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. Good morning ladies,

    I set aside time when I’d normally be getting ready for work, pre-sunrise, to sit and watch and think on these words.

    Q1. Excuses? Oh, don’t we all have ones we wear under our sleeves? Memorized and referenced and familiar? Mine?….That my voice won’t better the wise (the much more wise) out there. That whatever feeble sentences I try to construct can’t really make any new paths or sing any new melodies that haven’t already been covered a million times. (And with often way better talent.) I want to write, but I’m okay writing just for me. (I think writers have to be, at least desperate to write for themselves or writing for others will never fully translate the passion and ache from heart to fingertips.) When I write, I learn more about me. Things I thought I knew but maybe just didn’t “see” truly before. And other aspects I was always in the dark about. It’s how my Father reveals me to me and reveals His desire for us, for my days. But He has placed this passion for literature and stories into my soul and when you are than enamored with something, it can’t stay contained inside your frame – it needs to spill out and wash over and leave evidence that it’s real and moving and matters to you (so maybe it would matter to others too, who feel the same)……who knows?

    Q2. Oh this is the one.
    This is the question I wondered if God would somehow slip into rotation to keep the nudging active and to ask “will you keep stepping in this direction?” Letting others know you’re not okay sometimes…..oh sisters….one of the hardest things in this wide world for me. And I finally spoke about it a little bit. And further? I finally wrote again. And wrote (albeit not about the specific topic itself – still too private and I’ll need more help on that bravery front) about the hard, the trembling. The things I’m truly terrible at. (If you have some time, and I can’t believe I’m inviting more eyes on this, you are welcome over at the messy place of words and fear-naming. I wrote this last night, after so much time being quiet: http://dailyrefined.blogspot.com/2014/11/there-are-quite-few-things-i-am.html

    Q3. I feel like I can’t place my hat in the ring of authorship until….oh basically never. I know I need to get past that fear. I am really good at shrugging off the things that matter big and looming and claiming “no, it’s no big deal” while it silently and menacingly strips away the layers inside, rubbing raw the dreams of someday.
    I am a broken soul, in need of direction and patience and grace and prayers. I’ll never be “together” enough to not need the Love who let Calvary be His temporary address so I could finally come home.

    What can I pray for you for? I’m serious. This is not a placated question – I so deeply want to know. Because it’s easier for me to pray for you. And maybe it’s easier for you to pray for others too. So let’s be that for one another and show how the Body is supposed to function. That it’s okay if we can’t lift our own bags because we can lift one another’s? Welcome here, fellow daughters and sisters. What’s on your heart today?

    • Leigh (or is your first name a double name??) (it’s lovely no matter what!),

      You, my friend, ARE a writer…and a good one! Thank you for inviting us in to your holy wrestle, I dare imagine many of us are well acquainted with such a thing (writers, yes, but others, too).

      Often, writers are processors through their words. It is through that tactile exercise of taptaptapping words out, that our brains can see and sense and feel and understand what it is we see and sense and feel (does that make any sense to you AT ALL?).

      I hope…pray…reading this book together in community is helping YOU sift; your heart, your desires, your motive…and your next steps. Leaps or babies, every step is a venture into your future–isn’t that exciting? Doesn’t matter the size of the step.

      Your own need and void expresses the interior of so many of us, so for me, you can pray as you’re praying for yourself! Those prayers are personal and hold a special “knowing”. 🙂

      Thank you for your vulnerability and for making time to share your heart <3. xo

    • Leigh,
      Your words here and on your blog hit home for me. As you said last week to me, I say now to you: layers of loveliness shine in you. Robin Dance would say you are a WOW (Woman of Wisdom). Thank you for your vulnerability.

      • Debbie…I’m so glad you’re back :). I’m PROUD of you for 31Days, but happy you have margin for Bloom now!! xo

        • Thank you, Robin. I love this place. I kept reading Annie’s book and that helped me write for almost every day in October.

