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Culinary Catastrophes (Why They’re Actually Good)



Posted by on Jan 10, 2018 | 2 comments


It occurred to me recently how there’s value in our mess-ups: they’ll often sear memory, and in the best of times they can point us to something magnificent.


Mess-ups…mistakes are hard to forget. The more public, the more memorable.

On a spiritual level, mistakes and failed effort point me back to my need for Christ. It’s really that simple. He already is what I will never be – perfect; and He has already accomplished what is impossible for me despite my best effort (all of us) – reconciled me to God.

My mess-ups (my sin) reveal my inadequacies in every area of my life, and because God has set eternity in the heart of man (Ecclesiastes 3:11a) – because He has set eternity in my heart, I want to be right with Him. If I were already perfect, why would I need the atoning, redeeming, complete work of Christ on the cross and beyond?

I have zero aspirations for perfection, but increasingly, I’m drawn to the perfection of Jesus. His ways were not ordinary and His model of perfection wasn’t tidy; he certainly didn’t behave the way a King would be expected. But He never wavered in His purpose while on earth, to serve and love and lead us in the way to light and life.

Beyond a spiritual, deeper consideration of mess-ups, can we agree that on a superficial level oopsies are awesome?


Isn’t this why we love America’s Funniest Home Videos, why we can’t get enough of our favorite TV show’s outtakes and blooper reels, why videos go viral?


When we blow it, we make fantastic memories. 

Because I love to cook and bake, some of my more memorable mess-ups occurred in the kitchen:

Like the time I made a peach pie for a friend going through chemo and I added salt to the pie dough. My flour was stored in a canister on the counter (not in a bag) and I didn’t realize it was self rising and already had salt. I had made two pies – one for my friend and one for us – so I realized the mistake with the first bite. I still remember Dan’s congenial thank you note: “…and thank you for the slightly saline peach pie….”  Trust me, there was nothing “slightly saline” about it. No doubt he appreciated the effort, and my “oops” made it all the more memorable.

And the time at Thanksgiving when most all my husband’s side of the family traveled hours to our home. To keep things simple, and because there were lots of cooks in our kitchen that day, I planned on using the glaze packet that came with our store-bought spiral ham (typically, I made my own glaze). However, apparently I couldn’t read that day, and I set our microwave for minutes instead of the seconds it recommended. We heard a small explosion coming from our laundry room (where the microwave lived), and the glaze had exploded inside, “baking” onto the oven’s interior. There was no cleaning or wiping or scraping off the sweet resin. We had to buy a new microwave.


But my worst “culinary catastrophe” happened years ago at a supper club with friends. I hope you’ll read The Dessert Disaster, a story I shared at Grace Table.

I doubly hope you’ll tell me about your own kitchen disaster.
Or, if you’re willing to share, I’d love to hear your stories
of how a personal mistake or mess-up pointed you to God.
DO comment here or there!!

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The Things You Learn at Boot Camp…!



Posted by on Jan 9, 2015 | 3 comments

Bless Her Heart


I think it’s fair to blame it on the fact I’ve never before attended a fitness Boot Camp.


Well, that, and my brain and body are offended by the 4:50am wake-up call to get to said Boot Camp on time. They just aren’t fully awake by 5:30.

And lest anyone think Boot Camp is about finding All the Cute Shoes, it is my duty to inform you that nothing is cute at 5:30 in the morning and they only call it that to lure you. Bait and switch at its finest.

For the past year I’ve noticed six-week sessions for Boot Camp at my church, and for some ungodly reason I decided to sign up this go ’round. Even though I am a resolutions girl, I’d like to think it has nothing to do with the new year – fitness goals are so cliché. But the truth is my body is betraying me and I’m trying to fight back.

It’s true what you’ve heard: things start shifting north of 50 and I’m trying to remind them where they belong.


So, I kidnapped my neighbor and off we went to the Great Unknown. Marie is the Zumba Queen but she’s never done Boot Camp, either. We figured we’d laugh our way through on the back row, and maybe drink gin and smoke cigarettes.

I promise that’s a joke. Well, the last part, anyway.

