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

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!

My Baby’s Purpose

My Baby’s Purpose

Luci’s blog

Genesis 50:20: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

II Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

Growing up in my dysfunctional family, which included neglect and sexual, physical, and verbal abuse, did not equip me to care for or respect myself as I grew in the way God intended for me. I spent many years allowing others, especially men, to use and take advantage of me for sexual purposes. By the time I was 15, I was deeply wounded and hurting. My way of coping was to act out in self-destructive ways. As I mentioned earlier, I allowed others to use me. I also drank daily and experimented with most drugs, including mind-altering substances.

I had no hope that anything in my life would improve but that it would just continue to get worse until I died. I was so angry at the way I had been treated by my father and brothers but didn’t understand how to break out of this pattern of destructive behavior.

At the age of 24, I slept with a man whom I hardly knew. In fact, I couldn’t even tell you his name. All I know was that he said all the right things that my heart longed to hear: that he cared for me, really wanted to be with me, and made me feel special, even if it was just for a brief time. He kept insisting that we have sex, and I resisted at first but then gave in when he said he had a vasectomy, since that meant he could not get me pregnant.

I was desperate for this man’s attention but certainly didn’t want to have a baby with him! But like most of the men I opened my life up to, he had lied to me and much to my dismay, I became pregnant. I was devastated and felt a sense of desperation as to how I would “fix” this predicament I was in. Of course, the guy who said he cared so much about me left the scene as soon as he got what he wanted.

I confided in a friend that had introduced me to him. I remember that she had a 9-year-old daughter and no husband, and it was clear that she resented her daughter greatly by the way she treated her. She told me to “Get rid of it; you don’t want a kid!” All I could think about was how I didn’t want to end up like this woman, mistreating my own child! So, against my better judgement and my conscience that told me “NO, this is wrong,” I chose to abort the only child I would ever conceive.

I cried every night when no one was around to see my pain. I cried for myself because of how empty this act made me feel, but mostly for this innocent child whose life I had taken so violently. I cried unconsolably, every night for months. Not knowing my Lord Jesus Christ at that time, I had no one to turn to for forgiveness and healing. As I look back on this desperate act of selfishness, I realize this was the final self-destructive thing that drove me into the arms of God! I just couldn’t live with the emptiness and pain anymore. Nine months after my abortion, I surrendered my life to Jesus, asked forgiveness for my sins, and began to walk in the newness of life that He offers to all who come to Him in humility.

I want to read a section of the letter to the baby I named Gabriella, which means “God is My Strength”:

Although your earthly life was so short, you impacted mine for eternity because precisely nine months after I allowed that abortion clinic to strip you away from my womb, I was born again! And on that amazing day, my heart, soul, and spirit were transformed from darkness and condemnation into the forgiving and precious light of Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit! God took our pain and ashes and turned them into eternal beauty!

I am pouring much of my life into other women who have experienced the pain and grief of abortion by helping them to acknowledge and heal from this event. I love you with all my heart, my precious little one, and I will see you soon!

Your forgiven Mom

 

What purpose did your unborn child serve in your life?

 

Did it move you towards God or away from Him?

 

Additional portions of letters to the unborn:

Beloved, God knows your life was not a mistake. Your life spurred me to a deeper faith and a passion for Christ. God showed me grace, love, and healing in ways that I can’t describe. He used all these things for good (Rom 8:28). Your life allowed me to defend the defenseless, to value life in the womb, and to have compassion for the hurting moms who fell into the same trap as I did. God numbers our days and although yours were few, they continue to fuel my passion.

I, your mother, hold you in my arms today in a way I could not 10 years ago because I feared to look into your eyes and to hear Gods voice speak through the gentle grasp of your fingers saying choose life.” In the light of my mind, I now behold you, my first child—the first of three girls. Do you know that you have two sisters? Do you know that your life has given great meaning to their lives? Because of you, I cherish the very breath of life God has gifted me and those whom I hold close to my heart.

As I embrace you today and always, I let go of shame, guilt, humiliation, rejection, abandonment, pride, and pain. I reject the lies that once kept your memory hidden in darkness far from the light of truth. My love, my beautiful baby girl, you were never forgotten.

Heaven has documented each moment of your existence in the book of life. Now, it is time for me to write your page into the story of my life.

In the years to come, when we find ourselves reunited in the spirit, I will delight in the unfolding of your unique personality woven together with the experience of your brief, yet significant life. For now, sweetheart, I entrust your care and protection to the Father, whose plans for you are greater than either you or I can imagine.

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 into something beautiful. Joseph, you inspired a ministry called My Ashes to Beauty to help other moms heal from their past abortions.

 

Blessings,

Luci

 

 

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!

Restored

I became involved in My Ashes to Beauty ministry many years after my abortion. As I walked through the healing process of having an abortion, I realized how much of the decisions leading up to that very day had been affected by my childhood trauma, neglect and the sexual abuse I experienced. I knew in my heart I had to go all the way back, to allow God to start this healing process.

In the fall of 2020, I had an opportunity to join a group of warrior women in a sexual abuse bible study called “In the Wildflowers”, via Zoom. I did my part by watching the weekly videos, doing my homework and meeting every Monday night. I had never really done any work in this area of my life. I had shared my situations with others, including counselors but it had been dismissed. As I began my healing journey, I was able to recognize how the trauma of abuse had followed me into adolescence and adulthood. Prior to this study I had felt that worse things had happened to other girls and I needed to ‘suck it up ’and get over it. I felt that the abuse I had suffered was “normal” and, I had done something to cause it. I carried the shame and guilt of what others had done to me and owned their sickness for so many years!

In this study, I found help and encouragement from the ladies who I met with every week in my class. They gave me the strength I needed to get through this journey. When I did not have words or the ability to identify how I felt; they showed up with words to help me express my heart from the pain and grief. When I was angry and felt defeated, they prayed and spoke God’s truth into my life. We encouraged each other through text messages and email throughout the week and we loved on each other, helping each other through our painful journeys.

This bible study, the love and support I received allowed years of pain, shame and guilt to be washed away. I was able to surrender the burden of other people’s selfishness and God allowed me to be set free, from my past and He healed me.

Now I am sharing my redemption story so you can be set free and live a victorious life. God’s word promises to restore us. “So, I will restore to you the years that

the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewy locust, my great army which I sent among you.” (Joel 2:25 NKJV) And that is exactly what He did for me and He’s waiting for you to start your healing journey of restoration.

 

Rhonda Bouchlas

 

 

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!