Unseen but still there!

This was written four years ago. Now my daughter Anna is expecting her third baby! God is SO good.

Praise You In My Storm

13076693_10209219739673504_5008194580227490555_nAnna 4 months pregnant Anna April 2016

Isn’t it funny how we have a hard time with things we can’t see? Many people have congratulated me because I’m “going to be” a grandma.  I am already a grandmother.  I sent my daughter, Anna, a Mother’s Day card and told her she is now carrying this little one in her womb, but very shortly she will be carrying him in her arms.  Either way, she is very much the mother of her baby.

We believe in the wind even though we can’t see it… only the effects of it.  We are sustained by oxygen and we sure believe in it even though we can’t see it. Because we can’t see it, doesn’t make it any less real.

likeness_of_godI was saddened this morning to learn that a sweet Christian lady had gone to be with the Lord. I wasn’t sad for her because I know she is in heaven, but I empathize with her…

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Things to be thankful for during Covid-19

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“Gratitude never comes from avoiding difficulty but from finding yourself sustained through it.” -Randy Alcorn from his book, 90 Days of God’s Goodness.

We’re probably all learning some important life lessons through being isolated in our homes with our families.  These are a few things I’ve taken for granted and have become especially thankful for the past few weeks.

  • Good health

What a blessing it is to be able to walk around outside and feel the breeze and sunshine! I’m thankful that this virus has happened in the springtime with warmer weather and more sunshine. (Also, our electricity and gas bills will be cheaper during this time with so many unemployed.)

  • Freedom

The privilege to be able to freely come and go is something I’ve taken for granted. Until recently I’ve never thought about what a blessing it is to be able to go to a store and just pick up some necessary items or browse around.

  • Fresh air

I’m thankful I can walk outside and not have to worry about the air I breathe.  I’ve enjoyed living in the country my whole life, but I’ve definitely taken fresh air for granted.

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  • A slower pace

I’m a list maker. I like staying busy and getting things done.  That can be a good thing, but it has its negatives too. My dad used to often say, “Gaye, will you please just sit down? You’re making me nervous the way you’re always zipping around.” Slowing down can be uncomfortable for me.  If I have too much time to think, I tend to become sad.  It’s easier to stay busy than to think about some past sins and mistakes, strained relationships, emotional pain, etc. But it’s been healthy for me to have extra down time to process and deal with my bad attitude, what angers me and why, and things I could or should have done better. Now, I can take steps to not repeat those things I regret.

  • Time for completing projects

Do you have projects you tend to keep pushing back because you aren’t motivated to do them?  I have! Well, I can’t use the excuse that I don’t have time now.  So I’ve cleaned out some closets and drawers, organized some messy places, painted, done some much needed yard work, and have sent more cards to people.

  • Friends

I’ve been particularly blessed to have reconnected with old friends during this time.  Some I haven’t heard from in quiet awhile have contacted me and I’ve tried to do the same. I’ve realized how much I’ve missed these people.  I believe God puts every person in our lives for a reason. He has used my friends to encourage me, to laugh and cry with me, to instruct and teach me, and to rebuke me over the years.  They make my life rich and are a gift from God.  God uses our relationships with others to mold us into the people He wants us to be.

  • Family

I didn’t think I could love my family any deeper.  I have found I can. I appreciate them more now than I ever have. I’m so thankful for the technology we have today to be able to communicate with our loved ones. We have cell phones, texting, zoom, Marco Polo, and facebook to just name a few.  What a blessing it is to be able to keep in touch! I think about how life was just 30 years ago.  Families didn’t have any of these ways of communicating.

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My and Scott’s wedding day when the Hammersley and Hughes families joined forces. 🙂 9-1-18

For most people it’s easy to put on your happy face, and be kind and friendly to those we see outside our homes. But we can’t hide who we are from those living with us.  They know all the good, the bad, and the ugly. With this shelter-in-place we’re stuck with each other all day, every day whether we like it or not.  Fortunately, I’m married to the best man on the planet so I’m enjoying having him around, but I realize that isn’t the case with everyone.  Family relationships can get strained quickly when life is stressful, we’re dealing with disappointment, and worse yet, the whole world seems chaotic and suffering abounds. All while the very things that often encourage us: family, friends, worshiping together in church, vacations, going out to eat, etc. have been stripped away.  It’s in these moments we realize how much we need the support of our family. We’ve been given a wonderful opportunity, free of distractions, to learn to love our family well. Let’s be committed. Let’s be there for each other, if in prayer only, when no one else can be. I’m thankful for family.

