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Hope Heals: A True Story of Overwhelming Loss and an Overcoming Love

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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 chance by 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.

256 pages, Hardcover

First published April 26, 2016

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About the author

Katherine Wolf

4 books116 followers
Katherine & Jay Wolf are parents, artists, communicators, and survivors. After meeting in college, they got married and moved to Los Angeles to pursue law school for Jay and the entertainment industry for Katherine. Their son James was born in 2007 and six months later, Katherine’s life nearly ended with a catastrophic stroke. Miraculously, she survived and continues her recovery to this day. Katherine and Jay have shared their journey of whole-hearted living and hope in Christ in many forums since 2008. Katherine, Jay, and their family currently reside in Los Angeles, CA. www.hopeheals.com

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5 stars
3,581 (63%)
4 stars
1,350 (23%)
3 stars
453 (8%)
2 stars
138 (2%)
1 star
116 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 439 reviews
Profile Image for Adam.
Author 4 books35 followers
May 11, 2016
As a single man, I didn't dive into this work of non-fiction expecting much more than a self-help guide to marriage, but that quickly changed. What begins as a fairy tale life for two twenty-somethings in Malibu, California, takes a devastating turn. The cause? A near-fatal brain aneurysm for young mother Katherine Wolf. Hope Heals is the story of a woman facing overwhelming obstacles early on in motherhood and marriage, of a man honoring his commitment to his wife and his God when many might renege, and a community becoming the hands and feet of Jesus Christ to minister to them both. In the end, there is irreparable loss but also unrelenting love. The couple find the true nature of their faith. As the hymn writer explained it, "an anchor that holds within the veil." Hope heals. The Wolf's story resonates with love, tragedy, humor, heartache. Life. This book captures that life in stark and lovely terms. It's a story we would all do well to know, whether we find ourselves adrift in life or firmly anchored.
Profile Image for Noël Ingram.
Author 3 books7 followers
December 19, 2016
I first heard of Katherine and Jay's story when they came to speak at my church. I was amazed by the way they partnered in telling of how Katherine's brain injury had shaped their adult lives and eagerly bought a copy of their book after the service in a desire to know more about their journey. Their story is powerful and unique, but the telling of it in this work often feels preachy and inauthentic. The level of detail provided in the description of Katherine's injury and ultimate recovery is well-documented, but the telling of their story often feels emotionally superficial. In the epilogue, Katherine writes, "Suffering powerfully informs who I am now. While awful and painful, affliction has led to a heartbreaking but beautiful deepening in me." I wish Wolf had delved deeper into her suffering and spent some time resting there with her readers. There are moments where Wolf acknowledges negative emotions such as anger, bitterness, and profound sadness, but immediately after, she switches to speaking of how she didn't let those feelings overcome her and to expressing gratitude for God. Writing a memoir, particularly about such a traumatic event, can be a vulnerable and painful process. I wonder how much the dearth of authentic expression of those darkest times is a defense mechanism; perhaps it's simply too painful to dive that deep, perhaps Wolf thought that an emphasis on the bleakest of moments would detract from her story of hope and gratitude. Yet, even with these shortcomings, I'm still glad that I read this book. Their story is truly exceptional.
Profile Image for Joy.
148 reviews58 followers
April 27, 2016
Oh, please read this book. What a beautiful, heart-wrenching, perspective-giving book. So good.
83 reviews3 followers
May 17, 2018
I have felt placed into a different kind of reality than most others, the reality that is marked by suffering and struggle. And I needed to read a book from someone, about someone who “got it.” Katherine and Jay Wolfe get it. They experienced the unexpected & painful parts of life in their mid -twenties, just a couple years after being married and 6 months after having their first baby. Katherine had a stroke that should have killed her. What is remarkable about this story is not just that she lived but that she learned how to thrive and live hope filled.
It buoyed my soul greatly to read how Jay and Katherine overcame many hurdles and are living a life they could never have expected and certainly didn’t ask for with hope and purpose. I want to live this way, too.
Profile Image for Grace Thornton.
Author 1 book56 followers
February 1, 2017
Such an inspiring, challenging look at how God loves and comforts us in the midst of our suffering and how He is glorified in the way we walk through our pain. Thank you, Jay and Katherine, for sharing your story.
Profile Image for Michelle Duncan.
3 reviews7 followers
May 22, 2016
This book will be in my top five this year. I could not put it down and I didn't want it to end. Katherine and Jay have such a unique voice and their honesty is so raw and tangible. This book was such a life changing blessing to me. Thank you!
Profile Image for Rachel Lundy.
Author 4 books18 followers
April 21, 2016
I greatly enjoyed reading Hope Heals by Jay and Katherine Wolf. In this book they tell the story of their marriage, Katherine's stroke as a young wife and mom, and the years of rehab that followed. It is a story of love, suffering, commitment, and hope.

