Life. What a gift it is. Some of us live it as if it will never end. But it will. And yet while we are not promised tomorrow, we have today. And we are to live it well. My mom was gone at 61, I was only 39. My children were 7 & 10. We spent every holiday together, celebrated every birthday, talked on the phone every single day, oftentimes multiple times a day. I was not ready to be motherless with 2 children to raise who adored their Nanny. My sister was taken at 17. She was graduating from high school, going on a senior cruise, and coming to Columbia College to study music there with me. We were excited about the future. And yet in one day, all of those plans, hopes, and dreams were changed. And that is the way life happens. Death is just as much a part of life as the living of it.
Just in my own little corner of the world, the reality of life and death is staggering, sobering. In October I was staying in my precious friends' home in Austin, TX. Phillip Sandifer has been my long-time record company president and producer, and his wife Rene one of my dearest sisterfriends over the 25+ years of recording, ministry and life. We three sat up late talking, and Rene and I shared coffee and conversation in the morning until Phillip would pull me from the kitchen table to get to work. Then just a few weeks ago she sent me a precious care package full of beautiful things...some she had made, some she had purchased. I called her to thank her, in tears over her thoughtfulness and so grateful for her friendship. It was in that conversation my tears of gratitude were turned to tears of sadness as she told me she had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. The next week she had a complete mastectomy. We didn't see that coming as we sat together, laughing, crying, sharing life just a few months earlier. But now I realize even more how precious that time was.
My friend Sharon was feeling great in January, enjoying preparing home-cooked meals for her family (and sharing some with me), and then the next month she was struck with a migraine that she has lived with every single day since then. As she is still suffering, doctors are trying to find the right medication to bring her relief to no avail. She misses life as she once knew it, and yet trusts the Lord for every day that she has even in the midst of the pain.
My friend Yvonne is facing heart issues. My aunt and her dearest friend were looking forward to a European cruise next week, yet tomorrow her friend will be having open heart surgery and their trip has been canceled. My 93-year-old neighbor Martha's daughter's car was in her driveway just about every other day, and then at 61, Karen was gone. Cancer took her life. Ross's girlfriend Brianna's grandfather has been put on Hospice and she will be flying back home to SC next week to say goodbye. My friends Yvette and Melissa have each had to recently put down their beloved fur babies. Just Monday I was in my vet's office facing the very difficult decision of when to help my sweet dog and faithful companion Cookie of 14 1/2 years go, grateful it is not yet time, but it is soon. I could go on and on.
Life is a gift, and we must choose to live it in the present, because it is a present. And yet one day it will be gone. The Scripture says our lives are but a vapor. How true that is. I realize it even more as I am celebrating another birthday this week. Life flies by! And yet as we celebrate Easter, Jesus came that we may have life, and have it to the full! Abundant life! (John 10:10)
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade - kept in heaven for you." 1 Peter 1:3-4 says.
"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies." John 11:25 reminds us.
As my Aunt Sue and I went to see the movie "I Can Only Imagine" a few weeks ago, I was so moved by this incredible, powerful true story of hope and redemption behind the song of the same title. I could relate on a personal level to many aspects of this story, and continue to believe the Lord is in the business of reconciliation and restoration when Christ is at the center of it all. What once was broken can be made right. What once was lost can be found. There is no such thing as hopeless, and we can only begin to imagine what that day will be like.
My precious music student Megan has had 6 brain surgeries, and she died and went to heaven in one of them. We always laugh that she doesn't "only imagine," she can "only remember!" She has seen Jesus face to face. And while she has lived every single day with double vision as a result of the surgeon finally being able to remove the tumor she had lived with for most of her life, she is living every single day as it is a gift, pressing in to Jesus and pressing on. What does she still say every Wednesday when I ask her how she is? "Blessed," in her sweet southern soprano voice. Only Jesus.
Oh friends, while we have today, let's live it well. Jesus came to this earth, He laid His life down on a cross and rose again, conquering sin and death! In Him we never die! In Him we are alive and well. Today. This very day. And while we face difficulties, illness, and death on earth, those who are in Christ Jesus know that we will one day see Him face to face!
