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Powerful, Remarkable, and Beautiful Truth About Easter

Apr

20

Posted by on Apr 20, 2019 | 0 comments

Today is Easter Eve, though I’ve never heard it called such a thing, and I’m finding myself on a sweet stroll down memory lane. Won’t you join me?

What characterized the Easters of your childhood? What made this cherished church holiday special for you? A brand new outfit? Waking up to an Easter basket brimming with goodies? A sunrise service or Sunday afternoon feast with your family, close and extended? A city-wide egg hunt ablaze in color and chaos? Day-by-day deconstructing a Resurrection egg set to examine tiny symbols that represented the life of Christ?

With a big grin and a bit of horror, I recall the coordinating pastel dresses my sister and I wore when I was about four, complete with crunchy crinoline skirts, white bowler hats, and shiny patent leather shoes. “Fancy” is relative, yes? I also remember being a beast when it came to hunting for Easter eggs. Never was I more fierce or competitive than when a contest for most eggs found or a golden egg was at stake. It was in your best interest not to get in my way because you just might come face to face with a 35-pound steamroller determined to win a prize.

Are your earliest Easter memories similar or something entirely different?

Fast forward many years to when I became a mother with three children of my own. It never occurred to me until right now how closely the practices of my own childhood inspired Easter traditions for our family. New, coordinating outfits for our daughter and two sons; maybe not crinoline for Rachel, but all three matchy-matchy (until I finally learned that didn’t actually have to be a thing). Baskets filled and waiting right outside their bedroom doors. Attending church somewhere, wherever we happened to be that morning. A glorious lunch with our extended family (or friends when we had to be apart), anchored by glazed ham, potato salad, deviled eggs, and way too many sweets. And an egg hunt — always an egg hunt — except now my competitive beast mode for finding the prized or most eggs was proffered for my babies.

Memories are golden when they connect our present to happy or special moments from our past, aren’t they? While it’s unhealthy to live in the past or to become stuck in a rut of longing for the “good ol’ days,” telling and re-telling the stories of our lives can build unity, familiarity, and identity among family members. These are good things.

Easter traditions, in terms of norm and practice, vary from family to family, church to church, denomination to denomination, and even culture to culture. How we commemorate this holy holiday doesn’t matter a bit, but why we celebrate Easter is essential. 

Please continue reading The Powerful, Remarkable, Beautiful Truth About Easter over at (in)courage. And, please, do share your thoughts in comments!

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Change Your Attitude For the Better Right Now! (Plus, a giveaway–scroll for details)

Jan

18

Posted by on Jan 18, 2019 | 17 comments

I had totally missed it — noticing I ended 2018 similarly to how I began: writing about an attitude of “getting to” do this or that instead of “having to” in both January and December. Maybe once the idea slipped into my psyche, it quietly settled there and began changing my entire outlook from that point forward.

I’m a fan and advocate for choosing a Word of the Year, #OneWord that sets a compass point (in contrast to a destination), a trajectory, a direction for life. It’s not a think intended to confine or box you in. On the contrary, it’s liberating.

If you can love a word, I loved my entirely-made-up word from last year–OYTO. Sweetly inspired by a tee shirt a friend gave me, OYTO was a fierce battle cry, wrapped opportunity-gifts that begged to be opened. My intention stirred awareness that led to results. Simply put, I saw things differently because I wanted to see things differently, and that affected how I responded.

The same is true for being a Get-to Girl. Shifting my attitude from having to do everything — even needing to do anything — gives me a sense of control because I understand I have a choice about my attitude. Necessary chores that could potentially seed resentment, martyrdom, or leave you feeling taken for granted suddenly become opportunities to serve your family. Irritations that stem from people being so human and imperfect are a catalyst for you to remember everyone is fighting a battle, and this is your chance be kind, to live the gospel by your response.

We aren’t always able to control our circumstances or the obstacles and opportunities that come our way, but we can control our response. That’s powerful.

To me, the essence of being a Get-to Girl is 1 Corinthians 10:31: So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. (CSB) Every move you make, including the attitude that companions action, can be offered to the glory of God. Should be done for the glory of God. It’s one thing when we’re facing opportunity or favorable circumstance; that’s when it’s easy. But there have been seasons when my life feels out of control, when a situation is bearing down, or relationships that matter to me are fractured, or grief feels unshakable, or I don’t know what else…. Knowing I can choose how I respond gives me at least a modicum of control, which is incredibly encouraging and empowering.

