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  • Hello and welcome to my blog! My name is Joanne and I’ve been blogging for many years under the name The Simple Wife (you can see all of my old posts under the archives or by clicking on any of the categories that interest you). I love receiving comments from you and try to respond to each one personally. I hope you’ll visit often!

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Wonderful idea to share all the beautiful comments with your daughters. It such a valuable lesson for them to see God's people come together like the true family that all his children are.

God Bless.

Wendy Pottgen

Hey Toben:

I cannot imagine how overwhelming and emotional they are for you - I get that way just reading them! I had a cool experience here at work (NCAA - Indianapolis, IN) when I found out that someone I work with is reading Joanne's blog. How cool is that? Blogging/Facebook/Twitter make us only one step away from one another - even for those who have never met.

College seems forever ago, and although we did not know one another well, I heard about you from all the support you gave to Sarah. I am so glad that you have the support of thousands all over the world.

Be well.

Wendy Arralde Pottgen
(Whitworth, 1994)

Lisa Gallup

Also tell your girls how much what Joanne is going through is affecting my own walk with God (and I bet many, many others as well). So many little things have been happening to pull me back to hearing God, and Joanne is one part of that. Praying for and thinking of your family.


That's a great idea. I'm glad you are taking some time, reading and gaining strength from what has been written for you, for Joanne and for the girls!


Praying here, lots of us, in Texas... Joanne has touched our hearts. My daughter has 3 little girls and they pray for Joanne every night.

Hope today and the new procedure will give her some comfort, I'm thinking it will. I can't wait to hear you say her eyes are connecting with yours. Her eyes are so beautiful.

You're doing such a great job with your own girls... you will help each other.



To Know Him


I don't know Joanne personally, only through Siestaville with Beth Moore. I have not had the pleasure of meeting her yet. She is loved...your whole family is loved, that is plain to see by what has happened in this crazy cyberworld.

Just wanted you to know that I can since God has been working through you and your family just from reading these updates. My heart goes out to your family, and I am trying to pray for Joanne and your family as you are brought to my remembrance.

I will leave you with this... I read Mary Beth Chapman's book "Choosing to See" not to long ago, and one thing really stuck out to me... She said the the tragedy of losing Maria was the story that God trusted them with, and their job is to "steward it well"... Toben, your family is "stewarding well" the story of your wife... May you sense God's presence continually as you walk out the long journey ahead of you.

In Christ,


Toben and Girls- Been following your blog since Joanne's stroke, and I can't tell you what an encouragement it has been to see Christ honored in your perserverance! American Christians tend to want the Christian walk to be one of happiness and roses.....and yet we know it can be (and often is) very hard! This is why faith is called faith....because we don't always understand the whys. And yet our God knows all....all the anxious thoughts, concerns, hurts you are experiencing. And our faith is stronger on the other side of these moments when we can look back and see where He has carried us. Thank you for your candid updates, for allowing us to pray with you for Joanne, and most of all, for holding fast to your confidence in our almighty God!

Julie Reynolds

Toben, I have to agree with Kim - you have no idea how the way you are "walking this thing out" for all to see is touching others for His kingdom. Thank you and thank your girls for all of us. Your family is truly a blessing.


You have and are showing Great strength through all of this. I am thrilled with all of the good news. I had a thought cross my mind. I have been praying for your family and Joanne. However, it occurred to me that Joanne wanted to focus strongly on love this year- WOW!!! Look at how our Lord is using her prayer for this year. This would not have been the avenue in which we would have wanted love to come, but there is no denying that love abounds!!! As I write this post I am listing to the song "Enough" by Chris Tomlin-That songs sums it up. Our Lord will continue to sustain you and is always enough!!
Prays and blessings for your sweet family!


Blessings to you and the entire family - I too have been thru this same thing with my mother - she is now 4 years out and with some physical impairments but she is here with us - girls when my mom was where your precious mom is it did my heart so good to know that so many people were praying for her - God hears your prayers and all of those said on your behalf - One special thing for me - as I have heard your dad mention - is the pampering for her - I took it to a different level and even carried her favorite perfume so that way I had her smell as I visited her - may sound silly but I know its so hard to visit and then to leave her there - Please dont get discouraged - BELIEVE - May God continue to carry you all thru this journey.


