Let’s Hear It for the Girl!


The journey we’ve shared with you for the past 15 months is about more than just me and Ivan. It’s about my (blog-shy) family as well. I hope to spotlight all of them in the near future, but Anna is the first one to give me the green light. 😉

The best place to start is her age. Anna was only 20 when the accident happened, right in the middle of her junior year of undergrad. Her dedication was paying off already – she planned to graduate early in spite of majoring in applied statistics (with an emphasis in biology). My only explanation for her crazy degree is that she’s super smart and super okay with studying all day, every day. These details lay a decent foundation for her side of the story, so let’s skip to the exciting parts.

December 3rd could not have come at a worse time for Anna. Her finals were scheduled for the following couple of weeks, and they were pretty intimidating. I think one was in microbiology. While the faculty at CBU were extremely sympathetic both to our tragedy and all the lectures she needed to skip, the best advice they offered was to withdraw from the semester and start again in the spring. From their perspective, such a talented student shouldn’t hazard any bad grades on her transcript – especially since Anna was headed for grad school. Their opinion made sense for most student types, except that Anna isn’t like most students. She’s stubborn as well as intelligent. Instead of withdrawing, she carved out time to study in the ICU, in her portion of midnight vigils, and in various neurological and step-down units. She made straight A’s.

Anna’s degree didn’t get any easier in the spring semester, but somehow she managed to visit almost every day while we lived in Riverside (our apartment was close to her school). We incurred an unfortunate number of urgent care runs in February and Anna made it to Kaiser for all of them (laptop in tow). As I grew stronger she took me on short outings like haircuts and ice cream runs. Wrangling a wheel chair didn’t bother her, and she also wasn’t afraid to supervise a walker or cane once I was strong enough to walk. Somehow she did well on her spring finals too.

The summer flew by since Anna was given a full-time, high intensity statistics internship, but at least we both lived in San Jose at that point. She was there for me as often as possible in spite of an unfamiliar and demanding work environment. Her return to Riverside in the fall was bittersweet, but I knew Anna was excited to finish her degree. Apparently it wasn’t enough just to be a student, though. She kept up with her summer job remotely, this time as a real contractor instead of as a student intern. She graduated in December magna cum laude – and yes, she did it a semester early after all.

Anna’s success story doesn’t even end there. She started as a full time-time analyst for a major healthcare entity last Monday, and still plans to apply for grad school this fall. Pretty impressive for a 21 year-old, don’t you think? She’s probably a little embarrassed by this post and would definitely tell you all these blessings are gifts from God. I agree with her, but I still think it takes an amazing individual to overcome devastating odds and succeed at both school and work – all while putting God and her family first. Thank you, Anna!

Ready for some good news?

I’ve looked at this frame a lot recently!

Hi everyone! I sure am happy to be talking about some seizure progress…finally! We do need to back up a teeny bit, though. Two weeks ago we had another in-person follow up with my neurologist. This was in the thick of our extreme “37 seizures in two weeks” period. We drove to Redwood City yet again, praying that he’d have some sort of instant solution for us. It unnerved us to find him confused by my extreme seizure episodes, too. The unsatisfactory appointment ended with yet another medication increase – and an ultimatum. He needed to see measurable progress within the next 7 days; if that didn’t happen he thought it unlikely that medicine would help me. (For  a reference point, I usually get at least 2 weeks after a medication change before he evaluates my progress).

No one wants to leave the hospital with the words “In thirty years of practice I’ve never seen anyone as confusing as you” still ringing in their ears. Yikes.

That day confronted Ivan and me with a level of inadequateness as we faced my giant need.  I’ve experienced a lot of terrible things, but I think a confused doctor unsettles me far more than the worst physical pain. It’s human nature to need to know everything will be okay. Ivan and I had tried, my family had tried – the doctor I trusted was trying, too – but we still had no “okay” guarantee. God was literally the only One who could make things right. Correction – God is always the One who makes things right, but He typically uses an obvious human vessel, and often a clear sense of direction. In the absence of both of those, blind trust and waiting were the only options. Did I mention I hate waiting?

At least this time the wait was fruitful.  After a couple of days we noticed my seizures were adjusting – just what we’d been praying for! True, the changes were small at first, but we weren’t picky. Those small changes started adding up. By the time they checked the medicine level in my blood last Friday, we had more progress to report to the doctor than I had even thought to pray for. The numbers from the blood test confirmed my personal experience.

