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The Kindness of Strangers

Sep

06

Posted by on Sep 6, 2017 | 4 comments

VintageTruck_GraceTablePostbyRobinDance

It was a day of inconveniences, the kind where you wonder if you’ll be able to get it all done.

 
 

Since I was driving out of town the next day, taking my car to the shop for its past due oil change was top priority. The wait was hours long without an appointment (what? they take appointments?!), and I could’ve kicked myself for not bringing work along, or better yet, a book from my never shrinking stack. I called my son to see if he could leave his job to come and get me. He said yes, but even his time was limited, and he didn’t have the extra minutes to run by the grocery store on the way home so I could grab something to cook for dinner.

Influenced by both our year living in Germany (where we biked or walked everywhere) and my husband’s wellness plan at work (that pays us to track health and fitness), I made the decision to have him drop me at Publix and I’d walk home.

While I had mentally calculated the distance between home and Publix – a little more than a mile – I hadn’t factored in July’s stifling heat and humidity. Mylanta, summertime in middle Georgia is a big, fat, steamy sauna.

I crossed the street into my neighborhood, sweat-drenched and questioning my sanity. It had seemed like such a good idea at the time, especially if I wanted to have dinner ready before midnight. Now, I would’ve been happy to troll the pantry and make a meal out of Cream of Mushroom Soup and Ritz Crackers–aren’t they the base of every good casserole, anyway?

About that time I sensed a car approaching from behind, slowing down beside me. I kept a confident and determined stride, staring straight ahead and painting a fiercely intimidating expression on my face (a surefire method for disarming potential kidnappers and murderers). I tried to act like I didn’t notice them…

Which is next to impossible when the window rolls down and you hear…

 

Please click over to Grace Table today to discover what happens next!
(It’s a story I love.)

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Storied Dishes || ~ a Grace Table feature ~

May

03

Posted by on May 3, 2017 |

GraceTable_StoriedDishes

After we got engaged I couldn’t wait to finally get to choose an everyday china pattern and register for our dishes and gifts. (How in the world was that almost 30 years ago?) I didn’t need to choose fine china; I had inherited my mother’s Malden by Oxford, simple, rimmed in gold, and stunning.

I’m one of those who believes kitchen art begins with pretty dishes.

A spectacularly set table doesn’t necessarily have to be fancy and expensive, but with a little thought and intention – flowers and greenery plucked from your yard, handwritten place cards, a centerpiece created with found objects from your home – you can design a masterpiece. I couldn’t wait to begin our life together, to open our home, and experiment with new-to-me recipes. We didn’t have Pinterest or the internet to mine ideas, but we had magazines and the traditions of our own families, plenty to get us started.

I’ve always been drawn to color, and my first choice for everyday dishes was Villeroy & Boch’s Fruit Basket; predominately green and yellow, it was just so doggone happy. But it was also pricey for an everyday, and sensitive to gift-givers’ budgets, I ended up choosing Poppies on Blue, a popular-in-the-80s Lenox pattern.

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 10.41.42 AM

 

We received all the place settings we registered for in addition to serving bowls and platters, the cream and sugar, and I think even the salt and pepper shakers. These were the dishes of our newlywed years, a part of countless meals shared with friends and family, and eventually with our own children.

Right around the time the poppies began fading, my tastes began changing. With a move from South Carolina to Tennessee, I decided timing was perfect for buying new dishes; this time around, I went with a neutral. When I wanted a splash of color, I’d pick up festive placemats. My once-beloved Poppies on Blue was relegated to a box in the attic, waiting for my children to grow up and move into their own home, or the bigger dream, a heart-secret I’ve held close for all these years.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Recently, I enjoyed a girls weekend out of town, and we decided an Airbnb rental would accommodate the space and flexibility we wanted. With many options to choose from, we decided a small, three-bedroom near downtown was best.

Our first night there we planned a simple dinner–wine, cheese, fruit and the like, and we began rummaging through cabinets for the dishes we’d need.

And then God winked. Twice.

 

Do pop over to Grace Table to see why I can’t help but think God is especially fond of me :).
Sometimes He’s kind enough to assure you you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be….

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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.

And, going back to that original (in)courage post, (Be)loved, I realize it’s a message we will never stop needing to know, one we’ll always benefit from reading and reminding ourselves of its truth.

 

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When You Don’t Feel the Love

Feb

25

Posted by on Feb 25, 2016 |

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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Author Meet and Greet: The Beauty of Grace (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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