Navigation Menu

Inspired to Inspire #OYTO

Apr

28

Posted by on Apr 28, 2018 | 2 comments

Fat Robin

 

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
~ Thomas Merton

 

I have a love/hate relationship with social media. On one hand, I’m convinced our lives were better without it overall. We had fewer friends, sure, but they were real life flesh and blood humans who would show up in person at your back door with a meal or a paintbrush or a hug depending on your need at the moment. We trudged to the library and navigated a card catalog to research anything and we had to buy magazines to catch up on the newest fashion or home design trends. Our houses had a whole lot more color before all the home décor and DIYer instagrammers showed us over and over again how beautiful stark white could be. (It is a mystery to me how they can photograph the same room a thousand ways and we like it every time.) You knew what adult America was doing at 6pm and 11pm every night, and if anything happened after that, you could read the news in next morning’s paper, delivered right to your front door.

 

Amazing.

 

On the other hand, we never have to be dumb or ignorant for very long. We hear immediately when a Royal goes into labor, gives birth, reveal’s the new little prince’s name. We know the nanosecond a celebrity dies (except for Abe Vigoda who never could make up his mind) as Facebookers or Twitterers race to the internets to offer their public condolences, a thinly veiled ruse to be first in letting you know how well they’re connected, which always strikes me as funny. And it is cool to engage with people you admire, to have an inside glimpse into their behind-the-scenes lives. And sometimes you make a real connection that translates to real life and geography doesn’t really matter.

 

Social media has it’s lovely sides, too. What we see or read can inspire us to go and do likewise.

 

Recently, a real life friend of mine I haven’t seen face to face in forever began posting images of watercolors she painted. Oh…my…her work was beautiful and I would have guessed she was an art major before becoming a full time mama. When I asked if she was taking classes, she admitted she was just trying something new.

 

Well….

 

Slap me naked and hide my clothes–girlfriend just unearthed an incredible gift.

 

And here’s the beauty: Rebekah inspired me to try something new because she tried something new.

 

Right after this, our church hosted a two-night water color class. I signed up immediately. With low expectations, high hopes, and a few butterflies fluttering around my stomach, I walked into class. The first night we were instructed what to paint (a landscape), but the second night we could choose on our own.

 

I knew exactly what I wanted to paint: fat birds, like my friend, Rebekah.

 

While my little creations were far from perfect, I absolutely love both! Watching them come to life and at least resemble what I was going for thrilled me. Starting with a blank page and swirling a paintbrush into a little color you create something from nothing.

Fat Bluebird

 

Painting is magic!

 

I begged Rebekah to send me an original, and I meant it. I would have bought one (I love having my friends’ art on the wall). When she asked for my address I crossed my fingers and yesterday I received her prize: Fat Robin’s pretty cousin! We must’ve drawn inspiration from the same image, and looking at the differences between her painting and mine, I learned a few things. Again, Rebekah is teaching and inspiring me by being herself and doing something she loves!

 

 

Rebekah also sent me a beautiful journal with a strong call to action (thought she’d never see it as anything more than a word of encouragement):

 

Keep trying new things!

 

If that isn’t a challenge for One Year 365 Opportunities, I don’t know what is.

 

Don’t miss the important takeaway: if Rebekah hadn’t tried something new herself, when would I have tried my hand at watercolor? I would’ve missed out on a delight of my heart, a creative opportunity that feeds my soul. By pursuing a new thing, a new passion, my sweet friend inspired me. Sometimes inspiration begets inspiration.

 

This is when I love social media: Rebekah and I haven’t seen each other since I moved from Chattanooga five years ago (I don’t think?) but we’re able to stay connected through Instagram. Her friendship continues to be a blessing.

 

You have no idea who you’re inspiring just by being you. And if someone has inspired you by simply being who they are? Tell them!

 

 

 

More Recent Posts

The Gift of a Lifetime

Dec

15

Posted by on Dec 15, 2017 | 2 comments

 

We moved to a new house over the summer. Invariably, that meant we not only had to unpack all the items from the small house we had lived in for the past several years; but also furniture and possessions that had been stored since we sold our (much larger) home in Tennessee.

 

If you’ve had a major move, you know that some unpacking can be tricky. It’s not just you moving to a different house, all of your things have to find a new place to live, too. Well, all the things you haven’t given away, sold, or thrown out.

