Grace to Live a Life Sentence

Stacie, my sixteen-year-old daughter, was outgoing and beautiful, full of hopes and dreams. Until one man destroyed them in a single moment.

He stalked our family for two weeks and waited until Stacie was home alone. He slipped in through an unlocked door with the intention to rape her. But when he failed he stabbed her, piercing her heart.

Stacie collapsed on her younger sister’s bedroom floor and bled to death.

Kristie, my fourteen-year old daughter, arrived home two hours later to find her.

The murderer, who was still in the house, forced her to the basement and raped, bound, and strangled her.  He slit her wrists, stabbed her twice, and slashed her throat repeatedly… then left her for dead.

A Wounded Mother

I received a call from the police to come home immediately. I arrived to learn that Stacie had been murdered and that Kristie was not expected to live. No mother should ever have to come home to this horrific tragedy—and to realize that she, herself, is considered a potential suspect.

I thought my life was over…

The attacker not only wounded Kristie and pierced Stacie’s heart. He wounded and pierced my heart, forever leaving a gaping hole that only God could heal.

Darkness

Grief began to shroud me in total darkness. As time passed, and I learned of the horrid details, anger took over me. Depression engulfed me and led me to a frightening alley of suicidal thoughts.

The voice of Satan followed me and filled me with angst and delusions. Anger—and then guilt—consumed me as I grieved for Stacie and waited to hear if my younger daughter would survive.

Grace

The surgeons believed that Kristie’s stab wounds had likely severed her spinal cord, her esophagus and vocal cords. If she survived, she would never walk or talk again.

I cried out to the Lord, begging Him not to let Kristie die too!

God’s amazing grace began to penetrate the darkness… And I heard his inaudible—yet distinct voice, saying,

“Don’t be afraid or discouraged… for the battle is not yours, but mine. You will not have to fight this battle…stand firm and see the deliverance I, the Lord, will give you…  I, the Lord, am with you.” [1]

Jesus came to our aid and wrapped His arms around us, and whispered, “Kristie is healed.”

His voice was confirmed later when we learned that the knife only nicked her small intestine. Three stitches were the extent of the repair. No other vital organs were damaged!

The doctor called her a miracle, echoing what I already knew.

The following Saturday we said goodbye to Stacie. No parent should ever have to bury a child, but Christ Jesus carried us and sustained us as we continued to come to terms with this tragedy.

Journey to Surrender

A year later, my daughter’s murderer was found guilty of capital murder and sentenced to death by the state of Virginia. Our family strived to exist amidst the pain.

I continued to pray, but an overwhelming grief and anger consumed me. The Lord spoke to my heart again: “I am with you. I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”

Still, by holding on to anger and bitterness, I had given control of my heart to the murderer of my child for seven years.

I knew I was not trusting God completely and that I didn’t want to give Satan and evil more power over us.

I prayed for God’s deliverance and peace… I heard the Lord whisper, “Forgive.”

“No! I will never forgive him.” I fought. But I knew in my heart that to be totally free I had to forgive the murderer.

I struggled. The shackles of bondage would not release me and only hindered the Lord’s work. I knew I needed to surrender my life and my heart for the Lord to fully use me. I needed to forgive.

“Lord, we both know I can’t do this on my own. Please help me.” I cried out to Him. “Teach me to forgive.”

The Lord drove me to my knees, and the Holy Spirit prayed through me words I couldn’t pray alone. [2]

Satan thought he had us in the palm of his hand. Christ proved otherwise.

The Lord lifted the veil that covered me in grief and bitterness. I found hope!

Amazing Grace

I surrendered and forgave the offender—but I hadn’t forgotten.

The Lord said, “What a man intended for evil, I meant for good!” [3]

God taught me that surrender and forgiveness is a daily action, and only through Jesus Christ can we be whole again.

Then, on March 2010, we spoke to the murderer for the first time in eleven years. He took ownership for the horrific crimes. Accountability. He committed and gave his life to Christ. Surrender. He spoke of remorse. Healing.

Behind those prison walls, the chains came loose for us all and God’s presence shattered the darkness. [4]

We witnessed Paul’s execution—no longer bound by hatred. Paul died—no longer bound by sin.

God’s Amazing Grace set us free.

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Lorraine’s story does not get to have a happy ending on this side of heaven. Neither repentance nor forgiveness can bring her daughter back. By God’s divine grace, Lorraine has learned to live her life sentence one day at a time.

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Lorraine Whoberry is the founder and director of the S.T.A.C.I.E. Foundation. She speaks and offers educational seminars on the Impact of victimization, domestic violence, and unhealthy relationships.  She is also the founder of Heal My Wounds Leave My Scars Prison Ministry and travels the United States visiting correctional institutes sharing her testimony and speaking on accountability, hope and forgiveness.  You can contact Lorraine at info@staciefoundation.org and find more information at www.staciefoundation.org

 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12:19 (ESV)


[1] 2 Chronicles 20:15, 17 (paraphrased)

[2] Philippians 4:13

[3] Genesis 50:20

[4] Isaiah 9:2.