Jay and Katherine were a young married couple living in California and pursuing their dreams. Jay was weeks away from graduating from law school, Katherine was a model with a promising career, and they had a 6 month old baby. But life as they knew it changed dramatically when Katherine suffered a massive brain stem stroke, which left her in a coma for 2 months. After waking up from the coma she had to spend nearly 2 years in intensive rehab to regain strength back and to re-learn how to talk, eat, and walk.

Jay and Katherine struggled through very hard years, but their commitment to one another and to the Lord remained strong. Katherine confesses that there were times when she felt like God had made a mistake and that she should have died. But in those dark moments, she knew and trusted that “He sees the entire picture, and HE DOES NOT MAKE MISTAKES. He knows this is part of the story He is writing for me, for my family, and for all of the creation He is making right. It is not a plan B, and I trust that.”

Katherine acknowledges that she can give God the glory, and it can still hurt. Her experienced caused her “to redefine healing and discover a hope that heals the most broken places: our souls.”

There aren’t many books about marriage and disability, so I was thrilled to learn about Hope Heals. I was encouraged and challenged by Jay and Katherine’s testimony in these pages. Hope Heals will be beneficial to anyone who is looking for hope, and it will be especially encouraging for those who are affected by disability in marriage.
Profile Image for Trinity Rose.
434 reviews14 followers
July 12, 2016

This is a amazing true story of a woman’s fight and struggle after suffering a massive brain stem stroke without warning. It is also the story of her husband how he stayed with her and never left her side.
Katherine and Jay were very young and in love. They just had their first child. He was only 6 months old when the stroke hit Katherine. She was on life support in ICU for 40 days and 2 years in full-time brain rehab. Eight years later they wrote this book and have a ministry called Hope Heals.
If you love stories that show courage and hope again all kinds of odds you will love this book. So many things Katherine has to endure and overcome. Also Jay is an remarkable husband. So many husbands/wives leave their spouses when a major illness/disease comes to them. He really stuck with her.
The ending is just miraculous. I highly recommend this true story. Very uplifting and positive.

I received my free copy from Net Galley for my review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255
Profile Image for Lacie.
86 reviews2 followers
March 8, 2016
I received an advanced copy of this book & could not put it down. At times it's hard to read: raw, real, emotional. The suffering this young family experienced is hard to process and will leave a lump in your throat while you read. But like all testimonies rooted in our Savior--there is purpose in the pain. Katherine & Jay are clear: Christ alone is the One who heals and He is an anchor in the suffering.

