Category Archives: despair

Strength in the Storm

Throughout Thanksgiving weekend so many thoughts went through my head and I started typing this blog as they came to me. Therefore, it may seem a little sporadic in its own way, but it is a mini version of the conversations between me and God over the last few days. I pray that you will enjoy your read and receive a blessing as well.

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How grateful I am for the many blessings God has given us. We ARE alive and throughout the devastation and losses, have had a chance to realize just how valuable each day is and to live it to its fullest.

It’s amazing how losing everything you own can create a sense of peace. It wasn’t until I was left with just the shirt on my back did this realization come to be. So many times in life we hold onto things that unknowingly weigh us down. Since the fire, our clothes now consist of donations and a few store-bought items. I now have just enough makeup for the day. Granted, I need a couple pair of earrings, necklaces, and a watch to complete a dress outfit ~ but at this point, I have what I need ~ and to think that it is still more than others out in this world.

By mid-life our home and life is cluttered with our past. Now, it’s always wonderful to have family heirlooms and pictures to look at of memories forgotten; yet; I am finding how great of an opportunity my husband and I have right now. Everything from before we met had to somehow create a oneness, which is hard to do when you both bring in so much baggage ~ physically and emotionally. At this point in our life, after seven years of marriage, we finally have the gift of being able to create “us” and come together creating that oneness we have both longed for.

The last month my prayer to God was for strength to endure and peace that passeth all understanding. I mourned over the loss of the Chihuahuas, but I didn’t ask why, I just held onto the fact that His plan is perfect, to spite how we feel. Some days when I didn’t feel I had a prayer I held onto my faith for survival. Day by day things got a little easier.

We are finally out of the hotel and into a rental house. I truly believe with every fiber of my being we were blessed with such a nice place and furniture due to our steadfastness in our faith. In James 1:2-4 we are told to praise God through our trials, and we did. The house? It’s a beautiful older, two-story home with a Victorian style. The insurance company rents the furniture and uses specific vendors. We were told it was like hotel furniture. So, at this point, we were clueless how everything was going to look, whether it was comfortable, etc. As the movers pulled furniture out piece by piece we once again saw God’s hand at work. The housewares girls came in and made the beds, setup the kitchen and bathrooms, made sure there was a decorative item and a photo in each room. They were so thorough in things you may need that they even brought things down to a plunger and measuring cup. God tells us to not worry about our daily needs, He will provide. It was overwhelming to see how He does provide when we hold onto our faith in Him throughout our storms.

I started writing this Thanksgiving Eve and now finishing the day after Thanksgiving. I must say it was one of the best Thanksgivings I have ever had. It wasn’t about the meal for we ate sandwiches while working some around the house. Our Thanksgiving was truly a day that we spent in awe of God’s greatness and being thankful for every small thing.

As Christians, we are always to give thanks to the Lord. This year made me think of how many times I may have said the words but this time ~ I was truly meaning every one of them. I sat in silence by myself a lot, feeling the peace I had prayed for; I looked around at how God provided for us ~ we truly had a day of Thanksgiving.

My friends, no matter your storm, hold onto your faith and leave everything in God’s hands and watch what He will do. Not only does He live up to His promises, but you can be an inspiration for those around who are watching you go through your storm.

This is DeVaughn ~ bringing it home.

 

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The Last Time

I had started writing this 5 days ago and couldn’t bring myself to finish it. Hopefully, I can tonight. It starts out “two weeks ago” because that’s when I started writing it originally so I will leave it in its original timing. It may not flow as smoothly as others I have written but due to the chaos of the moment ~ it’s real.

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Two weeks ago, I was sitting out on the back porch with Nacho and Scooch, our Chihuahuas, enjoying the weather and some coffee. Little did I know it would be the last time I would cuddle with them, the last time I enjoyed sitting on the recliner on the porch, the last time….

