As I am writing to you from my home office, in my workout clothes (because I will make it to Zumba at 5:00 today!), a face mask on, I HAVE brushed my teeth but I have NOT yet brushed my hair. Yes, I am just keepin' it real. These are just some of the perks when you work from home, except for when someone unexpectedly drops by. (That just happened.)
I have to admit I am enjoying the slower pace my summers hold...only teaching 2 days a week with a student load of 17 verses my school year schedule of 3 days and 33 students. I don't set an alarm clock during the week, and sleep til my body (or Zoey) wakes me up. I love staying up late, have always been a night owl, and I get to do that in the summer (except for the Saturdays and Sundays that I am in ministry, which is every single Sunday (but one) for all of June, July and August.) Time with family and friends is precious, and the summers allow me much more of that than the jam-packed fall, winter and spring seasons.
Both of my children have birthdays in the month of July; Ross will turn 21 on the 12th, and Hannah will be 24 on the 19th. I truly am "Watching My Heart" as the song I wrote/recorded about them says, as they are both grown and out on their own. It is a bittersweet time, I will admit. Summers are no longer the same...there is no blue Wal-Mart pool, no lazy lake days with them, no waterparks, no fun activities planned with the children as soon as I get my work done, and yet, there is a sweetness to accompany the bitter part.
Just last week Ross and his sweetheart Brianna were able to fly home for 6 treasured days. Brianna's grandfather has been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, and it is also in his liver and shoulder, thus the reason for their impromptu trip home for her to get to visit him. Your prayers for him and their family would be welcomed. While the reason for their trip was sad, the joy in having them here completely overshadowed that. From the moment I picked them up at the airport on that Wednesday afternoon until I took them back the following Monday, precious time spent between our two families was cherished. And would you believe it was the ONLY weekend that I was not traveling in ministry this summer? Ross and Hannah were able to see each other for the first time in over two years at their dad's house, as she and Clayton were coming through town that very weekend. God cares about all of the details, friends. We enjoyed time on the lake with Brianna's family as they welcomed me to join them for a day out on their boat, swimming at her aunt's as once again I was invited to join in the fun, we of course had to get all of their SC favorites...Rush's, Lizard's Thicket, Bojangles and Zaxby's. And I kid you not, I made THREE batches of cookie dough in those 6 days, and was happy to do so!
Life is all about seasons, isn't it? Instead of being sad that my children are grown, gone, and my house is a bit more quiet than it once was when electric guitar, drums, and the sounds of teenagers filled it, I am grateful for the fact that for every season, there is a purpose. I raised my children to be the independent adults they now are, and there is peace in that. I have let go of the reins and turned them over to their Heavenly Father, who reigns supremely.
In this season of my life as a mother, my time is spent more in prayer, texting, facetiming, and waiting from one visit to the next. This little Scripture card sits on my kitchen sink windowsill, where I see it every morning as I go to make my coffee and then head to my quiet time chair. "Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him." Psalm 37:7 says.
In this last visit with Ross and Brianna home, I was delighted that they were able to spend 2 nights here with me. As we sat down to breakfast together on Monday morning, before I even said, "Let's pray," Ross began the blessing, and lifted the most beautiful prayer, bringing this mama to fighting tears of gratitude and joy. Earlier in the visit he shared with me how a devotional book I had given him for Christmas was literally speaking to him about whatever was specifically going on in his life for that very day. My heart soared, knowing that only my God can do just that. Tears are surfacing again as I am proofing this one last time before sending it on to you. Oftentimes the waiting is hard, and long, but every now and then, the Lord allows us to get a glimpse of what He is doing, and that little shot in the arm enables us to continue to wait patiently while He does what only He can do.
And so for you, dear friend, in whatever season you are in, God has got this. He has you, and He has your beloveds. So just sit back, savor the season, and the Savior who holds it all in the palm of His capable hands.
Blessings to you and yours,
Ministry at a Glance:
This past month kicked off my summer concert series, and what a wonderful start it was. Thank you to Hopewell Baptist Church in Seneca, SC, where my high school Personal Typing teacher Donna Suhrstedt came; St. Stephens Lutheran Church in Lexington, SC; Cedar Creek Baptist Church in Fayetteville, NC; Autryville New Life Church of God in Autryville, NC where I made a new friend in former Miss NC (2005) Brooke McLauren Autry; Little Mountain Presbyterian Church in Abbeville, SC where one of the attendees and I were twinning; and Tranquil United Methodist Church in Greenwood, SC.
I love it when the Lord does above and beyond all we could ever ask or imagine, don't you? As I made my way to Abbeville, SC for a Ladies Night Out event at Little Mountain Presbyterian Church, their first one ever, they were hoping for 70 women, and by the time the service started, every seat in the place was full, glory to God! The church was packed, and the presence of God was powerful simply because a handful of women decided to step out in faith and reach their community with the good news of Hope. There was not an empty seat nor a dry eye by the time we said our goodbyes. I love Jesus, and His people, and it is my great privilege and joy to serve both.
*Timeless Hymns II project in the works!*
I'm very excited to be heading to Austin, TX to record a new project in October with my friend/record company exec/producer Phillip Sandifer for a Timeless Hymns II project. What is your favorite hymn that you would like to be considered to be included? I'd love to hear from you.
