What if the “little things” aren’t so little?

IMG_20150425_085349347

My sweet friends, Crystal and Robbie, who have been with me through thick and thin for years!

Do you ever wonder if you are making a positive difference in this world?   So much of life is doing the same things over and over again.  Life can get mundane.  Whether it is going to work or school, keeping the home, or caring for small children, you can begin to wonder if what you’re doing really matters.

For months I’ve been praying for God to guide me.  Maybe I’m expecting more than I should.  I’ve been discouraged that I haven’t felt more direction about how He wants me to serve Him.  But today I did something that didn’t take much effort on my part, but the lady commented, “You’ve made my day.” That comment meant a lot to me. What an awesome opportunity and privilege it is to make someone’s day!  That’s a big deal!

Could it be that I am already doing what God wants me to do? What if God’s will is made up of hundreds of little acts of obedience instead of a few big life-changers?  God doesn’t mean for all of us to be a Billy Graham, C.S. Lewis, or Mother Teresa. God primarily wants a personal relationship with each of us.  After we allow Him to take precedence above all else, the results of what we do are up to Him and we may not see those results in this life.

DSC01301

Dad and Mom

I grew up watching my mom regularly practice random acts of kindness. It seemed to come as naturally to her as breathing. Many times as we were walking into a grocery store, she would offer to push the buggy back for someone who had finished loading their groceries in their car.  She was forever sacrificing for my dad, sister, and me.  My mom also took time for the elderly neighbors that most people seemed too busy to visit.

DSC07884

Aunt Denise and my cousin, Sara.

I’ve been on walks with my aunt Denise and often watched as she thoughtfully picked up a newspaper and carried it to the door of a sweet little lady because she knew she wouldn’t want to walk outside in the cold to retrieve it.

 

 

I’ve lost count of the times I wearily opened my mailbox to find a sweet card from my Aunt Martha telling me she was praying for me.

DSC01256

Aunt Martha and Uncle Wayne

A missionary friend, Dicky Reynolds, regularly sends Bible verses and tells me he is praying for my family and me.

Yesterday I was in the middle of a making a recipe, crunched for time, and realized I had no eggs.  I quickly ran to my closest neighbor and asked if I could borrow some from her. She seemed happy to oblige and it probably seemed trivial to her, but it was a HUGE blessing to me! I did not have 40 minutes to go to the store to buy those two eggs.

goldsilverappletable

A word spoken at just the right time is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Proverbs 25:11

Numerous friends have blessed me over the years with a smile, a hug, or a word of encouragement just when I needed it.

My friend, Robbie, kept a steady supply of fresh fruit coming when I was too sick from chemotherapy treatments to eat anything else.  Crystal has taken time to keep in touch with me as our lives have been crazy busy over the years. Then there’s my friend, Kathy who literally walks through life with me!

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Those little things that we don’t think much about, may often be the very things that someone else needs to make it through another day.

IMG_20160406_150436567

Kathy and me hanging out with Jack.

Maybe God doesn’t allow us to see much of the positive impact we are making because if we knew, we would become prideful. Maybe learning how much we’ve blessed others will be part of our reward in heaven.

Maybe there is a season of quiet, reflective preparation needed for new ministries. Jesus went to the desert for 40 days before He began His ministry.  After Paul’s conversion when God called him to preach the gospel, he didn’t immediately go Jesus’ disciples to get advice or learn from them. He first went away for three years to get to know God and prepare for his ministry. (Galatians 1:15-19)

And then there’s always the possibility that I’m not as surrendered to God’s plan as I think I am. Maybe there is some selfish ambition I’m not willing to let go.  And maybe I think too much.

Hebrews6v10

At any rate, we can be sure God sees and rewards every deed done when a heart of love is behind it.  And maybe while I’m craving to see God do big, awesome things in my life, His desire is for me to live by faith, obey, and trust Him when I’m not seeing much of anything going on. I would do well to remember that little is much when God is in it.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

 

 

What Do I Have to Complain About?

IMG_20151204_162405908_HDR

While visiting the nursing homes, I see many sad circumstances. I usually walk away ashamed of myself for complaining about anything in my life.  So many of these people are happy and content when they have been stripped of most of life’s daily pleasures and left with the bare bones of life.

