My Identity in Christ (Part 1)

My Identity in Christ (Part 1)

2 Cor 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he (she) is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

John 15:15 “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”

When I was a little girl, I remember having an overall sense of happiness and freedom to be a child. But as I grew older and began to develop the awareness of my identity within my family unit and became the victim of verbal and physical abuse, my perspective on who I was began to change.

In my mind’s eye, I was ugly, stupid, and overall, a pathetic girl that no one loved or wanted to be with. I can remember my father saying over and over, “Why can’t you be like your brother or why can’t you be like your sister?” He was referring to the older siblings that had gone on and became successful, in his eyes. Out of his frustration and unchecked anger, he lashed out and made us feel unwanted as he put us down by abusing us verbally. My mother was a quiet, submissive woman with multiple (total of 15) kids to care for. She wasn’t involved in our lives except to care for our physical needs. And the brothers that were still in the home, treated me with great contempt and regularly beat up on me. At age 11, I was being molested by two of my older brothers and by the age of 12, I lost my virginity to a drug-addicted man that was 14 years older, who lived in the neighborhood. He literally took advantage of my desperate need for love and affection and convinced me to cooperate with his selfish intentions. I told no one as I thought they would blame me; I believed in my young heart that it was my fault.

I felt like such a failure, that by the time I was a young teen, I began to medicate with wine and beer, and at one point, I felt so hopeless, I attempted to take my own life! Obviously, I wasn’t successful, but at the time, I believed that I was a failure even at that! I not only felt unworthy to be loved but I also felt dirty and had a great sense of shame that covered me like a thick cloud.

As I grew into my teens, I continued to abuse alcohol, adding hard liquor and was introduced to all sorts or illegal drugs, which I experimented with daily. I lived a destructive life of substance abuse and promiscuity. And at age 24, I committed what I thought was the unforgivable offense by having an abortion, essentially ending the life of what would turn out to be my only biological child. This event plunged me deeper into a sense of self-loathing and emptiness that I had yet to experience. By the time I was 25, my sense of self-worth was in the pit; I had no hope and no purpose for my future.

Then it happened! The Lord Jesus, who had been pursuing me for years through the witness of other Christ followers, opened my eyes to His amazing acceptance, love and mercy for me. And I can remember the sense of hope and love that flowed through me like a rushing river! It was incredible! My self-perspective changed that day. I dared to believe that I could be something more than I had settled into. And I embarked on a lifelong mission to get to know the God who would be willing to die for me, a pathetic, sinful, ugly and stupid girl. It took years of Bible reading, support from other believers in Jesus and some Biblical counseling, for me to accept my new identity as I embraced 2 Corinthians 5:17, which tells us, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he (she) is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Today, after walking with the Lord for over 37 years, having His amazing Holy Spirit living in me, I embrace the truth that I am God’s precious daughter, loved and cherished beyond my wildest dreams! He has given me dignity, self-worth and a future hope. I no longer condemn myself because according to Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” I no longer accept the attempt of others to manipulate or put me down. I have come to understand that I can have boundaries and stay in control, by the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Blessings,

Luci

From Shame to Victory (Part 1) My Broken Childhood

My Broken Childhood

When I was a kid, I remember being happy, wanting to understand why everything was the way it was, full of curiosity and questions. I loved playing outside, I loved my brother and I loved animals. I loved Sunday fishing, car rides and visiting family. I had a vivid imagination that helped me to escape from the reality of my dysfunctional childhood.

My parents had been dating for a while, and then they eloped. My dad decided he wanted to see Sault Ste. Marie. My mom wanted to go, so they got married. They never made it there; they stopped short in North Bay and rented a place. Dad got a job and along came my brother. Mom’s pregnancy was difficult, and she was told not to have any more kids. My Dad refused to have one child, so two and a half years later with much resentment from my mother, I was born; she and I never bonded.

I remember being afraid of my mother when I was young as she was angry a lot. She told me she had me because my father made her and that she never wanted me. I felt like I was a burden, an inconvenience. I understand now that she was angry about her life and her inability to speak up for herself.

