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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.

 

16769264608_b9bb010f19_b (1)

 

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.

* * * * *

In celebration of my birthday, I’ve got a wonderful giveaway for you (RV $150)! Click here to check out the details and enter!

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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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Stammtisch, Stomp Tish and a Little Gastfreundschaft

Feb

10

Posted by on Feb 10, 2015 | 9 comments

Here from incourage’s Friendship on Purpose series?
Won’t you please take a moment to subscribe by email or in a reader?
Thank you!

 

Friendshi-on-purpose

Garden Stammtisch

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”
~ Henry Valentine Miller

To say living in Germany changed us is an understatement.

 

We lived in southern Bavaria which we often compared to Mayberry–the second week we were there I was already running into people I knew at the grocery store.

Dirndl - a German Princess Dress!

Me and my sweet, sweet friend and relocation agent, Vanessa, after we had gone to Oktoberfest and on our way to see FC Bayern Munich play fußball. A FANTASTIC, memorable day!

Germans are a people rich in tradition. From the incredible Christmas markets, to festivals and even clothing (dirndl and lederhosen), they don’t wear pride in country on their sleeve, it is their sleeve.

It’s hard to chose a favorite tradition – they’re all that much fun and interesting – but one in particularly flirts with the top of my list:  Stammtisch

A loose translation for Stammtisch is “regulars’ table.” If you visit Germany and notice signs above tables with a name, it means that table is reserved for a group of people with a weekly reservation.

The German tradition of Stammtisch at the Hofbräuhaus in Munich

Stammtisch signs at the famed Hofbräuhaus in Munich.

No matter how crowded the restaurant becomes, they’ll hold a table for a group they know will show up week after week, even if it sits empty for a while.

During our year there, I attended two Stammtisch gatherings: a dinner one for ex-pats that included my husband and his co-workers; the other for women who speak English, meeting twice monthly for breakfast in homes.

Table Scenes from a German Breakfast Stammtisch - meats, breads, pretzels and more

Images from several of our German Breakfast Stammtisches. A German host would always have assorted meats, cold cuts and sausages–not the traditional Jimmy Dean pork links or ground sausage! We’d always have pretzels and assorted breads, cheeses, fruit, coffee, juices and tea. No grits, no bacon; if an American hosted, we might have muffins or some sort of casserole, but always different than a typical American brunch.

 

I loved the tradition so much, I was determined to bring it back to the States when I returned.

 

And after a delay or three, I finally did.

I don’t think I’ve ever thrown as mix-matched a party. Fifteen people had RSVPed, and I had to scrounge for enough coffee cups and plates to accommodate my guests. Though I over invited what I had room for, I trusted the people who were “supposed” to show up, would. Of course I was disappointed not everyone could come, but the up-side was sufficient breathing room in our small entertaining space.

An American Breakfast Stammtisch

Large, soft pretzels are a staple for German breakfasts so I HAD to have some at my inaugural Stammtisch. A few fun mentions in this collage: the candle under the pretzel picture was a gift from my sweet friend, Shelly Wildman; it’s an Ella B. neighborhood candle featuring her hometown scent “Wheaton”–I always think of her when its lit. Also, Jill Anderson gave me the darling “Thankful for…” chalkboard as a housewarming gift when we moved to Macon & I think of her every day when I look at it. Last, I LOVE my gerberas and spider mums in the Queen Anne’s Lace pitcher from Mary & Martha (get one while they’re still available).

 

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read A Little Gastfreundschaft {“hospitality” in German}, a companion piece I wrote about Stammtisch for the wonderful new site Grace Table; in it I share how Stammtisch reminded me in a very real sense Who I am, and why I was forced to delay beginning a Stammtisch upon our return home (which also explains why we moved). I’ve also found the pictures I took at the first Stammtisch I ever attended.

Stammtisch has been incredibly formative and affirming, and I’ve been surprised but delighted by the enthusiastic response to Stammtisch here. When we get together, we linger around the table and no one is in a hurry to leave. Each hostess has made the gathering special in her own way.

And maybe the best thing about Stammtisch is it’s never about performance or perfection; it’s about people.