I went inside about 6:35 p.m. (Monday, October 24th) waiting for some dear friends to drop me off a plate to eat. I was lying on the couch and heard the Chihuahuas on the porch but didn’t think much of it. It sounded like they were possibly going to start singing. Little did I know they were calling for help. About 5 minutes later I heard a big BOOM sound followed by a second one. I got off the couch and walked to my office only to see the back porch in flames. I ran to the door, opened the door only to realize it was totally engulfed with flames and the roof was beginning to fall in piece by piece. Momentarily I stood, unable to move, as I looked at the recliners, where I last saw the Chihuahuas, burning at a pace one could never imagine. I was looking where our babies lost their lives minutes earlier. 

At that point I knew that I had to do everything I could. I called 9-1-1 and neighbors were already outside calling as well. The fire was spreading quickly and time was running out. Against my neighbor’s wishes I ran back in to get our German Shepherds, Diamond and Zeus. I brought them through the garages to the front doors because people were already out there and could help get them. Diamond and I made it out the door with Zeus right with us. Once we got out I realized Zeus didn’t come. He had stayed in to try to save the Chihuahuas and making sure no one else was in the house. 

I was outside on the lawn bawling. My son ran to the house once someone got him and he told me there was too much smoke, he couldn’t go in. I had already lost my fur babies and couldn’t stand to lose Zeus. I called his breeder who immediately got prayers from all over with social media. About 20 minutes later a volunteer firefighter walked out with Zeus in his arms. He didn’t get burned but inhaled a lot of smoke. They immediately started oxygen treatments. 

As I sat on the lawn I couldn’t stop crying over the loss and kept screaming to get Zeus and my Daddy’s flag. So much hurt and pain traveling through every fiber of my being. I was covered in soot from going back in, coughing and having a hard time breathing. My husband got there as soon as possible. Our home, our memories, our fur babies….it was all gone within minutes. Yes, we were alive but stood there watching our life as we knew it burn to ashes. 

As soon as Zeus was conscious we rushed him to the emergency animal hospital where he spent 4 days with oxygen treatment, x-rays, etc. to make sure he was ok. God blessed us with such a wonderful vet who told us “no charge.”

It took about a week and a half, a lot of tears and prayers for the nightmares to go away. Every time I tried to sleep I could still here Scooch and Nacho barking, smelling the smoke, watching the flames that took their lives, the sounds of the roof as it was caving in behind me as I ran…over and over again.

Even though life does go on and we all have our memories, there’s always that part that wishes you could have just one more day. To cuddle more, to love more, to say things left unsaid, to get more hugs and kisses…

Amongst the grief and pain, not to mention tears, lies hope and faith for tomorrow ~ for what God has planned for our lives. The sadness is normal as is the grieving, but all our days must be lived in faith ~ faith that God’s got this. Turning over the pain and grief into His hands one day at a time.

So, if you’re finding yourself too busy to spend time with your fur babies, your children, your spouse, family, etc. slow down a little bit. They need your love and attention. You never know when that kiss and hug is…. the last time.

This is DeVaughn ~ bringing it hone.

Be Still…

Yesterday had to be one of the roughest days I’ve had in quite a while. Usually I like to write blogs that will encourage and be uplifting. As I spoke with my pastor yesterday he recommended that I blog. I would love it if my life was always rosy and I never had any dark moments; that just isn’t reality. We all have those from time to time, no matter how strong we are.

 As we have all experienced with relationships, there tends to be seasons as well. Recently, it has just felt like a cold, bitter winter at home. Realize the key word is “felt”. The problem was the actions because of the feeling. Another big part of my life ~ my book. The enemy is doing everything possible to discourage me and yesterday I reached the point of ‘why try?’. Yes, your uplifting blogger/author who has written about these times forgot her own words she wrote in her book and previous blogs. Then there’s the J-O-B. There is new management there and going back after being out for a while with a pinched nerve ~ it just doesn’t ‘feel’ right to me anymore. Again, the word ‘feel’ comes into play. On top of all of this my back is keeping me from taking care of a lot of things that need my attention!

