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« Going...Going...Gone! (Toben) | Main | Identity (Toben) »


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Wow, Toben! I don't think I've ever read such an eloquent and compelling post. I will continue to pray and now I will pray specifically for the Heim family's resurrection Sunday!!!


Although I don't know you, I've read your blog faithfully since Joanne suffered her stroke (including all Joanne's entries prior to the stroke)so I feel that I know about you, or at least a little bit. I can't imagine how difficult the past few years must have been for your family. It always strikes me as particularly cruel and ironic that someone as vibrant, intelligent, and active as Joanne should suffer such a devastating injury. I find your family's courage and tenacity to be inspirational, and I pray that God grants you the resurrections that you need.


I don't know you guys, but I know Kristen and I've been following and praying for quite some time. This is such a beautifully written post. And honest. I love that.

Judy@Just Enough Light

I can very much relate to this post. We, too, have been stuck on Saturday for a long time. Different situations, of course, but stuck all the same. It's excruciating at times. I wait for Sunday. I know it's coming....someday. In the meantime I cry tears of mourning and loss. Everyday.

Sis Kristen

Without knowing it, I've been praying for "Sunday" for a long time. Now I have a visual to go alongside....beautifully said Toben.

Cheryl Veenstra

Thank you again for sharing the depths of your heart (and Joanne's) with us. My heart aches for all that the 4 of you have lost over the last 2 years. I will continue to lift you all up to the throne...especially for miracles (big and small) and HOPE that sustains you day after day.

Your thoughts about your dark night of the soul and struggling with your faith after such a crisis...struck a chord that brings instant tears to my eyes. I have had these same feelings the last 6 months as I've tried to process where God is/was in the suffering of my daughters the last many years (from various medical issues and disabilities). I too have the flashbacks and anger and despair that hit me suddenly and don't 'feel' right because I am a Christian. It helps to know that I'm not alone and others are working through these things too.

May God continue to give each of you the strength...hour by by day to tackle what is ahead. Praying hard for a sweet restoration of Joanne's relationship with each of her precious girls. Teen years are so hard anyway....UGH. I can't imagine the scars created from the crisis of the last couple years. But I'm standing with you...that GOD'S GOT THIS and sweet healing will happen as they mature and grow in the years to come.

Thank you for taking the time to share...


We are told that God promised us suffering, not an easy ride and we are to praise him like Job in any circumstance. But the truth is, most of us are not Job. I love your honesty and the courage in portraying your weakness, your struggles and dark night of the soul in all it's truth complete with guilt.

Please write a book. Please. A million sermons do not encourage me like one blog post of yours. Thank you for being honest, raw and sharing your struggles often at the risk of criticism for not painting a rosy picture of faith. You have no idea how it helps to see you not sugar coat things. It helps me in my walk with Christ, strange as it may seem watching your family and your marriage. Thank you once again.

Sue C

"Stuck on Saturday" sounds like a book title to me, Toben ~ better see if you can copywrite it for the future - prayers are with you all <><


Amazingly brave post. This is the kind of honesty where I feel I might be welcome. It is super hard to be around "church people" when all you have is doubt and questions that is so easily judged by others. But, I choose to think all that doubting and questioning has me talking (screaming) to God even more and that is probably a good thing, even if it doesn't feel good.

I recently read, can't quote the source, the more we seek God, the more we get to know Him, the more He is Mystery. Amen to that.


I found this quote on a blog this past Saturday. I have really never thought about the Saturday before Easter until this year. When I read that post it really got me to thinking, because honestly we all mostly live in "Saturday". It's funny, actually not funny, but awesome that Joanne had the same thought this weekend too! I'll copy the quote:

"Much of our life here on this earth is lived out feeling somewhat trapped in “Saturday.” I’m trying to get to a place in my life where I can embrace “Saturday.” I’m trying to get to a place where I can view it as a type of preparation for what I believe God might be doing in my life. You may currently be in the midst of a horrible, out-of-control situation. You feel as if God is not there, that there’s nothing that can be done. But here is the message of the gospel for you while you’re stuck in your helpless, hopeless Saturday life: God does his best work in hopeless situations. We worship a God who specializes in resurrections." - Pete Wilson


