We all have a story to tell of our life. For all of us who still live and breathe, it is a story still being written in many ways. Your story, or my story; if we are honest, it is a story that is messy at times. So many of us are not willing to share all the good, bad and the ugly of our lives. Quite frankly for many, I cannot bear to spend too much time in thought over the messes of your life, any more than I want to linger over the messy parts of mine. To tell a life story of a person that simply bears me much sadness and no real hope in the end, seems depressing and pointless. Many people have lived lives that in the end are pointless and full of death and decay that led to no good end. I have little patience to read or listen to most of those stories. But what inspires me as real stories of real lives, like this one I helped write about my friend Lisa. Lisa tells it all, the good, bad and ugly, but ultimately, the glimmer of hope seen early on proves that God had his mark on her life and even though many struggles, God did something marvelous and transformed yet another life of what seemed to be a total wreck in many ways, into something beautiful and full of Joy and Hope. It is stories like this one below that inspire people like me to rejoice all the more in the secure blessings of my salvation and eternal hope only found in Christ Jesus, because when God chooses you to be his very own, there is nothing ultimately that you can do to stop it. God will complete his work in each of his children. This is a story of hope and good endings. Just as it is for all who end up giving their own messy lives over to God. I hope you enjoy reading of Lisa’s story as much as I did proofing the text.
This is the story of a life set apart for God. God’s story for Lisa.
My life began in sunny southern California. My mom met my dad in Nome Alaska long before it became a state; he was in the military, stationed on a naval carrier. My mom was a half-Eskimo and half-French Canadian. My father was half-Dutch and half-German. I suppose that makes me a true American, blending of many peoples.
Let me tell you about the life and faith experiences that have radically formed my life. I did not grow up in a family that knew God. My mother’s experience with religion was that of Roman Catholics who came to her tiny Alaskan village attempting to force the native traditions out of her and the tribe, mostly through strict rules and beatings. My mom gained dislike and distrust from those in the “church”. Even so, she would still allow me and my siblings to attend church with friends since it was the predominate custom our culture. My father’s religious experience was that of Lutheran, but he did not know God. Thus, my parents’ religious practice was a blend that resembled that of an occultic tradition rather than anything Christ taught. Mom dabbled in witchcraft and horoscope; Dad had a fascination with hypnosis and the occult. He later became a certified hypnotist. Despite my parent’s crazy upbringing, I had a desire to really know God. I would attend church whenever asked by my neighbors. In summertime, I would live with my great uncle and aunt, Ruben and Olivia. They were devoted Seventh Day Adventists. They had the greatest spiritual impact upon me growing up, since they lived true to their faith; more closely aligned with Christ’s teachings. They were a consistent example of living a life of love and faithfulness to God and man.
Our family lived in California and lived on some acreage on top of a hill. We had what seemed like a typical American family of the day yet with our family of eight. In reality, our home was chaotic and dark. A day did not go by without fighting and screaming! There was no peace. I often had to find places to hide from all the turmoil. My father owned a business and worked long hours. He often enjoyed the social side of drinking and it was not long until he became an alcoholic. He became like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with his drinking. His nice demeanor would flip and he would take out his rage on everyone when He arrived home late evenings from his post work drinking binges.
My Mom had her own major issues. She had trouble keeping her home in order with six of us kids and she too flew into violent tantrums. Between them both, the fury of our parents coming down on us kids was a daily experience. It was like a war zone; parental wrath in the form of beatings, screaming rants and threats. The terrorism of them discarding us as their children was one of my worst memories. The abuse left deep scars on all of us children. We were reminded constantly how much a burden we were to them. My father would curse vile things calling us “sons of bitches”, “no good”, “worthless”, and more. My older siblings got the worst of the abuse. I was next to the youngest, so by the time my parents took out their anger out on the four older siblings, they were usually too tired to beat my little sister and me. We became very skilled at hiding in the fields and abandoned cars. Terror of my dad became so great that anytime I heard my father’s car coming up the drive at night, my heart would start pounding and fear gripped me. I would brace myself for another sleepless night of crying. It was a life of real terrorism, but it is all I really knew.
I would often intervene into the fights; trying to stand in between my Dad’s attacks on my siblings in love for them. He would hit them with belts or anything handy he could find. I cannot recall being able to sleep sound through an entire night most my childhood while at home. I would stay up until I knew my parents were asleep, usually 2:00 am or later, and then fall asleep myself. My school grades reflected my home life. The teachers thought I was careless or a daydreamer. I failed all my classes, but no one seemed to care. The truth was, my mind was so full of terror and fear, I could not focus on anything. My mind was always filled with, “Will I live today, or will one of my brothers or sisters be killed by my parents?”. It was a life of no peace.
