Leaving Things Behind

Leaving Things Behind

Leaving Things Behind

by Luci Boudreaux/Abuse Recovery

Scriptures: Philippians 3:12-17 and 2 Corinthians 5:17

Philippians 3:12-17 “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.”

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

 

From the time I was a young girl until the age of 25 when I surrendered my life to Jesus, I had established so many ungodly behavior patterns and unhealthy thinking (which led to unhealthy coping mechanisms) that I was having difficulty becoming the woman of God I knew He wanted me to be. I knew I was delivered from eternal damnation. But what about living an abundant life now?

I was unsure of myself, always secondguessing myself, very insecure and filled with painful memories, which made me angry and frustrated. It affected my relationship with the Lord and others. I knew what the Bible taught me; that Jesus loves me and cast away my sins as far as the east is to the west.

Just as 2 Corinthians 5:17 declares, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

I wanted to believe God’s promises were for me, but I knew who I had been, the things I had done. My faith and hope were weak, and the enemy was working hard to steal my hope for a better life. I was fearful to step out and trust God in all areas of my life that needed to be dealt with before I could move forward.

But one thing was constant and strong in my heart. And that is, I wanted to be healed and whole. I worked at it by spending time in God’s Word, in community with other believers, playing uplifting music, and listening to godly teachers who lived like they believed.

But I continued to struggle. I couldn’t understand why I was still stuck in this place and continuing to return to my old ways of thinking and doing.

Does this resonate with any of you?

You go to church, read God’s Word, listen to worship music, but it doesn’t seem to be moving you forward in your faith or healing. Perhaps you are holding onto that one thing that is weighing you down. Is it possible that pride is preventing you from dealing with it or asking for help?

At this point, I sought out ministries and two specific women counselors that understood my broken past and what it felt like to have no self-worth. I’m thankful that they had the courage to ask some hard questions that caused me to face my distorted thinking. These women saw beyond my pain to what God had for me. They taught me to understand my position in Christ and that I was a new creation; I no longer needed to revisit my past for the sake of condemning myself.

I learned how to recognize that the painful events of my past do not define me, nor do they have the power to control how I live my life today. I learned that healthy boundaries are important and that I have the power to use these experiences to forgive, which allows me to heal and help others in their journey. So, my past no longer has a hold on me; I now use it to glorify God!

I am a very different woman today. I embrace the truth that I am a daughter of the Most High and that I don’t need to fear anything in this world or in the spiritual realm! I am a warrior, an ambassador, who God promises to equip for every situation in my life so that I may walk in victory and display His character.

As Paul said in Philippians Chapter 3, we haven’t “arrived,” but we are focused on moving forward, towards the goal of becoming more like Jesus. In view of this, I see every situation that comes into my life as an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to teach me how to live out my faith. He allows situations (positive and negative), so, I submit to them, knowing it’s for His glory and my ultimate holiness.

God is doing a spiritually renewing work in each of us. And my desire is that we all draw closer to His heart. One of the spiritually powerful things in my life is spending time with like-minded believers who I can encourage and be encouraged by. It’s important for us to pay close attention and seek out those who walk in the way of Christ. Follow their example; you will become like those you spend the majority of your time with.

I encourage you all to use the issues we discuss in our conference calls to propel you into a better place. Don’t settle for less than God’s best for you! We can experience the abundant life here and now! But it takes a lot of courage to change!

Questions to Consider:

  1. Are you allowing your past to hinder you from moving forward in your healing journey?
  1. What is preventing you from embracing what God is calling you to?
  1. How may we pray for you?

We are here to help you in your journey. Please reach out if you need to talk. You can email me at: overcomer982@icloud.com.

Your friend,
Luci

 

 

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Stop Striving

Stop Striving

Stop Striving

January 2024
By Toni Weisz/Spiritual Disciplines

Scripture Verses:
Psalm 27:14, Isaiah 40:31a and Psalm 103:13-14

Psalm 27:14
Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

Isaiah 40:31a
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength;

Psalm 103:13-14
As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers we are dust.

In my journaling this week, I was struggling with feelings of rejection, which caused me to be emotionally drained and physically weak. After a few days, I finally sat down with the Lord and poured out my heart to Him. I have a big family reunion coming up, and that always, for some reason, still causes me to become anxious. Those old wounds can be easily reopened, and those old tapes start playing over and over again in my mind.

