Author: Jenny

In March 2004, I suffered a severe brainstem stroke, & was "locked in" for several months". I have been married to a wonderful man, Mark ever since Dec. 1994, & we have 3 kids: Zach (1997),, Jessica (2000), & Sophie (2002). I have been blessed in so many ways by God, so I wanted to keep a blog to share my recovery, life, & answer questions.

It’s so good to be home!

Last month was a LOT of travel: 1st was a week in Utah for Jessie’s wedding, then almost 2 weeks in Europe (Italy & Switzerland – shout out to Guili, our foreign exchange student from a few years ago, who we got to see & spend some time with in both countries), & then (after 2 days at home), back to Utah for the 4th of July festivities Travel is not easy for me & involves a lot of anxieties, so it is good to be back to where I can be more independent & communicate & do more through Wi-Fi.

I’m a fairly healthy eater, but after all that travel, we didn’t really have fruits & veggies, & I wanted some variety, but that meant there was a lot more fresh food than I could eat, so I got an early birthday gift: a Vacuum Sealer by ZWILLING.  Oh my gosh, I love it (the best part is that I CAN DO IT)!  It keeps food fresh so much longer & helps decrease my anxiety to hurry & eat it before it goes bad.  I make fun of my mother-in-law cuz she freezes EVERYTHING, but now I’m going to be the mother-in-law/grandma who uses her vacuum sealer for everything!  


That said, my trip to Europe was beautiful & I loved being with family. I loved being with all 3 married children & their spouses, & with my grandbaby  – what a wonderful stage of life!  I love seeing them all so happy! I wish I could put a pause on life!  Or put them in a vacuum sealer!  HaHa  Totally kidding!

One thing I’ve learned is that life is unpredictable! When I was my kids age, I had my life mapped out, & according to that plan, I’d either be teaching right now, or I would be serving a senior couples mission. But neither are possible now…which I could be sad about (& I was at first), but I have seen the hand of the Lord in my life, & He has made my life better than I could’ve imagined.

(I paused writing this post to read Donald L. Hallstrom’s article “Has the Day of Miracles Ceased?” in the Nov. 2017 Ensign or Liahona: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2017/11/sunday-morning-session/has-the-day-of-miracles-ceased?lang=eng. It applies so well to what I just said!)

Back to our trip.


I was carried A LOT in all our travels (but the most in Italy), so my left ear got something like a rug burn, & my shoulders got sore (my muscles are pretty weak now). But by some miracle – seriously, it was a miracle  – I ran across this medication called “Heal & Soothe” that I could try for free. It is basically a bunch of supplements, & seemed harmless to try, so I decided to get it.  It said it was for arthritis, so I initially thought I’d see if my mom wanted to try it (since she has arthritis), but I noticed one of the ingredients is turmeric, which I use for my shoulder on a daily basis – my shoulder gets sore from over-use, & turmeric decreases any inflammation that causes pain.

When the medicine bottle came, the picture shows a sore shoulder, exactly where my shoulder gets sore! So, when my shoulder started to hurt after the wedding, I tried it & it helped! I swear that w/o it, my shoulders would be killing me right now! But it was manageable the whole time. Good thing too, cuz after almost 2 weeks in Italy & Switzerland, we went to Utah again!

Little miracles like this happen all the time. It’s a miracle that my husband stayed healthy & strong the whole time.  It’s a miracle he took care of me the whole time (I’m not easy)!  It’s a miracle that I can even go there!

I’m so grateful for small miracles, for my wonderful family, & for the ability to still see beautiful places in the world.

ALL DONE!

All my kids are married now:

  1. my son, Zach, got married 2 years ago
  2. my youngest child, Sophia, got married in October, &
  3. my middle daughter, Jessie, was married on Friday, June 3.

Here’s a picture with all my kids, their spouses, & my grand-baby, James.

Obviously, I can’t be there for them (the way I’d like to be), so one thing I’ve always hoped is that they marry into families where they feel comfortable receiving help, & feel as fortunate as I do to have married into such a family!

I’ve been so focused on my kids that I didn’t realize until now how comfortable I am with each of my kid’s MILs!  It’s crazy!  I feel so blessed to be so comfortable & to be friends with each of these women – women who are sharing their children & (future) grandchildren with me!

18 years & still going strong…

A few days ago, I just wanted something to listen to, so I turned on a podcast I like.  (Better Than Happy).  I heard the title of the podcast (Managing Depression with EmyLee McIntyre).  I didn’t think it’d apply to me because I’m not currently depressed.  But oh, how wrong I was!  18 years ago, I was VERY depressed, & the podcast applied so well to my 18th stroke-a-versary (which is today, 3/16)!  First thing to catch my attention was this gem of a conversation:

You create happiness cause you’ve been through hard things & you’re still ok…

-EmyLee McIntyre

We don’t have to dislike who we were in the past to become a different version of ourselves… “But I liked her! I still want to be her!” Ok. You can like her AND become an even better version of yourself.

