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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.

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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.

Disabled yet Abled

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As I wait for the answer from filing for disability our financial reigns get tighter and tighter. I called my attorney and was told that there was a small amount I could bring in and it wouldn’t affect the case. There was a restaurant that was thinking about hiring me to fix the carry out bags. Once they realized that Sunday morning and night and Wednesday night was out of the question due to my commitment to the church choir I was not what they needed. Anywhere I went I was not able to lift certain amounts and stuck to my guns about the time I have set aside for worshipping God. It didn’t bother me at all that things didn’t work out because of me sticking to my guns about my prior commitments to the choir; although, having to admit what I am not able to do has yet torn me apart again.

Having limitations after being independent my whole life has been, and still is, quite a daily struggle. I have always been able to do whatever it took to make ends meet and get the bills paid. Now, my whole life is twisted 180 degrees. Accepting that I have to file for disability was hard enough; much less to continue to have to try to explain to others about invisible disabilities. I don’t mind explaining; what I do mind is people judging what they don’t understand. My qualifications are off the chart between college degrees and previous job experiences. For financial stresses to be as they are and not being able to take the jobs offered to me because of my qualifications, I truly look in the mirror and wonder ‘why.’

So ~ the question boils down to what can I do? Well, yes I am disabled. As the title also reads “yet abled.” I am able to continue to put my faith in Jesus. I am able to worship His name and call on Him for the comfort I need through these emotional dark moments. I am able to witness to others how great our God is with the disabilities as a part of my life. I am able to share my experiences with you praying that it may touch at least one of you. Yes, I am disabled but definitely abled as well! Remember Phil. 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me.”

This is DeVaughn ~ bringing it home.

In The Midst of The Storm

It has been approximately six weeks since I have written. I am happy to be back. Ever notice how much life is planned out and looks great on a piece of paper ~ that is, until life happens. I have been staying in Florida to take care of my mother since January of 2011 and visiting my husband once every 3 months for a week or so. A week before I planned to travel home for 3 weeks this time, my mother fell and fractured her pelvis bones. I camped in the hospital for 5 days and nights with her and was able to rest and pack once she was moved to rehab. She was doing better so I continued my trip as planned to make my own doctor appointments. Within the time frame she went home and almost fell again ~ the results were her being so dependent on someone physically that my next visit would be to pack up all of my belongings and move back home. At the same time I got back from Florida with everything to finally unpack, the exact same day my son, his wife and two children moved in as well. He had gotten laid off and things had gotten bad quickly. At this point there are 4 adults, 2 kids and 3 dogs under the same roof. The mere fact that I haven’t gone to jail within the last 3 weeks has been proof that God truly exists and how wonderful His grace is! 🙂

I am facing many storms right now as you are too. We had not had the chance to start saving for whenever I came home for good so how we are going to make ends meet is all in God’s hands. The haunting sadness that I had to leave my mother in someone else’s hands due to my own limitations and that she is slowly drifting away; being the ‘strong’ mother for my son and his family while they face their trials ~ yes, we all have our storms we are facing every day.

Am I afraid? Sometimes, yes. The good part is that it’s ok to be afraid. In the Bible, and I’m paraphrasing here, we are told that when we are afraid to trust in Him; not if but when. Peter was walking on water with Jesus in the storm and was fine until he became afraid and it was then he started sinking. The reason was he took his eyes off of Jesus. He is our beacon in the darkest of storms that will guide our paths.

I want to urge you all, along with myself, to keep your eyes on Jesus throughout all of your storms. He is the Lighthouse!

This is DeVaughn ~ bringing it home…

When Tears Fall

Last night I was blessed by chatting with some Facebook friends I have made in the Philippines. One of them being a young girl whose parents’ home was destroyed in the typhoon. It now appears that her college will have to wait and this saddens her. She is truly devoted to her family and is trying to find a job to help. As she put it ~ a lot for a 17 year old.

We chatted for a couple of hours, which for me turned into wee hours of the morning due to time difference. My fatigue today and pain in my hands (arthritis) from typing so much was well worth it. Everyone wants to be strong and doesn’t want to let others see them cry. Crying is seen by most as a weakness but not in my book. It actually takes courage to cry and admit to yourself that you’re sad and/or emotionally exhausted. I also can never see crying as a weakness for in the Bible is the shortest verse ~ “Jesus wept.” Jesus was not weak in any way and yet even he cried.

The physical aspect of when someone cries is an emotional release which is healthier than keeping things bottled in. Stress builds up when negative emotions keep piling up which will harm the body. So yes ~ cry, scream, go take a walk, get into a cleaning frenzy ~ whatever works for you to release everything. It’s only after you do that your mind clears and you can start taking positive actions.

