What’s the Bottom Line?

 

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Where is your path of life leading you?

What’s the bottom line in this life? We know there is a lot of uncertainty in this life, but we don’t know how many days we have. So to me, having confidence in what will happen after this life is the bottom line. This determines how we live our lives, what choices we make, how we spend our time, and what is most important to us.

We can say we believe a lot of things, but the way we live proves what we really believe…..unless we are side tracked and distracted by this world and the devil.  We can say our family is one of the most important things in our lives, but are we living in a way that validates that? It’s easy to get busy doing things that really don’t matter at all and neglecting the people who matter most.

Have you ever thought about what you are going to think about on your death bed? As you realize your opportunities to have a positive influence, serve God,  and love others are coming to an end, how will you feel? Will you feel good about how you’ve spent your precious time here and the things you’ve accomplished?

The first Scripture we taught our children to memorize was John 14: 6.

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Why? We wanted to make sure our children would be with us in heaven for eternity.

 

 

 

Ephesians 6:1 was another memory verse early on.

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We knew if our children didn’t honor and respect us as their parents, they wouldn’t honor or respect God as their heavenly father.

 

John 3:16-18 soon followed…

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For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

The other day I was with a lady who knows she probably doesn’t have much time left here. I wanted to make sure she was placing her faith in Jesus Christ and was at peace about dying.

As we talked, she said, I don’t know my Bible as well as you do, but I’ve been taught… Then she asked me what denomination I belonged to. I said, I am a follower of Jesus Christ and I believe the Bible. I am placing my faith in Jesus and the truth in this book. Denominations don’t mean much to me.

It is easy to live our lives believing what we’ve been taught, but is our faith good enough to die by? I don’t want to risk my eternal well-being on what someone else has taught me! When I repented of my sin and placed my faith and trust in Jesus, the Holy Spirit came to live inside of me.  He is the one who convicts me of sin, confirms to me what is right and wrong, teaches and comforts me.

I recently went away for a few days to visit my family in NC. I left my son with some specific instructions before I left. When I came home I found that he had followed most of them, but had left a few undone.  The To Do list was lying in front of us. When I confronted him about it, he didn’t have a good reason for not following my requests and apologized.

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Some of my NC family…from left to right, Cordell (dad), Mary (mom), Nick (nephew) John (brother-in-law) Faye (twin sister), Faith (niece) Bethany (daughter), Wesley (son-in-law) 2-16-2016

I said, Nathan, this is what it’s going to be like when we face Jesus and give an account of how we’ve lived. I imagine God will say something like this, I left you instructions. They are right there in the Bible. I told you what I expected. We won’t have a leg to stand on. There will be no good excuse for disobeying Him.

Will you please take some time to think about what the bottom line is in your life? What really matters? Should it matter?  Your faith may be good enough to live by, but will it be good enough to die by?

This song reflects my faith,

The Solid Rock

My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;

I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

When He shall come with trumpet sound, O may I then in Him be found;

Dressed in His righteousness alone, Faultless to stand before the throne.

On Christ the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand,

All other ground is sinking sand.

Standing on the Rock,

Gaye Hughes

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My sister, Faye, and me and the big fish we caught….NOT! 🙂

 

 

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When Your World Falls Apart

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What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning? What or who do you think you cannot live without? What makes life worth living for you?

Now that you’ve answered those questions, what if that thing or person was taken away? What then? What would then motivate you to keep on living?

Would your remaining family be enough? Would your favorite hobby be enough? Would your church family be enough? Would your health and money be enough? How about your work, sports, shopping?

That’s a difficult question to answer if you haven’t had that thing or person taken from you. It’s hard to imagine life without them or it. But personally, I don’t think any of those things are enough to keep us going when it feels like our world has fallen apart.

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And this hope and strength comes from Jesus!

Allow me to share Haratio Spafford’s (1828-1888)  story and how his world fell apart. He was a successful lawyer in Chicago.  He was a devout Christian man who enjoyed the friendships of Dwight L. Moody and Ira Sanky. He and his wife had a lovely home, one son, and four daughters.

Spafford and his wife, Anna, lost their young son and soon afterwards lost most of their real estate investments in the Great Chicago Fires on October 8, 1871. To help he and his family to cope with the tragedies, a family trip to Europe was planned.  Having some unexpected last minute business to take care of, Spafford sent his wife and daughters on the boat ahead of him.