When I was about five, my mom was in the living room crying. I asked her what was the matter, and she looked at me and said my dad had slept with his boss’s sister, he may lose his job and she didn’t know if she was going to stay married to him. I remember being scared, not really understanding and thinking I did something wrong to cause this.

 

Rhonda’s Blog

 

Read PART 2 (The Abuse Started in Adolescence) HERE!

Read PART 3 (My Miserable Teens) HERE!

 

Fleeing from God

Fleeing from God

Jonah 1-2

When Jonah decided to go against God’s plan for him, he took a ship to Tarshish, the opposite direction of Nineveh, to flee from the presence of God. God continued to pursue Jonah but it was impossible for Jonah to get away from God.

God sent a great wind and a mighty tempest so that the ship was almost broken. (Jonah 1:4) Even the mariners were afraid, men who were used to the sea and storms, but they knew this one was different. Jonah tells the mariners that he is a Hebrew and that he fears the Lord, the God of heaven and he tells them to throw him over board, so that the sea would become calm. (Jonah 1:8-12) The mariners were exceedingly fearful, but God in His mercy prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah and he stayed in the belly of the fish for 3 days and 3 nights. God had to isolate Jonah to get his attention, finally he cried out to God, (Jonah 2) and God rescued him and Jonah did go to Nineveh and all were saved.

When I think back at my abortion, I see that I too was fleeing from God. I isolated myself from Him and my family. I allowed the enemy to lie to me and tell me, “Your parents will never accept you and the baby, it’s a big mistake. Take care of it now before anyone finds out.”

God had pursued me also and he gave me a way to escape. the first time I went for my abortion, I was partying the night before. I was hung over and needed food, so I stopped on the way, but when I got to the clinic, they said I could not have the abortion because I ate. When I think back to that day, I drove myself and I was all alone. what was I thinking? That’s the point, I wasn’t thinking clearly. Whenever I have made decisions based on fear, they have never been good ones. But I didn’t allow this bump in the road to stop me from having the abortion. I bought into the lie that my child would be deformed because of my heavy drinking and drug usage. This was something I had to do; I didn’t see any other options.

I finally did have my abortion on December 10, 1980 and at that moment everything changed. My heart was broken, my body was broken and my spirit was broken. It was the worst decision I ever made in my life. My heart goes out to you precious sisters who were forced by someone else to have an abortion against your will.

I struggled with depression, crying episodes, feelings of isolation and loneliness. I still continued with the drinking and drugs and thoughts of suicide started entering my mind. I just wanted the pain to go away. Then one glorious day I heard the gospel for the first time on January 2,1994 and in 4 weeks I had given my heart to the Lord and asked Him to forgive all my sins and to heal by broken heart. From that moment and going forward I will never have to feel alone again. I have a Savior who will never leave me nor forsake me. Thank you, Jesus.

God has a beautiful plan and purpose for your life too. In Jeremiah 29:11, “FOR I KNOW THE THOUGHTS I HAVE FOR YOU, SAYS THE LORD, THOUGHTS OF PEACE AND NOT OF EVIL, TO GIVE YOU A FUTURE AND A HOPE.” God can turn the darkest times in your life into something beautiful for His honor and glory.

I pray this blesses your heart.

Blessings,
Toni

Read more of Toni’s blog posts here!

Boundaries—Why Are They So Important?

Boundaries—Why Are They So Important?

Psalm 34:18, Jeremiah 29:11, John 3:16

Personal boundaries, as defined by Psychology today, “Are the limits we set with other people, which indicate what we will accept and what we consider unacceptable behavior towards us. To know our boundaries comes from a healthy view of ourselves.” When that view is distorted due to emotional trauma as children (whether we did not get the love and care from our family which is a Type A Trauma or we were sexually, emotionally, or physically abused as children which is Type B Trauma). All these experiences as children cause us to have a distorted view of ourselves, God, and others and it prevents us from maturing into healthy stable adults. (Living from the Heart Jesus Gave You, A Life Model Book)

This distorted view of ourselves especially those of us who have had abortions opens up the door to all kinds of unhealthy and destructive behavior. God created women to love and nurture their children and then we did the opposite. Our hopes and dreams as young girls are dashed, and we are now open to all kinds of unhealthy destructive coping mechanisms and ungodly behavior to deal with our pain. Our very souls are tormented and we feel desperately alone, depressed and even suicidal.

