BROOKSVILLE — With Thanksgiving being celebrated next week, Christian recording artist Damaris Carbaugh says she has a lot for which to be thankful this year.
Carbaugh, 53, will share some of her thoughts about thankfulness at 6 p.m. Friday when she presents a concert at Brooksville Wesleyan Church.
"We've just seen some beautiful things in God's faithfulness and graciousness," Carbaugh said in a recent interview.
Her 79-year-old mother's successful recovery from heart surgery earlier this month is one of them.
"They gave her medicine after the surgery that was supposed to take 24 to 48 hours to normalize her heart because it was going really fast," Carbaugh said. "In three hours my mother's heart was normal. The nurse said this never happens. And the next morning, she was sitting up in a chair. God is so sweet to touch her in this special way."
Carbaugh shared another recent blessing for which she will be grateful this Thanksgiving.
"I've just come through something quite difficult that my husband and I have been dealing with for three years," she said.
Two weeks ago, deeply troubled by the problem, which she didn't identify, Carbaugh decided to spend a couple of days seeking a solution through fasting and prayer.
During her second day of fasting, Carbaugh received an answer to her prayers that she wasn't expecting.
Carbaugh was overcome with conviction.
"What I had called a struggle was just flat out unbelief," she said. "I had been worrying and had connived to find a solution myself instead of trusting the Lord with it."
Carbaugh decided to trust her problem to God for however long it would take him to resolve it.
"When I realized I'd been doing such a poor job in trusting the Lord, immediately I felt that I needed to write to specific people that I had been encouraging to worry with me and ask them to forgive me. I just laid it out and showed them what God showed me and told them, 'This is finished as far as I'm concerned, because God is in control and God is going to work in this problem in an incredible way.' "
Carbaugh typed the letter into an e-mail and was ready to hit the send button when the phone rang.
"I received a call that brought clarity to this problem that had been going on for three years," she said. "The answer came literally the moment I humbled myself and asked God to forgive me and then asked forgiveness from these precious people who I've been such a poor example to.
"So I don't think I'll be forgetting this for many Thanksgivings to come, let alone just this one."
Named after a woman in the Bible (Acts 17:34), Damaris Carbaugh was reared, the middle of three daughters, by an evangelist mother and gospel singer father. Her grandfather was the pastor of a church in the South Bronx of New York City.
"When I give my testimony, I tell people there's nothing more glorious than being surrounded by people who love and fear the Lord," Carbaugh said about her upbringing.
When she was 3 months old, in the days before Fidel Castro took power, Carbaugh's parents moved to Cuba to serve as missionaries. A year later, they moved to Puerto Rico. Their daughters spent their childhood years between there and New York.
By the time she was 11, Carbaugh knew she wanted to sing, and as a teen she sang in a trio with her sisters, accompanied on the piano by their father, at her mother's evangelistic meetings.
Carbaugh, whose voice today is rich and velvety deep, jokes that she is a "baritone with a skirt on." But in her youth, she sang soprano.
At 15, she was asked to sing at a recording studio. Despite having made a decision to give her life to Jesus Christ when she was 8, Carbaugh decided to pursue a secular singing career. She made recordings, sang jingles on the radio for products such as Coca-Cola and Wrigley's Doublemint gum and signed a recording contract with CBS Records.
"I thought what I believed and what I was surrounded with was wonderful," she said. "I just had my own plans, and I wanted God to bless my plans."
The album she released for CBS in 1984 "went nowhere."
Carbaugh began singing with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir and Singers as a soloist and appeared on many of their albums.
In 1988, her life took a new direction. Upon visiting some Christians in Argentina who were living in poverty, she was struck by their devotion to God, despite their circumstances. At that point, according to her Web site, Carbaugh "felt a need to give herself wholly to God and began praying for ways to use her talent for him."
Two years later, she was asked to sing on the Day of Discovery television program produced by Radio Bible Class of Grand Rapids, Mich. When the ministry formed Discovery House Music, Carbaugh was asked to be the label's first solo artist.
Today, she has 13 CDs and a DVD. Her time is devoted to her manager husband, Rob, and her two grown children and to giving concerts, teaching women's seminars and ministering in her church in East Harlem in New York City.
Among many testimonials on her Web site is one by author and Bible teacher Priscilla Shirer.
"Damaris Carbaugh is one of the most moving musicians I've ever encountered," writes Shirer. "Her voice is a unique mix of mellow tones and soothing harmonic charm that one doesn't encounter often. More importantly, the anointing on her life to deliver God's word through song is evident, not merely by the way she sings but the way she lives. She and her family are a gift to the body of Christ."
Of her life now, Carbaugh says: "I don't want a career. I just want to be faithful. And I have so much for which to be thankful."