AgapeLady’s Blog

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

March 26, 2009

I love Spring!

Filed under: Easter,Encouragement,Health,New Beginnings,Religion,Spring — agapelady @ 3:37 AM

Well, I’ve been a bit quiet lately. Winter can do that to me. It’s easy to get into the doldrums without even trying! But – if you’re like me – you’re probably thrilled to see Spring arrive. I know I am! EVERYTHING seems to brighten for me this time of year – my senses become more alive, my smiles and giggles are more frequent and my energy just seems to soar!

Spring is here – my absolute favorite time of the year! As I sit and look outside, I can’t help but notice that the large magnolia tree in our backyard is starting to get little blooms. That tree is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen when it’s in full bloom, and it’s so nice to see those little pinkish buds. They kinda make me smile – almost like little noses peeking out! LOL!

Then, appropriately, I read: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” II Corinthians 5:17-18 How true!

I love Spring in the Midwest because the sun shines more, the birds begin chirping, the daytime hours are longer, and everything seems to be coming alive. Of course, one of my absolute favorite holidays is right smack in the middle of Spring too – Easter! Celebrating the life and resurrection of my Lord on Easter is a definite high point!

Spring is just a great time for me to feel renewed and rejuvenated! Work always picks up this time of year and I am able to get out and see more friends and people I care about. There’s even a getaway or two. All are great things to make me feel even more alive! And, now I’m working out with Zna Trainer, I’m getting a new body from the inside, out! (VERY cool!) I’ve started doing more things for my health – eating better, exercising more and taking the time I need for me. I am thankful for this time of renewal and growth.

You know, it’s funny how a little thing like a change in the date or weather can affect me so much. I mean, I would love to have an attitude of Spring every day of the year! And with Jesus as my Savior, there’s no reason in the world I can’t! I can start fresh every day. Wow, how cool is that?! I hope you’ll join me today. Make it a GREAT one as you seek to do something new and special – get rejuvenated and move forward in your life. YOU CAN DO IT!

Love & blessings,
AgapeLady

February 26, 2009

Ever Have One of Those Days?

Filed under: Encouragement,Religion,Struggle,Uncategorized — agapelady @ 5:40 AM

Well, yesterday was one of them for me. On Monday, I took my husband to the doctor for a procedure and it was quite difficult for him (and me). When I went into work, I had an unpleasant situation crop up. I also discovered I have osteopenia, a precursor to osteoporosis. And that’s only a few of the things going on that seemed to accumulate and overwhelm me (can I get a witness for my pity party?).

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m SO thankful the osteopenia was caught early and that I can take measures to rebuild bone before there’s too much problem or before I break a bone badly. And I’m thankful my husband went through the procedure safely and appears to be feeling much better today. And I really am grateful for a job in a time when finding a job is difficult (or impossible) for some. I even enjoy my coworkers… but as problems accumulated… I began feeling overwhelmed with a capital “O.”

After getting ready to send out engraved invitations to my pity party and deciding no one else would come, I began looking for God’s encouragement… and there it was! God is soooo good to me!

I love the quote I read in one of my devotional calendars Bless Your Heart – “I am not what I ought to be. I am not what I wish to be. I am not even what I hope to be. But by God’s grace and Christ’s love I am not what I was.” Can I hear an AMEN?! And then I read II Chronicles 20:15 “Do not be afraid or discouraged… for the battle is not yours but God’s.” Oh, what a relief cuz I was sure beginning to think it was mine! 🙂

Today, too, God was making sure I paid attention to His encouragement- my special verses in Isaiah were today’s devotional reading when I flipped the page this morning! Wow… it’s so nice to know God cares and is in control!

Are you having “one of those days”? If so, take it from me – having a pity party and crying may work for a moment, but it doesn’t seem to change a whole lot. In fact, it might even make you feel worse. Instead, consider your health – are you tired? hungry? feeling sick? If you are, address those needs pronto! If it’s not physical, but purely emotional, choose to look for the encouragement that exists for you… something special that God sends your way that is meant to uplift your spirits. It will be there. It may be just a little thing, but sometimes that’s all you need to hang on during a day like that. Also, don’t forget that calling on a sister or a brother in those down times is an important part of the process – get that prayer cover working! If you take positive action, you’ll soon find the clouds disappearing somewhat… maybe even enough to see the Son shine. 😉

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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