Needless to say by the end of the day I was in tears and a wreck. I called Bob Stacy (my pastor) and we spoke. I told him how hard it is for me when I’m doing everything I can and it seems like no one else is doing their part (at least what I think they should be doing). I followed up saying “I don’t know what to do.” Bob replied, “Yeah, what can you do?” The words immediately went through every fiber of my being and out of my mouth ~ “Be Still…”

I seem to constantly be getting this reminder from God through every day trials. When I speak to others I always say “God’s got this!” and it’s repeated back to me over and over. Practice what you preach ~ that’s the lesson. As I continue to write and talk with others about having faith in God more trials come my way testing my own faith. Do I fail? I’m human ~ that’s why I hit the dark spots. That’s also why God puts others around us to help us up when we fall and need that encouragement, compassion, prayer, and even phone hugs. I remembered in James 1:1-2 we’re told to be happy and thankful for the trials. Through the tears I thanked God for the words He sent to me.

 How is everything today? I am much better! I listened when the Holy Spirit gave me the words ~ “Be still…” When things are chaotic, you’re trying your hardest, nothing is turning out as you need/want it to….just be still… You see, after you’ve done everything you can, just be still…leaving the rest up to God and watch what He does.

 I will close by dramatically quoting Psalm 46:10

 “Be still, and know that I…..AM…..GOD;”

 This is DeVaughn ~ bringing it home.

Bumps and Bruises

Growing up as a child my parents found it easier, and cheaper, to buy a pair of crutches for me. If anyone was going to get a broken ankle, sprains, stitches, etc. ~ I’m the one. Actually, Peter has informed me that shins were created to find furniture. So, I can honestly say at my house there are always a lot of bumps and bruises between Peter and myself; not to mention when the grandkids are here! We both have scars from everything from stitches, broken bones and again ~ finding furniture. Luckily, not every scrape has left a scar and not every bump caused bruising; just most of them did.

This reminds me a lot about life itself. Most of the time, the bumps and bruises we have as kids are from playing; there is always a little doctoring and most of them go away. Later in life, we realize that not all bumps and bruises are physical ~ the ones that linger are the ones that hurt the most. These scars are left from words and actions of others. Emotional bruising and scarring, no matter what happened, is the hardest to deal with. Many times because we have survived something we think we’re fine; only to realize years later how these scars have affected our lives many times over. As a survivor of rape and abuse I speak from experience. It wasn’t until I realized I haven’t dealt with it did the healing begin.

Now the question, how do we heal from deep emotional scarring? Step #1 ~ forgive. What? Forgive someone who did that/said that to me? Yes. Forgive. Read in the Bible and you will see over and over where Jesus tells us to forgive. It’s not an option. You need to realize that when you hold onto anger, bitterness, etc. the damage that it does to you physically as well  can be devastating. Forgiveness is for us, not the ones who caused the damage. They go about their everyday life while you sit around hurt as a ‘victim’. Once you have forgiven your status will change from ‘victim’ to ‘VICTOR’!

Also, remember that Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted. That’s what He’s there for; for you. Step #2 ~ pray. (Ok, so step #1 and 2 are linked together.) Ask Jesus to help you forgive and give this battle to Him. Paraphrasing here, but in Matthew Jesus tells us to come to Him and he will give us rest. As a child, the most comforting feeling was in Mama’s arms. We’ve all experienced that. As a child of God, the time you feel that same peace is when you go to Him, cry on His shoulder, and let Him do the healing.

This is DeVaughn ~ bringing it home.

The Bed Went Boom

Not too long ago my husband and I decided it was time for a new bed since we were both getting backaches from the old one. I found a beautiful bed on Craigslist for a decent price and the individual said she would include the mattress which wasn’t that old either. Wow, I thought I struck gold! Needless to say, the mattress wasn’t going to be around long after seeing it. The headboard and footboard though, they were absolutely gorgeous! As we were putting the bed together my husband informed me that the small boards on the side were NOT going to hold the weight. After deliberation we decided to try it out. After it was all put together with the mattress he sat down on it….all was well and looking good. Wait for it….yes, you guessed right. I decided to join him and sat on it and the bed went boom!!! He looked at me and smiled and said “Exactly when are you starting at the gym?” A few slaps later we turned and looked around and the bed was literally falling apart. The sides had come out of their groove and the headboard was leaning in and one of the posts looked as if it was going to fall any moment. We immediately got up and fixed the frame and proceeded to sleep in the living room that night.

