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Meeting, Greeting & Eating…and laughing til I cried



Posted by on Jun 17, 2013 | 3 comments

Abby-Robin-LeighOne of the funnest things for a blogger is to meet in real life the friends she's made online.  Over the weekend, I had opportunity to do this very thing.

Leigh Kramer and I met a few years ago at a blogging conference, but I've gotten to know her much better through our connection as storytellers for Deeper Family.  When we hugged face-to-face Friday afternoon, it felt nicely familiar.  And bonus–Abby Barnhart. another friend I've met by way of conference, joined us for dinner–lucky for me, she was in town to visit her sister.

The reason I was in Nashville in the first place, however, was not just hanging out with bloggers; it was to work behind the scenes with Jessica, Angie and Shauna as they filmed the videos for our next Bloom (in)courage book club, slated to begin next Monday, June 24th.

Bloom Bread & Wine blogging team

(l-r, Robin Dance, Angie Smith, Shauna Niequist & Jessica Turner)

Oh, my…!  The girls managed to get through eight videos, engaging one another in conversation relevant to Bread and Wine, but also about the importance and beauty of community.  Through story-telling and example, they brought the book to life in a way that will be a treat for Bloom readers (I hope you're planning to join us!  If you've never taken part in an online book club, this is the PERFECT book to start with!  You can pick up a copy for almost half price at DaySpring!).

Photo 4(1)And then they let me join them in the kitchen for our four cooking videos!! 

Those were fun to say the least, and we were mostly professional…except for the 11 takes required for Breakfast Cookies.  I blame Angie mostly for that, but now until the end of time, I will always smile when I make Breakfast Cookies, think on That Day and thank Angie in my heart.

Shauna is as lovely a person as I imagined her to be–full of life and wisdom, passionate about a call to community.  I've had seasons of abundance and seasons of void, and I know intimately the truth of her message.

The sub-title to Bread & Wine is "a love letter to life around the table"  ~

I've often said the dining room table is a sacred space…

the place where family and friends connect over a shared meal, face to face, both for the regular and routine or special celebrations. 

Shauna's is a book written on my heart and practiced when I can, and more than anything, I hope you're making time for the people you love and like around a platter of something special.  Boxed brownies or a fancy beef tenderloin, it's never about the food anyway, is it?



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…and my One Word for 2013 is… (one I’d rather not choose…)



Posted by on Jan 4, 2013 | 16 comments


It was the intensity of his gaze that held me captive, anchored to whatever it was he wanted to say.  Leaning forward, hands twined around his mug, he wrestled for words that wouldn't make him sound threatening or crazy.  

"I had a dream about you…" was an unexpected? interesting? dangerous? way for a man who isn't your husband to begin a conversation.



My friend has great eyes.  They're the soft kind that twinkle.  He often says a lot without saying a word, and I'm fairly certain when he was a boy his eyes would give him away when he was up to something he ought not to have been.  

Those same eyes measured me while he calculated his words, they begged understanding. 

Behind them I could see wheels turning and gears grinding, each word processed two times over before he spoke. 

Maybe that's why they were watery.

Which doesn't really explain why mine were, too.



He assured me this was a rare occurrence, initially dismissing it with no intention of telling me.  But, then, "out of the blue" I contacted him to help me with something and I suggested we meet for coffee to go over the particulars.

He didn't know whether it was a sign from God, but he decided it was reason enough to tell me.

He faltered over what to say and how to say it but he didn't let that stand in the way of telling.  

I'm convinced those remembered dreams are intended to be told out loud.  




What?  Are you kidding me??  You dream about me and that's it–one word?!

He doesn't know what it means exactly, whether it means to listen to God or to my husband or a friend or who or what or where.  

Just listen.

He almost seemed relieved to tell me, to push it from his haunts into mine, resolved to deliver a message given to him but not to keep.  

I didn't know my friend was a prophet.



My One Word for 2012 was Adventure.  

And, OH-MY-WORD, two thousand twelved delivered that in spades.  I've shared a small portion of it here, surprised that I've kept so much of it to myself.  I am a blogger, after all, a word exhibitionist.

But, I've been very Ecclesiastical…"there is a time…."

and for whatever reason, I've been quieter in this space ~ 

"a time to be quiet and a time to speak…"


Sometimes adventures take an unexpected turn.



Funny, the power someone's words can have in another's life.  

