Robin Dance

essays on faith, aging, parenting, wandering and wondering

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Your Influence Matters

Posted by on Apr 27, 2018 |


Green and inexperienced, I was recruited to step into the role of marketing director for a local retirement community. My education combined with a love and natural propensity for those senior than me far outweighed my managerial skillset, and only days after I was hired I found myself in the position of needing to hire a new sales associate. Because I hadn’t interviewed many people at that time – okay, any people –  I read what I could could get my hands on about best interviewing practices and compiled a list of basic questions. Plus, I had been interviewed a dozen or more times, so there was that.


Sifting through a competitive pool of applicants, I selected three people to interview. More than anything I was trying to find a good fit for the role and someone with whom I felt comfortable. We would be working closely together.


I would go on to hire Mary Jane, over 20 years my senior. Time would soon tell she was an excellent choice–professional, empathetic, and, man, she could close a deal.


Over 25 years later, I still remember Mary Jane’s interview, specifically her answer to one question:



“What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?”

Without hesitation she replied,




Considering I’m writing about a conversation that took place over 25 years ago, it’s interesting to hear how a interview answer impacted me in such profound ways. Do keep reading Your Influence Matters at the Art of Simple today, and be sure to tell me your thoughts or if YOU remember something someone said forever ago that influences you to this day. 

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Helpful New Resource For Moms Who’ve Ever Lost Your Temper #TemperToolkit

Posted by on Feb 2, 2017 | 1 comment




Being a mom is one of the hardest jobs on the planet.


I also believe it’s the best job on the planet, and I can say now, from where I sit as an Empty Nester, it’s beautifully, thought sometimes brutally, worthwhile and satisfying.

My three children are becoming the humans I prayed and hoped they’d become, but it was not without a thousand misfires during the years they were daily under my roof.

Some days I didn’t know if I would make it to the next.

Some moments I didn’t know if I would make it to the next.

Some seconds I didn’t know if I would let them make it to the next.

Parenting isn’t easy.

But we parented hard and on purpose, making the best decisions we could with what we knew. We read books and even took parenting classes at our church. Thankfully, we had a strong community of young parents walking the same road shoulder to shoulder.

The internet wasn’t yet a thing when they were young, or at least not what it is today. There weren’t bloggers and websites and social networking that connected you to “experts.” For us there was Dr. Leman and Dr. Dobson, and the good parts of the Ezzos.

But there were wise parents a few years ahead of me, families I could observe. When I saw older kids who seemed to behave the way I hoped mine would eventually, I took note. I watched those mamas and daddies to see if there was anything I could learn from them. They had no idea.

Fast forward to now, and there’s a wealth of parenting resources out there. It’s a “chicken and bones” kind of thing – pick and choose what works for you, keep the chicken, toss those bones. 

I’m excited to tell you about a new “chicken” you’re going to want to eat:

The Temper Toolkit, a special parenting resource from my friend Lisa-Jo Baker. Many of you will already know Lisa-Jo as one of my (in)courage writing sisters, and as a blogger and author, she’s been encouraging moms for years (if you haven’t yet read her book, it’s a GREAT addition to a mom’s library–and on sale!). The beauty of her Temper Toolkit is she has lived this in the trenches. She’s consolidated helpful practices she’s learned over time into a video series that is sure to encourage mamas of younger children (and even those tweens and teens). There’s a reasonable price tag attached to her content; and it’s only fair to compensate her for her time in pulling this all together to make a beautiful, truly helpful resource for you.




From Lisa-Jo herself:

I’ve packaged up everything I’ve learned about my mom temper (the hard way) over the last decade of parenting and everything I teach at my workshops so that you can put it into practice in your own homes. And I’m calling it The Temper Toolkit.

The Temper Toolkit is a labor of love from me to you — a collection of practical strategies, honest stories, and Biblical resources from one mom to another to help you take control of your temper BEFORE you lose it. 

It includes: 7 teaching videos, downloadable audio (so you can listen on the go) and key takeaways from each lesson beautifully designed as phone lock screens, computer wallpapers or a print so you can choose which format is best to help you take the lessons with you on the go. 

And there are a 5 bonus videos including how to talk to your husband and how to talk to your kids about your journey with temper. And what 6 daily steps you can take to defuse. 
The Temper Toolkit includes real life tools for real life change. Because what you don’t need is more guilt. What you need are the tools to get you through.

By the end of our time together I hope that by sharing my own (embarrassingly) honest temper stories and coping strategies I will have convinced you of three things:

  1. That you’re not a bad mom.
  2. That a good God is using your kids to transform you into His image.
  3. That temper is not an incurable disease, but a treatable condition.  

All for the cost of one exhausted drive-through dinner with the kids after a day of meltdowns.


AND…if you’re one of the first 50 people to purchase the Temper Toolkit, you’ll get a FREE copy of Surprised by Motherhood!!

