There's quite a story about today's first picture. It is a collaborate effort between several friends of mine: Gina who spotted the dark and perfectly formed shape of a butterfly in the storm clouds out her front door in Arizona (top, slightly to the left, wing spread and facing toward the right, NOT photo-shopped, just God's naturally occurring gift) so snapped this picture to share with our small (in)Courage Facebook group, Tanya in Mississippi, who simultaneously was sharing a reminder of some favorite song lyrics with the group, Anita, literally a world away in England, with her graphics skills, and my own brain storming from Nevada, to describe my idea for these combined elements. (Had other group members had a chance to chime in before we ran with our idea, I'm sure they would have too!) So here it is:
|Photo Credit: © Gina M. Weeks, a personal friend|
The next several pictures are decorations from my re-birthday party on Saturday. I should have more to share from the actual event itself, as I get pictures from other people, but here's a taste of decorations I snapped as I unpacked.
|From my mom. Purchased just before her own hospital trip.|
|From my sister-in-love.|
The next day I wrote, "As for my coming re-birthday and thoughts on wanting a party, this would be my third re-birthday and we would be celebrating all the things you celebrate with a 3-year-old over their lifetime achievements, learning to speak more clearly, crawl, walk, run, count, basic addition and subtraction, write legibly enough for someone else to read without too much struggle, learn enough voice control to sing, not at an adult level yet, but progressing that way. I'm almost three years into this re-learning the basics thing and I guess right on track. :)"
Here I am, not three weeks after the initial idea (we had the party a week before my actual landmark on this upcoming Saturday, as this was the date that worked best for many involved), having successfully planned, shopped for, and executed my idea, and on a rather grand scale. Not bad for a "dead" person, I'm thinking! What a testament to God's grace.
Printed on favors: "Just as a butterfly emerges from a chrysalis with shriveled wings, little resemblance to the creature she once was just before her "nap," and must re-learn all the basics of survival as wings dry and plump and strengthen to prepare for flight, once this magnificent animal takes to the air, she discovers a whole new world, new possibilities, directly because of her metamorphosis. She had to endure all stages from larva to rebirth as a new creature, and the beauty and strength she gained through the process. So this is stoke to me, taking someone who was truly living her life to the fullest before, but had no idea of her slug-like state and limitations, surviving the darkness of my season of immobility and confinement, and now spreading my wings, testing the winds, delighting in the warmth of the sun, and learning to see the world through new eyes." – Jenni Saake, 3-year multiple stroke survivor
When I came up with the concept of the party, I had no idea what it should look like, no idea how to pull this off. It is not like I had a guideline nor any pattern to follow. I just knew I wanted to say, God has kept me here and I'm ready to put the past behind me and embrace His direction for my future. (I can't help but repeat a "changing directions" picture here that speaks the same declaration to my heart, a rose stem that had been knocked over and crushed into the ground by a fallen trash can, yet eventually was beautifully blooming anyway.)
We also went so I could pick out a fancy veggie tray. We got to talk to the lady working the deli counter and her father-in-law had a stroke about 15 years ago and is STILL bed-ridden and non-verbal. I just wanted to cry. Please pray for Anna and her FIL. It was very special to know that the hands that prepared my tray carried a loving and prayerful heart for me!
I ended up getting permission to host an open-house style party at the rehabilitation hospital where I lived in November and the first half of December, 2011 (and, ironically, where Mom is a patient right now too, though we never imagined this aspect while making plans). When asked why on earth I would want to hold a celebration of life there, I explained to friends that there were enough unhappy memories associated with that place, I needed to make some bring, new, joyful ones! It ended up feeling so great to tell all the staff who attended, "See, you usually only see people at their worst, but what you are doing really makes a difference. Keep doing what you are doing. Thank you. This is what three years later can look like.
From cupcakes eaten and name tags used, we had at least 40 folks come through over a little less than 2 hours, possibly closer to 50 or even 60 (a lot did not eat a cupcake and some never made name badges). A few friends I hadn't seen since just after my strokes and even a couple I have stayed friends with via Facebook for years but haven't seen for 10 years or so! My most exciting/surprising visit came when the surgeon who saved my life showed up, along with his nurse practitioner. I was very thankful to touch base with another current patient who went in for a routine surgery two months ago and hasn't gone home since. E. has two very young children and my mom says she has so many of the same struggles I did at that stage. I really feel she is why I was really there this past weekend!
The hospital had a professional photographer come for about 20 minutes (I don't know if/when I will see how many of those pictures). I am also talking with hospital publicity and likely will be working with them to become a local public face for stroke awareness. I'll wait to share more details once things are ready to be made public.
|Even more butterflies, many of them sent by friends. I got to use all of them on Saturday. (My mom still has the butterfly you gave me Kathy, so I'm sorry it didn't make it into this picture!) Kendra, our delivery got here today too. Thank you!!!|
|One of my favorite quotes ever. Typically attributed to Lincoln.|
|Photo Credit: © Gina M. Weeks|