About the Author

Robin is the author of For All Who Wander, her relatable memoir about wrestling with doubt that reads much like a conversation with a friend. She's as Southern as sugar-shocked tea, married to her college sweetheart, and has three children. An empty nester with a full life, she's determined to...

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  1. Deep breath. I am thankful to be here. Taking the October 31 Days of Writing Challenge really took more than I expected. Reading Let’s All be Brave helped me stay focused…but I couldn’t keep up with Facebook or this group. And I missed it.

    1. My community is Rancho Cucamonga, California (think 30 minutes NE of Disneyland by freeway). I like to encourage others in little ways: flowers in a mason jar on their desk, cookies or brownies I bake before work, a note. I also am changing from that teacher who demanded 7th graders start to learn the consequences of disorganization and forgotten assignments by extending more grace–meeting them where they are and helping them take the next step toward improving, so they feel successful and able to complete work instead of giving up. It took my daughter passing away for me to realize as much as I tried to make her into a mini-me (organized, on time, productive), she would never be that person. And I loved her just the way she was. So now I try to do that with my students.

    2. I NEVER had any desire to serve ANYWHERE as a missionary. Until I found sitting in hospital rooms for weeks at a time doing things nurses couldn’t do (straightening sheets, fetching water, wiping a brow, holding a hand, praying, combing hair just being in the same room while my daughter slept) was something I could do (I am not a compassionate person by nature).

    Now I know about a place called The Living Room in Illula, Kenya. It is for people who are dying and need a place to be cared for. While I can’t do any medical things, I can do what I did for my daughter. Some day, maybe I can go. Although I don’t see that in my future now, it is a desire of my heart.

    For now I completed Stephen’s Ministry training at my church earlier this month. I will be able to visit people in the hospital, and offer the little things I know how to do.

    3. My favorite quote: “Do whatever it takes to expand your map Because if you will go where you’ve never gone before, you will see God like you’ve never seen him before.” Even though I’ve never traveled, my husband went to Kipkaren, Kenya to build a woodworking trade school for Empowering Lives International a year ago. The picture and story he told of a woman who does nothing but sweep with a handmade broom while she is bent into an L for the entire day and NEVER STOPS SMILING stays in my heart and mind. She is serving. She is content with little. She trusts God with everything she has. And He is faithful. It shows on her face.

    ((Hugs)) to all, but especially to Annie for this powerful reminder about being brave.

    • Debbie, this – you – are layers of lovely. Thank you for sharing your words and experiences. What beautiful glimpses into how God has formed you, called you, strengthened you and used you to encourage others.
      I was blessed by your words and I will be praying for God’s calling of where you will serve in the coming months and years. I feel in my gut that He has still more spectacular sights to share with you.

  2. At home – I love how Annie talks about there being a reason for you to be in the city you are in. I recenetly have moved away from my family and support groups to a new city. It is hard to ‘start over’ if you will. Yes there is still video conferencing and phone calls, but it is not the same. There are opportunities around me to find friends here. To share the gospel to those around me here. I have begun that process and have found strength through this book to continue on that journey of finding out why this city? What is my purpose for being here? What is my mission for this period of my life?
    Around the World – I had the privilege and honor of serving a mission for 18 months in Brasil! I think about it every day and the people I love everyday. It truly changed my life. I feel that in serving those people and serving my God, that I truly found the real me – who I really am! I would love to go back and serve my people again! That being said, there are so many different countries and people that I would also love to serve. I’ll go where He wants me to go – when it is time!

    I believe in the phrase: “Bloom where you are planted” (no pun intended:) ) I think there is a time and a season for everything (Ecc. ch.3) Right now I am in the season of being home with my beautiful boys and planting seeds of faith in those around me – at the park, at the library, in the grocery store, among fellow members of my church, etc. There will be a season for going abroad again. While I am excited for that day, I need to be just as excited for my season of being home in this moment.

    • I love that phrase, “Bloom where you are planted.” We have been married for 32 years and during the first 16, we moved 12 times. My mom would always tell me to bloom where I was planted!

