"God's goodness is more important than your weakness
and God's love is more powerful than your failures."
- Father Gerard Hughes
I was six years old when I asked Jesus Christ into my heart. I fell head over heels in love with Him. I loved dressing up in my pink tutu and dancing freely in my room. Being in relationship with Jesus became very natural to me; like breathing.
Shortly after asking Jesus into my heart, my uncle sexually violated me and attempted to suffocate me to the point of near death in order to keep me silent. Fear, shame and self-hatred took a deep root in my heart. They became like a rudder on a ship, they began to navigate and shape my life.
Next, our home growing up was consumed with anger. My oldest brother had experienced his own childhood trauma outside of our home and as a result, he struggled with drug addictions and mental illness. Seeing what was happening around me, I was paralyzed for most of my life by fear. The violence from him continued in our home until I left for college.
As a teen, I gave up on God. I gave up talking with Him. I believed the lies that God did not love me nor did He care about me. I believed the lies that God had no power to heal or free anyone from sin or bondage. I believed the lie that God was powerless in the face of evil.
In junior high and high school, rejection, betrayal and never feeling like I fit in were common experiences. I became sexually active with my boyfriend when I was 15 years old, with the hopes that I would be wanted, accepted and loved. I was aching for unconditional love and acceptance.
Life at college was a party. I had two abortions during those years. Then, one night my drink was laced and my Muslim boss raped me. When I woke up, he was choking me, beating me and offering me up as a sexual sacrifice to his god. Self-hatred and self-destruction exploded in me. I began to struggle with an eating disorder and was on a path of self-destruction. I did everything possible to tuck those areas of pain away in my heart.
Upon graduation, I moved from Minnesota to California where I met my first husband. Due to the dysfunction in both of us, this marriage failed in 1995. During that marriage, I had two miscarriages and was told I would never be able to have children. In this marriage, my ex-husband was deeply caught in sexual sin and was addicted to pornography. His addiction to pornography launched me into deeper shame, unworthiness and self-hatred. I felt like his addiction was the result of something deeply wrong with me. I hated who I was as a woman.
During the failure of that marriage, I met another man whose name is Mike. Within a few short months of our dating, we became pregnant. I was in the process of a divorce and now I was pregnant from a man I barely knew at all. My life was completely falling apart. I had no hope to hold onto. My life was consumed with chaos. I was lost and in complete despair.
I wanted so much to run away. I thought if I ran away, my problems would be solved. So, at five months pregnant, Mike and I left on a 3 week back packing trip to Europe. While there, I picked up a book called "The God of Surprises" by Catholic Priest Gerard Hughes. In Postiano, Italy with tears streaming down my face, I read about a God I had not known. A God would could love someone as messed up as me. A God, who is passionately in love with broken, messy people. A God who was not focused on my sin but on His intense desire for my heart to return to Him.
I will never forget Jesus coming to me on that veranda overlooking Postiano, Italy. He was not looking at my circumstances or at the deep shame, anger or hatred I was walking in. He didn't come to me - listing off my sin or beating me up for the mistakes I had made. He came to me and whispered one thing, "do you want to come home, Lori?".
Tears streamed down my face as I tried to speak through my tears. "Yes Lord, I want to come home". In that moment, Jesus held me in His arms as I sobbed uncontrollably. I gave my life back to Jesus Christ in that moment.
On that day, I gave my life back to Jesus Christ and I wrote a letter to the Catholic Priest who wrote that book. I called out to help from God and from him. I shared with him everything. I held nothing back. Upon returning from our trip to Italy, there was a letter waiting in my mailbox from him. His words about transparency and prayer forever changed my life. I began to pray to God out of the deepest part within me. I made a commitment to the Lord to live a life of transparency before God and others. I made a commitment to never give up talking with God about the deep things of my heart.
In his letter Father Gerard Hughes wrote:
Thank you for your letter from Italy and for your great trust in writing it. God creates out of chaos and God loves you unconditionally. We can know this with our heads but it takes a life time and many personally crisis' like your own for us to know this in our hearts.
From your letter, you feel such guilt over the failure of your marriage and over your present pregnancy that you can't face praying to God. God's goodness is more important than your weakness and God's love is more powerful that your failures.
So, however rotten and guilty you feel, show it all to God and pray to Him out of the deepest part of yourself, the part that wants to be one with Him, the "sheepdog" part of yourself. When you do this, you are letting God's Spirit hover over your chaos, bringing order and life out of it for you, for your child and for others.
So, don't let those guilty feelings prevent you from praying!
