As I started each day in my devotions over the last few weeks, right after I got Ross off to school, and it was just me, my coffee, the Lord and His Word, it was as if every single day my Father literally sat down with me. He began intimately speaking to my heart of hearts, meeting me right where I was, encouraging me specifically regarding my current circumstances, and reassuring me that He really is the God who sees us right where we are, and is intricately involved with the details of our lives.
From Charles H. Spurgeon's Selections From Morning and Evening I read: "The deeper our troubles, the louder our thanks to God, who has led us through all and preserved us until now. Our griefs cannot mar the melody of our praise, we reckon them to be the bass part of our life's song." So about now, many of us have to admit we got a pretty thumpin' bass section!
Then another morning as I met with the Lord, I read from one of my favorite devotionals, Jesus Calling: "Each moment you can choose to practice My Presence or to practice the presence of problems."
As I listened to a sermon a few weeks ago, it was about Paul and Silas being imprisoned, yet choosing worship over worry. The Scripture passage was Acts 16:19-25a. In verse 19, it says they were seized and dragged, and in verse 23 they had many blows inflicted on them, and were thrown into prison. Then in verse 24, they were thrown into the inner prison and their feet were fastened in stocks. Verse 25 just amazes me every time I read it, "But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them." Then in verse 26, "and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken, and immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone's chains were unfastened."
Did you catch that? ALL the doors were opened and EVERYONE'S chains were unfastened! As Paul and Silas chose to worship and not worry, everyone else in the prison was listening to them. What's over our heads is still under His feet. Worship moves the heart of God, my friends. When we choose to worship God, He can send an earthquake and break the chains of our circumstances, and not only set us free, but set others free because of our worship!
And then the pastor gave such a specific example that it took my breath for a second. It was as if Jesus whispered into his ear, as I heard him say: "Single mom - stop focusing on how the circumstances may not be what you had hoped, and start focusing on how good God is. He will not only set you free, but your children free as they see you choose to worship."
As I sing the song I wrote for Hannah and Ross in concert often, my prayer has always been that they would see the love of their Father in their mama..."Oh I pray that they would see in me a love they need to know, a love that goes beyond my arms and will never let them go. 'Cause the helpless cries are sometimes mine, Father show me what to do, as I pray that they would see in me a love that leads to You." As Mother's Day is in a few weeks, this is the cry of my heart daily before my Father.
One of my favorite hymns that I sing says, "I sing because I'm happy! I sing because I'm free! For His eye in on the sparrow, and I know He watches me." Whom the Son has set free, He is free indeed. Let's choose worship over worry daily, and watch the Lord break the chains in all of our lives.
April at a Glance
Ministry wise, April started off with a wonderful night of worship with the ladies from Sandridge First Baptist Church in Ridgeville, SC. Some dear friends surprised me and showed up that night as well. What a blessing to worship together! I shared in concert at Jerusalem Baptist Church in Mocksville, NC and had the joy of returning to my friends at Catawba Heights Baptist Church in Belmont, NC for three morning services and an evening service. That evening I had my “Timeless Hymns” premiere concert where I was joined for the first time by my hosting church’s amazing band and singers. It was so much fun!! I also had the joy of sharing at the Women’s Encounter Evening at Pinewood Baptist Church in Pinewood, SC and at Gilgal Baptist Church in Edgefield, SC. Additionally I served as Mistress of Ceremonies for the Lexington County School District 1’s Educational Foundation’s Dancing with the Stars Fundraiser. It was another busy month. The icing on the cake was that I finished all 3,159 names for my “No One Like You” lullaby CD after 3 years and 9 months of recording.
I have had several inquiries about the recent airing of my family’s story on the show “On the Case with Paula Zahn.” I wanted to let you know that it will be re-airing again THIS Thursday morning, May 2nd at 8:00am (check your cable provider for your local listing – click here for more information.)
On the Home Front
Spring is in the air and I’m enjoying my beautiful azalea bushes in the yard. Jennifer, my schedule coordinator on the other hand, is having some very different spring weather at her home in the High Rockies of Colorado. We had a good laugh at the two very different pictures we took from our home offices last week. Can you tell which one is mine and which one is Jennifer’s?
April held some special opportunities for me to celebrate with my children. I made a trip to Clemson on April 23rd to see Hannah and her boyfriend Clayton sing in Clemson's Men's and Women's Glee spring concert. Hannah even treated me to a belated birthday dinner afterward at the Wendy's on campus, which was a special surprise. She and her sweet beau also celebrated their 2-year anniversary this month, and I am so grateful for their Christ-centered relationship. I am so proud of Hannah for being nominated by Clemson University to be a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.
