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Please Join Me October 14th in Nashville for (in)real life: FRIENDED #inrl

Sep

13

Posted by on Sep 13, 2017 | 3 comments

Panelists_InRealLife_Friended_Nashville

(l-r, top to bottom) Robin Dance, Holley Gerth, Kristen Strong, Alia Joy, Jen Schmidt, Aliza Latta, Jennifer Lee

I suppose you could say it’s been years in the making: a gathering of friends old and new within hugging distance.

 

(in)courage and Lifeway have teamed up to bring (in) real life: FRIENDED, “an event for women that unpacks what makes healthy friendships tick.” OF COURSE, our greatest hope is that you can come in person, but because we care so deeply about community, relationship, and the ways women need one another, event planners are offering a simulcast option. The upside? You can bring #inRL to your church, or, if you’re game for the coziest option of them all, from the comfort of your home! The downside? I won’t get to meet you face to face. Boo. Hiss.

Featured speakers include Lisa-Jo Baker, Chrystal Hurst, and Annie Downs; Meredith Andrews will lead worship; and Jamie Ivey, host of The Happy Hour podcast, will emcee. I’m thrilled to join a panel of real-life friends and fellow incourage writers (Holley Gerth, Jennifer Lee, Aliza Latta, Jen Schmidt, Kristen Strong, and Alia Joy Haganbach); we’ll all be sharing a message of hope and encouragement as it relates to friendship, practical calls to action, and personal testimonies about the beauty and brokenness we’ve all experienced with friends.

This is an event like no other, one that will have you looking inside and out, and most important of all, looking up to the One who designed us to be in community with one another.

 

It’s going to be special, y’all, and it’s very affordable as far as conferences go (in Nashville AND the simulcast). Please decide right now that you want to take part, whether in Nashville, at your church, or even from home with a few friends. Click the (in) real life: FRIENDED website to find out everything you need to know for each option (plus a bonus add-on for Friday night if you’re able to get to Nashville!).


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Hope in the Hurricane

Sep

10

Posted by on Sep 10, 2017 | 3 comments

Psalm 57_1 - Encouraging Scripture in Storm - Irma - by Robin Dance

In the eye of a hurricane
There is quiet
For just a moment….
~ From “Hurricane” by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton

I’ve listened to the Hamilton soundtrack 317,256 times, give or take. I love it. For its story and history, of course, but more so for the madness and brilliance of Lin-Manuel Miranda. Smart (although at times explicit) lyrics companioned with incredible music – hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B, and Broadway – bring me to tears in places, which is saying something. I’m not an easy crier.

My friend Monica has listened a million times, too. For their anniversary, her husband scurried her off to New York, and between that and a surprise pair of tickets to Hamilton he won the Husband of the Year Award (congratulations, Derek).

During a conversation about her visit we discovered we both do the same thing: instantly think about Hamilton when we hear a word or phrase in everyday conversation that includes a snippet of lyrics. I wish I could remember what the reference was when we were with a group of friends and someone unknowingly said a line from one of the songs. We looked at each other, both repeated it, and grinned. “Wait for it…”? “Rise up”? “I’m not throwing away my shot”? Who knows? I just sure we had a moment.

Anyways…

There’s a song called “Hurricane” in Act II of the musical, referring to both a hurricane Hamilton literally survived, and also  figuratively to a life storm he faces. When Harvey punched Texas in the face a few weeks ago, and now with Irma crashing through the Caribbean and bullying her way straight up Florida toward me – three hours from any coast for heaven’s sake – this song keeps ringing in my ears.

This morning in church our pastor talked about storms and what they reveal about God and/or man. Tim knew Irma was on everyone’s mind and we likely had evacuee visitors (we did). Our church has already been reaching out to those affected by Harvey, but with this one hitting closer to home – we have five evacuation centers in our area (and an extra one for pets) – it’s personally relevant.