-Jody Moore

(because) She’s you!

EmyLee McIntyre

Then they shared this cool idea:

“Write down a thought u want to have & each day write down 3 evidences of how u saw it was true” (for example, if you are having trouble believing that God Loves u, write down “God loves me” & each day find 3 reasons why that is true)

What a fantastic idea!  I don’t need to prove to myself that God loves me – these past 18 years have been filled with reminders of how God loves me & has stayed by my side these many years.  But for fun (& because it has been on my mind), I will list 10 I have seen recently – though there have been many, many more!

  1.  Because of choices He has prompted, I believe it helped me to have a quick encounter with COVID (though I’m still recovering, I feel great & well cared for)
  2. My husband was sick before me, so he could help me when I was too weak to do anything
  3. I am always amazed at the physical strength of my husband when he’s ill, & knowing how weak I got, there’s no doubt in my mind that he received heavenly assistance!
  4. My helper was also sick slightly before us, so she has also been here & could help me both when Mark was sick, & while I am sick!
  5. By some miracle, I didn’t get sick with COVID until my helper AND Mark were both well enough to help me, but it was close enough to when they had COVID that they could feel confident about their antibodies
  6. I saw my grandbaby just the day before we had to quarantine
  7. In 2020, I finally had surgery (that I’d put off forever) on my deviated septum…it has TOTALLY helped me deal with COVID
  8. Not too long ago, my husband picked up Navage (which basically sucks your boogers out – Ha, Ha).  Not to sound like a commercial, but it has helped me SOOOO much!  I’m less congested than I’ve ever been from a common cold!
  9. Years ago, it seemed like a mean, cruel trick how my diet had to suddenly change, but now all I see is how it blesses me!  The week before I had COVID, my diet was jam-packed with anti-inflammatory foods!  Stuff I never would’ve eaten 18 years ago!  It was like I was being prepared for a battle!  … & the clincher: it wasn’t even planned! (which is strange, since I’m a planner!)                
  10.  Recently, I was reading an article called “The Joy of the Saints” (https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2019/10/14christofferson?lang=eng), & I was reminded of a man who had a lot of influence in my life during the early years after my stroke.  The article read, “ Once in an interview, Jack observed: “Problems will come into all of our lives; it’s part of just being here upon this earth. And some people think that religion or having faith in God will protect you from bad things. I don’t think that’s the point. I think the point is that if our faith is strong, that when bad things happen, which they will, we’ll be able to deal with them. … My faith never wavered, but that didn’t mean that I didn’t have depressions. I think for the first time in my life, I was pushed to the limit, and literally there was nowhere to turn, and so I turned to the Lord, and to this day, I feel a spontaneity of joy.”

Now I should pick a phrase I want to believe, but am having trouble believing…

Life is moving too fast

A quick recap of the last 3 or 4 months:

1. Sophia married Davis Wycherly in October in the Jordan River Temple (though it mostly just meant more travel – my awesome S-I-L, Margot-Mark’s “big” sister–by 1 year, was the most awesome wedding planner!)

2. I had my first primary program in October, & I have now been the primary president for a year. Being the primary president at church is crazy busy from September (when I finish writing the primary program) until January (when I’m finished organizing for the new year).  But I love it! It makes me so happy to feel like I still have something to contribute!

3.  We went on a cruise during thanksgiving. It was great if u are vaccinated & go w/o the kids. They have the non-vaccinated & vaccinated sections, so u can go w/o a mask sometimes. It was also very uncrowded. 

4. Jessie just got engaged & will be married in June in the Timpanogus temple to Kyle Van Roosendaal. All 3 of my kids married within TWO years…crazy!

5. Zach, & his wife, Maddie, had my first grandbaby, James, in December, & they just moved to Texas! (Yes, I’m a grandma!  I’m not a fan of the word “grandma” though … my mom is “grandma” & she’s really old! Haha – love u mom!) 

Prior to my stroke, I was a “Pintrest mom”.  I threw amazing birthday parties (I’d taken a cake decorating class so my cakes would be amazing, & I went all out, like making Superman shirts w/capes, or balloon light sabers), made file folder games (thanks to my Elementary Education background), etc. 