  • God

I’m thankful for extra time to spend reading God’s words, the Bible. I’ve certainly prayed more. The many encouraging sermons I’ve heard via you-tube have taught me more about God. (One of my favorite preacher is Adrian Rogers.)  This is a good time for us to draw closer to the God we love but are prone to wander away from.

When we emerge from this unprecedented time like a butterfly out of its cocoon, may we be more patient, more kind, more thoughtful, more humble, more intentional in our living and giving. I want to look and act more like Jesus.

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May we not let this time of testing be wasted. We can look at this time of isolation and widespread sickness as training ground to become more of a soldier of Jesus Christ. It’s a time to dig deep, search our hearts, discern what is holding us back from giving God and others our all. May we learn to prefer others above ourselves and become a humble servant. And what better place to learn this than at home with our families? Jesus humbled Himself and became a servant and He calls us to do the same. This is where we will find true joy and peace. And let’s not forget to look for the positive things and thank God for them.

 

Again, I quote Randy Alcorn, “The degree of joy rises to the degree of gratitude, and the level of gratitude corresponds to the level of God’s grace experienced in our suffering.” 

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes Hammersley

 

 

Do Not Fear….even the Coronavirus?

 

Being in the dark is a common fear of little ones. When our children were small we had a glow in the dark plaque that read, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee (God) from Psalm 56:3.  Claiming God’s promises from the Bible is one of the best ways I’ve found to combat fear.

What causes YOUR heart to tremble?  The coronavirus has the potential to cause even the bravest of men to be afraid.  This very well may be the scariest time many people today have ever faced. So what does God say about fear?

God tells us to not be afraid.

I haven’t counted for myself, but I’ve heard that some variation of, “Do not fear” appears 365 times in the Bible…once for every day of the year.

In Matthew 10:29-31 Jesus was talking to his disciples and He said,

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

God knows all about us and cares about how we are feeling. He tells us to not be afraid.

Isaiah 41:10 has become one of my favorite verses.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Joshua 1:9 reads,

Have not I (the Lord) commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

God commands us to not worry.

Philippians 4:6 says, Be anxious for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

This is not a suggestion or recommendation and no exceptions are listed…. not even  for the coronavirus.  Notice what Paul is telling the Philippians to do.

  1. Pray about every thing
  2. Supplicate- ask or beg for something earnestly or humbly
  3. Be thankful to God for something
  4. Politely ask God

I’ve heard worrying is like rocking in a chair… it expends a lot of energy but gets you nowhere.

Jesus invites us to let Him carry our burdens.

In Matthew 11:28-30

Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am meek (gentle) and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

The apostle Peter encourages us to turn to God in time of need  with the proper attitude.  I Peter 5-7 says…

..be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

It’s a battle to focus and keep our eyes on God whom we cannot see more than on the problems which swirl around us. I guess that’s why God has to remind us so often to not fear. But once again He promises in Isaiah 26:3, 4 to give us peace if we will trust Him.

Thou (God) will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed (sustained by) thee (God): because he trusteth in thee (God). Trust in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everylasting strength.

When we fear and worry, we aren’t trusting God.  Many times we would rather have our own way than God’s because we want to call the shots.  We want an easy, fun, comfortable life.  God is more interested in us becoming more like Jesus and preparing for eternity with Him.  Unfortunately, we learn best during hardships. That’s when we tend to seek God the most.

Times like these often reveal our level of faith or lack thereof. Are we cooperating with God or kicking, screaming, and bucking against His plan for us? Are we accepting and embracing the hardship or becoming angry and bitter?

I’ve heard faith is like film. It’s developed in the dark. Are we willing to trust God and walk through the dark so He can develop and mature us spiritually? Or are we wanting to be God and do things our way? This is a sobering time to examine our hearts, our faith, our priorities. Are we living out what we’ve been saying we believe?

Do not fear. If you are putting your faith in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation, and not in anything you have done, you can be assured God is working all things out for your good and His glory. (Romans 8:28) You can rest as you trust Him. Do not fear.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes Hammersley

September 1, 2018

September 1, 2018

 

 

 

Our Eyes are on You, Lord

 

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I enjoy the idioms of the south. Here are a few of my favorites.

