Fresh Apple Cake

 

As the weather begins to cool, I long to smell the aroma of spices! I burn scented fall candles and begin to bake!

I’d like to share this super easy, delicious, and versatile fresh apple cake recipe.

I have altered this recipe in many ways to be more convenient, nutritious and delicious!

I substitute the all-purpose white flour with whole wheat flour. I like to mill my flour fresh from wheat berries, but whole wheat flour can be purchased almost anywhere.

Also, I substitute  cinnamon applesauce for the oil. This just adds more apple flavor with less fat. If you don’t have the cinnamon applesauce, you can just add one teaspoon of cinnamon to regular applesauce.

Chocolate make EVERYTHING better in my whole so I occasionally sprinkle in some mini semi-sweet chocolate chips too!

I enjoy all varieties of apples so I like to mix my apple choices up also. I use a tart Granny Smith apple and then two sweeter apples like Gala or Fuji.

This cake tastes wonderful with a cup of coffee, hot tea, or a tall glass of milk! Or you may prefer the cake heated and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

There are many different baking options depending on your preference and time availability.  You can bake as a bunt cake, sheet cake,  in large or small bread pans, or in large or small muffin pans. Of course, the smaller the pan, the quicker the baking time will be. I like baking in small bread pans so I can share them with friends. (It makes a thoughtful, inexpensive gift.)

I will offer one more suggestion. While treating yourself to this delectable delight, open God’s Word and taste and see that He is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him! (Psalm 34:8) Just as we feed our bodies, let’s not forget to feed our spirits!

So are you motivated to try this! I sure hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Fresh Apple Cake

1 cup oil (or applesauce)                                           1 teaspoon baking soda

3 eggs                                                                                   2 teaspoons baking powder

2 cups sugar                                                                      1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups all-purpose or wheat flour               3 cups chopped apples

1 teaspoon salt                                                                1 cup chopped nuts and/or 1/2 cup raisins

Mix sugar and oil/applesauce.  Add eggs and beat 1 minute at medium speed.  Combine flour, salt, soda and baking powder.  Add to egg mixture.  Add apples, vanilla, and nuts.  Mix well for 1 minute.  Pour into well greased….

tube pan at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 10 minutes or

9×13 inch baking pan at 350 degrees for 55 minutes or

medium bread pan at 350 degrees for 45 minutes

12 medium muffin pan at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or

24 mini muffin pan at 350 degrees for 20-25 minute

Enjoy!

Keep looking up!

Gaye Hughes

 

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Why pray?

 

Why pray? God is going to do what He wants to anyway. Have you ever had these thoughts? I’m embarrassed to say, I have. Although that isn’t easy to admit, I think it is a valid question….and one I’m going to attempt to answer, but first I’d like to share some recent answered prayers.

I had some old carpet in my living room.  I give piano lessons in that room and it had become increasingly embarrassing to have my students and their moms see that carpet. Because I had a two week fall break, I decided it was time for that carpet to go.  I didn’t realize my piano weighed a ton until my son, Nathan, was helping me move it.

As we were heaving it into the kitchen, Nathan suddenly shouted, Stop! It’s buckling the vinyl flooring! Upon closer examination, it was not only buckling, I was glaring at a three inch tear. We decided the piano was going to have to stay right where it was.  (Yes, it looked weird sitting near the stove and refrigerator!)

The next morning I went to order the new flooring.  They said they were really busy and it would probably be two to three weeks before the installation was possible.  I said, OK, that’s fine, but my heart sank.  How was I going to give piano lessons with the piano in my kitchen?

Just the day before, Nathan had shared with me how God had answered so many prayers for him in the past few weeks.  So I thought that would be a good place to start. I began praying that God would somehow work it out so the flooring could be laid the next week while I was off work.