This is much more than turning a frown upside down. It’s an intentional decision to frame your life and everything within it in light of The Light. Even if “Get-to” isn’t your word of the year, will you join me?

Giveaway time!!

Today, DaySpring is releasing A Workbook Guide to Bible Journaling, “filled with fun techniques for painting, hand lettering, stickering, and stamping…” and I’m here to tell you, SO MUCH ENCOURAGEMENT FOR THE NEWBIE BIBLE JOURNALER. But the content is substantial enough to offer the long-time journaler plenty of new tips and ideas.

If you’ve wanted to try your hand at Bible journaling but didn’t have a clue where to start, consider this a master class featuring Shanna Noel and others at a bargain price. The first 600 people who order a copy will also get a free set of two pens, perfect for Bible journaling.

DaySpring was kind enough to offer me a copy, and I get to give one away, too! Entry is simple:

You must subscribe to my blog (new or existing subscriber) and “Like” my brand-spanking new Facebook Author Page, then leave a quick comment on this blog post telling me how you’ll use this book, why you want to win, what your #OneWord is, or something you GET-TO DO that you previously viewed as “having to.” Or pretty much any sort of comment at all–easy peasy! (Only U.S. addresses are eligible to win. Entry deadline is Friday, January 25th at midnight EST.)

NOTE: If you’re a first-time commenter, there might be a slight delay in approval; comments have to be moderated and it could take up to 24 hours. 🙂

  • Link to subscribe: http://eepurl.com/dkH4uv
  • Link to like my new Facebook Author Page (yippee!!): https://www.facebook.com/RobinBDance

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How Can a Dessert Be So Delicious, Fancy, AND Simple?

Dec

28

Posted by on Dec 28, 2018 | 1 comment

A Tiramisu Recipe ANYONE can make

I still remember the first time I heard the word “tiramisu;” I didn’t even know what it was and had to ask our friends Christi and Frankie to repeat themselves a few times before I finally understood. They had returned from a trip to Italy, and if memory serves me correctly, they were raving about one of their favorite things–a decadent, delicious Italian dessert I have since come to know, love, and make for special occasions, or really, any occasion that calls for a smidgen of fancy.

The first time I tasted tiramisu was when my friend, Isabel, made it. It’s possible I had more than my share of dessert. This is telling because typically I want only a bite of something sweet after dinner. To devour a complete serving (or two) is high compliment to its maker. The benefit of a dessert’s enjoyment has to outweigh the cost of its calories. In other words…

Tiramisu’s deliciousness > the cost of its calories.

Since then, I’ve lost count of the times my dinner has ended with tiramisu. I’ve had it at chef-owned restaurants and large Italian chains; I was lucky enough to order it in Italy and Germany the year we lived abroad. And, remarkably, this ridiculously easy recipe stands up to them all (or maybe I’m just lowbrow with a common, unsophisticated palate). A more traditional recipe calling for eggs and milk is all well and good, but for the taste and simplicity, I really do prefer this recipe.

If you’re looking for a magnificent dessert to wow your family and friends, do try this one! A New Year’s gathering would be the perfect time to try it. And if you do? Please come back and let us know your thoughts.

Tiramisu

Ingredients:


Ingredients:

  • 1 8-ounce container of mascarpone cheese
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 ½ cups of whipping cream, divided
  • 1 cup of strong coffee/espresso*
  • 1?4  cup of Baileys Irish cream (coffee liquor)
  • 2, 3-ounce packages of lady fingers
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa or shaved dark chocolate

Instructions:

  • Beat 2 cups of the whipping cream (not all!) until soft peaks form; be sure they’re stiff enough to hold their shape.
  • In larger bowl, beat cheese, sugar, and remaining ½ cup of whipping cream at medium speed until incorporated and creamy.
  • Fold whipping cream into cheese mixture.*
  • Stir Baileys into coffee.
  • Carefully split lady fingers in ½. Place one set (one quarter, depending on your package) in the bottom of a trifle bowl or on a platter.
  • Evenly and generously brush the cut side of the lady fingers with the coffee mixture (use about 1?4 cup per layer).
  • Top with 1?4 of the cheese/whipped cream mixture.
  • Repeat layers three times.
  • Chill at least two hours and sprinkle with cocoa or chocolate shavings just prior to serving.

