When I first met Katherine and Jay Wolf, they were impossibly hard not to like. Which was infuriating, because they seemed to have it all.
Young, stop-in-the-street beautiful, warm and funny, they sprung from solid Southern Christian families with a strong, foundational faith themselves. They married their college sweetheart, moved to LA to pursue law (him) and modeling/acting (her). And then on top of all that the Lord gave them the surprise cherry on the cake in the sweet form of baby James.
I can remember the day I first spotted them. Hugely pregnant with my second, I was sweatily teaching the Young Marrieds class at our church on an appallingly hot August Sunday morning when they walked in. Even among the beautiful young coupledom of LA, Jay and Katherine stood out like a cool, uncomplicated breeze of joy.
Dealing with whatever was on one’s own plate, it was easy to look at these carefree two and think, “Well how easy is it for them to be happy?? They have everything! What have they ever really suffered?”
And then, almost two years later in April 2008, I got an email prayer request saying that Katherine, at age 26, had suffered a massive brain stem stroke and was not expected to live. Jay was only days away from sitting the California bar exam and their baby James was just six months old.
“WHAT?” It was like getting a hard, head-numbing slap. I can still see where I was sitting at my father’s desk in England with a cold Spring light coming through the window. “What??” I repeated to myself. “This kind of thing doesn’t happen to someone like Katherine! She’s the fairytale, this isn’t right! This is not the way their story should go.” And I prayed.
Miraculous is a term that (ironically) can be overused. However Katherine’s survival has been nothing short of a divine miracle. And her ongoing survival has come at immense cost, not only to her but also to Jay and little James. It has at times been almost too hard to believe.
If crucifixion is the ultimate test of character, then over the past eight years Katherine and Jay have proved over and over again that they are both, indeed, the real deal. What has come out of their crushing has not been bitterness, but the aroma of Christ. When you spend time with them they are full of humor, and honesty, and their love of life.
The many vertiginous twists and turns, ups and downs of their journey thus far they have now written down in a book entitled, HOPE HEALS.
Even though Jay and Katherine have material in spades about suffering, their story is the polar opposite of a ‘Misery Memoir’. And what makes their book so uplifting is their candor. Their generosity in sharing with the world what their journey has truly looked like from the inside: good, bad, ugly and astonishing.
HOWEVER, let me be clear. This is not a book of victory-flag-waving-at-the-summit-of-life-now-it’s-all-over.
HOPE HEALS is a book about what it means to believe in a loving God who has allowed you to fall into the very deepest trenches of life and expects you to keep going.
HOPE HEALS is about what it means to hope when hope may only now be found in the Giver of Hope Himself.
HOPE HEALS is about what it means to hold onto your marriage when it no longer looks anything like what you signed up for.
HOPE HEALS is about what it means to determinedly play out the hand you’ve been dealt and continue to lift it all up for God’s glory. When you haven’t the strength even to lift your own head.
HOPE HEALS is about… just that.
Katherine’s journey continues. The Wolfs’ lives were forever changed by the stroke. And while one can never be thankful for such horrendous suffering, I am immensely grateful that they have chosen to share all that they have learned/are learning in the midst of it with the rest of us.
If you’re looking for a book to encourage, a story to uplift, a teaching to strengthen feeble knees (in every sense, in any circumstance) to keep going, you can buy their book here.
Buy it. And, as Katherine and Jay would say, HOPE IT FORWARD.