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There was a boat collision and several days later he got word from his wife, Saved alone. When he came to the spot in the ocean where it was believed his daughters perished, he penned the words to, It is Well With My Soul. That was the bottom line for him.

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For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:26)

Could you say that, if you were in that situation?  If you don’t know Jesus or have a good relationship with Him, will you please make that a priority today? None of us know how many days we have left in this life. Life is short and unsure.

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But we can have peace and hope even in these uncertain times if we know Jesus as our Savior. He is willing and waiting for you with open arms. You can’t be too bad for Him to not accept you and you can’t be good enough without Him.

 

 

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I believe with all my heart that the ONLY thing or person that is truly enough in this life is Jesus Christ!  We can be lulled into thinking things or people in this life is all we need. But we all have a deep seated spot in our hearts that only Jesus can fill and satisfy.  He wants to be there for us. The question is, “Do we want Him?” If every last comfort and security is taken from the believer,  God is enough! He gives and is enough.. strength, hope, and love to be all we need in this life.

Paul told the Corinthians, Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; (2 Cor. 3:5)

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This is what I found when I looked up the definition of sufficient in the Webster’s Dictionary.

sufficient– enough to meet the needs of a situation or a proposed end.  ENOUGH, ADEQUATE, COMPETENT mean being what is necessary or desirable, SUFFICIENT suggests a close meeting of a need; ENOUGH is less exact in suggestion than SUFFICIENT;  ADEQUATE may imply barely meeting a requirement; COMPETENT suggests measuring up to all requirements without question or being adequately adapted to an end.

During the most difficult days of my life, the one thing that has kept me going is to believe God has a reason and purpose for giving me breath. I want to use that breath and life to fulfill His purpose for me.  I try to do something, anything to help someone every single day because I know that is what God calls every believer to do…to love others. That will last for eternity! Love never fails. It always works. It is always a good thing.

There you have it folks! God is more than adequate to meet us where we are. He made us and only He knows what we need.  And only He can fill those needs in our lives. Won’t you trust Him to do that for you today?

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

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Broken and Beautiful

Broken-Beautiful-Piano-blurI cannot remember not regularly attending church.  Not only did my parents take me to church, I enjoyed my mom telling my twin sister and me Bible stories while we worked in the fields.  My mom is a gifted teacher and as a result, she made those Bible stories come alive to us.  We would say, “Tell us another one!”  Then she would start singing, Tell me the story of Jesus. Write on my heart every word.  We would get so frustrated because she would keep singing that song just to irritate us and make us beg for more stories. She had a good singing voice, but her stories were better.

Then I went to college at Bob Jones University.  I took a Bible Doctrine’s class where it seemed like we had at least a thousand Bible verses to memorize!  Although I could get around in my Bible fairly well, I had not memorized much of it.  My elementary and high school years were in public schools, but many of the students there had been educated in Christian schools.  They could recite verses in their sleep, while I struggled.  You could find me flipping through those verses attached to a ring while waiting in the lunch and dinner lines. There were quizzes every class period and points were taken off for every missed word.  I passed the class, but barely.  What a self-esteem killer to struggle in a Bible class in a Christian university!

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KNOWLEDGE in the Head

For many years the Bible knowledge was lodged in my brain, but I didn’t have many life experiences to test it.  I’ve found when life knocks you off your feet, you are suddenly faced with what to do with all those facts and promises from God’s Word. You can either claim it as truth and be comforted by it, dismiss it as heresy and become angry and bitter, or try to figure out life on your own.  This is when the knowledge in the mind moves south to experience in the heart.

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 EXPERIENCE in the Heart

When that knowledge becomes experience and we respond in the right way by putting our faith and trust in God, a powerful testimony ensues! This is what causes the tears to form when we’re ministering to others who are hurting.  This is what transforms sympathy to empathy. (Sympathy is relating to another’s feelings.  Empathy is feeling what they are feeling.) This is why we feel compassion more deeply. This is what makes us shine in the darkness. This is what makes God smile.

