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. When my husband and I were first married, we would volunteer in the childrens church with 0-5 year olds. We loved it. We adored the kids, had an abundance of energy and were able to let all the parents have a morning off, to let them go and worship. Now that I am older, I meet women for lunch, ask the hard questions, and try to intentionally create fellowship, I pursue these women instead of letting our relationships fall into the “Hi-How-Are-Ya” of Sunday morning ritual. The fruit I am bearing now, is so much different than it was ten years ago. I loved what Jean said, that “Fruitfulness in every season requires flexibility.” And when Angie said “Obedience looks different in every season.” This was a life affirming conversation for me. We are about to transition to Kindergarten in the fall, to having my parents live a mile away instead of 3,000 and I wonder what my obedience and fruit will look like in the next year, and it doesn’t scare me, it excites me.

    When the tree bears fruit some is eaten, some goes into pie, some is preserved for Jam, some is juiced, some is eaten by wild animals, and some falls to the floor, rotting into the ground. We can’t worry about what happens to our fruit, we can simply produce it in such abundance that we are laden down with it falling off of us.

    Great way to start the day. Thanks Ladies. Thanks Robin.

    • Oh, Sarah…your analogy about the different uses of fruit? Well, it sounds like something I should have heard before, but it’s new to me! And it’s SO perfect–I won’t forget it :). It’s a wonderful picture that helps to see the importance of diversity.

      🙂 🙂 🙂

      • Whoops! I didn’t meant to take credit for that – I believe it was in Rachel Jankovic’s “Loving the Little Years” I seem to have deleted that part before posting.

        That analogy sticks with me, almost as much as the idea that our kids are not our fruit – they are trees in their own right!

  2. “On every path, God calls me to live not by what I perceive but by what He reveals” top of pg. 112. Oooo, this is my favorite from these chapters because this is exactly what I have been striving for, to live by what He reveals. I am hot headed, passionate, loud, and have a habit of allowing my feelings to take over. My personal perception of a situation will ofter have me going over the top in some inappropriate manner, but if I go to God first and ask Him to help me live the situation in His truth rather than my own feelings, everything becomes much calmer and the path becomes entirely different.

    I love the quote from the video “Our weakness does not disqualify or prevent us from being fruitful.” I frequently feel I am too loud, too rough around the edges, to be fruitful. I have a difficult time with verbal communication, stuttering, forgetting my points, etc. But being reminded that God can still use this branch, in all of my clumsy, noisy, inelegance, is so very reassuring.

    • “My personal perception of a situation will ofter have me going over the top in some inappropriate manner” Amen to that!

      This is why I love discussions between women of faith from all different ages and walks on life, the perspective that someone else’s walk gives me, someone else’s years of experience, is liberating. Absolutely liberating.

    • Aubrey,

      When you said, “…but if I go to God first…” that word “first” smacked me! Too many times I go to God second or third or fourth! You’d think I would have learned by now, but I’m resistant and all too often self-reliant. Which is why this book is a great reminder of so many things I already KNOW, ya know?

      And I agree with Sarah, the range in our group’s ages make the comments so rich.

      • Oh ladies,

        Isn’t it encouraging to know we are all fruit–even different kinds of fruit–all on the same branch? Jean’s ideas speak deeply to us all, and though we see different ways her ideas apply directly to us, our understanding of the concepts is similar.

        Aubrey, I often don’t feel I’m bearing fruit. Like you, I have slowly learned to pray BEFORE anything. Now I’m trying to learn to pray IN THE MIDST of difficult circumstances, and I love the idea of breath prayers, “breathe in calm my heart; breathe out give me …(wisdom, patience, love, kindness). Years ago, the pastor of my church gave a sermon where he suggested we can ask God in advance, “What fruit does the person I’m engaging with need, kindness, patience, peace, etc.” Then we can offer them that fruit as we interact. I do this whenever I can because it changes MY attitude and responses.