          And you–your name, Robin Dance (in case you weren’t sure what it is) is perfect for you: beautiful words and presence like a robin singing while you dance and do so many things well, full of grace and encouragement to others.

          What a blessing you are.

          • Oh my sisters – Robin, Debbie – your words are sooth and balm for chapped skin and weathered soul. Thank you for them. For your honesty and encouragement. [And Robin, Leigh is my middle name, but what I have gone by since birth. Kay is my last name. And it is OFTEN where it just streams out as one name and confuses some. 🙂 Hahaha.]

            I don’t know what to say. Except THANK YOU. So truly. So much. I’m trying to take those varying-sized steps. This helps. Truly. I am enormously thankful.

    • Thank you for sharing, Leigh. I really enjoyed reading your post and want to offer my encouragement to keep writing!:)

  2. 1. I make excuses constantly. I think constantly it’s time to quit blogging. My audience is so small. I don’t have time to figure out how to make my blog space professional. I feel pulled in so many different directions. I don’t even know HOW to be brave. I’m afraid my brave is stay where I am and do what I’m doing. My brave is really learning to be content with where I am.

    2. Even though my oldest daughter passed away 5 years ago, I am struggling more this holiday season (I hate that phrase, holiday season, but I am struggling with Thanksgiving and Christmas this year). I’ve always had lots of family around, and this year my dad is gone as well as my daughter. My mom is struggling. My younger daughter and my grandchildren won’t be at Thanksgiving or Christmas. Talking about all of this to my husband helps, but what’s helping the most is pouring out my heart in lament, tears streaming, to God. I thought crying every day was over, but it’s not. And I’m learning sharing the raw emotion of it means I can take another step.

    3 & 4. Waiting for the right circumstance to retire and write more and get help to do a better job of writing and blogging. My blog is titled Uncharted Water: Trusting God No Matter What Comes My Way. Annie’s words, “…there is something powerful in being smack in the middle of an unwanted season and being able to look you right in the eyeball and say, ‘You are going to survive this, friend. God has not forgotten you. Your life and your desires are important to God.'” THAT is what I cling to. I know, without a doubt, He is good; His plan for me is the best; He never leaves me or forsakes me.

    The prayer I need? “Lift your eyes to the hills, Debbie. Where does your help come from? Your help comes from the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth.” So “be joyful always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you.”

    • I hope this is OK (but here I am doing it), but I intended to include a link to my first blog post from June 2013 to share why I wrote this in my response “…there is something powerful in being smack in the middle of an unwanted season and being able to look you right in the eyeball and say, ‘You are going to survive this, friend. God has not forgotten you. Your life and your desires are important to God.’” THAT is what I cling to. I know, without a doubt, He is good; His plan for me is the best; He never leaves me or forsakes me. http://debbieputman.com/unplanned-course/

      • Debbie,

        Oh…friend…yours is a hard, Holy wrestle. My heart goes out to you, my prayers to the One who already knows. I wish I had wise words or sound counsel, but in their stead, at least I can tell you I care. You DO sound like you’re going stronger as you’re seeking God in the midst of a place you’d rather not choose to be, and that is no small thing! He so desires our affections and your circumstances definitely keep you turning to him. You DO have a choice–you could become hardened and turn away, but you’re remaining faithful. THAT is lovely testimony, friend :).

        (and you have a beautiful gift of encouragement. Thank you for extending it to me and our incourage family.)

    • Thank you for sharing, Debbie. I was challenged by your words, “My brave is really learning to be content with where I am.” Tough stuff! And I appreciate your honesty about your grief and sharing your raw emotion. It helps me accept that I still grieve despite many years having passed.

  3. Q1. Did anyone else appreciate Annie’s explanation for why these two chapters are together? (To make sure people realize that who they are and where they are is no accident.)

