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

 

I Am?

left to right: Ashlee Bitton (4 yr. old teacher), Megan Smith (2 yr. old teacher), Me (phonics teacher for 2 & 3 yr. olds), Teena Anders (2 yr. old teacher), Alyx (4 yr. old teacher), Andrea Muse (owner and 4 yr. old phonics teacher), Brooke Eggleston (2 yr. old teacher).

I usually work as a phonics teacher at Muse Montessori, but I also substitute when a teacher is absent. Last week we had an unusual number of teachers absent due to sickness so each day I received a text asking, “Can you ‘be’ (name of teacher that was absent) today?”

We have exceptional teachers and they each bring their unique talents to the classroom. I gave up a long time ago trying to “be” them.  My boss doesn’t expect that. She just asks me to be me.

But one day it dawned on me, No matter who I’m asked to “be” today, as a Christian, God always asks me to be like Jesus. That means being loving, kind, patient, understanding, tender-hearted, and forgiving. It’s a tall order!  And just like I can’t “be” one of the teachers, I certainly can’t “be” Jesus….without His help.  But with His help, I can be what I need to be for these children.

My name means happy, keenly alive and exuberant. Although I’ve often failed miserably, I have tried to live up to my name. In Bible times, a name often signified a part of the person’s character.  That is one reason God changed people’s names.  He changed Abram’s name to Abraham, meaning the father of many nations.  He changed Sarai (meaning contentious) to Sarah (meaning Princess). He changed Jacob’s name to Israel (meaning wrestler with God).

Although it seemed God had a deaf ear to the Israelites crying out 400 years for God to deliver them from slavery in Egypt, that was far from true. God had seen their oppression and heard their cries for help. (Exodus 3:9) He appeared to Moses and told him He would use him to deliver them.  Then Moses asked an interesting question and the answer was even more bizarre.

And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you: and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?

And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM; and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

Did you notice that God repeated Himself?  He obviously wanted to make sure there was no misunderstanding about His name. There is so much in the Bible that I don’t understand and many things are confusing to me, but there are other things, as in this case, where God leaves no doubt whatsoever what He means!

Have you ever wondered about the name/title God gave Himself here?  I sure have! How odd! What kind of name is this? It seems left unfinished.  I am… what? Why didn’t God say, I am Deliverer? I am Salvation. I am Savior. Why just…I AM?

In the Hebrew, I AM implies absolute self-existence and action. This is God’s promise to redeem His people. If God had used a single characteristic of Himself, maybe our little, finite minds couldn’t think outside the box. But God left this wide open as if we can fill in the blank! He is not only an active God that keeps His promises, He is our healer when we are sick.  He is our comforter when we mourn and are sad.  He is our peace when we are anxious.  He is our refuge when we are overwhelmed.  He is our rock when life wipes us off our feet. He is our provider when we’ve lost everything in this world. When we are afraid, He is our tower we run into and hide. He is our friend who will never fail or forsake us.

 

Then several years later, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and said, She (Mary) shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)The name explains His purpose in coming.

 

 Later Jesus said,  I am the bread of life (John 6:48).  I am the light of the world (John 8:12). I am the door (John 10:7).  I am the good shepherd (John 10:14). I am the resurrection and the life (John 11:25). I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). I am the true vine (John 15:1).

He is every single thing we ever need Him to be! Psalm 9:10 says, And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. When we know and understand God’s name, we know and understand Him.  To know Him is to love Him. And when we know and understand Him, we will put our trust in Him.  I challenge you to join me in dipping into God’s deep reservoir of riches. Let’s get to know God better!

Keep looking up!

Gaye Hughes

 

 

Foot Washing and Serving Others

779a4245177aa68266dde9a8ddac57e0servingThis particular worship service in November was such blessing to me. After singing some songs and hearing a good sermon on Psalm 7, we observed communion and foot washing. Because Jesus became Lord of my life at age 8, I’ve participated in communion most of my life, but it wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I witnessed and  participated in the physical worship of foot washing.

