Thursday, April 21, 2016

Book Review: Hope Heals

Jay and Katherine Wolfe

Jay and I have been blessed to suffer greatly at such a young age because it informs the way we live the rest of our lives. We have learned that when everything else is gone, hope remains. - Katherine Wolf

Hope Heals: A True Story of Overwhelming Loss and an Overcoming LoveI recently read Hope Heals by Jay and Katherine Wolf. In this book they tell the story of their marriage, Katherine's stroke as a young wife and mom, and the years of rehab that followed. It is a story of love, suffering, commitment, and hope.

Jay and Katherine were a young married couple living in California and pursuing their dreams. Jay was weeks away from graduating from law school, Katherine was a model with a promising career, and they had a 6 month old baby. But life as they knew it changed dramatically when Katherine suffered a massive brain stem stroke, which left her in a coma for 2 months. After waking up from the coma she had to spend nearly 2 years in intensive rehab to regain strength back and to re-learn how to talk, eat, and walk.

Jay and Katherine struggled through very hard years, but their commitment to one another and to the Lord remained strong. Katherine confesses that there were times when she felt like God had made a mistake and that she should have died. But in those dark moments, she knew and trusted that “He sees the entire picture, and HE DOES NOT MAKE MISTAKES. He knows this is part of the story He is writing for me, for my family, and for all of the creation He is making right. It is not a plan B, and I trust that.”

Katherine acknowledges that she can give God the glory, and it can still hurt. Her experienced caused her “to redefine healing and discover a hope that heals the most broken places: our souls.”

There aren’t many books about marriage and disability, so I was thrilled to learn about Hope Heals. I was encouraged and challenged by Jay and Katherine’s testimony in these pages. Hope Heals will be beneficial to anyone who is looking for hope, and it will be especially encouraging for those who are affected by disability in marriage.

If you are interested in learning more about Hope Heals, you will enjoy watching this book trailer. (If you are reading this in an email, please click over to the blog to see the video.)

"This is our truest healing, the healing of our souls, and it sustains us when we wake up tomorrow to an unknown but hopeful new day."

Hope Heals will be available April 26th. Learn more at

I received a copy of Hope Heals from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Easy

It is time for Five Minute Friday! We write for just five minutes, no over-thinking, backtracking, or careful editing. Kate gives us a word, and we write for the joy of writing. Today the word is “easy.”

Being a mom isn’t easy. It takes hard work, dedication, patience, perseverance, love, and everything you have to give. It is hard! And when you add a chronic illness into the mix, it becomes even harder.

There are days when being a mom with a chronic illness is overwhelming because there is so much to do, and there is so much of it that you simply cannot do. The energy that is required during the “little years” pushes you to your limits and beyond. But in time it gets easier.

In time the children grow. They get bigger and stronger. They become more helpful and more skilled in doing chores. We have been doing chores with our children since they were toddlers, but their help during that time was minimal compared to what they can do now. They have become more helpful with each passing year.

Now at the ages of 10 and 6, our children can work alongside us and offer significant help! Last weekend William helped Will move furniture in the house. A few weeks ago I taught Adelaide to clean the bathroom counter, mirror, and toilet. Two weeks ago I taught the children to clean our kitchen floor. The work is the quality you would expect from children, but it is work, and is help. Their contribution to our home is helpful.

Dear chronic illness mamas of little ones, it gets easier. The little years don’t last forever. Hang on! It won’t ever be easy, but it will get easier.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Adventure and Joy

My word for 2015 was “Adventure.” It was a year full of unknowns. We were looking for a new place of ministry, and we were expecting another move. We knew that big changes were coming for our family that year, but we didn’t know exactly what those changes would be or when they would happen.. So before 2015 even began, I determined to embrace the adventure and enjoy the ride!

When we moved to Minnesota four years ago, it was for a temporary pastoral position for Will at a church here. Because we knew it was a short-term ministry position, we began looking for a place of long-term ministry soon after arriving in Minnesota in 2012. We have been praying that the Lord would make very clear what He wanted us to do next, and He has made it very clear. God has closed the door to every ministry position that appeared to be a good fit for our family. Much to our surprise, He has led us out of vocational ministry, and He has provided a job for Will right here in Southwest Minnesota. Will has recently accepted a full-time position as a paralegal at a local law firm.

At this point we are not continuing to pursue vocational ministry. The Lord has made it clear that vocational ministry is not what He has for us right now. Although we are very disappointed that we will not currently be engaged in full-time ministry, we are excited to see how the Lord may use us here in Southwest Minnesota, and we are excited for the opportunities that Will has to pursue justice through the practice of law. 

We are grateful for the 15 years that we had in ministry and in preparation for ministry. We trust that the Lord will continue to use our training to further His kingdom through work and lay ministry here in Minnesota.

