Time. It flies, doesn't it? Just this past week I attended the Miss South Carolina Pageant, of which I won the title in 1986. 33 years ago, how is that possible? It seems like one year I was at the front of the line being introduced as a former Miss SC, and the next I was at the back with the "older" ones! July 4th, my sweet neighbor and dear friend Martha turns 95! Time. It is flying by.
On July 12th Ross turns 23, and on the 19th Hannah turns 26. As Allison comes over to work, or to bring her daughters to their piano lessons, or brings all 3 to swim in my little Wal-Mart pool, I am reminded of how it seems like just a few minutes ago that Hannah and Ross were the ages of her children, as they are 2, 5 & 7. Allison's little boy Ryan calls me "Tonk" and it warms my heart so, seeing so much of Ross when he was that age in him and the funny, endearing words he says all wrong. Her Hannah and Abby are such sweet little girls, reminding me of when my Hannah loved everything Disney (and still does.) I remember fondly those fun summer days, spent in the pool, going to the dollar movies, to get ice cream, riding bikes, baseball in the front yard, going to the park, the lake, the beach, having them home, sleeping in, making breakfast around noon (or later for Ross!) when they were teenagers. And just like that, they grew up.
What a gift each day is. Mamas and daddies, don't blink. It will happen to you too. But what a blessing it is while we have them under our roofs to love, nurture, and raise in the admonition of the Lord. I thank God for my children. For the joy of being their mom. There is no greater joy in all the world to this mama's heart than getting a call, a text, or a facetime from them. Family. A precious gift.
But you know what? We are family. Blood-kin. I grew up in a small Baptist church where my daddy was a deacon, my mama sang in the choir, they taught Sunday school, and we were very involved. I saw the church as it should be...the people of God loving each other, bearing one another's burdens, bringing meals when someone passed, offering a hand, shoulder and heart when needed. Being family. I love the church. I love my church. I thank God that in this season of "empty-nesting," there really is nothing empty about it. I laugh at what one lady said to me at a women's event a few years ago when I had shared about my children being out of the house and on their own. She said, "Girl! Let me tell you something? There ain't nothin' empty about your nest! You got Father, Son and Holy Ghost up in that place!" And I do! We do. But we ALSO have each other...the family of God. We used to sing every Sunday night in that Baptist church, arms stretched across the aisles as we held hands with our brothers and sisters, "I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God!"
Brother, sister, I thank God for you. I am truly grateful to be doing life alongside you. As Philippians 1:3 says, "I thank my God every time I remember you."
And I do,
Open Summer Sundays
Even though the summer is underway, I still have some open Sundays if your church would be interested in hosting me. My summer concert is a FREE concert for your church/community and I simply ask for a love offering and travel expenses be covered.
Sunday, July 28th: a.m. & p.m. available
Sunday, August 4th a.m. (East Aurora, NY p.m.)
Sunday, August 11th: a.m. & p.m. available
Sunday, August 25th p.m. (Myrtle Beach a.m.)
Please email me at email@example.com if you are interested in booking one of these dates! Thank you so much! I want to wish a very happy birthday to this beautiful friend of mine, Allison Hodge, as she celebrates her birthday July 5th. She not only serves as such an amazing ministry Administrative Assistant, she has become one of my dearest friends. She even comes over to help paint, clean out and re-organize my office, ya'll. I hit the jackpot and am truly blessed by ALL she does to be such a blessing both in my ministry and personal life. Sharon recently said something that warmed my heart when we were talking about mine and Allison's relationship. She said, "Ya'll are more like sisters than co-workers!" We really are. But isn't that what the body of Christ is supposed to be like? Won't you take a moment and wish her a happy birthday with me? God bless you, Allison, your precious family, and this year ahead above and beyond what you could even begin to imagine.
Ministry at a Glance
This past month was the start of my summer concert series, and I am enjoying it so much. I have pulled out a few songs that I haven't done in several years, and it has been so much fun. Thank you to Kenny Catoe and Pine Grove Baptist Church in Lugoff, SC for hosting my first concert of the summer. That same evening I headed to Kelleytown Baptist Church in Hartsville, SC to be with this sweet congregation that has now hosted me four times over the years. Their talented Worship Pastor Lin Kirkman joined me on piano and vocals on a few songs, and it's always such a treat to sing with him.
June 11th was very special as I was invited to speak in my home church, NewSpring Columbia's Women's Gathering. I shared a message on "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." (Matthew 5:4) I loved getting to be "home" and dearly love the women with whom I serve as a table hostess each month as we gather together.
Thank you to Walter Cantwell and Belin Memorial United Methodist Church in Murrells Inlet, SC for hosting me for their two morning traditional worship services. I was so blessed to be able to head down early that Saturday to enjoy some beach time, and then back to the beach Sunday after church, soaking in some vitamin sea and quiet time alone with the Lord all afternoon, even catching a nap under my umbrella as the waves lulled me to sleep. What a treat!
And closing out the month I was thrilled to be invited by my precious friend Melodie Griffin to share my ministry at Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church in Lexington, SC where she serves as their Traditional Worship Leader. I was privileged to sing with their choir, orchestra, and even did a duet with Melodie. Oh how I love the besties the Lord has brought into my life. As Melodie and I sang a medley of "Jesus Loves Me/Oh How He Loves You and Me," tears were brimming as our unison sounded like one voice more than a few times. Growing up singing with my sister Shari, there is a certain harmony that undeniably comes from being blood-related. As Melodie and I sang, I realized she really is my sister too, because we are "blood-kin" because of the blood of Jesus.
Thank you to each church that hosted me this summer, I truly love partnering my ministry with yours as we all work to further the Father's kingdom and bring glory to Him alone.
Funnies from the Road At a recent concert, just before the service was to start on this particular Sunday morning, a lady was motioning for me to come to where she was. "I got a question for you." I said, "Ok, but you gotta make it quick, I am about to sing." "How old are you?" "55," I replied. "You don't look a day over 40!" she emphatically said. I remember a day when I wouldn't want to look 40, that was OLD, but today, I'll take it!
On Thursday night, I had a dress rehearsal at Mt. Horeb UMC before Sharon and I headed to the Miss SC Pageant preliminary competition that night. This was her first pageant ever to be attended and we were excited to be all fancy. As I walked into the church, this happened. Best friend ever award goes to my Sharona for stopping by the gas station to get this former Miss SC super glue to put my shoe back together just in time. It’s the glamorous life, y’all!
On the Homefront Facetiming my grand dog Malakai. How grateful this mama is that while Ross is in Denver, I can see his, Brianna's and Malakai's face anytime I want to because of smart phones.
The Miss SC Pageant is always a highlight every June, as I get to visit with my Forever Miss SC sisters and pageant friends and family. This year was especially fun as my bestie Sharon joined Lauren (her daughter/my plus-one for the last 5 years) and me for the first time. Ever. Being one of my best friends for 20 years and she had NEVER been to a single pageant in her life, so we did it up right! Sequins, evening gowns and all.
What's summer without baseball and fireworks?! What fun it was to take my nephew Birkes to my home church's Summer Family Cookout at the Fireflies game to celebrate Independence Day with our church family.
On the Road Again
Sunday, July 7th
Pacolet Mills Baptist
Pacolet Mills, SC
Sunday, July 14th
Clemson United Methodist Church
8:30 a.m. & 10:30 a.m.
Sunday, July 21st
New Life Baptist
Hodge-Podge Allison Hodge, Administrative Assistant
Dawn Smith Jordan Ministries Randy and Allison Hodge Abby (7), Hannah (5), Ryan (2)