Thanking the Lord for all things pure and holy, we discovered our instructor was no drill sergeant; instead, she sweetly but firmly delivers our marching orders in a way that makes us want to do them…or try to do them. Marie says Karen has the nicest way of being so mean. I’m convinced all trainers are sadists whether they bark, bite or whisper.

We get through that first hour on that first day of the first week of Boot Camp, thrilled to have lived to tell. After I’ve returned home, it is when my son gets up that the fun begins.

Me: Boot Camp kicked my butt today. Literally.

Stephen (noticing the work out clothes and remembering that I’m going):  So what do y’all do?

Me: Everything. Running, weights, lunges, thigh and ab work, furbies…

Stephen (blink blink): What’s a furby?

Me: [Sorta demonstrate the motion] [too worn out to really do it]

Stephen (laughing): Mom…that’s a burpee…!

Me: Huh?

Stephen: A B U R P E E…like [fake burps]…BURPee!

Me: blink blink Oooooo…..

Apparently sometimes, ignorance isn’t bliss…it’s bless her heart.


Robin Heart Signature - Green

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Just a Little Tea/Pot



Posted by on Apr 21, 2014 | 4 comments

German Countryside

I’m out of breath riding backwards on a train sitting across from an Asian student who doesn’t speak English but who does speak German.  She’s working on an exam of some sort, using a pencil and block eraser and painting her words beautiful, none of which I can read.  Not just because they’re upside down to me, but because they’re auf Deutsch and upside down.  I recognize the language mostly because so many words have more than 20 letters.  She turns her paper and starts on page six.

Castles and farms, rolling green and tilled earth are blurring by, a whirr of places I’ve never seen, visions of which have become familiar.  Living in this foreign country seeded a deep appreciation for her, an expansion of love for people and place. And history and art and architecture.

I haven’t yet learned the art of traveling light God help me so I lug my aubergine suitcase past 18 trains and 18 tracks with a 20-pound pack on my back (four bags of sugar feels about right), my red purse pouched on my chest like an infant, my turquoise flight pillow clutched tight.  I reach train RE 4077 and scale its two steps laboring to drag my bag with me, when a beautiful young man holding a box of spaghetti proves that chivalry isn’t dead.  He speaks a little English, enough to offer help, and he hands me his box of food so he can lift my box of clothes.  I confirm my train with him and he shakes his head no, but at the same time we realize he’s just not going as far as me, and that yes, he hadn’t just wasted time and effort to help the breathless American with her bag.

I had arrived on Platform 8 and my next train was on 26, supposedly a 10-minute walk with one minute to spare before departure.  My heart’s pounding is slowing to a quieter rhythm, the boiling adrenaline now purring to a simmer. I inhale thanks and exhale relief.  I made it with 90 seconds to spare.

It is only now I realize an earlier decision in the day has consequence now:

I bought a ticket for a regional train.  Had I stuck with my intention to purchase an ICE (high speed) ticket, I would have had food service available.  The miscue was made primarily due to the language barrier and my train clerk wanting to save me money.  Why it has bearing now is I’m thirsty.  It’s well after lunchtime and the hunger doesn’t bother me near as much as the thirst.  My desire is at least partially fueled by knowing I don’t have anything to drink–it’s human nature to want what you can’t have, after all.  But my mouth is dry and my lips are chapped so I’m pretty sure it’s not all in my head

And then I remember a birthday gift from my friend Suzanne.

It was a gag gift of sorts, the kind born of getting to know one another just a little bit better.  Though I can’t recall the context of our conversation, I admitted I had never smoked pot.  Alcohol was my drug of choice back in those oat-sowing college days. The one time I was passed a joint, I  handed it off like a hot potato, sure the police were about to burst through the door, catch me with illicit drugs and cart me off to prison to do Shawshank time–fine incentive to Just Say No.

Looking back, I can’t honestly say why I didn’t try it.  I’d like to think it was a faith conviction or my good-girl sensibilities…but maybe just my penchant for following rules.  The drinking age was lower when I was in college so I wasn’t breaking any laws.  But pot?  Illegal then, and everywhere I’ve ever lived.