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For those of you who have never had the joy of participating in a foot washing service, I’d like to explain how we do it in our church.  The ladies sit on one side of the church and wash another lady’s feet in a basin of warm water and then dries their feet with a towel. We then switch places.  The men do the same on the other side of the church.

 

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The first time I participated in a foot washing service, I was surprised by the fact that I had no qualms about washing other’s feet, but it was very humbling to sit while someone washed my feet!  Like the Apostle Peter, everything in me wanted to scream, No! That’s ok.  You really don’t need to do that.  (That was my pride speaking.)  It was much easier for me to serve than to be served and it took lots less humility!

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The point of this service is to remind us why we are here on this earth….to serve others!  Jesus was the perfect example of this.  He lived a sinless life on this earth, loving and serving others constantly.  After He washed His disciples’ feet, He said, If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. (John 13:17) Whether you believe He meant for foot washing to be practiced literally or He was just setting another example, I think we would all agree Jesus was very clear about the necessity of us loving and serving others….not solely for the purpose of our happiness, although this is a byproduct.

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As my dear friend bowed to wash my feet, it was easy to imagine it was Jesus. This question came to mind.  Why? Why would He, the king of the universe, even care about me much less come to earth to live and die for me? Why would He bow to serve ME?  Love.  That’s why He came. And He would have done it even if you or I were the only one here.  I believe that. It is still hard to wrap my mind around that fact though. If He was willing to humble Himself and serve me, then I should do no less for my fellowman.

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There is always such a sweet spirit in our church after we have bowed and washed feet.  There are many tears of joy, lots of hugs, and many smiles.

 

 

When we serve others, we find that somehow our own needs get met in the process. I can personally attest to this fact. During some of the darkest days of my life, I felt like I was literally walking through the valley of the shadow of death.  One of the things that got me through was believing God had left me on this earth to make a positive difference in someone’s life. I clung to the promise in Proverbs 11:25. (The verse mentioned in the picture.) I selfishly sought to serve others just to survive. Although my motive wasn’t the best, it worked.

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Michael Card wrote and sings a beautiful song titled, The Basin and the Towel.  Please take a moment to listen. May you be blessed as you serve others today!

Bowing the knee,

Gaye Hughes

 

 

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.

John13_34love others because I have loved you      flat550x550075f_u2forgive others

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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Perfect Peace

l-97608As my eyes opened yesterday morning before the alarm sounded, thoughts immediately rushed into my head. I thought of my friend having serious back surgery this day. I was to be at a new job in a few hours…the first time working outside my home in twenty-seven years. I had just gotten news that my grandbaby needed to do an acrobatic flip inside the womb of my daughter pretty quickly as his quarters were getting more cramped by the day. This day I was to hear the extent of my son’s knee injury.

I was anxious.  I began talking to my Father (God) about these things.  As I asked God to please guide the doctor’s hands during the surgery of my friend and give her and her family peace, I remembered all the many miracles Jesus performed while on this earth and how He continues to heal the sick. He is the Great Physician.

As I prayed about the new job, I thought about how God had prepared me in several ways throughout my life for this preschool teaching job. I began teaching Sunday School to children only a few years younger than myself at age 13. I homeschooled my four children (and still are) for the past twenty-four years. I’ve taught Junior church and Sunday School for years. I gained some confidence as I thought about how God has faithfully directed my steps over the years.

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Concerning my grandbaby, God has been busy forming him in the womb for several months now. He knows all about his character, personality, physical traits, and has grand plans for his life. God loves him much more than even his parents and I do. He is holding this little one in His very capable hands even as I write this.

Nathan has been uncomfortable for close to two weeks with his bum knee. He has learned to better sympathize with those you can’t get around easily.  He longs to run again. He has a greater appreciation for good health.  We’ve had to wait for test results and possible surgery for several days. I asked God to work out the details about getting him on the road to healing quickly. As I talked to God about this situation, my worries began to fade as I thought about all the other times He had come through for me at the last minute.

