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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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The Philadelphia Flower Show ~ A Botanical Paradise

Apr

03

Posted by on Apr 3, 2017 |

As soon as I learned about an opportunity to represent DaySpring at the Philadelphia Flower Show, I knew I had to go. In a sweet, odd sort of way, my going paid homage to my grandmother.

 

Philadelphia Flower Show

But first, the background:

DaySpring® Gratitude & Grace Thank You BouquetAbout a year ago, DaySpring became a licensing partner with FTD, meaning, if you’d like to send flowers with a faith-based message included, you now have some beautiful options in the DaySpring store (also found at ftd.com). DaySpring and FTD go together like peas and carrots, and the partnership means thoughtful gift-givers can choose from gorgeous, professionally designed arrangements with meaningful, inspirational sentiments.

As a major sponsor of the Philly Flower Show, FTD hosted a Designer’s Studio daily throughout the event. Together with FTD lead floral designer Andrea Ancel, talented designers and creatives joined her on stage for beautiful demonstrations and conversation all week long. Because of DaySpring’s partnership with FTD, an {in}courage writer was invited to join Andrea at the Designer’s Studio for a chat about inspiration and how it fuels creativity.

When asked if I was interested, I knew immediately I wanted to go; thankfully, I was able to work out my schedule to attend.

While most of the on-stage guests worked with flowers or as designers, my floral knowledge is limited to sticking flowers in a vase; clearly, there was no intention of me coming to talk floral design. Instead, to mix things up a bit, FTD planned for Andrea Ancel to create an arrangement while she and I spoke to the things that inspire us, the kinds of things that fuel the creative process, and how ALL of us need to exercise the gifts we have. What we – all of us – have to offer is unique and special and beautiful.

There’s only one you in this world, and the world needs what only you were created to give.

Theres only one you quote - Robin Dance

Anyway, our Designer’s Studio was Facebook live-streamed, at least until the convention center’s wifi dropped the connection. It would tickle me pink for you to watch and thumb’s up, and if you’re feeling generous, please share it on your Facebook page or share your thoughts in comments. FTD (or I, as appropriate) will still make sure to answer questions and we’re all paying attention to engagement :).

 

 

If being surrounded by colorful, inspiring, creative floral beauty is your jam, DO ink in a spot on your Bucket List to the Philadelphia Flower Show. It is amazing what can be done with flowers.

 

Friends at Philly Flower Show

(L-r) Robin & Andrea Ancel; Cassidy and Jamie, incredible FTD Staff; me and Carol, a fabulous PFS Volunteer; Designer’s Studio selfie; DS Stage; #ILookToHer backdrop

All last month, FTD celebrated women through their #ILookToHer campaign. Social sharers were invited to snap a picture of women they look to for inspiration, and then share online using the hashtag #ILookToHer. It’s had me thinking of the women who have shaped, encouraged, and inspired me, and if you watch the video above, you’ll hear about some of them (SO fun that special people in my life were shocked to hear a personal shout out during my Designer’s Studio clip :) ).

Flowers-Philadelphia Flower Show-Holland

 

 

 

Peace Lily - DaySpring-FTDWhether it’s a time of celebration and great joy, or mourning the loss of one you love, flowers can speak for you when it’s hard to find the words. DaySpring®’s Happy Birthday bouquet is practically on fire, and with gerberas and snapdragons, the Gratitude and Grace bouquet is one I want to give myself. There are options for more lasting gifts, too–a mini rose, azalea, and beautiful orchid. A group of friends and I recently sent a DaySpring bouquet to a friend we knew was down, and those flowers let her know how deeply we cared.

I’m grateful to FTD and DaySpring for sponsoring my first – hopefully not my last! – trip to the Philadelphia Flower Show!

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The Panhandler’s Breath

Mar

26

Posted by on Mar 26, 2017 |

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He slipped in sideways between the closing elevator doors, as if he were late to a meeting; he pressed the “5” without looking. Instead of suit and tie, though, baggy pants and faded navy hung on his tall, slim frame.

His stealth entry stiffened the hairs on the back of my neck.

I had noticed him a few seconds earlier, just after we had parted a sea of rowdy teens. He was smiling, grandfatherly, standing maybe 30 feet away where the downtown electric shuttle picks up.

I had no idea he had been watching us, studying us, predator patiently awaiting his next prey.

The four of us were sealed in a four-by-six-foot metal tomb. Tomb — that thought really muscled its way into my mind. I wondered if he had a knife in his pocket. I wanted to protect my son.

Fight or flight pumped adrenaline but there was nowhere to run.

 

A true story, the kind that reveals so much. Hope you click through to read
The Panhandler’s Breath over at incourage and
then share your own thoughts in response

(the last line still rattles me….).

