Today as I made my way straight to the Keurig on my kitchen counter and flipped my daily calendar over, today's Scripture was Nehemiah 8:10, "The joy of the Lord is your strength." It was brutally cold outside, 23 degrees when I woke up. I had decided that after a 3-week break from the gym, and 2 weeks on a wonderful Christmas break, I would brave the cold and head back to the gym. Wearing everything delicious I ate over the holidays, an hour later, I had a one-hour class of Cardio Step under my belt (or muffin top) for 2018. But. The. Struggle. Was. Real.
Reality. While struggling through each and every step of that class, so not wanting to be there to be honest, but instead wishing I were still in my flannel sheets, in my warm house, not sweating and pushing myself. And it was there the Lord brought the very Scripture I had just read to my mind...joy. That is the word it seems the Lord has impressed on my heart, mind and life for this new year. The joy of the Lord is our strength.
As I opened my new devotional Jesus Always, Embracing Joy in His Presence by Sarah Young, I read, "Find joy in Me, for I am your Strength...If you focus too much on the things that are wrong, you will become increasingly discouraged - and your strength will be sapped...Remember your problems are temporary, but I am eternal. This is the joy of the Lord." And there again was Nehemiah 8:10.
The struggle to get up, get dressed, get myself to the gym, get the job done, and come home to write this newsletter article to you is real. Very real. It's already January 4th and I am just now sitting down at my desk to play catch-up. But what a picture of the choice we must make each and every day was my trip to the gym this morning. To choose joy. To allow the joy of the Lord to be our strength when we feel very weak, and even weary at the start of another year.
If I can be completely transparent with you for just a moment, I will admit that as I scroll through my social media and see all of the New Year's resolutions, positive posts, goals, etc., I struggle. Every single year. You may find that surprising, but don't. I am just like you. Life is hard, and the battle to maintain joy is real. Every. Single. Day. Especially at this time of year, at least for me it is. You see, I love Christmas. I so enjoyed going to visit my brother and his family over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays in NC, going snow tubing, laughing, being together, exchanging gifts. Then I looked so forward to flying to Denver, spending 5 days in beautiful, snowy Colorado with my beloved Ross and Brianna. There was shopping, packing, gift-wrapping, cooking, preparing, snow skiing, uninterrupted togetherness, such a treasure when they live so far away. Then the same day I arrived back home, Hannah, Clayton, and the grand dogs arrived for 4 days of more togetherness. Quality time, my love language. A born extrovert, this is heaven to me! I was full to overflowing. And then it was over. Just like that...all the anticipation, and then I blinked. Over. Another Christmas came and went, just like it does every year.
And once again I face an empty house, except for my aging 14-year-old beloved canine companion Cookie and my zany feline Zoey. It's quiet again. Hallmark Christmas movies are no longer playing on TV, nor Christmas music on the radio. There is no more anticipation of family time to come. It's back to alarm clocks, work schedules, demands and deadlines, and what feels like drudgery after the hustle, bustle, and wonderfulness that Christmas brings. And yet a new year has begun. I can be sad, or choose to look forward to 30 delightful music students once again filling my home each week, and ministry opportunities with precious brothers and sisters that are some of my life's greatest privileges and joys.
As the song says that I sing every Christmas, "When the holiday is through, and the year is fresh and new, what will linger, are the moments spent, my Lord, just worshiping You. Lord, I want your presence..."
Psalm 16:11 says, "You will show me the path of life; in your presence is fullness of joy." FULLNESS of joy, friends. That speaks to my heart that He will fill up the empty places. Full to overflowing.
And so if you are like me and find yourself on the struggle bus this time of year, I am praying for you even as I write this. That you and I will once again find that the joy of the Lord will be our strength, and that we will press in to Jesus and press on into this near year unfolding. As my dear friend often says after celebrations, "Don't cry because it is over, smile because it happened." (Dr. Seuss) Oh, my smile is big right now as I sit at my desk, still in my work-out clothes, with a tear trying to make its way down my cheek. I had a white Christmas, ya'll! TWICE it snowed while I was in Denver. I loved on my precious son and daughter-in-love for 5 whole wonderful white days, loved on my new granddog, welcomed my darling daughter, son-in-law and grand dogs home for a sweeter time than I could have imagined. Joy overflowing. And so as you and I face 2018, I am going to choose joy. The joy of the Lord is and will be our strength. I am looking forward to sharing this journey of joy with you.
