AgapeLady’s Blog

March 25, 2010

You are SOOOOO loved!

As I was driving home yesterday, just enjoying the sunshine and the beginning of Spring weather, a song came on my Christian radio station – Natalie Grant’s “Held.” Although the song always touches my heart, it seemed to draw me in even more than usual. As I listened to its words, my heart began to ache and the tears welled within my eyes. “This is what it means to be held, how it feels when the sacred is torn from your life, and you survive.” Just repeating those words makes my heart break. And the chorus continues… “This is what it is to be loved. And to know that the promise was when everything fell, we’d be held.”

Oh, dear ones, this song tells the tale of such deep loss and sorrow. I think the first time I heard it was after 9/11… when so many of us felt our hearts would break, when so many of us yearned to reach out in some small way to the many who were hurting, to the many who felt the loss of lives on that horrible day.

Do you know the LOVE that holds you tightly and offers comfort even midst such a difficult time? Have you ever felt the arms of the Almighty holding you close as you sobbed over some loss that seemed simply unbearable? And indeed it was – if not for His power to hold you up.

I have. And I have to tell you that there is nothing – absolutely NOTHING – like that dear, sweet love. When all else fails, when all else is gone, it’s that unconditional love – God’s sweet agape – that makes the difference, that somehow – I don’t understand it – holds us together when our world is falling apart. Nothing, dear ones, NOTHING can separate us from that love (Romans 8:37-39). Nothing, that is, but ourselves.

My heart aches to think of those who have lost sight of that love – whether because they have never had the opportunity to know it or because they have been so hurt by the traumas of this world that they have been blinded – or whether they simply overlook, put off, or disregard the gift. For that is what it is. It’s God’s GIFT to us in the form of His Son. John 3:16 tells us that God sent His one and only Son to bear our sin so that we would not be forever lost… forever separated from that love – not because He wants it that way, but because we don’t accept His gift, His sacrifice!

There was a time when I did not understand that love. When I could not comprehend a God who could somehow condemn some to an eternity in hell. I still don’t comprehend it all. But this I know: God has created us to love Him. There have been times that I wished I had no free will – because I fail so frequently – but… He has also gifted us with the ability to choose. And the thing is, dear friends – LOVE HAS TO BE FREELY GIVEN TO BE LOVE! If God had made us so that we had no choice, we would have “loved” Him, but it would have been a counterfeit love. He didn’t, because He so love us… He soooo loves YOU that He wanted it to be your choice! Isn’t that amazing??? Almighty God – the Creator of the Universe – longs for a personal LOVE relationship with us so much that He has gifted us with the opportunity to reject Him! He has gifted us with a choice.

So… my heart breaks today because I know there are many who are not choosing to accept that love and to love Him in return. I have recently lost someone dear to me in death who did not believe. I can only pray that in those final moments, he had a conversation with my God and made the choice to accept the Gift that was offered.

My heart aches today as I think of all those who don’t know the agape love that holds them in the midst of a time that is so totally incomprehensible, so unbearable… a love that will not, cannot let them go.

My heart aches for the One who offers that love and who feels the rejection from so many… and who does not have the same comfort that He provides to us. How HIS heart must ache and break for those who reject Him and are forever lost… I can only imagine His scarred hands stretching across a void, reaching for His beloved children who are falling forever out of His grasp.

Why, you ask? Because while He is a God who unconditionally loves us, He is also a HOLY God who demands perfection – and He made a way to meet those demands through Jesus Christ. By accepting that gift, we meet His demand for perfection and holiness in Jesus… and avoid the judgment. So, you who are reading this… what will you do with this knowledge? Will you pray and seek His love in your life? Will you make Him LORD? Oh, I hope so.

If you have not… or will not… know this: He loves you still. I love you still. And I pray that somehow, some way, His love will reach you.

In His GRIP,

AgapeLady

March 6, 2010

Any Day is Good for Love

I’ve heard news of several suicides recently, and my heart aches. I long for a day when I won’t hear of those who are in such emotional pain that they feel the need to end their lives. My heart aches because I’ve been there.

