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.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


Sometimes I just fall into information, situation, life overload. Usually I need this blog to sort out, record, process my thoughts. Every now and then I do a lot of "mental writing" and compose in my head what I want to share here but never actually get it written. This has been one of those seasons.

My kids have been out of school, home full time for the past week and a half, I am still physically not yet 100% from my Mono relapse this March/April, and life has simply been busy! Oh, and as brain training, I've taken a strong liking to the games Candy Crush Saga (I've been stuck on level 70 for days and determined my brain and I WILL figure this out!) and Candy Crush Soda Saga (I can't go any further until 3 friend help me unlock the next level, so if you want to send free lives or tickets to help me achieve new levels, I don't object, and THANK YOU in advance). ;)

The more laundry and cooking and paperwork and life I try to take on, regaining independence and home management skills, the more exhausted I become! I WANT to take these things back, I just wish it wasn't so overwhelming when I try!!! Often it seems that my life consists of sleeping (a lot, several hours at night, plus another one or two long naps each day, when I would MUCH rather be enjoying my kids than drooling on my pillow!), doctors appointments, household chores, water therapy (two mornings a week), my daily NEEDED, non-optional, what-keeps-me-going hour with the Lord in prayer and/or Bible reading each day, and trying to keep up with meal planning and execution. I want to be a "fun Mom," but the summer I had so carefully tried to keep free of all but the absolute essential medical stuff has already been filled with more medical and/or therapy days than not.  Writing? Blogging?

So, you might not see as much of me here until mid August, when my kids are back in school. I think their memories of this post stroke Mommy are already being built as the woman who sleeps all the time, nags for help in loading the dishwasher and folding laundry, and sits with her feet elevated and laptop on her lap each evening. When I'm not sleeping, I want to focus on true memory building this summer. My oldest is about to start his junior year of high school and might have an internship (possibly even out of state!) next summer, so this well could be my last year with all my babies at home over the summer months! Here are a few things that are taking priority over blogging this summer:

I'm not a very fast reader, and still slur several words in oral reading (another form of both brain training and speech therapy), but every day, between lunch and a nap, my kids are gathering with me to listen to me read a chapter of our favorite books, The Kingdom Series by Chuck Black, an allegory of the Bible, set in knights and sword fights and armor and castles timeline, capturing the entire history of the world from Genesis through Revelation, a story captivating and well-written enough to capture the imaginations of all age levels. We have read the stories out loud several times since our oldest was about 7, our middle a preschooler and our youngest an infant. I still love them (even more than Chronicles of Narnia or other classic titles of the vein) as does our 15-year-old!  Fortunately they know the stories well enough to make up for my poor oral presentation. Their was reluctance to sit still and listen at the beginning of the summer, until they "got" the concept that this is something special we can still do together, a daily gift I can do my best to bestow on them. We are about 3/4 of the way through book one (of six), Kingdom's Dawn.

We are also working on an outdoor project over the summer, with our dear friend Kathy (who spent three hours digging weeds out of my rose garden and preparing a trench for me!) who is helping us build a "dry stream bed" through the part of the yard we affectionately (and rather realistically) call our "bog," where back yard and house gutter water drainage all converge in my rose garden, creating a soggy swamp and breeding many deep-rooted, water-loving, plants such as cat tails and quite the diverse ecosystem of grasses and various reeds! I am hoping that, now that the tubers have been uprooted and removed, some of these might be inhibited a bit from returning by a thick layer of paper-machae-like newspaper, covered by black gardening fabric, then filled in with the mountain of rocks we have cleared from our back yard over the years. If they still break through and spring up anyway, at least water plants will look like they "belong" in the creek, rather than randomly springing up in the midst of my roses. Kids will be busy transplanting a couple of bushes, pulling weeds, and washing and carrying stones to fill the "river" trench Kathy and I build. I think it will be a project everyone is proud of once it is finished. Can't wait to share pictures! :)

According to Pinterest, "Heavily newspaper your garden beds before you put down mulch. Weeds cannot grow through the newspaper, and the decomposing paper feeds your soil."
And, "
The newspaper will prevent any grass and weed seeds from germinating, but unlike fabric, it will decompose after about 18 months. By that time, any grass and weed seeds that were present in the soil on planting will be dead. It’s green, it’s cheaper than fabric, and when you decide to remove or redesign the bed later on, you will not have the headache you would with fabric."
ou should use newspaper (or a layer of cardboard) in a raised bed: to keep weeds at bay and promote a crop of earthworms (they are good for the soil)."
Here's another natural gardening tip that might be worth a try, near, but not too near, my roses, Kathy:
Homemade Weed Killer: 1 gallon of white vinegar, 1/2 cup salt, Liquid dish soap
The other big "summer project" my daughter and I are taking on (other than going purse shopping this weekend with my mom :D ) is my bedroom. It was absolutely clean when I came home from the hospital 3 1/2 years ago. As some things were organized in ways I couldn't find, access from a wheel chair or put away on my own, not to mention severe memory issues, that initial cleanliness didn't last long at all. I have attempted to clean it about 5 times since, twice with help (thanks Becky and Kathy) and a few times on my own (not great skill nor progress!) but mostly it has been untouched for 3 1/2 years, stacking deeper and deeper with paperwork and assorted junk. It has gotten bad enough that I've taken a couple of recent trips in there and am sporting a few lovely blood-thinner induced bruised. Since my girl is much more able-bodied than I am, home for the summer, and desperate to earn certain privileges, we have divided my bedroom into multiple "zones" and are tackling sections together, one at time. As each zone get fully reclaimed, she earns another privilege. Already, I can walk much more safely in there. Win-win!

