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Oh Happy (#AMomentToBreathe Book Release) Day!

Oct

03

Posted by on Oct 3, 2017 | 2 comments

If you aren’t yet a subscriber, how about today?

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Our world is reeling these days, isn’t it?

Collectively, we feel the tragic news out of Las Vegas, horrified that one man could rob so many of so much; for too many, their lives.  I can only imagine that those who are directly affected wonder how anyone can go on in a world gone mad?

There’s no reconciling the absurd.

There are times when faith comes easy. This isn’t one of them for a lot of folks.

I know all the Christian platitudes, the things we say at times like this. But I can’t bring myself to say any of those things out loud – even if they are true – because sometimes the loudest lament is silence.

 

God hears the cry of the broken ones, and he alone offers hope during obsidian days.

 

So, we mourn with those who mourn. We ask a lot of questions. Yes, we want answers, but the truth is we’ll never be able to make sense of it.

This world we find ourselves in is still spinning, sun and moon nudging us into the next day and the one after that.

 

And, here’s the important thing to remember: even in the darkness there are beacons.

 

We need light to guide us to where we are going, yes? We need light to show us the way.

Months ago (a year ago?) the date was set for A Moment to Breathe to release. No one could have anticipated the timing, that this collection of “365 devotions to meet you in your everyday mess” would launch right after the deadliest mass shooting in our nation’s history.  Eighty authors, inspired by scripture and for the glory of God, poured their hearts and lives into its pages, hoping it would bring light into the lives of those hopeful or desperate to find a beacon.

 

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I’m proud of this book, thrilled and honored to have seven devotions included. There’s a part of me that feels guilty for being happy when so many of our neighbors have suffered unimaginable loss – before Las Vegas, the multiple earthquakes in Mexico, hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and those awful west coast wildfires. Unresolved racial tensions and political discord add to our collective grief. And beyond these national tragedies and disasters are countless more personal tragedies and disasters. Every day our neighbors are facing financial ruin, infidelity, addiction, illness, difficulty with children, debilitating accident, death…. Maybe you are the neighbor.

Here’s the beautiful, liberating thing: humans are a complex and multi-dimensional creation, capable of simultaneous, opposing emotions. (Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.) In other words, the “guilt” I’m feeling is a false guilt, the kind the enemy of my heart loves because it has the potential to defeat, paralyze, or confuse me (sometimes all three). False guilt materializes in a thousand different ways, and often it’s rooted in comparison; for me, at least.

 

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With all tenderness for those who are suffering, I can still celebrate the happy and good things happening in my world (if you need permission, I’m extending it to you, too, because sometimes we just need someone else to tell us so). It doesn’t have to be one or the other. It’s essential to have compassion for those in pain, to pray for, help and support those who’ve suffered loss. It’s also important be light for those walking in darkness (Matthew 5:16).

A Moment to Breathe is a disco ball of light.

You will find it to be a lovely, hardback devotional, rooted in scripture and the stories the authors first lived before sharing, with prayers and calls to action. It can be found at any bookstore that sells Christian books, or here are a few links (including affiliate):

For fun, Sarah Mae and I talk through the question,“What does ‘a moment to breathe’ mean to you?” (Why didn’t anyone tell me to smush my shirt down in front so my stomach didn’t look so poofy??) 

 

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Please Join Me October 14th in Nashville for (in)real life: FRIENDED #inrl

Sep

13

Posted by on Sep 13, 2017 | 3 comments

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(l-r, top to bottom) Robin Dance, Holley Gerth, Kristen Strong, Alia Joy, Jen Schmidt, Aliza Latta, Jennifer Lee

I suppose you could say it’s been years in the making: a gathering of friends old and new within hugging distance.

 

(in)courage and Lifeway have teamed up to bring (in) real life: FRIENDED, “an event for women that unpacks what makes healthy friendships tick.” OF COURSE, our greatest hope is that you can come in person, but because we care so deeply about community, relationship, and the ways women need one another, event planners are offering a simulcast option. The upside? You can bring #inRL to your church, or, if you’re game for the coziest option of them all, from the comfort of your home! The downside? I won’t get to meet you face to face. Boo. Hiss.