  3. Q1. For 17 years, I taught high school language arts at a Christian school as a single gal. It was a tough job that required me to deal with difficult personalities, stay up late grading endless stacks of papers, and pray for God to do a work in the lives of broken families (you did not have to be a Christian to come to this school, so there was a lot of spiritual warfare). Now, my life has changed completely — I am a married gal and at a desk job. My hubby is a bit of an introvert, so God has opened up opportunities for me to lead online Bible studies, and I blog. It’s how I am putting myself out there, and God has taught me so much through this experience. I am learning to let go of my expectations, and just be present and available. Rather than be results oriented, I am trying to be a good listener to the women who I am in community with online.

    Q2. My dreams have definitely shifted some now that I am married. Getting married for the 1st time in my early 40’s kind of turned my world upside down. As a couple, we’ve spent an extended season in “caregiving”mode, so we’ve had to put our dreams on hold for about 5 years. Now, we are in “rest and recovery” mode. Once we get back on our feet again, I am really not sure where we are going to land. My hubby loves to work with his hands, and I am good with words. We love to serve, but we aren’t really sure what that is going to look like. For now, I think our focus is going to be close to home — just loving on those in our community who are hurting and need to a safe place to land and a listening ear. God blessed us with a beautiful home, and I’d love to open it up to others and use the gift of hospitality here in South Florida. In the past, I’ve gone on short term trips to Cuzco as a single and Haiti with my husband. Our church just started a Compassion mission in El Salvador, so we are praying about joining that effort next summer.

    Q3. “…be brave enough to love the people around you, even if it looks like sacrifice and feels like loss” (p. 135).

    • Lyli,
      “I am learning to let go of my expectations, and just be present and available. Rather than be results oriented, I am trying to be a good listener to the women who I am in community with online.” Your presence and availability along with your good listening to the online communities you serve is a real gift. I am thankful you share it with me–I am always encouraged by you.

      ((Hugs)),
      Debbie

  4. Q1. I’ve been on the end of the serving spectrum where you aren’t noticed or celebrated when I volunteered in our nursery. No one sees the work of taking care of 40+ screaming children so it’s easy to just overlook it, but knowing that my serving helped parents in having them be able to listen to the Word without interruption helped me in those times of doubt if I was really making a difference. Once God called me to the prayer team, I saw how people tend to categorize how one ministry is greater than the other because I’d hear stuff like “I could never prayer for other people. You’re really brave to be able to do that” rather than “Oh, you volunteer in the nursery? Everyone always works there.” It’s actually pretty incredible how we glorify one act of service over another. It all depends on where you’re at and where God wants you.
    Q2. I have been to Colombia twice and Peru once and those times were absolutely delightful! God has definitely grown me to love missions. The thing is, those places started out as “uncomfortable and new” but now they aren’t as uncomfortable as when God first called me. The first time leaving the country. The first time ever being away from my family. So many firsts. Now God wants to stretch me even more by going to Panama in December! That’s right. NEXT MONTH. This will definitely be a stretching experience! First off, 11 days to raise $710 for my first deadline? CRAZY. Missions became too comfortable for me so God wanted it to be uncomfortable. And, Panama? No indoor plumbing, no electricity, no bed. In Colombia and Peru I was spoiled! I got my own bed in a place with hot showers. Now it’s time to be stretched even more. It’s not where I planned, God’s plans are greater, am I right? (: Where I want to go is Swaziland! It’s a beautiful little country in Africa who’s population is said to be extinct in 50 because that’s when they expect HIV/AIDS to kill everyone off. There is a great need there and I want to GO! I cannot wait for the day that I get to go and serve in that wonderful country ❤

    • Samantha I know exatcly what you mean. I started volunteering in my church’s children’s ministry with my parents when I was 14. I LOVED holding babies and playing with kids so I thought I was just the luckiest. I continued to do it throughout high school and again in college. I understand so much of what you’re saying. You worded it so well and it just resonates. 🙂

      And a hooray (!!) for your upcoming mission’s trip!! That’s wonderful I am so thankful you will be experiencing something new and I have complete confidence that God will show you so many things. Beautiful things. Hard things. Humongous things. Have wonderful travels and may you see Him more clearly through this experience. 🙂

      • It is true; many don’t notice those who care for their children. But it is an important thing. I pray you are able to care for others in Swaiziland. Your words show your heart for God’s people.

