Principle 8-Yeild myself to God to be used to bring this Good News to others, both by my example and my words.

Step 12– Having had a spiritual experience as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

When I first started with this ministry in 2005, I was asked if I could I help get it started with my backround and credentials, PD must have thought that I would be of some kind of help. I have a degree in SW and am a CAC in PA. So I guess he thought I could be of some kind of help??? Lol!! But honestly,  I never thought I’d have much to contribute personally, let alone give my testimony.  But I realized recently, that all of us are in recovery from something. I say from “being human”, from being “in the flesh”. And I realized that I have worked this program for 25 years, since my first experience in the D/A field at Clear Brook Lodge in 1985.  And I have applied the steps to my life while growing up these last 22 years in the Lord. These wonderful 12 steps were definitely inspired by God, written in the 40’s by two alcoholics, Dr. Bob and Bill W, who were saved, born again believers! And— today, I thank God that I am standing here with you doing my testimony, because the bible says in John 5:10  “Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony of God in them.” and in 1 Thes. it says “Your lives are echoing the Master’s Word… and in John ***

The bible also says to “Be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you, but do it with gentleness and respect.”  Anyone who is saved by God’s grace has a unique testimony for Him, to share with others.

Hi, I’m Lora, and I’m a believer who struggles with being human, and having control with finances, and have for a long time struggled with fears, worries, and people pleasing.  I was brought up with both a mom and dad, and 3 siblings. I was the baby. My father worked a lot, so my mom mostly raised us.  When I was younger, I was picked on a lot because of being Italian, I guessed, my skin was dark and my brother was darker yet, so we were often nick-named, that unpolitically correct word, I won’t say it, in our town.  My brother’s nick name was “Ace.”  I didn’t not have friends, but recall having trouble fitting in with the “in” crowd and being scared to death of some of the mean, strong girls on the bus. (Which I did have one through a rock at me and hit me in the arm one time, kids can be very cruel)  I also was not so lucky in love either, and after a 2 year puppy love from 6th to 8th grade, I was dumped very unexpectedly by, at that time, “the love of my life” Gary. (who I just saw at my class reunion)  Explaining my feelings to my mom was never received well, and she seemed to always ask me the wrong questions, like what did you do or say to not have “so and so” like you, or to pick on you.  I could never figure out what I did, except just be me, which some how wasn’t good enough.

My father took good care of us, and definitely loved us, but wasn’t very good at showing it.  He loved “little children” but as I grew into a young lady, I don’t think he knew how to show his affection.  This caused me to eventually look for love in all the wrong places.  I grew up in a town where smoking, drinking, and drugging was a big thing, at least if you wanted to fit in, and every night there was a hat collection for “seers(beers)” and the town people, whoever chipped in,  went into the woods just about every night and drank a keg or two of beer, smoked a lot of marijuana, and smoked a lot of cigarettes.( I started smoking at 15 -21, what a tough habit to stop, I still thank God for victory with that!)

I usually limited my drinking to the weekends and eventually became a very regular marijuana user, and drinker.  Marijuana use was everyday, before school, and alcohol usually every weekend, all night into the wee hours, until you stumbled home, in the middle of the night, if you made it.  I don’t think I was trying to escape, or feel better; it was just what everyone did.  Most of the people in my town were not nice, and I continued most of the time to not fit in somehow. I always did well in school somehow, and loved being in the band “drill team”, and other activities, and actually got a good group of friends in HS that I liked and liked me.  I was actually fairly popular. But marijuana and alcohol were still part of just about every social gathering.  Bfs were not a big deal, and I would usually just have fun with friends, both guys and girls in a group.  Some liked me, some I liked, but nobody I ever got serious with.  I did have a complex some still though since my puppy love break up wasn’t clear to me and since it seemed I was never able to go out with the guys I liked or was interested in. Most guys, I thought, didn’t like Italians, only the blondes!

