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.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Lead With Your Right


I've been fairly quiet about this, but since my hubby is flying home right now, I can now tell you that Rick and our 14-year-old (pictured above) have spent much of June over in Turkey (yes, the country)! And guess what, I've managed quite well, if I do say so myself! I am so very ready to have my guys home, because I simply MISS them, but as for personal survival, household management, keeping up as a single parent of an 11- and 8-year-olds, things have actually gone even better than I could have dreamed. I still can't master laundry totally on my own, but am learning how to cook more meals and more successfully guide my children in keeping up well with our home over their summer vacation. Wow, what a change, all the way around, from when Rick went on a trip (even when our 14-year-old was still here to help me) and it was so incredibly trying still, to be on my own, just last summer. A couple different friend have now commented along the lines of how huge this is and what strides I've accomplished just this month. Here are my amazing guys from their last day there together:


Even more amazing than just being on my own, there was a day and a half in there where I was really on-my-own, as Rick was gone out of country already, my in-laws were also out-of-country, my parents were still out-of-state, and the vast majority of my standard driving and support team of local friends were all away on vacation at the exact same time, too! Still I handled things without panicking. Thank you for checking in on me once-a-week, Kathy!


There were no major medical crises while Rick's been gone, home repair issues were kind enough to wait to need addressing until my parents were back in town and Dad could come rescue us (thank you for your loving care even when my house so obviously hates you, Daddy!), and Katie even manage to get me kids to and from VBS all week this week, while my parents and I attended to 13 different medical appointments (a few required our daughter to stay home from one day of VBS, but were very productive for her) this past week! Three more doctor appointments on Monday, then we will have most current medical needs addressed before our insurance year starts over on July 1. Whew! 


My left ankle is starting to grow somewhat less painful from the sprain earlier in the spring. My right (greater weight bearing foot) decided to wait until this past week (after we were already totally booked with appointments) to start becoming really painful in the cyst I was to have surgically removed last fall (that was canceled due to kidney stone surgery), so I guess we will have to figure out how to address this in the new insurance year if it continues to cause such issues. My burn blisters are all gone. Both my blood thinner and antidepressants have been dropped in half this week (though I had already been taking this lower antidepressant dose for a very long time already and can't actually drop lower without poor reactions yet). My hips have bursitis now (presumably from carrying my weight so unevenly when I walk) and my right shoulder and neck are both strained from doing too much in order to compensate for the left arm not being able to do enough, but overall, it was a pretty good week for medical news!


My neuro-ophthalmologist explained this week why it is still so scary to me to try walking along a narrow pathway (like sidewalk) without a rail, bushes, or some other visible barrier to the side. I have learned to adapt so well to being so dizzy all the time, that I really rely on visual assurance of my surroundings and when there is nothing there to assure my brain, my body still rebels! He watched me walk and comment, "I'm not easily impressed [very true from all I've seen], but I'm IMPRESSED!"


In response to my concern that I still don't like turning at all, especially to my left side, I expected all kinds of therapy tricks to help me fight this quirk and instead he replied, "Lead with your right. Always turn that direction when you can." His advice both surprised and encouraged me. I can't remember one other time since the strokes, that someone in the medical community has addressed a concern of mine by basically giving me permission and reassurance that it is OK to just work with what I already have, rather than fighting and clawing for improvement." Maybe a simple sounding statement, but indescribably freeing to me. My regular neurologist was so pleased with my stability at this appointment that we probably didn't even spend a full five minutes together before he said, "See you in six months."
 

"I begged the Lord three times to liberate me from its anguish; and finally He said to me, “My grace is enough to cover and sustain you. My power is made perfect in weakness.” So ask me about my thorn, inquire about my weaknesses, and I will gladly go on and on—I would rather stake my claim in these and have the power of the Anointed One at home within me. I am at peace and even take pleasure in any weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and afflictions for the sake of the Anointed because when I am at my weakest, He makes me strong."
2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (Voice)
 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Why I Never Give Up


My burn is almost completely healed from when I sloshed boiling water across my hand a couple weeks ago. Just one blister left. Since that blister is TOTALLY painless now, it makes me wonder if I really even have totally "normal" feeling back on my right, less-stroked side or not?