 

Sentimental attachments are the most challenging things for me to deal with. It is the one area of my life where I might just be a hoarder. The thing is, some of my sentimental attachments are ridiculous–EVERY tee shirt that represents a fun memory doesn’t need to take up space in a drawer. That cool glass from a formal in college? Seriously? I didn’t drink out of it then, and I’m not about to stick it on a shelf now.

 

I finally got around to one of the last boxes a few weeks ago, and what I thought would take a few minutes ended up taking all day.  Of course it did–

 

It was the Story of My Life in cards, letters, and mementos.

 

 

 

Dating back to my Y camp days in grade school, there were hundreds of letters and cards from the people who defined each era. I remembered every person they represented. I recognized their handwriting even before reading the closing. Some of these letters are over 45 years old.

 

Some were folded sheets of notebook paper that had been passed in class. (Are you lucky enough to remember? Do kids even do that anymore?)

 

A few were super-sized cards.

 

Every single one of them represented a special relationship, a sweet friendship, the kind of knowing and intimacy we all long for, that sometimes we take for granted or forget when we get older.

 

Some of these friends hold my oldest and sweetest memories. Some are vaults for secrets I no longer remember. I’m thankful a few are still in my life, though geography and life trajectory means we aren’t necessarily close any more.

 

I “visited” college friends and friends who shared my life BK (before kids). There were thank you cards, encouragement cards, and “I’m glad we’re friends” cards.

 

I meandered the five-year off-again/on-again relationship I had with my husband. We just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary.

 

Reading his words (and mine, he had saved all my cards and letters, too), I was transported back in time and could literally feel what I felt all those years ago. I remembered things I had long forgotten: he called me his little brown-eyed girl; I called him my little blue-eyed boy. Were we ever really that sickeningly gah-gah?? (yes, we were 🙂 )

 

That box might as well have been bedazzled in gold and brilliant gemstones–the treasure it held, priceless.

 

And then a lightning bolt struck:

 

Everything in that box was before the internet.

 

*

*

*

Oh! I hope you’ll click over to continue reading The Gift of a Lifetime at The Art of Simple today.
(I’m trying so hard to practice what I preach…)

 

More Recent Posts

Cowboy Cookies (a recipe that comes with a warning….)

Oct

10

Posted by on Oct 10, 2017 | 4 comments

Cowboy Cookie Recipe - Robin Dance-2

 

If every politician had a home-baked batch of Cowboy Cookies – my favorite cookie in the world – we might just be able to achieve world peace.

 

It’s hard to remain at odds when you’re devouring these jokers. Bonus? They use oatmeal, which means they’re probably healthy. Who am I to argue the merits of whole grain?

It’s been so long since I made a batch I had forgotten how delicious they are. HOW COULD I HAVE FORGOTTEN? They’re magical.

Anyway, my sweet mother-in-love shared the recipe ages ago, and it’s no-fail if you can follow instructions. I’ve added notes below the recipe, so be sure to read them before whipping up a batch.

Then, email me a thank you note with pictures, please. It’s ancient wisdom that when you take pictures, the cookies last longer.

 

Cowboy Cookies - Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Recipe


Cowboy Cookies

~ Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies ~

Preheat oven to 350°F

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup Crisco Shortening (NOT oil)
  • ½ cup softened butter (1 whole stick)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups sifted all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups oats*
  • 1 cup pecans* (optional, which is nuts to this Southern gal)
  • 1 small package semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Sift flour, soda, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
  2. With a mixer, combine sugar, brown sugar, Crisco, butter, two eggs and vanilla. Once incorporated, add dry ingredients and mix well.
  3. Stir in the oats, chocolate chips, and pecans until well blended (I do this part by hand, not with a mixer).
  4. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until desired doneness.

 

IMPORTANT Baking Notes:

 

  1. My original recipe called for one cup of Crisco, but I like butter, so I amended the recipe to ½ cup of shortening, ½ cup of butter. The results are spectacular. Never use margarine. Because WHY WOULD  YOU when butter is an option?
  2. This recipe can be halved or doubled.
  3. Let the butter sit at room temperature to soften. Do NOT melt it! Soft = good. Melted = bad. (Cookies will be flat.)
  4. If you’re a house divided like ours, you have permission to make half a batch with pecans, half without. I totally judge people who don’t include nuts (including my otherwise amazing husband and children).
  5. Pecans are pronounced puh-kahn, not pee in a can.
    \ pi-?kän<– right way    wrong way –> ?p?-?kan \
  6. We’re also a house divided about how to pronounce pecan.
  7. I use Old Fashioned Quaker Oats; I’ve tried the quick-cooking version before and did not like that cardboard-esque result. You won’t like it, either.
  8. The first time you try this recipe, check them at 10, then 11 minutes in. I don’t know how hot your oven bakes, and you do not want to overcook these babies.  Undercooked > Overcooked
  9. These are Whole30 compliant.
  10. The previous statement was a lie wishful thinking.