So how can we stop this destructive cycle of accepting and enabling unhealthy behavior from others? First, we must realize we have a Savior and a friend who is the lover of our soul, and His name is Jesus. He is the only one that can heal our broken spirits, our broken bodies and our broken minds. Psalm 34:18 ESV “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves the crushed in spirit.” He is the only one that can take the disaster we have made of our lives and restore order and peace. And He alone can give us a new hope, new dreams, a new purpose, and a new life. Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

In childhood, I did not learn what healthy boundaries look like. I became a people pleaser at a very young age and as a result I allowed people to take advantage of me and treat me very poorly and I never said a word. I wondered why I never truly felt loved by others; what was it? I was allowing all kinds of unhealthy behavior because I didn’t love and respect myself, especially after my abortion. I now despised myself. I didn’t understand why others didn’t treat me with love, kindness and compassion. I realized they cannot give what they do not have. But that took many decades for me to come to that understanding. I also recognized that they did the best they could with what they had and I released them into God’s Hands and started praying for and forgave them.

We all have our wounds and issues from our past, which causes us to be self-consumed and blinded, and we cannot see how we are hurting others closest to us. Only God can give us awareness and the courage to stop accepting unacceptable behavior and establish healthy boundaries. For the first time, I used my voice to explain my boundaries and insist they be respected. There was some push back but I was not going to waiver. At first, putting up boundaries is hard to do. But as God heals us, we get stronger, bolder and more courageous, and we no longer want to just exist, we want to experience the abundant life Jesus came to give us. The first step in recovery is recognizing my life is unmanageable and I need God to help me.

Dear One, I want you to know that God loves you so much that He sent His Son to die on the cross for you. (John 3:16) Have you received this gift of love and forgiveness from God? If not you can do that today? If you do know the Lord, then ask Him to help you to love yourself and to have courage to put up boundaries and no longer accept unhealthy behavior. He will help you if you ask Him, He did it for me and I know He will do it for you too.

 

 

Blessings,

Toni

Read more of Toni’s blog posts here!

Stinking Thinking: Anxiety

Stinking Thinking: Anxiety

Stinking Thinking: Anxiety

Philippians 4:6-7 and Matthew 6:25-26, 31 and 33

Philippians 4:6
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication (humbly asking) with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God that surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Matthew 6:25-26, 31, and 33
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not your life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather in barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.”

Stinking Thinking refers to the negative thoughts that torment us especially when we are HALT: Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired; thoughts such as a distorted view of God and self, negative thinking, justification, fear, and anxiety. We will address each of these topics so we can discern between the lies we have believed over the years and replace them with God’s truth. Our goal is to equip you so you can have victory in these areas.

I become anxious when I negatively project into the future without God in it. When I do this, I feel weak, hopeless, and discouraged. My head and eyes are cast down and I feel like giving up. But when I recognize I am looking inward, then I remind myself that my help comes from the Lord and I look up to heaven. God has promised us in His Word, that He will meet all of our needs. Are you not of more value than many sparrows? But unfortunately, I did know Him nor did I trust Him, as a result I have made some very bad decisions because I did not trust Him with my future.

I thought I could minimize my anxiety by trying to control everyone and everything. But I realized this was impossible to do and it was very frustrating and emotionally draining. I used to jump in to fix and rescue people because I would become anxious about all the what ifs. I was sinning against God by not trusting Him with my marriage, my children, my business, and ministry. I remember in my journaling, God telling me, “Get out of my way you are preventing me from working.” IN ALL CAPS, TOO. God was not happy with me. God showed me that my lack of trust in Him was a sin and putting others before Him was an idol. I repented and turned away from my sin and turned to God and now I am not anxious about anything, because I know God will provide for all my needs and my family’s needs as well. I am finally free.

Let me ask you, what are you trying to control?

Are you feeling anxious?

 

Blessings,

Toni

Read more of Toni’s blog posts here!