After graduation, I went to College, two years at LCCC, and 2 at Misericordia. While in college I felt very alone, off in my own world again, very little friends, since I commuted, I really didn’t connect with anyone much and some of closest friends from HS were either away at college, or didn’t go to school at all, so the common ground was missing.  One friend from town always had marijuana, and would pick me up just about every night, after I studied, and did all my school work, and take me for a ride and get me high. She didn’t go to school at all, but worked full time instead. I rarely bought it, she did, so that justified using.

I managed to get very good grades throughout my school years. Going to concerts, smoking cigs and marijuana continued through out college, along with a lot of bar hoping, dancing, and mistakes with men.  This only made me feel more isolated, down on myself, and very ashamed.  My final year between Jr. and Sr. year of school, I went to TN for the summer, trying to get away from my reputation, myself, and my family, and trying to discover myself again, I guess.  I met a guy the summer before, while away visiting my sister, and he thought it would be a good idea to see if things could work out between us by me coming to TN the summer of 1985.  Well as you could have guessed, they didn’t “work out”.  He left me high and dry, out there, all by myself, alone, in this big city, hurt, ashamed, and lost! My sister wasn’t very supportive either; she had her own life, and was all the way across town. I worked as a waitress that summer, and spent a lot of time alone and with strangers that I met and thought were my friends.  I made more mistakes too, but this is also when God really started to work in my heart, a lot!

I had always loved God, somehow, I always knew he existed, and I prayed, went to church, and was involved in youth group as teen, but was Catholic, and therefore limited in my knowledge of Christ. Living my life for Christ was never even mentioned or presented as a challenge to me, so it was not something I ever really thought about much. I would pray and ask God for guidance at times, but then do my own thing anyway and then seek him again after I’d make another mistake. I’d often have the shame and guilt associated with what I now call “SIN”.  Seems that summer away made me more aware of my loneliness and pathetic state without God, especially since I was sharing an apartment with cockroaches! And going to sleep at night was a very frightening thing!  I would often stay up late journaling how lonely, and sad I was and trying to figure out what my next move in life needed to be. (***Excerpt from old journal***) I was even contemplating suicide often.    I knew I had to go home, and that I had to finish college and that I had to get away from the negative places, people, and situations that I had placed myself in before moving away and then again while away.  I knew I had to try to start over, building up my good girl reputation again. God did place someone in my life who was especially kind to me and told me what a wonderful person I was and treated me with a lot of respect.  That started some sort of road to recovery for me, discovering myself again as the good person that I was.  He also was the one who told me about a wonderful band called “Bread”. I listened to the tape he bought me so much, I’m surprised it didn’t wear out.  Music was always my way to get in touch again. It just spoke so deeply to my soul, like nothing else could.

So that is what I did.  I went home, and I started school again, my senior year, but before I did , I went one more time to the old bar I always went to before, and while there, looking for someone I should not have been, I found someone, I wasn’t looking for:  My Bubba! There he was, this guy I knew from our town, 7 years older than me, and the last time I had seen him, way heavier!! (350 lbs total) I hardly recognized him, but he knew me and asked me to dance that night, and we did, and talked about “West Wyoming” stuff.  And when the night was over, I told him to call me sometime.(being the shy girl that I was)  But instead I called him; I wasn’t very shy with men, as you can already tell.  He loves to tell the story, that I called him.  And it was his mother that told him that he should call me back.  So he did, and that started “us”, and here we are married almost 20 years, three kids, together since that summer, the summer of 1985, my loneliest, yet most pivotal time in my life.  I was this summer that God used to change my heart.  I look back now and know without a doubt that God was bringing me down, to bring me back up and to see His faithfulness, and love in my life.  I had prayed for a long time for God to bring me someone to love, and someone to love me back, for who I was, and to respect me and to bring out the best in me.  Bub did all that.