While discussing a hard rain you might hear, “That was a frog strangler!”

While introducing a new idea…”There’s more than one way to skin a cat.” (Let’s not ask how that one originated!)

My brother-in-law’s favorite when asked how he’s doing is, “Finer than frog hair.”

There are many different ways to get our point across and using idioms is a fun way of doing it, but have you ever been in circumstances where you had no words? Have there been times when you tried to talk to God but all you could utter was, “Help me!”?

If one of my children came to me and explained that they were at the end of their rope (there’s another idiom!) and needed my help, you bet I would do all I could to help  because I love them. Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 7:11 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father in heaven give good things to them that seek him?”

Why am I hesitant to ask God for help?  Do I think I can handle this one without Him? Do I feel like I’m bothering God or that He doesn’t really care? Whatever the reason, it is never wise to neglect a wise and loving Savior.  I need to speak truth to myself.

He is capable!

Colossians 1:16, 17 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions,or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him. And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

He is the Creator of the universe and holds it all together. He has already solved the biggest problem I’ll ever have…my sin problem…and He is much bigger than any other problem I’ll face.

He is available!

The Lord is not someone who doesn’t understand or cannot relate to our situation! Jesus was tempted in all points yet without sin. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

He is willing!

I Peter 5:7 tells us to cast all our care upon him (God); for He cares for us. He wants to hear from us and He wants us to trust and depend on Him.

I was reminded this morning of one of my favorite phrases in the Bible…2 Chronicles 20:12, We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.

Jehoshaphat was in a pickle! There was a great multitude coming against him and he was afraid. He not only determined to seek the Lord, but he proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah and the nation gathered together. Jehoshaphat stood and prayed aloud recalling God’s power and deliverance in the past and humbly admitting his need for God’s help. His prayer ends with, We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You. This must have been music to God’s ears!

I remember when my son was a toddler. At times he would want to cross the creek at our home, but maybe the water was swift or he was not steady on his feet. He would reach for my hand feeling confident he could cross with my help. I was happy to protect and help him. God is all that and much, much more for us!

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Our creek in Tennessee

The Spirit of the Lord came upon Jathaziel and he assured Jehoshaphat and the congregation that the Lord would deliver them. God used this man to encourage them to not be afraid because the battle was not theirs, but the Lord’s. In verse 18 the Bible says the king and all Judah bowed and worshipped the Lord and then some stood and sang His praises. (May we always remember to give God thanks.)

We may have to wait a little longer for our answer than Jehoshaphat many times, but we can rest assured God is working behind the scenes even when we don’t see anything happening. He promises to never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)

So what are you focusing on today…your problems or your Lord? You may not see a way, but our God can make a way when there seems to be no way. When we are speechless and can’t even verbalize our concerns before God our Father, like Jehoshaphat, let us say, We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes Hammersley

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Scott & Gaye     September 1, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does Cancer Scare You?

The word “cancer” can strike fear in your heart.  Recently, my daughter was telling me about  a lady who just learned she has the same type of aggressive breast cancer that I had (Triple Negative).  She said, “Mom, I’m sure glad we’re over that!” I told her I would never be “over” it.  There are follow up doctor visits and although I don’t worry about the cancer recurring, it is always in the back of my mind.

I’m sitting in the oncology waiting room as I write this.  As my eyes scan the room, I feel out of place and am disturbed.  It is obvious there are some very sick people here.  After multiple visits and four years later, it is still surreal.

I’ve had a chest x-ray and blood drawn.  I’m waiting to see the doctor and hear the test results. Even when I received the cancer diagnosis, I did not have any symptoms except for a pea-size lump.  Now, after all the chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation, my body feels the same.  Because I feel physically fine, it doesn’t make sense to me that the doctor can either give me a clean bill of health or report that the cancer has returned.

How is one to cope with this? My husband used to say, “People feel sorry for me because they know I don’t have much longer to live. They don’t seem to realize they could die before I do. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. I’m just more aware of it.”  We may think we have a measure of control in this life, but we don’t.  We couldn’t take our next breath but for the grace of God.  But don’t let this scare you! Our times are in God’s very capable hands. He is a good, good Father and loves us very much. We can rest in Him and trust His best for us as we walk closely with Him.  Cancer doesn’t scare God and we don’t have to let it scare us.

