Fear vs Faith

Fear vs Faith

Luci’s blog

John 16:33, John 14:27, and 2nd Timothy 1:7

When I was a little girl, I feared so much in my life, especially in my home where I should have felt safe. I can remember fear always being with me. At a very young age, while laying in my crib my older brother would come in and silently hover over my face, to frighten me. For years he tormented me in so many ways, including sexual molestation when I was an adolescent but no one came to my rescue. My parents were mostly present but unaware; they were not able to care for us individually since there were so many of us; I had 14 brothers & sisters. They were busy working, training us to do household chores, taking care of the home and keeping us afloat. My mom was not a communicator and didn’t engage in individual conversation with us. And my father was a very angry man who took his frustration out on us kids, so in fear I hid from him when he came home from work. But that was not always an option.

Over the years, I learned that if others saw my fear, they would take advantage of and sometimes prey on me. Eventually I learned to mask my fear with a false persona of self-confidence to prevent anyone from getting too close and hurting me emotionally. I worked really hard to provide for myself and created a perception that I could overcome any threat that came into my life; I was convinced, I could protect myself. This worked as long as I was able to control my environment. But that is not reality. We know there are many situations we can’t control, including our relationships with others!

Into my early teens my life spiraled out of control with promiscuity, broken relationships, drug and alcohol abuse until I came to the point that I lost what sliver of hope I had and felt an overwhelming sense of despair. Fear ruled my thoughts and no matter how hard I tried to bury it; it was always present in my heart. I continued on this destructive path, trying to bury the pain, until one day I found myself pregnant and this situation stopped me in my tracks! I feared that my lifestyle would be exposed, I was ashamed and feared what others would think of me. I was single, in my 20’s and didn’t really know the father, so I had an abortion. That is when I found myself unable to cope with my decisions, especially the one that took the life of my child. This choice brought me to a point of extreme crisis. I couldn’t move past this decision which was always in my thoughts and defined who I had become.

During the time span of my disfunction, from the age of 14, I can remember followers of Jesus telling me about Him, but I was afraid of getting involved in what I thought was the rigid religion I grew up in that had nothing to offer me except judgement. For 11 years Jesus sought me out and one day, ironically, 9 months after my abortion, He opened my eyes to see His truth and, on that day, I asked forgiveness for all my sins and invited Him to be my Lord and Savior. As I began to walk with Him and explore the bible, I read that He would care for me and that I could exchange my fear for faith in Him, and in His promises!

As a new Christian, just learning about the ways of God and who I was in Him, I continued to operate out of fear. But over time, I came to understand that fear and faith cannot co-exist. One will always negate the other. This was a life changing truth for me!

For the past two or so weeks we’ve been listening to the world and experts tell us to, “Be afraid, fear for our health, the health of our family members, the economy, losing our jobs, not having enough to sustain us, to avoid all social contact, that things are going to get much worse, that there is a silent killer among us!”

The government entities have closed down the parks, schools, restaurants, businesses and more. The stock market is plummeting and the world is reacting in panic, wondering what the future holds for them and their children. Many are selfishly hoarding goods in the event they have to be quarantined. There is uncertainty all around us. While I’m very aware of what’s happening and that we have good cause to experience this fear and concern, I want to share 2 perspectives that I hope will help us put things into perspective.

And I heard Satan Say, “I will cause anxiety, fear and panic. I will shut down business, schools, places of worship, and sports events. I will cause economic turmoil. I will isolate them so I can more easily attack and cause great fear, so they will lose all hope.”

Then, Jesus said: “I will bring together neighbors, restore the family unit, I will bring dinner back to the kitchen table, I will help people slow down and appreciate what really matters. I will teach my children to rest and rely upon me and not the world, their money, or possessions. I will provide for all their needs.”

What are you fearful of?

How do you respond when you cannot control your environment?

The Lord has given us His Word to show us how we can be encouraged through difficult times and not to react in fear.

We read in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you; not as the world gives do, I give to you. let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

2 Tim 1:7, “For God gave us not a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control.”

 

In Christ’s love,

Luci

When Is It Safe to Let the Wall Down

When Is It Safe to Let the Wall Down

When Is it Safe to Let the Wall Down? (Part Two of “My Wall-My Prison”)

Romans 10:9, Luke 5:32, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, Romans 10:13, John 14:16-17 and John 16:18

In Part 1, My Wall-My Prison, we talked about the walls we built around ourselves as children to protect us from others and how these walls became our prisons. We found ourselves cut off from everyone, alone and tormented by the enemy. So how do we start taking the walls down and feeling safe to share what we have been hiding all these years?

First, I believe being in a Christ-centered community is critical for our healing. In this community, the Word of God is used along with the power of the Holy Spirit. Prayer and recovery tools are also used in this loving environment, creating a safe place to share.

I believe abortion breaks the very soul of a women into a million pieces. Those pieces, created by the trauma of having an abortion, can only be picked up and put back together by Jesus. We were designed by God to love, protect and nurture our children; we did the opposite. This group is a safe place to share our hearts and our hurts without judgment or condemnation.

