Abby’s Adventures!

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Nathan, Abigail, and me. May 2016

My youngest daughter, Abigail, is working at The Wilds Christian Camp in Brevard, North Carolina this summer.  Her dad and I met there.  After we married, we attended couples’ retreats and when our children were old enough to go as campers, they went every year.

Our children commented once that their time at The Wilds had the most positive impact on their spiritual lives second only to their training at home.  David and I always felt like the money we spent for them to attend that camp was investing in our children and eternity and was well worth every penny. David worked there one summer during his college years and our oldest daughter, Anna,  worked there two summers. It is a special place where God’s spirit is free to transform lives.

Abigail went for a week of training and this was the first week for summer campers to attend.  Nathan, her brother, and several of his friends were among the first to arrive.  There will be about 15 weeks of junior and teen campers this summer.  They also have weekend retreats for families, father/son, mother/daughter, music ministers, couples, etc. It is not only a place to give your spiritual life recharged, it is lots of fun!  They have waterfall hikes, tubing, paint ball, crafts, basketball, human foosball, the giant swing, lake activities, a zip line, Cool Beans Snack Shop, and much more all nestled in the beautiful NC mountains.

Abigail will be writing weekly updates about what is happening there.  She sent her first one this morning and it was SO encouraging to me that I wanted to share it with the world.  I wish everyone could be blessed to go there at least once, but if you can’t, Abigail will give you a flavor of what it’s like and what God is teaching her.  Here it is….

Hey! Just a quick update about camp. We’re almost finished with our first week here. It has been amazing! I’ve heard of so many kids being saved or getting right with God in different areas of their life. I always loved being a camper here, and I think I like the other side of camp just as much!

I’m exhausted, and we work long hours (as I’m sure Anna remembers), but I’ve never enjoyed working so much in my life. I get to work in the new renovated snack shop during free time. I did register for the first time yesterday. I really liked it. I just feel so happy to be at camp AND NOT HAVE TO LEAVE ATTHE END OF THE WEEK!  🙂

Honestly, I was kind of disappointed that I didn’t get to counsel this year, but now I see that this is where God wanted me to be. (Gaye: Let me insert here that Abigail’s application got lost.  When she didn’t hear back from the camp, she called them.  They found her application, but by that time all the counseling positions had already been filled.)  And I love it so much, I might want to do it next year!

During staff training week, there was a fantastic message about pride and humility. A few things that stuck out to me were, “If you aren’t willing to serve in the shadows, you’re not really a servant at all.” He also talked about how God is very jealous for His glory. He won’t use someone who thinks they have it all together and thinks they can do it, because when they succeed, they will take credit for it. God uses people who KNOW they can’t do it, because then they will easily deflect praise back to God.

Humble people recognize that they need God’s help, and know they could have never done (blank) on their own. Something he said in the message was “there is scarcely any limit to how God will work through a man who will not try to steal his glory.”

So…. I think deep down, I really thought I was completely capable of counseling this summer. I have gone to church my whole life, I know my Bible, I came to camp here, and my sister worked here. I SHOULD have been a counselor!

But, God knew better. He knew I needed to learn how to be a servant. Not to be seen by anybody. I’m learning how fun it is to do nice things and extra things (when I’m not “working”) without people noticing. It really does bring joy.
You don’t have to think about if it’s important or not. You just have to do it to the best of your ability for GOD. I will gladly leave the counseling to people who know they can’t counsel in their own strength.

As I continue to work here, I’m realizing just how unworthy I am to point anyone to Christ. Last night I gave devotions in my prayer partner cabin. I was talking
about keeping a desire for God. The more of Him you have, the more you WANT. I tried to use a familiar passage and most of the girls in the cabin knew it by heart and said it along with me. I chose Psalm 1. “But his DELIGHT is in the law of the LORD and in His law doeth he MEDITATE day and night.” Meditation is key to infiltrating God into every part of our life.

Joe Fant used this illustration in one of his sermons that I thought was really helpful. Think of your life like one of those plates that have dividers. You know, the ones with little compartments. I usually fill the biggest compartment with God in my morning Bible study, then I’ll check that off the list, and go fill the rest of the compartments with my “actual life.”

But instead of having God in the biggest compartment, and then having a compartment for work, family, and friends, I need to practice mixing my food like Anna does.  🙂  Have some Jesus with my peas compartment, have some Jesus in my potatoes. Stir it all up and mix it real good until Jesus is inseparably blended into every bite of my life.

