Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace
by Toni Weisz/Abuse Recovery
Ephesians 4:29-32 and Numbers 6:24-26

Ephesians 4:29-32
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ forgave you.

In the Moody Handbook of Theology, Paul Enni defines God’s grace as the unmerited or undeserving favor of God to those who are under condemnation. I did not grow up in a home where grace was displayed. I experienced and witnessed harsh judgment for the smallest offenses. As a child, this caused me to be fearful and to hide because I did not want to face this treatment from my parents. I went to a church that was big and dark inside and they spoke in a foreign language. The school associated with this church was very much the same. Students were hit with rulers when they disobeyed. Because I did not see grace and love in these formative places, I began to believe that my faith in God was based upon my good works: if I am good, I will be loved and accepted, but if I disobey, I will be severely punished. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I didn’t run to God when I was 21, unmarried, and pregnant. I was fearful that He too would judge me harshly and punish me severely.

During my adult life, I once again encountered a harsh church environment. My family and I attended a legalistic church for several years where it was all about following the rules with no room for grace. The Holy Spirit in me was so grieved that I could barely feel or sense His presence. At first, I didn’t recognize it, but I was experiencing spiritual abuse. Even so, I wanted to serve Jesus. If that meant wearing dresses 24/7and obeying ridiculous rules, then that’s what I would do. This spiritual oppression greatly affected my soul and inside I started slowly dying. Unfortunately, my children (who were in high school at the time) were also subjected to this spiritual abuse. I was so grateful when we finally got away from that toxic environment.

Similarly, I have experienced harsh treatment from other ministry leaders as well. In those situations, I felt like I could never do anything right and was always under a microscope. Every little thing I did was magnified and made into a public example. I was so discouraged. Until one day, God brought in a leader who was kind and gentle. She gave me permission to just be me and fostered a safe environment in which I could open up and share about the emotional and spiritual abuse I was experiencing. I trusted her and she truly encouraged me. It was so refreshing to have a leader that was sweet and kind, just like Jesus.

In our ministry, we want each woman to feel safe and know that she can share her story without judgement. We encourage her to use her voice, perhaps for the first time in her life. We want her to see the love of Jesus in our words and our actions. God wants our words to speak hope and life into the lives of the women He brings to our ministry and that is what we will always try to do. God has given us His heart for these courageous women. We are honored to walk alongside them on their healing journeys. You too are welcome here, courageous woman. Come as you are; we are waiting for you.

Closing Thoughts
What is Grace?
Grace is a gift from God; it cannot be earned.

Grace is overlooking someone else’s faults and loving them where they are.

I am so grateful for God’s overwhelming love and grace in my life. This grace compels me to love others, to extend mercy, and to be kind to all people. This grace humbles me when I think about what Jesus did for me on the cross…a gift I can never repay.

Number 6:24-26
“The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”

 

Reflection Questions:

  1. Do you judge yourself harshly?
  2. Do you judge others harshly?
  3. Have you received God’s grace?
  4. Are you able to extend grace to others?

You are loved,
Toni

 

 

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!

Our Perception of God and Why It Matters

Our Perception of God and Why It Matters

Colossians 3:2
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.

Romans 12:1-2
Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

I can’t remember where I got this quote from but it makes a lot of sense. “Science tells us that repetitive thoughts over time become physical ruts in the brain that effect reasoning, choices, and eventually our beliefs.”

What was your perception of God as a child?

Was He kind, loving, and approachable or cold, distant, and angry?
My perception of God as a child was that He was unapproachable angry and would punish me for the slightest offense, He was not a God of love but of wrath. I grew up in a church that I saw punishment for the slightest offense with rulers and scolding. The people there were very harsh and critical. And that God was all about following rules. I did not see the love of God there.
You can read my Blog under stinking thinking: https://myashestobeauty.com/stinking-thinking-my-distorted-view-of-god/

How did that affect you growing up?
Because of my distorted view of God, when I found myself in bad situations, I decided to take matters into my own hands instead of asking God what I should do. I didn’t think He cared about me. I was in such darkness I could not see His light at all. Because of the unhealthy relationships I had with others closest to me which were quite manipulative and controlling, I didn’t think I was worth very much to God or others. So, what does it matter what I do to my body, my baby, or others? But God was showing up ever now and then when I felt like He was there and He was interested in my life. But I would not come to know Him as my Lord and Savior until I was 34 years old.

