Update: The In Darkness Sing blog at JenniferSaake is experiencing prolonged technical issues, so I'm temporarily posting back here on my old Stroke of Grace blog.

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.

Jennifer 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. (Please see above temporary update note above!)

Monday, May 29, 2017

Organizational Help

This is a cross posting of yesterday's InfertilityMom blog. It is stroke-related, so I was asked to share it here as well.

A really fun aspect of writing blogs is that random companies fairly regularly contact me and ask me to try their products. I am very selective about what offers I'll except. The products have to really fit my niches of Christian living (companies like Dayspring, or books I want to read, or the online college Biblical languages program I told you about this week), or things specific to stroke therapy or adaptation.

I say "no," to more offers than I accept, then even if I accept, you won't find the item posted here unless I have some real positives to share. When I feel it is a product I want to share with my readers, you get my honest opinion, the good and the bad.

When Paperless Post contacted me earlier this month, I was intrigued. I don't easily send postal cards because the addressing, stamping, and mailing process takes a lot of organizational skill that I'm still working to recover since the strokes. With Paperless Post, email addresses are collected once, then the entire process is automated so that I can send out graduation party announcements (my first living baby will graduate high school in less than a week!), birthday cards, shower invites, wedding announcements, Christmas cards, invitations, or general "brighten your day" messages, on a whim.

This is the actual "envelope" I selected, "paid" upgrade coins for. I just now realized that the plain one posted below is what actually got sent. This was visible when people clicked on their plain envelope and visited the Paperless Post website. The customer service is fantastic, and had I not waited until posting deadline to write this blog post, I'm sure I would have been happy with the assistance they offered in this area. Perhaps it is as simple as the need for email recipients to come directly to Paperless Post to access all the benefits of this service?

There are email options, both basic free ones and more elaborate paid ones, and even paper items to be ordered. I was credited "coins" to go in and play around with some of the fancy options to establish my opinions and receive feedback from my guinea pigs friends I tested cards on. I picked a handful on people I know well, some that I regularly interact with via email, and others I rarely exchange emails with at all. I sent them a message of, "I am trying out the Paperless Post service to review it on my InfertilityMom.blogspot.com blog. Fun! I picked a few friends to try it out with and when I saw this card was an option, it seemed perfect for you, my friend. :) If you can let me know what you think of this service, that will help me write my review. " All but my mom (who spent many years being "computer illiterate and proud of it" and has been dragged into the technological age kicking and screaming) opened their messages. (Love the tracking feature built in, so I know if anyone needs follow ups!)

Outside Envelope That Appears In Initial Email

I upgraded envelope "liners" (paperless, mind you) to butterflies and had fun with card messages, backgrounds, "postmarks", and more. This is what I came up with:

Card Front
One third of my test subjects had initial trouble opening/reading everything I had sent on their cards. As one friend said, "It was OK, but all I could see was my name." Once I replied to their questions, they all immediately figured it out and appreciated what I had sent. The replies I sent read like this,"Click on the button in the original post that says, "View The Card". That will take you to a website where you can see the card along with the front of the envelope by clicking on the image on the right and the opened envelope lining by clicking over to the left. If the card flips over too fast to read all of it, click directly on the card and it will flip back over."

Personalized Card Back I Created
Since this message sent directly via email, along with the simple outer envelope picture, this is where I would include my instructions for new users in the future.

Another friend took a while to reply, then said, "Cute card. I couldn't figure out how to respond at first--no box, just one line to write on."

Inside of Envelope With Upgraded Butterfly Liner :)

My favorite reply nearly wrote my review for me, though I unfortunately filed her message in "trash" instead of "blog." *sigh* The point is she LOVED this service and simply GUSHED over it. Now that I've learned a few tricks, what I did right and what I will do differently next time. I will certainly be using this service again! My advice is to initially try Paperless Post out with a very small test group, find out how things work, practice and reine, then use it for serious contacts!

Happy 8th birthday to this innovative company that is going to make one area of my life simpler. :)

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Core Deep Lies

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Where to start? On May 9, 2017, my life took a dramatic change.

