The Unforeseen and Unwelcome

Many of you may know that Holly’s sweet mama had a stroke on September 13th.

Judy is in the hospital recovering from a still-very-much-evolving situation. This news is not my news. It’s not for me to share except for the fact that I have walked a post-stroke journey with my own mom for the last 5 years. So the news about Judy isn’t mine to share but it is familiar territory, unfortunately. Holly has given me permission to process this on the blog – and you can bet that very soon she’ll be adding lots from her heart about this unforeseen and unwelcome road.

And Holly is (in her own words) “undone.” She cannot fathom the idea that Judy’s going through this, that Judy is, by no choice of her own, trying to figure out how to do some very basic things that just the morning of September 13th were easy to do – not requiring a second thought.


Lord we need your mercy.

That’s what I feel as I type with utter disbelief in this word document that Judy Bonnell had a stroke. 


Lord, Judy needs your mercy.

How will you offer it?

And from those thoughts, my senses are jolted into a hyper awareness of what must be happening at the hospital right now. I just picture how the doctors and nurses and therapists and pathologists and CT techs are in organized, active buzz-mode trying to

inform, not promise

encourage yet not lend too much hope

educate while setting accurate, measured expectations.

in the unforeseen and unwelcome context.

What a complex web of data and emotions mixed with shock and grief must be wafting around Judy’s room and the hallways of that place. I just can’t take my mind off of it.

In the most absurd and weird way, hospitals are holy places – shepherding  us all through the unwelcome and unforeseen with some information and a plan.

Holy, Holy, Holy… Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee. Holy, Holy, Holy. Merciful and mighty.

And even as the hospital staff mobilize to bring about healing for Judy’s brain and body, I find myself in the same place as I was almost 4 years ago now when Dave, Holly’s husband died. As her friend, as someone (among many!) who cherishes Holly and wants all the best things for her, what shall we do now? When to call? What to say? How to enter in? 


So many questions mixed with such a small dose of understanding.

I just cannot believe that things like this happen every day. I can’t believe that bodies fail and people hurt.

I just cannot even grasp this part of God’s story being written in Judy’s life.

This doesn’t happen to people who are so good and true and hard-working and kind and lovely in the world.


And so you can, by now, tell that this post is part lament, part prayer, part worship, and a lot of rambling clutter all mixed into a soup of confusion and pursuit of comfort.

What’s prompted in your heart when life takes an unforeseen, unwelcome turn? Do you want to make it all better with trite, concise answers? Do you want to put your head in your pillow and scream? Do you want to escape from the whole thing?

If you’re the type who prays (even once in a while), spend some concentrated time praying for Judy. Pray for her healing. Pray for Holly to feel continually grafted into the identity of hers that is most true; that she is Beloved. That when she listens to the voice of Jesus, she might also know more deeply the truth of who He is…who she is in Him particularly in this context of confusion, grief and heartache. 

And pray that for yourself, too. Blessings to those of you journeying through the unforeseen and unwelcome.


Holly’s Take:

This week has been nothing short of surreal. I haven’t even begun to unpack what has happened and what is happening. I feel like I have gone through a lifetime of emotions, yet felt very little, as minutes have ticked away at the hospital. I know bad things happen. I have not been spared from hard, so there was no reason to think this would turn out OK. The circumstances of Tuesday, September 13th, actually could not have gone a lot worse than they did starting at about 10:00 in the morning.  But at about 9:30 at night, one giant movement of my mom’s right arm set hope into this story. What has happened since then has consisted of swells of hopefulness, sleepless nights, another surgery, more wondering, more waiting, nervous stomachs everywhere, and absolute gratitude for life at post stroke day four (THERE IS NO WAY IT HAS JUST BEEN FOUR DAYS!!!!!!!).  My God! My God! My God IS! 

Megan’s Take:

Listening to Holly recount the events of this last week is truly jaw-dropping. I’m sure she will write about the emotional roller-coaster and the miracles she witnessed in her mom’s devastating stroke and beginning recovery, but from my perspective, this testimony continues to remind me that we serve a very big God! Of course, things could have turned out so very differently. If the outcome would have been bleak, we still would turn and praise our great God. We would have so many questions and tears of lament, but today, in this space God’s healing hand has left us all speechless. Or in Judy’s case — regaining, and full of speech! I continue to humbly pray and, hopefully, not take ANY day for granted. 

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