Obedience

Obedience

Romans 6:23
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Matthew 11:28-30
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from 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.”

Romans 2:4b
“Not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”

John 10: 28
“And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”

As a young child, I developed a strong sense of responsibility. I took on shame immediately for any wrong doing. My fear of authority figures caused me to become a people-pleaser. I was a very compliant child because I didn’t want to disappoint anyone, especially my parents. I yearned for love and acceptance so much so that I would do anything to obtain it. I developed an unhealthy thinking pattern and a false belief system because of what I witnessed in my home and in church. I saw those in authority—attributing their behavior to God—act very harshly when someone disobeyed the rules. Please read my blog, Stinking Thinking: My Distorted View of God. As a result, I obeyed my elders out of fear of punishment and rejection, not out of love or reverence.

I demonstrated good moral behavior until I reached the age of 12 when “the good, quiet one” persona no longer sufficed. I began rebelling against everything I knew was right. Because of my fear of rejection, I put a great deal of energy into not getting caught. You can imagine how I lived with many secrets and hid behind a mask. I lived a lie. At home, I played the role of the “good, quiet one.” However, in public, I got drunk, used drugs and started having sex at the age of 16. All of this culminated in my abortion at the age of 21. With a firm grip on my soul, the evil one led me down a path of death and destruction. Blinded by pride and deception, I believed that I could live a life of freedom by pursuing my own desires and pleasures. However, the opposite was true. My life belonged to the devil. He would eventually use me to do the unthinkable—murder my own child. I firmly believe that if we truly knew the love of God and understood it, we would not seek love outside of marriage. We would feel cherished, whole, secure and free. We wouldn’t need drugs, alcohol and other empty vices to fill the void in our hearts because we have such a strong connection to the true source of love—Jesus.

God wants us to obey Him out of love, not fear of punishment. It’s the goodness of God that leads to true repentance and a relationship with Jesus—a relationship without bondage but true freedom. Striving to be perfect by obeying unattainable rules does not draw us closer to Christ. He desires to show us His way of love, grace, forgiveness and peace. I pray that we can share this message of hope with others. For God so loved the world that He gave His most precious gift—His only Son—to die for us. If that is not a picture of sacrificial love, then I don’t know what is.

I have found that true joy comes from obeying God no matter how I feel because my emotions can be deceiving. Being faithful to follow God’s lead in my life brings a long-lasting peace. Women often say to me, “I am really struggling in my relationship with Christ.” What I have come to understand is that the key to a strong relationship with Him is obedience. If you desire a more fulfilling relationship with God, then obey the leading of the Holy Spirit even when you don’t see how God can intervene in your circumstances. Remember that God’s ways are not our ways. True peace comes from obeying God. When we do that, we are safe and secure under His protective umbrella. He shields us from the enemy’s fiery darts, and no one can snatch us out of His hand.

In this season, we are embarking on a very important study, “In the Wildflowers,” which deals with the evil of sexual abuse. The enemy has been hard at work to derail this study. Tormented by the enemy, one of my family members has begun lashing out and attacking me verbally. Someone also attempted to take out a $75,000 small business loan in my name through identity theft. Stay close to God, dear one, because the enemy knows that many will be saved, healed, redeemed and set free. Obey God even when life becomes difficult and you struggle to understand His plan. Rest assured. You will be blessed.

Love you all,

Toni

Read more of Toni’s blog posts here!

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 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!

Freedom in Christ

Freedom in Christ

John 8: 31-32, 34-36

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him. “If you abide in My word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”

Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Quote from Ravi Zaccharias, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”

We were all born with a sin nature, because of Adam and Eve’s fall in the garden, when Eve took the fruit and ate it and gave it to her husband to eat also, that’s when sin entered into the world. Sin is destructive and we are all servants to sin. Because of our sin nature we are proud, selfish, liars, disobedient, drunkards, and murderers, etc. We do not have the ability to stop this destructive cycle until we meet the only one who has never sinned, His name is Jesus our Savior and Redeemer.

What does freedom in Christ mean? Freedom in Christ means I no longer belong to Satan and I am no longer a slave to sin, doing things that are ungodly. I have a new nature, the Bible says when I confess and repent (turn) of my sins and believe in my heart that Jesus is the Son of God, that I am born again. I am now born of the Spirit of God. I am adopted into God’s family. When I become born again the Holy Spirit now indwells me. I now have the ability with the help of the Holy Spirit to make good God glorifying decisions.

Jesus’s death on the cross paid my sin debt, He was my propitiation, my substitute, He paid the penalty for all my sins and the sins of the whole world when He died on the cross 2000 years ago. Because of His death for me, I am now blameless before God, my sins have been covered by the blood of the Lamb, all God sees is Christ righteousness. God rescued me from the clutches of the devil, who once held me captive, and placed me in the palm of His hand. I now belong to God.

As a believer in Jesus I have freedom from the Great White Throne judgment, which is for those who do not know Jesus as their personal Savior. There is a literal place called hell that was created for the devil and his angels. It grieves the Father that any one will be in hell. This is the reason I am sharing this with you today, it is God’s desire that no one should perish but all have eternal life, I am giving you this information now so if you are unsure of your relationship with Jesus now is the time to get that secured. I am available to talk, please email me at arwsg4u2@gmail.com, and we will discuss this further so you can know for sure you have eternal life and that when you die you will be in heaven with Jesus.

If you are a believer you stand before the judgement seat of Christ, the Bema Seat, you are judged based upon things done on earth good or bad. You will receive rewards or you will have rewards taken away. You are guaranteed a home in heaven forever. A place where there is no more sorrow or death or crying, where God will wipe away the tears from our eyes.

I have freedom to live my life in a new way. Instead of being selfish and prideful I am a servant of God, I am His hands and feet in this world, to minister His love, grace, and compassion to all around me. I am now more concerned for others needs than my own. The least I can do is serve Him for what He has done for me. I have a new life, a new purpose, a new family and a home in heaven when I die. I also we see my sweet Joseph my son who I aborted 40 years ago. What a sweet day that will be, I can’t wait to kiss my son’s cheek and to hug his neck.

 

Discussion Questions

Have you ever confessed and repented (turned away) from your sins to God and do you believe that Jesus is the sinless Lamb of God that died on the cross for your sins?

If you are unsure of your relationship with Jesus, please email me so we can talk in greater detail.

 

God Bless you,

Toni

Read more of Toni’s blog posts here!