What are you wearing?

 

 

Although I prefer the King James Version of the Bible, I really like how Colossians 3:12-14 is worded  in The Message.

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline.  Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense.  Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love.  It’s your basic, all-purpose garment.  Never be without it.

If I could just remember these nuggets of truth every minute of every day! This is the key to a joy-filled life empty of self and full of God. Do you know anybody that dresses like this verse describes? I sure do!  It is a lovely sight…always gorgeous and in style! These people are refreshing, uplifting,  God-honoring, and Christ-like no matter their circumstances.

Do you need to make some changes in your wardrobe? What are you wearing today?

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

 

A Christmas to Remember- 2017

From left to right- Abigail, Nathan, Gaye, Destin, Danilo, Anna (Christmas 2017)

Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed Christmas with those you love. This was the first Christmas my immediate family was together since the passing of my husband, almost three years ago. Little Destin, my grandson (15 months old), was an entertaining addition! Someone taught him to fist bump. And my favorite present was learning that his little sibling will be arriving in July!

 

Anna woke up a few mornings after Christmas not feeling well. We thought it was due to that little one in her tummy, but as the day went on, we concluded she had a stomach bug. These germs fought with a vengeance! About every other time Anna got sick, she would faint.  So my family sprung into action!

Bethany and Wesley found a good deal on some snowboards! (12-2017)

Wesley, Bethany’s husband, is a health inspector and he suspected the Norovirus had found us.  According to Wesley, this virus can live on fabrics for up to 12 days, on hard surfaces for a week, and is highly contagious.  One is contagious before the  symptoms appear and up to three days after symptoms are gone! Lysol doesn’t kill it. The hot water in the washer and laundry detergent doesn’t kill it.  And the dryer isn’t hot enough to kill it. YUCK! It takes Clorox. So Bethany started wiping down doorknobs, faucets, and other surfaces with Clorox wipes. We washed bedding and rugs in case it was an ordinary virus. And we began using paper towels, plastic cups, and paper plates.

Abigail was in charge of taking care of Destin and cooking food.  Bethany continued to sanitize and wash dishes. I cared for Anna.  Wesley hauled in wood and kept the fire going. After a long day at work, Nathan made a run back into town for Ginger Ale and saltines. Danilo had left to go back to Florida to work so he wasn’t exposed….yet. Anna felt much better the next morning after a predictable schedule of getting sick every hour.

 

The Vara family (Danilo works at Sherwin Williams)

Unfortunately, all our precautions seemed to be in vain.  While Anna was resting the next day, Wesley got a unique version of it. The next day I got it.  Bethany took her turn the next day. Abigail said she would like to go ahead and get it over with.  She got her wish the next day. Danilo had come back for the weekend and he also didn’t feel well when he left.

 

It was a miracle that Little Destin didn’t contract it.  Everyone had taken turns caring for him and he walked around touching everything. This raging virus could have easily sent him to the hospital, but God protected him. Nathan also escaped it.

 

Our dog, Rooster keeping warm!

As bad as this may sound, there were some blessings in the midst of this.  We were unable to attend church on Sunday so we spent several hours discussing the Bible.  It was such a blessing to hear my children and sons-in-law discuss what God was doing in their hearts. It was interesting to hear their thought processes, discernment, and wisdom.

 

It also warmed my heart to see my children loving each other and working together knowing what was at stake. They could have gotten out of Dodge, but they laid their stomachs on the line and sacrificed for the sick ones. I often heard, “I’m so sorry you are sick,” “Can I get anything for you?” and “What can I do to help?”

Please check out Abigail’s blog at Praycookblog.com!

So this Christmas didn’t turn out as we had anticipated, but it was still a very good Christmas. Christmas is celebrating the birth of Jesus. He left His Father’s side to be born as a baby and came to Earth to lay down His perfect life so that we can be with Him in heaven one day.  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13) This is exactly what Jesus did for us. He embodied love. God is love. God proved His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

 

If we will admit our sin, believe in our hearts that Jesus is God’s son and that He died and rose again, and ask Him to be the Lord of our lives, we can have His love in our hearts.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. (I John 4:11)

It always amazes me to see God’s deep, sacrificial love coming through one of His children. In a world of selfishness and pride, God’s love stands out in a lovely, unique, refreshing way and it gives hope.  Let’s spread that love around today, friends!