Psalm 118:24 says, "This is the day the Lord has made! I will rejoice and be glad in it!" Like a pastor of mine used to say, "If you ain't dead, God ain't done!" And for today, we are still here, our stories are still being written, and we have this amazing present before us. Rene and Phillip are facing this battle head-on, with complete faith and trust in an able God. As is Sharon, Yvonne, and the rest of us. As my brother Robert, sis-in-love Elizabeth and nephew James Michael come to celebrate Easter here over the weekend, I am truly grateful and blessed for this gift of life. Of family. As the song we used to sing in the little Baptist church in which I grew up says, "Because He lives, I can face tomorrow! Because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future. And life is worth the living, just because He lives!" Jesus is alive! And we are alive and well this very day. Let's celebrate!
Blessed Easter to you and yours,
Ministry at a Glance:
This last month I was privileged to get to travel to Alabama and Louisiana for ministry, as well as my home state of South Carolina. On March 3rd I spoke for the Cherokee County Women's Conference in Leesburg, AL, and then on Sunday, the 4th I shared my story with Pine Grove Baptist Church in Centre, AL in their Sunday school hour and shared special music during the worship service. On Sunday, March 18th I spoke at Little Mountain Presbyterian Church in Abbeville, SC for their Gifts of Women Sunday. Then the weekend of March 23-24 I flew to Baton Rouge, LA to speak at Acadian Baptist Center for an amazing women's retreat. My last event of the month was on March 30th in Little Rock, SC at Little Rock Baptist for a church wide Good Friday concert. Each and every place it is my great privilege and joy to serve. To see God's work in the lives of people is something that never gets old. At the altar time this past weekend in Alabama, a young wife and mother through tears told me she wanted to come to the place of forgiving her husband for infidelity, as they are seeking restoration in their marriage and family. Another woman shared with me that her husband of 65 years had just passed away 2 weeks earlier, yet there she was, smiling, telling of the goodness of God in her life even in the midst of such loss. Another dear sister shared with me about her breast cancer journey, and how the Lord was so faithful to bring her through. That is what God is in the business of doing, and He alone gets all the glory!
April is going to be very very busy for me and the ministry, with ministry events every Saturday and Sunday. I would appreciate your prayers as I head into this month and this travel schedule. My prayer is always to be a vessel of honor as I go in the name of the Lord. I hope to see you out there if I am in your neck of the woods.
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
*Available Piggy Back Dates*
The following dates are available for me to stay over for a Sunday morning/evening concert. There would be no travel expenses, simply a love offering and a place to lay my head. Email me if you would like to take advantage of one of these dates!
Sunday, May 13th (Seneca, SC) - available p.m.
Sunday, June 3rd (Smithtown, NY) - available a.m. and p.m.
Sunday, August 12th (Eastover, NC)- available a.m. and p.m.
Sunday, September 23rd (Lumberton, NC) - available p.m.
Sunday, September 30th (Lakeland, FL) - available a.m. and p.m.
Sunday, November 11th (Sophia, NC)- available a.m. and p.m.
I am currently scheduling my summer concert series for the months of June, July and August. I am available on Sunday mornings and/or evenings this summer,
and these concerts are FREE family-friendly events. I simply ask for a love offering and travel expenses. I have recently added several new worship songs to my ministry time, and also recorded my brand new/soon-to-be-released album Timeless Hymns II and can hardly wait to share some of those favorites live, including "I'll Fly Away," "When We All Get to Heaven," "How Great Thou Art,"
"It is Well With My Soul," "Just as I Am," "Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus," and "Great is Thy Faithfulness."
As most of you know, or read in my opening article, my friend and producer Phillip's wife, Rene, has been diagnosed with breast cancer. He is currently caring for her, as I am sure you can all understand, and therefore the project has been delayed. We will update the release date once we have that information. In the meantime, prayers for them are greatly appreciated.
On the Homefront:
Congratulations to my voice student MaCayla Ratcliffe (McCayla Madison) for making it through to Hollywood week on American Idol! MaCayla is a precious young woman of God, senior in high school, worship leader in her church, and beautiful singer. I am so proud of her, and excited to see God's plans for her life unfold. Stay tuned to watch her journey and see if she becomes our next American Idol!
