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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s Not Logical!
Many times over we as humans need something to make logical sense in our pea brains. Yet, the two major aspects I find in the Bible spoken of over and over doesn’t have any logic ~ faith and love. To “walk in faith” of an unknown God is held very true to my heart, yet doesn’t necessarily ‘fit’ into the logical realm of things. Love ~ it’s never logical! Ask yourself why you fell in love with your spouse. Again, there’s no logic to a feeling that you know with every fiber of your being to be real.
Sadly enough, many people choose to disbelieve in God because of the logical thought process. No matter how much people can debate back and forth on evidence, it isn’t logical. Even as a Christian I can say it isn’t logical and I DO believe and have faith! (I also love my husband. Hahaha!) In fact, when we met he wasn’t working so if I would have gone by ‘logic’ we never would have gotten married. When people asked me why I said it was because he brought me coffee. But, there was a connection with him I had never had with anyone else for no logical reason, yet it was there. At that time I let my walls down and got bit by the love bug. I had loved before and found I had never been ‘in love’ until that point in time.
As a Christian, I’ve always believed but it wasn’t until I broke my back and was alone on top of a mountain that I once again, let whatever walls down I wasn’t aware I had up, and got to know Jesus ~ I mean really have a relationship with Him. Some may say it was because I needed something to cling onto. Well, it remained the same once I got off my back ~ literally! We all go through spurts where our spiritual walk is better than at other times. I know I have since then and yet I still have that deep love for Him. Logical? You answer it.
I do know that many times over I giggle about the “illogical” aspects. Hear me out. An entity to speak words and the universe is created ~ and to top that one off, He already knows our history and future before creation! We are to walk in faith and believe in someone we haven’t seen or touched. OK, from the outside looking in logic has no place in belief. That IS where faith comes in. The last half of John 20:29 says “…Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed.” (MSG) Reading that assures me that I AM BLESSED!
I will close with this one statement. For those who believe no explanation is necessary; for those who don’t believe, no explanation is possible.
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.
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.
I am finding that people in our society today have become more materialistic than I have ever imagined. For example, it’s “cool” if you invest any money in a new car but take the same amount and invest it into your health, your smile, etc. and you’re considered foolish. Every dime we make is invested one way or another and we choose whether it is going to be something to benefit us for the long haul or to satisfy a fleshly craving. Of course, who doesn’t want the brand new car and/or European vacation and/or two week cruise?! We all want these things! As I get older I realize that where my money is invested is more and more important. Almost a toss up sometimes ~ be cool for a little while with newer things or be healthier longer. I choose the not so popular ~ healthier.
As we have also always heard time is money so how we invest our time is even more valuable than we consider. Do you spend too much time on the internet or Facebook? I know I have gotten caught up in it a few times. So, as always, let’s look a little deeper. Are you investing any time at all in your spiritual growth? How about checking the Word in the mornings to see what message God has for you BEFORE you check your emails, Facebook, etc. We are all guilty of this and can all use some improvement. How much time is spent talking with Jesus in your daily life? Do you pray often or more like an emergency room Christian ~ only when there’s a crisis. Prayer every day is really preventive medicine ~ helping our spiritual health.
I am going to encourage all of you throughout December to start incorporating Christ into your every day life and not just on Christmas. Let’s start little by little changing some of our routine to include Him. By starting this now, more like tomorrow being December 1st, by the time the new year arrives we’re already there! New Year ~ New You!
This is DeVaughn ~ bringing it home.