Aging and Aquamarine

Mar

29

Posted by on Mar 29, 2018 in #OYTO, Aging, Encouragement, Personal, Uncategorized, Writing | 2 comments

Aging and Aquamarine

  Right now, in this hair’s breadth of a moment, you are both as old as you’ve ever been, and as young as you ever will be again.   Interesting thought, isn’t it?   It is not unusual for me to think about time, in general, and aging, more specifically this time of year; March is my birthday month.   Aging comes naturally, but if your wish is to age gracefully, you’re going to have to be intentional.   Aging can be like a riptide, forcing you off course and threatening to pull you under. It can knock you off your feet in a single wave and leave you disoriented and wondering How in the world did I get here?   Neither aging nor aging gracefully are destinations; they’re journeys. One is completely left up to chance, the tail wagging the dog, que sera sera; the other is intentional, contemplative living, controlling and planning for a preferred outcome. The latter  also involves accepting what you can’t control and making the best of it.   A positive attitude ignites your ability to age gracefully; it enables you to receive all of life as this big, incredible, magnificent gift–all of it. That doesn’t mean you’re immune to hardship or disappointment. It means you’re better able to navigate those seasons when they arrive.   When I was a kid, choosing a birthday gift for a friend was always easy: something birthstone-related or Zodiac sign-related. That’s so funny to me now; I don’t think I ever got anything related to either of those for gifts when my own children attended their friends’ birthday parties. My birthstone is aquamarine, and I’ve always loved it; it’s one of my favorite colors to wear, clothing or jewelry. Maybe it’s why I long for and love the ocean so, exquisite aquamarine sea. And though I never bought into Zodiac stuff in terms of practice or belief, I know I’m Aries and it’s associated with fire, and there’s something in that I appreciate.   While the four seasons are like my children in that each one is my favorite but for different reasons – I see the signature beauty in each – I find myself thankful to have been born in the spring. Spring is colorful, alive with promise, with hope, with life! Aquamarine finds her way into spring.   Spring holds the darkest day in Christendom and the brightest. Jesus, in full surrender and submission, enduring a gruesome spectacle of death, demonstrating an incomprehensible love, and ultimately conquering the grave and bringing reconciliation of man to God through His atoning sacrifice. Spring is beautiful and reminds me of our hope in Christ.   I am at the age now where milestone birthdays have lost the meaning they do in our youth. Remember when you couldn’t wait to turn double digits become a teenager get your learner’s permit get your driver’s license vote order a cocktail (or beer or wine…) I am at the age now where sometimes, dammit, I have to check the last box. I wish that didn’t phase me, but it does. I’m also at the age where my body betrays me, alternately catching fire or my hair changing color or just plain hurting from sitting too long. Seriously–sitting too long can hurt? Who knew?  ...

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How You Can Make A Difference on International Women’s Day

Mar

08

Posted by on Mar 8, 2018 in Compassion - India, Compassion Bloggers, Compassion International, Good causes, Inspiring, Love Gifts, Personal, Uncategorized | 3 comments

How You Can Make A Difference on International Women’s Day

I’m sitting at my kitchen table where the sun is piercing filthy windowpanes, a thing I notice in the morning but forget by noon’s shadow. A ladybug sits on the sill, I’m assuming dead. Our home is a death spiral for pretty bugs dressed in red with black polka dots, and I wonder why that happens at the end of every winter. It’s International Women’s Day and I wish I could say I knew that on my own, but it’s the internet that tells me so. I’m stung by awareness of my comforts, my plenty, and my relative wealth, and it brings a sort of shame. Those things have cost me nothing, but in some places in this world even lesser things cost everything you have to give. I’m reminded of a woman I encountered almost nine years ago.     She was striking to me, uncommonly beautiful, obviously haunting. The sun on her shoulders. Her expression, somber yet intense. Her shoes matched her saree. She carried a bucket, soap, cane, and, most important, her dignity. In my trip to Kolkata where I met dozens and dozens of people, hers is a face I always remember first. Whatever her age, she had lived a long, and undoubtedly difficult life, and yet she’s endured. She is not victim. She is an unnamed international woman I celebrate. She lived in a village where Compassion International had a Child Survival Center, a place where mothers and babies receive goods, education, training, and services that contribute to their survival. Shortly after my trip with Compassion Bloggers to India, the child I sponsored left the program. Her mother remarried after the death of her father, and they moved to a location where Compassion didn’t have a local presence. Though I wasn’t able to continue helping her family financially, I’ve never stopped praying for Pinki; meeting her carved permanent residence in my heart.   I often wonder what she looks like now – nine years older – and how she’s doing…how all the beautiful children served by Compassion are doing in India. You see, about a year ago Compassion had to shutter its sponsorship program in India; it was heartbreaking for those involved. After decades of ministry, Compassion could no longer send funds into the country due to Indian government restrictions (read more here). We’ve also sponsored a daughter from the Dominican Republic; this year will be our tenth! She’ll turn 16 in May, and our sponsorship began right after she turned six. It never occurred to me until this moment how long we’ve been blessing one another, and make no mistake: Isaura blesses me with every letter she writes and ever prayer she offers for me and my family. Compassion currently operates in 25 countries and has touched millions of lives since beginning its work in the ’50s. Everything I learn about Compassion only reinforces its impact and value to our broken world. Today (regardless of when you read this), in celebration of International Women’s Day, I’m asking you to make a generous contribution to Compassion International. Get your credit card or checkbook out and start here.   You can make a one-time gift or change a child’s life – and his/her family’s lives – by committing to a monthly sponsorship. It’s up to you. ...

