I cried just thinking about seeing my boy's face for the first time in 11 months before the plane ever took off. I cried the second I saw him in the Denver Airport, wrapping my arms around him, tightly holding him there. I fought tears as our 5 days together started coming to an end. I cried as we were saying goodbye back at the airport, and I cried all the way through security on my way back home. I cried as he sent me the sweetest texts I could have ever imagined as I sat on the plane before we took off. Even as I am writing this, there is a lump in my throat. I miss my son. Terribly. But oh how grateful I am for the amazing trip the Father allowed me to take. Ross and Brianna, his girlfriend, left SC on August 31st, and I had not seen him in person since. I am so thankful we live in the age of smart phones, so that Facetime makes it possible for me to at least talk to him face to face long distance. But there is nothing like in-the-flesh face time. I left Thursday morning, July 21st, and returned Tuesday morning, July 26th. And once again, my Faithful Father did above and beyond all that I could have ever asked or imagined. Like only He can do.
As I landed in Atlanta, Ross texted me saying he had been able to work out accommodations for me to stay with he and Brianna, for free, in a very nice house that his boss said we could use. He asked me to cancel my hotel room so we could have as much time together as possible. However, my reservation was non-refundable. When I landed in Denver, I placed the call, explaining the situation, that this mama had not seen my son in 11 months, and the lady on the other end of the phone at CheapHotels.com said it made her day to hear how happy I was that I was going to get to stay with my son after not seeing him for that long and refunded the full amount of $400. Miracle #1.
The moment I saw Ross, I knew he was thin. The second my arms wrapped around his shoulders, I felt how thin he was. Though I knew he had been struggling with stomach issues, I didn't grasp the degree to which he had. On Friday morning, I called the doctor's office where he had been seen once since moving out there, at 11:00 a.m., and got a 1:00 appointment. Miracle #2.
At the appointment, the scale showed he had lost 20 lbs. since they had seen him in October for stomach issues, and a total of 40 lbs. in all. So the doctor ordered he be seen by a specialist, a GI doctor. That afternoon an appointment was scheduled for Monday at 2:30. When my anxious boy asked if I could change my 11:00 a.m. departure to go with him to that appointment, I knew there would be a cost involved, but I didn't blink. My son asked me to be there, and if at all possible, I was going to be. When I explained the situation to the Delta representative, he said that under the circumstances, because it was a medical reason for my need to change my frequent flyer mileage ticket, they would not only waive the $150 change fee, but the red-eye ticket that I would take overnight from Denver to Salt Lake City to Atlanta to Columbia, landing at 9:00 a.m.Tuesday instead of originally landing Monday at 7:00 p.m. would also mean a credit back to my account of 17,000 miles. Miracle #3.
I spent those precious days cooking his favorites...roast, brown rice, chicken and rice, chicken fettuccini alfredo, cookie dough, chocolate chip pancakes. And by the time he weighed on Monday, both he and Brianna had put on 5 lbs.! He is on a prescription medicine to help with the cramping and pain, and will have an upper and lower scope this Thursday, August 4th. The doctor thinks he has IBS, but wants to be sure. Thankfully his blood work came back normal.
I loved every second with Ross and Brianna, as we soaked in every bit of the time we had. The first night he treated me to dinner at a very nice restaurant, that was a first. We went out to dinner to celebrate his 20th birthday, went to one of his favorite guitarists' concerts for his birthday gift (Buckethead, look him up, yes he wears an actual bucket on his head!), we went hiking and I saw just how glorious Colorado is in the summer, even seeing snow-capped mountains in July. We went shopping, stayed up late watching movies, and went through 2 entire batches of cookie dough! (Ross and Brianna are not the only ones who put on a little weight.) We stayed up til our eyes couldn't stay open, and laughed til our stomachs ached. We talked, had real conversations, and reconnected more closely than we had in years. Most importantly, we made memories. Precious memories that will have to last a while, as I don't know the next time I will be able to see them.
As I sat on my first flight home, Ross sent me text messages that I have printed out to save when doubt, heartache, and sadness creep in. After heart-to-heart time and talks, his words were life-giving for me. He expressed love and gratitude to me for the mom I have been to him. Tears flowed. Again. But thankful, good tears. Because there were days when I didn't know if I would ever hear such words of love from my beloved son.
As I think through all the Lord did over the course of 5 days spent on the other side of the country with my son, I am thankful that the Lord is always at work, even when we do not see it. As we moms and dads pray, daily for our children, oftentimes we get weary in the waiting. After many years on my knees, to hear my son thank me for those prayers on his behalf encouraged me to never give up. And never stop. Our Father hears, and He is answering. In His time. Not ours. So don't give up, fellow mama and daddy. Our Father has not given up on us, and He never will. I told my girlfriends that I was simply going out to Denver to love my son. No other agenda. And I am reminded of the words to a song I wrote for my children when they were babies that says, "I pray that he would see in me a love he needs to know, a love that goes beyond my arms and will never let him go. 'Cause the helpless cries are sometimes mine, Father show me what to do, as I pray that he would see in me a love that leads to You."
