Recalculating. Don't you just love it when your GPS continues to say "Recalculating?" Or "Make a U-turn." Over and over again at times, at least in my life of travels. Just last month I was traveling to Alcolu, SC (right outside of Sumter, SC) when my GPS took me directly to a bridge that was no more. It had been closed due to the floods back in October. So I just chose to make a right turn, and it continued to "recalculate" me right back to that bridge. So I then decided to take a left turn, same thing. I kept making those u-turns and ending right back where I knew I could not go any further. It was then that I called my friend Karen, the pastor's wife, and said, "HELP?!" Thankfully the sound man talked me through how to get there, and though late, I made it.
That is how life is, isn't it? We think we have our routes all mapped out, and then we find ourselves at a dead-end, and have to recalculate. Proverbs 16:9 says, "The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps." As I was facing January, for the first time in over 20 years of ministry not having a Schedule Coordinator, I found myself beating the bushes, working myself into a frenzy trying to fill my concert/speaking calendar. And yet, I felt like a hamster on a wheel, getting nowhere. As Jennifer, my former Schedule Coordinator reminded me this month in a very encouraging email, that she was praying and knew I would be struggling, I finally stopped striving and said, "Ok, God, this is yours. It always has been. YOU are the Schedule Coordinator." I had to make a few u-turns and recalculate how I run things in this ministry office, and come to find out, I don't run them at all. HE does. At 51 years of age, (notice I did not say "old"), I am still learning, still seeking, still stressing, stretching, and seeing God's faithfulness in new ways every day. Sometimes He chooses to use me on a church platform. Other times it is in the bank teller line, as just last Monday one of the precious tellers excitedly shared with me (and Cookie, who is a regular there for their treats) how she had just been baptized the day before at her church. How grateful I am that I was one of the people she knew loved Jesus and would rejoice with her. It may be in a voice lesson with a student who shares some very real struggles and hurts, and then a few weeks later how God has opened amazing opportunities of ministry for her. Or even simply serving in my home church on a Sunday morning as a greeter, welcoming in first time guests. Oh, what a privilege it is to serve Jesus in all areas of our lives. And so I have prayerfully committed, once again, to "Let it Go!" Letting go of the reins and leaving them in the hands of the One Who reigns supreme! And all glory to God, the ministry opportunities have begun pouring in beyond all I could ever hope or imagine.
I was blessed to spend an afternoon with a dear friend/author Linda Gilden, as she interviewed me here in my home for an upcoming article she is writing for a Christian magazine in which she felt led to share my story with the readers. How precious was our time together as we picked right back up where we had left off years before when we both served together in ministry. Like water on a dry and thirsty land our time was for me.
I am also excited about the opportunity to head to NYC in March to share my story on a brand new TV program on ABC entitled "I Witness." I will keep you posted on both of these new avenues of ministry.
Just as my mother said before sharing her story at one of the last speaking engagements she had before the Lord took her home, "As long as I have breath in this body of mine, I am going to be about the business of telling the story the Lord has entrusted me to tell. Now are you going with me or not?" My answer, "Yes, Mama," and more importantly, "Yes, Jesus." Wherever YOU lead, I'll go.
So grateful for each of you, and privileged to do this journey of faith with you,
On the Home Front:
January is always a slower month, as things come to a halt right after the Christmas season for people that do the type of ministry I do. It is when I can catch my breath, and enjoy some time with family and friends without the added responsibilities of travel/ministry. Ross's girlfriend Brianna turned 19, and we Facetimed to celebrate. I loved being able to have my nephew Birkesfor an afternoon/evening, have a birthday celebration dinner out with/for my friend Sharon, go to a movie with my Aunt Sue, actually worship at my home church and enjoy lunch out with friends afterward. One of my voice students, MaCayla Ratcliffe competed and won the title of Miss Columbia Teen, and itwas a lot of fun to attend the pageant and cheer her on. When you travel as much as I do, for as long as I have, these things are rare, special times spent with loved ones and friends. I thoroughly enjoyed spending a weekend with Hannah in Clemson working on wedding festivities, and then going to her first wedding dress fitting. Of course this mama cried the minute she came out in her beautiful dress. This coming weekend I will be heading up to Powdersville, SC where Hannah will be singing as a part of the worship team at Newspring Church and taking her andClayton out to lunch afterward. Thenon TuesdayI will be back up to Greenville for her 2nd bridal fitting! The month will end with a bridal shower given by my 2 wonderful Aunts Barbara Lawrimore and Sue McLeese. Lots of celebrating going on! I still hope to be able to make a trip to Denver to see my boy, as I have now not seen Rossin 5 months! Not to mention he has snow, and we, of course, do not. Well, "technically" we got a light dusting a few weeks ago; and I'll take whatever I can get. My brother in NC and Hannah (with the help of Blue) were all too eager to share their snow pictures with me too. Guess you can tell which one is mine.
Ministry at a Glance:
2016 kicked off with a few concerts on the schedule,but things quickly got rolling and I have been busy scheduling several upcoming exciting events. We re-opened our offices on January 4th, and did so with a bang as I had my first event of the year that night. I spent the evening of the 4thwith the ladiesof the Clarendon Baptist Church for their Ladies Night Out, reuniting with a friend from former seminary days, Karen DeCosta, where her husband is pastor, and my Columbia College friend Carol Russell and her mom who drove over from Sumter to see me.