People who have never considered the idea of taking their own life do not conceive of the pain that drives a person to such negative thoughts. What could be worse than no life at all?! For those in emotional pain, it’s not so much that they don’t want to LIVE (indeed, I believe they do – they just seek a painless kind of living) as that they want the pain to stop. For some, cutting is intended to “drown” that pain, i.e., as they cut their wrists, they hope the physical pain of that can make them escape the emotional pain they’re experiencing.

That’s one of the things that keeps me going each day – the thought that there was a time when I felt that kind of pain, that kind of loneliness… and the knowledge of what carried me through that… and continues to carry me through.

Back in my college days, I actually attempted suicide. Thank God, I did not succeed! It was then that my Great Redeemer drew me to Him and began to give me the knowledge of HIS great love for me. But, even then, dear ones – the thoughts of suicide were not entirely gone.

I know some who are Christians will gasp in unbelief – how could I? Well, the truth is that when one is experiencing such loneliness and emotional pain, they are experiencing a kind of insanity. What causes such emotional pain and loneliness?

I think, deep down, we all long to be loved – completely and unconditionally. When we FEEL love (ah, yes, those questioning emotions), then the emotional pains and struggles of life are a little easier to handle. Even as a Christian, though I had read and heard that God loved me so much that He sent His one and only son – Jesus – to die for my sins (John 3:16), I did not – at first – truly comprehend and grasp the knowledge of that love.

You know what I mean… getting that knowledge the few inches from my head to my HEART. What a distance that can be at times!

After studying God’s Word and beginning to understand that true unconditional love – agape – the kind that sends a son to die for another – is an ACTION, not a FEELING. As I began to understand that, I began to also understand that God’s agape was not dependent in the least upon how I was feeling or what I had done. Instead, it simply IS. In other words, I can never do any more – or less – for God’s love. He just loves me – totally and completely, unconditionally.

I can’t say for sure when that head knowledge became heart knowledge – or even if I completely “get it” today. But one thing I know – when things get dark, I know today that the God of the Universe loves me… and He has everything I’m going through under His control. NOTHING escapes Him. And He has never forgotten me. In fact, my name is written in the palm of His hand. He bears its scars. That heart knowledge, dear ones, is what keeps me from considering suicide anymore. That knowledge combats the emotional pain – by holding me and comforting me when the pain otherwise envelops me. And let’s face it: Life can be hard.

So what can we do for those who DON’T know that love? My goal is to show it as much as I possibly can… as God enables me. I pray that I will be able to reach those who are so hurt by Life’s struggles and pains and that they will come to know the One who is able to completely heal with His love. THAT IS MY MISSION AND MY PASSION. Lord willing, by reaching one at a time with His Agape on any given day, there will be no more occasion for suicide. I know – one day – there will be no pain or sorrow (Rev. 21:4). Will you join me?

If  you are one who is thinking sad thoughts of suicide – I pray with all my heart that my ache for YOU will touch you through the Internet… contact me via this site, dear one. I WILL respond – I love you and want to introduce you to my GREAT LOVER, Jesus Christ. Trust me, He CAN make the difference in your life, just as He did for me.

May God grant you with the heart knowledge of His love,

AgapeLady

July 22, 2009

New Beginnings

Wow, the weather has been awesome here in Central Ilinois – sunshine, cool breezes, brilliant colors. I don’t even need to go away to get a mini vacation! All I have to do is sit still a few moments and take it all in. Ahhhh… rejuvenation begins.

And that’s how life has been for me lately. It’s the small things. Over and over, I find myself thinking this is the FIRST day of the rest of my life. And I’ve even received that message through many other vehicles – various readings and Scripture. That’s been a blessing. I mean, “FIRST” implies a new beginning. And that’s what menopause has become for me. A new beginning.

Each day is filled with new experiences as I sort out some of the situations in my life. And that’s a good thing. I’ve begun to believe that menopause is truly the BEGINNING of a new phase of life for women, a time of new focus on ourselves and our bodies. For many of us, our “younger years” have been filled with family activities and little time to focus on what’s important in our own lives. That has meant sacrificing many aspects of our lives – a very good thing, mind you, but some of those sacrifices seem to add up to health problems in one form or another by the time we reach menopause. So now it’s as if God is telling me to pay attention – the old body needs extra love and care.

