The Importance of Community

The Importance of Community

The Importance of Community

Ephesians 4:4-6, 11-16, Romans 12:15 and Ephesians 3:17

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

I have noticed over the years, the women who stay connected and accountable in a safe community continue to grow spiritually, they feel safe, they feel deeply connected and they feel loved. These women have huge victories in their lives because they are dedicated to following the Lord and living in community. Each of us has been given a role in the body of Christ by God. We see in the scriptures above that Christ is the Head and each one of us is apart of the body, we are called to do a specific job in the body to keep the body functioning properly.

Why is community so important? You have all heard the saying, “There is safety in numbers.” That is true for your spiritual life also, not just your physical safety. When we stay connected in community, we are protected from the enemy’s fiery darts. His primary goal is to get Christian women isolated so he can lie and torment us. How many of you know what I am talking about? We have all experienced the loneliness and despair that overcomes us when we are isolated. Especially women with abuse and abortions in their past, we are an easy target for the enemy. But after we join a safe group and stay accountable, we are now protected.

It’s not just being apart of a group that protects you, it’s being an active member of the group, serving and participating consistently, not just being an observer. We must invest in the group by sharing our hearts, our tears and our prayer requests. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15) This is how the church is supposed to operate.

My hope and pray for each of us is that our faith will grow stronger. That our relationships with one another will grow deeper. That we will be mature strong confident believers in Jesus. That we will not be tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine. That we would have a Biblical world view. That we are rooted and grounded in love and in the Truth. That everything that we do is pleasing to God and that our words will always speak life and encouragement to others. God has so much more for us to accomplish in the upcoming year, but we as a group must be ready and equipped for this season in the ministry. I pray you are encouraged to step up your game and make Jesus and sharing His love your priority in everything you do. I am honored to be serving with you in this ministry. It truly is a beautiful thing to watch God work in and through us.

What are some areas in your life that you are working on?

For me I am working on being forth coming with a certain member of my family regardless of the situation. Secrets give the enemy a strong hold.

I want to hear more specifically from the Lord by taking time to hear from Him and to journal regularly.

I have learned to pray about everything no matter how small.

What is God leading you to do?

I need to keep my focus on God at all times and not to project into the future.

How can we be praying for you?

That I will trust God completely with my children’s health issues.

 

You are loved,

Toni

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The Courage of Mary

The Courage of Mary

The Courage of Mary

Abortion Recovery Women’s Support Group (ARWSG)

Luke1:26–38, 1 John 1:9, Deuteronomy 22:20–21, and Romans 8:28

In the book of Luke, we read about an incredibly brave teenager named Mary. Mary was a common name back then; it meant bitter. The people were bitter because the prophets were silent for 400 years. There was no revelation at all between the Old Testament and the New Testament for all this time. They felt bitter because they thought God had forgotten them and His promise of their Messiah.

We see this incredible dialogue between Mary and the angel Gabriel. He said to her, “Rejoice highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women! Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” He proceeded to tell her she would conceive and bear a Son and shall call His name Jesus. God used this young woman mightily to bring forth the promised Messiah, Emmanuel—God with us. Instead of running from her situation or panicking, she prayed and sought the Lord’s leading. Why didn’t we trust God when we found ourselves with unplanned pregnancies? If you have confessed this sin to Him, He has forgiven you. 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Mary could have been stoned for being pregnant outside of marriage because that was the law back then. Deuteronomy 22:20–21 speaks about the laws pertaining to sexual sins. Not only could Mary have been stoned, but Joseph, her espoused husband, could have walked away from the relationship by writing a bill of divorcement because they were legally betrothed to one another. But God protected Mary from both of these consequences because she had not sinned. She was supernaturally impregnated by the Holy Spirit of God. She was so courageous and brave. She risked her own life and reputation to obey God. What a beautiful testimony we see in her life.

This week will be 41 years since I aborted my son, Joseph, on December 10, 1980. I wish I had the courage like Mary to have my baby, but I allowed the fear of man to push me to abort my baby. I cannot change my past, but I can learn from my mistakes. God used my abortion to bring me into a relationship with Jesus. Now, I have the distinct honor of walking with all of you on your healing journeys. God has certainly taken my ashes, my horrible sins, and turned them into something beautiful for my good and His glory, and you are all a part of that. I believe that God makes all things work together for good to those who love Him, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). God, through the work of the Holy Spirit, is continually sanctifying us and conforming us to the image of Jesus. You all are so precious to Him; I hope you know that.

 

Questions

  1. How long has it been since your past abortion(s)?
  2. Are you still holding onto your secret of abortion(s)?
  3. Have you allowed God access to all your broken places so that He can heal you? If not, trust Him today. He wants you healed and whole so that you can become the woman He created you to be.

You are loved,
Toni

 

 

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I Will See You Again

I Will See You Again

“I Will See You Again, a Letter to my Baby”

Revelation 21:4-5a
“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold I make all things new.”

