What Does it Really Mean to Dance?

Before I opened my eyes Thursday morning, my husband said, “Happy anniversary.”

Five-thirty a.m., and I started laughing. A terrible time to laugh.

It wasn’t the kind of laughter you can stop. 

You know better. 

You tell yourself to behave and act like an adult. But you’ve lost control. 

“Happy anniversary,” I said, when I finally caught my breath.

“What’s so funny?”

“We’ve had a perfect marriage, haven’t we? Thirty-eight years of sheer bliss.”

(Leaving for our honeymoon, 12.9.78)

“Are you drunk?”

“Just think. We’ve never had an argument. No problems with our children. Always plenty of money in the bank. No sickness. No sadness. No family issues.”

“Yeah, right.”

All of the sudden, it wasn’t funny anymore.

We didn’t say anything for a minute. Probably both thinking the same thing.

During our 38 years together, we’d been up close and personal with mental illness, addiction, divorce, arrests, jail, prison, cancer, infertility, anorexia, homelessness…

Maybe you have a similar list.

I started the coffee. Fixed us a cup.

We went outside to the front porchand I thought about my word for 2016, DANCE.

Deep down, I hoped in 2016 I’d be dancing and celebrating certain things. Most of them haven’t happened. Not yet, anyway. 

I leaned back in my rocking chair. Sipped my coffee. “When you get married, you start out with all these wonderful plans–the way you think everything’s supposed to go.”

“Doesn’t work that way. We’re not in control.”

(We’re dancing at our daughter Katie’s first marriage in 2006.)

But something was nagging at me.

I couldn’t figure out how to fit the word DANCE into the puzzle of 2016, and the year was coming to a close.

“Do you think life is like a dance?” I said, thinking maybe I was getting a little closer.

He looked out into the morning, which was just beginning to wake up. “Yep. Life’s hard. Marriage is hard. Raising children is hard. You celebrate when you can.”

Then the magic happened. I connected the dots.

Truth came together in my heart.

I found what I was looking for–a way to tie our messy lives into dancing.

“You know what? Over the years, it’s the slow-dancing you remember,” I said. “The hard times. The times when you don’t know what to do. That’s what bonds people together. It’s not the fun, loud, happy times.”

“You’re right.”

“That’s the secret. That’s what brings us close to God. Hard times. Times when there’s no possible way you can make it without Him.”

He nodded. “Yep. You nailed it.”

When things gets tough, slow dance. Hang on to God with all your might. Lean into Him. Click to tweet. 

Keep your eyes on Him. 

Stay inside the shelter of His embrace. 

He won’t let you go. 

* When you can’t hear the music, remember, God wrote the song. Click to tweet

Three questions:

1. If you chose a word for 2016, how’s it going?

2. Are you slow dancing with God right now?

3. I’m curious. Do you have a list like mine?







  1. Anna Haney says:

    Oh, Julie
    I’ve been sitting here, waiting for your post this morning. I love it.
    My word for 2015, as you know, was CHANGE. Boy howdy what a word I chose. This year I’ve seen changes that I certainly wasn’t expecting. But I slow danced with God through them and let Him take the lead.
    It wasn’t an easy year by any means, but it wasn’t horrible, either.
    I am still thinking about my 2017 word.

  2. Anna, girl, you just blew me away–you sitting there waiting for my post…and me praying it’ll touch someone’s heart. Actually, Rick prayed for anyone who might read this post today. And you’re the first one to comment! Totally makes my Christmas!

    You have gone through tremendous change. I see it in your eyes.I can feel it in your comments. It’s a deep faith and strength, and now you’re sharing this with us. I’m so grateful for how God has carried you through your year of CHANGE.

    I have this word that keeps toying with me for 2017. This word is so NOT me…not sure if I dare to choose it.

    love you. Thank you for being such an encouragement to me. Thank you. Thank you.

  3. Ellen says:

    Keep of breathing, dancing, loving… It’s all that matter. Those breaths, dance steps, loving of God’s people will be the journey. The journey is the destination. We have to stop to laugh, cry, rest and make adjustments along the way. It’s how He wants us to live (I’m convinced). Instead of a list I envision stepping stones each day and I focus on the “next thing” or the “now thing” . He leads me along the way and he’s the best and only Shepard ever!! Merry Christmas Julie.

