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Aging and Aquamarine



Posted by on Mar 29, 2018 | 2 comments


Right now, in this hair’s breadth of a moment, you are both as old as you’ve ever been, and as young as you ever will be again.


Interesting thought, isn’t it?


It is not unusual for me to think about time, in general, and aging, more specifically this time of year; March is my birthday month.


Aging comes naturally, but if your wish is to age gracefully, you’re going to have to be intentional.


Aging can be like a riptide, forcing you off course and threatening to pull you under. It can knock you off your feet in a single wave and leave you disoriented and wondering How in the world did I get here?


Neither aging nor aging gracefully are destinations; they’re journeys. One is completely left up to chance, the tail wagging the dog, que sera sera; the other is intentional, contemplative living, controlling and planning for a preferred outcome. The latter  also involves accepting what you can’t control and making the best of it.


A positive attitude ignites your ability to age gracefully; it enables you to receive all of life as this big, incredible, magnificent gift–all of it. That doesn’t mean you’re immune to hardship or disappointment. It means you’re better able to navigate those seasons when they arrive.


When I was a kid, choosing a birthday gift for a friend was always easy: something birthstone-related or Zodiac sign-related. That’s so funny to me now; I don’t think I ever got anything related to either of those for gifts when my own children attended their friends’ birthday parties. My birthstone is aquamarine, and I’ve always loved it; it’s one of my favorite colors to wear, clothing or jewelry. Maybe it’s why I long for and love the ocean so, exquisite aquamarine sea. And though I never bought into Zodiac stuff in terms of practice or belief, I know I’m Aries and it’s associated with fire, and there’s something in that I appreciate.


While the four seasons are like my children in that each one is my favorite but for different reasons – I see the signature beauty in each – I find myself thankful to have been born in the spring. Spring is colorful, alive with promise, with hope, with life! Aquamarine finds her way into spring.


Spring holds the darkest day in Christendom and the brightest. Jesus, in full surrender and submission, enduring a gruesome spectacle of death, demonstrating an incomprehensible love, and ultimately conquering the grave and bringing reconciliation of man to God through His atoning sacrifice. Spring is beautiful and reminds me of our hope in Christ.


I am at the age now where milestone birthdays have lost the meaning they do in our youth. Remember when you couldn’t wait to

  • turn double digits
  • become a teenager
  • get your learner’s permit
  • get your driver’s license
  • vote
  • order a cocktail (or beer or wine…)

I am at the age now where sometimes, dammit, I have to check the last box. I wish that didn’t phase me, but it does. I’m also at the age where my body betrays me, alternately catching fire or my hair changing color or just plain hurting from sitting too long. Seriously–sitting too long can hurt? Who knew?


But hear me loud when I tell you this: I am no victim of age. Neither are you.


I am at the age of incredible opportunity. 


I have lived 17 years longer than my own mother, who didn’t get to see her babies beyond grade school. I’m enjoying the incredible privilege of knowing my children as young adults, of seeing them on the way of becoming who they’ll be.


I’ve lived long enough and gained the experience that convinces me Romans 8:28 is true–

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,
for those who are called according to his purpose.


I’ve lived long enough to learn that there’s more than one way to the other side of the mountain, and that one day you will make it to the other side. 


I’ve lived long enough to understand the difference between “have to” and “get to”–

I get to clean my house because I have a house to clean.

I get to wash our clothes because we have clothes to wear (and a washing machine to do the actual washing).

I get to do yard work because I have a yard.

I get to give money to those in need because I have money to give.

I get to spend time getting to know God through His word, because He’s preserved His word in scripture.

I get to praise and worship the Lord because He has given me life now and forever.


Aging gracefully relishes Get-to living. Have-to living puts you under the chains of obligation. Be free, my friend. You get to be free. Let go of those chains.


I’m at the age where hindsight is a masterful teacher. Age allows you to see the veil lifting to reveal more and more of the big picture, all the tiny puzzle pieces of your life fitting together into something lovely.