    • #1 Nursery- yes it’s easy to feel overlooked! Thank you for serving there! I help with 4 year olds at my church. #2 That is so cool and brave about your missions trip. And I totally was nodding along reading how the places you’ve been before were uncomfortable and new but now have prepared you for this new adventure! I’m currently raising money too, for 2 missions trips to the same place in Jamaica I’ve been going for 8 years. It’s still very uncomfortable, and homey at the same time. 🙂

  5. I live in Longview, Texas. I was born here. Only left here to go to college. For a long time, I really didn’t like it here. I felt trapped. I had some horrible church experiences. I was just a bitter ole thang. God was with me all the time. God has shown me wonderful opportunities here in my hometown. He is using me right where I am!

    Home is where we rest. Home is where we find peace, soto give from there, to sacrifice in that place, is to sacrifice deeply, I think. It’s brave. (p, 142).

    Thank you so much for this book. God’s perfect timing!

    • I would love to know your story; how did God change your heart? How is He using you in this place you used to want to leave? The tone of your words shows the change in your heart. I’m guessing, just like we are blessed by Annie’s story, we will be blessed by yours.

  6. This is just a quick comment…BUT I had a gentleman come into my work the other day and he just SO encouraged me by saying something so quickly that I think sums up today’s video.

    He said, “Bloom where you’re planted.”

    What FREEDOM is in that!

  7. 1) My brave is letting my kindergartner (who is my oldest) ride the bus home from school so that I can walk with my other two kids and the lady across the street to the bus stop. I know she needs to know more about Jesus. The walk each day has so far just been a chance to develop a relationship and listen to her. I am praying that when the time is right God will help me be brave to share how much He loves her.

    2) I want to go to Thailand! I’m not sure why this started but I’ve wanted to go. Then this summer I found out a good friend is moving there to be a missionary. I don’t know when this will work out with three young kids but I am going. I really feel like God is going to make a way sometime.

  8. I have recently had a beautiful opportunity to serve my neighbor. Her husband died of cancer earlier this fall. One day I said hello to her in passing and asked her how she was doing. It was obvious she was not ok that day. I went and sat beside her on the step and listened to her talk through some things. I gave her a hug and rubbed her back as she quietly wept. When I went home all the things she spoke about came back to me and reminded me of the Footprints poem. I went to work finding a picture in my photos, printed it out, then I wrote out the poem in calligraphy on the photo. It turned out lovely. I framed it and gave it to her. When she received it, with tears in her eyes she shared with me that this poem happened to be her mother’s favorite poem.
    Serving my neighbors, my family, and my husband is exactly where God has called me at this time. ~Lynchburg, VA

    I want to go home. I actually want to buy my Grandma’s house and remodel it. Making old things new is kind of my thing. It fulfills me in a way nothing else does. It’s the only place I want to go anymore. Just home. Close to family on the farm where I grew up. ~Canby, OR

  9. Thanks to Annie, Jessica, & Angie for stressing that it’s not necessarily about the big, overseas mission trips. In fact, I think it’s harder to do real life, day in and day out, at home in God’s service. In some ways it’s easy to turn the big splashy events into a good works religion, as if by doing that big thing we “save” ourselves. It’s so much harder to listen to God day in and day out and each day find the moments where we can and should live bravely in His service. What I am taking from this study is: Am I listening for God’s voice and using my gifts and talents the way He desires, right here, right now? And that’s hard because sometimes He asks me to do things that I don’t want to do…and yes, often they are quiet, behind-the-scenes events that don’t bring glory to me.