Hi Toben and family
I want to tell you how much your walk with God has affected my life to rely on the Lord. Thank you giving us updates on Joanne it is so sweet to see how much you love your family and is so evident to see how much you love your sweet Joanne.
I only know her thru the Beth Moore Blog and have been following her blog since she got sick that is Joanne blog and you all have blessed thru your faithfulness and I have cried by these sweet posts. Your family is loved by alot of the Beth Moore seista'. EMMA HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU LITTLE ONE MAY GOD GIVE YOU AN EXTRA SPECIAL BLESSING FOR YOUR BIRTHDAY YOU MY LITTLE ONE ARE MUCH LOVED HERE IN ALBUQUERQUE NM.
Audrey I have heard alot about you hold on to your faith and stay strong and keep looking to Jesus and keep talking to God He loves you very much and you are in my prayers and I am praying that God would send you a very special friend in your life.
Toben thank you for your faithfulness and showing us seista's what faith is and you are doing such a great job with your girls that is very evidentand thank you for showing us a husband that loves his family and taking care of his sweet wife.
Praying for you all here in Albuquerque nm


Our daily routine in our school at home is to check on Ms Joanne. May God continue to bless you with grace, mercy, peace and endurance. We have adopted Haitain kids and they pray for her healing as they have had much heartache. Your family's faith is glorifying to our precious God.
Beckoning the throne for you all!! Ronda

Vondora Moss

Hi Toben, Audrey & Emma. I was in a valley of my own & not sure how to pray nor what to do. Then that Wednesday night a dear sister here at church posted on facebook about Joanne. Immediately my heart went out to her! I had never heard of her or read her blog but in that instant God put a burden on my heart for her, & you guys as well. You all are daily in my thoughts & prayers. It's funny how God reminds us that yes, we do still know how to pray, & yes there is someone out there with a greater need than ours! He has been working in the background on mine, seeing how He got my mind off of it & left it alone for Him to handle, and therefore I'm Praising Him for what He's doing in mine & yours!!! I'm anticipating Joanne's testimony of that wonderful, secret place that she & Jesus have been!! Keep The Faith! We know that He is up to something that only He will be Glorified in!!! God Bless You All!!!

Sara G

There is so much encouragement and love from everyone! To God's glory we give praise! God is using this time to speak to many. Toben, your faithfulness speaks volumes about God's love, truth and mercy. He knows you, Joanne, Audrey, and Emma. He is with you every step of the way. His promises we are to lean on and it shows through many lives! Thank you Lord for bringing us all together.

Amy Whitehouse

Dear Toben,
We have never met, and actually I have never met your wife either. A friend told me about your site because I went through this exact experience in August with my mom. I will never forget those weeks sitting and staring at all the monitors. I want to encourage you though. When I would look at my mom who remained asleep for over 3 weeks, not moving, breathing by machine, etc, I just began to think it was impossible for her to recover. She as well had a massive stroke, surgery, pneumonia, etc. Joanne's story mirrors my mom's in so many ways. I will tell you, my mom did eventually wake up, and finally we were blessed to see her beautiful blue eyes. She is now back to life--smiling, talking, driving, engaging in ALL areas of life. She is 99% back to who she was. It was a long process, but miracles DO happen, and I would just encourage you to pray for that miracle. I know one day soon, you may walk into that room and have Joanne look at you, smile, and greet you!!!
I pray for you all each day as I know how hard this is!!!
May God quickly heal Joanne and may you soon be greeted by your lovely wife!!

