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« Psalm 23 (Toben) | Main | Life in CO Springs by Emma »


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Susan in Zurich

I don't have any insight or personal experiences to share - in fact I was sitting here for a second thinking "I'm not qualified to comment at all" - but then I changed my mind.

The verse ran through my head, quickly, as I was deciding to comment or not, about Walking by faith and not by sight. (2 Cor. 5:7) - as I looked it up quickly, it's in the context of our earthly bodies and what awaits us in heaven, if I'm taking it in correctly.

My gut tells me that we belong to an Awesome God who can do anything. Who will help you put one foot in front of the other as you continue to walk this path, and continue to care for your family.

Who will strengthen you as you deal with the daily realities, and who is also your glory and the lifter of your head.

Thank you for being real here on this blog, and I'm glad I saw this post in my Reader. It's good to be reminded to pray for you all, as I don't know you in real life, these issues have slipped from my prayers. Lifting you up now.

Bobbie Lutz

I don't feel you will ever really under estimate God's power or the power of prayer. Joanne, and now you both, have touched so many lives across this country and possibly the world that MANY are praying for her. We're also praying for you, the girls and your parents...for strength and courage as you travel this journey. You're an amazing family and I truly see God working through each one of you. Thank you for sharing your feelings, I think I can understand a little of where you are thinking.


Your wife is with you as she is. That is your gift. That was the prayer you prayed and it was answered.You cried out to God to save her. He did.


Dear, dear Toben & Joanne, I'm with the PA!! These reality talks that physicians give do nothing good. How many times have you heard someone has a number of months/years to live because of their diagnosis and go on to live YEARS later??? I am a nurse who took care of my husband after a horrific car accident over 30 years ago. They coded and trached him in the ambulance. He had terrible head injuries and catastrophic orthopedic injuries. The doctors said not to expect him to live through the day. He had neuro surgery that day and was in a coma for three weeks. "They" said to not expect him to come out of the coma. He did. He spent several months in the hospital. He didn't walk for 10 months. "They" told him to plan for long term care, that he would never function independently. His parents refused such "reality". They pushed him and pushed some more. Hours, months, years of therapy. The story is a long one, and recovery took years, but all is has left to show for it is a limp, a trach scar and if he ever goes bald, some burr holes from his surgery. I was part of a group of nurses my pastor asked to special duty him when he moved out of ICU. I fell in love with his family! And years later, I fell in love with him! Toben, you remind me of Doug's family.

I don't know at what point Joanne will recover. But I do know that those of us who know the Lord have hope that those who are lost don't. You need to cling to that hope (grounded in the Lord and not man) and you need encouragement. Stay on the path you are on!! Don't get confused with the facts. Look to the Great Physician for your answers.

There is so much to be learned by your situation. I hope you and Joanne will consider writing a book when the time is right. I love your blog posts! I love your servant's heart! The Lord is using your story in mighty ways that we cannot begin to understand.

Stay Strong! Keep the Faith! Hold onto Hope!


If it helps, my mom was born with visual problems, and the doctors told her she would be completely blind by 16. She's now 63 and continues reading. She has to use glasses and a magnifying glass, by she loves to read. In fact, her job was editing documents for the government, and she was probably the best one there.

I'm not promising full-fledged healing, but don't let Joanne give up. She can do better than the doctors are predicting. They probably don't see the same progress that the PAs see since doctors are trained to look for everything that's wrong.

Chinese proverb I just saw two seconds after reading your blog:

Try to save the dead horse as if it is still alive. (Nothing is impossible)… 死马当活马医


With God, things are so often not what we see. They are so much deeper. So much bigger. Soaring with Eagles wings may come whispering in slowly until you wake up one day and realize that...your earthly circumstance has not changed. But something deep within your being has, because of God. (That's what happened to me) Or, God may heal Jonne right here on this earth.

I don't mind that doctors give predictions and estimations. They are doing so using the best information they have before them - and they aren't God. They are limited to earthly limitations, some of which include lousy bedside manner! :) So, statistics indicate an 18 month window. That does not need to stop you from working and praying and loving towards continued improvement and it doesn't really prove the doctors were wrong in their statistics if you experience miraculous healing. Because they aren't prophesying. They are just predicting. Praise God, he is bigger than any earthly prediction!


Dearest Toben and JoAnne,
We have a big God who loves us immensely. I believe we need to take everything into consideration, but with that remember God is full of surprises. The journey is one of drawing to Him and allowing Him to use you. I believe anything is possible with God. (Luke chap 2) Share your heart with Him, allow Him to comfort and love you both and don't give up. It may be a long time before you see...but we walk by faith, not sight and He loves you both. He has you on an adventure that is hard, but think of how far he has brought you both. Hang in there with Him and know whatever this journey brings, it is His plan and you are his. I continue to pray for you both and think what a wonderful blessing you are for being so real and sharing with your readers. I think it is amazing how far you have walked together with God. Praise God he can do mighty things and He doesn't listen to predictions.