So what now? My medication level isn’t perfect yet, and I am definitely still having seizures. But now they follow a more normal seizure pattern, and don’t come in extremely high numbers. I’m much happier. It sounds like my doctor is, too. Although the pathway to reintegrating into the outside world is long and conservative, a conservative pathway is loads better than no pathway at all. Thank you for your prayers, and stay tuned! 🙂

PS…The photo at the top was a goodbye present from my physical therapist in Riverside. It was definitely true for broken bones, but I think it works for brains too!


The Happy Choice

Anna and cats make me happy, too!

“Are you really sure you’re happy? Most people would be angry, you know.” This question has been posed countless times in the past 14 months. Most recently it came up in a neurology meeting (it is their job to figure out exactly why my brain does what is does, after all). My answer – yes I am actually happy – surprises almost everyone. Before you read any further though, I do owe one contextual clarification: For me, “happy” means “joyful”. It doesn’t have to be a 24/7 elated feeling, but it is an outlook that’s available to me every day. It’s based on my belief in God. The past few weeks have been pretty rough on all of us (if you need a recap, check out Ivan’s post), but I would still call joy – happiness, if you will – my chosen outlook. Even after I explain this, though, it can be difficult to believe I’m actually telling the truth. Here’s why I am.

Any outlook is a choice. I don’t operate the way I do just by accident, and I can’t stay on track without a whole lot of effort. I’m required to look beyond how I feel to something larger than myself. But before we get to that big picture, here’s how I explain my life to myself on a daily basis: I could have…but didn’t. This sounds vague at best and possibly negative at worst, so here are a few specific examples:

  • I should have died, but didn’t
  • I could be unable to use my left hand, but it works surprisingly well
  • I should have giant mental deficits, but I don’t
  • My family could have been unwilling or unable (then and now) to invest so much toward helping me get better, but they weren’t
  • Ivan could still be job hunting, but he’s not
  • I could still be stuck on the waiting list for a seizure specialist, but I’m not
  • I could still be in several therapy regimens, but I graduated from every single one of them


It’s hard to be angry when I count all the terrible things that didn’t happen to me. So many people don’t beat the debilitating odds against them at all. So many people beat them far better than I have but receive far less attention and support. I’ve been given so very much.

Notwithstanding, I’m sure some of you did spot a pitfall in my outlook strategy: it works fantastically well the opposite way, too. “I could be almost done with grad school, but I’m not”; “I could be out making friends and having fun in our new city, but I’m not”; “I could be teaching violin and freelancing, but I’m not”…

This is where the choice part comes in. I simply cannot afford to choose the dark side. True, I’ve had moments when anger and bitterness would have felt so much better than fighting for happiness. I’ve had moments when I just wanted to give in. BUT I knew if I made a habit of going there I’d eventually lose everything: my will to get better, my beautiful relationship with my husband, my appreciation for my family … Most of all, I would risk losing my reverence for God. If I didn’t appreciate life as only His to give or take away, it would be easy to forget that my life is a gift. It would be easy to complain that living takes too much work. It would be easy to say that any type of painful life is a mistake. But if life is truly from God, I would hate to see Him face-to-face at the end if I’d called His gift a mistake. A present is meant to be used, not thrown away. God gives gifts, and He never gives them poorly.

So yes. I am actually happy.

Can’t It Be Enough Already?!?

Oh ya know…just the “Bare Necessities”…


I try really hard not to say those words but I caved this morning. Why? For starters, I’m taking the most neuro medication I’ve been on to date. I have an extra “rescue drug” in case that doesn’t work. Next, going outside requires ear plugs, neurologist-selected sunglasses, and often a transport chair (hopefully this explains why I don’t attempt that often! 😉 ) Finally, I keep the lights in my apartment turned off or dimmed much of the time. Real TV almost never happensbut when it does it’s low-def and I’m wearing those fancy sunglasses. Last night we finally got up the courage to watch Beauty and the Beast (pretty harmless, right?). Lights in the movie triggered seven back-to-back seizures, which only stopped after Ivan gave me the rescue drug. Hopefully this gives some context to my grumpy attitude this morning.

