Every Child Deserves to Be Loved

Every Child Deserves to Be Loved

Romans 12:9b and Psalm 147:3

What happens to us as we get older and we mature and change our minds regarding abortion? Growing up I never imagined I would have an abortion. At a young age, I always loved children and took care of them because I was the oldest granddaughter on my mom’s side of the family. She is one of 10 siblings. My relatives would say, “Toni, go take the kids and play.” I even dreamed of becoming a teacher someday. That’s how much I loved children. So, I ask myself the question, why did I terminate the life of my first baby? Why did I allow the enemy to lie to me? Why didn’t I have the courage to admit to my parents that I had made a mistake and ask them for help? Why? These questions continue to plague me. The only response I can give right now is that I am trying to put all the pieces together to figure out the answers. I must revisit my childhood to identify the key moments in my life that led me astray. When did I start making decisions for myself—very bad ones—that would have long-lasting repercussions to endure for a lifetime?

My granddaughter, who is 8 years old, asked her mother about a huge billboard sign she saw on her way to school. The billboard read “Vote Pro-Life 2020” and showed a picture of a baby. My daughter briefly explained the issue of abortion and how the procedure leads to the death of the baby. My granddaughter was horrified. She could not believe a mother would kill her child. She wanted to know how the baby dies, but my daughter responded, “You don’t need to know that right now.” My granddaughter could not understand why a mother would take the life of her own child? They hugged one another and wept bitterly. After crying for a while, my granddaughter became angry and said, “How can our country allow this to happen?” She’s only 8. Yet, she knows that this is wrong. It breaks my heart. My granddaughter and I are extremely close. So, it saddens me to know that one day I will have to tell her that I had an abortion.

We have murdered over 60 million children in this country through abortion procedures. Do we need to mourn the loss of those children? Shouldn’t we all cry like my granddaughter cried when we hear such tragedy? How did each of us become so cold and disconnected from our very own child?

Where did the lie begin? When did abortion become an acceptable option? How did we transform from life-affirming children into post-abortion women? What a long and broken road we’ve walked. Let us unpack the truth and expose the reasons why we chose abortion?

I truly believe that if we had an encounter with the One True God, the Creator of the universe, engaged in a personal relationship with Him as children, teens and young adults, we would have chosen to give life to our babies in most instances. I would like to go one step further by highlighting the reality that many Christians have abortions as well. If we could only believe the truth that God loves and cherishes us and that He has a beautiful plan for our lives, we would make better decisions in this life. We were all raised in homes with some degree of dysfunction. Some were abused in their homes while others were neglected, or both. Every child deserves a safe home in which to experience love and be nurtured. Anything less is an injustice, which breaks my heart and God’s as well.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said, “The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread. The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved.” I believe our need for love has made us vulnerable to many kinds of evil and forms of abuse, especially you precious ones who were abused as children. When I see such evil being committed by those who have rejected Christ and remain unrepentant, the one thing that gives me peace is to know that God will bring them to justice. “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12: 19b)

Fear of rejection stems from another lie we have believed about God. The Lord, in His Word, reminds us numerous times, “I will not leave you.” Perhaps He knew this would be one of our greatest areas of pain and loneliness. He knew the enemy would use this lie against us as he has already done in the lives of so many others. The fear of man, fear of rejection, fear of abandonment and the fear of being judged harshly cause us to doubt God’s promises and His goodness. By fearing God more than fearing man, perhaps we would have had the courage to choose life.

It’s important to return to the memories of our past so that we can move forward. That doesn’t mean we camp out there and remain stuck in our pain. We just need to visit long enough to get understanding. In order to be healed, we must come to Jesus in our present condition and humble ourselves before Him. We can then trust Him to walk with us in the hidden places of our minds and hearts. It is only then that we can be healed and truly set free.

So, tell me your story. When did you think abortion was your only option?

What were the lies you believed that caused you to choose abortion in the first place?

Did someone force you to abort your baby?

God is with you dear one. He is close to the brokenhearted, and He heals your wounds. (Psalm 147:3)

Will you trust Him today to exchange your ashes, your abuse, your abortion, your sins for His love, forgiveness, peace and true joy?

 

Blessings,

Toni

Read more of Toni’s blog posts here!

My Identity in Christ (Part 2)

My Identity in Christ (Part 2)

(Click here for Part 1 of MY IDENTITY IN CHRIST)

QUESTIONS:

What is your identity? How is it different from when you met and received Jesus as your Lord?

As Jesus walked the earth, teaching and preaching about the Kingdom of God, He validated women and showed them great mercy and respect. He went against the culture they lived in. In contrast, their culture treated them like 3rd class citizens, with few rights or respect. He accepted, healed, loved and taught them. And He is available to do the same for you and me today!