Then I decided with the carpet removed it would be a prime time to repaint.  I thought I had several days, but decided I’d jump right in and get the painting done.  So first thing Monday morning I started painting.  I had just finished that evening when the phone rang.  It was a person from 21st Century asking if they could come the next morning to lay the flooring!  I was speechless.  I choked out, SURE! I was overwhelmed with gratitude and amazed at the timing.

Then Nathan came home.  He was beaming and excitedly said,  Mom, I just have to tell you what happened tonight! He explained that a guy (Danny Diaz) had given a speech that morning in class about how to change a tire. Later that day Nathan was to meet a friend.  He needed gas, but decided to wait. As he was leaving, he quickly asked his friend how his walk with God was going.  They ended up talking an hour and a half more.

Finally, Nathan was at the gas station. He noticed a lady at the air pump and then an obvious acquaintance of hers drove up to help.  As he got in his truck to leave, he felt compelled to ask if they needed help.  At first he brushed it off.  They are probably fine and will just tell me they can handle it. He was ready to get home anyway.  But he couldn’t leave.  Something (or Someone) told him he really needed to ask them if they needed his help.  What can it hurt? he thought.

He walked around the car and that’s when he noticed the flat tire. He said hello and asked if he could help.  The man said, These lug nuts are so tight I can’t get them off. Nathan loosened them and the couple was so relieved, grateful, and overjoyed.  It was then that Nathan thought about the speech he had heard that morning, how he had almost stopped earlier to get gas but didn’t, and how he had ended up having that extra hour and a half conversation that put him at the gas station just when this couple needed him. He was overwhelmed at God’s goodness in his life.

Prayer is simply talking with God. Another aspect of prayer that I’ve learned to appreciate is not only talking to God, but listening for His voice. No, I don’t hear an audible voice, but God the Holy Spirit lives inside of me and He is there is teach and guide me.  He doesn’t shout though. We will only hear Him when we are seeking His way and are willing to obey.

 

 

So, why pray?

  • Jesus did.    He is our best example in this life. If He thought it was necessary to commune with God the Father while He was God in flesh living here, how much more important is it for us to pray? And He did lots of it.  After long days of serving others, healing the sick, and going without food and rest, He often spent all night in prayer.  It must be important.
  • God wants us to ask because wants to give us good things (Matt. 7:11). In Luke 11:5-13 Jesus gave several examples of the benefits of persistent asking.  Verse 9 says Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. And He also deserves our praise and thanksgiving….those are essential parts of prayer.         
  • It increases our faith to see God answer. When we are “wowed” by God, we are encouraged to pray more.  It helps us to trust God more as we see His good heart for us.
  • It builds our relationship with God. Communication is key to any relationship.  There must be both sharing of the heart and intentional  listening.
  • It helps us find our intended purpose in this life.  As we seek God and His direction in our lives, He sometimes leads us places we would never think of on our own. He thinks differently than we do and His ways are much higher.          
  • It encourages others.  I’ve been uplifted during the hard times in my life to know others were praying for my family and me.  I could feel it.  Going through the valley is tough, but knowing good friends and family are praying makes such a difference.  You don’t feel so alone and you can draw strength from them and God when your own is gone.
  • We are blessed and rewarded. God rewards our obedience for living life His way. And we won’t know His way unless we are in His Word and talking to Him regularly.
  • It keeps our life on the straight and narrow. We are spared the negative consequences of going our own way.
  • This is the only way we will have God’s power on and in our lives. Some things can only come by prayer and fasting. Once the disciples came to Jesus asking why they were not able to cast out some demons.  Jesus answered that some things can only be done through prayer and fasting. (Mark 9:29)

Prayer helps us live an exciting, abundant life as we see God working in and through us.  It shows me there is more to this life than just me and my little world.  God has much bigger purposes and plans in this world than just what is going on with me.  But God can and will help us make a positive difference if we are willing and are seeking Him in prayer.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

August 2016- God has done amazing things at Muse Montessori this past year!

 

 

 

Where Did This Storm Come From?