Strangely enough, the left (more greatly stroked) ankle that I sprained a couple MONTHS back, has been strong enough to carry and support my body weight since about a week after the sprain, but it is still painful enough to wake me up in my sleep and make me suck my breath in a little sharp gasp once or twice a day with a mis-step. I told my hubby, I really do *think* it is healing well, but doing something funny because of the Central Pain Syndrome on that already stroked side.

 

Realizing it is speaking on other health conditions, here are the mechanics of one more reason water therapy is likely really helpful to my body.


There's something on my heart that I feel driven to share, but don't know how to translate these feelings, thoughts, ideas, memories, to English. Please bear with me as I give this an honest try...

 
Why start my story with this verse/picture? Well, simply, I'm a people pleaser. What I'm about to share is possibly going to upset a few people, shake some friendships, make some of you question our relationship or squirm a bit. So with this caveat in place, I trudge forward. I love you, I cherish you, too much not to be blunt.
 

I'm not quite sure how to state this without sounding cocky, but for lack of more delicate wording, I've recently come to realize that I rather stun (in a good way) a lot of people. I "should" be dead. Since I'm not, I should still be in a nursing home. I should still have machines feeding me, maybe even breathing for me. I should be a "vegetable." Instead I am leading a limited (no driving, only one totally usable hand, no homeschooling anymore, lots of pain issues, great hearing loss, etc.) but fairly "normal" life. I care for most of my own personal needs such as showering, I do very basic math, I cook several meals per week and do some household and family care, I manage our family's schedule, medical needs and transportation organization, I do physical activity (yes, in my own style, but keeping up with a regular, able-bodied class now) at the gym at least two hours each week I garden a little, I read, I research, I write, I am independent enough to be home alone and/or in charge of our children. I am slowly learning how much I blow minds sometimes.

 
But here's the thing. This is the part that I don't know how well will go over. I'm amazing (yes, it has been slow in coming, but I finally realize that!) but folks, WHAT YOU ARE SEEING IS NOT ME!!! You see, I wanted to die. I  was ready to give up the fight, throw in the towel, be done with this thing we call life...


I had tasted Eternity and I was ANGRY to be back within the clutches of pain, the grasp of mortality, the limitations of time, the staggering strife of struggle, the fear of human limitation (especially with so many new, extra, intensive limitations to now learn to cope with). I begged God to just take me Home, to let my "skip over" the rest of this lifetime, getting more quickly to the "good stuff" of Glory with Him. I hurt my family, honestly declaring, over and over, my preference to be dead, leaving them behind to struggle on without me. I grieved hard over the separation from my Lord.

A friend (Kendra, your hubby, while you were still in the hospital) posted a passage from 2 Corinthians 4 and I argued with the Lord that I did feel totally crushed, in despair, abandoned, destroyed! I read more of the passage and felt mocked when Paul spoke of getting knocked down, but always getting up again, through the power of God's Spirit. I was down for the count and either had no desire or no realistic expectation of ever getting back up! Can anyone say D - E - P - R - E - S - S - I - O - N !?! It was ugly. Yes, I even contemplated how to "help God" put an end to my days here.

 
As I continued struggling with God, I was caught off guard by a verse a few down from my crushed, perplexed, abandoned, destroyed one, 2 Corinthians 4:11, "We face death every day because of Jesus. Our bodies show what his death was like, so that his life can also be seen in us" (Contemporary English Version), or as the New International Version worded that last phrase, "so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body" (NIV).
 
 
 
This was a huge "Ah-Ha!" moment for me. For months I had been feeling defeated, worthless, useless, purposeless. My kids were living far from home for the entire school year, our marriage was barely hanging by a thread, I could  not accomplish most of what I commanded my body (not even the simple thing like see enough to read, nor swallow without trying to drown in my own saliva, not even slightly turn my head without spinning out in violent nausea, nor hold a simple conversation about the most mundane topic without dissolving into a tearful, hysterical, sobbing, shouting maniac). I had yearned for purpose and here it was, God wasn't asking me to "skip to the good stuff" but to stay here, patient in affliction, and let Him reveal Himself to others through my mortal body. This went along exactly what Rick had just challenged me with, that since God hadn't taken me Home to stay, when I was so close, that He had to have a reason. All the sudden I could grasp that, "God has been kind enough to trust us with this work. That's why we never give up" (2 Cor. 4:1, CEV).
 
