There’s a well nearby. You’ve probably seen it. It’s in a dusty abandoned town. You wonder who used to live here and why they all left.

Many people have traveled by this well on their journeys through life, but either didn’t notice it, decided not to check it out, or tried it but left for some reason. It doesn’t appear that the well has been used in a long time. You are not even sure if the water is good. The top of the water looks unappetizing . . . . disgusting actually – covered in dust, dirt, germs, bugs and grime. Who would even want to use this well or drink its water? You dip your finger in to just taste it anyways as you realize how thirsty you are, but you only taste the stuff on top. Yuck. You’re not drinking that! But your thirst remains.

You decide to move on. . . . to find something more appealing . . . more appetizing . . . more eye-catching and tasty. You heard there was something better down the road. So you turn your back to the well and head off.

I urge you to come back.

Things are not always what they seem.

There is more to this well than the casual observer and wanderer will ever know.

Let me help you draw up the DEEP water from the well. That is where the best water resides – where the cooler, refreshing, life-giving water is. It is not tainted by the dirt, dust, germs or bugs on top of the water. Nothing has touched this deep water except the bucket and cisterns that are allowed to draw deep into it.

Are you that kind of cistern or vessel?

Are you ready to go deep?

My Testimony - "PERFECTION"

I wanted to post my own personal testimony that I shared with my local MOPS group a few weeks ago.

Sometimes you come across blogs or websites that you like - but wonder - who is this person writing all this really?

Well - there's no secrets here! Satan likes to keep us in bondage through our secrets - and I, for one, am fed up with it! I am loving the freedom that Christ died on the cross to give me -and I want more of it! I know that God LOVES to take what the enemy meant for evil, and use it for good - to change lives, to set people free, to minister to our broken hearts,and more!

You've got to read my other post called "Redesigning your Shackles and Chains"! You will see your past and the chains that have held you captive in a new light! You'll be ready to fight for your freedom and live in it!!

Drink a little deeper today!

L :)

May 20th, 2009 – MOPS Tea and Testimony day - "PERFECTION"

Some of you have known me for years, and others of you I’ve just met. Either way – I have some questions for you. What do you see when you look at me? What kind of person do you think I am? Shy or Outgoing? Introverted or Extroverted? Fearful and a worrier, or a strong woman of faith? . . . . What characteristics or adjectives would you use to describe me – right now – as I am now?

I have to be honest with you and tell you . . . I don’t have it all together and I’m not perfect! :) I know . . . I know . . . I’m sorry to let you down. :)

I have to be honest about something else too. I know that none of you are perfect either. :)

I’ve never been perfect. Shocking, I know. :) (well – my mom and dad might have thought I was perfect when I was born . . . till I kept them up all night crying and pooping and wanting to eat!)

Actually, while we are alive on this earth – you and I will never be perfect! So why do we strive so hard to try and attain it? Why be a perfectionist? It’s unattainable. . . . at least while we are alive. As Christians, when we finally say goodbye to this earth and our mortal bodies, we will finally attain the perfection that is promised to us. But not until then.

However, that doesn’t mean we have the freedom to just do what we want and live haphazardly – throwing caution to the wind and living in sin (because “what’s the use in trying?” if we can’t attain it?). No. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 13:11 –“... Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.”
But it’s not by our might that we will attain perfection. It’s only through the Perfect One – Jesus – and the grace and mercy He gives that we will ever be made perfect.

I know that many of you, like myself, have struggled with this lack of perfection in your life – not sure if you are doing everything right as a wife, as a mom, as a friend, sister, daughter, etc. You have issues from your past that have repeatedly whispered to you – reminding you of your imperfection and your inability to attain that perfection. “You’ll never be good enough. Look at what you’ve done. You’ll never be as good as her. . . .” We constantly compare ourselves to others – thinking that they are much closer to that perfection that we are striving for.

But let me clue you in on another secret. . . .

