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Finding Bravery Through Faith: A Miracle Journey of Recovery and Resilience with Lori Vober
Episode 9624th April 2023 • The BraveHearted Woman • Dawn Damon
00:00:00 00:30:21

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Dawn Damon: Welcome, everybody, once again to The BraveHearted Woman Podcast! I am your host and Braveheart mentor, Dawn Damon.

Today I have a really amazing treat for you, my guest in today’s episode. So, if you're listening on audio, that's amazing. We're so glad that you're with us. But hop on over to the YouTube channel, Don Damon, The BraveHearted Woman, I would love for you to join me over there too.

What you're about to hear is a miracle, a living miracle. Does God still do miracles? Is God still alive and on the throne and active in our lives? Well, we're going to answer that question for you today. My guest today suffered what is called an interest cerebral hemorrhagic, and she can pronounce it right stroke at the age of 29, y'all. Then she developed epilepsy due to the stroke, which changed her entire life. Well, it's a miracle that she's even left with us on this earth. She felt called to share her story and her journey of faith, perseverance, grit, resilience, and bravery. And now my guest, says this, I believe God has a plan for each and every one of us, but it's up to you to choose. So even with her difficulties, she was able to go on with her life ~ be a wife and a mom, you're gonna hear all about it today. Please welcome to the bravehearted woman, my guest today, Lori Vober.

Lori Vober: Hi! Thank you, God! Thank you so much for the wonderful welcome. I so much appreciate that.

Dawn Damon: Well, we are looking forward to hearing your story because sometimes our listeners and just people in general, but certainly our midlife women are my audiences. We think our life is over when we hit a certain age, or we're not able to do something that we used to be able to do or maybe our children have left the nest and we're left wondering, What do we do? You didn't even have children at the age of 29, you had similar feelings? Who am I? What do I do? What's my life all about? Tell us a little bit about your story. And why you were prompted to write your book.

Lori Vober: I appreciate that so much. And yes, I like you said at the beginning, it was at age 29 When I had my hemorrhagic stroke, and it was caused by a malformation of blood vessels on the right side of my brain, something that I was born with, that just was never detected. And my husband and I were trying to start our own biological family for about a year and a half at that time. So as normal, mid-20 couples, we run the same fast track, both very career-oriented and God definitely had different plans. We were just shy about our fifth-year wedding anniversary. Yes, everything just changed. I had emergency brain surgery that night to stop the bleeding, woke up 17 days later from a drug-induced coma on life support, and was completely paralyzed on the left side. That journey in itself right there taught us so much it taught us that in the blink of an eye, your whole life can change. And it also taught us that our plans are not our plans. So many people that are listening, some have faced don't have faith.

Luckily, I did have a strong faith, although my faith journey has incredibly increased over the years. But, it taught us at that moment that you know, what we thought were our plans were not our plans at all. And God has an amazing purpose and plan for our lives. But that's where the choice comes in. He leaves it up to us whether we're going to follow his plan or not. I had actually just transitioned my career from the airline industry and customer support and sales to our church for the purpose of family planning. And I then realized that God purposely put me in a safe environment and changed my whole plan. My whole career really, just to save my life and put me in a safe environment. He has continued to do that. So I think it's when we are faced with tough challenges, and that's where the choice comes in. So many times we get stuck in our plans, and we just have to look at the bigger picture.

Dawn Damon: Yes. Well, we just took a gigantic leap there too, because we see the end of the story we see the view beautiful story of celebration, and you discover that it didn't happen to you. It happened to you. I'm sure. But bring us back. What were the challenges because there had to have been some dark moments, some gloomy moments, maybe even a brush of anger with God, what does what was? What was going through your mind at 29? And now you're awake? Did you even know what happened to bring us back into some of that?

Lori Vober: Sure, it definitely wasn't all rainbows and flowers. Definitely not. I have to say some of the hardest parts were my lack of privacy and my lack of independence, especially in the hospital. I was in the hospital for two months, and just trying to regain. We had to start from the beginning, learning to swallow and talk and eat and learn to rebalance and sit up and eventually stand in the walk with assistance. When I first came out of the coma and on life support, I was in ICU. Then on the normal general hospital floor, both my parents and my husband could be with me at all times. But when I was transferred to the rehab floor, thankfully, my rehab was in the same hospital as everything else, and many, many patients have to go to a separate rehab unit I'm thankful that it was at my actual hospital, I was alone. That was really hard. Because, in the middle of the night, I could not roll over at that point by myself. So it was either sitting there all night, being uncomfortable in that same position, or hitting the call button, and asking a nurse to come to roll me over. And I am a type of people pleaser. So in order to that was a huge decision on my part of inconvenience that in my mind, I was inconveniencing someone even though that was their job in my mind that was inconveniencing them. So I would rather sit there for the next 12 hours, uncomfortable than inconvenience someone even though that was their job.