John 14:3
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

I Corinthians 2:9
But as it is written, “Eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor have entered in the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

My Letter to My Baby

Dear Joseph,

My precious child, I have loved you all of my adult life, and yet, I have never seen your face or held you in my arms. For that, I am very sorry. You were a gift from God, and I threw you away. I am so sorry for ending your life. God showed me what you look like. I saw a young man in his 30s on an airplane, and he had brown curly hair and blue eyes. I felt my spirit quicken. I whispered to the Lord, “Is that what my son looks like?” I felt the confirmation in my spirit.

I named you Joseph because what the enemy meant for evil, God turned around for my good and for His glory. He exchanged my ashes for something beautiful. Joseph, you inspired a ministry called My Ashes to Beauty to help other moms heal from their past abortions.

I know you are in heaven with Jesus—a place where there is no sadness, pain, or sorrow. I can’t wait for the day that I can see you face to face in heaven where we will be together forever. I have pictured that scene over and over in my mind. I see you greeting me in heaven. I know you and you know me. We hug. With tears of joy streaming down my cheeks, you kiss me and I say, “I have waited for this moment for so long. Now we will never be parted again. I love you, Joseph.” You respond, “I love you, Mom.” Then, I will look to Jesus and thank Him for this precious gift of being reunited with my child in heaven and for the gift of salvation He gave me.

I will see you soon.

Love always,
Mom

As I was praying about the topic for today, this song came on my station, Scars in Heaven, by Casting Crowns. Here are some of the lyrics (to which I made some minor modifications):

Now what I would give for one more day with you Joseph (your child or children’s names).
Cause there’s a wound here in my heart where something’s missing. And they tell me that it’s gonna heal with time. But I know you’re in a better place where you are healed and whole and I will be too.
The only scars in heaven, they won’t belong to me and you.
There’ll be no such thing as broken, and all the old will be made new. And that thought makes me smile now, even as tears fall down. Is that the only scars in heaven are on the hands that hold you now.

Questions to Take to Heart:
What are your thoughts when you think about your baby (or babies)? What would you like to say to your baby (or babies)?

You can read more letters on our website: https://myashestobeauty.com/a-letter-to-my-baby/

I pray this blesses your heart.

You are loved,

Toni

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!

The Woman with the Issue of Blood

The Woman with the Issue of Blood

Abortion Recovery Women’s Support Group (ARWSG)

The Woman with the Issue of Blood

Luke 8:43-48 (NKJV)
Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any, came from behind and touched the border (fringe) of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped. And Jesus said, “Who touched Me?” When all denied it, Peter and those with him said, “Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” But Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.” Now when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately. And He said to her, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

We post-abortion women can relate to what this woman must have endured for so many years. We too know what it is like to spend all kinds of money on things that did not heal us. Some of us used drugs and alcohol to medicate ourselves from the pain we had stuffed for so long. Many of us went to doctors and therapists to help heal the damage that our abortions have done to us in so many areas of our lives. We know what it is like to suffer alone, to be isolated from others, and to feel hopeless and depressed. We were desperate for a cure but nothing worked, until we got to the point where we were tired of just existing and wanted the abundant life that Jesus promised we could have. It was when we had almost given up all hope that we encountered our Savior—Jesus, our healer. We risked it all, just to touch the hem of His garment because we knew if we did, then we would be healed. We risked exposure because we knew that only He could heal us.

It takes faith in God and courage to step out to touch Jesus’ garment to be healed. I pray God continues to guide you on this healing journey and that you become strong in the Lord, so we can bring more women into this ministry for healing. May we continue to be His hands and feet in this world.

Questions:

What are some of the things you tried in the past to help you cope with the pain of your abortion?
Alcohol and drugs were my escape from my pain. I was so tired of wearing a mask and pretending my life was perfect. After a while, I just couldn’t function well at all. My life was falling apart, my health was failing, and my marriage was on the brink of divorce. I was in a deep state of despair and depression. I just wanted to stop this torment of a life, but I couldn’t leave my 2 children without a mom. I was feeling hopeless and wanted to die until the day I met Jesus. He was so kind and loving to me. When I heard the gospel for the first time within 4 weeks, I ran to Jesus and kissed His feet and thanked Him for taking my pain away and for loving me. I never knew love like that before.

When did you finally have the courage to touch Jesus’ garment for healing?

In 2010, after suffering with severe depression again, I wanted to die. I was crying on my bed and said to the Lord, “I can’t do this anymore; can’t you just take me home?” I heard the Holy Spirit whisper, “Do you trust Me?” I said, “Yes Lord, I trust You.” “Do you believe that I can turn this around for good?” I said, “Yes Lord, I believe you can.” He said, “Then trust Me.” Immediately after that, I got the name of a ministry, and I started my recovery work for Adult Children of Emotionally Disconnected Families. It was a high-accountability, inner healing support group that I attended for 5 years, plus I attended weekly recovery meetings. This gave me tools and most importantly, I didn’t feel alone anymore. There were other women who struggled like I did. That started me on my healing from my past and all the unhealthy behavior I was tolerating from others. I learned boundaries, became strong, stood up to the bullies for the first time in my life, and used my voice. I learned to see myself the way God sees me and finally received His love into my heart. I have never been the same. Thank you, Jesus, for saving my soul and healing me.