 
Down in verse 16, Paul continues, "We never give up. Our bodies are gradually dying, but we ourselves are being made stronger each day" (CEV), or as I memorized this verse as a child, "Outwardly we are wasting away, though inwardly we are being renewed day by day." The one thing my moments so near God's glory did ultimately concrete for me, is the reality that this earthly life truly is just a vapor, a breath, a blink in light of Forever! So yes, outwardly, I am daily living in death's shadow, but inside I will NEVER die. Life goes on and on for all eternity. I can get through this little blimp of time, because it is such a tiny speck. As 2 Cor. 5:9 states, "But whether we are at home with the Lord or away from him, we still try our best to please him" (CEV).
 
 
 
So here's the kicker, the part many readers may not appreciate. YOUR life will never end either. While that may not sound at all bad, reassuring after what I've just shared, in fact, there's a major problem that terribly concerns me. I have so many friends who either don't take Eternal Life at all seriously, or who believe they will spend forever in peace either because they are "good people" or do good things." The problem being that God is very clear about three thing. First of all, He does exist, secondly, no matter how good we are, none of us is without sin thus cannot enter into His perfect Home without Someone to make a way for us,  and third that no matter what good things we do, they will never be enough. (If you feel you are relying on church attendance, baptism or your good deeds, but still struggling to know what God is really all about, you may be interested in this article I came across on Religion v/s Relationship.) 
 
 
"If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith...  If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied" (1 Corinthians 15:14 and 19). You may think I'm sadly misguided, so my challenge is simply this: If you feel I'm off here, put God on trial and decide for yourself. If you don't believe in or just aren't sure of God's existence, be daring enough to voice those doubts and challenge God to make Himself known to you if He is even there. What will it hurt if He isn't even there? Once you know He exists, ask Him to guide you into Truth, not by following the teachings of men nor reading other books that claim to be equal with the Bible or that tell you what you should believe, but that God will give you wisdom to understand what He says about Himself, that Jesus, totally God and totally man, willingly stepped outside the wonder of timelessness and took on the confines of this life (as much as I love you, love my family, there's no way I would have made that choice!) and DIED for you (when you were God's enemy!) then defeated death as He rose again, paying the price for my sin and yours, and making the only way for me to be made right in the eyes of a Holy, just God (yes, really is as simple as this linked child's Sunday School lesson!) who forever will welcome me into His presence for all eternity, if only I believe.
 
 
If I'm wrong on this, it costs neither of us anything. I get a life of happily delusional joy, hope and peace and make my way through this world on a  harmless crutch that makes living doable. You also loose nothing to believe, for when this life ends nothingness or reincarnation or your being good enough to achieve the outcome you expect will still be there.
 

 
But if I am right, your failure to acknowledge God and the great price He has paid to assure your Eternity with Him will literally cost you EVERYTHING. By the time you find out, it will be too late to change. :( Please ask God to make Himself real to you!
 
 
So, yes, I'm pretty amazing. But not in any stretch of anyone's imagination was this of me! What you see, the recovery that makes you shake your head, the "never give up" attitude that drives the ongoing push forward, the slowly acquired contentment to stay here and embrace the life I've been give, it is so not me! "I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Galatians 2:20, NIV). I fully relate to the Apostle Paul's anguish and final choice, when he wrote, in Philippians 1:21-26, "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."
 
 
  
Here's 7 1/2 minutes, not of my own story, but wisdom from one who has suffered longer than I've even been alive. Her lessons so reflect my heart. I was enthralled with her story even as a little girl. Little did I know then how intimately I would one day relate to the heartbeat of Joni. Don't worry, she's not "preaching" as I just did so bluntly, just talking, sharing her fears, struggles, questions and how she found peace: Joni Eareckson Tada shares her story 
 
 
Care to share this hope with a friend? I've put the bulk of Why I Never Give Up on its own page now: http://strokeofgrace.blogspot.com/p/never-give-up.html.
I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done.
I will be filled with joy because of you.
I will sing praises to your name, O Most High. - Psalm 9:1-2

