I might not be working here if not for Lani Porter, one of the most grace-filled women I ever met. She helped rescue me from myself, something she did for a lot of people.
She died Sunday night when her body finally succumbed to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) long after most of her friends thought it would. She could be stubborn like that.
Lani was known to just about everyone in Lindsborg, Kansas, the small town of 3,500 people where she worked in the office of the Evangelical Covenant Church for 27 years. She served there until several years ago when the ALS made it impossible for her to continue. Still, she continued to minister to people in and outside the congregation just as she had done for decades.
It was before the ALS, some 16 years ago, that she helped save me. Lani was among the group of friends who were there for me when I hit the lowest point of my life—divorced, out of ministry, struggling with little success against long-nurtured demons and a bipolar disorder with all its delusions of grandeur, paranoia, and darkness. She was there to laugh, cry, pray, confront, scold, and encourage. Sometimes all in the same conversation.
Lani didn’t care where you came from. She didn’t let any sins you had committed deter her from being your friend. She had traveled her own rough and crooked road, and who was she to judge. Besides, hers was just a heart of compassion.
What she did care about was that you knew how much God loved you. And when you couldn’t think of a reason why he would do such a thing, she reminded you. It was grace. Grace in the morning. Grace in the daytime. Grace at night. Always grace.
Nothing could keep Lani from making sure you knew you were God’s child and that nothing could separate you from his love—not even ALS. In “OK Lord, Let’s Get on with It,” fellow church member Dana Bowman wrote these words about how Lani continued to teach despite no longer being able to talk:
“But Lani battled back by grabbing her Bible and finding some really cool technology so she could keep teaching. Lani now utilizes a voice app on her computer and phone for almost all of her communication. She purposefully chose the British-accented option because she says her husband, Rick, likes it the best. He thinks it’s ‘spunky.’”
Lani was a woman of scrappy, stubborn faith. When our faith was weak we leaned on hers.
Now we will lean on her memory.