Photo by Will Lundy, Graphic by Lisa Copen

My word for 2016 is “Joy.” As we face changes this year, I have been working on choosing joy. I want to enjoy this unexpected life we have been given in Minnesota. I want to enjoy my state, my house, my family, and our life here. And when life is hard, I am looking for joy in the midst of the hard things.

2015 was a year of adventure, and 2016 is a year for choosing joy!

Do you choose “one word” for your year? What is your word for 2016?

Friday, April 8, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Whole

Today I am joining the Five Minute Friday community. We write for five minutes on the same writing prompt, and then we gather together at Kate's blog to share our words.

I haven't participated in Five Minute Friday since last fall, but I am going to be making an effort to join in more often now. Five Minute Friday is good for me. It stretches me, challenges me, and gets me to write about topics I might not otherwise consider. Last fall Periscope helped to get me out of my comfort zone. Now that I am no longer doing Periscope, I want to join in Five Minute Friday often so that I can be stretched out of my comfort zone!

I have to say that I took about 10 minutes, instead of 5, to write this post. I am still a little extra tired from yesterday, and my brain is working slowly. Thank you for grace!

Five Minute Friday :: Whole

Yesterday was a low-energy, very tired day, and I had to spend the whole day in bed. It was one of those days when I woke up absolutely exhausted for no apparent reason. It always amazes me that I can eat good food, get a good night of sleep, and still not have energy to get out of bed.

I accomplished very little yesterday. I had planned to write emails, blog, and crochet. Instead I found myself too tired to do any of those things, and for most of the day I was too tired to even watch television. I didn’t do much more than look at Facebook and pray. Most of my time was spent just lying in bed, not doing anything but thinking and praying. I did manage to do my daily Bible reading, but I had to set it aside to rest a few times before I could finish.

When my children came home from school, I was unable to greet them at the door like I usually do. Instead they came back to find me in my room, still in bed. They said hello, and then quietly and happily played in their rooms and did homework. And then I fell asleep.

After Will came home from work, I got up to get a shower, and then I went right back to bed. It was a long, hard day, but I made it through.

This morning, as I was looking back on my slow, boring day yesterday, I felt like I had accomplished very little. But then I realized that I accomplished just what I needed to accomplish. I read my Bible. I spent time with the Lord in prayer. My prayers were short and simple, but I know that the Holy Spirit interceded on my behalf. And perhaps my simple, tired prayers accomplished something significant.

I may have spent the whole day in bed, but a whole day in bed, when lived for the glory of God, is not a wasted day.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Start with Hello

As I was writing the article, Beyond the Prayer Sheet, I thought not only about the chronically ill, but about the many people in the church with various disabilities. In my article I focused on the chronically ill members of the body of Christ because that is where I have the most experience and understanding of specific needs. However, there are many in the church who have different types of disabilities and special needs who also need to be included as an indispensable part of the body.

There are members of the body of Christ who have autism, dystonia, ankylosing spondylitis, Multiple Sclerosis, and Down syndrome. There are members who suffer from paralysis. There are members who are blind and deaf. And there are members with numerous other types of disabilities within the body of Christ. They have a wide variety of special needs, but they are all a vital part of the body. Each one of these members is indispensable!

I am excited that Joni and Friends has recently released a booklet about ministering to those in the church who have special needs. The booklet is called Start with Hello, and it is available on their website as a free PDF or mobi file.

If you are interested in starting a special needs ministry at your church, or if you have church members with special needs, I highly recommend reading Start with Hello. I recently read this booklet, and it is filled with practical and helpful advice. This booklet will take you through five steps to help you start a ministry for those with special needs in your church.

One thing I learned while reading Start with Hello is that any church can begin a special needs ministry. The church does not need to have a large budget, a big facility, or numerous volunteers. A small church can begin a small ministry. A special needs ministry may begin with something as simple as providing a peer or adult buddy for a child who needs extra help during Sunday school. Special needs ministry starts with hello, and it can grow and blossom from there!

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if those with disabilities, special needs, and chronic illnesses were embraced as an indispensable part of the body of Christ? As this booklet says, “Such a church would be irresistible.”

Instead of creating another program, let us examine what the church would look like if everyone, regardless of special needs or extraordinary abilities, were embraced as a fully functioning member of Christ’s body. Regardless of cognitive processing, verbal communication, behavioral struggles, or physical ability, each member would be valued as a person flawlessly created in the image of God, and the church family would receive each member’s God-given gifts with joy.  
Such a church would be irresistible, not just to the special needs family looking to be loved for who they are, but for anyone skeptical that the church holds a place for them. The unemployed, the addict, the chronically ill, the divorced, the widow, the young single, the orphan, the perfectionist, the insecure, the average Joe or Jane—each would recognize the unconditional love of such a church by seeing how those with disabilities belong unconditionally.

Visit Joni's radio page to listen as she shares Michelle's story, and download your copy of Start with Hello.

Let us embrace the disabled, the chronically ill, and those with special needs as an indispensable part of the body of Christ!
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