The only solace I found was in my pets, and a horse that my mom bought my older sister. Eventually they all ran off, but later I got a hand-me-down very gentle “bombproof” trail horse that I loved. Looking back, I can see God used it to save my mind and give me peace in my teen years. The oldest siblings left home by this time and it was down to my two older brothers and me and my younger sister. My brothers displayed signs of abuse by stealing and getting in trouble often. My older brother Ralph Jr. was a daredevil. He dealt with the abuse by abusing others, including me. I would daily hit or slap me, telling me I was a slut, whore or worse. He took delight in terrifying me, chasing me with knives, and even trapping me in a hole in the ground, he dug out and called the “fort”. He would leave me in it most the day until my mom began to wonder where I was. I could not understand why he hated me so much. Today I know he was just doing what abused kids do, taking out their abuse on others. He grew very violent and now he is in the mob and a very dangerous man; a murder even. Then there was Roger, he was a year older than I was. Roger had severe learning disabilities, today he would be classified as autistic, but back then, there was little understanding of what my brother struggled with. Sadly, he became the scapegoat, and my Dad and brothers took most their rage out on him. Roger could not read facial gestures. He did not understand when you were mad, nor did he know how to respect boundaries as is common with this mental disorder. If Roger wanted something, he simply took it. Roger had a fascination with mechanical and electrical things, and he tried to discover how they all worked; including my battery operated dolls, blow driers, radios and stuff. My dad would explode on him because he was always taking apart things. One day my Dad came home to find that Roger had taken my mom’s car engine apart! My dad really blew a fuse and decided he had enough of Roger. I heard my mom screaming at my Dad to stop, so I ran as fast as I could to stop the fight like had done so many times before. This time though, what I saw changed my family’s life forever. My dad was trying to kill Roger and had him in a noose! I broke into the room, and looked up at my Dad and shouted at him firmly “PUT HIM DOWN NOW!” with a God given voice of authority and power that could only have been the Holy Spirit working through me. Amazingly, Dad let go of the rope and walked out of the room.
My brother dropped to the floor and I ran out of the room. I do not recall exactly what took place soon after, but I remember waiting for Roger in the back woods where we would hide. We ran to a friend’s home across to the next hillside. Roger slept under a willow tree that night. That day I came to truly hate my father. A few days later, they sent Roger to a boy’s home about 200 miles away in the foothills of California. What man meant for evil, God used for good. It was at that camp where I remember Roger telling me that he became born again. I did not know what he meant by that, but for the first time, Roger seemed to be happy! I knew that God had his hand upon him from that day forward.
Eventually Roger came home, but as soon as he did, my mom took off for a long trip back to her home in Alaska. Dad told us that she went to stay with her mom for a while. Mom simply abandoned us with our Dad. For the first time in our lives, we had freedom and peace, because our Dad was never home. Dad found another woman. He came by only to drop off change for school lunches. The refrigerator grew empty, but we did not care, since we ate from the fruit and avocado trees when hungry. Even so, the hunger was minor compared to having someone beat you all the time and living in terror.
Since Dad was gone all the time, we had parties, invited friends over and celebrated all we wanted, as teens without guidance. I went to school, but was still unfocused. I was hungry and felt abandoned, as it finally dawned on me that my parents had dumped us. I made friends with a freshman boy from school named Eric. He and I were like two peas in a pod. His dad also was abusing him, and I would let him come and stay at my place to seek safety from his father’s wrath. Eventually we ended up sexually intimate. I did not know how a woman became pregnant; very ignorant about sex. We never talked about those things. I remember one time my sister getting beat because she was got pregnant from some guy. My mom dropped her at an abortion clinic and told her not to come home until the baby was gone. When she did come home, she was beat again. She ended up running away because of it and married the fellow with whom she was sexually involved.