And as I taught this devotional, I was thinking about how much I need to be reminded of this. Any time I say something snappy or have a wrong attitude towards a person or a job, or ANYTHING in my life that doesn’t look like Jesus, it’s because I’m not putting God first in my life.

A Christian shouldn’t have to “work” at being a better Christian. If we are really “walking in the Spirit” like Galatians talks about, it will flow naturally from us because it becomes WHO WE ARE. I want to BE a Christian. I want my natural instincts to look like Jesus, because I’m constantly marinating in God’s truth all day long.
I’m sorry that was so long. Not very “quick.” Nathan is here this week! I got to get some ice cream with him yesterday.  We have two picnic lunches every week. Those are probably my favorite because I get to see all the campers. The ones on my aisle are really sweet too. They always yell, “Thank you” at the end as we start clearing. I’ll try to keep updating you guys.     ~Abby

I hope you are as blessed by this as I am. (I know I’m partial being her mommy.) Thank you for allowing us to share our lives with you! God is good!

Keep looking up!

Gaye

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Abby and me. May 2016

And they shall be one flesh…

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David and Gaye 12-16-89

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)

What does this even mean?  Obviously, the man and woman do not morph into the same body. I think it means there is no longer a “mine and yours,” but everything becomes “ours.”  Instead of separately, the couple begins working as a team as they face life and work toward common goals.

David and I were twenty-six and twenty-five when we married.  We both had to wait longer than we would have liked.  Since we were separated by two states, our “dating” was via telephone lines.  We felt like God had made us for each other so after he popped the question, we wanted to make sure our marriage got off to the best possible start and was according to God’s plan.

We read and discussed many marriage books and we each drove three hours to meet for a counseling session once. By the time the wedding date rolled around, we thought we were marriage experts. Ha ha!

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Gaye and David 12-16-89

Although we both had a lot to learn, one thing that I thank God for is that I knew God’s purpose for me in marriage. I was made to be David’s helpmeet. This marriage wasn’t only about how it would benefit me. I went into the marriage with the purpose of helping David better accomplish God’s will in his life. I looked forward to serving him.

Later, when I didn’t always  feel like serving David, I tried to do it for God.  When I had a bad attitude, I tried to remember God’s design for authority recorded in Ephesians. By submitting to David, I was indirectly submitting to God.

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Because we had so much in common, I believe the thing that continued to surprise and frustrate David the most was how differently God made men and women in general. He would often ask aloud, Why did God have to make men and women so different?  For the longest time I thought if I could just find the right words, I could convince David to see things my way. (I think they call that nagging!) I finally realized it wasn’t my finding the magical words to persuade David that was needed. The solution was us asking God to show us what HE wanted and then us making the proper adjustments.

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One of the hardest things I ever did was leave our one year old babies and go off for a day and night to celebrate our wedding anniversaries.  As much as I enjoyed our time alone, it tore my heart out to leave the little ones.  But we wanted to make sure we didn’t end up being one of those couples who found themselves strangers when the kids left home. Those get-a-ways were like glue in our marriage. Those times always reminded us of why we got married in the first place.

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David and Gaye at A Weekend to Remember at Chattanooga, TN Oct. 25, 2014

I spent years trying to learn how to respect, submit, and honor David.  Practicing good communication was a constant challenge for both of us. Although we had a good marriage, in the fall of 2014, the recent trials of life (his cancer, my cancer, and our two daughters getting married all in the same year) had taken a toll on our relationship.

We felt overwhelmed and discouraged.  We knew we needed some spiritual encouragement as well as some help in our relationship.   We went to a Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference hosted by Family Life Today in October 2014 right before our 25th Wedding Anniversary (5 months before David went to Heaven).  It was humbling and hard to admit our failures, but we received a lot of practical help. I will be forever glad we went and thankful to God for how He worked in our hearts and for what He showed us that weekend!

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And above all things have fervent charity (love) among yourselves; for charity (love) shall cover the multitude of sins. (James 4:8)

Marriage is tough under the best of circumstances even when a Christian couple desires and is trying to follow God’s plan. Misunderstandings can happen so easily. Communication can be difficult.  If you have a problem that sends you on the merry-go-round for the thousandth time, please get outside help.

Don’t let pride stand in the way of getting the help you need. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been married a few months or 50 years, a relationship can always be improved if people are willing to make changes.

Proverbs 11:14 says, Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

You don’t have to be headed for divorce court before you see a counselor.  But don’t go to just anybody for advice!  There are good Christian counselors available. You need to make sure the counselor is going to steer you God’s way.

My prayer is that your marriage is all that God intended it to be. Keep working at your relationship. It is worth the effort!

Looking to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith,

Gaye