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.

Jenni is currently writing more books and stays active on both Facebook and Pinterest. 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 equips you to send any monetary assistance as well, this is a significant added blessing.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Changes

It's more of a "mom" post than just a "stroke" post, so I put it over on my InfertilityMom blog, but if you want to read how strokes have changed my perspective on Oct. 31, I just shared.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Brainy

This post is directly prompted by an hour a half long documentary from the History Channel.


What I did NOT like about this video is how much they incorporated evolutionary theory as if it were fact.  This mindset was SO predominantly woven through the presentation, that I would imagine that all the other fascinating brain information could have been fully presented in under an hour, had there not been so much time spent on "millions of billions of years" and how the brain supposedly evolved. (Yes, I very definitely and undeniable have a bias toward Intelligent Design, here's why.)


What I was awed by was to see how exactly several "brain verses" exactly matched up to even evolutionarily biased science (and only solidified the argument for Intelligent Design)!


When the movie showed the physical brain changes (impairments) in the mind psychopaths and then specifically of serial killers, I couldn't help but being floored at the visible results of a seared conscious as they could physically show tendencies toward lying, lack of empathy, and low morality! "The Spirit clearly says that in latter times some people will turn away from the faith. They will pay attention to spirits that deceive and to the teaching of demons. They will be controlled by the pretense of lying, and their own consciences will be seared." - 1 Timothy 4:1-2 (CEV)


When talking about the necessity of consistent repetition, practice, athletic training and muscle memory, how critical such repetition is to excel in ANY area and to retain mastery of a topic, Romans 12:2 kept running through my head. "Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature."


Hmm, I know there was a third verse that really seemed profoundly illustrated by this documentary as well. Now I absolutely cannot remember what the documentary brought to mind (I'm thinking it was concerning spirits and the segment on physic ability, but I've tried and tried to recall and keep drawing a blank.) Anyone help me out?


Any other brain/mind/thought related verses anyone else can share? The brain is pretty fascinating territory!





Tuesday, October 29, 2013

International Awareness

Today is World Stroke Day.


 
To donate the $4 by sharing, please share from my Facebook page.
 




Monday, October 28, 2013

Impressions

I have received several questions about my thoughts and impressions on Heaven and dying. I am not an expert and not trying to offer an authoritive voice on the matter, just want to welcome you into my personal speculations, as if you were sitting on my living room couch and we were chatting. Since I always wished I could hear about death first hand, and the only way to really know about it typically meant someone was no longer around to share their experiences, I wanted to answer a few of those questions about what I now believe, here. If you aren't sure what I'm talking about, you will want to read about my near death experience first.
we are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. - 2 Corinthians 5:8 (AKJV)
My impression is that Heaven is just right beyond our reality, not long and windingly out of reach, but I do think this is a beautiful picture (and song). Also, I wouldn't represent the entrance of Heaven as any kind of obstacle, because in my human frailties I could not climb those stairs that don't even have a handrail! I believe when God brings us into His presence, it is not by any works or effort on our parts, simply by His grace we are suddenly and gently just THERE! (Picture originally found on Pinterest. Referring link is from youtube.)
Picture from Pinterest
Something I wanted other infertile women or fellow bereaved moms to know is: "For those of us who have lost babies (or did without even knowing we were pregnant), my children, living or dead, didn't even cross my mind, so in awe was I by God's goodness. And for those facing unfulfilled longings, such as infertility, all worldly care are so distant and all longing fulfilled by Christ alone. The experience REALLY makes me profoundly aware of the brevity of human life and that our real focus for this earthly life should be bringing as many folks to Heaven as we can!

"As for the pregnancy/infant loss factor, I can't help but feel even a little "jealous" of my babies who got to Heaven before me. I don't spend nearly as much time thinking about them as I used to, or as I would think I would now, but when I do, I can't help but think of their joy and peace."