Enjoy! 

Bite out of Cookie

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookes on heart plate

In black and white, everything is timeless. Even cookies. S i g h….

 

Cowboy Cookie Recipe - Robin Dance

I enjoy the distinction of Messiest Cook on the Planet. Just look at all those splatters in my cookbook! Mercy.

 

BAKER BEWARE: if you decide to make these cookies – and I hope you do – you (and whomever you share them with) might just turn into a monster like this guy…

 

I’d say it’s worth the risk.

 

More Recent Posts

Oh Happy (#AMomentToBreathe Book Release) Day!

Oct

03

Posted by on Oct 3, 2017 | 2 comments

If you aren’t yet a subscriber, how about today?

DSC02870

 

Our world is reeling these days, isn’t it?

Collectively, we feel the tragic news out of Las Vegas, horrified that one man could rob so many of so much; for too many, their lives.  I can only imagine that those who are directly affected wonder how anyone can go on in a world gone mad?

There’s no reconciling the absurd.

There are times when faith comes easy. This isn’t one of them for a lot of folks.

I know all the Christian platitudes, the things we say at times like this. But I can’t bring myself to say any of those things out loud – even if they are true – because sometimes the loudest lament is silence.

 

God hears the cry of the broken ones, and he alone offers hope during obsidian days.

 

So, we mourn with those who mourn. We ask a lot of questions. Yes, we want answers, but the truth is we’ll never be able to make sense of it.

This world we find ourselves in is still spinning, sun and moon nudging us into the next day and the one after that.

 

And, here’s the important thing to remember: even in the darkness there are beacons.

 

We need light to guide us to where we are going, yes? We need light to show us the way.

Months ago (a year ago?) the date was set for A Moment to Breathe to release. No one could have anticipated the timing, that this collection of “365 devotions to meet you in your everyday mess” would launch right after the deadliest mass shooting in our nation’s history.  Eighty authors, inspired by scripture and for the glory of God, poured their hearts and lives into its pages, hoping it would bring light into the lives of those hopeful or desperate to find a beacon.

 

MomenttoBreathe-RobinDance-Pray_Quote

 

I’m proud of this book, thrilled and honored to have seven devotions included. There’s a part of me that feels guilty for being happy when so many of our neighbors have suffered unimaginable loss – before Las Vegas, the multiple earthquakes in Mexico, hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and those awful west coast wildfires. Unresolved racial tensions and political discord add to our collective grief. And beyond these national tragedies and disasters are countless more personal tragedies and disasters. Every day our neighbors are facing financial ruin, infidelity, addiction, illness, difficulty with children, debilitating accident, death…. Maybe you are the neighbor.

Here’s the beautiful, liberating thing: humans are a complex and multi-dimensional creation, capable of simultaneous, opposing emotions. (Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion.) In other words, the “guilt” I’m feeling is a false guilt, the kind the enemy of my heart loves because it has the potential to defeat, paralyze, or confuse me (sometimes all three). False guilt materializes in a thousand different ways, and often it’s rooted in comparison; for me, at least.

 

MomenttoBreathe-RobinDance-Devotional_Quote

 

With all tenderness for those who are suffering, I can still celebrate the happy and good things happening in my world (if you need permission, I’m extending it to you, too, because sometimes we just need someone else to tell us so). It doesn’t have to be one or the other. It’s essential to have compassion for those in pain, to pray for, help and support those who’ve suffered loss. It’s also important be light for those walking in darkness (Matthew 5:16).

A Moment to Breathe is a disco ball of light.

You will find it to be a lovely, hardback devotional, rooted in scripture and the stories the authors first lived before sharing, with prayers and calls to action. It can be found at any bookstore that sells Christian books, or here are a few links (including affiliate):

For fun, Sarah Mae and I talk through the question,“What does ‘a moment to breathe’ mean to you?” (Why didn’t anyone tell me to smush my shirt down in front so my stomach didn’t look so poofy??) 