  10. 1)I try to find small ways to serve at my church and am surprised at how there are some I can do!
    2) I went to Mexico many years ago and found out that the ministry I did was not my thing(construction),but experienced being on the receiving end of prayer. I now pray for those who are missionaries at my church and for short term trips.
    3)from page 150″ Do whatever it takes to expand your map. Because if you will go where you’ve never gone before, you will see God like you’ve never seen him before.” So very true!

  11. Q1- I am an in-home caregiver in Omaha, Nebraska, and that involves lots of hidden-away service.. unglamorous for sure! At times I want to be more appreciated, get more pats on the back, or whatever. But I know it is so good for me to do things that only my Father in heaven and maybe a few others will ever even know about.
    Q2- Left to myself, I never would have gone anywhere. But somehow I have ended up going to Jamaica twice a year on missions trips, helping with a Bible Quiz program and ministry to 4th-6th graders (and being a leader to high school students for the spring missions trip when we take a group from the states). Seeing how God’s Word lights up a person’s heart and smile and eyes is my favorite thing.. I see it in myself when I memorize, along with the students!
    I had the opportunity to go there when I myself was in high school but I never was brave enough to even approach the idea. But while in college I learned that my dad was going- being brave- and he was so excited about it. I couldn’t get that out of my head. Started praying. It became very clear that I needed to go! My passport came in under 2 weeks. All the money I needed came in. I found myself sitting alone on a plane with a rapid heart rate. Ha. I missed a week of classes but all my professors scheduled days off and no tests so I didn’t miss a thing.
    Every time I remember how that came together I shake my head in amazement. Because I did not think of myself as one of “those people” who just up and went on missions trips outside the US! God, for some reason, likes to use dorks with little natural talent and very low confidence levels.

    Also, I go to be with and serve my family in Colorado, and Wyoming and Mississippi, and right here in Nebraska, which most of the time is actually much harder than going out of the country.

    Q3: “Maybe you didn’t pick it. Maybe it picked you. [Omaha totally did.] But you are there. When we think about the puzzle of the person you are, the zip code on your mailing address is an important piece.”

  12. I don’t want to go anywhere!!! But we had our first letter from our Compassion child today and one of his questions was “Would you like to visit my country Burkina Faso?” There is no way I am saying “no” to that question, so I need to sit down and look at why that “no” exists for me.

    Home is Buxton Maine, more generally the Greater Portland area. More so now that my parents live here too.

  13. I am in Cornwall in the UK.
    We live a long way away from our Church community and our brave is being a kind of out post.
    We have lived here for 13 years having believed we were called here (it is also the town where i lived the longest as a child so is kind of like coming home) and have been desperate to see God do amazing things through us. Long story short, it has felt frustrating and like nothing is happening but last month we were asked to lead a local service in a Church where there are normally 9 people who attend. 43 came half of whom were children, we have just been asked to do it again every month. “bloom where you are planted”. Our brave has been trusting that we are hearing Him and staying put even though nothing appeared to be happening, the next chaper seams to be starting now so our brave will probably change. “Though it tarry wait for it, it will surely come”

  14. Wow Anna! From 9 to 43 people? That is SO awesome! God is definitely working and moving through you! Keep doing what the Lord has called you to and you will definitely reap a harvest that is far beyond what you could’ve imagined

