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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.

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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.

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.

Damaged

How many of you like to shop second hand stores? I know I do!!! Especially the thrift stores that still has the tags on brand name items, there’s just a minute flaw that hardly anyone could see! A lot of times the truth behind the saying “Another man’s garbage is another man’s treasure” comes into play as we hit garage sales, estate sales, consignment stores, etc. Now, there’s two different views that go with this ~ one is the shock that someone would actually get rid of something so wonderful and the other is the sales associate who can’t believe we’d want something with flaws. If we didn’t cherish “things” with flaws how can we love another human being? We’re all full of flaws!

As I’m heading towards the end of my manuscript to be submitted I realize that a large portion of my book I have put myself out there for everyone to know my mistakes, heartaches, flaws, etc. Once someone asked me why I would do that, let everyone know all about me. Well, I answered honestly. I just told him/her that my mother already knows everything about me and still loves me so what do I have to be afraid of? God still loves me!

Many times over so many people have gone through so much in their lives they consider themselves “damaged goods.” I know I did for a long time. Even though I didn’t say it, my subconscious was continuously reminding me how horrible I was because of all of my mistakes. Subconscious? More like the enemy! In a conversation with Rick Curren, III, I was asked “When did you make that conscious decision that you don’t deserve better?” That really hit home. I mean, I really had to look hard in my rear view mirror and realize when I did. It wasn’t a matter of “if”, my life already showed I “did.” Then came the reminder from my roots ~ Jesus thought I was worth it ~ why didn’t I?

One last thought ~ if Jesus thought we were worth dying for then why do we ever have low self-esteem? He knew we were damaged and yet gave his life for us! So, the next time you doubt whether you’re good enough, look at your past to evaluate who you are, etc. remember, Jesus loved you before you were born. He died so you could have salvation, He knew exactly every mistake you’d make and all of your flaws yet you were still worth dying for. You were worth it to Him.

This is DeVaughn ~ bringing it home.

To Be or Not To Be

Famous quote ~ “To be or not to be..” ~ my friends, that IS the question of the day. Lately I have experienced a lot of tragic circumstances in my life, the main being the passing of my mother. I still tend to pick up the phone to call her. Especially on these days that the walls of life seem to feel as if they’re caving in. Yes, I miss her and especially talking with her and getting advice from her; yet, the answers come to me as if she were on the end of the phone ~ always pointing me in one direction ~ God and His Word.

Yes, to be or not to be, it’s all up to me ~ and you. First, let’s take this in the mild top layer, success and happiness. It is totally up to us as individuals whether or not we will be successful and happy. To rely on someone else for either is a mild form of either ignorance or stupidity. Was that blunt and to the point? Yes. Does that make it not true? No. I have to continuously remind myself when I start feeling bummed that it’s up to me to make myself happy. Yes, there are those “low” days and sometimes phases that no matter how hard we try, for some reason we’re feeling bummed. Answer: pray it away. If not for yourself, pray for someone else. Repeat until all better. LOL. Sounds simple, it is. See, there was a time where I hated being alone and one particular night really stands out. I was dating someone who was agnostic and I didn’t want him to leave because I just felt so alone. His response before leaving, “If what you believe is true, you’re never alone.” Wow!!! That truly hit home! Why? Because it is the truth!!! A lot of times our unhappiness comes from the ‘feeling’ of being alone. Put on some good upbeat music, after praying of course, and start dancing, cleaning, whatever may take your mind off of how you ‘feel’ for it’s just that ~ a feeling; and feelings come and go. Tomorrow’s another day.

As always, everything has it’s layers. Let’s take a look at our Spiritual life. To be or not to be an every day Christian ~ yes, that choice is always up to me, and you. What does that mean? Have mercy people, open up your Bibles and read what that means! Loving and forgiving others, giving to those who are in need, not judging others; and the list goes on. Now, some people think that there’s so much you can’t do if you’re a Christian and living a Christian lifestyle. Again, read the Word ~ if you look closely you’ll find there’s a whole lot more do’s than there aren’t don’ts; so if you spend your time doing the do’s you don’t have time to even think about the don’ts. Ever feel like your life isn’t ‘exciting’? Go ahead, start walking everyday with Jesus and get ready for the ride!

Digging down deep now. Let’s take a look at our home lives as spouses. Our marriage, to be or not to be. “Things just aren’t like they used to be.” Nope, sure not. People grow up, have children, responsibilities and all of a sudden there’s the feeling of “I don’t have a life.” My friends, yes you do. That IS life! Satan continuously attacks in the home putting thoughts of what we’re “doing without” and our fleshly desires and he’s good at it. You have to realize it for what it really is. All of us have a tendency at some point or another of bringing up the past when disagreeing. Stop it! Satan wants you to look at the past so you can’t even believe in a wonderful future that God has in store! We’re human. We have flaws and we make mistakes. In 1 Corinthians 13 there is a verse that specifically states, and I’m paraphrasing, that love does not keep count of wrongs. Look it up! That’s God’s instructions! So, at this point we have a choice when we feel like all hope for our marriage is gone: our way or God’s way. To bring this “Christian” lifestyle and thoughts into our marriage will make your decision whether this marriage is to be or not to be.

