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The incredible gift everyone – EVERYONE – wants (and probably needs)

Jun

26

Posted by on Jun 26, 2014 | 5 comments

Your soul sparkles - Celebrating You

My sister gave me a gift last week and it made me so happy I screamed.

Literally.

We were alone in my house sitting on my youngest son’s bed, for a reason I can’t recall now. She handed me a package neatly ribboned and wrapped in the brown paper sack from the gift shop explaining, “I’ve had this forever but kept forgetting to give you.”

I clawed off the paper and grinned, already judging this book by its cover.

Celebrating You book - image by Robin Dance

My sister thought she was giving me an 8″x8″ gift book;  but as STINKIN’ DARLING as it is, the book itself wasn’t exactly the biggest part of her gift.  No…planted among its pages was a magical treasure, undetectable by eye, discernible only by the heart.

Her gift was in seeing and knowing me in the deepest ways I long to be seen and known.

 

I shrieked lunatic-crazy after every single page–think “wolf howling at the moon” and you’ll get a close approximation. Ask her if you think I’m kidding.

THIS IS THE BEST PRESENT IN THE WOOOORLD!

IT’S MY FAVORITE GIFT OF ALL TIIIIIME!

I LOOOOOVE THIS BOOK!!

Counting each double page as a single (one illustration with a companion sentence), there are just 27 pages (aka 27 screams). Thankfully, or the neighbors might’ve called the police.

Possibility - Celebrating You

We’re just 16 months apart but she’s always been the boss of me. I think she felt this was her God-given right and responsibility when we lost our mother so young. Or maybe it’s a first-born thing. Whatever it is, I’ve always accepted it and at times even appreciated it.

(It just occurred to me that she has known me longer than anyone else alive. Whoa…I’ve never thought about that before this very minute.)

One of my best childhood memories is sitting across from one another in her bathroom – her, on the toilet (lid down), me on the edge of the tub. She was my eager audience of one and I delighted in entertaining her…Edith Ann and Jimmy Carter impersonations (my Georgia roots showing), and I don’t know who else.

Her laughter was my paycheck, her approval, a bonus.

 

Quote for the best gift to give - Robin Dance

Even though sometimes she is maddening, she’s always been my biggest cheerleader.

Adventure - Celebrating YouLike when I was an upcoming high school freshman trying out for cheerleading and I suffered a major groin injury doing a split but not sufficiently warmed up (red hot knife searing pain that left me in a puddle in front of the judges). Back in the coach’s office, my sister gave me a “pep” talk:  inches from my face she screeched GETCHUR ASS BACK OUT THERE AND FINISH YOUR TRYOUT!

I thought she was cool to say “ass” in front of grown-ups. Bad to the bone.

I hobbled back to the gym, finished my tryout, and made the squad. Thanks to her.

While we’ve had our differences through the years, she’s still my cheerleader and champion. I suppose it’s not that difficult to understand how she could see me and know me so well, what with our history and sheer amount of life together.

And then she sings it back to me by way of a gift in a gift.

The pages in this little book spoke life and love and affirmation and beauty.

She told me I already am who I long to be.

Strong - Celebrating YouAnd though I know we are intimately known and loved by the God of the universe, sometimes a girl needs it in human form. On the very best of days He is gracious to find the perfect person to deliver the message.

My husband knows me and loves me in a way that she never can, but it’s she who has spent my entire lift knowing me in a way he never can–her blood runs through my veins.

It is wired in our DNA, this desire to be known and loved. And I believe each one of us has the capacity to give this gift to someone in our lives who so desperately needs to receive it.

Will you take a moment to consider the people in your life who might thrill to your notice?  Will you follow through and find a way to express it to them?

I don’t know if Celebrating You will be a conduit you can use to encourage another, but for less than ten bucks, if you know someone whose love language, like mine, is words of encouragement, it might be perfect.

I’m curious now…what makes you feel well known and most loved? I guess it centers around your love language.  If you’re willing to share, I’d really like to know what could turn you into a howling wolf…:).

 

Robin Heart Signature - Green

 

 

 

Affiliate link used for Celebrating You.

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Laughing Lines, Part II

Jun

16

Posted by on Jun 16, 2014 | 65 comments

Great quote on aging by Eleanor Roosevelt - Image by Robin Dance

 

Below is content originally included in my incourage post today but later deleted to meet word count guidelines. Like always, I wrote without regard to length, simply writing until I was done.  The result was almost 400 words longer than it was supposed to be. Oopsie!  Rather than deleting these two sections altogether I’m including them below (mainly because I want them for me….).

I hope you’ll read Laughing Lines, Part I over at incourage; among other things, it speaks to embracing age with joy.

 

~ Originally between sections iii & iv ~ 

 

Sometimes working in the online world is hard for me.

I write shoulder to shoulder with amazing women (and men) who have accomplished so much.  With heartfelt and sincere joy I celebrate every book deal and opportunity. It is when I begin comparing myself that I open the door for the enemy of my soul to pluck a nerve, pierce my Achilles.  The Accuser taunts me – “Everyone” has passed you by.  They’re 10 or 20 years younger than you and look at what they’ve done! – and I believe it.