Picture from Pinterest

When I shared my story with a select group of friends last year, one friend, whose daughter only lived a few days after birth, then died of kidney failure after a very painful heart surgery and struggle in ICU, told me, "I remember, Jenni, that you had briefly shared your experience with me after A. died. It helped me so much to think that my precious child is in such a wonderful place. It hurts me so deeply when I think of how much she physically suffered in her short life (just after surgery). I was just talking to dh last night about how I still feel like I "gave up on her" and he simply said, "Honey, she is in Heaven now. It doesn't matter anymore." so this post is just what I needed to be reminded this morning.
"I know that some people probably looked at me and thought I was crazy when I shared publicly that I knew there were two angels who had come to her beside right before she died. I don't know how I knew. I didn't see them, but I felt them and I had the immediate thought, "There are angels here." "

I replied: I'm glad you remember that. I don't. I had intentionally tried NOT to say anything to you along these lines, because I'm so bursting with awe, I wasn't sure how to address what I wanted to say, while still being tender toward your hurting heart and very real grief. I pray I didn't fumble and cause more pain in whatever I did say. :wub: :hug: I guess I was just too bursting to keep quiet all together. I pray I choose balanced words????

"I can say that as much as she suffered in this lifetime, the memory has faded for her, possibly all the way. The memory is MUCH more bitter for you than her! All she knows, and will forever know for all eternity, is beauty and glory and joy and peace.

"I think you were aware of the angels with you daughter because God gave you spiritual "eyes to see" (even if you didn't physically see, but just KNOW) just a sliver of what's happening all around us. <3 I think that is super cool, and a comfort to us all to realize God's typically unseen working at all times."

Picture from Facebook

My friend, Susan, writes, "I was thinking about heaven today. No pain, no tears, incredible beauty. God told me that while all of that is true, it's not what heaven's about. It's about being able to worship Him with purity and completeness which I can't do on earth. Heaven's not about me at all." [Edited to add my own thoughts along these lines, April, 2015.]


M. asked, "Jenni, maybe you could help me with something that I was learning about. I heard a speaker talk about music and how rock type music, or music with a strong beat, was not Godly. He had a lot of interesting reasons and I kind of was left thinking that while he had interesting reasons, I was not sure whether he was correct or not. So I've been thinking a lot about it recently and want to honor God with my music...  Do you recall, or can you put your finger on if the music you heard had a prominent beat to it?"

My answer was: If I had to pick a human genera, it was something similar to what we would call "classical," but my personal description of what I experienced is so different from some others I have read (all ages and races and cultures) that my personal theory is that God doesn't "jolt" us from one life to the next, but tailor customizes the introduction to meet the needs and experiences and basis of understanding of each life. (Jesus said, I go and prepare a place for you...).

In those moments, I never "felt dead," just a smooth transfer from life to more life, greater life, deeper life. God knows that for me, personally, a "classical music-type" welcome would make me feel most at Home. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if someone saved by the testimony of a Christian rock band was welcomed into Glory by a rockier beat. ;)
Your place in Heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it—made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand.
~ The Problem of Pain
In follow up she sent a second message saying, "I  want to honor God with my music. (I don't typically listen to non-Christian music except for Classical but he was talking about Christian music with a rock beat)."

I replied: This is not an area where I have much insight, but my personal perspective would be that if God is honored and a certain form of worship is not forbidden by Scripture or causing my brother to stumble (or causing war within my own spirit that I might feel to be prompting from the Holy Spirit) that it is like Peter and the unclean food, quite permissible.

If a tribe of Indians or group in Africa is used to praying to their "god" with drum beat, does God expect them to abandon all culture, or can the heart attitude of worship to the One True Deity still be expressed as they are accustomed to worship? A Christian rock band can meet and minister to people God will never allow me to reach. As long as He is glorified and hearts are changed, who am I to question the tool God chooses? We are all fashioned by the Potter for His usage!

Picture from Pinterest

S. wrote, "I actually have a fear of dying. I know, I am a Christian and should not. Glad to read your experience and know that it won't be so scary (for lack do a better way to explain how your story helps me). I can't wait until the music in heaven. Everything must be so much more wonderful than we can imagine!"

My reply: I totally relate to these feeling. It might help even more to know that I never "felt dead." Just life to more life, deeper life, certain life. :wub: Somehow, I expected pain, a chasm to cross, some sort of awareness of the death process. Instead it was just one continual, constant flow. This life to the next with nothing but peace and overwhelming joy in the transition.

Picture from Pinterest

My mom writes, "I laugh at myself because when I compare beautiful clouds and light to what I think about Heaven, you assure me it is so much, much more! I love you!"