Yes, we need to look back once in a while so we don’t continue to make the same mistakes. At the same time, don’t pitch a tent and camp there ~ there’s too much of a future ahead of you and you don’t want to miss out on what God has in store for us! God loves you and forgives you daily, show this love to others, especially within your own family. In every aspect of your life you have a choice. To be or not to be ~ you decide.

This is DeVaughn ~ bringing it home.

Gains and Losses

In the world of business decisions are made by looking closely at the gains and losses of investments. Analysis, budgets and many other reports by specialists are constantly being run and rerun before any action is taken. Once in a great while someone goes by their gut instinct, some call it a hunch, and ignore all of the numbers in the reports and go for it. Sometimes it turns out, sometimes it doesn’t. There are cases that companies have gone bankrupt only because of making that one decision; although, sometimes it has nothing at all to do with any decisions. After 9-11 happened the amount of businesses that folded were numerous which shows how it’s not always the business owners fault if it goes under.

This is not just in the world of business. We find ourselves always checking the numbers to make sure the bills can be made. The wonderful budget that lies in front of you always looks great ~ that is until life happens. We are not always prepared for emergencies and find ourselves re-working the numbers, otherwise known as “borrowing from Peter to pay Paul.” When it comes to having to purchase a new car, another home or any big investment, like major business owners we consult the numbers over and over to make sure it’s doable. Going into such an investment with numbers on the paper that support the decision doesn’t guarantee it will work out because once again, we have no control of the future.

The one thing that doesn’t fit our logical sense of profits, investments, gains and losses is a decision to do something when you know ahead of time you’re going to lose. To complicate it more is the thought of doing something that causes you to lose and someone else to gain. How many of us would be willing to give someone else everything we have and walk away with nothing? None of us would, not one. We would be willing to share as long as we would still have something but to walk away with nothing and give it all to someone else? Not! We are greedy by nature.

One person did the unthinkable ~ Jesus. He knew from the beginning of time that he would have to give his life for us to have salvation. Not just that, he also knew HOW he would die and how he would be treated. To top it all off he knew that even after he died on the cross he would still be rejected by most men. That decision doesn’t make sense when we think of gains and losses. Jesus was the Son of God and didn’t have anything personal to gain by his decision. He died on the cross out of love so we could have ~ His loss became our gain.

I will close with a short thought. The next time you don’t feel loved, you feel like you’ve done so much for everyone else and are forgotten by others; remember ~ Jesus thought of you when he made his decision.

This is DeVaughn ~ bringing it home.

Why Not Me?

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Here’s the short version of my history. I started having seizures and got epilepsy at the age of 9 and was constantly teased. My music and playing the piano was my comfort. In my teenage years I went through statutory rape from my friend’s father. Later I went through an abusive marriage, got fibromyalgia, died from a seizure resulting in PTSD, got carpal tunnel and had the surgery. I ended up with complications from the surgery and arthritis in my hands, can no longer play the piano and even writing increases the pain in my hands. Wow ~ a lot for one person? Maybe. Sometimes I wish it were different and I didn’t have all of this happen to me but – why not me?

When my son went to war someone once asked me if I was scared – DUH!!! I did tell them I was concerned but did view it as why not my son? Why did it have to be someone else’s? If I did lose him in war it would be honorable. I don’t know, maybe I’ve watched too much Star Trek and got the Klingon view. 🙂

Why am I sharing all of what others see as tragedies in my life? Too many people sit around with the “Why me?” attitude and not enjoy life. They feel sorry for themselves and get to a point where they just don’t care anymore. This is sad. You have to realize that we are here for God’s purpose and it’s not all about us. Also, if you go back and read Job you will realize that you don’t have it so bad. Read a little more into the chapter where Job starts questioning God and you’ll find that God asks him a few questions! I love that part! I am going to do some serious paraphrasing here but it all boils down to who are we to question why? It’s not like we created the universe and are all that and then some; yet, we question God. Did that one hit home?

You see, if God is going to use you the enemy will attack you because you are a threat to him. YES ~ you can become a threat to Satan!! You just have to realize it for what it is. When I went through everything when I was young all I said was I wouldn’t wish epilepsy on anyone, not even my worst enemies. And the statutory rape, well as long as he bothered me he was leaving someone else alone! Yes, my life has been a constant mess. But without a mess you can’t have a message!!! I was able to later counsel many people who went through similar things. I can take something good and ruin it but God ~ it’s so awesome how He takes something horrible and works it all for good. (Romans 8:28)

In conclusion, instead of seeing your life as “Why me?” try saying “Why not me?” God doesn’t call the qualified – he qualifies the called. Remember, because you aren’t sometimes seeing how what you have gone through has somehow helped someone else doesn’t mean that it hasn’t. It’s wonderful to be used by God and remember the ones who make the biggest difference in others’ lives are the ones who have gone through something. Change your view to ‘why not me’, give it to God and start watching what happens.