He threaded together stories of people in the bible who faced storms…Noah, Jonah, wise and foolish men, even Jesus and his disciples…but it was a beautiful passage from Psalms that gave me the most encouragement today, Psalm 57:1.

If you find yourself squaring off against Irma (or Harvey), or facing any kind of life storm (both can level you, can’t they?) I hope you’ll find life and encouragement in these words, too:

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
    for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
    till the storms of destruction pass by.

My thoughts and prayers are with you, the millions of neighbors affected by these storms. My greatest hope is that you will see the goodness and glory of God in the days to come.

xo

 

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The Kindness of Strangers

Sep

06

Posted by on Sep 6, 2017 | 4 comments

VintageTruck_GraceTablePostbyRobinDance

It was a day of inconveniences, the kind where you wonder if you’ll be able to get it all done.

 
 

Since I was driving out of town the next day, taking my car to the shop for its past due oil change was top priority. The wait was hours long without an appointment (what? they take appointments?!), and I could’ve kicked myself for not bringing work along, or better yet, a book from my never shrinking stack. I called my son to see if he could leave his job to come and get me. He said yes, but even his time was limited, and he didn’t have the extra minutes to run by the grocery store on the way home so I could grab something to cook for dinner.

Influenced by both our year living in Germany (where we biked or walked everywhere) and my husband’s wellness plan at work (that pays us to track health and fitness), I made the decision to have him drop me at Publix and I’d walk home.

While I had mentally calculated the distance between home and Publix – a little more than a mile – I hadn’t factored in July’s stifling heat and humidity. Mylanta, summertime in middle Georgia is a big, fat, steamy sauna.

I crossed the street into my neighborhood, sweat-drenched and questioning my sanity. It had seemed like such a good idea at the time, especially if I wanted to have dinner ready before midnight. Now, I would’ve been happy to troll the pantry and make a meal out of Cream of Mushroom Soup and Ritz Crackers–aren’t they the base of every good casserole, anyway?

About that time I sensed a car approaching from behind, slowing down beside me. I kept a confident and determined stride, staring straight ahead and painting a fiercely intimidating expression on my face (a surefire method for disarming potential kidnappers and murderers). I tried to act like I didn’t notice them…

Which is next to impossible when the window rolls down and you hear…

 

Please click over to Grace Table today to discover what happens next!
(It’s a story I love.)

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#SolarEclipse2017: A Playlist To Maximize Your Viewing Experience

Aug

21

Posted by on Aug 21, 2017 | 6 comments

Eclipse2017Quote_RobinDance.jpg

Really, truly, it doesn’t make sense even to me:

 

Ever since my sister mentioned today’s total solar eclipse ages ago – The Greatest Celestial Event since the founding of our country – I’ve been downright giddy at the thought of it. It is even the inspiration for my (in)courage post today. I’m a little jellie, (okay…a lot) of the folks who’ll see it along the path of totality (I’m looking at you, Sissy), and I am K.I.C.K.I.N.G. myself for not getting eclipse glasses (in case you’re wondering, stacking sunglasses will not prevent damage to your eyes. Darn.)

It looks like we’ll have pretty good coverage where I live, maybe 90-95% (HOLLA Macon, GA! The moon will be closest to the sun at 2:39pm. Set your watches, homies.)

I’m back from a long weekend out of town and don’t have time to go deep with All The Eclipse-inspired Thoughts I’m having this morning, so I thought it would be fun to create a playlist of sun- and moon-themed songs to play during eclipse viewing. Please do chime in with your favorite, or share good songs I’ve missed.

And my FAVORITE sun-song:

 

And for the moon songs?

 

And because this is an Event for the Ages, I believe it’s absolutely appropriate to end with one of my top favorite songs of all time: 100 Years by Five for Fighting, a reminder of life’s brevity.

 

Today is a day we’ll remember for the rest of our lives. For the first time in a very long while, it feels like we live in “one Nation, under God, indivisible.” I have this lovely sense of human connectedness that feels both foreign and familiar.