That’s an extreme example, but I know I’m not the only one of us who wakes up on the wrong side of the bed (or goes to bed on the wrong side, for that matter). I’m also not the only one who feels that predicament is justifiable. “End of rope reached” is a box I would check in a heartbeat if life offered me one. There’s only so much a person should be expected to take, right? I wish we could all check that box – or at least stretch our ropes a little farther so we wouldn’t need to. The box doesn’t exist, but the end of every rope does. What happens if I’m right and I have finally hit the end of mine?

To move this story away to someone NOT me, let’s talk about a man named Joseph. His own brothers sold him into slavery when he was a teenager (this isn’t a current story, FYI). Most people’s ropes would have ended right there. Not Joseph’s, though. Instead of giving up, he worked hard and became the overseer of his master’s estate. Finally, happy ending! Except it wasn’t. His master’s wife tried to seduce him but Joseph refused. Instead of being rewarded for his faithful choice, he got thrown in jail because the woman told her husband Joseph had tried to rape her. Another plausible “end of rope” moment. But Joseph pushed through. His faithfulness and wisdom were noticed even in prison, and he rose to be overseer yet again. (True, freedom would have been better, but “manager” is a step up from being locked in a cell).  His innocence, faithfulness, and wisdom eventually reached the ears of the king. Not only was he finally freed – he became manager of the entire kingdom! This would also be a great end to Joseph’s story, except that it still wasn’t. He had one more piece of “rope” ahead of him. A few years into his kingdom-managing gig, guess who arrived at his doorstep? His brothers. There was a famine in the area, and although Joseph had saved up enough food for his new homeland, the surrounding kingdoms hadn’t prepared so well. Now could have been Joseph’s ultimate moment of triumph. Those men had hurt him so much – directly and indirectly. They definitely did NOT deserve the bread they were begging him for. Saying no would have been so easy. But instead of calling it the end of his rope and enjoying their rightful demise, Joseph actually gave them what they were pleading for. He also told them he forgave them – even though they hadn’t apologized. Offering unsolicited forgiveness is the ultimate “end of rope” moment for anyone to survive.

How in the world did Joseph find such inner peace and strength? He looked beyond himself to see a larger picture. In Joseph’s own words, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” If his brothers hadn’t hurt him so long ago, he wouldn’t have had the privilege to protect so many. The hard part was that in the thick of his troubles Joseph couldn’t see how far his rope would keep stretching before any good came of it – and neither can we. We can, however, choose to remember that God never ever wastes pain. We can’t fast forward to the good part, but we can believe He does have a good part. And that He will never leave us with a longer rope than we can handle.

So I guess I can’t arbitrarily decide when I hit the end of my rope. Like the story above, not all of my rope is even that bad. (I say that as I sit here finishing up this post with a fluffy kitten and my sweet husband.) God already stretched my rope beyond what I thought possible, and I suspect He’ll continue stretching it for many years to come. In the meantime, I know His plan is good and His end is kind.

Also, brownie points if you guessed I was paraphrasing the story of Joseph from the book of Genesis!

Also also, even more brownie points if you caught that “Bare Necessities” is a song from The Jungle Book. 🙂

Violin: Passion and Problem Solving

We will always be friends!

Hi everyone! A music update is long overdue, so here we go. My left hand sensation is permanently lost. At first I didn’t want to believe this, but time and several different neurologists confirmed the pronouncement. It would have been easy to give up on my violin journey at this point. After all, the violin is primarily a left handed instrument, and a highly toned sense of touch produces almost all of what great violinists are known for (fast fingers, excellent intonation, and rich vibrato).

After doing some research I believe I’m the only person who’s ever tried to play the instrument without feeling their left hand (FYI, I’m happy to be corrected if this is mistaken! 🙂 ) BUT I’ve had too many outstanding teachers and mentors to believe it’s impossible. You see, great music is born out of a specific combination: passion and problem solving. Passion gives the insatiable desire to project deep emotion to an audience, the bravery to overcome anxiety – and the commitment to devote hours, days, years, and lifetimes to be expert enough to succeed. However, just passion is not enough. Expertise requires a whole lot of problem solving, too. Problem solving corrects poor intonation, wrong hand positions, mistaken interpretation of pieces, and unbalanced sound levels in a concert hall. While there will never be a perfect musician, a truly excellent one has a rare combination of extreme passion and intelligent problem solving.

