Abby’s Adventures- “Where did that come from?”

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Hiking in the NC mountains

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Wild blueberries

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These pictures were taken by Abby on a hike Saturday afternoon.  The campers arrive each week on Monday afternoon and leave Saturday morning.  After the staff thoroughly cleans the camp, they are free for the afternoon. The following is Abby’s update for this past week. Gaye

Wow. Where do I even begin? I have so much to testify about this week, but I’ll try to pick out the important parts.

I think this week has been the best one I’ve had all summer. Not because of anything I did, but because of everything God has done. I’ve always heard that I should have my devotions and spend time alone with God to pray. But these past few weeks, I’ve realized that it’s not just that I SHOULD have time alone with God… I NEED it. Oh boy do I need it. I don’t always rely on God’s strength. I say that I do, but I don’t always live that out. I have always been very unfaithful in my Bible studies. When I was at school I was “too busy” to have time for anything more than skim reading a chapter or so in the Bible a day. There was no depth. Since I’ve been at camp, I think it’s finally hitting me that my actions are DIRECTLY related to my level of dependence on God. I’m still learning how to die to myself every day, but I have seen improvement and growth. I’m becoming more faithful in my devotions because I know I NEED Him.

31525_20120905_231838_Keep_quotesI'm improvingI won’t go into detail, but Tuesday night I counseled a girl who struggled with homosexuality. God had convicted her of it during the service and she was so broken about her sin. She told me about how she had pushed God and her parents away for months. She stopped going to church and had completely rebelled. But now she was sitting in front of me in tears. It’s amazing how God’s word can change a person.

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At first when she said that she struggled with homosexuality, I started freaking out a little on the inside. I was thinking “I don’t identify with this at all! I have no idea what to say! What if she thinks I’m judging her? How can I show her this in love? What if I say the wrong things?” But as I talked with her, God gave me words to speak. I don’t remember everything I said, but I just remember walking away from it thinking, “Where did that come from?” I knew beyond a doubt that it didn’t come from me. God had worked in her heart so much and all I had to do was watch it happen.

That is one of at least 3 separate times this week that I felt God’s power take over when I was completely unqualified for the job.

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Please pray for the girl I mentioned above. A lot of things are going to have to change in her life. She kept saying, “I just feel trapped in this and I can’t change now.” But we always have the choice to do right. Jesus died to free us from sin. We aren’t slaves to it anymore. It just comes down to when we say we love God, do we mean it? She has a tough road ahead with cutting off some of her close friends, apologizing to her parents, possibly having to repent in front of her church, etc. She knows it’s not going to be easy, but she seemed very firm about her decision to forsake her old lifestyle. Just pray that she will continue to make that decision every day.

58354f6079612402a520db961af9c230daily choicesThere were several other girls I talked with this week who also made really big decisions that will drastically change their lives when they go home. I pray that these won’t just be “camp decisions” that fade away when they go home, but that they will continue to let God show them areas of their life to surrender to Him.

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Nothing that happened this week was because of my strength. I experienced God working as I counseled these girls and it was THE COOLEST!!! I could never have come up with the perfect words to provoke that kind of change in these girls’ lives. God changed their hearts. I’m just so thankful I got to witness it all.

Working at camp this summer has been so rewarding. Seeing lives changed every week never gets old. Now I’m constantly looking for the next opportunity to talk with someone about God, or ask them what God has been teaching them. I’m reminded of how only God can bring true joy and satisfaction. The world has NOTHING on God. Experiencing God is the best high you will ever get.

Thank you so much for your prayers!

Abby Hughes

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Here’s the country girl coming out in Abby!

 

Snow…a Winter Wonderland!

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First snow of the year! 1-22-2016

The recent snow is SO beautiful! Living in the south I don’t get to see it nearly as much as I’d like to. Tonight there is a full moon and the light is reflecting on the snow making this night extra beautiful.

One thing I like about the snow is that it transforms imperfect things like rusty barn roofs and dead looking grass into an amazing winter wonderland! Dirty things appear clean when they are covered with snow.

The pure, white snow reminds me of Isaiah 1:18 where the Lord says, though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Jesus promises to transform all those who trust Him with their lives. I was made a new creature in Christ when I invited Jesus into my life. Old things were passed away and all things became new.  He changed my sinful desires to the desire to please Him with my life.

There is nothing I know that is whiter than snow!  As I walked around outside today in the fluffy, white powder, I was humbled to think that the Lord has cleaned my crimson, sin-filled heart to make it as white as that snow. Because Jesus shed His blood for me and God has forgiven me of my sin, He sees Jesus’ righteousness when He looks at me and I look clean to Him.

IMG_0324Romans 4:7 says, Blessed are they whose iniquities (lawless deeds) are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.

Another thing I noticed is that “white” things that usually look clean, look dirty next to the pristine snow.  My house usually looks really white, but it looks dingy and dirty now with the white snow surrounding it.

This reminded me that I might feel pretty good about myself spiritually when I compare myself to someone who isn’t doing as well (which God’s word clearly advises against).  But when I compare myself to Jesus (the only One I should ever compare myself with) and His righteousness, I see the many discrepancies. My dirtiness really shows up!

Along with physical reminders like the snow, is God’s word, the Bible to teach us truth.  It is such a special gift that speaks to my heart and assures me that my faith is founded and grounded in truth. It is full of promises and hope….not a “wishful” hope, but a “know so” hope. (This is something a dear friend reminded me of a few days ago.)

I’d like to leave you with these beautiful verses from Isaiah 55: 10 and 11 to encourage you. God is speaking and He says…

 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:  So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

I would love to hear YOUR  thoughts about my thoughts! You have to include your email address and a password, but I hope you will take time to do this and share your thoughts with me!

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

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1/23/16

 

Why Make a Resolution?

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

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

  • God will give me multiple chances

It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. (Lamentations 3, 22, 23)

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Sunrise on Jesus’ birthday- 12-25-2015

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

  • God will forgive me when I fail

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

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Chetola Resort- Blowing Rock, NC

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

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

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

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

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

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

A very Happy New Year to you!

Gaye Hughes

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Blue Ridge Parkway, NC December 2015

 

 

 

My Rose Bush and Root of Bitterness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Application:  We need to…

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

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

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

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

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Visiting New York City May, 4, 2008

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

1- Let God reveal it to you.

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

2-Let God’s grace remove it.

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

3- Let good replace the bitterness.

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

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

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

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A beautiful Tennessee day in May 2008

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

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

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

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11-29-2015