 Hurricane Harvey just barged through Texas and now Irma is slamming  Florida. Then there are the wild fires out West.  Do you wonder where God is in all this destruction?

Some are of the opinion that one should never question God.  They feel is shows a lack of faith and is a sign of weakness. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with asking, but we should be careful not to blame Him.

When we were in the first stages of  training our little children, we tried to instill in them the importance of obeying without question.  They didn’t have any experience to draw proper conclusions and they needed to trust us as their parents to know what was best for them.

But I was always excited when they really began seriously thinking about things and asking questions about the reasons why we did what we did.  To me it was a sign of intelligence.  Another result was as they began to understand why, they could apply that information to help them in other areas of life.

I know God is a way better “parent” than I’ll ever be, but I think we can sometimes use our relationship with our own children as an analogy of our relationship with Him. Jesus did when He was trying to describe God’s love for us.  He asked in Matthew 7:11, If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

So back to what is going on… Some would say God is judging our nation for the moral decline and general disregard for the principles found in His Word, the Bible. I’m not sure, but there are some things I am very sure about.

  1. Man, not God, is responsible for bad things entering the world.  By one man sin entered into the world and death by sin, so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. (Romans 5:12)

God created a perfect world and it was man who messed it all up by sinning against God.  God has been redeeming our messes ever since.

I was following in my car as my son, Nathan, was riding his motorcycle into town today.  I was enjoying riding down this quiet, country road until I suddenly remembered driving on it yesterday.  There was quite a bit of debris strewn across the road that had fallen from a truck. Immediately I thought of all the dangerous scenarios for Nathan on his bike. Should I blow my horn to warn him? No, that might scare him. Should I call him? No, he couldn’t answer his cell while riding his motorcycle.  Then I realized that the debris had been in an open area and could be easily seen and avoided. I also realized I can’t warn Nathan of every hazard every time he gets behind the wheel/ handlebars.  And this was good practice for the next time something is in the road that shouldn’t be there.

Did God cause that debris to be in the road? No. It was there because of some irresponsible human being.  It wasn’t God’s fault. And whether I am a good person or a bad person, I am affected by it.  That is just life in this world.

2. God loves us and made a way to mend our broken relationship caused by sinBy the righteousness of one (Jesus) shall many be made righteous. (Romans 5:19)

God loved us so much He gave Jesus, His sinless Son, to die and buy back everyone who ever lived and will live.  A God that loves His creation that much would not take pleasure in watching it suffer.


The people of Nineveh were wicked and God could have zapped them, but He lovingly sent Jonah to warn them of judgement because He wanted them to repent of their evil. They did repent and God was pleased that they, along with the animals, were spared. (Jonah 4:11)

However, if Nineveh had not repented, they would have had to suffer the consequences.  And be sure your sin will find you out. (Numbers 32:23)  We can choose our sin, but we can’t choose our consequences.

God doesn’t like seeing us suffer anymore than we like to suffer.  The fact is, all of us, whether righteous or unrighteous, are living in a fallen world.  God makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends the rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matt. 5:45)

3.  God can, and often does, bring good from terrible circumstances.

4. We will never go through anything alone. I will never leave thee. (Hebrews 13:5)

5. Hardships give us a heart to help others in trouble and we are more likely to seize those opportunities when we can relate to their suffering.

Instead of just asking, Why? the better question is, God, where are You in all of this? If we ask that question, we are more likely to have a better attitude, learn to be more like Christ and will glorify God in our trials and tribulations. We should think about how Jesus would respond to the pain in this world and try to emulate Him. I think this is how we can overcome evil with good and find God in the midst.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

My grandson, Destin- June 2017

Do you REALLY want to hear from God?

Recently I was talking with someone who was struggling with their Christian walk with God. I asked her, How is your prayer life? When I have asked God for wisdom and discernment for a situation or for a particular answer, it has strengthened my faith when He responds in a way that I know it could only be from Him.