It is when I am not trusting God and what He says about me that I fall into the wicked trap of believing I have nothing of value to offer.

It’s a short but slippery descent.

Here’s the thing: God doesn’t play games.  He is good, only good, and He wants what’s best for me always.

God is for me not against me. In my body resides His spirit and He’s calling out glory – His – to shine to a lost and hurting world that desperately needs to know Him!

Lovies, the same applies to all of His daughters…you, included.

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~ Originally included after iv ~

No wonder I have thrilled to the selection for the Spring/Summer session of Bloom book club: Pursue the Intentional Life. It speaks to so many thoughts I’ve had over the past few years. It’s a book every woman should read–in many ways, you’ll be challenged to consider what woman you want to become, now and for all your life.

Which is why I can laugh at the days to come: as long as I’m living, God is at work in and through me to reveal His gospel, His goodness, His glory.

Father, God, thank you for this gift of life and for helping me to see it as such. Lord, I want to know you better and to care most about your concerns. Teach me what it means to steward my time left for your glory and as a blessing to others.  Guard my heart and mind against the assaults of our enemy and forgive me when I hear that noise over your Holy whispers. Thank you for your word and tender mercies. ~ Amen.

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The Incredible, Beautiful, Redemptive Birthday Miracle

Apr

24

Posted by on Apr 24, 2014 | 3 comments

Doing #TheRobin in Vienna, Austria at Schönbrunn Palace

At breathtaking Schönbrunn Palace in front of the Neptune Fountain, Vienna, Austria. March 2014.

 

I can’t help but be thankful and marvel at the difference a year makes.

 

 

I woke up on New Year’s Day 2013 with the weight of What Was To Come handcuffing me to my bed: my fiftieth birthday

I hardly felt like the girl who stretches birthdays as wide as they’ll go, believing each is a milestone worthy of sparkles and decadent eating.  This year was different, though, and I had known it before the ball dropped and the clock struck 2013–my spirit was roaming where the Black Dog runs wild.  I didn’t recognize myself.

We had returned from Germany that December after making one of the hardest decisions of our lives:  to walk away from a great job without another in hand.

 

It was a choice mined from rocks and hard places. To accept a change in plans – two additional years abroad (which would fragment our family) – or quit.  Both decisions had merit, but one required a leap of faith across a bottomless chasm.

We jumped.

Free-falling and silent screams. I lived very small for months and I don’t even remember Christmas.

But it wasn’t only the job thing, it was so many things–

The day after Christmas, I injured my knee so badly (torn meniscus) I was confined to bed for a week; later I would learn I’d need surgery.

We had elected rather than enacting COBRA insurance, to begin a new policy January 1. Oops.

In February, I was stunned to learn from my doctor I wasn’t pre-menopausal or even menopausal…I was post-menopausal. How was that possible when my body told me otherwise every month??  (Eventually, thankfully, I would own it.)

My baby would start driving, my oldest would turn 21 and my middle kid would graduate high school.

I mourned my abrupt, premature departure from Germany, we weren’t yet settled in a new church and I was isolated and lonely.

And my husband was working so hard, every day, to find a new job.

We knew it would be a challenging season but that doesn’t make it easier.

We believed it was the right choice for our marriage and for our children, but that doesn’t make it easier, either.

By the time my birthday rolled around 90 days into the new year, I was leveling. I wasn’t exactly excited about turning 50, but at least I wasn’t dreading it.

A few dear friends planned to celebrate with us, and if ANY a day warranted wear of my princess dress, this was it.  We had reservations at St. Johns, one of the nicest dining spots in town, worthy of excitement in and of itself.

That is, until they’re walking up the stairs to bring you the dinner you’ve been patiently awaiting for quite a while, when you hear a horrifying crash and…

You just know that was your dinner clattering down the stairs….

Oddly and atypical of a restaurant of that caliber (and cost), they offered nothing in concession other than “refreshing our drinks” and “We’re sorry for the inconvenience.” I was embarrassed my friends were paying that much for dinner and not even a complimentary dessert; if they were offering free drinks, they sure didn’t make that clear.  But that’s another story….

So, yeah…last year, with the restaurant throwing my birthday dinner on the floor and ALL OF THE OTHER THINGS, it wasn’t exactly my happiest of birthdays.

This year, however, was another story.

I can’t wait to re-live it in the telling.

To be continued…

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When you are aren’t like her but wish you were

Jan

20

Posted by on Jan 20, 2014 | 6 comments

Rainbow quote by Robin Dance

I read her words and they were hot embers to my heart–

they burned glory, only glory, but in my humanity, I received them as a vicious personalassault.  The enemy hissed lies and I lapped them up like a ravenous kitten, allowing them to press into tender places, old scars, fresh bruises.

“You aren’t as good as her.”  ”You can’t write as well as she can.” “Why do you even bother?”

It happens in a heartbeat, in an unguarded moment, when I’ve allowed myself to forget Whose I am.

Waves of inferiority crash over me, knocking me off certain ground, threatening to pull me under, into darkness, away from light.

And it’s 100% true:  I will never write like her.