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Although we would never volunteer for the hard stuff God might deem necessary to send our way, when we see Him carrying us through that trial and the work He begins to do in us, it becomes an exciting way to live!  To experience Him bring beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for  mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness: that we might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified is amazing!

This passage is lengthy, but please read these beautiful words from Romans 5:1-5 in The Message (a commentary). It  reads…

By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us– set us right with him, make us fit for him– we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus.  And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us.  We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand– out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise. 

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There’s more to come:  We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next.  In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged.  Quite the contrary– we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!  Amen!

 I think Peter might be alluding to this in 2 Peter 1: 4-7 when he said,

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith

  • virtue; and to virtue
  • knowledge; And to knowledge
  • self-control; and to self-control
  • patience; and to patience
  • godliness; And to godliness
  • brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness
  • love

For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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PRAISE on the lips

Hopefully, after our knowledge has traveled south from our heads to experience in our hearts, our experience will turn north into praise coming from our lips.

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. (Ps. 28:7)

If we aren’t praising God for his goodness to us, then there must be a blockage occurring somewhere because He daily loads us with benefits. (Ps. 68:19) It could be because…

  • We aren’t even recognizing our blessings
  • We feel entitled
  • We have sin in our lives
  • We are apathetic to spiritual things
  • We care more about what others think of us than what God thinks

Let’s keep the channels open for God to do HIS thing in our lives. He knows what is best for us, what we need, and where He wants to take us. Let’s be willing to take HIS route.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

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P.S. I am so humbled by you, my readers, who take your precious time to read my blogs.  Thank you for your comments and encouragement. I love hearing from you! Have a blessed day!

 

 

 

Please, not THAT Lord!

blog pic comfort zone mountain-goats-1156056__180Please, not THAT Lord! Have you said it?  Yes, you want God to use you.  Yes, you’ve prayed for opportunities. But do you hesitate when the assignment arrives?

Recently, I was asked to speak at a Ladies’ Conference at a local church.  Since I’ve asked God for opportunities to glorify Him and share my story, I didn’t feel like this was something I should pray about.  This was an answer to many previous prayers. But I was still asking God to help me be sure this was something I should do.

That afternoon I was looking at face book and they had a place where you could click to see your personal Bible verse for the year. I thought it would be fun to see what mine was so I clicked and found this…

Acts 18:9b-10a, Do not be afraid, keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you.

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Wow! Talk about God writing your answer in the sky! This was the next best thing. But my excitement soon turned to near panic as I imagined myself standing up in front of several ladies. I can get bent out of shape in a heart beat about that!

I was tempted to back out when I realized how important it is to get my focus right.  This isn’t about me. It’s about encouraging others to pursue a closer walk with the Lord and what an opportunity to give God glory for His goodness to me! These are good things and something God is all for.  If I’m taking time to study God’s Word and praying, God will give me the words to say and the ability to say it.

In Bible times when God had a job for someone to do, they usually were not comfortable with it. They had to put their inhibitions aside and trust God to use them in spite of their insecurities.

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The Bible doesn’t mention Noah’s feelings, but I would think even the most passionate animal activist would have had second thoughts as he watched as a pair of every kind of animal on earth entered the ark! Can you imagine the weight of responsibility he must have felt as he thought about caring for them as God shut that door! But he trusted God.

When God told Moses about His plan to use him to get the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt, Moses asked, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharoh? God assured Moses that He would be with him, but Moses went on to inform God that he didn’t talk well, wasn’t good with words, and stuttered and stammered….like God didn’t already know that!

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Moses parting the Red Sea

I really like God’s answer to that. He said, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say. (Exodus 3 and 4)

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Gideon laying out the fleece asking God for affirmation

When the angel appeared to Gideon and said, The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valor….go and save Israel from the Midianites, Gideon was definitely unsure of himself. He responded, Oh, my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? My family is poor and I am the least in my father’s house.

Again, the Lord assured Gideon that He would be with him and that Gideon would defeat the enemy. (Judges 6)

Saul must have struggled with insecurity because when God chose him to be the first king of Israel and it came time for the public announcement, Saul couldn’t be found! In 1 Samuel 10:22 it says he hid himself among the stuff. (They had cluttered even then!)