As the tears flow, they are tears of gratitude. God is answering.
Ministry at a Glance:
As I was sharing with a few of my closest friends recently about how it appears I am going into a different season of ministry, I am so grateful to know they are praying for me. I would love to invite you to do the same. For 30 years, I have traveled in full-time ministry, averaging a minimum of 75-100 events annually. As a junior in high school, I felt the Lord call me to commit my life to "full-time Christian service." Much has changed in 30 years, and due to dramatic changes in churches, church and women's ministries, their budgets, as a result of our economy, most churches today that invite me to come share my ministry as a part of theirs no longer have budgets for someone like me. And so it has been a season of asking the Lord what He would have me do, while still very much needing to make a living, also very much called to ministry. After 30 years criss-crossing the country, I have never had a set fee I charge to come to a church, and always work individually with each church and their budget. However, it has been very difficult to have churches invite me to come in recent days, offering much less than what I was offered when I began back in 1987. Most churches ask if I will come on a love offering basis, oftentimes not having the funds to pay my travel expenses. These are different days, as you are well aware. Last year I was blessed to teach 23 delightful piano/voice students in my home studio to supplement the drop in ministry income, and this year, I have 30 students on my schedule for the upcoming school year. It would appear that the Lord is leading me to make a living mostly from my teaching, while continuing to trust Him for the ministry to which I am both called and committed. Your prayers as I seek Him and navigate this new season of life and ministry would be greatly appreciated. I am certain that my music studio is just as much of a ministry as my traveling/speaking/singing is, as we are ALL followers of Jesus, called to serve him full-time in our daily lives.
What a joy it was to share concerts in July across my home state of SC in Bishopville, Lancaster, Prosperity, Chester and Lexington, my home town where I was tickled to see several family friends at the churches that hosted me. One highlight was at Round Hill Baptist Church where my little 5-year-old music student Mya Bray's family attends. I invited her to sing a song during the concert, and she did such an amazing job, the congregation stood to their feet when she finished!
I especially loved making my semi-annual visit to share a little music and the love of Jesus with the residents of Deepwood Estates in Lexington, where I met this precious little lady who had just turned 100 on the 16th! I love people, and I always enjoy meeting them, sharing a hug, a word of testimony, and a word of encouragement.
I closed out the month with an evening concert at Lexington Church of Christ, where I was delighted to visit Lauren Brannan. She is the daughter-in-law of Phil Brannan, who had hosted me earlier this year for Easter services. It was her idea to invite me to share a concert, the first ever in her church, and what a beautiful job she did in organizing the event.
As I look ahead to the month of August, it is going to be a busy season of ministry with 8 different churches, 9 singing/speaking opportunities, and my Summer session music recital at the Heritage at the Lowman Home. For specific places, dates, times, and further information, please see my schedule posted at the end of this newsletter, and do come join me if I happen to be in your neck of the woods!
As the summer is coming to a close, I am excited to be scheduling not only into the fall and winter, but into 2017. Would your church like to consider having me come share a community-wide concert, speak/sing for your ladies' holiday event, share a Christmas concert, or speak/sing/lead worship for your women's retreat? I'd love to come! Feel free to call me personally
at (803)772-7747, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Funnies From the Road:
Sunday night, July 17th, I was scheduled to sing for a community-wide outdoor concert. Yes, you heard me right. OUTDOOR. In July. In South Carolina. Where it is 100 degrees daily! So I chose my attire carefully...a sleeveless sundress and sandals. I KNEW we would be hot. As soon as I turned off of the interstate, to say it started raining would be an understatement. I envisioned being drenched from sweat, but never from rain! And boy did it rain. So hard that the tent under which I was to sing that evening was leaking. It was literally raining INSIDE the tent. As I stood on the platform to get my sound check, umbrella in hand while under the tent, we all had to laugh! The rain was desperately needed, but the timing was quite hilarious. We were literally walking in a river for a while, and it did not let up until after the service started. The people still came, and the Lord blessed us with a sweet time of worship as He poured out His showers of blessing in more than one way. And I can tell you this. I will NEVER forget my outdoor summer concert in the lovely town of Prosperity, SC!
After singing in one of the churches that hosted me this month, I was standing at the back of the church, greeting people, signing books, the usual. A precious older gentleman came over to speak to me and told me he had known my dad. He told me that he was a retired missionary, and that my dad used to take care of his teeth. Well sir, what about that? I did not know my dad had once been a dentist? In the next few minutes, a sweet woman was telling me goodbye and called me Shari. It happens almost every single place I sing. In all the years of doing what I do, I have learned it is much easier (and kinder) to simply smile and nod, instead of correcting. Oh how I love the family of God, and always love a good giggle between God and me.