I’m at the age where I can tell you it is never too late to:

learn something new

follow your dreams

try something that scares the snot out of you.

I’m at the age where I believe it is always right to:

lead with love

forgive, then forgive again. And again.

be generous

be kind, because everyone is dealing with something beneath the surface.

I am at the age where I want to steward my time well, love the people in my life well, and honor, serve and love Jesus well. In my past I have wasted time, taken friends and family for granted, and resisted God and what He asks of me.


An incredible opportunity has come my way that couldn’t have happened before now, unquestionably a God-gift. One year, 365 opportunities, and this one is huge. Tomorrow I turn 55, and 2018 is the year I will write my first book. It took me a long, long while to get to the age when, finally, my life is not my own.


Soli Deo gloria.


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Craving Connection Book {Order before December 15th & get a second free!}



Posted by on Dec 9, 2016 |



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.


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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For school, tooooo cool!



Posted by on May 3, 2016 | 4 comments

Making an impact quote - Robin Dance

Some of us will make tiny ripples and others will send waves crashing,
but each one will forever change the surface of the water.   ~ Robin Dance


It was another one of those “When Harry Met Sally” moments. Not the one in the diner, but that one when Marie, Sally’s friend, quotes an article she read without realizing Jess, Harry’s friend, was its author.

I had barely arrived at a church leadership retreat when Terri said, “I need to ask you something.” It had been a while since we had seen each other, and I had no idea what she wanted to ask.

“Are you a writer?” a question that is still odd for me to answer in the affirmative after all these time (because most people are asking if I’ve published a book), but in this case she explained why she was asking before I could even answer.

Terri is a nurse by profession and I didn’t know she was working at a local elementary school now; her job changed a while back but it was news to me. “There’s a quote painted over a mural on one of our walls, and the author cited is ‘Robin Dance.’ IS THAT YOU??”

She couldn’t recall the exact quote but she described the artwork–a sea motif with a large manatee. Immediately I thought of the DaySpring print that was sold a few years back —

Quote about making an impact - Robin Dance for incourage


But even I couldn’t recall the exact quote used for the print. I just knew that whales are ginormous sea mammals, and maybe someone had seen the print and made the connection to a manatee.

What I did remember was that it was about the impact – big or small – everyone makes, a perfect message to send to school children of all ages.


On Monday morning Terri texted a picture of the mural, and sure enough, it was the quote from the printable I had wondered about. Terri investigated a little further and discovered one of the first grade teachers had painted it, and either she or another co-worker had found the original quote on Pinterest.

HOW COOL IS THAT? I don’t know anyone else who works at Sonny Carter elementary, and no one there has any idea the mural quote is by someone local.

Day made. I relish the obscurity of it all.

And, going back to that original (in)courage post, (Be)loved, I realize it’s a message we will never stop needing to know, one we’ll always benefit from reading and reminding ourselves of its truth.


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Her words will grab you by the throat



Posted by on Feb 2, 2016 | 1 comment

nayyirah waved writer poem -


Anyone who knows me understands the effect words have over me.

A harsh word can wound me for years. (I could show you the scars.)

A kind word has the capacity to inspire, move, challenge and encourage me, in all the ways that really matter.

Words matter.


There’s always a right word to use when you’re writing, a best word, and writers know it when they nail it. Imagine the image of an Olympic gymnast spinning off the uneven parallel bars and perfectly landing her dismount–I know it when I’ve scored a “10” by choosing the perfect word to communicate an idea. All writers know it.

A lot of writers (like me) like words so much we use too many of them. I hope one thing I’ve learned over the past few years is how to strike superfluous words. Wait–I know I haven’t learned it, but I’m learning. When I read some of my old work now, I see how I could cut it in half.

This is why I love poetry. Word economy.


Of course, not all poems lend themselves to brevity – hello The Iliad and The Odyssey – but many poetic forms do, and I suppose because I have a short attention span, those are my favorite.

Of course, poetry can be intimidating; it’s incredibly subjective. I’m not drawn to the work of all poets, but those to whom I am, I’m smitten.