So that’s what I’m doing. I’m learning new ways to eat and exercise. New ways to think (with a greater attitude of gratitude for each day and each project) and new ways to communicate (thus, blogging and other new ventures!). It’s fun to take each new day as the first day of the rest of my life!

That made me think – how much fun it is to start a new day and feel refreshed and like there’s a new beginning… how much moreso when I feel the new beginnings that God grants me every time I go to Him with problems and sins that need solutions and cleansing. He is soooo faithful to care for me. And isn’t it wonderful to just relax knowing that I have a fresh start? Yes. A clean slate.

Have you ever wanted that? You can have it – simply go to the Father in prayer and ask Him. He’ll be glad to answer with the cleansing and fresh start you need… any day of the week, any hour of the day.

Love & blessings,

AgapeLady

July 11, 2009

Restin’ in His Arms

Filed under: Encouragement,God's Love,Healing,Health,Religion — agapelady @ 12:56 AM

Today is a peaceful day… quiet, overcast, and just a wee bit rainy. But that’s okay. I’m taking deep breaths after several weeks of nonstop craziness at work and home. Feels good just to take a day for myself. Greedy? Not in the least. It’s called recuperation and rejuvenation.

My husband and I went away for the weekend to Branson, Missouri. Always love it there. We spent a lot of time just talking and listening to music on the way down to our condo. When we got there, one of the first things I did was to jump in the jacuzzi, turn on some music and close my eyes. Ahhh, relaxation.

As I sat in that jacuzzi, I felt some of my muscles relax and I thought, “I need this. I need to do more of this and to just kick back more.” And so that’s my goal.

Today is the first day of the rest of my life. Seriously. I have been going full force for too long and my body (and mind) has begun to give out. It’s time to change something. What’s that phrase: “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten.” Well, God’s been showing me that something has to change. So… it’s time to get back to discovering some new things about me.

I’ve decided to take the weekend off. Time for me. Time to relax and really spend time with God – restin’ in His arms and seekin His direction on the next steps to take. I have NO doubt He will show me the best actions to take. Stay tuned – maybe some of what He’s showing me will work for you. After all, if you’re feeling tired, burned out and just plain overwhelmed, then it might be time for you to rest in Him too. Most likely, you need a “me break” as well. It’s time. Go ahead – give yourself permission and REST.

With much love & many blessings,

AgapeLady

May 8, 2009

Amazing Love

Filed under: Encouragement,God's Love,Love,Religion,Struggle — agapelady @ 5:52 AM
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I was sitting last night, just thinking. Thinking of how I’ve been so crazy busy at work and at home that I’ve nearly had no time to think quietly… or sit and just spend time with my God. Oooooh, now that’s just TOO busy! So I spent some time in prayer and asked God to give me a bit more wisdom about the ways I spend my time… and the ways I don’t.

Then I pulled out a favorite little book, “Outrageous Love” by Sheila Walsh. Reading that I could just about cry. There’s so many gems of inspiration in there! I’ve met Sheila and her heart is true – what a caring person! And her stories are so heartfelt.

I read the story of how she ended up in an institution to deal with her depression. And God met her there… in her pain… on the floor. Wow.

Isn’t that so like God? To meet us where we are? Even if we’re in the muck and mire, He’s there. It amazes me. Truly. Maybe cuz I know some of the places I’ve been. How wonderful it is to know a God who loves me (and you) just as we are – yet loves us enough to work with us, to mold us, and to make us all we can be. Amazing.

Life’s been full of craziness lately, but the fact is that my God has never moved. He’s been right here beside me all the time. And He is continually teaching me. I know, I KNOW that He is doing something wonderful, something “magical,” something beautiful in me. As tough as things can be sometimes, it’s fun to think about that. It’s a joy to realize that His love is so encompassing, so huge, that He can reach me in the very depths… and in the very heights. He can meet me in the sorrow and in the joy. It doesn’t matter. He’s right HERE.