    • You said it so beautifully, Ellen–what my heart is/was feeling.

      THANK YOU.

      He’s the only Shepherd.

  4. sandy coffey says:

    Love how you laughed when you woke up. Sometimes it is that or tears. You choose. Still 2016 has been a bit of a struggle but everyone has to decide for them selves what is what and who is who. We can only control our own inner thoughts. Prayers daily sure help so we keep slow dancing or is it square dancing and all the dosey doe’s ect. Whatever it is let’s move on to the New Year and Hope will be my new word for the new year.

    • Yes! So true, Sandy.

      We can only control our inner thoughts. And for me, that takes TONS of prayer.

      Love it–square dancing or dosey-does. 🙂

  5. Marcia B says:

    Yes, like Anna, I wait and look forward to your blog. It is very much a devotional for me and allows my spirit to meditate on some of the thoughts and Scriptures you share. I did not have a word for 2016, but really identify with yours–especially the dance when it becomes slow. Sometimes we want to get ahead of what God desires for our lives and it is in those slower, quieter moments of struggles that His Word can penetrate and do the work of consecration He wants us to have. I will look forward to a new year with your blog community. Merry Christmas and may the Lord Jesus bless you in the new year.

    • Marcia B. I’m sitting here praying, “Thank You, Lord. It’s all You. You join our hearts together. We’re all in this together.”

      Thank you, my friend. Honored to be dancing with you. xoxoxo

  6. Carm Russell says:

    “When things gets tough, slow dance. Hang on to God with all your might. Lean into Him.” Love love love ❤️ Especially “Hang onto God with all your might.” It’s the only way to get through all the moments in life.

    Merry, Happy, Blessed

    • I know. No other way, Carm. Just won’t work.

      “Merry, Happy, Blessed!” I just love that. Would be a great way to sign Christmas card. 🙂

  7. Marjorie Hill says:

    Merry Christmas, Julie. Thanks for your blog. Always special to me.

    • And it means so much to know you’re reading, Margie. So much. Our hearts connected that day at Ridgecrest, didn’t they? 🙂


  8. Julie, thank you for helping me to remember joy. I love that you laughed. As I sit at the computer, I’m waiting for the contractor to call. Apparently, my kitchen has water and mold damage, due to a slow leak from my dishwasher. All will be well.

    I didn’t choose a word for 2016. If I had, it would have been DARE. I stepped out of my comfort zone many times and discovered wonderful blessings. Apparently, my word now is THANK. Somehow, as the things in my life have been falling apart, I have been able to handle it with thankfulness. When I pulled my dishwasher away from the wall and discovered the damage, I was tempted to panic. In fact, I lost sleep. (Wouldn’t it have been great if I handled it like a pro?) I prayed, almost pushing my prayers to God. I was too busy worrying to even listen. It wasn’t until the morning, when I was exhausted, that I finally felt His incredible peace. That’s when I felt thankful. Some folks woke up without a home, without heat, and certainly without food for their babies. We’re warm, dry, and well fed.

    So, it will be okay. And, we will be okay. I just have to remember to skip over fear and fall into faith. That’s when I’ll have peace. What a great God we serve.

    • Lisa, I’ve never heard it said that way before, but I love it. Because I’ve done it so many times….I’ve PUSHED my prayers to God.

      And guess what my mother’s very first published article was called? “Thank You Lord, for My Broken Dishwasher.”

      You’re right. All will be well.

      I love your word DARE for 2016. And I agree. It’s SO you. Go ahead and claim it for the year, and with THANK, you’re reading for 2017!

  9. Elaine says:

    My word was patience and little did I know h ow much patience I would need to get through some large things. Usually, it is my health, but this year it was my sister and my daughter struggling through addictions. I feel very happy to have had no surgeries this year and better health, since I am over the other surgeries. We have been blessed to be able to help members of our family. My husband’s Parkinson’s has not progressed any further. He can do circles around me. He is such a caring loving man to all people and can’t do enough to help others. My word for this year is serenity. My daughter gave me a block of wood with 3 candles and on the front is the word Serenity. Later that week I kept seeing stories with the word in it. Especially good was a Guideposts story and explanation of what the word means.

    • Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh, Serenity! I love this word, Elaine!! Love it!

