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 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!

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!

Less Control & More Trust

Less Control & More Trust

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding: In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.

Who or what are you trusting in: yourself, another person, an institution, or God?

I learned at a very young age to take control of every area of my life, that unfortunately was not a good thing. A 12-year-old is not mature enough to take on such a responsibility. I controlled my voice, I did not use it, I controlled how I performed in school, sports, and in anything I set my mind to do by practicing until I could do something perfectly. When I was older, I controlled my weight by taking speed and diet pills and exercising excessively. I controlled what others perceived about me by wearing a mask to hide my true feeling and identity.

Relinquishing control was not a comfortable thing for me, because I didn’t trust others not to hurt me. I became very self-sufficient and proficient in all I did. I had a huge wall around my heart that no one was going to penetrate, not even God. I grew up with a distorted view of God; He was angry and He would punish me if I was out of line, this is what I heard and saw as a child. Church was dark, they spoke in another language, it was not warm and welcoming. So, I attributed these attributes to God. I felt He was dark and harsh and unloving; nothing could be further from the truth.

I had everything under control so I thought, until my life and health started spiraling out of control, I couldn’t stuff anymore and my health was failing, my marriage was on the brink of divorce, and I didn’t know what to do. I was plagued with suicidal thoughts because I just couldn’t deal with my depression and self-loathing anymore. This was not a life it was a prison; I was just surviving I needed someone to take my pain away, someone I could trust to love and accept me for who I was. Did such a person exist?

Dear One I want you to know that there is such a person, His name is Jesus, He is the only one who will love you right where you are, He will never hurt you or force you to do something against your will. He is kind, loving, dependable, faithful, merciful, forgiving, and He is your Savior and friend. Why not relinquish control of your life to God, honestly what do you have to lose at this point?

Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.

 

Blessings,

Toni

Read more of Toni’s blog posts here!