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I was born in Georgia but consider Texas to be home since I spent my high school and college years in the Lone Star State. I now reside in Arizona with my husband, and we are recently empty nesters after raising a sibling group of three adopted children. I graduated from The University of Texas in Austin with a Bachelor in Business and Marketing in 1996.
I met my husband, Dainis, in 1997 when I was transferred to Minnesota for my job after graduating from college. At the age of 29, shortly before our 5th wedding anniversary, I suffered a massive intracerebral hemorrhagic stroke that left me paralyzed on the left side at the time. It was caused by an undetected malformation of blood vessels on the right side of my brain. After years of therapy and hard work, I have regained quite a bit of function, and am truly a walking miracle.
We are active members of Mission Community Church, and I enjoy being an active part of their Women's Ministry, along with the Women's Ministry of our parent church, Desert Springs Community Church. I have had the blessed opportunity for several years now to serve as a weekly Bible study leader and love connecting with women each week.
My favorite fiction author is Karen Kingsbury and I have many favorite nonfiction authors. I have many favorite Bible study teachers and podcasters but two of my favorites are and Priscilla Shirer and Jennifer Rothschild.
We were trying to start our family when I had my stroke. Seven years post stroke and after lots of intense physical and occupational therapy at a wonderful neurological rehab clinic in Phoenix called SWAN Rehab (see Stroke Resources for more information), we made the decision to explore adoption. We felt international adoption was the way we were being led to go and chose Colombia, South America. We held onto God's word in James 1:27 that says, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world". We began the process in 2010 and were united with our three children in April 2011. Juan was 6, Ingrid was 8, and Angie was 10 years old at the time of the adoption. Although the years have been filled with both blessings and challenges, I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to be a Mom.
I grew up attending both Methodist and Presbyterian churches. When I was a senior in high school, I started attending a Baptist church with a friend. It was then that I finally made the connection on what it truly meant to have a personal relationship with God. I accepted God as my Personal Savior that summer after high school and my faith has carried me through many challenges over the years. That decision also led me to making church a priority after college graduation, when I was living out on my own. I met my husband, Dainis, at our church in Minnesota. Dainis and I both believe in Romans 10:9-10 that says, 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”
Statistics state that there is only a 50% survival rate for those who have the type of stroke that I experienced and out of those that do survive, only 20% are expected to live an independent life. So, by not only surviving but thriving and going on to becoming an adopted Mom of 3 kids, I believe I beat the odds!
I felt called during the winter months of 2021 to write my story and start exploring speaking opportunities in hopes to encourage and equip others that may also be experiencing challenges because life is not easy. Life rarely turns out exactly like we picture it and how we handle the path with its roadblocks and detours is up to us. I believe God has a plan for each of us. However, He leaves it up to us whether we will have faith in Him and follow His plan. I am so thankful I had faith prior to my stroke, and that is what has kept me going through the years!
I reference back to my favorite Bible verses in Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV. It says: 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
My book was set to publish on March 11th, 2022.
As I was preparing for my first book to make its debut, and I was busy with my Facebook book launch, I went to my obgyn for a routine visit. Unfortunately, she found a cyst and an ultrasound and bloodwork quickly revealed a possible diagnosis of ovarian cancer. I was quickly referred to an oncologist and I soon found myself faced with a new focus. Within a week, I was set with several appointments at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA). We had just met new next door neighbors who happened to be one of the scrub nurses for the head gyno-oncologist there at CTCA. I was set for surgery after my book launch and had a full hysterectomy and appendectomy on April 6th.
I said when I first learned of this diagnosis that I did not understand why now but I would not question God's timing but use this opportunity to share my story, incorporate this experience in my journey, give Him the glory, and volunteer there after recovery. Thankfully, the surgery was successful and revealed that the cyst was benign. I am now volunteering at CTCA, sharing my story, and connecting and supporting patients best I can.
I said in December my word this year was PURPOSE but had no idea how big God's plans were for me. I have learned to keep my eyes on Him no matter what because even in our challenges, God can open up opportunities we never dreamed about.
It is our limited focus that often gets in the way. Proverbs 19:21 NIV says, "Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." I thought I knew the plans but I only knew my side of the plans, not God's and his whole orchestration.
When I started my writing journey a year ago, I started writing my story in hopes of helping others but had no idea where my journey would take me and the opportunities God would give me to share. I also had no idea I would find a new passion for writing and speaking. Along with this first book, I am now writing my second book, which will be a 31-day devotional. I have also had the blessed opportunity to be a supporting author with others in three other books that will be coming out in the fall of 2022 and spring 2023. two books are made up of devotionals and one is of stroke survivors all telling their story to encourage others.
For those of you who have supported me and follow me on social media, I greatly thank you!
Dainis and I met at our church in Minnesota when I was transferred there for my job in the winter of 1997. We started dating in the spring, and he asked me to marry him June 23, 1997. We were married in Texas on March 28, 1998.
Adopted from Colombia, South America at age 10.
Adopted from Colombia, South America at age 8.
Adopted from Colombia, South America at age 6.
We adopted Snoopy from the Sun Valley Animal Shelter in November 2013. He is a wonderful dog and a faithful companion.
We found Buddy at PetSmart during their Adoption Day , the day after we adopted Snoopy in November 2013. Buddy was living in a foster home setting. We didn't know it when we adopted him but he was extremely ill and we probably saved his life. He loves to look out the window while Dainis is working and go on walks.
We adopted Precious from the Sun Valley Animal Shelter in January 2017. Precious loves to go swimming, and we we find her playing in our swimming pool quite often!
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