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Stand with Secret Believers This Christmas



Posted by on Nov 30, 2018 | 4 comments

Today, through a sponsored partnership with Open Doors, I’m sharing their message about something important to know. This is a season when many Americans have already begun decorating their homes for the holidays, a lovely tradition most of us take for granted. Please read and then act if you feel led to support this worthwhile initiative.

In North Korea, celebrating Christmas is illegal and believers must celebrate the birth of Jesus in extreme secrecy or risk arrest and life in a hard labor camp.

For the citizens of Brunei, celebrating Christmas can get you five years in prison and owning a Bible will get you nine.

In countries like Somalia, Christmas was banned several years ago. An announcement goes out every year reminding citizens that it’s illegal.

And in countries like Saudi Arabia, churches, crosses and Christian meetings of any kind are illegal all over the country.

All over the world, Christians will celebrate the birth of Jesus in late December or early January. But in many places, like Somalia, Iran, North Korea and other areas where it’s dangerous to follow Jesus, openly participating in Christmas can be extremely difficult, if not impossible. For these Christians, celebrating Christmas must be done in secret. There will be no parties or gift exchanges, and no church services or worship gatherings allowed. In places around the world, Christmas can be a time of fear and isolation instead of a celebration.

One believer from a Muslim background in Southeast Asia says, “We can’t celebrate Christmas openly…We can’t go to church and join in the celebration. Why? Because we are wanted by the government. Some of us can’t even tell our families we are Christians.”

Nevertheless, faithful Christians remind themselves that “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).

This Christmas, we have the opportunity to illuminate that light and remind isolated Christians around the world who must worship in secret that they are not alone … that the worldwide Church stands with them.  

You can make a difference today for secret believers this Christmas in specific and practical ways:

  1. Pray with them.
    Visit for prayer resources from secret believers around the world. You’ll find videos, prayer points and unique ways to connect to your persecuted family.
  1. Enter their stories.

Open Doors has created two resources to help you explore the stories of the persecuted church and to connect with your brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. You can download a free Secret Christmas eBook and even a Secret Christmas children’s book to read to your kids this holiday season.

  1. Join the fight

Don’t make persecution a seasonal issue, make it part of your daily life. It’s in the very DNA of the church to care for those who are suffering. Through Open Doors you can download a Prayer App, sign up for regular prayer updates and stay connected to the stories and needs of your persecuted family.

Together, we can make a significant difference in the lives, families and ministries of secret believers this Christmas and beyond as we stand with our persecuted family.

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Inspired to Inspire #OYTO



Posted by on Apr 28, 2018 | 2 comments

Fat Robin


“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
~ Thomas Merton


I have a love/hate relationship with social media. On one hand, I’m convinced our lives were better without it overall. We had fewer friends, sure, but they were real life flesh and blood humans who would show up in person at your back door with a meal or a paintbrush or a hug depending on your need at the moment. We trudged to the library and navigated a card catalog to research anything and we had to buy magazines to catch up on the newest fashion or home design trends. Our houses had a whole lot more color before all the home décor and DIYer instagrammers showed us over and over again how beautiful stark white could be. (It is a mystery to me how they can photograph the same room a thousand ways and we like it every time.) You knew what adult America was doing at 6pm and 11pm every night, and if anything happened after that, you could read the news in next morning’s paper, delivered right to your front door.




On the other hand, we never have to be dumb or ignorant for very long. We hear immediately when a Royal goes into labor, gives birth, reveal’s the new little prince’s name. We know the nanosecond a celebrity dies (except for Abe Vigoda who never could make up his mind) as Facebookers or Twitterers race to the internets to offer their public condolences, a thinly veiled ruse to be first in letting you know how well they’re connected, which always strikes me as funny. And it is cool to engage with people you admire, to have an inside glimpse into their behind-the-scenes lives. And sometimes you make a real connection that translates to real life and geography doesn’t really matter.


Social media has it’s lovely sides, too. What we see or read can inspire us to go and do likewise.


Recently, a real life friend of mine I haven’t seen face to face in forever began posting images of watercolors she painted. Oh…my…her work was beautiful and I would have guessed she was an art major before becoming a full time mama. When I asked if she was taking classes, she admitted she was just trying something new.




Slap me naked and hide my clothes–girlfriend just unearthed an incredible gift.


And here’s the beauty: Rebekah inspired me to try something new because she tried something new.


Right after this, our church hosted a two-night water color class. I signed up immediately. With low expectations, high hopes, and a few butterflies fluttering around my stomach, I walked into class. The first night we were instructed what to paint (a landscape), but the second night we could choose on our own.


I knew exactly what I wanted to paint: fat birds, like my friend, Rebekah.