Picture from Pinterest

After being challenged to find and fulfill God's purpose for my days on earth, it became evident to me that as wonderful as Heaven is (and I already got a sneak peak, that was so wonderful that I am ever-so anxious to find out more!) that Hell must be just as awesome in terror. I promised God that I would spend the days assigned to me to help anyone who would listen to avoid such fate, for I cannot even imagine the horror...

Picture from Pinterest
If you aren't SURE about your eternal destiny, please read why I am so passionate to share this message, how you can KNOW about your future, without any more fear nor doubt!

Picture from Pinterest

I believe that there is only one God, Jesus Christ. That to believe Him, I must abide by what He says, namely that He alone is God and there is no other, that He is the only way to the Father and that many paths are inviting, but only one leads to eternal life.

I believe that we are all born as sinners, separated from God, and the only remedy to clear us of our guilt, is acceptance of the death and resurrection of Jesus, the only sinless man ever to live.


It is not through doing enough (or any) right or good things, but by simple
faith that God is who He says He is and did what He said He did. It isn't just about believing the facts, but taking them to heart. If I tell you a chair can hold my weight, I can tell you that all day, but it really means nothing until I exercise that belief by taking my body and actually sitting in that chair to show us both that I believe what I say, that I am willing to act upon what I say is true. It is like that with God too. I can say He exists and maybe even say I'm willing to see the work of His hand in my life, but until the "good works" I do are because of my love for Him, an expression of my adoration and acknowledgement of all He has already given for me, not in effort to earn forgiveness or grace, they mean nothing. As Scripture says, such works are as useless as filthy rags!

Picture from Pinterest

1-5 For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.
6-8 That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we’ll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming.
9-10 But neither exile nor homecoming is the main thing. Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that’s what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions. Sooner or later we’ll all have to face God, regardless of our conditions. We will appear before Christ and take what’s coming to us as a result of our actions, either good or bad.
11-14 That keeps us vigilant, you can be sure. It’s no light thing to know that we’ll all one day stand in that place of Judgment. That’s why we work urgently with everyone we meet to get them ready to face God. God alone knows how well we do this, but I hope you realize how much and deeply we care. We’re not saying this to make ourselves look good to you. We just thought it would make you feel good, proud even, that we’re on your side and not just nice to your face as so many people are. If I acted crazy, I did it for God; if I acted overly serious, I did it for you. Christ’s love has moved me to such extremes. His love has the first and last word in everything we do.
14-15 Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.

-  2 Corinthians 5, The Message


Quote - "All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before." - C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle Beautiful description.


It seems a recurrent theme in my life is "waiting." I asked God why this recurrent theme and what I still have no grasped. He answered that He has been preparing me for the ultimate joyful wait for Heaven fellowship with Him.


"The modern view of the death of Jesus is that He died for our sins out of sympathy for us. Yet the New Testament view is that He took our sin on Himself not because of sympathy, but because of His identification with us. He was “made. . . to be sin. . . .” Our sins are removed because of the death of Jesus, and the only explanation for His death is His obedience to His Father, not His sympathy for us. We are acceptable to God not because we have obeyed, nor because we have promised to give up things, but because of the death of Christ, and for no other reason.


"We say that Jesus Christ came to reveal the fatherhood and the lovingkindness of God, but the New Testament says that He came to take “away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). And the revealing of the fatherhood of God is only to those to whom Jesus has been introduced as Savior. In speaking to the world, Jesus Christ never referred to Himself as One who revealed the Father, but He spoke instead of being a stumbling block (see John 15:22-24). John 14:9 , where Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father,” was spoken to His disciples." ~ Oswald Chambers 




Saturday, October 26, 2013

Dread and Victories

Before I forget, I want to share this link for a stoke support fundraiser (pounds, not dollars) at http://www.justgiving.com/kirsty-shedlock for a gal in my online support group who is undertaking a doctor-monitored fast for the next 2 months on behalf of her mom, who has had three strokes.
 

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I thought I would be so cool to time my 200th post with my second re-birthday, yesterday, so I've been going through a bit of blogging withdrawal over the past few weeks because I had to ration my posts to once per week if I wanted to meet that goal. Now that I'm not trying to conserve posts, I'll catch you up on a few everyday landmarks in my life!