Slow and steady wins the race though, and it wasn’t until about 2 years later that I actually asked Christ into my heart.  But God used Bub and many others in my life to soften me, to calm me down. I stopped smoking in 1986, stopped marijuana around the same time, and really cut down on the drink until I eventually felt no need to drink either.  I learned to like me, because somebody loved me, first Bub, and then I accepted God’s love and forgiveness. Salvation came after attending a bible believing church for about 3 months.  I recall after graduation, I had to be miss independent for awhile, and was unwilling to get engaged, so we got pre-engaged, (just another ring out of the deal) but I was committed, finally. God used my time in my apartment to give me more time to get to know what he did for me.  He also used; coworkers (some with compromising testimonies, yet God still used them in my life, and one in particular with little to say, but a life that had Christ written all over it, LOVE was so apparent in this person, a love I had never experienced before) my sister, who had sent me my very first bible that year, and the scary, but persistent Jehovah Witnesses, who hounded me at my apartment to visit their church. God used them to reveal untruth to me in a major way. He also used the Radio Bible Class ministry, Our Daily Bread, which I read for my daily devotions. The plan of salvation was so clear in the readings, I couldn’t really miss it!  In response to a letter I sent them looking for a good church that taught like they wrote, RBC sent me to my first good fundamental church, CalvaryBibleChurch, on Sanborne St. WB.

About 4 months before my wedding and I was looking for a good bible church, reading the daily bread and the bible a lot! and trying to shake the Jehovah’s Witnesses who were visiting me.  I remember being in my bedroom, on my knees, asking God to shake off the confusion of it all in my head, while the JW were at my door (I had let them in before on at least 3 occasions and went to church with them 2x) and I was afraid, and very confused.  I knew I wanted more than my religion could offer, and yet didn’t want to have to get used to calling God Jehovah, when he had always just been God, or my Father.  I cried out to Jesus that day and He definitely heard my prayers! Within a few days, I would receive a letter in response to one I had sent to RBC ministry, asking for guidance and clarity, and a good church that taught what they wrote about in My Daily Bread.  They clearly told me to avoid the JW, and that they were a CULT, which what they called them, and to go to a church not far from me, called CalvaryBibleChurch, Pastor Bob Matthews. So I called him, and he told me to come and meet him at the church.  I was and still am a walker, so if I could walk I did.  I remember putting on my winter boots, and trudging over to the church, which wasn’t really close to me, but not too far.  I met the Pastor and he asked me a question I’ll never forget. Was I saved? I said I don’t know, but I want to be, if I need to be.  He told me to come to church that Sunday, and that he would hook me up with two great girls who would then help me in my walk a lot over the next few years.  He also gave me a tour of the church and told me that in the Sunday school classroom,   I could ask questions and learn more about the bible.  Well, that just thrilled me to death! because I had so many questions, and was very enthusiastic about learning as much as I could about the Lord and the bible.  So I came, and kept coming and kept growing and learning a lot!!! Within a few weeks of going to CBC, I understood salvation (the gospel was so clearly presented always) and what I must do to be saved, I must be Born Again.  So I did that, I asked Jesus to be my Savior.  I don’t have a date, but remember the month.  It was February 1988, 2 months before my wedding!!

What I remember most in my early walk with Jesus is my shame and guilt was washed clean, and I didn’t have to feel dirty, lose, or ashamed anymore. Jesus took all my sins away, as far as the east is from the west, never to be remembered again! Yes!! What an awesome feeling!  And, I also remember telling anyone who would listen, how much Christ had done for me and how they too could be saved.  Unfortunately, some didn’t like the new me and I lost friends, but oh well!  In between gaining knowledge of Christ, I was planning my wedding. We were married in 1988, and had started with what would be our wonderful church of 12 years. (We were married Catholic though, God forbid we could never not for our mother’s sake—we never went back though, after our wedding day).   We were on our way to living the Christian life.  And what a life it’s been! A great adventure!

So to take you up to now since 1988 and to tell you who God is to me today, wow, how much time to I have????? Lol!

Bub got saved slightly after me, but before we were married he started coming to church with me and we never really looked back to our “religion” after the wedding day.