Additional notes:

  • Isabel’s original recipe called for 1 tablespoon of instant coffee granules. If you don’t have espresso/strong coffee, that substitution works fine.
  • The lady fingers will be very moist; don’t let that intimidate you. Use the entire amount of liquid in your recipe.
  • A silicone pastry brush is preferred to nylon or natural bristles; I’ve found they’re less likely to shed when using.
  • I don’t quite spread the cheese/cream mixture to the edge of the lady fingers; when I add the next layer, they kind of squish it to the edge automatically.
  • A trifle bowl (or deep dish) is better in the sense you can cover it without messing up the dessert. Since the last layer is the cheese/whipping cream layer, it would stick. I have made this on a platter before and not added the last layer until I was ready to serve for this reason.


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How Ringing Bells Puts the “Merry” in Christmas

Dec

19

Posted by on Dec 19, 2018 | 1 comment

Six years ago I began a tradition that would immediately become a beloved holiday favorite:

Ringing bells for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle fundraiser. 

I had no idea two hours could pass by so quickly, or that I had so many misconceptions about bell ringing and would learn so much (See 10 Things Salvation Army Bell Ringers Want You To Know to see what I mean). The first two years I flew solo, but ever since I’ve had a few partners in crime. Ringing with special friends had added great joy to the tradition. 

I’ve learned a few more things since that first experience, and my great hope in sharing is that I might persuade a few more friends to join this happy little army of neighbors helping neighbors.

1. Ringing the bells with friends makes the time go by almost too fast!

As is the case in so much in live, we really are better together.

2.  Ringing the bells is leading by example.


Every single year since I reported for “duty,” at least one passer-by has remarked they’ve always wanted to be a bell ringer. A joyful countenance, a kind word, and looking folks in the eye is an invitation to join this lovely work. I tell everyone who mentions it to Just Do It! You can find information about your local organization by starting at the national homepage and searching your Zip code

3. Ringing with children is an incredible secret weapon. Ringing with twins is almost unfair.

When I asked my friend Courtney if her twin daughters could ring with me a few years ago, they were only five years old. Who knew that little girls would be such a magnet to people’s wallets? More often than note, generous givers put dollars or coins in each girls hand to stuff in the red kettle. Miss EC and Miss S have become expert dollar-and-coin-stuffer-inners. 

4.  A Chance To Mentor

The twins are now eight years old, and they have me wrapped around those little pinkies now more than ever. They’re chatty and they tell you lots of things, but an hour together is a chance for me to encourage and affirm them, too. This year, their mama didn’t need to tell them what to do and neither did I. They immediately told every gift-giver “Thank you!” and “Merry Christmas!”  I get a bonus “paycheck” of the best hugs ever, too. That THEY have come to revere this as a special Christmas tradition is the sweetest gift back to me. 

5. Making it a family affair triples to joy.

I wish we had begun this tradition when our children were young and we could have volunteered as a family. But you don’t know what you don’t know, and since you can’t do a thing about the past, “now” is as good a time as any. Usually I ring earlier in the season before any kiddos are back home, but since Stephen was around, I asked him to join me for the first hour. While he wasn’t exactly jumping up and down about the opportunity, he ended up a little surprised at 1) how generous people are, and 2) how many people actually give. I’m convinced a mother-son bell ringing duo is almost as powerful a secret weapon as ringing with younger children. I couldn’t help but notice how many shoppers looked from me to him, and something about it must have been motivating to give. But also, I loved spending an hour serving with my youngest son, an early Christmas gift to me! 

Ringing the bells for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle drive truly sets the stage for a beautiful Christmas season. Those few hours of service will hearten you and help you to see the beauty of giving as you watch young and old, men and women, folks who don’t look like they have a dime and those dressed to the nines, reach in their pockets, open their wallets, and do their part to fill a red kettle. 

Would you please make gift to my Online Red Kettle? I know there are plenty of year-end giving options out there, but your gift would make a real difference for those in need, and at the same time, be a sweet encouragement and blessing to me.
Give by clicking here
(Thank you!!)