Second, a relationship with God is extremely important. To have this relationship, the Bible says we must be born again. We become born again or saved when we ask God to forgive our sins through confession (Romans 10:9) and repentance, which means turning away from our sins and turning to God (Luke 5:32). We must also believe in our hearts that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross for our sins, was buried and rose again on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, Romans 10:13). We then receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, The Spirit of Truth. He gives us the power to understand Scripture (John 14:17), convicts us of sin (John 16:8) and is our Comforter, constant companion and friend (John 14:16). It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that God connects with us in a deep and intimate way, making us a family.

My life changed dramatically when I finally received the love of God in my heart. I knew Jesus loved me, but I didn’t feel loved. I still believed the lies that I was unworthy to be loved by God, or anyone else for that matter, because of all my sins, especially my abortion. When the truth finally penetrated my heart, I was forever changed. I realized I was a child of God who was adopted into His family. He would never leave me nor forsake me. I was His, and I was bought by His precious blood on the cross for my sins. I am loved by God just the way I am. I am so grateful for this truth.

Lastly, it is okay to still be protected from people who are unsafe emotionally and/or physically. God does not want His daughters abused. As God heals you and you become more confident, He will lead you to start sharing with those whom you feel safe. This group is a good place to start sharing within a safe and loving community to build your confidence.

Healthy boundaries are necessary to keep us safe so we can have more fulfilling and meaningful relationships with others. On the other hand, holding on to secrets is not a good way to have deep and meaningful relationships. When you feel safe to do so, share your secrets so you can be set free, giving the enemy nothing to hold against you.

Are you ready to let your wall down to let God in so you can receive the love and the help you need?

Who are you praying about sharing your past with? Do you have a healthy relationship with this person? It’s okay to keep yourself protected, but do not allow the enemy to isolate you or put you back into the prison.

Blessings,

Toni

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!

My Mask of Perfection

My Mask of Perfection

Click Here for the Spanish Version!

From the time I was a small child, I did not use my voice and hid in the background to keep under the radar. As a result, I became what people wanted me to be. I was labeled, “The good, quiet one.” I was fearful of rejection, so I became a people pleaser. I believed the lie that if I were perfect, I would be loved. That’s when I started wearing a mask.

My need for love and acceptance caused me to hide parts of myself. I only showed the good sides so people would love me. Then, when I was 12 years old, I started sneaking whiskey from my parents’ liquor cabinet. Now, I was really hiding. I didn’t want my parents to find out. They were very strict with me being the oldest, and I didn’t want them to be angry or disappointed in me.

As I got older, my sins were more and more grievous, and my secrets became bigger and bigger. So, I isolated even more and hid everything. My mask morphed as I got older. As a child, I strived for perfection. I was a good student, good athlete, and an all-around good child. When that wasn’t working, I tapped into a lifestyle of alcohol, drugs and sex. When I was home, I was still the good one. But in high school, I was hanging out with those who smoked and did drugs.

At this point, people pleasing ruled my life. All I strove for were accolades from others and a place I could fit in and feel safe. But I would not find that for a long time. Honestly, I lost my own identity because I wanted to fit in with others. I no longer knew what I liked or what I wanted to do because I became a chameleon and changed depending upon the group I was with. I had lost my own identity striving to please others.

I felt unloved and lost. My drinking and drug use were out of control. I was a walking time bomb. I hated myself and felt so depressed. I struggled with keeping it all together. When I found out I was pregnant as a 21-year-old college student, I panicked. This pregnancy did not fit the narrative I was allowing my parents to see. I was not the good, quiet one. I was doing very ungodly, sinful destructive things, and now I was going to terminate my baby’s life.

How did I end up here? My whole life was a lie. I will have an abortion and act as if everything was fine. But everything wasn’t fine. After this traumatic event, I was more depressed than before, crying all the time and drinking more. My self-loathing and suicidal thoughts were now continually plaguing me. I just wanted to die so this torment would stop. It was too hard to keep up this façade. Slowly my mask was cracking, and I was so afraid of being exposed. All my sins and lies would come flooding out. I was scared.

In my early 30’s I had a physical and emotional break down. I could not function normally at all. I would lay on the couch for weeks at a time. All the years of stuffing and lying and all the pain I had been holding in all my life were starting to come out sideways. I was a walking volcano, spilling hot ash on anyone who got in my way. I was extremely emotional. I felt I could not look anyone in the eyes because if I did, I would not be able to stop crying.

Slowly I started recognizing I needed help. I needed someone who would love me, accept me, and heal me. I needed a Savior. Then on January 2, 1994, I heard the gospel for the first time. Within 4 weeks I gave my heart to Jesus, confessed my sins, turned from my old ways and turned toward God. I am coming up on the 26th anniversary of my salvation, and it is still the sweetest day of my life. It is the day I finally surrendered my life to God and allowed Him to heal my broken body, my broken heart and my broken mind. He transformed me into the woman He created me to be: a loving, confident woman filled with joy and peace. I have been adopted into the family of God; I am accepted, and I am finally loved. I feel safe to be me. I can take the mask off now because I am finally home.

Are you wearing a mask?

What does your mask look like?