Featured speakers include Lisa-Jo Baker, Chrystal Hurst, and Annie Downs; Meredith Andrews will lead worship; and Jamie Ivey, host of The Happy Hour podcast, will emcee. I’m thrilled to join a panel of real-life friends and fellow incourage writers (Holley Gerth, Jennifer Lee, Aliza Latta, Jen Schmidt, Kristen Strong, and Alia Joy Haganbach); we’ll all be sharing a message of hope and encouragement as it relates to friendship, practical calls to action, and personal testimonies about the beauty and brokenness we’ve all experienced with friends.

This is an event like no other, one that will have you looking inside and out, and most important of all, looking up to the One who designed us to be in community with one another.

 

It’s going to be special, y’all, and it’s very affordable as far as conferences go (in Nashville AND the simulcast). Please decide right now that you want to take part, whether in Nashville, at your church, or even from home with a few friends. Click the (in) real life: FRIENDED website to find out everything you need to know for each option (plus a bonus add-on for Friday night if you’re able to get to Nashville!).


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Craving Connection Book {Order before December 15th & get a second free!}

Dec

09

Posted by on Dec 9, 2016 |

cravingconnectionbook-preorder

 

A year or so ago an opportunity was presented to me that sounded intriguing: submit a chapter for a collaborative work published by incourage in partnership with Lifeway.

This first book project by incourage was to be all about community, its tagline, 30 challenges for real life engagement. Other than that, I knew my chapter was to be based on John 15:12-17 and needed to be between 2,000-2,500 words. It was an easy “yes” and sounded like fun.

When I sat down to write I wasn’t sure what to share, but once I put pen to paper, 20 years of my life poured out. Amazing how you can squeeze over 7,000 days into 2,500 words.

 

A few weeks ago I received an early copy and joined a small group of people who agreed to read the daily chapters and take part in one (or all) of the challenges associated with each piece.

Well.

I don’t know exactly what I expected, but friends, I’m here to tell you, it exceeded whatever expectation I had! Day after day I was encouraged. Just about every chapter was something I could personally relate to. The material was accessible and inspiring, and I was so glad and grateful to be a part of such a solid, God-glorifying collaboration.

It was a blessing to be with two dear friends when my copy arrived. God love ’em, they let me read my chapter out loud to them. Because it had been so long since I submitted my piece, and I had never read it aloud – essentially “hearing” it for the first time – I was surprised that it moved me to tears. I mean, it’s not like I wasn’t familiar with the material.

In any event, Craving Connections releases in hardback on January 10, 2017. It’s available for pre-order now, and if you order by December 15th, you get a second copy free along with a few other fun incentives. 

Craving Connections - Pre-order incentives

 

Of course, I hope you’ll support this work (because I KNOW you’ll come away encouraged!), and if you do, please DO share your thoughts with me! I reallyreallyreally want to hear!

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The Enemy and The Lover

Aug

07

Posted by on Aug 7, 2016 | 1 comment

An encouragement for incourage.
 
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We would do well to always remember two things:

 

There is a lover of our soul who…

is always for us {Romans 8:31}, with us {Isaiah 43:5}, and on our side {Psalm 118:6}. He is father and friend {Psalm 103:131 John 3:1 and John 15:13}, willing to help {Isaiah 41:13} and heal {Psalm 147:3}, eager to save {John 3:36Romans 10:13}. To him, we are precious {Isaiah 43:4}, so much so, he sacrificed his life for me {John 3:16}. For us.

and . . .

There is an enemy of our soul who…

seeks to kill and steal and destroy {John 10:10}. He is roaring lion on blood-thirsty prowl and he will devour you {1 John 3:8}. This one is master of disguise {2 Corinthians 11:14}, a dragon {Revelation 12:9}, and a schemer {Ephesians 6:11}; accusing {Revelation 12:10}, oppressive {Acts 10:38} and divisive {Luke 11:18}.

 

While it’s impossible for me to know your circumstances, it’s a safe bet there is some tension in your life pitting rocks against hard places.

 

So often — too often — relational tensions arise between people who matter to us. Whether colleague or companion, family or friend, issues can arise with potentially devastating consequences.

What begins as a simple misunderstanding between two people can dismantle a friendship . . .

