Comparing Yourself to Others

Part One

When you begin ballroom dancing, it can be difficult to not compare yourself with other dancers.  When Dan and I started ballroom dancing, let’s just say, we looked like beginner dancers.  We were not smooth.  We most likely counted every beat.  We looked at our feet.  We were stiff.  We were quite clunky at best.  

With any skill you learn, everyone has to start somewhere.  It is always at the beginning.  It takes, maybe close to 300 hours of practice to show you know what you are doing.  Yikes!

At a few of Dan and my first dance outings, we had couples ask us, “Are you new to dancing?”  We were thinking, it must have looked quite obvious.   Dan and I would try to find a dark corner of the dance floor so we could practice our steps.  We would hide from as many dancers as we could. 

Then we would see a couple who have been dancing for years.  They looked amazing!  Wow!  They were so smooth.  They did so many cool dance steps.  All of a sudden, I would become even more dissatisfied with my dance skills.  I wanted to hide even more.  

I was comparing myself with them and it made our dancing not as much fun anymore.  

I knew to be more content with my own dance skills I had to remember:

  • There are all skill levels of dancers, some with natural talent
  • With hard work, you will get better  
  • The more time and effort you put into dancing-the better we will become
  • Remember why we are dancing

Focusing on Dan and remembering why I was there would help keep dancing enjoyable.  Even as a beginner. 

God’s Word-Galatians 6: 4-5

 Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.


My Father’s Love

My Father’s Day Message

My dad’s name was LaVern.  He was a quiet reserved man.  I never doubted his love for me, even though he seldom used the words, “I love you,” to express that love.  I believe all of my five siblings would say the same thing.  Even though those words were rarely spoken, we saw and felt it in his actions for his family.    I remember a specific time, a few months before he died, a time when he shared his love for me.   My dad was in an extended care facility as he was taking rehab after a stroke.  We were having lunch together along with my daughter.  All of a sudden, out of nowhere, he said,” I love you. “  I almost fell off my chair.  I looked with wide eyes over at my daughter and she was also surprised at his words that day.  I will never forget it. 

Again, I felt his love even though the words were not spoken.  He showed us in many ways:

  • His attendance in my jr. high basketball games-even with me being on the B-team. Watching my every performance as a Pom-pom girl.
  • His random giving of gifts-canna bulbs, tomatoes, a garage sale fruit bowl, his favorite candy (chewy fruit slices)
  • The tour of his garden to show  off the latest in blooms
  • The time he spent with his kids and grandkids

With his love came discipline.  In today’s world, some think discipline and love don’t go together.  People want the freedom to do whatever they want to. I am glad my dad had the love for me that he would discipline me as a child.  He knew what was best for me and loved me enough to show me.   He wanted me to know what was right and what was wrong.  He wanted to protect me.

I didn’t see at the time how discipline was a good thing.   It didn’t feel pleasant at the time, but it worked.   I would be shaped and molded to become the adult that he knew would be best.   I can look back and see how this has been a benefit in my life. 

I think of our Heavenly Father in the same way.  Discipline comes in the name of love.  He loves me so much that He won’t stand by and watch me self-destruct in my own sinful nature.  Sometimes He has to take His loving hand and guide me back to what is best for me.  Most of the time it is not easy.  God is there to protect me. He loved me so much that He sent His Son to save me and to show me the way through His examples and words.   This has shaped and molded my life.  He loves you the same way.  He loves us more than any earthly father can love his child, as hard as that may seem.  

I am thankful for my Fathers love!

God’s Word-Romans 8:28-28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.

My Dad (LaVern)and I-1968

Come Dance With Us!

Ten years ago, Dan and I had the privilege of doing our very first all-day Marriage Conference.  It was in the spring of 2012.  It was at the church we were attending. This is where we started our 16-week dance ministry small group.

For our weekly class, we teach a lesson on a principle we have learned in ballroom dancing and how it illustrates what a Godly marriage should look like.  We then teach couples basic ballroom dance steps. 

For the marriage conference, we take those 16 lessons and put them into a one-day event.  We add dance lessons in the mix along with lunch and dinner.  Then as a finale, we have a cake reception with a playlist of romantic music for the attendees to practice the steps they learned that day. 