When I called to get an appointment yesterday (Tuesday), the nurse said she could see us next Monday. I began to plead, My son has been on crutches for twelve days and is uncomfortable.  We really need to get something done. Is there any way you can see him before then?  She told me the doctor was booked, but she would see what she could do and for me to hold.  I began to earnestly ask God to intervene and get me an appointment in the afternoon so I wouldn’t have to ask off work.

She came back on the line and said, Can you be here tomorrow at two?

YES!!! Praise the Lord! Thank you SO much! was my response.

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It is easy for me to take my burdens to my God whom I know longs to hear from me.  As I begin to pray, I envision myself bowing before Jesus’ feet. I see the love in His eyes. I’m empowered as I think about HIS power to change anything and everything. I believe He is for me and has good plans for me. The challenge is to leave my cares with Him and not pick them back up when I walk away.

Sadly, it’s only been in the last months that I think I’m learning what it means to truly rest and hide in Jesus.  I know He doesn’t want me upset and worried.  I Peter 5:7 says, Casting all your care upon Him; for He cares for you. I have been asking Him to control my emotions and help me have the mind of Christ. I want to think as He thinks. I want to feel as He feels about things.

Because I can’t right all the wrongs in the world, I’ve asked God to give me compassion for the people and ministries He wants me to be involved in and to be somewhat indifferent to the ones I don’t have the resources for. Also, I know I can’t have an intimate relationship with every person I’ve ever known so I’ve asked God to burden my heart for the ones who need me most that day. I want to be where He wants me and use my time in a way that pleases Him.

This is what hiding and resting in Jesus has come to mean to me.  I would love to hear your thoughts on what it means to you. I know I have a long way to go, but my life has become so much more peaceful lately as I’m learning to lean on Him.

I would like to leave you with the lyrics of Perfect Peace by Joe Zichterman.

When life’s burdens get so heavy and it seems I’m all alone,

I cast my care on Jesus and come boldly to his throne.

I find His grace sufficient when His promises I heed.

For His very life He sacrificed, and He lives to intercede.

Chorus:

He is the Lord of lords, and when He speaks, winds and waves obey.

When Jesus whispers, “Peace, be still,” then darkness turns to day.

And as I’m trusting in my Savior’s Word doubts and fears all cease.

And beneath the shelter of His wings I’m at rest in perfect peace.

Verse 2

I will seek for souls in darkness, Calv’ry’s love with them to share,

Empowered by His Spirit I will follow anywhere.

For I know whate’er befall me my Lord is in control.

And as my mind is stayed on Him, perfect peace He gives me soul.

My you have perfect peace today,

Gaye Hughes

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Calm in the Storm

a-faith-that-hasnt-been-testedI would like to share the lyrics of a song that has comforted me so much over the past few years as I walked the cancer journey with my husband, was then diagnosed myself, and have felt the vacuum of his absence since he went to heaven.

There have been many times that I’ve felt God’s peace that passed all understanding….times when I should have been falling apart, but felt God holding me up.  That is due, in part, to your many prayers. But I am convinced, if I had not a friend in the world, God would not have left me.  He would have faithfully been with me because He never forsakes His own. He won’t leave you either.  He hears every prayer and has our tears in a bottle.

“Thou tellest my wanderings:  put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book? When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me.” (Psalm 56:8,9)

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“Calm in the Storm,” by Mac Lynch

When your life seems like a tempest, when the waves beat on your breast,
When the wind is hurling ‘round you and there is no place to rest,
Then you look out thro’ the shadows and you see Him looking too,
Saying, “Hush,” not to the storm, but saying, “Hush” now to you.

Chorus:
Trust the One who’s walking on the water. Trust the One who’s leading thro’ the storm.
When you cannot see the shore-line, When there is no goal in sight,
Would you focus on the certainty that all will be alright?

Trust in Him who made the tempest. Trust in Him tho’ tossed and torn.
Trust the One who walks on water in your storm.

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When your life seems overwhelming, when your nights seem hard and long,
When the burdens seem unending and the enemy a throng,
Thro’ the Word the Savior’s saying firmly, calling tenderly, “Peace be still,”
not to the storm, but “Peace be still” now to you,

Hasten now, O weary pilgrim, don’t you fear, and don’t you doubt.
Would you trust your gracious Savior tho’ your life seems tossed about?
Oh, remain within the tempest, seeing Jesus in the way.
May the trial to you be precious as you trust and obey.

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Chorus:
Trust the One who’s walking on the water. Trust the One who’s leading thro’ the storm.
When you cannot see the shore-line, When there is no goal in sight,
Would you focus on the certainty that all will be alright?

Trust in Him who made the tempest. Trust in Him tho’ tossed and torn.
Trust the One who walks on water in your storm.

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“He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.” Psalm 107:29

 

 

 

Fast Food or Steak and Potatoes?

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Recently, I was asking God to heal someone. It would take a miracle and I knew it. I said, God I know you can do this. Jesus instantly healed a blind man, made a lame man walk, healed the lepers, healed the woman with the blood disorder and raised Lazarus from the dead. As I was praying and reminding God of all He could do, He seemed to ask me, But do you believe that I will do it? Are you really expecting me to do this?

It’s like the people who gathered to pray for rain, but only one brought an umbrella.

As I searched my heart, I realized I had my doubts. I was challenged. I know God has done many miracles in my life, but did I really believe He would do another one? Most of the miracles God has done for me, I didn’t even ask Him for them! He chose to step in and do exceedingly, abundantly above anything I even thought to ask. I was humbled as I remembered some of the many miracles God has done in my life.

I also asked myself if I was praying for healing for this person for selfish reasons that would benefit me. I really didn’t think so.  Then I think the devil stepped into my thinking with, Well, who do you think you are to think God is going to answer your prayer when there’s probably been lots of family and friends praying and it hasn’t helped? The devil is just good like that to discourage us, isn’t he?  I responded with, But what if God choses to use my prayer to change things? And just maybe the health of this person would be a lot worse had it not been for all those other prayers.

I also realized how lacking my prayer life has been in intensity. Oh, I do the “fast food” prayers pretty often, but I sure don’t do enough of the “steak and potato” prayers. As serious as I thought I’d been with God in prayer at times, it occurred to me that I may not even have a clue as to what it’s like to experience deep communion with God.

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James 5:16 says,…the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

According to Webster’s Dictionary, here are some definitions that helped me understand this better.

Effectual means the power to produce an effect or ardent, the intense degree of zeal, devotion or enthusiasm.

This isn’t a quick prayer said in passing like a lot of mine are or a “send one up” when you feel like it.  This is getting down to business with God. I think of Hannah’s prayer in I Samuel 1: 10-13 where she was longing for a child so much she was “in bitterness of soul,” wept, and cried out to God so much that as she prayed the priest thought she was drunk.  It was an all-consuming passion of hers to be a mother. She was desperate.  She got down to business with God. And God answered in the affirmative and gave her a son.

The-value-of-persistent-prayer-is-not-thatFervent means marked by great intensity of feeling. Hannah was definitely in deep emotional pain. And she knew where to take those feelings…to God.

Now for the righteous part! Does that word make you as uneasy as it does me?  I have a hard time thinking of myself as righteous. What does it even mean to be righteous? Again, Webster’s helped me out.

 

Righteous is acting in accord with divine or moral law; free from guilt or sin.

We learn right from wrong from the Bible.

II Timothy 3:16 says,

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I Corinthians 15:34 says, Awake to righteousness, and sin notSo we need to learn what is right and choose to do it. Do right till the stars fall.  At the university I attended there was a sign that read,  It’s never right to do wrong to get the chance to do right.

The problem is, we won’t ever have the desire to do right without God. But when we repent, believe in Jesus, and ask Him to be the Lord of our life, our “wanter” changes.

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Instead of living for ourselves, we want to live for God and do what pleases Him. Philippians 1:11 says we can be filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.  For He (God) hath made him (Jesus) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

It’s only through Jesus that we can be right with God. BUT, when we are right with God, we become adopted into His family and become a joint heir with Jesus (Romans 8:17).

untitled boldly prayAnd then we have an Abba Father or “daddy” that we can confidently, directly converse with at any time when we have a need. We can know He loves us, wants a relationship with us, and is willing and ready to help us when we ask.  Hallelujah, what a Savior! But we must ask!

The prayers of the righteous availeth much.  That means they matter a lot whether we can actually see results or not.

My prayer right now is that the ones reading this will join with me to resolve to get more serious about talking with God more intently and listening to Him better.

Have a blessed, prayer-filled day!

Gaye Hughes

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Abby’s Adventures…Week 3

I was able to visit Abigail at The Wilds Christian Camp in North Carolina a few weeks ago. Although she is busy helping feed a thousand campers each week, she is enjoying it. This is her most recent update of what she’s been doing and what God has been teaching her.

Hey!

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The pretty waitresses at The Wilds Christian Camp- Summer 2016

I hope you are all doing well!  I miss my Cedar Lane family.  There really isn’t any place like TullaHOMEa.

   I’m think most of you have never even heard of The Wilds except for what I’ve told you about it.  I wish you could have the opportunity to see what I’m seeing and experience these beautiful mountains, but since you can’t, I want to give you a little bit of an idea of what camp is like.
     Each week of camp I have a prayer partner cabin.  So when I’m not working as a waitress I go look for my prayer partner cabin for that week.  I usually go tubing down the creek with them or play volleyball in the sand to get to know the girls a little bit.  This week I hiked to 4th falls with them. The falls are breathtaking, but it’s a long difficult hike to get there.  Fortunately, there’s a pool at the bottom of the falls that’s about 12 feet deep.  It’s so rewarding to get to swim after being so hot and tired from the hike.  Here’s a picture of 4th falls.
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The 4th Falls

I also got to ride on The Giant Swing with a girl. We got harnessed into a full body sling, and then was slowly raised to 65 feet high.  The whole time you are looking down at the concrete realizing that the drop is coming, but never knowing when it will be.  You can hear the campers down below yelling “5, 4, 3, 2,1!!!”  But they usually count too early or too late just to throw you off.  Here’s a picture from the top of the swing looking down at camp (you can see the putt-putt course and basketball courts).
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A view from The Giant Swing!

After the drop, you get the ride of your life.  It feels like you’re going to splat into the pavement, but right before you hit, the sling catches you and you soar up like Superman!

 

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Viewing The Giant Swing from below. (Personally, I like this view better!)

    Another Wilds attraction I got to experience with my prayer partners was some fun at the lake.  You can go boating, kayaking, catch and release fishing, or enjoy the water park.  They have a rock wall, a lake trolley, The Blob, a tube slide, and a high jump.  I’m kind of scared of heights, but I feel like I have to suck up my fear in front of the campers.  This week, the girls were a lot braver than I was!  They actually made ME do things I didn’t want to do.  The high jump and the lake trolley are two things I’ve always been uneasy about, but peer pressure got the better of me and I couldn’t resist the “I will if you will” plea.  It was a lot of fun. 🙂  I’m always glad when I try things that scare me.
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The Blob

      So that’s just a little bit about the fun I get to have here. 🙂  I loved getting to know the girls this week.  I was able to counsel one of them about her daily devotions.  I knew the right things to tell her, but I also knew I needed to follow my own advice.
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This whole week, Pastor Jeremy Frazier talked about what it means to be a true disciple.  Jesus was not a people pleaser.  He didn’t want followers who weren’t all in.  He told them to count the cost.  He wanted them to know ahead of time what they were getting into.

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They would have to “take up their cross.”  That phrase had so much more significance back then when people saw that kind of torture up close every week.  He didn’t sugar coat it.  Being a disciple will cost everything.  But it’s worth it.
    Being a Christian in America is not actually very hard to do. It’s just a decision.  I know what I need to do to be closer to God.  I say that I want to be closer to Him, but I don’t always prove it.  I’m willing to do big things for God, but am I willing to do the small things? Do I spend the time it takes cultivating the relationship with Him?  Do I constantly practice dying to self every day?  Do I wake up and start my day with God, or do I press snooze?  I have so much to learn.  Most of the time I feel like these campers are teaching ME rather than the other way around.
  God bless you all this week!
  Abby
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Abby and Gaye

My Ragnar Relay Revealings

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Jeff, P.J., Katrina, and Kathy waiting for the last runner, Jamey, to come across the finish line in Nashville!

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You many ask, What is the Ragnar Relay? This is where teams of twelve runners pay a fee (that will be partially donated to a charity) to tag team and complete a run of around 200 miles. The first runner on each team begins early on a Friday morning and the teammates run around the clock until they finish sometime the next day.  In a few cases,  a team of only six runners (Ultra Ragnar Relay) complete the race.

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The crazy, fun, happy Van 2! Katrina, Kathy, P.J., Jamey, Gaye & Sergio excited about beginning the Ragnar Relay 2016.

Your next question might be, What kind of nut would do something like that? That’s a good question! It is one I asked myself a few years ago when I first heard about this run.

Honestly, I’m not sure exactly why I signed up. The team needed two more runners. I was assured that it was just for fun and they weren’t out to win anything.  My friend, Kathy, had participated in it a few years ago and said she loved the experience, but she would never put herself through it again.  So right away I gave her a call, knowing my level-headed friend would talk me out of it.  Instead of the expected,  No way, Girl! Don’t do it! She excitedly said, If you do it, I’ll do it!

WHAT??? You said you would never do it again!  Kathy cheerfully responded, Oh, it will be fun!  We will make some good memories together! So that’s when I signed up for this run a few months ago and my awesome teammates and I ran from Chattanooga to Nashville, TN this past weekend. Although I didn’t know most of my teammates prior to this event, these Christian people inspired and encouraged me. It was a wonderful experience.

I’ve been forced out of my comfort zone in so many ways this past year with the passing of my husband.  With God’s help, I’ve done things and made decisions I never thought I could.  And I’ve found that this stretching has made me rely more on God, has proven God’s faithfulness and power in my life, and has given me more confidence to let God use me. This event was another good stretch for me.

There are so many analogies in running a race to running the race of life.

I’d like to share some things I think about while running.

  • Pace yourself

While on the farm when I was young, I would begin working in the early morning at full speed and my dad would say,  Gaye, you have to pace yourself.  It’s going to be a long day. I still have that problem.  At the beginning of a race, my adrenaline is flowing and I want to give it all I have. But I must be careful, because I must not run out of energy before the race is completed or I won’t be able to finish.

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Van 1 and Van 2 relaxing while Kathy runs down the mountain!

This is the way it is while serving the Lord.  In the past, I have gone full speed ahead trying to serve God and I haven’t taken the necessary time to pray, meditate on God’s Word, and know God while doing so. It isn’t long before what started out as God’s work being led by the Holy Spirit turns into  “Gaye’s work” which will burn up, leave a pile of ashes, and have no reward in the day of judgment.  If I am too busy to spend quiet time with God, I am too busy.  If I’m obeying God’s schedule for my life, I will have time to spend with Him.

  • Keep the run in perspective

I’m more competitive than I should be. I know that how you run the race is much more important that winning, but I have to continually remind myself of that. P.J. Simmons provided the perfect example this weekend of giving your best whether or not it looks and feels like you are winning. She had been having ankle pain before the Ragnar. The doctor confirmed that the bones were not broken or fractured and that it must be a damaged nerve or tendon.  P.J. rested her ankle and didn’t run any for two weeks prior to the relay. As she began her first leg of the relay (5.5 miles), sharp pains immediately began radiating throughout her ankle.

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Jamey, P.J., Gaye, Sergio, and Katrina

We tried to talk P.J. into letting us do her run, but she insisted on not letting her team down.  Her husband lovingly supported her by running with her, checking on her, and asking about her condition. As I fought back tears while watching her limp/jogging in excruciating pain, I wondered how God could stand to watch His only son, Jesus, be tortured and then die on a cruel cross for the sins of the world.

