For me, life turned upside down this past month. I received a letter from the IRS stating my tax return was being "thoroughly reviewed." What resulted was a devastating revelation that I have been a victim of identity theft. Though I can hardly believe this has happened to me even as I say it, I also understand I am only 1 in 3 million people facing this situation this year. Someone used my social security number and personal information, filed a tax return, and got a $3,000 refund. My tax return, on the other hand, was rejected, and I am currently in limbo while I await all of the paperwork, affidavits, etc. that I had to submit to be processed.
In the midst of this mess, I got a phone call that my precious friend, Gail Sanders, with whose family I had lived during my year as Miss South Carolina, was in the hospital with Stage 4 Bone Cancer. Gail was my traveling companion during my reign, and literally went on just about every single one of my 350 appearances I made that year. She was like a second mother to me, and my children have always called her Grandma Gail. She is family. She is the person that helped me write my testimony to share in the first church I ever spoke in. She is the person that suggested I learn the Sandi Patty version of "Amazing Grace." She was the person that talked and listened and listened some more as I worked through that year following the tragic murder of my younger sister. She was the person who told me I should write a book when I never would have believed I could do such a thing. She believed in me. In a span of 2 weeks and 2 days, she went from her home, to the hospital, to a Hospice House, and then Home. Heaven. Just 2 weeks and 2 days from diagnosis to death.
In the midst of this devastating news, I received an email from USC requiring mounds of more paperwork on top of what the IRS, the Social Security Administration, the police department, the Federal Trade Commission, and the credit reporting bureau required to prove I am who I say I am due to the identity theft. Copies of my driver's license...copies of my social security card...copies of my tax return transcript, Ross's tax return transcript, proof of this, proof of that. I was able to go see Gail in the hospital in Greenville the first week she was there. The last week I had planned on going up again to see her on that Friday, but on Tuesday night I felt a strong impression to drive up early that Wednesday morning before I had to teach piano that afternoon. I made the unexpected trip to see her there in Hospice House. Her last words to me after I told her how much I loved her were, "You know I love you too." I drove home, and Hannah had sent me an email from Clemson regarding her financial aid, and the entire process started all over again. I felt at that point that I just could not take one more thing. You have been there.
Though I had completed recording the over 3,000 names for the personalized lullaby job I had been doing for 3 years, and rarely get an order for a name not on the list, of course an email came in the night before I was heading to see Gail the last time, and I was so exhausted by the time that order came in, I did not get to it that night. The next morning, I got a call from Joe, Gail's husband, at 7:30 am that she was in a coma. By 8:15 am, her sister texted me, "She's gone." Because that name had to be sung, that person was waiting for their order, I sat there at my desk, recording the name "NienneLucia", fighting the tears that kept trying to surface. Then I began to tackle the Clemson paperwork demands to ensure Hannah's financial aid for the fall would not be affected by the identity theft. Then there were the many, many phonecalls, texts, emails, and facebook messages...everyone wanting to know if it was true, that Gail had died, and I became the liason for the family, speaking on their behalf to protect their time of grief. At 7:30 pm that night, I sat down in my den for the first time all day, and sobbed. The flood of emotions came for a solid hour, and I sat there in the chair that I meet the Lord in every morning, and asked Him to hold me, and to minister to my precious friends in their grief. I was spent.
Sometimes life just hits us square in the face with circumstances we never saw coming...a letter from the IRS...a call that a friend you saw just yesterday is gone today. That things you thought were taken care of are now not and you have more on your plate than you can possibly manage. On and on the list goes. And all I knew to do was to do what one of my heroes in the faith said she had learned to do over a life of loss, difficulty, tragedy...Elizabeth Elliott would say, "Do the next thing." So I would do the next thing, whatever that would be at the time. Just recently someone asked me on my facebook, "Are you ever in a bad mood or feel fed up?" I laughed. But each day I truly seek to choose joy, and not live in such a way as to be reactionary to the circumstances, as they are always changing. My Father, however, is constant.
Currently I am reading Perry Noble's book Overwhelmed, (which I felt was a perfect book for me at this stage of life) and he wrote, " Will we focus on the size of our problem or the size of out God? If you focus on the voice of the enemy, you will be controlled by fear. But if you are focused on the voice of God, you will be controlled by faith."