So when Suzanne was shopping yesterday, she saw something with my name on it and couldn’t pass it up–

Cannabis Tea

C+ Swiss Cannabis Tea contains only 5% hemp flower syrup with a scant trace of THC (0.0015%); you’d have to drink over a case of 24 before feeling any effect. It tastes just like…wait for it…bottled ice tea, a blend of sugar, lemon juice, and black tea extract.  (Sorry, kids, it’s virtually impossible to get high, if that’s what you’re going for…it’s LEGAL!)


THIS is the kind of gift I love–its value is in its story.

It was fun, outrageous, unexpected and anything but conventional, but mostly it’s tied to knowing me.  As Suzanne quipped, “when you drink it you won’t technically be able to say you’ve never had pot anymore.”  Not like this is any banner of achievement, but something about it was just…me.

Because I couldn’t carry liquids on the plane, my plan was simply to tuck it away in my suitcase when we returned home and keep it as a conversation piece until curiosity got the best of me.

Until, that it, I was on a train riding backwards and out of breath, in a foreign country where I was traveling alone and didn’t speak the language, when there wasn’t time to stop for bottled water without missing my train; when I was hot and thirsty and a tangle of nerves.

So now I’m happy to report, though I can’t still say I’ve never had pot before, I can truthfully testify in a court of law with my hand on the Bible…




I’ve never inhaled.


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Why I should learn to act my age



Posted by on Sep 16, 2013 | 21 comments

Coppertone_vintage_adI have a thing about tan lines.

I always have, and given the fact I'm writing this at mid-life, I suppose I always will.

My youth was a slather of baby oil and iodine or Hawaiin Tropic–mercy!  I can still smell glorious coconut just thinking about it!  Some friends swore by Afro Sheen, evidence we'd use just about anything.  On the half hour, crackley and full volume, transistor radios reminded us "Time to turn so you don't burn."

We didn't bake under summer's burner, we broiled. Rotisserie humans.

Dumb as chickens.

These days, while I've shelved the Hawaiian Tropic and always use an SPF of 15 or higher on my face, I still like sun on my shoulders.

Sans the tan lines.

I'm not sure why I loathe tan lines across my décolletage, but I do.  Maybe it's because you never know when you might need to wear your princess dress?  


But, it's not like I'm wearing strapless tops or sundresses every day–I don't own either!

My tan line issues go futher:  I like a tan stomach.  Which is definitely an issue when you're no longer sporting a bikini…

In public. 

That sentence should read, "Which is definitely an issue when you're no longer sporting a bikini in public."

Except if I'm being 100% truthful, it should say, "Which is definitely an issue when you're no longer sporting a bikini in public OR WHERE YOU DON'T KNOW ANYBODY AND DON'T CARE WHAT THEY THINK ANYWAY."

OhyesIdid…this summer during our summer beach vacation, I dug out my old two piece from when I was 15-20 pounds lighter and I wore that sucker in public.

It wasn't like I was strolling the beach giving women reason to feel better about themselves.  Mostly, I shimmied off my beach cover-up while laying prone on a beach chair – quite a spectacle in and of itself – and then melted into my lounger, believing if I couldn't see "you", you couldn't see me.

Perfectly logical, no?

My family is very forgiving, understanding this is just one of my Things.  Everyone has their Things, and No Tan Lines is one of mine. 

When I'm at my neighborhood pool,  however, it's a different story. 

There, I'm inclined to care what people think since I'll likely be facing them at the grocery store that afternoon. 

So I wear a tankini, right?  They cover a multitude of sins and hide – how shall we say it? – problem areas. 

Actually, that's not entirely true; only a Burqini does that.  But we've already established I like sun on my shoulders, not to mention I'm not Muslim.

So, what's all this got to do with why I should learn to act my age?


It was beautiful over the weekend and I decided to spend a bit of that time poolside, wringing out the last drop of summer before fall slips in later this week.

My Grand Plan was to lay out 45 minutes on my back, then flip for 45 minutes on my stomach.  If no tan lines is important to me, it stands to reason even front/back tanning matters, too.

So I do what I always do:  once flat on my back, I untied the strap behind my neck and carefully tucked them under my arms so my top wouldn't slip.  Then I folded the tank part over my bust so my stomach would get a little sun. 