This moment is fleeting but the memory is forever. 

Hold tight. 

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After the Silence || On Motherhood, Wisdom, Listening

Aug

11

Posted by on Aug 11, 2017 | 8 comments

Motherhood-Wisdom-Quote-Robin-Dance

After the silence, sound is different.

 

It’s not necessarily better or worse, it’s just different. Maybe it’s more about discernment; being careful about what you’re listening to, who you’re listening to.

And I’m not talking about Who you’re listening to – though every “good Christian” knows when I capitalize Who, I’m referring to Jesus, right? Can you imagine a world in which the Who we’re listening to informs everything else we hear? Glory! We’d glimpse the garden.

After the silence, your ears become a discriminating filter recoiling from noise, resisting the fray.

It’s like when you’ve been skipping rope a long, long while, and you’ve got a certain rhythm…perpetual motion – twirl-skip twirl-skip twirl skip – but then you stop, and only then do you realize how tired you’ve become, how it drained energy like a hole in a bucket. When you pick that rope up to start again, you’ve learned to be more efficient, set limits, make it work for you, not against you.

My Friday morning playlist? The dryer’s tumble, nearby traffic’s rush, my Precious (Praise God from where our coffee flows), moving boxes begging to be unpacked–but loudest is what I don’t hear.

I’m an empty nester, a phrase I do not care for, I suppose because “empty” has more negative connotations than positive? I don’t know. Two of our three are adulting well, fierce and independent, with real jobs and living in places I have nothing to do with that they dare to call home. Sometimes I have to remind myself that isn’t a slight.

The youngest returned to college yesterday after spending the summer living at home, our home. Last summer he worked at a summer camp and the only time he was able to visit was the week he got pneumonia (who gets pneumonia in the summer?!), the same week I had a business trip across the country. Are you kidding me? Only once have I had a trip that took me out of town five days. Thankfully, he wanted to spend summer break with us this year, because, in his words, “it might be my last chance.”

He worked full time(ish) in a local internship and I expected his evenings to be spent hanging out with friends, also home from college. I was wrong. More often than not he was happy to be with us. Between college and camp he had been gone the better part of two years, meaning we had to work through a few things, but overall it was so good. So, so good.

One of those summer nights was my favorite, the one where, standing in our kitchen, our conversation veered deep. His heart opened wide and he invited me into his interior. Sacred places. We ventured into a similar but different space last week, and I considered myself fortunate to have gone “there” twice.

Conditions have to be perfect for those conversations, and the best advice I can offer a parent is to be available when the stars align. And listen more than you speak. Two ears, one mouth–do the math.

With his car jammed full, he turned to tell me good-bye, and like a child or a fool, I started running around the kitchen island. He started to follow until he realized what I was doing, and I said, “If I keep going forever will you stay?” and he answered, “No, I’ll just leave,” so I met him at the sink.

I straightened up and told him all the things I hadn’t. Motherhood-wisdom sometimes means keeping your mouth shut until the right time. I shared specifically how I’m praying for him (based on what he had revealed to me in those special late night conversations). I cast vision for his future. I told him the potential I see in him and reminded him of his strengths, how they can serve others but also himself.

My tears surprised me. Typically, I’m not emotional and sometimes it’s embarrassing or even frustrating when I don’t cry when everyone else is filling buckets. I mean, he is a junior and you’d think I’d be fine when he returns to school.

So, my heart then lips are gushing, words of encouragement fully-informed from our late-night conversations, and the empathetic, compassionate tears in his eyes speak volumes about his strengths and superpowers, and for half a second I want to block the door.

But I don’t. That would serve neither of us. In fact, it would hurt both of us.

So, this morning sounds are different. The hum of my dryer, distant traffic, unpacked boxes, a million thoughts, and my baby back at his Happy Place; yes, I can hear that, too.

But not one drop of noise in the house.

Click for a wonderful resource: a truly helpful guide for praying for college students.

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