      In my mind, when I read that your husband was doing circles around you, the sweetest image came to me….of him. Of him actually dancing in circles around you. 🙂

      I’m rejoicing with you. Lifting the people you mentioned to God, saying a prayer now.


  10. Monica Henson says:

    I love the idea of a word for the year. My friend Millie does this as well. My word for 2017 is “curate.” I want to curate my life as much as possible, allotting my time only to those things that are truly important, and especially to those things that give me joy.

    • Curate. Wow, Monica….I’m smiling. So unusual! Only you!

      It’s just perfect. Absolutely perfect.


  11. Stephanie says:

    Those times of silly laughter are the best! The ones where you can’t catch your breath and it’s contagious to everyone around you. When I think of the word DANCE I think of how it’s really hard to be somber when you’re dancing. Dance is joyful, almost always. I didn’t pick a word for 2016, but in September, I thought to myself that I wanted to be more present, living more in the now instead of regret or wishful thinking. So because it’s such a great way to live, I am going to choose NOW for this year. Instead of waiting for “perfect” circumstances–which are elusive, I am going to follow that impulse, those thoughts and trust that there’s something for me to experience and learn when I don’t have all the ducks in a row. Happy Christmas, Julie!

    • Stephanie, I’m so drawn to what you just said. Me too. Me too!!

      Thank you. What you said is helping me chose my word. I’m close to picking. Haven’t decided 100% but this helps.

      And you’re so right. Dancing is joyful. And joy is so much deeper than happiness. God alone brings JOY.

  12. My word for this year is choose. I just needed to remember that despite whatever may appear on my list, I can “choose” how I react, feel, think, speak, etc. about whatever it is. I can also look at what has come to “choose” me- my word always seems to do that- sometimes the word has picked me, when I thought I was picking it 🙂

    This is a beautiful post- and I keep hearing the words to the song by John Michael Montgomery:

    “Life’s a dance you learn as you go

    Sometimes you lead,

    Sometimes you follow.

    Don’t worry about what you don’t know,

    Life’s a dance you learn as you go…”

    I love how you wove together- and the slow dancing? Yes! I had the a-ha just as I read your words. We’re so vulnerable and real sometimes in those moments we don’t know what to do- just cling to each other and to Him. Slow Dance. That just feels so right. Such a gift you have for teaching us and leading by example. So thankful for you gracious gifts that you share with us! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

    • Vicky, I can just see you two slow dancing in my mind. I’m so drawn to how you love each other. I think that kind of love (which comes from God) is so compelling. So powerful.

      Choose. You’re absolutely right. We get to choose so much–thoughts, responses, attitudes. Really, that IS a lot of freedom!! Choosing!

      Love the song. Last night we watched Garth Brooks sing, “The Dance.” Moved me so deeply, I almost had to leave the room. So rich. So real. So powerful.

      Such love~

  13. ♥♥♥
    Wednesday, December 21, 2016.
    reaching back in time ~ enJ*O*Ying Julie Garmon’s posts:

    I’m talking less and listening more.
    get to know Him better
    “Help me. I need You. I can’t make it a day without You.” 
    marked it with the day’s date–just like God is doing with me. 
    keeping a quiet heart. I’m jotting everything down so I won’t forget to tell you!
    Have you kept a quiet heart today?
    Are you being broken? Be encouraged. God’s at work.

    My word for 2017: Wait.
    “Lots of rest. I separated her from the others. I spent time with her at night after work.”

    Come away, my Beloved.
    Come away, My beloved.
    And… Julie! That’s what our Lord means for me… Wait.
    There are so many profound things in your posts that He gives you. I was looking for your post about your D~A~N~C~E gift from ~ Mary that I remembered you opened. Your conversation with Rick is in your next post.
    You are so important to me ~ a gift directly to my soul. My AnneShirley-DianaBarry kindred (my paternal grandmother’s maiden name ~ Barry ~ grin).
    He is waiting for me. For you. For each of us to Wait in His presence.
    Love to you, dear sister and a very Merry Christ*mas to you and your family. xxoo Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House

    • “I will show you great and mighty things that you have not known…”

      • Kathleen, for some reason, my comment showed up above your post. Not sure why. Anyway, this is such a powerful Scripture–especially after my post.

        Thank you! Thank you!!!!!

    • Ohhhhh, Kathleen….

      Your words.