What Dan and I liked about the one-day conference, is many more can attend a one-day event versus a 16-week class.  This especially works well for young married couples. 

We have to say, with this being our very first marriage conference, it was a success.  We had lots of positive feedback.  It was a lot of fun and you could tell the couples attending really enjoyed the day. 

What impacted me personally was the day after the conference.  The next morning, Dan and I were attending our weekly Sunday school marriage enrichment class. Many couples in Sunday School class attended the conference. One of the leaders in the class began to share about her and her husband’s conference experience. Her name was Shirley.  Shirley and her husband had been married for over 50 years.  She passionately spoke about making it a priority to have fun in your marriage.  “Don’t wait to have fun!” Shirley and her husband loved being able to dance together at the conference. Shirley began to cry and more was spoken on the importance of doing fun activities as a husband and wife. The tears and emotion in her words brought many in the room to tears, including me.  I knew we had touched on something.  We speak on many marriage-building principles during the conference.  I was not expecting that having fun in your marriage would be a strong message of the day.   But yes, this would keep your marriage close.  It would help you in all other aspects of your marriage. 

For a married couple, it is easy to put your relationship on auto-pilot. It is easy to drift apart and do your own thing. You can easily forget about doing fun things together!! Doing fun activities in your marriage takes time. It takes effort.

For Dan and I, this was a pivotal point in our dance ministry.  I felt the words of  Shirley pierce my heart that day.  Dan and I both felt the drive to continue with ‘Dance With Me Ministries.’ Each year that we teach a new class, we stand back and watch couples laughing together and enjoying getting away from the seriousness of life. It brings us joy to watch the couples having fun.

We will begin a new 8-week ‘Dance With Me Ministries’ class in the fall of 2022. This is for any married couple who would like to add some fun to their marriage. This class will be Sunday evening from 6-8 p.m. We will meet at Isaac Newton Christian Academy gymnasium in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

How about bringing some closeness to your marriage and to the God that created it. 

Please send an e-mail to with any questions you may have or to sign up for this year’s ‘DWMM’ class.

Come dance with us! 


The Beat Of God’s Heart

Part Six

How do I “get in Sync” with the beat of God’s heart

  •  Tell the Lord of your desire to be in sync with the rhythm of His heart
  •  Tell Him that you need Him – that you can’t do life on your own
  •  Admit you have made mistakes in your life that are not pleasing to Him – sin
  • Confess that you believe Jesus made  the perfect sacrifice for your sins by dying on the cross and that His resurrection from the dead proves that He is the Son of God, and through faith in Him, your sins are forgiven
  • Ask the Lord to help you in your decision to follow after Him

God loves us so much, that He wants to be a part of our lives.  Being in sync with God’s heart will change your life forever. 

Won’t you take the invitation? 

God’s Word-John 3:16-17   For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Flesh Versus Spirit

Part 5

Trying to do life without God is like trying to dance without music.  

Flesh gives birth to flesh, which only produces fleshly things.  This ends up being “Me focused”, which is deadly in a marriage. 

God’s Word-Galatians 5:19-21   Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 

This is not how I want my marriage to look. But…

Spirit gives birth to Spirit, which produces spiritual things.  “It’s not about me.”

Galatians 5:22-23  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

For us to walk or should I say dance in the spirit, we will need God’s help.  It is impossible without God. 

East Coast Swing 

Triple Step, Triple Step, Rock Step

The steps are small and light

Oldies, Country, and Big Band

  • Love Can Move Mountains-Celine Dion
  • Why Don’t We Just Dance-Josh Turner
  • Somebody Like you-Keith Urban
  • I Run to You-Lady Antebellum
  • Operator-Manhattan Transfer
  • Why Wait-Rascall Flatts

In Sync

Part Four

How do you make your marriage flow like the music in a dance?  The Holy Spirit can take your marriage from walking to dancing.  The Holy Spirit should play the role in our lives much like the role music plays for the ballroom dance couple.  It dictates what we do, day-to-day. 

When we surrender our lives to our creator God, and His Son Jesus, the Holy Spirit resides within us.  This will guide us through the ups and downs of life.  We don’t ever have to do life alone.  

If Dan and I are listening to different “music”, we will not be in sync together as a couple.  We will not flow together. It will be much more difficult to keep our marriage close. 