My Dad was involved with that other woman with kids for about 9 months; we did not care. He left us alone and that took away our fear. My older sister and brother found out we kids were living alone and came by to see for themselves. Ralph took the opportunity to torment us, show up and acting like a burglar. He would take a knife and scare me with it until I would scream for mercy to be let go. My older 18-year-old sister noticed that my body was changed; my breasts were bigger and I was throwing up. She said, “You are pregnant and I have to get you checked.” I was terrified, yet had no idea what she was saying. She and her boyfriend took me to a “free clinic.” There they confirmed I was pregnant. I was in my second trimester about 5 months. They said I would need to go to a hospital to have an abortion. That was when I first learned about the word “abortion”. Until then, I had only heard the word once. It was at a party where some girl had been hemorrhaging because she had an abortion. Fear struck me! I said “why can’t I keep it and why do I have to have this abortion?” My sister said, “You are 13 and cannot have a baby, and mom would kill you if she found out.” I was more terrified of my mom than of my dad, because I had seen how she abused my sisters, and I knew she was right.
I felt I had no choice but to do as she said. I remember being in the Planned Parenthood clinic and a mom across the room saying, “she is so young.” I was thinking, “Well, I am almost 14, Lady!” At the clinic, I was treated like a piece of meat. Doctors, I thought were supposed to be caring, but this doctor could care less about my suffering and tears. He said, “You are very far along and we need to insert several seaweed sticks to open your cervix.” I had no idea what he meant, but the pain was unbelievable. He told me to stay home so that the seaweeds could expand. They told me it would be a few days and then we could go to the hospital, and that everything would be fine once the procedure was over. I cried and cried, and wanted Eric with me. I thought he abandoned me, but little did I know, my sister told Eric not to come around. I remember pleading for the doctors not kill my baby, but they just kept getting me ready for the surgery. I remember sobbing and praying, “God I am sorry! One day I will have another baby and will make up for the one that was killed.” I woke up grabbing my stomach in
recovery yelling, “STOP!” The nurse above me said, “Oh you’re done, it’s over now.” I was still dizzy from the sedation, and vomited. I was in a room with several other people on gurneys, like a animal holding pen. In my stupor, I managed to slide out of the hospital bed and crawl to the rest room. I cried and threw up; blood was all over me while I lay on the bathroom floor.
After a while I pulled myself together, was given pads and birth control pills, then waited outside for my sister’s boyfriend to pick me up and take me home. The ride was deadly silent. I was dumped off at the bottom of our hill on the road. Weak and alone, I walked backwards up the hill to the home where I had no parents to love me or console me. I felt so abandoned. My heart and soul were crushed. I made it to my bed. There I wept all night staring at my wristband from the hospital, while holding my stomach. In shame and pain, I repeated my vow to God, “I promise you God, I will make this up to you, I will have another child to replace this one.” Yet something in me changed that day, something died. I felt dead and I wanted to die. I lost my innocence, and most of all, I found out no one cared for me. I kept my abortion secret. I began to drink alcohol to numb the pain, plus I developed an eating disorder. I wanted to die, but could not think of an easy painless way to kill myself.
About a month later, my mom returned to get her things. She said she was moving back to Alaska and had a boyfriend. She said, “You can come with me or stay with your dad, but I am leaving in a week.” I did not want to stay with my dad who had abandoned us and left us foodless, but I was also angry and distrusting of my mom who also abandoned me when I needed her most. I felt she was the better choice. We packed up our two cats and all we had into a Pontiac. My mom and we three children took off up the Alcan Highway to unknown territory, leaving behind my childhood friends and all I knew. I was excited a little about the change, but also upset. My thoughts rang out the promise I needed to fulfill to God, because my conscience was reminding me of the evil that happened in the hospital. My soul cried out for a savior. All I could think about was finding a boyfriend, and I imagined meeting my ‘knight in shining armor’ some place in this Alaska journey; someone who would take me away from all the horror I knew as my life. In addition, I thought this meant that the abuse was now over, since my dad was out of the picture. I was feeling glad to be gone from all the bad memories and sleepless nights. For the first time, Roger was no longer being beat, and perhaps this was the beginning of a new life for my little sister and us all. Mom, who was 40, said that we were going to live with her new 25-year-old boyfriend, but I was very apprehensive with that situation.
Moving to Alaska, I was expecting igloos, and barren wasteland, but what I found was that Anchorage Alaska was a big city and had normal homes. It was bitterly cold there, but no false persona way of life existed in Alaska, like in California. People were real, and for the first time no one judged me by where I lived or what we drove. My relationship with my mom was so strained though; I hated her and loved her. I looked up to her, but had lost all respect when she left me. I blamed her for what took place, and I never told her my secret of the abortion.