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

(Pictures from the Gaylord  Opryland Resort in Nashville, TN- December 2017)

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

 

 

Speaking God’s Love Language

51vpsy3zuml__sy344_bo1204203200_Gary Chapman published a book, The Five Love Languages several years ago that revolutionized my life. It helped me understand the people in my life and why they acted as they did.
Although most people enjoy most every expression of love, usually one speaks louder than the others. The five love languages Gary Chapman writes about are…

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Physical Touch
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Quality Time
  • Acts of Service

It is natural to love others the way we feel loved, but if others have a different love language than our own, they won’t feel loved by us.  My life was so impacted by this as a young wife and mother.  I was surprised to find that my husband and each of my children all had different love languages.

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Suddenly I understood why when I complimented one child, I would often hear from the other, “Didn’t I do a good job?” Her love language was words of affirmation.  It now made sense why one of my daughters was always rubbing my arm, hugging, and wanting to snuggle.  Her love language was physical touch.  The third child felt particularly special when she received a pretty package.  Her love language was gifts.

I immediately began seeing positive results as I began speaking the love language my husband and children related to best.  It was a challenge for me to put aside my love language (acts of service) and begin speaking the love languages of my family, but the rewards were well worth it.

As I was reading God’s Word the other day, it occurred to me that God also has a love language. Jesus relayed that to us in John 14:15.

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If we are wondering the depth of our love for our Savior, we can use our Gauge of Obedience to measure that love. Talk comes easy. If you heard, I love you often, but never saw that played out in actions, you would begin to doubt its truth.

obedience1It’s easy for us to say we love God, but do we obey the truth He has already revealed to us?  Are we regularly in His Word learning new things He wants for us?  We can’t obey if we don’t know what He requires.

As circumstances and seasons of life change, so can our love language.  This sure keeps life interesting at best.  If you can’t figure out someone’s love language, why not just ask them?  I think they would be pleased that you care that much.

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Human relationships will always present challenges, but God has made it clear what His love language is and the good thing is….He never changes! Hebrews 13:8 says, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.

Let’s love lavishly today.  Our family and friends need it.  The lost and dying world we live in also needs to see what God’s love looks like. Let’s be doers of the Word and not hearers only, deceiving ourselves. (James 1:22)

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

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Meet my new little grandson, Destin Vara! Born 9-24-16! (I have a blog is the making about this little fella!)

 

 

 

Circulating Jesus’ Love

13892189_10208765354150021_528678173187263753_nMy church recently had Circulation Day!Members brought household items that they no longer needed and we basically had a huge, free yard sale. People were excited to receive many nice items such as…a washer and dryer, tread mill, books, pictures, kitchen tools, etc. The goal was to show love to our community.  As the people came, we gave them some Bible verses and invited them to visit our church. There were no price tags so when someone was interested in something and ask how much it cost, we would tell them it was theirs for the taking. It was really neat to see the responses.  Some just couldn’t believe it.

To entice people to come, we held large signs and waved to the people as they passed on the  busy highway in front of our church.  As I stood there and witnessed the many people drive pass, I wondered how many knew Jesus personally and had peace in their hearts as only He can give.  Also, here we were offering nice, free, needed items, but many would not stop to check it out.  I wondered why.

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Maybe they were skeptical.  Maybe they didn’t think they needed anything we had. Maybe they were distracted by other things. Maybe they had more important places to go.

Then I thought about how it is similar with the gospel. Here we have a message of Good News that costs us nothing (but Jesus His life), that is a positive life changer to those who will believe, yet many will not accept it for some of the same reasons as above.  It’s hard for them to imagine a God that would love them enough to give His life for them. They think they are fine the way they are and don’t need Jesus.  Or maybe they are so distracted by what this world has to offer there is no room left for Jesus.