As I pondered this conversation later, I thought, I’ve been praying about something important for months.  Why hasn’t God answered me?  Immediately, It seemed that God asked, “Do you REALLY want to know what I think?”

The conversation in my head went something like this…

Of course I do!

Then why haven’t you fasted? Every other time in life when you REALLY wanted to hear from God you  fasted and He revealed His will to you. Remember that one life- changing decision you had to make years ago and God said, “No” and even though it made you sad, you knew God was right? You obeyed and now you can see it was the right thing.

Why would I not want to know God’s will in this?

As I searched my heart I realized something.

Well, I really didn’t want God to say no, but honestly, I was scared He would say yes. It had been easier to straddle the fence and just keep praying about it.

That’s when the tears came, uncontrollably, running down my face. I realized I did not completely trust God in this matter.  I had deceived myself into thinking I was submitted to God’s will, but I really wasn’t.

A few days later I heard a sermon about God just wanting our obedience. Most of the people God used to do miraculous things, were not extraordinary people, the pastor said.  They were just ordinary people with faults like the rest of us.  What set them apart was their obedience and submission to God.  They believed God.   They were humble. They knew if anything good happened, it wasn’t going to be because of them or any talent they had.  It would be because of God.

The next day I was determined to pray and fast and get serious about getting some direction from God. Before talking with a godly friend, I  asked God to use her to help me know His will about this matter.  After some conversation, she sweetly smiled at me and said, Gaye, you have asked God for months to direct and guide you. Do you not believe He has?   He has led you.  I can see it. He is guiding you, but you must follow. Just because you don’t understand it, doesn’t mean He isn’t answering.  The faith walk isn’t about understanding it all and plainly seeing way down the road.  It’s about stepping out in faith, believing God, and trusting Him with your future.

I began to realize I had a “trust” problem.  Frankly,  I was surprised. I thought I was ok with God about that and maybe I am in most parts of my life, but I wasn’t trusting God in this area. The struggle was real. It felt very similar to my salvation experience.  I wanted to let go and trust God, but…. It’s hard to give up the temptation to logically try to figure out the details. It’s hard to trust when there are so many obstacles and I can’t see any way it can all work out. But faith isn’t about seeing.  I then said, Ok God, if this is Your will, I will trust You. I felt a rush of relief and joy.  The tears came again. Did I hear God’s voice? No, but I believe He was dealing with me…nudging me to trust Him.

Hebrews 11:6 tells us faith is the basis for walking with God and pleasing Him.

A few hours later I was listening to the radio.  The host for the talk show was a lady who the Lord had been leading her and her husband to adopt a child.  Although, they had never considered being qualified to do such a thing, they finally submitted to God’s direction. The very day they signed the papers to adopt, she discovered she was pregnant.  So she soon had a newborn and a 6 month old and life became very difficult.

She later wrote a book about the things God taught her through her difficult journey.  She had to lay down her standard of perfection and be what God called her to be…a loving mother with a less than perfect life. One comment particularly struck me.

We won’t do anything great while sitting still. Often when God wants us to move, it’s out of our comfort zones. Where there is movement, there is friction.  But it’s in the heat of the fire, where God does His best work.

Isaiah 41:10

If you are wanting to do great things for God, earnestly pray for His direction in your life and be willing to follow  where He leads you.

Faith is not the absence of doubt. Faith is the presence of belief. – Author unknown

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

Gaye Hughes with my grandbaby, Destin Vara. (9 months old). June 2017

Springing Forward Without Regrets

Well, here in Tennessee we set our clocks forward one hour. It’s called, “Springing forward.” It is easy for me to be hopeful this time of year because after the cold, dreary winter months when it appears most of the plants and trees have died, they suddenly  burst forth with new life.  The weather is warming up, the flowers are budding and blooming, and once again, I get to wake up to the birds singing. It’s a time of new beginnings.

I’m reminded of what the Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:13, 14.

