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 I was 16 my Granddad died. You’ve heard the phrase “Daddy’s little girl” well I was my Grandad’s. It was devastating and could easily have consumed me. Just a month earlier we had buried his brother, my great uncle, for the same thing, he had been treated in the same room even.

    I stood in the hospital room with my dad and Great Aunt, who had just lost both of her brothers, and this six months after losing their mother. My Grandad’s body was still on the bed between my aunt and I when she looked up to me and said “There is no God. There just can’t be.”

    I was a brand new Christian in a family of non believers. I did not know what to do with this information. I ran out of that room, out of that building as fast as I could, I just wanted to run away from her words. When I stopped running, I realized my dad, the 6ft tall Rugby player, had been running after me. My dad, Mr “I don’t talk politics or religion,” took my shoulders in both hands, looked me square in the eyes and said “You don’t believe her, just don’t believe her.” Then just as quickly, he let go and walked back into the hospital.

    I have had my peaks and I have had my valleys, and every time I feel myself being sucked away, I recall the words of my un-believing father, and I know that there is hope for all, for my father who just doesn’t talk about it, for my brother, the most hardened cynic. Because my heavenly father holds them all.

    That moment defined much of my early walk, a non-believers recognition of faith and faithfulness in the face of such overwhelming loss. I was not consumed by grief for my beloved Grandad’s death, I mourned and I was strengthened and my God held me close.

    I am still the only Christian in an unbelieving family, but I have a hope and so do they.

    • {{Sarah}}

      I have so few words, but to me this is a story of incredible hope, and glimpses of grace. Thank you for letting us revisit this memory with you.

  2. Q1. I’ve been married for 5 years, and we’ve lost my mother in law, our 4-month old granddaughter, my best friend’s husband, and my hubby’s godmother. Losing someone reminds you how important it is to invest your time and energy in your relationships. I don’t want to look back 10 years from now and wish I had spent more time with my mom or my husband. It’s caused me to think about what is more important — I am learning to lay down my to-do list if it means that I will be spending time with those I love.

    Q2. My best friend’s husband passed away in January. She is in her mid-40’s and two years younger than I am. For the last 5 months, I’ve thought about and talked about widowhood a lot. All the Scriptures on caring for the orphan and the widow have new meaning to me. One thing I’ve been thinking and praying about is being more intentional about documenting my marriage — I want to take more pictures, write more to my husband, and keep a box full of things that remind me of how far God has brought us on our journey together.

    Q3. I love how Jean used the Thomas Dale quote on page 183 to order her thoughts on this subject. Following her lead, I think my focus will be 4-fold. First, I want to live a balanced life — physically, spiritually, emotionally, and socially. This requires intentional planning, discernment, and discipline. Second, I want to be a good steward of whatever resources God gives me to advance the cause. Our church is going to be helping to start 2 new Compassion Centers in El Salvador, and this is so exciting to us! Third, I want to be intentional about examining my motives and lay down my agenda for God’s. Ministry can sometimes become more about “me” than Him. I have an accountability partner who helps hold a mirror up to my heart, and this is definitely a relationship I want to continue to cultivate as I grow older. Finally, I want to follow Jean’s lead and study Scriptures on heaven so that I have the right focus and mindset when I think about the end of my life. I don’t want to be a bundle of fear and anxiety when I should be hopeful and at peace. My best friend is reading Randy Alcorn’s book on Heaven, and this might be a good place for me to start.

    Q4. “Confronting the brevity of life leads me to solemn and earnest living.” (p. 183)

    • Lyli,

      As I read your answers to these questions I was struck by what a lovely grasp of STEWARDSHIP you’re displaying. All of these are stewardship issues, and your intentionality is a blessing to all those you’ve mentioned. A wonderful example, friend.

      🙂

  3. Loss does take so many forms and is no respecter of age, position, wealth, or ethnicity. I think it is defined by each individual and framed by what is important to them. We must be respectful, compassionate, and tender with one another as we travel through this life. I could quickly relate to Jean’s loss of writing, as I too have suffered from tremors in my hands for several years, making it difficult and sometimes painful to write for any length. At only 42, this is not something my peers can sympathize with, so it feels good to have someone else who shares my sense of loss in this way. I have lost a child through miscarriage. I have said goodbye to too many friends and churches who were like family to me due to frequent moves. My father died two years ago. And I lost my husband to the pull of alcohol, drugs, and pornography. With divorce comes the searing loss of dreams and ideals. It is a pain like none of the others I have ever experienced, and yet I am thankful for the lessons learned through each of these stages and the “treasures of darkness” (Isaiah 45:3) that God has given me along the way, “Ebenezer” moments that remind me of His great faithfulness in the past and point to the hope He has for my future. He has given me literal “songs in the night” (Job 35:10) which I have been able to then share with others for encouragement and strength. He has taken this broken vessel, a girl who is terribly shy and reserved, and called me to speak at women’s retreats and share His Word, my only source. I KNOW my Jesus like I could have never known Him before, and I only pray that He will “stick out all over me” in ways that bring Him glory. I loved the part in the video where Jean said, “God didn’t initially create us to suffer, but He calls us to suffer. It is a privilege to be called to ‘step up.’ God doesn’t see my suffering and cut me loose with a ‘Well, you’ve been through enough. I don’t have any expectations of you anymore. Here’s a free pass from here on out.'” Like a Potter, He molds and shapes and cuts and fires each piece, knowing just how to turn humble clay into something of great beauty, ready to pour Him out on a lost world.

