Ann Voscamp writes in The Broken Way, the book and Bible study that I’m currently doing, that every day she inks a cross on her wrist as a reminder to live cruciform. I have followed her example, daily choosing to draw this cross on my own wrist as a vivid reminder that for me to live is Christ. That I am crucified with Christ, therefore it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.
For the month of February, I printed out her “Be a Gifter, a Giver, Give it Forward Today” calendar. Every day there was a specific assignment, such as…invite someone over this month. Make time this week to buy small surprise gifts to have on hand. Send a pizza to someone. Give chocolates to someone who feels forgotten. Reach out to someone who is broken in a way you understand, just to name a few. What joy it has been to seek a specific out-of-the-ordinary way to purposefully be a blessing to someone every single day.
My sweet across-the-street neighbor Martha and I have become good friends. We talk on the phone almost every day, or see each other outside and chat. Just the other week I asked her how old she was as we stood in her driveway where I stopped to talk a few minutes while walking Cookie. When she said she was 92, I was speechless. I thought she was in her 70’s! I told her I hope to be like her when I grow up. She is always positive, vibrant, drives herself anywhere she needs to go, and has lived independently as a widow for over 20 years now. She attributes her longevity to God’s grace to her.
None of us knows how many more days we have. But I do know one thing. This is the day the Lord has made, and I will rejoice and be glad in it. He continues to give me a newfound passion to live this life well that He has entrusted to me. Whether I am teaching a piano student, chatting with my neighbors, standing on a stage with a microphone in my hand, or talking on the phone to my children…I believe each and every interchange is a divine appointment and opportunity to live given. When I reach the end of my life, I do hope I am completely given out.
I remain humbled and overwhelmed that the Lord would allow anything in my life to be used for good in the lives of others. And it has been interesting to realize that it is actually the broken places that He uses most in the lives of others. The Facebook message I got from a divorced mom who recently attended one of my concerts brought me to tears, as she wrote that my mere mentioning that I had gone through a divorce spoke to her, reminding her that she was not alone, and that she is loved.
Another Facebook message I received from a mom of a precious little girl left me in awe of our great, very in the details God. That morning in her church, I had planned my song list, but when I saw the children in the service, just before it started, I deleted one song and added a song I sing specifically for them, bringing them up on stage, and telling them “There is No One Like You.” I remind them that God says in Psalm 139 that they are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Just the week before, her precious daughter had come home from her gymnastics class crying because she felt like she was fat and all the other girls were so skinny. That precious mama had sat her down, cuddled her and explained to her that she was wonderfully made by God. I happen to believe that the Lord specifically put that song change on my heart that very morning for that very little girl, because that is how much He loves her. Her mama said she had heard me “many years ago” as a teenager, and though very involved in their own church, they just happened to have seen that I was going to be at this other local church and they decided to come.
Just this past Saturday I shared my story and music at a beautiful women’s ministry brunch, and noticed a lovely young woman crying through my entire program. Afterward she came forward to tell me, through her tears, that after many years of marriage, her husband had just abandoned her and her two sons that very week, but seeing me simply gave her hope that she was going to be okay.
Today I stood in my kitchen walking one music student and her mom out before the next one came in, and the mom said that after they had left her daughter’s first lesson with me last week, she went home and googled me. She said that she was so moved to read of what I have lived through, and told her pastor husband that it could only be the Lord that could bring one through such suffering to have an evident testimony of joy, as the tears spilled over her eyes and mine.
On and on I could go. I hear stories like this all of the time, and I never grow weary of them, because they are a constant reminder that the Lord is always at work, if we will simply choose to turn our palms upward, giving him all of our lives…successes, failures, heartaches, disappointments, and even the broken pieces. Because He is the One who can take our very storms and turn them into our story. He can take our trials and turn them into triumphs, our testimonies. He alone can take our sorrows and turn them into joy. And there is only one reason. The cross. Jesus was broken for you and me. And it is His very brokenness that makes us whole. We all have broken places in our lives. But God is the Master at putting them back together to create beautiful masterpieces within our lives, and then use them to bring wholeness into others. Whether you choose to daily ink a cross on your wrist along with me, or daily choose to commit to live as Christ, let’s do so for the sole purpose of living given.