    Annie’s explanation was so life giving — “Where you are and who you are is not an accident.” Life can be so hard sometimes, and when dreams die, it’s hard to see how God is going to redeem our “new normal.” My best friend is facing her first holiday season since her husband went home to heaven, and I know how hard it is for her to realize that God allowed this to happen in her life. She got married at 19, and was married for 20 years. Facing life as a widow was not part of her game plan, so this one sentence from Annie made me think of her. My girl is so brave — she just doesn’t know it yet.

    Q2. “Everything You Have” was my life for 40 years. I was professionally single. 🙂 This chapter took me back to my life 7 years ago before I met my husband. I so appreciated Angie’s words about how we make marriage “the thing” in Christian culture. As an “older single,” sometimes I felt like folks thought I was “less than” because I wasn’t married. The church I attended for most of my 20’s was very focused on families, but had zero going on for singles after college age. I felt almost invisible, honestly. I am thankful for that story where God sees Hagar in the Old Testament — it comforts me to know that I have a God who sees my pain and provides what I need. Through my single season, it was “me and Jesus.” I realize now what a gift that was. Now that I am married, I have a lot less time to sit at His feet and just be still.

    As a married woman now, I realize that there is always “something” — maybe it’s part of living in a world that is broken. After having a miscarriage in 2010, I discovered the “secret” that lots of women around me were hurting, and they were carrying this big private pain. Women I had known for years shared with me that they had had miscarriages.

    I am glad that Annie was willing to share her story. As she said, there is hearbreak, but there is also healing in the telling. I refuse to keep silent any more. I guess this is why I blog.

    Q3. Did the last few minutes of the video make you think about what you’ve been waiting on that isn’t guaranteed, instead of seeing the moments right in front of you?

    This question really makes me think of a conversation I had with a group of girlfriends a couple of weekends ago in my backyard after a lovely meal. One friend in particular just recently went back to work, and her teenage kids are giving her a hard time because her focus is not 100% on them all the time. I think a lot of times we feel “guilty” for reaching for our dream because we feel like we need to be focused on someone else’s dream — our spouses, our kids, our parents. I do believe that my #1 job is to be a blessing to my husband, but that doesn’t mean that I have to put all of my dreams on the shelf either. My dreams look different now that I am married, but I still have dreams.

    Q4.”It doesn’t matter what your age is, if you love God and keep His commands, you are starting something for a thousand generations” (p. 154).

    I think when we get to heaven we are going to be very surprised what a difference our lives made in light of eternity. This quote from Annie reminds me to “keep eternity stamped on my eyeballs.” 🙂

    • Lyli,

      I love reading your answers–you think deep and hard before you pour out your heart. Even though our circumstances and responses are so different, you inspire and encourage me through your perspective. I’m grateful for how willing you are to be open and how committed you are to making the most of our study.

      Your answer to Q3 has me thinking about priorities and life paths, and how our decisions affect others. See? You’ve got me thinking just as hard as I was when I wrote the questions!!

  4. Q4. “I am living a life I never planned. And it has required more courage than I ever thought could fit in this five-foot-six-inch frame.”

    Q1. I am definitely living a life I never planned, in many ways, and boy does it take courage to embrace each new day. I appreciate Annie’s challenge to look for what opportunity God has in front of me *right now*. I need to trust that there is something.

    Q3. I think I am deferring opportunities and many of my hopes until I am “fully healed” from the current struggles I am facing, and am back to being the kind of Christian I want to be. For me being brave would look like sharing myself with others and allowing intimacy, and finding opportunities to give of myself while I am looking for a job.

    • Deedee,

      I’m convinced that first steps include an openness to consider the truth of ourselves, and you’re doing that very thing. That is brave :). There IS something in front of you right now, and I’m praying you see it more clearly with each day :).