Read this book because you have also experienced suffering. Read this book because you've not yet, but one day will. Read this book because you need a reminder that your God is good and faithful. Read this book because you don't know God and doubt His goodness. Read this book because life is hard, trials are guaranteed, but hope heals.
Profile Image for Rachel.
243 reviews11 followers
May 3, 2018
I loved this book. Jay and Katherine are refreshingly honest in their description of all that they’ve gone through since having their worlds turned upside down with an unexpected brain injury ten years ago. I finished this book feeling super encouraged and comforted by the way that they refuse to gloss over the pain and suffering that they’ve been through, while also refusing to forget the God who brought them through it all. Praise God for the healing and restoration He has brought to every part of their lives!!
Profile Image for Beth (Minimalist Bookshelf).
382 reviews1 follower
January 21, 2022
This is a testimony from a couple who have tread a very painful path through suffering. Their words are honest and vulnerable as they share how medical crisis and life in the aftermath impacted their view of life and their understanding of the word healing. In gain and loss "we have this hope as an anchor for our soul, firm and secure (Hebrews 6:19)." Only through Christ.
Profile Image for Emily.
62 reviews10 followers
January 9, 2018
This book was so so good. Katherine and Jay (the authors) was just about my and my husband’s ages when their world turned upside down. If some tragedy befalls me or someone In my family, I’m glad to have read this first and know that not all is lost. As tragic as her stroke was, their story fills me with hope for their future.such and encouraging read.
Profile Image for Amy Kannel.
539 reviews41 followers
August 24, 2016
I first heard Katherine Wolf speak at IF:Gathering back in March and found her story so compelling. This book was a Kindle deal recently so I snapped it up, and I'm glad I did. It's a powerful, inspiring story of fighting for hope and joy and trusting God in the midst of tremendous suffering.
Profile Image for S.G. Willoughby.
Author 10 books99 followers
March 3, 2019
I'm not sure I can unemotionally review this book. Hope Heals touched me in so many ways. Most of them painful to be honest. It just hit too close to home, and many a night it was this book that accompanied the crying myself to sleep thing I've been doing the past few months as I grieve what my chronic illness has stolen from me and attempt to heal.

Jay and Katherine Wolf were just so honest and open. While because of my own struggles that hurt deeply, I am also so thankful for how candid and honest they were about all the messy emotions and details.

Perhaps it was the just the mindset I came to this book with-- that of grieving -- but I wish they had shared more about the way hope heals.

However, I would recommend this to everyone but the squeamish (and perhaps under 13-year-olds), and especially to those who have not experienced major health issues for themselves but would like to understand those who do better -- Katherine and Jay do a great job sharing their story in a way that is easy to understand. I also greatly appreciated getting to see it from both the caregiver and the patient's POV, and from a married couple no less. Seeing their love for each other even in the messy hard trials and emotions was encouraging to me.
Profile Image for Hailey Hudson.
Author 1 book26 followers
June 19, 2021
I requested this book and my library purchased it for me a few weeks ago. I didn’t know that by the time it came in I would be in the hospital and read it alone one night in my hospital room. It was very timely and there were tears shed.

“ ‘I don’t think this world will work for me.’ “

“One day, we will see. One day, the arc of our stories will all make perfect sense. One day, we will trace the lines of our scars and find them to have fallen in the most pleasant of places, to see in them our great inheritance. One day, we won’t need to hope, nor will we need to be healed because we will be face to face with Jesus.”
Profile Image for Jess Villie.
21 reviews1 follower
September 10, 2019
This book had my attention the entire time! Their story is powerful and gripping as both her and her husband each take chapters to share about their journey in trusting God through suffering.
Profile Image for Hattush.
48 reviews5 followers
October 18, 2022
An incredible story of God's hand and of true hope even when things go horribly wrong and when healing doesn't come as expected.
Profile Image for Kara.
271 reviews4 followers
January 17, 2020
I really loved this story... it was beautifully written and so inspiring and encouraging... but not in the fluffy sense. This was a raw and authentic, hope-filled story of true suffering.
Profile Image for Rachel B.
730 reviews40 followers
September 10, 2017
2.5 stars

I heard Katherine speak at IF:Gathering 2016 and she was one of the few speakers I actually liked - she was so funny! I picked this up to hear more of her story, figuring she'd bring her humor into this, also. She didn't.

The book isn't poorly written, but it was a fairly dry memoir compared to others I've read. It focused on what happened, and while Jay and Katherine's emotions were mentioned here and there, the readers were never given a chance to really sit with them and soak in the suffering. They were so quick to point out that God is good and has a plan (true things, to be sure) that it made their suffering almost seem insincere.