The love for The Lord has grown all these years.  But it wasn’t always easy.  The one thing I account our “success” with God is that we always went to church.  We never stopped fellowshipping, and we never went long without being in prayer, and in the word.  Bible studies started right away at our home.  We had small group studies Bub taught, in our homes,  and I started attending a  bible study, which I still attend on Thursday mornings, while I still pregnant with Zach.  We had good friends in Christ, and learned to have fun the Christian way.  Music was always important to us both.  I sang solos at our church almost right since the beginning of my Christian walk, and Bub started writing Christian songs on his guitar.  He played before that, but turned his talents toward God.  Same with me.  I was the girl everyone would dare to sing with the band at the bar, and I did on more than one occasion, and also as a young girl, same thing.  I recently came across a picture of me singing at about 10 y/o, with a band at some festival, my mom talked them into letting me sing with them.  Funny how “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it in you.” I have learned to take everything to Jesus.  I don’t always trust him, but I have become a prayer warrior and thank him for everything. Gratitude is a KEY in life!  When I’m hurting I’ve learned to turn to God, before people, but have recently learned too, through CR that I need people too, and being accountable and having someone (Carol, Lorrie, Patty, Judy, and our small group, and anyone else who calls me to reach out) help me and I learned it’s okay to take/receive, and not only give/serve.

To have someone to bounce things off of is a very good thing.  Just being able to talk about issues, and allowing others to know where you are and to share some truths about yourself, that you would otherwise like to keep to yourself feels so good and is very freeing!!!  NO more pride, no more secrets, truth spoken. There is power in this!  You are, they say, only as sick as your secrets.  So with the help of friends, family, and my CR friends, I can say I am having victory today. Victory over my fears, anxieties, pride, shame, finances, (still struggling with over spending), materialism, lack of gratitude, laziness, bad attitudes, jealousy, angry outbursts, grumbling/complaining and all other “mouth” sins, people pleasing, instead of God pleasing, and anything else you could think of that you struggle with, because I guarantee you, if you struggle with it, so does most of the human race.   And as I often say, I am having victory from “being human”, from the enemies of the flesh, like the above, that is my recovery, God help me from me!

Paul said in:***

I have established a routine over the years of daily time with God, in prayer, and bible reading and meditation.  I haven’t always succeeded with this, but when I made a commitment to get up earlier and do it, I did, and have been fairly consistent with this for about 7 years. Life is still tough though, and more so recently for us. We have had a lot of trouble lately, but it could always be a lot worse!  My mother in law took sick, cancer as of early July and died August 11th, my husband lost his job of 23 years the same day he found out about his mother, and my wallet was stolen out of my vehicle in between all this besides. (Also, my clothes dryer broke, and if anyone knows when you have children, that is a very challenging thing to happen).  But if I had not been through some other trials in 2002 (father passed away), and 2003 (left our church of 15 years), and some other trials before that (had a hard time getting pregnant with all three of our children) I would not be as strong as I was and am, through these most recent circumstances.

know these things and these things don’t change, although life circumstances do: God is faithful, He hears us when we pray, his word is an absolute necessity in my life, it sustains me, it is my life.  I need fellowship with other believers, ideally daily, which I get in my marriage and with my children, my church family and other Christian friends I have.  I need to serve the Lord and stay very active in my church and community outreaches. It holds me accountable, keeps my mind and body busy with good things, and allows me to give back to the Lord, to worship him with my life. That is our purpose for existing, to bring honor, glory, and praise to God in everything we think, do, or don’t do, see, and speak  ***Ecc.

My life verse which I picked long ago, while going through my infertility issues

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord, with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him and he shall direct your path.”

Also one I’ve used a lot  Matthew 6:33 “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”  And that’s all I have to share with you tonight. Just to stay strong with God, work this program, and Keep coming around and you too will give your testimony some day or be a willing vessel anywhere else it’s needed. Always be ready for him to use you, and don’t say “NO”, but do pray first! I love you all and I thank you for your time. And if I could leave you with a final word it would be this verse that sums up all the word of all the laws and the prophets: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, strength, soul this is the first and greatest commandment!! And then reach out and: “love your neighbor as yourself—because it’s not about YOU!