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 (3 of 4 - Just When I Was Reclaiming Wonder)

In my first post 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.)
OK, I have avoided this specific post for a couple day now, because, while writing is usually so very therapeutic for me, this particular post is just heartbreaking. There are more emotions than I can sort out. I am hopeful that by finally getting them out to my blog, I can sort through some...

I so hope I have no call to use this picture, but at last update it really sounds like I might.
In short, a lady (no, I don't even know her yet, but that isn't keeping the emotions at bay) from our church stroked during the musical at church Saturday night. She was singing in the choir when it happened. My daughter was singing with her that night too.

Saturday night, all we witnessed was a little movement in the shadows as Linda was escorted off stage during a darkened break between songs. At the end of the service the audience was held behind for a few minutes, being told, "We have an ambulance in the parking lot and need to give the paramedics a little time and space."

Sunday morning we learned she had suffered a massive stroke and had surgery an hour after leaving the church, due to the extent of pressure on her brain. She was in a medically induced coma, last I heard. She also had a second brain surgery on Sunday afternoon, on the opposite side of her head, also to reduce pressures on her brain, so I am presuming maybe this means a second bleed?

I am not so far gone, mentally, to think this is primarily about me. It is obviously about Linda, about her husband Mike, about her battle between life here and the family in crisis and her life of the edge of Moving On To Greater Life. But I can't honestly say her journey hasn't rocked my just-stabilizing world! To see my 8-year-old's somber little head nodding in appreciation of the gravity of the pastor's words when he shared the urgency of prayer saying, "This could be life ending. Certainly life-altering," just about did me in. I was nearly a blubbering mess, right there in the middle of service. And while you hear about many of my "wanted to cry" moments, you know real tears rarely will fall for me now. I was angry for Karen, for Mike, for their loved ones, but also angry that just when I was feeling restored joy and wonder again, the devil would try to snatch that away, steal my peace this Christmas, by putting another serious stroke right into my world. (Then there's the whole memories, and flash backs and re-living thing too...)

I've now been on both sides of this coin. I say with certainty, that for Linda, there is no choice. Everyone tells you to "keep fighting," but really, for what? If only they had a glimpse of what she was headed toward...

Then I have been in the LONG days of waiting for Kendra's story, that seemed so hopeless, to take a turn in any direction, for her life to no longer hang in the balance but to take a decided direction toward either Home or physical healing.   And I have been at my mom's bedside when she was unresponsive and then incoherent. Even knowing, first hand, exactly what I know, my prayers that if she was finished with the days appointed for her, God would quickly take her Home, were tempered by human loss, the pangs of separation, waves of fear and loneliness, pleas begging God to fully heal and quickly restore her to us.

Jesus wept when Lazarus died, knowing fully both His power and plans to restore life. I believe the anguish tears Jesus shed in the garden of Gethsemane, were about the weight of my sin, the physical and mental horror Jesus was about to endure, but also about the coming separation from His Father. Death is ugly. Death is cruel. Death is not the end, in Christ, but it repulses us because God designed us for unity, for community, and that shreds apart our hearts as it rends His perfect design.

I need to get a hold of the church and find out a latest update. I know I will both be overwhelmingly relieved and overcome with sorrow with any answer I receive. On one hand I cling to the promise of Psalm 116:1 and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that death has no victory, little sting, because it is precious when you are a saint (know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior). On the other hand, I think of the times when God has restored life, through Elijah, through Jesus with the sick child (and many other times where He showed His compassion toward broken loved ones), and ultimately where He declared victory over the grave Himself! I know in Psalm 34:18, God promises to be close to the broken-hearted, and Romans 9:15 reminds me that God's grace, mercy, compassion, all all His to give to whomever He chooses, and my heart go out to Mike, to Linda's family, her friend, our church body, and I know of the ceaseless wave of prayers for her restoration. Either way, my heart will find reason to rejoice in God's sovereignty. The days of unknown are always the hardest.


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