That’s how the enemy of our heart works–he mingles truth with lies and wagers we’ll believe the latter at the expense of the former, because there’s just enough truth to lend credibility to the lie.

 

Or at least this is his modus operandi for me.

It’s effective, isn’t it?

You might not be a writer, but I bet there are ways your spirit receives a similar assault–

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Comparison Quote by Robin DanceImportant and perspective-shifting, a message I hope you’ll continue reading,
When You Aren’t Like Her But Wish You Were.

{Rainbow image from  Thelma at Deviantart.com}

 

 

 

 

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A Woman’s Super(natural) Power

Oct

21

Posted by on Oct 21, 2013 |

 

Venus and Amor by Reinhold Begas photo by Robin Dance_quote by Ntozake Shange

Venus and Amor by Berlin sculpture, Reinhold Begas on display at Munich’s Neue Pinakothek. Image by Robin Dance.

 

When my children were all still young, they were demanding little creatures.  At times, their relentless needs  plucked raw my patience and threatened my very sanity.  I loved them ferociously but there were moments I wasn’t just willing to sell them to the circus, I would have paid the circus to take them off my hands!

How I miss those days. 

You see, it was only after having children that I realized my hands were magical.

I remember long car rides in particular; strap a kid in a carseat and the Whine Factor cranks up to the max.  I’m sure I’m not the only frazzled, unfit mother who gave in to the madness.  On more than one occasion I scaled the backseat to nurse a howling baby, and safety-be-damned, I’d do it again–it was that or my husband careen off a cliff with our family of three then four then five.

Lesser of evils, people.  Lesser of evils.

Breastfeeding astonishes me, but that was no surprise; I fully expected this extraordinary yet common practice to blow my mind (and it did every…single…time.).  Remember, it’s one of the many mysteries and wonders of a woman that give me reason to feel sorry for men.

What most surprised me, what most amazed me, was the power in my touch.

When my babies were still young enough to whine but too old for nursing, it was my hands that calmed them.  All they needed was a reassuring touch.

I remember one of these times so vividly, a late-night, hours’ long drive after visiting family for the holidays.  Ambient dashboard lighting was set to the tune of a distressed three-year-old, unhappy about pretty much everything.

I reached behind my seat and stroked her leg…and the crying stopped.  When my arm got tired I let go, and it was like an “on” button for her misery.  I reached back again and she stopped.

After quite a while of this, my husband tried to relieve me…but my babygirl cried until I touched her again; even when we tried to make her think his hand was mine – even in the dark – she knew the difference.

Of course, healing touch wasn’t limited to car rides or even to my fingers; boo-boo kisses were magical, too.  And aren’t goodnight kisses essential ingredient for sweet dreams?

Do you see how your hands protect, heal, love, affirm, calm, nurture, defend, and teach others?  Touch heals.  Touch loves.

One simple definition of magic is a special power or influence, which is why I love this quote by playwright and performance artist Ntozake Shange–

“Where there is a woman there is magic.”

Woman are wonder full, aren’t they?  The things so often taken for granted or overlooked are sometimes the most precious of them all.

 

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Around/About :: The WOW Inspiration/Writing Edition

Oct

20

Posted by on Oct 20, 2013 | 2 comments

The Wonder of a Woman - Around AboutA collection of links I love, sites I like, interesting reads or cool happenings nearby.

For the month of October, I'm featuring blog series for Around/About, writers who are taking part in Nester's #31Days challenge.  Last time I rounded up my favorites from the category I'm writing in, Too Awesome to Categorize.  This week I'm focusing on the Inspiration & Faith AND Writing, Blogging & Internet Stuff categories

It's safe to assume all these titles begin with 31 Days of…

Haiku ~ Haikus, done well, are brilliant.  Jenn's are consistently good.  I had actually considered this for my October writing challenge and I might just do this next year <3. 

Quotes about Creativity ~ Kris Camealy's series is visual and brief.  A great idea for a series.

Compassion ~ Andy and Miranda are Compassion International advocates, but this series has many calls to action to make not only a difference in the world, but in your life.  Worthy of your click.

Take Hope ~ Ellen is just writing, not by formula but with hope in mind.  I clicked because I liked her blog button but her style and substance is a winning combination.

SEO Tips for Beginnings ~ I wish Connie would write all 31 days; there's much mystery AND method to SEO madness!

Letters to the Unthanked ~ Amy is using this writing challenge to thank people in her life who might not know how she feels about them.  You might not be interested in reading her personal letters to others, but her list will give you ideas about who could use some thanking in YOUR life.  Great idea (she should print & mail 'em!).

Become Savvy Inside WordPress ~ I've been using this platform for years (on incourage, Simple Mom, Deeper Story), but since my new design will be on WordPress, I should probably learn to master it.  This will help.

(Last but hardly least, if you click the Inspiration category link, the first four links are friends of mineEmily Freeman, Jessica Turner (curating for Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt) , Mary Carver and Annie Downs.  They're #s 1, 2, 3 & 4, and they're ALL fantastic)

Are you writing or reading any of the 31 Days series?  Please share your favorites and why you love them!

 

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