  5. Question #1: I have found out that there are some ways to serve at my church that fit in with the various limitations I see in myself and usually totally focus on. This is exciting news to me!
    Question #2: I haven’t done that much.
    Question #3:important reminder to be on the alert for opportunities to serve the Lord.
    Question #4: “God hears us when we pray. God knows our hearts better than we do.” (page 161)

  6. Tonight I didn’t really have words to answer the questions, but when I read through everyone’s comments so far, it helped me process! So thank you! 🙂 I really enjoy and appreciate this book study. From the comfort of my own couch and PJ pants!

    Q1: I’m too young, worried about being over-committed, single.. those are a few of my excuses!
    Q2: Letting some of my closest friends know my struggles being part of my broken family, meant that I gained people who care deeply about what I care about. Who cry on my behalf, and pray for my family. So awesome and so humbling.
    Q3: I wait on other people and don’t want to inconvenience them.. or I wait for someone to come and tell me what to do. Sometimes I live like an observer of my own life instead of the lead role. Thinking things like, “Well, there will be another time that comes up for this conversation, opportunity, etc.” When really, there isn’t always another time! Pray for me to be brave and to be able to think and speak at the same time!
    Q4: “We walk through seasons that are filled with unmet expectations and potential for radical hope.”

    • Wow, Frances…this is heavy to ponder: “Sometimes I live like an observer of my own life instead of the lead role.” (I’m praying for you to jump into the game!!) I wonder if this book has awakened a desire in your to be braver than you thought possible :).

  7. Q2. In the world of working overseas, we are supposed to be ok. It is hard to break out of those expectations. When I share that I am not ok, I think it gives room for me to grow, process, and heal. When we are vulnerable it also gives other people room to be honest. Sometimes that one act of bravely sharing a hurt can be the catalyst to becoming real community, where people can really encourage one another.

    Q3.Sometimes I am waiting until my kids are older. Sometimes, I am waiting until I am inspired (to paint, or craft, or write). And sometimes, I am just wishing so hard that I lived somewhere else, that I miss out on the opportunities in front of me.

    Q4. “Courage doesn’t have a marker that says, ‘You must be taller than THIS to ride this ride.”

  8. Tricia,

    Yes–our bravery is a catalyst!! That’s the perfect word!

    I’ve had some of the same excuses, btw ;).

    And yeah…that quote is so memorable.

  9. Where I am (Lynchburg, VA)…clear across the country from where I want to be (Canby, OR). I think that answers questions 1 and 2 in part. Over the summer to compensate for not being with my family, I wrote stories to my nieces and nephews about my dog. They sent me back pictures of their favorite parts of the story. I’ve been putting together a children’s book using the pictures they sent as illustrations. I have never been good at drawing. But, because I’ve been inspired by ‘Let’s All Be Brave’ I added one illustration of my own that I thought was important. I compiled it all and sent it to be self published. My only real goal is to have a printed book to give my mom for Christmas. Deep down inside I can’t help but hope maybe this is part of the plan I’ve been praying for to bring me back home to live near my family. Could it be a beginning? This whole process has been a little bit brave…especially working through the online publishing process today.

  10. Oh, Annie… I’m livin’ this. However, as a 35 and single, the never-been-married kind, I feel like I have stepped to the other side of the tailspin of desperation that I felt in my late 20s and early 30s (have I REALLY surpassed my early 30s?). Part of my story stems from having lost a couple of very significant friends at ages too young for me to understand. When my friend was murdered by her husband about a year-and-a-half ago, it made me realize that NOW is my ONLY guarantee. I have so many friends that are in unhealthy, unhappy marriages. I realize that my singleness, in which I am NOT truly alone, is a blessing, because while it hurts, it is my time with God, alone. While I don’t give Him the time He deserves, it is easier for me to give Him time now than I believe it will be when I add a husband, some children, and a handful of sports teams to my future. It is also one of my most beautiful gifts to know that my life is truly in His hands, and will be blessed by my commitment to trusting Him. When my friend was murdered, I started living for the now, unlike I had ever done before. Part of that was a trip to Australia. On the beach in Perth, God met me at my most physically, mentally, and emotionally “alone” moment and reminded me with more power, compassion, and beauty that I am NEVER alone. He so miraculously made his presence known throughout my entire being, that I couldn’t come back to my little life in Minnesota unchanged. It was something so powerful, and I know it happened because I was really ready to let him heal my hurts, and I was ready to not let go of my desire for marriage and children, but I was ready to let go of being in control of that, because truthfully, I don’t want to be. I want only what He wants for me. Anything less will be a disaster, and nobody wants their little girl dreams of being a wife and mommy to turn out disastrous, right?! Don’t get me wrong, I still have moments when I ask God why He isn’t answering this prayer, but the answer always comes back calmly that it isn’t for me to know right now, and I am always easily re-focused on what I can be doing right now, to serve Him and love others.