Sometimes it’s hard to keep your chin up. I’m still grieving the loss of my spouse.  I often feel consumed by this….like it’s going to swallow me up.  I’ll shamefully admit, sometimes I feel cheated that we only had twenty-five years together.  Visiting the nursing home is helping me keep the right perspective.

Most of the people I visit there lost their spouses years ago, but they have also lost many other things that I often take for granted. Many never leave the building. They have lost their freedom to come and go as they please. That’s a biggie.

One sweet lady recently had to sell her car knowing she will never drive again. Even though she is in her late eighties, this was and still is a difficult step for her.  Her home will be the next thing she gives up. In her home are several antiques from her grandparents that hold special memories for her. They will have to go too along with the many little spoons she collected that remind her of the many wonderful vacations she took with her husband who went to be with the Lord about five years ago.

My friend, Mrs. Helen age 78, whom I often visit in the local nursing home, is an amazing person.  She inspires me in how she has made the most of her situation. I want to be like her when I grow up.

Both her husband and son have gone to be with the Lord and  she rarely hears from her other son who lives a good distance away. You would never know it though. She is always happy to see me and is quite outgoing.  She has made a point to learn the names and history of all the residents and workers in the nursing home!

She used to be the pianist in a large church in Atlanta, Georgia.  This lady is very talented, but her fingers do not work as well now due to a stroke some years ago. So she enjoys listening to classical music now.  She also reads large volumes to keep her mind sharp.

Recently, Mrs. Helen’s best friend in the nursing home went to be with the Lord. She has given up several of her friends in this way. She says she doesn’t cry on the outside, but her heart cries on the inside. She is trying to be a strong woman and is putting on a happy face. I can relate to that.

Mrs. Brenda is in her late forty’s and is suffering from a muscle disease. I’m sure she was quite beautiful at one time.  I’ve never seen her out of bed. She can’t walk or eat food.  She has a feeding tube and is very skinny. She sleeps a lot. I’ve never seen anyone visit her. She tells me how nice I look in my regular clothes while she wears a hospital gown. I feel guilty that our lives are so vastly different.  I ask myself, “Why am I  standing by her bed instead of lying in her bed?” Our lots in life could easily be reversed. I immediately know I can take no credit for this. Her current condition was and is completely out of her control.  I flat out do not deserve my tons of blessings.

Mrs. Jo is one of the sweetest ladies you will ever meet.  She cannot enunciate very well so most people smile, nod, and just keep going when she speaks.  She is always smiling and gets so excited when anyone acknowledges her.  It makes me uncomfortable to listen to Mrs. Jo because I’m afraid I won’t be able to understand her and will frustrate her efforts. But I’m learning that when I take time to stop talking and really listen, not only to Mrs. Jo but to others also, I come away much more blessed.

Mrs. Ruby, is another dear soul in the nursing home who spends most of her time in bed.  She is almost blind so unlike Mrs. Helen, she doesn’t have the luxury of passing the lonely hours reading. However, this lady always lights up the room with her bright smile. Could I be so cheery in such a predicament?

When asked, “How are you today?” a dear friend of mine, Marvin Davenport, often says, “I’m upright and breathing so it’s a good day!”  I love that spunky attitude! But what if one day I find myself with one of those being absent? Yes, I’m breathing, but I’m not upright.  I’m bedridden and lonely. What will keep a smile on my face?

How can these unsung heroines in the nursing home be so content with so little?  What makes life worth living when one has had to give up their independence, car, home, spouse, children, parents, career, health, and eye sight?   Maybe they have learned the secret to what life is really all about…a relationship with Jesus!

Jesus makes life worth living!  Period. Why? “The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” (Psalm 18:2) “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul.(Hebrews 6:19)

Jesus is the only stable thing in this world.  “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:8)  Jesus and His love never changes or quits or gives up on us.  “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

Jesus is the One who made us and gives us the next breath and with that breath, a unique purpose for living. And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7)

He has a plan for each day we live. Jesus gives meaning to life when nothing else makes sense.

One of my goals is to be able say with the Apostle Paul, I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. (Philippians 4:11)

I can say with Job, I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God;

So no matter where I find myself in this life, I can live in complete confidence knowing that my God has gone before me and is waiting for me to join Him in heaven.  I can smile because I have a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24) I pray you can say the same. Be blessed.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

IMG_20151227_174544892