Our first speaker today is the host, Tonni Lea. She’s hosted a couple of these conferences that have been just incredible. The Healing Conference is for people overcoming emotional or addiction, spiritual problems, or overcoming childhood abuse.
I’m looking forward to Tonni speaking. She published some books, got a podcast, and did all kinds of cool stuff to teach and connect with the world. Welcome to the stage, Tony.
Thank you. Thank you, Curtis. Thank you. Have you ever been hurt so badly that it took your breath away? Yeah, we all have in some way. It’s either been emotional some of us, or physical. For some of us, it’s been just spiritual because we blame God for everything that happened. Right? I’ve been hurt so many different times in so many different ways. But I’m here today to tell you that you can overcome. You can overcome whatever you choose to overcome.
As I said before, if you guys weren’t here today, I would know you didn’t choose. You wanted to stay in that little box. At times, I wanted to stay in that little box. It didn’t bother me to be a victim. I felt sorry for myself. I felt sorry for myself because my husband abused, beat me down, and choked me in front of my children when they were little because he was an alcoholic narcissist. And then I wanted to stay in my box. When I found out that the second husband kept cheating on me and cheating, I even went to jail because I slapped him, called him a liar, and I told the police what I did. I was honest. I was transparent. And you know what God did while I was in jail? He used me. He used me to mentor and encourage another little lady.
Do you know what that lady is doing now? I have recently seen her, and I tell you what, it excited me. She is working in my mom and dad’s church. She’s working with the children. She’s gone to women’s groups, and she’s encouraging others. All I did was plant a seed. And God has flourished it. That’s what it’s all about. Take all of our brokenness and use them for God’s glory.
My biggest hurt in life was my own doing, my own choice. My ex-husband and I had started as an affair, and we had been dating for about five months, and I became pregnant. I was shamed into having an abortion. I still chose to do it, but I was pushed into it. That is my biggest, deepest hurt. And it took this last ordeal with him of going through all of the affairs for God to bring that to healing. Because I had stuffed it down for 30 years, it was just a couple of years after I had had the abortion that I had to have a hysterectomy because it had affected everything in my physical and spiritual life; because I did, I really did blame God for what He did to me.
He didn’t do it. I blamed him. And I had to ask Him for forgiveness. And then, I had to take and forgive Him for my concept of what I thought about him. So I had to forgive that. And then I had to forgive myself for what I did because I remember waking up off that table screaming and crying. After all, I knew what I had done. I had two children.
And then, through the process of that healing, someone said, well, did you ever name her? I said no, I didn’t. And they said that is so healing. I always wanted a little girl, Melissa. So I named her Melissa Lee. And then I found out what Melissa means. It means honeybee. I love bees, I love butterflies, and I love sunflowers. And you know what color bees are? Yellow. Yep. And do you know in my vision that God gave me a Melissa? You know what dress she wore on the beach, my favorite place, yellow. So I know what she looks like from the back. And I know that she is going to meet me at Heaven’s Gate, and she is going to welcome me in with my Jesus because she’s the first one I want to meet. After all, I never got to know who she was. And that is the deepest hurt I have had in my life. I would go through everything I went through with the ex-husbands, my kids disowning me and marketing me out of their life. I would go through all of that again if I could have a chance to redo what I did.
But God takes that, mends it, and then gives you a voice to speak to others. So I have been able to talk to other ladies that went through the same thing and say, no, don’t carry that guilt because it will take you down. It will drag you down, and it’s not meant for us to carry. Why? Because who went to the cross for us? He did. And He took every sin I ever committed, every sin I will ever commit, and God already forgave me. I have to go to Him and say, Father, I did it again. I screwed up. I know I am forgiven and can continue by Your grace and mercy. Yes.
Right. And I’m here today. I have been so blessed to be able to write books. My first book was Prayers to a Heavenly Father because I do that. That’s how I grew going through the Twelve Steps of Recovery, from being married to a sex addict and an intimacy anorexic narcissist to a husband who did not care about me but cared about himself. And so after that book, I could go to my publisher’s conference and speak at his wife’s breast cancer awareness conference. And that’s how it all started.
