AgapeLady’s Blog

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


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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

January 21, 2009

Thank You, Mr. President(s)

Filed under: Inauguration,Obama,Politics,President Bush,Religion — agapelady @ 5:37 AM

It’s late… I should be in bed, but I just have to take the opportunity to make a few comments about this historic inauguration day.

As I think about what is facing our nation, I just want to say thank you, President Obama for taking on the challenge and for delivering an inspiring speech… and what a speech it was! Quotes from it were repeated everywhere… from news reports and articles to blogs and social networks. Political conversation was the norm.

President Obama spoke of the work that lies ahead… and I couldn’t help but think – no matter whether you voted for him or not – now is the time to be supportive. Our nation needs that. Let’s quit trying to fix the blame and instead look to a future with the potential for change.

And that reminds me… I’m thinking President Bush is probably somewhat relieved to leave the White House. Being President has to be one of the toughest jobs in the world, and no doubt there were things that President Bush knew that we didn’t. It’s easy to look on someone else’s decisions and point at what went “right” or “wrong” when we don’t know the whole story, but my guess is that his decisions were far from easy. So thank you, President Bush, for doing what you thought best while in office. Although many don’t agree with some of your decisions, I am personally thankful that you helped keep us free of terrorist attacks in America since 9/11. As we went on with our lives since then, I’m sure you carried an enormous weight and responsibility for keeping us safe. So thank you for carrying the burden… enjoy your time back at the ranch! I think someday history will record your accomplishments in a more favorable light.

Let’s unite in prayer for President Barack Obama – he will need all the wisdom and guidance he can get to pull this nation out of its current turmoil. May God bless America!

Love & blessings to you all…

January 20, 2009

The Fear of Blogging

Filed under: Encouragement,Religion,Uncategorized — agapelady @ 12:07 AM

Cue the scary music… note the rapid pulse… what IS it that causes this fear of blogging?

I used to think blogging was easy, but after the initial feelings of elation because I had actually written my first blog, I began to feel a little bit nervous. I mean, what if people didn’t like my blog? What if they didn’t like ME? And it hit me – that’s what I’m all about. That’s what AGAPE is all about. Unconditional love and acceptance.

The reason so many of us fail to blog… or try new things… or put ourselves out there is due to the fear of being disliked or unaccepted. We don’t like criticism as a rule. But the Bible talks about perfect love casting out fear – 1 John 4:18 –  and – although I personally can’t admit to offering perfect (fully developed and complete) love, I do intentionally seek to offer that “perfect” love to others. By that, I mean that when I am truly living my life for God as I endeavor to do… I become a channel for Him and share His love, which is – in fact – Perfect.

With that thought, I can’t help but think that this topic is quite appropriate because my whole purpose for this blog is to provide a SAFE place. This blog is intended to address a variety of topics that will touch on love and encouragement in some shape or form. I know many of you want to know me, but this blog really isn’t about ME as much as about YOU and the Lord I serve. (That’s not to say I won’t tell you more about myself in the coming months.) I hope that this blog will be a blessing to those of you who read it. And, even if you don’t agree with my personal beliefs, I hope you will check back in on my blog anyway.

This is to be a safe place for sharing… a place of encouragement, warmth and LOVE, which can lead to hope and healing. If I can express that love to you in some small measure, then I will feel this blog is a success.  If any of you feel the need to write or address a comment to me, I will do all I can to encourage and uplift you. I’m not good at the tech end of this, but if you want to add a comment to share some pain or need anonymously, I encourage you to do so. I really, truly want to express that perfect love to all of you. So there is no fear here. And the fear of blogging is gone. Because the perfect love that holds me has cast it out.

Love & blessings,

AgapeLady

January 13, 2009

New Year, Time to Blog

Filed under: Uncategorized — agapelady @ 6:49 PM

Well, I decided – for good or bad – it’s time to start blogging. I know, I know – many of you have been doing this for years, but I’m a beginner. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but blogging? Well, that has to do with technology and I’m afraid my generation doesn’t always “get it,” but I’m tryin so give me a break, okay?

Anyway, this first post isn’t going to be much… I’m just learnin’ but I figure I have to start SOMEWHERE, so this is it.

I’ve been social networking for quite some time, but so many people have asked me for more info, so I am trying to oblige. And – to quote my dear friend, Mike Litman – you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to get it going! So, Mike, this one’s for you! It’s definitely NOT perfect, but it’s a start!

I promise to make my next blog a little more interesting… in the meantime, can you give me some encouragement? What would you like to know? read? Whatever? If you know me on Twitter, you might already have some ideas. Either way, I hope you’ll come back often and watch as I transform from a novice at blogging to a true PRO blogger! Yeah, man!

Until the next post, I’m sending you lots of love and many hugs! We all need that in this world, don’t we?

Love & blessings,

AgapeLady

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