You may have already read about how God so unexpectedly restored my hearing. (Wondering about your own miracle and feeling left out of God's plan? Read my follow-up article, What About Me?)


The story few know yet is one I've spent 2 1/2 weeks praying about how to share, what to share.

It's rather like putting together a puzzle.

Piecing together fragments of nearly 45 years of life to gain a clear picture of where I am today.

(Literal jigsaw puzzles are my newest fascination. I call them my "new Facebook," where I'm spending my free time focus. A peaceful place to train my brain while meditating on the Lord.)

I've come a long way from being challenged by a 24-piece puzzle in December, 2011!
Last week I did four, 100, 300, and 500 piece puzzles in 6 days! 
This is even with spending lots of hours focused on deep housecleaning, gardening, laundry, dishes, writing, doctor's appointments, and therapy, so these were accomplished in my free moments scattered throughout those six days!
Starting May 8, and for nearly 40 hours that week, I underwent an intensive week of much needed counseling. The restored hearing was God's gift to get my attention from the get-go and affirm that He was in my week, working, and wanted my full attention.

Physical restoration was the most obvious change to come out of my ministry week, the most easily seen and explained to others, but was actually the least significant change God brought about this month.

I am finally ready to share what some of you have even directly questioned about my life but I have long denied. 

As a very young child, on the mission field in Asia with my parents, I endured prolonged, repetitive, and serious abuses at the hands of a nanny hired to help free my parents to focus on ministry work. My entire family remained unaware well into my adulthood. 

Short and Sweet is the newest book I'm contributing to. If you wish to buy a copy, they are available on Amazon now!
This was a fun writing challenge, to express huge ideas in 250 words of only one or two syllables, 5 letters or less.
I learned of this project at Mount Hermon Christian Writer's Conference, just a couple days before deadline, and my submission (on prayer fasting) was selected for publication in this anthology! :)

My husband was the first to know of my abuse, followed by a counselor, then my parents, then this current counselor, then my children, in-laws, brother, Sunday school class, a very select few friends, and now you. In hindsight, those who have known me long-term can see the imprints left on my life, the impact on marriage, parenting, and relationships with others and with the Lord. 

I got to meet Christian actor and chiropractic stoke survivor, Kevin Sorbo (wow is he tall!), just 54 hours after my hearing was restored, the first time I wore my hair down in public in several years!

To the few who have learned some of the specifics of what I've endured and been broken by the vile ugliness, reduced to sobs and hugs of overwhelming sympathy, I can only share that your reactions catch me by utter surprise. I get that you are just catching up with a weight that's dragged me down for a lifetime, but as you process a new-to-you burden, I've been set free, my heart is lighter than it has been in my entire life! I want to shout from the rooftops what God has done in breaking down strongholds, losing tight bonds of secrecy, shame, and pain.

I am not "all better" yet. I am not fully healed. Many nights are sleepless and terror-filled, especially right now as God peels back the scabs I have so carefully guarded for so long, and oozes out the infection at its source. I still anticipate at least one more intensive week of upcoming counseling as well as potentially other "breakthrough" moments of aid needed.

The day before my counseling week began, I got to attend a dear friend's baptism!

My despair has been transformed to joy. God has not left me without relief.

I am attempting to type with both hands sometimes now. I am believing there will come a day when I learn to drive again, rather than thinking that to be a forever impossibility. I am no longer accepting the therapist's statement that I should give up the goal of standing for a shower and be content to sit on a shower bench for the rest of my life. I believe there may likely come a day, this side of Heaven, when my muted hearing is fully restored in volume, when my latex allergy abates, when my need to use a walker or elevate my more-stroked-leg due to vascular pain, resolves.

May "snow" in Reno. The cottonwood trees are in bloom!
I have given up the practice of full-time head covering and am only practicing this for corporate worship, prayer, and prophecy (including ministry writing and public speaking), wearing my hair down and unbound whenever I wish now. I have been totally off antidepressants for nearly a month. I am stretching my brain by learning Biblical Hebrew, just because I find it fascinating and always thought it would be cool. (You too can earn college credits with this flexible online course in just two hours a week! If you enter the linked giveaway, you will automatically earn $100 toward a course and could even win an entire 9-month class for free.) 

