How can it be August already? I was just settling into my slower, less-demanding ministry and teaching schedule, and it will be over in just a mere 3 weeks. While fall has always been my favorite season, I must admit that I have savored every single day of this summer.
This past Thursday-Sunday, my brother Robert, sister-in-law Elizabeth, and nephew James Michael and I had the distinct privilege to return to beautiful Daufuskie Island, SC where we enjoyed four days in a lovely oceanfront cottage. I ministered on Saturday for the First Union African Baptist Church's first ever Women's Seminar and then Sunday for their morning worship service. There was no TV in our cottage, so we spent our evenings after family dinner around the table out on the screened porch, talking, laughing, reminiscing, just being together. We were built for relationship. And it was interesting to learn that all four of our love languages is quality time. We were as happy as four bugs in a rug, simply enjoying one another's company. The island is very different from any place I have ever been in 32 years of ministry. You have to catch a half-hour ferry ride over from Hilton Head Island, SC to get there, and our only means of transportation on the island was a golf cart. Life is very simple there...there are no grocery stores, malls, movies, only a few restaurants (most of which you sit outside to eat, overlooking the water). There are literally very few modern conveniences that we are so accustomed to enjoying. And yet, for four days, the four of us soaked it all in. No distractions. Just us. We spent hours exploring the island in our golf cart, sitting on the beach, and taking walks along the shore. It was a little slice of heaven.
As I watched Robert's family pull out of my driveway Sunday to head back to their home in NC, I was sad to see them go. There are times that I truly do miss the noise, busyness, and flurry of activity that was so much a part of my life when I was raising Hannah and Ross. There was always somewhere to be, meals to be cooked, dishes, constant laundry in motion, sports, church activities, school performances, constant busyness. Yes, I do miss it and them. But just as life is so different on Daufuskie Island, life is very different for this single mom here at home now with an almost 14-year-old dog and 2-year-old cat.
As an extrovert who thrives on being with people, I love how the Lord has blessed me with 32 delightful music students that will be filling my house with music, laughter, and joy again in just a few weeks. I love how He has allowed me to travel to so many wonderful churches all these years, about 75 annually, and continues to allow me to do so, getting to be with so many dear brothers and sisters, making friends all across our country. Fellowship. We were made for it. "Two are better than one," Ecclesiastes 4:9 says. I am grateful for you, dear friend, for allowing me to come into your heart, home and life once a month, to visit with you, catch up, and hopefully encourage you along the way. But for now, I plan to milk every single second of the last few weeks of this treasured summer time for all it's worth! I hope you can and will do the same.
God bless you, dear friend,
Ministry at a Glance:
This past month was full of wonderful events all over NC and SC. I started off the month close to home in Columbia, SC and ended in the beautiful Dafuskie Island off the SC coast. Thank you to the churches that hosted me this month. Earlewood Baptist in Columbia, SC, United Love Baptist Church in Midland, NC, Saluda First Pentecostal Holiness Church in Saluda, SC, Evergreen Baptist in Effingham, SC, Little Bethel Baptist Church in Mullins, SC, Central Steele Creek Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC and First Union African Baptist Church in Daufuskie Island, SC. Thank you to the ministers as well as the church families for opening up your sanctuaries and hearts to me, welcoming me so warmly and making me feel right at home.
Always grateful for the wonderful sound/media men who serve in this ministry, such as Robert at Earlewood Baptist. I couldn't do mine without them.
Thank you, Nina Collins and the sweet sisters of United Love Baptist Church for the delicious and delightful lunch together.
Paula Reese, you and your ladies blessed my heart at your Mother/Daughter Tea.
Joy is contagious, and this darling lady, Phyllis Bullard from Little Bethel Baptist Church ozzes it!
So grateful for Pastor Aaron Crosby and the precious church family of Daufuskie Island, SC. Yes, we would LOVE to return in 2 more years.
I hear regularly that I have a "twin" in different parts of the country, and here is my "mini-me" in Daufuskie Island. Such a darling young woman!
Central Steele Creek Presbyterian friends, what a glorious day together.
I am delighted to be performing on August 17th at the Grand Opening of the brand new Pickens County Performing Arts Center with the reigning Miss America, Miss South Carolina and a few of my former Miss SC sisters Daja Dial & Sherry Bradshaw and we would love to see you there. All proceeds will be going to benefit the Children's Miracle Network.