So, back to me and the violin. To give y’all some background, I want to share a classroom performance during my time at the Eastman School of Music. This is truly an amazing music school, and I studied under a man who shaped aspects of my life far beyond just music. Although no performance is perfect, I really enjoyed combining passion and problem solving in this one:

After the accident, passion drove me to repair my violin (it got hit by that car too!) even though I couldn’t hold it correctly and wasn’t sure if I ever would. Side promo for Benning Violins in Los Angeles! They service the LA Philharmonic and are absolutely fantastic.

He also sold me my first full sized violin when I was 9!

After my violin was fixed, passion drove me to keep trying until I could hold the instrument correctly, then get my fingers on those strings, then get them to the right intervals for some notes. All without feeling anything. (Also, just a reminder, the violin has no frets). You would think I could use some serious eye work to accomplish this, but here’s where the hard core problem solving comes in. Not only does the bow partially block my line of vision, but I also have some visuospatial deficits from the accident. Ivan compares all this to trying to throw darts blindfolded. The past year was a cycle of experimenting, experimenting, and experimenting again. Most of this ended in tears. There were moments I was so depressed I swore I would never touch the instrument again. But passion drove me back very single time. Eventually I produced this:



To give some perspective, I think I originally learned this when I was 6, so it’s basically violin preschool. I was too embarrassed to perform it live, but at least I recorded it…and FINALLY am posting it…over three months later.

Passion drives me back to the violin every time, no matter how I end up feeling, and problem solving is finally showing a few results. I don’t know if problem solving will ever produce a technical foundation solid enough to project the strong emotion I once loved sharing, but at least it’s producing enough to keep my heart happy. Thank you all for your prayers!

Can I Really Call God ‘Kind’?



My personal story begs the question. After 14 months of (mostly) forward progress, we find ourselves taking a whole lot of disappointing steps backward. I’ve had 40 seizures in just the past two weeks, and all of them were triggered by lights in my own apartment. But today’s post is not really about me. It’s about a whole lot of other stories that are just as raw and just as real.

I’m not sure if the accident has helped more broken people open up to us, or if it simply opened our eyes to the suffering we used to pass by without in-depth consideration. We know several people with epilepsy or who’ve had strokes. There are sick children and sick grown ups. Some of them die. There are drugs. There are lost jobs. None of the sufferers – or their families – can be what they once were. Broken people are scary to approach if you’ve never been broken yourself, and I don’t begin to know how some of these losses feel since each broken person is different.  Nevertheless,  I hope I can talk with them and pray for them better since I do understand pain, frustration, and confusion a whole lot more than before. Stepping away from our personal circle, though, there are greater national and global tragedies that not only wreck lives but eliminate them, too. So, what do we do with ourselves? And what do we do with God?

Let’s talk about the God question first. With all the messed up people and places in this world, how can anyone possibly call God kind? Let’s be curious together…I know I need that answer too.

Since our question concerns God, maybe He should speak for Himself first.

“For rarely will someone die for a just person – though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” ~ Romans 5:7-8

We broke God’s world by choosing bad things over His good way. I know I’ve done things I’m not proud of. Instead of holding me to what I chose, God broke Himself for me so He wouldn’t have to leave me broken forever. Why would He chose to break Himself? I don’t think I’ve ever chosen brokenness over wholeness.

“So that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” ~ Ephesians 2:7

We can rely on His brokenness now, so that we will be able to experience the richness of His wholeness when He makes all things right. I know I often wish for a “fast-forward” button to the day when God returns to His earth and brings healing to creation – and to all who trusted Him in the meantime…BUT…

“God, Your faithful love is so valuable that people take refuge in the shadow of your wings.” ~ Psalm 36:7

We would have no idea of how faithful and valuable God really is if we never knew loss in some capacity.  We have souls that live forever, but our physical conditions are only temporary. Our job is to cling to eternity, and to the hope that we will enjoy God most fully at the end of our earthly life. Until then, we have the beautiful (albeit sometimes painful) opportunity to know God as a faithful refuge.

If we look beyond the temporary, God is indeed kind. Trusting that is what we do with ourselves.




Gun Shots Outside Our Window!