      Ohhhhh, me….

      Just so precious. So very precious.

      So much LOVE to you as you WAIT. Can’t wait to hear all about your days.

  14. marci says:

    Oh, Julie, what a wonderful share. Marriage/ and Life. You gave me such good things to think on, and jog my memory, as in less than a month, we will have our 49th anniv. You are right about it being a slow dance. There was a song at the time we married, , I wish I could remember all the words too.,. It would have been a good one to dance to. The song, “It All Comes With the Wedding Cake”.. then went on to list some things. My word for this year was to ‘Show up” .. and it has been a lesson that it is something I need to work on. Have not thought much about the word for this year, though, perhaps Notice? I don’t know yet. I don’t rush any more, so it may take a little while before I decide. I have gotten a lot out of your word Dance this year. It has inspired me, and lifted my spirit at times, and it has set me to dancing again! What joy that has given me.
    Sometimes when the mood hits, and a song taps on my shoulder, I just get up and start dancing. Then I say, Thank you Julie! Thank you Lord! for the dance.

    May your Christmas be warmed with Love, and may you dance into the New Year!

    God Bless, Lots of Love, Marci’a

    • Marci’a. 49–you’ve almost been married 49 years?! How did I not know this?! I can’t believe it. Is it a typo???

      Show up. I’d forgotten that was your word/words. That’s so good.

      And I’m thrilled that DANCE would mean something to you. And I didn’t pull the meaning together until the very end of the year. So like God. He’s so faithful, and often the answer comes at the 11th hour!


      • marci says:

        Dear Julie, No typo, yes, in Jan. we will be married 49 yrs. I know, I can barely wrap my head around it. I had been thinking of the Garth Brooks song, The Dance, after reading your blog. It can be so moving, the words. I have that song in CD and DVD. See how you were so touched by it.
        I know what you mean about things coming together with a word, even in the 11th hour! I just finished a Journal, on Grace, and it is amazing, to realize it is all Grace! And though I have finished writing in that journal, realizing Grace’s lessons will continue.

        God Bless!

        • I’m in awe, Marci’a. Total awe. Wow!!!! That’s almost half a century. 🙂 🙂

          The Dance. I listened to it again today. So much emotion in that song–I can hardly hold it all in my heart.

          And Grace’s lessons will never end, will they?!

          Still praying about my word, and choosing to trust that God will reveal it to me. Merry Almost Christmas!

  15. Love you so much, Julie. We just went 30 years. And right now, health issues are facing our family. I’m in that slow dance. Last week, anxiety flooded my soul. I’ve got to keep my eyes on God, deeper, no glances away …. And I love the picture of you dancing. Just beautiful.

    • And ps. keep us in your prayers, please.

    • 30 year? Shelli….you don’t look 30 years old!

      Yes,yes, I’m praying. Let me know….. I feel such a bond with you. So honored to pray for you. Keep slow-dancing. No other way.

      So much love,

  16. Cindy says:

    Julie, I read your list and thought to myself “us, too” to everything on your list except the last 2, but we have had a different long-term illness well. We have definitely had our share of slow dances in our past 29 years, but those are always the ones you remember long after they are over-the special ones. Those are the times when you really experience God’s love first hand. Happy Anniversary and Merry Christmas to you and Rick!

    • You’re so right, Cindy. THOSE are the times you experience God’s love first hand. Love how you said it. It’s so true. Looking back, I know you’re right there with me. And something else. I didn’t realize this early in our marriage. Well, I probably didn’t get it until after at least 20 years or so.

      Hugging you from here. And thank you for telling me our lists are similar. Just so nice to share this connection of…..trust.

  17. Tears, Kathleen.

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  18. You said you’re curious if I have a list like yours. Oh, my. Different in some ways…same in others. Long, like yours. Sad, like yours. But also a marriage that when I think about it (like you) I am brought to bubbles of joy. It’s the good times I remember, not the struggles. It’s the “dance” I think about (and slow is better for sure) where we hold each other close and move to the music. Just like in life, right? In a slow dance you are in his arms, he leads the way, you follow and you find yourself swept up in twists and turns and dips as the dance continues. Wonderful. Beautiful. Loving. It’s the slow dance of life with my husband that I find the most comforting.