I’m convinced if you’re struggling as a mom, if your temper sometimes flares, if you just wish you had some help or wisdom from someone a few years ahead of you, you’re going to gain some insights and tips to help calm your spirit and reduce the chaos.

You’ll have to act quickly! Lisa-Jo is only going to keep the Temper Toolkit
available for purchase for five days (today through Monday, February 6th.

I hope you’ll share this post with every mama you know could use some practiced advice.
(easy share buttons are at the bottom of this post)
If you have questions or need help with the course, please email



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The sweet reminder

Posted by on Jan 30, 2015 | 3 comments

A sweet reminder of motherhood - by Robin Dance

When things go according to the way they should, your children will leave you.

It’s a sobering thought if you’re lightyears away from that day, but time can be a jerk, stretching days impossibly long but shriveling years tiny, so when the time comes you shake your head in disbelief wondering how in the world did you get from there to here. I know, it’s befuddling.

Your home will grow quiet. Your days will find more hours. And nights will return to lovers who needn’t lock doors.

Memories will surface through rose-colored glasses and you’ll forget all the mental weariness and physical exhaustion. You’ll romanticize what it means to be up all night with a sick baby, and having to read a dozen books before bed, and your kid praying for every person they’ve ever known just to stay up seconds longer. You’ll think it sweet, the constant wiping of noses and behinds and highchair trays covered in smashed banana and peas. You’ll forget about running out of wipes and the streaks of crusty dried snot on everything you own.

You’ll only remember that kissing a boo boo brings healing and a Disney Band-aid brings happiness.

On special occasions you’ll receive a call, unexpected but welcome from one of them. He or she will need to know things they know you know, and your spirit will strum joy and your heart will beat happy, answering each question with all the right answers.

Families write stories, and sometimes a child needs help remembering earlier chapters their Mama wrote.

It will be a call full of news and new things, and you’ll hear a tone so light and lovely it will quench a thirst you didn’t realize you had. Even mamas not prone to worry have a spot in their heart that never stops thinking about their children, willing and pleading and praying that all be well.

We’d gladly take a bullet for our babies; but since that isn’t likely to happen, we just wish we could insulate them from any harm, every harm, because we know the world is full of ’em.

We hear all the things our children tell us but the loudest are the ones spoken without words.

And so you hang up the call happy and full, lips smacking their satisfaction when the phone rings again. There’s a problem. Keys locked in a car, at night, away from home, the spare long lost…and you’re hours away and can’t do a blasted thing. Sure, and thankfully, a roommate is on the way, but that doesn’t mitigate the frustration, so you do what you’re wired to do, the only thing you can do at a time like this, and offer the counsel of who to call and what to do next.

The tremble in her voice breaks your heart the same way her skinned knees and hurt feelings did a thousand years ago.

Then you realize the gift in all of it, that you’ve never stopped being her mama and sometimes you’re the only one who knows the things she needs to know or can fix a thing or at least make it better, and that sometimes kissing a boo boo looks like a phone glued to your wide open ear, listening for words spoken and not.

Yes, your babies will one day leave you house but they’ll never leave your heart.

And perhaps the sweetest thing is you never leave theirs.


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How to Choose The Best College (Part 1) #31Days

Posted by on Oct 13, 2014 | 2 comments

How to choose the best college - Part 1 - by Robin Dance for 31Days

With 2,870 four-year colleges in the US and an additional 1, 700+ two-year institutions, is there such thing as the “best” college for a student? When you’re in the throes of making a decision, it sure feels that way. Choosing well is important because the college years determine or at least gives shape to our future; vocation, world view, whom you’ll marry–decisions that follow you throughout life.

Before panic or a fear of making the wrong choice sets in, let me offer you a word of truth and encouragement:

When you identify priorities for college choice and then make a thoughtful, considered decision in light of what’s important to you and your child, your choice will be the best one.


Typically, where to attend college is based on some combination of several factors:

  • location
  • cost
  • family legacy (parent alma mater or sibling already there)
  • academic rigor
  • course offering
  • reputation
  • sports affiliation
  • size
  • familiarity and friends’ choice
  • housing (on campus and off)
  • dining
  • activities

and many more….

Thinking back to my own reasoning for choosing a college horrifies me:

  • It was 75 minutes from home.
  • It was not the college my sister attended (I lived in her shadow my first 18 years of life and was not going to repeat that in college).
  • I liked the campus. Mind you, it was the only campus I visited, although I grew up in a huge college town and figured I’d end up back there after a year.
  • The Tiger paws on the roads were friendly.

Oy. Seriously…at the time, it didn’t even have a good option for what I wanted to major in, so I found something close. But I fell in love with the college and eventually the man I’d marry and have three (pretty amazing) kids with, so it turned out okay. Still…I shake my head over my father paying out of state tuition for four years.

