About nine months after becoming a single mother, I attended my first swing dance. Imagine a room full of vintage-at heart people…newsboy hats, oxford shoes, pincurls and the prettiest dresses. All to the rock and sway of jazzy music. I fell in love with it that night and in what has now been nearly a year since, I’ve been taking various partner dance lessons—Swing, Waltz, Foxtrot and even the Charleston.
Through all these lessons and social dances, I have held the hands of many fellows and no matter the steps, turns, or swivels, I have learned above all other techniques to trust in the adventure. Sometimes the dances are with men I know, and other times it’s with a perfect stranger. Ideally, it is the man’s role to be the leader and the woman’s role to be the follower. For the female, this means that the steps and direction on the man’s mind will eventually find the way to her feet—but only if she’s paying attention. Only if she’s trusting. He will lead and she will follow. It’s the man who is the eyes and the decision-maker for where to go next, guiding his partner, steering her through the press of people, or around the room. And always, always, it is his job to keep her safe.
I have danced this way dozens upon dozens of times now, sometimes with fellows who nervously steer us with uncertainty and other times with men who confidently weave us around obstacles. And as I think back on those experiences, what I have learned in ornate ballrooms and comfy studios runs so much deeper than the steps and turns. I have come to discover more clearly how God is the greatest leader of all. Through life . . . He is guiding the way.
I don’t know that I would have learned this in such a tangible way had my life not waltzed right into the realm of uncertain. How is it that our greatest breakings have the ability to lead us to the richest, fullest awareness of God?
This new and different life began for me nearly two and a half years ago. Every night for roughly 860 days I have brushed my teeth, turned off the light, and crawled into bed telling myself that it is going to be okay.
Morning after morning I have opened my eyes and with God’s strength, found ways to not only get through the days . . . but to thrive. Homeschooling. Meals to prepare. Dishes to wash. Chickens to care for. Walks in the woods. Movie nights and popcorn with the children.
The earth moves around the sun and my children and I move around our routine.
It’s not always the same. Sometimes we eat breakfast for dinner. Sometimes we watch cooking shows instead of doing chores. Some evenings I skip off to dance class and scoop my children up when I get home. I show them the rock step and with giggles, they give it a go. My seven-year-old and I do some sort of waltz across the bedroom floor in our socks and it feels perfect.
New joys spring up from empty vessels like unexpected seeds in old flower pots. They just appear—watered by rain and warmed by the light of God’s goodness. God has dropped adventures into my lap that I never saw coming and never would have braved otherwise.
And life goes on. The sun still moves in its rhythm and the earth does too. Seasons change.
Moments ebb and flow and when sorrow slips in, or on the days I find it hard to smile, my children do it for me. They remind me what hope looks like and braced by their courage—their courage—I press onward. The pages of my Bible get more dog-eared and more cherished.
I see life so much for what it is. A dance of the most unique kind. Its music and movement in motion, even the painful parts.
My journal pages fill up with prayers and stories, and the third journal since this new and challenging dance began is already nearly full. I stack these diaries, enjoying their colorful spines on the bookshelf, while remembering moments both bitter and sweet. Its life there, raw and filled with grace, bound in colorful prints that hold my sloppy handwriting and God’s wondrous ways. 2016 . . . 2017 . . . 2018 . . .
Every page holds some of the steps to a dance that I am still learning.
Often I toss a glance over my shoulder and squint back at all that has been. I reread pages, recount prayers, smile at photographs and just remember. Remember what God has done. This happens often, in good moments and in hard, because never, not once, has there been a moment in those 860 days when God has not been faithful. Never was there a moment when God did not provide.
It’s tempting then, to look ahead and to see what might be coming and while I am going to trust that it will be good, I know it would be foolish to not pause here, in this moment, and glance down at the floor right beneath me.
Lord, you are good.
A new dawn, a new year. So much to be thankful for. May that day 861 be to your glory, Lord. And may day 862 be the same.
I’ve always thought that life is sort of like a walk with God, and maybe I’ve taken one waltz class too many now because I see it just a little differently. I see it more like the dynamic between a leader and a follower.
Have you ever felt it? A hand to His shoulder in trust, a stronger hand to your waist in assurance?
