3 years already? Time flies when you’re having …. well, even for the eternal optimist, that’s a strong word. No, I can’t say this journey has been fun, but I can say that it has been real. Perhaps the journeys that truly impact us in life are the ones that are hard, painful, gritty, and real and that we never would have chosen for ourselves. I’ve never known anyone who developed a deepening of character without going through something hard. We all go through hard things in life. So far, this has been my really hard thing. I think what matters most is how we choose to deal with the hard things. I’m coping with mine, and I’m sharing my story of hope with the world. I feel blessed that I can do that.

I can only use my left hand to type, but it is all I really need. I see two computer screens as I type this and my eyes get worn out pretty easily, but I’m so glad that I can write and that I have a computer at all. When I speak, my voice is weakened and distorted, but I am so thankful that that does not prevent me from gabbing about my story of redemption all the time. In fact, I think my deficits make my story more interesting and more captivating. They are actually a blessing.

I read recently on my friend Hillary’s blog that hard things either cause you to cling or crumble. I said last year that trials make you bitter or beautiful. Upon another year of thinking about it, I’ve decided that hard things you go through in life are either problems or they are potential. I’m looking at my stroke as nearly limitless potential. Inspiring others is just about the coolest gift a person could ever give to another. It is second only to pointing them to the living Hope I have. Now that’s a reason to get out of bed in the morning even if I don’t love the reflection I see in the mirror.

Speaking of that, yes, I still don’t like it. I miss my old face. I miss a lot of things about my old life. I miss my handwriting most of all actually. I hear a recording and I miss my old voice or I see a picture and I miss my old face. I miss being able to drive. I really miss a good powerwalk or breaking a sweat in an aerobics class. I miss spontaneously driving somewhere alone and getting something I need from a store or going through a drive-thru line for a coke. I miss independence, self-sufficiency, and autonomy.

Before those thoughts even fully land in my mind, I am reminded that I have the best team in the world helping me to operate “normally” in a situation that is anything but normal. Jay is the greatest man who ever lived (along with Brooks Arnold). Our love story reminds me of this one, except we don’t have burned faces. But we were burned pretty badly actually. Jay wrote on our anniversary the year of my stroke (read this if you haven’t – it’s very moving) that we are “battered but not broken”. We are battered AND burned, but we are not beyond hope…

“But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.” - Psalm 71:14

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