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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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The Secret About Whole30

Jan

29

Posted by on Jan 29, 2016 |

Whole30 Is Not Hard Quote - Robin Dance

January 4th my husband and I started Whole30 for the fourth time. Our secret? Apparently the fourth time is the charm.

I tackled the “What is Whole30?” question a while ago, so if you aren’t familiar, take a moment to become acquainted. Then use your handy back button to return and finish reading. (I’ll wait for you.)

Tad and I are Whole30 evangelists. We believe in it. That being said, it is very much a love/hate thing for us–

 

We cry when we have to tell our restaurant server, “We’ll pass on the candied pecans in the salad,” and I have to give away ALL of my homemade sourdough bread when I make a batch. We miss the noodles in chicken soup. We miss the beans (legumes) in chili. Lots of things to miss (buh-bye Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie), so it’s best to focus on what you can have.

Basically whole foods as close to their original state as possible. High protein meat, seafood and poultry; healthy vegetables; moderate fruit; and my guiltiest of pleasures, nuts–cashews and almonds and macadamias, oh my!

Whole30 is not intended to be a “diet.” It is lifestyle change. It is more about well respecting your body, caring about your health, and exercising self control over instant gratification. We’re killing ourselves, people. Ignorance is not our body’s friend.

For 30 days you commit to not eating any sugar or sugar derivative, no added sugar (practically every processed food in the US has some form of added sugar…buyer beware), most forms of dairy, no pastas or legumes (including peanut and soy), no alcohol, no grains of any kind.

And I think it is ultra important to note we sign up for this for our overall health and to break our sugar addiction, not for weight loss. Whole30, similar to a Paleo diet, touts incredible health improvements in these areas:

  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • type 1 & 2 diabetes
  • asthma
  • allergies
  • sinus infections
  • hives
  • skin conditions
  • endometriosis
  • infertility
  • migraines
  • depression
  • bipolar disorder
  • heartburn
  • arthritis and joint pain,
  • ADHD
  • thyroid dysfunction
  • Lyme disease
  • fibromyalgia
  • chronic fatigue
  • lupus
  • IBS
  • Celiac disease
  • diverticulitis
  • multiple sclerosis

and even more…!

Isn’t that crazy? But isn’t it worth a try if you have issues in any of the above areas?!

 

The first time we went through Whole30 we were legalists. The Hartwigs, inventors of all things Whole30, expect the best for you, setting compliance in all areas as The Standard. I didn’t even chew gum (artificial sweeteners), and to the degree that I could control meals out, I ate only the foods included in the program.

I’m not going to lie: No sugar and no grains that first time around were a shock to our systems. We not only counted the days, we counted the minutes of each day. Thirty days felt like 100.

But this go ’round has been easier. Much easier.

 

We’ve known what to expect. We are barely keeping up with the days (though with the end in sight, we’ve gotten to the point we’re over it….).

I’ve gotten more adventuresome. I’M ON MY THIRD FREAKING BATCH OF HOMEMADE MAYO and I might not ever buy it again! Clarifying butter is no big deal. I’ve made homemade barbecue sauce and ranch dressing, and some kind of avocado dip for veggies. I bought a julienne peeler to make zoodles and matchstick carrots and to shred spaghetti squash. I bought spaghetti squash for the first time! I’ve tried new recipes–some of which I’ve added to my regular repertoire, others that I’m happy to have tried if only to learn never again!

I mean it when I say I was the person who said, “I could never do that,” primarily suggesting I couldn’t go without any sugar for 30 days. So don’t give me that excuse.

 

The most common quote the Hartwigs hear from their book is one I’ve repeated many times to friends in conversation–

“It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Drinking our coffee black. Is. Not. Hard.”

 

Perspective shreds your sad, little, tired arguments to pieces. 

Ready to try it? I’ll be your biggest cheerleader!

Related links that might offer a bit more encouragement:

Why I refuse to be discouraged

Why I’m doing Whole30 and a recipe born of desperation

 

Buy “It Starts With Food.” (Their original book, compelling, convincing science behind the process). At least look at it.

Buy “The Whole30.” (A simpler approach to the program in five easy steps. HIGHLY motivating.)

 


(affiliate links used)

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Superpower

Jan

01

Posted by on Jan 1, 2016 | 6 comments

Bloom where you're planted image

You have what it takes to f l o u r i s h when you embrace who you are and rest in Whose you are.

 

Regardless of circumstances. Despite events from your past. As long as you draw breath, you’re impacting the world around you, and it’s up to you to determine what that looks like. You may not be able to control most things, but you can control the most important thing: your response, to others and circumstances.

If we believe what Scripture teaches, as believers in and followers of Jesus, we’ve received supernatural power through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It’s not intended to reside in dormancy; but to be exercised in the way we love and live, making a difference in who we are, the choices we make, the way we treat others.

The Holy Spirit is incredible superpower, intended to change the world by changing me and changing you; not for the mere sake of change, but for our good, God’s glory, and the advance of the Gospel.

 

I am convinced there is an enemy whose greatest wish is to steal and kill and destroy me (and you) by defeating us before we begin. He’s cunning and subtle, an expert in deceit, a brilliant observer of mankind, and it’s not hard to identify and exploit our weakness. He wins when we forget that HE is our enemy. How can you win a war when you’re fighting extraneous battles?

Be who you are. It is not trite to say you are one of a kind which makes you inherently amazing. Can you imagine a world where every individual realizes their unique potential and uses their natural gifts and talents for the benefit of others? We waste precious time and what we’ve been given when we make comparisons, when we’re snared by envy and covetousness. They’re an effective weapon.

Remember your enemy. He’ll break your heart six ways to Sunday when you forget who you’re fighting, when you forget who you’re following.

 

Weeds who wish to be roses are doomed before they begin. No matter how hard they might try, they can never become something they weren’t created to be in the first place.

Consider the dandelion who digs in deep and sprouts a tiny sun before sprinkling a thousand wishes in the breeze.

Be who you are. Bloom where you’re planted. It can be magical.

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