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  • Living simply is not so much about the particulars of our lives as much as it is about the principles that govern them. Knowing what God has called you to do, and then doing it--that's living simply.

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  • On Jan. 11, Joanne suffered a major stroke. She is now at home and continues on the journey to recovery.

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JULIE

Dear Toben and Joanne,

Today as I read your post, I "feel" for you. Although I wrote Normal is over rated on Facebook, I understand why you are yearning for "normal".
We continue to pray for you, Joanne and the girls.

Teenage girls . . . a difficult situation at times. Does she have older girl friends? I am sure Katelyn would love to write her, if she is interested.

The "Motto" of my blog is Unscripted. Although our day to day "life" is unscripted, I know that God totally has our lives in His hands.

May your lives find the Normal you seek . . .

Love,

Julie and family

Patty

Praying that you all might find the normal that we all need in our lives. Praying that Joanne could find something to replace her daily run...that would be the hardest if you had been physically active in all types of sports (running, tennis, baseball, ect). As I am a little older than the two of you I know the physical impact that aging has had on my own life. Can't run anymore but I do try to walk in my life (not getting done too much).
Praying for you and your family with your daughter. Very hard growing up in these times. I know how I struggled with depression when I was Audrey's age. Hard to find where you do belong and try to not grow up so fast when there is illness in the family.
Praying that God will touch your lives and give you all a normal life.

Rita

You all will find a new normal over time...takes lots of time. The more people you can contact to come in and change up Joanne's day in some way will help a lot. The more you can all enjoy a meal from the past is good. It feels normal. We liked watching the birds together. We would sing silly songs and she would laugh. Like "You get a line and I'll get a pole honey." I washed her hands and arms, did her nails and then rubbed a cream that she chose the fragrance on her arms. She loved the feel of it because arms can get so dry. Having someone come in and do her hair once a week is such a mood lifter. At a time that Joanne is doing something she likes take the girls and do something you use to do that Joanne cannot do. It's ok. We all still have to live and finding a new normal isn't easy but it's worth it. Bless you and the girls and Joanne.

Liz Reeves

Oh how I needed to hear this tonight. Joanne's comment to the runners "I hope you appreciate it!"....wow, I so needed that. How quickly we take everything for granted!

Sara

I've never posted on here before but I've been following your journey since the stroke. I actually came to this site this morning because I was putting off my dreaded morning run. But y'all have inspired me to appreciate all that I have. I'm going to put on my running shoes and enjoy every second of this gift God has given me. I hope you know that I'm not trying to be mean and rub it in, but I just wanted you to know how much you and your family inspire me. And I know that things are difficult right now, but as an outsider looking in, I can see just how far you have come in the last year and a half. Know that God has a plan for us all, and it's all in His hands!

Kay

I am a long time reader, but a first time commenter. : ) I understand 'normal'...we've lost normal twice in our married lives. Once when we lost our son to cancer. Nothing felt normal for a very long time after that. But we did find a new normal. One that did not include staring at the empty seat at the table. And then last fall, we lost normal again when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I am fine now, thankfully. But just reading about buying donuts made me sad. I have chosen to overhaul everything we eat, so that nothing that goes inside me is of no nutritional value. Grocery shopping and cooking are certainly not normal...but hopefully it will become more normal as the days go on. Nothing feels normal...nothing feels carefree...life is much more 'serious' again at times. I so get this. Hang in there...we will all find a new normal again. : )

Kathleen Jaeger

Your post today has described acutely for me the profound change that has occurred in your lives...I appreciate the insight into where you are today and most days right now. The difficulty of the mundane. The big crisis's are over (she's alive...not sending out emails for her very life) but now the long 'crisis' of adjusting to life as it is. Less hoopla. Yet still important. I'm wondering if at some point, a time of grieving the way things were may be helpful? Or perhaps you are doing that as you go. Just a thought to consider and bring before the Lord as He directs and guides. Continued prayers for you & your family.

