More Abby Adventures!

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Abby (third from left, front row) and the other waitresses serving at the banquet.

Hello friends!  I hope you are well and enjoying your summer! I’ve gotten behind posting about Abby’s adventures at The Wilds Christian Camp.  I’ve been on some adventures of my own!  I’ve decided to save that for later and catch you up on camp life and what God is continuing to teach Abby this summer. – Gaye

Week 5- Eating Humble Pie during the Weak Week

Hey!  We were told at the beginning of the week that this one is usually where it starts to get hard because the constant lack of sleep really catches up with you.  I was thinking, “Oh really?  I thought I was already there!”  I’m running on coffee and God’s grace at this point. Lol!  But I want to share some thoughts from a message I heard this week about weakness.

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The message was on 1 Corinthians 12:9 where Paul tells us that God’s grace is sufficient for us, and that His power is perfected in our weakness.  I love this verse.  It has so many applications especially as I get older.  But there were some things he pointed out that I had never thought about before.  I’ve always known that this verse meant that when we are weak, God’s strength will sustain us.  God will give us grace to get through the trials in our lives.

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But the speaker took it to the flip side. This verse is also saying that when we try to rely on our own strength, God will not give us grace, because we aren’t receiving and asking for it.  It’s easy to ask for God’s help in things I know I can’t do on my own.  But what about the things I feel like I’m good at? I need to be asking for God’s grace in EVERY area of my life. I can’t do ANYTHING on my own.

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 I hope I’m not the only one who has done this, but it seems like every time I start getting high and mighty about something, I fail… EPICALLY.  Just this week I was hiking with some friends, and this one girl was going really slowly.  She was having a hard time with the hills and all the roots.  She kept slipping.  I had this thought, “I’m really surefooted.  I’m in such great shape.  I haven’t slipped once!”  Immediately after that thought crossed my mind, I skidded on a rock, scrapped down my leg and fell right on my hip.  I have a few good bruises to remind me to stay humble! Ha ha! God has a way of making sure I don’t get too proud.
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  I’m also really competitive.  I was joking around and bragging about my ping pong skills a few weeks ago and one guy asked if I’d like to play sometime.  I mockingly asked if he could keep it on the table, and he said “I’ll try.”  Well, I found out real quickly that he was in fact very good at ping pong.  I. Got. Creamed.  He slammed it on me every single time.
 These are just a few of many embarrassing stories I could tell you about my pride.  But I just wanted to share that because, when I’m relying on my own strength, I will always fail.  It’s when I humble myself and I KNOW I can’t do it on my own when God really uses me. Have you ever experienced those times when you expected to fail and pleaded for God to help you, and it turned out better than you would have ever imagined?  God chooses to use weak people.  Let’s have a weak week every week so God can be glorified in our lives.
I miss you all!
Abby Hughes

Week 6- Sowing the Seeds of the Gospel

Hey! I can’t believe we’re almost halfway through the summer! July 4th is tomorrow, and I can’t help but get a little homesick when I think about the cookouts, fireworks, watermelon, pies, Frisbee, and countless other things I associate with this holiday. I hope you all enjoy this long weekend with your families!

As operational staff, I don’t always get to know about all the specific stories that go on during a week of camp. But, usually once or twice a week, there is a big invitation given and the counselors can’t talk with everyone, so operational staff go help counsel the campers that want to make a decision. Counseling is a very humbling experience. I feel so inadequate for it, but it’s crazy how God brings verses to your mind. It’s just like Luke 12:12 talks about when it says “for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

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Each time I talk with a camper, I’m reminded of how blessed I have been to grow up in a good home. My heart breaks hearing these girls talk about their parents divorcing, or their brother who is into drugs, or their Dad who doesn’t love them. There are so many bad situations that they are coming from, and at the end of the week, we’re sending them back to that. How can I prepare a child to be a light in their home, or to fight against bitterness, when I only have them for 15 minutes?

I can’t.

There are no magic words I can say. In fact, they probably wouldn’t even remember them if I did. But, the encouraging thing is that isn’t my responsibility. All I can do in those 15 minutes is point them to Christ. He is the only one who can follow them home and help them for the rest of their lives.

I was so encouraged by the testimonies this week. We tend to get discouraged when we don’t see immediate change here at camp. But I was reminded that these youth pastors who bring the campers have been laboring all year long and pouring into these kids, and we just get to pick the fruit. But sometimes, they aren’t ready yet. Sometimes we have the job of laboring, and we may never see the time of harvest.

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One of the testimonies that particularly blessed me was this guy counselor who had a camper who was very closed up. I think his name was John. He had been here at camp before. The counselor who had had him last year, warned John’s new counselor that he didn’t like to participate in activities, wouldn’t talk, and just had a bad attitude about camp in general. Last year John left without making any changes in his life.

This year,  he had the same attitude. He wouldn’t listen in service, he got “lost” a lot, and he wouldn’t open up to anyone. Thursday afternoon all the guys went on a hike, and it just so happened that John and his counselor were walking together behind everyone else. On that hike, he and his counselor talked for a long time about what it means to be a Christian, and John accepted Jesus as his Savior.

