight or underweight. After more than six months of spending hours per week (plus regular therapy) at the gym, I am exactly one pound lower than when I started! Unless I am able to pursue my endocrinological testing and find any help from treatment there, I am about to give up as far as weight control is concerned. It just drains too much energy to give this issue my focus. When there are so many other appointments and concerns to attend to, this single issue is taking up too much of my mental real estate and causing too much stress right now. Yes, my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and from that perspective, I will keep fighting to strength my body and keep it healthy (eating choices, etc.) in honor to God. I just am not willing to keep bending over to try to do something that my body seems incapable of doing!

2 Samuel 22:29-31
Suddenly, God, your light floods my path, God drives out the darkness... What a God! His road stretches straight and smooth. Every God-direction is road-tested. Everyone who runs toward him Makes it.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Busy Week!

It is March, and time marches on. Next month Kendra hits her one-year mark!

The past several days I have been pretty quiet. Even my email pals will attest to my "funk" for about a week, when I hardly would answer emails at all.

For some reason (hormones?) the 16-month mark hit me particularly hard. I can't even say exactly why, as it isn't a particularly notable landmark. I think the realization of it all just overwhelms me sometimes, that I am to remain in this world, without being of it, and without even being "normal" (whatever that is) while I'm here.

Recovery has dramatically slowed and there are few areas of notable progress now (though I did well on my first attempt on a slow treadmill at therapy this week). We have dropped occupational therapy due to ongoing lack of advancement there. I guess the reality that I have likely about maxed out is hitting hard. I met a lady 10-years post-stroke this week and she is only a little better off than I am right now. Pain levels are becoming progressively more intense too, so I think that attributed to my cocooning myself, relationally.

I had a bone density study yesterday. The literature said it was a "painless" test. Because of my strokes I am ataxic and absolutely cannot hold still, so after 3 tries to get a readable (not great, but semi-usable) arm x-ray, the tech decided to Velcro my left leg in place to take my hip picture. I was only held still about 2 minutes, but it was excruciating! I really hadn't noticed a ton of pain in my leg before (foot yes, but leg much milder than upper body), but I discovered yesterday this is only because I am constantly moving my leg a little. Holding it totally still is torture! CPS (see introduction, above) is going to be very high on my priority list next time I talk with my neurologist!

I am still waiting for news about if insurance will cover my endocrinology testing or not (the difference between continuing with this doctor or not). I have been praying, asking God to clearly open or close doors in this area. Yesterday, before I had my bone scans, I gave some vials of blood first (Only 4 pokes! Sadly, the vein that finally decided to give was the one attempt on my sore side. Oh well.) at an office upstairs in the same building, from my doctor. One of the nurses and a tech from my doctor's office were actually the ones called upstairs to get my blood samples, just before my scheduled scans. The nurse got to know me and my story, so when I went down a floor and had to talk with someone about all those scheduled tests I am still trying to get information about, guess who I got to talk to? Whatever answer comes back, I now feel I have been listened to, treated with attention, and have done absolutely everything in my power to resolve issues. I might be disappointed with the end results, but I can have peace.  

For a week with only one scheduled doctor's appointment at the start of the week, it has turned out to be plenty hectic! When looking at my schedule last week, I wasn't factoring in any non-doctor appointments (like counseling,  a couple of times at therapy, that long blood draw, my hubby being out of town for several days, all the responsibilities of getting a child to and from school way across town, without being able to drive (Thanks Mom and Dad to the rescue!), a parent/teacher meeting to attend, etc.) 

As it turned out, I was only home with my kids two (mostly) full days all week! And, save being a "single mom," this was a "lighter" than normal week! It is hard to get school accomplished with the younger two this way, but thankfully my Dad takes my lesson plans and carries on for me whenever I have to be gone to all these appointments. Both my kids tried to pull some stunts over on Grandpa this week, but found out deception sometimes works for a while, but ultimately isn't worth the price!

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul - 1 Peter 2:11 (KJV)