Most of the people we look at and think “man – they’ve got it all together. They never had an issue in their life. I wish my life was like theirs” . . . many of them are where they are in life BECAUSE of the issues and trials they have gone through and the imperfections they have worked through in their lives.

James 1:2-4 are some of my favorite verses (in fact – I love the whole book of James!). . . . ones that we all need to not just read – but really live by – to believe and put into practice (as James even talks about later in his book).

“Consider it torture my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds? (whine and complain when it gets rough?”) Is that what it says? No . . . It says – “Consider it pure JOY, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, NOT lacking anything.”
Verses 5 - 8 go on to say –
If any of you lacks wisdom (ME!), he should ask God, who gives generously to (Just me? . . . . No . . to ) ALL without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”
I started off telling you all this today because - I am who I am today because of the trials I’ve been through (not necessarily the easy times in life). I am who I am today because of the temptations I gave into and the victories the Lord gave me over those sins. I am who I am today because not only did Jesus save me – but I decided to take hold of what God promises me in the Bible – and to put it into practice! These aren’t just words to tickle our ears – but they are life-giving, transforming power to mold and shape us into the strong, Godly women, mothers, friends, sisters, and children that God wants us to be!

I grew up in a Christian home as a Pastor’s kid – the oldest of 4 kids. For most of my early years of life I was very sheltered and protected – living in a small town (less than 1900 people!) in Minnesota for 7 years, and then 2 years in Florida – where I attended a Christian school. We moved here when I was 15 and I was so na├»ve and shy. I had always been shy and unsure of myself. I even wrote a song once about knowing everyone by their feet – because I really did. My head was always down – sometimes looking for “treasures” (money, rocks, etc) – but in school – it was because I was shy. My parents were very loving and would “force” me to do things that they knew I would enjoy, even though I was deathly afraid (like going to camp where I didn’t know anyone, etc). I was so thankful they did that for me (and that God still does that to me!)!

I was afraid to speak my mind – even when it came to what I wanted for Christmas, sometimes. I was always second guessing myself – telling myself that it was too selfish to ask for certain things (because it would cost too much . . . we had 4 kids in the family, etc). But then I would get my feelings hurt when I saw my sister getting everything she asked for because she wasn’t afraid to ask. I was afraid that my opinion was stupid or didn’t really matter, afraid that people would laugh or make fun of me, etc. I was (and still am) very mercy-oriented, and always seemed to latch onto the underdogs, the hurting and the needy. I felt people’s pain, and took it on as my own. I was a very sensitive child and was hurt and disappointed easily and had some relationship issues with my dad that definitely affected me.

When we moved here, I went to public school. It was a shock to me and everything I had been used to coming from a Christian school. There were 2000 people in my Jr. High (more that my whole town in MN)! I wasn’t used to the cussing, the rudeness, the lack of love, the drugs and drinking, etc. However, I still had a heart for these hurting kids. One morning while waiting at the bus stop, a girl was telling me her problems with her boyfriend. My heart went out to her, but I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t really understand it all, and that broke my heart. I didn’t know how to help her. I got on the bus and looked out the window while I prayed “Lord – I really want to help these people – but I just don’t relate to them. I don’t understand what they are going through. Please help me to understand.”

That’s not the kind of prayer you want to pray casually! It’s kind of like praying for patience! It’s not just given to you!

From that day on – things changed. My life didn’t fall apart overnight, and I know the Lord didn’t make things happen or cause me to sin or fall into temptations. They were all my own choices. But through a series of experiences and situations – I definitely got “real life” training on how to relate to these kids in the world around me.

I spent a good portion of my 10th grade year very depressed and suicidal. Over the next couple years, I got somewhat involved in drinking and tried smoking for awhile (but decided, out of vanity – to quit because I didn’t want to ruin my “beautiful singing voice”! J). I did manage to stay away from drugs (mainly because of this one kid that always called me when he was high and telling me “man Lori – you’re so lucky . . .you have a dad who loves you!”. He just always sounded stupid on the phone and I, again out of vanity, (God will use anything!) didn’t want to kill my smart brain cells! . . . though – somehow that thinking didn’t translate over into drinking and other destructive behaviors too. Hmmm . . ).

