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.

Friday, May 9, 2014

What A Difference

As good great news goes, Rick and I actually spent about 10 minutes simply chatting about life this morning without so much as the threat of tears. Wow! We didn't cover anything terribly exciting, but we got to just "hang out" and be friends for once. Such a joyful and refreshing blessing. <3

As Rick put it, when we had a smaller success on a medical trip last weekend, our relationship is like therapy, a terribly slow process, but just like I had to relearn to walk, step-by-step, we are learning how to build our friendship all over again. Here's an interesting article related to the emotional rebuilding required of stroke rehab. (Mom, just for yours a my reference later, here's an article I want to remember about one of my medications too, for next time I see my endocrinologist.)

If anyone can remind me were this sea glass beach is located, I would love to label the picture!
Our conversation was cut short by our 8-year-old's panicked voice, "Mom! Dad! I broke an egg in my pants!" Say what? He had gone out to do his morning chore of feeding our chickens and gathering eggs before school, had more eggs to carry than he could hold, didn't take the egg basket with him, so "solved" the problem by trying to shove several eggs into his school uniform pants pocket, then came back in the house and continued with other chores and school preparation until he heard a crack and felt raw egg dripping down the inside of his pant leg. So much for relaxing and being ahead of schedule for the morning. Rick fished the slimed handkerchief out of his pants pocket and cleaned up our boy while I went to get fresh pants out of his dresser.


The soap opera continues. This afternoon, our 11-yearold, in double casts and a wheel chair, came rolling up to the table and I had to try "running" out of her way to keep from getting run over. Have you ever seen a woman with impaired reflexes try to side-step a charging wheelchair? Very, very THANKFULLY, no body got hurt this time, but it was one of those moments that I imagine must have looked pretty funny. I just shook my head at the thought of what our family life would look like as a movie and concluded, it's just too ridiculous to make it to the big screens because it is too unbelievable and sounds much to far-fetched. (This is the same little girl who has both a broken foot, broken wrist, two retainers affixed in her jaws, and just had 2 teeth pulled yesterday afternoon. I guess she is doing things by twos this spring!)

I'm really focused on and appreciative of passages such as those presented in Have You Embraced Suffering So Much That You Don't Expect Blessings? and Remembering My Way Out Of The Flood right now. Thus I could focus on how we did NOT get hurt today, how Rick and I DID get to spend a few minutes without tears, how our daughter has had very little pain and some mighty funny stories from her tooth extractions last night (and made it to school today when I was planning to keep her home), how I got another 1 1/2 sub-sections (out of 61) written in Harvesting Hope from Heartache this week, so I only have 10 sub-sections and some major editing work left to go now. Oh, and I hit 50 people on the Friend Connect widget here today! :D

This writing is taking about 3 time as long as I expected it would, but I figure it is a form of therapy and good for my brain too, so I'm trying to change my perspective to see it in this light rather than feeling discouraged that my old way of doing things is so changed in this area along with so many others.

I had wanted to put together some Mother's Day resources for my infertile and bereaved mom friends. Since I won't get to that this week, here are my post several years of thoughts, reflections and resources on the topic: Motherless Mother's Day.

I wish I knew the author, but love this "anonymous" poem making the Facebook rounds right now:

"I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye."


I wrote the following entry two years ago. For some reason they only saved to my drafts and never posted on the blog, but it is so far from where I am today, that I'm going to go ahead and post it live now, as a simple reminder to myself of where I was and what God has carried me through:

------------- From June, 2 years ago, originally entitled "Black Mornings": ----------------

I hesitate to even write. Who wants to be brought low by reading the ramblings of a depressed woman?

Mornings always seem to be my darkest. I am out of bed and isolated because I might start a fight with my husband as soon as he wakes up and I don't want to do that to him, yet again. It is, sadly, easier not to talk than to end up worked up, exhausted and overcome with tears every time we try, with nothing resolved.

In the hospital my sun rose and set by that man. I came home from the hospital actually praying that God would not allow me to make him an idol, because I depended on him so critically, with my very life, literally.

Now it seems that all I do in our relationship is bring pain. I wonder, again, why God didn't just let me die last fall, rather than allowing our family such heartbreak all these months. Why does everything, even an attempted word of thanks, always backfire so terribly?