  3. I love the idea about being hospitable not only with others, but with yourself. As a single girl, it is so easy for me to not care how my home looks or to just eat out/make something fast and simple. It is very convicting and freeing to realize hospitality starts with me. That I should create an environment around me that I would want to be a part of. It is a great way to live intentionally in this season that I am in!

    • I love that commercial with the girl having a big night in with a bag of Lays and a movie, absolutely treat yourself like company! We are called to be followers of Christ before any other role we may take on in our lives, wife, daughter, sister, mother, all of these life roles pale in comparison.

      • The reason I loved this quote was it is so me. I love having things a certain way around me. For years, when my husband first retired and then when we had our daughters and our grandchildren (at different times, but back-to-back over five years), I felt displaced. Having two adult women in the same house and trying not to step on my daughters’ “mothering toes,” left me unsettled. I gave up even trying to keep my regular schedule or neat and tidy style. Once we were empty-nesters again, I still couldn’t shake the messiness that was so unlike me. It took us moving into a new house to return to the feeling of home where I lived.

        Until I read this chapter, I never thought about “hospitality for myself.” Oh, how I need it.

  4. Can I just say that these chapters make my heart happy? Let’s start with the fact that the whole premise of my blog is life lessons, and last year my theme for 2013 was “Frutilicious.” I actually wrote a whole 31 day series in October on Living a Frutiful Life. Jean, you are a kindred spirit! Love, love love this section of the book!!!!

    Q1. I am so happy to report that after 5 years of marriage and renting, God blessed us by allowing us to buy the house. It sits on a nice little lake, and I love to invite people over and put some chairs out back to sit and chat and let the cool breeze refresh our spirits. I was back there with the girls last month on my best friend’s birthday, and my goal is to do that more often. I don’t have to have a 5-course meal — I can just make a salad (thank you, Shauna Niequist!)

    Q2. This really is a passion of mine. I find that the Lord teaches me so much as I live out my faith day to day — The reason I started my blog was to record those lessons (because i am prone to forget and writing it down helps me to remember!)

    We are in a valley season at Casa Dunbar, and one of the things I have learned through this season of suffering is that if you lean into Jesus through the pain, He will give you a new heart for others when you emerge on the other side. He will give you eyes to see the hurting and a heart to extend yourself to those who need support. I can no longer stand by and do nothing.

    Q3. Have you ever been discouraged because you didn’t feel like you were producing the spiritual fruit you once did or that others seem to be? How does Jean’s, Angie’s and Jessica’s conversation about fruitfulness encourage you? Tell us about two different seasons in your life, contrasting the fruit’s appearance in each season.

    I spent a couple of decades working with teenagers as a single gal. That was a very busy season, and investing in young people is rewarding (and sometimes exhausting!). It was a season full of activity and lots of faces. Now that I am married, I am serving mostly with women online. I don’t get to see them physically, and it’s more about making connections and being an encourager than discipleship. I’ve learned that “less is more.” I don’t have to be a busy bee all the time to be fruitful. I just need to love people and point them to Jesus.

    In 2012, I was very sick for most of the year. I was not able to get to church, and this is really what led me to the finding ways to serve online. I must admit that this has been the most fruitful season of my ministry personally — I am not in front of a classroom, but I am connecting with women one on one, and I am growing so much through the process!

    Q4. “… Jesus wants to live in me and stick out all over.” (p. 118).

  5. The statement that touched me was on page 108. “Whatever it was that made you like being in Mary and Martha’s home, please develop that in my life. Make my life a hospitable home for your indwellling. ” this is what I need.

  6. Q2. ..through suffering, He learned obedience”. I have a beautiful and accomplished daughter who is in her late 20’s. Just a few years back she was diagnosed as Bi-polar. This is not a path we ever fore-saw anticipated or would have chosen! What pain we have endured but oh how much we have learned. We have learned to lean on Him and trust when we don’t understand what to do or know where to turn. We have been “surprised” by his faithfulness and provision in so many unexpected ways. I personally have learned release my controlling grip and surrender to Him. I’ve also learned empathy for so many who suffer in silence for fear of being misunderstood and/or criticised. Though this suffering is not a gift I would have chosen, it has drawn me closer to Him than anything else in my life!