Thank you for giving me the privilege of sharing this time with you each month,
Ministry at a Glance:
February was a month full of celebrating love. On the 11th I had such a fun time at Round Hill Baptist Church in Lexington, SC’s Valentine’s Banquet with my friends pastor Don Turner and his wife Toni. What a wonderful time to celebrate love and the love God has for us. I even threw in a few love songs in the mix from a few of my favorites…Olivia Newton-John, Celine Dion, and some Beauty and the Beast. Sunday, February 19th I was delighted to be at Westside Baptist in Lancaster, SC for their Ladies’ Day that morning, as the Lord moved in such a mighty way, the altar was flooded with women on their faces before Him.
That evening brought me back home to Irmo Seventh Day Adventist to sing for their Valentine’s Banquet, literally 4 minutes from my house.
The weekend of February 25th and 26th I was privileged to be ministering at Lakewood Baptist Church in Rock Hill, SC. Saturday, the 25th was their WMU Brunch. Lisa Passmore is such a sweet WMU leader and the brunch she planned for her ladies was beautiful. On Sunday morning, I ministered during their morning worship service, where the Lord moved in such a powerful way, the altar was full of people on their knees before Him. I literally played 4 songs during the invitation as hearts and lives were being changed by the message of forgiveness.
The evening of Sunday the 26th I was in concert at Asbury Memorial United Methodist Church in Columbia, SC, so blessed to reconnect with one of the sweetest pastors with whom I've been blessed to serve, Cynthia Taylor. An unexpected surprise was getting to see Mr. Calvin Faulkenberry there. I will always be grateful for his faithful service on my ministry board of directors for years. I also loved having two of my precious music students and one of the girls’ family surprise me there, as well. It’s always fun singing in my home town, having friends join me. It truly does mean so much.
I am so excited to announce that I am a monthly contributing writer for She Magazine of the Midlands! February’s debut issue is beautiful, and you can soon read the entire magazine online at www.midlands.shemagazine.com, as well as finding the beautiful glossy 12x14 copies around town at various locations. Check out my article in the February “Love and Marriage Issue” entitled “The Big D Does Not Define You and Me” for all the single ladies out there. Look for my upcoming article in March’s “Celebrate Your Age” issue as I talk about going from being a former “beauty queen” to learning to age gracefully in a world that only sees skin deep.
I was also privileged to share my story of forgiving my sister's murderer on Frontpage Radio with Dan Wooding this month, a national radio program that airs on various radio stations around the country. Always grateful for every opportunity to point others to Jesus, we had a wonderful conversation bragging on Him. You can hear the interview in its entirety, as well as the closing song I wrote entitled “How Far” here.
Because so many of you continue to ask how you can watch my story on “The Smith Sisters” episode on “I, Witness” that aired on the Investigation Discovery Channel in January, here is the link.
The month of March has me on the road sharing the Good News and I am grateful . This Saturday the 4th I will be speaking at Crosswell Baptist Church in Sumter, SC for their Joyful Living Women’s Conference. On Saturday, March 18th I will be speaking at Lebanon Baptist Church in Eastover, NC for their Women’s Conference. Sunday, March 19th I will be in concert at First Baptist Church of Elon, NC for their morning service at 11:00 a.m. The weekend of March 25th and 26th I will be at Bethlehem Presbyterian Church in Monroe, NC. Saturday the 25th I will be in concert for their missions fundraiser lunch at 11:00 a.m. Sunday the 26th I will be ministering during their morning service at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, March 26th evening I will be sharing a concert at Calvary Baptist Church in Jefferson, SC. Closing out March and kicking off April, the weekend of March 31st - April 2nd I will be at Church of the Cross in Bluffton, SC on Friday night for a 6:00 p.m. Ladies Event, Saturday morning 10:00 a.m. Ladies event, and Sunday morning for their 9:00 and 10:30 a.m. morning worship services. For specific details for any upcoming events, please visit my website and click on the Schedule link. Your prayers are greatly appreciated each and every time I stand to share the Gospel, and your presence is always welcomed.
*Summer Love-Offering Concert Series now being scheduled:
Friends, pastors, worship pastors, and women's ministry leaders, as you are looking at planning your church's special events, I would love to come to your church. In the slower summer months, I offer my Summer Love-Offering Concert Series, a worship service for the whole family. All I ask is for travel (mileage) and a love-offering. Every Sunday in June, July and August are available on this basis, so contact me today before they all get spoken for, because they always do! I always look forward to the summer concert series, sharing my story, original music, hymns, worship songs, even something special for the children. It's a great way to reach out to your community with the love of Jesus.
I still have some available Sundays in April and May so if you would like to host me in your church on one of these dates, please email me at email@example.com to book your event!