It’s amazing to hear how God softens people’s hearts. After John got saved, he was taking notes in the service and witnessing to his cabin. When God changes a life, it’s dramatic! It makes me ask myself, “Where did my fire go?”

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I wanted to share this story because a lot of times I tend to forget that what I’m doing matters. I think about that other counselor who had John in his cabin last year. He didn’t get to see John changed. He wasn’t the one who got to lead him to the Lord. But his love and patience made an impact. When you pour into someone’s life, even if you only come in contact with them for 5 minutes, you are laboring for the Gospel. You may never see the day when that person’s field is white for harvest, but you can be one of the things God uses to bring them to Himself.

It’s comforting and humbling to know that God doesn’t need me, but He wants to use me anyway.

Happy 4th of July!

Abby Hughes

Week 7- We ARE Salt and Light

Hey!  I can’t believe it’s already week 7!  God has been so good this summer.  This weekend we had an SPP Banquet for all of the Partners who support Summer Staff (like me!).  I know driving 12 hours round trip is pretty excessive, so I understand why you couldn’t make it, but I want you to know just how much I appreciate your supporting me this summer.
You have been a blessing to me and to the ministry that continues here at The Wilds Christian Camp.  I wish you could see all the fruits of your support and prayers, but I guess that will just be a surprise that waits for you in heaven.  While on earth, you will never fully know how much you have impacted this world for Christ.  Thank you for all you have done for me and my family.
  This week of camp was the fullest week we’ve had so far.  I think I heard that we had 1,200 campers.  That probably includes the sponsors that came with them, but still, that is a lot of people!
  I feel like being at camp is such a huge opportunity for me to be a witness to all these kids, but sometimes I forget that I don’t have to be at camp to be a witness.  I should be ministering ALL the time.  On weekends I think I have “time off,” but why would I ever stop ministering to a lost world?  People are BEGGING for relief from the pain and heartache.  I have the answer!  Why would I hold that in?
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 I was reminded of this truth just a few hours ago when I went to the store after church.  I was just minding my own business and somehow started talking to a Native American who was working in the store.  Casual conversation turned to spiritual things when I told him I worked at the Wilds Christian Camp.
He had a lot of pantheistic ideas about God being in everything and everything being God.  I listened to his background and asked what religion he considered himself to be.  He had been part of several different groups and pulled a little bit from each one.  I asked if he had been saved and if he was sure that he would go to heaven.  He told me he hoped so.
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  At that point I was able to share with him about how I knew for SURE that I was saved, and how he could be sure too.  I told him about Romans 10:9 and 10 that says if we confess our sins and believe in our hearts, we will be saved.  And God ALWAYS keeps his promises.  He told me he didn’t know how to make life count.  He said “your working at camp, and that’s good!  You’re making a difference for people. But I don’t think I am.”
 So I shared with him how living for GOD is the only way to make your life count.  And if we have a relationship with God, we ARE the SALT of the earth and the LIGHT of the world.  And if we have that relationship, it doesn’t matter where we are, we WILL be influencing the world. His eyes lit up and he asked me to repeat that part and then said “I want to get a tattoo of that!”
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   I don’t know how much of a help I was to that man, or if he even understood all of what I was saying, but I was amazed at how much he wanted to know.  He was so excited about it.  He HUNGERED for God.  The whole world is hungering.  They want hope!  They want God.  Whether they say it or not, that is the only thing that will satisfy their starving hearts.  How selfish I have been to not share the hope I have.
  For me, it’s easy to get into routine and forget how much a responsibility I have as a Christian.  But the cool thing is, Matthew 5 doesn’t say I “will be”  salt and light.  I AM salt and light.  When I accepted Christ I was irreversibly changed.  Now all I have to do is stop quenching my fire.
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   We ARE the salt of the earth, and we ARE the light of the world.  The world needs some salt and light. So let it shine this week!  Feed the starving souls you encounter every day.
Abby Hughes

 

How Desperate are You?

IMG_20160107_223429Yesterday I asked God for a few very specific things.  Things that I knew were His desires too. Things I knew He could do and eventually would do.  What I wasn’t expecting was for Him to do it so quickly!  Within hours I saw Him do just as I had requested.

Afterwards I stood amazed… and then ashamed that I was so surprised.  So as I pondered this miracle, I thought, “Why would He not do this?” If it is something God also wants, doesn’t He want me to ask for Him to intervene? And the better question is, “Why is He not doing more of this in my life?” I quickly realized it is because I’m not asking Him and seeking His will enough.

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Sunday, I was sobered when the preacher asked, “How desperate are you for God?” Hmmm. Well, I can say this past year I’ve been more desperate by far than I ever have  been in my life. I’ve been desperate for God’s guidance. Desperate for His comfort. Desperate to see and feel His presence in my life. Desperate to know He is right here with me….. and it has been a good thing.

