Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed your Christmas and holidays as much as my family and I did. We took a much-needed break the last two weeks of December, and did nothing other than rest and enjoy family and friends as we celebrated God's greatest gift to us. We were even able to make a day trip to ski at Appalachian Ski Mountain, NC, one of our favorite things to do together. We rented movies, looked at Christmas lights, baked cookies, had our house full of loved ones and friends, and just soaked it all in. Oh how I cherish those times.
As I awoke New Year's Eve morning, I flipped my daily Scripture calendar by my kitchen sink over, and this is what I read: "Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please." Isaiah 46:9-10 NIV.
As I stood there in my pj's pouring a cup of coffee while the kids were still asleep, I thought over that Scripture passage in the quiet, and then my thoughts turned to the previous year. A year earlier I had been anxious about the year to come...knowing Hannah would be going off to college and moving away from home, Ross still living with his dad and step-mom, and me looking at the very real possibility of having an empty nest much sooner than I had ever expected. We never know how things are going to turn out, but God does. To me, I sometimes need to simply stop and look back...and remember ... remember the former things...where I have been, and where He has brought me today.
To see now what I couldn't see then, the Lord knew all along how all of these circumstances would play out, and my job was to trust Him...to remember the former things and His faithfulness to me in them. Some very painful, yes, and yet His grace carried me through them. I had no way of knowing a year ago that Ross would come back home to live with me this summer. I cried buckets of tears as Hannah moved to Charleston to begin her freshman year in college, and again had no way of knowing that she would be transferring and living back at home this semester and attending Midlands Technical College as she works toward transferring elsewhere next year. I almost have to laugh that I thought I would be alone, and now they are both back home! God knew, and I wonder if He had to shake His head at my grieving over what would never even be, knowing the end from the beginning all along.
I spent New Year's Eve in my pajamas in front of our beautifully lit Christmas tree, watching the Red Box movie I had picked up, "Secretariat," as Hannah and Ross celebrated elsewhere with friends. At one point, the main character said something that made me pause the movie and grab a pen and a post-it. She said, "This isn't about going back, this is about life being ahead of you and you run at it because you never know how far you can go unless you run."
How appropriate as we face a new year. Last year the Lord gave me the Scripture found in Philippians 3:13, "Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do; forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." I believe this is still to be my focus in the New Year ahead. As I watched that race horse cross the finish line in the movie and make history, winning the Triple Crown, it was a vivid reminder of the crown each of should live our lives to receive...the crown of righteousness. I want to live my life in such a way...to run full-speed ahead, to win the prize for which God has called me to live this life He has entrusted to me. Won't you join me?
Jennifer and her family came home to SC to visit their families, and it was so good to get to see her in person after working long-distance "together" via email, google chat and cell phones. She gave me a book for Christmas that I have begun entitled One Thousand Gifts, A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp. Oh, that is how I seek to live my life...fully right where I am. As far as New Year's Resolutions go, I feel like mine is much the same as it was last year, because as Paul wrote, I have not quite gotten there yet, so I will continue to press on, my friends.
On a Personal Note:
Our family is excited about the new opportunities and happenings coming up this year. Ross is playing Lacrosse on the Irmo Lacrosse team for the first time. It is a team consisting of Irmo and Dutch Fork High School players. So I will go from soccer mom to LAX mom! On January 14th we will be tuning in to cheer on our dear family friend, Bree Boyce, the reigning Miss South Carolina, as she competes for the title of Miss America. Bree has received international recognition for her remarkable story of losing 114 lbs. Hers is a story of determination and faith, so join the fun and tune in with us.
It is such a blessing to have Hannah back at home as she continues to seek God's direction for her life this semester. The last weekend of the month I will do something I don't think I have ever done. I am looking so forward to attending a women's conference! I have spoken and sung for many for over 25 years now, but I am going as an
attendee, joined by my daughter. Our church is hosting the event, and I am looking forward to sitting on the other side of the platform and listening to the singer, speaker, and most importantly, my Father for what He would have to say to me. It's going to be a great month to kick off a new year!
As we look ahead to 2012, I look back for a moment to be reminded of all the Lord allowed. My ministry spanned the states of SC, NC, GA, KS, FL, OR, TX, TN & MS. I was privileged to minister in 80 events in 2011, as well as recording and releasing a new CD, while also releasing the movie based on my family's story. I met some precious new friends in the various churches I was blessed to serve in, making heaven even sweeter with each connection as we will one day all be back together. I enjoy staying in touch with so many of them via Facebook once home. I have seen God move firsthand in the lives of His people, and it has been a great privilege and honor to be a part of His work here on this earth. I am so very thankful for the Lord's blessing and provision.
Jennifer does such an amazing job keeping my calendar so organized, and I am so very grateful for the way she does her job with such excellence. She is back in her office in Colorado working on filling up the rest of the year, and we would be delighted to hear from you should your church have an event for ladies, or a church-wide event that I would be a good fit for.
This month I will be home the entire month of January, and believe this is what the Lord has allowed for me as I head to Arkansas, Oregon, Texas and South Carolina in February and March to lead several women's events and share concerts. I will be teaching my wonderful 13 music students, as well as continuing to record personalized lullabies for children with Kid Music. (Yes, I am still doing this! I have now recorded well over 2,000 names!) But without the added responsibilities of traveling and ministry, I am looking forward to spending some time reading, reflecting, and getting rejuvenated to head back out on the road. With several women's conferences for which I am responsible to be the speaker, I would ask for your prayers as I spend this month in preparation for them. I am looking forward to what the Lord has ahead in 2012.
2012 Schedule at a Glance:
|Date||Name of Church/Organization||Town/State|
|February 4th & 5th||First Baptist Church||Magnolia, AR|
|February 13th||Macedonia Baptist Church||Gaffney, SC|
|February 24th- 26th||Good Shepherd Community Church||Cannon Beach, OR|
|February 27th||Salem Heights Church||Salem, OR|
|March 24th & 25th||New Hope Baptist||Seneca, SC|
|March 31st & April 1st||First Baptist Church||Jefferson, TX|
|April 21st||Belin Memorial UMC||Murrell's Inlet, SC|
|May 12th||Springdell Baptist Church||Lancaster, SC|
|May 13th||First Baptist Church||Columbia, SC|
|September 21st - 22nd||Fruit Cove Baptist Church||Jacksonville, Fl|
|December 1st & 2nd||Milford Baptist Church||Marietta, GA|
|December 6th-9th||First Baptist Church
25th Annual Christmas Pageant
When I travel I do like to make the most out of my time away and combine concerts/events so that I can be fully home with Hannah and Ross on other weekends. At this time I’m still trying to find additional hosting churches while I am in Seneca, SC, Jefferson, TX, Murrell’s Inlet, SC, and Jacksonville, FL. I would love to hear from you if you think your church would be interested in having me during those times.
Thank you for taking the time to hear from me, and always know it is a blessing to hear from you, as well. May we seek to live our lives to the fullest, for the glory of God, in this New Year.
Love and blessings,