Category Archives: Encouragement

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.

Lessons From a Dog

All throughout life we learn lessons. Some are taught from books but most of them seem to be from mistakes made; which in some cases makes the mistake worthwhile, as long as one did learn the lesson. Then there are those of us who seemed to not grasp it and made the same mistake over and over again (at least a few more times). One mistake I made within the last few months was not continuing to write.

In May I had received bad news regarding my Pomeranian mix, Bella. She was diagnosed with an extreme case of IVDD (spinal disease). The most we could do for a while was treat her with meds to keep her comfortable. Before we go any further ~ let me describe Bella for you. Physically she had the coloring and shape of a miniature German Shepherd. She didn’t have the usual Pomeranian tail. In reality, she barely had one at all, just a cute, little stub. Possibly due to this is why when she was happy she would wag the whole bottom half of her body while tap dancing on the floor. She was always “smiling”, friendly to other humans and dogs, and stole the heart of everyone who met her. Aside from that, she was my best friend. She kissed the tears from my eyes, cuddled next to me and felt the need to be my protector. As the head of the pack, she took care of everyone. Now you can imagine my Bella girl. On with the story…

For a couple months Bella seemed to be doing fine and needing only minimal medication. Here’s where God’s plan and His hand once again took control of my life. Through Facebook, I had started a prayer chain for a wonderful boy, Odin. I was blessed to meet Debbi Willis, breeder of working German Shepherds, Stone Creek Shepherds. We started talking due to Bella but had met because of Odin. Shortly down the road Peter got a beautiful, black German Shepherd, Diamond. Within 2 weeks God had dealt the hand and Debbie brought one of her service dogs, Zeus, to me for a new home. What a beautiful, big boy he is! Zeus and Bella hit it off from the very first day and became buddies. Within another week we realized Bella had given Zeus approval for taking care of me ~ changing of the guards. The next two weeks those two were practically joined at the hip. I felt my world was complete. Diamond was once again in the house with Peter and I had Zeus and Bella. My friends, hold onto those special moments….

A few days later the Chihuahuas also joined the pack inside and everyone was feeling their place out. Wednesday night, I brought Bella out on the porch because she didn’t care to join everyone; instead, she laid on her favorite couch. I was feeling emotional about the reality that one day I would have to put her down. She started licking my tears and gave me more love that night than ever before. I was thanking God for my blessings and my Bella girl. As I spoke with Debbi I told her it would be easier for me if something happened to her than to hope I know when the right time is. God heard me.

Thursday morning Peter woke me up telling me we had to take Bella and put her down. To not go into the details I can tell you God did hear my words; something happened and I took her to the vet. She remained stoic and leaning on me. As she was crossing over the Rainbow Bridge, I was there telling her it was ok ~ she could go ~ Zeus will take care of me ~ I love you ~ it’s ok…

We took her home and the dogs watched intensely from the porch as Peter buried her. For two days we have all mourned, especially me and Zeus. I looked at Peter that night and told him “Babe, we need to learn from this. We’re always so busy taking care of things we keep putting “us” off. It could’ve been one of us.”

The more I thought about Bella the more I realized that she taught me some very important life lessons:

  1. Always smile through the pain.
  2. No matter how silly it looks, always have a smile and a little dance when your man comes home.
  3. Kiss away the tears of your loved ones.
  4. Always be friendly and protective of all.
  5. Live in the moment. Love in the moment. Let your life make a difference.

This is DeVaughn ~ bringing it home.

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Following Orders

It’s amazing how from the day we’re born until we gasp for our last breath we seem to always be taking orders from someone. As a child we take orders from our parents, maybe older siblings, teachers, etc. Then we think we’re out of the house and can do what we want. NOT! If you go to college you’re taking orders from professors when each assignment and exam will be due. Once in the work world, always taking orders from bosses. Then one day we all dream of the day of bliss ~ marriage ~ which once again leads to what? Taking orders. Then life becomes even more twisted when you’re giving orders as a parent, only praying that your guidance will make a difference.

