Sharing is Caring!

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Mrs. Muse teaching, “The Hokey Pokey”

I have been working/playing as a preschool teacher for two and three year old children for a few weeks at Muse Montessori. Although I feel like I’m exactly where the Lord wants me and it’s been a lot of fun, it has had its challenges as well.

 

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Mrs. Ashlee reading a book to those great listeners!

For many of these children, it is the first time they have been away from their mommies for any length of time. We are teaching them to independently choose educational toys in the room, finish the “work,” and then place it back on the shelf before beginning another project. The first week was a little chaotic as they were learning this, but they have quickly learned to keep the room neat now.

Many are still learning to follow directions, exercise self-control, share with others, walk in a line, talk quietly, ask nicely, ask forgiveness as well as accept it, and go to the potty independently. I am amazed at the progress of these children in just three short weeks! Not only are they learning important life skills, they are soaking up reading and math concepts.

The first week I was hearing a lot of, “MINE!” There were also some outburst when the desired object wasn’t obtained. The first days were sprinkled with lots of the typical two year old behaviors of grabbing, pouting, pushing, and talking while I was teaching.

Lest you think I have six little brats on my hands, let me be the first to clear up this misunderstanding!  These children are some of the sweetest, most intelligent, loving, well-behaved children I have ever met.  I get lots of smiles, hugs, and kisses in the three hours I am with them Monday through Thursday. They kiss each others boo boos and often sweetly ask another child to play with them. Unfortunately though, like the rest of us, they were still born with a sin nature that needs to be tamed in order to please their creator.

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There are four boys in my class so I decided to take some of my son’s little toy John Deere tractors, dump trucks, and backhoes (that he hasn’t played with in ten or more years) to class. This one little guy had the hardest time sharing the dump truck.  Within minutes of introducing the toys, I heard, “NO! That’s MY dump truck!  You can’t have it!” I knelt down and calmly explained, “___Name__, this is not your dump truck.  This is Mrs. Gaye’s dump truck. I am sharing with you by letting you play with it.  If I didn’t share with you, you wouldn’t be enjoying it right now. Since I am sharing with you, you need to share with ___Name__.”

As the words were leaving my mouth, a few Bible verses came to my mind.

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It dawned on me that not only was this little boy needing to learn a lesson, Mrs. Gaye needed to be reminded of what Jesus expects too.  And once again I was reminded that I don’t “own” anything.  Every thing I have, my family and every other thing I enjoy in this life, is a gift from God that I do not deserve. Therefore,  I need to hold these people and things lightly and surrender them to the real owner, God.

This little guy and I had similar conversations several times over the next few days.  Then it happened! On about Day 4, with a furrowed brow, he cried out, “Mrs. Gaye! __Name__ has my……. And suddenly, he stopped mid-sentence, flashed me the sweetest smile ever, and said, “…Mrs. Gaye’s dump truck.” Then he turned and walked away to get another toy. I felt like dancing a jig right then and there! I told him how proud I was of him. And he was able to experience the wonderful joy of denying himself and loving his friend. It was an awesome moment.

This is exactly what Jesus calls us to do all throughout every day of our lives. May we experience joy, peace, and wonderful relationships as we obey His commands.

Gaye Hughes

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Why Make a Resolution?

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There is something very refreshing and forgiving about new beginnings.  This new year, new month, new day provides opportunities for positive change.  I messed up yesterday, but today I have a chance to do it better….to smile more, to gossip less, to lend a helping hand, to visit the sick, to be an encouragement to someone.

Are you hesitant about making a New Year’s resolution because too many times you’ve already blown it on the third day?  Or maybe I’m the only one who has that history.  But there is always hope with Jesus! Here is why I’ll be making some resolutions today.

  • God will give me multiple chances

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. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. (Lamentations 3, 22, 23)

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Sunrise on Jesus’ birthday- 12-25-2015

God knows I’m going to blow it today. He knows I’m weak. He knows I’m needy. He knows I don’t have what it takes to defeat the devil and overcome temptation to sin. He knows. So He provided a way out for me.  When I confessed my sin and need for Him, He forgave me and sent the Holy Spirit to live within me and convict me of the sin I would commit in the future.  And He keeps on doing that for me.  He not only forgives me, He forgets those confessed sins!

  • God will forgive me when I fail

If we confess our sins, he (God) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)

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Chetola Resort- Blowing Rock, NC

  • God will not hold my failure against me or remind me of it

He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy (loving kindness) toward them that fear him.  As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:10-12)

If you head east, you keep going east. It’s the same if you head west, you continue to go west. East and west never meet. What a great analogy used to describe what God does with confessed sin of the repentant! So if God does that with our sin, shouldn’t we do the same? It will do me no good to dwell on the sin I committed yesterday. I need to learn from it and do better today.

