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Oh, lovely day

Feb

15

Posted by on Feb 15, 2018 | 4 comments

i.

Today is Valentine’s Day, one of my favorite days of the year, one of the happiest reasons to celebrate life: it’s all about love.

 

I am wearing hot pink shoes now, but I think I’ll be changing into the ones dipped in glitter, gold and a thousand points of light. A thousand reflections of love.

 

Shoes can say a lot about a person; not always, but sometimes. Today mine tell you I’m feeling sassy and defiant. Sassy speaks for itself, but the defiant part is me telling Cruel Things they will not be the boss of me. Not today.

 

There has been a long-standing tradition in my family: a tea party on Valentine’s Day. It all started over 23 years ago when my mother-in-law asked me if we could host a mother-daughter Valentine Tea Party. As a mama to four boys, she was longing for girly things something awful. Her first grandchild, our daughter, paved a way to all manner of pink and frilly.

 

For almost two decades we hosted a Valentine Tea. My heart swells and aches at the memories.

 

Sarah will not be with us today. She’s home, confined to bed, her love of almost 65 years caring for her around the clock. To me, dementia has stolen the best parts of her, but her one and only still sees that girl he fell in love with. He will tell you he loves her more now than ever. He means it. When he looks at her and tells her “You’re so pretty,” your heart will split in two.

 

So, I’m raising my fist in defiance, a small and almost silly gesture, but significant to me in that I WILL carry on this tradition because it means something important. Geography and circumstance force a different type of Valentine Tea but its heart beats just the same.

 

Love. Friendship. The company of women drawn close. 

 

I have been working for four days straight to get ready–not because anyone else cares or expects that, but a) because nothing like a party to kick my housekeeping into high gear, and 2) the effort is a love note to my guests.

 

The work that precedes opening my home to others is worship. It’s an offering and opportunity–yes! That’s it: OYTO! It’s my personal battle cry springing to action, enlisting others to help. We weren’t meant to go it alone, to carry the world on our shoulders.  But we do this, don’t we? I’m trying to break that old habit because the joy is amplified and the weight lightened when sisters bear the load never intended for one. There’s mutual blessing in the service, the offering, the worship. And this is the kindness of God in this season; He affirms the “who” and the “how” and I remember all over again there’s no “I” in team or teamwork, and laughing with other people is much more fun than laughing alone.

 

ii.

If you could explode from joy, I’d be splattered all over my house.

 

Yesterday was perpetual motion, and by the time I fell into bed I felt it all. My bones were tired, but my spirit was…satisfied. I’m surprised satisfaction feels so good.

 

I thought about Sarah often throughout the day, all of it a testament to her strength and resolve. Teary moments threatened a few times, but I banished them quickly. There’s a time for all that, but not during the Valentine Tea. In a gesture to bind together old tradition with new, I read the intro from Emilie Barnes, “An Invitation to Tea.” It perfectly expresses the heart of our Tea, and Sarah had always included it.

 

I wish I had taken more pictures, but here’s the thing about that: I haven’t figured out how to be fully present and live behind a camera. It’s one or the other but not both. The more accurate thought is I wish I had more pictures, but my mind’s eye still sees each precious face and my soul remembers every connection.

And, this, to me, is where Body Life is so beautiful–I don’t think we ever necessarily talked about God but we flat out lived it. Not to pat ourselves on the back – good googlie-mooglie, heaven forbid that! – but sometimes we need to recognize that living the gospel IS preaching the gospel, and all at once this little tea party tradition sparked something new in my heart, and I’m curious if it will smolder to ashes or blaze into fire.

 

Time tells that kind of thing. If it’s the real deal it’ll burn.

 

iii.

 

Can you scooch over here and let me admit something? I’m not quite sure how to say it, and I sincerely, truly, really really hope you hear me….

 

I’m worried some people who find their way to these words will feel their eyes turning green. Maybe they’ll wish they could’ve been there or feel void in their own lives, or maybe they’ll compare home or friends or gifts, or, I don’t know what, but click away from the page feeling less than or lonely.

 

If that’s you, darling…and I say this gently but firmly: stop it.

 

That’s the enemy of your heart talking, and I promise, his is a convincing voice. Don’t believe the lies.

 

I’ve felt the angst of all that. I’ve swum those dark waters.

 

I have wasted years wanting things never intended for me.

 

Wasted. Years.

 

I loathe a victim mentality. What I hadn’t realized was me envying or coveting what someone else had was me playing the victim. Blech. The wallow is an ugly thing and accomplishes the work of your enemy by distracting you from the Lord has for you.

 

For you.