While I was away in ministry this past weekend in Louisiana, Cookie had a very difficult time. My pet sitter's mom texted me a picture of him and said he couldn't get up, wouldn't eat breakfast, couldn't stay standing on his own, kept falling down, and didn't seem to be himself. Those of you who are also animal lovers understand that our fur babies are family. As difficult as it was to then stand to speak to a group of 150 women right after hanging up in tears, the Lord was so faithful to give me all I needed to finish the ministry commitment for Saturday joyfully. Oh how He blessed! When we are weak, He always is faithful to show His strength in us.
I called Amy Galdamez again the moment I wrapped up my ministry time, in tears, both of us heartbroken to think it was time to say goodbye to my faithful companion. As I was driven by car the 1 1/2 hours back to the Baton Rouge Airport to then catch 2 flights, I was stuck in Charlotte for hours due to weather. At midnight I looked on my phone at my home security camera to see that Cookie was on the hard slate floor in the foyer and was yelping for someone to come help him get up. That was a helpless moment for this mama. Texting Amy then, she got up out of bed, went to my house (in her pj's), let him out, then helped him settle down on his bed. Being a pastor's wife and mother of 3, she was so selfless in her care and help last weekend, and many others. I was supposed to land back home in Columbia at 10:58 p.m. We finally arrived at 1:30 a.m. I walked in my door at 2:30 in the morning, and sat on the floor with my buddy til about 3:30 just petting him, loving on him, thanking him for being such a good boy all these years.
I have been so blessed to have such precious pet sitters who have come to my home to care for him when I have had to be away in the last several years instead of having to board him. What a huge blessing they have been and are. Caring for an 86 lb. dog that can no longer get up on his own is no easy task. What comes with that is lots of messes and having to go way above the call of duty, and yet they have done that. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to Cade, Hope and Allison Shipman, as well as Hudson, Hannah Kate and Amy Galdamez. You have been so much a part of the ministry to which the Lord has called me, and have loved my sweet old dog and me so well. As I travel to sing in Little Rock, SC on Good Friday, sweet little Hannah Kate (seen in the picture with Cookie, and then with me in the car on our way to get him a happy meal on Sunday) and Amy will be coming over to care for him at dinner time for me.
As I teach 30 piano/voice students every Monday-Wednesday, I had emailed all the parents letting them know that Monday we may have to say goodbye to Cookie before I took him to the vet. On Sunday night my friend/nurse Sharon came over to check on Cookie (and me), and before she left, prayed over him as we both sobbed. She asked God for a sign for me to know what to do, committing to be the one to go with me when the time comes. On Monday morning I woke up to find Cookie not on his bed, and my heart panicked. He has not gotten up himself in a very long time. I turned the corner to find him sitting in the foyer, having gotten up and gone to get a drink of water in the night! We believe that was the Lord's answer. While he suffers from osteoarthritis, he is still a happy dog. Thankfully my vet said, "Not today." While we don't know how many more days we will have with this sweet, gentle giant, for today, I am grateful he is still here with us. As you can see, he receives quite a bit of love from these students of mine. He has been such a permanent fixture on his bed in the living room where I teach, usually resting there for 6 hours straight for 3 days in a row, happy to receive every pet, hug and treat. These precious families brought him chicken nuggets, a soft new blanket, special treats, and lots of love. Even Zoey showed her big brother some extra love. They have also blessed me in so many ways by bringing me countless meals, chocolates, flowers, and prayers. I am assured that I will know when it is "time" to say goodbye to my furry fella, but for today, we will keep enjoying life. It truly is such a gift to be cherished and shared.
On the Road Again:
Saturday, April 7th
Celebration Women's Ministry
Sunday, April 8th
North Kingsport Church of God
Saturday, April 14th
Thomas Memorial Baptist
Women of Royalty event
Sunday, April 15th
Thomas Memorial Baptist
Saturday, April 21st
Antioch Baptist Church
Spring Appalachian Tea
Sunday, April 22nd
Denmark First Baptist Church
Senior Adult Day service
Friday, April 27th
McLaurin Elementary School
Saturday, April 28th
Pelham First Baptist Church
Sold Out Sisters- Fine dining event
Sunday, April 29th
Hillcrest Baptist Church