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

 

The Worst and Best Day!

bestdayeverlogoHow can the same event be the very worst day for one and the very best day for another?  I don’t like to be negative so I will elaborate on the BEST part instead of the worst.  Please bear with me. This story ends well!

The day my best friend/husband left for Heaven was the worst day of my life,  but remembering some facts from God’s Word that day helped me tremendously.

  • He was immediately in Heaven with Jesus. (We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:8)
  • He was no longer in pain. (And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Revelation 21:4)
  • I would see him again. (King David said this about his baby that died. I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me. 2 Samuel 12:23)

It has been 18 months since David left for Heaven. For the first several months as each “month anniversary” rolled around, I would get really sad reliving the events of that horrible day.

But at some point, instead of dwelling on MY feelings, I began thinking about what that day was like for David, as a Christ follower.

That’s when my whole perspective changed! The best I can understand from reading the Bible, I think these are some things that happened on that first day in Heaven for David.

  • I think David heard Jesus say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Matthew 25:21)
  • That was the day he was able to see his Savior, the lover of his soul,  face to face!
  • That’s the day all his problems ended…..forever!
  • That’s the day he felt pain for the last time!
  • That’s the last day he felt tired!
  • That’s the last day he needed a clock!
  • That’s the day he was able to look into Jesus’ eyes, fall at His feet, and thank Him for dying for him!
  • That’s the day he got to hug Jesus!
  • That’s the day he saw his father and friends that he had been missing for so long!
  • That’s the day he REALLY worshiped God uninhibited by his sinful nature or the distractions of this world!
  • That’s the day he entered a place that will never know darkness because Jesus Christ is the light!
  • That’s the day he walked on streets of gold and toured his mansion!
  • That’s the day his faith became sight!
  • That’s the day he sang with the angels and other saints! (As a song leader at church he often talked about how wonderful it would be to sing in heaven.)
  • That’s the day he got all his questions answered! (He was an engineer always wondering about something and searching for answers.)
  • That’s the day he become fully satisfied! (I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness. Psalm 17:15)
  • That’s the day he quit reading the Word (Bible) because he was with The Word (Jesus)! (In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1)
  • That day was precious to God. (Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints. Psalm 116:15)
  • That’s the day he entered his eternal home…the place he was made to dwell forever with God!

If you have had a loved one leave this world and he/she was a new creature in Christ because they had repented of their sins, trusted in Jesus for their salvation, and publically confessed Jesus as Lord of their life, you can be encouraged by this!

Our loved ones leaving this life can be the worst day for us who are left behind, but the very best for them as they are entering Heaven.  It’s not that our loved ones wanted to leave us, but God called them home.  As we think of what they are now enjoying, it eases our pain of missing them. And we can look forward to a wonderfully, exciting, endless day with them if we have trusted Christ as our Savior!

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)

Keep looking up!

Gaye Hughes

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Unseen but still there!

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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 husband. When I conveyed this to my pastor he said, Yes, they are precious people. I liked the way he used the present tense because we understand she is more alive now than she ever has been and is even sweeter because she bears the likeness of Christ.

tumblr_ly7sauhKoz1r9ebn2o1_1280After the doctors told my husband he probably had less than a year to live, he thought a lot about the dying process. He wasn’t afraid to die because he placed his trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ…his death, burial, and resurrection and he claimed the promises in God’s Word, the Bible. He had no trouble believing the Bible because he had seen and felt God work in his own life…changing, teaching and leading him as only God could.

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Gaye and David February 2013

However, he was concerned about the suffering he might have to endure before he died.  But he often said he believed leaving this life was as simple as walking through a door or going to sleep. Interestingly enough, he passed in his sleep, just the way he had hoped.  When you’re tired at night, he would say,  you fall asleep and wake up the next morning.  You can’t remember the exact moment you fell asleep, but you know you did. Then you wake up to find it’s morning. I think that is the way it is when a Christian dies. You go to sleep and wake up in glory. Your faith may be good enough to live with, but is it good enough to die with? David’s was.