Distrust can creep in when a co-worker oversteps boundaries or capitalizes on your ideas . . .

One child’s poor decision can wreak havoc on the entire family . . .

A spouse’s infidelity can shatter a marriage . . .

It’s so easy to focus on how we’re hurt in the process. Pain demands attention.

In nature, pain is a good thing. It can signal a course of correction that keeps us safe. Alive even. If you’re swimming and under water too long, you don’t even have to think about it — your body fights its way to the surface so your lungs can replenish oxygen. Heat from a campfire reminds you to keep a safe distance to avoid getting burned.
 
In life, relational fractures and its accompanying pain can orient a self-focus: when we’re angry, hurt, or embarrassed; when we feel rejected, ignored, or marginalized.

But . . . when we’re governed by our feelings we can forget we’re at war….

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Please click to continue reading over at incourage, and if you’d like
the community to pray, please leave a note in the comment section.

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If these walls could speak

Jun

02

Posted by on Jun 2, 2016 | 6 comments


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A week ago we sold the house my children will always remember as home, the one they will dream about when they are the age I am now, when sleep makes them think they are young again.

We’ve packed and we’ve purged and we’ve cried – a lot – but we’ve also seen precious people who mean a lot to us, friends who’ve sat around our table through the years, and kids who’ve grown up right before our eyes. They’ve helped us put things into boxes, and loosen my grip on anything that didn’t make sense to keep. I’ve found that being a sentimentalist about e v e r y t h i n g has the potential of making me a hoarder.

Even now, just the thought of that is offensive to me – I am not a hoarder! Except the two-and-a-half filled and emptied curbside dumpsters would suggest otherwise. And the Goodwill truck locked and loaded with stuff that used to live in my house. And the things we sold on Craigslist. Not to mention all the stuff we’ve stored for our kids or later use, or given to friends who had the eyes to see the treasure in our trash.

It made my day when Abbie texted me a picture of my old copper cookie canister that had been gathering dust in my pantry (the holder of rarely used cookie cutters) sitting on her shelf alongside her wedding-new copper cookware.

We haven’t lived in that house full-time for three years – a long story that makes sense for us – so I didn’t expect…I wasn’t prepared for, the depth and breadth of emotion attached to selling it. We moved there the summer before our children began 1st, 3rd, and 5th grade; 13 years later we said our final good-byes. It is the summer before my babies’ sophomore and senior year of college, and the oldest is engaged and a year past her graduation.

If it sounds like I’m in mourning, I suppose I have been. I mean seriously – if I have trouble tossing a pair of ratty short-alls, so shredded you can barely figure out which hole to put your leg through, just because Tad gave them to me as a gift when Thomas, now 21, was born – it makes sense that selling the house we lived in during our children’s most formative years would be difficult. Shout out to Stephanie and Paige who looked at me like I had grown another head for wanting to keep those short-alls.

Still, Glory! Hallelujah! It’s sold and we’re thankful.

In addition to all the packing and purging and crying and good-byeing, we’ve been remembering.

We’ve watched our children’s lives pass before our eyes.

 

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Three kids makes for many a keepsake. The things they’ve made for us. Treasured school and artwork. Love notes to us. Their special lovies. Every single thing stacked in their closets and crammed in our attic meant something. Stood for something. Held precious memory.

Every time I held a thing, whether to keep or toss or give away, it was an exercise in remembering. Memories are powerful.

 

Maybe something fun or important or special, or I don’t know, something less concrete. The boys sword fighting with light sabers. Thomas reciting all the lines from his pull-toy Woody from Toy Story – “There’s a ‘nake in my boot!” The way Rachel negotiated holding the most fragile of collectibles – “I just gonna ’tiss it.” Blond, curly mop. Wide, determined eyes, pudgy hands carefully holding. She never broke anything. The way Stephen would build with his Legos. His patience and persistence played me.

It’s an interesting phenomena to me, this conjuring of emotion. And despite all the tears – barrels of them – I’m not sad. Well, not exactly; there’s a tender melancholy to this closed door. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad or I wish it didn’t have to happen. It’s a saying good bye (for good) to what was, which enables us to fully grasp what is, and what is to come. 

