Contentment: Guest Blog by Pam Vaughan

Contentment…that is the word that I believed God had for me in January of 2011.  I now imagine God smiling at me and saying to Himself, “Oh, you will be content, but not at all like you think!”  The Bible says in Jeremiah 29:11“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I believed that then, but what I did not know, however, was just how that plan would unfold.

What I did know is that I did not want my life to be defined by the divorce I had been through in 2009-10.  I wanted people to look at me and see my faith.  I prayed that God would still use my life somehow for Him and His glory.

I can now look back at that time in my life and see God’s hand in amazing ways.  That road was the most difficult I have ever traveled.  God carried me every step.  Never could I have walked it alone.  His provision for me strengthened my faith in so many ways as He took me to peace and contentment using His word.

He also gave me provision through family and friends:  loving Christian friends provided a home for me to live in with laughter and a “soft place to land”;  other friends stepped in and did everything from calculating my taxes to fixing my vacuum cleaner; and on Saturdays, different friends would call and ask me to eat dinner or come to a ball game.  Also, my career as an elementary school teacher flourished as I was given the opportunity to teach other teachers.  God also provided a friend to exercise  with me several times a week and give  me wise council.  My dear childhood buddy gave me words from the Bible to strengthen my soul. My family loved and supported me every day.

I later found a place to move into that I called my “place of peace”.   What a Savior!  I could not have asked for more.  But then, God is not at all bound by our imaginations!  The Bible also says in 2 Corinthians 9:8 “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

I decided in April of 2011 to come home to North Carolina during my spring break at school.  My mom arranged for she and I  to attend  a monthly meeting of the women’s ministry of my home church, Ridgecrest Baptist in Durham, called “Ladies’ First Tuesday”, to hear a testimony about my friend Joan Francis, who had passed away in 2010, given by her husband Marc and their daughter Rae.  Of course, I wanted to be there.  Joan, Marc and I were longtime friends.  I loved them dearly.

After the meeting, Marc and I connected and decided to catch up on each other’s lives.  I could never have imagined what would come next! Our catching up as friends turned into dating, and dating has now turned into our coming marriage in March of 2012!

Beginning in the spring of 2011, God began to move in the most unexpected ways!  From the opportunity to move back to North Carolina and find a teaching position at a time when hiring freezes were taking effect to returning to my home church and to the family that I love, He has brought amazing blessings to me.

Neither Marc nor I would have said on the day we sat down to catch up that it would lead to our relationship today! Out of pain and sadness in each of our lives, God provided love.  I could not have even imagined that God would bless my life more than He already had in taking care of me and assuring me that He would indeed continue to use me.  My plans were so small compared to His plans!

I hope that my testimony will convey that God has unfailing love in our darkest days and gives grace beyond our understanding for difficult times.  And praise goes to Him that He blesses us beyond measure when we least expect it!

Pam was raised in Durham, NC, where she has now returned to live.  Her parents, Wayne and Adele Alford, live in nearby Hillsborough, NC. She graduated from Gardner-Webb College with a degree in elementary education and is now teaching in Durham Public Schools as a third-grade teacher. She has two young adult children, Jay and Jordan. Pam’s warmth and infectious smile endears her to all who meet her and she’s quick to give God the praise for the blessings in her life.

Home Again

Last week we vacationed in the Great Smoky Mountains with my parents, my two sisters, and their children.  The Rixies/Barnes/Plushes/Huffmans are an interesting mix of personalities, each with definite likes and dislikes.

My sweet mother always rents a place for the fourteen of us and then cooks herself silly (her own idea of a va-ca.  Go figure.)  The condos/house can be located in the mountains, at the beach,  or sometimes in an area with a historical bent.  Wherever we find ourselves, it is a time of being thrown together with extended family and lots and lots of personal free time.  (Personally, if I score a stack of paperbacks and a quiet place to read, I’m a happy camper.)  There are no established requirements on our vacation, other than to show up at the dinner table for Grandma’s meals.

In general, vacations are a great break from reality.    You get to:

  • Physically distance yourself from distractions of daily life
  • Strengthen family bonds, sometimes sorely tested in the day-to-day
  • Refresh and refill your tank with new experiences you otherwise might not have had

One thing Europeans have gotten right over the Americans is the duration of what they term a “holiday”–usually at minimum a two-week stay.  We Americans short-shrift ourselves to squeezing out one week at a time, with a day or two of that allotted for travel.  Hardly do you get unpacked in your room, before it’s time to gather it all up and go back from whence you came.

Regardless of how long they are, vacations are blessings from God.  Even with the extra preparations they require.  Even with the dreaded piles awaiting when you return.   On vacation, we can enjoy the beauty of God’s creation.  We can reflect on His goodness and His provision.  We can just be, if we wish.

Someday every believer in Jesus will embark on a getaway of a lifetime, to a wondrous place.  There will be no time crunch, no lowering of bank accounts, no dirty laundry, no emails out the wazoo.  Just zillions upon zillions of years in eternity with our Loving Savior–and that long to mix it up with our kindred tooling alongside us in heaven.  We will be enthralled with the most glorious of scenery, have the most magical air to breathe, fulfill the most extraordinary purpose ever–that of praising our Lord Jesus forever and forever, on into eternity.

All of that, without ever repacking a suitcase again.  Vacation = Permanent Home.

Hmmmm. . . I say, SIGN ME UP!  Are you ready to go?

Lookin’ up,

Sislyn