I have come to believe the only thing that separates us from heaven is a veil. Eternity is not confined by time or space.  I believe there is a wonderful other world just beyond the skies and if we could only see it, we would live SO differently.  We wouldn’t get upset or discouraged about things that don’t really matter.  We would live life more intentionally because we would realize how temporal this life really is. We wouldn’t be so sad when our loved ones left, because we could see how marvelously overjoyed they are now in God’s presence.

hebrews_11_1_by_blossomcloud-d5r58u9But we can’t see. So we must have faith and keep an eternal perspective.  Hebrews 11:1 defines faith.  Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6) Does our unbelief make God sad? I hope not, but it probably does. I say, like the father in Mark 9:24 said, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

May we be as persuaded by the things we can’t see as we are by the things we can see!

Keep looking up!

Gaye Hughes

 

 

 

Does Anyone Understand? YES!!!

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After David was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at age 47 in November of 2010, I tried to empathize the best I could as he went through surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Our world had turned completely upside down and I was struggling to process this disease and all the ramifications of it.  I was trying to help him in his battle with cancer while feeling like I was waging my own emotional battle.

Then, three years later, I was sitting in the chemo chair after being diagnosed with breast cancer. I was finally able to experience some of those same effects he had been dealing with physically, psychologically, and emotionally.  Now I could better empathize with my husband and the other patients in the treatment room. There is something very special about talking with someone who has been where you are.  A bond is formed when you know they can relate to what you are going through.

This is what Jesus has done for us.  He left heaven and came to  earth to experience the things we live through in this life…love, joy, hope, but also pain, sorrow, rejection, and suffering.  If He had not, I think we would feel disconnected from Him and doubt that He truly understands how we feel.

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12-12-15 I had a front row seat at my niece’s recital! (Faith Flippen is in the center.) Watching it on television would not have been nearly as special.

I think about the difference between seeing a game or concert on television verses experiencing it first hand.  There is a huge difference! Yes, God has always and will always know everything about us, but Jesus left heaven to experience and feel what we feel.  What a gift!

Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in ALL points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly (confidently) unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace  to help in time of need.”

He understands what we are going through because He also lived here. You may say, “Well, He certainly has never been rejected by ______________ (fill in the blank).”  Well, I beg to differ.

Matthew 25:40 says, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” 

This passage is talking about when we help others, it is just like helping Jesus.  Wouldn’t it stand to reason that when we hurt others, it is just like hurting Jesus?  And when we are hurt, He is hurt? He feels our pain.

I John 4:20, 21 tells us, “If any man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”

When people aren’t loving us, they aren’t loving God either. He knows how we feel.  The same people that offend, reject, or hurt us are doing the same thing to God.  We cannot have a good relationship with God in heaven while having bad relationships on earth.

Jesus didn’t have a home for much of His life on earth (Matthew 8:20), yet He is preparing mansions for those who believe in Him (John 14:2).  He felt hunger (Matthew 4:2), yet He called Himself the Bread of Life and said we didn’t have to know spiritual hunger.

In John 6:33-35 Jesus said, “…my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.  For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world… I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”

Jesus was referring to us never being spiritually unfulfilled if we put our trust in Him….something much more important that physical food.

He suffered physically. He took the ultimate beating for you and me to pay for our sins.  Isaiah 52:14 says, “As many were astonished at thee; his visage (appearance) was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:” He was then crucified for the sins of the world.  “But God commendeth (demonstrated) his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Yes, Jesus definitely knew physical pain!

Jesus chose to leave His home in heaven where He had always been worshiped by the angels and given the honor He deserved, to be born here on earth to be “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3)

In Matthew 23:37 Jesus says, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and you would not!” He knows the pain of rejection.

So knowing all this, we can confidently talk to God about any problem we have and know He relates and can understand what we are going through. Psalm 139  is one of my favorite Bible passages. It describes in detail God’s great love for us.