God bless you with love and peace,
Later that year, Mike and I had our first child. A year later, Mike and I were married and baptized together. I fell deeply in love with Jesus again. The Lord, through this letter pulled me into an intense lifestyle of contemplative prayer. The Word of God came alive to me and to know Jesus became my life calling (Phil. 3:7-11). The Lord called me into full time ministry. I knew my life was no longer my own. He divinely planted me in a growing, thriving evangelical church.
In coming back to the Lord, I wrote it across my heart that I would never look back. My motto was "the old is dead, the new is here ... forget the past and move on with Jesus"! I closed up the doors in my heart that led to pain and I kept my eyes of Jesus and the future.
Although this seemed good at the time, Jesus' dreams and desires for me entailed more than this. His desire was not only to see me come back to Him, His desire was to see me restored and healed so I could walk in the fullness of His plan for my life.
In 2002, I was a leader in ministry. And as I studied the Word of God more and more, I realized that I had some bad fruit in my life. I struggled with anger and intense self-hatred. I was doing all that I knew to do to become free of it - I was praying and studying my Bible. However, the freedom never came. No one ever taught me the keys to lasting spiritual freedom.
During this time period, I began to have paralyzing panic attacks in the middle of the night. I struggled with intense fear. One night, I heard the Lord audibly say to me, "Lori, it is time to look back". In that moment I was so afraid. I was afraid that if I showed him these hidden places in my heart that He too, would not want me. I was terrified of being abandoned. I would rather die than to lose the love I was finding in Jesus.
Finally, one night I surrendered. "Lord" I cried out "whatever it takes, I give you complete access to all of my heart". Immediately God set into motion His plan to heal and restore me. The Lord said very clearly to me, "Lori, your heart is like a room with many hidden closets (doors); we're going to go into each closet .... and one by one .... I will redeem them all"!
The first closet door that the Lord opened was my two abortions. He led me to a PACE (Post Abortion Counseling & Education) Bible study. Here the Lord began to unravel the deep layers of anger, shame, grief, fear and guilt I had for taking the lives of two of my children. I was often overcome with deep fear that my children would die or be taken away because of the abortions I had in college. I was so controlling over my children when they were toddlers out of fear that something bad was going to happen to them. I never linked this control and fear to the fact that I was post-abortive. Through this study, Jesus began to heal me from the deep shame and self-hated I had for taking the lives of my two children, Abigail and Matthew (God showed me their names).
Following the PACE Bible Study, the Lord led me to a prayer counseling ministry where I began to walk through all the other closet doors in my heart. I began to apply the Biblical principles of forgiveness, repentance and renewing my mind with the Truth of God's Word to the various traumatic events that took place in my life time. It was truly a Hebrews 12:1-2 experience ... where God began to unravel the sin that had deeply entangled me in my life time. Both the sin I chose to do (repentance) as well as the sin done to me (forgiveness). I allowed the Truth of God's Word to permeate into those broken places of my life. My mind and heart began to be renewed in the Truth of who God really was, what He could really do and who I was to Him.
During this two year period of meeting with prayer counselors once a week, the Lord began to unravel all that Satan did to try to destroy me (John 10:10). Jesus held me close as He walked me through every door - redeeming what the enemy had taken and restoring the deep places of my heart back to LIFE!
Following this season, the Lord then began to train me as a spiritual director and as a prayer counselor. I learned how to help others live in lasting spiritual freedom by helping them live out a Hebrews 12:1-2 experience with God as well.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith."
- Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV
God then began to use me 1) to bring healing to others (and specifically with pastors and leaders) and 2) to disciple and train these pastors and leaders in the basics Biblical principles for spiritual freedom. Four of these basic Biblical principles are:
3. Renewing the Mind with Truth
4. Blessings & Curses
Over the years, I have had the honor of praying with and ministering freedom to many pastors, leaders and their families. I've been blessed to train up and disciple leaders in how to bring more lasting spiritual freedom into the flock that they lead. I've helped by teaching others that lasting spiritual freedom is truly a discipleship process of helping people to know and understand how to get free and how to stay free.
What I learned through my own seasons of healing, God has been using to bring life and healing to others. What Satan meant for evil and harm, God has been using for good.
God restored me to the Truth of who He is. To the Truth ... God is good. He is love. He does care. He is always there with me. I am never alone. I am deeply wanted by Him. He does have the power to heal us and free us from sin and bondage.
I know His Word is true. Jesus is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He is the Almighty One. He is a mighty God and He is mighty to save.
I know that I am a beloved daughter of the Most High God. A daughter of the One who created the heavens and the earth. I know God loves me whether I succeed or fail. I live from the grace of God and not from the approval of man.
Although, I am still in process with God. These beliefs are still being fortified in me through life, trials and circumstances. I know, I have come full circle with my God. Jesus has brought my heart back alive again to the little girl who loves dancing joyfully and intimately with her God.