Then it was a whole modesty situation of I couldn't go to the bathroom alone, I couldn't take a shower alone, I can’t dress alone. So all that privacy just goes out the door. Those are the things that those were the things that were super hard. The good parts about it, though were I liked to exercise prior to the stroke. I think that's the aspect that God used to help me and protect me emotionally, is He really helped me on the physical aspect to maintain a focus on if I could physically keep rehabbing, rehabbing, keep trying to get better on a physical standpoint, eventually, I would beat this.

Now that was a fallacy because I'm 20 years post-stroke now. If you were to see me in person, you'd see I still have a disability, I still have a limp. My left arm and hand are still active assist for my right. But I didn't know that at the time. So that I think protected me a lot emotionally, just to keep thinking if I could persevere, physically, I'm going to be this. I think God uses things in our lives to help us. You just don't know at the time, what the future is gonna hold.

Dawn Damon Right? You just say one day at a time. I like the quote from Martin Luther King Jr., where he said, You don't need to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.

Lori Vober: Yes.

Dawn Damon: I think when you're rehabbing, or you have a huge mountain to scale, it could be overwhelming to look at the whole big picture. Take the next right step. But that takes a lot of grit Lori to wake up each day and say, it's another day and I don't know how long this journey is going to be. God's grace was made sufficient for you, I'm sure. Did you feel his presence, giving you that courage and that strength?

Lori Vober: Very much so. Then you did mention epilepsy. What happened is we took me off my anti-seizure medication, because I was not experiencing any signs of seizures, which is apparently common for them to do. Unfortunately, I have become a very big patient advocate for myself since then. I just didn't know at the time to be that big of a patient advocate.

So now, in my journey, I am a very big number one and two, stroke awareness to others. I'm also very big into patient advocacy for others because I've had to be on my own journey. And because when they took me off my seizure medication, unfortunately, the next day is when I started having massive seizures and it took years to get me on the right medication stabilized again. Although I'm seizure free now, it's always in the back of my mind, when's the next one going to happen? I always have to monitor my stamina, fatigue, and my stress levels. It's always going to be a part of my journey now. And I have to say emotionally that epilepsy was almost harder than a stroke because there was no control.

Dawn Damon: Right. So you feel really helpless and almost like, I don't know when that like next landmine is coming. But also, did it steal from your independence? Are you able to drive? I mean, what did that do to you long term?

Dawn Damon: Right, I can drive now. But yes, I do know. I mean, if another one happens that there goes the independence again because that is taken away. So you know, that is a huge part of it. It's always in the back of your mind. So, a lot of times, when we're faced with any medical challenges, you so many times, people look at you and they don't think anything's wrong. But so many times, all the things that are happening on the inside of your body that affects the outside, that's what people don't realize. They don't realize even if you appear to be normal, walking, or talking, so many things affect what can happen. I know if anything happens, that would take away my independence, that would take away my current journey that I'm on. So all these things have to be monitored. That's why I am so passionate and want to be proactive with others that are going through tough medical challenges because I do understand.

Dawn Damon: You do. You've been there. Done that. Have the T-shirt. And all of those things. It's also known that when you have a chronic illness or long-term illness or recovery in this challenge, often then biologically, it changes your brain. People do go into depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. I know I had that, as a survivor of post-traumatic stress from childhood trauma and sexual injury, did you experience depression and anxiety? Did you grieve for the life you've lost?

Lori Vober: I have I have I did go through a grieving period. I think it's been a process. I don't think I recognized it as much as I did. As it's just been, it didn't hit me all of a sudden. But I think it's been just a process. I think one of the things that I had really processed was just infertility, just the way things panned out. I've had a beautiful life. I've been able to go on and adopt three wonderful kids that blessed me with the opportunity to still be a mom. But it's been a journey of pure blessings and challenges. The kids were older, when we adopted them. That in itself brings on new challenges. I say in my book, that light rarely turns out as you picture it would. And that's true, both in our medical journey and in our adoption journey.