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It made me sad to think about people living their lives not even realizing what they are missing by not having a personal relationship with this Jesus who loves them so very much.  Jesus calls us to give the gospel out. We aren’t responsible for who believes it or rejects it.

Today I was driving about 15 mph on a lone, back street looking for a business. There was an oncoming car approaching.  I drifted across the center line as I was looking for the building. I realized what I was doing and quickly got back into my lane.  The oncoming car was several car lengths away and it wasn’t even close, but she let me know in no uncertain terms that she was very upset with me. I was definitely in the wrong.  I made a sad face, hunched my shoulders, and mouthed, I’m sorry! I wish she had extended more grace. And this reminded me that I need to extend grace to other people because I often don’t know what they are going through.

LoveThyNeighborAsThyselfI’m SO glad that, as believers, we experience God’s grace and mercy every day and will for all eternity.  We don’t deserve it. And because Jesus has given us love and mercy, we need to be quick to share that with others.

Last night I  heard this….God formed us, sin deformed us, and Jesus transforms us.

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I would like to leave these lyrics with you from, I Saw Jesus in You by Ron Hamilton.

When I enter Heaven’s glory, And I see the Savior’s face,

I will offer Him ten thousand years of praise.

Then I’ll find that special one, In whose life I saw God’s Son,

And thru tears of joy with trembling lips these words, I’ll say:

Chorus:

I saw Jesus in you, I saw Jesus in you.

I could hear His voice in the words you said–

I saw Jesus in you.

In your eyes I saw His care, I could see His love was there.

You were faithful, And I saw Jesus in you.

Verse 2

When I stand before my Father, To receive my life’s reward,

And my soul is bathed in God’s eternal day,

When this race on earth is run, And God sees the works I’ve done,

More than anything I long to hear my Father say:

Chorus:

I saw Jesus in you.  I saw Jesus in you.

I could hear His voice in the words you said–

I saw Jesus in you.

In your eyes I saw His care, I could see His love was there.

You were faithful, And I saw Jesus in you.

 

May we let Jesus’ light and love shine through us,

Gaye Hughes

 

 

Signs of God’s Love

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“We have good news and bad news,” read my text on Christmas day. I was in NC spending Christmas with my family.  My neighbor, Catherine, was checking on the house and taking care of our animals while I was away.  She continued, “…Baby Jesus floated away yesterday- the good news- Lee, Mrs. Ellen and I cleared your drive so you can get to your house.” Thank the Lord for wonderful neighbors like these sweet people!

We have lived near our babbling creek for 15 years and have thoroughly enjoyed it. The children spent many hours playing in it while growing up.

IMG_20151027_080101543Unfortunately, when we get what I call “gully washers” and there is a lot of rain in a short amount of time, this babbling creek turns into a roaring river. Thankfully, the water has never reached the house, but  the rushing water will sometimes wash the gravel from our driveway and leave behind piles of leaves, sticks, and logs.

 

 

IMG_20151228_143735140For many years we have enjoyed a manger scene in our yard to remind  ourselves and others that the real reason for  Christmas is  Jesus’ birthday. Well, this year the flood was on Jesus’ birthday. I was upset to hear that the most important character in our display had washed away. Then the thought came, maybe there is someone downstream who really needs to meet Jesus today.

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My son, Nathan (age 16), and I were working last week shoveling the gravel back into the driveway and I was silently talking to God. “Lord, I wish you would have held the water in the banks so we wouldn’t have to spend all this time cleaning up.” I wondered why life has to be so hard some time. It’s because we aren’t home yet. This isn’t heaven. It’s earth.

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The Apostle Paul addresses this in Romans 8 about how even creation is unsettled and waiting for God to make all things right.  He goes on to say, For I reckon that the suffering of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)

When we are going through difficult times, it may seem as if God doesn’t see it, know about it, or even cares. That could not be further from the truth. Psalm 139 describes how God knows every detail about us, but loves us anyway.

IMG_20160102_164509300While raking up the debris, I looked over to see something quite amazing. There was a walnut shell opened up to reveal the perfect shape of a heart!