Mo Stroke

Here is my take.

As a psychology research assistant in college 8 years ago, I learned very quickly that the brain is an amazing organ we're just starting to learn about. And that was 8 years ago. It seems like they're making vast discoveries even quicker now and I wouldn't be surprised if they really start zeroing in on how to repair damaged brain tissue. This seemed impossible ten years ago.

When my mom had her stroke in February, most of the doctors wouldn't even talk to us about the prospect of recovery. The nurses explained this was because no one knew how or why my mom's heart was still beating. She lost half her brain. Now, she not only talks and remembers people and places and who she is, but also her personality is returning and she can handle rehab for several hours a day.

In short, I don't think anyone can know what to expect in stroke recovery. But I have The Hope. Stroke survivors are beating the odds all over the place and innovation is really happening.

Hang in there.

Marena Sheffield

Oh how this post touched my heart. As I've said before I am a stroke survivor. My stroke was almost 20 yrs ago. At that time the "window" was 12 months!! (Already are you seeing how things change with time!)
I still remember eating at a fast food resturant and meeting someone who knew me through a friend. He said not to believe the doctor's negative views of where I'd be after the first year. I held onto the fact that he, too, was a stroke survivor who said that he was continuing to achieve things.
In my twenty years I, too, have achieved many things (I'm not saying I still don't have things that haven't improved, just that I have many things that have improved). I have done many things that the doctors (and to be honest many others) thought I could never do. I don't know what God has in store for you (or me), but I do know that I vote for hope, faith, and love.
Marena Sheffield

Michelle from Australia

My daughter is one of two known cases in the world with her chromosomal deletion. When she was diagnosed at 20 months, I asked would she walk. We were told 'hopefully'.

She has weekly speech therapy, occupational therapy and attends a special school.

We keep up her therapies and her home programs and she recently wrote her name COMPLETELY UNASSISTED. We were told that would never happen.

She skiied at Lake Tahoe last December. It was probably the slowest skiing ever but she stood, she balanced and she moved.

She climbs monkey bars like...a monkey :) I took a video of her doing just that on her 8th birthday and sent it to her geneticist. I told him that this was the girl that would 'hopefully' walk. And if he saw other families whose children may 'hopefully' be mobile, please show them what God, and therapy and a ridiculously stubborn family can achieve.

Yes, she'll never be an athlete or a calligrapher or a Rhodes scholar. But she walks, she talks, she loves life and she is a true example of what can be done when you have no one to tell you what her prognosis and abilities will be.

Never give up, never give in and although it is not easy, you are all doing great. God Bless!

Jane in Petaluma

Remember that doctors live in a world of defined by statistics--as they should! Statistics are an amazing tool that has allowed amazing, awe inspiring advances in medicine, but statistics are always, *always* simplifications. Human biology is fantastically complicated, and no individual human will *ever* fit exactly into a statistic. There is absolutely every reason to keep working hard for a better outcome, and no reason to think that it's impossible! It's terribly unfair that the after time has passed it is much harder to gain function back--but all the more reason to not give up!

One last thing--medical statistics are always more pessimistic than the current reality. We live in an amazing time where modern medicine is advancing so quickly that by the time that outcome statistics are peer reviewed and published, the current state of medicine has already advanced!

Shannon O

Hi Toben,
In some ways, I think this is the same situation as someone dealing with terminal cancer. They know that God can completely heal them, but will that healing be on earth or in heaven. Sometimes we think that accepting our current situation is succumbing to a lack of faith, but I don't agree.

I have a rare neurological disorder, and I know that God can heal me at any moment, yet I also know that He may choose to use my disorder to humble me and teach me. He can bring good out of everything. Our society wants us to believe that if we follow His will, then we will get what we want. But that isn't Scriptural. I think it is OK to mourn our losses and then move forward knowing that God can completely heal Joanne at any moment. But at least you will be able to accept things as they are, and all progress can be truly rejoiced instead of always wanting more.

I hope this makes sense. I love reading about your family. Joanne is a remarkable woman. Sometimes I get so frustrated and angry over the things that I can't do instead of being thankful for all of the things that I still can. I can only imagine how much more difficult it is for Joanne since I only deal with the loss of my voice. I do know that my attitude is different when I write in my thankfulness journal.