Each of us has to choose what “music” to listen to. Will it be earthly or heavenly?  

If you let God guide you in your marriage, you will no longer be walking, but dancing!


Count:  slow-slow-quick-quick 

Keep Knees relaxed.

Think:  1950’s rock and roll 

  • In the Mood by Glen Miller – a traditional song from the swing era
  • Rock & Roll Music by Chuck Berry – 50s rock & roll
  • (Let me Be Your) Teddy Bear & All Shook Up By Elvis – 50s rock & roll
  • Little Deuce Coupe or Runaround Sue by the Beach Boys –  50s rock & roll
  • Take Me as I Am-Faith Hill
  • Hello Dolly-Louis Armstrong
  • L-O-V-E –Nat King Cole
  • Stuck Like Glue-Sugarland
  • Come Dance With Me-Frank Sinatra
  • The Twist-Chubby Checker
  • It’s Only a Paper Moon-Benny Goodman and His Orchestra
  • Hallelujah, I Love Her So-Ray Charles
  • Happy (from Despicable Me 2”) Pharrell Williams
  • Rockin’ Robin-Bobby Day
  • Powder Your Face with Sunshine-Dino

God’s Word-Ephesians 4:30  Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for Himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted.

It’s A Dance, Not A Walk

Part Three

It’s a dance, not a walk.  This is a phrase Dan and I heard from our instructors as we began ballroom dancing together.  When you begin taking ballroom dance lessons you will look a bit stiff at first.  Your steps will look very mechanical.   You will be concentrating on what step to do next.  You are trying so hard not to step on your partner’s toes.  There is so much to think about.  The music takes you to a new level with your dance.    

The music will make your dance flow.  The music has to “get into your soul.” The music will take you from walking to dancing. 

Feel the music, let it get inside you.  The music will take you down the dance floor and put a flow to your step.  

It’s a dance, not a walk. 


Count:  slow (hold step for 2 counts)-quick-quick (side together),  slow-quick, quick (Latin hip movement.  Hint – it’s all about the knees…)

A spot dance with small steps

Think:  Latin, sassy, romantic

  • The Way You Look Tonight by Michael Buble
  • Quando, Quando, Quando by Michael Buble
  • Wonderful Tonight by (you guessed it, Michael Buble)
  • The Way I Am-Ingrid Michaelson (More complex beat)
  • Smooth Operator-Sade
  • Jardin D ‘himer-Duo Gadjo and their Hot Friends
  • Lovesong-Adele
  • You’ll Be In My Heart- Vio Friedmann
  • Endless Love(rumba)Ballroom Orchestra-Hits for Ballroom Dancing
  • Song from a Secret Garden-Ballroom Orchestra and Singers

God’s Word-Psalms 108:1   My heart, O God, is steadfast;  I will sing and make music with all my soul.

Flowers for Mom

It had been just over a year since my mom, Helen, passed away on April 27.  I have to say that I feel I have cried more tears this last year, than any other time in my life.  I sometimes wonder if I will run out of tears.  I miss her so much.  

Around 10 years ago, I met someone through my garden hobby.   She has since then become a close girlfriend and actually my neighbor.  I will call her MM.  

MM’s mom was also a widow at the time and was similar in age to my mom.  MM showed me through her actions ways of spoiling her mother.  Every week, MM would go visit her mom, a 30-minute drive and give her a large bouquet of flowers.  This was not your simple small Aldi bouquet, this was a large gorgeous multi-stemmed arrangement.   MM would take her mom anything she needed, plus more.  I thought to myself,  I could do that.  I want to spoil my mom.  She deserved all the love I could give her.

So it became a tradition for me to take my mom a bouquet of flowers, or a plant, and a yummy treat or anything else that would make her feel special.  I did this every time I went to visit.   She loved it.  This tradition became even more important as she was in an assisted living during Covid.   She needed spoiling.  She needed sunshine in her day.  Flowers have a way of doing just that.