    • “Don’t get me wrong, I still have moments when I ask God why He isn’t answering this prayer, but the answer always comes back calmly that it isn’t for me to know right now,…”

      I love this beautiful response in you to how you hear God leading you. It is honest and pure. I’m sure it has come through some deep struggles and cries to God. So often when people speak of answered prayers, they only speak of the yeses. But, I know in my life sometimes God says, “Be still” which is never the answer I want and it’s far from a yes. It’s more of a not now there’s something else I have in store for you right now. “Be still” has been his answer to my prayer for children. It challenged me to learn how to be still and not run after my own way. Thanks for sharing your story. His plans are always good. Blessings.

  11. Q1. I LOVE the part where Annie says in the video “What has God put in front of you?” If God is so great to have you overcome your obstacles, He’s even greater than that, He puts the obstacle there. On purpose. With cause. With reason. For you to be triumphant and to look at Him and say, wow, I could do that because of YOU!

    Q2. My personal philosophy (on my good days) is that ” even when I’m not okay, I’m Okay.” Even when I’m a wreck, God is strong. And God lives in me through Christ. Ergo…I am strong. God is close to the weak and to the brokenhearted.(psalm 34:18)

    Q3. It is a daily gesture and a daily intention of mine to love on my toddlers. Of course I love them in a “they are my children” sort of way. Unconditionally. Forever. BUT it takes work to appreciate dirty diapers and dishes piling over the sink and always (ALWAYS) sticky floors and laundry and the incessant “mommmmmmm”s. Not just to survive it, but to lavish and concentrate and SOAK it in. This is just one tiny chapter of my life and before long I won’t get to have little tiny toddler feet smush into mine under flannel covers. I am walking in not just appreciating their lives, but appreciating their “today.”

    Q4. It’s not a quote, but the last chapter of “every day you have” Annie talks about how her mother “had to stand up for truth in front of a crowd of people who mattered greatly to her but disagreed with her” and that “And her daughters saw it all.” I pray that I will be able to stand for what I believe in and that I will parent leading by example.

  12. Q2. Our Sofa Girls discussed how hard it is to talk about things you don’t have that you want; to admit you want something you don’t have; how has letting other people know you aren’t okay sometimes been helpful to you or others? y

    I’ve never really been good at letting people know that I’m not okay…not until I end up in a bad situation where people find out on their own. Even that ends up being helpful. People realize how stretched I am and come out of the woodwork to help out. It is a blessing every time.

    Q3. Did the last few minutes of the video make you think about what you’ve been waiting on that isn’t guaranteed, instead of seeing the moments right in front of you?

    Ohmy goodness…how many times I have said “I can’t do that until I make more money…”?? (Thank goodness that never happened for us and kids or we’d have never had all four!) It seems that is the common theme in my life. And yes, it comes down to putting my life on hold while waiting for perfect circumstances. Just this week I stepped out of that bubble to do what I’ve been called to do. It will require lots of faith for myself and my whole family, so prayers are appreciated for getting through the next year!

    Q4. Share your favorite quote from Chapters 15-16.

    “I don’t think you have to be in the prime of your life to be brave.”