I have witnessed to all of them over the years, even my nieces and nephews. Not a one has responded to the gospel. I know that is not my responsibility; it’s Gods. I know the enemy is trying to gain entrance into my thought life because he wants me to be anxious and ineffective for God. No, that’s not happening. I am aware of his plot, and I am equipping myself with the armor of God and His word to protect my mind and my heart from his lies.

Also, I am saddened by my son’s illness and the fact that he and his wife will be missing from our family reunion. Sometimes I need to take time to feel what I am feeling instead of just brushing it off or stuffing it. It’s OK to be sad, frustrated and disappointed. So, I allowed myself to go there too, and afterwards, I felt refreshed.

The enemy is trying to get me to strive for approval in the area of my tennis. Instead of enjoying the gift of being able to play, I am trying too hard to win matches and the approval of others. I am striving too much, and I am physically tired. Instead, I need to rest in the Lord. He is the one who will renew my strength (Isaiah 40:31a). He is the one that will give me favor with others. He is the one who opens hearts to hear the word of God and receive it. I am just a vessel that He uses for His purposes. I need to go back to the basics, enjoy the gift of tennis, and stop trying so hard to be perfect.

I also have four events this month where I will be sharing my testimony and our ministry information, and the enemy is not happy about that. Each week, we get one or two new women who come to our ministry. I need to stay close to the Lord and keep my eyes on Him. He is the one that has opened these doors, and I need to trust Him. He is the one who will give me favor and the words to say. I trust Him completely.

God wants us to pour out our hearts to Him. He sees all of us, and He knows our struggles, our heartbreaks, and our frailty. He remembers that we are dust. He is the one who created us in the first place. In Psalm 103:13-14, we read, “As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers we are dust.”

I realized that I need to surrender my will and my heart to God and trust Him with all the outcomes. I cannot control those things, but I can control how I respond to things. I can have victory in all these areas if I let God use me the way He wants to and stop trying so hard.

Questions to take to heart:

  1. What area are you still striving in?
  2. Why are you trying so hard?
  3. Have you been able to surrender all to God? If not, why?
  4. How can we pray for you?

I pray this topic has been helpful for you. If you need to talk you can email me at: toni@myashestobeauty.com.

You are loved,
Toni

 

 

 

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A Check in My Spirit

A Check in My Spirit

A Check in My Spirit
by Toni Weisz/Abuse Recovery

Scripture reference: Ephesians 4:29-32
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

I had an opportunity this week to see a leader from my past. She was the abortion recovery leader at our local pregnancy center at the time I was also volunteering. We did many post-abortion Bible studies together for several years. I was very surprised to see her because we were at an event that had nothing to do with ministry. We sat next to each other. We shared about our families, and then we also discussed ministry. We both come from totally different approaches to ministry.

Over the years, I have learned a woman doesn’t need to be slammed about her sin of abortion, that it’s something that we talk about, and the Holy Spirit is the one who convicts her of it.

At My Ashes to Beauty, we are very clear that abortion terminates a life. But women come to our ministry broken, and they need someone to lift them up, to love them, to share the truth about abortion, and to share the love of Jesus with them.

As we talked about ministry, I noticed I was raising my voice; we are both very passionate and strong women. I was not feeling good about what was happening. I felt like we were in some kind of strange competition. I felt very uncomfortable. I felt like she was defending herself and also insinuating some things about me that were not true.

At one point, I just folded my hands and stopped engaging with her just to take a break because our conversation was getting kind of bizarre. In the past, she had hurt me in many ways by her style of leadership, and I suffered not only public humiliation in front of other leaders, but she also told me it was my sin that was causing problems in my marriage.

I have worked very hard over the years to forgive her. Lord, I forgive her, and I pray You bless her and her family, in Jesus name. God has taught me many things by looking at other leaders and learning from them.

She sent me a text the next day and was wanting to get together possibly. Honestly, there are some people that I have to keep at arm’s length, and she is one of them.

Have you ever felt like you had to keep yourself protected from certain individuals? For some reason, have you felt they are unsafe emotionally? Was there a check in your spirit, like a caution?

When I think about it now, I was a co-dependent people-pleaser. I had a fear of authority figures, and I considered her an authority figure. I gave her too much power over me, and that was my fault. But I was so wounded, and I had just started in the post-abortion ministry, so a lot of things were coming up from my past. I wasn’t equipped yet to handle all of that.