It was a dark and stormy night. Well, actually it wasn’t. It was a peaceful Sunday night. Earlier that day I’d experienced 7 back-to-back seizures, but surprisingly, that is only incidental to our story. However, it does explain why Ivan and I were watching TV in our living area. Both of us were exhausted. Anyway, right in the middle of an episode from The Office, we were startled by 7 ear-splitting shots outside. We stared at each other in disbelief. Both of us have gone shooting before, and I’d spent 8 years in Wisconsin (aka deer hunting central), so it wasn’t hard to identify the sound: gunfire. 8 more rounds rang out only a few seconds later. “Get to the bathroom!” I ordered. (Side note, I’d received “active shooter” training at the school I used to work at. I’d hoped it would never prove useful. Anyway, that explains why I took the lead over Ivan in this situation.) Ideally, we would have run. It’s always better to run away from gunfire than hide. Shooters look for people hiding first. However, since I can’t run hiding was the best alternative. The bathroom made sense because it was the most bulletproof area. At this point we didn’t know if this was a random shooter/terrorist situation, or some sort of gang hit. There had been silence before and after, so we knew it wasn’t a domestic dispute.

Once installed in the bathroom, we called 911 and put our phones on “silent no vibrate”. This seems like a random detail, but it allows you to communicate with outside help without tipping the shooter off if they get close to your hiding spot. We agreed if we heard any more shots – or even footsteps – we’d turn the bathroom light off, jump behind the shower curtain, and lay down in the tub. Tubs are fairly bullet proof, too. I was really hoping the gunman was in the shopping center across the street, but it was impossible to know. The gun had been extremely loud, so if he was over there he had something a lot bigger than a handgun. Since there were no more shots, he’d either run away completely or was looking for somewhere to hide. Our apartment complex has several stories and the hallways are like a maze, so it would be a decent place to evade officers.  We couldn’t assume he wasn’t inside. However, at least the silence made it more likely he’d had a target and wasn’t out to kill at random. We heard sirens only a couple of minutes later, signaling the arrival of law and order.

The police didn’t fire either, and we decided after a while that either they were still searching for the gunman or that he had fled the area completely. After another long while, we crawled toward the bedroom and Ivan peeked out between a crack in the window blinds. A police chief and a group of officers were standing right outside our window gesturing. On the ground a few yards away, surrounded by orange cones, lay something that looked like a garment. After a few minutes of gesturing, they turned to our emergency exit (right next to our unit), and burst inside. That was not reassuring in the least. Was the shooter really that close to us?? Finally the running footsteps slowed to a walk, and we breathed a sigh of (almost) relief. Maybe we were okay after all. Ivan began to pray out-loud but we were cut short by a sharp knock on our door. There was an officer outside to question us. I couldn’t figure out why he asked us so many questions. How were we supposed to know what had happened? Later, when we found out the homicide had taken place literally outside our window, it made more sense. The officer couldn’t give us any more specifics about what had happened, but at least we knew we were safe now. He also mentioned that he hadn’t been over to our complex in ages since we lived in such a safe area. This would have comforting except for what had just happened in spite of the “safe” location.

All the dramatic cars and tape cleared out the next day, and our street has been quiet ever since. Two detectives came back on Thursday to question me while Ivan was at work. They seemed disappointed that we hadn’t run to the window to look out when we’d heard the gunfire. Seriously, I hope no one in their right minds would ever do that – even if it made the detectives’ job easier afterwards.

So, some things we’re giving thanks for this week:

  1. Apparently gun shots do not trigger seizures, at least for me
  2. I actually had been trained in how to respond safely to a gun situation
  3. God protected us from stray bullets
  4. This was not a terrorist incident

If any of y’all are curious and want to read the official article on what happened, I’ve included it here

Lord-willing, this is the ONLY time someone will ever get shot to death outside our bedroom window!!!

P.S. Unrelated to this story, Ivan wanted me to let you know that we had another ER trip this Wednesday. I had 20 seizures back-to-back in about an hour and a half. Thankfully my dad got me to the hospital fast enough, but we would really love for that not to happen again. Still working to find the best medication combo!

I wanna be where the people are!

Earplugs + Sunglasses + Wheelchair = Ready to Go!