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The Reason It’s Crucial to Put On Your Oxygen Mask First

Dec

10

Posted by on Dec 10, 2018 | 2 comments

If you’ve flown commercially, you’re undoubtedly familiar with standard safety procedure; it goes something like this: In the event of a loss in cabin pressure, secure your own oxygen mask first, before helping your children or others.The reason is simple and practical; a deficiency in the amount of oxygen reaching your brain (hypoxia), will render you useless. In almost no time you could begin experiencing blurred or tunnel vision, hot and cold flashes, euphoria, numbness, tingling, apprehension, nausea, dizziness, headaches, fatigue and belligerence (source). How in the world can you help a panicked preschooler if you’re vomiting and loopy?

It is critical to take care of ourselves first in order to be able to take care of others. Well beyond flying, the principle has application in daily living.

What first comes to mind when you consider what it means to take care of yourself? Diet? Exercise?  A creative outlet, cultivating a hobby, or indulging in a day at the spa? Mental wellbeing? All of these are important, true, but there’s something else so critical it is potentially life-saving: hearing what your body is trying to tell you.

Are you listening?

For years I struggled with insomnia. I chalked up my sleeplessness to age, hormones, stress–you name it, but I never considered I might be hurting myself by ignoring the issue.While I suspected I suffered from an actual sleep disorder, I kept holding out that over time my issue would resolve itself (spoiler: it never did). When I finally got around to talking to a doctor who specialized in sleep-related issues, I learned there were reasons to be concerned about my health. If, indeed, I had sleep apnea, I was at greater risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, atrial fibrillation, Type 2 diabetes, and hormone fluctuations resulting in cravings for carbs and sweets.

After a little education, I realized my body had been practically screaming at me to pay attention. Routinely, I was waking up from frantic dreams and sometimes nightmares, often including alarms, sirens, and even occasionally me screaming at myself to WAKE! UP! Once roused from sleep, I’d find myself out of breath with my heart jackhammering like I had just run a marathon. It (slowly) dawned on me these dreams were my body’s way of telling me I needed to breathe. My body may as well have been shouting Danger, Will Robinson! because I had literally stopped breathing long enough to deprive oxygen to my brain and raise my blood pressure. Ignoring the warnings wasn’t just stupid; it was potentially dangerous and even life-threatening.

The thing is, especially when you’re younger, you don’t expect a “worse case scenario.” But you and I are always our best advocates for our own healthWe cannot be satisfied with hearing what we want to hear just because it’s good news. My sweet, young friend Stephanie died in her early twenties, leaving behind a newborn, because her doctor had dismissed an ongoing issue she experienced while breastfeeding as something to do with a blocked milk duct when, in actuality, she had an aggressive form of cancer.

One Friday morning another friend, Louann, at the time a mama to two young toddlers, woke up and couldn’t see. While alarmed, this otherwise very smart nurse-friend of mine dismissed it due to work fatigue, the stresses of little sleep and family demands, and a pile of other reasonable excuses. Knowing the hospital she worked for was at capacity, consequently diverting patients to other area hospitals, she decided to wait until Monday to be seen. A fascinating long story short, Louann discovered she had pseudotumor cerebri, a rare condition more commonly found in obese women (she wasn’t the least bit overweight). Though her blindness showed up overnight, her body had been warning her for years. She had experienced daily headaches she learned to live with, always dismissing them due to stresses related to work and home.

You’ll want to find out what happened with my friend, Louann, so please continue reading Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First over at The Art of Simple!

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Hero

Jun

25

Posted by on Jun 25, 2018 | 1 comment

 

I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. His skin was the color of summer and youth, beautiful and smooth and the stuff of a 1970-something Coppertone ad, minus a black Boykin Spaniel. This wasn’t his first day at the pool.

He couldn’t have been much older than three. His head barely reached the top of the diving board. To reach the platform he had to crawl up the stairs. This one whose smile was permanent fixture already understood joie de vivre.

Fearless and free and fueled by adrenaline, he went off the board a dozen times. Increasing courage quickened his pace.

He shifted the aim of a spotlight he wasn’t even aware existed. “Hey, watch my Dad!” he called out to the others when his father mounted the stairs. His face beamed awaiting the show, his eyes twinkling love, admiration, and joy.

His dad did a one and a half gainer with marginal success.

He awarded his approval in laughter and applause, and gleefully asked everyone in earshot, “Did you see my Dad?!”

Olympic gold doesn’t come close.

 

 

 

 

 

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