On April 26th Ross lettered in Lacrosse at the Dutch Fork High School Lacrosse Banquet that we attended to celebrate the historic first year of DFHS having their very first lacrosse team.
As Hannah is finishing up her final exams this week in her sophomore year at Clemson, and Ross is finishing up the last month of his junior year in high school, I am quite aware that they are growing up, and in a little over a year, both of them will be in college. This Saturday, May 4th, Ross will take the SAT for the first time, and on May 11th, he will attend his first prom. I am looking so forward to having Hannah home next week, along with my granddog Blue, for the summer once again. I do love it when both of my children are back under the same roof in the summers.
And speaking of family - I want to wish my brother Robert a very happy birthday on May 6th! I also got to celebrate my sister-in-law Caroline’s birthday with her and spend some sweet time with my nephew Birkes last week. What a treat!
On May 16th, my voice/piano recital will be held at the Heritage at the Lowman Home, where my students will bring their performances not only to their friends and families, but also those living there in the facility. Just as I grew up singing with my sister in my early years in the nursing homes, I hope this adds a special joy not only to those in attendance, but for my students as they give back out of what the Lord has entrusted to them.
The Month of May and some Concert "Piggy-Back" Date Opportunities
Ministry wise the month of May is a little slower and I believe the Lord may be allowing a period of rest during this season, though personally it will stay as busy as ever with my children’s activities and piano students etc. This coming weekend I head to Texas where I will be sharing at a ladies event on Saturday morning at Turning Point Church in Fort Worth and then that evening and Sunday morning during their three worship services. That evening I will be sharing in concert at Richland Hills Baptist Church in Richland Hills TX. It will be good to get back to my old stomping grounds where I lived for 3 years back from 1990-1993. Then on May 19th I will be in concert that evening as I have the privilege of returning to Malvern Hill Baptist Church once again in Camden, SC.
In light of May being slower ministry wise I would love to fill up my open summer dates instead if at all possible. During the summer I open up my concert dates on a love-offering basis for "piggy-back" dates and churches in driving distance from Columbia, SC asking only that my expenses be covered. Jordan Ministries is the primary way the Lord has not only allowed me to use my gifting and serve Him in full time ministry, but also provide for my family. Just as summers can be challenging budget-wise for churches, they are often challenging for my ministry as well and I would love to enlist your help in getting these last few dates filled. I have listed Sundays that are available but also have other days of the week open if those would work better for your church for a ladies event etc.:
May 19th – A.M. (I am in Camden, SC that evening)
June 2nd – A.M. and P.M.
June 9th – A.M. (I am in Elloree, SC that evening)
June 23rd – P.M. (I am in Galax, VA that morning)
August 4th – P.M. (I am in East Aurora, NY that morning)
August 11th – P.M. (I am in Statesville, NC that morning)
August 18th – P.M. (I am in Florence, SC that morning)
Even if you have not been struggling personally recently I know all of us have been horrified at the recent events in the news and the things that have taken place particularly in Boston. I think during this season particularly it’s important to a watching world to see the Lord’s people loving and caring for their hurting neighbors and each other – as well as coming together in worship and praise to our Lord and Savior, trusting that He knows and cares about all that is going on, and all that weighs on our hearts, and that He will show Himself faithful, trustworthy and Lord in the midst of all this turmoil. We know the end of the story, folks, and that is enough reason for me to get on my knees in worship today. Will you join me?
Spotlight of the Month
With Mother's Day around the corner I'd love to suggest my Mom's book "Rose of Shari" as well as my CD "This Far" as a gift suggestion. In the book my precious Mother shared her perspective of our family's story. I miss her so much and am thankful to continue to be able to share with others her thoughts that she has left behind in written form. My CD features three songs on motherhood, including "A Mother's Prayer," " A Love That Leads to You," and "Watching My Heart," all of which I wrote for my own mother and children.
Turning Point Church
Ft. Worth, TX
Richland Hills Baptist Church
Richland Hills, TX
Malvern Hill Baptist Church
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Little Dale Tales (Stories from the home of my schedule coordinator, Jennifer Dale)
When you have a house filled with kids, some days it can feel like all you are doing is correcting them and teaching them good manners. Our middle child got it right yesterday when she got frustrated with her little sister and said: "Would you please stop talking while I'm interrupting??!!!!" We all had a good chuckle over that one!