This is DeVaughn ~ bringing it home.

You Wouldn’t Understand!!!

“You just don’t understand!” How many times have you said or heard this? If I had a dollar for each time I’d be retired instead of tired. 🙂 Then again, there are those who say “I understand…” and have no clue because they have never experienced what you’re going through. I know after living with ‘invisible’ disabilities I have found myself in positions that I have to attempt to explain a lot and still others just can’t understand.

You see, we can all understand what it’s like to have a headache, the loss of a loved one, etc. but there are a lot of things we can ‘think’ we understand and truly don’t. Talk to a former war veteran and say you understand what they’re feeling and look at the expression they have then. If you’ve never been to war you couldn’t grasp the slightest clue to what it’s like and the nightmares they will live with. Rape, abuse, neglect ~ these are other categories that unless you’ve been there don’t say you understand. With that being said we all need to remember that everything is said in context. For example, there are those who think they have been neglected vs. those who truly have been.

Throughout the Holidays many people feel alone and get truly depressed. They are by themselves or possibly family issues from the past so holidays are hard. For some it’s going through another holiday season without someone they love. Many times we try to be encouraging to others when we see their pain and then go to enjoy a feast with our own loved ones. I know I can relate to this when my son was in Iraq, my family in Florida and me on top of a mountain in western North Carolina and I was single. I finally found that if I went ahead and put up a Christmas tree and played my Christmas music I felt better even though I was alone.

There is one person who does understand the feeling of being alone ~ Jesus. Yes, the Son of God truly understands that feeling. Think about it. Even though He had many followers He had only a few close friends, and even one of those betrayed Him and gave Him to the Roman soldiers for money. His ‘friends’ were nowhere to be found through His worst time and his closest friend denied even knowing him. So when you feel like no one understands ~ Jesus does. He understands feeling alone, being abandoned and mocked and ridiculed as well!

If you are someone who can help someone feel less alone, take that step. Trust me, the Holidays can be hard and I know what it’s like to wish someone would ask you over just so you wouldn’t have to be alone again. If you are someone who is alone ~ I do understand. Not that that helps you feel any better but I can tell you what will. Talk with Jesus. Spend your alone time with Him and getting to know Him better ~ for not only is He listening to you and will help you through ~ but He does understand.

This is DeVaughn ~ bringing it home.

Feeling Alone?

There’s not one person who hasn’t gone through times that they didn’t feel totally alone, even in the most crowded of rooms. When life starts getting rough it is too easy to fall into depression and most people stay to themselves more then resulting in an increase of aloneness. Others handle this feeling at the total opposite end of the spectrum and will stay out and keep themselves busy until they can no longer go anymore and then sleep. Any of this sound familiar? It does to me. None of us are strangers to feeling alone or depressed.

One thing to remember is that feelings are temporary and not to let them control your life. You can have multiple feelings at the same time in fact. Also, think about right after you get married and that cloud nine you’re on. Ah yes, the honeymoon stage. At some point you think something’s wrong with your marriage because you don’t “feel” the same as you used to. The cloud nine’s in life are wonderful but also temporary. In a marriage love is a commitment, not a feeling. Surprised? Well, be glad because being angry is a feeling too and you don’t want to stay angry your whole life either!!

There are a few things you can do to help bring yourself out of this funk. I have found that going for a drive, a walk, sitting by the river or waterfall, anything that surrounded me with beauty and God’s presence. Also, embrace these feelings and recognize them for what they are, temporary and then the next day make a commitment to yourself to do something that makes YOU happy and feel good. There have been many times when I was single and living on top of a mountain that I experienced feeling alone. When I finally realized what was going on I would make a tray of veggies, deviled eggs, cheese (you get the picture) and put in the frig. Then I would fill the bathroom with candlelight and soak in a hot bubble bath with smooth jazz music playing. After the bath I would bring out the tray of goodies, put in a movie “I” liked and would end up having a nice evening. After a good night’s rest and feeling at peace I would set out once again to conquer the world until the next time.

During all of this I continuously reminded myself that not only was this a temporary feeling but I was never alone for God is always with me. There were other times I just started cleaning with some great Gaither tunes playing and felt better because not only was I productive, but singing along with Gospel tunes lifted my spirits as well.

There’s no particular set thing (such as bubble baths, driving, walks)  for anyone to do to just make this feeling go “poof.” The one thing we can all do is pray and count on the fact that God is listening and He will help you through this time if you ask Him to. Also, remember you are not alone ~ we’ve all been there ~ it will get better. May God bless you all!

This is DeVaughn ~ bringing it home.

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