I slowly continued down a path of discovery and self-destructive behaviors. This path wasn’t fueled by rebellion as much as it was really just a young, insecure girl looking for love and acceptance and willing to try new things. Yes, rebellion was there, but I just really wanted to feel loved and accepted more than anything (don’t we all?!). Shortly after high school, my boyfriend and I broke up for the last time. We had dated off and on for 4 years – he was my first real love, and we thought we would marry one day. That wasn’t the case. The relationship was over – but there never was really any closure to it. Because of where I was at in my life at that time (spiritually & emotionally - living a rebellious life and feeling unloved) – it just did me in and I totally gave up on life. I didn’t care what happened to me, to my body, to my life – everything. I was very good at lying (to the point I actually didn’t think there was anything wrong with what I was saying and I think I lied more than told the truth) – thus I lived a double life – a good little pastor’s kid in front of my parents and the church, but a different person internally, at work and around my “friends”. The lies and double life were killing me. Mentally I was a sliver away from heading down the path of alcoholism, and I had come to a place where I understood how someone ends up as a prostitute or living a very promiscuous life. I had so much self-hatred, low self-esteem, low self-worth, and lack of hope in my life, that I really didn’t care what happened to me, what someone did to me, and I just wanted to drown my misery away.

But . . . Even though I didn’t care . . . God did care! And He had a plan! Amazingly, He was still watching over me and had His hand on me.

Even though I was living a rebellious life, God still, somehow managed to convince me (more like – bombarded me with people all telling me the same thing!) to sign up to go to YWAM (Youth with a Mission) and do a 6 month DTS (Discipleship Training school) in Lausanne, Switzerland. Actually – I was just looking forward to escaping all my problems here and going to Europe and finding some great places to party and meet some cute boys! :) That was MY plan. But . . . God had other plans!

When I was 18 and at the bottom of the pit – sliding towards what felt like Hell – I went to work one day. A quiet chef at the restaurant where I worked said hi and asked me how I was doing. I barely looked at him and said “You don’t want to know”. He continued talking to me and said “I do know Lori” and then he proceeded to tell me everything that I was struggling with and involved with that I didn’t think anyone knew about (including my involvement with a married man at that time). He then said something that opened my eyes and gave me hope – “Lori, the Lord must have some awesome plans for your life if the devil is working so hard to mess it up!” And that was all he said.

I walked away stunned. I couldn’t believe it. It was an epiphany to me. What? This wasn’t all my fault? I wasn’t so bad and such a total loser after all? I wasn’t too damaged beyond repair? Maybe God really does have something good for me. Maybe. . . . But . . . I was still just going to Europe to party. I’m not so sure about all this God stuff and living with a bunch of Christians – especially in an intense Christian “greenhouse” environment. We’ll see.

So, I left for Switzerland around Jan 1st or 2nd, 1990. But within 2 weeks - By Jan 16th – God had gotten hold of me! I was filled with the Holy Spirit and set free from so many things! I was happy, alive, free, and drunk in the love of the Lord! (and waking up happy without a hangover too!) I was a totally different girl! Many of my parent’s prayers were answered! I attribute much of my short stint in that pit of Hell to the prayers of my parents constantly being ushered up for me during my whole life! I know that is one of the main reasons I didn’t slide further down and away – and why I am still alive today! (So moms – PRAY for your kids!! It’s fighting battles in the spiritual world that we may never know about or see!)

At the end of my DTS, most everyone agreed that I had the most dramatic change in the first month from when I came. God literally saved my life – not just spiritually – but physically, mentally, emotionally, and in all ways!