I love this quote: “If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.” Well, Lord, where are You taking me cuz I’m obviously on a stone path to somewhere!

My prayer for you today (on the National Day of Prayer) is that you will come to know this amazing love… may you feel it in the depths of your being and washing over you completely. Amazing. May you understand the love on a heart level – not just an understanding of the head. That’s my prayer – Lord, get it to the hearts of those who read this… Amen!

April 14, 2009

In the Refinery

Filed under: Encouragement,God's Love,Great Physician,Healing,Health,Love,Religion — agapelady @ 2:31 AM

Hi, dear ones! I know many of my blog and Twitter friends have been wondering where I am. Well, I’m in the refinery. What does that mean? I’m definitely being tested!

Zechariah 13:9 says, “I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’ ” AMEN! And a wonderful quote by Charles Spurgeon adds to the picture, “The refiner is never very far from the mouth of the furnace when his gold is in the fire.”

I love that. I may be in the refinery, but I know the One who loves me most is close by, watching every bit of refining that is taking place. He won’t let the fire burn too hotly, and He will make sure that nothing is burned away that should remain. Praise God!

I’ve been in the refinery. The last several years have been crazy for me. A lot of loss, and God has been showing me that it’s time to deal with it. Feel it to heal it, so to speak. In other words, no more stuffing of emotions! It’s time to look at them and to understand them better. So I guess – even as I’m in the refinery – I’m also in the process of healing as the impurities fall away… and that, dear friends, is a very GOOD thing! 🙂

In the past several years, I’ve experienced empty nest (both my sons), a new marriage (a good stressor, but involves major changes nonetheless), a new puppy (another good thing, but she’s been like another child!), new home business (Mary Kay and considering an Internet biz), changes at work (too numerous to mention), loss of both parents within six months of one another and menopause. Bring on the prozac! Just kidding… sorta. LOL!

Anyway, the emotions have been raw and feelings of overwhelm have bubbled over.  But I believe 2009 is my year for healing. Don’t get me wrong – that doesn’t mean that I won’t FEEL any of those things anymore. It just means I’m taking a much closer look at each of them this year. I’m focusing on ME and getting on track. I’m exercising, eating better, seeking a stronger female support network and taking the steps I feel are needed to FOCUS. I believe all of that will follow my doing one thing: Seeking God FIRST. With my eyes firmly planted on Jesus, I am certain that the refining process will be less painful and will produce the “gold” that is intended. When it’s all done, I am sure I will have a wonderful new story to tell!

In the meantime, I hope you’ll have patience with my blogging. I long to share all that God is doing and trust me – in His timing – I will.

With Much Love & Blessings,

AgapeLady

February 18, 2009

His Grace IS Sufficient

Filed under: Divorce,Encouragement,God's Love,Grace,Love,Rape,Religion,Struggle — agapelady @ 8:33 AM

I remember a lady who shared her testimony early in my faith… she shared of war experiences and how she was raped by a soldier. It floored me. Here was a woman who loved the Lord, who was brutalized in what many women believe is the worst manner and she was still praising God! Wow. I couldn’t imagine being that strong in my faith. And I am quite sure that on her own, she wasn’t. But God has a wonderful way of meeting us in our need – no matter what it is – and carrying us through… supernaturally buoyed by His love and strength.

Many years ago I was raped in college. I remember the horror, the shame, the fears, the sorrow, the guilt… all of the emotions that run through a woman’s heart.  And I remember a verse that came to mind: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” (II Corinthians 12:6)

Even as I began to walk through the valley of resuming life after the rape… as I sought the answers why… God comforted me. His grace was indeed sufficient. And my faith grew.

Many years later, I got married. To make the story short, I’ll just say it was turbulent. I sought counseling to weather the abusive storms but after 11 years, the marriage ended in divorce. God had not healed my marriage even though I’d begged him, even though I’d trusted Him… and I didn’t know what to do. I had two young sons (3 & 6) to raise. I remember thinking, “Will Your grace be sufficient, Lord? Will it?” To be honest, I wasn’t sure.