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Purpose Power Summit 2018 || Why you *need* to check it out (plus, a fun GIVEAWAY at the end)

Feb

27

Posted by on Feb 27, 2018 in #OYTO, Faith, Giveaways, Inspiring, One Year - 365 Opportunities, Personal | 25 comments

Purpose Power Summit 2018 || Why you *need* to check it out (plus, a fun GIVEAWAY at the end)

~ Giveaway has ended – Heartfelt thanks to all who entered! Congratulations to Susan G. for posting the selected comment!   When Mimika Cooney reached out to me to participate with the Purpose Power Summit she was putting together, I carefully (prayerfully) evaluated if this was an #OYTO opportunity or something I should politely decline. But as soon as spoke with her (gah! that irresistible South African accent) and understood her vision for the online event, I was in. Empower and equip women to step into their life’s calling? Check. Content from a team of gifted, talented, inspiring speakers? Check. Free and virtual, meaning you can watch at your convenience and from the comfort of comfy clothes? Check check. Free gifts from each of the speakers? Funnest check of them all. The #PPS2018 runs from February 26-March 9 and you can register for free here to access all content.   If you’ve never taken part in an online conference, this is the perfect one to try. Mimika emails links to new speakers daily, and you can download all the freebies as soon as you register. Some of the speakers will be familiar, some will be new to you, but all of them have something of value to speak into your life.   If you’ve been toying with an idea, are questioning where to serve, or need a creative spark to light your fire, please take advantage of this summit. Why you might not be able to watch every minute of every video, the time you invest will pay you back in ideas and inspiration. My video goes live on Tuesday, March 6th at 2:00pm EST.   I’m sure you’re marking your calendars now. No, seriously, add it to your calendar, let’s watch together, and then discuss. I cannot wait to see how the segment turns out…and my sincere hope and prayer is that those who do watch will be inspired, motivated, and ready to take a next step, no matter what that “next step” is.   With the conference coming up and knowing new friends might discover my blog, I reached out to DaySpring to see if they’d provide a giveaway. To my delight, they agreed to provide two sets of gifts:   Added: Each bundle will include a “Wear One, Share One” necklace set! What a fun opportunity to keep one and gift one to someone special. #OYTO  If one giveaway is good, two is twice as nice! Details to enter:   Recipient will receive a copy of the A Moment to Breathe devotional, an A Moment to Breathe devoional journal, and a Courage Clip Frame & Art Print Set. One winner will be selected randomly from comments to this blog post; a second winner will be selected from comments to my Facebook post with this graphic. Comments made 2/26/18-3/9/18 are eligible. Must be a subscriber to robindance.me and live in contiguous US. Note: first-time commenters will have to be approved, so please know I will do that as soon as I can! 🙂 (if you notice yours doesn’t show up right away) You’re welcome to comment both on Facebook and this post; but eligible to win just one bundle.   Thanks to DaySpring who has offered $20 off any $60 purchase to all PPS2018 attendees: Use the...

