Monday, October 29, 2012

I've Moved!

Some of you might read the heading and think, "There she goes again!"

But this time, movement comes a bit more subtly and doesn't involve a cross-country drive. Relieved? Me too! (Though I dearly miss my "right coast peeps.") Over the course of the past several months, it's become clear I need to allow expansion and containerization to better serve and love on those God calls me to. So I established a website and began writing. It is very much in process of being built. You are welcome, in spite of the dust and exposed beams.

As far as the writing, you'll find similar style. But it's more deliberate. It will be a community, a place to talk life, give life, be life. I'm finding myself wanting to sit down in it a while every day so I can get the walls painted and the fridge stocked. Come hungry. I'll leave the door open. :)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving from a Grateful Heart (Caleb's Birthday!)

The cell phone connection crackled and sent me shuffling to find better reception. “They sent a picture of a little boy . . .” I strained to hear my sister’s voice. “His name is Eduard . . . but it sounds like Edik.” Tears filled the spaces between words. The child for whom we’ve been praying now has a name, and a face.

The named boy waited in a village orphanage somewhere in Siberia while paperwork and processes took place. These processes took several months from that early October referral. But delivery day finally arrived when the orphanage director in Kemerovo, Russia placed fourteen-month-old Eduard into the arms of his God-appointed parents—naked.

Orphanages can barely afford to feed the children forced into their care, let alone give away a set of clothes to every child adopted out. So Caleb’s mama and papa redressed him in clothes they brought from Ohio, just for him. They also shared some family gifts of clothing and toys with the sweet caregivers.

In five days, Caleb Edik Vladimir Eckley will turn nine years old. He’s a boy full of life, living a story of hope. And I get to be his aunt. The blessing of him fills my heart.

A few days ago, my sis offered some sweet updates on life for Caleb. He wrote a story for school called “Grandma’s Garden” that wound up encouraging his teacher whose grandma recently passed away. Football finished, and he’s now connecting more with good-for-him friends. After seeing a news story about a young girl who gathered shoes for orphans in Guatamala, he said, “Mom, I want to do that too.”

My nearly nine-year-old nephew loves Jesus. He wants to make a difference in the lives of orphans and other kids in need.

Next Saturday, on the 3rd of December, fifteen of Caleb’s friends will gather at his house to celebrate his birthday. On the invitation, he asked for hats and mittens or gloves. Not for him, but for kids who need them and can’t afford them. He’ll donate their gifts to a ministry near his home called Truly Warm. (

Truly Warm exists to share the love of the God in the Bible by clothing children in need. “I needed clothes and you clothed Me” (Matthew 25:36). In particular, they provide coats to children in the Dayton area who can’t afford them. When Denise read their homepage, she declared through her tears, “That’s not enough. Those kids need hats and gloves.” A perfect fit for Caleb’s heart. His grandma (my mom) sent handmade mittens and scarves for his mama and papa to give the kids at the orphanage in Kemerovo.

When I got off the phone with my sister, I knew what to give Caleb for his birthday—more of what he asked for! Last year, Truly Warm gave coats to more than 300 kids. Caleb is concerned that he won’t have enough hats and gloves to share with all the kids who need them.

So I’m going to help him get a little closer . . .

By gathering as many hats and pairs of gloves or mittens as I can from friends who love Jesus and want to make a difference in the lives of orphans and other kids in need. Want to help? I knew you would.

Here are some options:
• Get me your hats and gloves or mittens. If you’d like to include a note of birthday encouragement or Scripture for Caleb or the kids he’s serving, SWEET! Be sure to tell him you’re a friend of Aunt Robin’s! I’ll box them all up and send them off as a surprise for the “named boy.”
Robin Stanley
Cell: 407-221-0954
Call to connect for a drop off or for my address!

• Send your gloves or mittens directly to Caleb in time for his birthday party. Shoot me a note so I can tell Denise to look for your pkg. Include a note letting Caleb know you’re a friend of Aunt Robin’s! He’ll like making the connection.
Denise Eckley
260 West Pugh
Springboro, OH 45066

• Visit the Truly Warm site & make a donation for Caleb’s birthday.

• If you’re not in position logistically or financially to help Caleb help kids in his area, will you consider doing something for kids where you live? Do what Denise did. Search out a local charity that makes sense for you and your family. Then love like Jesus loves. Give like Jesus gives—not with your bank account, but with your life.