There are much worse things than cancer.  People who live selfishly to obtain things in this life have the worst disease of all!  They are missing out on real joy-filled living. I can’t imagine even getting out of bed in the morning if I did not have the love of Jesus in my heart and the assurance that His peace, grace, and mercy would cover me through the day.

Every time I come to this waiting room, so many questions flood my mind…Why did God bring me through the cancer journey basically unscathed?  Why would God choose to give me more opportunities to serve Him, when I fail Him so miserably every day? Why was I spared when so many of my cancer friends were not?

As I walk by the treatment room, I would rather look away and forget, but I feel obliged to absorb the scene.  I need to remember the uncertainty and fear I experienced while sitting in those chairs receiving poison in my veins.  Do these people know the peace only Jesus can give during this most gut-wrenching time of their lives? They need my empathy and my prayers.

After all the questions, my conclusion is always the same… I don’t know.  This is what I do know….

  • God is always good.
  • His way is perfect.
  • He will walk through every valley with me.
  • He is God and I am not.
  • I can trust Him.

I know I will come face to face with God one day and thank Him for using cancer to remove some of the fog of materialism and vain distractions from my heart so His purposes for my life could be more clearly seen and accomplished.

So with tears in my eyes and joy in my heart, I am thanking God for leaving me here to witness my last homeschooler (Nathan) graduate high school, Abigail receive her college diploma, Anna and Bethany marry their awesome husbands, and for having the privilege of enjoying my little grandson, Destin.  And I could go on and on.

Nathan graduating from high school (2017)

Abigail graduating from BJU (2017)

Bethany and Wesley Crews married 8-03-14

Anna and Danilo Vara married 9-27-14

 

Anna, Bethany, and Abigail (9-27-14)

Destin Vara as a newborn (9-24-16)

With a broad smile on her face, my sweet doctor just reported that my tests results were great! If my life ended today, I’ve been far more blessed than I’ll ever deserve.  It thrills me to know I’ll have all eternity to thank and worship my Lord and Savior for daily showering me with His gifts!

No, we don’t have to be afraid of cancer. We have a mighty God.  If we know Him and  find our life coming to an end here, we have a much better place to go where we will live like never before!  We can enjoy the presence of God for all eternity. Don’t let cancer scare you.  It can be a gift in disguise!

Keep looking up,

Gaye

May 2017

 

 

Why is This Day Called Good?

What is so good about this day?  This day we call Good Friday is when we remember the greatest injustice in all the history of the world.  A completely innocent man (who also happened to be the Son of God) was interrogated, mocked, spat upon, lied about, beaten, humiliated, and then tortured to death for apparently no good reason.

If we didn’t know better we would think this was a weak man who couldn’t defend himself. This innocent man, Jesus, was there when our universe was formed. He has no beginning and no end. Jesus said, No man taketh it (life) from  me, but I lay it down of myself.  I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again.  This commandment have I received of my Father (John 10:18). And that is exactly what He did.

So this most horrible day for Jesus became the best day for the rest of us.  Jesus took the wrath of God for the sin of the whole world on Himself that day. He bought us with His holy blood. He paid the sin debt and redeemed a selfish, sinful world of people so we could be united with Him for eternity. This love is SO hard for me to wrap my mind around.

Jesus left the splendor of heaven and presence of God to come to earth to bridge the gap between our sinful brokenness and separation from God. He has done all the work.  He has done every possible thing.  All He asks is for us to repent of our sin, believe in Him and His work on the cross, and ask Him to take residence in our hearts. I can attest to the peace and joy that follows that act of faith!

As I think of Jesus’ suffering, I’m amazed at how He endured all that suffering and separation from God and didn’t yell, Enough! I don’t deserve this! I’m done! He could have easily called for the angels to release Him or walked away on His own. I know His love kept Him on the cross, but there was also another motivation.

This example is not anywhere close to what Jesus went through, but the most pain I’ve been in is when I gave birth to my children.  I chose not to have pain medicine and there was a few times I caved and said, Okay! Give me something! But the baby was ready to be born and there wasn’t time. Anyway, as I lay there writhing in pain, I wasn’t necessarily thinking about how much I loved my husband or the baby, although I did love them both very much.  I looked into the near future and thought about the joy of holding that precious new life. That thought helped me plow through the pain.

Jesus looked into the future and saw joy! Hebrews 12:2 says, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. He was thinking about the joy!

Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. (Luke 15:10) He has made a way for us to have abundant, joy- filled lives, full of faith and hope not only because of what He did on that cross on Good Friday, but because of the resurrection afterwards. He has taken the sting out of death and the grave for us as believers.

“Whenever you feel tempted to ask God, ‘Why did you do this to me?’ look at the cross and ask, Why did you do that for me?”  (Randy Alcorn in 90 Days to God’s Goodness)

So if you are going through a tough time now, look into God’s Word and claim His promises of peace, rest, and joy as you trust in Him. He will never fail you or forsake you.

Yes, it was a horrible Friday around two thousand years ago today, but it was also a glorious day for the millions of believers in the ages to come. What a precious gift Jesus gave the world that day! It is a very Good Friday because Sunday’s coming!!! Happy Resurrection Day!

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

 

What are you wearing?

 

 

Although I prefer the King James Version of the Bible, I really like how Colossians 3:12-14 is worded  in The Message.

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline.  Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense.  Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love.  It’s your basic, all-purpose garment.  Never be without it.

If I could just remember these nuggets of truth every minute of every day! This is the key to a joy-filled life empty of self and full of God. Do you know anybody that dresses like this verse describes? I sure do!  It is a lovely sight…always gorgeous and in style! These people are refreshing, uplifting,  God-honoring, and Christ-like no matter their circumstances.

Do you need to make some changes in your wardrobe? What are you wearing today?

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

 

I Am?

left to right: Ashlee Bitton (4 yr. old teacher), Megan Smith (2 yr. old teacher), Me (phonics teacher for 2 & 3 yr. olds), Teena Anders (2 yr. old teacher), Alyx (4 yr. old teacher), Andrea Muse (owner and 4 yr. old phonics teacher), Brooke Eggleston (2 yr. old teacher).

I usually work as a phonics teacher at Muse Montessori, but I also substitute when a teacher is absent. Last week we had an unusual number of teachers absent due to sickness so each day I received a text asking, “Can you ‘be’ (name of teacher that was absent) today?”

We have exceptional teachers and they each bring their unique talents to the classroom. I gave up a long time ago trying to “be” them.  My boss doesn’t expect that. She just asks me to be me.

But one day it dawned on me, No matter who I’m asked to “be” today, as a Christian, God always asks me to be like Jesus. That means being loving, kind, patient, understanding, tender-hearted, and forgiving. It’s a tall order!  And just like I can’t “be” one of the teachers, I certainly can’t “be” Jesus….without His help.  But with His help, I can be what I need to be for these children.

My name means happy, keenly alive and exuberant. Although I’ve often failed miserably, I have tried to live up to my name. In Bible times, a name often signified a part of the person’s character.  That is one reason God changed people’s names.  He changed Abram’s name to Abraham, meaning the father of many nations.  He changed Sarai (meaning contentious) to Sarah (meaning Princess). He changed Jacob’s name to Israel (meaning wrestler with God).

Although it seemed God had a deaf ear to the Israelites crying out 400 years for God to deliver them from slavery in Egypt, that was far from true. God had seen their oppression and heard their cries for help. (Exodus 3:9) He appeared to Moses and told him He would use him to deliver them.  Then Moses asked an interesting question and the answer was even more bizarre.

And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you: and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?

And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM; and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

Did you notice that God repeated Himself?  He obviously wanted to make sure there was no misunderstanding about His name. There is so much in the Bible that I don’t understand and many things are confusing to me, but there are other things, as in this case, where God leaves no doubt whatsoever what He means!

Have you ever wondered about the name/title God gave Himself here?  I sure have! How odd! What kind of name is this? It seems left unfinished.  I am… what? Why didn’t God say, I am Deliverer? I am Salvation. I am Savior. Why just…I AM?

In the Hebrew, I AM implies absolute self-existence and action. This is God’s promise to redeem His people. If God had used a single characteristic of Himself, maybe our little, finite minds couldn’t think outside the box. But God left this wide open as if we can fill in the blank! He is not only an active God that keeps His promises, He is our healer when we are sick.  He is our comforter when we mourn and are sad.  He is our peace when we are anxious.  He is our refuge when we are overwhelmed.  He is our rock when life wipes us off our feet. He is our provider when we’ve lost everything in this world. When we are afraid, He is our tower we run into and hide. He is our friend who will never fail or forsake us.

 

Then several years later, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and said, She (Mary) shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)The name explains His purpose in coming.

