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!)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Baby In Pink

Facebook is filled with first day of school pictures yesterday and today. While my oldest just graduated from high school, after so many years of waiting and grieving through infertility, I'm still stunned I have been given God's gracious gift of having pictures of my own to post over the years, or more specifically, that I was ever given the children who make this possible!

As I was scrolling through my news feed today, one picture brought me to a standstill, totally undid my heart! The little first grader in pink, proudly sporting her new backpack, was born about 2 weeks (maybe 10 days?) before my strokes. I held her as a TINY newborn. Drove to their apartment to see her for myself and hug on her Mama who I had been discipling for some time. I remember I left my sunglasses behind. Had to pull the car back around to a parking spot and run back up the stairs to the second floor to collect my missing possession. How I took such simple ability for granted!

She was the last baby I held prior to strokes, the last baby I held without assistance until just a few weeks ago (and that wasn't physically "easy" a few weeks ago, nor was I relaxed, just was the first time it had even been possible in nearly 6 years).

That day I held this baby was one of the last days I ever drove a car. I never particularly enjoyed driving when I could. Now I really miss it. Well, not exactly driving itself, the responsibility and all. It's the freedom I miss. The spontaneity. The ability to come up with a last-minute thought and jump in the car without having to plan or coordinate with anyone else. The fun of being a mom when I want to do something unscheduled with a child that would take us away from home. The ability to simply "be," like to forget an item and have it be non-eventful, not the least of an inconvenience to ANYONE that I misplaced an item or was a bit careless.

My emotions are all over the board with this picture! Joy that this little girl is alive. Thankfulness that so am I. Overwhelming love for her Mommy who hold a special pre-stroke spot in my heart... Pride at how far this "marker baby" and I have both progressed in both physical and mental skills since that day. Grief over the ugliness of this world (on so very many levels). So much many more emotions I haven't even sorted out yet.

I have an emotion-driven single tear (my more stroked eye, the one that used to leak non-stop, then could NOT cry for years, and now seems weepy again over the past week, but this is only the third time the flow has been specifically tied to any emotions) persistently rolling down my cheek and I can't even put into words exactly why.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Loosing Left

Today's post is going to be a journal of landmarks I need to remember. It's written "to" me more than you. Feel free to read along if you wish.

So thankful for early boarding when I fly, usually allowing me to claim bulkhead seating so
I can keep my left leg elevated, thus significantly diminishing PAIN and swelling that would otherwise occur from sitting with my leg down, not to mention the added physical stress of sudden altitude changes!

I've titled it "Loosing Left" to remind myself of what happens when I don't stay consistent with my physical therapy.  Between two different week long trips, two different bouts of days in bed on muscle relaxants, and the business of summer life in general, I didn't make it to the pool more than 2 or 3 times in the entire month of July! I'm paying for it in loss of much left side response and function. I can still force my body to do most anything I could do back in June, it just is a little slower for the left side to respond and MUCH more painful. Skills that had been regained and had gotten fairly easy, not so much now. I've also noticed my overall sense of balance is more compromised than what had become my normal - I almost fell yesterday even while using my sturdier, wide-footed cane, simply because I turned a corner and my brain kept spinning long after my body stopped, nearly taking me over. Thankfully a wall caught me!

While the stroke-born fear of heights still catches me by surprise as adrenaline surges startlingly at the very instant of sight of even a picture of someone sitting/standing on a tall building or even a cartoon of a person hanging from a  cliff (WHY???), I am so thankful that I am able to calmly fly on airplanes again! Thanks for this blessing, Lord!!!

My kids are back to school on this next Monday already, at least the younger two. My college freshman (GULP!) has one more week home after that.

Posted to Facebook with no credit given.

Wow has it gone FAST (both this specific summer and his childhood as a whole). I have said, for years, that time moves SO DIFFERENTLY this side of infertility. I know that decade of praying for children was MUCH longer than the 17 years just past!!!

Beautiful baby rose from my garden this summer.

Physically I've had kind of a tough summer. For one thing, as much as I loved homeschooling, and miss it, as much as I adore my children, I must be honest and say being around people 24/7 really drains me. As much as I hate to admit it, God knew what he has doing in sending my kids to traditional classrooms post stroke, allowing me several daily hours of solitude. Thinking, making decisions that impact others, on a continual basis, still puts my brain on overload!

 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. - 1 Corinthian 12:15

For many months, I've had intense pain, and radiating tingling/numbness associated with what doctors think is the extensor tendon of the 2nd-in-from-the-baby-toe (actually, they use much more elaborate medical descriptives, but that's my translation) on my right foot. How random! How irritating, aggravating, annoying, painful! Scans and exams and meds and frustration! And if I pointed my toes wrong, like sticking my foot straight to get into bed sheets at night, or bumped the top of the foot just right, OUCH. No, I never actually threw up from the sudden stabs of pain, but I came very close a few times! And on my LESS stroked foot too. Why??? (Perhaps I over extended it compensating for the weaker left?)

Then, this happened!

I dropped a large ceramic trivet on that EXACT spot on my foot. The trivet did not even chip, just rolled gracefully onto the floor. My foot absorbed the entire impact of the fall. I couldn't have aimed better if I had tied!


And guess what? All that blood flow flooding that injury no doctor has been able to fix, dramatically reduced the pain! As my oldest says, "God words in mysterious ways!" Amen, son! Praise Jesus!!!

Sure, I did NOT find the moment of impact at all enjoyable, and that bruise itself is still a little tender two weeks later, but the extension pain, is all but gone now, mild irritation very occasionally now. Haven't had to take pain meds (doses were several times per day for a few months there!) at all, in over a week. Flexing the foot can (but often does not) still triggle minor ache, and the top/side of the foot still gets a little numb/tingly at times, but that is at a totally livable level now!