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So God is faithful to give me His  love and mercy new and fresh every day to cover my messes and I don’t even have to wait until tomorrow to try again!  When He is asked to forgive, He doesn’t sit around and think about if I deserve it or if He’s feeling up to it. He forgives me…. instantly! I can start over the next minute! And since He has forgiven and forgotten, I need to forgive myself and forget too!

The apostle Paul asked in Romans 6:1,2 if we should just sin away so God’s grace can be freely given. Of course not! This great love and forgiveness makes me love God all the more. I want to please Him. It sure is nice to know God’s forgiveness and grace is there for us when we need it. This great love and forgiveness makes me love and want to please God more. That gives me confidence and courage to step out and try to do better again and again and again.

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And while we’re making those resolutions, let’s not only try to eat healthier and exercise more.  Let’s try to draw closer to God by reading our Bibles more intentionally, praying more earnestly, loving more deeply, living more selflessly,  prioritize our time more wisely,  and serving others more willingly.  And when we mess up, let’s be quick to repent, receive God’s forgiveness, and have the courage to begin again!  May this new year bring you bountiful blessings from above!

A very Happy New Year to you!

Gaye Hughes

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Blue Ridge Parkway, NC December 2015

 

 

 

My Rose Bush and Root of Bitterness

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It was such a pretty sunny day, so I went out to work in my flowerbeds.  A rose bush had recently died so I began to dig it up. It had been there a long time so the roots were large and ran deep into the ground.  It took about forty-five minutes before I got the last root out.

For any of you who might be thinking too highly of me, this post will reveal my wicked heart.  I’m pulling back the curtain on this one.  I may even lose some friends, but my purpose in these posts is to share what God is teaching me and to help  encourage others in their walk with God.  Sin keeps us from having a close relationship with our Saviour. If the exposure of my sin in this post helps even one person draw closer to God, then my mission is accomplished.

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I stand amazed at how God gently leads me along.  The next day after uprooting that stubborn rose bush root,  I listened to a sermon by Adrian Rogers about the root of bitterness. God had prepared my heart to hear what I needed to take the next step toward Him.  I would like to share with you some of the points Adrian Rogers made. This man was such a gifted speaker and as he explained the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit convicted me of the sin of bitterness. This sin is easy to deny and justify.

Bitterness begins with a hurt, that is the seed.  Instead of forgiveness being applied right away, that hurt is harbored in the heart. The heart represents the soil. When the hurt is mulled over and thought about, wrath is born. The Webster’s Dictionary defines wrath as, retributory punishment for an offense. A bitter person wants to see justice done now.

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Next, Anger is expressed. It may come in the form of sarcasm or it may not be  as obvious and display itself in a cool, aloof manner.  There is tension in the relationship. It may feel like an invisible wall is blocking honesty and freedom in the relationship. Anger easily arises around the person we are bitter against. I avoided this person when I could.

Clamor usually shows up eventually. This is when the feelings from the heart start emerging from the mouth.  Loudly insistent is one way of putting it. Usually the tone and volume changes when we talk to the person that has hurt us.

Ephesians 4: 29 says, Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

Evil Speaking is the fruit of a bad root of bitterness. I noticed I talked negatively about this person a lot.

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Ephesians 4:30 goes on to say, And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking , be put away from you, with all malice: 

I think God warns us about bitterness about we can easily be bitter and not realize it. The root is unseen.  But when some of the fruit that has been listed above starts ripening and emerging, we need to dig that root out quickly! Now that I think about it,  I think I have harbored bitterness for years.

Peace and holiness are linked together.  We can’t be holy and our relationship with God be all it should be while having bad relationships with others. Our love for God  can be measured by the level of love we are showing to others.

Hebrews 12:15 says, Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no men (or women) shall see the Lord:  Looking diligently lest any man fail (fall short) of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

Application:  We need to…

  • strive for peace with others
  • strive for holiness so we will see God
  • Be diligent to receive God’s grace

SO… bitterness will not spring up and trouble us AND defile many others.

As I was digging the rose bush root up, there was a lot of Bermuda grass.  A sprig of this grass will root easily thereby, making it almost impossible to keep out of my flowerbeds.  I think bitterness is the same way. If I’m not careful, even when I think I’ve gotten rid of the last of my bitterness, at the next offense from this person, it could easily spring back up. God says to diligently look for it!

Did you notice my bitterness doesn’t just affect me. It contaminates those I’m around.  When I’m talking bad about that person to others, I’m lowering their view of that person I’m talking about and may cause them to be critical or bitter too. My children have asked me, “Mommy, why do you always assume the worst of_____________?”

