Robin Dance

essays on faith, aging, parenting, wandering and wondering

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Oh, lovely day

Posted by on Feb 15, 2018 | 4 comments


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.



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 the day, all of it a testament to her strength and resolve. Teary moments threatened a few times, but I banished them quickly. There’s a time for all that, but not during the Valentine Tea. In a gesture to bind together old tradition with new, I read the intro from Emilie Barnes, “An Invitation to Tea.” It perfectly expresses the heart of our Tea, and Sarah had always included it.


I wish I had taken more pictures, but here’s the thing about that: I haven’t figured out how to be fully present and live behind a camera. It’s one or the other but not both. The more accurate thought is I wish I had more pictures, but my mind’s eye still sees each precious face and my soul remembers every connection.

And, this, to me, is where Body Life is so beautiful–I don’t think we ever necessarily talked about God but we flat out lived it. Not to pat ourselves on the back – good googlie-mooglie, heaven forbid that! – but sometimes we need to recognize that living the gospel IS preaching the gospel, and all at once this little tea party tradition sparked something new in my heart, and I’m curious if it will smolder to ashes or blaze into fire.


Time tells that kind of thing. If it’s the real deal it’ll burn.




Can you scooch over here and let me admit something? I’m not quite sure how to say it, and I sincerely, truly, really really hope you hear me….


I’m worried some people who find their way to these words will feel their eyes turning green. Maybe they’ll wish they could’ve been there or feel void in their own lives, or maybe they’ll compare home or friends or gifts, or, I don’t know what, but click away from the page feeling less than or lonely.


If that’s you, darling…and I say this gently but firmly: stop it.


That’s the enemy of your heart talking, and I promise, his is a convincing voice. Don’t believe the lies.


I’ve felt the angst of all that. I’ve swum those dark waters.


I have wasted years wanting things never intended for me.


Wasted. Years.


I loathe a victim mentality. What I hadn’t realized was me envying or coveting what someone else had was me playing the victim. Blech. The wallow is an ugly thing and accomplishes the work of your enemy by distracting you from the Lord has for you.


For you.


Be the one to BE the one. Ask a neighbor to come over and serve her leftovers for lunch; she cares more about time together than what it is you’re serving. Get a group of people together to go see a movie and dessert after. Stop wanting what other people have and create community by gathering together the people who are already around you.


Bloom where you’re planted. If you can’t be with the ones you “love,” love the ones you’re with. Okay…so now I’m resorting to song titles and clichés, but if the shoe fits wear it. (I’ll stop now…. ~ smile ~ )


Give from your void.




We could mine the spiritual dimensions of all this til the end of time – thoughts on contentment and joy and satisfaction and a million other things, but I’ll leave it at give to give and not give to get. I’m convinced that giving to give (glory to God, blessing to others…) brings greater gain than giving to get could ever accomplish.


The Valentine Tea Party is about giving who I am and what I have, which gives glory to God. The gain to me is an abundant satisfaction in learning that me being me is more than enough. It’s what the Lord has been trying to teach me for a long, long while. He wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of, you know, creating me, if I didn’t matter to this world.


The same applies to you.


Click away knowing that who you are is more than enough, and get busy discovering who and what it is that God is prompting in you.










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A “These-Are-A-Few-of-My-Favorite-Things” $150 Giveaway!

Posted by on Mar 30, 2015 | 54 comments

My Favorite Things Giveaway From DaySpring

Tons of new items in their shop – check back frequently!!

I think one reason we’re more quick to offer help as opposed to ask for help is because it really is more fun to give than to receive.

So in celebration of my birthday today, I asked DaySpring if they’d let me give away some of my favorite things from their shop. I couldn’t believe when they said yes to all of my suggestions!

Valued at over $150, one commenter will win the whole shebang:

To Enter:

  1. Subscribe to my blog in a reader or via email. (If you already are, great!)
  2. Comment to this post by writing a poem. Yes, a poem!! It can be any form–haikucinquain, a simple rhyme, couplet, sonnet, limerick….IT’S MY BIRTHDAY AND THIS IS A WONDERFUL PRIZE PACK AND YOUR POEMS WILL BE LITTLE GIFTS IN MY INBOX!!! Don’t be shy…just try! <– see what I did there?
  3. Enter as many times as you like but each poem must be entered as a separate comment.
  4. International readers are welcome to enter understanding shipping will be at your expense…. (sorry, that’s the only way I can include you 🙂 ).
  5. Deadline to enter is Monday, April 6th at 8:00am.

Oh, what the heck–if you’re really poetry-shy, you can leave a plain ol’ comment, and if it’s thoughtful and kind and demonstrates that you’ve actually read this post, I’ll consider that free verse and call it a day. I’ll choose my favorite poem to win this entire, special-to-me prize pack!!