The next day we headed out to get a new mattress set. Peter had mentioned building a frame for it to go inside of the bed frame. I then told him we were going to get a metal king size mattress frame meant to hold the mattresses and not take another chance. A few hours later the new mattress set and metal frame was delivered to the house. Peter used some L brackets and screwed the sideboards into the headboard and footboard of the bed for extra security. Once the bed frame was secured we put in the metal frame and mattresses and enjoyed a wonderful night of rest.

It reminded me a lot of our lives and how weak we are without God. Our lives are like the bed frame, looks beautiful other than minor scratches here and there and we think we’re doing well. Add some weight on and we’re still standing; a little more, yes we’re good because we’re still standing what we think as strong. I mean, if we haven’t fallen we must be ok. Then just one more thing and we break and fall to pieces. We look around and somehow our life has fallen apart.

It is at this point that most people realize they can’t do it on their own ~ they need God. That strength that comes with a guarantee like the mattress metal frame. So, we have what is needed to become strong in this whirlwind of life. With each trial we go through that we continue to have faith in Him throughout each storm, it’s another screw tightened in to increase the strength.

If life was as easy as to become saved and live happily ever after we wouldn’t see our need to have faith in Him. Throughout our trials we are blessed to experience His hand in our lives and we realize that alone we aren’t strong at all ~ but with Jesus at our side we have the strength to endure and He will be there for us ~ we just have to ask.

This is DeVaughn ~ bringing it home.

Casualties of War

Where do I begin with this one… I was sitting at my computer with my grandchildren in the living room watching TV. I heard my son come in and ask “Where is Mama? Where is Grandma?” I told him I was in the office. He came in and said “Can I have a hug?” in a whispery tone that was hard to understand him and I looked up and saw my son with tears streaming down his face as he was reaching for me. I stood up and held him as he cried telling me he didn’t know if he could take anymore. As a mother my instinct was to hold on and not let go ~ and we didn’t for a brief while. We then stepped out onto the back porch and talked. His heart was breaking due to his separation and upcoming divorce. There is no greater pain than to see your child in pain, no matter how old they are, and yet there’s nothing you can do or say that will make it better.

My son is an Iraq Veteran and I’m proud of him. I am blessed and grateful that he did come home; but, he didn’t come home the same. The issues he had from what he had gone through has taken his life and turned it upside down. He used to be real outgoing and love crowds whereas now, he can’t be in a large crowd without an anxiety attack. As his marriage was falling apart he finally went for some counseling and was diagnosed with PTSD, and praise God they gave him some medication that allows him to stay calmer.

 When he came to me the other day it took every ounce of strength I had to hold it together until after he left. I truly broke down myself and thought back to when I had reached that breaking point. On September 7, 2008, I had a seizure and fell down the stairs resulting in a compound and burst fracture of L5. After the results of an MRI telling me I couldn’t have back surgery because it was too dangerous I left a message for Rick Curren, III. I had worked for him in the medical field and knew his knowledge was vast and trusted his advice. What this meant was that I would be off of work for 2 months at least. I remember crying telling Rick that I was scared of losing my house. It was his response that made the impact. Not only did Rick remind me it was just a house and this was my health but the vital part was reciting the 23rd Psalm and going over the meaning of every line in it. I then felt a sense of peace.

 About 5 years earlier my mother’s Pastor told us that if you’re ever scared recite the 23rd Psalm 5 times a day. I went home that night and realized I couldn’t remember it after all these years. I took out my Bible and started reading it out loud. The first time was to remind myself of the words, I made it through the second time; but, about halfway through the third time I broke down crying turning to Jesus the way my son turned to me. I must add, I have never been the same since for it was at that very moment I felt His presence and went from being just a believer to having a relationship with Him.

 You see, even though my son made it home he still fights battles every day ~ we all do. Whether as a Veteran, survivor of rape and/or abuse, addiction, the list goes on and on. We all are casualties of some kind of war or another. When my son came to me for comfort after all of these years it gave me a glimpse into how Jesus felt when I came home to him that night. No matter what war you are facing ~ Jesus is waiting to give you His sense of peace ~ all you have to do is ask.

 

This is DeVaughn ~ bringing it home.

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