#HopeHealsBook Release Party + a very SPECIAL GUEST

YOU'RE INVITED TO THIS DIGITAL VERSION OF OUR BOOK RELEASE PARTY! Watch the video to hear us read two HOPE HEALS book excerpts and see an interview with a VERY SPECIAL GUEST! 

Thanks to Matt McCartie (for the video) and Katie Gibbs (for the event photography below). {FUN FACT: our book cover was shot at the same venue where we threw this party...Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook}

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"Jay and Katherine Wolf have had our respect for years, but they have our hearts too. They’ll soon have yours. Hope Heals isn’t just a beautifully written book, it’s a duet by two people who love Jesus and love each other. It’s a book filled with a score of authentic high notes and painful low ones.This book isn’t just a moving story, it’s a song sung by two humble people and what they have learned about love when the cadence of their lives unexpectedly changed." 

BOB & MARIA GOFF, Balloon inflaters and author of New York Times bestseller Love Does

 

#HopeHealsBook EXCERPT: the DAY that changed EVERYTHING

ER scans of AVM on April 21, 2008

ER scans of AVM on April 21, 2008

(photo taken by RYAN DOBSON)

(photo taken by RYAN DOBSON)

APRIL 21, 2008

(from "HOPE HEALS" BOOK)

KATHERINE:

I lay in bed at 4:00 a.m., unable to shake the sickening feeling. I had been up with James for a feeding an hour earlier and noticed then that something was off. I felt nauseous and spacy, and my head was pounding. My upper neck and shoulders were throbbing. Some of these feelings had been commonplace during my pregnancy, so I concluded that I needed to get my hands on a pregnancy test sometime the next day.
I tried to fall back to sleep despite the terrible nausea and an intense headache, knowing I had only a few hours until James would be awake and hungry again. The lack of sleep had deeply affected Jay and me in those first six months. Our marriage was in a tense season as we navigated life with a newborn. We still felt we were living in a bit of a dollhouse and should be able to turn off the crying switch on the baby doll’s back. Instead, we lived in a sleepless haze and wondered when we’d ever feel “normal” again.
I finally drifted off, only to wake up a couple hours later, feeling like I could have slept for at least another eight. Still, I looked forward to a rare “free” morning of doing my son’s endless laundry and cleaning up the apartment before heading out to the post office so I could get a bunch of thank-you notes in the mail. My grandmother and mother had instilled in me a thank-you-note-writing mentality, and as a true Southern belle, I could not enjoy the gift until the thank-you had been sent. At the three-week mark since Jay’s and my annual joint birthday party, it was beyond time to mail the notes. I knew the consum- mate, etiquette-following lady never went to bed after receiving a gift until the note was written and ready for mailing the fol- lowing morning. Yeah, right! Was this true once she had her babies? Did she somehow squeeze in note writing before 3:00 a.m. newborn feedings?!
After hitting the post office, we stopped at the grocery store, where I grabbed the ingredients for the meals I was plan- ning to make for two families who had new babies. Back at home, with my baby boy settled in for his morning nap, I took the pregnancy test and was relieved to see the negative sign. So what’s wrong with me? I wondered. Food poisoning? Some weird virus? Lack of rest?
I opened the First Baptist Montgomery cookbook to a lasa- gna recipe that was always a huge hit back home. For the next twenty minutes, I would be doubling ingredient quantities in my head and preparing sauce and browning ground beef. My nausea and headache were still there, but I had to push through those funky feelings and get the meals made. We had been the recipients of countless meals after James arrived, and I had seen how much it meant to us to not even have to think about prepar- ing dinner. But now all I could think about was getting off my feet and closing my (now stinging) eyes. The room began spin- ning and suddenly felt way too bright. I needed soothing, low-lit surroundings. I made my way to the couch a few feet away, sure that if I just got off my feet for a moment I’d feel better. But as I sat down, it was as if all the blood in my body rushed into my head. I felt like I was choking and couldn’t breathe.
“JAAAYY! COME IN HERE NOW! SOMETHING’S WRONG!”
I tried to stand, only to realize that my legs were numb. Everything in the room was now moving in a circle, but also coming in and out of focus and jumping from one place to another in my line of sight. Jay flew into the room and, frantic, screamed right in my face. All this noise is going to wake up James, I thought. Jay’s voice is so loud, and I need quiet.
I tried to dismiss the thought that what was happening to me was anything serious. What a drama queen I am, I thought. Why do I always make a scene? What will the neighbors think? This is so embarrassing.
Then I heard Jay yelling into the phone...