 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Second Week of June


I remember (at least one of) the things I was trying to remember in my last post (though it has nothing to do with my arm, shoulder, nor swimming, so maybe it wasn't the only thing I was trying to remember)! A friend recently asked a group of us to "share something random" about ourselves. I shared, "I'm quite double jointed, so now that I'm regaining my left side, I already have (had at even a year) some areas of more flexibility there (though less than I have on the right) than most non-strokies ever achieve. For example, mechanically it is no big deal to bend at my waist, keep my legs straight, and put the palms of both hands flat onto the floor. Now if only I could master balance, muscle control and strength to go with that flexibility... I guess along the same lines, I can bend my elbows backward (in my lesser stroked arm, around 20 degrees beyond straight), touch my tongue to my nose and pop my thumbs (well, just the less stroked one now, but used to be both) in and out of socket at will. (All these carnival tricks are quiet painless.)"

She replied, "Jenni, your answer about being double jointed put a big ole grin on my face. Isn't it amazing how the Lord God sees our needs long before we're even born? He knew that you would suffer a series of strokes and He knew that being double jointed would help you out immensely after them! I'll bet most double jointed people can't say more than just the fact that it's neat but for you, it's a real blessing. Awesome!"

Thanks for the cross bracelet, S.! <3
I have almost survived this season with my parents out-of-state. They should be home early next week! It's been good for me to see what I could do without their help (laundry is all caught up, folded with the help of Kathy and my daughter, and half put away AND dishwasher is staying caught up pretty consistently). I've even managed to take on a couple of long-overdue cleaning and organizing projects the last couple of weeks, with my kids home to do some of the leg work under my direction. But boy have I ever missed them and am exhausted! Thank you Mary for all the rides to the gym and for all my many "Team Saake" friends who have pitched in to provide various transportation.


This week at the pool I was able to accomplish both "rocking horses" and side sways WITHOUT holding on to anything (nor wearing a flotation belt). These were total "firsts" for me. Maybe they didn't look too smooth or pretty, but I still did them. I still haven't mastered the side-to-side "tick-tocks" without holding the wall, but we have made some massive balance progress with these two. I am trying to "tightrope walk" the line on the pool floor and still can't come close to mastering that, but I keep trying and it is one of my goals. Shelly (today's instructor) commented that no one would even guess I had had a stroke to meet me now and that watching me in the water my "legs are so strong" now. I was talking with two newer ladies in the locker room after class and they both seemed genuinely shocked that I had strokes. Yes, I walk with a cane, but it never crossed either of their minds why. That felt good!

 

Speaking of the gym, I sure missed it when I wasn't going for a while, but now that I am back there my hips have really started acting up again with pain that is making it hard to walk and impossible to sleep on my sides (what had become my most comfortable post-stroke sleep position). I don't KNOW that the activity and symptoms are related, but it seems to be a rather odd coincidence if they are not. If I had to guess, I am thinking I've developed Bursitis and will be talking to my primary care doctor about the issues later this month. The cysts on my right foot, that was to have been surgically removed but had receded when I stopped the gym last fall for 4 months with kidney stones, both my mom's and my surgeries, and our recoveries, is visibly growing again, now that I'm up on my feet so much, but thankfully hasn't become (too) painful yet. I think both the hips and foot are results of carrying my body weight improperly and unevenly.
 

 
 
 
Speaking of pain, I had no idea how badly my broken tooth had been hurting me until it is now resolved and not hurting. What a relief! :D And what a joy to find I can pretty much eat anything I want again. Thank you to my hubby for providing for my needed care here and to Dr. Kym for his fantastic job! :) Another praise is that I found the prescription night guard I thought was left behind in a hotel room over a year ago! It had slipped way UNDER the mattress of my bed, but still up in the bed frame, so I cleaned it up and started using it again last night, to hopefully prevent more teeth clenching or broken teeth. Big PRAISE!!!