And I got to do that because, as of today, I am a six-year thriver of breast cancer. And also the other health issue is. Most people don’t know this, and that’s how Curtis and I can relate to each other I carry around a brain tumor. I’ve been carrying it around for almost 16 years, and it just stuck in there. It took my hearing, I had to go through radiation, and I met the most amazing doctors. Isn’t it amazing what God does? He takes all that stuff and says, “Oh, daughter, let me take care of you. I have everything planned for you, and I will send you to the best doctors; you will have the best relationship with them. And then when you go through the breast cancer, you’re going to go back to him, and you’re going to have Him again. I mean, He plans everything out.
Why? Because He loves me. He loves me. If I’d been the only person in this universe, He still would have gone to the cross for me. That’s how much I know He loves me. And He has the same love for you. And you know what He wants for you? The greatest of the best. Not just the best but the greatest of the best. Because you’re His child, He knows who you are. He knows the plans He has for you. And they are good. They are awesome. And that’s why you here today must know that He does.
There’s a lady in our audience that I admire so much because, over the last year, I have seen the struggles that she has gone through. She just got out of recovery. I hope she doesn’t mind me saying this. She just got out of recovery. She gets out there and wants to be on her horse again. And she does that. And then something else happens. You know what? I admire this lady so much because she keeps going. She keeps going. She doesn’t let it take her down. She’s here today, and I admire her so much. And it’s kind of because our names are a little alike because she’s someone’s mother. But I admire her because she keeps going.
I have seen that in so many of you. I’ve heard your stories, and you keep going. Why? Because someone out there needs to hear your story. Someone out there will be going through something similar to yours, and you can relate to them and encourage them. You can inspire them. Sadly, somebody else has to go through it. But I have met so many ladies, even a gentleman, that went through an awful lot of what I did. I’ve met two men whose girlfriends had abortions, and it devastated them because they didn’t have a choice. So I can relate to that.
God is just so amazing to me. And I want to stress that to you. It has helped me to bring on my ministry of healing. Broken women. Yes, men get broken too, but I relate to women much better. And that’s my ministry. It’s just to be able to reach out to them. That led to this book I took, and I took the Twelve Steps. And I related to that.
I tell you what, if everyone in this universe would go through the Twelve Steps, our world would be in such a different place. Because very first one is that we must admit to God and ourselves that our life has become unmanageable and that we are powerless. I’m powerless. There isn’t one thing I can do to make you do anything. But I can take, and I can choose to recover her. The way I act or react to everything is total on me. It doesn’t matter whether you would beat me to death or how I would react to that; that’s on me. What you did is on you. And I tell you what, if we would all take that responsibility, doesn’t it seem like the world would be in a different position right now? The Twelve Steps saved my life. It did. And I tell people about, I went through the Twelve Steps, and they look at you like, well, you have a problem, or well, yeah, I did. I had a problem because I kept choosing the wrong people.
I have boundaries now. I even have boundaries against my family. If you can’t inspire me, if you can’t encourage me, and if you can’t support me, then I have to push you to the side. That’s not on them, but to protect my heart. Protect your heart, right? Your heart and your mind. Why? Because that’s where Jesus lives. I don’t want Him living in a mess. You don’t want to live there, and I’m a mess. Let me tell you, every day, I am a mess. But thank goodness for God’s love, mercy, and grace, right? Because He can say, Tonni, you need to clean that little mess up. It would be best if you changed that attitude. It would help if you changed the way you react to that. You need to go and apologize. And I love apologizing. So many people are like, there ain’t no way I’m going to apologize. I don’t know, no apology. But I will say, and I still feel it, but for me, it’s healing.
It’s helpful to be able to say, I’m sorry. I did not mean to offend you. I did not mean to come across that way. And then, when you do apologize, you will change your behavior. Number nine of the Twelve Steps is the amends. And I had to go and make so many amends. My deepest amendment was to God because I let Him down. After all, I failed Him. That was hard, but it was worth it to say, God, I knew I messed up finally. I’m going to mess up a lot. I know it. I never, ever thought in a million years I would be the one that would have to go to jail. Thank goodness they figured out that; sadly, it was a setup. The ex-husband’s son had called the police before they got to my house, so it was all dismissed.
Thank God Almighty, He used me while I was there, right? So even when we get into those nasty storms where we feel like waves will come right over us, God uses us. He takes, and He uses us for something. I’m Tonni Lea, and that’s my story.