Forgive my ignoarance but I have a hard time understanding just how incapable Joann really is. I have worked with survivors of major strokes (as an personal trainer) and although the people were unable to do many things, there were many things they could do. I'm not suggesting that Joann is fully able-bodied but I find it hard to understand why she can't wipe a bathroom sink or swish a toilet. (If she really wants to contribute and do those things- they don't have to be done perfecty.) I read on your home page that Joann is on a journey of recovery. I would love to read about what daily life is like and how she is working towards that goal. Does she still have therapies that challange her to do things outside of her comfort zone? I only ask these questions because from my perspective (albiet only as a follower of this blog)I get a feeling that her recovery has stalled and your family (and Joann) have settled into a routine that is not motivating for progress. I can only imagine her personal difficulties but there seems like there is so much she can do! She blogs every now and again...why not blog EVERY day, for instance? Wipe the sink, swiffer from a wheelchair, clean windows that she can reach? If those are desires, make them a reality and who knows what skill will come back and what brain function will heal? I don't mean to imply that any of this is easy or that I would do any better in this situation but I do hope I would have people around me who would be brave enough to give my rear an occasional kick forward. And maybe you do, and you just don't blog about that...if that's the apologies if any offense is taken from my post. I just feel some tough love and new expectations might be helpful.

Linda Jonasson

Thank you for the moving post about Joanne. What a tragedy for you and your family to go through! I like your analogy of being "stuck on Saturday". I fully understand where you're coming from. My sister, Lisa, had a massive stroke four years ago. Although we saw a lot of progress (she re-learned how to talk, read and write) she remained paralyzed on the left side. For a long time, I felt "stuck on Saturday". But with a lot of prayer, God got me through it. Because of prayer, I have hope. My sister's faith is stronger than ever. I pray for peace for you and your family!

Heather Gerard

I pray for Joanne's healing every day lately it seems! She has been on my heart so strongly...I really do feel like God WILL restore her and you and your precious daughters. I love you all and never have met you. God is amazing like that! Just know...unknown people are praying for Joanne to an all-knowing God who LOVES you all.

Marla Taviano

I'm with all these other people, Toben. Stuck on Saturday. So perfectly said.

I'm so, so, sorry that you guys are suffering so much. It breaks my heart, and I hate it for you. We understand on the smallest scale. Ever since Gabe's heart attack 17 months ago and all the anxiety (and debt) that have followed, it's felt like that Saturday.

We're starting to see the light of Sunday morning tiny bits at a time, and I'm praying the very same thing for the four of you.



Toben ~ I will continue to lift you and your dear family in prayer. Everytime I read your posts all I think about is "my gosh ~ what an amazing husband, father and man he is.

You will get to "Sunday" hold on . . .


I found your blog through Family Talk and I can very much relate to being stuck in Saturday. My husband died suddenly from a blood clot in 2011. He had just turned 50 & was in good health. No warning, nothing. I relate to your flashbacks as I have them too. I was left to finish raising 4 sons and learn my husband's business. I want to find Sunday but the truth is, it will never look the same again. God is slowly teaching me that Sunday will come, it just will not look the way I expected. God is asking me just to trust Him in this Saturday. I pray that you also will just trust Him in your Saturday. I hope you will treasure the sweet times you have together, I took many of them for granted and didn't realize that it could all be gone in an instant.

Erin Koss

Your best post yet on any levels.

Kaelynn Judd

For the past six years I have been living with the memories of a terrible tragedy that happened in my own life. Like you said, Toben, when I think about it I feel like it was yesterday. I can so vividly remember every single detail of that night. The smells of the hospital... the touch of a hot, stiff hand... the fear of the death of a loved one... Goodness, the memories can haunt me when I let them.

For years I allowed myself to wallow in self-pity. I fell into a dark depression and completely lost my faith in God. After all, how could a loving God allow my life to be completely ruined? How could he steal the happiness and the life of an innocent Christian? It didn't seem fair and I was angry. I believed in God, but I hated him. I remember even yelling at him one night and saying that I wanted him to send me to hell because I wanted to be as far away from him as possible.

After awhile I developed an addiction to self-harm. I tried to wash my problems away with my own blood instead of the blood of Christ. It was a very dark time in my life. Finally I decided I was done... I was done with the pain, the memories, the addiction... I wrote a note to all of my family members and I began the process that would end my life.

Minutes before death found me, I got a call on my cell phone. I don't know why, but I reached for it and answered. The person on the other end knew that something was wrong. I didn't even really know this person. We had only spoken once or twice, but they said that God had told them they needed to call. That was all it took. I realized that God wasn't done with me. He was still there even when I had tried so desperately to push him away.

The past six years have been a battle. My depression has never gone away, but it has become more manageable with counseling, therapy, and medication. I still wear the scars of my addiction and sometimes I do mess up. However, I am slowly making progress.

Every single day I have to make the choice to be happy. Some days it is hard to find a positive reason to smile, but when I really stop to think about it, I realize how blessed I am. Instead of being in a cold grave I am mother to two beautiful children and I have a loving husband (the man who called on the night of my attempted suicide). Our family has been called to full time ministry and in the next year we will be moving onto the mission field full time.