As Christmas draws near, may we draw close to not only this Saviour of the world, but a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24)

Have yourself a Merry little Christmas!

Gaye Hughes

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Where Do You Stand?

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I was at the event, One Day of Hope, in Manchester, Tennessee. This is a yearly event where the surrounding churches come together to provide for many needs in the community. Medical and dental services are provided along with lots of clothes, bags of groceries, hair cuts, family photos, hot meals, etc. and everything is free. It is such a blessing to see so many various churches work together to show God’s love to others.

The volunteers began working a few hours before the recipients arrived to make preparations. I noticed a line started forming outside the gate an hour before the doors were scheduled to open. It occurred to me that the only thing that separated those receiving from those giving was a chain length fence.

I thought of a few of the thousands of possible reasons why one person would be on one side of the fence verses the other side. It could be as simple as the family one was born into. Maybe it was a job opportunity afforded verses one that was not. It could be the result of a critical decision.

I was humbled to have the privilege to be on the giving side of the fence today. It has been no merit of my own. God has abundantly blessed me much more than I could ever deserve.  The Creator of the universe has extended grace and mercy to me when I have acted foolishly and not sought His will as I should have.

I could easily find myself on the other side of the fence next year. This life is full of uncertainties. But whichever side of the fence we find ourselves on, we can count on God’s promises. One of them is found in Philippians 4:19 which says,

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ

Jesus.

Also, more important than which side of the fence we are on is where we stand in our relationship with God. Are we depending on Him or what we have? Are we trusting in our Savior or our riches? Are we content and thankful for what we have or always wanting more? Do we love our things, more than we love God? What or Who do we spend most of our time thinking about?

May we whole-heartedly make King David’s prayer in Psalm 19:14 our own.

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

“I can do this if I know there is an end!”

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David, Bethany (age 16), and I ran our first half marathon in Lynchburg, TN in April 2010. Bethany won first place among the girls in her age group. David and I just survived.

                                                                                                                                    My friend asked me to join her and several others who are trying to get in better physical shape. The goal for this ten weeks of training is to be able to run 3 miles without stopping. As we were driving to the park I reminded my friend that the only reason I was going, was to be with her. Yes, she is that fun!

Kathy and I after running the Huntsville Half in November 2010

My dear friend and running buddy, Kathy, and I after running the Huntsville Half in November 2010

I used to enjoy running, but I’ve just gotten out of the habit of it. However, I found myself getting excited as we started warming up with a walk around the parking lot. We then did some stretching exercises. After we divided up into small groups with a leader to help us maintain a good pace, we began jogging. We would run for a few minutes and then walk some. Listening in on different conversations distracted me as my legs were yelling, “Ok, will you please walk now!”. I realized that although I was enjoying doing this with a group, I would not be motivated to do it alone. When it began to be uncomfortable, I would have started walking had I been alone.

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David had been through surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation for pancreatic cancer. Two years later we ran the Deer Run in December 2012. I was overjoyed and thanking God that day to complete this race with David after all that he had been through.

After about 45 minutes of running and walking, I heard a lady say, “I can do this if I know there is an end.” Instantly, my mind started analyzing that statement. What is the importance of knowing there is an end? When the going gets tough, we can remember the finish line and know relief is coming!

When Jesus was on the cross,

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.

Jesus was suffering great agony on the cross for our benefit. He was paying for the sins of the whole world so all repentant believers could live forever with him. He looked beyond his suffering to the time that he would be joyfully enjoying being in the presence of his father once again.

This is a tool we can use to help us through hard times. When we are suffering physical or emotional pain, we can remember that there is an end!  For believers we have a bright, happy future ahead! We can look forward to eternity in heaven with Jesus where there is no pain, suffering, or death ever again. This gives us the strength to keep going when life gets hard. What a blessed hope we have!

Running the race,

Gaye Hughes