The rest of today's post will be pulled from Facebook posts I've written over the last few weeks. I want to gather those stories in one spot so I don't loose them!

Thank you to my sweet neighbor for giving me this sweet gift, and to "My Kathy" for planting it in my rose garden!
On Monday, I posted, "today is my REAL (as in, the day I was actually born) birthday. I have Oct. 25 listed here on Facebook, as it is my "Re-birthday," the day my life started over from scratch almost 6 years ago, where I had to re-learn how to breathe, swallow, crawl, walk, and live again, after a chiropractic accident led to six strokes within 26 days, the two nearly-fatal ones in my brain stem and cerebellum, right there on the treatment table in his office. I thank God for carrying me through these 6 years, as well as the 39 prior!
So here's my birthday request. I am 45 today. I would love to build up 45 (or 450, or 4,500!!! *grin*) new likes on my Jennifer Saake, author page today, please! I even have a fun giveaway going this week (and another, every week this summer)... Could you please go like /HarvestingHope then share this post and invite your friends to do the same? Potential book publishers are looking at my social media right now and need to see I have potential for spreading my message far."

The above post brought me 57 new page likes in 2 1/2 days. :)

Thanks to my hubby, my kids, my bestest lunch buddies, and my parents, for making Monday such a special day for me. 
Thanks for the yummy dinner and gluten-free berry cobbler, Mom!
Do you think they might know I like butterflies or something?

One of my very favorite treasures of the day, hand-drawn/designed/colored/shaded by one of our sons.

I was overwhelmed with Facebook birthday greetings. One of my favorites was:

Purchase poster at https://pro.teechip.com/butterfly-out-poste
This has been a summer of transition for our family. We feel we are "on the fence" between two seasons, a season of chronic loss, grief, and destruction, and a time of healing, renewal, joy, restoration, favor. This picture is significant to me right now:

Thank you, A Little Perspective / Scripture Pictures
My commentary on Facebook was, Ever prayed through a hard circumstance for a LONG time and HURT so deeply, yet felt closer to God in that season than any other time in life? Then, once prayers are answered, that close dependence on the Lord tends to slip? I think this is why God allows struggles, to remind us of our need for dependence on Him. If He feels far away today, He isn't the One who needs to move closer again.

Thank you Joanna Weaver!
If you use Facebook, please take a moment to take this guided tour of my author page. This way, my non-FB friend don't need to wade through details of, and links to, features such as weekly Saturday Giveaways and Tuesday Prayers. Current giveaways there include a summer-long series of games and rewards of brand new, still sealed, Christian music CD classic (circa 1990s). 
Choices still available to choose from this week (as of this posting, since one prior winners still need to claim from among these) are:
- Heaven in the Real World - Steven Curtis Chapman
- The Great Adventure - Steven Curtis Chapman
- I Only Want to See You There - Keith Green
Steve Green
- Coram Deo - Susan AshtonMichael CardMichael EnglishOut Of The GreyCharlie Peacock
- Nailed In Stone - Barrett Brian
- Home Run! - Geoff Moore and The Distance
- Field of Souls - Wayne Watson
(Sorry, other SCC titles, Jaci VelasquezPoint of GraceAmy GrantMichael W. Smith, the WOW I Love Christian Music, and others have already been claimed earlier in the summer.)

I have to say it is quite fun that I now get more new people I do NOT know "liking" this page than the number of pre-page friends joining. I am very thankful for each already-established relationship and cannot thank my friends enough for joining me here. It is just really exciting that God is also bring me new friends, expanding my "tribe" with this page. I am eager to watch how God continues to "build my platform" and leads in my pursuit of an agent and publisher!

Last night I posted:
Today was a tough day, starting with an inability to continue water therapy after 15 minutes of really struggling. After that I spent all day in bed, eating like crazy, feeling ravenously hungry, cold, and exhausted, and blurry vision. I'm thinking the blood sugar meds I've been on for 18 years were causing hypoglycemia today! 
By not taking my dinner pill and eating plenty of M and Ms (thanks my sweet Rick), I'm doing better this evening.
First I weaned off years of antidepressants and actually was coping better within 6 weeks than I ever had since the strokes, then much hearing was restored, then my latex reactions dropped from anaphylactic levels to nearly non-existent, now this!
I've already cut my Metformin dose 3 times in the past couple years, so that I was only taking half of my highest dose in June when I started in on these symptoms and dropped my dose in half again, then. Since I'm now on the lowest dose, I guess it is time to just try to stop all together.
This journey is crazy amazing! I did nothing to deserve what God is doing. I'm not getting to pick and choose what is getting healed nor when, but Wow! Thank you, God!
My left-handed coloring is coming along. Still slow (this incomplete 3x5 card represents 30+ hours) but hand control has majorly improved since my first left-handed coloring post in January 2016!
After reading a friend's post about a particularly beautiful way God had restored her joy in an area that has been quite downtrodden for quite some time, this morning I replied with:
I have a tear rolling freely down one cheek as I read this. I have had trouble crying for nearly 6 years now, since my strokes! Beautiful!...
A second tear calmly, silently followed the first. I rarely get even one tear past the first unless I am in an ugly rage. Peaceful/joyful release through tears just really isn't a thing anymore. On the very rare handful of times they have ever come, I may get one tear, so small it has evaporated away before it reaches the tip of my nose. Today was TWO fully rolling tears, the first tear rolled to my chin and dripped, the second making it to my lips before it dried away. Both I sat through joyfully, peacefully, and just smiled my thanks to the Lord! BIG DEAL!
...There starts a 3rd! And even the other eye is a bit damp under the lower lid too!

Pretty view from a recent trip.