Our incredibly brave 11-year-old is actually WALKING again and continues in therapy for both her foot and now also her wrist, that were broken then hypersensitized in their casts. Some days are better than others. The harder days are pure physical torture for her (bringing great sympathy from her physical therapist (who treated me for many months) and all the staff at that office, an indication of just how horrid her pain levels are with this rare complication - I've been informed that I had it "easy" compared to the anguish she endures, though he worked with me before my Central Pain Syndrome really kicked in so badly, so I imagine the pain of these two nerve temper tantrums might be somewhat parallel?) and beyond heartbreaking for her family. We will be seeing her bone doctor again in two weeks, primary care in a little over a week, a couple of other specialists over the summer. Beyond how her care directly impacts my post-stroke life, I will not be commenting much on her health as it will be her own story to or not to share, as she desires.

 

Summer vacation is going well and FLYING by. Rick did not make it through to the general election ballet, so this bid for local office ended with primaries on Tuesday. We are actually quite at peace with that, disappointed, but ready to turn the page on the next chapter of our lives. I am so proud of the way he ran the race with integrity and vigor. <3 Our kids are back in their classrooms the second week of August! I'm guessing I won't get much (any?) more writing done on my book over the summer. I think we will be getting a new family picture taken (haven't done one since about a year before the strokes) this fall. It was my big spring project to put together coordinating outfits for everyone for this event and I pretty excited!

 
Picture color pallet.

Emotionally, I'm also making strides. I got really bold this week and flat out told someone, "I am beautiful. I'm pretty amazing!" I think it stunned this person for me to be so blunt, but I explained that their inability to voice these things had dramatically shaped my self-view for over two years, but doesn't agree with what God says about me, so I am done letting that view influence what I think about myself. Pretty amazing for someone who avoided mirror and cameras like the plague for so long! Sure, I still fight depression and down moments, but so very many gains continued to be made in my heart. <3 I actually found myself telling the new lady at the gym, "I'm glad to be here!" this morning (when speaking of the fact that I nearly died) and surprised myself to realize I actually meant what I was saying. :)


I was challenged to list two (OK, so I went a little over the limit) things I CAN still, or once again, do since the strokes that I am thankful for. Quickly off the top of my head, I came up with:
1. I can still write. I'm much slower than I was a few years back, but I have book plans and actively blog.
2. I can JUMP again.
3. I am reclaiming some of our home, housekeeping-wise!
4. I can finally sort of keep up enough in water aerobics class that I went this week without wearing my safety/flotation belt in the pool!

Added to that (I could come up with a LOT more if I took the time, and maybe I really should go and start my own "1,000 Gifts" type list!) I need to say that my ENTIRE (other than one bush that needs an actual saw taken to a few branches) rose garden was neatly trimmed and weeded a couple weeks ago, for the first time since the strokes. It is looking a little bedraggled again already and I won't get to it much for the rest of the month between schedules and heat and such, but I actually got to it all (but one plant) at one point this spring!


I am just starting to get involved with a friend in the formation of the League for Chiropractic National Safety (LCNS), being formed as an initial step toward getting mandatory laws changed for present chiropractic practices. I don't know what my involvement here will exactly look like, but I can't not get involved in what totally seems to be a "for such a time as this" moment in my life. I'm nervously excited.

 

Quote: What a waste of an illness or injury if we read--or go on talking--day and night about that illness, that injury, and not about the God who allowed it for His own sovereign reasons.
       ~Joni Eareckson Tada


God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master. Romans 6:23 MSG
A very happy 18th birthday to my nephew Drew, and congratulations on both your high school and college (AA) graduations this week! We are proud of you!!!


Just for Fun:
 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Forgetting To Remember


I'm super honored and excited to have an article featured (on the front page even!) over at The Laundry Moms today. I felt like writing something fun, light-hearted, non-stroke for once. Not bad for a strokie, I think. :) Please check it out and read a little more about Our Flock!

http://www.thelaundrymoms.com/gods-lessons-to-me
 
Monday was our 5th grader's graduation. She is officially in jr. high now! (Actually they are all stepped up a grade now, as today was everyone's last day of school for this session.) Big praise, there were NO balloon decorations at the graduation (i.e. no latex reaction) and I got to be there for the whole thing! After graduation, there was a campus tour that required a lot of walking and hill climbing and I was slow, but I did it, I kept up with the pack even though it was really hard! I kept thinking, as I was pushing her wheelchair around campus, "These people have no idea that I shouldn't be able to even dream of doing this!"
 