I was resolute about making better, more informed choices with our own children.

One of the most helpful resources that helped us accomplish that goal (and mentioned earlier in this series) is the dynamite-in-a-small-package book, An Educated Choice: Advice for Parents of College-Bound Students by Frank Brock. I can’t say I agree with everything Brock suggests but there is no doubt it influenced how we approached college choice and helped us to consider a much broader view of education and what we were hoping for our children to accomplish. (It’s cheap and basically you’re only paying to have it shipped; a used copy is just fine….)

One of the finer points Brock makes is “getting a degree is not the same as getting a good education.” (p. 13) Wow…that idea alone was revolutionary. Another profound conviction of his: “…nothing is more expensive than a failed college experience and nothing is more valuable than a good education.” (p. 20) Brock challenged us to consider the  learning environment of each college and helped us realize “breadth of programs [do] not necessarily translate into quality programs…” (p. 31, emphasis added). By visiting several schools, we’ve noticed the wide disparity among different institutions in these areas and the factors listed above.

We’re going to break “How to Choose The Best College for Your Child” into several smaller discussions; next time we’ll discuss How To Make the Most of a College Fair.

Thank you for sharing this series with your friends and family; whether by sending them an email link or using the social media icons below, I’m grateful. What I’m sharing with you is the information we’ve accumulated over three children and five years of going through these motions! Keep with the series and you’re bound to gain new insights! 

Click here for a listing of all posts and be sure to
subscribe free to receive an email when the series is updated.

Helpful Hints and Tips for College Bound Students by Robin Dance


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If you can’t be with the ones you love, love the ones you’re with (Part 1)

Posted by on Sep 9, 2013 | 1 comment


If You Cant Be With The Ones You Love-by Robin Dance-Part 1

She addressed me by my favorite name behind Mom and Aunt, the one that gives shape to identity–

“Mama D, why do you talk to us?”

I cocked my head to the side not sure what she was really asking, like maybe I was saying too much or dragging her down one of my seemingly never-ending bunny trails.  A dozen switchbacks, so easy to get lost.

She understood the question in my eyes and explained, “I mean, my mom listens to me and all that, but you t a l k with us.  You give us so much time….” and then I understood what she was asking.

Maddie was sitting at the end of our oval oak table when she floated her question, the same table at which she had joined us for dinner many a night since we met my daughter’s junior year.  Abbie’s back was toward me initially, but she turned to face me for the answer.  She wanted to know, too.  I don’t recall if I was cooking or cleaning, but I was leaning against my oven facing them, my daughter behind me; that means she was washing dishes or making a snack, busy about something or nothing.

I should have warned them the answer would take a while.  But even I didn’t know it in full until I began talking.

The sting in my heart served warning.



It was the Friday before my 40th birthday and three dear,
neighborhood friends invited me to lunch at the Garden Cafe, home to the
best Buttermilk Pie in the world and placeholder of memories.  Among
many, it was the first place I wore my Princess Dress, the dinner
celebration of another friend’s 40th.  It’s important to note the Garden
Cafe is not some fancy schmancy restaurant; it’s casual dining done well in Small Town, USA.

When we arrived for my pre-birthday lunch the hostess collected menus
and led us up the stairs, me assuming because downstairs seating wasn’t
available.  At the top, startled, I realized this was no intimate
luncheon among four friends.

It was a surprise lunch with a group of women who had been my family for the 14 years we had lived in SC.

I took my seat at the end of three tables pushed together and tried
to absorb the faces of those to my right and left, women whose hands I
had held, whose babies I had diapered, whose prayers I had begged and
returned.  Friends who had been living out their stories along my own
since we were newlyweds.

What no one knew at the time was, later that afternoon, I would be
traveling to Tennessee to house-hunt.  My husband had just accepted a
new job; we hadn’t even yet told our children.

I folded my arms on the table and buried my face as tears filled my eyes.

Only I  was privvy to the secret:

This wasn’t a 40th birthday celebration.  It was my going away party.


Click to continue….

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Power Hour

Posted by on Jul 29, 2013 |

One of my goals as a mom has been to cultivate an atmosphere where my kids can tell me anything.  While I'm sure there are a few things they've chosen not to share, I'm thankful when they tell me Hard Things–about stupid decisions (yes, stupid…I started to use the word "poor" and it's just not strong enough…) they've made, about the heart-breaking choices their friends have made, and about life in general for the teen and 20-something set. 

Today I'm writing about one of those things, a Power Hour (there are a few definitions for it…) and how a few are redefining it and turning a bleak negative into a bright positive.  I'm throwing in a little parenting advice, too.  Imagine that… ~ wink ~.

I'd be grateful if you read my post Power Hour on (in)courage, and share it with parents of teenagers and others who work with this age group.


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