A Divine word?

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.  (Proverbs 25:11, ESV)

It's amazing how much more I'm hearing since I started listening with intention, actively listening…to what's said and what is not said.

When you Listen On Purpose, you hear with your eyes, your heart, and sometimes with your spirit.



This year will see my 50th anniversary of birth, the year of Jubilee.  

"This fiftieth year is sacred—it is a time of freedom and of celebration…" (Leviticus 25:10a, CEV)

In keeping with that, when I was thinking about my One Word for 2013, I imagined it would be something fun like Celebrate or Dance….

But "Listen" patiently waited for me to accept her.  


Sometimes dreams come true.

* * * * *

Your turn:  DO you have One Word to mark your New Year?  Please share it in comments and if you're a blogger who's written about it, be sure to link your post!  Don't have any idea what I'm talkin' about?  There's an entire One Word community that'll explain it better than me!  And several Deeper Story writers have shared links to their words and remarkably not one One Word is duplicated.  


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A modern-day fairytale: My Sister, Katie Couric and the Traveling Red Dress



Posted by on Jul 30, 2012 | 9 comments

close up of Traveling Red Dress________________________________________________________________

Jenny Lawson's Traveling Red Dress

I'm cracking up after she commanded me to "Wink!"  Now those pictures are FUNNY because, news to me, I look like a circus freak when I wink…

My sister took a thousand pictures(1) of me last week…

and I can't decide if she loves me that much or just hates me.  Have you ever had to sift through a thousand pictures of yourself and choose a handful of favorites?  It's painful at times and narcissistically(2) sickening.

But I'm ahead of myself…I need to back up a bit ~

Over two years ago Jenny, a long-time blogging friend,(2) began a ballgown-revolution when she published The Traveling Red Dress, a blogpost celebrating women, joie de vivre and carpe-ing the heck out of diem.  It resonated with me because I wholeheartedly believe every girl needs a Princess Dress and had written about it just a few months earlier. 

Jenny's following is tall, wide and deep, and soon the Traveling Red Dress became legend.  It single-handedly almost broke Twitter one night when good people of generous spirit joined hands, offering free photographic service for those who'd wear a red dress, or buying and giving away red dresses to those who needed a smattering of pixie dust.  

Twirling in the Traveling Red DressThe Traveling Red Dress is magical–whatever you need it to be it is.

It is reckoning force, a whirlwind of fire and tulle.   

Eight months later, Jenny (aka The Bloggess if you haven't yet been introduced…a loveable, wickedly-brilliant and creatively-expletive writer) followed her first TRD post with another(5) and by then its story had even caught the eye of Forbes.

* * * * * *

When I unpacked after arriving in Germany, I realized I had forgotten to bring my Princess Dress.  

An upside to living between two countries, not being able to speak the language, and starting out a fraidy cat was our anticipated travel within Europe.  With basic expenses covered through my husband's employer (i.e., airfare to Germany for starters), we planned to visit as many places as possible while on the continent.  

I dreamed of traveling to cities I had only read about or seen in the movies.  

Since finances aren't unlimited we'd have to pick and choose. But s t i l l –Austria, Switzerland, Italy and the Czech Republic were within driving distance; a short flight or longer drive, and France and London made the cut.  

Sugar plum visions stirred imagination–twirling in my Princess Dress in front of the Eiffel Tower, riding a gondola in Venice's Grand Canal…but mostly walking the grounds of my neighborhood castle.

Then I remembered the Traveling Red Dress.

I emailed Jenny to see if the possibility existed to bring it on a European vacation, explaining I would be in the States two months and could bring it (and my Princess Dress) back on the return trip. 

She clapped her hands and squealed, "I likey!"

And then I wrote the Queen of Spain who graciously dropped it in the mail to me.

Which sounds absolutely crazy but is 100% true(4).

* * * * * * * * * *

Then one day Katie Couric decided to create her own TV show.  

THE Katie Couric I had spent years of mornings with after the birth of my first baby, right after her temporary Today Show gig became permanent.  I remember when her second daughter was born, then when she lost her husband to colon cancer…and how brave and strong and influential she was following his death, leading the way to early screenings and making a "colonoscopy" not quite so scary.

I thought about her when I had my own.

Katie likes to surround herself with smart women, so she agreed to speak at BlogHer this year.  Four thousand amazing women, each with a personal sphere of influence that collectively reaches millions of people.   