I am looking forward to closing out the summer concert series in August traveling through SC, NY & GA, and gearing up for the fall events which lead into Christmas (my favorite time of the year!) Your friendship, support and prayers as I travel and minister are deeply appreciated.
*Timeless Hymns II project in the works!*
I'm very excited to be heading to Austin, TX to record a new project in October with my friend/record company exec/producer Phillip Sandifer for a Timeless Hymns II project. What is your favorite hymn that you would like to be considered to be included? I'd love to hear from you.
Available Piggy-back date:
* August 26-27 I will be in Suwanee, GA, and have that Sunday night, August 27th open.
**There would be no travel expenses, simply a love offering and a place to lay my head. If you would like to host me in your church on this Sunday, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. **
On the Road Again:
Friday, August 4th
Bethesda Baptist Church
Sunday, August 6th
Mount Olive Baptist Church
Sunday, August 13th
Boiling Springs United Methodist Church
Sunday, August 20th
East Aurora Wesleyan Church
East Aurora, NY
Church in the Park Concert
Saturday, August 26th
North Gwinnett Church
Women's Outreach event
Sunday, August 27th
North Gwinnett Church
Looking way ahead, I will be speaking in October at the Sister Circle Girlfriend Getaway weekend in North Charleston, SC. Registration is open and I would love for you to join me there! You can register here http://www.lesliehowardministries.com/
Thursday, September 14th at 11:00 a.m. I will be speaking at Carolinas Hospital Systems First Anniversary Celebration sharing my story. Tickets are on sale now and I would love to have you there. You can purchase tickets for the event here.
On the Homefront:
Well, in July my Hannah turned 24 and my Ross 21. My grand dog Blue turned 5. My sweet neighbor Martha turned 93 on July 4th! It was a month full of celebrations...kayaking the Saluda River, dinners and movies out with friends, the beach. Treasured times.
I've enjoyed teaching 18 music students over the summer, and we will celebrate the end of our Summer Session with a small recital here in my home on the 14th, with family, and hopefully a few of my neighbors over to enjoy some beautiful music. This month my beloved and faithful dog Cookie turns 14. Though he has osteoarthritis and can no longer enjoy long walks, he continues to be such a sweet companion, my smiling dog. Boy, the years are flying by, aren't they? Let's seek to savor them. Each day is a gift to be lived well, loving well.
Funnies from the Road:
As we woke up this past Sunday morning on Daufuskie Island, we immediately realized the electricity had gone out sometime while we slept. It's funny the things that are most important to us. My sister-in-law Elizabeth immediately mentioned coffee, or the lack thereof. And me? Why of course my hair! How would this former Miss SC fix her hair with no electricity?! I know, I know, but I'm just being honest. And the boys? Why of course Robert and James Michael were most concerned over what they would eat! Thankfully the electricity came back on about an hour before we had to head to church, and all was well.
Note to self: put on your readers to proof a picture before it's posted to Facebook! (Yes, my eyes are closed!) Thanks, Sherri Owens, BJ Petit and friends of Evergreen Baptist Church for the sweet fellowship and a good laugh!
A Note from Allison
Note I have updated my picture...even though it's already outdated. I figured having Ryan's presence in my belly is better than no presence at all. We're working on some updated family photos, but with 3 littles who knows when that will happen?
You know the saying "it takes a village to raise a child?" I am learning more and more every day just how true that is. None of us were made to do life alone, especially not motherhood. How many days am I so thankful for my village?!? To be there to help me with the smallest thing like taking someone to the bathroom, even to the bigger things like realizing when a stressed out mama needs a mental break. I recently had a friend call me one morning and ask if she could come pick up Abby (my 5 year old) for a swim/play date with her daughter. I gladly obliged, got Abby ready and as I sent her off I realized just how grateful and thankful I was for that offer. That friend was trying to keep her daughter occupied and happy, but in doing so was such a blessing to me. I don't live near any of my college friends, yet just yesterday we were all on a group text sharing our current life situations, prayer requests, joys, challenges, etc. I am so thankful for my village! And it challenges me to be equally a blessing to others. What can you do today to be blessing to a mom? It doesn't have to be big, or expensive, or grand...even the smallest thing can mean so much.