I wish I could tell you that your memories will fade with time. I wish I could promise that the pain will disappear and that faith will come easier, but I cannot. However, I can say with certainty that walking this path with God is so much better than walking it alone. I've done that, and if you think that life is hard now... It will only become so much harder if that is the path you choose.

God has a plan for your family and even though it seems like this tragedy threw a wrench in it, He is still fully capable of using you to do something beautiful. God doesn't waste pain.

Psalm 147:3-5 "He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds. He counts the number of stars and knows them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power. His understanding has no limits."


Thank you for your courage in sharing your anger, doubt, and fears. No easy answers. Prayers going up for your precious family. May the Lord give you glimpses of Him at work in your situation. May He grant you victories to encourage you. Maybe He is coming soon, for all of us. He is our hope.


Your post reminded me of a devotional I read yesterday: "Feelings are neither good nor bad, they simply are. surely God didn't intend for us to have the wide range of feelings He blessed us with if they were to be detrimental to us. It's our choices in regards to those feelings that can truly hurt us, not the feelings alone."
Praying that your Saturday ends soon!


Your post prompted me to pray for you again. I have prayed many times...and I know that God can do the impossible, so never give up!




Oh my goodness! This was just what I needed to hear. Our family has been processing through so many losses that have come along with my husband's diagnosis of PTSD. You expressed our feelings so perfectly. Thank you!

Child of God

Oh dear, my heart just breaks for all you are going through. This is tough, please know I haven't stopped praying for you and I will continue to intercede for you Joanne and your whole family Toben.

Here is an encouraging Bible verse to help you realize that this is not just a physical battle for a spiritual one. Satan would love to take your faith in God away and he knows how to attack us in physical discomfort. I encourage you to read the book of Job, not just one version but multiple versions and ask Father to help you understand the depth of the spiritual attack on Joanne and your family.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 ESV
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

Praying and praying,

Kim Feth

Toben and Family,
We are continuing to pray for you. Emotions are a gift from God - experience them!

And on a practical note, there is some very valid research out there about how when one family member suffers a life-threatening/life-altering illness and hospitalization, that others in the family are very likely to suffer a clinical depression. Get help if you need it!
Grace and Peace,
Kim Feth
Apex, NC

Sherrie Kulwicki

Tobin, Our youngest son died in a car accident on Easter eight years ago. I TOTALLY understand what you are writing about. We too have flashbacks - to a doorbell waking us from our sleep, to last phone calls, to phone calls from ME's. Our world changed forever on that day. We longed for a 'normal' holiday or meal around the table...that will not be for us until heaven. We too live in a long Saturday knowing that our Sunday is coming. Until then we have learned a new normal. That's not to say that every Easter doesn't bring its share of memories - some that sting and some that make us smile. That doesn't mean that we understand or like it. It just means that time has brought us some healing. I pray that for you and your sweet family also. We are walking with a close friend who suffered a spinal injury that has left him much like Joanne. They have two babies and he was a fireman. They too live in Saturday. I know there are many of us. Praying for you as you walk through this valley. You will all have joy again and until then, God can handle your questions and your grief. Much love.


Dearest Toben and Joanne~
We do indeed take our turns at walking through such dark places in our lives and in our faith and I love that you feel the freedom here to call things what they are. We may know, one day, why our lives got ripped into and we may not. I pray, as I've learned, that all the hardship won't be for nothing. God's goodness in our mess and in our trauma is present and constant whether we're clinging to Him or angrily looking elsewhere.....and He knows with perfect understanding that we do both.

I don't know if you've ever listened to the song "Held" by Natalie Grant. It's perfect for you.....for many of us.

As for the normal symptoms of PTSD you're describing, PLEASE know that they're not something you have to just "live with". Believe me, if you don't address them head-on with a qualified therapist, you'll be saying the same things 10+ years from now. It doesn't take much imagination to believe Job struggled after his life was shredded and probably well remembered it all after the few verses where God gave him twice as much as he had before......those were terrible times for him.

You both and your girls are 100% secure in God's hands whether you're doing well or not . It will come and go and plese know that we will continue to support you in prayer. I would hug you both if I could but your friends will have to do that for me!!



brilliant. thank you.


You articulate what you & Joanne are thinking & feeling with amazing eloquence & clarity. You have a huge family in the blog world that prays for strength, stamina and restoration for your entire family. I hope you feel the encouragement. We mean it when we say we check daily for updates and pray over all your requests. Praying blessings on you this day.


Thank you, thank you. As someone who's experienced same things but different circumstances, thank you for being REAL! Oh how I wish we Christians could be "real" always.