JAY:

As the hours passed, the crowd in vigil for Katherine grew and grew until nearly a hundred souls gathered in that hospi- tal waiting room. There were tears and hushed whispers, but there were also bursts of laughter and aromas of pizza and quiet singing. That underwhelming space, with its chipped paint and stained rug and cracked armrests, began to metamorphose into something altogether different. In the gathering and in the praying and in the breaking of bread (or crust, as it were), the common elements were transubstantiated into a holy experience, as holy as any ancient cathedral or Communion because they were offered, not in the absence of suffering, but right in the midst of it.
The sun set, and the crowd flowed outside to the attached courtyard for some fresh air and prayer together. I lingered inside for a moment, gripping a battered crimson Gideon’s Bible as if my life depended on it. Having grown up in a large church, I was accustomed to engaging a crowd for an extended period of time, but it was taking a toll on my natural introvert tendencies. Nonetheless, it was a wonderful distraction from the clock, which seemed to move so slowly that I actually thought it might have been broken. The surgery was scheduled to last eight hours, and the time could not pass quickly enough. If I stopped talking or moving too long, my mind instantly tortured me with a horrifying slideshow of the bloody scene unfolding in the operating room a few floors below. As our thoughts tend to do, mine refused to be tamed unless I distracted myself or until I finally remembered to pray those thoughts away.
I unconsciously flipped through the pages of that dog-eared Bible, wondering whose tears had fallen on its pages, whose hands had held it looking for comfort and answers. My eyes landed on the book of Romans, and I turned to the eighth chapter, Katherine’s favorite. According to family lore, when Amie was young, she was required to memorize some verses from Romans 8. Not to be outdone by her little sister, Katherine, the perpetual firstborn, took it upon herself to memorize the whole chapter.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
As I read the words, a strange conflict torqued my insides. I had never read this passage in a context like my present experience—one of real suffering, one that seemed devoid of anything good.
“And we know in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
The brokenness of that moment, of all the broken moments of creation, tremored down my spine, opening my eyes, as if for the first time, to the reality of this world. How, God, could this be true? How could there be any good in this thing?
Looking up from the pages, I glanced through the waiting room window to the patio filled with my people, circled up, hands linked, praying. Earlier that day, word of Katherine’s stroke spread like wildfire on social media and through emails and telephone chains. We would later learn that people all over the world were praying for Katherine, some unexplainably roused from sleep in the middle of the night, prompted to pray again while her surgery continued. Could there be a more comforting thought than knowing you are being prayed for when your own prayers have been stretched to their breaking point?
I joined the group outside, the California night pleasantly cool, the tall evergreens silhouetted against the bright moon and stars. We were all praying—pleading with God, comforted by the sureness of His grace, and wincing at the thought of Katherine’s pain. As that time came to a close, I stood in front of the group and thanked them for their presence, assuring them that I felt anything but alone. I opened that well-used Bible and began reading the whole chapter of Romans 8. As the passage climaxed at the thirty-eighth verse, my voice faltered. My throat seized up so hard that I could barely even swallow. Hot tears filled my eyes and splashed down on the page below. I knew I could either obligatorily just read these words, or I could actually try to believe them, believe them so fervently as to stake everything on them—my life and Katherine’s too. My voice returned, and I read these words with a new sense of peace.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all crea- tion, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
In that moment, I released Katherine from my feeble grip and into God’s.
I knew that,though Katherine may well lose her life, she would never lose the indomitable goodness and inexplicable love of God. And neither would I. 

 

" Jesus himself said, 'In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.'  This overcoming spirit Jesus offers is personified beautifully, honestly and powerfully by Katherine and Jay Wolf in their book, Hope Heals. It's altogether gritty, gutsy and glorious, and it will breathe the wind of hope into your darkest days."

LOUIE GIGLIO, Pastor of Passion City Church,  founder of Passion Conferences, and author of The Comeback

 

Building a Marriage that Weathers Storms with Grace

"Before even moving to LA, the question posed at our wedding echoed in our heads: “What will be your foundation?” We were drawn to the adventure of a new place, the opportunity to engage new people and a new culture, and the possibility of realizing some long-held dreams, but we knew no one who lived in LA. We were each other’s sole support system. We knew we would need something besides just one another to build a strong faith in our adult life."