    I am also so thankful for the examples of other women God has placed in my life. Whenever I hear the song “Blessed be Your Name”, my mind sees my sweet sister kneeling by the grave of her stillborn son, tears streaming down her face but hands lifted, quivering voice singing out, “Blessed be Your name, on the road marked with suffering. Though there’s pain in the offering, blessed be Your name. You give and take away…” I’ve watched my own mom say say goodbye to her husband of 49 years and fight for joy through the initial weeks and months of widowhood, continuing to smile, serve, and shine for her family, among her senior community, and in her church. I’ve watched my friends Bethany and Eric say hello and goodbye to their son in the space of just over an hour, lost to anencephaly, and witnessed them use their pain and grief and loss to become champions for neonatal organ donation, giving other parents hope and purpose for the lives of these precious little ones (www.purposefulgift.com). All of these examples point to the goodness and kindness of our Father God who delights in ressurecting the dead and redeeming what we view as loss.

    I love Jean’s bungee cord word picture on pg 178. Favorite quote: “The same unchanging Father of lights ‘takes’ with the same love that motivates His giving. The is no darkness in the taking, no shifting shadows. Loss and leaving are part of life…it is my intended wing, my high desire, to surrender to Your taking and gratefully receive what You give…Remind me that what You give and take is my biography, a story meant to bless me and bless others to Your glory.”

    • “All of these examples point to the goodness and kindness of our Father God who delights in resurrecting the dead and redeeming what we view as loss.” Beautiful. This week, a guest speaker at our church reminded us “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost you all you have, get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:7). One way we do this is by seeking out and listening to other Christians with more experience than we have. You are, as Robin Dance would say, a WOW (Woman of Wisdom).

    • Laura,

      Your life is a rich one, and you see with the eyes of your Father. That is a precious gift, one that teaches by example. I’m so touched by the candor and wisdom in this thread today….

  4. Loss has is a good mentor… I lived with a chronic illness in my 30’s… as a young mom it helped to tear down the idol of motherhood… the perfect mom I was trying to be for my kids… when the Lord spoke to my heart…” that my children would love me through my weakness and not not my strength…this statement was like nails on a chalkboard to me… but as God’s love continued to woo me… I learned to rest in that space.
    Loss of friends and family through a church spilt ( that’s a nice term)… I was cut off… I lost friends of more than 20 years…I lost my sister who I talked to daily… I was so lonely… but through the days… weeks and years that followed… I found Jesus as Friend… the friendship that moves from head knowledge… to being a real to me as any human friendship…it was the most painful time but the most precious time with Him. He used this quite space to change so much of my thinking… most importantly… my thinking about Him…and when His Love came in a way I never thought possible… it transformed so much of what I believed.
    Again… thank you so much for bringing Jean here… Jean, you are indeed a treasure… and if you ever come back to Nashville… I would love to take you up on that coffee offer 🙂

    • Ro,

      Your comment strikes me with this: IF we’re malleable, teachable, open, the Lord can and will use those things for our good and His glory. Could he accomplish those things in our lives with an “easier” path? Perhaps (and certainly if he wanted to). But my experience is humankind can be awfully hard-headed…but loss brings us to our knees and our eyes to him.

      Thank you for joining us this go’ round :).

  5. 1. I am almost 59, and my fifties have been the most difficult years of my life. Loss has been the reason these years are uncharted water for me. I never anticipated any of the things that happened. Every time one loss seems to start to heal, another loss sends a huge wave moving my boat in another direction I didn’t see coming and don’t know how to navigate. (losses have included my daughter leaving her husband and living a chosen sinful life for 3 years; her dying at 32; my husband retiring and being unable to get his own business off the ground leading to his depression and over the course of these 5 years all of his retirement savings; loss of our home of 27 years so we live in a different city and are struggling financially; loss of a team at work I loved; loss of respect from the new team members; loss of a small group that disbanded when people couldn’t agree on what they wanted to do).