I'm so sad I won't be there to hear her in person; I've got a date in Paris instead…. I've got a date with Paris instead…!

But Katie had heard about the Traveling Red Dress, though.  And she decided she needed it more than me…

…but not before my sister took 1,000 pictures.

To be continued….


: : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 

(1)  Oh, how I wish I were exaggerating….

(2)  I see no reason why I can't adverb narcissistic AND verb adverb.

(3)  Jenny Lawson, recently turned best-selling author of "Let's Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir)."

(4)  Jenny didn't actually clap and say "I likey" but she liked the idea.  The Queen of Spain, however, did send me the dress.  Mocha Momma had sent it to her….

(5)  The Bloggess is rated NC-17 for content and language but not nudity.  Yet.  You've been warned. 


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People need people so hug a tree (in)RL
3 Thoughts on Community



Posted by on Feb 24, 2012 | 8 comments

People who need people,
Are the luckiest people in the world.
Music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Bob Merril, unforgettably delivered by Barbra Streisand


Sometimes I can't see the trees for the forest.

The big picture is plain enough, but I'm blind to trunks and limbs and twigs and leaves within touching distance

With roots burrowed deep and scattered broad, 8½ years ago I moved from a place I still consider my hometown, despite not being born or raised there.  It was in that town I journeyed newlywed years, worked vocation that married passion and purpose, birthed all my babies with other mama-friends doing the same, did my best to serve God and his family through way too much doin'…and became glued and glue to a friend-family that shared life in the best ~ and worst ~ of ways. 

There's no telling how many meals I cooked and delivered for celebration and mourning.

After 14 years we moved to a new place, hours from home and hometown, and where we didn't know a soul.

We knew how to extend friendship and hospitality.  We were initiators–always the initiators.  In this, without realizing it, I think we had become prideful.  We had also become weary and complacent and just needed to rest

…a toxic combination. 

It was inward-thinking navel gazing, bordering on pointless martyrdom.

It served absolutely no one.

It wasn't that we never had people over or hosted parties; but something about it was harder, much harder, than before.  And though it's likely not accurate, it seemed like only one or two couples returned the effort and affection we offered to others. 

But, here's the important takeaway–

One or two couples returned the effort and affection we offered to others!

Why was I focusing on the void instead of the fullness?


A few years into our move to Tennessee, I began blogging.  Though initially anonymous–even to my husband–eventually my blogging community grew to a diverse group of women and men.  This was during the early years of mainstreamish blogging, before social media, blog conferences and monetizing were the focus, when people actually read and commented to blogs {knowing smile to long-time bloggers}. 

My blog filled a friendship void in my life and I knew more about my online friends than I did about the people I was meeting in real life.  Every blogger who commented to my posts received a reciprocal visit from me; I'd read their current post (or six) and thoughtfully comment to each one.  I'd reply to every comment–my imaginary friends were a constant source of encouragement and I was grateful they'd take the time to read my words (that part is still true).  

It took a lot of time.

My life was out of balance.

So one day I started withdrawing.


There is so much more I could share, but for now this is what I need you to know:

1.  These things served a purpose in my life. 

The void, the plenty, the delights, the disappointments. Some things were a result of my choices (good or bad), others were unavoidable circumstance.  All have had their role in maturing me.

One of my favorite passages in scripture is Ecclessiastes 3:1-8; my heart whisper-shouts its theme as a Martin Luther King, Jr. oration–

There is a time, there is a time!  Thank God Almighty, there is a time!

2.  See the trees.  Then hug them.

I got word-slapped twice recently by two people who are close to me; my husband and a friend who loves me enough to tell me what she REALLY thinks.  In one instance I was singing the dog-tired song about "how deep friendship was hard to find" and in the other, my friend flat out told me I was oblivious to those around me who were trying to do that very thing.

Over the years I had either grown too calloused from being hurt to notice or it was packaged differently than I expected or I misinterpreted the actions or motives or others or who knows what else?

I removed the stingers from the words of these two who love me, trusted that they spoke with my best interest in mind, sifted them through a reality sieve and recognized "truth" was relative, resting somewhere between their perspective and my own. 

It's changed the way I see and receive the beautiful, amazing people in my sphere. 