After my stroke, I had a really hard time re-defining the word “mother”. If u know the enneagram, I’m a 3, & I define that word by what I do. All of my “best mom” identity was stripped away with my stroke.  It was so tough for me, but Mark says my stroke made me a better mom…the kids didn’t care about all of that!  they were happier just having me there to cover with stickers, watch a puppet show, or to play our improvised version of hide-&-go-seek! 

I don’t think I learned from it though, cuz I’m facing the same issues as a grandma!   I think I’m facing the “Pintrest grandma”. I seem to define that word by what I do, as well, & my OCD-personality only makes it worse, because I don’t “do” what I “think” I should do. To me, a grandma helps mom, possibly by take care of the kids, & does stuff like bake cookies. I do neither. So, I’m working on re-defining that word now.  In the beginning last time, I felt so useless until I discovered unique ways to still be a mom.  Hopefully I’ll learn faster this time!  I’m sure it will help having him live closer!

It’s really me

Sorry I’ve been MIA. I’ve had a hard time setting aside time to write on my blog. In what little “free time” I have, I have been reading & learning about some stuff & I attempted to work some more on the book I wanted to write 17 years ago… but as u know, I’m the primary president (which I LOVE!)  It’s so awesome to be able to serve, & I have witnessed many little miracles to make it possible!  

I have two counselors & a secretary to help me (plus my “co-presidents”, Mark & my helper/friend, Angie, who serve as my arms & legs), but now the Primary program is coming up (it’s usually in the fall, & occurs once a year), & planning the program has kept me busy!  (The primary program is a time for the kids to share about the things they’ve learned that year & to share their testimonies through word & song.)

That alone has kept me busy, but to add to the fun my youngest daughter (Sophie) just got married on October 9 in the South Jordan temple in Utah (shout-out to my awesome sister-in-law, Margot).  But wait!  The fun doesn’t stop there:  my son’s wife is expecting grandbaby on Christmas.  So I figure life will not be slowing down anytime soon!

So, thought I better share…  about the wedding: I let Mark’s sister, Margot, & Sophie plan it – Margot had done my little brother, Mike’s, wedding, so I knew she’d know “my style,” & since it was Sophie’s day, I didn’t want to get in her way!   It was supposed to rain all day, but after the sealing (which was amazing), the “heavens opened up” & I did not see even a drop of rain until they left!   Amazing, right?!?!  & I thought my reception was fancy, but hers blew mine out of the water!  Only thing I did fancier: the dads & groomsmen wore tuxes instead of suits (Zach was best man, & bet he liked doing suits instead of tuxes!  Maddie was a bridesmaid, & Jess was co-Maid of honor, & heir dresses were “less fancy” too, accommodating Maddie’s pregnant belly!)

I had a small win at Sophie’s wedding: I did my own make-up!  The few times I’ve worn make-up, Sophie did it. Jessie & Maddie don’t do make-up, so at 1st, I didn’t know what to do. I knew others who would’ve done it for me if I asked, but I didn’t want them to!  I am still in my toddler phase, where I want to do everything myself!  So I had my eyebrows dyed, my eyelashes dyed & curled, & put on concealer, blush, & lipstick!

With all the stuff going on, I tend to push aside caring for myself, so I’m grateful hippotherapy (horse therapy) has started up again! It forces me to take care of me too, & now it is at the new covered arena, so I can go rain or shine!  It makes me so happy when I go (still the best part of my week), & not only is the new arena AMAZING, but the windy road to get to it is therapy in itself!  Ha!    

I have a new horse, & new therapist who I LOVE!  I have loved every horse therapist, because they all have a different focus so new muscles get targeted  This therapist is making muscles tired that haven’t been tired in awhile – which is always a good sign!   (Luckily, the arena is by a restaurant that sells a yummy spinach salad, so I can “get my Popeye on” – I get super tired, but eating spinach helps me regain enough strength to at least pick up my iPad & turn on an audio book!  Haha)

I used to stand daily on a tilt-table for 30 min – 1 hour. When I got my standing w/c, I stood like 1-2 hours after every meal. This new standing chair, it’s dwindled to like 10-20 minutes a day (I can’t do as much when I stand now, & as I pointed out previously, when I’m busy, the 1st thing I “let go off” is me!). I keep trying to self-motivate to do more, but it wasn’t working. Then my new horse therapist brought it up…it has been brought up before (by my old therapist), but this time I gave myself “homework” 👏🏻. Yay – it’s the push I needed!

Anyway, I’d love to have u join us at the primary program!  It just so happens that our primary program is the same weekend of my daughter’s wedding reception in Texas (the primary program is on the 31st – probably because I could guarantee I’d be home then-haha)

12001 Bee Caves Road, BEE CAVE, Texas