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

There is some danger in looking back.  The Apostle Paul had a background of persecuting the early church before he was converted and really came to know the Lord Jesus Christ. I imagine it was quite painful for him to think about the damage and pain he caused, not only to the followers of Jesus, but to the Lord Himself.

I don’t know about you, but I have regrets when I look back over my life.  Can we conscientiously live without having regrets? I really don’t think so. But we must be careful to not camp out there.  We are human so we will mess up.  (“Mess up” sounds so much better than “sin,” don’t you think?) But hopefully, we learn from those mess ups and as a result, become better people having had the experience.

Interestingly enough, today marks the second anniversary of my husband (David Hughes) and best friend’s home going to heaven…..the same day we “spring forward.” Two years ago I thanked the Lord that I didn’t have to go through those first difficult months of grieving during the dead of winter.  I honestly think it would have been more than I could bear.  God has shown me grace and mercy in so many ways.

Last year on this day, my daughter told me our first grandbaby was on the way. That lightened the grief of that first anniversary.

Destin with his Gigi. January 2017

For most of today, God allowed me to see big, beautiful snowflakes float from the sky.  Watching the snow fall is one of my favorite things to do.  (We don’t get to see that often in Tennessee, especially in March!) It may be prideful, but I felt like the snow today was a special gift to me from God. I believe my God is that personal and cares that much for me. He showered His mercy on me in helping me to not just “get through” what could have been a very sad day, but be joyful and thankful in it.  That is God’s amazing grace.

David and Gaye- January 2014

I wonder if we can fully appreciate our loved ones while we still have them with us. It is so easy to take  them for granted. I wish I could have 15 minutes to once again tell David how much I appreciate and love him. I tried to do that often while he was with me, but I long to express it even more now.  But I think he somehow knows that. And I believe he would feel the same way if our situation was reversed.  David gave me such a gift when he told me a few weeks before he died, “Gaye, when my time comes, let me go and don’t look back. You’ve been a better wife to me than I could have ever asked for.”

So there is a fine line in reflecting on our past.  If we can look back and are motivated to not make those same “mistakes” again, but rather, live more wisely, then that is good.  But we if look back too long and become depressed about things we can’t change, it is nonproductive and steals our joy and effectiveness of today.

I have not “arrived.”  I am not what I want to be, but I’m not what I used to be.  We can joyously spring forward because, although we will mess up again, we have a loving Savior walking with us, teaching us, and guiding us, and forgiving us if we ask Him. First John 1:9 is one of my favorite promises in God’s Word.

Recently, a preacher admonished the congregation with, “Live in such a way that you won’t dread looking back.”  That’s a good goal.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

Foot Washing and Serving Others

779a4245177aa68266dde9a8ddac57e0servingThis particular worship service in November was such blessing to me. After singing some songs and hearing a good sermon on Psalm 7, we observed communion and foot washing. Because Jesus became Lord of my life at age 8, I’ve participated in communion most of my life, but it wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I witnessed and  participated in the physical worship of foot washing.

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For those of you who have never had the joy of participating in a foot washing service, I’d like to explain how we do it in our church.  The ladies sit on one side of the church and wash another lady’s feet in a basin of warm water and then dries their feet with a towel. We then switch places.  The men do the same on the other side of the church.

 

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The first time I participated in a foot washing service, I was surprised by the fact that I had no qualms about washing other’s feet, but it was very humbling to sit while someone washed my feet!  Like the Apostle Peter, everything in me wanted to scream, No! That’s ok.  You really don’t need to do that.  (That was my pride speaking.)  It was much easier for me to serve than to be served and it took lots less humility!

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The point of this service is to remind us why we are here on this earth….to serve others!  Jesus was the perfect example of this.  He lived a sinless life on this earth, loving and serving others constantly.  After He washed His disciples’ feet, He said, If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. (John 13:17) Whether you believe He meant for foot washing to be practiced literally or He was just setting another example, I think we would all agree Jesus was very clear about the necessity of us loving and serving others….not solely for the purpose of our happiness, although this is a byproduct.