O Thou who has given us so much, mercifully grant us one thing more, a grateful heart. —George Herbert

What are you doing to help orphans and other kids in need? Leave a comment to share your ideas for giving from a grateful heart.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Abundant Simplicity Winner Announced

And the winner of the Abundant Simplicity
giveaway is

Louise Feldmann!!!

Thanks to all of you who stopped by to read the review
and leave a comment. Simplicity seems to be something many of us seek in our busy, pumped-up lives. I'll be praying with you.

Louise, email me your address (, and I'll be happy to send your book out on Monday. 

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Run Light for Life: A Review of Abundant Simplicity

In a society conditioned for upgrades, from heated seats to biggie drinks, many of us find ourselves reaching for more. More soda, more cars, more music, more coffee, better coffee, better connections, a better contract, a bigger house, a bigger name, a longer list, a longer life.

We can’t possibly maintain all we aspire to, but we attempt to pack all we can into our 24/7 make-it-or-die-trying lifestyles. We run hard after life as we see it, feel it, desire it, deserve it. What we see, we must have. What we must have, we must have now. And our wheels spin with our hands full as we race forward, over-burdened, over-stimulated and overwhelmed. We passionately pursue a success that promises life but steals away our breath.

In Jan Johnson's newest release, Abundant Simplicity, she challenges us to “replace cultural perceptions of success with thoughts of treasuring God, investing our life in what He is doing and devoting ourselves to the good of other people.”

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Treasuring God sounds simple. Maybe you think you already do. Perhaps you feel you max out your investment in others. But consider the potential of a life free from the entanglements of serving two masters (Matthew 6:24), driven by a single-minded focus on God alone. Can you imagine running the race of life in such an unencumbered way?

With a knowing grace, Johnson reveals how the disciplines of simplicity help us to run like Paul did, “[Laying] aside every weight that hinders us (Hebrews 12:1 NRSV).” Not everything we carry is self-serving. Our weights may be good things with good motives. “But transformation into Christlikeness is much more difficult when we’re encumbered,” Jan writes. “Cross-country runners can cross a finish line wearing a twenty-pound backpack or trailing tangled shoelaces, but the race is much more difficult. Expect God to continually woo you to cast aside that backpack full of distractions.”

This requires courage to make hard choices. Intentional choices. Choices that go against the grain of society. But, “as we favor deliberate life choices over blind consumption and compulsion, we stop doing just whatever other people—even church people—do. We find rest in keeping our focus on loving God and joining God in loving others.” We leave space for relationships and for response to relationships, first with God and then with others.

Johnson leads with a shepherd’s heart, taking us to safe places where we can identify our entanglements and experience the freedom that comes from choosing simplicity of speech, ownership, acquisition, time, leisure and everyday tasks, among others. She offers experiments to help in the process, encouraging us to modify them as we listen for God and learn to reflect on our own needs. “Focus on a simplicity practice as you can do it, however imperfectly, not as others do it or the supposed one right way to do it.”

When we practice simplicity in a way that’s right for us, we “create a life of much by choosing a life of less.” We cast off excess weight so we can run this race with passion, living life full and free.

I'm giving away a copy of Abundant Simplicity! Just leave a comment and tell me why you want it. Winner announced Friday, August 5.

Look for Jan Johnson and me at the CLASS Christian Writers Conference, November 2-6, 2011. Jan is leading devotions for the morning sessions, and I get to lead worship! 

InterVarsity Press provided a complimentary copy of Abundant Simplicity: Discovering the Unhurried Rhythms of Grace for my review. For more information or to order your own copy visit their website. This review first appeared in the July/August issue of the CLASS Communique

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Craving Conversation

I'm craving conversation. (Not good for a west coast night owl whose most chatty friends live on the other side of the country!) Suddenly I realize that it's the end of the day, and I haven't uttered a single audible word to a single soul, except maybe to say "thank you" to the kind gentleman who held the door for me at the post office. No wonder!

The awareness doesn't make me sad. I have many other means of connecting, which I've used well today. A few text exchanges with an east coast buddy kept me in my car laughing like crazy for a good half hour in the post office parking lot. A flurry of emails flew in and out as projects moved along throughout the day. I even chatted a while ago on facebook with a Florida friend whose throbbing toe was keeping her up late. But it makes me wonder how many people go days at a time without a verbal connection. And that does make me sad.