Ephesians 3:16-19
That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith, that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

How do you see God now?
I now have finally received the beautiful redeeming work of Christ in my life once I was able to receive His love into the inner most part of my being, that truth changed me forever. Even after I was saved, I allowed people to abuse me and use me because I had no boundaries, and because I didn’t love myself, others didn’t treat me with love and respect either. But once His love permeated my heart, I had courage to put up boundaries and I started taking care of myself and loving myself. It was the most freeing and beautiful thing I have experienced, to know the love of God for myself. To feel and know in my heart, that no matter what I have done in the past He loves me.

How does He see you?
I am grateful for the truth from God’s word that every person is created in His image and is given intrinsic value and is created with a purpose for His kingdom. I am no longer bound to Satan and sin instead I am adopted into the family of God; I am a daughter of the King of Glory. He loved me so much He died for me on the cross. His love is so deep, and wide, and high that I cannot comprehend it, but I believe in my heart I am cherished and loved by God. And I will be with Him forever in heaven for all eternity. In July of 2017 we were having my extended family in town, my sister and brother and their families. As a result, I started feeling anxious and started feeling rejected by all of them, because you see they do not know the Lord yet, so I am not apart of their family anymore. Rejection was a huge wound for me and I can go there very quickly if I am not grounded in the Word. To Combat my rejection wound God had me write out specific Biblical truths about, “Who I am in Christ,” it goes like this:

Who I am in Christ

I am worthy
I am loved
I belong
I am accepted
I am adopted
I am confident and competent
I am a child of God
I have the Holy Spirit within me
I am victorious in Christ
I have a home in heaven
Nothing can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus my Lord
I will fear no evil

I am so proud of you for having the courage to step out and trust God to heal you.

You are safe her beloved sister.

You are loved,
Toni

Psalm 147:3
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (NKJV)

Toni and the Team at myashestobeauty.com

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!

I Am God’s Wildflower

I Am God’s Wildflower

Luci’s Blog

I was part of the sexual Abuse Recovery Bible Study with a small group of women through the “My Ashes To Beauty” ministry. And when I agreed to participate, I figured it had been so many decades since the abuses took place that there wouldn’t be any new discoveries. Well, it turns out there were things that I had not yet processed, even with all the counseling I had over the years.

I had the opportunity to mourn the loss of a safe and happy childhood and teen years that every girl deserves to experience. One of the things that really moved me is when we shared photos of the timeframe that we lost our innocence. I felt such compassion for the other women’s photos and how precious and vulnerable they appeared at the time of their abuses. When I looked at my photo, I felt such love and mercy for the young adolescent girl, that was me; I shed tears over that. I didn’t see myself back then, the way I now do. I had blamed myself for the abuses and couldn’t see beyond how it defined me. I was reminded over the course of this study that I am God’s precious and adored daughter! And that was definitely a good thing to allow to sink into my heart!

As I got to know the women in this intimate setting and hear their stories, I realized, I’m not alone in this, that others have experienced similar atrocities and it endeared me to them. We bonded in a way that goes beyond a typical group gathering for prayer or Bible study. I got the sense that God brought this particular group together so we could pray for, encourage and show one another that there is further healing and work to be done. The prayers that were prayed over us was like a healing balm that sunk deep into my soul!

Sexual abuse recovery takes time, as we peel away layers of false beliefs and negative thinking which keeps us in bondage and from moving further on the beautiful path that God has for each of us to walk. Not only do we need to continue to grow in Him, but He also wants to use us to show others the healing and forgiveness that is waiting for them, through His love. This study ws a safe place to share and be vulnerable with like-minded women.