- Katherine Wolf, from HOPE HEALS

When Katherine and Jay got married, Jay’s dad officiated at their ceremony and encouraged them to lay a foundation on a rock that would endure—because the storms of life come to everyone. “We think the Lord knew we needed to have that truth planted deep in our souls. At twenty-two, we were both bright-eyed in love and perhaps a little naïve…,” writes Jay from Hope Heals.

Almost ten years ago, my college roommate went home for the weekend and encountered quite a surprise. His family lived perched atop an exclusive neighborhood in what can only be described as the pinnacle of Southern California living. Their magnificent home boasted every amenity human creativity can concoct, but there was a deep problem. Very deep.

In 1997, Southern California experienced one of the most severe series of downpours in recorded history. Foot after foot of rain saturated the ground. Unbeknownst to the family, their home had been built on two different types of soil- bonafide, been-here-forever mountainside and also scraped-together, packed-down, ‘at’ll do’ imitation mountainside. For years no one knew a difference existed. But several months of torrential rains made it more than clear. Their home broke and split apart with an eighteen-inch gap down the middle.

Homes, like families, friendships, and marriages, face extreme challenges. Weather sometimes changes dramatically. Sunny days turn into soggy seasons. Foundations that work perfectly well when life is warm and breezes are gentle show their frailty when clouds roll in. People rarely examine the foundations of their relationships, but perhaps we would be wiser if we did.

@@When everything else is stripped away, what are you standing on?@@

As a kid, I never saw the foundation of my home because it was hidden underneath carpets, flooring, wood, and dirt. And I had no interest in it because it worked. Had my house broken in half, I suddenly would’ve become very interested!

Our lives often build up layers upon various foundations. Life may be peaceful because of a nice boss, trustworthy car, pleasant home, or handy escapes like media or travel. When we feel a jolt in life, we look to the things that brought us pleasure or security and hope life’s shaking calms down. But we quickly see that these things, even when good, are not enduring.

Almost 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ revealed that our lives not only undergo storms but also God's evaluation of what endures - all that is solid, loving and righteous. As we are reassured that God's word endures forever, Jesus explains the sobering difference between a life that endures and a life that won’t.

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practiceis like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.MATTHEW 7:24-27

In light of this reality, ask some diagnostic questions to see what you really trust for support in life - what you believe is solid and eternal.

1) Do you trust your education, appearance, humor, or experience when life gets tumultuous?

2) Do you expect that friends, family, coworkers, or colleagues will carry you through when a rainy season erupts?

3) Do you find it possible to entrust your life to God, knowing that despite what you can see, he has a plan?

4) Does your life reveal that you not only hear God's word but do it?

Have you seen foundations tested in the lives of others?

It’s great if your foundation appears to be working for you now, but you can only personally test it as far as your life has been tested. A smarter course is to build upon a foundation that has been tested in the lives of many others. As you take that route, you can believe that your foundation will hold when it comes up against trials you haven’t yet seen.

The Wolfs invite you into their story so you can examine the foundations they laid their tragedy upon. Walking with them through the pain, you discover how the soil of faith in God, trusting the Bible as his truth, and committing to the church as their ‘family’ gave them strength each day.

They grounded their life on a commitment to Jesus Christ and doing what He says - trusting, loving, laying down their self-centeredness. But this commitment was woven into a web with others who shared their faith. It was this faith community that became the support and scaffolding that allowed them to rebuild in the midst of the storm. They all shared a commitment to sacrificial love that ensured a unified, unspoken understanding of what could be expected in this ‘family’.

When you’re able to see how well faith in Jesus as the foundation holds people up through their storms, it makes “faith” much less of a “blind leap.” Instead, it begins to appear like a “safe bet”and an ongoing practice.

In your deepest relationships, Do you share the same foundation?

My roommate’s family experienced its catastrophe because the home was built on conflicting foundations. One was old, tried and true, secure. The other was new, inexperienced, and assumed. Sometimes spouses discover a deep rift in their relationship because they’re basing their lives on different perspectives that take on greater significance over time. Friends drift apart when competing visions of “what’s best” get the upper hand. Entire communities can dissolve when different factions envision their future in conflicting ways.

If you’re in a close relationship, spend time talking about your “foundations”. Discern whether you appear to be standing upon the same things. Many people think that the externals and the facades of a relationship matter most. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The hidden foundation provides the primary strength enabling a relationship to endure life’s storms and God's assessment.

What same things do you stand on? How does your relationship follow Christ’s pattern of love and righteousness? 