Our voices, with all their God-given nuances & subtleties, are an intimate part of who we are. Friends recognize me, not just my voice, as soon as I say hello on the telephone. The tone and texture of my voice are unique to me. Even my Droid recognizes my voice as belonging to me. It responds when I give it a verbal command to search or to dial. My voice speaks as much to my identity as the impression of my fingerprints do, lined across the bottom of my birth certificate.

Tomorrow, when I can choose between the two dimensional expression of an email, and the rich, intimate expression of the human voice, I think I might choose to call the audible.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14a (NIV)

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

I read books much like a crane captures his dinner. He flies low across the lake then dives headlong and deep once he spies something worth catching. After hovering high over A Million Miles in a Thousand Years for weeks with no commitment, I gifted it to a friend who really wanted it. At Christmas time, she sent it back! No, not a return. A re-gifting, of sorts, with an attached note saying she enjoyed the book so much she wanted me to borrow it. And read it. “But,” she concluded, “You don’t have to read it all.” She knows me. If she says it’s my turn to read, I’ll take my turn.

I’m glad I did.

When Blue Like Jazz came out, Donald Miller’s mega-hit memoir, I tried like crazy to love the book all my friends couldn’t live without. I couldn’t get past the first few chapters. But I’m not the same girl I was then. Nor is Donald the same guy.

I took in every word on every page of Million Miles and celebrated life. His. Mine. Even yours. For in the span of these pages, beginning to end, Donald moved from being an “incidental memoirist” to becoming a “deliberate mentor.” He writes his journey of transformation in a way that brings me up close to his story and connects me with my own, inviting me into something more, as a good mentor would.

Donald’s wit and delivery make me laugh. Yet I’m struck by the depth of insight he seems to speak over his shoulder while engaging with the story unfolding in front of him. He sees. And as he sees, he ascribes meaning to the life he finds. Not as an observer, but as a witness. He allows himself to enter fully into a scene and be affected by it. Then he testifies to the Truth in it.

He describes times when he would rather stay on the couch than stand up to choose a better life, a better story. But varying incidences bring him into the company of some outstanding people. People who see him. People who enter into his story and affect his character arc. He embraces their influence and receives their insight. They guide him into positive turns and help him to avoid negative ones.

In a scene toward the end of the book, Donald describes kayaking with his friends up the Jervis inlet in British Columbia. A mile-wide inlet with cliffs on either side, “the stone faces of the mountains come into the water like walls.” They had been up since before dawn, stopped to spend the day with an unexpected friend and found themselves paddling through the hardest part of their journey in the pitch of night. “If it weren’t for the other guys in the kayaks, I would have quit that night. . . . I would have lay down in my hatch and slept and drifted out with the tide.”

But he didn’t quit. Not on his friends. Not on his life. He responded to his mentors, and he’s living a better story because of it. Come to think of it, so am I.

To read more from Donald Miller and to find out how to GET A FREE PAPERBACK COPY OF A MILLION MILES THAT JUST RELEASED, visit

To see the impact of his transformation, visit They’re looking for summer interns!

To consider the impact of your story, give a look:

What story are you telling? from Rhetorik Creative on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

PRICELESS Giveaway for Slavery Awareness: Winner Announced

Thank you to all who responded to the invitation to know more about human trafficking. I literally wrote out your names and put them in my special bowl. I'll continue praying for each of you by name and welcome any continued contact you desire. I also welcome your prayers as I continue asking God to show me how to respond with the gifts I've been given.

I'll be sending two copies of PRICELESS by Tom Davis to Pastor Joe Wilson. One for him to read and one to give away on his blog, from the pulpit, over dinner, however he chooses.

I had a third copy to share from my stash, so I drew a second name. Surprise! I'll be sending "Fiddlin' Momma" that copy. She gets to decide whether to read it herself, pass it along for someone else. Or both!

While I'm posting "winners," I'm confident God will use these books and our open hearts in ways we can't today fathom. I have a feeling He already is. We may never know the names of the real winners as we use what we now know to perpetuate awareness and offer hope for victims of human trafficking.

God bless you.


To know more about Tom Davis or the ministry of Children's HopeChest, visit or