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Presents or Presence (The Difference in Listening Well)

Dec

24

Posted by on Dec 24, 2016 |

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“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son.”
(John 3:16)

 

You can’t fool her, you know.

Two pudgy hands cup your cheeks to turn your face, demanding your eyes look deep into her own.

“Mama, you’re not listening!” You can almost feel her heart stomping its tiny imaginary foot to accentuate the point.

Of course, you’re right when you insist, “Yes I am, honey, I can just do two things at once.” You did hear her, after all.

But she’s right (more right?) because you weren’t listening.

Hearing requires only ears. Listening demands ears, eyes, mind, and maybe most important, heart.

The difference matters. A lot. Here’s why:

Your children don’t just notice the difference between hearing and listening, they understand the difference:

Something else is more important than them in that moment.

O u c h!

This isn’t confined to children; don’t we all hate it when we know someone is only half engaged in conversation? Present in body but absent in thought?


I grow weary from all the admonitions to focus on Christ during the Christmas season, to resist holiday busyness. Please don’t get me wrong — I agree — but then I see a believing people tangled and lifeless in sticky-webs of shopping, baking, parties, and school or church programs.

We are distracted.

Everyone is working extra hard to pay for All The Things.

And though our homes have never looked more lovely or smelled more delicious . . .

Our actions are speaking loudly, and they don’t always match up to our words.

Can I get an “Amen!”?

 

Please click to continue reading Presents/Presence for incourage. Promise:
if you’ll follow this friendly advice this Christmas season,
you’ll be  giving and receiving something precious.

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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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God-winks

Oct

21

Posted by on Oct 21, 2016 |

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Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, 
with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17 ESV)

Have you ever found yourself wishing, “If God would just SHOW ME A SIGN…” you would know what to do or whether or not you’re headed in the right direction?

Haven’t we all?

Just once, wouldn’t it be nice to look up and see writing in the sky?

Though answers rarely come as a flashing neon sign – call me crazy – sometimes I sense God’s favor in what others may dismiss as coincidence. Maybe nothing as dramatic as a thunder clap or lightning strike or a rainbow sent right to your front yard, but a kind of mini-miracle that speaks right to the heart of whatever is going on in your life rightnow….

Hold tight to what we’re promised in scripture: God has gifted us with not some, but every, spiritual blessing. In the passage from 1st Ephesians, we learn that in Christ, we are

chosen,

holy,

blameless,

family,

receivers of grace,

redeemed,

forgiven,

and sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.

God’s generosity knows no bound. 

He is a giver of good and perfect gifts, and what He gave because He loved us (Who He gave)? Should compel us to boundless gratitude. Lord, may I never cease to be thankful, humbled by, and astonished at the wonder, beauty, and cost of the cross.

Last week I was sitting at my kitchen table with two friends. I had invited them over to begin putting flesh on the bones of an idea birthed in my heart a while back. They weren’t the first people I had approached about joining me in this new thing; but after arm-twisting another friend without success for over two years, it finally occurred to me that maybe she wasn’t the one to help.

Sometimes earnestly seeking the Lord means letting go of preconceived plans and ideals. 

This is a lesson on repeat for me, something I’ve been slow to learn.

We began to sense God’s presence in our gathering, oddly enough, in a color scheme. It started with Hannah and Tracey noticing my journal, pen, and espresso cup perfectly coordinating. (How much do I love that friends picked up on such a tiny detail? It’s exactly the kind of thing I’m prone to notice.)

cravingconnectiongodwink-2

 

Intent in our conversation, all three of us jumped when Hannah noticed the shadow of a man at my front door, followed quickly by a sharp knock. I knew what they didn’t–it was simply a package delivery. Our front door is within arm’s reach of our kitchen table, and they aren’t accustomed to that proximity.

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Why, yes, we may look like tears were involved…. <3

I opened the door to pick up my package, and immediately realized what it was: an Advanced Reader’s Copy of Craving Connection: 30 Challenges for Real Life Engagement. Since you’re obviously an (in)courage reader (smile), you might have seen recent images and teasers about Craving Connections. What makes this book extra special is that it is a first from (in)courage and features 30 authors from both the (in)courage team and community at large. Through scripture exploration, personal testimony, and prayer, the 30-day devotional asks the question, “How could your life be different after prayerfully and intentionally connecting with God, friends, and your community?” (If you’re interested, subscribe to my very occasional blogposts, I’ll let you know when Craving Connections is available!)

I quickly explained what it was to my friends, who remembered me working on my chapter, A Safe Harbor, at the first of the year. As quickly as I placed the book on the table to continue our conversation, we noticed–

Everything was color coordinated….

cravingconnectioncolorcoordination-2

 

We couldn’t miss it, and we didn’t want to dismiss it as coincidence. It felt like a God-wink, a conduit of God’s pleasure with our plans.

Please click to continue God-winks at (in)courage!!

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