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As my dear friend bowed to wash my feet, it was easy to imagine it was Jesus. This question came to mind.  Why? Why would He, the king of the universe, even care about me much less come to earth to live and die for me? Why would He bow to serve ME?  Love.  That’s why He came. And He would have done it even if you or I were the only one here.  I believe that. It is still hard to wrap my mind around that fact though. If He was willing to humble Himself and serve me, then I should do no less for my fellowman.

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There is always such a sweet spirit in our church after we have bowed and washed feet.  There are many tears of joy, lots of hugs, and many smiles.

 

 

When we serve others, we find that somehow our own needs get met in the process. I can personally attest to this fact. During some of the darkest days of my life, I felt like I was literally walking through the valley of the shadow of death.  One of the things that got me through was believing God had left me on this earth to make a positive difference in someone’s life. I clung to the promise in Proverbs 11:25. (The verse mentioned in the picture.) I selfishly sought to serve others just to survive. Although my motive wasn’t the best, it worked.

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Michael Card wrote and sings a beautiful song titled, The Basin and the Towel.  Please take a moment to listen. May you be blessed as you serve others today!

Bowing the knee,

Gaye Hughes

 

 

Moving from Blessings to Joy and Contentment

 

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Ouch!

I think I’m decent at recognizing some of God’s blessings in my life, but lately I’ve realized I often stop short of consciously taking the time to thank God for them. Do you understand what I’m saying? This is SO simple, but I’ve somehow overlooked this!  I think there is a BIG disconnect here…an important part of the puzzle I’ve been missing and didn’t even realize it.

joy-quotes-pictures-3-f2ad07eeWhen I fail to take the next step of not only being thankful, but addressing that gratefulness to the producer, which is God,  (James 1:17 says, Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and coming down from the Father of lights….) I’m forfeiting the contentment and joy God is trying to give me.  And I’m the only one to blame.

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It’s hard to pour positive things into other people’s lives when there is discontent in my own life. I will go so far as to say it is impossible. I’m a parent and teacher and have been for more than half my life.  I’ve noticed my children and students are much more attentive when I’m happy, positive and enthusiastic.  You just can’t wing it with children!  They see the real deal.

So what happens on the days when I’m just “not feeling it?” They can see right through that! More importantly, God can see right through that. And now that I think of it, probably most everybody can see right through that!  So who am I fooling? No one!

a-contented-heart-is-a-calm-sea-in-the-midst-of-all-storms-quote-1But who wants to just go through the motions of life anyway? Don’t we all long to REALLY live?  I used to ask God to give me a good day, but I haven’t felt right about that prayer at all lately. The very best days are those days, even if they are tough, I really feel God right there helping me! There’s nothing like knowing you are right where God wants you and He is blessing you even when the seas are far from calm.   I’ve come to be satisfied with nothing less. Once you’ve had a taste of that, it’s hard to settle for anything less. And I never want to.

 

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Psalm 34:8 says, O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no lack to them that fear him.

 

David said in Psalm 42:1,2, As the deer longs for the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God…

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A longing for God is a good thing, but when I’m always wanting more of other things, it is more properly defined as discontentment.  Too many times I think, “Oh, this is neat, but….” The joy of God’s blessings get easily overlooked because I’m wanting something more and not thanking Him for what I have.  The more I express my thankfulness, the more contented I become.

I need  to always remember only God can satisfy my thirsty  soul…nothing or no one else.  He has made me.  He knows what I need and what is best for me. I need to trust Him to give me His best and not what I think is best.   If He is always Plan A, I’ll never need a Plan B. Let’s not short change ourselves when God does bless us by failing to take the time to thank Him. Godliness with contentment is great gain. (1 Timothy 6:6).

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Keep looking up!

