Our Dance Teachers

Jim and Joy were our very first dance teachers.  They taught dance through our local community college.  Dan and I loved them as we began learning how to Ballroom dance.  We took multiple group dance lessons from them.  We also did weekend getaways to their private studio to learn specific dance patterns.  Jim and Joy were excellent teachers and dancers.  We along with many other ballroom dancers have learned so much from them.  

Dan and I not only learned ballroom dancing from them but the importance of social friendships.  Especially during those empty nest years.  Every week they would go out dancing with their friends.  Sometimes it would be multiple times a week.  The friendships they put time and effort into made it easier to enjoy the empty nest years of their lives.  For many of us, our children move away after leaving the nest.  This makes friendships even more valuable.  More precious. 

We admire Jim and Joy for their great dancing ability.   We admire them for their teaching skills and for spreading the love of Ballroom dancing to others.  But most of all we admire them for how they place a great value on the importance of friendships.  

Covid and health conditions have been difficult for Jim and Joy these last few years.  It has been more difficult to get out with others.  But the example they left to those who know them will forever live.  Thank you, Jim and Joy.

(I am sad to say, Jim Mote passed away on February 18, 2023. Our deepest sympathy to Joy and the family. You will be greatly missed. )

Jim, Joy, Lori, and Dan-2009

John’s Magic

Hundreds of dances together.  Hundreds of hours of carpooling.  You get to know someone well through time spent together.  This was our ballroom dance life with John and Alice.  

As I write this, tears fill my eyes.  You see John is no longer with us.  He died from cancer in the summer of 2016.  No more carpooling or dances together.   We are so thankful that our friendship is one that brings tears of joy thinking of all the wonderful times we had together.  

My favorite memories of John were watching him do his magic each week at the dances we attended together.  I sat back and watched John at work.  Every dance he did his rounds.  He would go introduce himself to anyone he did not know.  He would make them feel welcome.   He wanted to know their name.  He would make them feel important.  He would invite a couple sitting alone to our table. He would invite them to other dances.  This is what John did-  every week.  He would introduce us to new couples all the time.  He would find something you would have in common to help with the conversation.  He made it look easy.  He was a pro.  

I would like to say that I do the same as Dan and I continue to attend dances.  But more than not, I don’t get out of my comfort zone and make my rounds to make someone feel welcome.  It’s not easy and many times I just don’t want to take the effort.  I think about my life, not someone else’s.  It’s the selfishness inside me.   I wish I could work a room like John did.  I know John did the same at his church.  His church was fortunate to have him.  I know churches would be filled to the brim with welcoming people like him.   Remaining in our comfort zone will keep us from friendships and kindness from unfolding.

When Dan and I attend dances, we try to introduce ourselves to at least one couple we don’t know.  We say we are doing the ‘John magic’ in our effort to do what he made look effortless.  I say to myself, “ Will this ever get easier?”  I am challenged by John’s example.  Practice, practice, and more practice.   I am praying for the good Lord’s help and direction.  I need help to make couples feel loved and important as John did.  This is my goal.  This is what we are all called to do. 

Your life and others depend on it.

Thank you John for showing us how it’s done.   Miss you, dear friend!

John, Alice, Dan and Lori-2012

The Runaway Car

A runaway car, a dented Honda Accord, and insurance claims don’t sound like a good day.  This is where our story begins.  Our youngest daughter was in high school at the time and was parked on a side street while attending class.  A family nearby had just put their young children in their safety seats and ran into the house with the car running.  The unmanned idle car started going backward down their driveway. The runaway car hit our daughter’s parked Honda Accord.  Thank goodness the children were fine and the family was very happy to work with us.

Dan took the morning off of work and we took her car to the insurance company.  While waiting for the claim to be settled, Dan and I went to a nearby Panera Bread for breakfast and a cup of coffee.  As we waited, we looked over and saw a couple at a table whose smile and wave invited us over for a visit.  We discovered this was John and Alice.  John and Alice had recently been in our first ballroom dance class through our community college’s continuing education program.  We never really talked to each other in class but now the opportunity arose to get to know them better. 

This was the fall of 2008, and Dan and I had taken a pause in our dancing activities.  We had just finished a major home remodel, a year-long foreign exchange student stay, and the passing of my father.   We were not sure we would continue with Ballroom dancing.   John and Alice changed that.  

John and Alice invited us that morning to join them for an upcoming Ballroom dance event.  We found out that we were neighbors.  They said they would be happy to pick us up for the dance.  

What began as a runaway car was a blessing about to unfold.  We started going to weekly dance events with John and Alice.  Carpooling together.  Dancing together. Weeks turned into months and months turned into years.   Many dances were out of town.  We began to draw closer as friends and enjoyed having someone to do the dance journey with us.  It was nice to always know someone at the dances.  

