Saturday, April 23, 2016

A Review of Hope Heals


A book about how a friend made it through the unimaginable

Have you ever found yourself without any hope? I certainly have. Have you ever wondered if you could make it through the challenge that you faced? I do often. From time to time, we all find ourselves in the storms of life, struggling, suffering, or succumbing to the pressures around us. Jay and Katherine Wolf faced the most difficult of challenges any of us could imagine, and they made it through.
So can you.
Book Cover - Hope Heals: A story of Overwhelming Loss and an overcoming love by Katherine and Jay Wolf
I first met Jay when we sang together in the A-cappella Choir at Samford University. Back then, I knew him as Jason, which I later came to realize meant "Jay’s Son". As part of the choir, we had the opportunity to go on tour together throughout the US and one year even had the privilege to go with the choir on a trip to Russia. Still, I didn’t know him all that well at that time, and we were in pretty different circles. In recent days however, I’ve had the honor and privilege to get to know Jay better. No one could have imagined the horrible pain that he would go through eight years ago when after only 3 1/2 years of marriage, and with their six-month-old son sleeping in the next room, his wife, Katherine, suffered a massive brain stem stroke.

In their new book, Hope Heals: A True Story of Overwhelming Loss and an Overcoming Love, Katherine and Jay Wolf recount the breathtaking true story of the incredible challenges that they suffered when Katherine experienced her stroke. More importantly, they tell of the hope that came in the midst of that suffering.

Hope Heals is one of those books that is really difficult to put down once you start reading it. Not only is it difficult to put down, but whether you’re a male or female, I would suggest you have some tissues nearby as you read it. Jay and Katherine have a unique ability to pull you into their story. The writing is amazing. One example of this is seen as Jay describes the moment when Katherine got sick.
“The TV was on, and she staggered across the living room floor toward the noise, mumbling that everything was too loud. The moment she touched the Off button, it was as if she turned herself off too. Her body fell hard onto the floor, sprawled, motionless.” - Jay Wolf (p.26)
When I read those words I was transfixed, I could almost see myself in that situation. What if that was someone I loved that I saw falling to the floor motionless? I found my chest heaving with heavy breaths as I read on. Of course, I knew the outcome, that Katherine would not die, but as I read, it was impossible not to be pulled into the incredibly well written narrative.

Hope Heals contains so many life lessons for us. These life lessons are so valuable. Jay and Katherine have discovered through hardship and pain lessons from life that normally come through decades of experience. And they are passing on those experiences and lessons for us to learn from.
“What has happened to me is extreme; however, it is not that different from what everyone deals with. I am a sort of microcosm for what we all feel. I can barely walk, even with a cane, but who feels free even if they can? My face is paralyzed, but who feels beautiful even when they look normal? I have no coordination in my right hand, so I can’t hold things, even my child, but who feels like a competent parent even if all their faculties are intact?… So no matter the situation, universally people feel what I am living out. They don’t feel free. They don’t feel understood. They don’t feel satisfied.” - Katherine Wolf (p. 18-19)
The book is not all serious. Katherine is so witty. In the opening pages she talks about her “Southern belle” habit of writing thank you notes...
“I knew the consummate, etiquette-following lady never went to bed after receiving a gift until the note was written and ready for mailing the following morning. Yeah, right! Was this true once she had her babies? Did she somehow squeeze in note writing before 3:00 a.m. newborn feedings?!” (p.23-24)
Little morsels like this are available throughout the book, breaking up the extreme tension of the serious situations with a little bit of much needed humor. And Katherine tells these little stories so masterfully.

Hope Heals is a story about suffering, resilience, community, hope in a hopeless situation. Mostly, however, It’s a story about love. In the first chapters of the book, we learn the story of how Katherine was rushed to the hospital and then underwent a major 16 hour brain surgery. During the days following, Katherine endured unimaginable challenges. After spending those initial days and nights in the hospital, Jay tells about how he finally went across the street to a hotel for a sleep in a real bed. At 3:00am he got a call from a nurse saying that she thought Katherine was wanting him (Katherine couldn’t speak at that point and had barely lifted a couple of fingers, but the nurse could tell).
"I threw on some clothes and raced across the street in the cool air of predawn. As I arrived by her bed, her left eye signaled relief at my presence. "She hasn't been able to sleep at all," the nurse informed me. I tried to imagine the claustrophobia she must be feeling, and it made me tear up. "It's okay, Katherine. You can go to sleep now. I'll be right here." With that, she closed her eyes, opening them a few more times just to see if I was still there.” - Jay (p.72)
Jay, your example of what true love is all about is awe-inspiring. Your love for Katherine is more inspiring than the love Romeo had for Juliet. Keep sharing hope my friend.

Hope Heals is a wonderful and authentic book about how to find hope in the most hopeless of situations. I hope you will pick up a copy today and be amazed with me. You can get a copy by clicking on this link Hope Heals: A True Story of Overwhelming Loss and an Overcoming Love (this is an affiliate link to Amazon, if you purchase after using this link, I will get a small referral commission that does not cost you anything extra).

Question: What struggles are you dealing with today that make your situation seem hopeless? Leave a comment below.

Action: Check out Jay and Katherine's amazing website http://www.hopeheals.com/

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