On 1/19 I ministered at Shady Grove United Methodist Church, in my home town of Irmo, SC, for their Seniors’ Luncheon. Here I am with their pastor Bob Vincent.And, just this past weekend I traveled to Pinewood Baptist Church to minister in an evening concert, reconnecting with another friend, Kirk Carlisle, their pastor. What a joy these 3 places and people were to me as we kicked off a new year together in worship.
Looking forward, just this week I was invited to speak/sing for an event for this Saturday 2/6, after their speaker had a last-minute conflict. I’m delighted to be with the Second Baptist Church in Lancaster, SC for their Senior Adult Valentine Banquet, privileged to be sharing about the love of my life, the Lord Jesus. I believe every place is a divine appointment, even the last-minute ones! I am scheduled to be in Darlington, SC at First Baptist Church on 2/11 for their Young at Heart Luncheon. Then I will be at New Calvary Baptist Church in Sumter, SC on 2/14. *NC friends…something exciting! I JUST got scheduled to be in New Bern, NCFebruary 19-20, and would love to stay over and sing in your church onSunday, February 21. If you are between New Bern, NC and Columbia, SC, my travel expenses are covered, and I would simply ask for a love offering (and a hotel room if needed.) I'd love to hear from you and come to your church! Lastly, Sunday, 2/28 I will be celebrating Baptist Women’s Day at Mount Hermon Baptist Church in Pelion, SC. February is shaping up to be a wonderful month full of several ministry opportunities, and I am so grateful for the Lord’s guidance and workings to share who He is with His people.
I want to share with you all of a fantastic opportunity for any budding, or potential budding authors. Have you ever thought… I want to write a book or article? A memoir? Start a blog? Now is the time! Carolina Christian Writers Conference, March 11-12, 2016, The Hangar of First Baptist Church, Spartanburg, SC. My friend/author Linda Gilden is in charge, and it will be a wonderful weekend where I am looking forward to leading worship. Early bird specials now until February 15th for $125, as well as scholarships available. I'd love to see you there!www.fbs.org/writers
As we are all focusing on the new year and all that it means; new resolutions, healing of relationships, new habits (or the breaking of bad ones), fresh commitments to the Lord, whatever your path is this year. I would invite you to consider becoming a financial part of our ministry on a monthly basis. The Lord’s provisions and your obedience are what keep the ministry operating. I am so grateful for the faithful partners who support us on a monthly basis; you cannot truly comprehend what your commitment means . As we are all examining our 2015 and where we believe the Lord would have us in 2016, I just ask that you prayerfully consider a monthly commitment to the ministry, and see if the Lord would have you partner with us.
As you are prayerfully considering becoming a monthly partner, or sending a one time gift to Jordan Ministries remember all gifts are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated, Jordan Ministries is a 501c3 non-profit organization. Make your donation to Jordan Ministries, and mail them to P.O. Box 2846, Irmo, SC 29063. Thank you for partnering with us through your financial gifts and prayers.
Special thanks to Yvonne Howard, Suzanne Zelling, Caring Health, Inc., Trackside Auction (Robert Smith), Kelly and AJ Johnson, Cynthia and DJ Nelson, and Sandra Tabor for your faithful monthly partnership, support both in finances and prayers, and for your friendship as we co-labor on this journey of faith and ministry together.
Funnies From the Road:
This pastSundaynight as the pastor was introducing me before my concert, he mentioned the first time he had ever heard me was when I came to his church when he was a teenager. Thanks, Kirk Carlisle! Yes, I felt old. But privileged to have now served in 3 of the churches you have pastored, so thanks for your friendship, even if I am the older one!
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A Note from Allison
I attend a Bible study group at a local church, and we just started a new study a few weeks ago. One of the questions the author asked was what does our "now" look like in our life. What are your circumstances, worries, situations, fears, prayers, joys...what does your "now" look like. She went on to list out several examples to help us get to thinking and pondering, and it only took me .2 seconds to think of one word to describe my "now". Mundane! As a stay at home mom of 2 little girls (Abby, 4 and Hannah, 2) my "now" is often mundane, redundant, like I'm treading water. I am washing the same clothes, picking up the same toys, loading the dishwasher with the same 10 plastic dishes and sippy cups, driving to the same few places (Chick-fil-A is of course one of them), constantly fixing a meal or snack, and always looking forward to the next nap or bedtime, etc, etc. etc. But then I thought for another .2 seconds and realized my "now" is also joyful and blessed. I have 2 amazing kids, who make me laugh, help me find the pleasure in a box of crayons and a blank paper, cook me endless amount of food in their play kitchen, and I never know which princess will walk down the stairs. Abby has discovered the pleasure of watching a movie, and she loves to have pop corn and snuggles on the couch while we watch her pick of the night. After writing all of these down I realized that if I only remembered the first part, the mundane, I would be missing out on so much of what God has given me. But, instead I choose to remember and focus on the second part, the joy of my "now". And I will often, Lord knows all TOO often, fall into the trap and routine of the mundane and when I do, if I just stop for a second and listen, I will hear a giggle or a "Mommy, I love you," and there will I be reminded of my joyous "now". So, whether you're a working mom or stay at home mom, life with small kiddos can often feel like you're on an endless track. You feel like you're constantly running, moving, going, doing...and getting no where; but just remember that in the midst of all that God's greatest blessings and your greatest calling is also there, filling your life and heart with joy. And on that note, I have to run because I currently have a 4 year old who is hungry "all 100" and a 2 year old without a diaper on because she want to go pee-pee in the potty! :) Enjoy your "now"!