Even in this past year. I think I've just now started really processing all this happen. God blessed me with two very important traits that are always be very thankful for one's been perseverance and one's been positivity. I think my stroke recovery has gone the way it has because of those. However, there's a fallacy in that. When you persevere as hard as I persevere, you also miss the processing, you miss a reflection, and you tend to not be as transparent and as vulnerable as you need to be. I miss those steps. It's I've had to take a step back now and go back and rekindle those steps in order to be more healthy and heal.

Dawn Damon: I'm so glad you're telling us this, Lori, it's going to help so many people. Because we even writers and authors and storytellers, in our world we want that happy ending. We love the fact that I'm like you. I'm a type A. I love the title of your book, ‘Choices,’ which we're going to talk about in a second.

I'm all about the choices all about the grid all about the hard work, but you can't have a spiritual bypass and go from pain and tragedy to this. You've got to take the journey. I call it, through the fire swamp if you've ever seen The Princess Bride. There's no way out. We have to go through this. And I'm thinking, so thank you for sharing that. And I'm thinking also you're a married woman at this time before we jumped to the victory part. Your husband is having his own battle has he shared it with you? What can you tell us about? Tell us your husband's name and what was his experience.

Lori Vober: Yes. So my husband's name is Dainis and I say he is a wonderful man. Where we were fifth, just shy of our fifth-year wedding anniversary. We just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary last week. He's just a wonderful man. We jokingly say, at this point, we are equally frustrated with each other. We're like any other couple, we laugh together, we fight together, and we have our challenges. But I am just so grateful that he is stuck by me. We say, we're 25 years in, and we're 25 plus to go. We will hand in hand journey this life together till the very end.

I moved actually from Oklahoma to Minnesota for my job. Again, it goes back to my plans versus God's plans. I moved there for what I thought was my job. I got clearly moved there. I moved there for my godly mate. My husband actually grew up in a house with a mom who battled cancer, most of his life. She passed away from hormonal cancer after a 16-year battle, one month before we met. So I say, though, that he's my Godly vape because he actually grew up watching his dad take care of his mom almost his entire life. I really think he has taken care of me the way he had the compassion and just the ability to take things in stride the way he has, just because he innately grew up that way. He just knows. This is just part of the journey, saying no, and giving up is not an option. And this is just what you do.

We are very much opposites in the back that he's an introvert on the extrovert. He's very content and very laid back. I'm very, let's go all the time, let's be part of every single group, never stop, never sleep. So we just together, we make a good team that way. I think that's just part of God's plan. But I'm very proactive in our marriages today. I like to speak reactively and keep marriages together because I think so many times today in our world, people give up too easily for no reason. I look at our journey, and there are a million reasons why we could have given up I mean, he's gone through job losses, my medical journey in itself, the kids and the pressures and stresses we've gone through, through the adoption in the parenting has been phenomenal that we are together, but it's only through the grace of God. We've had the commitment and the love to continue. So I give him all the glory that I've got all the glory that you know, he put us together and that he keeps our love strong. A part of it is you have to not only find things in common that you enjoy, but you always have to keep looking towards the future. You always have to have that goal of what are you going to do together in the future. I think so many couples get so sworn into their families and their kids and what their kids are involved in that when their kids leave. They're left with nothing. We were actually first-time empty nesters just now. I mean, we're so excited to be full circle. Our lives are starting over again. We can't wait. But so many couples are at a loss at this point.

Dawn Damon: They are. I mean, that's the whole population of women that I love speaking to it. Of course, I am one. But in midlife, there's a reinvention that happens in two ways we have to reinvent who we are and navigate this new season. We have to reinvent what people think midlife is all about because we are not our grandmothers and people are living lots longer than they used to. So we have to stay young and on purpose and intentional about life. So you guys have great, great opportunities ahead of you.

Tell us you touched on with the kids, you were not able to have children because of your medical condition and epilepsy. But God gave you three siblings that you had. And tell us a little bit about their names and a little bit about how that came to be.

Lori Vober: Yes. So like I said, we've been trying for about a year and a half. Then because of my disability and epilepsy, we made the decision to go for adoption. When we decided to continue our family planning. So I was about eight years post-stroke and kind of decided, Okay, we're at a crossroads. We can either continue the therapy, or we can continue our family planning. We had been very actively involved in the organization, Compassion International since the day we were married. So our hearts were always towards children and our hearts have always been towards international. That is actually why we picked international just because that's our heart anyway. Because we live in Arizona, we targeted the Latino community. Also, because of my medical background, Columbia was the one Latino community that was willing to accept us as adoptees. So that's kind of how I ended up going toward Columbia.