Life is full of it’s ups and downs. It is boot camp for heaven for it’s through these trials we learn to walk in faith. We always want to ‘fix’ things and this frustration comes when we find we’re not succeeding. The problem here lies we aren’t turning it over to God. My point of view is to turn it over to Him, he’s up all night! If He can create this whole universe I’m sure my issues are a walk in the park.

In closing ~ it’s when we feel we’re reaching the end of our limits when tears begin to fall. That is also the point at which God can start doing something because you finally are letting go of it.

God Bless you all ~ and may you let Him wipe away your tears.

This is DeVaughn ~ bringing it home.

Signs of Life

God has blessed me with His grace but left me out with grace walking in high heels. OK, so not just high heels, more like walking itself. My parents even found out it would be cheaper to buy me a pair of crutches when I was young. Unfortunately, sprained and broken ankles followed me into my adulthood as well. If nothing else I learned the one fact about pain ~ it reminds you that you are alive! Even emotional pain reminds you of this. Many times we get our heart broken and don’t feel we can go forward. When we take a moment to look back in time though we realize we obviously found a way. There’s always good that comes from pain. Sounds strange, doesn’t it? If someone hurts your feelings at least it shows you have a heart that is caring and loving. That in itself is a sign of life.

Remember when our children started walking and got many bumps and bruises, and it was up to us to ‘kiss and make better’ and yet we encourage them not to give up and keep trying. That lesson we teach them is the hardest to apply in life. The bruises will go away. The one saying we’re used to hearing is to take life one day at a time, one step at a time. Again, go back to an infant learning to walk. Part of walking is falling. Take that concept and bring it into your adult life. You’re going to fall, you’re going to get hurt, and that is life. There will be pain in your life and tears. These are all signs of life.

The wonderful part is that Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted. When we become saved, we are born again ~ once again learning to walk. As Christians we will fall, we will hurt, we will be hurt, we will have tears ~ we also have Jesus to turn to for our healing just like our parents were there for us, and we are there for our children. Remember, this is God the Father. As long as we keep getting up each time we fall, there’s always a sign of life.

This is DeVaughn ~ bringing it home.

Dress for Success

I recall reading the book “Dress for Success” back in the late 80’s with instructions on dressing for success in the business world. Everything from the length of your skirts to your fingernails was covered. One thing that I read in the book that really stuck in my pea brain was what was known as “power” colors – black and red. I guess there was a definite need for books on dressing for the corporate world just as there are for etiquette.

When I first became a Mary Kay Beauty Consultant my nightmare started in building my dream. I was to wear dresses or skirts. I am such a tomboy that the only time my husband had seen me in a dress was on our wedding day, at least until Mary Kay came into my life. It was the best decision I had made. Within a few short days, I started becoming the woman I wanted to be without knowing that was my dream. In fact, my husband told me I went through the “Miss Congeniality” transformation overnight! J One thing that was suggested through the years of success by Mary Kay Ashe was to dress for business even when you’re working at home. Sure enough, it does affect how much you get done, your focus, and even affects your conversation while you’re on the phone. I am so grateful for that suggestion – especially today.

It is hard to dress for more than lounging around while taking care of my mother. Usually my day consists of staying inside and no company. Her house is out in the country, so any occasional visitors are family. I knew I needed to get back to writing and remembered the simple suggestion of getting dressed for work even in your home. I sprang up, got a shower and got dressed for work. Writing may not include the same dress as Mary Kay did, but sitting around in lounging outfits had made me want to do just that – lounge around.

As I was getting dressed, and all of these thoughts ran through my mind, I thought of dressing for success as Christians. In Ephesians, we are told all about the armor of God and to wear it daily. So, in our everyday terminology let’s break it down. Are you dressed in God’s armor? Carrying His sword, etc.? As always, I’m going to go another layer deeper. Everyone can picture this outfit (armor). So what about the bling? Ladies, you know what I’m talking about! Guys, you accessorize as well. J In this instance, our accessories are things like our attitude; are we forgiving; are we positive, and that list you can finish without me. The deepest layer ~ are you wearing Jesus? Can someone look at you ~ everything from how you dress, your eyes, your conversation down to your smile ~ and see that Jesus is first and foremost in your life? Can they see Him at all or do you save that face just for church time?

In closing, I urge you to not only make sure you are wearing God’s armor in your daily life, but to accessorize with His Son.

This is DeVaughn ~ bringing it home.