 

Be the one to BE the one. Ask a neighbor to come over and serve her leftovers for lunch; she cares more about time together than what it is you’re serving. Get a group of people together to go see a movie and dessert after. Stop wanting what other people have and create community by gathering together the people who are already around you.

 

Bloom where you’re planted. If you can’t be with the ones you “love,” love the ones you’re with. Okay…so now I’m resorting to song titles and clichés, but if the shoe fits wear it. (I’ll stop now…. ~ smile ~ )

 

Give from your void.

 

Give.

 

We could mine the spiritual dimensions of all this til the end of time – thoughts on contentment and joy and satisfaction and a million other things, but I’ll leave it at give to give and not give to get. I’m convinced that giving to give (glory to God, blessing to others…) brings greater gain than giving to get could ever accomplish.

 

The Valentine Tea Party is about giving who I am and what I have, which gives glory to God. The gain to me is an abundant satisfaction in learning that me being me is more than enough. It’s what the Lord has been trying to teach me for a long, long while. He wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of, you know, creating me, if I didn’t matter to this world.

 

The same applies to you.

 

Click away knowing that who you are is more than enough, and get busy discovering who and what it is that God is prompting in you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Honest Thoughts About #GivingTuesday

Nov

28

Posted by on Nov 28, 2017 | 2 comments

GivingTuesday2017

I love Holly Hunter. An Academy Award- and Emmy-winning actress, she seems to take any role and make it memorable; she dies to self while her characters come to life. I appreciate her talent, sure, but maybe tipping the scale for my fangirldom is the fact she’s Southern, born just up the road from me in Conyers, Georgia. Her accent makes me happy. Instead of sounding like some illiterate, backwoods miscreant – the way Southerners are too often played in film and television – her voice is comfort food to the ear. As Tammy Hemphill in 1993’s The Firm, she delivers one of my favorite movie lines of all time when convict Ray McDeere tells her he “loves her crooked little mouth.” She quips…

It’s not my best feature.

Gah–J’adore! (Shout out to my friend Lisa M. who jinxed me with this line!)

Anyway, that scene always comes to mind when one of my, say, “lesser qualities” rises to the surface. Like today. Today is known far and wide as Giving Tuesday. My first instinct is cynical.

GivingTuesday2017

My cynicism is birthed out of priority:

  1. Black Friday.
  2. Small Business Saturday.
  3. Sunday usually equals more of #1 and #2–retailers and e-tailers are smart that way even if Sunday doesn’t have an official name.
  4. Cyber Monday.

And with whatever you have leftover after all that manic spending, tip your favorite charity on Giving Tuesday.

See? Not my best feature.

Here’s the thing, though. While my first instinct is cynicism, it’s not where I land. I am a bargain shopper. I understand that this season sometimes offers the most savings of items you plan to buy anyway.

More than anything, I believe that giving is good.

 

And when there’s a global movement encouraging citizens of the world to give to organizations and causes who represent undeniable need, we should respond with great generosity.

 

#GivingTuesday reminds us giving isn’t only about dollars and cents–

…whether it’s some of your time, a donation, gift or the power of your voice in your local community….

but a financial gift is always an easy and immediate way to respond.

 

There is no dearth of non-profits to support, but three I’d very personally love for you to consider are:

  • CrossPurpose. 2½ years ago, freshly graduated and with a degree in community development, my daughter accepted an urban leadership development fellowship in Denver, CO. On the ground, working to eradicate poverty in their city, CrossPurpose in an incredible organization that teaches people how to fish for a lifetime instead of feeding them for a day. When her fellowship ended, Rachel accepted a full-time position with CrossPurpose. We’ve met those who serve and are served by this visionary organization. Your dollars here change lives, now and forever.
    CrossPurposeDenverLogo
  • Compassion. Eight years ago I traveled to Kolkata (Calcutta) with Compassion International, and it’s still changing my life. Compassion is a world-wide organization that works by investing in local people and projects to do the work of caring for the least of these. I was privileged to observe first-hand what this looks like, and I’m convinced it’s the best, most reputable sponsor program out there.
    CompassionBlogger_RobinDance_India

 

  • Salvation Army. Ringing the bell for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Drive has become an annual tradition for me; it was fascinating to learn so much my first year (10 Things Salvation Army Bell Ringers Want You To Know is one of my most popular posts of all time). The Red Kettle Drive is a great example of every gift matters–whether pocket change or folding money, every donation thrills the bell ringer AND makes a difference in your community. Which goes the same for my online campaign: gifts of any size are welcome! (Please help me reach my humble goal?)
    Ringing Salvation Army Bell

Your support doesn’t have to end with the organizations I’ve mentioned here; I’m sure there are many near and dear to your heart. But I sincerely hope you join me AND THE ENTIRE WORLD in giving something today.