My mom’s boyfriend was nice. He was calm and never raised his voice. I never let him close to me emotionally, but I knew we were safe with him. Roger continued to get into trouble and eventually went back to southern California; to this day, he lives on the beach as a homeless person. With his disorder and the abuse of my father, his spirit was broken. I will never forget him cry when he asked me,
“Why did dad try to hang me?” I told him our dad is sick and it was not Roger’s fault. Roger is just a shell of humanity today. I know God watches over him. One day he will be with me in heaven; healed and free from all his pain and anguish. Suffering will be no more.
In my sophomore year, a girl who was jealous of my long blonde hair, came from behind me and hit me with her fist in my temple so hard, that I lost vision and control of my right side for a day. After that, I dropped out of school. I was ashamed, tired of all the hate, and done with school. A few years later, I earned my GED, and enrolled in trade school for Travel Agents and Airline industry. When I was nineteen, I fell in love. I remembered my vow to God and sought to have a baby by that man. I was an avid soap opera watcher, and it perverted my view of romance. It seemed that all I needed to do was get pregnant, and he would fall hopelessly in love and marry me. Within a few months of dating, I became pregnant; I was happy and expected my boyfriend to be happy also. He was not. He was fearful and convinced me that we barely knew each other and it was way soon to have a baby, but in time he would consider it. It devastated me that my plans were not working. What would I do? I promised God that I would make up for the child I had killed and now I could not see a way out. My boyfriend proceeded to contact the abortion clinics and threatened my relationship with him if I did not abort our baby. I did not know what to do, except comply. My feelings became like that for my mom, I hated him, but loved him. He dropped me off at the clinic, while he waited outside in the car. I did not have the strength to say no, and my fear of abandonment was greater than my need to do what was right.
They intake people at the clinic were eager to help me, but once I was in the procedure room, the niceness changed. It was painful and I cried while the abortionist did his work. The nurse held my hand as I dug my nails into her hand. They saw me filled with sorrow and it made them upset. They left me unattended in the room with the containers of baby parts and blood to look at for several minutes. I wanted to look and see, but I was horrified at what I saw. I wondered why anyone who cared about a person would let them see the contents of their child in a container like that. They treated me cold and inhumane. All the nice talk was over, once they ripped the baby out. It filled me with guilt, regret, hatred, resentment, and deep hurt over what I had just done. I not only broke my vow to God, but now I felt I had to make right my wrong choices, and fast. I was suicidal and drank even more, to nub out my pain and my inner conscience. I lashed out at my boyfriend and our relationship was now unhinged; deranged. No sooner had I had an abortion, I again became pregnant. He gave me the same story and I followed the same routine. Why? Why? Why? My need for affection and to not be rejected so controlled me! “Why did someone not love and want me?”, I thought. I gave up on promises to God. I knew I was guilty of terrible wrong and nothing could change it.
I was going to airlines trade school in effort to find a career. My relationship with my boyfriend began to crash. Even though I was getting noticed by other men and realized the treatment that this guy was giving me was abusive and wrong, I couldn’t move on. I was addicted to the abusive cycle in which I grew up. I again found myself pregnant for the fourth time! This time, I said “NO!” to my boyfriend’s push to make me have another abortion. I said, “I will keep this child and I will no longer do what you’re telling me to do!” Somewhere I found the courage to stand up to him and walk away if necessary. My mom was not supportive and angry and told me that I was on my own with that decision. She kicked me out of her home. Thankfully, I found some friends to live with. However, I was still addicted to my
boyfriend, but he had moved on with other women while I was pregnant. He treated me like dirt. I drank and snorted coke, even early on in the pregnancy at times. I did my best to pretend I was not pregnant as means of coping. My boyfriend would take me on bike rides and skiing where I would fall. Looking back, I realize he was trying to have me ‘accidentally’ loose the baby. I was naive, and the abuse from my own home caused blindness in me to men who are abusers.
About that time, I was experiencing many headaches. Every day I used Excedrin for the horrific migraines I was having. The doctors said it was stress of being pregnant. Then September twentieth came and I went into labor, my boyfriend did not show up to the hospital, but I did have a few girlfriends with me. I was in back labor for 2 days. I was failing to dilate and I panicked, telling the doctors that they needed to do something or I was going to throw the Pitocin machine across the room! So, a doctor came in soon after and said he was doing an emergency C-Section. On Sept 22 Alicia Ann was born. They had to resuscitate her because she drowned in the amniotic fluid. They put her in the NICU for a few days because she had trouble breathing.