His beloved,

Luci

 

Will You Allow Jesus to Heal You?

Will You Allow Jesus to Heal You?

Abuse Recovery Support Group (ARSG)

Will You Allow Jesus to Heal You?

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3 NKJV

Only Jesus knows what it feels like to be verbally and physically abused, mocked and spit on, and publicly humiliated as He hung on the cross naked and beaten and rejected by His closest friends. I believe only Jesus can heal us physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally from all the forms of abuse and trauma we have experienced in our lives. In Isaiah 53:5, the Bible says, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.

Thank you for joining our first support group meeting on abuse. We will be covering all kinds of abuse from emotional, physical, sexual, and spiritual. We want to give each of you an opportunity to share your stories and your hearts in a safe and loving environment so that the healing journey you started will continue. One thing I have learned through the abortion recovery ministry is that we need a community of women who have experienced the same things we have, in order for us to open up and be vulnerable. God is providing you with a group of sisters who love Jesus and each other, and who are courageous and committed to this healing journey. They are willing to do the work necessary to reach the next level in their healing as they grow closer to God in the process. They no longer want to settle for barely existing. No, they want more. They want the abundant life that Jesus died to give them.

In my home of origin, I never developed a voice because of the chaos and unpredictable home environment I grew up in. From an early age, I believed I had the power to make someone happy or angry by my behavior. That was a lie from the pit of hell, but I would not discover that truth until I got into ACA recovery work in 2010-2015. I have no such control, but this lie lead me down a path of people-pleasing that opened me up to all kinds of harsh treatment and abuse by others who would use and manipulate me. I enabled this behavior because of my need for love and acceptance. I did not understand codependency, emotional and verbal abuse, and how it was having an effect on me and the choices I would make in my life. I thought this was normal; it was my normal but, God knows it wasn’t His plan for the family.

I started rebelling at the age of 12, drinking Scotch Whiskey from my parent’s liquor cabinet, getting high at 13 and having sex at 16 and then, my abortion at 21. I struggled with depression as a teenager, and when I got drunk, I acted out and kicked out a window in my college dorm. I punched walls and was so filled with rage and hatred towards myself. After my abortion, these unhealthy coping mechanisms just increased in intensity. My abortion was the nail in my coffin. That act plunged me headlong into the dark pit of despair and suicidal thoughts. I just wanted to end this torment of a life; I did not see a way out.

Then one glorious day, I met Jesus and He forgave all my sins, and He began healing my broken body, soul and mind. It’s been twenty-seven years, and He is still healing and loving me. And it has been a beautiful journey.

What was your home of origin like?

How did that affect your decision making?

Did you make healthy decisions or ones based out of fear?

Have you received help in this area to stop this unhealthy cycle in your life?

The Abuse Recovery Support Group (ARSG) meets on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of every month, at 4:15 PM EST. More information regarding the Sunday calls is found on this page, Trauma of Sexual Abuse.

Please reach out, email us at arwsg4u2@gmail.com, we can help you heal from your past trauma with our loving and caring support group, the Word of God, the Holy Spirit, prayer, and accountability.

You are loved,
Toni

 

 

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!

Angel of Light (Part 1 & 2)

Angel of Light (Part 1 & 2)

Luci’s blog

Angel of Light (Part 1)

There he was with his beautiful smile and wavy brown hair with streaks of sunlight in it and those eyes! They had mischief in them and flirted with me! I just knew He was an answer to my prayers, finally!

I was 33. I had been following Jesus for 8 years and loved serving Him. I was involved in multiple ministries, leading post abortion recovery groups (having experienced my own horrific abortion experience), women’s ministry, church functions and small group bible studies.

I desperately wanted to be married and have a family. I felt so out of place in the church, with the couples (both younger and older) and their children that seemed to be everywhere. But I promised my Lord that I would not sleep with any man or marry unless He chose that man, one who I could serve Him with. I prayed fervently and waited impatiently. But 8 years passed and I was growing anxious as I felt my biological clock ticking away! At this point I was beyond the point that most couples began their families; I was becoming very anxious about my singleness.