In cleaning my bedroom, today I found the paperwork I signed Thanksgiving morning, 2011, the morning of my two stroke-ending, arterial repair surgeries. Perhaps (surely) I knew before, but it was "new" news to me today to understand that my life-saving surgeries were experimental, not FDA approved, administered as last resort "compassionate care," meaning all decision makers were fully convinced that I absolutely WOULD die without experimental intervention, but they were willing to try risky, potentially fatal, options because it was my only chance. That was a sobering discovery today! I was also taken off guard by how horrid, illegible, nearly unrecognizable my own "signature" was at that stage in the game!

Over recent weeks I have also been reviewing my full medical records I only recently obtained. Because my memory is so poor, I have an unquenchable drive to understand, and have ready access to, all the facts and timeline of the exact specifics of what happened and how it all unfolded. It has been interesting reading as I clarify things I never understood or "remembered" inaccurately. I am so very thankful to have consistent access to this pertinent information!

Thank you for all who prayed for our marriage conference two weekends ago. Shortly before we went, I came across this quote:

To have a "THAT...Your Way" attitude, open to however God needed to work, was my prayer going into the weekend, trying to go with as few expectations and preconceived notions as possible. Some things I hoped/expected out of the weekend did not happen (and I was surprisingly peaceful and OK with that!) and many blessing and communication breakthroughs I hadn't even considered needing did come about. Overall, it was a worthwhile, refreshing weekend and I gained fresh new insights into and understanding of the amazing man I share my life with.

Here's a little taste of the incredible weekend in the form of a short, fun video. See if you can spot me at least three times. Your big hint is that I'm always sitting and I earned the title of "Hat Lady" there. I don't know why, as I only took my hat box, 3 hats and 2 other bandanna-type head scarves for a 3-day weekend! Once I get it scanned, I'll post the professional photo that was taken as part of our weekend (but I'm only wearing one of my headscarves scrunched up like a wide headband in that one). :) Start of registration to valet service to end the retreat, I must say Joni and Friends went above and beyond to care for every need and detail, spoil us rotten and carry out a fantastic event!

It brings a big smile to my heart to watch this video and so many precious new friends. I would say that the most amazing part of the weekend was to be able to tell our story without everyone's jaws dropping around us! There were 19 other married, Christian couples there with equally dramatic tales to tell! It was rather amazing to simply be "just part of the crowd" for the first time in 3 1/2 years!!!

One thing I have REALLY struggled with since the strokes is "feeling beautiful" (broken, unworthy, unloveable?), the primary reason I just haven't had the heart to write much at my pre-stroke InnerBeauty blog in years now. I try, I really do, but this is an area of my heart that still bleeds rather violently and I just struggle to obtain any measure of true hope and healing. This week, our daughter wrote the simple words, "YOU are BEAUTIFUL, MOM!" in pen, right at eye-level across my bathroom mirror. I don't know what her dad thinks of the destruction of property, but I do know that it brings a huge smile to my lips, makes my heart lighter, each morning when I come out of the bathroom and face-to-face with this message. Thank you, precious Princess!

While I'm thanking our girl, I must add her nursing skills to the list! Today I had a quarter-sized chunk of skin cut off my "good" arm to be biopsied and make sure a changing skin growth isn't up to any mischief. (The doctor thinks it will likely come back all clear, we just needed to get it off and be sure.) The point is, the "hole in my arm" that I can't see and can hardly reach, sends all three of my guys into a grossed-out panic, while our girl calmly and faithfully has already very gently and skillfully executed three dressing changes for me since noon. I'm very thankful for her tender care.

If you have been following the saga of my tummy pain, ER trips, multiple CT scans over the past couple monthsthe basic results are that when I had my hysterectomy 6 1/2 years ago, they told me I only had one ovary (left side) and my cervix left. As it turns out, there is lots of structure left in there. He only took enough uterus to arrest monthly bleeding and my right ovary itself, but I still have tubes and support structures and even "tissue" from the uterus. The cellular makeup seems to be neither endometriosis nor scar tissue, but simple uterus that was only partially removed. Who knows why that surgery kept my pain at bay for so many years, but now it is a monthly issue again and seems to be referring all pain down to the area of the missing right ovary! For now, we will keep monitoring, and, as I can't take pain meds, if it continues to be cyclic and I keep having pain, I will likely be referred over to a surgeon in a few months, I guess to do what wasn't done well to begin with! *Consider it all joy*

- No guarantee that my appendix is not also working up to throwing a temper tantrum (took 9 months of pain and 5 ER visits before my mom's was angry enough to show ANYTHING on any kinds of tests or blood work), but right now that organ still looks great and the rest of this mess seems to be the pain cause. If I have to have surgery, I'm going to ask if they would take the appendix at the same time, just in case though! -

I am part of a very small online encouragement fellowship group for Christian women living with various chronic health challenges. Each month in Hope House we have a "theme word" that is our focus for the month. Last month was really rough. This month our soothing, healing focus word is REFUGE.



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