I was unprepared for motherhood, and sadly, I did not bond with Alicia. Her dad did not want her, my own family disowned me, and I was on my own. I had a deep sense of responsibility, and said to myself, “I made this decision and now I must live with it.” I remembered the promise to God, and realized that the guilt did not go away. I had a child but I still felt the deep ache of my past haunting me.
I had a big responsibility at 21 without any help, I was alone and I had to fight to care for my child. I was in over my head, but what could I do? I had to live up to the responsibility no matter what, and give this baby a chance in life. I passed my education and the Airlines hired me as a reservation agent. Life seemed to be improving. I dropped my daughter off at my mom’s while I partied on the weekends. I was very selfish, and although I made sure Alicia was clothed and fed, I did not give her the emotional love she needed. I was emotionally absent. I did not know how to properly show affection or even feel love. I am not sure if it was because of the years of abuse or the abortions that took away my feelings. It was probably both. All I know was that I could not feel, and I lacked compassion. I was a hard mom, and when she cried, I said “Oh you will be ok; get over it.” I began teaching her be like me, not to feel.
Alicia was also a very wild-child, so no one wanted to baby-sit her, I would get comments from my family all the time about my parenting and that she had a problem, and was ADD. I hated it that she was not wanted, and I tried so hard to make her okay for everyone. That meant that I over corrected her on the smallest things, and nitpicked at her slightest faults. Looking back, she was just being a needy, neglected and curious kid, but I wanted her perfect for my family, so that I could be accepted. In reality, Alicia was raised by babysitters and my mom, not me. I worked and visited her in between naps. I was on the hunt for a husband, and kept her on the sidelines.
When Alicia was 18 months, I met a man name Al, at a local dance bar I frequented. He looked like one of those Chippendale dancers and was the bouncer. We had immediate lust for each other. As it turned out, he was a male stripper and body builder. About that time, my daughter’s dad came around and wanted to reignite our relationship. He even asked me if I would marry him. I remember that day as if it was today. I looked into his eyes and felt nothing. I said, “When I needed you, you left me and showed
me who you really were. I do not love you nor ever will I.” He cried about it, but I became stronger that day.
My new boyfriend Al seemed to really like Alicia; so we quickly moved in with each other and talked about marriage. While living together I noticed that Al had a big problem with cocaine and lust. I had frequent headaches, mood swings, and black outs, even forgot to turn off things. It troubled me, and I saw a doctor, but he said that I was under lots of stress being a new mom and with work and all. Al and were both doing coke, and were involved in the bodybuilding scene. I even took injections for steroids a few times, urged by him to make me look bigger. Even though we were talking about getting married, I discovered that he was cheating on me. I was livid, and kicked him out. My heart was broken, and then my worst nightmare came about, I was pregnant again! “How?”, I thought, “I was doing all I could to not get pregnant and even taking precautions; how could I be pregnant?” I found out that Al was cheating on me a lot and even suspected of abusing my daughter, how could I even begin to have his child under these circumstances?
My fragile world was falling apart again. I knew what it was like to have one child on my own, but now two! No one would ever want me with two kids from different fathers and this guy is a child molester! I was sick, far along in my third trimester and I could feel the baby kick. I tried to ignore my all my good senses. I was thinking, “If I had this baby this guy will molest this child, I could not go through this anymore.” I did only what I felt I could. I went to the doctor and scheduled an abortion, my fourth abortion! I did not have enough money, and I asked the woman at the abortion desk, “I have this solid gold necklace; can I use this for the rest?” Much to my amazement, she took it and scheduled the abortion at the hospital.
Since this was my forth, I knew what to expect, but I hated what I had to do. I did not feel I had the strength to raise or even give birth to another child. I was already alone and to me, I could not find any way out. I was sick; I was weak, but I was responsible. The shame was on me, and I knew it! I cried in the hospital room hoping someone would help and stop me. No one came. I felt the kicking and when into the slaughter room; fully aware of my decision. There was no naivety this time. I did this murder. When I woke up, I was numb as I walked out. I wanted to die and so began to contemplate how I would kill myself. Because I was a wreck, I they fired me from my job. My life was crumbling.
Poor little Alicia all alone; ignorant of what was going on and brought into this world though my selfish irresponsibilities. I am unable to care for her. I drank and pondered what to do, how to take my life, but what about Alicia?
