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.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

December (2 of 4 - Shoes and Prayers)

In the beginning of this series I wrote,
I've sat down to write this post probably at least a half dozen times. My focus keeps changing. Saturday it was going to be about how I finally got every Christmas item up this year, first time since the strokes. Sunday morning it was going to be about how I learned I do have aphasia (loss of language) with my second language and all the emotions I was processing with that realization. Sunday afternoon it was going to be a prayer request for a woman I actually witnessed stroke on Saturday evening and didn't know it until Sunday morning! Somewhere in there I planned to talk about shoes and share some Christmas Thoughts and Prayers. Today, I think I better post a series of posts tonight as tonight's blog would be WAY too long otherwise! (If you are reading this via Facebook, I'm not getting on FB at all for a few days, taking a little break, but this should still auto-post there for me this evening.)

Remember when I fell and twisted my more stroked ankle at the beginning of April? And again when I tried to go down a whole flight of stair, when my mom was in the hospital, and messed it up more then too? (Nothing like getting half way down a flight of stairs, rushing because you know your ride is waiting on you, and realizing your foot cannot take another step and there are as many stairs still down before you as there are to turn around and try to go back up to find an elevator instead!) I am very blessed that I have enough function of my left ankle to avoid serious foot drop, to not even require a custom ankle support brace. But the ankle hurts every single day. I am vividly aware of the pain and stiffness from my very first step out of bed each morning. The short walk from bed to bathroom is never fun. Therapy is do-able because it is in the water, but some weeks I especially pay for the demands I have placed on that foot for days after!

The ankle is one issue. The foot, as a whole, another. I had no idea how many muscles are required simply to hold a shoe on a foot! I think "flip-flop" style sandals are forever out of my life. Obviously,  any height of high heals too! What surprised me is that my foot still has too much paralysis to even keep a nice looking pair of flat pumps on. I can manage on the right foot, but the left, I try to take a step and send that shoes sailing out in front of me. Neither my toes, nor heal, is strong enough to hold a shoe in place.

My shoe situation has been rather depressing since my strokes. I talked about shoes before. I did manage to spice up my selection from plain tennies to include some strong, therapist-approved, fun combat boots last year. While they are beautiful and brightened my day, they can only go so far.

When the options are tennis shoes or combat boots, there isn't much room for dressy events. I got a pair of green lace boots this summer and that helped, but wearing a long, velvet formal (I picked up for only $8 on eBay! - Did I mention I love sale shopping?) to a dinner this fall, My best shoe option was green boots!

Notice this picture does NOT show my feet!
I picked up some fully enclosed brown leather ankle boots with golden roses embossed on them, on a good sale of course, and that has made me feel very expanded in shoe options, but they are time consuming to get on (as all all my shoes that come up over my ankles, really, because of limited ankle flex). When I received a small book royalty check recently, the quest for a better shoe wardrobe was on. Things I required were shoes that were flat, supportive, held onto my feet when my feet wouldn't hold onto them, had good soles for traction in our icy winters, were easy to take on and off, and gave me a nice range from casual to dressy again.

What I ended up with (had a total budget of $150) were four pair I'm pretty sure will wonderfully meet me everyday and casual needs, and two pair that I hope will work for dressy. Shoes should start getting delivered as early as today, so we will see how everything fit (a drawback of no driver's license) and will work for me.

The purchase I most excited about is two pair of gently used Alegra (a favorite brand used by many nurses who are on their feet all day) for 70% less (even including shipping) than what I would have paid retail. They are basic pumps with two straps over each foot, so I think they will hang on to my feet well. And Alegra brand always have an adorable butterfly stamped on the heal! These are the same brand as the brown and roses ankle boots I wear almost daily. The left pair looks black in the picture, but is actually a swirl of dark blues, greens and purples, all colors I wear a lot.
This pair is also used, but the combination of the sole, the strap, the color, and the price, make me want to give these casual suede a try. They might come in the mail today! 
These are designed for pre-teens, but I think adorable, my size and totally my style. Another sweet second-hand purchase! Velcro is my friend. I bet I will wear these a LOT.

This is an inexpensive, new pair. I'm hopeful that the ankle straps will make them usable for me. I am worried about my toes popping out in front, but going to give them a try. I ordered white and don't expect to get much wear before spring. The ankle flexibility will likely be an issue to get my foot down into them, but once on, should STAY on.
I couldn't get the picture of my last pair to show up here, but I also bought them new, mostly for the great tread on the soles. You can take a look at these black Mary Jane flats if you would like. Again, I'm worried that they might not stay on my foot, in this case, I wonder if there is just enough shoe to even hang onto me, with those side cut outs, but I'll never know if I don't try. Buckles keep shoes from falling into the "easy on" category for me, but once eventually fastened, this shoe should at least hold onto my ankle well. I am a little worried about the heal height on this one too.

Here are a couple different prayers and meditation that I have recently read that have meant a lot to me:

"The clear teaching of Jesus is that we are loved because God is great, and it is on this we must depend. We need to realize that attempting to be who others want us to be and seeking their approval leaves us confused and lost. We need to learn that obedience to God's commands brings revelation and personal knowledge of him, which fulfills even the deep longing of our heart for love, security and hope." - from Day 4 reading of 25 Days of Advent by Dr. Kenneth Boa with John Alan Turner, for Zondervan Press.
I have shared before that no matter how much I love even my closest family: my husband, my children, my parents; after tasting Heaven, I could not fathom willingly giving that up for any one of them. One of the most awe-inspiring aspects of Christ becoming man for me is His indescribable, unfathomable love that would leave behind the glory of Heaven for the confines of earth. This very short devotional at RenewedDaily last week, gives me yet a powerfully new perspective on the humanity of Christ and His love for me, beyond deep, high, wide or long. Hail The Incarnate Deity.

My post from this date, last year. Little did we know then (and glad we didn't!) that within the next year, my surgeon would be murdered, my mom would also have kidney stone surgery, God would direct us to a new church via my medical needs, our oldest would get hit by a car (and be recovered within a couple of weeks, PRAISE GOD!), my dad would injure his shoulder and need months of therapy (ongoing - we are still praying he avoids shoulder surgery in the coming months), my sweet friend would face some unsettling medical questions, my mom would give us a real scare with her ambulance ride and days in the hospital and 3-month restriction of driving privileges and ongoing therapy, our daughter would break two bones, land in a wheel chair for several weeks, and stir up some intense medical investigation that would cover most of this year - between her and me, I now had 18 different doctors offices speed dialed into my telephone!, Rick and I would undertake some massive life-style dietary changes, and Rick's great aunt would just this week get out of the hospital after many complications (Rick's mom caring for all the arrangements, long-distance). While writing this post my bird picked a feather than has bled a LOT (Anyone have advice on caring for blood feathers? This is the worst I have ever seen!) and I've gotten a text with an extended family health concern and prayer need. We are praying for a dull 2015!

My beautiful baby girl. Sitting in yet ANOTHER medical waiting room.


  1. Since I can't buy pretty shoes...I now buy coats and jacket to the point that hubby makes fun of me.