Women That Inspire: Janet Perez Eckles
For this month’s “Women That Inspire,” Hope is proud to share the incredible work and life of Janet Perez Eckles — a woman who has survived great tragedy – and experienced amazing success…and who continues to thrive in her faith, as well as her career.
Janet Perez Eckles was born in La Paz, Bolivia, and moved with her family to the U.S. at the age of 12. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Southeast Missouri State University.
At the age of 32, she lost her eyesight to retinitis pigmentosa; in the midst of self-described “winds of anguish” and “emotional darkness” she was met with marital infidelity and financial hardship. Later, she experienced even greater heartache, when her son, Joe, was killed in an act of violence. When her son’s killer was released without charge, Janet found her self lost in resentment, anger, and sorrow.
Janet credits her deep faith in God as the source of her renewed joy, strength, peace, hope – and forgiveness. She shares her story with women and men around the world, traveling across the country and internationally for speaking engagements and mission trips. She has also appeared on a variety of local and national radio and international television programs (including the Orlando Sentinel, New York Times, and TV programs including “Homekeepers,” and “The Good Life” on CTN).
In recent years, she has gone on to become the first blind court certified interpreter in Florida, and receive a Professional Excellence Award by the world’s largest over-the-phone interpreting company, for which she serves as a Spanish interpreter and trainer.
Her professional memberships include Word Weavers of Central Florida, Toastmasters CC, being a certified trainer with “The Significant Woman” ©, and board member of Disability Media, Inc.
Today, Janet lives with her husband Gene in Orlando, Florida, and delights in their remaining two sons, daughter in law, and two grandchildren. As Janet shares on her website, she waits “in joyful expectation to the day we reunite with our son Joe in heaven.”
HOPE: How did you get involved with interpreting?
JPE: My interpretation began a few years after I lost my sight. Once my confidence was restored through Jesus, I called an interpreting company and offered my services. Bold step on my part, because although I’m bilingual, I lacked interpreting skills and training. But God opened doors and ushered ways to develop that craft until I mastered it. And through the years, I’ve been humbled with gratitude each time I received prestigious awards — during the 20 years I’ve been serving as an over-the-phone interpreter.
HOPE: How is your career doing in this economy?
JPE: Only God could bring more abundance in times of a tough economy. My job — as an interpreter for businesses, medical institutions, emergency rooms, courtrooms, and dozens of other entities — doesn’t slow down with any change of the economy. So, I’m busier than ever.
This may not mean much for most, but the fact that — being completely blind — I’m working, loving my job, and finding joy each day, is God’s way of reminding me: “Do you remember years ago when you went blind and you thought you would never be productive?”
A common question from those I meet is: “Janet, how did you lose your sight?” As I relate the details to answer this question, I’m quick to point out that my [blindness] helped me see the brighter side of life. The side that is often blocked with the stuff of life — image, possessions, figure, clothes, etc. The positive reaction from those with whom I shared this sparked a desire to let more people know how physical blindness, for me, was a blessing. Each day I see life with my heart — the scenery is more beautiful and colorful.
HOPE: You also speak professionally. You travel the world as an inspirational speaker; telling God’s story of being there, loving us all, and learning to laugh and love through it all. Yours is a message of victory. How did that begin?
JPE: My speaking ministry began and grew to keynotes [speaking engagements] before large audiences in churches, women’s events, and youth programs. And recently, corporations invite me to impart the secrets to overcome obstacles — and soar to success. And this step in my ministry is, once again, also a nudge from God to share what He has done for me — so others would know that He also prepared for them the same freedom from gloom…triumph over trials…and a life shining with victory.
HOPE: You have written/contributed to 28 books; your new book hit #1 on Amazon. How did you reach these levels in writing?
JPE: Yes, the latest highlight for me was when my new release, Simply Salsa: Dancing Without fear at God’s Fiesta hit #1 on Amazon. This success was another one of God’s whispers that still echoes in me: “Do you remember when you felt worthless and I told you I had plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future?”
As only God can, he brought me wonderful software that reads the screen. And this is how I operate my computer. Thrilled with this new technology, a passion to inspire others flickered in me. My fingers danced on the keyboard and words that convey messages of encouragement and inspiration filled the pages of my first book. Encouraged by the kind words from my readers, I presented stories to magazines, on-line publications, a column in local newspapers, and blogs — all to shine uplifting insights into the lives of those who are living in gloom.
HOPE: Many women are trying to find their place. They want their lives to have meaning — but at the same time struggle to find their career path. How were you able to find meaning? And how can other women find their career path?
JPE: Finding meaning and significance is simple when we recognize what we were created for. God created us not for prosperity, not for success, for peace, or health — but He created us for joy. Yes, the joy that most have misunderstood. Joy doesn’t come to a life free of troubles. Joy comes fully and richly when we learn to conquer fear.
Thus, the subtitle to my book, Simply Salsa: Dancing Without Fear at God’s Fiesta. Fear can paralyze us; that’s why Simply Salsa relates — in a sassy yet profound way — the secrets to triumph over fear…and [to] celebrating life. Dance into a life of significance, joy, and confidence!
For women trying to find their career path: Rather than fret for a job, for income, for career success, I suggest inviting a different attitude; the attitude of confidence and reassurance that God has the perfect plan — the perfect employment, the needed income, and the career that exceeds our dreams. The secret I found was to live by a set of powerful words found in the book of Matthew 6:33—“Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.”
HOPE: Janet you are so inspiring. What does “hope” mean to you?
JPE: Hope is that nudging that keeps us moving forward when the most difficult and darkest moments turn our life upside down. When my 19-year-old son was murdered, it was hope—not in my own abilities, ways, or strength—but hope in the God of the universe…who promised He would comfort me, and bring back peace that sustained me.
I learned that hope is a gift from God. It’s wrapped in faith — vibrant faith — and sits for all of us, waiting under the tree of His love.
Janet Perez Eckles holds speaking engagements all over the country. She inspires you to triumph through Christ; teaches you to soar to success. She gives you paths to defeat fear. Through her newsletter and blog, she offers words of encouragement to walk with you from pain to peace and joy. Visit Janet at http://www.janetperezeckles.com/.