Perhaps she reminds me of other family members. I am very guarded around individuals like this who have hurt me in the past. I am also aware the evil one is prowling because I sent my ministry cards to some family members who are pro-choice. I know I cannot change their hearts; I am praying God does, but I want them to hear the truth from the other side that abortion not only takes a life but also harms women deeply. Please pray for God to open their hearts to hear the truth about abortion.

Questions to take to heart:

  1. Are there certain family members or friends you have to guard yourself from?
  2. How do you navigate those relationships? What do you do to protect yourself?
  3. How can we pray and encourage you?

I pray this topic was helpful for you. Please reach out if you need to talk, toni@myashestobeauty.com.

You are loved,
Toni

 

 

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!

His Eye Is on the Sparrow

His Eye Is on the Sparrow

His Eye Is on the Sparrow (Part 1)
by Toni Weisz/Spiritual Disciplines

 

Scripture References: Matthew 10:29-31, Isaiah 61:1-3 and 1 John 4:7-8

 

Matthew 10:29-31
Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from Your Father’s will. But the very hairs on your head are all numbered, Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Isaiah 61:1
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;

1 John 4:7-8
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.



On Monday afternoon, June 5, 2023, while taking my dog for a walk, I came across a baby bird. Poor little thing didn’t even have feathers yet, and its eyes were closed. I immediately brought the dog in and called my daughter about what I should do. When I sent her a picture of the bird, she said, “Mom, it’s a crow.” She and I both hate crows because of the way they travel in a group called a “murder” to prey on all the helpless baby birds.

I called many animal agencies and one suggested making a nest in the tree where the original nest was and the parents will feed it. So, I scrambled trying to find my makeshift nest and put it in the tree. Then to my surprise, a pair of mockingbirds came several times and fed the baby bird. I thanked God for sending them.

I hate to see the weak, vulnerable, abandoned taken advantage of and abused or killed. I hate the fall when all of nature and humankind fell into sin. I long for that time when there will be no more sin, death, pain, sorrow or tears. I thought to myself, “This little thing will be lucky if it makes it through the night,” but it did to my amazement.

On Tuesday morning, I looked out the window and saw a red-headed woodpecker near the nest, and I darted out the door to chase it away. I thought to myself, “This is crazy, you can’t do this all day; you will drive yourself mad with panic every time another predator comes. Toni, you need to give this to God and surrender.”

A little while passed and I noticed the nest had flipped out of the tree, so I searched and found the little bird and put it back in the tree. The mockingbirds were flying overhead to keep me away from this bird. I tried to assure them, “It’s ok.”

I cried and came in the house and wrote these thoughts:
“Lord, I cannot help everyone and everything. I cannot save anyone. I can protect and help those that You bring to me, as best I can, but ultimately, I need to surrender all to You, whether it be an abandoned bird, my son’s health issues, a woman You bring to the ministry or a family member’s salvation. It’s all in Your hands Lord; I relinquish control to You.

Watching the mockingbirds take care of a crow, their enemy, I heard the words of Jesus, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you.” (Matthew 5:44)

These birds working together to protect and feed this little one reminded me of the body of Christ working together to help the vulnerable, the weak, and the wounded in this world. In this ministry, we want others to see the Father’s heart towards them. We want them to experience His great love and compassion and to care for them the way He would.

The whole time I was holding this little bird in my hands, I was thinking of the old hymn, His Eye is on the Sparrow. The Bible passages this hymn was taken from are in Matthew 10:29-31; “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from Your Father’s will. But the very hairs on your head are all numbered, Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

I just want you to know, dear one, that God sees you and He knows you so intimately because He created you. And He knows how many hairs are on your head.

Come to Him and bring your broken dreams, your broken heart, your broken life, and He can make something beautiful out of it if you are willing to trust Him.

Questions to take to heart:

  1. Have you been able to love your enemies?
  2. Have you experienced a time when the body of Christ worked together to minister to others? Can you give an example? How did that feel?
  3. How can we pray for you?

https://youtu.be/ku2RUdcku_w
His Eye Is on the Sparrow, Selah

I pray you know the love of God in your innermost being because when you do, it will radically change your life forever. Please reach out if you need to talk. Email me at: toni@myashestobeauty.com.

You are loved,
Toni

 

His Eye Is on the Sparrow (Part 2)
by Toni Weisz/Spiritual Disciplines

 

I had to make plans to put my dear loyal friend to sleep. We had Mozzie for 12 years. He was my constant companion and my protector; he really loved that role, lol. He was almost blind and deaf, and he could not walk very well. I knew in my heart to keep him alive would be selfish on my part. He had fulfilled his purpose on this earth. It was time for me to let him go. I gave myself a few weeks to grieve and to let go.