  7. 1. Hospitality toward others is something I struggle with, partly because I am an introvert and also because of lack of self-confidence. I always do well with the presentation, but not with the approachableness. I am more and more willing to take risks in this area. In 2013, I went to an (in)RL gathering with people I didn’t know and loved it. This year I hosted my own IF gathering and (in)RL gathering. I have also changed how I pray for others. I try not to just say, “I’ll pray for you,” but to stop in the moment and pray right then. If I am with the person in person or on the phone, I ask and then pray out loud. I also pray directly for people by email or text.

    2. I have always been a life-long learner. I don’t always realize how much God is truly changing me unless others point it out, but God, in His faithfulness, does show me my own growth through the comments of others and in my responses to the challenging things He continues to place in my path. One area where I’ve grown the most is in my compassion, grace, and mercy to others. For many years, I was a “straighten up and fly right,” girl. Through my daughter’s long years of physical crises caused by complications of her Juvenile Diabetes, I was privileged to spend weeks at a time in the hospital with her. Her choice to deliberately walk away from God and her family taught me the power of forgiveness and real unconditional love. When she died unexpectedly at 32, I realized I could never have changed the personality and habits of this girl I so loved, despite her challenges to me, and I am now more able to offer grace and mercy, care and compassion to others that I never did before.

    Another lesson God is teaching me is to pray for my enemies. There is a particular coworker that is a thorn in my side, and when I pray for her it changes my attitude toward her. It also keeps my eyes fixed on Jesus instead of myself, giving me the peace, joy, and strength I need.

    4. Out of the many favorite quotes, the one I want to share today is a paragraph, “I can glorify God by being more fruitful than I dared to dream. In those times when I feel particularly weak or laid aside, I will nest in Jesus. I will ask him to shape me to His will and use me and use me and use me. I will remind myself that fruitfulness is God’s will for me even when I’m at my lowest. Jesus said so, ‘You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit–fruit that will last–and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you’ (John 15:16).”

    What an encouragement.

    • Oh Debbie! Praying for co-workers is such a hard step to take, but once you do oh my it heals like nothing else. You can’t stay mad at someone when you pray for them. Good for you! Now to apply to my own job!

      • Sarah,

        I started with the prayer, “Shalom,” meaning God’s peace and wholeness for these women. Whenever their name(s) crossed my mind–usually in irritation, anger, or bitterness–I followed it with “Forgive me, God, please offer _____ shalom.” Now I’m praying more specifically as I listen when they talk in the lunchroom and pray for their needs. And yes, I still need to ask forgiveness frequently for my own attitude!

  8. Q1. I am still recovering from perfectionism and I recently had a major victory in the area of hospitality. I invited a friend over for Bible study in my home with very dusty mini blinds, base boards and cob webs (I’m sure). Oh yes, I must also mention the very visible weeds from my back door. Knowing these things existed did not hinder my time together with my friend. She actually made a comment on how clean my house was. I feel like I have made it over a huge hurdle and I am ready to jump over another one.

    Q2. Living and Learning…My parents lived through the ‘Great Depression’ and learned to be savers. Living though what seems like the ‘Never Ending Recession’ has changed my view on spending. My husband and I are small business owners and we have made drastic cuts to our business and personal budget. If and when the economy improves, we have a plan to save for the future, pay off our home early, and pay off our business loan. The Lord knows our needs!

    Q3. Contrasting fruit…In the early years of parenting, my husband worked and I stayed home raising our boys. We did not have much but we had JOY. Now in the later years of parenting, we have much more but have lost the JOY. We still have JESUS. The JOY of the Lord is our strength!

    Q4. Favorite quote…page 121, “His Word, warm sap rising in tender and easily broken branches, pulses life through and through, buds sweet fruit into existence”. There is nothing else to add to these beautifully written words.

