Welcome to the Cultivate Speaker Series! At the conference, we'll have a variety of workshops that offer tools to equip and empower your faith journey. Speaker Series is an interview-style editorial about each speaker at Cultivate.
Let's meet Lori Lara, learn more about her breakout session (Permission to be Powerful. The 3 most important skills women need to know to protect themselves) and, how God has been working out this in her life.
Lori Lara is on a mission to empower teen girls and women. As a third degree black-belt in mixed martial arts and creator of The Strong Girl Self-Defense Program, Lori teaches a unique blend of real world fighting skills while also building strong mental and emotional foundations of self-protection. Her engaging, positive, and easy-to-follow teaching style empowers students with practical tools to avoid becoming victims and what to do if they find themselves in dangerous situations. By sharing her personal story of triumph over depression, PTSD, and childhood trauma, Lori shares God’s healing and restoration to anyone suffering from life’s traumas, disappointments, and loss.
Tell us about you and your family.
I’m a wife, mom of two teen boys, and friend. I’m a writer, 3rd degree black belt self defense instructor, and encourager. I love training in marital arts, taking hikes, listening to podcasts, reading, and learning new things. I especially love sharing the message of true empowerment and self-worth to teen girls and women.
P.S. I love coffee so much I think it belongs in the food pyramid. Just sayin’!
I’ve been married to my husband Robert for 25 years, and we have two awesome sons. We love the outdoors, going to the movies together, and, of course, anything related to food (they’re teenagers, what can I say). We love Yosemite, Disneyland, and anything inspirational. We’ve overcome many traumas together, Including 7 family members in 7 years. Going through such hardship together has cemented our relationship in our faith and the encouragement we find in each other, our friends, and our awesome church and community.
Tell us about your faith journey.
I first came to Jesus as a seven year-old. It was an evening church service where they played a movie about the end times, and it was terrifying. Although I believed in Jesus, it wasn’t until much later when I had my breakdown that I experienced His love for me. I had some very painful childhood trauma that went unresolved until our kids were young. I loved them more than life, but I was struggling with undiagnosed PTSD, depression, and a long term addiction. My world literally fell apart when the trauma began surfacing. It was through that painful, but completely freeing, process of recovery that I encountered Jesus in the most powerfully loving way. It changed me so completely, it was like being born again again, but this time in His love. Facedown in my closet as I was screaming in my pillow, I promised God that if He would heal me, I’d go anywhere and tell everyone I could about him. That was more than 12 years ago, and my life is a testimony of what the power of God can heal and redeem. He is the healer, and everything I teach in self-defense and empowerment is based on this foundation.
When you were asked to speak at Cultivate, what was your first reaction? Why?
I was stoked when I was told about it. I love when women gather to support and encourage each other.
When you heard what you would speak about, were you surprised by the topic that was asked of you? Why or why not?
No. I wasn’t surprised because I speak about this topic all the time.
Looking back up to this point, how has God worked out this topic in your own life?
Being in recovery for so long and training in martial arts has given me some unique insights into this topic. It’s the core of my work, and I’m passionate about sharing it. Being brave happens when we live in close community with other people who are also doing the work.
In what ways do you struggle with your topic?
I think it’s like most things in life - it’s a practice. It’s not a one-and-done choice. So, as we build and reflect on the strengths we’ve built and God's faithfulness in our lives, we’re always being tested as we learn and grow through life. We’re never done learning. Having a learning mindset is key.
How has God worked in your life to overcome some of this?
Therapy, prayer, worship, martial arts training, forgiveness, relationship boundaries. Each step at a time, the layers of healing go deeper and deeper.
What do you want women who attend your breakout session to walk away with?
Hope, healing, and empowerment, along with some very practical self-defense skills that will keep them safe from people who want to hurt them. No matter what, they can overcome any hardship and learn how to protect themselves from a place of peace and confidence, not fear.
What are you most excited about the conference?
Meeting everyone and connecting in such a positive and encouraging environment. I think this event is SO needed in our community and I’m so grateful for everyone who’s planning and praying about it.
You can find Lori at www.lorilara.com and on Instagram, @lorilara_official.
What if our entire community came together and intentionally put aside time to equip and cultivate their relationship with Jesus?
Cultivate what matters, learn how to nourish your soil, tend your garden of your heart, harvest contentment and grow in the wait. To live a life of purpose, set apart for Him.
Oct 6 | 800 White Rock Rd,El Dorado Hills