Proof of Faith

Day by day we encounter the unexpected, otherwise known as life. The budget looks great on paper, until…; the trip was going smoothly until…; break it down even smaller, the day was going great, until… Yes, life happens and we are never 100% prepared no matter how hard we try. Those who live with faith in God tend to handle these times a little better than those who try it on their own. Then again, remember most of us have learned by trying on our own to have that faith.

Is there proof that faith in God really helps? Look in the scriptures. Noah was told to build an ark when there was a serious drought going on. By having faith and obedience in God he did and was saved from the flood. Moses was at the Red Sea with armies chasing to slaughter all of them. Through obedience and faith he raised his staff as instructed and the seas were parted. Abraham just packed everything up and left not knowing where he was going to go but had faith in God that all provisions would be taken care of. Serious paraphrasing here ~ Jesus does tell us that if he would take care of a sparrow’s needs, don’t we think we’re more valuable than that sparrow to him?

Now it’s time to take a look at ourselves. When we encounter an until…do you panic? Do you worry? Do you immediately pray or do you take it on yourself and then if you can’t work it out, then pray? Most of us fit into the latter category. We always tend to want to be in control and just jump in and take care of it, no matter what it is. How many times do you stop and pray for guidance before you do?

In closing, my thought/question for the day is ~ do live your life with faith in God or just claim you have faith in Him? Can others who know you see this faith as they could with Abraham? Does your life show others proof of faith? Always remember, the way you live your life is a testimony to others.

This is DeVaughn ~ bringing it home.

Time Out

Now since the feast is over, kitchens are once again clean, and refrigerators are stuffed with leftovers it’s over, right? Well, it’s just beginning! After the long hours of preparation and cleaning many went mad with shopping – the Black Friday sales!! Ha ~ after spending your day being thankful for all you have only to run out and stomp over people to get something you don’t have. Today everyone is still shopping for the sales and what might be leftover from last night. This is not even including family that is still visiting and/or stopping by. The next few days will be watching football. If you notice in that game, at least the coaches know when to call a time out for the players to regroup and get a good strategy going. Do you call ‘time out’?

In this fast-paced, highly competitive world we live in people have forgotten the most valuable commodity of life – time. It is the one thing you can never get back, once the moment has passed it’s gone only to be a memory. Right now in my life I am staying with my mother in Florida to take care of her and visiting my husband and doggies once every 3 months. In more ways than one have I learned the value of time. As we hit the adult years busy with our own lives and growing up we forget that somewhere along the line our parents were also growing older. When I came down I didn’t expect it to be this hard either. Spending every day watching someone slowly drift away wondering where all the time went. On the flip side, you really appreciate the time with your spouse and being able to see them daily. So, going from 24/7 caregiver to wife back to caregiver, repeat ~ survival requires prayer and asking God for strength and one more thing – an occasional time out.

Some of you can relate to what I’m doing and others can relate between kids, spouses, jobs, housework, etc. STOP!!! Take some time for yourself. For some it’s hard and I have had to learn it myself. Now though, I truly enjoy it. Just for a few hours if nothing else I take time out for me. Also, if you don’t you will not be good for others.

God instructed us to take time to rest. If He rested on the seventh day don’t you think we need to? We are not created to be able to continually go without this rest. We are also told to take time out to talk to God and be in His Word. Is that on your list of things-to-do? If not, re-work your schedule. Make the time in your daily routine to spend with Him. Life truly is better when you do!

In closing ~ you’ve taken the time to prepare the feast, entertain family and friends, shop, etc.; make sure to take a time out for yourself for mental and physical rejuvenation. Most importantly, take time out with God.

This is DeVaughn ~ bringing it home.

Just today?

Happy Thanksgiving everyone and thank you for stopping by! This will probably be shorter than you are used to reading due to the fact that I, just like you, suffer from the exhaustion of the holiday. It is the one time of the year that family and friends come together, have their traditional dinner and catch up. It is also the time of year where everyone will start listing on Nov. 1st what they’re thankful for. My thought today is why just today? Why do we only get together as a family for holidays? Most importantly, why aren’t we just as thankful everyday? I will share my list here with the world ~ I am thankful for:

Jesus dying on the cross for me; my parents who guided me in walking the right paths; my son, who not only is my miracle but taught me more about unconditional love (all parents learn to have it); my husband, my everything; all of my friends, both those I personally know and those I have gotten to know but not yet met; last but not least ~ each one of you. You encourage me every day to continue to write with your comments, likes, etc. As an author that is priceless, and I thank you.

May we carry this gratefulness we have today all year through.

This is DeVaughn ~ bringing it home.

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