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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.

 

WoodyCowboy BootsBaby Blanket

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.

 

* * * * *

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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When You Don’t Feel the Love

Feb

25

Posted by on Feb 25, 2016 | 0 comments

02242016_RobinDance_Love

 

There’s little doubt that familiarity breeds contempt, but recently I found myself wondering if familiarity can breed contempt even when it comes to Scripture. (Gasp!)

There’s part of me that scolds myself — a heretic at best, guilty of apostasy or blasphemy at worst — but if you hear me out, maybe you can identify? When I’m brutally honest with myself, I see how easily it can happen. It’s not a matter of disdain or unbelief, but more a case of having read or heard “go-to” passages so many times, you gloss over it or think there’s nothing new to learn or that you already know it all as it relates to that verse or this chapter.

But here’s the kicker: we might not even realize we feel that way. It’s as subtle as speed-reading through familiar words or skipping a section altogether because you “know” it so well.  Oh, our enemy is a wily one.

I was thinking on this because I had sensed that Holy Spirit tug to write about 1 Corinthians 13, the greatest treatise on “love” ever penned. I’d wager even new believers or unbelievers immediately think Love is patient, love is kind, upon hearing the Scripture reference. It felt incredibly cliché to write about love during the month we celebrate Valentine’s Day, except . . . except . . . the battle in my head and heart was so fierce, it seemed important to listen.

Why would God want me to write about love? And perhaps a more telling question, why would our enemy not want me to write about love?

When I realized the simple answer to both questions was identical, the wrestle was over: 

 

 Oh, I hope you’ll click to keep reading this one. It’s something I’ve found myself sharing in so many different situations lately.

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This giant 32-ounce mug is waiting to be filled with treats–candy, flowers or hot chocolate & marshmallows–
only $5 through Sunday, so hurry. GREAT to stock up on at this price, and perfect for
upcoming teacher gifts, party favors, or a fun little anytime love gift.

Everything Beautiful Large Chalkboard Mug Flash Sale

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A FUN Invitation ~ Please Say You’ll Join Us?

Apr

29

Posted by on Apr 29, 2015 | 1 comment

Beauty of Grace Meet and Greet at Bodega Interiors

 

As you might recall, one of my (true) stories is included in my friend Dawn Camp’s book, The Beauty of Grace. It’s a lovely collaborate work of many talented writers, and Dawn’s beautiful photographs (and words) are sprinkled throughout. My life intersected with Dawn’s years ago – something about George Clooney – and we’ve been friends ever since. We were both lucky enough to have been asked to join incourage when it launched over five years ago, giving us even more opportunity to spend time together.

This is when the blogosphere is at its best.

Meanwhile, I met Joyce Park, owner of Bodega Interiors last fall, while shopping there with a friend. Have you been there? It’s wonderful!

In a serendipitous turn of events, Joyce would find my blog, follow a link to Grace Table, and eventually invite me to be a guest during a Bodega open house. It didn’t work out for the fall, but when I realized Dawn’s book was to release in February, I asked Joyce if she’d like me to arrange an author meet & greet or something similar.

Joyce thought it was a smashing idea, but the decision was made to have a special event just prior to Mother’s Day–Dawn’s book makes an excellent gift for any mom (or daughter or sister or aunt…)!

Tomorrow, Thursday, April 30th is our big day!!

 

Please stop by Bodega Interiors between 11:30am and 2:00pm and you’ll be able to spend time with Dawn and me, have us sign copies of The Beauty of Grace if you’d like, nosh on Joyce’s famous pimento cheese sandwiches and sip on a glass of sweet tea. You’ll be able to enter to win a summer wreath, compliments of Bodega Interiors, and a copy of The Beauty of Grace! Bonus: All lamps and paintings will be 25% off during the event, and at 1:00pm Dawn and I will read our selections from the book. 

Doesn’t it sound fun?

(Copies of The Beauty of Grace will be available for sale.)

I can’t say enough about how much this would mean to Dawn–The Beauty of Grace is the first of three books, and if you stop by we *might* just tell you about the next one to be published!

Holla if you can make it or have additional questions. Won’t you come and bring a friend?!

(I must be excited…overuse of exclamation points is usually an indicator…!)

Robin Heart Signature - Green

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The Fantastical Birthday Miracle

Mar

30

Posted by on Mar 30, 2015 | 19 comments


The Birthday Miracle at Weingut Heuriger Reinprecht in Vienna

 

Last year for my birthday I got a miracle.

Definition of miracle

No exaggeration, textbook definition…I know miracles when I see miracles.

It wasn’t that I had the good fortune of celebrating in Vienna, Austria (traveling with my husband on a business trip) or that I got to spend time with my dear cousin Ellie and her mate, Walter. Those things, though extraordinary, are easily explainable.

Chocolate cake and whipped creamIt wasn’t my scrumptious dessert, either – equal parts chocolate cake and fresh whipped cream – though that was something special.

It wasn’t even that we were able to find this particular restaurant after first taking a wrong turn or two, off the beaten path but one Ellie and Walter had stumbled upon five years earlier.

And what makes this story all the more wonderful is what happened the year before, the year I turned 50, when – among a laundry list of challenges – our waiter hated me so much he threw my food on the floor rather than serve my birthday dinner.

Well, that might be a slight exaggeration, but this story is God’s honest truth. Just thinking about it makes me want to happy-cry.

(I started to tell this story then, but never got around to finishing it….)