Blessed New Year to you and yours,
Ministry at a Glance:
The month of December was unusually slower for me as far as my ministry schedule goes, after a very busy fall travel schedule, and at first I was unsure as to why. But as the month got underway and life happened, I realized God knew exactly what He was doing when He orchestrated my schedule. I was delighted to be in town to welcome my new nephew, Jordan Bryan, into the world on December 18th. All of my December events were crammed into one week and it was busy, but fun! I was at Mountain Hill Community Church in Landrum, SC for their lovely Ladies annual Christmas luncheon, and delighted to have my beautiful sister-in-love Elizabeth join me there. Then the same evening I was at Poplar Springs Baptist Church in Moore, SC for their annual Ladies' Christmas banquet. I was blessed to be with two Senior Adult Christmas Banquets. One of my gifted piano students joined me at Spring Valley Baptist Church in Columbia, SC, where her grandparents attend as she shared her recital piece. I love how the Lord orchestrated her playing that evening as her grandfather had been in the hospital the week before, with life-threatening issues, was released and at the banquet, and then right back in the hospital the next week, undergoing heart surgery. While she was unable to participate in the recitals, I believe she played for the most important audience of all. My piano/voice students presented two beautiful Christmas recitals in two separate assisted living facilities, always one of the highlights of my Christmas season. My last 2017 concert was at my former home church, Lexington Baptist Church in Lexington, SC. I could not think of a more precious way to close out the year than with such beloved family friends who walked through those dark days of tragedy with my family back in 1985. They will forever hold a very special place in my heart. And just like that, 2017 came to a close. Thank you to each and every church/host that invited and welcomed me into your sanctuaries and ministries. It was my privilege and joy to serve alongside you to the glory of God.
Pastors, Worship Leaders, Women's Ministry Leaders, as you are looking ahead to your 2018 ministry calendars, I would love to be considered to minister to your congregation or group. Please take a moment to visit my website. I would love to hear from you, and I would be delighted to be invited to come and share my ministry as a part of yours as we partner together in this new year to reach people with the Good News of the Gospel. www.dawnsmithjordan.com
**"Timeless Hymns II" Update**
"Timeless Hymns II" has a release date March 2018. The song list includes:
1. Great is Thy Faithfulness
2. It is Well With My Soul
3. How Great Thou Art
4. Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus
5. This is My Father's World
6. Jesus Loves Me/Oh How He Loves You and Me
7. I Have Decided to Follow Jesus/Wherever He Leads I'll Go
8. Just as I Am
9. Were You There?
10. Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
11. I'll Fly Away/When We All Get to Heaven
They are available for pre-order, and I will be glad to personalize them to my newsletter recipients first. Please mail your check payable to Jordan Ministries for $15.00 (per CD) plus $3.00 S&H (for orders over 5, please add an additional $3.00) to P.O. Box 2846, Irmo, SC 29063.
Funnies from the Road:
As I was driving home from a beautiful Christmas ladies' night out event last month, I had my usual to-go plate in the passenger's seat beside me, as I never eat before I speak/sing. It was dark, and rainy, and I was on the phone with my brother when all of a sudden as I turned onto the main road, a deer was walking across the road right up ahead of me. As I proceeded to hit the brakes to attempt to not hit the deer while hoping the car behind me would not hit me, I sadly did bump the deer. As I stayed on the phone during the entire ordeal, I had to choose to believe the deer was fine since my car seemed to be. However, my very next thought was my food! As I looked over to the passenger's seat, I was greatly dismayed to see that my delicious plate of chicken cordon blue, wild rice, green beans, and rolls had been dumped upside down into my ministry bag which was in the floorboard!
So there all of the deliciousness was mixed in with my tambourine, shakers, CD tracks, and Christmas song lyrics! Robert got a HUGE laugh at that! However, being the hungry woman I was after ministering/speaking/singing for an hour with another few hours to drive back home and no fast food in sight, I reached down into that bag, found the piece of chicken and roll, and ate both right out of my hand! I know, oh deer.
On the Road Again:
Monday, January 22nd
First Baptist Church Rock Hill
Rock Hill, SC
Senior Adult Luncheon
Saturday, January 27th
Harps Crossing Baptist Church
Sunday, January 28th
Tucker First United Methodist Church
8:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.
A Note from Allison
Well...Ryan is almost 9 months old and we finally got family pictures!
And seeing as we just got these awesome pictures taken, I'd like to share them with you. Abby (6), Hannah (4) and Ryan (9 months).
Abby is your typical first born: a rule follower to the core, my big helper, likes her things very organized and forgets nothing. She is a lefty and has the creative/artistic talent to go with it. She is a so much like me in so many ways, but I also se