Ever found yourself running on empty? Last Thursday I had waited til the last possible second to run out to make it to the post office and bank before they closed at 5:00 p.m. I think I left my house at 4:34 p.m. I was pushing it. As I started the car and pulled out of my driveway, I was reminded that the gas light was on, and had been on since my last trip. But I put the pedal to the medal and rushed to the post office, ran in, out, cranked the car and you know the rest. It died. "Noooooo!" I moaned. I had 15 minutes to make it to the bank. Nothing. And there I was in the middle of the post office parking lot, holding others up, as well. Others that were also in too much of a hurry to offer help to a lady who had inconvenienced them and their own schedules. Then a young mother with two children in her car came over, with her young teenaged son, offering to push my car back into a parking space to at least get me out of everyone's way. The three of us, then aided by a 4th gentleman got my car into a spot. I stood there not knowing quite what to do. Ask a stranger for a ride? No. So I called Allison who lives a short distance from the post office, whose husband Randy generously offered to come bring some gas to me, but I knew they were heading out to a work banquet and did not need to be coming to get me at that time. I tried calling my hairdresser whose shop was just up the road, but kept getting this message: "This number is not accepting calls at this time." So I asked a post office employee which direction would get me to the nearest gas station within walking distance, telling him my dilemma. Not even looking up at me, he pointed to the left. So with my sunglasses on, purse over my shoulder, and keys in hand, I set out in 95 degrees to walk to the nearest gas station. The one with bars on every window and door. I asked the clerk at the counter if they had any gas cans, to which he replied, "One to borrow or purchase?" I gratefully said, "Oh, to borrow would be wonderful." "We don't have any to borrow, but you can purchase one over there." $10.99 later, I had a gas can. At the pump I found that at this particular gas station, you could not pay at the pump, but had to pay at the register. Inside. So back inside I went, to get back in line behind 7 people. A gallon of gas finally bought after the clerk had to try my card 4 times because of their malfunctioning machine, I made the 95 degree trek back to my car, where I could not figure out how to make the gas can work until it spilled out all over my hands , legs and shoes. I then proceeded to face-time Randy (again) for him to help me figure out how to get the rest of the gas I had left into the tank, then drove myself immediately to the nearest gas station (without bars on the windows and doors.)
Did I make it to the bank on time? OR the other places I had planned on running? Of course not. I was dripping sweat, frustrated, and way behind schedule. What should have had me back home by 6:00 p.m. in time to start packing to head to my out-of-town ministry assignment had me home 2 hours later, having had no dinner (or lunch), with bills to pay, laundry to be done, suitcases and product bags to be packed, and pet sitter instructions to be written. It then hit me. My car running out of gas was a picture of how I often live my life. Trying desperately to squeeze just a little more out of an already depleted tank. Running on empty. And when we do that, we end up being completely ineffective.
I was supposed to have been at the beach that day, but because the repairs on my flooded basement from the month before had just been completed on Wednesday evening, and I had just finished teaching 30 music students, I was tired, and decided to stay home instead of going down to the beach for 3 days of rest to instead get "caught up." I had changed my reservation from Thursday-Sunday to Friday-Sunday. I ended up being up til after midnight taking care of everything that I had needed to get to, leaving for the beach completely exhausted and spent.
Psalm 46:10 says, "Be still and know that I am God." Be still. Another translation literally means to "cease from warlike striving." And if I were to be completely honest, right now I often feel like I am striving in an unwinnable war, a never-ending battle. I cannot get it all done. And so on Friday I drove straight to the beach, in my swimsuit and cover-up, set up my chair, umbrella, and book, and stayed in that spot until after the sun went down. Being. Still. Saturday morning I got up, set up again, read, napped, repeated, and stayed until the rain came in late that afternoon. And you know what happened? My tank got full. The Father met me there, poured life-giving rest, encouragement, and His presence into my weary body and soul. So that when I got up early Sunday to go minister in a church sharing my story in not one, but two morning services at 8:45 and 11:00, I was not pouring out of an empty tank. And God enabled me to do what He could only do, pouring Himself in and through this earthen vessel.
Are you running on empty? As Labor Day weekend is upon us as I am writing late on this Friday afternoon, I am looking forward to staying put. At home. Sleeping in. The praise music and sermons will be playing as I enjoy not packing or traveling. While it will be a "labor" day weekend for me, painting the basement, cleaning out and putting my basement back together, I am looking forward to it. Some quiet time alone getting a project I've been excited about finishing done. Taking extra longer walks with Sammy to the park. Take some time for yourself. Do what fills you up. Running on empty is no way to live. But when we pour out of the overflow of the abundance of Christ, our lives are full of His presence and power to accomplish all that He has assigned us for His glory and our good.
As I am on the road every weekend of September into the first weekend of October, thank you in advance for your prayers on my behalf. As I recently saw a friend post on her Facebook, "You can't pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first." Matthew 11:28-29 shows us the way to live…“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." And with that, I am hitting send on this article over to Allison, shutting my laptop off and beginning this Labor Day weekend grabbing my walking shorts, tennis shoes, and leash, as Sammy and I head to the park. Fill 'er up, Father.