According to Romans 8:17, those who have repented of their sins and received Jesus as their Lord and Savior, become His heirs (which is one who receives ownership of an estate and all that is in it), but in this case, we are receiving the Kingdom of God in all its amazing beauty and perfection. We are precious and loved daughters of the King and will be for all eternity!

I want you to picture yourself dressed in a lavish, flowing white robe, which is the symbol of purity and perfection, and let’s read what it says in Isaiah 61:1-3, which was written 740-700 BC (before Jesus walked this earth).

“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion – to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” ESV

God takes our filthy rags, which is a symbol of our broken lives, and He replaces them with clean, white robes or righteousness, comfort, healing, joy, peace and strength!

Isaiah 61:10 “My soul will rejoice greatly in the Lord, my soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

Blessings,

Luci

My People-Pleasing

My People-Pleasing

From the time I was a young child, I never felt secure, confident or accepted. These insecurities gave the enemy an opening into my heart. He planted the lie in my mind that if I were perfect, I would be loved. Perfection in every task and responsibility set before me became my obsession. From school to sports and hobbies—basically anything I did—I had to be perfect. When I look back, I can see that my efforts were a waste of time. The enemy’s plan was quite insidious because he knew I could never be perfect. Only God is perfect. By striving for perfection, I would ultimately fall short and feel rejected.

The enemy drove me to failure so that I would look for other means of satisfying my longing to feel accepted, included and secure. He accomplished his mission. I failed. Being the good, quiet one in the family was not working for me anymore, so I decided to rebel. At the age of 12, I began sneaking Scotch whisky from my parent’s liquor cabinet when they were attending my brother’s football practices. Alcohol use was the beginning of my demise, which ultimately lead to the death of my child through abortion. My poor choices opened the door to more evil as a consequence. My striving for acceptance from all the wrong people would lead me to use drugs and sex to fill the void in my heart, which I would later discover could only be filled by a relationship with Jesus. I had no restraint. My conscience was slowly becoming numb as I failed to use sound judgment. Over time, I barely felt conviction for sin. I wanted to protect my parents from disappointment, so I kept all of this a secret.

My fear of rejection was stronger than anything else in my life. As a result, I became a people-pleaser. I would do anything to be loved and accepted. I would allow others to use me, and I used others to fulfill my desires. Heartbroken from my wound of rejection, I hungered for love, leaving the door open to accept abuse from others. I believed that I was not a person of value. I was easily manipulated and controlled by those closest to me because I had no boundaries. I had no self-respect, so others didn’t respect me either. I felt used, abused, unloved and worthless. During my teenage years, all of those unresolved emotions lead me into depression. When I entered into college, I was no longer restricted and restrained by my parents’ rules. I would drink alcohol to the point of abusing myself. I hated who I had become so much so that I wanted to hurt myself. One day in my dorm room, I actually kicked out the small window by my bed. Thank God I was wearing cowboy boots at the time, or else I would have badly cut or broken my foot. I was like a walking volcano. My excessive drinking led to fits of rage where hot lava came spewing from within my inner darkness, and I had no control over who was going to receive that hot mess. Afterwards, I would feel so much shame and guilt over my actions. It felt like being trapped in a dark pit all alone with the abuser and accuser—the father of lies. It was a living hell, but I didn’t know what to do to stop the destructive cycle.

I could never say no to anyone because I didn’t want to disappoint people. I just wanted to be loved and validated by others hoping they would see value in me because I couldn’t see it. My people-pleasing strategy backfired when I failed to follow through on all the things I said yes to. There were simply not enough hours in the day to accomplish all that I had agreed to do. I would overextend myself, and then I would have to back out of things. That was such an uncomfortable thing to do. A vicious cycle had developed, and I didn’t know how to stop it. I put others’ needs above my own needs. I truly believed that if I didn’t keep a perfect house, if I didn’t follow all the rules and if I wasn’t the perfect wife, my husband would toss me away. As a result, I tolerated unacceptable behavior out of fear. The enemy constantly tormented me with his lies when all I wanted was to be loved.

I realize now that the enemy wanted me to kill myself, but God had another plan for my life—one that was good and filled with hope and a prosperous future. (Jeremiah 29:11) He did not allow the enemy to succeed in having me take my own life even though I had taken the life of my child. God thwarted Satan’s plan to destroy my body and my soul. God knew that I would receive Christ as my savior at the age of 34. He knew that in 2006 I would start my abortion recovery and healing journey. He knew that in 2013 I would start My Ashes to Beauty, a post-abortion recovery and healing ministry. What the enemy meant for evil God turned around for good. (Genesis 50:20) God has been watching over me all these years while protecting me from the enemy so that I could fulfill His calling on my life. I now live my life to please God and Him alone. I no longer care about what others think of me, which is a form of idolatry. I am so humbled by and grateful for God’s mercy towards this poor broken woman who was dying inside. She is now alive and adopted as a daughter into God’s family.

