March 16th, 2005

Today marks one year since Jenny’s stroke. I was not very sure how to address this obvious anniversary with Jenny. I asked how she was feeling about today and she surprised me. She did not appear sad, but more of a empowered state of being. Jenny told me that she wanted to mark this day by sharing with me her writings, that she has been diligently working on, concerning the first few days after her stroke. She had worked so hard and wanted to have them completed by today. We have spoke little concerning specifics of those days due to our initial barriers with communication and reluctance to dwell on some of the more difficult memories. I have read her thoughts that she has typed out and I forgot for a short while that Jenny could not use her voice. Her thinking and writing style have remained the same and I heard her loud and clear for these few pages.

As for the last year- it has been a struggle for us all, but mixed with a lot of wonderful blessings. Jenny has had difficult days were she has needed to rely on friends and family to get her through it, but overall, I am so very proud of her. She truely has grown more than she may have without this kind of a trial. I am pleased with her physical progress as well. In the first days after her stroke, we were told that she would most likely die, or at best be “locked-in” without ever moving anything more than her eye lids (Depending on who we talked to, being “locked-in” was the worst thing that could have happened). I have seen Jenny’s scans and there is severe damage to the areas of the brain where muscle movement is controlled. I planned for a life of no communication, constant infections, and complete helplessness. She was to never be off a trache, breathing tube, catheter, or feeding tube. Heavenly Father has truely been watching over and blessing Jenny and our whole family. She surpassed what she was suppose to do and she continues to get stronger. I want to thank everyone who has been supportive in words, deeds, thoughts, and prayers. We look forward to another year, with even greater advances.


  1. Jenny & Mark
    First let me introduce myself. I am a member of the Cumberland Ward and I think I worked with Mark at the Merit Badge Workshop we sponsored a couple of years ago. I was also Stake Relief Society Secretary for 3 years. I have been following Jenny’s story since last April. I go out first thing every morning in anticipation of the next step of progress. I have laughed and cried with you. I admire your endurance and determination and I find hope and encouragement through you. When I’m on a pity party, I have to tell myself that it could always be worse. I know Heavenly Father doesn’t give us more than he knows we can handle, and with faith of His love for us, we can endure those challenges. I hope your move to Texas is a great blessing to your family. I will still continue to pray for your family, your success and I will continue to follow your progress through this site. Jenny, I hope you find the strength to write a book about your experience. You are a great example to others and through it you will be able to encourage others who are “locked in” and in more ways than one. I wish you the best in your continued success.
    Dawn Elkington

  2. When I think over the last year with everything that has happened to your family, with the stroke, the prognosis, and Jenny’s fighting spirit, I cannot help but feel the strong spirit with your family. The progress Jenny has made so far surpasses what the “experts” predicted that it is nothing short of a miracle. I know that you see large and small miracles with Jenny on a continuing basis, but for the rest of us, it is so uplifting and inspiring. We love all of you so much and pray for your family always. May the coming year be even better.

    The Hurley Family

  3. During the last week, we counted down the days to today and wondered how you both would be responding to this anniversary. As usual, you’ve set a wonderful example for us. This has a year of learning and experiences that have often been difficult for you, but because of your generous spirits we have benefited from many of the things you’ve learned as we’ve watched and listened to you. Plus we’ve searched our souls in new ways as we’ve tried to understand. Thanks for allowing us this chance to grow and learn. We have great admiration for you both and for all those immediate family members who have been there in the background supporting you in so many ways. Love, Uncle Dee and Aunt Lois Ann

  4. Jenny,
    As today has come and almost over we have looked back at the first phone call from Mark at the hospital, to you writing. A year of miracles! The kids have read your email to hear you again and again. Which is typical, they adore you. Sorry Mark, I am sure you have dealt with the adoration changing to Jenny since the day you were married. We are looking forward to another year with continual blessings and progress. We are more than blessed to have you and Mark in our lives.
    We love you!
    Green MnM’s

  5. I am so glad I found your website and story. My son John had a horrible Brainstem

    stroke August 11,2001.