The kids leave again tomorrow. I've had fun pretending I was actually their mom, but back to reality now. I really hate this yo-yo ride! I'm told it is for my own good, for their good, so why does it hurt so fiercely?

I've worked so hard on not crying, not loosing my temper or control of my emotions the last few weeks. There is so much to cry about: relationship losses, ears, hands, mouth, eyes, starting another day without walking and non-working legs/lack of balance that's pretty much driven me to give up any hope of walking by my birthday, constant jaw pain, insurance troubles, therapy troubles, knowing that I am hurting my family, our daughter's foot, separation from the kids, that my six-year-old can cut, color and write better than I can, physical ugliness, and so much more.

I know Rick thinks I blames himself for all this. He has made incredible choices through a terribly stressful time and I generally feel quite protected and cared for by him! There are just a couple areas where I question his decisions and he knows why (in my less-than-gentle nagging ways). The rest, I know he longs to fix for me, I am hurt by or frustrated over, but I do not blame him! I need to be able to safely express these things without expectation that he will fix them, without blame being assigned or felt, and without the anger that wells up in me without a sufficient target. I can no longer cry quietly, so even if I hold it together until someone leaves the room, once the dam breaks, there is no holding back the flood and everyone hears, even from the other room. There is no safe vent and much to be vented, so Rick gets the brunt of my frustration.

Something has got to give, got to change. I can look 10 years down the road and hope maybe it will all get better somehow, but what if it doesn't? What if this is life now? Even if it does change, how do we get through today? And what of the years when our children are still young enough to need a Mamma? It was for my husband and kids I fought to live and now I can't be who I was, who I long to be, for any of them. This is such a mess!

I had Rick convinced enough that I was "doing better" that he told my doctor as much. I am doing a bit better from the worst, but I am not doing well. I had some days where I felt like I could see sunlight filtering through the fog, but darkness has descended again and I feel lost.

I know this is not all about me, and I grieve for the pain I am causing to family in my wake. But I am overwhelmed and have great hope for eternity, but it is the in between, the rest of my earthly life, that terrifies me. I am trying to cling to God's grace through it all, but it is blind faith right now.

------- About a month earlier, 2 years ago today ---------

Apparently some of what I've said about our marriage has left folk with great concern. I love the prayer and the kindness, but want to set the record straight today. It is a fact that this is the hardest storm we have ever weathered. It is also a fact that I do not process emotions well and this leads to unintentional hurts on  both sides. What I want to make clear is, though I could not see or process this well for many months because of my emotional and mental deficits, Rick has been more than gracious, forgiving and is assuring me of his faithfulness and commitment in countless ways.

I still fall apart very easily (The other morning I had a melt-down over a pair of pants. Even at the time, I didn't feel terribly upset, but the emotional reactions are significantly disproportionate to reality. This gets really old when it happens consistently, for months on end.) but Rick is being very gentle and patient with me.  It has been hard, no doubt, and I have been very doubtful, at times. But Rick has finally convinced me that he's here to stay. We still need prayer, absolutely, but we seem to be doing better and it as not as bleak as I have led many to presume. This was not intentional on my part but I apologize to everyone who has believed otherwise.

Many of you are struggling with relationships or have been hurt by broken ones. I am praying for you all, several specifically by name. I do not take lightly the gift I have been given. I will fight, alongside Rick, to make our marriage work. I know this is only possible when two are working together - we are and I am thankful for all he puts into sacrificing to make that happen. A friend once said to me, "Marriage is not about happiness, but holiness." I am blessed to experience the grace of both!

Rick often exemplifies the command of Ephesians 5:25 that says, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." I still need your daily prayers. We, as a couple, still need wisdom in how to process all this. Rick has to deal with me and my writhing emotions, so I ask your prayers for him in this matter. We are both human and fallen and there is no perfect love but Christ alone. Realizing this, I am very blessed to be married to such a caring man. Thank you for your ongoing prayers.

And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world. - 1 Corinthians 15:19

1 comment:

  1. Bless you my friend. Enjoy a wonderful mother's day.