 

More Recent Posts

Please Join Me October 14th in Nashville for (in)real life: FRIENDED #inrl

Sep

13

Posted by on Sep 13, 2017 | 3 comments

Panelists_InRealLife_Friended_Nashville

(l-r, top to bottom) Robin Dance, Holley Gerth, Kristen Strong, Alia Joy, Jen Schmidt, Aliza Latta, Jennifer Lee

I suppose you could say it’s been years in the making: a gathering of friends old and new within hugging distance.

 

(in)courage and Lifeway have teamed up to bring (in) real life: FRIENDED, “an event for women that unpacks what makes healthy friendships tick.” OF COURSE, our greatest hope is that you can come in person, but because we care so deeply about community, relationship, and the ways women need one another, event planners are offering a simulcast option. The upside? You can bring #inRL to your church, or, if you’re game for the coziest option of them all, from the comfort of your home! The downside? I won’t get to meet you face to face. Boo. Hiss.

Featured speakers include Lisa-Jo Baker, Chrystal Hurst, and Annie Downs; Meredith Andrews will lead worship; and Jamie Ivey, host of The Happy Hour podcast, will emcee. I’m thrilled to join a panel of real-life friends and fellow incourage writers (Holley Gerth, Jennifer Lee, Aliza Latta, Jen Schmidt, Kristen Strong, and Alia Joy Haganbach); we’ll all be sharing a message of hope and encouragement as it relates to friendship, practical calls to action, and personal testimonies about the beauty and brokenness we’ve all experienced with friends.

This is an event like no other, one that will have you looking inside and out, and most important of all, looking up to the One who designed us to be in community with one another.

 

It’s going to be special, y’all, and it’s very affordable as far as conferences go (in Nashville AND the simulcast). Please decide right now that you want to take part, whether in Nashville, at your church, or even from home with a few friends. Click the (in) real life: FRIENDED website to find out everything you need to know for each option (plus a bonus add-on for Friday night if you’re able to get to Nashville!).


More Recent Posts

Storied Dishes || ~ a Grace Table feature ~

May

03

Posted by on May 3, 2017 |

GraceTable_StoriedDishes

After we got engaged I couldn’t wait to finally get to choose an everyday china pattern and register for our dishes and gifts. (How in the world was that almost 30 years ago?) I didn’t need to choose fine china; I had inherited my mother’s Malden by Oxford, simple, rimmed in gold, and stunning.

I’m one of those who believes kitchen art begins with pretty dishes.

A spectacularly set table doesn’t necessarily have to be fancy and expensive, but with a little thought and intention – flowers and greenery plucked from your yard, handwritten place cards, a centerpiece created with found objects from your home – you can design a masterpiece. I couldn’t wait to begin our life together, to open our home, and experiment with new-to-me recipes. We didn’t have Pinterest or the internet to mine ideas, but we had magazines and the traditions of our own families, plenty to get us started.

I’ve always been drawn to color, and my first choice for everyday dishes was Villeroy & Boch’s Fruit Basket; predominately green and yellow, it was just so doggone happy. But it was also pricey for an everyday, and sensitive to gift-givers’ budgets, I ended up choosing Poppies on Blue, a popular-in-the-80s Lenox pattern.

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 10.41.42 AM

 

We received all the place settings we registered for in addition to serving bowls and platters, the cream and sugar, and I think even the salt and pepper shakers. These were the dishes of our newlywed years, a part of countless meals shared with friends and family, and eventually with our own children.

Right around the time the poppies began fading, my tastes began changing. With a move from South Carolina to Tennessee, I decided timing was perfect for buying new dishes; this time around, I went with a neutral. When I wanted a splash of color, I’d pick up festive placemats. My once-beloved Poppies on Blue was relegated to a box in the attic, waiting for my children to grow up and move into their own home, or the bigger dream, a heart-secret I’ve held close for all these years.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Recently, I enjoyed a girls weekend out of town, and we decided an Airbnb rental would accommodate the space and flexibility we wanted. With many options to choose from, we decided a small, three-bedroom near downtown was best.

Our first night there we planned a simple dinner–wine, cheese, fruit and the like, and we began rummaging through cabinets for the dishes we’d need.

And then God winked. Twice.

 

Do pop over to Grace Table to see why I can’t help but think God is especially fond of me :).
Sometimes He’s kind enough to assure you you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be….

More Recent Posts

Are you on the mailing list?

 

Get updates delivered hot and fresh to your inbox.

PLUS receive exclusive content reserved ONLY for my subscribers!

You have Successfully Subscribed!