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Doing The Thing You Already Know To Do

Feb

23

Posted by on Feb 23, 2018 in (in)courage, Faith, friendship, Memoir, Personal, Uncategorized, Women |

Doing The Thing You Already Know To Do

  It was the first time my small group would meet her, this dear friend of our dear friend. On more than one occasion Monica had shared wisdom and insight she had gained from Sandra, and we were eager to know her, too. Proverbs 27:17 tells us that “iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” and Sandra had that ability even when her “iron” came through another person.   Jesus knit us together in no time, and small talk went deep. We were sisters, in it together, sharing so many things in common, understanding from the inside out the Holy wrestle. The way of Christ is simple but it’s rarely easy. He invites us to a kinship of suffering, and I find myself wondering sometimes is that so we can better know Him, or did He slip on skin and fill that earth suit with bone and blood just to feel the way we feel?   Sometimes I see Jesus as a circle and it tells me, “Always.”  And, that’s (beyond) enough.   On this morning, we made space for important things. This group will put their ugly out there and remain safe; we love each other to healing, we lift each sister’s chin toward Hope. Though Sandra wasn’t a “regular,” we knew she could handle the ugly and wouldn’t hold it against us, the way we’ve all experienced with other women at some point in our lives. We learn and relearn that some women thought to be safe, aren’t, so when we find a few who are, we hold tight. We meandered our way onto the topic of forgiveness; it was me exposing one of my scars, how I had been wounded by someone I thought I could trust. I explained I had forgiven her but hadn’t forgotten, and then what Sandra said next I wasn’t expecting. * * * Please continue reading A Hopeful Thought About Forgiveness over at (in)courage. (I’d love to hear your thoughts in comments – here or there – and as always,  thank you in advance for sharing this post!...

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Oh, lovely day

Feb

15

Posted by on Feb 15, 2018 in Art, Celebrations, Faith, Family, Family Traditions, Inspiring, Life Philosophy, Memoir, Mothers and daughters, Personal, Valentine Tea, Valentine's Day | 4 comments

Oh, lovely day

i. Today is Valentine’s Day, one of my favorite days of the year, one of the happiest reasons to celebrate life: it’s all about love.   I am wearing hot pink shoes now, but I think I’ll be changing into the ones dipped in glitter, gold and a thousand points of light. A thousand reflections of love.   Shoes can say a lot about a person; not always, but sometimes. Today mine tell you I’m feeling sassy and defiant. Sassy speaks for itself, but the defiant part is me telling Cruel Things they will not be the boss of me. Not today.   There has been a long-standing tradition in my family: a tea party on Valentine’s Day. It all started over 23 years ago when my mother-in-law asked me if we could host a mother-daughter Valentine Tea Party. As a mama to four boys, she was longing for girly things something awful. Her first grandchild, our daughter, paved a way to all manner of pink and frilly.   For almost two decades we hosted a Valentine Tea. My heart swells and aches at the memories.   Sarah will not be with us today. She’s home, confined to bed, her love of almost 65 years caring for her around the clock. To me, dementia has stolen the best parts of her, but her one and only still sees that girl he fell in love with. He will tell you he loves her more now than ever. He means it. When he looks at her and tells her “You’re so pretty,” your heart will split in two.   So, I’m raising my fist in defiance, a small and almost silly gesture, but significant to me in that I WILL carry on this tradition because it means something important. Geography and circumstance force a different type of Valentine Tea but its heart beats just the same.   Love. Friendship. The company of women drawn close.    I have been working for four days straight to get ready–not because anyone else cares or expects that, but a) because nothing like a party to kick my housekeeping into high gear, and 2) the effort is a love note to my guests.   The work that precedes opening my home to others is worship. It’s an offering and opportunity–yes! That’s it: OYTO! It’s my personal battle cry springing to action, enlisting others to help. We weren’t meant to go it alone, to carry the world on our shoulders.  But we do this, don’t we? I’m trying to break that old habit because the joy is amplified and the weight lightened when sisters bear the load never intended for one. There’s mutual blessing in the service, the offering, the worship. And this is the kindness of God in this season; He affirms the “who” and the “how” and I remember all over again there’s no “I” in team or teamwork, and laughing with other people is much more fun than laughing alone.   ii. If you could explode from joy, I’d be splattered all over my house.   Yesterday was perpetual motion, and by the time I fell into bed I felt it all. My bones were tired, but my spirit was…satisfied. I’m surprised satisfaction feels so good.   I thought about Sarah often throughout...