How does a free (love offering) summer Sunday night concert sound for your church and community? I am available 7/23, 8/6, 8/13 & 8/27. Check out my concert calendar here and let me know. I'd love to come to your church before the summer has come & gone.http://www.dawnsmithjordan.com/schedule.php
Available Piggy-back dates:
* July 28-30 I will be in the Hilton Head Island, SC area, and I am available for a 5th Sunday night concert on the 30th.
* August 26-27 I will be in Suwanee, GA, and have that Sunday night, August 27th open.
**For these dates, there would be no travel expenses, simply a love offering and a place to lay my head. If you would like to host me in your church on one of these dates, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. **
On the Road Again:
Sunday, July 2nd
Sunday, July 9th
United Love Baptist Church
Saturday, July 15th
Saluda First Pentecostal Holiness Church
Sunday, July 16th
Sunday, July 16th
Little Bethel Baptist Church
Sunday, July 23rd
Central Steele Creek Presbyterian Church
Sunday School- 9:15 a.m.
Service- 10:30 a.m.
Saturday, July 29th
First Union African Baptist Church
Daufuskie Island, SC
Sunday, July 30th
First Union African Baptist Church
Daufuskie Island, SC
Looking way ahead, I will be speaking in October at the Sister Circle Girlfriend Getaway weekend in North Charleston, SC. Registration is open and I would love for you to join me there! You can register here http://www.lesliehowardministries.com/
Thursday, September 14th at 11:00 a.m. I will be speaking at Carolinas Hospital Systems First Anniversary Celebration sharing my story. Tickets are on sale now and I would love to have you there. You can purchase tickets for the event here.
On the Homefront:
June held fun, family and festivities in the way of the Miss SC Pageant (for which I was invited to sing "God Bless America/America the Beautiful" on the final night), a few friends' weddings (one for which I was blessed to sing), a day trip to Charleston to take Hannah shopping and to lunch for an early birthday gift (for clothes to take on her cruise with Clayton's family), a lake day with my Sharona, and two of my granddogs' birthdays...Shadow turned 1 and Malakai turned 6.
Allison, her new little man and I got to have our first "staff meeting" out at our favorite sushi restaurant. And to top it all off, having Ross and Brianna in SC was the icing on the cake, so to speak!
It is hard to believe that my younger sister would have turned 50 on June 25th, but she will forever be 17 to us all. Family, friends, fun, all of them a breath of fresh air on these hot, summer days. What have you been up to this summer so far? As I share a little of my life here with you every month, know that I also welcome hearing from you, knowing how we can pray for you, or just a simple hello. Happy July!
Funnies from the Road:
As a tradition, I always enjoy attending the Miss South Carolina Pageant here in town at the Township Auditorium. My sweet younger friends (and fashionistas, I might add) Lauren Cone and Laurel MacCallum joined me as they have the last few years, and we always have so much fun together. As we walked back into my house well past midnight after the final festivities and crowning of the new Miss SC, what greeted us was anything but glamorous. Cookie had decided to leave us a few surprises...not just in one room, but on the den carpet, the dining room carpet AND the living room carpet! The poor guy obviously needed to GO and we did not get home in time! (At 13, 91 in people years, I did not scold him.) But instead of being distressed over the mess, in our formal evening gowns, sequins, high heels and red lipstick, the 3 of us set to work, laughing hysterically to the point of tears. All I can say is that we definitely made a memory.
This past Sunday morning I had a concert in my hometown. During the sound check I noticed I was perspiring much more than I normally do, only to realize with horror that in my morning routine I had somehow forgotten to put on deodorant! Having just met the pastor, I put aside my pride and walked into his office, asking, "Pastor, do you happen to have any deodorant?" He did not, and so with 22 minutes until service time, after 2 gas stations, I successfully paid much more than I normally would for the treasured toiletry, applied it, and made it back with 11 minutes to spare! Several of my Facebook friends had fun with their comments, too good not to share: One wrote, "Never let 'em see you sweat!" Another, "That situation was the (arm) pits!" And lastly, "I am sure everyone would have gotten wind of it!"
A Note from Allison
Note I have updated my picture...even though it's already outdated. I figured having Ryan's presence in my belly is better than no presence at all. We're working on some updated family photos, but with 3 littles who knows when that will happen?
Yesterday (July 5th) was my birthday and it was nothing special or awesome, it was a pretty normal basic day. I fed kids, changed diapers, barely got a shower, took my husband to pick up his car from the mechanic...just normal every day stuff. I almost didn't even find a babysitter so we could go to dinner. And as I laid down in bed last night I could have so easily slipped into self-pity and feeling sorry for myself about how it was just a normal day. But instead I laid there thinking about the little things that made my day great. Yesterday morning I had all 3 of my kids snuggling with me in bed, we were blessed to be able to afford the work that needed to be done on my husband's truck, because I had to take my husband on that errand we were able to have lunch as a family and get that extra time together, Ryan (my 3 month old) slept all through our dinner out, and the list goes on and on. I am thankful that God helped me to see all the joy among the mundane and realize it was indeed a Happy Birthday!