While my little creations were far from perfect, I absolutely love both! Watching them come to life and at least resemble what I was going for thrilled me. Starting with a blank page and swirling a paintbrush into a little color you create something from nothing.

Fat Bluebird


Painting is magic!


I begged Rebekah to send me an original, and I meant it. I would have bought one (I love having my friends’ art on the wall). When she asked for my address I crossed my fingers and yesterday I received her prize: Fat Robin’s pretty cousin! We must’ve drawn inspiration from the same image, and looking at the differences between her painting and mine, I learned a few things. Again, Rebekah is teaching and inspiring me by being herself and doing something she loves!



Rebekah also sent me a beautiful journal with a strong call to action (thought she’d never see it as anything more than a word of encouragement):


Keep trying new things!


If that isn’t a challenge for One Year 365 Opportunities, I don’t know what is.


Don’t miss the important takeaway: if Rebekah hadn’t tried something new herself, when would I have tried my hand at watercolor? I would’ve missed out on a delight of my heart, a creative opportunity that feeds my soul. By pursuing a new thing, a new passion, my sweet friend inspired me. Sometimes inspiration begets inspiration.


This is when I love social media: Rebekah and I haven’t seen each other since I moved from Chattanooga five years ago (I don’t think?) but we’re able to stay connected through Instagram. Her friendship continues to be a blessing.


You have no idea who you’re inspiring just by being you. And if someone has inspired you by simply being who they are? Tell them!




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A father’s plea



Posted by on May 5, 2016 | 2 comments

A Fathers Plea - Dont text and drive
 An email shared with me today, from someone our family loves. I asked permission to post it here, hoping to share its heart-breaking message beyond his original recipients. Please read it as if your husband or father or brother or best friend wrote it; it’s that personal. It’s that important. If you’ve never shared a post of mine before, now is the time. Use the easy share buttons at the bottom of the post, cut and paste it, email it…I really don’t care. I believe it is so affecting, you could possibly be saving lives. Thank you. Love, Robin 


* * * * * * * * ** *


My beloved children,


This morning on my way to work I came up on a head on car collision that had just happened seconds earlier.  A young boy was thrown into the front seat in one car, air bags deployed on both cars. At first glance it appeared that one driver and the child may be dead. We could not open the doors and had to call 911 and wait. Fortunately the drivers and child started moving. When emergency rescuers arrived they were able to get the child out and it appears he will be okay. The drivers are alive but who knows if they have head trauma.


You guys know about the UGA girls and the tragic accident there.


While we don’t know, my suspicion is the drivers were distracted, and my guess is they were distracted by a cell phone.


I am guilty. I let my phone distract me at times. I check a text or email. I look up a number to call someone, maybe calling you.


These events remind me it’s not worth it. It happens in an instant.


Please, please, please. Leave the phone in your pocket when you are driving. Look at the directions before you leave to go somewhere. Program the GPS before you leave. Do something radical and turn your phone off. Don’t tolerate your friends using their phone when driving.


I love you all so much and don’t want a distraction to hurt your or someone else, to cause something like this.


Please hear your Dad’s plea when that text message goes off while you are driving.


It ain’t worth it.
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Why I refuse to be discouraged (when your scale is a jerk)



Posted by on Feb 12, 2015 | 21 comments

The best reason to exercise and eat well

I wonder how many times I read about it before taking action. A least a dozen, probably twice that.

A Boot Camp offered at my church–I mean, really, how hard could that be?

Initially, I wasn’t as intimidated by “Boot Camp” as I was by the early start: 5:30am, three days a week.

I could never do that.


While I am a morning person, I am not an early morning person. Trust me, the difference is apples and orangutans.

But everything changed when my motive changed. 

When you’re teetering toward an empty nest, you’ll have thoughts you’ve never thunk before. Deeeeep thoughts, wrapped alternately in angst or jubilation. I could write volumes on the subject, but we’ll save that for another time. Today I’m talking fitness.

Me, talking fitness. I never saw that coming….

Anyways…yes, my motive changed. I spent the month of January avoiding all sugar, added sugar, sugar alternatives (chewing gum, people…even sugar-frackin-free gum!), grains, dairy, processed foods–approximately 75% of my diet before I heard of Whole 30. You simply do not realize how much crap you eat until it’s off limits–and that’s despite me cooking five nights a week and typically having vegetables.

As a mother I think I’ve always parented with careful intention, but particularly after reading Jean Fleming’s Pursue the Intentional Life I’ve sought intentionality in all areas of my life–marriage, friendship, faith, family…and lifestyle.

I’ve got one body and the choices I make will either help it or harm it. 

You’ve got one body and the choices you make will either help it or harm it.


