It has been 28 years ago today, Friday May 31st, that my life and the life of my family was forever changed when my sister Shari was kidnapped and in the early hours of the morning, went to be with Jesus, her Lord and Savior. Her gravemarker says: "She blossomed on earth to bloom in heaven" and I look so forward to that day when we will be reunited again. I wrote a song about Shari back in 1989 entitled simply "Sister" and I would love to share the lyrics with you in this newsletter.
Beautiful at seventeen,
Full of hope and plans
The future seemed so bright to you,
The world was in your hands.
But in an instant you were gone
Taken far from me
The pain and the senseless loss
Were all that I could see.
"Was this really happening?"
I asked in disbelief,
And though there were no answers,
In Jesus there was peace.
This separation that we know
Is only for a while.
For if He truly conquered death,
We never really die.
The friendship, joy, and dreams we shared
won't even begin to compare
to the time when we're together again.
The bond we have in Jesus' love
will always keep us
Sister, You're a precious gift,
God chose to lend to me.
The priceless love that you have shared
Is one that never leaves.
Now your life is in His hands,
and even death will bow.
Eternity will dry the tears
I'm crying for you now.
I will cry for you now,
Heaven's holding you now.
The friendship, joy, and dreams we shared
Won't even begin to compare
To the time when we're together again
The bond we have in Jesus' love
Will always keep us
I miss her to this day and wonder how different life would be if we had had the last 28 years together to walk though all the seasons of life we would have undoubtedly shared....marriage, children, family etc. But I know where Shari is and my hope is truly in the fact that one day I will see her again and what a joyful reunion that will be!
On my return home from being in Fort Worth, TX for 3 nights the first weekend in May, after an amazing time of ministry there, the first leg of the trip from DFW to Chicago was uneventful, and then things started to change. My 3-hour layover in Chicago turned into 4, then turned into a gate change, and then a canceled flight, with no possibility of my getting home that night as originally planned. As I made my way up to the ticket counter, the agent informed me that due to a mechanical malfunction, there were no other flights out AT ALL that night, or the next day. This being a Monday, having been gone since Friday, the next available flight to get me home would be Wednesday! WEDNESDAY?! Hannah had just moved back home from Clemson for the summer, I had 2 children at home thinking their mama would be home that night with them, and I had music students to teach Tuesday and Wednesday. The only other option they could offer would be for me to fly into Charlotte, NC, where I would have to rent a car at my own expense (that cost $130 one way for the 1.5 hours drive), drive myself to the Columbia Airport to get my car, and THEN get home Tuesday afternoon. So I was told to go to the hotel that would provide me a place to sleep (without my luggage), and of course it was a smoking room. I waited for almost an hour for the shuttle to ever come get me from the airport to get to the hotel. On and on the saga went...the air wasn't working in my hot, smoking room. After getting up at 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday to try again, I finally made it to Charlotte, only to walk up to the counter to pick up the rental car I had reserved ahead of time and be told they didn't have any cars at the moment, and it would be at least a 45-minute wait. I had never experienced so many delays and interruptions in all of my years of traveling!
I finally arrived home on Tuesday just 30 minutes before I was to teach 6 music students straight. What a trip! As I was posting on my facebook, so many well-meaning friends were saying things like..."Who can you find to share your story and brighten their day?" I had just shared my story literally 5 times between ministry events on Saturday and Sunday. I was beyond spent. Others would say things like..."Maybe slow down?" in answer to my question of why this was happening. "God is in the midst of all this." "You probably touched someone for Jesus in your delay." "Look for the robin on the windowsill and you won't have to fear the vulture." I was looking but there were no robins in the Chicago Airport that I could see. Many referred to Romans 8:28, or suggested a new song would come out of all this, that everything happens for a reason, that God obviously had a plan...on and on the well-wishers went. And though I appreciated each and every one, knowing they all truly did mean well, I had a lot of time to think on the messages I had been sent. I was exhausted, frustrated, and desperately just wanting to get home. It made me wonder about how I may have responded to others when they were hurting, or in difficult situations that simply could not be resolved in just a day or two. I know that God causes all things to work together for good...I am certain He was protecting me from something that could have been on the original path of my trip home. We all KNOW those things, and I just wonder if we try too hard to fix things with the right words, the right Christian answers, when really all the other person needs is to know someone cares, hurts along with them, and just says, "I am sorry. I am here with you, praying you through."
It took me back to when Shari was taken, and then murdered, and then when my status went from pastor's wife to single mom, to when my mother died of ovarian cancer. So many dear souls tried to say just the right things like "They are in a better place now." "God is working it all out for good." Again, we KNOW all of that. But sometimes we don't need the Christian answers, we just need Christians to put their arms around us, tell us we are not alone, and that it will be okay one day. All of it. And it will be worth it. Oh there was no sweeter joy than when I got into the tiniest little Toyota to drive to Columbia, and walk into my home to be reunited with my sweet family after that long, interrupted, trying, frustrating, exhausting trip. This life is like that a lot of the time, in fact, most of the time. But one day we will make it home...home sweet home...heaven, and it will be worth it all. If you are currently struggling, finding yourself stuck in a place in life, a lot like I was stuck in Chicago, I just want you to know I am sorry, I care, and I believe in you and the One Who will see you through. If we can pray for you, let us know, as it would be our joy as we are called to bear one another's burdens together.