 
And then, we took her to therapy (She broke her foot several months back, then she was hobbling around on crutches, fell and broke her wrist too, so landed in a wheelchair not two weeks later because she could no longer hold crutches. Both bones have since seemed to heal, but she couldn't put weight through her foot due to the nerves having gone really wonky and hyper-sensitized while she was in the cast.) and the session was going really, really badly but then turned out to be the most successful session we have ever had! I'm was exhausted by that night (emotionally and physically) and spilled boiling water all over my one working hand.  
 
Thankfully I'm not in pain, or rather maybe I should say that my less-stroked right hand only ever hurt as much as my left more stroked leg hurts pretty much all the time. Actually it really hardly even hurt when I saw the title wave of hot water come sloshing across it, but I knew enough about the need to immediately get the limb into cold water and kept it iced for long enough that I got away with just a few small blisters and general redness. I couldn't use my hand to type for a couple hours, but figured that part out. As bad as it sounds, it truly was just more of an annoyance than anything. My yesterday morning it mostly just felt prickled by needles and like the skin was too tight for my hand, with only the ends of each finger and some finger tips (where your finger prints are) actually much truly painful. Today, even the tight glove feeling and pin prick feelings are receding and I'm down to just two visible blisters.
 
 
I have had a couple of big-deal-to-me moments lately. The end of last month, I managed to braid my own hair in two braids for the first time! It wasn't pretty or smooth, but getting enough movement, strength, or coordination out of my left hand to manage any form of hair braiding, even on my daughter, not to mention reaching up to work on my own head, wasn't even fathomable a few months ago.


First, I'm beyond excited that my hair is even long enough to braid again and secondly, now I am able to braid it well enough to keep it mostly out of my face for swimming or bedtime. :) Friday and today, a couple of weeks after I managed the double braids for the first time, I was finally able to get it into some rougher semblance of a single braid, down the back of my head, after several frustrating attempts.

 
I think it will be a while (like maybe never) before I can try this though:
 
 
Kendra, you'll appreciate this one. Even since my strokes, I have had to open bananas by the "wrong" end, single-handed, pinch style. Here's this morning's breakfast!


I picked it up, and without thinking I tried to use two hands and open it the way I used to open bananas. When I heard the snap/crunch of the stem, I was so shocked I froze. I just open a banana! With two hands! In pre-stroke fashion! Um, yeah, it's the little things sometimes! Stunning. :)


Two different friends posted the above picture on Facebook this week. I shared, "One of the weirder stroke deficits I face is "emotional liability" meaning that the emotional processing centers of my brain were badly damaged. For the first year this meant I cried ALL the time, and not just normal crying, but horrid sobbing, gasping, wailing, often shouting and screaming too. Not pretty. Now it means I can hardly ever cry AT ALL, even when I really need to. I love this picture!" The encouraging news is that I have now held a few recent conversations with Rick (I still usually cannot talk privately with him without crying even though I cannot cry any other time) without tears, actually cried in church on Easter when I was moved by the music, and gotten "misty" a few times now when reading moving passages. Slow, but progress!

 
 
Related to the above allergy picture, something else I have been researching over the past week, not really relevant to this blog other than providing a example of my research and reasoning abilities at this point, I have been gathering information about Mast Cell Activation on one of my other health blogs.


And I end with this amazing, 1-minute video of swans feeding koi fish! I especially love it because I have a doctor who calls me a "black swan" because my medical story is so unique. I couldn't help but think how God is using my black swan status to draw people closer to Himself. <3


Some friends and I have been talking about "why pray". I think it comes down to obedience. We are commanded to pray, "6. Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs and don't forget to thank him for his answers. 7. If you do this you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4) and 1 Thessalonians 5:17, "Pray without ceasing," for example.

 
It seems like there were other things to tell you, but it has literally taken me all day to write this post, so if there were other thing to say, I have no idea what now!
 

Oh, I ALMOST thought of one more thing I was going to tell you. The though flitted through my brain, but now it is gone. I want to say it had something to do with my arm, maybe shoulder, or swim class today as those are the shadowy images that keeps coming to mind when I try to pull that thought together, but I just can't quite figure out anything about that blurry, half-baked concept.

Our lives get in step with God and all others by letting him set the pace, not by proudly or anxiously trying to run the parade. Romans 3:28