Gaye Hughes

 

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West Virginia

 

Unopened Gifts

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Before I check into a hotel, I want to know about the amenities. Is a continental breakfast included? Is there an exercise room (although I probably wouldn’t use it)? Is there a swimming pool? And if so, is it heated and indoors or a cold outdoor pool?

Do you ever wonder if you’ve explored all the amenities included in your “Salvation package?” Is there more Grace available than you are using? How about the “Peace package?” The “Comfort package” is also sizeable. Have you torn into that one? Then there’s the “Joy bag?” Please don’t think I’m directing these questions only to you. I’m writing about this because I’ve been asking myself these same questions lately.

god-gives-gifts-to-the-church-1080x552I was talking with a friend this morning and he said,

There is so much wisdom and blessings that God wants me to have, so many gifts still unwrapped that came with being saved that remain unopened that He wants me to be blessed with. So ironic that they have already been paid for. But the longer I live, the more I realize how much I need Him and still know I do not depend on Him as I should. And I wonder do I have the keys to a lot of doors that remain unlocked because of lack of faith?

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When I look at the many sacrifices Jesus has made to give me an abundant life, I wonder if I’m taking full advantage of all He has for me. If Jesus left the splendor of heaven to come to this cruel world (which He most certainly did), didn’t even have a pillow for His head, was willing to go through torture for me, and then the Father was willing to turn His holy back on His only Son while He was dying for me, I think it is safe to say there was a whole lot of love going on and a glorious purpose behind it all.

gods-gifts-put-mans-best-dreams-to-shame-4If all that was accomplished for sinful mankind, I’m sure the Lord wants us to fully enjoy the benefits of such a sacrifice. Have you ever given someone a gift and they didn’t use it? How did it make you feel? Like the gift was wasted? Undervalued? Like the gift was not suited for its recipient?  When I consider what to give someone, I try to think about what they would enjoy, but mostly what they really need to make life easier or better for them. There is no doubt our Creator did the same for us.

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Paul’s desire for the Christ-followers in Ephesus, is the same for my friends, family, and myself…
Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory. For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. (Ephesians 3:3:13-21 NAS and KJ)

200594-gifts-from-god-inspirational-quotes-pinterestMay not even one package be left unopened by any of us! May we continue to not only desire, but take the necessary time and effort to open every single gift God would wish to lavish on us. Funny thing, the mail lady, just this minute, delivered a very nice package to my door. There is no evidence of who sent it. Wow….
A very Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Gaye Hughes

Living on…”the rest”

maxresdefault-you-have-enoughThis morning my pastor talked about the poor widow in 2 Kings 4:1-7.  After her husband died, the creditors were coming to take her two sons as slaves because she couldn’t pay her debt. Because this woman feared the Lord, she called on His prophet, Elisha for help.

Elisha asked this widow what she had.  She only had a pot of oil.

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Elisha instructed her to borrow all the empty vessels she could from her neighbors, gather her sons and shut the door, and pour the oil into the vessels.  She kept pouring until all the vessels were full, then the oil stopped. This widow went outside and reported to Elisha she had done as he said.

He then told her to go sell the oil, pay her debt, and, “…live thou and thy children of the rest.” Our pastor pointed out that when we believe on Jesus, the biggest problem we will ever have is solved. Our salvation is sealed and we are given eternal life.

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However, as believers, we will have tribulation and adversity just like anybody else.  Sometimes we will have more because the devil fights us to destroy our testimonies, our influence for good in the lives of others, and the spread of the gospel.

But one of the best promises the Lord has given us is that He will never leave us and that He will supply our every need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Hebrews 13:5, Philippians 4:19)

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God doesn’t just save our souls and then leave us to figure the rest of life out on our own.  He continues to supply our every need as we seek, ask, trust, and depend on Him. His coffers are full and He faithfully supplies “the rest” until our days here are no more.