Hi everyone! Sorry for the Little Mermaid reference, but it’s very apropos. Going out is officially a rare, award-winning production. We’ve alluded to my homebound status in a few posts, and yesterday morning was an excellent example of just how much work goes into staying safe for a brief outing. I hope this step-by-step outline will prove both insightful and entertaining. 😉

Goal of mission: make it to and from church without having a seizure. I haven’t been able to attend church since early November.

  1. Noise-canceling earplugs, sunglasses, and travel wheelchair must all be in place BEFORE venturing out the door.
  2. Ivan brings the car to the complex’s loading zone so I don’t have to go in the parking garage (one time a combination of back-up lights and beeping triggered six back-to-back seizures plus an ER outing).
  3. We drive to church. I keep my “accessories” in place and look at my feet the whole time. It’s a foggy day, and sometimes headlights can trigger a seizure even through my protective sunglasses.
  4. WE MAKE IT TO CHURCH SEIZURE-FREE! I stay in the travel chair and keep my earplugs in and eyes on the floor (the powerpoint has triggered seizures before, too). We listen to most of the sermon (~25 min), but skip the music part and leave early to avoid noise and light triggers.
  5. Repeat the driving drill to get home.
  6. Ivan leaves the car in the loading zone to get me safely indoors, then parks in the garage.
  7. Once inside I can FINALLY ditch my earplugs and sunglasses and give thanks for a safe outing,

It’s ironic that although my brain injury is healing steadily, epilepsy introduces a whole new set of hazards to venturing past my apartment door. We were all caught off guard by the rapid development of this new condition…and even more shocked at how sensitive I’ve become to triggers that are unavoidable in daily life. Because the seizure electricity comes from the stroke area of my brain, I lose the ability to walk for about 3 hours after a seizure. This makes the travel chair a necessary safeguard for rare times I do venture outside.  The earplugs  are a lifesaver and the sunglasses make a measurable difference, but there are some triggers that are even stronger than they are. Although home is not 100% trigger-free, it’s a whole lot safer than going out. HOWEVER…as bleak as this all sounds, this post is not intended to be a “downer.” My goal is to give you all a micro peak  into the everyday side of life right now since most of our posts target macro developments. The good news is we are working actively with doctors to find a medication that is a good fit for my condition, and everyone is optimistic we can get there.  It would be great to have a fast-forward button on life and skip ahead to the nice part where I function normally again. But God gave us waiting periods for a reason, and we have to trust that. In addition to practicing patience we can find things to give thanks for – and laugh about – every day. “Laughter is the best medicine” is over-used because it’s true. I found the drama surrounding our church expedition yesterday morning quite funny, and I hope you can laugh with me about it too!

*Walking* Out of Therapy!

Throwback  to the very first time I stood up after the accident!

Hi everyone! I hope the rest of your holiday season was fantastic. 🙂 My own new year is off to a memorable and positive  start on the therapy front, too! Honestly I never really imagined being in any sort of therapy. Much less for one. entire. year. But that is what happened, and it happened in 2017. I was just figuring out how to move  around in a wheelchair on my own this time last January, and we devoted hours every day – at home plus during multiple Kaiser trips each week – to help me relearn the most basic skills of daily life. And now we get to the good part: My therapy journey is finally coming to an end! Last Monday I said goodbye to my physical therapist. Although my abilities aren’t 100% perfect, I’m blessed to have made it way farther than many stroke patients (not sure if enough people survive getting hit by a car to have comparisons on that front).  I look and walk totally normally to an untrained eye…just with some interesting scars on my legs. Such stellar progress does come with a long-term commitment: I was released with the understanding that I will continue spending around an hour each day doing my exercises at home in order to maintain the strength and flexibility necessary for normal activities. My legs still hurt occasionally and I’m prone to knee tendinitis, but overall I’m thrilled with my therapy end point given what we’ve been through.