I've been blessed to realize that certain triggers actually don't trigger much any longer (5 years later) but others....still much healing to take place.

Praying for you all. Praising the Lord for your willingness to be vulnerable and honest. It helps others too.

Mo Stroke

Oh wow. My mom had a massive stroke only 2 months ago and I've been feeling so many of the things you describe so well. Thank you for sharing so candidly, it's somehow relieving to know we're not alone in these feelings.

Sara G

'Stuck on Saturday' sounds like a book Max Lucado would write. :) How often I wonder about how the disciples felt after Friday, after they finally got what Jesus meant.

Sounds like you should write a book,you've already got the title!

I will be praying for you and your family. I don't know you personally but have kept up with the blog enough to feel like I know you. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things.

Sara G


Thank you for your transparency and honesty. I've read the blog for a long time and I love that you give specific prayer requests. Your whole family is in my prayers. I wondered if Joanne has been able to connect with any other stroke survivors, even online. From tough times in my own life, I know how much it means to have someone else understand what you're going through. I also know that she could be a real encourager to others, and maybe it would help her feel like she had a ministry.


Toben and Joanne -
I've read your blog since the stroke and continue to be amazed at your strength and faith. It's normal to ask why when things suck a little. :) My 30 year old brother has been fighting an exhausting battle against cancer for the past 16 months, I wrestle with the same emotions from time to time. Sometimes when you'd least expect it.

A women from my hometown was ejected from a car 19 days ago. She has two young girls also. Unfortunately, she is still in a coma (can open one eye but that's about it). If you could pray for her family that'd be great.

Her caring bridge site is...


Toben and Joanne, this is a wonderful, but sad post. I will continue to pray for your family - and Sunday to come very soon. ** I do agree with Becky's post on April 1 - wondering if maybe Joanne's progress has stalled. It seems to me that maybe she could be doing more for herself, and then she would feel better about the situation. I have a 7 yr old granddaughter who has suffered 7 strokes & 4 brain bleeds, craniotomy, so many treatments, tests, etc. - and she has disabilities, but we all still expect her to do as much as she can. She wears braces to walk, yet she gets outside and runs with her sisters, the best that she can. I've purchased and read two of Joanne's books (written before her stroke), and I'm surprised that the same woman who wrote those books seems to be looking at the glass as half empty - rather than half full. One may say we can't compare what a 7 year old has lost to what a healthy, active woman has lost, but my granddaughter knows that she can no longer play soccer - and she loved soccer; she knows that she can't go to school because her immune system is so compromised by all the steriods & medicines she has to take, so she makes the best of being home with her mommy homeschooling her - even though she misses so much being able to be with friends; she knows she can't walk like the other kids can, and her braces hurt sometimes, but walk she does - and proudly - because after one of her massive strokes she was completely paralyzed on her left side & could not walk - so now she appreciates the fact that she can walk with braces. She has trouble remembering things - like one of her aunt's names for instance, but she'll sweetly state - "sometimes I just can't remember," and goes on with her story she's telling about her aunt and cousins. She knows that her 2 younger sisters (3 yrs & 6 yrs) can do more than she can; her 6 yr old sister is on a soccer team - and guess who sits on the sideline and cheers the loudest - my 7 yr old granddaughter! Her 3 yr old sister can dress herself better than she can and much faster, but my 7 yr old gdaughter gets the job done & is proud of herself when finished! I guess what I'm trying to say is that the old saying, "...someone always has it worse..." can apply to all of us in life, and my hope and prayer for Joanne is that she will embrace the fact that she does have the use of 1 arm/hand and leg - where there are many people who have lost both legs, or both arms, etc. Rise up - let this be your Sunday! Prove to your daughters that you have the strength to go on and live a happy, fulfilled life - just as you would want them to do if they had suffered an accident & lost the use of part of their body. Be the example that they need to see to help them face whatever difficulties life may bring to them - and watch your relationship with them blossom as they no longer view you as a "victim," but as a "survivor." (I do hope I have not offended anyone by anything I've said - most of all Joanne & Tobin. I know it must be so tough dealing with life as it is now; I'm not making light of that - I have no idea how tough it is, so please forgive me if I seem insensitive. I just felt the need to write this to you tonight, after I read Toben's post; I only write this out of love and concern - and my prayers for you all and your family continue.)


I'm stuck on Saturday too. So many loses in the last 4 years. And chronic physical pain. We all deal with these challenges differently. Some of us can overcome them and some can't. God understands, I believe. I've accepted the fact that my Sunday may not come until I'm in the arms of Jesus. I don't think I'm giving up I'm just accepting how it is and how it will probably always be.

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