I did not choose to attend Boot Camp or eat a restricted diet to lose weight. While I don’t have a huge weight problem, I look like I’m better shape than I am. The way I was sucking wind on the first day of boot camp – and every day since – proves it. But I made a decision to steward my body well and to do what I could to improve my health and quality of life for the duration of my days. I wish I could say honestly my motive was esteeming my body as a temple of the Holy Spirit, but that’s secondary to my reasons.

Tomorrow marks the end of my first six-week session, so yesterday we checked our progress based on weight, body fat % and BMI (calculated a month ago two weeks after the start of Boot Camp).
Every stinkin’ one of my numbers went UP.


Up as in the wrong direction. Up as in I’ve gained weight instead of losing weight. Up as in higher BMI and Body Fat percentage. Right there in my church gym I asked my (fantastic) instructor if I could cuss. She laughed nervously, so I just thought ugly thoughts instead of burning her ears.

She asked if I was hormonal – Hello…I’m menopausal! – and reminded me I’ve been building muscle. She told me how her numbers haven’t changed in a year (her body is perfect) and how hormones affect your calculations. Everyone is quick to say “muscle weighs more than fat” but a pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat. Remarkable, no? But I know what they mean.

This is where the rubber meets the road, though, where I believe what I profess, where I buy what I’m selling. This is where I answer the question “Am I really eating well and exercising for my long-term health and benefit or am I doing it for numbers on a scale?”


I have gotten up at 4:50am three times a week for six weeks, even after driving eight hours in two days and falling into bed at midnight in order to attend an important event for a special friend. My attendance is perfect, my form, not so much.

My clothes fit differently. I do have more energy. I have done what I’ve sworn I could never do.

Let me say that again:

I have always said I could never do an early morning Boot Camp (or any fitness thing) and I have always said I could never give up all sugar for a month and drink coffee black.


Sometimes “always” and “never” are liars.


This has been a Hard Thing for me. Not on the scale of say, fighting cancer or climbing Everest, but it has demanded commitment and discipline and doing things I don’t want to do. My spirit has felt like a child who clamps his mouth shut and refuses to take his medicine even though it will make him better.

This has made me better.

On February 17th, my friend Jessica Turner will release her first book The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You (available now for pre-order), and I can’t think of anything fringier I’ve ever done. After brushing my teeth, washing my face, eating an egg for protein’s sake, and thanking God that my body hasn’t mutinied on me yet – before I’m barely awake – I stumble out the door Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to do a thing for ME.

My husband scribbled a note on the back of a grocery list for me to find on that first day, six weeks ago–

Word of encouragement

Lawsy–looks like someone needs to clean her bathroom mirror…. #IDHTBPTBB


and when I’ve felt like throwing in the towel, it’s a little thing that has kept me going. My neighbor, Marie, brave enough to say “Yes” when I asked her to join me, has kept me going, too. Accountability is an important contributor to my success, as well as the ability to process verbally every aspect of each day’s session. Our instructor is incredible, and she has yet to structure any two days the same. (Seriously, if you’re in the middle Georgia area looking for a good cross-fit program, contact me and I’ll give you the details.)

Boot Camp and Whole 30 are natural topics of conversation–anyone who follows me on Instagram, Facebook, my blog, or you know, asks me what I’m up to in real life, knows about both. Without exception…without exception…everyone has responded the same way: “I could never do that.”

Which I absolutely understand. Been there, said that.

Believed that.

And then, lo and behold, I discovered “always” and “never” are little demons that make you believe things that Just Aren’t True.

Once you discover a motive that means something to you, you’ll accomplish the very thing you were sure you never could. Once you think you can…you can!


So, yeah…my minimal weight gain…. The slight increase in BMI and Body Fat %age….

Sure, I’m disappointed. But I refuse to be discouraged and I’m certainly not defeated…




Because my motive is in great shape.



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The Glitter of Your Soul



Posted by on Sep 19, 2014 | 13 comments

Every day of your life is a special occasion - Image by Robin Dance


What have you stuffed away in your closet or attic or drawers waiting for the perfect time to use it? What special thing of yours has been packed away, boxed up and long left forgotten?

The earrings that once belonged to your grandmother, that bring her to life in memory and heart when you wear them? That incredible dress that was made just for you, the one that makes you feel beautiful and confident and full of life? Or, my gracious, please don’t tell me it’s your fine china or crystal, the set you received a piece at a time and celebrated when you had four place settings then six and then eight (and for the luckiest 12).

What the heck are you waiting on?!

Are you afraid you’ll lose a stone out of jewelry? Or worry your outfit is too fancy for an ordinary date or girls night out with your friends? Or are you scared you’ll break a plate or glass?

One thing I’m convinced of in life, and I believe it applies here as well–

A decision made out of fear is never the right one.


