I grew up in rural New Jersey (yes, there is such a thing), where at an early age I recognized my need for a Savior and found that Savior in Jesus Christ. I homeschooled until college and have both a bachelor’s in English and a master’s in Teaching English as a Second Language. When my nose isn’t stuck in a book, you can find me playing piano or guitar, writing my four-book fantasy series, or snuggling my pet rabbit, Luci.
My health journey started with chronic Lyme’s disease in high school. Since then I’ve struggled with a variety of sicknesses and conditions such as mono, epstein barr, adrenal fatigue, and borderline autoimmunity. While I wouldn’t have picked this journey for myself, I wouldn’t change it now; I’m truly grateful for every step that has deepened my relationship with God, taught me more about living, and opened doors to special friendships and opportunities.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” ~Isaiah 55:8-9~
I’m a native Coloradoan and accepted Jesus as my personal savior when I was young. An entrepreneur at heart, I started my own cakepop business that I run with my mom. I also work as a marketing coordinator for a real estate agent. I love using my creative juices, whether coming up with new and exciting cakepop flavors and designs, marketing houses for sale, or creating graphics for The Valley.
My health journey started in May 2013 when I was involved in a car accident and received a brain injury along with a plethora of other things. I had another incident in December of 2016 where I passed out and fell, resulting in a second concussion. It has been quite the process of discovery that has led to several specialists, testings, treatments, and procedures. Despite all of this, God has given me grace and strength to get through every day. It has been and continues to be a long and hard journey, but I have grown and learned so much and have had so many opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I may not know what the future looks like, but I know Who holds my future.
“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord.” ~Psalm 27:13 ~
Behind The Valley
In college, I made a lot of friends with young women who also had chronic health struggles. One of the things I heard the most from them (and sometimes felt myself) was, “No one gets it. No one understands. I feel so alone.”
As I graduated, came home for grad school, and stayed in touch with these friends, I felt a burden to create a place of community where we could encourage each other with the lessons God has taught us, share our prayer requests, and be reminded that we are NOT alone.
Early in the summer of 2019, I reached out to some of these friends and asked if they would be interested in this kind of group. They said yes. But the summer got busy, and I didn’t get around to starting the group. But the idea never went away.
Melissa (Misi) and I both started dealing with our health issues around the same time. It was such a blessing to have a friend who could relate to a certain extent of what I was dealing with. When I was having a bad day, she was having a good day and vice versa, and we were able to encourage each other. Through our health journey, our friendship deepened.
I am a very private person and did not talk to people about my health journey unless I was specifically asked. I found it to be exhausting trying to explain my symptoms or answer the dreaded question “How are you feeling?” However, God started to slowly tear down my walls the summer of 2019, and I began to realize how my story could help someone if I would only share it. I knew I wasn’t supposed to stay silent any longer, but I wasn’t sure what that looked like. When Misi approached me about her idea to start the online group, I thought it was a great idea.
I followed up with her later that summer asking what the status was on it, and she began working on it. When we started reaching out to friends to tell them about our “little” group, they thought of someone else who could join, and Misi and I quickly realized that this would be something bigger than just a small online group. We started praying about what direction we should take the group and what to name it. I was praying about what we should name the group when the idea of “The Valley” came to my mind. I didn’t text Misi my idea right away, and then I received a text from her, “What do you think of The Valley?” I was so shocked and knew it was meant to be.
Why “The Valley”? One of Charles Stanley’s Life Principles is, “We learn more in our valley experiences than on our mountaintops.” I believe anyone who has walked through a health trial can affirm the truth of this statement. I know I can. We’re all walking through a valley of health struggles, even if our particular struggles are different.
But valleys don’t have to be ugly. In fact, valleys are often verdant, well-irrigated areas of great growth and beauty. So it is in our lives; despite the shadows (Psalm 23:4) and despite the pain (II Corinthians 12:9), the Good Shepherd’s presence beside us promises never-ending comfort and always-sufficient grace.
It was around our one-year anniversary that we felt it was time to take the next step: start a blog. We wanted to go bigger on the outside, reaching more women, while going smaller on the inside, streamlining our current efforts. So we prayed, did some research, and texted a lot. The idea stayed hot on our hearts, and the doors opened to making it a reality, so we stepped out and in September 2020 launched The Valley’s website.
Our hope is that you will find The Valley to be a place of community and spiritual encouragement for you wherever you are. We want you to know that you are not alone, that God has a plan for your valley, and that we are praying for you.