That doesn’t mean I went on to live a perfect life. Not by any means. I still struggled with many of the same issues when I came back from YWAM (and even on my DTS some) – but God was and is still refining me – every day – every month – every year. I kept (and keep) holding onto the verses in Jeremiah 29:11-14a – “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. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity.”
Isn’t that an awesome promise?!

In YWAM, on a walk in the woods one day, God asked me, “What do you want Lori? You can have anything.” Of course – money always pops into my head. (I did always like money!) But - We had just had a wonderful woman speaker – Reona Joli – talk about her amazing adventures in faith – and I was so impressed by her strong faith – her unwavering faith – no fear – total reliance and dependence on God and His promises to her – even in the midst of danger! THAT’S what I wanted. I was tired of being so shy and unsure of myself. I was tired of not being able to fully speak my mind. I was tired of worrying about things. I wanted to be like that woman – a woman of faith. So that’s what I asked for.

And that’s what I got! J Again – watch out what you ask for! It didn’t happen overnight – but it’s been a process – a developing of perseverance – so that I may “be mature and complete – not lacking anything” as James says. I’ll be in this process my whole life. But the peace that has come, over the years, as I have trusted in the Lord and His words and promises to me – is something I would never want to lose! I can’t imagine living life without that peace! It didn’t come easy. I had many experiences that have truly tested my faith. But by “choosing” to believe in God (and not myself, my husband, my job, my circumstances, or even my feelings) – and allowing God the opportunity to “come through” and hold up His end of the deal – my faith has grown tremendously.

The last few years it seems like He’s been doing so much more in and through me– and I’ve been learning and grasping more and more of Him every day. I think I was too complacent for many years when I came back from YWAM. I kind of pulled back from God for a couple reasons – One was - that I didn’t know how to live in this world with the same passion and giftings that I had in YWAM in the midst of all the struggles and temptations here. And the secondly – I thought God was mad at me and couldn’t use me anymore (or for quite awhile) for some things I had done. I thought I had let Him down and wasn’t worthy anymore. But I’ve been learning over the last 8 years that that’s not true at all. God LOVES to use the unworthy! Look at who He used in the Bible – David (and adulterer and murderer – but he was “a man after God’s heart”), a donkey (how worthy is a donkey?), Paul (who was Saul and persecuted Christians), Moses (who was unsure about his speaking abilities and was a murderer), etc.

I am totally enjoying the journey God has me on now and I’m looking forward to what God has for me in the future with great anticipation and excitement!

So – this strong, woman of faith that you see today (or the bundle of mess you may see too) – is who I am . . . because of what I’ve been through, what God has done (and is still doing) in me, and what I have chosen to grasp hold of (and to ask for) and then put into practice!

I don’t even recognize the person I was in high school and college. I don’t even recognize the person I was 5-10 years ago. And I hope that in 5-10 years, I still don’t want to recognize this person now!

If you asked me what verse represents my life – where I came from and where I am now – it is Psalm 40:1-3
“I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.”
Isn’t that awesome? He can take you and me out of the pit – clean us off and put us on a solid place to stand. And because of it all . . . others will “see . . . and put their trust in the Lord.” It’s by seeing where we have come from and what He has done - that they are led to Christ! How awesome is that?! God can use our JUNK for His glory and to bring others to salvation!

I love the Lord with all that is in me, because He saved me from all that was in me! I love much because I have been forgiven much. And I am continually being forgiven much!
I am not perfect. I know you are not perfect. God knows we are not perfect. And the enemy knows we are not perfect – yet he likes to try and rub it in our face! And yet, the amazing thing is . . . . God still loves us UNCONDITIONALLY!! (Just like we love our kids – even though we know they are not perfect! J ) And if we let Him, He is able to take our imperfections and refine us into something beautiful! Not just for Him to look at – but for others to see and to draw them to Him!

That’s all I want to be. A beautiful conduit for the Lord and His glory, power and love!

That’s it! That’s me! :)
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