  9. I am scared that I do not desire enough to be fruitful. I want to be someone who rises early in the morning and prays for my family and spends time with God. But I never have been. Maybe I feel like being fruitful is out of reach for me? I never feel good enough, so I never feel fruitful. At my old job I talked about Jesus all the time. He gave me opportunities to touch others’ lives through Him. I left that job a year ago and I still get messages from my old coworkers who say they miss my spirit and talk about me all the time. I don’t think I’m making a difference at my new job. I work more independently and it’s easier to keep to myself.

    I think I enjoy comfort too much. And how can I be fruitful and love God while at the same time clinging to things that comfort me? I’m scared of getting to the end of my life and finding out I failed. I know that I have been saved by Jesus but I’m not sure if I have any fruit. I don’t think I’ve ever led anyone to Christ (despite my trying) and having grown up in the Southern Baptist church I’ve heard way too many people keep score of the “souls” they’ve “won” for Jesus. I know it’s not my job to be good enough for God, but I still want to feel good enough! I want to feel like I’m okay! Every time I ask for forgiveness I feel like a failure. I just want to feel secure and enough and I’m scared that I never will. I have depression and anxiety among other things so it feels like my mind is just wired to work against me. I want to love God and cling to Him but I have trust issues with Him just like I do with other people. I keep my distance from Him as if He’s going to hurt me. I just don’t understand myself.

    • I struggle with this as well. Last year, when my one word was GRACE, I read Grace Awakening my Charles Swindoll. The part that struck me the most was his explanation of grace bringing FREEDOM. Because of Christ’s sacrifice, I am free from the power of sin. If, when I do sin, or I see only the areas where I fall short, I am still living as a slave to sin. That makes Christ’s gift to me less valuable. Instead of living as a person freely forgiven, I allow Satan to rule my life because he pins me down with shame, guilt, and ignorance. It is tragic to live as though I am still a slave to sin when the truth is I am free by the grace of God.

      One of the ways I am trying to live an intentional life is to give grace to MYSELF. That means truly accepting God’s grace and living as though I am free from sin. When I do sin, it means confessing that as soon as I am aware, and then living with thankfulness and joy because it is well with my soul. God loves me; I need to accept that love and love myself as a woman adopted by God into His family.

      It is hard and slow-going. I recommend getting an accountability partner to help you see the ways you are bearing fruit and growing in Christ. Yes, they can also make you aware of when you need to change a sinful behavior, but then they can help you remember you are 100% forgiven. Dwell on that forgiveness and grace not on your mistakes. Why? Because God doesn’t.

      May God fill your heart with His forgiveness and joy in YOU. He loves you so much, He gave His Son. “And if the Son sets you free, then you are free indeed (john 8:34 and 36).

    • Sharon, I appreciate the honesty of your comments very much. So many of your thoughts have been mine: I’m not good enough, fruitful enough, hospitable enough, or even forgiven enough. Jean quotes from Matthew 11 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”. This has helped me dispel anxiety and depression. Jean also writes that “He (Jesus) calls me to come and learn from Him, of Him, and with Him in all of life”. When I live this way, I don’t have much time left to come up with “things I didn’t do right.” I learn each day that when I ask Jesus for forgiveness, He gives it, I John 1:9. Bless You.

  10. I liked the way Jean tied all these chapters together..Hospitality: A Welcoming Life,, Lifelong Learner: If not now When and Looking for Fruit. i never thought of Offering Hospitality to Myself. I also do things for others and not for myself the Chapter on Hospitality help me see that. i like the quote”Our homes minister to us as well to others. Home and Come are spelled alike but for the first letter, Come and Home are words meant to bless us in our earthly pilgrimage, Home calls Come .” I learning to be a life long learner ,These chapters really helped me start to understand i have a long way to go. The fruit for a season really spoke to me and being the Evidence of God’s Character in my life. . i am learning about the different season of my life and how the fruit will be evident now and and in the future. These chapters are ones i plan to go back and read and mediate on some more.