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Can Buy Me Love

Feb

04

Posted by on Feb 4, 2018 in Beauty, Personal, Uncategorized | 3 comments

Can Buy Me Love

  I was behind them in line at the Walmart return counter, Dante’s 10th circle if ever there was one.   Brothers, maybe twins, I’m guessing knocking on five’s door. They were crammed into the back of a shopping cart; one kid would have been too big for it himself, but together, potentially, it was a recipe for disaster.   They had been indoors longer than me but their hoods were still drawn tight around their faces. Perfect little round faces that reminded me of a smiley, except the one hanging over the edge of the buggy wasn’t smiling. His expression was absent, blank, not the look you expect on a little boy. His brother was the spicy one. While their mama was conducting her business with the clerk, he slowly, quietly pushed their cart away from the edge, farther from her. His grin told me he thought he was getting away with something. He was proud, a victor…a darling, little rascal.   Tried as I might, I couldn’t get them to look at me. I wanted to offer them kind eyes, a smile, the joy of being noticed and liked. Two little boys ought not be caged in a grocery cart, but I suppose it was simply to keep them out of trouble. Still, it bothered me. Maybe it was in all the time I watched them, neither never said a word. They didn’t poke or pick at each other the way siblings often do, and I thought how well behaved they were.  The expressionless one who kept leaning over could have fallen right onto his head and their mama wouldn’t have seen until too late. I was ready, though, Spidey-mother senses on alert, ready to spring into action if he needed me.   It takes a village.   The rascal was getting bored, looking for new distractions. I had already been there ten minutes and, like I said, they had been there longer than me. Where babies normally ride sat one of those clear cotton candy containers, or at least that’s what it looked like. Rascal wriggled past his brother and peeled open the lid, and that’s when I realized there was money, not cotton candy, inside, paper and coin. He stuck his fist in and pulled out both, metal dropping back into the tub and making a plastic percussion, the “tell” that alerted his mother. It was the first time she gave them any notice, and she did so by smacking Rascal on his mouth and sharply insisting that he “sit down and leave that alone.”   His countenance fell faster and harder than the money in that stupid bucket.   I continued to watch them, still trying to telegraph love through eye-to-eye connection. The blank one kept tracing the squares of the buggy or leaning over its blasted edge, but Mr. Mischievous had all but disappeared. He was hiding in plain sight best he could, his arm resting across the back edge of the inner baby basket, that perfect little face burrowed underneath, refusing to make eye contact with anything or anybody.   I couldn’t help but wonder what happened when they were home, when the mama had freedom to express her irritation or anger without onlookers. Maybe I was jumping to conclusion, but I couldn’t...

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What Runs Through Your Mind When You Wake Up At Night?

Jan

28

Posted by on Jan 28, 2018 in (in)courage, Faith, Uncategorized | 1 comment

What Runs Through Your Mind When You Wake Up At Night?

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable— if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8 NIV   As We Think, So We Do For years I’ve battled insomnia, trouble with both going to and staying asleep. Over the past six months I’ve seriously addressed it every way I know how–medically, physically, holistically, alternatively, and spiritually (prayers welcome), and while my sleep quality has improved slightly, it’s still an issue. It’s not a question of whether or not I’ll wake up between Bedtime and Rise and Shine, it’s how many times will I awaken. On good nights I’m able to fall back to sleep relatively quickly, but the roughest nights have me tossing and turning for hours (yes, I know I should get up for a change of scenery, but apparently knowing what I should do doesn’t necessarily translate into doing it–a whole ‘nother post for another time.). When I’m wide awake at two in the morning it usually goes like this: Relax and try to keep the dream you were just dreaming going, to fool yourself into thinking you’re still asleep. Get mad because you can’t even remember the dream, but you know it was a good one and you want to know how it ends. Become increasingly irritated that you’re awake. Decide to take advantage of being awake by praying for every person on your prayer list, and even a few more who come to mind… and it is right about there my mind begins to wander off track (anyone relate…?). Recently I’ve been convicted about the direction my thoughts were taking. A new series I discovered on Netflix offered a steady diet of…   Click here to continue reading As We Think, So We Do over at {in}courage today. I think most of us can...

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When One Word Becomes Your Battle Cry #OneWord #OYTO