When I was able to take her out of her facility during the Covid lockdown, I took a picnic to share with her in my car.  I would pack pretty picnic plates, cloth napkins, yummy lunch, and a thermos of coffee to have with our cookies. (She loved her coffee)   I would drive her somewhere scenic and we would enjoy our lunch together, even in January.   On our last outing, a few months before she died, I drove her up the Mississippi River to Bellevue Iowa.  I parked by the dam on the river and we enjoyed our picnic together. We watched 30-plus bald eagles diving for their lunch amongst the ice blocks. She felt special.  I didn’t know this would be our last outing together. 

So I have to say, I made the best of our time together-every time.  I have no regrets.   Thanks goes out to my friend  MM, for showing me how to go above and beyond to spoil my mom.  

Someone said at my mom’s funeral-isn’t it better to give plants and flowers before a person dies, instead of a flower spray or plant at their funeral?  Absolutely!

If you are fortunate to still have your mom, how about spoiling her with flowers this Mother’s Day or any day. It will bring sunshine to her day!

September 2020-Bickelhaupt Arboretum with Mom

Do You Hear The Beat?

Part Two

Can you hear the beat of the music?  The beat of the song is what determines the speed and type of ballroom dance you will be doing.   It will keep you moving together as a couple on the dance floor.

If you can’t hear the beat, you will not be together as dancers.  You will be off rhythm from your partner.  Because you are off sync, you most likely will step on each other’s toes. 

Dan and I, through our 12 years of teaching Ballroom dance, have seen individuals struggle with hearing the beat.  We feel we can teach someone the dance steps, but to teach someone to hear the beat we have yet to accomplish. 

If the leader of the ballroom dance can not hear the beat, he is unable to lead his dance partner.  We find they do not continue dancing together as a couple.  

You have to hear the beat to dance together. 

Fox Trot 

Count:  slow-slow-quick-quick

Smooth Dance

Men-Heel- toe, Women toe- heel.

Tips: Travels!  NO BOUNCING

  • Come Fly with Me
  • A Foggy Day (In London Town)
  • For Once in My Life
  • I’ve Got the World on a String
  • Night and Day-Frank Sinatra
  • Nice and Easy-Frank Sinatra
  • Beyond the Sea-Bobby Darin
  • I only Have eyes for you-Sinatra-Basie
  • The Way you Look Tonight-faster tempo-Sinatra
  • Cheek to Cheek-Ella Fitzgerald and Louie Armstrong

God’s Word-Psalms 98: 4-6 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;

    break forth into joyous song and sing praises!

5 Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,

    with the lyre and the sound of melody!

6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn

    make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!

Feel The Music

Part One

In Ballroom dancing, music has a major impact on your dancing experience.  Without the music, there would be no dance. 

The Music determines…

  • what type of dance you will be doing according to the beat pattern: (Waltz, Swing, Fox Trot, Rumba, etc.)
  • when to begin the dance
  • tempo (rate of speed) of dance
  • length of the dance
  • danceability

When Dan and I begin to teach our class a specific dance, we like to play the music and count out the beat together.   For example, when we teach a waltz we play a waltz-type beat song.  (See below for Waltz music)   Then we count out the beat as a class.  The Waltz has a constant measure of: 1-2-3, and 4-5-6.  The tempo is slow.   This helps the students with the beat.  Each specific dance has its specific beat and rhythm.  

Part of learning to dance is to hear a song and know what type of dance you will be doing.  This comes with time and practice.  

Music will take you from walking to dancing! 


Count: 1-2-3, 4-5-6… constant measure (slight rise on the “2” count)

The woman leans her upper body back slightly into the man’s hand

Relaxed knees

Think:  Smooth, flowing, romantic, graceful

Waltz Music to Download:

  • Fascination by Nat King Cole – nice and slow for beginners
  • Their Hearts are Dancing by The Forester Sisters-Great Beat
  • Could I Have This Dance by Anne Murray
  • Husbands and Wives by Neal Diamond –  this has a great 1-2-3 beat,  easy to hear the counts
  • Tennessee Waltz by various artists – traditional waltz
  • Moon River by various artists – traditional waltz
  • A Daisy in December-Serenade-Mike McAuley & Winifred Horan
  • Rainbow Connection-Beverly Mahood(faster)
  • You light up my life-LeAnn Rimes
  • Play Me-Neil Diamond(faster)

God’s Word-Psalms 104:33  I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;  I will sing praise to my God while I have being.