I asked many questions of God as to why again, but He simply answered with His love. And, yet again, He carried me through. After years of very little to no child support and raising two young men, He still carried me. Even today, in the midst of trials and struggles, His grace continues to be sufficient… the realization finally hit me: “My grace IS sufficient.” His grace is sufficient (present tense).

When I think about some of the things God has carried me through, I don’t see how I made it. That’s because if I look back and think about the past – it seems so miraculous, so overwhelming that I survived… and I know if not for the Lord, I wouldn’t have. When I first heard that woman share her story, I thought then that I could never go through anything like that. But dear friend… His grace IS sufficient. The verse doesn’t say “His grace WAS sufficient.” It doesn’t say “His grace WILL BE sufficient.” It says “His grace IS sufficient.” Present tense. Happening now.

Oh, dear one, I don’t know what God has carried you through. I don’t know what He has in store for you. But I do know this:  His grace is sufficient for whatever it is! That strength, all you need, is available at the time you need it. Not before. Not necessarily after. But DURING. Just ask, dear one, just ask. That’s not to say it will be “easy” – ask anyone who has been through struggle – but it does mean you will once again see the sunshine on the other side of that sorrow. Hang on, dear one, hang on!

You can expect this life to have some troubles – we were warned and told not to be discouraged (John 16:33). My Bible says “Take heart!” May I encourage you just a moment? May I share that I know His grace is there for you when you need it too? If you’re going through something now, it’s ready for the asking. If there’s something down the road, it will be ready then. If there’s something in your past, He can heal it. His love covers all and makes us whole.

My prayer for YOU reading this is that you will know His love. Not just in your head – but in your heart. I pray you will feel His love because that love is strong enough, wide enough, deep enough to carry you, to hold you tightly in the darkest of nights and to never, ever let you go.

Love and blessings,

AgapeLady


February 11, 2009

Encouraged to Walk Even in Pain

Filed under: Encouragement,God's Love,Love,Religion — agapelady @ 12:57 AM

I’ve been thinking about a number of things I’d like to share with you, but I think one of the key things is my “life verse” (or in my case, verses!). I don’t know what others mean when they share that term, but what I mean is that God brings that verse to me whenever I need encouragement, whenever I have fears, whenever I need LIFE. These words impart – for me – the ability to carry on another day when there seems to be no other way that I can do it. And what’s even more amazing is that I see the words, not only in my daily Scripture reading, but via devotional calendars, friends’ memos and more. God has never failed to bring these words in Isaiah 43 to my attention when I most need them. What a great and wonderful, LOVING God He is!

 1 Family of Jacob, the Lord created you.
      People of Israel, he formed you.
   He says, “Do not be afraid.
      I will set you free.
   I will send for you by name.
      You belong to me.
 2 You will pass through deep waters.
      But I will be with you.
   You will pass through the rivers.
      But their waters will not sweep over you.
   You will walk through fire.
      But you will not be burned.
      The flames will not harm you.
 3 I am the Lord your God.
      I am the Holy One of Israel.
      I am the one who saves you.
   I will give up Egypt to set you free.
      I will give up Cush and Seba for you.
 4 You are priceless to me.
      I love you and honor you.
   So I will trade other people for you.
      I will give up other nations to save your lives.
 5 Do not be afraid. I am with you.

I have highlighted the words that mean the most to me. It’s these words that showed me God’s love not just in my head, but in my heart. What a huge distance that can be at times! By that, I mean that as God brought these words to my attention during difficult times, He showed me that He truly does love me and that I am precious in His sight… amazingly enough He cares about me enough to know me by NAME. I am not just a number or some person crying out to Him – He KNOWS me by name! As His words appear to me in some form or another every time I need them – they speak volumes to me personally. When I hear or read Isaiah during those difficult times it’s as if God is saying, “My precious, precious Child. I have not forgotten you. I know how very much you need to know you are loved today and I know just how to make sure that you do! I am giving you these special words to encourage YOU.” And the more He does it, the more loved I feel. It’s like the special look between two people who love each other and need no words to convey it. When I am hurting and those words appear, I see God giving me “that look” and I have to smile. I just have to!