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Queen Esther petitioning King Ahasuerus

I can well imagine Queen Esther showing some signs of perspiration as she humbly but boldly approached King Ahasuerus’ throne. In hopes of thwarting Haman’s wicked plan to annihilate her people, this act of going before the king without  being summoned could have gotten her killed! Good thing her husband hadn’t waken up on the wrong side of bed that morning!

Esther’s cousin, Mordecai, had asked her a thought-provoking question…one she couldn’t get away from.  Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14).  So she was willing to be used of God even if it meant her own demise.

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I SO admire Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego for their courage and confidence in God in the midst of such an intimidating situation! Even though they knew burning in the fiery furnace was the punishment for not bowing to the golden image, they refused to worship anything but the one, true, living God. When they were told if they didn’t comply they would be thrown into the fiery furnace, they confidently said,

If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou has set up. (Daniel 3:17, 18)

blog pic stock-illustration-17982175-daniel-in-the-lions-denDaniel must have been out of his comfort zone when they were getting ready to throw him to the lions.  But Daniel was not hurt because he believed in his God. (Daniel 6:23)

When I look at the courage, faith, and trust these people had in God in the midst of their dire circumstances, my anxiety over standing in front of some sweet Christian ladies seems pretty silly. Yet, God understands me and knows my weakness.

In 2 Corinthians 12:9 God told Paul, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  Then Paul said, Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

blog pic comfort zone28959227Our weaknesses keep us depending on God.  And when anything good comes from what we say or do, we know it was ALL God!  May we not allow our fears and insecurities prevent us from getting out of our comfort zones so God can use us to accomplish His will in our lives. He wants to do great things through us. Let’s allow Him to!

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

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It’s snowing in TN this morning! Yippeee! 02-09-16

 

 

 

 

 

I GET to Work!!!

 

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Have you ever said, “I HAVE to go to work today?” Well, I made that mistake a few years ago and a couple of nice, young men half my age with more wisdom than I had on this subject (and probably many others!) gently and respectfully rebuked me. And I am SO glad they did!

They immediately asked, “Did you mean you GET to work?” Their question took me off guard and then the truth began to sink in. Their wise parents had taught these boys that working is a privilege to be enjoyed… not a burden to be endured.

I’m sure their parents had taken heed to what the wisest man (King Solomon) on earth (besides Jesus, of course) had written thousands of years earlier.  But they had gone a step farther and also taught their children this truth. Isn’t that a gift? They knew these young men would need to provide for their households one day so they taught them to have a good attitude about it.

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Abigail (age 16) working as a pastry chef- 2012

Solomon said, my heart rejoiced in all my labor. (Ecc. 2:10)

There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labor. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God. (Ecclesiastes 2:24)

Did you notice that little phrase, “make his soul enjoy good in his labor?” It sounds like this is something that probably doesn’t come naturally.  We have to work at it. (No pun intended. )

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Bethany and David putting down our hardwood floors. 11-14-08

Again in Ecclesiates 3:13 Solomon says, And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labor, it is the gift of God.

Solomon points out that working just to get rich won’t satisfy anyone.

He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver: nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity. (Ecc. 5:10)

Ecc. 5:19 says, Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor: this is the gift of God.

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Nathan didn’t want to make two trips! (He actually only lost about 6 pieces of wood.) 12-15

Solomon tells us to work hard with a good attitude and to do our best in this life.

Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest. (Ecc. 9:10)

Paul also admonished the believers in Colossae that whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men. (Colossians 3:23) If we find it difficult to work for our boss, then we need to work hard for the boss’ boss… which is God!

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Anna painting clouds on our new bathroom wall before we added the butterflies.

Solomon sums up the book of Ecclesiastes in the last couple of verses. He tells us that the bottom line is to…

Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. (Ecc. 12:13 14)

We started teaching our children to help out when they were small.  At first it would have been easier to have them go off and play instead of “helping,” but they learned quickly and liked being  part of the solution and contributing to the family. When children are given chores to do when they are young, they accept it as a natural part of life. If they do not practice working when they are young and experience the satisfaction it brings, they will not suddenly be thrilled about working when they turn sixteen years old.

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David, Bethany, and me putting up our wood ceiling. September 2008

My parents taught me to work hard as a child and I’m so glad they did. It makes me feel better about myself. It has given me confidence about the future because I know I can work hard if and when it is necessary because I’ve done it before.