3.  Delight in your online community but if it is precluding real life friendship, do something about it.  Now.

It is SO easy to appreciate and care about people who share a love for words, ideas and encouragement online (I have mad love for my readers and subscribers!); but there is absolutely no substitute for investing in the lives of friends where you live; say, the people who will help watch over your children while you jaunt off to Germany on some kind of crazy adventure for weeks on end…. who will feed your babies home cookin' and make sure THEY know someone's watching, even if mama and daddy are 5,000 miles from home.

No doubt, one of the coolest aspect to blogging is meeting those whom you've made real connection with through reading each other's websites and engaging in conversation on your favorite social networking channels.  Blog conferences provide that opportunity, but often the barriers are monumental:  financial, family, time, travel–all incur some type of cost that might prohibit attendance.

Not too long after (in)courage was launched, whispers were heard among readers (and writers) lobbying for a conference to bring the reading community together face to face, skin to skin, heart to heart.

Enter (in)courage and brilliant thinkers behind their scenes who imagineered (in)RL, a coordinated initiative to bring the (in)courage community together, but without the hassle and expense of travel.  Instead, on April 27 & 28 readers are encouraged to host a meet-up in their own back yard, bringing together real life friends, perhaps virtual friends, and even folding newcomers into community. 

Would you consider hosting an event?  Small and intimate in your living room, at a local coffee shop or filling a church hall, everything you need to know is right here.



Yesterday, my soulful friend Ann wrote a beautiful piece about 4 Ways to be a Better Friend; tomorrow, a visionary friend, Stephanie shares her perspective on friendship, community, and why these hometown meet-ups matter.  Pleasevisit their spaces to gain a broader perspective.



Even though I don't think luck has anything to do with it, people really DO need people ~ ?

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One Sentence Saturday, #2



Posted by on Jan 28, 2012 | 3 comments

6a00d8341c61d153ef0168e5e577ef970c-450wiWhen I consider the impetus of my fears ~ a combination of the unknown, perspective and imagination, all as they relate to some reality ~ I'm able to trust that most are either unfounded worry or opportunity for personal and/or spiritual transformation.

: : : : : : : : : : : : : :

One Sentence Saturday Badge
Want a quick, fun, simple weekend post?  Please join in One Sentence Saturday!  Click though to pick up the badge and read details.  Then add your post below and be sure to visit the person before and after your link number to support and encourage the growing #1SS community!



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Introducing…a REALLY fabulous, fun, fast blogging thing: One Sentence Saturday



Posted by on Jan 21, 2012 | 3 comments

One Sentence Saturday @ PENSIEVE Button
If you’re a blogger and you’re like me, you’re mentally composing THE BEST POST YOU’VE EVER WRITTEN at the most random of times–in the shower, tossing and turning in the middle of the night, when you’re driving–only to have no memory of it when you’re actually in front of a computer with time to write.

I’ve written ~ and forgotten ~ hundreds of ’em.

Couple that with those days (and weeks and sometimes months) when life is six shades of crazy and you just don’t have time to pour out your brilliance in bits and bytes, but by golly you’re thinking it, oh-yes-you’re-thinking-it, and gracious! wouldn’t it be NOBEL PRIZE-WINNING LIT’RA’TURE if you only had the time to explore and pen your thoughts?!

That’s kinda the Season I’m in.

Well, recently Pamela (unbeknownst to her) inspired me to create a fun little exercise intended to ~

  • spark creativity
  • arouse reader’s curiosity
  • demand word economy
  • satisfy the compulsion to blog s o m e t h i n g
  • cultivate a fun little blogging community
  • require only a little time

Introducing One Sentence Saturday!

The rules?  Simple:

Happy or sad, deep or shallow, inspiring or challenging, funny or serious, write a one-sentence post that tells a story you hope to elaborate on in the future; but if not, it’s sufficient to stand alone.  Then link back to the One Sentence Saturday linky, and in the spirit of blogging community and encouragment, commit to visit at least two other participants (preferably the person right before you and after you in the linky) and leave a comment.  

That’s it.  Have you EVER seen a blogging ANYTHING so easy?  I hope you’ll join in.  I hope you’ll spread the word.  

Here are a few buttons if you’d like to include one with your post with a link back to this explanation (thank you!).  


250 One Sentence Saturday @ PENSIEVE

My One-Sentence Saturday with the Master Linky is coming in a bit; for now, I just wanted to introduce her to you :).


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