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Visiting New York City May, 4, 2008

Now, let’s look at the SOLUTION for digging that root of bitterness out!

1- Let God reveal it to you.

As I listened to this sermon, a certain face and name appeared in my mind.  The Holy Spirit showed me my bitterness toward this person. We can’t see our sin without God’s help. God surely showed me the strong root of bitterness growing in my heart.

2-Let God’s grace remove it.

It takes 2 to forgive…God and me.  I can’t forgive on my own.  I have to have God’s help. It is only by God’s grace that I even have the desire to change and I need His grace of forgiveness for my sin of bitterness. When God forgives me, then I am able to forgive the one who has offended me.  We are on the same hook with our offender. Only when we let them go,  are we made free.  With tears, I begged God to forgive me and take away all the roots of bitterness that had been secretly flourishing in my heart.  Then, like a spring rain, my heart felt cleansed and new again.

3- Let good replace the bitterness.

After God reveals our root of bitterness and we confess it and ask for His forgiveness, He removes it and that allows us to extend grace and forgiveness to our offender.

After suffering in a prison camp, Corrie ten Boom found herself in front of the man who had been her worst offender during the war.  He had become a Christian and was asking for her forgiveness.  She later said, “The will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”  So against her will she woodenly reached out to shake his hand.  As she did, she miraculously felt God’s peace flow over her whole body.

We can extend grace and forgiveness regardless of how we are feeling, but through the obedience to His word, He will give us freedom to love others as He has loved us.

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A beautiful Tennessee day in May 2008

So there’s my ugly. I hope this has been a help to you. Please feel free to share this with others. Psalm 139:23, 24 are such good verses.  They are a prayer from David, the shepherd boy who was a man after God’s own heart.

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:  And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

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11-29-2015

 

 

 

 

I’m sorry…..again

Nathan, Gaye, Abigail April 2015

When Abigail came home from work she was once again frustrated that her brother hadn’t left a note telling her where he was.  I was visiting with family and she had asked him to let her know if he decided to do something with his friend.  Although she could probably confirm his location with one phone call, she was perturbed that he hadn’t done as she asked.  “He always says he forgot and apologizes, but if he really meant it, why doesn’t he change?” Abigail vented to me. It was a reasonable question.

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Nathan and Abigail 2015

Does God ever feels that way about me?  When I come to Him for the hundredth or thousandth time asking forgiveness for a sin, I wonder if God says,  “Again? Really? How many times are you going to blow it, Gaye? Will you ever learn?”  Surely this gets old to Him.  It does to me.  Jesus died for my sin and through His resurrection He has given me the  power to be victorious over my sin.  But here I am yet again.

Thankfully, God is infinitely more patient than I will ever be! He is longsuffering and He remembers I am made of dust. And He does want me to come to Him every single time I’ve blown it. This is why sinless Jesus had to die for my sin.  Because I could never live up to my righteous God’s standards.

Psalm 103: 8-13 says,

The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy, He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sin; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.  For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.  As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.  Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.

But if I am really sorry, why am I not changing?  Could it be that I don’t hate my sin enough to do what it takes to change?  I vividly remember often crying myself to sleep as a young mother of three little girls under the ages of 3 1/2 as I thought about the events of the day.  I was too impatient, too snappy with my responses, too upset about the many spilled drinks, too tired…… too stressed to enjoy these precious moments with my little ones.

I would pray and ask God to forgive me. I vowed to do better the next day. More often than not, the next day was a repeat of the day before.

I memorized Bible verses like these.

Proverbs 16:32 He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.

and Matthew 18:6 Whoso therefore shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him (or her!) that a millstone were hanged about his (her) neck, and that he (she) were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Romans 5:3 says tribulation works patience. I’m not sure if I finally had enough tribulation to make me patient or if the pressures of life eased up enough that my impatience wasn’t as obvious, but one day I noticed I wasn’t flying off the handle as often.  Although I have often been tempted to quit, with Jesus’ help I keep trying to do better.  Even though I have a natural bent to be impatient, I know with Jesus’ help, I can be an overcomer.

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. (Romans 8:37)

The point is, my battle with sin has been a real struggle…something I won’t be rid of until I can lay this body of flesh down to enter into Jesus’ presence in heaven.  But thankfully, I serve a loving, patient God that understands me and loves me anyway.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

P.S. I would love to hear about how the Lord has helped you with your struggles. I’m sure it would be a blessing to others reading this too.  Please share with us!

To Forgive or not forgive?

 

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Abigail, Bethany, and Anna August 2011

 

Relationships…you can’t get away from them and you wouldn’t want to if you could…in most cases. But what about those hard cases that take way more emotional energy than the personal benefits received?