    He has not made as much progress as you have but he keeps trying. We also found

    that it’s easier to do rehab at home than waste time going to outpatient therapy.

    John has a Words-plus computer that speaks his words for him after he spells them

    out and he can also access the internet. His email is if you ever

    would like to write him.

    We also spell with him to know what he wishes to communicate. We use a letter

    chart with the vowels in the first column and the consonants in columns 2 to 5.

    John is 40 now so he’s a little older than you. He lives at home with us. We are in

    Kentucky. Our daughter lives outside Indy.

    Carol Ritchie in KY.

  6. jenny i am sorry you had your event i two had stroke not look in But ou are beauffl person with a wonderful husband and ch8ildren get well Phil

  7. Mark & Jenny,
    Just wanted you to know I was thinking of you as you reach this 1-year milestone. I cannot believe how far you have come and how hard you have both worked. So many people would go through a similar trial and be bitter, but both of you have remained positive and choose to see the Lord’s hand in all things. I know the next year will bring its share of challenges, but also abundant blessings. I’ll e-mail you soon with details of my trip dates, etc.
    Lots of Love,
    Joyce & family

  8. Hello there Jenny and Mark,
    Congrats on the 1 year mark. What great accomplishments you have made!! You guys are truly amazing….I am so glad to hear that you continue to progress Jenny. It is wonderful….I’m glad the Lord blesses your continued hard work and effort. Know that you are loved by many people. Texas will be fun….I loved living there. I hope you do too. People sure are fun and friendly!! I think it will suit you well. Take care…I’ll prayer for ya’ll!! Love ya!

  9. Mark and Jenny,
    I remember being with Carolyn the morning she got the call from you about the stroke. And all I want to say is that God has truly blessed your family with incredible love and unwaivering faith, with conviction and gratitude, and abounding hope. I’m grateful to know and love your family. My continued prayers are with you all. Jenny, your love and determiniation related to your family is constantly apparent, even when it hasn’t appeared to be the best day for you. Mark, your openess and sharing have been an inspiration for us all. You’ve both had more of an impact on all of us out here than you know….helping us with life’s perspectives, gratitude, taking things for granted in our own lives…(and I could just keep going). Keep up the good work…and thank you for allowing us to support you in the only ways we know….prayer and word. Much love you to both…and those beautiful children!!! Ann Caster

  10. Mark and Jenny…For the first time today, I cryie…I cried for the happiness and determination that you have and the inspiration you all give. I am so luck to have shared in this with you, even throught this web site. I have felt like I haven able to support you all like so many of you in the Yacktman family have. you are all wonderful and couragous. To you all i say thank you from the bottom of my heart, for warming my spirit and remnding me that no matter what the obsticle, there is always, always a way.
    Many thnks
    In Love and Faith
    Janet (Caster) Childers

  11. My name is Jennifer (Smith) Crane. My family was in the Arlington Heights 1st Ward in Illinois with the Yachtman Famliy for almost 20 years. When I was told about what had happened to Jenny, my heart ached for all of you. I have enjoyed reading your updates and want you to know that you are always in my thoughts and prayers. I wish you hope and happiness and hope that you know how many people are thinking of you!

  12. Hi Jenny and Mark…we can’t believe that a year has gone by already either. March 16 is our grandaughter Ke’ala’s birthday, and so this year as we celebrated her joys…we also celebrated your great miracles and inumerable strengths and thank you for the wonderful gifts that you’ve given us…in years past and especially this last year. I hope you can feel the many prayers that are said with out your knowing. There are many occaisions when I’ve shared a meal with others and the blessing offered always asks for special blessings for your family. There are prayers said in meetings and prayers said at the bedside. We love you. We will always pray for you and hope along with you. Love, Lexi & Frank and all the Merrill’s.

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