    But in all, even the death of my 32 year old daughter, I feel God’s Presence. I draw closer and closer to Him because He is unchanging, good, kind, full of grace and mercy. These losses also help me abide more closely with Christ. I see these as ways God is pruning away the sharp edges, pride, self-reliance, and lack of compassion and impatience with others. As He keeps me on this vast sea, with no sign of land, no certainty of what will come next, He also makes it clear He knows where He is leading me and He is with me all the time.

    Because of these losses, I am learning to have more compassion and help others suffering loss. I am taking training to become a Stephen Minister–helping others in times of crisis–something I NEVER would have done in the past. It has changed the way I see and interact with my students, and since last year was so difficult and I failed miserably to connect with students and parents, God showed me I have more changes to make in my life to better minister to others. It will, I pray, keep me much more focused on Him in this area of influence He chose for me.

    2. Chapter 27, Growing Sweeter, spoke to me most deeply. Her description of Paul and the end of his life feeling abandoned and alone, but deliberately choosing to discipline his mind and still stand firm in his faith and his ministry–even from a jail cell. He was a “burning bush person,” someone standing in “flames” but not consumed. He resisted soul-withering resentment and bitterness. He resolved to be kind and not resentful to the end. Kind, mild, affable.” (pages 168-169). I want to be like Paul, and ultimately, like Christ, who stood firm in His gentle, compassionate, servant stance. As I get ready to go into the last few years of teaching, I want to be a burning bush. To not be consumed by hurt and soul-withering bitterness, but to have a part in advancing His kingdom.

    3. My Spiritual Ammunition box has Bible verses I’ve memorized, my Joy Dare journals, the worship songs that keep me going, and my Intentional Living notebook.

    4. The one insight not already mentioned in question 2, is “The rest of my life is my preparation for death–and life forevermore.” This goes along with a previous chapter, “Living in Time and Eternity,” page 54, “I can honor god with faith and hope, both so highly valued in God’s eyes, only in Phase 1. No need for faith and hope in heaven; all I trust God for on earth will be tangible reality there.” I love this because it will help me to lift my head in hope and faith; it will change my countenance.

    • {{Debbie}}

      I knew this would be a hard section for many readers; loss isn’t pleasant. I almost wrote a disclaimer in the body of the post to “apologize” for the vulnerability I was asking of our community.

      But, as I read through these comments, I can’t help but think over and over again how precious your word offerings are! These experiences women have endured…and yet not soured or turned bitter–they’re a way of teaching the rest of us and I’m grateful.

      Thank you for sharing your hard story, Debbie; I hurt with and for you, proud of how you’re refusing to raise a white flag of surrender, and instead seek God in the midst.

      • Robin,

        I wrote a post on the Facebook page, but want to say it again here: This book club has been a beautiful, uplifting, inspiring, and encouraging experience. The questions you ask each week, and your faithfulness to respond to our comments is a blessing. Interacting with other women and being able to both relate to and learn from their journeys, questions, to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice was a gift. Each week I am printing the questions and responses to keep in my Intentional Living notebook because these are all things to meditate, linger over, and give hope for the future.

        Last week, I was on vacation and couldn’t participate in the discussions. Even so, I will go back to the videos to watch them and in my own Intentional Living notebook, write out the answers to the questions to keep.

        Thank you for all you’ve done to make this book study rich and something that will last far beyond the end of this book. I look forward to the next one.

        With thanks and joy,
        Debbie Putman

  6. This book comes at such perfect timing for me. My husband and I have been married for 6 years. In that time, I had two miscarriages, we graduated from college, we moved to another state only to move back a few months later with the promise of a job that didn’t come to fruition, spent several months jobless, during that time brought our first daughter into this home, found a church to serve at nearby, was blessed with a full time job, brought our second daughter home the day after my husband’s grandfather died, left the church, found a second part-time job, found another church to serve at (for free), had several months going dairy-free and soy-free while I learned to cook, had several minor catastrophes one after the other (including my parents’ divorce), and now we’re getting ready to bring our third daughter home as we pack up this one (two weeks ago, we found out that the rental we’ve been living in is for sale and there is a verbal agreement on it now). So. Much. Loss. But at the same time? Our faith has grown deeper, our walk has been stronger, and we are certain that God is calling us out of this position and into full-time ministry. We would not be where we are had God not brought us through all of these hard times and great losses. And now as we are packing and purging, we face smaller losses, getting rid of things that we have held onto for who-knows-why. I’m trusting that God’s grace is sufficient for even this.