As stated above, I'm taken with jigsaw puzzles now. I've spent 14 hours deep-cleaning two bathrooms in the past two weeks. While I'm still feeling the effects of ME/CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), my mom and kids say I have more life, spark, energy, than they have seen in my oldest's 17-year lifetime.

As God has been scrubbing my heart, freeing me of chains of things done to me, He has also provided new strength for this mobility-challenged mom to get in and clean things I have not been able to manage for years!

Jesus has broken three core-deep lies that the enemy has shouted to my heart since childhood:

1. I am not beautiful/acceptable/pleasing to God or others. I am "less than," never good enough.

2. No one will ever believe me. I'm a drama queen. I'm a good story teller. I'm just making this up.

3. I must be broken to be a viable witness. It is my responsibility to "steward" and shoulder my story well, that it may bring glory to my Father. That to be "useful" to God's kingdom, means "being used" by God in the same way I was used and abused in infancy.

These have been replaced by Truth:

1. God loves me, calls me by name, delights over me. I am His jewel, His treasure. 
Through all I have endured, He has never left me alone. At the bottom of a deep, dark well, He is my Living Water. I can trust both my past and my future to Him. I am more than enough because He imparts His value to me, His beloved daughter. God does not leave me without help, without hope, but desires relationship with me.

2. Jesus is the Truth. I am not a Drama Queen, rather a Princess of the Most High God!  He has confirmed my story in countless ways, and continues to do so even now. Yes, He has honed the craft of story telling within me, not so I can flourish in fiction (no wonder I've never gotten the hang of fiction novels!), but so that His story can be displayed in the unique way He has crafted only me to share it.

3. Sometimes healing takes time - this is to my benefit that I continue to bring my brokenness to the Lord, that I don't get my way and forget to keep coming to Him. He makes all things new. Jesus came to bind up the broken hearted. He has already caused this lame woman to walk, blind woman to see, deaf woman to hear, all thing doctors never believed could happen! He who began a good work in me will be faithful to carry it on to completion.
He will guide me one step at a time, lighting my path for this moment. It is not mine to look into plans He has not ordained for me. He calls me to rest in Him. My striving for perfection and accomplishment, is exhausting and vain. He does not use nor abuse, but is gentle and tenderly carrying me.

I an FREE! <3

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If you haven't read it yet, don't miss the funny story behind this picture!
I'm removing some wording from my blog header. I am ready to go from victim to victor:
Jenni is walking (with a cane or wheeled walker), had recovered much eye-sight, some hearing, partial use of her hands, could care for most of her own personal/toiletry needs...
 (please read more and watch short video)...
Near the five-year recovery mark, Jenni has renewed her pre-stroke excitement about the unique Lilla Rose hair Flexi eight jewelry she sells and has finally regained enough hand/arm function to regularly use! (The biggest ongoing losses at the 4 1/2-year point of recovery are left-side nerve pain, inability to drive, loss of homeschool teaching capability, significant sound processing issues (often triggering nausea), and some profound physical ability limitations such as a limp, balance challenges, clumsy use of right hand and only large motor function in left hand.)  
Jenni is clinging to God's grace through the entire experience. Here is her unfolding story, documented in her own words (typing with only her right hand), as she perceives it happening in real time, messy, honest and to the glory of God...

Friday, May 19, 2017

No Words!

I've been quiet. 

Oh yes, there is PLENTY to share, more to process than I know how, in fact!

God very unexpectedly blessed me with much restored hearing 10 days ago. (Feeling left out of God's plan? Read my follow up article, What About Me?)

I am hearing tones I have never heard in my left ear since infancy, and the crackling and constant confusing whistling that have been constants for 5 1/2 years since stroke are simply gone. The pain issue caused by the strokes, where loud music causes vomiting, is also erased overnight.

Feel free to read more at www.Facebook.com/HarvestingHope

Jenni's further thoughts about healing can be found at What About Me?