Following orders is the hard part of life. In the military there is a specific chain of command and everyone, no matter the rank, is always taking orders from someone else. Respect is shown to those in authority due to protocol, whether you agree with them or not. It’s a shame that in every day life people tend to lose that aspect of showing respect to those in charge. Then again, there’s always consequences when one doesn’t follow orders; not just in the military.

Take a look back at Jonah and where He ended up by not following orders. Just a small example but it makes the point. In the Bible we are given guidelines as Christians but do we follow them? Are we praying a lot? Are we in the Word a lot? Oh, and then what do we do when God does call on us? Are we obedient as Abraham was or do we run like Jonah?

In my book, “The Naked Truth”, in one of the chapters I touched on answering God’s call and how vital it is to do so. There are three people who have impacted my Christian life because they did answer His call ~ Rick and Tanya Curren, and Bob Stacy. If they had not answered His calling, I tremble at the thought where my life would be now. Not only did they talk with me about my spiritual walk, but were all very encouraging about me writing the book and following God’s call for my life

As a pianist, after you perform you hear by applause if people enjoyed your performance. As an author, sometimes you hear what people think but it’s few and far between. It was because of lack of response there has been a dead space in my writing and blogging. I was beginning to wonder if I misunderstood God’s calling ~ until this last weekend on Valentine’s Day.

I spoke at Ardenwoods in Arden, SC. In January I spoke there and took copies of my book to give to the congregation as they had become family to me. Saturday, the 13th, I received a phone call asking for more books and if I would bring them for those who weren’t there to receive one. That in itself put me on cloud nine with all of the compliments that followed in the voice mail. Of course, I was happy to take some more! I spoke Sunday morning on God’s love for us and how we show our love for God. Afterwards, the gentleman who plays the organ started talking privately with me. He’s 94 years old and cancer now has hospice visiting him once a week. He talked with me about what he’s going through and stated he wasn’t ready because he wasn’t assured of his salvation. We spoke for a while, Bob Stacy joined in and tears were flowing. We prayed and then we all went to brunch. I was informed then that they have been trying to talk with him about his salvation for 12 years, yet I made the difference. To be blunt about it, God used me as His vessel.

What I’m trying to emphasize is how important it really is to follow God’s orders when he calls on you. If I had not written this book, started speaking and gave some away, this wonderful man may still not be assured about his salvation in his final days. Seeing how God works using just one willing person to help someone else in their spiritual walk was truly a blessing. Others have affected mine and I saw the difference ~ but to think that God could use me? He can use anyone!

I shared this with you to remind you how much of a difference you can make in someone’s life. You don’t have to be an author or speaker, just be you ~ the perfect you that God created. When you’re feeling that tug to speak to someone about Jesus, don’t be afraid for the Holy Spirit will guide you. We are all witnesses and it’s everyone’s job, not just the pastor, to be talking with others about Jesus. I urge you to look beyond yourself, step out of your comfort zone ~ make a difference today.

This is Devaughn ~ bringing it home.

I’ll Be Home for Christmas

The song “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” was released by Bing Crosby in 1943 and was written in perspective of the soldiers serving in WWII. This one song touched me more than normal one particular Christmas. I was living in North Carolina and couldn’t afford to go home. That previous August I saw my son before he was to be deployed to Iraq. I couldn’t go home and my son was at war ~ I couldn’t even listen to the song without heartfelt tears streaming down my face. Since then, every Christmas when I hear this song my heart goes out to everyone who can’t be home for Christmas, no matter what the reason.

The Christmas season is one of joy, festivities, families get together and don’t forget ~ exchanging of gifts. Ah, but it is really? Amongst all of the hustle and bustle most people tend to forget the true celebration of Christmas ~ the birth of Jesus Christ our Lord. The greatest gift we have ever received was this child born in a manger who came for no other reason than to save us all. He took off His crown and came to be born a human man ~ man and God in one. Born a child of a mere carpenter, He was born a King. It is truly remarkable when you think about it ~ Jesus being born in a stable yet the King of the world. He left His home to come to ours ~ to give us the gift of salvation.

