Revive Our Hearts Podcast

What Grace Is Mine

Leslie Basham: Damaris Carbaugh grew up knowing about God, but on a trip to Argentina, she saw people who really knew God. They had something she was missing.

Damaris Carbaugh: The way they loved the Lord shook me and immediately convicted me.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts for Monday, May 19, 2014.

Damaris Carbaugh: (Singing)

I want Jesus to walk with me.
I want Jesus to walk with me.
All along life’s pilgrim journey,
Lord, I want Jesus to walk with me.
1

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Well, we’re listening to the title song of a new CD called Walk With Me, and the artist is my good friend, Damaris Carbaugh. I’m so delighted that this week we can have Damaris with us in the studio.

Damaris, thanks for joining us. It’s been a long time, and I’m just so delighted that our Revive Our Hearts listeners can have a chance to meet you.

Damaris: Nancy, the pleasure and the joy is all mine. I really mean that. I’m delighted to be here. Thank you for inviting me.

Nancy: Well, we’ve known each other for a while, and you and your husband, Rod, are in the area. You’re going to be doing a concert in our area later this week. When I found out you were going to be here, I said, “Could you come, and just let’s have a conversation?”

I like my listeners to meet my friends because so many of my friends, like you and Rod, really love Jesus, and you make me love Jesus even more.

Damaris: Good!

Nancy: I just like to have you rub off on me, and I know that our listeners are going to be so delighted to get to know you. So, just thanks for this opportunity.

Damaris: Oh, you’re welcome.

Nancy: We’re just going to have a chat here and get to know you and a little bit of your story. We’re also going to make your CD, Walk With Me, available to our listeners if they support this ministry with a donation of any amount this week. We’ll send that as our way of saying “thank you.” I know it will bless many of them as it has me over these last weeks since it became available.

Damaris: Wonderful.

Nancy: Damaris, you are a singer and a conference speaker. I actually think I first heard about you when a friend of mine who had built my house had come to know Jesus while he was building the house. He started listening to your music as a brand-new Christian.

Damaris: Wow! How wonderful.

Nancy: He started telling me about Damaris. I just didn’t know much about a lot of contemporary Christian music, but he introduced me, I think, to your music. And it’s been such a blessing to me and to a lot of others as well.

Damaris: Oh, that’s wonderful.

Nancy: Singing at one point was really your life.

Damaris: Yes.

Nancy: I want you to tell a little bit about that story, but give us a little background. How did you first came to know Jesus? Then let’s talk about how music became such an important part of your life.

You grew up in a Christian family?

Damaris: Absolutely, and for that, I always tell people, I’m so grateful. My grandfather was the pastor of a Spanish-speaking church in the South Bronx in New York City, and my mom was an associate of his. She worked alongside him. So I was born in church. I mean, I tell people, I think the first thing I ever focused on was a pew. That was my playground. That’s where I grew up.

So church life was how I was raised. My childhood years were spent between New York City and Cuba for one year before Castro. I went there right after I was born and then came back to New York City. Then we spent three years in Puerto Rico and then came back to New York.

I remember that I did second, third, and fourth grades of elementary school in Puerto Rico. When I came back, in fifth grade, about ten or eleven years old, that’s when I realized that I wanted to sing more than anything else. I was struck by music, I think, while living in Puerto Rico.

My father started a children’s choir in Puerto Rico. I just remember looking around at the other children’s faces to see if they were as thrilled as I was, and I was disappointed because they weren’t. I could see boredom, and I was like, “This is the most incredible thing!” I just thought music was amazing.

So when we came back to New York at eleven, my mom found a wonderful voice coach. She also taught piano and organ at Carnegie Hall. Our choir director in New York City was studying organ with her, and that’s how my mom found out about her—Dr. Amelia Del Teso.

My mother called her and said, “My daughter wants to sing. I want her to take lessons from you.”

She said, “How old is your daughter?”

And she said, “She’s eleven.”

And she goes, “Well, I’m sorry. I don’t teach children. She’ll have to be a teenager, a young lady, but I don’t take children. I teach serious classical training, and a child can’t do that.”

My mom said, “Can you at least meet her?”

And the reason my mom wanted me to meet her is because, Nancy, at eleven, I was 5’ 7”.

Nancy: So you didn’t look eleven?

Damaris: I was huge! And she’s this little five-foot tall Italian professor. When I walked in, she said, “Oh, my!” And so I started taking voice lessons at eleven, and that was it.

