Our Founder: A Journey Through Trauma & Grief

Few things make me feel alive like creating something. As a storyteller across mixed mediums – writer, artist, musician, entrepreneur – the energy of causing something new to exist is so fulfilling. Even when I felt like I’d lost my voice, I eventually always come back to expressing myself through the gift of creativity.

I’ve kicked off our blog, so I’ve been sharing my writings, my bio, and the 8-year journey as the Founder that’s led me to launch Little With Great Love last month. I’ve also introduced you to our sister organization, Red Bird Ministries, and my friend and their inspiring Founder, Kelly Breaux. I’m now beginning a 9-part series of introduction posts of each of our discipleship team contributors. Words fail (even a writer) as to how much I LOVE these women – so I’m thrilled to introduce and share their stories with you, as I know that you’ll love them too!  

The youngest of 4 children and only girl, I was raised in the Metro-Detroit area of Michigan. My Mom was a homemaker (back when it was still called that) and my Dad worked in Body Engineering at Ford Motor Company for 40-years. We were surrounded by family and friends in our homes back in Livonia and Dearborn throughout my childhood, which instilled in me a sense of what true community is.

Until my graduation from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, I went to Public schools. My parents were devout Catholics, and I was raised in a Charismatic Covenant Community. Essentially that is a prayer group comprised of families committed to giving renewed vigor to the Catholic expression of the renewal in the Holy Spirit. My journey through brokenness toward restoration has been the impetus to establish Little With Great Love. So, what is restoration?

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Building someone up again spiritually is to align that person with what was originally intended, communion with the Trinity. And communion with God brings everything our hearts truly desire – love, peace, truth, wholeness, connection, acceptance, and purpose.

My life radically changed at the age of 19 when I was studying at Franciscan. Right before I had to return home for my Grandfather’s funeral, I suddenly recalled a series of traumatic repressed memories. The realization that I’d been molested as a young child sent me reeling. My immediate family and some friends know this about me, but this is the first time that I’ve shared it openly or blogged about it. I share it because it’s not just part of my story, it’s part of many of our stories. The statistics are staggering today, with more than 1 in 3 women and nearly 1 in 4 men that have experienced sexual violence involving physical contact at some point in their lives. [Source]

Understanding the trauma from my past has helped me to know why I feel and behave in certain ways. Lacking a sense of self-worth, I often tried to find my worth through what I could do – my skills and achievements. And how I portrayed myself – trying to be perfect, pleasing, and funny. I guarded my vulnerability fiercely and needed to be in control. I had to become a certain way to survive, but Love wants more for the beloved; and so, the painstaking work of bringing me back to what God originally intended has been underway.

Time and time again, I’ve come to know the person of Christ in my suffering and through my healing.

Lisa Martinez, founder

Childhood trauma has lifelong effects. But God has never let go of me. Once back in College, I begrudgingly went to a Healing Mass where God released me from a deep depression. Time and time again, I’ve come to know the person of Christ in my suffering and through my healing. He’s taught me why we must forgive “seventy times seven.” 

I was single into my mid-30’s, but not for lack of trying. I had a lot to learn about trust and being vulnerable in relationships and waiting on the Lord. A decade ago, my husband and I finally found each other. Mike and I met, dated, and got engaged in the last months of my Mom’s life until she passed away in January 2011. Before we made our vows, we began the journey through good times and bad. God knew I needed him alongside me through some of the hardest times in my life, which I’ve already blogged about a couple of times here. 

I’ve found my true companion in Mike. While we can fight like cats and dogs at times, his unconditional love reveals Christ’s love for me in the flesh. He is a dreamer, creative and has a generous soul. And loves the mountains, tacos, family, tech yet also antique typewriters – not in that order except always God first. And is my #1 supporter, and I am his. Perfect marriages don’t exist, but Mike and I are working to love each other into Heaven one day at a time.