My “prince” was charming, friendly and polite. He captured my heart the moment I laid eyes on him. I shared my faith with him and he said all the right things that lead me to believe he too followed God. But the deeper into our relationship I went, the more red flags I saw that told me to “RUN”! But I was so infatuated with the idea of being his girl, marrying and raising our own family that I couldn’t see the danger I was heading toward. Satan used this man to lure me into a trap. He lead me to believe that this could work. But the harder I tried to conform this man to my ideal god fearing partner, the more evident it became that he would not.

At first, I refused to sleep with him, attempting to keep my promise to God while dancing with the devil. By this time, several months into the relationship, all my protection and resistance was gone. I stopped going to church, abandoned all my ministries and isolated from my believing sisters. I gave in to his constant seductions and once I had sex with him, I felt truly trapped. I had the overwhelming sense that I made a grave mistake! But I believed I had to marry him so I could honor my promise to God that I wouldn’t sleep with any man until I was married. It sounds ridiculous now but the guilt and condemnation I put myself under was suffocating. Along with that I had succumbed to his control over my life; he was a master manipulator and I felt that I was under his spell. Little did I know, he was just a pawn of the devil, using this relationship to pull me further and further from my Lord.

I was stressed out, couldn’t eat, had insomnia (cried in the dark most nights), experienced panic attacks and lost all my confidence and joy.

My prince turned into a nightmare! He manipulated me and criticized my words and actions. He slept with other women and lied about it even when I exposed him. He turned out to be a very warped and perverted individual. He was literally a pawn of the devil and didn’t know it. It took me three years to see it and finally get help. When I gained the courage to stand up to him, I threw him out and began my journey back to intimacy with God.

In Christ’s love,

Luci

See Angel of Light (Part 2) below.

Luci’s blog

Angel of Light (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this story, I left off when I threw the man out, I will call “abuser” that had been living with me, who I was allowing to ruin my testimony, my peace of mind and keeping me from a relationship with the Lord. I had discovered that you cannot serve Jesus and the devil or another way to put it is, ungodly/sinful desires, at the same time.

He had threatened me as I told him to leave so I worried that he would retaliate, having seen him do it to others who crossed him. But I had turned a corner and began to trust in the Lord again so I was resolved. Although I knew I had done the right thing, I was so unsure of my future. And in spite of feeling so broken and vulnerable, I trusted the Lord and moved towards Him. I asked for forgiveness for leaving the path He had so firmly planted me on and asked him to restore me to Himself.

Through the tears and the shame, I began my journey back to my Lord, one step, one day at a time. I began attending church again and as I sat in the services, I felt numb and unable to respond. I just took it all in and allowed the Lord to begin the healing process on my heart, mind and my sick body. I got back into the bible and read everyday and slowly returned to fellowship with other believers which was so good for me! It took five plus years to be restored to the closeness that I once had with the Lord and to feel confident in my role as His child.

I still had a deep longing to be married but this time I was leaving it up to the Lord. I learned that I could not make it happen on my own, not the way God would have it for me! I knew I wanted to be with a devoted follower of Christ, a man who would put Jesus first in all things and cherish me the way God intended.

After a couple of years no men of this caliber had come into my life so, I assumed that the Lord intended for me to be single. And shortly after I accepted this and began to settle on the idea that God would use me in my singleness, He sent me a godly, ethical, gracious man who would eventually become my husband! The way we met could only have come from the Lord! We lived in different countries and found one another on a

Christian dating website. So after 42 years, I married my soul mate. It has been 17 wonderful years that we’ve been together. He is perfect for me!

If you ask me, would I want to go through that horrible relationship with the abuser again to get where I am today, I would say NO. But having experienced it, I can appreciate how God provides and does it so much better than we can imagine! Praise Him for His faithfulness!

In Christ’s love,

Luci