I prayed and made one last ditch effort to see if God was real.
I said, “God, I am tired…I don’t know who you are, Mary, or Jesus, but I need you to show me that you are who you are or in two weeks I am going to kill myself.” I had finished off a 12 pack of beer and fell asleep.
The next morning I woke up, with some newfound hope, a new desire to look for a non-denominational church, one that just teaches the Bible. I then remembered a church on the hill a few miles from where I
lived, named “Abbott Loop Community Church.” I remember it, because my best friends in High School got married there when she became pregnant. I thought, “If she could be accepted there, Maybe I might?”
I looked them up in the phone book and called the pastor to see if I could get in to see him. I told him that I wanted to kill myself and needed to talk to someone. He said, okay come on in that day. His name was Dan Amos. I will never forget him and the first thing he said when he saw me was that, “God is going to use you in a mighty way.” I heard that and thought, “Oh great! What did you get yourself into now, Lisa?.”
I followed him into his office; expecting a clergy with a white collar, not some hick with a cowboy hat and boots. I sat in his office; he opened up a Bible and began to read. He asked me if I believed in what he read. I said, “Yes” to all he asked me. He then said, “Well, you just need to repent and trust in Jesus.” He also told me he wanted to introduce me to a friend, who had abortions like me. He felt that she and I would be able to relate. He invited me to church on Dec 15, 1987, and the next day I got to meet this friend. I felt hope! I felt great! I could come to church and they accepted me even with all my sins! I thought I was going to have to confess all my wrongs. I knew I could not remember them all, what a relief to know I did not have to do all that to come to Church, I thought. I looked forward to meeting the woman who had gone through my abortion experiences the following day. I remember coming to church and feeling good. Alicia was with me and I could feel the warmth from the people. I sat up front and listened to the sermon, every word seemed to speak to me, and tears filled my eyes.
After the service they introduced me to a woman who was radiant and warm, immediately my spirit fought this meeting. Confusion, anxiety and chaos filled the area of our meeting. It was as if we were in the ocean and a wave hit us both and toppled us over. She knew I was in a battle and quickly secured a meeting time with her at her home the next day. I loved this woman and hated her at the same time! She irritated me and I could not figure out why. Despite my feelings, I promised her that I would come to her home the next day and visit with her. For a day, I struggled with going see this woman. I dreaded it, and because I smoked, I fought against that loss of that comfort. My thoughts bombarded me with all kinds of reasons not to go, but something in me desired to know more, and I headed to her little home in the snow that evening. I knocked at her door and she welcomed me in with her husband. Her home was warm and cozy; there was a feeling of peace upon it that I had never sensed. All my defenses fell away as she began to share her own story of her past with abortions. Then she taught me about the Gospel of Jesus and how to be born-again. She asked me if I wanted to receive Christ as my Savior and I said “YES!” Then I immediately felt my shame lift and joy filled my heart! She asked if I wanted to be filled with the Spirit of God. I said, “Sure, I want it all!” So, they prayed that I would be filled with the Spirit and somehow I began to speak in tongues.
I knew something had wonderful happened because my normal insatiable craving to smoke a cigarette was gone! For the five hours prior to receiving the Spirit in her home, I could not wait to get in my car and smoke. But once the Spirit of God came in, the craving and desire left me. I knew that I had an encounter with God. Not only that, my eyes were suddenly opened to sin like never before! I saw the world for what it was. I was even ashamed that my neckline was low and began to pull it up. It was as if
I had been asleep and the lights suddenly turned on brilliantly! I knew the truth, and I even now craved more of it.
When leaving, I got in my car full of joy and drove off! When I saw my cigarettes, I threw them out the window and have never smoked since. That day was Dec 17, 1987! She gave me a bible, and when I got home, I began to read and read and read. I could not put it down and would spend hours in it in amazement! The church had two weekly services I attended, and I was at church whenever I could get into the doors. I remember sobbing every time, and I almost hated the singing, because I would ruin my make up by weeping through the songs.
I rarely sung before, in my home when you sang you were told to shut up! I loved to sing, and it was in the singing that my heart began to melt. About this time, my old boyfriend got ahold of me and I told him that I was now a Christian and that He needed to repent. I gave him a Bible and that was the last time I spoke with him. My heart was deeply broken by him, and still in a million pieces still despite my conversion. I longed for love, yet my heart was so wounded by all that I had gone through. I knew I had a better life, but at the time, Jesus could not fix the ache in my heart for companionship. I was a single mom, and everyone kept telling me to keep my eyes on Jesus and he would provide. I loved being at church and the people that surrounded me were my new family. I had never known love like this.