I share these words with you not because I expect them to touch you in the same way as they touch me (although I hope they do!), but as an example of the many ways that our personal God can reach out to YOU in your pain. If you are hurting or going through a dark time, trust Him. Seek His special words of comfort for you – whatever they may be. I assure you, if you look – you WILL find them. How do I know? Because He loves you.

May you always FEEL His love (and mine!),

Love & blessings,

AgapeLady

January 28, 2009

Unmasked to Love

Filed under: Encouragement,God's Love,Love,Religion,Uncategorized — agapelady @ 2:58 AM

A divorce in a marriage that seemed so good from the outside… the suicide of someone you thought was happy… the sins of someone you considered “spiritual”… many people hide their secrets to the point of giving up or being alone in their pain. But God’s intention is that we know He is with us and need never be alone. That’s why we celebrate “Emmanuel” (“God with us”) at Christmas – and why He promises never to leave or forsake us (Heb 13:5). Our Creator knows that love and acceptance may be critical to our perseverance.

There are times when we falter… when life deals a hard blow that leaves us trembling and unsure of God’s presence. Many of us hide these feelings due to a fear that we won’t be liked or that someone will think less of us if we confess our secrets and/or problems. However, God tells us, “There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.” I John 4:18

Consider the typical responses when someone shares a “secret”: 1) judgment, 2) recognition of a “problem,” or 3) efforts to change or “fix” the situation. Granted, these responses may be warranted at times, but I believe God calls us – first and foremost – to love as He does. If people refuse to share a problem because they’re fearful of losing love, then how can there be forgiveness and healing? How can we ever feel safe enough to share our darkest secrets? How can we – when our own pain is too great – go to the Father and seek the help we so desperately need? I believe it comes first from encountering the kind of love that makes us vulnerable enough to remove our own masks without “punishment”… the kind of love that offers to carry another’s burdens to the Lord in prayer.

Becoming Real

In the story of “The Velveteen Rabbit,” a young boy’s love for his stuffed rabbit makes him become “real.” In my own life, the same has been true in my relationship with God. As I began to see that my Heavenly Father loves me – even me – I found great healing. I didn’t have to do or be anything! God – the Creator of the Universe – loved me enough to send His only Son to die for me (John 3:16)! Furthermore, He promised that nothing can separate me from that love (Romans 8:35). That knowledge has given me the freedom to become the person God created me to be. His love makes me “real” and helps me take off the mask and be unafraid of sharing who I really am… even if it hurts.

Unmasking

I confess: I’m a struggling sinner doing what I can in this life to rely on the Savior I know and love. I often fail miserably. The more I grow in faith, the more I see the need for change in my life… and yet God loves me just as I am… not for what I’ve done or will do, but as I am.

Some of the most difficult times in my life have been when I have been unable to share my struggles. When faced with spiritual crises in my life, I felt more alone than ever. When I longed for God “with skin on” through the church, I seemed to keep Him at a distance. Through a rape and abuse, a divorce and various struggles with sin, I was sure no one would understand or love me if they knew. Still, God tells us to confess our sins to one another (James 5:16) for a reason – so that others can help carry these burdens (Gal. 6:2). We don’t have to know the answers or judge the situation. We can simply love those who are struggling because “love covers a multitude of sins.” I Peter 4:8 This is the deepest kind of soul care we can provide for one another.

I believe God tells us to confess our sins to Him not because He doesn’t know them already, but because He wants to help us learn the safety of His love. As we practice becoming more “real” with Him, we learn that we can be “real” with others too. So we can take off the mask (wasn’t it getting uncomfortable anyway?) and feel the touch of someone’s hand on our face… or a hug that says, “It’s okay. I love you anyway. Let’s wait to see what God is doing… together. In the meantime, lean on me, friend, and I will lean on you.”

It starts with God’s love… and ends in taking off the masks and becoming real with God and others. We all need to hear the words “I love you.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see the love that God extends through you making someone else become more “real”? That’s my goal every single day.

Much love & blessings,

AgapeLady

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