Stammtisch friends

 

Does this sound like something you’re interested in trying? I’ll cheer you along and help you any way I can. Got questions? Please ask in comments!

(And DaySpring has created a new line to add beauty to your pursuit of friendship–
click the image below to see all the new wonderful things!)

Friendshi-on-purpose

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Thoughts and Convictions || {incourage}

Jan

13

Posted by on Jan 13, 2015 | 1 comment

09012015_RobinDance_GiftOfConviction

My dear brothers and sisters, 
how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ 
if you favor some people over others? {James 2:1 NLT}

I don’t think she realized the profundity of her counsel nor the impact that her words would have in my life:

“Your convictions belong to you, not anyone else.” 

Something troubling had occurred over the weekend and I was processing out loud with my sister-in-law. She was a safe place to share, and I knew I could trust her to speak objective and loving truth.

A group of friends had treated someone in a way that contradicted their faith, and watching their cliquish behavior broke my heart.

Unfortunately, professing Christ doesn’t always inoculate us from sinful behavior, breaking The Golden Rule or being so…well…human.

 

My heart got all judgy, having walked in outcast shoes too many times before. Being left out, ignored, or simply forgotten hurts.

Conflicting emotions swirled inside my head and heart. I was disappointed in these women who knew better. These were mature believers who served the Kingdom, ladies who have challenged and inspired me over the years. How could they justify their actions? Was strength gained because they all felt the same way?

I was also disappointed in myself. Among other things, my inaction indicated I was more concerned about losing favor with these girls than pleasing God or leading in righteousness. Why hadn’t I been able simply to speak the Truth in love…?

The hardest part about all of this wasn’t lost on me: while I was busy pointing an accusing finger at my friends, three were directed at me, making me wonder about the times I haven’t loved well or considered others above myself. These women weren’t intentionally being mean or acting in malice; they were behaving just like I can — and likely many of us can — given the right set of circumstances.

I found myself between a rock and a hard place, wanting to do one thing but feeling like I was “supposed” to do another.

I begged the Lord for wisdom (to know what to do) and resolve (to be obedient), and in response I sensed a strong, simple conviction:

 

…please click over to incourage to continue reading “A Revolutionary Thought for the New Year“.
This one is personal…and yet for every (wo)man.

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The Breakfast Club :: on friendship and the ministry of “me, too”

Oct

12

Posted by on Oct 12, 2014 |

The ministry of me-too by Robin Dance at Deeper Story

Her tears were watery magnifiers – incredible resolve damming a river – making her impossibly blue eyes look bigger and bluer. I hadn’t known when we made our plans the conversation would go so deep, so fast. Right about then my Belgian waffle arrived, gloriously buried under an avalanche of berries and cream.  I shoveled breakfast in while her pain trickled out.

Our friendship was still in its infancy. Birthed from circumstance – both of us new to town and starting over at mid-life – we needed one another.  That will quicken a friendship like few things can, but the more time we spent together the more I was convinced our circumstances only provided us opportunity–we liked each other and would have bonded regardless of time or place.

Rolling up our sleeves and comparing scars, war stories began to tumble. I had an intimate knowledge of the hurt she described – rejection, and what felt like betrayal from people she had once called friend. Her pain was my own.

These are the things that can bolster a new friendship. They are battle’s redemption.

 

***

 

Sometimes I envision satan as this maniacal little man, rubbing his scaly hands together and wearing a wicked, fangy grin. He’s grotesque and wormy, self satisfied and dark, clothed in evil and arrogance and dread. His minions are despicable, too, slobbery and snarly and powerless to do anything but follow the dark. Their favorite taste is defeat of human heart and they know a million ways to take you down.

But mostly, I wonder if satan just wound things up in the garden and then left us to our own devices. I’m certain that’s the case at least some of the time.

How much of your misery lives inside your head?

How much of your misery lives only inside your head? Imagination’s conjuring, born of (mostly errant) assumption and past experience.

Whether it’s the devil’s machination or my own, one thing does me in like few others:

 

Please click to continue reading The Breakfast Club at Deeper Story, published there earlier this week.  I’m continuing with my plan to offer content for my 31 Days in October/A Parent’s Guide for College-bound Students during the weekdays and link-love and intros to my posts published elsewhere on weekends.

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