I did not know how to receive love like that which I was getting, and I felt awkward. My emotions seemed up and down and I cried all the time, I had severe headaches that did not help. Again, I was told it was just all the changes and stress. I began to think about moving out of Alaska, and making a new fresh start somewhere else. Perhaps if I leave, my heart can mend better I thought. Against everyone’s wishes, I decided to move to southern California; the area where my great Uncle and Aunt lived in Fresno. I packed up all my belongings and drove with Alicia to California. I was a wreck, stressed, frequent headaches and forgetful periods of hysteria; it was by God’s grace I was able to drive alone from Alaska to California with a four-year-old child.
I arrived in there and immediately connected with a church family, and found a job working at the airport in reservations. I was under a lot of stress, but hopeful. I found a sitter for Alicia and things seemed to be looking well for us. What I noticed was that I would forget things often, like turning off the stove, iron, and locking doors. I even ran into a glass window while walking towards it. Friends where telling me that I was not paying attention when they talked, and my job said I was forgetting things. I could not figure out why, and I was getting worse and worse, the headaches especially. I remember calling a doctor to tell them about my symptoms, and they said I was just under stress. I wanted to believe them, but deep inside I knew something was deeply wrong with me. I began to wonder if God was punishing me for all I did and that I was experiencing his wrath for my sins.
As a new Believer, I had not learn yet to surrender all my life to God, and would fall into sexual sin with men, but fears of what I was doing began to trouble me. This lust addiction was hard to break, and even when I willed myself not to succumb, I gave into it. Shame and guilt became my tormentors. I would do ok, but then when a man would take me out and get close, I would become weak and unable to resist his advances. I beat myself up, saying, “Why? Why? Why am I so weak?”
I tried harder and harder to be good and attend church events, the headaches grew to where I was laid up for two days at a time with them. My neighbor gave me some Vicodin but it did not help. One day while I was at work at the airport a man came up frantically with his ticket shaking it in my face and suddenly my head exploded. I began to throw up and ran to the bathroom crying, “Help me, I am dying.” I curled in a ball on the bathroom floor and medics rushed me to the nearest hospital. They checked my purse for drugs and found caffeine pills, and asked me if I was on drugs. I yelled something at the doctor and vaguely remember signing some papers. I was taken to another wing of the hospital and put in a room. I cried and cried lying in bed waiting for a doctor, but no one came. I managed to crawl out of bed and crawl down the hall to the nurses’ station. I saw a sign that said “Therapy room.” I asked where I was and I begged for something for my headache. The nurse said, “You are suicidal and are being held for 72 hours, now go back to your room.” I was in shock, and could barely talk. The pain in my head was so great I could not even think. I begged them for Aspirin, and they threw me a package on the floor. Weeping, I crawled back to my room. I could not even think or reason my head hurt so bad. I found a towel to get wet in the bathroom and wrapped it around my head. I lay in bed crying because pain was so over whelming! A nurse stopped by and asked me if I wanted to go to therapy, I cursed at her! I got mad, something in me rose up and I knew I had to get out of that place somehow. I began to threaten the nurses that I was going to call the TV stations and tell them I was being held against my will. So I did, I found a phone book and called everyone I could find, and told them to please help me. Then I thought about calling my pastor. I told him what happened, and he came and took me into his custody. I just wanted something for my headache, I could not wait to get home and take the Vicodin I had to stop the pain.
I was home for about 4 hours and then I went into full seizures, and my head hurt so bad I had to wrap it in a towel while I screamed in pain. My poor daughter age 4 had to go to the neighbors and ask them to call an ambulance for mommy. The ambulance came, and this time I told them that “I was not crazy, I am very sick, do not take me to the other hospital and please check my head.”