Do you have the courage to take off the mask and be real?

I pray that as God heals you, you will be filled with His love and you will have the courage to take off your mask.

Blessings,

Toni

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!

The Lord Will Equip You for Your Calling

The Lord Will Equip You for Your Calling

1st Samuel 17:28, 1st Corinthians 15:58, and Philippians 1:3-6

In 1st Samuel 17, prior to fighting Goliath, David has an encounter with his older brother Eliab. Eliab accuses David of being in sin and being prideful. In 1st Samuel 17:28 we read, “Why did you come down here? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride and the insolence of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.”

Many around David, even his own family, tried to discourage him from fighting the giant because of their fears and their lack of trust and confidence in the Lord. The enemy was also at work in this situation, trying to prevent David from obeying the calling God had placed on his life.

Opposition to your calling will sometimes come from your own family and closest friends. It happened to me when I started on my abortion healing journey, back in January 2006. It was Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, and I was sitting in my Sunday School class. The Holy Spirit said to me, “I want you to help other women feel forgiven for their past abortions.” People closest to me said, “You shouldn’t do it because you are not suited for it; you should be working with children instead,” or “It’s too hard for you, and you will not be able to handle all the sorrow and pain associated with abortion.”

So, I did nothing for a few weeks. Shortly thereafter, my Pastor preached on obedience. When I heard this sermon, there was no denying the pull God had on my heart. I had to do this. I went back to that person who had doubted my calling and abilities and said, “You don’t understand, God is calling me to do this and I must obey Him.”

How can we apply this to our lives? First, we must be prepared for many around us, even our own family members, to disagree with our calling. They may cause you to doubt whether you have truly heard from God or not. Many will try to prevent you from fulfilling your God-given calling on your life. They will say, “Are you sure that’s what God is leading you to do?” The enemy will throw everything at you to trip you up, so you do not fulfill your God-given destiny. Your destiny or calling is not something you choose. God is the one who calls you, and He is the one who will equip you for it. In 1st Corinthians 15:58, it says, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not vain in the Lord.”

You are courageous women of God and I want you to be encouraged. God will equip you for the battle you will face in your ministry. God will prepare you for every good work. Keep your eyes on Jesus and He will lead you, protect you, provide for you, and guide you, all the days of your life.

I would like to pray this prayer over you:

Philippians 1:3-6

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;”

Follow the Lord’s leading, dear one; He can be trusted. He will always lead you to walk on the path of truth, life, and peace.

Reach out today if you need prayer or a word of encouragement. —Toni

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!

The Tool of Detachment

The Tool of Detachment

John 10:10a, 1st Corinthians 14:33b, Proverbs 6:19b, James 1:19

The tool of detachment gives me the ability to love someone without getting caught up in their dysfunction. Satan is the author of confusion, chaos, and discord among the brethren and our families. He has made this his primary mission: to steal, kill, and destroy our testimonies, our relationships, our peace, our joy, and to make our lives miserable. We must guard our hearts from responding to others in ways that are hurtful and mean spirited, instead speaking the truth in love. Use your voice in a way that is pleasing to God and to the hearer. Recognize that everyone has wounds from their past and the way in which people respond to certain situations has a lot to do with where they are in their healing process. It’s important to remember, “Hurting people hurt people.” They are blinded by their wounds and cannot see how they are hurting others.

It is extremely important to have healthy boundaries. I grew up with no boundaries at all. I had to educate myself about boundaries and learn how to communicate them with others. Eventually, I started speaking up for myself and sharing how I was feeling. Over time, it became second nature for me to use my voice and to protect myself from unhealthy people or situations. Starting something new is always the hardest part, but it becomes easier with time.

If you have not read the book, “Boundaries,” by Cloud and Townsend, I suggest you do. This book is a very helpful resource. In my journey with the tool of detachment, I also had to recognize that I cannot fix, rescue, or save anyone. I had to realize that I cannot control another person, nor can I change them, but rather, God can. I had to surrender to God and relinquish all control to Him. As soon as I did, I began to feel more peaceful, calmer and less anxious about things.

When I trust God and humble myself before Him, I am released from being tormented by the evil one. A humble, teachable spirit is a very powerful weapon against the enemy, and God draws near to the humble. There are times I need to leave a room and walk away from a conversation because I feel I may say something I will regret. Once I say something that is hurtful, I can never take it back. Removing myself from a volatile situation is sometimes my only option. By doing this, I have a chance to cool down, think, and pray before I respond to this person or situation. I can now respond, instead of just reacting without thinking. God wants me to think and pray before I speak, knowing that my words can be used to lift others up or they can cause others to stumble.

Detachment gives me wisdom and discernment when dealing with a situation or an individual who is in a volatile state. I don’t have to fear or be anxious, and I don’t have to take the situation on as my own. Instead, I can recognize that the occurrence has nothing to do with me. I can respond in a calm and godly manner, and I can speak the truth in love. I can walk away and return when I am calmer and more composed. Seeking God during this process helps me to remain in peace and in control of my emotions; that’s all I am responsible for, and I leave the rest in God’s hands.

In His love and service,

—Toni

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!