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Good Friday—His Life for Ours

Good Friday—His Life for Ours

Greater Love hath no man than this that a man lay down His life for his friends. John 15:13

Luke 23:44-46 Now it was the sixth hour (noon) and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour (3 PM). Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the Temple was torn in two. And when Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” Having said this, He breathed His last breath.

Mark 15:34 And at the ninth hour (3PM) Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? Which is being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

I want us to reflect on the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross for each one of us. We will never know the immense pain He experienced not only physically but spiritually. On the hours that Jesus hung on the cross from 12 noon to 3 PM the whole earth was darkened, and so was the sun. God had forsaken His only Son when He bore all the sins of the world on His body. Jesus cries out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” The word forsake in the Merriam-Webster dictionary means to renounce or turn away from entirely. Holy God darkened the earth for 3 hours because He could not look upon Jesus when He bore our sins upon Himself. The Bible says that Jesus became sin for us, who knew no sin. I read a commentary that said God caused the darkness so humans could not look upon Jesus and see the turmoil and agony that He went through on our behalf. It was a sacred sacrifice that only the Father could see. This was His perfect Lamb of God who was sacrificed for the sins of the whole world.

At the same time the veil in the Temple, between the Holy of Holies, was torn from top to bottom. The very hand of God tore the veil, giving us access to God through Jesus His Son. Jesus was the new and living way for us to go to God, we no longer had to go through a Priest to make atonement for our sins. Jesus paid for our sins so we could have free access to the Father by Him. This gives us, you and me, access to God anytime day or night, that we need Him. That is so comforting to know.

Now think of all the sins you have ever committed, they are too numerous to count, yet all of them have been covered by Jesus’ shed blood on the cross, if you have received the gift of salvation through Jesus’ death on the cross for your sins. If you are born again, the Bible says you are a new creation in Christ, old things are passed away behold all things become new. (2nd Corinthians 5:17)

It is good Lord, to be reminded of the miraculous work you did in me when I became born-again. Thank you for forgiving all my sins, my rebellious actions, my drunkenness, drug usage, fornication, my abortion, my lying, stealing, my pride and my idol worship. All these I lay at your feet Jesus. I no longer have to carry these sins on my back. You have exchanged my sins for your righteousness. I am so grateful to you Lord, the day you had mercy on this broken woman and opened my eyes to see that what I was doing was not working and I needed you in my life. I surrendered my will and my life to you and confessed my sins and asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. It was the most beautiful day of my life, February 6, 1994. A day I will always cherish.

Questions:

What is the Holy Spirit bringing to your mind right now?

First, Are you born-again? Have you put your faith and trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Have you asked Him to forgive all your sins?

Even after we are saved, we need to confess our sins daily to God. Is there anything the Lord is putting on your heart that you need to confess publicly?

What are you most grateful to God For?

I pray the Lord will bless you as you seek His wisdom and discernment in your life.

 

You are loved,
Toni

 

 

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!

How Has God Used Your Pain?

How Has God Used Your Pain?

(2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

When I came to Christ at the age of 34, I was suffering from severe depression, physical pain in my joints and fatigue. I sought answers from several doctors, but they could find nothing. My test results, CAT scans, MRIs and blood work all came back normal. I was perplexed. What is wrong with me? I now realize that my mental, emotional and health struggles were God’s way of getting my attention. Because of how poorly I felt, I couldn’t participate in my regular activities. It was during this time of suffering that God began drawing me to Himself.

How has God used suffering in your life to get your attention? In my case, God used my pain, weakness, fatigue and depression. God knows exactly how to reach all of us so that we turn to and focus on Him. God has always used my physical health issues to remind me to lean on Him. He uses suffering so that first, we will realize how much we need Him in our life and secondly, what kind of changes we need to make.

When I had the courage to trust God and finally wanted more than mere survival, God met me right where I was. God used my distress to bring me to Him. Even during my period of pain, God used me to help others. When I followed His lead by reaching out to those in need, I received even more healing for myself. In 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, God’s Word says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted of God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” (ESV) God never wastes our suffering. It is all for a specific purpose. Some of you dear ones have suffered for a long time, and my heart goes out to you. It can seem very lonely at times, but God sees you. He loves you and has a purpose for your pain.

Christ suffered a horrific death on the cross for us. He also endured torture having been scourged, beaten, slapped, hit with rods and pierced in his skull with a crown of thorns. If anyone is acquainted with anguish and pain, it is Jesus. Come to Jesus just as you are, and He will give you comfort. Only He can carry you when you can’t take another step. He is the only one who will never leave you. He will not abuse you or take advantage of you. His love is pure, holy, just and life-affirming. His ways lead to true freedom and healing.

How has God used suffering in your life?

What is God showing you?

One day, beloved, we will be in glory in a place called Heaven where there is no more pain, sorrow or crying—a place where we will be embraced by the peace and love of Jesus.

You are loved,
Toni

 

 

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!