Jan

25

Posted by on Jan 25, 2018 in Personal, Uncategorized | 16 comments

When One Word Becomes Your Battle Cry #OneWord #OYTO

Are you a subscriber? If not, please do, and if you are already, thank you! Do you believe in signs and wonders?   I do…I  believe in signs and wonders. Miracles. Divine timing and appointments. Circumstances, if not orchestrated at least permitted, by a great, great God who knows me better than I know myself, and loves me more than my little brain can comprehend.   He feels the same way about you, you know, regardless of your belief (or unbelief), despite your most grievous sin.   Signs…wonders…miracles aren’t necessarily showy or spectacular (like baby rainbows settling in your front yard). Wide open eyes and receptive hearts seem to find them in otherwise ordinary moments.   A new year is a dear thing to me. January just shouts possibility and potential.   Maybe it’s that joie de vivre heart of mine anticipating soon-to-be-written story. Maybe it’s the grace of a mulligan, a chance for a do-over, to get more things right than wrong. Blank slate, bare canvas, the beginning of a one-of-a-kind something, days not yet lived but already ordained.   I love a new year.   It should come as no surprise that I’m a resolutions gal. I don’t make it hard, though, there is no formal procedure.  No ominous list that will defeat me 12 days into the new year; more like a series of targets, beacons, touchstones inviting me to draw near.   For me, setting resolutions is as simple as living with greater intention. Don’t we all want to be the best version of ourselves? Shouldn’t we?   Resolutions are invitation to live fully and well.   Beyond my abstract, ethereal resolution-setting, I love to have One Word to mark my year, a word that serves as both anchor and aim. One Word to both ground me and give me wings. As days turn into weeks turn into months that make a year, I look over my shoulder while looking ahead to recalibrate, to make sure I’m on course. One Word helps me remember where I’m headed, what I want out of the priceless time I spend for each day.   Value of time increases with age.   It’s always fun to watch my One Word come into being; it’s a sacred thing, given by God. It’s a process of discovery for me, seeking and searching and setting my head and heart on otherworldly things. Kingdom come.   Or maybe that’s this year. Maybe this year I’ve received a word in light of the gospel, because this year, like never before I sense fresh wind. Fresh fire.   My God, it’s good.   Weeks ago, I thought my One Word was time. “Time” became A Thing for me last year, the first year I was acutely aware of and in conflict with my age and brevity of life. Grains of sand seemed to be slipping through the hourglass’s narrow neck at an incendiary rate, and there’s not a blasted thing you can do to slow it down.   Over Christmas this year, a conversation with my daughter rolled around to One Words for the new year, and I asked her to predict mine. “Jump!” she said without hesitation. She had good reason for her guess –     Because I have such high regard for...

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Letter From Birmingham Jail: As Relevant Today As It Was Over 50 Years Ago

Jan

15

Posted by on Jan 15, 2018 in Faith, Inspiring | 3 comments

Letter From Birmingham Jail: As Relevant Today As It Was Over 50 Years Ago

  Click here to read MLK’s Letter From Birmingham Jail. Powerful and jarring....

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Culinary Catastrophes (Why They’re Actually Good)

Jan

10

Posted by on Jan 10, 2018 in Faith, Grace Table, Hospitality, Humor, Uncategorized | 2 comments

Culinary Catastrophes (Why They’re Actually Good)

  It occurred to me recently how there’s value in our mess-ups: they’ll often sear memory, and in the best of times they can point us to something magnificent.   Mess-ups…mistakes are hard to forget. The more public, the more memorable. On a spiritual level, mistakes and failed effort point me back to my need for Christ. It’s really that simple. He already is what I will never be – perfect; and He has already accomplished what is impossible for me despite my best effort (all of us) – reconciled me to God. My mess-ups (my sin) reveal my inadequacies in every area of my life, and because God has set eternity in the heart of man (Ecclesiastes 3:11a) – because He has set eternity in my heart, I want to be right with Him. If I were already perfect, why would I need the atoning, redeeming, complete work of Christ on the cross and beyond? I have zero aspirations for perfection, but increasingly, I’m drawn to the perfection of Jesus. His ways were not ordinary and His model of perfection wasn’t tidy; he certainly didn’t behave the way a King would be expected. But He never wavered in His purpose while on earth, to serve and love and lead us in the way to light and life. Beyond a spiritual, deeper consideration of mess-ups, can we agree that on a superficial level oopsies are awesome?   Isn’t this why we love America’s Funniest Home Videos, why we can’t get enough of our favorite TV show’s outtakes and blooper reels, why videos go viral?   When we blow it, we make fantastic memories.      Because I love to cook and bake, some of my more memorable mess-ups occurred in the kitchen: Like the time I made a peach pie for a friend going through chemo and I added salt to the pie dough. My flour was stored in a canister on the counter (not in a bag) and I didn’t realize it was self rising and already had salt. I had made two pies – one for my friend and one for us – so I realized the mistake with the first bite. I still remember Dan’s congenial thank you note: “…and thank you for the slightly saline peach pie….”  Trust me, there was nothing “slightly saline” about it. No doubt he appreciated the effort, and my “oops” made it all the more memorable. And the time at Thanksgiving when most all my husband’s side of the family traveled hours to our home. To keep things simple, and because there were lots of cooks in our kitchen that day, I planned on using the glaze packet that came with our store-bought spiral ham (typically, I made my own glaze). However, apparently I couldn’t read that day, and I set our microwave for minutes instead of the seconds it recommended. We heard a small explosion coming from our laundry room (where the microwave lived), and the glaze had exploded inside, “baking” onto the oven’s interior. There was no cleaning or wiping or scraping off the sweet resin. We had to buy a new microwave.   But my worst “culinary catastrophe” happened years ago at a supper club with friends. I hope you’ll read The Dessert Disaster, a story I...

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