The value in having a precious possession is not in the possession itself. Isn’t it much more so in the joy of using whatever it is for the purpose it was intended?

Jewelry and dresses are meant to be worn. China and crystal and silver are instruments of celebration to enjoy with those who mean something to you.

Remember lovies, life comes with an expiration date.


Your days are numbered. The average US life expectancy is 78.7 years. 28,725.5 days if you’re lucky enough to be average.

Why would you settle for using your Special Things only when the moon is blue?

Don't Save print by Mary EngelbreitBecause you think that diminishes their specialness?


Not using your special things is like ordering cake and deciding it’s too pretty to eat. Insanity.


To celebrate my 50th birthday, I wore my princess dress out to dinner with friends. Never you mind not a single other person was dressed in formal attire–IT WAS CAUSE FOR CELEBRATION. And really, isn’t there a point where you don’t care what people think BECAUSE MOST OF THEM ARE STRANGERS YOU’LL NEVER SEE AGAIN, anyway, and isn’t it a marvelous thought to imagine that your bold choices gave others a reason to smile?

Whether they’re laughing at you or with you, isn’t laughter the glitter of your soul? 

How can that be bad?

Every day of your life IS a special occasion. Being alive IS the special occasion.


So, please…tell me: How are you going to celebrate today?

Laughter is the glitter of the soul. Quote by Robin Dance

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Walter Mitty and the residual affect of how we speak love



Posted by on Jan 23, 2014 | 2 comments

Children in Manila - by Casey Neistat

I’ve been thinking about those giant crosses in Chattanooga off I-75, how they provoke response on either ends of the spectrum.

And, earnestly, I’ve been trying to consider the other side, the point of view different from my own…

but the closest I get is believing I c o u l d be wrong.

And all that set me wondering, how people interpret and process the same thing so differently; of course, not just three crosses, but most anything in life.

Beauty, art, music–our tastes and perspectives are as individual as we are unique.

And then I thought about love.


I thought about HOW MONUMENTALLY DIFFERENT my husband and I speak love.  One of the wisest, best, most beneficial choices we made early in marriage was the decision to read through the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.  It was then we understood that I most often speak love in words and encouragement, and he most often speaks love by service and action.  It helped me to see when he loved me even if I didn’t feel it, and hopefully visa versa.

We weren’t speaking the same language at all.  Had we not made this revolutionary discovery, though we loved one another, its expression would have been lost in translation, and potentially, tragically so.

Thank God gift-giving is at the bottom of both of our lists. *

Though I always appreciate receiving presents, gift giving is the least way I express love.  And my favorite presents?  Surcies–personal and intimate, typically of little dollar value but large in significance and meaning.  My next favorite type of gift is anything practical (I’m the wife who delights in, not offended by, a new kitchen appliance….).  Likely a combination of the two is the main reason I detest giving money–that hardly meets my “requirement” for personal, and though you can purchase something practical, it’s not practical in and of itself.  At least not to me.

Maybe I’m beating this dead horse deader or overstating my obvious conclusion, but, to me and others like me, those three crosses are impractical; which is consistent with how I’m wired to give and receive love.

A commenter to Crosses and Planks shared this beautiful video of how Carey Neistat spoke love in a language I’m accustomed to hearing often (by his actions) – in a way that compels me to live the Gospel, not build monuments or even love with only my words.  He was given $25,000 to make a promo video for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty; instead he made a difference for thousands with permission from 20th Century Fox.  His video below is a must-see:


On his You Tube channel, Carey asks the question, “What would you do with $25,000?” and then shares a link to Unicef to help the children affected by typhoon Haiyan.  Might you consider doing something right now to help?  If not Unicef (of which I have no personal experience), if you’ve been thinking about sponsoring a child in “one of those programs”, I can vouch for Compassion International after traveling with them to Calcutta.  Sponsoring children not only changes lives, it can save them…and if you can’t commit to a monthly child sponsorship, please…please consider a one-time gift.

A group of bloggers will be traveling to Uganda this week with Compassion, some of them dear friends.  They’ll write about the painful devastation of poverty…but I promise, you’ll see hope in each story.  I hope you’ll read every post; and to sponsor a child in anticipation of what they’ll share?  Well, YOU will be a partner in their journey!  Say yes?

,Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion
* (Which will only make sense if you’ve read Chapman’s Five Love Languages; and if you haven’t, here’s a link to buy a copy.  If you aren’t feeling loved by your spouse, I urge you to read it.  This translates to all of your relationships.  I’d pick up the general edition and not the ones specified for children/teens/genders.) (p.s.  If you use my affiliate link, I’ll earn pennies on your purchase…and thank you.  Win-win, yes?).

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