    • Oh, my, Jeniffer…once again I find myself wanting to hug our community! I feel the weight of your words, of your losses, and it encourages ME for you to press into God, to be certain of his calling in your lives. I’m praying grace and wisdom over you now, and that yes, all from Him will be your sufficiency.

      For his glory alone…. xo

  7. Chapter 31, Preparing for Death, expanded my understanding of the spiritual side to death. I loved these quote from page 190, “Jesus hallowed the grave with His death and de-fanged it with resurrection. Death is no longer an unknown shadowy threat stalking me.”

    In 2002, I became an orphan due to the loss of both parents in a tragic accident. My grief journey lead me on a long and lonely road. I never doubted the Lord was with me. Having gone through that experience has made me more sensitive to those who are grieving.

    I am comparing my ‘Spiritual Ammunition Box’ to the young girl’s ‘Bottom Drawer’. Both have the same intention to gather items for a future marriage. I have a Bridegroom that is preparing me to be a pure and blameless bride. He has given me an earthly ‘gown’ to wear which is the armor of God-my ammunition.

    I am soooo looking forward to the next study. It has been wonderful getting to know the other “Bloomer’s”. A HUGE THANK YOU to EVERYONE at (in)courage. XXXXXXXXXX&OOOOOOOOO

  8. Thank you all for reading my book. What a rare privilege for an author to hear responses and to know her readers in a more personal way. What thoughtful readers you are. Thank you Jessica, Angie and Robin. Thank you all.

  9. Ladies… Thanks so much for opening up your hearts and sharing your losses with us here on this blog. Like so many of you, I, too, have experienced great loss in my life. However, I’m choosing to not share them here but instead to tell ALL of you how much comfort I’m getting from the knowledge that I am NOT alone in the journey of learning to live after loss.
    I believe that God is present in all of our joys and sorrows. The hardest part for my human heart is to keep faith with His will and to remember that. EVERYTHING happens for a reason. My personal losses have lead me to become closer to our Lord and His Word, listen for His direction within my life as I move forward, and to breathe – knowing that God has it all under control.
    Again, thank you ALL so very much for reminding me that we are NEVER alone. My wish is that we remember that everyone is going through their own hard things. Lets all be kinder and more compassionate toward one another.

  10. This has been an awesome book and study, It was also gotten my out of my comfort, i don;t do a lot of posting my feelings on Blogs. but after reading others stories i knew i was to share mine, I truly enjoyed reading this book and like the way Jean wrote about the different seasons of our lives, She brought to light many things I had not thought about considered., Thank you Jean for writing this book and sharing it.

    The chapter 28 .
    on loss was very real.. i have had a lot of losses in my life family , jobs ,pets and moving away from friends but. the hardest one was last April when my precious daughter in law and mother of my two grandchildren died unexpected. The chapter on Loss and leaving was very comfort, to me
    The scripture Jean used from James 1:17 has always been of my favorites”Father , you are the Giver God. All good things come from your hand . Every breath is bequeathed by grace . Every good and perfect gift is from above , coming down from the Father of Heavenly lights,who does not change like shifting shadows . You give and take away.My daughter in law was truly God gift to me and the family.
    She taught me more about Love, Hope, Joy and Faith then anyone i know. I am thankful everyday that
    she was part of my life and such a Blessing.
    Jean summed up the chapter so beautiful on page 176. “Lord, i don’t know what losses may ‘drive me to thi chapter in the future but it is “my intended wing” my high desire to surrender to your “taking ” and gratefully receive what you give. This chapter represents my “advance -work” to prepare my heart for future joys and sorrows . Light my way in loss and gain. Remind me that You give and take my biography , a story meant to bless me and bless others for Your glory,”
    This book impressed on my that i do have a story worth telling and I should start writing it down before i forget. My prayer is God will encourage me and give me the grace and strength to do so/. i know that i cannot do it with out His help. So I pray Lord please help write my legacy to bless You and others for Your Glory

  11. This is my first Bloom study. I have been a participant from the beginning of this book study, but not a contributor of comments. My commitment has been interrupted with illness, vacation, & life-interruptions. This book study has been a huge blessing to me! I have read the book more than one, poured over the videos and comments several times. For me, I found that reading favorite quotes by readers, isolated from Jean’s book, popped the depth of the meaning of those words more significantly. I have journaled the quotes for my personal study. Definitely, this book and journaled notes will go in my ” ammunition box.” Thank you so much, to Jean for imparting her God-given wisdom & insight, and to Bloom book study for bringing this to us, as well as to all the readers contributing. It all is a lot of work and commitment on the part of many. I believe it’s all done to the glory of a God. It’s also been a huge blessing! Again, thank you so much!