  15. My home for now is Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. My husband and I moved here 2 years ago to work with the Urban Poor in this city. We left our home in Idaho and our 2 girls-ages 23 & 26. I have been married 36+ years. I met my husband on a summer inner city mission trip when I was 19 and he was 22 and we were married a year later. We have always had a heart for missions. When we started the application process we did not know where we would end up. God has brought us to Africa. I have really been enjoying this Bible study! Thanks so much to Anne for holding on so we can now be encouraged to hold on. ( I know that was the chapter before but I had no power last week so watched last week and this week today) We have no other home now. The hardest part has been leaving our girls. Even thought they had moved out to live on their own it was still difficult for them to have us leave. As you touch on in Chap. 14 there have been many adjustments. The first year was very difficult for many reasons. I totally agree that a mission field can be anywhere! I struggle as much here as I did in the states with insecurities and if I am really clearly getting God’s plan “right” every day maybe sometime more. I guess I just want to say even if you say yes and take that brave step it’s still hard. Rewarding but still hard! Just because I am now a missionary I don’t feel like I am a better follower of God and his plan. It just happened to be His plan for us like you where saying. It’s not a value judgement it’s just another map. Yes the process has stretched me and my faith but I do believe that our mission field is anywhere God’s plan takes us. I love what Anne said at the end of the Chapter when she said ” If you will go where you’ve never gone before, you will see God like you’ve never seen him before! ” This is very true whether it is in your home church community or on the mission field. As our pastor said last week “just do something”. Thanks for doing this study and giving all of us a community support as we step out and ” go where we have never gone before”! Thanks for the discussion! As the 3 of you have shared your “brave” it has helped me to live better my “brave”!

    • “I guess I just want to say even if you say yes and take that brave step it’s still hard. Rewarding but still hard!”

      Jennifer, Wow! I enjoyed hearing your story. And I’ve found the above quote to be true in my life too. It seems like the more brave steps I take, the more God places new ways to be brave in front of me. God bless you as you build your life and work in Africa.

  16. When Annie wrote, on page 141, “It’s brave to let a person live in your house who isn’t your family”, I wrote in the margins, “I guess we’ve been brave…ALOT!” 14 years ago when we moved from our first little “starter” home, I told God that if he gave me an extra “guest bedroom”, I would somehow use it for Him. Oh my! 14 years later, I think I’ve lost track of all the people who have lived with us for a season of their lives. Most recently, we had a young girl who came from Thailand as an exchange student to our high school. She came not knowing a word of English and was our “daughter” for the 4 years she was in high school. She went back to Thailand the beginning of June to be a light for Him back into her culture. I know God is going to use her in a mighty way!

    Along that same line, I’ve never really had a desire to go to another country. My husband has been to Thailand and India, my daughter has been to Thailand, India and served for 3 months in Uganda, my son has been to Peru, but me, I’ve stayed at home. However, I’ve taught in the same small Christian school for over 30 years and I can say that I have former students all over the world. I’d like to think that some little seed that I helped plant in their hearts when they were in kindergarten, prepared them for serving others in another country. 🙂

  17. I have never had a desire to go to any mission field, not even for a short length of time. My health problems would make it almost impossible to go to a third world country. I do have a deepening desire to be a testimony and a light right here where I am now each and every day. When I leave my house I ask the Lord to put someone in my path that needs to know him and his saving grace.

  18. Q1. I’m so glad our Sofa Girls spent some time talking about the value of hidden service, the unglamorous, quiet ways we can make a difference. Annie’s father models this well and seems to be the poster boy for the anonymous quote she shared, “The bravest people I know are those who make their community better.”

    Bravely investing at home? As little as it sounds, doing the laundry when you really don’t feel like it but your kids have no underwear (that was today! ha!)…being up half the night with a sick little girl…taking time from the busy schedule to spend quality time with the kids.

    Q2. Annie wants to hear your dreams about where you’d like to go in the world (and I’d love to know why). Jessica’s invited you to tell us where you call home.

    Where I’d like to go? I don’t really have any places to go for missions, but I’d love to visit my great-grandma’s hometown in Germany, Italy, lots of places in the Western U.S., London…really all of the major cities. I’d love just to explore and see the wonders of the world. Right now I’m in Red Lion (York), Pennsylvania.

    Q3. Share your favorite quote from Chapters 13 & 14.

    “You live in your town for a reason. What is it? Why are you there? Why is here your spot on the map?”

  19. I am also serving my community for almost 4 years..and believe it or not at first i thought i was the one who will share my gifts to them but it turned out i was the one learning from these people…from their experiences…and they taught me how to be really patient and appreciates life more…they’ve made me learn more about myself..strength and weaknesses…
    I guess to lead is to serve really on it’s very sense…
    Blessings to all!