Carrie Adkins


I read your and Ryan Dobson's book Wrecked last year as the last couple of years have been by far the most difficult of my life. Great, helpful book. Anyways the other day, I was on Dr. Dobson's Family Talk website looking up something and saw a link to "Help the Heims". I clicked it and saw the heartbreaking news about your wife. I have been following your story via twitter and your wife's blog ever since. I pray for Joanne whenever I think of her throughout the day which is often with the great job you are doing keeping everyone updated throughout the day. I have also told my four year old daughter about the story and we are praying for Joanne, you, and your two daughters every night. One of our little bedtime rituals is that we blow each other kisses and then I put each kiss somewhere and tell her why I put it there. For example, I have been having some thyroid issues so each night I put on of her "kisses" on my throat so my thyroid will get better. Anyways, now every night I tell her that I put one of the kisses my daughter blows on my head so I remember to pray for "Miss Joanne" who had the stroke. My daughter is now reminding me every night if I forgot to do the one for "Miss Joanne". :) Anyways, just wanted you to know that even though we have never met and probably never will, you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers and your story is having an impact on my family. We are praying with you for each request you post and we are rejoicing with you for each answered prayer. It is so exciting and encouraging to see how God is working in your stressful situation and gives me hope that He is also working in mine even though I might not see it yet.

Dee McCollum

I am praying here in Jacksonville Florida, and praising HIM for the positive answers so far.....


Toben, When you share with the girls how much everyone is thinking of them, praying for them, loving on them - I just want to add one thing. I have been praying for all of you (esp. Joanne) and have never met any of you nor have I posted before - I didn't want to cause an e-traffic jam and keep you from reading from those who are special to you. I am sure there are HUNDREDS like me who just heard through a friend, or a blog, or a prayer chain. You are well loved and the body of Christ is a great one. Happy Birthday to sweet Emma today - double digits is a BIG deal! And we are still here - praying quietly but without ceasing....


uplifting your family in prayers today, toben! have been following joanne's story and spent many nights here at the computer praying for you and joanne!

sending you prayers from panama city, florida!


I wanted to let you know that your family is being prayed over in Plano, Texas. I learned of Joanne through Holly Smith and have since been praying and sharing your prayer requests through Facebook and also to my homeschooling community. I, too, have a twelve year old girl who has been especially lifting Audrey in prayer.

My heart goes out to you all. Praying the Lord will bring you peace through the coming days...that you will be able to stay in the moment, trusting Him for all things.


Happy 10th Birthday to Miss Emma!!! I have twin girls that turned 10 in July. I want you to know that we are all on our knees praying for your family. We are asking God to move BIG for your mommy. Thank you so much, Toben for blessing us with your words. They are a testimony to the power of prayer. Even though I do not personally know your family, through your words I am blessed to know about your family, and even more grateful for the opportunity to join thousands of others and pray for Joanne.