I think it started with e.e. cummings in the fifth grade. I don’t recall a specific poem, but I adored his unconventional style, and he was the first author to make me think I could write poems, too.

Of course, just because you write poems doesn’t mean they’re good, but that’s not really the point, is it? If you’re satisfied, that’s enough.

I find it best not to find the value of art in the eye of the beholder.


It’s a pure expression of the author’s heart, undeniably  beautiful–you just have to have the right eyes to see. If the author is the only one with 20/20 vision, so be it. That’s enough.


My niece introduced me to a new poet the other day, Nayyirah Waheed. Oh, my…. Her work is stunning. She’s a masterful word economist with the ability to knit together a few words into something that will slay dragons. Powerful. Provocative. Penetrating.

I don’t yet have her book yet; Abby wouldn’t part with her copy of salt.  But I read enough to know I want to read more, and that I can learn a lot from Waheed; about poetry, sure, but also about life.

A few poems to whet your appetite; spacing, punctuation, and formation is all hers–


some people

when they hear

your story.



upon hearing

your story.


and this is how




* * *




my favorite kind.


that i can



* * *


if someone

does not want me

it is not the end of the world


if i do not want me.

the world is nothing but endings.


* * *


you broke the ocean in

half to be here.

only to meet nothing that wants you.


— immigrant


* * *


can we speak in flowers.

it will be easier for me to understand.


— other language


* * *

as a writer, if someone falls

in love with my work.

i know they have fallen

in love with my mind. having

no idea what my face

looks like. they chose my

mind. art may be the only

place a woman can be whole. and seen.

without being seen.


Buy your copy of salt. using my affiliate link;
also, follow Nayyiarah Waheed on Twitter for more of her riveting work.

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The Secret To Great Writing



Posted by on Dec 5, 2014 | 14 comments


The Secret to Great Writing

I can still visualize him though I haven’t seen him in over 30 years. A head of hair, still full but thinning, impossibly white and shiny. His shoulders sloped enough to age him but twinkly blue eyes subtracted time. Translucent skin and rosy cheeks and predictably dull cardigan.

Flat tiesAnd then those ties; he made them himself. Pastels or florals and his signature design: sewn straight across the bottom instead of diamonding to the end like a normal tie. Which fits, because “normal” isn’t a word I would have use to describe Mr. I’ve-long-ago-forgotten-his-name. It’s easier to sew them that way, he explained. He was no slave to fashion but his style had a distinctive Je nest sais quoi about it.

He was my freshman honor’s English class professor and he taught me something I’ve never forgotten: written well, you can transform the ordinary and mundane to extraordinary and spectacular.

I know this to be true because three decades later I can still hear him reading the paper he used as an example: “How To Make a Perfect Coke”


The assignment had been a “How-to” paper, and either I wrote about how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or another classmate did; it’s the only other title I remember.

Leaning back in the chair behind his desk, Mr. Homemade Tie begins to school us in great writing by reading. He fills the space with dramatic pause lingering on the words he most savors. His eyes loll back in his head at his favorite parts. He’s memorized that blasted paper, and by the end of it his lips are smacking at the mere suggestion of a perfect Coke.

The entire class was thirsty.

We heard ice cubes plinking into glass and the tab stabbing open a can. We saw an amber stream pouring three inches above the glass, stopping precisely 3/4 of an inch below the rim. Our fingertips and palms were cold and wet. We smelled anticipation and tasted perfection. 

We learned great writing harnesses our senses, yes, but reaches even further, into heart and marrow.  The best writing compels us to  f e e l  something special and magical and memorable. About anything. About everything.

Great writing sets up residence within us. It populates our thoughts long after we’ve read or heard the words. 

The last instructions were something about waiting a minute or two before drinking, to assure the beverage was properly chilled. I’ll be damned if every time I’ve poured a soft drink since then I’ve hesitated as long as I could before sipping to avoid sub-standard quality.

A lesson remembered and the extraordinary ordinary….