As Christmas nears and everyone is considering all of the gifts, both bought and what you will receive, please take the time to remember the greatest gift of all ~ the birth of Jesus Christ for our salvation. If you have not taken the opportunity to ask Jesus into your heart, please click on contact me, send me a message and let me speak with you. If throughout the hustle and bustle of life you have been away for a while, give Jesus the greatest gift you could ~ pray and talk with Him and tell Him “I’ll be home for Christmas.”

May God Bless you and your family throughout this joyous season! Merry Christmas!

This is DeVaughn ~ bringing it home.

Who Do You Listen To?

In March I pinched a nerve and was laid up for quite a while. Only recently was I able to go back to work and only light duty for 3-4 hours at a time. I am happy because I’m finding that each day I can do a little more without bad pain! Praise God! My first day back was great! I felt like I came home seeing familiar faces. There were new faces as well but it was great seeing everyone again. Our GM passed away in July and it was the first time I worked without him. He was wonderful at what he did and who he was. So, here I go back happy to see everyone and anxious to get back into the swing of things. Needless to say, the swing wasn’t what I was familiar with. Of course, there’s always some drama in every workplace. I got bombarded with so much just a short amount of time back I didn’t know who to believe! As always, I sat back and watched and let the truth unfold.

Just this experience made me think of life itself. We all have those “voices” that tell us right from wrong ~ but which one do we listen to? Do we justify our actions and words by telling ourselves lies or by convincing ourselves that it’s not really that “wrong” (whatever ‘that’ is)? These are some powerful questions for all of us, definitely worth taking time to think about.

Recently, I was counseling someone and spoke about finding strength and peace in God and His word. She mentioned she had a Bible app and devotionals. All of that is great ~ but, my first instruction was to get rid of the technology and pick up the Book. Yes, you read correctly. Many times over we find ourselves so caught up with technology that we listen constantly to others on videos, their thoughts, etc. Pick up the Bible itself, hold it close to you. There’s something supernatural that happens every time I pick up the Bible itself; then more so by reading it.

I want to urge everyone to take the time away from what everyone else is saying and listening to ‘their’ thoughts and words. Pick up the Bible and let God speak to you; especially in today’s world with so many wrong teachings of His word. The Bible has answers for every question about what you need to do when you have questions. You may not like the answer but it’s there. We always ask other people what to do, what they believe, etc. and yet He is the last one that is turned to for answers and guidance instead of being the first one we should go to. So, in closing I ask you ~ who do YOU listen to?

This is DeVaughn ~ bringing it home.

Remember when…

The other night my son was over and we were all on the back porch talking about “back in the day.” The conversation consisted mainly of the early years which included the stupid things we all did as kids, teenagers and early adulthood. It also made me think of when I took care of Mama during her last two years of her life. Even though she had dementia and her short term memory was not its greatest, she had no problem remembering even the fine details of things I did growing up that even I forgot! Hahaha! Not to mention she had no problem reminding me of them as well…

It’s interesting to look back at who you were and who you are now. Hopefully, everyone sees growth in themselves. I love thinking back in childhood years about good family times we had and my friends growing up. Even though some of us went different directions, there are still some that have remained true and by my side that I know will be there forever. It’s so neat when we talk and reminisce years gone by and laugh so hard about the mischief we got into.

Ah…but lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about heaven. How wonderful it will be to have an eternity with no pain, no sorrow, and no problems. I also thought about what it would be like to be sitting with Jesus and how the conversation might be. One aspect hit me ~ to look at Him and say “Remember when…” and His reply before I would even finish my thought would be “No.” Wow! That was quite a realization. In the Bible we are told that when we ask for forgiveness for our sins it is thrown as far as from the east to the west and remembered no more. So, that ends that conversation right there. The conversation may continue with Him saying “Remember when…” and pointing out something good you did that helped someone else, but it will never be about your mistakes if you have asked forgiveness.

I urge you to think about this concept for a while. Do you ask for forgiveness daily? I know lately I have come shy of asking for forgiveness in my prayers. In Corinthians 13 we are also told that love doesn’t keep count of wrongs. Just as our wrongs will not be thrown up in our face we need to try to live a life where we don’t throw up someone else’s wrongs in theirs. May all of our “Remember when(s)…” be positive and of good times when we speak to each other.

