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.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Wings




The first thing I have to share is a bad night I had one night this past week and the positive outcome of that night.


I woke up about 3 in the morning with severe neck pain (even though I brought my own pillow, my body did not like sleeping in a different bed) that reminded me of the head pain that had sent me to the chiropractor just over 3 years ago. I prayed and rehearsed Bible verses about peace and fear over and over in my mind and debated about waking my husband or not, but keep having flash backs to my strokes, then falling asleep and reliving all the vivid details and imagining new stroke scenarios now. I don't think I stayed asleep for longer than 20 minutes in a stretch for at least three more hours. By then the physical pain was slightly resolved but the mental anguish had exulted higher than it has been in months.


Around 6:30 in the morning, in that dream-state somewhere between sleep and wakefulness, I wrestled with God over the belief I was having another stroke, only this time my "reality" was to be "awake" through the entire thing, aware of every detail, yet unable to communicate what I knew to be happening within my own body to anyone around me. 


For the first time since my own real strokes back in 2011, I found myself asking the Lord to let me survive, let me live to see all my children grown, not allow me to leave my husband without me.


Perhaps this sounds like a startling "first," but when you consider that early on I was angry that I had lived, then considered hastening my own journey to Heaven, then grappled with seeking purpose and understanding and contentment with God's call to keep me here for this season, that I am actually embracing, clinging to the NOW where God has me, is startling and hopeful and encouraging. This marks a dramatic shift from a heart seeking to be content in biding my time here and a longing to more fully strive to be excited by some of the reasons I was created, placed here, kept here.



A recap of recent days:

A week ago Friday I had a 2-hour interview with three sweet ladies from my hospital's publicity group, an hour of that on film with two big light and two cameras just a couple feet away from my face. That night I went out to hubby work Christmas party. I love playing dress up, though it does take a lot out of me.

God can take the most ugly and transform it into a thing of beauty.

Last Monday, two of those ladies met me at my new gym to film my water exercise class (had been on a two week trial membership there, with last Monday being the first day of the official new membership my in laws blessed me with for Christmas - what a way to make an entry, showing up with a film crew on my first day as a member! LOL). That afternoon my parents took us across town for an emergency orthodontic repair for our daughter.


Sunday was our 15-year-old's birthday. After dinner that night, I went out into the cold and learned about muscle "spasticity" on a whole new level, when my left leg suddenly locked up and refused to take another step when it hit cold air after coming out from a warmer building. My hubby steadied me and helped me hobble to the car, thankfully avoiding the piggy-back-ride we actually considered.


The weekend through Wednesday morning found me madly cleaning, organizing, doing laundry, wrapping gifts (quite a trick with clumsy hands that can only master gift bagging but not tape scissors or wrap, or a long-enough term memory to even know what is in the bag I just packed before I get it half way from our bedroom to the tree - I only made one major blunder in forgetting my brother-in-laws gift at all, but I got to be as surprised as our kids were on Christmas morning as they unwrapped their gifts) and packing.


Tuesday night we attended a Christmas Eve-Eve service and I wore ear plugs (to help me be able to tolerate the neuro stimulation of the music. Even though I already have much hearing loss, what I do hear, I do not process correctly, thus cannot tolerate loud sounds without nausea and confusion and physical pain.) and Signed (because I could not hear myself sing) all the Christmas carols.
Early Wednesday afternoon (24th) we were all loaded in the car and headed to my in-laws' farm about an hour away.


Thursday, we spent with 11 family members and two bathrooms, later in the day, joined by an adopted sister and her friend as well. I was in bed around 8pm, both Wednesday and Thursday nights! Christmas Day had been a month-a-versary, and it took me until Saturday evening to even realize this landmark had passed without notice!


Friday was a rest and family games day. The 27th marked exactly 20 years since I learned my body not only disliked the idea of GETTING pregnant but that CARRYING a baby was to be equally as challenging. I'm still trying to unwrap all the emotions of miscarriage when mixed with a mother's earthly grief, longing and loneliness and the wonder my own near death experience and transformed understanding of Noel's Heavenly reality.


Saturday, we came home to piles and PILES of clean laundry to be sorted then all those Christmas blessings to get put into new homes. I also took my first shower since Wednesday one I had access to a shower chair and hand rails again.


Sunday was church, then roast left overs with in-laws and more games. About 4 more hours working on that clean laundry yesterday afternoon!


Today has been water therapy, my parents went and adopted a cat, trying to plan meals for the week ahead.


Tomorrow, my friend Kathy comes to help un-decorate my tree, we take our daughter back to the orthodontist, then tomorrow night we are getting together with some dear friends, visiting back here from out of state. Their son was our 15-year-old's best buddy when they were 4 years old!


Insurance and some family medical testing feel like a yo-yo ride too. Not even planning to work on my book anymore until kids go back to school Jan. 8. I still haven't finished all that laundry putting away yet.


This past week, we did confirm my decision that I am going to cut a few inches off my hair. Not that I don't love the length it has finally reached, but because I cannot manage this length alone now. I want it to still brush my shoulders or come a little bit past, but I've got to be able to get a brush through it myself, something that I haven't been able to do in at least 6 or 8 weeks now since the length has become unmanageable.




















Wednesday, December 17, 2014

elpis

elpis = the Greek word, translated hope in Hebrews 6:18. According to the lexicon at BlueLetterBible, it is "From a primary elpo (to anticipate, usually with pleasure)."

While hope and anticipation are almost always very positive words in the English language, I was terribly intrigued by the explanation of the Greek word here that so seems to capture the "catastrophising," waiting-for-the-other-shoe-to-drop, worst-case-scenario mindset one experiences when having already endured a horrible tragedy, contrasted with, "But God!"