That is the power of great writing, but maybe even more so, the power of great teaching.



Click for photo source and to purchase vintage ties.
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The Question All Bloggers Should Ask



Posted by on Nov 7, 2014 | 2 comments

The question all bloggers must ask



If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, I’m in trouble.


If you’ll indulge me, can we first look in the rearview mirror?

Way back when, I was a daily blogger, no big deal at all. I would roll my eyes when NANOWRIMO came around, not because I had zero interest in writing a novel (which I don’t), but because people complained about writing daily and I was like What’s the big deal, people?! There’s nothing to it…!

Karma laughed and bided her time.

For  y e a r s  it went like that. My friends and family were acutely aware that anything they said or did could and might be blogged about them. Sometimes I asked permission, and when I didn’t, well…sometimes there was a price to pay. Those were the Hard Lesson days, and I’m afraid I was too often a remedial student.

One night when I was curled on the pretty chair in our den with my laptop keeping me warm, seeds of change were planted.


My husband asked an irksome question – “Do you really h.a.v.e. to respond to every comment, visit every blog, and comment there, too?”

He knew that was my practice.

It was a silly question to me because of course I did–it would be rude otherwise (I’m Southern for heaven’s sake!). Keep in mind this was ages ago, before Facebook was common practice for anyone not in college and before Twitter was even born.

In the Golden Era of Blogging, we actually read and commented to one another’s blogs.


Imagine that.

Interestingly, a blogging friend had posed the same question around the same time, and between the two of them asking, something began to change in me. Their question picked away blinding scales and I eventually saw the truth:

I was a slave to my blog.

If I asked myself, “Do you own your blog or does your blog own you?” I didn’t like the answer.

It held me hostage, this little webular space o’ mine, and she was as demanding as a two-year-old; insatiable for what she wanted, when she wanted it, and that was at least once a day.

I was beholden to her, and I didn’t appreciate that one little bit.

So… s l o w l y …and with a lot of wrestling…I let her go.

Fast forward to now, and it’s clear this is no longer an issue. Certainly, a lot of the time I’m not publishing on my site – instead, writing for another – but most of that time I’m either writing quietly and privately…or maybe not even at all.

This was my way of rebelling against a personal tyranny, effectively sticking out my tongue and declaring YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME. This was me taking control of my writerly life.

Bless my heart: this is how I rebel….

I do like the practice of daily writing, detached from an addictive need and while cultivating a healthy balance. It was with that motive I decided to join 31 Days.

Harkening to my daughter’s senior year in high school, I’ve wanted to write an ebook about Demystifying the College Process. We learned a lot going through the process ourselves. Times have changed considerably since my husband and I were high school seniors, and I wanted to pass along helpful hints for parents and their students at this crossroad; the type things I kept finding myself wishing I had known beforehand.

I figured I could knock it out in a month of dedicated writing, offering it free to readers who wanted to follow along, and then, later, packaging it in a pretty format with added content.

But guess what? It’s boring writing. It’s boring writing, and, what have I already established?

My blog is not the boss of me!

So, my sincere intention was to write during the month of October and complete the content for a subsequent digital book of some sort.

I am not a fan of not honoring commitments, even if they’re self-imposed and no one really cares, anyway.


Shame on me.

While I’m not languishing under a blanket of guilt – because why? Say it with me: My blog is not the boss of me! I do plan to finish what I’ve started. But rather than continuing to post the complete series on my blog, I’ll continue writing the content for an ebook release, and I’ll let you know when it’s done. I’ll offer an additional post or two here in the next few weeks, but the remainder will be saved for the book.


So…your turn. Have I stepped on toes? Does any part of this resonate with you? Tell me about it. If you’re a reader and not a writer, are there other life parallels holding you hostage from which you need release? Addiction is a sneaky master of disguise and I’m curious how it’s crept into your life. Feel like being honest and open? Answer in comments. Need a little more privacy? Feel free to email me at pensieve(dot)me(at)gmail.

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