Many prayers and love to you all,



I say eagles wings, NOT gravity! Whenever Joanne comes to my mind, I pray for complete healing. I pray she is healed and that God gets all the glory!


In 2012 I sat with a woman whose son had been in a coma for more than a month as the doctors told her the boy had suffered catastrophic and irreversible brain damage and that it was time to make a decision to remove him from life support and whether or not she wished to donate her son's organs. She was to give them her decision on Monday morning- but Monday morning her son woke up, smiled, gave her the thumbs up and by Wednesday was sitting up in bed and eating soft foods. He's now mainstreamed in his normal 7th grade class, learning to play guitar and taking karate lessons.

I'm reminded of the story in Daniel 3 where Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego tell King Nebuchadnezzar "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not..."

Interesting, eh? "Our God CAN... AND HE WILL... but even if he does not..."

There's that balance between wings and gravity. He can. He will. But even if he does not...

I have no "Answers"- but I know the One who does. He Can. He Will. But even if he does not...

All the mysteries of the ages are wrapped up in those three phrases.

Ruthy ;o)

Precious Toben
I read your blog and thought you are going to get a hundred and one replys n you will be confused even more x

So my advice go to Father God ask Him settle it in your heart and run with it x

Let Him guide you each day and show you the way.

Blessings to you all we have a GREAT BIG GOD who cares and loves each of you xx xx


About the easiest way to answer your question is to ask you another question: Whose report will you believe? Man's or God's? He is the Alpha and the Omega. He has the first word and He has the last word. It's your choice.

Dan and Terri

Totally loving this post and all the comments. We appreciate the way Toben and Joanne have touched the world, and hearing the comments and encouragement from around the world.


I can so relate to this! One of the most emotionally difficult aspects of my recovery was learning to accept when my improvement had ended. I had so many well-meaning people say they believed God would give me a full recovery. But He didn't. It was hard on my faith to accept that He wasn't going to answer my prayer that way. It was so disheartening to have people tell me that if I just had faith, He would restore my writing career, but that just made me feel like I didn't have enough faith because He wasn't healing me. I found a lot of freedom once I accepted that I had come as far as I would. Once I had stop questioning and petitioning God for healing, I was able to enjoy the good days, and accept the bad days much easier. Maybe God will miraculously heal me someday, but I'm no longer actively hoping for it and my life is richer for it.


I believed God could and would heal my husband when he was diagnoised w/ brain cancer. God did heal him, 100%, but not this side of heaven. I do not know what the Lord has in store for you, but I can tell you this, God is using this circumstance to make you more like Him. Blessings from Wisconsin


Drs. are just educated men that think they know everything. G-d is everything!!!

If you listen to their words that is all you will have.

If you will believe in the L-rd : D There is no limit to the miracles you will see.

How do I know. I am alive when they said I would die.
I am the mother of 6 children that I birthed after they said I MUST have surgery to live but that would make me barren. And I am still walking although they said another time I would be in a wheelchair within 10 years almost 40 years ago. These are only 3 miracles of many. NOTHING is to difficult for G-d but you must pray BELIEVING≠.


West coast liberal, though spiritual, here. I imagine the wings you are seeking will be known to you some years down the road. Joanne's body is here, bound by gravity but that does not mean that down the road something will click and you will see and feel the wings. But at the moment you are in a dark place. I have studied mystics of the Chrstian tradition and perhaps you need to sit down with God, put God in the chair in front of you, and tell him just how *%#$& angry you are. Blast him - he can hold you and your anger. You may need to do this more than once. Or 10 times. But he is better at holding your anger than you are. Perhaps giving him your anger will give you your wings. Maybe when you are done will yelling at God (and I really mean yelling) perhaps he can take some of your sadness as well. It's a long slow journey you are on. One step at a time. Take care.

Christie Ulrich

I know it's hard to not believe the bad reports, but the bible says the just shall live by faith. There are alot of opinions about sickness but I feel like God's word is plain about who and where it comes from. The word says the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy but I have come that you might have life. We must believe His promises are true... for us! We must fight the good fight of faith. That means when the bad report comes we have to choose to cast those thoughts down and speak the word instead. It is a battle to stay in faith especially when you can't see improvements like you should. The book of James teaches there is no storm the word and my tongue can't turn. Life and death are in the power of my tongue. Let the weak SAY I am strong!!! You have to speak to your mountain and tell it about your God instead of telling God about your mountain. Also when he's teaching the disciples to pray he tells them to pray his will be done on earth as it is in heaven so he wants us to believe that if we can have healing up there we can have it here! Please be encouraged that we are standing in faith with you both and I know God is doing something miraculous!!!Your story is already amazing and I know He has more in store for your family. Nothing is impossible!!

