The first time I saw our street, it reminded me of a cross between Charleston’s splashy Rainbow Row and The Truman Show–tall and long-but-narrow houses neatly arranged on postage-stamp lots, one after another after another. The house itself was a pie slice of the home we had lived in previously, but seasons change and it was the right thing at the right time. I wondered how we’d handle living so close to others. It would be getting us out of our cramped apartment, though, and it would be ours.

We grew accustomed to the road noise and folks walking dogs just outside our front window. Rather than feeling claustrophobic living in a much smaller house, I felt comfortably cocooned. My house wasn’t the boss of me demanding that I clean and care for a lot of space; I was coming to understand the difference between things owning me and me owning things.

The house right next to ours sits empty but two doors down I made a friend who eventually would become one of my favorite people in town, the only one whose “no” turned into “yes” when I nervously invited her to try bootcamp with me for the first time. Her husband works with mine, and in less than a year, a co-worker and a workout buddy became real friends. Having neighbors that close who are that close to us is like winning the lottery.


Our neighborhood is cozy and houses are a stone’s throw in every direction, so I couldn’t help but notice when a big blue bow showed up on the mailbox across the street and a few houses up. While most folks would consider the blue bow a universal sign for welcoming a baby boy to the world, to me, it was a Divine sign inviting me to meet my neighbors. I figured anyone with a new baby would be happy for a stranger to show up with dinner.

I asked around and was able to get their name and number; then, introducing myself via a text message, I asked if it would be okay to drop off a meal.

What do you think her answer was? (a very quick yes!)

I made a big batch of soup and baked sourdough –  simple, hearty, and ultimate comfort foods. Together with extra muffins I had from that morning, I loaded everything on a tray and walked it across the street and up the hill. I’m mostly an extravert, but even so, part of me felt silly and self conscious, like the meal I was sharing wasn’t good enough or fancy enough or enough enough. I wavered in doubt as I knocked on her door.

As soon as she opened the door, those insecurities vanished. She was warm and sincerely appreciative–if I had shown up with PB&Js she would’ve been grateful. It was also fun connecting with a new mama – it’s been a while since I was one of those – and seeing that sleeping newborn of hers? S i g h…reminded me of my own babies (now bigs).

A month later, I received a text from Lynn that made my day:

Hey Robin, just wanted to tell you that I paid your kind gesture forward. I was strolling P this week & saw another neighbor that has a new baby girl by their sign on the door. I took them supper today & they were very thankful, just like I was!

One awkward, simple, neighborly act inspiring another – isn’t that wonderful? And who knows, maybe it doesn’t end there….

There’s so much to take away from this little story: Kindness begets kindness. Hospitality isn’t confined to home. Giving can bring unexpected reward. It reminds me of when Mother Theresa said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

I want to be a noticer of people and their need. I hope even more so to be a responder to people when I learn of their needs.

People are inviting us into their lives everyday. Let’s say yes to those invitations.

Sourdough Bread
Yields 1
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Cook Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
  1. 6 Cups Bread Flour
  2. 1 Tablespoon Salt
  3. 1/2 - 1 Cup Granulated White Sugar
  4. 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
  5. 1½ Cups Warm Water
  6. 1 Cup Starter (See notes below)
  1. Mix together in glass or plastic bowl the flour, salt and sugar; make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the oil, water and starter.
  2. Mix well.
  3. Knead for about five minutes, folding "corners" of dough toward center, up and over. It's okay if dough is sticky.
  4. Also, to keep dough moist, lightly grease bowl and roll dough ball until it's lightly greased, too.
  5. Cover with a damp dish towel and let it rise in a warm place overnight or all day (8-12 hours).
  6. Punch down. Knead a few times to work out any air bubbles that might have formed.
  7. Spray 3 loaf pans with cooking spray and divide dough equally into the 3 pans (shaping into loaf form). Let rise 6 to 8 hours, covered loosely with damp dishcloth.
  8. Preheat oven to 350°F. for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from oven when crown of bread is golden brown and flip bread loaves onto cooling rack.
  9. When cool enough, slice a thick slab of bread, slather in real butter and prepare to hear the angels sing :).
  1. Here is the starter recipe:
Grace Table
Robin Dance / Posts / Blog
Southern as sugar-shocked tea and in a scandalous affair with her college sweetheart, Robin is mom to two in college with the third almost there. She believes the kitchen table is a sacred alter, first classroom, and safe refuge, where the currency is spoken in love and good food. She hates "cooking close" and shoe shopping (gasp!), loves snail mail and surcies, and finds holy communion where sand meets surf. She's also rumored to make the best apple pie in the world. In addition to writing at, you'll find her at The Art of Simple, {in}courage and Deeper Story.
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    Hi. This reminded me of my MOPS days where it was customary to make a meal for moms with new babies. Also, I didn’t see the notes about the Starter in the recipe.