Nancy: You were hooked.

Damaris: Yes. She knew I sang in church, and she would get sheet music for me to learn songs. One of the first songs she gave me to teach me to sing and to coach me was the negro spiritual, “I Want Jesus to Walk with Me.” That’s how I learned it. I’d never heard it before, but Dr. Del Teso brought the sheet music, and she said, “I want you to sing this.”

The funny thing is, Nancy, I’m now in my fifties. When I was eleven, I was a coloratura soprano. So I’m singing it now about three octaves.

Nancy: Lower?

Damaris: Yes. But I remember thinking it was so gorgeous, so beautiful. Now so many years later, it takes on so much more significance. Then it was just pretty notes, and look at the way the key changes. All of that’s wonderful, but now, oh, it’s my prayer . . . I know the writer (it’s a Negro spiritual) says, “I want Jesus to walk with me.” I understand his sentiment, because really, I want to walk with Jesus.

Nancy: Yes, right. So music was a huge part of your life.

Damaris: Oh, yes.

Nancy: And church was a huge part of your life.

Damaris: Yes.

Nancy: Then a significant part of your growing up really revolved around music. When did you first realize you had something that could be a career?

Damaris: At eleven I actually joined the adult choir at church because, as I said, I was so tall. I did not look like a little kid. No one ever said, “What’s the little kid doing in the choir?” because I was as tall as most of the women in the choir, if not taller. So that’s where I started singing, loving it, and I sang with my sisters in a trio.

But when I was about fifteen or sixteen years old—that’s high school years—I started to audition for all the high school productions: Kiss Me Kate and Carousel and The King and I. I really loved being on stage. I mean, it just thrilled me to be in front of people and singing.

I remember when auditions would start, there would be a sheet on the wall, and you would sign up. Then when the afternoon came, nobody wanted to be first. “I’m not going to be first." And I would say, “I’ll go first!”

I was fearless. I kiddingly say, “My mindset was: Just give me the mic or just put me out there.” I just wanted to do that.

I have to tell you, I think being in those productions was good in that it gave me a confidence. I enjoyed doing it. The Lord had to show me how I also went the wrong way for awhile there. But it did allow me to lose those fears and to just love singing. I just loved it.

But at sixteen someone came up to me after one of those talent shows and said these words to me (this is New York): “You know kid, you could make it.” And I remember, Nancy, that I really liked the way that sounded. I don’t know if I understood what that really meant, but I liked what it sounded like. I just thought, Yeah, I could make it. And I truly began at that moment to pursue a secular career.

Nancy: And some doors really opened for you pretty quickly

Damaris: Absolutely. I was doing background singing for different artists and also doing commercials. The producer I was working with said, “You know what? We’re going to make some money doing these jingles. Then we’ll probably get enough money, and then we can make a demo album. This is what they would do in the past—make a demo album. Then they would take this album and present it to CBS Records or to Arista Records and then, “Let’s see if we can get a record deal for you.”

Nancy: And you did some jingles for some pretty major advertisers.

Damaris: Coca-Cola, Double Mint, things like that. God is so wonderful to work things together for His purposes. I learned diction. I cannot tell you how they hounded us for diction in commercials. When I record a CD and go to listen back, I’m more concerned that you can understand every word.

Nancy: And you did win a recording contract.

Damaris: It was called the Amercian Song Festival. The grand prize was a record with CBS. It was released in 1984 with Columbia Records. It was not a hit. The secular world would consider it a flop. I kept trying. I did a demo on my own. Then in 1988 while pursuing the secular career, I was convinced God was okay with it because I never stopped going to church or believing the truths. I just didn’t want to sing Gospel music. I wanted to make money with my talent. I do remember thinking, I don’t want to use the church to make money. I want to be rich and famous, and I’ll give to missions.

Nancy: And it was in 1988 that something happened that changed your priorities.

Damaris: Pastor Cymbala, whom I’d met in 1971 . . . We sang at Brooklyn Tab when there were only fifteen people. I remember that I was sixteen when I met him. He touched my heart. I thought, I want to know the Lord like he does. My mom and grandparents did, but it might’ve been because he was younger.

We’d gone to his church. He says to me, "You sing in Spanish? Would you consider going to Argentina? I’m going to do a small conference for Argentina."

I said, "Oh, I’d love to go with you."

