Sunday, October 23, 2011

Not a Victim but a Conquerer

Thursday, December 3, 2009 - 8:07 PM I have a dear friend whose name is Dawn Smith Jordan. She is a singer and an inspirational speaker. I will be sharing tomorrow more about her and about a very special project that she is involved in that involves the production of personalized lullabies for children. How awesome it is to be able to order a cd of Christian lullabies for your children or grandchildren with their very own name in each song! I'm not here to sell these but to let you know about them since this season many of you are looking for that special gift for children. But what is so important is that the person behind these cds and many others has truly been through some great fires and trials and God has "refined her as silver" in the process as He promises to do for each of us. I have watched Dawn go through these unspeakable horrors and seen her come out on the other side each time as "more than a conqueror"! I want to share this interview with her so that you can get a glance into her perspective. I will be sharing more about some of these tragedies and how God used her and will do the same for you in the future. Many of us are going through very hard things and it is easy to get a "victim mentality" or to think: "Where are you, God? Are you still watching?" Deep in our hearts, we know that He is but we still live in a body of flesh. So may this interview be encouraging to you as you read it and know that it is absolutely true as I know this friend "up close and personal". Some of you may be familiar with her story as it was in Reader's Digest, in a movie and in a book just to list a few places. But many more of you probably have yet to become acquainted with this special lady who has decided to make each trial a platform for praise. I know that we all want to be able to get to that place. I surely do. So, please take the time to read this interview and start getting to know my friend Dawn. Maybe you want to do as I do and adapt some of her attitudes as your own. I'll be sharing with you more tomorrow! Karen Just Between Us Magazine's Spring 2009 Edition (Copyright 2008, Jennifer Dale) Can I trust God in the midst of life's darkest hours, facing the very things I feared the most? Can He still use me for His glory even when everything around me seems to be caving in? What does walking by faith look like when those we love the most are taken from us, or even worse, decide to leave on their own? Dawn Smith Jordan is no stranger to great pain. She has had to walk in the valley with her Shepherd many times and in different ways. In 1985 her sister Shari was kidnapped and brutally murdered. The search for her killer resulted in the largest manhunt in South Carolina history, drawing national attention. CBS produced a made-for-TV feature film based on Dawn's life entitled "Nightmare in Columbia County." A former Miss South Carolina and 2nd Runner-Up Miss America, a recording artist with Urgent Records, author, and sought after key-note speaker for Christian Women's retreats and conferences across the United States, Dawn has had the privilege to share her giftedness and love for Christ as well as the depths of His great love, mercy and grace with thousands of women over the past twenty years of ministry. A few months ago I had the privilege of joining Jordan Ministries as Dawn's schedule coordinator. I recently sat down and asked her a few questions. May her answers encourage and challenge you in these days, to follow hard after Christ and seek Him and His Word - especially in the valley. JD: Tell us a little about yourself and what daily life looks like for you. DSJ: A typical day for me starts at 6:30 a.m. when the alarm goes off. I go straight for the coffee, get the children's breakfast going, then have a family devotion with them before taking them to school (in my pj's most days!). I come home to face the responsibilities of a working single mom - managing a full-time ministry, a home, and a family. I work out of my home office. Then it is time to pick up the children and begin the taxi driving service to their various activities such as soccer practice, guitar lessons, church activities etc. The Lord allows me to minister in up to 75 events annually, so many weekends are spent traveling, singing and speaking. Weeks are spent packing and unpacking in the mix. Life is very full! JD: Of all the things you have had to face, which circumstance was the most difficult, and how did you make it through? DSJ: I have been allowed to face some very difficult circumstances in my life so far, ranging from my younger sister's tragic kidnapping and murder in 1985, to my pastor husband choosing to leave our home in 1997 and eventually marrying someone else, to learning how to be the best single mother I can be, to losing my own mother to ovarian cancer in 2003. The Lord led me to forgive my sister's murderer after a long struggle in my own heart and mind, but I would have to say the most difficult thing to come to terms with and let go of was the choice my husband made that completely affects each and every day of my life, as well as the lives of my two children. I had to once again choose forgiveness, but it wasn't toward someone I did not know like my sister's killer. This was the one person I had loved with all of my heart, had committed my life to, and completely trusted, that broke my heart, broke my family apart, and betrayed me. THAT was a work that only the Lord could do in and through me. To be honest, a decade later of walking with the Lord as my Husband and Faithful One, sometimes that forgiveness has to be a continual choice, on a daily basis at certain times. But I am grateful that the Lord brought me to the place of seeing that the choice to forgive brings healing and wholeness to the one willing to forgive, and He sets the prisoner free. In that choice, He truly healed my broken-heartedness and I am able to be the mother my children need me to be, by His grace. JD: God has obviously brought you through some excruciatingly painful times. What passages of scripture have you held on to and how has God specifically used His Word to minister to your heart during those times? DSJ: Proverbs 3:5-6 are my lifeline, my life Scriptures (Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your on understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your path straight). Psalm 147:3 (He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds), Romans 8:28 (And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose), Hebrews 13:5 (Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you"), and more recently Psalm 40:1-4 (I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, and out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord. Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust). When we choose to stand on the truth of God's Word instead of the shifting sand of our life's circumstances, we will actually "flesh out" those truths, but it is a choice that we have to make. Fear or faith. Sink or stand. I don't want to be found still singing my "Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song" twenty years from now. I believe the Lord has given me a new message in my ministry, one that has been very personal in my own walk with Him, that it is time to "Get Out of the Mire and Get Into the Choir!" He has allowed the past circumstances to influence who I am, but He has begun to show me that I am responsible for who I become. Either we control our attitude or it has the potential to control us. The mire is always going to be there in one way or another, and so many of us choose to continue to wallow around in it, but when we do, we cannot move forward. We may not have chosen many of the circumstances of our lives, but I am convinced that we ALWAYS have a choice with how we respond. We can choose to be victims, or we can choose to be victorious. JD: Was there ever a time when you just wanted to give up on Christian ministry and what or who brought you through? DSJ: When my sister was murdered, I remember wondering how I would ever sing again. She had been my singing partner and we were always a duo. I had never sung alone, but the Lord gave me the courage to sing again for Him. When my husband left, it wasn't so much that I wanted to give up on Christian ministry as much as I wondered if others would give up on me, no longer want me, or invite me, a divorced woman. However, 10 years later, I have seen how only the Lord could take the very broken pieces of my heart and life and use those very things to speak hope and healing to other people, especially women facing similar circumstances. The Lord can and will take the brokenness of our lives if we will simply be willing to open our hands and give them to Him. And then we will be amazed at what He has done with them (Psalm 40, "Many will see and be amazed, and put their trust in the Lord") because of what they see He has done in our own lives. JD: How do you walk with God in the hard places? DSJ: Right now is a "hard place" for various reasons, but I think I am at the place in my life where I am realizing that each place has its hard parts, and it is a choice to daily see the good and not the bad. It is a focus thing - focusing not on what we have "lost" or maybe don't have in the way of how we think our circumstances should be, but seeing what we have "left" and allowing that to be what we live for. "This is the day the Lord has made, we WILL rejoice and be glad in it." Even when it is a choice for us to bring to Him our "sacrifice of praise." Lately the Lord has been showing me that even when it might feel like a sacrifice for me to stand, sing and speak of the hope I know to be real in Him when I may not "feel" like it, it really is no sacrifice when I stop to think of the sacrifice He willingly made for me. I am able not only to sing about the hope He gives, but I have it on a daily basis, for all eternity. It is my privilege to have God walk with me in the hard places. JD: What "daily maintenance" habits have you developed over the years to stay close to Jesus throughout the day? DJS: Daily maintenance for me has become an attitude of living out Hebrews 12:1, "Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith." Daily time committing that day to Him and all that I hope to accomplish, asking Him to keep it in tune with what He desires that I do. Daily time in the Word, in one way or another - for example by keeping a flip Scripture calendar by my kitchen sink and all throughout that day. Each time I find myself at the sink I meditate on that truth. I may read a Bible study, a devotional, but most importantly, I stay in the Word. The world will faithfully speak its lies to us, and so we have to be faithful to replace those lies with the Truth, otherwise we will lose sight of what IS truth. I start and end my day in prayer, I pray with my children every morning and night, and all throughout my day it is a daily conversation that never really stops. I know, as I go about my day, the Lord is with me. He is my lifeline. JD: How has your ministry changed over the years? DSJ: My ministry began 20 years ago when I was a young woman and received the Miss South Carolina crown. People knew my family's story, and they asked me to come sing and "share my testimony." Over 20 years later, the Lord has opened the doors for me to record nine albums and write two books. What started out as a music/concert ministry has evolved into a speaking ministry as well. I have had the privilege of sharing my testimony and music all over the United States and even overseas. It is only something God could have done and I stand, today, amazed at His work in and through me. JD: How have you personally grown and changed over the past 20 years of ministry? DSJ: As a 44-year old woman, I now see each day as a gift. I am at the so-called "half-way mark" and I want to live each day to the fullest, "milking it for what it's worth." I have two great children to continue to raise . I pray that they will see their Mom as someone who did face many difficulties but that I was the same person at home that I portrayed on a ministry platform. I want them to see that my faith in Jesus Christ is what makes me the person I am. The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything. It's just that by God's grace, they make the most of everything that comes along their way. I have learned that when I respond to the difficulties I face by trusting in God's promises, then He will give me a new song, right out of the mire and into the choir, for His glory. JD: What is it that you most want to share with the women you speak to in these days? DSJ: It comes straight from Psalm 40. We need to stop waiting on life to become "livable." We only have one shot at this thing and there are no do-overs. It is time to get serious about being the people God wants us to be. It's time to get serious, right now, today, about how we are going to respond to our circumstances. And by God's grace, He has provided everything we need for life and godliness. So we can trust Him, and we can stand up and walk with Him and He will give us that new song to sing. JD: What is next in your ministry? DSJ: I believe there is another book within the workings of my heart and life that is not yet anything more than ideas being jotted down, but it will come to book form in God's timing. I feel my number one calling is to be a Mom to my two children. They are growing up before my very eyes and I want to mother them well. Now they are serving in their own ministries at our home church. Hannah sings as a worship leader in the student ministries band while Ross plays guitar. I serve as vocal coach for the band, and it is the joy of my heart to see my children using their God-given talents and abilities for His glory at such early ages, just as my sister and I did when we were growing up. That foundation is so important, and that is my passion right now. I want to be the mom God has called me to be, and out of that role comes much of what I speak and share about.

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