    August 22nd, 2016 12:24
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    Robin Dance

    Hi Pam :),

    Thank you for reading, and reading CLOSELY! Ha–you passed the test of noticing that something is missing (oops!). Here’s a link (below) to the Starter; I can’t go back and correct my posts once they’re submitted, but I published it on my blog knowing some folks would need access to one. Enjoy!!

    August 22nd, 2016 13:00
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    Cindy Hansen

    Thank you for sharing!
    I have been wanting to reach out to my neighbours but keep putting it off because it’s not something our street would ever do!! You have encouraged and inspired me.
    Thanks from down under in Australia..

    August 22nd, 2016 18:48
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      Robin Dance

      Oh, Cindy…your comment is like a paycheck to me! Please, please tell me if you do this–bake brownies or cookies or bread or anything and drop it off! They will be so happy. OR, just show up and tell them you’d like to know your neighbors…that would be SUPER brave :).

      August 24th, 2016 20:19
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    Kris Griffith

    Robin, Many years ago, we lived in South Carolina and we have never since experienced the graciousness and hospitality as we did there! A gentleman in the church we attended made sourdough bread weekly and handed it out generously to whoever needed a warm, delicious hug. When we sadly had to move, he shared some of his starter and recipe with me. I managed to keep it alive for a while, but eventually just couldn’t keep up with it and had to let it “die”. I’ve often wished I could find that starter again and carry on his generosity. You’re recipe is very close, so I will give it a go. I too, want to be not just more aware of those around me, but responsive. And nothing says “love” more than a fresh baked loaf of bread! Thanks for sharing. I always love your posts!

    August 22nd, 2016 18:56
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      Robin Dance

      It’s not lost on me, the beauty of bread and it’s link to Christ himself :). What a lovely gesture by this man.

      I’ve made this starter unsuccessfully before, and I’m almost certain it was because the water wasn’t hot enough. Once I checked the temperature and realized how hot it needed to be, I was pretty sure it wasn’t that hot in the past.

      Thank you for your KIND encouragement! Truly, it means so much to me :). xo

      August 24th, 2016 20:21
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    Paula Trotter

    Robin ~ what a lovely and inspiring story! Reminded me of something two friends and I did for people who had entered our church’s door for the first time; we would buy wonderful jam from World Market, tie ribbons around them with a note tied to it. We called our little enterprise: Jammin for Jesus! We, too felt the reward of the look of surprise and thankfulness on their faces. What a grand gesture to reach out to people, to show love to them.

    On another note ~ is the picture used for your story a picture of where you live? If so, I want to live there! It looks wonderfully friendly and beautiful.

    Blessings to you ~ Paula

    August 22nd, 2016 19:06
    • Avatar
      Robin Dance


      Oh, now that’s creative and cute–and a personal gesture of hospitality “anywhere.”

      And, no ma’am, this image isn’t actually my street. Kris chose a lovely image to companion my words. Interestingly, it’s a close approximation to our street!!

      August 24th, 2016 20:23
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    Elaine Pool

    Oh, this brings me back to when a “church lady” friend used to make her wonderful sourdough & share with us! I can’t tell you HOW many starters I killed through neglect, but I adore sourdough & you’ve inspired me to try again!

    August 22nd, 2016 19:59
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      Robin Dance


      Oh, I’m a starter murderer, too :). That’s why I was THRILLED to finally nail the recipe for the starter–it’s frothy and my first batch of bread was fantastic. Now I’m on Whole30, can’t eat bread, and my kids are all far away. Friends, neighbors, and maybe even strangers will benefit 😉 :).

      August 24th, 2016 20:24
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    I loved how you reached out and then your gift was played forward. It could keep going indefinitely.

    August 23rd, 2016 21:21
    • Avatar
      Robin Dance


      THAT would be beautiful….a never-ending story!

      August 24th, 2016 20:25
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    This is a very timely post and I’ve been learning the same thing as many babies have been born in my circles recently. Tonight I signed up to bring dinner to a family I’ve never met (sister of a church friend), and this is encouraging! 🙂

    August 25th, 2016 9:31
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      Robin Dance

      Carissa!! Ok…while my response my be s l o w I’m clapping at YOUR response! Babies are gifts to their families, no doubt, but the beautiful thing is they’re gifts to everyone in their sphere :).

      October 31st, 2016 8:55
  • SimplyDarlene

    Small things with great love … indeed!

    October 11th, 2016 10:11

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