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This past Tuesday was a big day. My mom drove me and my 10-year-old, dead-for-the-second-time vacuum, to the shop to see if it was even worth spending the money to repair again. We ultimately traded in our yellow behemoth (I remember craving that Dyson and thinking it was the end-all-to-be-all in floor care, nearly a decade ago!) and left the shop with a new, powerful, bright red Simplicity model (it feels like a race car!) and I dealt with all the decisions and financial transaction without having to call my husband to walk me through the pro and cons! I think I made a good decision and I did it without picking up the phone to make sure I was handling it OK!
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We brought it home, my dad came over and put it together (and fixed what I managed to break in the first five minutes!) and, for the very first time in TWO YEARS, I managed to walk with the vacuum and push it the entire length of two hallways in our house! Yes, I was probably at pretty significant fall risk, yes my left leg was SHAKING badly (especially when I managed to push about three swipes with my LEFT arm), yes, I worked up a major sweat and was panting like a dog, but I DID IT and didn't even fall! I'm still not allowed to vacuum by myself if there is no one else around, in case I were to fall, but other than one brief success on a very specific mess in a confined area of our son's room (where I could cling to the side of the bed and sit down on it frequently) this is a major first!

Facebook

Bird seed never made such a beautiful sound as when it was sucked into that machine! It was weird though, because in one way I could mentally dissect all that has transpired over the past two years to bring me to this point, yet it was very surreal and really didn't even seem like I didn't just do this chore myself last week. I thought I would be crying with joy but it felt pretty "normal" and mundane, strange for something I've worked so very LONG and HARD to achieve!!! I guess "underwhelmed" best describes my reaction. But when I think about it, I know this is actually a HUGE deal!

Facebook

That morning, I managed to fold a towel "perfectly" (Mom's word). I used my right hand, chin, and a lot of right arm shaking out of fabric to get things where I needed fabric to fall, but it is all lined up so neatly! My mom says she isn't going to abandon me to my full loads of laundry yet, but with straight edged items, it's a huge start! :)
Facebook

Wednesday morning I was quite blue. I wrote a couple friends and said, "I'm kind of down (emotionally) this week, but just two days away from my 2-year stroke mark, so I think it is mostly just landmark dread. If I stay brave, on Friday I am going to post a LONG explanation of exactly what happened that day (chiropractor, legal, pretty much everything), so I think just getting that "out there" will help anxiety a lot too. Either way, the date will be passed soon and that will be a relief!" Then I posted to my online stroke support group, "Anyone else having landmark anxiety over a coming stroke-a-versary? Two years out and my re-birthday is Friday. Knot in the tummy, all though I keep telling myself that it is just a date on the calendar."


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One internal sign of stroke is lightening, since it strikes hard, fast, unexpectedly and can be so terribly destructive.
 
Here's a great talk I listened to this week, about purpose. It won't imbed for me, but so worth visiting http://youtu.be/O1ZdXeKMysI for A Deeper Healing by Joni Eareckson Tada (Strange Fire Conference).
 
Trace the rainbow through the rain! (From Facebook.)
 

Awesome, short explanation written for kids, but great for adults too:
I have had little aphasia, but what I have had is more like what this video presents than total absence of words like I thought it was.
 

 
Facebook - I love bears. <3
 

Here are a bunch of pictures, from Facebook, that I'm sharing for no particular reason other than that I like them (but there is more writing after these pictures, so don't stop reading here!):

 
 

 
Apple Hill, CA

 
 
 
 
 
I want to add this to my profile as well, "As of October, 2013, all images, unless otherwise noted, were taken from the Internet and are assumed to be in the public domain. These images are not presented as my own, unless noted as such. Copyright still belongs to the owner / creator of each work. (Prior to this date most pictures were mine unless otherwise noted, but I am still open to site sourcing you may offer on specific works!) In the event that there is a problem with the inclusion of your work, please contact me at jsaake AT yahoo DOT com with the exact post URL and description of image that concerns you, and I will be happy (my preference) to edit in a link and credit the appropriate source or even to entirely remove the disputed image from my site, if that is your desire."
 
While we are talking about pictures that are presumed to be in the public domain, a picture currently circulation around Facebook is titled "Blessing Bags.":
 
 
I post it because it reminds me of a story that I wrote* years ago that you might appreciate:
 
One cold winter evening several years ago, we drove past an elderly man on the corner, icicles dripping off his beard. We had only the length of the red light to make a decision and chose to drive on with the color changed to green. We knew in our hearts God was calling us to do more but let the rush of holiday excitement stand in our way. A couple hours later we left the party and went back to find him so we could pay for a cheep motel room for the night, but we couldn’t track him down.

To this day I can’t help but wonder if he wasn’t an “angel unaware” that we failed to offer the hospitality God so clearly prompted us to give. I’ve never been able to pass another cardboard sign without deep conviction that God calls us to reach out to the hopeless and needy, sometimes in small ways, sometimes more. We have at times, bought meals or even given cash, as God prompts our hearts. I have no doubt we have been scammed a few times, but that’s between the other person and God. I’m only responsible to act in obedience as God calls me.

Our church introduced us to the concept of Manna Bags. We now carry ziplock bags in our car containing a bottle of water, a couple of protein bars, socks (sock are like gold if you live on the street, see infertilitymom.blogspot.com/2009/06/blog-post.html ), dried fruit, etc. You could add things like toothbrush, travel size toiletries, or whatever else God puts on your heart.
 

The ideas is that we know this little bag will not change their world, but like manna, it can be God’s provision to meet needs for this one day. When I gave one out in a parking lot last week, the man had eaten his first granola bar before I even made it back to the car – no doubt he was truly hungry. As so often happens, it was the socks that really got him excited and brought tears to his eyes.
 
I’m also working on a list of area missions and shelters and soups kitchens and such, along with addresses and phone numbers, that we can enclose in the bag along with a written prayer so that hopefully we can help direct people to more long-term solutions. I long to help meet the needs of spiritual hunger as well as physical and continue to pray about what kinds of resources I might include that will fill this void.
 
I’ll never forget the day I had just taken our kids to a special bakery and bought a loaf of gourmet bread for three times what I normally would pay in the grocery store. It was warm and fresh and we each savored a single piece as soon as we got to the car. Pulling out of the parking lot we spotted a couple shivering by the stop sign. I had nothing in the car to give but that treasured loaf of bread and even though it was a treat they loved, my kids didn’t think twice. I pointed out the couple and before I could even ask what we should do I heard from the backseat, “Roll down the window Mommy. We still have most of our loaf of bread!” Their generous hearts meant more to me than a million dollars, and scam or no scam, we were all richer for the experience!
 

* I wrote this pre-stroke and never got to follow through on my intentions to put together a list. If anyone knows of Reno area resources (or national, just not a soup kitchen in another state!), please let me know. I would still like to get this part done!
Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
- James 2:15-17




Friday, October 25, 2013

The Song

I shared the details of my story on my two year stroke-a-versary, but since that posy was SO long, here's the final section (out of 8 sections) of the main body of the post, for your easier reference. If anything here confuses you or you want more information, please remember to visit the original post for full context! http://strokeofgrace.blogspot.com/2013/10/2-years-rest-of-story.html

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8. One Victorious Stroke

In our family we have what has become known as THE SONGincluding words along the lines of, "I go where God and glory are...this broken body I now resign..." In a totally different context than a physical stroke, meaning brain damage, this song also includes the word "stroke," as in a measurement of time, but to me there is profound double meaning in this word. Everyone in the family knows I can't even try to sign "the song" without a torrent of tears. But I have made a decision that, God helping us, we are somehow going to make what Satan intended for harm "one victorious stroke" for God's glory. I want to make this my new victory theme song. Emotionally, I still don't know how I will ever sing it, but in my heart, I want to exchange the devastation, sorrow and loss for a proclamation of God's sovereignty and grace in His decisions for my life, 2 years ago today, all that led up to this event, and in every moment since.



Absent from Flesh, "The SONG"
 
Several things in this song prick my spirit, but the primary struggle was one against suicidal thoughts and a longing simply to be Home. After getting so close, Paul's words resound with me as never before, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!  I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me." - Philippians 1:21-26.
 
From Facebook - I've always loved storms, but in a new way since my strokes!

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.
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If you would like to read more of my story, please select from Basics and Why I've Not Shared Before and Story Details, Medical Expectations, Manipulation Mechanics, GoalsLegal, or Reflections on Forgiveness. Thank you for walking a little piece of this journey with me.