My husband and I are Interesting enough, we're both only children. We had this wonderful idea of what siblings would be like now. They say the grass is always greener on the other side to get to the other side right. Well, now that we have siblings, it's totally not what I thought siblings would be like, but I didn't know that until I adopted siblings. And so we did adopt the kids, they were ages six, eight, and ten. When we adopted them, they adopted a son and two daughters, their names were Yuan, Ingrid, and Angie. It's just been an amazing journey of both blessings and challenges. It didn't turn out nearly as picture-perfect as we thought it would. But that's life. In the end, honestly, we have supported, nurtured, loved, cared for, and played the seed of faith in each of them to our very best ability. They're all adults someone who graduated from high school in two months, he's now living in his own apartment with a friend about to graduate from both a tech school with codeine. As an emphasis, our daughter has graduated and our other daughter actually has also graduated and is now a mom.

At this point in life, we kind of feel like we've done the very best we can. We just want them to be the happiest, most successful, most responsible adults, they can be living their best life. It's up to them. We brought them out of not a great situation. We gave them the very best family situation we could. As parents, you always look back and think, What could I have done differently? What could I have said differently? How could I apparently do this? At the same time, we did the best we could.

Just as my book was, I was coming out last year, this time last year, I actually was pre-diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and my doctor found a cyst. And I went in and I had a full hysterectomy and an appendectomy, in April of last year. Thankfully, it was benign. So I'm cancer free, which I'm so thankful for. But what we found out through the hysterectomy, I was never able to conceive, which is why we were having trouble before the stroke. But we didn't know that. So that is so good anyway, because we could have kept trying, and even without epilepsy and the disability, I would have never been successful. These three children were meant to be these were our children that God handpicked for us. So this whole year has been a lot of processing for me of just closure in that area. That's just been so good for me.

Again, it goes back to the beginning of the conversation. I would like to encourage others out there that if you've gone through a trauma, whether it's professional counseling, whether it's a mentor in your life, whether it's a light book you go through, take that time to process, and I've had a lot of good authors and speaker brands that have helped me through. I think that's where I really had to take a step back. As I become an author and speaker been encouraged that before I get on stage, I don't want to be the speaker that leads on stage because I'm not healthy. I knew that before I could speak and help others. I needed to be the best healthiest person I could be. That's where you have to process your own curbs and your own pain before you can help others.

Dawn Damon: Good word. It's so true. You have to process and oftentimes we don't enjoy that process. We're afraid of it. I was talking to a woman today. She said I'm afraid if I process I'm gonna go to I'm going to fall into the black abyss. She said paused and then she said. I know exactly what she's talking about this gulf of emotions that I'll never recover from. But you're so exactly right that our healing is on the other side of processing it. Healing for real, where we're not just putting a bandaid on it. We're not mostly healed, but we're really experiencing freedom and joy and we're always going to be on this side of heaven. It's the human factor. We're always working on something. That leads us to the title of your book because you are right on spot on. It comes back to ‘Choices.’ Tell us about your book.

Lori Vober: Yes. So in:

I started actually in my college experiences and the perseverance and traits of perseverance God gave me way back then. What I also did is I put reflection questions at the end of each chapter, because I didn't want it just to be my story. I really wanted the reader to take that opportunity to reflect on their own journey and have this opportunity to develop their own story. I'm so glad God gave me the opportunity to come up with the title choices, because I use that all the time, and use it in my everyday life. Life is all about choices. We really have a choice of which direction we're going to go.

I think really, honestly, that's the struggle we all have when we're faced with a tough challenge. We're all faced with challenges big and small. So many of them are unexpected, we have a choice of how we're gonna react to our circumstances, and that's where the choice comes in. What are we going to do with it? Many people get stuck, they get stuck at where they're at. What I'm passionate about and I'm so grateful. God gave me this passion and drive to say that you have a challenge and you can't change your challenge. But you can use it for a purpose. So I'm very passionate about using the challenges and experiences I've gone through to bring hope and encouragement to others to let others. You don't have to be stuck in your challenges, your new normal is gonna look different. But you can still have hope, joy, and success.