On The Home Front:
July is always a special month as both of my children celebrate their birthdays. Ross's is the 12th, and Hannah's the 19th. I loved going to Charleston for the day to enjoy time with my 23-year-old daughter on the beach, at the dog park with both Cookie and Blue, and then taking she and Clayton out to a seafood dinner to celebrate. It was especially sweet for me to be able to fly to Denver to celebrate Ross's 20th birthday (as I shared more about that in my opening article.) I had been to CO a few times to ski, but had never been in the summer. Oh what beauty! And so much less humidity!
Celebrating the 4th of July with my home church, sister-in-law's family (here I am with my nephew Birkes) was extra special as we had a cook-out, bouncy houses, and fireworks! Robert and Elizabeth came through Columbia on their way to the beach, and it was so good to see them again. My administrative assistant Allison's birthday is also in July, and she and I enjoyed an evening of sushi to celebrate, for the first time without her little ones.
Lunch with my friend and prayer warrior Yvonne Howard was a treat, as catching up with a sister-friend is always such a joy. Boy did we laugh!
Pool time, popsicles, and my niece Page and nephew Birkes are a few of my favorite things, as this summer is slowly coming to a close. Hannah and Clayton welcomed a new addition to their Little family, Shadow, a 7-week old Husky puppy that I am looking forward to meeting today (August 1st) as I go spend the day with them once again. Clayton is finishing up his first summer semester of dental school at MUSC, and Hannah is enjoying her job as a line therapist at Autism and Beyond, as well as singing on the Fuse worship team at Newspring Church in Charleston.
August will wrap up my Music Summer Session, and another school year will begin. I look forward to soaking in as many days of summer fun as I can before the routine of school and teaching starts back full-force. Although I do love many things about summer, I have to admit I am ready for the temps to be less than 100 degrees, how about you?
There are only 3 of my daughter Hannah's CDs left. THREE! We are selling out of these, so if you want one, get yours today. Only $5, this CD was released in 2010, when 17-year-old Hannah wrote all 5 songs, played guitar and piano, sang lead and background vocals.
Dawn's Blog Amazing Grace Notes
My new blog is entitled "Amazing Grace Notes," and I would love to invite you to join me at http://dawnsmithjordan.blogspot.com/
for regular updates.
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.
Follow me on my DAWN SMITH JORDAN Musician/Band Facebook page to be eligible for the monthly prize give-away trivia contest!
Sunday, August 7
Memorial Baptist Church
St. George, SC
11:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Sunday, August 14
First Baptist Church Holly Hill
Holly Hill, SC
Sunday, August 14
Green Hill Baptist Church
West Columbia, SC
Sunday, August 21
White Rock Baptist Church
White Rock, SC
Sunday, August 21
First Baptist Church Manning
Thursday, August 25
Trinity United Methodist Church
Ladies' Salad Supper
Saturday, August 27
Willow Swamp Baptist Church
9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Sunday, August 28
Red Bank Baptist Church
Follow Dawn on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram where we post regular updates and prayer requests.
A Note from Allison
Lately my 4 1/2 year old has been quite challenging, to say the least. Tonight, at dinner she started up again. She didn't want sausage on her pizza, even though she eats sausage all the time. In fact, she used to get pizza just to pick off the sausage and eat only it. It looked like a pizza massacre of 6 slices at Cici's just to have enough sausage for her. But tonight, like any rational 4 year old, she didn't want the sausage. So I came up with the brilliant idea to have her just pick it off, to which she responded "I am not picking it off and I am not eating the pizza!" Wrong Answer! So I proceeded to let her know her choices were to either eat the sausage or pick it off herself but she was eating the pizza, end of discussion. After some tears, she said to me "You're not my mommy anymore!" After some prayer, the help me Jesus kind, I kneeled down and hugged her and said "Baby, I will always be your mommy. I will always love you, and that because I love you and I am your mommy it is my job to teach you. To teach you how to make good choices, to teach you how to act in situations, to help you learn how to behave." She cried, laid over on me, apologized and said she loved me. God showed me in that moment that's exactly how He is with us. We get mad at God because he gives us 2 options that we don't like, we tell him that he doesn't love us or he wouldn't make us do this certain thing or that He would give us what we wanted. And the whole time He's up there saying, "Baby, I love you and I will always love you. I will always be your daddy. I'm doing this to help you, to teach you, it's all for your good. I'm doing this because I love you." How many times do we think God has forgotten us, or doesn't really "know" us, or maybe even doesn't love us because of what He's making us go through. May we always pray to see the heart of the Father in our lives. To know that above all He DOES love us and that is what drives His actions, discipline, lessons in our lives.