This is DeVaughn ~ bringing it home.

Reflections

I looked through my Timehop app and saw photos from when we first bought our home. We made sure everything was brought in one at a time and put up before something else was brought in. It was meticulously clean and organized. As I sat on my back porch and looked around and walked through my office I wondered what happened! I sat in my office looking around and saw pictures of our wedding. You can always see that look of love in the eyes in wedding photos. Years later, life goes on and things aren’t what they were. Yes, the love is still there, but getting caught up in everyday life and its demands, exhaustion is what is seen in most couple’s eyes. The house? Well, it’s still nice but not as organized. It’s lived in. These reflections made me desire days gone by; the thrill and intensity of the love when one first gets married; how wonderful the house looked when first bought, not to mention the smaller sizes I was wearing! My, how time changes things.

Time does change things whether we are aware of it or not. For instance, our home does look better in some ways due to new carpeting and paint. It’s just the hectic part of life that causes it to not get the attention I would like for it to, not to mention my health getting in the way. Love, it’s always there, just different. We all tend to get into our routines that sometimes it can feel empty. Remember when you first got married how every good-bye and hello kiss was so wonderful? Years later, even though the feelings are still there, it’s a peck on the cheek. And of course, as we age our metabolism slows down and all of a sudden those jeans shrunk!!!

Looking back at the photos was a reflection for me; it made me think of how things were and how they are now. Why is there such a difference? We allow the difference a little at a time and before you know it, bam ~ it slaps you down! I sat and thought more about differences and what I may have possibly allowed to dwindle down. The worst one, the amount of time I spend in devotion and in the Word. I’ll never forget how strong I was when I would come home, read some of the Word and also Joyce Meyers’ books. I wasn’t watching TV or on the computer, I didn’t even know about Facebook. I was happy and my faith was strong and there weren’t any dark days. My love for God hasn’t changed and for sure His love for me hasn’t! The difference is how much time I’m not spending with Him relative to how much I was, and how it has affected me, my attitude, my walk ~ my whole life.

So go ahead, have a “throw back Thursday” as they say on Facebook. Take a look back at your spiritual life when you felt closest to God and see what is different now and why. I say it’s time for an old-fashioned house cleaning before the winter sets in. Not just the ‘house’ ~ but ourselves as individuals as well ~ as a parent, as a spouse ~ as a child of the King. If your reflection today isn’t what you want it to be, there’s no better time to change it than today.

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.

It’s the Little Things

My birthday was in April and it was the hardest day I have experienced in a long time. It was the first time I didn’t have Mama to call and sing me Happy Birthday. Sound silly to you? Well, in a way it did to the logical side of me as well. At the same time, I found myself crying on and off all day for it really made me miss Mama even more. I also realized how much it meant to me that she did that every year. Just a simple phone call and her singing to me. When I was working and she couldn’t reach me she would still sing Happy Birthday on my answering machine at home or voice mail on my cell. Another hard lesson how much the little things in life really do matter and not to take them for granted.

Many times over I have heard girls speak of the expensive gifts their boyfriend / husband got them. When I was asked why I married Peter my answer was, “He brings me coffee in bed.” The days I’m in extreme pain he gets me an ice pack and moves my heat pad to the living room so I can at least lie on the couch and watch TV. He may despise some of the little things he has to do when I’m laid up, but sooner or later he will get to it. So many little things day after day that seem to go unnoticed, and probably do once in a while; it’s these little things we need to remember when times get hard.

Recently, everything that could go wrong has. The enemy has been attacking us from every direction from health to finances. It’s time to remember the little things that God has always done for us during these times. For example: the many times He calmed my storms when I have been close to a seizure, the many times He has provided financially at the last minute, the time He sent an officer to help us out of a ditch we slid into on an icy road, and the list goes on and on. Every day God blesses each of our lives but because it’s not a major bush burning experience we tend not to pay attention to the little things He is doing and working in our favor.

I want to take the time to urge you to STOP! Stop worrying and start praying and praising. Take the time to remember when He has been there for you to help you through the times you are going through now. Start living in faith instead of talking about having faith.

This is Devaughn ~ bringing it home.

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