Please help me out by sharing this post on your favorite social networks? Be sure to tag me somehow so I’ll know to thank you!

  • Twitter: @RobinDance
  • Instagram @PensieveRobin

Note: I’m traveling today so if you’re a first time commenter and it doesn’t show up right away, it’s only because I’m not able to approve it. I promise, it’s there, and I will publish it as soon as I can!! 🙂

Robin Heart Signature - Green

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25 Years and Fanciful London Doors

Posted by on Nov 17, 2012 | 6 comments

Based on how old I feel, to be celebrating my 25th wedding anniversary I must've gotten married when I was 13.  In fact, if it wasn't the case the year following my silver anniversary I'll be celebrating my golden birthiversary, I'd swear it.

In lieu of exchanging gifts (and to take advantage of the closeish proximity of living in Germany), my husband and I decided to make memories.  In London.

I had no idea how much I'd love it.

London Door Collage

I know for many people, London is at the top of their Travel Wish List; but for some reason, it wasn't on mine.  I'm not a Royal watcher, I didn't get up at dark-thirty for Kate and William's wedding (though I have to admit I watched Di's and Charles' back in the day), and I couldn't have cared less about seeing Big Ben or Westminster Abbey or the Tower Bridge.

What the heck was wrong with me?  It was frickinfrackin spectacular!

It only took a walk a few hundred yards from our hotel and I was smitten–London's Natural History Museum was ~that close~ followed by the Victoria and Albert then Hyde Park and Harrod's and Piccadilly Circus AND OHMYWORD WHYohWHY had I not been doing everything I could to get there?!

Ignorance, in this case, was not so bliss.  It was kinda stupid.

Anyways, in upcoming posts I'll share more of our sights, but for now a series of doors on a solitary street, somewhere between King's Cross Station (where Harry Potter would crash through Platform 9¾ to catch his train to Hogwarts) and the British Museum.  I was drawn to their color and whimsey, not just in the painting of wood but also in the patterned tiles leading to entry.  


Black door in London

Sometimes basic black isn't basic at all.


Coral door in London

I absolutely LOVE the tile in this one, complimenting the coral door and avocado trim. And the yellow leaves need to remain there all year!

Federal blue door in London

Gray blue door in London

Checkerboard tile makes me wanna sit and play. Simple and striking.

Red door in london

Isn't it amazing how a subtle rotation of the squares turns this from checkerboard to houndstooth? J'adore!

Sage green door in London

Understated color; overstated tile or just right?


Yellow Door in London

They've got sunshine…on a cloudy day…


Green Door in London

Silver door in london

This one conjured thoughts of Tin Man. It almost scared me as much as flying monkeys.

black double door in london

Again, basic and black and OH so beautiful!

Thanks to my friend Lisa for inspiring me to share something as simple as this.  The doors she photographed are much more diverse, likely because they weren't all located on the same street!  

If you have a favorite, shout it out in comments!

I'm curious if one is more popular than the others.

Wanna guess what mine is? 


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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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The stinkingest, darlingest thing I’ve ever seen

Posted by on Oct 15, 2011 | 10 comments

"Wanna see something that will make you cry?" she asks, my first-born and only daughter, home from college for the first time since she left two months ago.

I think Why does she wanna rip my heart out just minutes after walking through the door? although I have no idea what she wants to share.

She's eager, though, and persists.  She already knows how much I'm gonna like it, if I'll just stop cooking dinner long enough to listen.

She begins a tale of six degrees of separation – really, it's only two – and I'm having trouble following anything other than her enthusiasm. 

Which itself is lure irresistible. 

She opens her laptop, clacks a few keys, grins, takes a step backwards, and says Watch.

She was right…I teared up watching strangers in like and in love. 


Casey + Brandon from Fancy Rhino on Vimeo.


And with that, I just planned her wedding.

I'm happy to report, dinner was just fine, five minutes later than originally planned. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

(Photos & video from Green Wedding Shoes <– darling, darling, DARLING!)



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Tragedy and triumph, the beauty of this day

Posted by on Apr 24, 2011 | 3 comments

Unimaginable brutality, what man can do to man.  

I can barely think of the brutal torture Jesus endured–the humiliation, degradation, beating, and those nails….  All, said, to pale in comparison to his anguish from bearing the weight of man's sin–my sin–as he hung willingly on that cross over 2000 years ago.  

His sacrifice cost him everything, and in his spilled blood he gave everything–love, justice, grace, mercy, and forgiveness, and he made a way for man's redemption and reconciled relationship to God.  

In his resurrection, Jesus punched death in the face and said, "I don't think so."  

That's a King I wanna follow.

And that gives me hope and a reason to dance….

(Stick with the second video…happiest, biggest flash mob evah! Thanks to John Piper for sharing it.)

Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?"
~ 1 Corinthians 15:55

Happy Easter to you and your family. xo



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