On the left hand front, I’ve transitioned to occupational therapy as needed, which will probably look like a “check up” once a month. Here too, I’m still committed to maintaining my abilities through daily practice at home.  We now know my inability to feel that hand is permanent due to the location of the strokes in the brain (confirmed by 3 different neurologists). Nevertheless, I’ve had such gifted therapists that I can take care of myself, take care of our apartment, make simple dishes, type, and play basic piano just using my eyes to control my hand. Don’t get me wrong: in spite of all that progress, having the end prognosis confirmed made me deeply sad.  My skill as a violinist was integral to my pre-accident identity, and loss always hurts. I had envisioned God would answer my prayers by completely restoring feeling (especially since feeling is the key to playing violin). It didn’t happen. He did answer my prayers though, by giving me a gift I discovered only a short time ago. For the last year, my therapists wisely pushed me to the limits of what I could do without saying what was reasonable to expect from a stroke patient. This led me to believe I was making a “normal” amount of functional progress. However, at my most recent neurology check up a couple of weeks ago, the doctor  confessed that in 30 years of practicing he’d never seen someone able to use their hand “normally” if they couldn’t feel it. Wow. God doesn’t always answer prayers exactly the way we want Him to, but He does answer them in the way He knows is best. I’m extremely thankful for the ability to be an atypical patient and succeed at what is usually impossible.

On the brain note (it’s funny how brains always work their way in to these posts), we continue waiting to see if my new medication will kick in and begin working. Seizures are still frequent, which keeps me at home and often reliant on the transport wheelchair since my ability to walk is impaired for a few hours after I’ve had one. We keep hoping and praying…but in the meantime I wanted to share with you all the exciting progress God continues to bring in the other aspects of my recovery 🙂

New Year, Old Year



Grace: Hi everyone! We hope you’ve all had a merry Christmas and are having a happy New Year’s Day. 🙂 This holiday week has been nontraditional to say the least, but incredibly meaningful and hopeful (especially compared to last year!). Last year I spent Christmas in the hospital and hadn’t even graduated to using a wheelchair. This year felt much more like our “first married Christmas” as we got some practice splitting celebrations between families (on separate days, since I still struggle with fatigue) and started our own personal Christmas traditions on Christmas Eve.

Fast forward to Saturday – the 30th – and we had the privilege of celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary. This too felt much more like our first anniversary, since last year I only got to see Ivan for an hour and a half that day: he was moving us out of our old apartment and into a handicap/wheelchair-friendly one, plus dealing with other legal paperwork (all very necessary to the husbandly quality of providing and protecting, but decidedly not romantic). To be fair, the fact that I had just starting learning to transfer to a wheelchair with lots of assistance, had half my face still paralyzed from the stroke, and was working on swallowing without drooling was also decidedly not romantic. So as you can see, we had A LOT of catching up to do on this anniversary. A lot. We still had to split up the festivities over several days due to fatigue and seizure triggers, but I think we made the most of what was available at this stage (sushi for Ivan, coffee for me, and book browsing for both of us). And at the very least, being in the same place at the same time sans moving boxes, facial paralysis, drool, etc, felt like a celebration in itself.

To gloss over the challenges of this week would be misleading: several seizures, my new transport wheelchair, and lots of sunglasses and earplugs to minimize seizure triggers were all involved…not to mention missing church yet again. BUT the overarching theme has been gratitude and celebration. This time last year I doubt we could have imagined succeeding at or even attempting all the things we did do this week. It has truly been a week of blessing to our hearts – and I hope to the hearts of both our families too.

Ivan: Wow…another year is here!! As I take time to reflect on the past year as well as where we are right now, to be honest, I’m not even sure exactly how I feel. We’re still in a transition period, and we aren’t sure how that will end up. But I’m reminded of God’s truth that never changes:

King Solomon said, “Don’t boast about tomorrow, for you don’t know what a day might bring.” Nor what a year may bring, for that matter. So many things can happen in a year!! At times 2017 felt much longer than one year, but as I’m typing this it almost feels like it went by in the blink of an eye. What will 2018 bring? Only God knows. But He knows! So much of life feels uncertain because we don’t know what the future holds, but God knows and He extends His hands to invite us all in to His love and grace.

One thing I am sure of, is that Grace and I are so thankful for God’s care and provision throughout last year! We are thankful for the prayers of our brothers and sisters in Christ…your prayers! We are thankful for opportunities to grow, learn, and make progress, especially in terms of Grace’s recovery. God is a God who heals, restores. Healing takes time, and will be fully completed in Heaven, but we are grateful for the “in between” time–for the present, for each day that we get to walk closer with Him as He guides us through dark valleys as well as green pastures.

God deserves all the glory for 2017, as He will for 2018 and beyond…here’s to another year of pursuing and loving Jesus, as He has first loved us! 🙂