My husband went to heaven 21 months ago today.  Although I have so much more than the poor widow in 2 Kings,  a lot of my security left with my husband.  But I can testify that God has been so very faithful to supply my every  need.

He has sent many “Elisha’s” and neighbors my way when I’ve had trouble and needed help. I have gotten money in the mail anonymously, help with house and car repairs, wood cut and stacked for the winter and countless other random acts of kindness that lifted me up when I was in need or discouraged.  I am living on “the rest” and believe me, there is plenty there!

My prayer is that I long for His presence in my life more than anything or anyone else and that I will trust Him for the unknown future. I want a deeper understanding of who He is and the depth of His love. I hope this is your prayer too. Have a blessed day!

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

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Gigi and the “Little Chipmunk” 09-2016

When God is Silent

psalm62v7I was talking  to a very polite lady from my insurance company yesterday. We both knew it was going to take quite awhile to answer all my questions. She was having to do a lot of typing and searching for information.  It was then I heard this sweet comment, “There may be times of silence, but I am here.” It may as well been God himself speaking. My heart had been anxious, but suddenly comfort flooded my soul!

The thoughtfulness of this stranger touched me deeply.  She knew absolutely nothing about me, had never seen me, yet she cared enough to reassure me she was there to help me in spite of the many miles separating us.

Isn’t God’s unconditional love just like that? Yet, He does know me…all my yucky and chose to send His son, Jesus to die in my place even while I was yet a rebellious, unrepentant sinner!

Have there been times in your life when you wondered where God was? Did you doubt He was even aware of your situation? Have you cried out for answers and it seemed your prayers were bouncing off the clouds? Have you wondered just how many prayers it was going to take to get a response from God?  Have you been so desperate that you would gladly accept a, “No” rather  than not hear from Him at all? I have.

I think of poor Joseph that was betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery only to then be lied about by Potiphar’s wife. Then he endured the long, lonely nights in the prison when he had been wrongly accused.  (Genesis 37-39) Surely he often wondered, What in the world are you doing, God?  Where are You? But one day EVERYTHING changed and Joseph went from being a prisoner to second in command of Egypt!

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Oh, and think of the thousands of Israelites who lived their whole lives crying out to God for deliverance from the hard bondage in Egypt! Can you image  trying to explain to your children the importance of continuing to pray for God to do a mighty work when they knew their parents,grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. had prayed for generations for exactly the same thing only to have their situation worsen? That took faith! BUT, there came a day God broke the silence and parted the Red Sea, killed their enemies, gave them water from a rock, and bread and meat from the sky.

And then there are the situations we don’t have the luxury of time to wait and pray. Have you been in that situation?   A decision has to be made quickly, as in Queen Esther’s case.  She and her people were about to be annihilated.   When the easiest thing to do would have been to panic , she asked everyone she knew to fast and pray with her for three days and nights. God came through and turned things around for her in a most amazing way!

Although David was a man after God’s own heart, he evidently experienced God’s silence.  Psalm 28:1 begins, Unto thee will I cry, O LORD my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit.  But something soon happened because of what he says in verses 6 and 7,

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Blessed by the LORD, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.

I think this verse contains  the key to turning our weakness into strength, our helplessness into hopefulness, our sadness into joy, and our torment into praise.

MY HEART TRUSTED IN HIM…. When we turn our focus off of our problems and onto the only One who can solve them, we are helped. Sounds easy enough, right?  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Matthew 26:41)

One thing is for sure, although God’s silence can feel like an ominous cloud and be misunderstood, we can be sure  He is there, quietly working.  This quote is in my house,

I believe….

  • in the Sun even when it is not shining
  • in Love even when I cannot feel it
  • in God even when He is silent

He will NEVER, EVER, leave us alone. When everything in you is screaming differently, you can bank on God’s promises. He is there even when we don’t understand and can’t feel Him. He has promised to never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).  As that lady reminded me yesterday, There may be times of silence, but I am here!

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

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It’s never too early to teach your grandbaby!