On September 1, 2023, I drove him to the vet, and while in the waiting room, the Lord brought the song, His Eye Is on the Sparrow, to my mind. With tears in my eyes and my voice cracking, I sang the song to Mozzie while I was holding him in my arms and rocking him. It was a sweet moment and I thank God for it. I wasn’t planning on being with him until the end, but I guess God wanted me to be there with him. I stayed with him until his eyes closed and his little heart stopped beating. I thanked him for being such a faithful friend. I thanked God for the gift of Mozzie.

The next morning when I got up, I sat down at my computer to start my morning devotions. The Lord whispered to my heart, “I am proud of you for the way you showed kindness and how you took such good care of him. It blesses my heart when you love my creatures.” I smiled and my heart was filled with His love. I want to please You, Lord, in every area of my life.

Please reach out if you need to talk. Email me at: toni@myashestobeauty.com.

You are loved,
Toni

 

 

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!

Who Are Your Balcony Peeps?

Who Are Your Balcony Peeps?

Who Are Your Balcony Peeps?

By Toni Weisz/Recovery Tools

Scripture References: Hebrews 10:24 and Matthew 11:28–30

Balcony peeps (people) are individuals who cheer you on in your life. They are literally hanging over the railing of a balcony, cheering you on in your walk with Jesus and in the hard things you have experienced in your life. They are your cheerleaders.

Who do you see as your balcony peeps? Can you see their faces? Can you hear their words of encouragement?

Too many people, even in ministry, are not kind, gentle, loving, or supportive. I have experienced a lot of pride lately in leadership roles, and it makes me very sad because I know that is not pleasing to our God.

In the book, Balcony People, the author talks about the toxic people in our lives and how much importance we put on their words instead of focusing on the positive people God has put in our lives that help stir us up to love and good works. (Ref. Hebrews 10:24)

 

Here is a poem by an anonymous source taken from the book, Balcony People by Joyce Landorf Heatherley:

I was hungry and you formed a humanities club to discuss my hunger.
THANK YOU.

I was imprisoned and you crept off quietly to your chapel to pray for my release.
NICE.

I was naked, and in your mind, you debated the morality of my appearance.
WHAT GOOD DID THAT DO?

I was sick and you knelt and thanked God for your health.
BUT I NEEDED YOU.

I was homeless and you preached to me of the shelter of the love of God.
I WISH YOU’D TAKEN ME HOME.

I was lonely and you left me alone to pray for me.
WHY DIDN’T YOU STAY?

You seem so holy, so close to God; but I’m still very hungry, lonely, cold, and still in pain.
DOES IT MATTER?

 

How do we meet these women’s needs? They need a safe place to come to lay their burdens down. That’s why we do the Sunday Conference calls. We want to be the hands and feet of Jesus to these dear precious women. We provide a community of women who have experienced the same trauma because we have walked the same walk. We know through experience what they are feeling.

They are yearning to feel deeply connected in a safe community. They have been used and abused and feel isolated in their pain, and they are vulnerable to the attacks of the evil one. They desire to be seen by others. They need love, support, and encouragement that one day, if they seek God with their whole heart, they will be healed. But it’s hard work, and that is what we are here for, to cheer them on and to help them heal from their past trauma. It is God that leads them to us, and it’s through the power of Jesus, the Word of God, and the work of the Holy Spirit that they are healed. We are just vessels God uses to accomplish this miraculous work.

We meet their spiritual needs as well as physical needs. We do not judge them for the things that have happened to them in their past because that does not define them. We love them, and we know they are weary with their pain and trauma from their past.

We are reminded of the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28–30: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

I thank God for each of you on this call today. I know most of your stories, and I am in awe of God and the work He has been doing in your lives. I get to watch God miraculously heal your broken hearts, bodies, minds, and spirits. I am truly honored and humbled by the privilege to serve in this ministry and for each and every one of you.

Questions to take to heart:

  1. Who are your balcony peeps, your cheerleaders?
  2. Do you see them hanging over the balcony cheering you on? What are they saying to you?
  3. Who are you encouraging? For those that are just beginning your healing journey, take care of yourself and your family first, then you can reach out to others.
  4. How can we pray for you on your healing journey?

Please reach out if you need to talk this week. Send me a text at: 561-327-7274 or email me at: toni@myashestobeauty.com.

You are loved,
Toni

Read more of Toni's blogs HERE!