The enemy was determined to steal, kill and destroy...my joy, my testimony, and ultimately my life. Right now it appears my identity is stolen, but I know ultimately that will be resolved. In Christ, "The joy of the Lord is our strength" Nehemiah 8:10 says. It is a choice, though, my friends, to CHOOSE joy over being overwhelmed. I have spent so much of my life being completely overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problems, the situations, and circumstances that came into my life without warning. But I have come to know who I am, and WHOSE I am in my old(er) age, and I have come to trust Him in a deeper way than I was able to in earlier years. I know it is going to be okay. I have determined in my life that I will not spend anymore time telling my God how big my storm is, but I will just tell my storm how big my God is. Every morning I would sit in my quiet time chair with my Bible open, and coffee in hand, and remind myself, "Whatever you face today, God is bigger." Our God is able, when we are not. And He is able to give peace that passes all understanding..."Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again. Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7. Yes, it is Truth.
Is my identity theft issue resolved? No, not yet. Is my future secure? Yes. Can I rest in that? Absolutely. Can you? "I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I've committed unto Him against that day!" As I sing for the memorial service of Gail this Sunday, I choose joy...grateful to have been blessed to know and love such an amazing woman, and to know that Gail is home, well, and that I will see her again.
Ministry at a Glance:
I want to express a very special thank-you to a very special young woman...Lindsay George Alexander blessed me with a new photo shoot this past month. It was very-much needed and long overdue after using the same publicity headshots since 2006! She is a precious family friend, as is her mom Cindy George, and what a joy it was to spend the afternoon and dinner with them over this photo shoot. Lindsay is a gifted photographer, so please take a moment to check out her website. We are in the process of updating our website, as well, so stay tuned in the next month for a fresh, updated look. http://www.lindsayalexanderphotography.com/
It was a great month in ministry! I was blessed to be in GA and SC as a part of women's ministries and church-wide concerts and was joined by the wonderful choir at Coastal Shores Baptist Church in Charleston, SC - such a special treat! Two ladies' ministry events (in Hinesville, GA at Gum Branch Baptist Church, and Grace Bible Church in Mountain City, GA) were such a joy to be a part of, as the Father poured Himself out during our time together in a very special, powerful way. And oh how I loved seeing those glorious Georgia mountains! I even took in Tallulah Falls, GA before heading back south. It was great to be back at First Baptist Church of Holly, SC and share the final concert of the month at Long Creek Baptist Church in Long Creek, SC.
This month I will be staying in the state of SC for 6 different events ranging from a church concert, to Mother's Day events, to a senior citizens' luncheon. I am especially looking forward to being joined by the wonderful choir of Overbrook Baptist Church in Greenville this coming Sunday. Each and every place, I am convinced, is a divine appointment, and it is my privilege to be at each one. Here is a complete listing of my concert calendar: http://www.dawnsmithjordan.com/schedule.php
*Special Summer Concert Series Update: During the summer months of June and July, I offer love-offering concerts to churches within driving distance of Columbia, SC, only asking that my travel be reimbursed. It is a much slower time of year for ministries such as mine, as well as for church calendars. But it is also a great time to plan something out of the ordinary during the summer months, to bring your church family together. Pastors and ministers of music often are on vacation, and looking for someone to fill their pulpits. I would love to be able to share a concert with your church this summer. I also invite the hosting church's choir to join me on selections from my "Timeless Hymns" and "Everyday Praise" CD's, while also include a special song that I sing just for children as they join me on stage. It's a concert for the entire family that is being received very well.
*2014 at a Glance: Jennifer and I have been amazed at how quickly the ministry calendar has filled up this year, and we are so excited about all of the opportunities the Lord has already allowed. So far I will be traveling to SC, NC, GA, AL, AK, VA, TN and TX this year. I have several weekends where I am scheduled for women's events on a Friday and Saturday, and would love to stay over for a Sunday while in the area. Here they are:
- September 11-14 - Indian Trail & Belmont, NC - Available September 14 pm
- September 20 - Duffield, VA - available September 21
- September 27 - McDonough, GA - Available September 28
- October 4-5 - Chesnee, SC - Available October 5 pm
- October 11-12 - Dunn & Goldsboro, NC - Available October 12 pm
- October 17-19 - St. Simon's Island, GA - Available October 19 pm
- November 7-8 - Pigeon Forge, TN - Available November 9
- December 6-7 - Odessa, TX - Available December 7 pm
- December 21 - Mocksville, NC - Available December 21 pm
If your church would like to schedule a tag-on concert to one of these, there would be no travel expenses required since I will already be in your area, so let us hear from you!