Caroline Mertens

Dear Toben, I know Joanne through my dear friend Erin Leyba, who is the director of MOPS at Foothills Bible Church in Arvada. Joanne has kindly been a guest speaker at their MOPS and I’ve been privileged to learn from Joanne through this blog and her books. When I was on staff as a writer at Focus on the Family, I listened to your broadcasts and found great encouragement! Your wife is such a marvelous woman of faith and prayer! Thank you for sharing with us so vulnerably through this process. We’ve been praying for the past two weeks and will continue to pray for God to reveal Himself, to bring healing in His special way and timing. May He continue to strengthen you and your entire family!
I wanted to share about my brother Tim, so that his story of miracle may be of some encouragement to you. Eight months ago, my dear older brother Tim had a second heart surgery. His first surgery – for an aortic dissection – was in 2003 when he was 27 years old, and during emergency open-heart surgery, Tim received a graft on the ascending aorta. Surviving that first surgery was a complete miracle! God spared Tim’s life. What an amazing revelation for us, to see him walk out five days later. Through that process, Tim grew in his walk with Jesus and he lived out a tremendous Christian faith that was evident in the way he served others, and the strength he demonstrated. Tim was faithful with doctor's visits and heart scans over the years to monitor his aorta, and this past spring, Tim was told he had swelling on both sides of the graft and a leaking aortic valve. Tim prepared as best he could, and had an April 28 surgery. There were complications. For two weeks we swirled through emotions ranging from hope to incredible pain at the prospect of losing him. You know these emotions well, and reading your blog reminded me of the power that fear can grip, even on the most solid Christian.
And on May 13, 2010, Tim went home to be with his Lord Jesus. Every day since that moment has been an overwhelming test of faith, to step forward each day. The family he loved – a beautiful wife and three darling children – must find a way now and continue forward. And that proves to be difficult at times.
But I want to tell you what that first miracle meant to Tim. He kept a list of God's blessings that he was able to participate in because of the miracle of that first surgery – things like births, weddings, people coming to the Lord. Tim lived purposefully, serving others at work, in church as he mentored others and taught classes, and alongside fantastic peers who kept him accountable. I do believe God prepares us for life events, and although we often do not want to recognize His loving hand through it, there were conversations and situations preceding Tim's surgery that gave him an opportunity for wrestling with God's plan.
In January, when the earthquake hit Haiti, Tim lost his friend David Hames, also at an early age, and also a father of young children, who was working for Compassion. The horrible reality was difficult to accept. Tim struggled with the prospect of David's death, and processed through grief of losing a fine man of God earlier than what was expected or envisioned – especially when one was fully in the thick of selfless ministry to God, enmeshed in outreach that would outlive oneself, and particularly embodying the urging, "To live is Christ." (Phil 1:21). Yet the "gain in death" (Phil 1:21) was only for David (and 4 months later for Tim) – their time to step into the pure, real hope of heaven, of the culmination of salvation, of finally realizing the purposes of time on earth now finding reward, and of partaking in blessing, from sacrificing in life to raise children and love faithfully, care for a brave a strong wife. Along with others who walked the same path, they loved Jesus, and now are whole, free, healed. Real life, for them, has truly begun. They are home.
For us who remain, we may join them in minutes or years, yet if they could, they would beckon us to live boldly and give generously, pushing past every hindrance and in acceptance with God's specific call on our lives, to proclaim Him in lifestyle and effort, quietly exhibiting faith and love. Perhaps the unanswered questions are not what will drive us toward madness. Their unfulfilled dreams and visions, their unfulfilled hopes and aspirations. We want more than solutions, to know that God remains sovereign, that He will embrace us, journey through the darkness that remains, and rescue us. That ultimate relationship, that all-encompassing, perfect love of Jesus, which softens sorrow and with gentle power, true meekness, will someday set every imbalance into the proper place; right. These men of faith, newly taken, serving others when taken, in their prime. I believe their lessons can still ring true for us who remain: to seek God's call on our lives, and continue forward, passionately, for Him. May God continue to embolden you as you remember His miracle, and allow your hearts to remain soft and open to His work.
Blessings and grace to you, Caroline Mertens


You are an amazing husband, father, and a Godly example to all of us! Please give Emma a big birthday hug!


Toben, Audrey and Emma ...Here is a letter from God. He's holding you in the palm of His Hands.

Praying for His peace to surpass all understanding. Phil 4:7

marcy kerr

Happy Birthday to you Emma, wow 10 years old. Our daughter, Danielle's birthday is on Thursday Jan. 25th. She will be 7.
Toben, we were amazed to read about how Joanne squeezed your hand. Now praying for her to open her eyes, and look into your eyes.
Doing James MacDonald study : "When Life is Hard, on week 2 He talks about steadfastness, endurance, perseverance, and patience from James 1:2, he says it means to "remain under".
You and your family are definitely showing this faithfully. Praying for your strength and endurance. THE KERR FAMILY ~ CHERRY HILL, NJ


Praising God for the encouraging news and praying for His strength to sustain you all!


Happy Birthday, Emma! I have an Emma and Emmas are awesome!! ;)

You know this already, but for every comment left, there are thousands of us who have not commented (and didn't know of you prior to this), but we are praying, reading, following and falling in love with your sweet Joanne and her family. It has been my family in need of prayer in the past and I know how much it meant to us, so now we "stand in the gap" for our sister Joanne at her time of need and plead to the Father. May His overwhelming peace and greatest blessings be upon your family as you travel this road by faith and not by sight.


