Starting October 25 of 2011, "InfertilityMom," 39-year-old Jennifer Saake (founder of Hannah's Prayer Ministries), experienced 6 strokes, all due to vertebral dissection at a chiropractic office. The largest two strokes were brain stem and cerebellum bleeds. Jenni remained hospitalized until nearly Christmas 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 (please read more and watch short video). Jenni is now walking (with a cane or wheeled walker), has recovered much eye-sight, some hearing, partial use of her hands, cares for most of her own personal/toiletry needs, and is currently writing three books, maintains multiple blogs, and stays active on both Facebook and Pinterest. Near the five-year recovery mark, Jenni has renewed her pre-stroke excitement about the unique Lilla Rose hair Flexi eight jewelry she sells and has finally regained enough hand/arm function to regularly use! (The biggest ongoing losses at the 4 1/2-year point of recovery are left-side nerve pain, inability to drive, loss of homeschool teaching capability, significant sound processing issues (often triggering nausea), and some profound physical ability limitations such as a limp, balance challenges, clumsy use of right hand and only large motor function in left hand.) 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 equipts you to send any monetary assistance as well, this is a significant added blessing.

Jenni is clinging to God's grace through the entire experience. Here is her unfolding story, documented in her own words (typing with only her right hand), as she perceives it happening in real time, messy, honest and to the glory of God...

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

 

4 comments:

  1. Jenni, you are a brave and beautiful beacon for our King. I love you. <3 Heart Hugs

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  2. Speak on my beautiful, brave friend. I love you.

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  3. Here here Jenni. Thank you for that message, I hope the Lord uses it to touch hearts. Thank you for sharing.

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