*Exciting opportunity coming in 2015 - I am excited for an upcoming cruise to Alaska with Princess Cruises (August 6th-August 15, 2015). We will be advertising in more detail in the months to come but if you are interested in finding out more information, please contact our friend Bill Ballou with A&B Travel at 903.534.7050
On the Home Front:
April came and went before I even knew it was here! Ross played his final high school lacrosse game on April 4th, which was also my birthday. (My 50th birthday!) It was a great way to celebrate it cheering on my son and the Silver Foxes! Here we are after the game. Oh how I have loved watching this sport, team and my son for the past 3 years. I was able to attend the Dutch Fork High School Lacrosse Banquet this past Friday night before driving 3 hours to where I would be ministering the next day in Georgia. I am grateful to not have had to miss a single game this year, come rain, ice or shine, and it was a great season! Now we are in the throws of Ross's senior prom, graduation, and decisions and details for college in the fall. It is hard to fathom that I will have 2 college students this coming year! I am very proud of him for getting accepted to both USC and The College of Charleston. He has decided that he will be going to Midlands Technical College in the fall and then transfer to The University of South Carolina after his first year.
I had a great time spending Easter Sunday with Hannah and Clayton, as we all went to Newspring Anderson, and out to lunch with several of their friends/classmates. I was thrilled to get to see Hannah sing live online at Newspring Fuse Anderson as a part of the worship team a few weeks ago. She is finishing up her final exam this week, exempting all but one, and then she will begin summer school in just 2 weeks while also working at The Red Minnow Restaurant in Central. I was able to go by and see Hannah, Blue, and a few of her friends on my way home from GA & SC concerts on Sunday night, and treat them to TCBY. The treat was all mine to get to visit with such precious, Christian young women. Blue was happy to see me but ready to see me go, as you can see by his expression...it was past his bedtime, and mine!
This summer will be very different for my family and me, as Hannah will not be home for the summer for the first time since she went to college. Ross has gotten a new job working at Liberty on the Lake Restaurant. I am very grateful and proud of them both for having an above B average to receive the Life Scholarship for next year. Hannah was just voted Vice President of CCHA, which stands for Clemson's Collegiate Horseman's Association. She is especially looking forward to being able to take horsebackriding lessons all summer, as well as leading a Newspring small group in her apartment weekly.
For me, my delightful piano/voice students will perform in their end-of-the-year piano/voice recital at the Heritage at Lowman Home on May 22nd at 6:00 pm. I will be busy with summer love-offering concerts and teaching my "Summer Session" of piano/voice lessons. Should you be in the Columbia area and have a child that you think may be interested in giving music a try, summer is a great time to give them the opportunity when there is no school schedules or homework. I am looking forward to heading to my favorite place in all the world in May...Myrtle Beach, SC, where I will be joined by Robert (whose birthday is May 6th - Happy Birthday Robert!) and his family, and hopefully my children for a few days during that week. After a very busy winter/spring ministry and teaching schedule, I am ready to sit in my chair, feet in the sand, sun overhead, and soak in the salty breezes. Oh how God refreshes me there.
Thank you for taking the time, once again, to allow me to share a little of what the Lord is doing. I pray that you are encouraged as you remember that Jesus holds your life and your future securely in His Hands.
Product Highlight For a special Mother's Day gift idea, the CD This Far includes the beloved "A Love That Leads to You" that Dawn wrote for her children, "A Mother's Prayer" that Dawn wrote for her mother, and the more recent song she wrote as her children are now just about grown, "Watching My Heart." Sure to reach every mother no matter what phase of life she finds herself in and you can order ithere online.
Dawn's Concert Calendar
It's time to get your event on Dawn's Concert Calendar! We would love to hear from you if your church is booking a women's conference or retreat, a church wide summer concert or even a Christmas Holiday event. Dawn's Timeless Hymns Concert that she shares in combination with church choirs has been extremely well received and she would love to have your choir join her in sharing her favorite hymns!
Tax-Deductible Gifts If the Lord would lay Jordan Ministries on your heart to support financially, know that all gifts to Jordan Ministries are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated as we continue to share the good news of the Gospel. Jordan Ministries is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization.
The NEW Mailing Address is:
Dawn Smith Jordan Ministries, PO Box 2846, Irmo, SC 29063
Follow me on my DAWN SMITH JORDAN Musician/Band Facebook page to be eligible for the monthly prize give-away trivia contest!
First Baptist Church
Overbrook Baptist Church
Rock Hill, SC
St. John's United Methodist Church
Crossings Community Church
Ladies Spring Brunch
First Baptist Church
Senior Adult Celebration
St. Andrews Church of God
Dates that are currently available for summer love-offering concerts:
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) In the middle of Jenna's Latin Lesson we had the following conversation - Jenna: "You know Mom, in Latin they say "oremus" for "let us pray"....it's the same on Duck Dynasty, except there they say "ya'll bow!" Never had Duck Dynasty compared to ancient Rome - but my husband was glad to hear that even though we have moved to Colorado, Jenna has not lost her southern roots! :)