Snuggled up on a cool Sunday afternoon during naptime and came to the end of this beautiful book. Some books become like good friends that are hard to say goodbye to. Hope Heals is just such a book. Written by a husband wife team – Jay and Katherine Wolf – one of my favorite parts of the story is that they tag team their story. Each picks up where the other has left off, but tells their portions of the story from their own perspective. Never once did I feel like they were “speaking for” their spouse and I was simply amazed at how the story unfolded. It’s been a while since I read a non-fiction, memoir type book that read like fiction. But these two storytellers not only had me riveted to the story but also hanging on every word. I was so impressed by the caliber of writing. While I found Katherine’s voice refreshing and interesting I was particularly struck by Jay’s words throughout the story. They are truly talented writers and their vulnerability and authenticity is totally refreshing. I cried, laughed aloud, and literally couldn’t put it down. Carrying my book everywhere is sort of a “trait” of mine, but with this book I literally felt like it was an additional appendage. Stay tuned for more tips on how to become an avid reader, that includes this inside scoop of “carrying your book with you.”
This story is one of hope, as the title suggests, but it includes all the struggle, hurt, hardship and recurring tragedy they faced after Katherine experiences a life-changing, almost life-ending stroke. So as not to spoil the story I will just say that not only did the story speak to their own hardship but it also relays the story of tragedy that many face in daily life. Some of my favorite portions of the book come near they end when they are finally at a point where they can look back and see part of the “purpose” behind their story. That being said this story does not have an normal “arc” it’s just more true to life then a typical beginning, middle, and end.
What I found most beautiful about the story was that they learned that hope is the best kind of dangerous. They Wolf’s found that hope is what brought healing but it is also a dangerous way to find your hopes up, your hopes dashed, and a genuine hope for God’s best in your life realized. I loved the portion of the book at the end that explore the Scripture that was foundational to their experience. One that was not highlighted at the end but was integral to the story and the book’s theme was Hebrews 6:19 and I will never read it the same again. “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” The Wolf’s chose to anchor their hope in Jesus it was not rooted in their own human hopes for this life, but instead they hoped with eternity in mind.
Jay’s love for his wife, Katherine’s determination, and their commitment to each other and their faith is inspiring and incredibly motivating. The true beauty in this book is that this couple did not wait until the “end of their story” or until things were better to reflect on what they were learning and experience. They learned as they went and as they grew their story was able to blossom and develop even in the face of further setback. When they share that… “if hope is only rooted in an outcome, then your expectations will crush you. This season of unrest began to spark a firestorm of questioning, and we found ourselves redefining many things in every area of our lives. What was our truest home? What was our truest hope?” You know they are living it. Their hope was not rooted in an outcome but instead in Him. Nearing the last quarter of the book Jay really begins to dive into how this tragedy has impacted their marriage and boy was I challenged. He explains how serving Katherine changed him. Jay says, “I found that acting in love inevitably provoked true feelings of love, and the reverse was no less true.” What I found so uniquely special about their story is how God provided for them, how they seized every moment and truly accepted God’s provision – His help. The Wolf’s have an incredible ministry and have walked through each and every open door as they have faced believing that their story will bring hope and healing to others. I truly hope you pick up this story. Share it. The Wolf’s are people to watch, and to learn from and I am so grateful for all who helped them tell their story in Hope Heals.
** It was a profound experience to read the pages of Katherine and Jay’s story as I held my own 5 month old Corban Hawk and he smiled up at me. Katherine and Jay had a little boy, James; who was just 6 months old when Katherine fell to the floor from a stroke that should have taken her life. **
“Hope Heals: A True Story of Overwhelming Loss and an Overcoming Love”
By: Katherine and Jay Wolf
When all seems lost, where can hope be found?
Katherine and Jay married right after college and sought adventure far from home in Los Angeles, CA. As they pursued their dreams, they planted their lives in the city and in their church community. Their son, James, came along unexpectedly in the fall of 2007, and just 6 months later, everything changed in a moment for this young family.
On April 21, 2008, as James slept in the other room, Katherine collapsed, suffering a massive brain stem stroke without warning. Miraculously, Jay came home in time and called for help. Katherine was immediately rushed into micro-brain surgery, though her chance of survival was slim. As the sun rose the next morning, the surgeon proclaimed that Katherine had survived the removal of part of her brain, though her future recovery was completely uncertain. Yet in that moment, there was a spark of hope. Through 40 days on life support in the ICU and nearly 2 years in full-time brain rehab, that spark of hope was fanned into flame.
Defying every prognosis, with grit and grace, Katherine and Jay, side by side, struggled to regain a life for Katherine as she re-learned to talk and eat and walk. Returning home with a severely disabled body but a completely renewed purpose, they committed to celebrate this gift of a second chanceby embracing life fully, even though that life looked very different than they could have ever imagined. In the midst of continuing hardships and struggles, both in body and mind, Katherine and Jay found what we all long to find…hope, hope that heals the most broken place, our souls.
An excruciating yet beautiful road to recovery has led the Wolf family to their new normal, in which almost every moment of life is marked with the scars of that fateful April day in 2008. Now, eight years later, Katherine and Jay are stewarding their story of suffering, restoration, and Christ-centered hope in this broken world through their ministry Hope Heals.
***I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.***