Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pray for Jenni

If you're my Facebook friend, you've read my "Please pray for Jenni" status updates. Jenni had several strokes this month and she's been hospitalized for weeks. Tomorrow she's having surgery. Jenni has three young children. Please pray that Jenni will be get to return home soon, that she will be able to care for her children and that she will be able to continue her writing project. Pray for her husband, her kids and her relatives who are helping to care for her kids.

Let me tell you a little more about her. Here's an excerpt from Only for My King, in a chapter I wrote last spring about surrendering our resources. This segment is titled "Serving with Limited Resources."

Mark and I were married for four years before our first living child was born. During that time we had two miscarriages. I found encouragement and friendship at Hannah's Prayer Ministries (, a Christian online support group for women facing infertility, miscarriage or infant loss. I still keep in touch with a few friends from Hannah's Prayer, including Jenni Saake, the cofounder. Jenni experienced infertility and miscarriage herself. Jenni wrote a book, Hannah's Hope: Seeking God's Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage, & Adoption Loss, to encourage women and share the comfort she found in God's word.

Now Jenni is in a different chapter of life, mothering three children, homeschooling and blogging. She handles these duties while coping with very limited resources of strength and energy: she has an immune disease called XMRV, formerly known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Jenni describes this as an “ongoing daily battle.”

The MS-like issues have escalated with involuntary muscle twitching at rest, and many random nerve sensations ranging from pain to tingling to numbness. I battle vertigo frequently and when I'm especially tired I drag one foot when trying to walk. I rarely leave the house without a wheelchair and often hold my hands out for balance when walking in my own home. I completed a survey this week that helped me see that my current ability is around 35-40% of my pre-illness ability, and that's a marked improvement from those first earliest years as well as the setback that had me in bed for much of 2007. I grieve that my children are growing up without ever knowing the mom I so long to be.

Most people see the "face" of a healthy-looking me, the vast majority of the time. They cannot see that I live with a ticking time-bomb called XMRV that can land me hard down in bed with the smallest provocation, or sometimes for no apparent reason at all. They can't see that I'm one step away from walking past a balloon and landing in the hospital for a latex allergy like I did this week. They can't see that I struggle every day to get out of bed and try to lead as normal of a life as possible, despite immobilizing fatigue and ever-changing levels and kinds and cycles of pain or cognitive dysfunction and a variety of other symptoms ranging from the annoying or distracting to the downright unmanageable.

I am an author. I am living with "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome". When questioned by a doctor last year on my cognitive function, I explained, "I have written one book, but where others could have written it in several months, maybe a year or two, it took me ten." I continually turn down speaking engagements and travel requests because I do not have the stamina for public speaking, nor the strength for travel. Writing is my passion, my therapy, my outlet. But "being a writer" while fighting through this illness isn't an easy road.

I believe pain is a gift, though certainly an odd one. The thing that makes it a gift is the way it drives us to dependence on God. If I'm fixated only on my illness, or my desire to be well, I miss out on God's best for me right here, right now, right in the heart of living these trials.

Because I cannot see the big picture from God's perspective, instead I must cling to His promise that His grace is enough and accept that His power can shine most fully through me when I yield my heart to His plans. Therefore, I will boast gladly in my weakness and thank Him for the power that He gives me for every step He enables me to take, every breath He blesses me to draw. (quoted from Jenni's blog, Given Me a Thorn)
Jenni finds encouragement in these verses:

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. (James 1:2-4 Message)

I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. (Isaiah 45:3 NIV)

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;

on those living in the land of darkness, a light has dawned. (Isaiah 9:2)

[Because of] the Lord's faithful love, we do not perish, for His mercies never end.

They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness! (Lamentations 3:22-23)