There have been more times that I can count where I could barely communicate my need for Him. Like Peter, when he began to sink, all I could say was, “Lord, save me!” or “Help!” In my sorrow, my prayers have often been boiled down to, “I need you God. I can’t make it without You. I HAVE to have You, now!” But I’m still not where I could be or should be spiritually.

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In Luke 18:1-8 Jesus spoke a parable about a widow who persistently came before the judge asking him to intervene in her life. The judge admitted that he didn’t fear God or really care about the lady, but he helped her because she wouldn’t give up coming to him. She wore him down.

Jesus said if an ungodly judge would intervene, won’t God do the same or better for His children whom He loves? Absolutely!

The preacher made some valid points about what it takes to be close to God.  If we want Him in our lives,

  • Our pride has to go!

We have to want God’s way more than our own way. We have to be willing to let God be the pilot.  Having God as a co-pilot won’t work. He must be in the driver’s seat.

  •  The Word of God (the Bible) must be central in our lives.

We won’t see God working, if we don’t know Him or how He operates. The preacher said,

“If we stay ignorant to His teachings, we will be oblivious to His actions!”

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  • We must be praying often

Praying is more than talking to God.  It is listening to Him. It is slowing down long enough to be quiet before Him. It is listening for that still small voice when the cares of the world are continually screaming loudly.

  • We have to get our priorities right.

What is coming between God and me and my time with Him? If our relationship with God is of utmost importance, our time with Him should reflect that. We must set aside time to commune with Him.

  • We can’t presume that we can live any way we want to and experience God’s blessings.

I feel like this is something our country as a whole doesn’t understand. It doesn’t work to say, “God bless America!” when, as a nation and often individually, we are repeatedly and habitually violating so many of the laws found in His Word. God not only calls sinners to repentance (a sorrow and a turning away from sin), but He also calls Christ-followers to repentance. Sin separates us from God. It creates barriers  between us and God and stifles our relationship with Him and others.

So basically, we have as much of God as we want in our lives. He is there capable, willing, and ready to be all we need Him to be for us. But we have a responsibility as to how often and to what degree He is welcomed to be involved in our lives. He is a gentleman. He won’t force Himself upon us.  Let’s welcome Him in today.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

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P.S.  I like birds!

Poppy Seed Muffins and Pride

This morning as I was stirring the batter to make some muffins, Abigail, a culinary arts major and chef commented, “Mommy, you are using the wrong motion to stir those muffins.”

Immediately, it was like in the cartoons where the little red devil with the pitch fork appears on the shoulder. Except now he was on MY shoulder. The conversation in my head went like this…Who does she think she is to tell me how to make muffins? I’m fifty years old and she is twenty. I’ve made more muffins from scratch than she has ever thought about making.

Then the angel appeared on the other shoulder and rebuked me. Gaye, are you so smart you can’t learn anything from anybody else? Do you really think you are so good at cooking that there is no room for improvement? Maybe Abigail has learned cooking tips in class and from the chefs that you have never heard about.

As I realized these things, I was glad I had kept my mouth shut and not responded to Abigail the way I had wanted to. And as much as I would like to blame the devil for my initial response, I really don’t think he had anything to do with it.

I had pride in my heart and did not like being corrected and was not teachable. God’s Word says a lot about pride and how it affects relationships. Here are just a few verses.

First of all, pride produces arguments. The more pride, the more arguing. We can measure the spiritual temperature in our homes by the amount of arguing that goes on. Pride is the opposite of humility and a teachable spirit. Proverbs 13:10 says, Only by pride cometh contention.

Pride destroys relationships. Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty (blatantly and disdainfully proud) spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18)

We should think about pride the way God does. God says it is evil and he hates it. The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward (perverse) mouth, do I hate. (Proverbs 8:13)

We will not get away with it. Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished. (Proverbs 16:5)

If we don’t repent and turn from our pride, there is a high price to pay. The LORD will destroy the house of the proud. (Proverbs 15:26) I don’t believe this means literally as much as it means the relationships with our family members and those we love the most will be destroyed. Isn’t that sad, that we allow our pride to come between the people who are dearest to us?

But God always gives us a solution for our sin. I John 1:9 says, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

God tells us how to make things right with others. Proverbs 6:2-5 tells us if we have said things we shouldn’t have, to go right away to the person, humble ourselves before them, and plead with them. We can’t be completely right with God while having problems in our relationships with others.

I have found that memorizing Scripture that applies to my problem helps me to combat sin in my life. God wants to deliver us and is fully capable of doing so, but we must want it bad enough to deny ourselves and turn to Him for help.

Having an accountability partner is almost essential too. If we have a good friend we can confide in and have them ask us weekly, “Hey, how are you doing with _____?”, it can often deter us from sin and motivate us to do the right thing.

My muffins didn’t turn out as fluffy as I had hoped. It was probably because I didn’t stir them right. I’ll try tasting them now that I’ve had a large slice of humble pie. 🙂

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

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Abigail and me June 2015