Immediately, it was as if God was saying, “I love you, Gaye.  I know what you are going through and I care.” I remembered Jeremiah 31:3, The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness I have drawn thee.

We have several walnut trees on our property so I’ve seen lots of opened walnut shells, but they have always been circular. I have never seen one like this. I asked myself, Could God have made this shell just for me? Last spring when I was just beginning my journey with grief after losing my husband, did God form this walnut knowing I would need the confirmation and assurance of His love for me on this day, January 2, 2016?  Does God care that much? Could the Creator of the world with all its billions of people over the ages be such a personal God for me?

I came to the conclusion of YES! YES! YES! YES! God knows the end from the beginning. God knew last spring that some of the hardest days of my life were about to unfold.  He cared then and He cares now. He will always care because His love is unconditional, it never gives up or quits…ever!

In Isaiah 54:5 says, For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.

A good husband will often remind his wife of his love for her. God has done that for me.  He does that for all of us.  Although I fully believe God did make this walnut for me, I also believe He made it for you! I believe if you are reading this, God is reminding you of his great love too. Because when God blesses us with things like this, He wants us to share it with others.

What a gift this walnut is!  Out of all that debris, what are the chances that walnut would be opened up? That it would be lying in the open and not buried in a pile?  That my eyes would even notice it?  I firmly believe God directs our steps and orchestrates our days and every circumstance in our lives, whether good or bad.

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand. (Psalm 37:23, 24)

And when God works a miracle for us or reveals something to us, it is our responsibility to pass that blessing on to others.

So no matter how you are feeling today, please know that God truly knows and cares about what you are going through and He loves you supremely. James 4:8 promises, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” Let’s draw near today.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

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P.S.  My neighbor, Catherine Paulsen Daugherty has two wonderful blogs I think you would really enjoy where she shares yummy recipes along with her spiritual insights.  You can find them at www.facebook.praycookblog.com and her personal blog is entitled, My Daily Bread Body and Soul. Check them out!

 

 

 

Bearing Others’ Burdens

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I sent a message to a sweet friend of mine last night telling her how my heart is heavy for her and her family. Her husband is going through chemotherapy treatments now. After both my husband and my cancer diagnoses, chemotherapy and radiation treatments, I can empathize all too well with their situation. Her faith-filled response was as follows.

Please don’t let our situation be heavy for you. As you know, God is sustaining us and we see His handprints all over this circumstance. Hard, yes…absolutely and yet such blessings in this storm. I am sorry if this situation is causing any pain for you. I know how hard it was for us to see you go through this. He (God) is our strength (Rock) and our Redeemer…we are sustained by the prayers of His people.

Again, I could relate to her feelings. God’s sweet peace and faithfulness is a balm for the soul in the dark valleys of life. I also understand how she doesn’t want others to suffer because of their situation. I didn’t (and still don’t) want people to feel bad for me either. I began to really think about exactly what my response should be toward others who are hurting. God’s Word, the Holy Bible, always has the answers. This is what I found…

Romans 12:15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

Romans 14:7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.

Romans 15:1,2 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities (weaknesses) of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification (being built up).

After I read these verses I concluded, “If I’m NOT concerned when fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are struggling, I should be worried about my spiritual condition.” It should be a natural response for a believer whose heart is filled with Jesus’ love to hurt when others are hurting. Maybe the Holy Spirit burdens our hearts to motivate us to pray for others. Prayer is a benefit to both the ones being prayed for as well as the one who is praying. Praying helps us to not worry and trust the only One (God) who can change the situation anyway. Praying also reminds us that we need God and His help, which keeps us humble and dependent on God. Also, a heavy heart should motivate us to action.

God meant for us to be in community with other believers. Power and strength can be gained when our hearts are knitted together with God’s love. There are some special verses in Ecclesiastes 4:9-11 that talk about the importance of not being alone in time of trouble…

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth:  for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

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As we see others going through their own storms in this life, may we love them like Jesus loves us. May we be motivated to pray instead of worry. May we be moved to ease their suffering as we are able.

Owe no man anything, but to love one another; for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes