Update: Stroke of Grace has become In Darkness Sing and has moved to JenniferSaake.com.

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. 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.

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.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Date Nights

Rick and I have found post-stroke dating to be nothing if not memorable. We haven't made it on many dates over the past two and a half years, and maybe the few we have attempted explain why we haven't attempted more! (We have had about three blessedly uneventful ones too, but here are a few blooper out-takes for you.)

You may remember our first big date post-stroke, when I sneezed and spit food all over the linen tablecloth. I still can't keep my lips together when I sneeze yet, but I have learned to cover my mouth when I sneeze now.

Another date night I was too embarrassed to post all the details at the time, but the highlights of that evening included kicking my shoes down the hall ahead of me, while trying to walk (taught me that I still have enough paralysis in my feet that there are only a few styles of shoes that will hold onto my feet now) and successfully (or so I thought) actually managing to tie the belt of my wrap skirt myself, only to have it FALL OFF when I slid out of the booth and stood up after our meal. I kid you not, as my husband rushed to grab it and get the skirt back around by waist, the guy at the table next to us tries to lighten the mood by singing, "Memories..."!

The reason I don't hesitate to share that disaster now is because that date was mild in comparison to this weekend. I had won a free hotel night stay in Jonnie's brain surgery fundraiser (near and dear to my heart, a bigger need now than ever) raffle last fall and given it to my husband for his birthday last year. We have been looking forward to this relaxing weekend for months now. The room we ended up with was a 4-star suite with marble tile, a steam shower, an in-room Jacuzzi-style, 2-person bathtub, a stunning panoramic view of the city lights, and lush fabrics from drapes to carpeting to curtains to bedding. I had never seen such luxury in person in my entire life. My mouth literally dropped open when Rick wheeled me into the room!

So we get checked in on Friday night, go and have a fancy dinner, then come back to the room and try out the hot tub. It felt so good on my sore body, especially great to have the bubble jet working therapy on my still sore sprained ankle. After a soak, Rick helped me out of the tub. I slowly stood up, took two steps, and with the temperature and positional changes, I remember taking two steps and thinking, "My tummy feels a little odd. It will feel good to get in bed and then I will feel just fine."


But before I could even take a third step, without warning, I threw up, spewing all over the marble, the carpet and an upholstered chair. It wasn't just a little bit either. I was mortified. I stood there trying to block it all with my towel and it just keep coming. When I tried to stop the eruption from my mouth, I just squired through my nose instead! I didn't even feel terribly nauseous, but all that delicious, partially digested sea food, came exploding forth in irrepressible convulsions, 3 to 5 at a time, for 3 distinct cycles where I would think it was over, only to be right back at it again, somewhere between 9 and 15 times all together, probably all within less than a minute.

As quickly as it had started, the storm was over. Rick, who had stood there holding my arm to keep me from falling and telling me words of comfort and to quell my panic, handled the entire situation with incredible kindness and grace. Then we just looked at each other in astonishment and he helped me to the shower to clean up while we both tried to figure out what to do with the disaster that both STUNK up the room and was a horrific mess in the beautifully-appointed suite!

The shower was its own reportable experience. I did not try the steam feature as it seemed temperature extremes were already partially at fault here. But this huge, marble shower was pretty amazing. It did have a large built-in seat, designed for enjoying a steam bath, so I figured I would be all set until I realized that the seat was fully positioned outside the stream of shower water. There were NO grab bars, but in order to actually get clean, I had no choice but to stand to get in the flow of water. Leaning with my hands against the bench to support me, I was able to stand for an entire shower!

Once I got cleaned up and Rick had gotten me safely into bed, he called housekeeping. Two sweet ladies worked wonders and had all surfaces cleaned and the smell much neutralized in under 20 minutes. Rick tipped them heavily for a job above the normal call of duty, well-done! I was so terribly frustrated, telling Rick I had wanted to give him this special night away to give him a break from stress, but I just brought stress with him instead! The only way I can imagine the situation could have been any more awkward was if it had happened in public! I am so very, very thankful for the grace that I did not have to undergo that disgrace! I felt so embarrassed, but everyone else was so compassionate and there was just one first-hand witness and two after-the-fact strangers that were directly involved. What if I had lost control like this at the dinner instead? Yikes!

On Saturday, Rick and I revisited the event and I noted that when I heard the word "stroke" I never imagined someone still spontaneously loosing control of stomach contents 2 1/2 years after the event. Rick got real sober and said, "Most people who have strokes as bad as yours simply don't live. If they survive the initial event, they don't last more than 3 to 6 more months after the stroke." Um, I know I'm not supposed to be here, but sometimes the stark reality, worded in new ways just really catches me off guard.

So what does any of this have to do with Easter? Why post tonight rather than waiting for tomorrow? Well, at first I really didn't see any connection myself. In fact, I started this post on Saturday and was planning to share:
I never finish my journal entry in time to post it last night, but I realized that it might really be a better fit for today anyway. For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. (Philippians 3:18) After I finished so violently throwing up, it really hit me that while we were God's enemies, sinners, spewing out garbage, in conflict with His holiness just as surely as I couldn't keep my dinner where it belonged Friday night, that it was in this state of filth that God chose to die for me because of His great love (Romans 5:8)! Seeing Rick's tenderness and compassion (and he even managed too keep his dinner down too, though I have no idea how!) in the face of my helplessness, the verse that kept playing through my mind was "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:1-2)

I have often talked about how I absolutely CANNOT cry most of the time now, even if I really want to, need too. (The exception is that almost never can manage to talk with Rick without crying.) So I wanted to tell you about my emotional responses this weekend. On Friday night, after the house keepers had left, of course their were tears, but surprisingly few, in control (K, I am typically a LOUD and UGLY crier since the strokes, so this is unheard of!), and quite short lived. It would have been nice if I hadn't cried at all, since I really tried not to, and there was still the non-optional response to trying to hold a conversation with Rick, as uninvited and unmerited  as the vomit had been, but given the circumstances, I think I actually had a right to shed a tear or two that evening!

What was even more amazing than the lack of uncontrollable wailing on Friday, was that sitting in church this morning, I felt like I wanted to cry several times, but during one song, I actually felt wetness rolling down my cheeks! Here I was, in public, actually able to cry again in I don't know how long! Yes, I used to cry in public all of the time, over just about anything, but I think it has been well over a year now since my brain decided that only Rick was ever allowed to see my tears. To feel those tears spill down my cheeks today was a massive relief, that my emotions and outward expression were actually matched for once! And again, though my shoulders trembled a bit and breathing got a little rugged, I hardly made any sound. I doubt very few here will really grasp what a blessing this is to a normally very loud and distractive crier!

The words that finally broke the dam spoke to two issues very close to my heart, the love of children and my very recently accomplished goal of holding a new born, as well as the fact that I didn't want to be alive for so long and am still learning Christ's joy and strength for this daily journey now:

Verse 2, Because He Lives:

How sweet to hold
A newborn baby
And feel the pride
And joy he gives
But greater still
The calm assurance
This child can face
Uncertain days
Just Because he lives


Because he lives
I can face tomorrow
Because he lives
All fear is gone
Because I know
He holds the future
And life is worth the living
Just because he lives

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
- 1 Peter 1:6-7




  1. You are so encouraging to my heart, love you.

  2. As for vomiting...don't get me started. As for being an obnoxious crier....I believe I have the corner market ;)