 

As I read this book, tears streamed from my eyes even as joy flooded my heart. Jay and Katherine are a raw yet refreshing testimony to the unshakable trustworthiness of God amidst the unimaginable trials of life. This book reminds all of us where hope can be found in a world where none of us knows what the next day holds.DAVID PLATT, Author of NYT bestseller Radical and president of the International Mission Board

 

#HopeHealsBook EXCERPT: the HOLY WEEK that changed everything for us...

{FROM JAY} I turned 30 on Palm Sunday during a trip to Rome--the first big trip we had taken after Katherine's stroke. And on that day, we experienced a picture of heaven that forever changed how we view this life God has given us...

In celebration of our joint thirtieth birthdays, we decided to go to Italy (oh, and because we had a free place to stay). There was great excitement in the planning, and we cobbled together credit card points for the flights—one benefit of having a large amount of medical bills—and researched rental cars that could fit a wheelchair in the back. I wasn’t about to try to drive a stick shift on the one-way cobblestone alleys of the ancient Umbrian city of Amelia where we would be staying, but the only available automatic transmission car was so small it looked like a team of clowns might come honking out at any moment. I planned to pack ten days’ worth of clothes for both of us in one carry-on bag, as it was all that would fit in the back of our Lilliputian car if we brought a wheelchair. Clearly, this wasn’t going to be travel as we had always known it, but we were compelled to see new places and people, history embodied in stone, and culture manifest in music and markets, and we couldn’t wait to engage it all through new eyes.
We took the trip in the spring of 2012, and I had a moment of panic on the flight that—unlike every previous trip with my “pack it all in” family—Katherine and I had not really planned anything to do while in Italy. It had taken all of our attention just to plan the travel logistics. Yet there was a releasing of expectation in that moment and a relishing of precious margin and much-needed rest that we rarely gave ourselves.
Our arrival felt like we were living in Roman Holiday, except in a wheelchair and clown car. Nonetheless, we soaked in the sights of the gorgeous ancient hills and the quaint but terrifying alleys that I was supposed to drive through in the nearly thousand-year-old city. Thankfully, the only casualties were a few broken wheelchair spokes from pushing along the uneven stone streets of Rome, but even getting on the subway required me to help Katherine down the steep stairs with one hand while holding her folded wheelchair in my other hand. I guess accessibility for those with disabilities was not at the forefront of the Italians’ consciousness—too much “la dolce vita” going on, I guess—but we made it work.
We got lost in the rolling countryside visiting local agriturismos—inns where the most amazing meals, farmed on the land, were matter-of-factly laid out on tables under pergolas covered in ancient, twisting vines, teeming with flowers over-looking lush green valleys. It was heaven. And without guilt, we spent a good amount of time in the apartment friends had offered to us, a seven-hundred-year-old structure that was once part of the church next door. Katherine sat by the wood-burning stone fireplace while I cooked food from the local market, and we talked for hours, threw log after log on the fire, napped, and cooked some more.

@@In the kingdom of God, the last are first, the weak are empowered, the invisible are seen.@@

I turned thirty on Palm Sunday, and we attended the service at the Vatican. We had naturally arrived a bit late—on “wheel-chair time,” as we’d come to know it. We were strangely but warmly engaged by a series of pantalooned Vatican guards and then nun after nun, who pointed us to a path through the crowd of the thousands who had arrived earlier. As we wound our way to some unknown destination, quite certain we’d be arrested for accidentally stumbling into the pope’s private quarters, we turned a final corner and saw that the path on which we had been directed led to the very front row, with only steps between us and the podium from which the pope would give the morning’s message. It was jaw-dropping to be so close, but even more so to see that the entire front row was comprised of wheelchairs. We took our place in the line with “our people,” and we both began to weep at the beauty of this picture. The trip had been so life-giving, but it had also been stressful and challenging to navigate, especially with the wheelchair. Yet now we were reminded that in the kingdom of God, there was a paradoxical experience of the last being first, the weak being empowered, the invisible being seen. And it was one of the most stunning pictures we had ever witnessed, like a curtain being pulled back for a moment to offer a glimpse of a different world—a world that awaited us—and it was glorious.
~ Jay Wolf, from HOPE HEALS

 

"Hope Heals is a beautiful true story that illustrates the love and protection God has for us even in the darkest times of our life. Katherine and Jay’s dedication to each other and the Lord through their most devastating season is inspiring. This book will help your heart believe that He sees, He knows, He cares, and He is still working miracles today!" 

LYSA TERKEURST, New York Times bestselling author and president of Proverbs 31 Ministries