We’ve had three years to get used to the idea.

Still, a Band-aid pulled off slowly still stings at the end.

 

Our house sat perched at the end of a long, steep driveway, on nearly three acres of, shall we say, a challenging yard. The master bedroom was upstairs. Thirty years old, wood-sided, and roomy, its primary competition was new construction. We loved that house and took good care of her, but three years with no one in it full-time took a toll. It was still a great house, but it would take someone who looked skin deep to find all her beauty, a buyer who didn’t want a perfect and new home, but a perfect for us home. 

After a fair number of showings but no offers, I decided people needed a little help seeing a home and not just a house.

 

I’ve fully explained this imaginative tip for helping to sell a house at The Art of Simple so I won’t go into it here, but I wanted to share a few pictures of my idea since they aren’t included with my post. (Do click over and read it, it’s a good ‘un.)

Why I love this home

House Lovenotes

House scripture

House notes

 

There’s this great old song by Amy Grant that perfectly captures the power and beauty of reminiscing, of life with all its complexities, and how a house is an incredible vessel of stories and secrets and dreams. (She does a fair amount of reminiscing to begin; the song starts at the 2:12 mark.)

 

  If These Walls Could Speak
~ Amy Grant

If these old walls, if these old walls could speak
Of things that they remember well
Stories and faces dearly held

A couple in love livin’ week to week
Rooms full of laughter
If these walls could speak

If these old halls, hallowed halls could talk
These would have a tale to tell
Of sun goin’ down and dinner bell
And children playing at hide and seek from floor to rafter

If these halls could speak
They would tell you that I’m sorry
For bein’ cold and blind and weak
They would tell you that it’s only
That I have a stubborn streak
If these walls could speak

If these old fashioned window panes were eyes
I guess they would have seen it all
Each little tear and sigh and footfall
And every dream that we came to seek or followed after

If these walls could speak
They would tell you that I owe you
More than I could ever pay
Here’s someone who really loves you
Don’t ever go away
That’s what these walls would say

They would tell you that I owe you
More than I could ever pay
Here’s someone who really loves you
Don’t ever go away
That’s what these walls would say

That’s what these walls would say
That’s what these walls would say

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For school, tooooo cool!

May

03

Posted by on May 3, 2016 | 4 comments

Making an impact quote - Robin Dance

Some of us will make tiny ripples and others will send waves crashing,
but each one will forever change the surface of the water.   ~ Robin Dance

 

It was another one of those “When Harry Met Sally” moments. Not the one in the diner, but that one when Marie, Sally’s friend, quotes an article she read without realizing Jess, Harry’s friend, was its author.

I had barely arrived at a church leadership retreat when Terri said, “I need to ask you something.” It had been a while since we had seen each other, and I had no idea what she wanted to ask.

“Are you a writer?” a question that is still odd for me to answer in the affirmative after all these time (because most people are asking if I’ve published a book), but in this case she explained why she was asking before I could even answer.

Terri is a nurse by profession and I didn’t know she was working at a local elementary school now; her job changed a while back but it was news to me. “There’s a quote painted over a mural on one of our walls, and the author cited is ‘Robin Dance.’ IS THAT YOU??”

She couldn’t recall the exact quote but she described the artwork–a sea motif with a large manatee. Immediately I thought of the DaySpring print that was sold a few years back —

Quote about making an impact - Robin Dance for incourage

 

But even I couldn’t recall the exact quote used for the print. I just knew that whales are ginormous sea mammals, and maybe someone had seen the print and made the connection to a manatee.

What I did remember was that it was about the impact – big or small – everyone makes, a perfect message to send to school children of all ages.

 

On Monday morning Terri texted a picture of the mural, and sure enough, it was the quote from the printable I had wondered about. Terri investigated a little further and discovered one of the first grade teachers had painted it, and either she or another co-worker had found the original quote on Pinterest.

HOW COOL IS THAT? I don’t know anyone else who works at Sonny Carter elementary, and no one there has any idea the mural quote is by someone local.

Day made. I relish the obscurity of it all.

 

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Be sure to enter my $100 Giveaway from FTD Flowers and DaySpring!
Entry deadline is Wednesday, May 4th at 1 EST.

 

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