Do you have kids?” is the normal question we get since we’ve been married for 8 ½ years. Many people don’t know that it’s a tricky question for us since we don’t have kids but only because we’ve never been able. God has told me there’s a different plan for my motherhood. So, we are in a season of learning more about his plan.

God’s work of restoration through our infertility journey continues. Infertility is silent suffering for many that often isolates, so I am working on an infertility project that I’ll be sharing more about here in due time.  I’m slowly writing a book, which will be a big part of that project. Stay tuned on this front.

As a family of two, and adventurers at heart, I’ll be sharing some of our passions as well. We love to travel, are hikers and outdoors-enthusiasts, frequent the movies, always are reading a few books, foodies, recently took up fly-fishing, and enjoy living in Austin. We love entertaining, which tagged my nickname “Domestic Goddess” by one of my dear friends. 

Life presented more radical changes and challenges in the past three years. We moved my Dad to Austin from Florida in August of 2017 after he became very ill. A Daddy’s girl, it was agonizing to watch his organs slowly failing until he passed away last March. My day-to-day life revolved around spending time with him and managing his care. Still learning what my new normal is, I’m trying to find a rhythm amidst a new season of grief. 

God has been about my restoration like that of working on an old house. If you’ve not watched Rehab Addict, it’s about native-Detroiter Nicole Curtis’ work to “restore old homes to their former glory.” Focused on preservation versus modernization, it involves strategic, slow, detailed, and deep work of rehabbing existing architecture. From repairing the cracks in my foundation to fixing damaged interiors, God’s ever about this work. It is not easy, especially for someone as strong-willed as me, but avoiding it or struggling only makes it worse. And the beauty of this type of restoration is that it reveals His glory in me, and you.   

The restoration work deepened when I was ready to ask to see not “my truth” but the Truth. I asked God to show me the truth of who I am, and the Truth of who he is. He’s led me along a new part of my path. These three things continue to have a profound impact on my healing.

  • Therapy. I’ve gone both during college and now again in my 40’s. Therapy has been more than just learning how to reframe things and better manage my anxiety; I completed EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) Therapy last year, which has shown me that the mind can heal from psychological trauma. Trauma is held in somatic memory, not the verbal part of the brain, so this process is a game-changer. If you’ve been impacted by trauma, you can do what I did: Do a search, check with your insurance, and/or go on and find someone trained, schedule an appointment, and make the time and space to restore your heart.
  • Healing Ministry. Another major impetus of my restoration has been accomplished through many acts of healing prayer, healing Masses, ministry, and retreats. I whole-heartedly recommend the resources and retreats of the JPII Healing Center in Tallahassee, Florida. I went on their “Healing the Whole Person” Retreat and other events, and have made several of my friends go. We’ve all had transformative experiences through their ministry.
  • Sacramental Life. I’m grateful for the Sacraments of the Church, which have brought healing, consolation and ministered to me in some of my darkest moments. Christ has made himself present to me in the Mass, Adoration, Confession, and through my Marriage time and time again.  

God doesn’t work in isolation though, as He desires restoration for all of his children. Through it all, He has laid a calling on my heart. “Gather together, share your stories. Do what I ask in a way that is little with great love. Speak healing in my Name, bring the brokenhearted to my Sacred Heart, and accompany them amidst the hills and valleys on their way. And learn from Saints of great love, Sts. Therese of Lisieux & Teresa of Calcutta.”

“I am a little pencil in God’s hands. He does the thinking. He does the writing. He does everything and sometimes it is really hard because it is a broken pencil and He has to sharpen it a little more.”

St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta

The way continues here at Little With Great Love, together, as it is our restoration journey. Always feel free to reach out to me through your comments here and on Social Media, as it is my joy to accompany other pilgrims along the path. And I do not take for granted the opportunity to share with other women from our hearts, and to have you be here with us. My heart is full – thank you, friends!

About Author

Creative, Entrepreneur & Silly-Heart. Christ has called her to bring the broken to His Sacred Heart. Calls Austin home with her mountain-man husband, Mike, who she loves to travel through life with as well as around the world.

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