P.J., like Jesus, was so determined to follow through with her commitment. Her tenacity and perseverance inspired and humbled me. What if the sinless Jesus had caved in and said, No! I don’t deserve this pain! I will not do this!? He could have. No one would have blamed Him.  But mankind would have been doomed to hell for all eternity if He had.  Jesus bridged the gap for sinners to be redeemed (bought back) by paying our sin debt.

  • Weakness is not a bad thing

When I’m feeling good, the run is fun! But it is also easy to forget where my strength comes from. When my strength is gone, I’m begging for God’s help! When we have enough money, our health is good, our relationships are happy, when the car is running, etc., it is easy to trust in ourselves and not seek God like we should. But when the problems come and we don’t have the solution, we are much more inclined to start calling out asking for God’s help.

After only 9 hours of sleep in two days, not much food, and running 11 miles, I was out of gas by my third and last leg of the Ragnar Relay.  My teammates had done so well and I sure didn’t want to let them down, but all my energy was gone.  Even the peanut butter and energy jelly beans did not seem to help. I almost panicked. I asked my friends to pray and I claimed Isaiah 40: 29, He giveth power to the faint (weak); and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. I said, God, I guess I was crazy to think I could do this, but here I am.  Will you deliver me? As I began running, His strength was made perfect in my weakness…just like He promises in 2 Corinthians 12:9.  It was  amazing to feel strength that I knew was not my own.

  • Let’s cheer others on

After the runner starts running his leg, the other runners drive on ahead and pull off the road to cheer their teammate on as he runs by.  This encouragement goes a long when you’re tired. It motivates you to keep pushing forward.

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Katrina, Kathy, Gaye and Sergio

Kind words of encouragement are necessary as we daily run the race of life.  Texts, cards, and calls can motivate and inspire others to live life well when they feel like giving up.

  • Be careful who you follow

Near the end of the race, one teammate had an eight mile leg to run.  I couldn’t imagine having a long difficult stretch to run at that point in the race where there had been so little sleep or food.

Everyone wears their running bib on the front of their shirt so as they approach the gate, the new runner can identify their teammate. Not being able to see the bib, our teammate began following the runner in front of her only to realize at one point that he was NOT a Ragnar runner! To her dismay, she found herself 2 miles off course and lost! This is such an easy mistake to make. Eventually, her teammates were able to locate her and help her get back on track.

We must be SO careful to keep our priorities right in life and not get distracted by the world.  Spending time reading the Bible keeps us heavenly focused and combats the lies of the devil. When we do stray, hopefully, there will be other Christians who have the courage to lovingly lead us back on the right path.  AND, hopefully, we aren’t too proud to allow them!

  • Keep the end in mind

During the night runs, everyone is required to wear safety gear that includes a headband with a front and back light and a reflective vest. When I did my night leg of the race around 1am, I could see no other runners in front or behind me. I was running in the country with only the moon and stars shining, a cool breeze, the sweet fragrance of honeysuckle, and the occasional sound of dogs barking.

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P.J. cheering me on at my night run.

This reminded me of the lonely times in my life when God’s sweet presence was the only thing I had. There aren’t distractions from the world, but I have to fight the enemy of self-pity to persevere through the dark valley.

Just as I became weary and wanted to stop and walk, I saw the bright flood of light that marked the end of the run….the exchange station! The place where I could stop running.  The place of rest. Then I heard the cheers of encouragement to make it to the end! What a wonderfully exciting time!

Our teammate, Kathy, shared with us how this reminds her of how special it is going to be to enter heaven at the end of our race on earth! Our loved ones who have gone on before us along with our Savior will be welcoming us into our eternal rest! The struggles of life will be over for those who have completely trusted Jesus Christ and made Him Lord of their lives.

In conclusion and most importantly, I think our team enjoyed this relay.  As an added bonus, we were happy to place 14th out of about 200 teams! Whether you ever choose to run or not, you are in the race of life.  May you run well the race God has called you to so one day you will hear Jesus say, Well done, thou good and faithful servant… enter into the joy of thy Lord! (Matthew 25:21)

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

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Gaye and Kathy- Ragnar Relay 2016