Are you or/were you a people-pleaser?

Are you still concerned about what others think of you?

How did you break that dysfunctional cycle?

Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Genesis 50:20 – “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”

Blessings,

Toni

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!

My Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

My Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

Coping mechanisms are defined as techniques we use to help us manage the stress and pain in our lives. Common coping mechanisms are avoidance and isolation, denial, busyness, rationalization and control. From my childhood, I learned avoidance and isolation to keep me safe from unhealthy people or situations. Running and hiding became my usual reaction to problems as a small child. Into adulthood, I continued to use those tactics until I began my recovery journey and learned new healthy coping mechanisms. Praise God! Instead of avoidance, God gave me a voice, and I learned to communicate my likes and dislikes. I never developed a voice growing up. However, once I put up boundaries, using my voice was necessary to communicate those boundaries to others. As time went by, I felt more comfortable sharing my heart with others without fear of rejection. God also told me to stop running and hiding and to leave the outcome to Him.

I had huge blind spots as a post-abortion woman when it came to my parenting. Regarding my children, I became extremely sensitive and overprotective. I parented out of fear. I didn’t want them to feel the pain that I had experienced. I thought if I could control them, perhaps I could prevent them from experiencing what I did. Now, I know that was wrong thinking. I was in denial until I realized two things: I cannot control another person, and doing anything out of fear never has a good outcome. So, I have learned to apologize to my children for my overprotective parenting leaving the all-powerful God to change the heart of others. When I feel powerless, I remember to relinquish control to God to create a change in others or situations. I was living in denial due to my fear of rejection from my parents and spouse. As a result, I obeyed ridiculous rules in order to be accepted and loved by others. Truthfully, that never worked. When I finally received the love of Jesus into my heart, I had the courage to stand on my own without fear of rejection because I knew God would never leave me nor forsake me.

Busyness was a tool the enemy used for many years so that I would not have time to recognize my dysfunctional life and work on myself. In the year 2010, God told me to stop serving. I couldn’t believe He wanted me to do that. What will other people think? Asking this question led me right to the answer—you need to work on yourself because you are one sick puppy. I responded in obedience and took time to work on my own healing from 2010-2012. During this time, God took me to a desert place with Him so He could dispel all the lies I had believed. By focusing on His truth, I could be healed and finally set free. Although God had called me to this ministry back in 2006, He was finally able to equip me once I slowed down and put my focus solely on Him.

I had rationalized my abortion because I believed that since I was doing so much heavy drugs and drinking while smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day, my baby would be severely deformed. I felt that my parents would reject me and would be extremely disappointed in me. But looking back on these 40 years, I wish I had the courage to tell them I made a mistake and ask them for help. I cannot change my past. All I can do is learn from it and share my experience, strength and hope with others. Hopefully, those I reach with my testimony can make healthy choices knowing all the information beforehand.

Control was another tool I learned to use at a very young age. I honestly believed I could control how others feel and what they think in order to determine the outcome of a situation. That was all a lie. I had no control over any of those things. I tried to control how people reacted and behaved toward me. I tried to control what others saw in me by hiding behind a mask. I also tried to control how much I weighed by taking speed and diet pills and by purging after I ate too much. God showed me that by relinquishing control to Him, I can be set free from these obsessions and this bondage.

I am so grateful that today I have been set free from all my unhealthy coping mechanisms. I have learned new skills to help me cope with the pain and trauma from my past. I had to completely surrender everything and everybody to God. I no longer held onto my children so tight. I no longer cared about what others thought of me. I didn’t obey ridiculous rules out of fear of being rejected. I now had a voice, and God has taught me how to use it to express my feelings in a healthy, godly way. I am no longer in bondage to my old thinking and my old behavior patterns. In Romans 12:2, the Bible says “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Daily time spent with God in His Word and listening to the Holy Spirit have helped me to move out of the chaos, dysfunction and misery into a peaceful, orderly and fulfilling life.

What unhealthy things have you used to help you cope with the trauma from your past?

What are some healthy ways you cope with things now?

Reach out and get the help and encouragement you need. We are here ready and waiting to serve you and help you to become the woman God created you to be.

Blessings,

Toni

 

 

 

—Toni

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!

My Identity in Christ (Part 2)

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

Read MY IDENTITY IN CHRIST (Part 2) HERE