Julane Dover

Hi Toben-
I've been following your blog since I heard about Joanne on facebook from Whitworth friends. Your honesty is so inspiring and it's powerful to see the miracles God is doing everyday. Hugs and prayers to you and your family.
Julane (Lussier) Dover
Bend, Oregon
Whitworth '93



My husband (29 years old) suffered a stroke on Dec 16th, we have two small little girls as well. It has been a journey as I know you know. I first have to compliment you on your faith. This is something none of us can do alone. It is by His mercy and grace we are here, we are here fighting in some cases. After watching my husband for days struggle to speak and his entire left side of his body was paralzyed I saw first hand the healing power of Jesus. Within a month he regained his speech, his movements and we have the husband and father back that we so desperately missed. I pray the same blessings for you and your beautiful girls. It is a journey, but remember each one of you plays a part in this journey. You compliment each other and you are there to be the voice and advocate for Joanne. Prayer changes things and keep the faith, He is listening.

Suzanne Borg

Toben, I have been following this blog since the news of Joanne's stoke was posted on I don't know you or Joanne but reading / hearing the love and devotion and faith in your posts is so encouraging to me. You are truly a testament of having hope in the Lord and persevering through trials. On Sunday, the service at my church was about having hope when life doesn't "make sense". Our pastor asked people to stand up if they knew someone who was going through difficult times, or circumstances that seem hopeless. I stood up for your family. I just wanted to let you know.

I am continuing to pray for Joanne and for you and the girls.

San Jose, California


I wanted to share this link with you as well, after 9 years of fighting for health I have put a list together of how to speak to doctors that I wanted to share with you. My thoughts and prayers are with you

Rachel B

(((((All of y'all)))))

Andrea S.

Sweet Toben,
I hope you know what an honor and blessing I truly count this that I can raise your family up in prayer and offer you even a hint of encouragement. What you are going through is other way around that. But keep your eyes fixed on our Healer, and those days that threaten to swallow you whole won't have a chance. Continuing to pray for a miraculous healing, where Joanne will be completely restored- all to His glory! I think of you and your girls so often in the course of my day, I suppose its because I can see a little of us in you...Joanne is the same age as my husband....your girls are close in age to my middle and my youngest...pretty easy to see that this can happen to ANYBODY! I also know exactly what you mean when you say she is awake but not really. So much of what you mention strikes a cord with what we endured with my father-in-law last July, August and September.

All my love to you and the girls,
Andrea S.


Hi Toben,

I graduated from Whitworth a couple of years after you and Joanne did. As a freshman Communications major I looked up to Joanne and admired her greatly. In fact, she was a huge inspiration in my going on to be the editor-in-chief of the Whitworthian for two years. When I heard about her stroke via Facebook my heart sank. It's been so wonderful and appreciated to be able to stay in touch through your posts and to reconnect after all of these years. Your transparency is beautiful and it's an honor to be able to pray specifically for Joanne, you, and your girls. Thank you for allowing us into your life to support you from afar. Through all of this Joanne continues to inspire me. Her commitment to memorizing scripture motivated me to join the Beth Moore Siesta Scripture Memory Team (which I learned of through Joanne's previous posts) and am now memorizing scripture...I chose Psalm 46 first and dedicate it to Joanne. She's quite a woman! Your family's journey is making a difference in me. Thank you!!! With abundant blessings, Cindy Brett Wrightson (Whitworth '96), San Diegoe


Continuing to pray without ceasing.

Nikki Andrews

Such a precious family. Keep your head up Toben. You have a nation praying for your precious wife and family. We are on our knees for Joanne's healing and we BELIEVE that He is going to heal her completely and thank Him for what He has already done. Love to the girls...they are so strong. What a tesitmony you guys are going to have one day!

Yanna Westmoreland

We love because He first loved us. Praying with all of my heart for you Joanne from Bryan, Tx

Melana Cummings

Even though I do not comment every day, I read the updates every day. I pray throughout the day for Joanne and for all of the rest of you precious family members. I cannot even imagine what it is like for you, but I know that Joanne is much loved by you. Someday, this will be the story that all of you will tell over and over about how God never left Joanne's side. I KNOW this will be a testimony to your faith and ours, as we pray for our girl.


I wish I had followed this blog earlier, I have been reading your wife's posts and she is a remarkable woman. I will keep all of you in my prayers - you're a wonderful family and there is love and support embracing you even when you may not be aware of it. God bless you, your family, and your precious wife.

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