Ministry at a Glance
With ministry events every weekend in August, the summer came to an end before I had time to realize it. I was delighted to be invited back to East Aurora Wesleyan Church in East Aurora, NY for their Church in the Park. Pastor Rich and Sarah Nightingale have hosted me five times over the years, and it is always a treat to get to travel out of the south and spend some time with my "Yankee" friends. I remember the first time they invited me I thought to myself, "Who in the world is going to come to an outdoor concert in August?" But that was because I am a South Carolina girl where the August temps are near 100 degrees. However, in upstate New York, by concert time, it was a refreshing 70 degrees. I had emailed about 10 churches in the East Aurora area letting them know I was in town and would love to come sing/minister in their church, at no cost to them. I heard back from only one. Pastor Paul Chamberlin at Living Water Fellowship said they would love to have me with only a little over a week's notice, and what a true divine appointment it was. They hosted me for a morning concert and he and his sweet wife Velva were gracious hosts. The next weekend I stayed much closer to home in Little Mountain, SC to minister at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church for their beautiful Mother/Daughter/Friend banquet. Thank you, Ann Sanders and Teresia Wilson for inviting me to share a message for your "Sisters in Christ." Grace Baptist Church in Florence, SC hosted me for an incredible full Sunday with them (special music that morning, concert that evening). What a precious time it was. Thank you again, Pastor John, Melanie and Mary Ellen Collins for your gracious hospitality to me and to everyone that came and packed the sanctuary. I was tickled to see my Lexington High School Personal Typing Teacher Donna Suhrstedt among the concert attendees. That afternoon I loved getting to visit with my former Miss South Carolina sister Bree Boyce Marsh, hubby Andrew and meet their little beauty Isla, then head over to reconnect with my Aunt Barbara Lawrimore. Time with family and friends is precious, and the love and laughter shared only made the trip even more treasured. Closing out the month, Forestbrook Baptist in Myrtle Beach, SC invited me to share my story and music in both of their morning services. Oh how God moved in such a mighty way. Miracles took place, friends. People were set free. During the invitation time at the conclusion of the second service, three women came to the altar, having also lost their beloved family members to murder, seeking forgiveness and freedom. The pastor allowed me the privilege of praying for one of them in agreement with the entire congregation. Thank you, Pastor Randy and Iva Helms and your wonderful staff for allowing me the incredible privilege of serving your church and for the sweet fellowship together afterward. God is doing great things there, and I will not forget you or the day we shared together.
Funnies from the Road
Sunday morning in East Aurora, NY earlier this month, an older gentleman introduced himself to me, telling me I was a lovely lady, and asked if anyone was taking me to lunch. When I thanked him for asking and told him that the pastor and his wife were, he said that if no one was, he would love to. I said, "Bill, are you asking me on a date?" "Yes mam, I am," was his response. I asked, "How old are you, handsome?" "90," he said. That evening at the second hosting church's Church in the Park, I saw him pulling into the parking lot. I took his arm as we made our way to the concert setting, he still in his Sunday morning suit with his white sneakers. As we slowly made our way, he said, "If I were 40 years younger, I'd propose right here on the spot." I told him that I just might accept. Oh my goodness, how that precious man warmed my heart. As I got him settled into his seat before I began my concert, I gave him a squeeze and thanked him for coming back that evening. The people on the road are what make it so very sweet. I won't forget Bill.
On the Homefront
My Summer Session of private piano and voice lessons included 30 students this summer, the most I have ever taught. Normally summer is when I am somewhat "unemployed" between a much slower ministry schedule and smaller studio roster. However, we had a wonderful summer that included helping one young man preparing to move to NYC to pursue his dreams of becoming a singer/songwriter/recording artist, another auditioning for American Idol, Miss South Carolina's Cinderella preparing for the national pageant in Dallas, TX, and some brand new beginner piano students. My voice student Lanny Spires played Rum Tum Tugger in Broadway Bound's presentation of CATS (formerly playing Mister Mestopholes in the national tour), and Lauren, Sharon (not pictured) and I had such fun seeing him and the rest of the stellar cast here in town. We closed out the summer with our first ever Solos & Duets Recital at the Heritage at Lowman Home that included siblings and even a dad on duets and a trio, one student adding his cajon and shakers, and multiple students' duets. It was AMAZING.
Sammy, Zoey and I thoroughly enjoyed hosting one of my besties, Yvonne Howard, here for her birthday dinner. Of course Sammy joined me on serenading her with "Happy Birthday."
The highlight of the month for this mama was when Hannah and Clayton were coming through town on their way to a wedding in Greenville and came for a treasured Saturday visit home-cooked brunch here at home. What a treat it was to cook for my kids, I had been missing them so much! It is hard to believe that as I write this article, Clayton is taking the Medical Boards and he will be a doctor next year. I told him he needs to add a "Doo" before his name, since he will be Dr. Little.
Giving to Jordan Ministries, Inc.
Should you feel led of the Lord to come alongside Jordan Ministries with a one-time gift, or monthly gift, please know that Jordan Ministries is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and all gifts are tax-deductible.
If you wish to mail a check, please make it payable to Jordan Ministries and mail to
P.O. Box 2846, Irmo, SC 29063.
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Thank you for your prayerful support as Allison and I continue to serve God and His people for His glory alone.Interested in downloading Dawn's music?
We now have links available to download Timeless Hymns and This Far in Apple Music, iTunes, Spotify, Amazon Music and more...