When I got there, what the Lord did was He showed me people that truly loved Him in a way I’d never seen before. I can’t explain that. My parents are still alive, and they love the Lord. But the way they loved the Lord shook me and immediately convicted me. I didn’t know I was so far from Him.

Nancy: Until you found someone whose life was centered around God.

Damaris: I tell people, if you want to know if you love the Lord, get around people who do. I realized I was very far. The Lord said, "It’s not that you don’t believe in me; that you don’t know all these things. It’s that you don’t love me. Because if you loved me, it would be, 'What Lord? What do you want?'"

Nancy: How quickly we say we love the Lord without asking, does our life make it look like we really do?

Damaris: I realized I love my life. I just wanted God to bless my plans. When He began to show me that the blood of Jesus saved me, but it also bought me, I think deep down I knew.

Nancy: Were you afraid you’d lose the career you loved?

Damaris: Absolutely. I thought, I know what this is going to mean. You don’t want me to do what I want to do. It was, this stinks. I’m not kidding you, Nancy. I was also ashamed. I realized I was so wrong. The head was understanding, but my heart wasn’t ready to embrace it. But He got my heart to understand. I said, "Oh God, You have to fix my heart." That’s why I love His Word. He can take a heart of stone and make it a heart of flesh. "I don’t want to want what I’ve wanted. If you can change this heart, I’m yours."

Nancy: Like right away?

Damaris: A big chunk changed. I remember coming back to my sister and saying, "I can’t do . . ."

She said, "Oh thank You, Jesus. The Lord has things for you that you can’t even imagine."

I was arrested; I’m guilty, and I had no argument. There was a journey there. Then God said, "Get in my Word." It reminds me of my courtship with my husband. I fell in love with Rod through the letters he wrote me. I felt like God was saying, "You want to fall in love with me? Then read Me!" The Lord told me, "The reason your heart hasn’t been in the right place is because you haven’t been in the Word." I was in the Word, but I wasn’t in it. I loved hearing it, but I didn’t live in the Word.

Nancy: I’m thinking about another song on this new CD called "What Grace Is Mine." I think I introduced this song to you several years ago. It's by Kristyn Getty, who's a good friend of this ministry. She had just recorded it. I played it for you when we were in Colorado together, several years ago. You said, "I need to put that on my new CD.

Damaris: I’ll thank you for all of eternity that you played that for us, Nancy. Not only is the music beautiful—everybody knows the music to "O Danny Boy." They consider it one of the most beautiful melodies ever written. But those words. Oh my goodness. That first verse is just amazing to me.

"What grace is mine; that He who dwells in endless light, called through the night to find my distant soul." And here's the line that kills me. "And from His scars poured mercy that would plead for me, that I might live, and in His name be known.”

Damaris singing:

What grace is mine; that He who dwells in endless light,
Called through the night to find my distant soul.
And from His scars poured mercy that would plead for me;
That I might live, and in His name be known.

Leslie: That's our guest, Damaris Carbough. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been talking with Damaris about her journey with the Lord. She used to sing for her own glory and now wants to sing for God's glory. I think that will come through when you listen to this new album.

We'd like to send you the CD when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size. Your donation will make a big difference to the ministry. Nancy's back to explain why your support means so much this month.

Nancy: Donations during the month of May have a big effect on the kind of ministry we're able to take on throughout the year ahead. Typically, donations are a bit lower during the summer months, so it is really important for us to end May in a strong position.

That's also when we wrap up one fiscal year and start a new one. Ending with the budget in the black ensures that we can keep Revive Our Hearts outreaches going at the current levels. So we really need to hear from you.

If you've never before supported Revive Our Hearts financially, we especially need to hear from you. That's because during this month, some friends of the ministry are doubling all first-time gifts up to a matching challenge amount of $70,000.

So if you've benefitted from Revive Our Hearts and you want to continue to hear it, would you ask the Lord what He would want you to give during this important time?

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy. When you donate any amount, make sure to ask for the new CD by Damaris Carbaugh. It's called Walk With Me. We'll make this offer through Wednesday of this week, so let us hear from you soon.

You can make your gift by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1–800–569–5959. You can also write to us at P.O. Box 2000, Niles, MI 49120. 

Over the years Damaris Carbaugh has developed a strong appetite for God's Word. Tomorrow, she'll show you how to crave and savor God's Word, even if you don't have much of an appetite for it now. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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