    I’m in a slow dance with God right now too. My word for 2016 was SUCCESS. A lofty, grand, egotistical word, but one I felt drawn to. Didn’t happen. Okay, some success did happen but not in the way I wanted or expected. But isn’t that the thing? Just like Rick said: “Doesn’t work that way. We’re not in control.”

    Ahhhh….so true. So I’m eager to be rid of the word for 2016 and move into 2017’s word. Only I’m not sure yet which word to choose: humble? grateful? Those two are calling me. I’m thinking GRATEFUL. And right this moment I’m grateful for YOU.

    • B.J. your comment is so beautiful–the flow of it. I imagined myself slow-dancing. And these dances mean so much more as we get ….. older, don’t they? 🙂

      Success and dance. I had to relearn the meaning of dance. Success–there are so many ways to be successful, aren’t there. Yes, I think you had lots of sweet success.

      Such good word choices. Can’t wait to hear which one you decide!!! I’m so very grateful for you too.

      P.S. I refuse to panic b/c I haven’t yet picked my word :-0 :-0 :-0

  19. Life long love stories have a lot more messy parts in them than Hollywood would have us think. God bless you and your life long love!

    • Very good point, Elizabeth!! Hadn’t considered that.

      Blessings to you and your life long love!


  20. Oh Julie…every word. Every single one touched me- Breathing deep and giving thanks for all the slow dances xo

  21. Patricia Martin says:

    Merry Christmas, Julie! You are such a blessing to all of us here! What are your Christmas plans?

    Sending Hugs,


    • Hey Patricia! Christmas was so sweet. I had our annual Christmas breakfast–not as many came thing year. Then we went to my sister’s for lunch, and last night, we stopped by Thomas’s house to see his decorations.

      How was your Christmas? Did you have lots of GF food to eat? My sister found me THE BEST GF bread. I’d never had it before–it’s called Against the Grain. I’ve had their pizza, but didn’t realize they made bread.

      🙂 Hope you can find it! xo

  22. Patricia Martin says:

    Merry Christmas, Julie! Hope you have a joyous New Year!

    • Yes, yes, yes, Happy New Year. Hope you’re picked a word. I’m praying about my word and first blog of the new year!

  23. Kim says:

    Hi Julie,
    My word for 2016 was Create. And no surprise that it did not take the path I thought it might, but that is not bad thing. Create was most obvious in relationships and experiences, not in tangible things. But it also went in both directions. Some friendships fell away as others expanded and deepened. And I had to practice saying yes, instead of my go to no, many times. Not easy!

    Part of my delay in response to this post is because of your question. Are you slow dancing with God? Truth be known, right now I’m in a place where I just want to quit, let go, leave. It is all I can do to stick it out. So, I’m taking to heart all the words you put in red. Instead of bending to my fears and allowing anxiety to win, I am clinging tight, letting him lead… I am slow dancing with God.

    Have a very Merry Christmas. Kim

    • Kim.
      You are one wise lady. I can feel it in your answer. This slow-dancing….it takes us a life time to learn. And I think most of us have the tendency to jump back to fast dancing.

      Create is a beautiful word choice. I love verbs for words of the year. And look how God went in a totally different direction with your word. Me too. But it sounds like it’s areas where we needed to grow. He’s so good at that, isn’t He?!

      Hugs to you today–this gray day after Christmas. (The gray weather makes the lights prettier.) xo

  24. Aw. What a romantic though. You’re so blessed.
    Merry Christmas!

  25. Julie Gilleand says:

    Hi Julie,

    Chiming in late, here. I like the analogy of slow dancing through the hard times and more lively dancing through better, happier times. I think I’ve been slow dancing for the last several years now. Barely moving, you could say! There are many days dispersed throughout, however that get me moving a little faster and feeling a bit lighter. A sprinkling of grace,those days are. A spoonful of sugar….. I believe my word for the year was “journey”. Honestly, I can’t remember for sure. Might have been last year’s word? It has certainly been a journey, either way. For better or worse. I do have a list like yours and am thankful for God’s grace through it all and His presence in spite of it all. And hoping 2017 will make for a happier list, for us all. God bless 🙂


    • Hey Leafy,

      So nice to hear your voice!! Journey feels right to me, I mean, I think maybe that was your 2016 word. I think you’ve been clinging onto God with both hands…especially lately.

      Much love,
      Your Leafy Sister

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