Sunday, April 9th morning/evening (Holly Ridge, NC or North Carolina/South Carolina coastal area)
Sunday, May 7th evening (Asheville, NC)
On the Homefront:
February began with a trip to the upstate to celebrate my “fake niece” Sydney’s bridal shower. Her mom Julie has been my friend of almost 35 years, hard to believe, as we met our first semester at Columbia College as Vocal Performance majors, and became roommates. We have shared a LOT of life together…good, bad, wonderful, hard, but all of it, as lifelong friends. I was her maid of honor, and she was my matron of honor. I have been blessed to be called her children’s “Aunt Dawn” and she “Aunt Julie” to mine.
Zoey and Cookie continue to be my faithful little companions at home, and bring me such joy. Zoey is always nearby whether it be on the fax machine while I’m working at my desk, or on the piano as I am teaching my piano/voice students. And of course Cookie is also constantly by my side as the loyal pup he is, and especially loves going for a ride to the bank where they spoil him with extra treats. We especially enjoyed having my dear friend Yvonne Howard over for dinner, and she certainly won a place in my fur babies’ hearts by bringing them both treats. As much as I miss my children, I am so glad we live in the age of smart phones. It’s been especially fun facetiming with the kids and granddogs! Shadow could not quite figure out where his grandma’s voice was coming from.
Please pray for my brother Robert’s dear friend David Taylor and his family, as he had a brain aneurism and surgery, and has a long road ahead of him. He was in Columbia when it happened, and is currently at Palmetto Richland Hospital. Robert and Elizabeth drove to Columbia last Sunday to visit him, and I had to be in Lancaster in concert that morning. The hosting church was gracious to allow me to skip out on lunch with them to get back to Columbia in time to have lunch with Robert and Elizabeth before they had to head back to NC. As always, there is never a dull moment with my crazy brother!
Clayton’s ACL surgery was successful, but he has had a difficult time recovering. Thankfully he is on the mend, and Hannah has taken good care of him. Thank you for praying for him. Ross and Brianna are experiencing about the same weather in Denver as we are here in the south. It even got up to 81 degrees there in February! Oh how I have missed having some cold weather, but they did finally get some snow this week. Your prayers for them are greatly appreciated. As we celebrated Valentine’s Day, I was so grateful for my valentines.
Funnies From the Road:
“You don’t remember me, do you?” a lovely lady asked me at a recent concert. “Refresh my memory,” was my usual response to this much-too-often-asked question. “I was one of the founding members of this church many years ago when you came. You remember my husband, don’t you?” To which I replied, “We have just spoken. It’s good to see you both again.” As she walked away, I heard her tell him, “She didn’t remember me.” After 30 years in ministry, being privileged to be in between 75-100 churches a year, I have met a LOT of people. Although God knows us by name, I have to be honest and say that I am not quite as good at it as He is! But I do love people, and am so grateful for all the friends I have made along the way.
Dawn’s family’s story was depicted in the made-for-television movie first in 1991 on CBS entitled “Nightmare in Columbia County.” It can now be seen on Netflix under the title “Victim of Beauty.”
You can view the movie through the link here.
Saturday, March 4th
Crosswell Baptist Church
9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 18th
Lebanon Baptist Church
8:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 19th
First Baptist Church of Elon
Saturday, March 25th
Bethlehem Presbyterian Church
Missions Fundraiser lunch
Sunday, March 26th
Bethlehem Presbyterian Church
Sunday morning service
Sunday, March 26th
Calvary Baptist Church
Friday, March 31st
Church of the Cross
Saturday, April 1st
Church of the Cross
Sunday, April 2nd
Church of the Cross
9:00 a.m. & 10:30 a.m.
Follow Dawn on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram where we post regular updates and prayer requests.
A Note from Allison
My youngest, Hannah, who is 3 years old loves the story of Jonah. She's finally memorized the city name Ninevah, instead of starting her story and stopping to say "I can't remember where he was going, what the name again mommy?" So she loves to tell me the story over and over. Today, she found a picture Bible at a friends house and of course she quickly found the story of Jonah. She started telling me the story and then said, "and Jesus made the whale spit him out. He's a good Jesus." I stopped immediately in my tracks, "What did you say Hannah?" She repeated, "He's a good Jesus!" I just smiled from ear to ear and said "Yes He is baby, he's a very good Jesus." It did my heart so good to hear that she had picked up that most basic lesson from the story of Jonah, and what a simple reminder from my 3 year old...that He is a good Jesus! Even in the belly of a whale, or in the valley, in sickness, in prosperity, in good, bad or ugly, He is a good Jesus. He never changes, and His love never fails!