Micah Leavins

I can tell u what I know. I had an auto accident when I was 16. I had severe head injuries. The doctors told me parents I would never live. My parents called on people to pray for me. There were probably hundreds if not thousands of people praying for me. I stayed in a comma a day and the doctors said I'd never come out. When I woke up from the comma the drs said if I made it I'd be a bed ridden vegetable. When I started trying roger uppity of bed the drs then said I'd be like baby and would have to be retaught everything. All this happened close to the end of my junior year of HS. After the summer I started back to schooling my senior year with my classmates and graduated that year just like normal. I said all this to say drs do not have the final say GOD DOES.

Micah Leavins

I should have proof read that before I posted it. I see the auto correct messed up a sentence or two but I think u can get the gist of what I'm saying. I forgot to tell you that I'm now 43 years old.


I only have two small (but immensely powerful) words for you and for Joanne. "But God...."

I am praying for all four of you.

Lois M.

Michelle M

The view from the window where I work occasionally has eagles flying around. You know what, eagles land. They do soar, and they are amazing animals, but even they have to come down to hunt, eat, and raise young.

Catch the first part, those who renew thier strength. He knows we get tired, frustrated, and broken down at times. We don't have hope and strength all the time. We wear out. It takes something different for each of us to find hope and have our strength renewed. Your's might be a walk, a comment from a PA, a smile from a neighbor, a giggle from your kids. It is those moments, when our strength is renewed, that we feel like we're soaring. Everything is below, we're on top of it all, and we are getting the big picture.

Take heart Toben, when you wrote this you were on the ground... hunting, eating, raising young, taking care of business... and sometimes you will be full of hope that will give you strength to soar.

Joanne Kennedy

It's been 5 years since my brother had his major stroke. It seemed for awhile there was no improvement and the Drs also told him not to expect much more in the way of him getting his "normal" life back.

Well this year, he has seen a lot of improvement! It was almost as if he had given up for awhile because of what the Dr. told him. Once he got it in his mind that he wasn't happy with that and he knew he could get better, maybe not back to the way he was but surely better then he was, he started to show improvement.

After his stroke he seemed to have lost some of his joy and didn't laugh like he used to. Now that is back. After his stoke he didn't like being around a group of people because he felt "lost" in the group. He had trouble talking to more then one person at a time and got upset if he was talking and someone cut in. Now he back to joining in with the crowd of talking people.

He is walking a little better but the thing that makes me smile the most is when I hear him laughing and joking like he used. I had really missed that.

So don't listen to the Dr. Don't let her ever give up. You never know what God has planned.


If you have unrealistic expectations, then you face disappointment and despair every day. Who can survive on that? I think doctors believe that helping patients accept the "likely outcome" improves their life somehow, and I get that, a little.
However, stay strong and remember MIRACLES HAPPEN EVERYDAY. They do! PERIOD.

Sending much love and prayers your way. I'm gonna stay tuned in for your miracles!


When you sit down and read (study) all the stories of healing in the New Testament your life and your prayers will be irrevocably changed. According to commentary I'm reading now (Dr. Constable's notes--7000 pages of expository commentary--you can easily find these notes online), Jesus ministered to 3 million people before ascending to Heaven. Not once is there any record of Jesus turning anyone away. There is no record of any one dying in Jesus' presence. There is no record of no one not being healed. Now, if Jesus is the same today, yesterday, and forever, how can it be that He is not a healer today?

I've known people healed of deafness, cancer, autism (which is cognitive in nature), just to name a few conditions. God heals today. The thing that tends to throw people is the fact that healing today is usually progressive rather than instant. So, people who do try to pray tend to give up way too early and easily. But we know from Scripture (Luke 18:1) that persistence in prayer is a big key.

Blessings to you. Glad you are starting to think about healing prayer. Is anything too hard for our God?

martha brady

i've worked in acute rehab. (from right out of the hospital until placement to home or nsg home or more chronic rehab. when it comes to brains, there are standard rules of thumb...and there are people who break those rules. listen to the doctor. this could be all you will get. you are wise to plan your life as if that is the way it will be.

BUT GOD might intervene more than He has already. He might grace you even more and over time there might be some impovement in joanne. that would be wonderful indeed.

but if it doesn't happen, will you do better if you plan on nothing improving? you might. if so, that might be the best course to take. joanne will still need the stimulation for sure. any improvement will be delightful. but if there isn't much improvement, you will have prepared yourself for that eventuality.

you will still be walking by day at a time...trusting GOD to give the grace you need to raise your daughters and love your wife. but you will be living wisely.

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