From Wounds to Power
By Brittany Kirkland
Nina and Mike Lauter truly know how to transmute pain and tragedy into love. Their friendship grew as co-workers but blossomed after they both had to discover the vigor to withstand painful losses. Nina’s divorce and the death of Mike’s mother would trigger their bond, strengthening an already burgeoning relationship. The two would become the support systems they hungered for to heal from the toll their hearts took.
In October 1986, the two vowed to love each other for the rest of their lives.
When Nina and Mike married, Nina was the mother of two teens, Heather and Heath Benson. Heather would set Nina and Mike on a journey to grandparenthood with the birth of her son, Courtney. She also birthed another son, Camaron, with Heath becoming a father to two daughters, Hunter and Kayla, giving the couple a total of four grandchildren while expanding the love they had to give.
When we asked Nina what brought her and Mike to Paulding County, the answer for her was simple, “I know it was in God’s plan for my life.” Although she was born in Alabama, Nina would find her way to Cobb County at the age of 17. She was drawn west of the city in 1998, landing in Paulding County. Mike was born in the Midwest but was raised in Wilmington, North Carolina. After graduating from UNCWilmington, he made his move to Atlanta.
Unfortunately, even after the two found refuge in each other, they continued to face hardships in their family.
Nina lost her brother, Keith, to pancreatic cancer in 2005. In 2009, she saw the death of her mother, then would ultimately have to witness her other two brothers’ passings in two consecutive years. Nina explained how the loss of her baby brothers brought unbearable pain to her and her sister, JoAnn, since they had considered their younger siblings as their own babies growing up.
Sadly, this wasn’t the end of sorrow for Nina as she’d lose her daughter, Heather, in March of 2017. Nina explained, “I now know the pain my mother suffered after the loss of my brother and I am able to praise God that she did not have to suffer through the loss of her two other sons.”
Despite the pain she and Mike endured over the years, Nina has an unshakable faith in God’s plan for her life. She quotes the Good Book, Jeremiah 29:11, sharing God’s promise following the storm.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Nina and Mike have genuinely exemplified how to transform hard times into purposeful work in serving others. For eight and a half years, Nina has been working as coordinator for the Paulding Family Connection Collaborative, a position that allows her “to help families prosper, protect children from harm, and provide hope for the future in order to give hope for my own life,” she courageously shares.
She disclosed how her work in the community has been the very blessing that has allowed her to get through some very difficult times in her own life.
Before Nina would find purpose at the Paulding Family Connection Collaborative, she held a 35-year career in Information Management, while Mike worked for himself in the transportation industry for 25 years. Upon being diagnosed with prostate cancer in December 2017, surgery and seven weeks of radiation therapy ultimately slowed him and the business down.
Fortunately, a part time position at Mike and Nina’s church that required the exact skills that Mike had spent years developing, would open. Mike currently serves as the Director of Operations at First Presbyterian Church Douglasville.
Both Mike and Nina are fortunate enough to find extreme purpose in their careers by serving the Lord and others.
When they’re not working, the two find pleasure in doing just about everything together. Mike enjoys teaching a Sunday School class at their church, gardening, and cooking good ol’ barbecue while Nina loves working in the yard as well, volunteering in the community, and assisting her sister-in-law with her ceramics business; something she plans on committing to full-time following her retirement in June!
For over 30 years, they have hosted their family for Christmas. The family also attends Christmas Eve services at their church every year.
This Christmas, we hope families unquestionably find inspiration in the Lauter’s story. Their knack for transforming pain into strength and service for others is a beautiful reminder of how God uses us all to spread His love!
Merry Christmas to you all!