It was only after 45 minutes, when I was about to flip over, that I noticed it.

As I was re-tying my neck strap and unfolding the tank to re-cover my stomach, I happened to notice I was wearing my bathing suit bottoms….


A warm flush totally unrelated to the sun swept over my entire body as I imagined every eyeball at the pool glued to the white lining that usually characterizes the crotch of a bathing suit bottom.

A flashing neon sign….

An oddly displaced scarlet letter….

I heard a thousand disapproving, rightly judgmental tongue clucks, imploring me to please wear a modest one piece appropriate for A Woman My Age.

Horrified and self conscious, I did what anyone in my position would do.

Flat on my back, I shimmied my cover-up back on, hid behind my sunglasses and slithered to the bathroom.  There, I promptly insided-out my bathing suit bottom, finding reason to thank God in this oddest of circumstance when I discovered the lining, in fact, was the color of my bathing suit.

Surely no one could see the seam if it was the same color, as if anyone would have noticed it otherwise! 

Relieved and wearing I don't care like a super hero mask, I strolled back to my chair, shimmied off my cover-up, laid on my stomach, cinched my top just so to get maximum back sun exposure…and started giggling. 

Only me...sigh

About that time I heard an inner, quiet whisper ask Robin, honey, is this a sign to give up your No Tan Line Thing and Start Acting Your Age?

The Quiet Whisperer had a legitimate point.  Either I didn't have the cognitive ability to process what a properly turned garment should look like, or my eyes are so presbyopic I couldn't see the tell-tale inner seam.

After thoughtful consideration I faced the question:   IS it time to forget about tan lines and start acting my age? 





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If this doesn’t make you laugh, we can no longer be friends.



Posted by on Dec 4, 2011 | 21 comments

This is four minutes of the funniest, cleanest hilarity I've ever seen, and it's Greg's and Ryan's reactions to reading each other's lists for the first time that put this video over the top for me.  Over one million hits to You Tube suggest if you haven't seen it, you need to.  

Daddy butter made me giggle, eye removal kit had me rolling, and by the time the circus clowns were storming the beaches at Normandy, I almost needed Oopsie Daisy adult underpants.  Laughter is the best medicine after all, and if you've been ailing, this might just be the cure!

Your turn:  what item did you lose it on? 🙂


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Simple signs



Posted by on Jul 11, 2011 | 14 comments

One Thousand Gifts ~ Multitudes on Monday

I'm a lover of words and delight in those who string them together like exquisite pearls or even a chunky beaded necklace; I suppose this is why I'm inclined to share my own on this corner of the web.

But word economy is not my strength!  Though I think I've gotten a little better tightening prose through the years, I still struggle with packing dynamite in small packages.  Oh, how I admire those who do!

I suppose this is why I often take pictures of signs with my cell phone.  But it's not only about brevity, "good" signs make me think or laugh; they inspire or sometimes call me to action.  Sometimes they stir memory.

This morning I find myself grateful for a few that have recently crossed my path; everyone of them tells a story :).


51.  Artistic expression.

52.  A quick get-away with my husband.

53.  Seeing beauty through another's perspective.



(Captured by my sweet friend Rachel, A Southern Fairytale)

54.  A reminder to carpe diem!  Better yet, carpe momentum!!

55.  My life–the good, the bad, and even the ugly.

56.  This day, every day, to rejoice and be glad.



57.  A country that values freedom and responsibility.

58.  Those who defend my country.

59.  Those who've given their life for my freedom.



60.  Modern conveniences.

61.  Good manners and common courtesies.

62.  Humor in unexpected places.



63.  Neighbors.

64.  Regarding others more highly than myself.

65.  Working for free.


66.  The hard things that shape us.

67.  Pithy little sayings.

68.  Understanding the difference between needs and wants.


69.  Dark chocolate with almonds.

70.  Perspective.

71.  Word treasure hunts.

72.  My nieces and nephews.

73.  Family celebrations.

74.  The unique, distinct and diverse personalities of each person in my family, and how they all have effect on me.



You're invited to join this community offering of gratitude with multitudes on mondays, hosted by the grace-filled Ann Voskamp.

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