But I think the word work still held a negative connotation until the boys set me straight. Now I try to remember what a blessing it is to be able to get out of bed, walk, move and get things accomplished.

I hope this has been good food for thought. I’d love to hear any thoughts you have about work.  I plan to add a Part 2 to this subject soon so be looking for it.

Whistle while you work,

Gaye Hughes

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I decided to include a messy picture of myself so my kids would forgive me for inserting “work” pictures of them. 🙂

P.S.  A Part 2 is soon to follow!

 

 

Shaking Things Up!

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What does it mean to be “set in your ways”?  Is that a bad thing? There are definitely some perks to being organized, having a routine, and practicing good habits. But I hope I never get so focused on doing things the way I’ve always done them that God has to hit me over the head to get me to consider other options.

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May 1, 2005

I started thinking about the many things I do exactly the same every day…like brushing my teeth. I always brush the left side first. I tend to park in the same area in parking lots. I have a certain order I apply my make-up.  For years I sat in the same spot at church.

 

Then things suddenly changed. Two of my children married and  moved away. David, my side kick, went to heaven. My other two children started attending another church. So I found myself sitting alone on a pew that only a few years ago was occupied with my family of six.

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Anna, Gaye, David, Nathan, Bethany, and Abigail Hughes August 18, 2013

Sitting there with everything  the same except for the absence of my family was just too painful. That’s when I realized that although I couldn’t bring my family back, I could change my seating arrangements.  So I looked for other ladies who were sitting alone and joined them. Now neither of us are sitting alone.

Once I broke the “habit” of sitting in the same spot at church, I began to look for other ways to shake up my life.  I started parking in different areas even though I often shop at the same stores. (I live in a very small town!)  I experimented with listening to different music and trying new radio stations. I tried some new food.

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Wesley and Bethany Crews’ wedding day! August 3, 2014

I’m finding that learning to be more flexible has helped in several ways.

  • I’m a little more patient (only a little) when people don’t do things the way I would do them because I’m more aware that there are often lots of other options now.
  • I’ve gained some self-confidence as I’ve ventured out, conquered, and survived  unscathed.
  •  And most importantly, I’m more open-minded about ways God might be working in my life.
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Danilo and Anna Vara’s wedding day! September 27, 2014

 

My husband used to often say, “Things are always changing.  You think they will stay the same, but they won’t. Friends come and go. Circumstances change.” I didn’t think much about it then, but wow!  Was he ever right! Little did he know how true that would become for both of us! In a few short years both of us would begin our battle with cancer along with a host of other life-changing events.

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David wanted to get our picture together before my hair fell out from cancer treatments. January 20, 2014

As a homeschooling homemaker raising four little ones, my days were pretty predictable.  For years there were the daily responsibilities of lessons to teach, dishes to wash, meals to cook, laundry to clean, bills to pay, and diapers to change. I didn’t realize at the time that those were probably the best years of my life.

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Bethany and David May 2014

Now the children are grown and the house is cleaner than it’s ever been, but it is much too quite.  A house is just lumber and paint without your loved ones. It’s your family that makes a home. I’m thankful I had a good home with lots of love and laughter where many happy memories were made.

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Daddy/ Daughter Dance – David and Anna on her wedding day 9-27-14

I hope I’m not depressing you, but if you are where I was twenty years ago, try to…

  • appreciate your family and tell them often
  • laugh at the spilled drinks at dinner time and
  • don’t miss the blessings of today pining for something tomorrow

And if you’re where I am today, let’s try to…

  • seize the opportunities to serve the Lord in new ways
  • pray for our loved ones, visit, and encourage them when we can
  • have the courage to do things we’ve never done before

 

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Our crazy crew! Christmas 2014

We may be reluctant to change, but it’s going to happen. We can go kicking and screaming or we can go with the flow. It’s our choice.  And, as I’ve said many times before, there ARE some eternal things that are constant and never change…

  • God’s love
  • God’s faithfulness
  • God’s grace
  • God’s mercy
  • God’s goodness
  • God’s character

It is of the LORD’s  mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22)

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Our last family photo together Christmas 2014

So in this ever-changing world may we depend on our never-changing God!

Have a blessed day!

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

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Gaye Hughes January 2016