Hannah

Krispy Kreme sounds like it was amazing to me!

I know it’s hard to be discouraged about what Joanne CAN’T do. I’m just amazed at all that she CAN do. I remeber reading your posts back when she had her stroke. My favorite post was about the first time she spoke, and of course the popsicles!

I know her stroke is a blessing in disguise. Of course no one wants a loved one to go through all of this. But for some reason bigger than you or me, God had all this in store for Joanne. Since before she was born. You guys have always been such an inspirational family. God used her stroke to witness to others. Even though I was a believer before, reading about her recovery day-today made me have a new sense of awe for this amazing God we serve.

He only puts you through what He KNOWS you can handle. That’s a fact. He knows you can overcome so much. Yet...He doesn’t promise that you’ll overcome it all without some mountains and valleys.

I know through experience what it’s like to crave “normal”. I’ve been waiting 6 years for an event that I hope would make my life “normal”. But I heard a chapel given at my school that rocked my view of normal and the closure I was seeking. Multiple speakers took the time to explain how they had searched and searched for something. Whether it be a relationship, closure of the past, turning to music, etc. One of the speakers was in a situation similar to what I’m going through now. They all had one thing in common-none had found what they were longing for. Music didn’t bring it. Relationships didn’t have it. Finding one’s birth family didn’t give it. They all said that they only thing, or One, who filled their need was Jesus Christ. They all discovered over the course of their lives that Jesus was the only answer. Only through Him can you have a “normal”.

I will keep you guys in my thoughts and prayers. Normal may not come for a while....
With Audrey going to high school, Emma to middle school. Soon Audrey will be driving, then graduating! It flies by fast. Let her know she can ask or talk to me about anything. I’m not that much older than her myself!

Child of God

It is so hard adjusting to a 'new normal'. I just ache inside for the pain and loss you all feel. I do know, tho, God is right there beside you through this whole thing, strengthing and guiding you and protecting you from things that could have been.

Praying and praying for you all often.
<><

Gill N.

speaking as another person who had to grow up way to fast, it helped me to talk with someone else who had the same experience. maybe not the exact same experience, i.e. mother who had stroke, but talking with another young adult who has gotten through it and come out the other side and thrived can be very helpful. Sometimes just talking with someone who has walked in the same shoes you wear and made it out without too many blisters can be reassuring. -Gill

Kim Feth

Toben,
I appreciate your openness and honesty - no matter how painful. Just remember, normal in a real life is a long, broad continuum. It's hard when so many images around us try to tell us that normal looks like what they put on TV, movies, magazines, etc.
We are continuing to pray for your entire family!
Peace,
Kim Feth
Apex, NC

Hannah

Forgot to menton- I love Steven Curtis Chapman's song "Long Way Home". The lyrics are great!

Toben

These comments touch me deeply. I have to remember that this is exactly what a signed up for, what I asked God for. I prayed fervently in the ICU when we almost lost Joanne, "Lord, please just leave her here with us. Whatever state she is in, I will take care of her the rest of my life." I look at that as a sacred vow that I made. So even in the midst of a new normal I am aware that I am keeping a promise to God! What more motivation do I need then that!

Nancy Ludrick

Hi Toben,
I too am a long time reader, first time responder. I wanted to send you a private email and share some thoughts I had regarding Audrey and my personal experience with my daughter.

Blessings to you,
Nancy Ludrick
The Woodlands, TX

tamara

I have been following this journey of your new normal since the stroke, and I pop in every now again to check in on your family. Just know you guys are in my prayers randomly... I will literally think about Joanne in the strangest moments. Keep strong in the faith! Prayers lifted up for you all!

Alice

This is such a great idea! I'm going to try to do this. Yes! As always, your pictures are beautiful

Christian Louboutin High Heels

Speaking from a daughter with a father who would do the same to protect me, That is a wonderful thing you do for Audrey! Safety is certainly a MUST.

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