Outline of Biblical Usage
  1. expectation of evil, fear
  2. expectation of good, hope
    1. in the Christian sense
      1. joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation
  3. on hope, in hope, having hope
    1. the author of hope, or he who is its foundation
    2. the thing hoped for
God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. - Hebrews 6:18

 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Need Your Input!


I am looking to purchase a domain name. I need something people can remember, spell, is "catchy" and/or speaks to the topics of my books (infertility, loss, fruit of the Spirit, hope, motherhood, illness, heartache, grace, various Biblical heroes like Hannah, Job, Paul). Any suggestions or ideas? 



I like jennifer.saake but wonder if the spelling of our last name will become an issue? Most domains of my actual book titles are already taken (like the StrokeOfGrace domain, though I could still use these words with hyphenation between them or adding on the word "book" at the end like I did with HannahsHopeBook.com), plus you need a new one for each project and I'm looking for something I could list all books, blogs and any future affiliated projects and ministries under. 



Maybe something with my used-around-the-internet handle of InfertilityMom, but will that be confusing for people that don't know my background? I've used Jenni's Journal for several projects over the years, so something along those lines might work. I was thinking maybe something alone the lines of ChronicallyTrustingChrist but that is LONG for a domain name. I also love roses, and themes of harvest, gardening and growth. Someone suggested something butterfly related (cocoon, chrysalis (<---- hard word to spell), flight, soaring, wings, takes wing, transformation, etc) and I really like that but can't find anything short, simple and not already taken! The one label/tag that every single one of my blogs has in common if the word "writing" if that helps at all. Ready. GO. Give me your ideas!


God transforms the most ugly to beautiful.
Currently thinking maybe a single word like "hide" or "hidden" (both taken, of course) that described the nature of both a seed in the earth and a butterfly in the cocoon. I'v tried short words and phrases like "unfurl" and "spring forth" (both a seedling from the soil and the butterfly's wing from the chrysilis) too. This launch any new ideas for anyone? Clever names are usually really fun and come quite easily for me. This one has me stumped!


Earlier today I posted this update to Facebook: A lady from church, who stroked a week ago Saturday, died last night. I just found out. Such mixed emotions! Survivor guilt. Relief that she is Home and her battle over. Horror for what her husband is facing. Numbness. Sobering reminder of what my outcome "should" have been. Want to cry, but no tears....

I feel like I CANNOT think of going to the funeral on Saturday. And I CANNOT stay away! Will need real wisdom and direction for what the Lord has for me in this decision.

I love the thoughts shared by a fellow stroke survivor on a group where I'm a member, "It's natural to feel sorrow for the deceased but you shouldn't feel guilt because you survived. It's not like you took the easy way out." So true!!! 

Another reminded me that God appointed me my journey to walk, and her hers. I'm learning, yet again, that I must trust God's sovereignty here.



Monday, December 15, 2014

Home-iversary

Either yesterday (Dec. 14) or tomorrow (16th) marks 3 years since I came home from the hospital. I think it was the 14th, but can't remember for sure. I know it was one side or the other of the 15th, ten days until Christmas mark. I think it was the 14th, but for some reason my memory is a little funny around a few of those details! ;) Oh, I just was looking at my Early Events post and confirmed that I came home on the 14th (so glad I've documented these things!), so today is the first day of my 4th year home.

The day I came home. Hospital bed in living room.
So much has changed over these past three years. Here's a collection of recovery progress, via photograph.
I think this was maybe 5 months (I'm leaning heavily against the table before me as I can't yet stand alone.)
Then Kendra stroked between my 5 1/2 month mark and 6 month mark, thus this blog was born.
Our marriage faltered and nearly broke under the strain.
This became my constant prayer.
Our daughter broke her foot (for the first time).
I had multiple surgeries that first year.
I took on trying a quilt top for Kendra.
I turned 40. Joy was still illusive and my constant prayer.
I finally got insurance approval to get into counseling and started making peace with where God has me now.
I really struggled with memory issues.
I kept fighting.
Our kids moved back home.
I got more serious about this blogging ministry around 1 and 1/2 years.
I wrested with God over questions of  suffering, faith and healing.
I continued to learn to accept this situation.
I kept pushing my "limits".





I got sassy with my cane.
I've struggled with impulse spending and irrational behaviors.
I've learned much about God's amazing attitude towards me, how He desires me to view myself.

My kids and I got back to homeschooling (oldest for just one semester, younger two for one school year, before all enrolled in public school because my math, geography and formal grammar skills were so hard hit by the strokes.)
My hair and abilities (and confidence) continued to grow.
Butterflies became a significant symbol to Kendra and me.
I started learning to cherish living again.


"Purpose" became a major search for me.
I felt (feel) like I lived in medical offices.
Between m y daughter and I, I now have 20 different doctors speed dialed into my phone!
I continued (continue) to work on writing my book I had just decided on title and general outline the week before the strokes.
Our family got hit hard - two more broken bones in our daughter, stitches for our little guy, our oldest got hit by a car (praising God he was fully recovered within a couple weeks), kidney stones, several surgeries and hospitalizations for my mom and I, a torn rotater cuff for my dad and more!

I fell in love with Pinterest, where I now have over 80 boards and 10,000 pinned images. (Addictive maybe?)



I struggled (still do) with laundry.
I began braving social outings with my mom.
I learned to cope better with partial deafness.
I've really struggled with self view, self esteem, believing God about who He says I am.



Kept blogging, kept doing therapy.








Fall 2013

My emotions are still wild and hard to control.











We made a MESS, but tried to bake together, accompanied by much laughter over the inedible, disastrous results.


Didn't win, but made it into the finals.



My horn broke, so I got a bell.


I learned to braid!
Organized my Tupperware.
Took back my garden.

I pretty much live here.