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!

The Courage of Mary

The Courage of Mary

The Courage of Mary

Abortion Recovery Women’s Support Group (ARWSG)

Luke1:26–38, 1 John 1:9, Deuteronomy 22:20–21, and Romans 8:28

In the book of Luke, we read about an incredibly brave teenager named Mary. Mary was a common name back then; it meant bitter. The people were bitter because the prophets were silent for 400 years. There was no revelation at all between the Old Testament and the New Testament for all this time. They felt bitter because they thought God had forgotten them and His promise of their Messiah.

We see this incredible dialogue between Mary and the angel Gabriel. He said to her, “Rejoice highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women! Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” He proceeded to tell her she would conceive and bear a Son and shall call His name Jesus. God used this young woman mightily to bring forth the promised Messiah, Emmanuel—God with us. Instead of running from her situation or panicking, she prayed and sought the Lord’s leading. Why didn’t we trust God when we found ourselves with unplanned pregnancies? If you have confessed this sin to Him, He has forgiven you. 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Mary could have been stoned for being pregnant outside of marriage because that was the law back then. Deuteronomy 22:20–21 speaks about the laws pertaining to sexual sins. Not only could Mary have been stoned, but Joseph, her espoused husband, could have walked away from the relationship by writing a bill of divorcement because they were legally betrothed to one another. But God protected Mary from both of these consequences because she had not sinned. She was supernaturally impregnated by the Holy Spirit of God. She was so courageous and brave. She risked her own life and reputation to obey God. What a beautiful testimony we see in her life.

This week will be 41 years since I aborted my son, Joseph, on December 10, 1980. I wish I had the courage like Mary to have my baby, but I allowed the fear of man to push me to abort my baby. I cannot change my past, but I can learn from my mistakes. God used my abortion to bring me into a relationship with Jesus. Now, I have the distinct honor of walking with all of you on your healing journeys. God has certainly taken my ashes, my horrible sins, and turned them into something beautiful for my good and His glory, and you are all a part of that. I believe that God makes all things work together for good to those who love Him, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). God, through the work of the Holy Spirit, is continually sanctifying us and conforming us to the image of Jesus. You all are so precious to Him; I hope you know that.

 

Questions

  1. How long has it been since your past abortion(s)?
  2. Are you still holding onto your secret of abortion(s)?
  3. Have you allowed God access to all your broken places so that He can heal you? If not, trust Him today. He wants you healed and whole so that you can become the woman He created you to be.

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!

My Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

My Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

Abuse Recovery Support Group (ARSG)

My Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

Coping mechanisms are defined as techniques we use to help us cope with the stress, pain, and trauma we have experienced in our lives.

Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms:

Avoidance and Isolation

Drugs and Alcohol

Denial

Busyness

Rationalization

Control

From my childhood I learned avoidance and isolation to keep me safe from unhealthy people or situations. Running and hiding is what I learned as a small child and I still used those tactics as an adult. Until I got into recovery 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 but 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.

Just recently I was triggered by a situation and my first response was to run away and to disconnect from this person. I see now that was a wrong response. I had to pray very hard for the Lord to help me in this area. We all have things from our past trauma that causes us to go back to our old ways of dealing with things, especially when we are weak, or vulnerable, or HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired). I am grateful for God showing me that by having healthy boundaries and by using my voice is the best way to live a life that is peaceful and pleasing to Him.

I started using alcohol and drugs at 12 years old when I was not getting the healthy attention I needed at home. I decided to start taking matters into my own hands, which was a defining moment in my life because as a result of that choice I would run to other things other than God when I was hurting. I just wanted a quick fix to avoid the pain I had accumulated all my life. I used people and allowed them to use me. My life was filled with regret, fear of rejection, depression, suicidal thoughts and self-hatred. I thank God for having mercy on this broken woman, who saved me from myself destructive lifestyle. I now run to Jesus to take my pain away.

I was in denial about the dysfunction in my home of origin and my home with my husband and children, for many years until I realized I cannot control another person and doing anything out of fear never has a good outcome. I don’t have the power to change another person only God does. So, I relinquish control to God to change others or situations when I feel powerless. I was in denial due to my fear of rejection from my parents and spouse so I obeyed ridiculous rules to be accepted and loved by others, but that never worked. When I finally received the love of Jesus in heart then I had the courage to stand on my own without fear of rejection because I knew God would never leave me or forsake me.

Busyness was a tool the enemy used on me for decades, his purpose was to keep me so busy that I would not have time to recognize my dysfunctional life. My striving for love and acceptance even from God, kept me working so hard to be worthy, I never stopped long enough to evaluate my life, my choices, my relationships, my unhealthy view of myself, God, and others. I was so messed up, but I could not see that, until God showed me my ways were not working. Back in 2010 I was so depressed I asked God to take me home because I just wanted to die. And He said, “Do you believe I can turn things around for your good?” and I said, “Yes Lord I believe that.” He said, “TRUST ME.” After that I got in ACA recovery work and inner healing group for 5 years. God was exposing the lies, with His truth, I was learning about boundaries and what that looks like and he showed me that I was enabling abuse from others by not using my voice. God had me stop from all serving at church and First Care, because I was that sick and needed God to intervene to heal me. God was so faithful and put the right people in my path and I was healed and set free from all the dysfunction in my life and I started experiencing true peace and freedom in Christ. In Jan 2013 I started this ministry. Praise Him!!! Thank you, Jesus.

I rationalized my abuse, thinking I must not be a person of value or else others would treat me differently. After my abortion, the enemy told me I deserve to be abused because of my decision to abort my child. My husband was very controlling and I and the children were required to obey ridiculous rules. I rationalized in my head if I don’t obey these rules, he will leave me. The enemy used that lie for decades to keep me in bondage and in a very unhealthy home environment. I am thankful for the day I had courage to say no, I am not going to follow these rules and leave the outcome in God’s hands. I was no longer fearful of him leaving, I trusted God to take care of me and He has. My relationship with my husband now is better than it ever has been. I now know that I am loved and valued by God and He doesn’t want me to accept abusive treatment from anyone; I don’t deserve to be abused regardless of my poor choices in the past. He loves me and wants me to use my voice to put up healthy boundaries and to protect myself from unhealthy people and situations. I cannot change my past, all I can do is learn from it and share my experience, strength, and hope with others so perhaps they can make healthy choices.

Control was a tool I learned to use when I was very young. I honestly believed I could control how others feel, what they do, and that I could control the outcome. That all was a lie. I had no control over any of those things. Areas I tried to control were how people reacted and behaved toward me. I tried to control what others saw in me by wearing a mask and I also tried to control how much I weighed by taking speed, diet pills, and purging after I ate too much. God showed me by relinquishing control to Him that I can be set free from these obsessions and torment. He taught me to love myself just the way I am and to relinquish all control to Him, because He will never harm me.

I am so grateful that today I have been set free from all my unhealthy coping mechanisms and 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 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 has helped me to move out of the chaos, dysfunction, and misery into a peaceful, orderly, and fulfilling life.

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

What are some healthy ways you use to cope with things now?

You are loved,

Toni

 

 

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!