My book just won two awards at a Christian Award Ceremony, which I'm thrilled with. But it just goes along with the fact that life continues, and it's just what you make of it. I have learned so much from other authors and others around me. We talked about this a little bit before, but I just really hope those listeners can hear about the importance of being transparent and vulnerable. Because I am just now learning how important that is. I heard someone say to me recently, that when you're not, not only are you denying yourself that, but you're denying other people the ability to bless you. I think in this society, we look at vulnerability as a weakness. So we tend to not ask for help because we don't want to be weak. But if you turn it around, you'll have the perspective of being a little more vulnerable, connecting with others, and asking for help when you really need help. Think of it as that opportunity for someone to bless you. It just changes everything.

Dawn Damon: That's a great perspective. I feel like what you're saying is so valuable. Because, again, we do view vulnerability as a weakness, and we don't want to be the weakest link on the island, especially if we're the type A kind of a person. Or, as you said before, you would rather spend 12 hours being uncomfortable than putting somebody out. I think that is the way many of us feel that we're maybe raised by our parents. Well, I won't get into all that. But many of us carry that. Like, I'll just take this, and instead of finding our voice, and you said it, this might be your new normal friends. I don't know what it is that has divided your life between before and after, now and then. But we don't get to choose what comes to us always. We don't get to choose what happens to us always. But we do get to choose how we're going to respond to it. We do get to choose our attitude. And we do get to choose if we're going to come into acceptance with our new normal and embrace it and learn. How do I move forward from here? What is the path forward? Grieve it, feel it, and don't sidestep it. Don't try to anesthetize the pain. Don't find an outlet that is destructive for your life eating, drinking, carousing, whatever a lot of men sometimes listen to my podcast pornography, women struggle with that as well. But really going right to the source takes an incredible amount of courage and bravery. You're doing it, you've done it. I think we do it again in every season of life because we're dropped into a new environment.

Lori Vober: Never ends, does it?

Dawn Damon: It's like, Oh, I've never been here before. I've never been to this place before. You are a woman of faith. We've written an amazing book called, ‘Choices.’ What's your favorite scripture? Is your is this book filled with scripture? Talk to us about how did what ministers to Lori.

use in this book was Jeremiah:

Dawn Damon: But so powerful.

Lori Vober: Yes. Of course, for your audience who doesn't know it. It’s ~ 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. Then you'll call on me and come to me and pray to me. I'll listen to you. You'll seek me and find me when you seek me with your whole heart. I do think that's extremely powerful and it says so much. So that's the main verse of this particular book.

. I used it based on Proverbs:

Dawn Damon: Yes.

Lori Vober: So this year is gratitude. My verse is with gratitude. I'm just so grateful for everything. It's based on 1 Thessalonians, rejoices always and be thankful for everything. And I use that all the time because I am truly so grateful for every opportunity that comes my way. We only have one life to live. It's to live it to your very best ability to serve Him with your whole heart and give Him everything you've got. Because we only have today. You don't know what tomorrow is gonna bring. So why not? Why not give thanks today? Make it your best day. And don't borrow worry about tomorrow. Just it worry's gonna come tomorrow. So just keep going.

Dawn Damon: Keep Going. Words to live by. My guest today has been Lori Vober and her new book, ‘Choices.’ When you're faced with a challenge, what choice will you make? Lori, tell us where they can find your book and where they can learn more about you. If you wanna have Lori as a speaker, where can they connect with you?

Lori Vober: Yes, I would love for you to connect with me on my website. It's at You can find out all my contact information there. I do have all my books on there, my journeys on there. I offer stroke resources and adoption resources. I also have a monthly newsletter. If you sign up for my monthly newsletter, I give you chapter one of my book as one of my free gifts. So I invite you to please jump on and do that. I also have my book available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and But I do provide my own book as an opportunity with a signed copy directly from me. So I invite you to look at all those options.

Dawn Damon: And we'll make sure that we put all of those things in the notes for you as well, if you're listening or if you're on YouTube and you can just click on those links.

Lori, thank you so much for being vulnerable. Thank you for showing us what it looks like to be vulnerable and yet still have joy and perseverance. And it's okay at times to say, I'm still in process. Good job my sister, my friend, great to have you on. Thank you for being brave. Do you have one last word before we say goodbye?

Lori Vober: Oh, I just wanna thank you so much. I just wanna encourage your listeners, to hang in there. Remember to be true to yourself. Don't get involved too much in what other people think. Remember who your creator is and what he meant for you to be. And remember, just when you're in your hard challenges and you're in your hard, hard journey, there's still a purpose and a plan for you. So hang in there.

Dawn Damon: Hang in there.

This is Dawn Damon, and I'm gonna leave you like I always do, bravehearted woman. Is this your moment to find your brave and live your vision?