June is going to be a busy month for Jennifer Dale, my schedule coordinator. June 1st she celebrates her 40th birthday and June 28th is her due date for their 4th little one (a baby girl). Jennifer has worked for me for over 5 years now and currently helps me with scheduling and communications with my concert/event hosts out of her home in Fraser, Colorado where she and her husband Reid serve in full-time ministry themselves at a bibleschool/retreat center. I would love for you to be in prayer for her and for her family as they welcome this little one into the world. Jennifer will be taking some time off in July but I will be available during that time of course.
Here's a note from Jennifer personally: "Life took a huge turn for our family when we found out in late October that after 8 years (and two miscarriages), the Lord was giving us our fourth little one. I had to wrestle through some personal anxiety at first - would I be able to carry her full term? And what about being a new Mom again after all these years - and being an older Mom as well? Thankfully I am surrounded by multiple sisters-in-Christ at church and in the ministry we serve with, who had children well into their mid/late 40's and they have been a tremendous encouragement and support. Turning forty has been a big milestone in my heart and I can feel the difference between being pregnant at 27 with our oldest and being pregnant now at almost 40 (and at high-altitude to boot!). It hasn't always been an easy pregnancy - but it's been such a sweet time praying for this little one, praying for our family and ministry and our life together etc. I'm learning to entrust this little girl and her heart and life to my Lord and Savior who created her and is knitting her together and has planned out the timing of when she would join our family from eternity past. All looks well at this time. As we live in the high-country/mountains of Colorado I am a good 1.5-2 hours away from the closest hospital and would covet your prayers that I would be able to get to Denver in plenty of time for the delivery and that all would run smoothly. It has been an honor and a privilege to continue to work for Jordan Ministries as I have now entered my 6th year. Thank you for your support for Dawn and Jordan Ministries, for caring about the work that the Lord is doing through her and the ministry. We are so deeply thankful for your support and encouragement and especially for your prayers!"
May/June Ministry at a Glance:
I had an incredible time of ministry and fellowship in Forth Worth, TX the first weekend in May with my new friends Jeff, Cathy and Julia Wickwire. What an amazing family they are, and what an awesome church they serve - Turning Point Church! They treated me to some authentic Tex-Mex on Cinco de Mayo, and the time of sharing over that meal was a true God-send for me personally. I was also blessed to share a concert at Richland Hills Baptist Church before heading back to SC. I spent some wonderful time with the sweet church family there, as well as at their Sunday night hang-out, Steak and Shake (though I accidentally called it Shake and Bake!). Mother's Day I was home and got to worship with both of my children and then enjoy lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, Carrabbas. My voice/piano students did an excellent job at their end of the year recital at a local nursing home. I always love returning to churches that have hosted me over the years and being back at Malvern Hill Baptist Church in Camden, SC was another highlight of the month.
June will have me traveling in SC, NC and VA with 8 singing engagements as I look forward to being joined by many of the hosting church's worship teams where I will be featuring the music from my latest album, "Timeless Hymns."
Your prayers are also greatly appreciated as the deadline for Lifeway's Journey Magazine approaches in June. I am writing it on "Keep Believing....Trusting in the Lord When You Don't Understand."
On a Personal Note:
Ross had his junior prom in May and was so very handsome in his tuxedo. I am thoroughly enjoying having Hannah and her sweet puppy, my granddog Blue, home for the summer, and am very thankful to say that he and his Uncle Cookie are the best of friends now. Hannah is excited to be going on a 7-day cruise to the Bahamas with her boyfriend and his family this month, and Ross is very much looking forward to finishing up his junior year in high school on June 6th and continuing to work at Columbiana Grande Theaters. I am very proud of him for getting an 1,120 on his first time taking the SAT. Hannah finished Clemson with a 3.85 GPA her sophomore year. She will be on staff as one of the worship leaders at Seacoast Church. She will be nannying for a family for her summer job. Ross has also been invited to join the Seacoast Church worship team on guitar, so you know where this mama will be on the Sunday mornings that I am not on the road!
A few closing thoughts as I finish the newsletter today: Though my family would have never chosen the circumstances surrounding May 31st, 1985, we have chosen to trust God, and He has been found faithful. Just this week a friend shared with me a story I would have never known had they not told me...one of the major FBI agents that worked on my family's case recently shared with someone she knew that as he watched our family from the beginning of those tragic events, somehow he knew we would not let that ruin the rest of our lives, and spoke of our faith. Today he said he prays for us daily. It made me realize that we never know who is watching us through all the times in our lives, and that we are making an impact, one way or another. As my life Scripture says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6.
Spotlight of the Month
This month I would like to highlight my CD "This Far" which includes the song "Sister" that I shared with you in my newsletter. The CD also includes several other of my most popular songs as well as some new songs I wrote just 2 years ago. You can place an order here on my website.
Fellowship Baptist Church
Immanuel Baptist Church
First Baptist Church
First Baptist Church
Jerusalem Baptist Church
First Baptist Church
St. John UMC
Providence Baptist Church
Follow Dawn on Facebook and Twitter where we post regular updates and prayer requests.
Little Dale Tales (Stories from the home of my schedule coordinator, Jennifer Dale)
Our family has been busy cleaning the house and moving things around in preparation for the arrival of our baby girl at the end of this month. It would seem my nagging about the kids' messy rooms has had an effect....in the mother's day card the kids gave me, my son wrote: "Life without you would be a big mess!" ;) I shall have to remind him of that the next time he complains about having to clean his room.