Update

25th wedding anniversary

26 years ago, I attended the First Presidency’s Christmas devotional, not realizing that night would change my life forever, as it was my 1st date w/my soon-to-be husband, who I married a year later tomorrow. (Shout out to Sandra who set us up on that blind date!). I was pretty naive back then, & I like to think that I was smarter than I was & subconsciously knew what I needed because now I have an incredibly supportive husband who has stayed by my side through physical & mental health issues, & helped me to raise 3 incredible children…& as I attended my 1st child’s wedding reception, it occurred to me how, despite all the hardships, he is still here!  Looking at the newlyweds, I recalled how when we 1st met, there were so many little thoughtful things Mark did that made me fall in love with him, but after 25 years of marriage, these same things that used to be so great, have become a part of my life, & more common.  So at times, I can feel entitled to them.

But as great as things can be,  there are still tough days. Years ago, I read somewhere that when I take the sacrament, & am seeking for the forgiveness of my own sins, I should offer that same consideration to my spouse. That was pivotal advice for me!  Some days, that is easy to do, while other days, it can be super HARD!  I’m grateful, though, for that advice, as it has helped me with some very difficult times!  How ironic that our 25th wedding anniversary falls on a Sunday this year!

tender mercies

A while ago, I began a journal to record the tender mercies I saw from God each day in my life. I have been very sporadic, but whenever I do it, I am overwhelmed by what He has (& continues to do) for me.   Here are some of the more recent “tender mercies”:

-there have been several days where I either needed time alone to process/understand my feelings, or to “catch up”, & one of my helpers was either delayed, or couldn’t come into work. I hate to say her trial is a blessing for me, but I know the Lord has a way of turning lemons into lemonade.

–people saying things that I need to hear precisely when I need I need it

–people doing things at a time that works so they can give me the help I need, exactly when I need it…though sometimes it has presented as a test or trial–& if I “pass,” I receive help emotionally, too…not just physically

–people are constantly being put in my life to help me in more ways than one.  Here’s an example:

No cause was found for my stroke, but one theory is that my diet was a factor: pre-stroke, I rarely ate fruit (unless it had nutella), I hated most veggies (except corn), pasta was a staple in my diet (& it was often chicken Alfredo) & I rarely ate greens, so my blood was thick.  (I tried eating healthier when I found out I was pregnant w/Zach, but that was a very bad idea to try to change my diet when I was pregnant!)  Anyway, I hit my head a few days prior to my stroke, & the theory is that my blood was too thick to get through a skinny nerve I had at the base of my skull.
I was over-joyed (note the sarcasm) to learn post-stroke to be told to eat LOTS of leafy green vegetables. “Just my luck!,” I thought, & for years, I just ate what I wanted.   (“I already had a stroke…what could make me worse?”)
But then I gained a lot of weight, & since Mark transferred me, I felt responsible when Mark kept hurting his back. So I replaced my stash of chocolates & Cheetos w/freeze-dried fruit, & gave myself other restrictions…& with some small, though difficult, changes, I lost tons of weight.  As a bonus, I learned to like eating healthy, & then I got a new helper, who is the bomb at making healthy food super yummy, which was a tender mercy to be sure!

Over the years, this helper has helped me in countless ways w/physical, emotional, & social ways as well…& she is not the only person who has entered my life, & helped me in multiple ways.  Many friends AND family have equally blessed my life!

–sometimes other people in my life will be the answer to a prayer or be given challenges where we can relate & strengthen each other

–daily events that have helped “mold” me so I am better equipped to face current challenges in my life

–During the past year, I have enjoyed being able to bite into whole pieces of fruit.  It’s been almost 16 years since I’ve done that, so it is exciting every time I do it!  I started w/a pear, & added other fruits: nectarine, plum, peach—even opening an orange & a banana.  By October 2019, I bit into a soft apple!  I can’t explain the joy that followed!

— The thing I have wanted to gain back the most is my speech. It has been a long journey (which is not over), but my speech has continued to improve —  & even more drastically during 2019!  Music therapy got me started (around 2006?), & when I began horse therapy (2014), it strengthened my diaphragm, & then music therapy could then focus on  all the fine motor work & put the muscles (that I develop in horse therapy) to work so I am able to relearn speech.  All my therapists hold conversations with me, which only could strengthen my ability to speak. By  September 2019, I felt confident enough to approach someone on my own, & talk to them—something I haven’t done  since my stroke, almost 16 years ago!  & after almost 16 years of only being able to text & email my husband when he travels, in October 2019, he Facetimed me not once, but THREE times  on a trip!

Zach got married!

My firstborn was recently married in the Sacramento, CA temple.  (Yes, I am that old…)  I have never seen someone so happy!  As he danced with his new wife, my dear friend, Kathy, leaned over & asked me, “Aren’t u glad u are here?”  I was grateful for her question, as my eyes filled with tears & my mind was flooded with a memory:

Shortly after my stroke (& while I was severely depressed & wanting to die), I remember Mark taking me out to watch our kids ride their bikes—as the 2 oldest kids had just been taught by Grandpa Lynn how to ride their bikes with no training wheels.  As we watched them, Mark leaning forward & saying, “Aren’t u glad u are still alive to see this, & can be there for all of their milestones, like their wedding?”

So, a shout-out to my son, Zach, & his new wife, Maddie!  I am happy I got to witness (2 meanings!) the event!  Love u both!

At their wedding, a highlight for me was getting to stand & “dance” with my husband!  At the end of the dance, we were able to share some advice with the new couple, but I’d like to do mine now…so, here’s a bit of advice for the newlyweds:

If u get upset with each other, serve willingly!  I have always joked about how the stroke has saved my marriage, but I really think it has!  Serving someone who has ticked u off is such a good way to be filled with Christ’s love, & soften your heart: I have seen my girls be sooo mad at me, & then as they are in the process of helping me, I witness their heart softening towards me, & by the time they finish, they apologize!  & 9 times out of 10, I am the one who ticks Mark off (good thing I had the stroke, cuz there’s lots of service he can do for me-HaHa), & while it takes a lot of humility on my part to ask for help, he has never denied helping me… he may be reluctant at times, but he surprises me by always being willing!

& his willingness is the key because the marriage rates for brainstem stroke survivors are not good, despite the fact that they are serving their partner who had a stroke.  Being willing shows love, not “servitude.”

Also a shout out to Kathy, who I had never met, but she bravely came to my son’s wedding!  After my stroke, my family searched the web for any info they could find on brainstem strokes.  There was little info to be found, but they found Kathy, who had had a brainstem stroke, & provided me with hope that I had a possibility to do better in this life, as she was walking, talking, & driving a car!

One last shout-out to my daughter, Jessie (aka “Hermana Lynn”) who was at the wedding in spirit, as she was physically in Iowa representing The Church Of Jesus Christ, &  serving the Lord.  Hats off to her for putting God 1st in her life!