Angie, Jessica, Shauna & Robin laughing during Bread & Wine filming

Laughter is not at all a bad beginning for a friendship, and it is far the best ending for one.
~ Oscar Wilde

 “A joyful heart is good medicine…”
~ Proverbs 17:22a

When people come together for a common purpose with the heartfelt desire to demonstrate their love for God by simply loving others, something remarkable happens:

Beauty is born, lives are changed and Kingdom comes.

This is the essence of Bloom: women with a love of reading coming together to mine the treasure buried within a book’s pages, thinking out loud with one another, seeking God in the midst. Regardless of what book we choose to study, our common goal of knowing God more intimately binds us into a reading community where we are maturing as individuals, together.

Bloom studies are never intended to replace personal Bible study but to complement them. We also hope as readers thrive among a virtual community, their hunger for real-life community will grow, and maybe even provide that gentle nudge to be brave and seek a Bible or book study where you can sit shoulder to shoulder with other women…close enough to hug when you need it.

Because sometimes a girlfriend’s physical touch brings healing to a wounded heart. Community is inherent in our Triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and because we’re created in that image, it’s a natural craving.

We’ve just completed our summer Bloom study, Bread & Wine: a love letter to life around the table by Shauna Niequist (have you tried the Breakfast Cookie recipe we shared last week?). Bloom founders and study hosts (and, of course, (in)courage writers) Jessica Turner and Angie Smith spent a day with Shauna digging into some of the chapters that meant a lot to them; and that they thought would be significant to woman joining the study.

This is how Bloom studies typically go: Angie and Jessica will join the featured author to discuss their book in detail, and if the author isn’t available they’ll invite guests to take part (like our previous study of Prayer by Richard Foster). Their conversations are videoed, and each week Bloom subscribers can view their videos and read the posts written to companion them. Because all studies are archived, you can go back and watch/read them all at your convenience.

Last week, we began our wrap-up of Bread & Wine with a community-wide link-up for which we hope YOU will share something you’ve written (there’s still time!):

There’s a beautiful Mary & Martha giveaway up for grabs among those who link up (valued at $144)!  Three participants will each receive the Heirloom White Platter, the Antique Teal Serving Bowl and the Memo Board with Easel from the Grace & Gratitude Collection (more about the items on pages 50-53)Having followed the study isn’t a prerequisite; posts written on the general topics of food, community and hospitality are welcome, as well as favorite family recipes or even reviews of Bread and Wine. You can even link old posts as long as they suit the topic.  (You must link by 8/9/13 to be eligible, and comment to writers of the posts before and after your link number; U.S. addresses only, please.)

As promised, we’re sharing something FUN to begin your week on a happy note. Laughter. Lots and lots of laughter. By the time we got to our last cooking video, we might have gotten a teensy case of the sillies. The Sofa Girls talked long and deep about the content; I typed notes furiously throughout the day (in order to write companion posts). And after nearly eight hours of filming? Well…there are bound to be a few moments that otherwise don’t fit into a Chapter Video.

Like these.

Watch…and enjoy.

Please subscribe to Bloom so you’ll have first notice about our upcoming fall study and information about Recommended Reads between studies. Like Bloom on Facebook to continue our community’s on-going conversation and to share what you’re reading. And for convenience, we’ve created a playlist of Bread & Wine videos so you can easily find them for quick viewing.

I’ve enjoyed every minute of our study of Bread & Wine; and I hope every one of you joins us in the fall!

~ Robin, Bloom Coordinator

  • sonyamacdesigns

    smileN next door {in the Boro}

    • Robin Dance

      Sonya ~

      Smiles are perfect :).

  • Tracey Hooks

    So very excited to join and looking forward to forming a group for local women!

    • Robin Dance

      Oh, Tracey–THAT is fantastic! Following online AND in real life! Win-Win!

  • Amanda

    It’s been a gift to read Bread & Wine alongside so many amazing women. Our inRL Minnesota ladies started a Facebook group after this Spring’s event, and several of us read through Bread & Wine and discussed it on that page together. And then, this past weekend, we got together for a Bread & Wine dinner! We ate and laughed so much, and opened up to each other about our struggles and dreams. Robin, and all of you amazing (in)courage ladies… you are making such a difference through your words and your work. God is bringing community, healing, and life through you! Thank you, thank you.

    • Robin Dance


      Something about your comment hit a nerve…and surprisingly, filled my eyes with tears. What your group did is precisely our greatest hope: to carry over what you’ve begun online with the people in your sphere, in YOUR neighborhood. I’m just so happy reading these comments; I wish you could’ve seen the smile explode on my face when I read yours :D.

      • Amanda

        Someday God will show you ALL you’ve done to impact the hearts of women here, and what a glorious day it will be! :) Just one more story — about half of the women stayed late after the dinner, and we ended up sharing our pain… abuse, depression, grief, family dysfunction… and through that sharing we all realized we are not so different, not so alone. And that Jesus is our common healer & redeemer. One of the women realized that she really needed healing from an abusive past, and was able to connect with another woman who had been through similar things and has seen God heal her heart. It just makes me tear up to think of how the love of Jesus flows through (in)courage, through Bread & Wine, through my friend and I hosting inRL, through ladies being brave and showing up, through one of the ladies opening up her home, and into the healing of hearts. Amazing God. ((hugs))

  • Lynn

    Bread and wine; of course, the first thought/memory would be of our Dear, Sweet, Lord (my spiritual family) the night before He was betrayed, and His bewildered apostles as they listened to the first Communion with Him. But, my second thought that comes from those two words are the memories of each and (almost) every Sunday, (give or take a few) in the past 60 years of my life at my parents’ table (my earthly family), as, since we are Italians, Sunday sauce was a must, bread and wine included of course (!), rain, shine, or even at a picnic, for pete’s sake. Yes, two very strong memories, two little words.

    • Robin Dance


      What blessing, legacy and beauty. You are rich, indeed.

  • Elaine

    WHY don’t you people have any fun while your filming?????? :)

    • Robin Dance


      Tell me about it…! ;)

  • Elaine

    Can’t BELIEVE I just did that – “you’re”

    • Robin Dance



  • Diane W. Bailey

    What I would give to be on the couch and in the kitchen with all of you, laughing, listening,and learning! Good job, Chick-lets!

    • Robin Dance

      Diane!!! Well, you k i n d a are, right? Thank you for your consistent support and encouragement; we notice :).

  • maria

    Thank you so much for letting me be a part of this whole study – I was a recipient of the book that one kind lady from this community provided! This has been such a blessing to me and helped me see cooking for others as a gift to them and myself! He does gift us with so much, doesn’t He?! I really enjoyed the videos too – you are all so much fun! Again, thank you Bloom, (in)courge, Jessie, Angie Robin, and Shauna, and the sharing ladies of this place!!

  • Jane F

    My daughter and I have been so very blessed! THANK YOU

  • Dawn Camp

    Y’all are too cute. This was a lot of fun!

  • Jen

    Clearly, goats cheese biscuits are hilarious.

  • Beth Williams

    I truly love to cook. It looks like you all had a blast cooking, talking and laughing. It must have been a ton of fun to have girlfriends around when baking.

    I find that one gift I have is baking/cooking–especially for others. Nothing brings me more joy than taking a home cooked meal to someone. It blesses me as much as it does them.


  • Rhonda Quaney

    My grand-kiddo’s and I had a great time making this recipe, but I think you ladies had more fun! You are all beautiful and this study fed my soul and taste buds. Thanks!

  • Patty Muich

    Today is Oct 5th and I wanted to let people know that the Kindle book A Thousand Gifts is on sale for just $3.79!