Dances turned into biking, hiking, and snowshoeing together.  We enjoyed dinners at each other’s homes.  We did weekend dances and overnight activities together.  We celebrated weddings, birthdays, and anniversaries. We met many friends through John and Alice.  We loved every moment of our time together.  

Friendships like this are hard to come by.  They are hard to find.  Maybe you can say one in a million.  All it took was a runaway car.  


Dan, Lori, Alice, and John-2009


In 2009, when Dan and I  began our first class of Dance with Me Ministries, we grew closer to the couples attending.  Dan and I wanted to continue building these friendships.  We thought dance events outside of our class time would be nice.  We knew that staying connected for empty nesters was a lifeline.  We began to plan. 

In our first year of class, we had a Christmas Ball.  As I write this, we are ready to celebrate our thirteenth annual Christmas Ball.  We have had many different venues and a dance playlist just with Christmas songs.  This is the time when our present class gets to try out the dance steps they have learned in the 8-week course.  It is super festive. 

A couple from our first-year class lives on Lake McBride.  They have a beautiful lake-view venue they share with us in the summer.  Everyone brings a dish to share and much socializing is done. We are celebrating over 10 years of summer once-a-month dances.  Many full moons and pontoon rides have added for a wonderful evening together.

Another dance couple lives on a Christmas tree farm.  A fall dance in a barn is the venue for this event.  Food, hot apple cider, a bonfire, a stroll through the Christmas trees, and friendly kittens add to the evening.  

A Valentine’s Dance has been planned at a local coffee chop.  A very cozy venue along with cakes and coffee.  

Other social events we have planned are a backyard garden dance, garden coffees, and game nights. More ways to bring couples together.  

Dan and I plan these events to keep us socially engaged with others.  We know it is good for our health.  It is good for our marriage.  It takes planning and dedication.  We are all busy, but if we plan on ways to keep socially connected it will happen. 

Dancing is what brought us together. 

Deeper Friendships are what will keep us connected

Christmas Ball-2022

Social Dancing

Ballroom dancing has been a great way of meeting new friends for Dan and I.  We have been in the ballroom dance world for over 15 years now.  We have met the most amazing people in those 15 years.  Thank you out there if you are one of them.  : )  We have also grown closer to friends that we already knew but joined us with ‘Dance with Me Ministries’.  Dan and I feel so blessed by those friendships.  

When Dan and I began the empty nest stage, so much was happening in our world.  Not only have our children left the nest, but so have the friendships we had built around our children’s activities.  Our girls were in sports and we became friends with many of their friends’ parents.  It was a wonderful experience.  But after those busy times were over, we either had to make an effort to continue to keep those relationships, or we would become more isolated and alone.  Dan and I had built friendships through our church, so we still had those friendships to keep us connected.  But I can imagine if you don’t have your faith connections, it can be challenging to be an empty-nester socially.  

With the upcoming wedding of our oldest daughter, we thought dance lessons would be helpful to learn.  This is where our ballroom dance journey begins.  This is where new friends were about to immerge.  At the time, I thought it was about the ballroom dance steps, but it has been so much more. 

We have built close friendships through ballroom dance by:

  • Attending weekly dances-even when tired
  • Introducing friends to others-a great network
  • Taking dance lessons
  • Carpooling
  • Overnight dances
  • Dinner together before dances

In the many weeks to come, I will share our different social dance, marriage stories, and experiences through my writings.   My heart in writing is to encourage you and share ways you can grow in your life and marriage. 

Friendships are a huge part. 

The Trio

Will You Be Missed?

Having fellowships outside our weekly dance class has always been a highlight for us.  I love planning  ways to get together.  Just to have fun.  Just to get to know couples better.  Just to laugh!  It is important for our well being!

A few of our dance/ fellowships:

  • Fall Barn Dance
  • Lakeside Dance
  • Coffee shop game night 
  • Christmas Ball
  • Tango in the Timber
  • Garden Dance
  • Game and Fellowships in couples homes 

One of the couples who had joined us for a year of ‘Dance with Me Ministries’, owned a small coffee shop.  We planned for an evening of coffee, food, fellowship and game night.  It was a wonderful atmosphere.  The game we were playing that night had this question; What do you think would be the worst way to die?  I thought that was an interesting question, but I was thinking of burning, or drowning or dying in a plane crash were my top three.  One gentleman playing the game replied , Loneliness.  Hmm, I did not say it at the time, but I thought that was a really strange answer.  But now after the Covid 19- lock down this last year, I totally get it.  We were separated from our family and friends.  We are social beings. We need each other. I heard yesterday a story about someone who had died in their home and no one knew for weeks.  They had no one that cared about them.  They will not be missed.  Yes, loneliness, a tragic way to die.  

God’s Word- Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.