 

 Later Jesus said,  I am the bread of life (John 6:48).  I am the light of the world (John 8:12). I am the door (John 10:7).  I am the good shepherd (John 10:14). I am the resurrection and the life (John 11:25). I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). I am the true vine (John 15:1).

He is every single thing we ever need Him to be! Psalm 9:10 says, And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. When we know and understand God’s name, we know and understand Him.  To know Him is to love Him. And when we know and understand Him, we will put our trust in Him.  I challenge you to join me in dipping into God’s deep reservoir of riches. Let’s get to know God better!

Keep looking up!

Gaye Hughes

 

 

A Christmas to Remember- 2017

From left to right- Abigail, Nathan, Gaye, Destin, Danilo, Anna (Christmas 2017)

Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed Christmas with those you love. This was the first Christmas my immediate family was together since the passing of my husband, almost three years ago. Little Destin, my grandson (15 months old), was an entertaining addition! Someone taught him to fist bump. And my favorite present was learning that his little sibling will be arriving in July!

 

Anna woke up a few mornings after Christmas not feeling well. We thought it was due to that little one in her tummy, but as the day went on, we concluded she had a stomach bug. These germs fought with a vengeance! About every other time Anna got sick, she would faint.  So my family sprung into action!

Bethany and Wesley found a good deal on some snowboards! (12-2017)

Wesley, Bethany’s husband, is a health inspector and he suspected the Norovirus had found us.  According to Wesley, this virus can live on fabrics for up to 12 days, on hard surfaces for a week, and is highly contagious.  One is contagious before the  symptoms appear and up to three days after symptoms are gone! Lysol doesn’t kill it. The hot water in the washer and laundry detergent doesn’t kill it.  And the dryer isn’t hot enough to kill it. YUCK! It takes Clorox. So Bethany started wiping down doorknobs, faucets, and other surfaces with Clorox wipes. We washed bedding and rugs in case it was an ordinary virus. And we began using paper towels, plastic cups, and paper plates.

Abigail was in charge of taking care of Destin and cooking food.  Bethany continued to sanitize and wash dishes. I cared for Anna.  Wesley hauled in wood and kept the fire going. After a long day at work, Nathan made a run back into town for Ginger Ale and saltines. Danilo had left to go back to Florida to work so he wasn’t exposed….yet. Anna felt much better the next morning after a predictable schedule of getting sick every hour.

 

The Vara family (Danilo works at Sherwin Williams)

Unfortunately, all our precautions seemed to be in vain.  While Anna was resting the next day, Wesley got a unique version of it. The next day I got it.  Bethany took her turn the next day. Abigail said she would like to go ahead and get it over with.  She got her wish the next day. Danilo had come back for the weekend and he also didn’t feel well when he left.

 

It was a miracle that Little Destin didn’t contract it.  Everyone had taken turns caring for him and he walked around touching everything. This raging virus could have easily sent him to the hospital, but God protected him. Nathan also escaped it.

 

Our dog, Rooster keeping warm!

As bad as this may sound, there were some blessings in the midst of this.  We were unable to attend church on Sunday so we spent several hours discussing the Bible.  It was such a blessing to hear my children and sons-in-law discuss what God was doing in their hearts. It was interesting to hear their thought processes, discernment, and wisdom.

 

It also warmed my heart to see my children loving each other and working together knowing what was at stake. They could have gotten out of Dodge, but they laid their stomachs on the line and sacrificed for the sick ones. I often heard, “I’m so sorry you are sick,” “Can I get anything for you?” and “What can I do to help?”

Please check out Abigail’s blog at Praycookblog.com!

So this Christmas didn’t turn out as we had anticipated, but it was still a very good Christmas. Christmas is celebrating the birth of Jesus. He left His Father’s side to be born as a baby and came to Earth to lay down His perfect life so that we can be with Him in heaven one day.  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13) This is exactly what Jesus did for us. He embodied love. God is love. God proved His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

 

If we will admit our sin, believe in our hearts that Jesus is God’s son and that He died and rose again, and ask Him to be the Lord of our lives, we can have His love in our hearts.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. (I John 4:11)

It always amazes me to see God’s deep, sacrificial love coming through one of His children. In a world of selfishness and pride, God’s love stands out in a lovely, unique, refreshing way and it gives hope.  Let’s spread that love around today, friends!

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

(Pictures from the Gaylord  Opryland Resort in Nashville, TN- December 2017)

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