I have often wondered why some people make me feel like an angel while others make me feel like the devil himself. I am the same person.  Sometimes I feel the horns begin to poke out of my head while around some people.  Just when I begin to think I might be a decent person,  I’m appalled at my impatience, the anger that so quickly and easily arises, and the sarcasm that would love to leap from my tongue. Isn’t it strange? I hope I’m not alone here, but at the same time, I sincerely hope I am.

I have spent hours, days, months, and sometimes years pondering the mysteries of some of my relationships and why they are so complicated. I’ve tried to dig down to the root of this problem for much longer than I’d like to admit.  It is humbling that I haven’t been able to come up with better answers more quickly.

Although I have some answers, I’ve concluded that the reason this is so complex is because there are a lot of variables. God’s creativity in the thousands of different personalities is mind boggling to me.  A person’s environment can vary tremendously and who can say what effect that has on us. Then you must consider past hurts and offenses, emotional childhood scars of others and the more obvious components of pride, selfishness, manipulation and control factors.

I’ve read several books over the years trying to understand this phenomenon. The world advises us to write people off when  they are making life too inconvenient.  They are baggage we don’t need when life is tough enough on the best of days. Have you been tempted to end relationships like this? I have. Have you had “friends” that just want to use you as a sounding board to vent their problems and never care to make changes to improve their relationships, much less ask you how you are doing? I have. And I’m sure I’ve been guilty of acting just as selfishly with others.

As Christians do we even have the option of giving up on people?  And what exactly does that even mean? I believe it is refusing to forgive them. When I’ve been tempted to write someone off it was because I felt like they had just gone too far in offending me or it had happened one too many times. In essence, I just did not want to forgive them.

In Matthew 18:21-22 Peter asked Jesus how many times must he forgive a brother that offended him. Peter thought seven times should be enough. (I can SO relate!) But Jesus came back with an answer I’m sure Peter didn’t like. Jesus said 490 times! I think the point Jesus was making that we should forgive every time and not keep a record of them. (I Corinthians 13 talks about not keeping a record of offenses.)

This is one of those tough commandments of Jesus where the rubber really meets the road in life. It separates the believers from the Christ followers. It helps us realize how serious we are about living out our faith.

When you read these passages of Scripture you will notice is doesn’t mention if the offender asks for forgiveness or is repentant.   Does that matter?  Well, it sure makes a huge difference if you are the one being offended! How many times would you gladly forgive if the person would humbly come to you, apologize for his actions, and ask forgiveness? That makes a HUGE difference! But we all know people who rarely if ever do that.  And some are so prideful and self-centered they never think they are at fault.  But as believers, we need to forgive them anyway and let God take care of correcting them.

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine;  I will repay, saith the Lord. (Romans 12:19)

Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee. (Proverbs 20:22)

To me belongeth vengeance, and recompense; their foot shall slide in due time:  for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste. (Deuteronomy 32:35)

But before we get too excited about God punishing them for offending us, let’s remind ourselves of what Proverbs 24:17,18.

Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.

Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 5:46 and 47 that if they just love those who love them, they aren’t any better than the tax collectors of the day. If we are Christ followers, our relationships should be better than the average ones in our society.

And if none of these can persuade or motivate us to forgive when we’ve been offended, Jesus seals the deal in Matthew 6:14, 15.

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

We can’t control what others say and do or how they respond to our apologies.  And we won’t have to give an account for them.  But we can control our responses and we will stand before God one day and give an account of our actions and responses.  That is a sobering thought and one that should motivate us to live by the book…God’s book, the Holy Bible.

Sometimes I think it is wise to put some distance between ourselves and people who habitually sin against others in their words and actions. However, for myself, the problem has never been abuse as much as my own pride and unwillingness to forgive. I Corinthians 13:4-8 tells us what real love looks like.

Love…

  •  suffers long with people
  • is kind
  • is patient
  • doesn’t brag
  • isn’t arrogant
  • isn’t rude
  • isn’t selfish
  • isn’t easily provoked
  • thinks the best of others
  • isn’t happy about sin
  • rejoices in the truth
  • bears all things
  • believes all things
  • hopes all things
  • endures all things
  • it never fails

I’d like to hear your thoughts  on this blog. When you write a comment, it will ask for your email address so I can approve it. I will be watching my email closely to do that so your comments will appear.

I hope you have a blessed day and that your relationships blossom!

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

P.S.  Here are a few books that have helped me…

Living Successfully with Screwed-Up People by Elizabeth B. Brown

People Can’t Drive You Crazy if You Don’t Give Them the Keys by Mike Bechtle