It started rather ordinarily at a kitschy Austrian restaurant and local wine tavern, Weingut Heuriger Reinprecht. Forgive these awful pictures; lighting was poor and I was more interested in living this than documenting it well.

After all, until it happened, how could I know a Fantastical Birthday Miracle was about to occur?

 

Weingut Heuriger Reinprecht

Selfie at Weingut Heuriger Reinprecht

 

Birthday Dinner at Weingut Heuriger Reinprecht in Vienna Austria

 

Kitschy walls at Weingut Heuriger Reinprecht in Vienna

 

Dinner in Austria

 

But we’ll get to that. First, let’s look at more memories.

My dinner…I wish I could remember what it’s called. Much more interesting sounding in German, it was basically a roast with carrots and potatoes. Fork tender. Dee licious.

 

German roast, carrots and potatoes

 

And the musicians…HOLY MACKEREL, THERE WERE STROLLING MUSICIANS….! I’m pretty sure the guy playing the guitar sampled every wine the tavern offers before he started work that night…

 

Strolling musicians at Austrian restaurant

 

 

I requested Arrivederci, Roma, a song from Seven Hills of Rome, a movie you’ve probably never heard of but one for which my grandmother had the album. I remember sitting next to her massive stereo/tv/radio combo and playing that song over and over. I thought it was beautiful and fancy and SO GROWN UP.

I’m pretty sure this joker was making up the words, though….

(By the way, you get a glimpse of The Fantastical Birthday Miracle in the video).

They sat at our table for quite a while laughing and telling stories, my cousin interpreting . Most of it was lost in translation.

Eventually it came up that the Americans were there to celebrate my birthday, so of course, they broke into an Deutschlish rendition of Happy Birthday.

And then it happened.

 

They said something in German and pointed to a lady behind them. Ellie, translating, squealed and explained it was her birthday, too. One translated question led to another and we discovered WE WERE BORN ON THE SAME DAY, THE SAME YEAR!!!

The next thing I knew, the lady had run over to our table and was sitting next to me, hugging and weeping and telling me it had been a very bad year. I asked, “Children?” because children can give plenty of reasons for having a very bad year, but she shook her head, “No children…” and she hugged me again. I decided it was best not to press.

Corinna (named after the song Corrine, Corinna because her parents loved it so) was from Berlin and a friend of hers had brought her to Vienna for a birthday getaway. They happened upon our restaurant by “chance.”

What are the odds of two women born on the same day, 4,600 miles apart, ending up celebrating their birthday in a tiny Vienna suburb at the same restaurant AT THE SAME TIME?!?!

 

One in a centillion, I tell ya.

So we hugged some more, and I held her face in my hands and told her she was beautiful and she was a very special birthday gift to me. Tears streaked her face and she hugged me again. I couldn’t stop smiling.

Her friend joined us and we visited a while longer and entirely too soon it was time to say auf widersehen.

I still can’t believe I have a Berlin Birthday Sister.

 

Corinna is a wonder, a marvel, to me. A miracle.

 

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And so a year has passed and I find myself thinking about meeting her again, wondering if she’s thinking about me, savoring our memory like I am. I’ve prayed for her as she’s come to mind, hoping this past year has been a better one for her.

And I regret not having the presence of mind to exchange contact information, last names…anything, so I could check reach out to her again.

But maybe it’s exactly as it should be.

* * * * *

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A friend in need, in deed, indeed

Feb

19

Posted by on Feb 19, 2015 | 1 comment

Friendship-2

I was seven months pregnant with my third baby in four years and my sciatic nerve wasn’t happy about it. Juggling a part-time job, caring for two toddlers, and all the other demands of life siphoned every ounce of energy I could manufacture. With no family in town, there was little relief.

And then I got pneumonia.

Let’s just say a baby kicking your fluid-filled lungs into your throat isn’t something on anyone’s bucket list. It hurt to do just about anything, but it really hurt to cough.

I felt like a bigger baby than the one I was incubating.

Words weren’t necessary to express how dreadful I felt; my husband knew this wasn’t a cold or even the flu. He also knew I wouldn’t ask for help.

What is it about women that we’re eager to offer a helping hand, but we’d rather come close to dying before admitting we need help?

 

 

God love him, the man knew exactly what I needed. He couldn’t take off from work (any more than I would have wanted him to…), but he knew who to call and what to prescribe.

Isabel showed up with a Coca~Cola and bendy straws, and poured a glass for me over crushed ice. Just like Mama did when I was little, the remedy that always makes me feel better even if it doesn’t actually make me better.

When I needed someone to show up, Isabel showed up. 

Because friendship does.

* * *

I was moving and there were a thousand things to do. Probably more.

Each task was exponentially more challenging with three littles underfoot. Without a shred of ill intent, children can undo hours of work by unraveling their mama’s nerves, particularly her last one.

It’s an emotional thing, digging up roots that have been growing for 14 years, painful, too. Even if you’re transplanting to what you think is greener grass, there’s no way of knowing til you get there if the soil is sandy or rocky or nearly impenetrable Georgia clay.

So it helps to have help. But it was a season in life where everyone was busy and I wasn’t about to ask.

One day Help showed up as my neighbor Michelle. Uninvited, she knocked on my back door with a bucket of cleaning supplies in her left hand and a broad grin painted across her face. “Put me to work,” she insisted; there was no point in arguing.

So I didn’t.

When I needed someone to show up, Michelle showed up.

Because friendship does.

 

{to be continued…}

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