While I didn't connect with this one on the whole, I do have a couple favorite quotes:

"[God] knows this is part of the story He is writing for me, for my family, and for all of the creation He is making right. It is not a plan B, and I trust that." (p. 18)

"All my life, before the stroke, I had been confident, admired, and strong. I know in my head that I still am these things in many ways, but when your life is taken down to zero, it's hard not to feel that your ability to contribute as a human being is also zero..." (p. 192)
6 reviews
January 3, 2022
Truly underwhelming book. While I'd heard of Katherine Wolf for years and was curious about this book, I was profoundly disappointed to discover how lacking in humility the authors appear to be. This is a story of a privileged white evangelical couple experiencing trauma and expecting to be treated as privileged throughout their journey. At one point, Jay maligns the nurse at UCLA who deigned to ask him to follow visitor protocols, claiming she "didn't care to know us or our story," as if their story was any more tragic than all the other guests of the UCLA ICU. Katherine routinely reverts to the stereotypical evangelical young woman who assumes everyone, even the critical care nurses, is trying to take advantage of her and not just take care of her, doing their jobs. Jay and Katherine's mutual worship of themselves and each other, pumping each other up as having dealt with the situation with nothing but grace and patience and hope, makes this very inauthentic and hard to relate to. To be sure, what they went through and continue to go through was extraordinarily difficult, and I wish them the best in the future. But this book only strengthened my frustration with the evangelical church in America. How does this book have 4.43 stars?
Profile Image for Amara Bratcher.
1 review2 followers
June 13, 2016
Authentic story of hope

Beautiful, poignant story that weaves the real elements of disappointment and brokenness with the call of Christians to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel.
Profile Image for Cherish.
90 reviews
April 28, 2017
A great story about a stroke survivor and her husband. It helped me understand a little more about what my mom likely felt after her own massive stroke. Overall, inspiring!
Profile Image for Nicole Fredericks.
270 reviews2 followers
July 24, 2017
I couldn't put this book down- this story was so moving, so inspiring, so unbelievable. This book changed me.
Profile Image for Rachel Kopec Barkley.
10 reviews24 followers
September 8, 2019
A must-read for anyone going through suffering or is wondering “why does God allow suffering?”

Narrated by husband and wife and beautifully written. I couldn’t put it down!
Profile Image for Claire Brown.
37 reviews
June 28, 2022
This was hard to read. Katherine’s story is so similar to my moms in the way that her massive stroke took so much physically, but left the same person cognitively. The feelings Jay (her husband) writes about are pretty on par with how (I’m assuming) my dad and I felt. And then Katherine and my mom had such familiar feelings during these hard times.
She is an amazing story of hope, perseverance, and living for a bigger ending than a swallow test or regaining your sleeping hand, it’s living for Jesus!
I recommend it to all, but if you know my mama, or get senti, you may cry a few times.
Profile Image for Lauren Ewing.
28 reviews
July 1, 2019
I have listened to Katherine Wolf speak a few times and loved reading her and Jay's story of hope and redemption..."The call to give thanks, not at the end, but in the midst, began to reverberate inside us. We may never arrive at the ending we hoped for, so if we waited until then to celebrate all that had been given to us, that celebration might never come at all..."All shall work together for good, everything is needful that He sends; nothing can be needful that He withholds.""
Profile Image for Kim.
477 reviews1 follower
July 30, 2019
Excellent book....I had started it and sorta forgot about it....but so glad I picked it up and read it! What a humbling, true story of true faith and commitment. I’d love to see their story on the big screen!
Profile Image for Cassidy.
8 reviews
July 20, 2022
A well-articulated memoir about how pain and suffering can draw believers closer to God and one another. I was truly impressed by the authors’ ability to endure the long-suffering of stroke/disability/ongoing surgeries with endurance, graciousness, and trust in the Lord.
135 reviews5 followers
August 20, 2018
“Perhaps some detours aren’t detours at all. Perhaps they are actually the path.” ~ Katherine & Jay Wolf, Hope Heals: A True Story of Overwhelming Loss and an Overcoming Love
Displaying 1 - 30 of 439 reviews

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