Because something is always better than nothing, yes?

xo

 

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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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Because 50 is Relative

Mar

30

Posted by on Mar 30, 2016 | 6 comments


 

Never Apologize For Your Age - Robin Dance

If you were backed into a corner and forced to give an answer, what age would you say is “old”? What milestone birthday is The One that tips a person beyond the top of the hill into a mess of wrinkles and infirmity? How old do you have to be to be considered a senior citizen, an elderly person, an old geezer?

How old is “old?”

I suspect that line is a shifting one for all of us, that the number grows higher with each passing year.

Old age is relative to our current age.

Ageism is rampant in our country and culture, subtle and sinister in that people who practice it probably don’t even realize they are. I’ve been on the receiving end of it a few times, and it’s shocking. In my mind, I’m not old! (Showing up to film a Tim McGraw music video comes to mind….) But if I’m older than you, relatively speaking, I might be. Or not.

Depends on how big a jerk you are.

But wait–that’s part of the problem. If I think you’re a jerk (which I don’t, really) because you treat me differently because I’m older than you, that’s giving mental ascent to your prejudice. It is buying into the thought that at some point Old Age < Youth. It’s agreeing that at some point you become less valuable because of your age.

You do not become less valuable as you age, but your currency (what you have to offer) may change. In many important ways, your value increases.

Never apologize for your age as if it’s something to be sorry for!

 

My God, growing old is the price you pay for long life, and it’s a privilege not everyone shares. What you gain over time in wisdom and experience is invaluable! By the time you reach midlife, you’ve endured heartache, you’ve survived tragedy, you’ve learned so many lessons your life is a textbook. You have amassed a wealth of experience from the wise and poor choices you’ve made. You’ve born consequence, you’ve collected milestones, you’ve celebrated new life, and you’ve mourned the passing of those you love.

You have grown rich over time but you have to understand and value the currency.

 

Anyway…today is my birthday. I’m 53 and I woke up with a pain in my middle knuckle, of all places, and my first thought was, “Did I jam my finger in my sleep??” But then my second thought was, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! HOW CLICHÉ IS IT TO WAKE UP WITH A NEW AILMENT ON YOUR 50-SOMETHING BIRTHDAY?!”

So I ignored it, took a birthday selfie in bed, and posted it as a proverbial finger to aging.

Clearly, I’m winning the internet.

It’s fun to watch old episodes of Friends on Netflix, and when this episode (with Brad Pitt, about Ross making out with their librarian when he was in high school) showed up not to long ago, it inspired this post.

I’m pretty sure if any of the Friends cast watched it now, they’d think Mrs. Altman was pretty darn cool.

 

 

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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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If God is for you, WHO is against you?

Jan

30

Posted by on Jan 30, 2016 |

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“The story of your life
is the story of the long and brutal assault on your heart
by the one who knows what you could be and fears it.”
John Eldredge, Waking the Dead: The Glory of a Heart Fully Alive

It almost seems like a dream to me, that season. I wouldn’t call it a nightmare exactly, but it was dark and desperate, and I couldn’t find my way to morning. I drifted through days marking time, barely living in the ways that matter most.

Right foot . . . left foot . . . breathe in . . . breathe out.

Perfunctory motion got me through another day.

That smile on my face was a masquerade, a lie — camouflaging the truth of my fractured heart.

I hid it well, or at least I think I did. Mostly anyway.

Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.

It wasn’t difficult to hide behind my children. With three in school it was easy to volunteer myself to death. I hadn’t yet made the discovery I was an Olympic peace-keeper and people pleaser (something for which I’ll likely be in recovery ’til the end of my days), but I didn’t want to bother people with my woes. I had lived in this place only a short while and friendship roots were shallow. Plus, there were so many bigger, worser problems in the world.

Comparison is always a thief, isn’t it? 

 

Comparison can rob us of joy, yes, but sometimes she steals the dignity of our struggles. To suggest that my battle holds no significance simply because your battle has presumably greater weight is disservice to us both.

If it matters to me, it matters.
If it matters to you, it matters.

It was so long ago, but memory brings it close. Remembering even now brings shudders. But there was something I (finally) learned that changed e v e r y t h i n g.

* * *
Please click to continue reading If God is for you, WHO is against you?  It is one of the most crucial things a believer can cling to during those Holy wrestles. If not an encouragement you need to remember right now, please share this with someone who does.
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