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Katherine + Jay Wolf: Finding Joy While Suffering (ep. 258)

Katherine and Jay Wolf

John O’Leary welcomes Katherine + Jay Wolf to the Live Inspired Podcast to share about how they found joy while suffering.

Does your life look different than you imagined it would?

In 2008, Katherine + Jay Wolf were newlyweds and parents to their six-month-old son when the unimaginable happened. Just 26 years old, Katherine suffered a massive brainstem stroke. After a rare, life-saving surgery, Katherine spent nearly two months in a coma-like state. With her faithful husband Jay by her side, Katherine had to relearn how to breathe, talk, eat… and eventually thrive.

While no one wants terrible pain or unbearable tragedy, this couple is a tremendous example of finding hope in the midst of the storm. Today, Katherine + Jay Wolf remind us that suffering isn’t the end of our story, but the beginning of a new story.

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  • At 22, Katherine + Jay tied the knot in an unusually perfect November day in Georgia before seeking adventure together in California.
  • April 21, 2008: When their first child was just 6 months old, Katherine suffers massive brain stem stroke without any warning and does not wake up from a coma-like state for almost 2.5 months.
  • As a stroke survivor, it was the brave surgeon who performed a meticulous 16-hour surgery that gave Katherine the ability to sustain life, in spite of some disabilities.
  • Every year, they celebrate April 22 as Katherine’s second birthday. 
  • “I can’t eat. I can’t walk. I can’t take care of my son. I can’t do anything. I’m a mistake and I should not even be here.” – Katherine Wolf after failing her ninth swallow test.
  • Our lives are all stories that have many chapters and much complexity. Fully live into the story we have, not the one we wish we had.
  • Jay credits faith + community to lift them up in healing + beyond to flourishment.
  • “It was a surreal vision, a waking dream, a stark reminder that perhaps in the breaking of precious things, something even more precious than we can imagine might be unleashed. Perhaps in the breaking, we can find the healing we long for.”
  • Live Inspired community member Therese asked: how do you cope with the uncertainty/fear of the future and what your health holds?
  • Live Inspired community member Robbie asked: What advice would you give healthcare professionals – specifically those who work in the rehabilitation field?
  • Since they credit neurosurgeon, Dr. Nestor Gonzalez, in saving Katherine’s life three times, they named their second son after him.
  • Get a copy of Katherine + Jay’s latest book Suffer Strong.
  • Learn more about Katherine + Jay’s story here.


1. What is the best book you’ve ever read? Katherine: Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor.

2. What is a characteristic or trait that you possessed as a child that you wish you still exhibited today? Jay: Music + childhood rhythms.

3. Your house is on fire, all living things and people are out. You have the opportunity to run in and grab one item. What would it be? A phone or iPad that has our photos… Google Cloud!

4. You are sitting on a bench overlooking a gorgeous beach. You have the opportunity to have a long conversation with anyone living or dead. Who would it be? Jay: Mother Teresa.

5. What is the best advice you’ve ever received? Katherine: When I was relearning how to walk, my father-in-law would say, “You just have to win. Do whatever is necessary.”

6. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self? Jay: Enjoy that flexibility while it lasts.

7. It’s been said that all great people can have their lives summed up in one sentence. How do you want yours to read? Katherine: Joyfully rebelling against how our world, our culture, views health and success; Jay: He gave his life and unstoppable goodwill towards people in need and people he loved.


My new book IN AWE is now available… and became an instant bestseller! Learn how to rediscover your childlike sense of wonder to unleash inspiration, meaning and joy. Visit ReadInAwe.com today! 


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