I passed out. The next thing I remember was the sound of knocking from x-ray machines and lying flat strapped to a table unable to move. My head hurt so bad it felt like it was going to explode, the pain was beyond bearable and I gritted my teeth in pain. I remember thinking, “This is what it is like to die! I was afraid, because I knew that I was not living my life right before God.” I focused in, and tried to talk to God in my mind, to prepare myself for heaven, or hell I wasn’t sure. Suddenly out of nowhere, I hear my name, “Liiissssaaaaaa”! It spooked me! It was like a lightning bolt of power went right through me. The pain ceased, and I was suddenly in the presence of the Lord! Righteousness, love, holiness, mercy, and truth all proceeded from Him! It was like the power of water rushing down a waterfall and lightening at the same time! I was frightened and I immediately wanted to hide. My true intents were exposed and I could not hide! I was undone, and I knew it within seconds of hearing my Lord speak my name! I was ashamed! He knew me and all the bad in my heart; I felt suicidal and wanted to die. My heart broke and I just subsisted there for a while. Then what took place next has forever etched in my heart… Christ began to weep. He was sad and He wept over me. Why, I thought? He was sad because He loved me! I had no idea how much He loved me. He said, “You don’t know really know my love and how much I love you.” Then He said, “I have a plan for you, and you are going to be okay.” There I was
expecting to be condemned; snuffed out! I truly deserved it! Instead, He was weeping over me! “Why?” “How can it be?” I thought.
The next thing I remember was waking up to a doctor at my side. He said, “You have a big tumor and showed it to me in the x-rays.” He said he would not know if it is cancerous, until after I had surgery. He said He only knew one doctor who could perform this surgery with any success, and he is in Alaska. I marveled and said, “Great, I am going to be okay, let’s get this thing out.”
The doctor tried to explain how bad it was, but I was just happy that I was not going nuts as I had thought! I clung to hope, and those precious words of grace God gave me in my vision, “You are going to be okay, and I have a plan for you” It was like I was Moses, and the brightness of Gods glory was so great! I just believed and what God said would happen. The anointing from being in the presence of the Lord was so strong, it caused me to give up all I had and believe! For the first time in my life, I had no fear, no worries, and I did not think of myself. Driven from then on to only think about others, I could not wait to be well so I could reach out to the world with this love I had encountered.
As we all have heard, Gods plans are not always as they may seem to us. His, “You’re going to be okay” did not turn out quite as if I had imagined it. I had to fly up to Alaska in a wheel chair. Some good news was that tests revealed that I was dominate on both sides of my brain, and left handed. That meant that I would not lose all my cognitive abilities, and may not be a vegetable. Either way, I ignored all what the doctors said, and remembered what the Lord spoke to me. However, God and I had different ideas about what “okay” meant. I awoke after surgery and realized that I was in big trouble when I could not figure out how to tie my shoe! Now I know, God was trying to show me something and it really had little to do with my brain tumor. He was showing me that I needed deep healing in my heart not my head to be okay! The suffering of the brain tumor brought out the real issues; that was my soul was damaged! As He healed my soul, my body would follow. All along I was thinking my problem was my brain tumor, but God showed me the problem was my heart, and the tumor was a manifestation of sick heart.
As God began the long grueling process of breaking though this ordeal in me, He gave me a special gift because of the brain surgery. I did not know I had this amazing gift until 6 months after my surgery I set out to a find job; any job. I could not keep lying around and do nothing. I became mad at God and said, “God, you said I was going to be okay, but I am messed up and need some work.” So, I looked in the paper, and spotted an advertisement for a job that I thought I could do. It was a part-time ad agency position taking pictures of artist hand drawn ads, making them smaller to be cut and pasted into newspaper advertisements. I did not realize that this job would reveal my secret gift from God, but it did. I saw that staff artists were having fun drawing, and I thought to myself, “I bet I could draw too.” So, I took a pen and drew a pair of sneakers. Much to my utter amazement and the rest of the crew, I drew them perfectly, so much that they put them in the advertisement! Within three months on this job, they hired me as a full time illustrator! God has His sense of humor, and perhaps He knew I would question our encounter, so He left me with a supernatural gift to draw and paint so that I would never forget or question His hand upon my life.
One of Lisa's many recent watercolor paintings
God restored my health and gave me a career and purpose. Today, I live a radically changed life by the grace of God. I am an artist, and I run a custom framing business. Yes, I am okay now, and He has a plan for me that I am living out. It’s a life telling many others of the forgiveness and love of Christ to all who will listen! Most of all, I am healed by the power of His love from the abuse and abortions. I confessed my sins and He has washed me white as snow from them all. I can now feel love and give love, and I know that the power of God can heal and give us life…….life more abundantly!
I am living proof of Jeremiah 29:11-13 that says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”
All who come to Jesus in humility and truth will find life, just as I have.
Mother, Artist, Servant of God Most High.