And then God turns you and the world around you blurs and all you know and all you see is what is right before you. When the music slows and you walk again, you’re a bit dizzy with delight and you know that you were safe then and that you’re safe now.
I’ve had men step on my toes and I have stepped on theirs. We’ve bumped knees, bumped into walls and even bumped into other couples. My shoelaces have come untied twice. But always it’s part of the adventure and you smile and you laugh and its part of what it’s all about. Yet with God, the laughter and the smiles are still there but the bumps are different. They’re not into walls or other couples. The bumps are simply me tripping up over my own plans and my own intentions. This happens when I lose focus on God. When I forget to trust. It’s in those bumps – those little blunders – that I feel God hold on just a little bit tighter, glance to my hand to make sure it’s securely on His shoulder, and we turn again. The world fades, and He reminds me, in that gentle, courageous kind of way, that He’s got this and that it’s all going to be okay.
In fact, it’s going to be so much more than just okay. It’s going to be magnificent.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11
This is so touching and beautifully written.
Lovely and so meaningful. It’s so good to hear your voice again. 🙂
Tears in my eyes. Thanks for sharing from your heart. May 2019 be magnificent!
Achingly beautiful. No other words.
Thank you for these beautiful worlds of encouragement. Indeed 2019 will be magnificent.
A beautiful post. Wishing you all good in 2019.
So beautiful. So true. How your life shines with His love!
Thank you for sharing your wonderful message. May we all be stronger for it.
Yes! I have felt this same way- got left at a dance, learned many new steps, kept dancing.. and through it all, God is there in the Lead😃 Thank you for sharing your heart!
Tears! ♥️😭 this is beautiful, Joanne. I’m so sorry for the heartache in those 860 days but glad & grateful God is always with you and His plans are much better than we can imagine. Prayers for your 2019!
Love your post! Blessings on your 2019. Keep up the great writing….love your books!
Thank you for being brave to share this with us. You are deeply cherished by the One who holds it all together!
Beautifully honest and I thank you! My breath caught on, “I have learned above all other techniques to trust in the adventure.” What a powerful sentence. Blessing as you, and I, dance with the Creator, God.
Joanne this is a post from your heart. Hope the New Year is full of happiness,love,peace and blessings.
Thanks for sharing….wishing you many wonderous blessings in the New Year!
Joanne I can relate to your story in so many ways. It has me thinking what my next dance steps in life will be. I need to stand brave like you and make a big step for myself and God. Here’s wishing you and your precious little family an amazing 2019! Love you💜
How beautiful to see you and God shinning through in these words!
When Tristan was a babe I sang I Hope You Dance as we rocked or as I waltzed and bounced him in my arms. As he prepares to step into this big old world on his own I hope he dances and lets God lead him on this new adventure.
Thank you for this picture of comfort as I ready for my nest to be empty. Life is so beautiful, even the very hard bits!
Wishing you and yours an amazing 2019 with lots of dancing, laughter and love!
No one could put it quite like you, Joanne! I love how you express your heart in everything you do.
What a blessing you are…through every book, through every blog, through the way you handle life…with Jesus.
Joanne what a moving post. It comes from your heart. Wishing you and yours a blessed and happy 2019 filled with peace.
Thank you for sharing your sweet heart. God bless you and your family in the most amazing ways in 2019.
This is so beautiful! Hugs 🙂
This is beautifully expressed, Joanne. God is always faithful which is especially important to us who found that lacking in our spouses. He will never let us down. I’m glad you are finding happiness again. May you and your children be greatly blessed in this coming year.
Thank you for Sharing your new journey. Prayers have been on my lips many times as I’ve passed your home and wondered how all was going. Blessings for a wonderful New Year filled with multiple adventures , provision and trusting our maker.
Thank you all so dearly! Your encouragement is such a blessing. My heart is touched deeply by your prayers, warm wishes, and in hearing what YOU have been learning through our great and wonderful God. Sending my own prayers for each of you in the coming New Year.
Such a beautiful message! Thank you for sharing your heart, Joanne. Warm wishes for a wonderful new year!
So beautifully written. Much happiness in 2019..
I love this post! Filled with hope and bittersweet too. Wish I could attend a dance class with you. I’d love to be a better dancer. Our Lord is the best leader. May He bless you in 2019.