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Honest Thoughts About #GivingTuesday

Nov

28

Posted by on Nov 28, 2017 | 2 comments

GivingTuesday2017

I love Holly Hunter. An Academy Award- and Emmy-winning actress, she seems to take any role and make it memorable; she dies to self while her characters come to life. I appreciate her talent, sure, but maybe tipping the scale for my fangirldom is the fact she’s Southern, born just up the road from me in Conyers, Georgia. Her accent makes me happy. Instead of sounding like some illiterate, backwoods miscreant – the way Southerners are too often played in film and television – her voice is comfort food to the ear. As Tammy Hemphill in 1993’s The Firm, she delivers one of my favorite movie lines of all time when convict Ray McDeere tells her he “loves her crooked little mouth.” She quips…

It’s not my best feature.

Gah–J’adore! (Shout out to my friend Lisa M. who jinxed me with this line!)

Anyway, that scene always comes to mind when one of my, say, “lesser qualities” rises to the surface. Like today. Today is known far and wide as Giving Tuesday. My first instinct is cynical.

GivingTuesday2017

My cynicism is birthed out of priority:

  1. Black Friday.
  2. Small Business Saturday.
  3. Sunday usually equals more of #1 and #2–retailers and e-tailers are smart that way even if Sunday doesn’t have an official name.
  4. Cyber Monday.

And with whatever you have leftover after all that manic spending, tip your favorite charity on Giving Tuesday.

See? Not my best feature.

Here’s the thing, though. While my first instinct is cynicism, it’s not where I land. I am a bargain shopper. I understand that this season sometimes offers the most savings of items you plan to buy anyway.

More than anything, I believe that giving is good.

 

And when there’s a global movement encouraging citizens of the world to give to organizations and causes who represent undeniable need, we should respond with great generosity.

 

#GivingTuesday reminds us giving isn’t only about dollars and cents–

…whether it’s some of your time, a donation, gift or the power of your voice in your local community….

but a financial gift is always an easy and immediate way to respond.

 

There is no dearth of non-profits to support, but three I’d very personally love for you to consider are:

  • CrossPurpose. 2½ years ago, freshly graduated and with a degree in community development, my daughter accepted an urban leadership development fellowship in Denver, CO. On the ground, working to eradicate poverty in their city, CrossPurpose in an incredible organization that teaches people how to fish for a lifetime instead of feeding them for a day. When her fellowship ended, Rachel accepted a full-time position with CrossPurpose. We’ve met those who serve and are served by this visionary organization. Your dollars here change lives, now and forever.
    CrossPurposeDenverLogo
  • Compassion. Eight years ago I traveled to Kolkata (Calcutta) with Compassion International, and it’s still changing my life. Compassion is a world-wide organization that works by investing in local people and projects to do the work of caring for the least of these. I was privileged to observe first-hand what this looks like, and I’m convinced it’s the best, most reputable sponsor program out there.
    CompassionBlogger_RobinDance_India

 

  • Salvation Army. Ringing the bell for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Drive has become an annual tradition for me; it was fascinating to learn so much my first year (10 Things Salvation Army Bell Ringers Want You To Know is one of my most popular posts of all time). The Red Kettle Drive is a great example of every gift matters–whether pocket change or folding money, every donation thrills the bell ringer AND makes a difference in your community. Which goes the same for my online campaign: gifts of any size are welcome! (Please help me reach my humble goal?)
    Ringing Salvation Army Bell

Your support doesn’t have to end with the organizations I’ve mentioned here; I’m sure there are many near and dear to your heart. But I sincerely hope you join me AND THE ENTIRE WORLD in giving something today.

Because something is always better than nothing, yes?

xo

 

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Princess of Pies

Nov

09

Posted by on Nov 9, 2017 |

BestApplePie_RobinDance_A Good Cook is like a sorceress quote

A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.
Elsa Schiaparelli

 

My mother-in-love is one of the best cooks on the planet. I learned that the first time I met her. Then, a college student sustained mostly by starchy, mysterious, dining hall fare, I devoured everything she put on the table; even squash casserole, a subversive compliment to her. I remember her telling me she was glad I was the kind of girl who would eat instead of picking around her plate. I suppose in its own way, that was a compliment, too, but I blushed, worried I must’ve eaten like a hog. Those glorious calories shoved in my mouth were worth the red cheeks.

Sarah was known far and wide for her cooking, and if she knew your favorite thing, she’d be sure to include it if you were coming for dinner. I’m not sure I could choose one favorite dish of hers, but her Cowboy Cookies were magical, and try as I might, I couldn’t come close to her fried chicken. Plenty of her recipes found their way into my kitchen, though, and she delighted in my phone calls when I needed to clarify a process–like making sure if one cup flour, sifted is the same thing as one cup of sifted flour (it’s not). She also insisted that it made a different to “start with flour and end with flour” when adding ingredients for her famed pound cake–I have never put it to the test, though. I think it’s best to trust the cook.

Sarah’s desserts were legendary, and everyone had their favorite (mine was her Italian Cream Cake. sigh…). A diplomat and pleaser at heart, she made sure to rotate whose favorites showed up for holiday meals when our family gathered together.

But then…

*

*

*

 

Oooooh, please DO keep reading over at Grace Table table today!
Queen of the Kitchen, Princess of the Pie, and YOU is delicious reading ?. 

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I’m Mad And I Want You To Know Why

Oct

30

Posted by on Oct 30, 2017 | 8 comments

SpeakOutForYourself_RobinDance

Long ago and far away, or so it seems now, we lived in South Carolina. A few years after we landed there, a young couple moved to town, life-friends of my younger brother-in-law. We welcomed them with open arms; friends of family are friends of ours. They were barely out of newlyweddom when baby Dylan arrived. Stephanie and Trey loved him fiercely and completely, the way we all marvel at those firstborn, or let’s face it, every child we call our own.

Breastfeeding was a priority to Stephanie, and like any new mom, she expected to have questions along the way. When she complained to her doctor about a knotty sore place, she readily accepted his plausible explanation: a blocked milk duct (I massaged my way through a few of those painful devils). It was good news that satisfied her questions and concern, but this is what I would categorize as hearing what you want to hear (which is rarely a good thing).

Six months later Stephanie was dead, leaving behind a grieving husband and a son who would have no memory of her. She was 23. Cruelly, cancer cut her life short–six months from diagnosis to death.

My mother was 34 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer; she died at 38. Her mother died when she was 22, cancer again robbing a baby of knowing her mama. My sister is a survivor, creeping up on almost 20 years (thank you, Jesus).

I’ve lived under the Dark Cloud of Cancer Possibility my entire life (or at least as long as I remember). But as aware as I am for myself, taking all the preventive and proactive action I can for early detection and best health, I am even more aware for my daughter. She is 25 and has lived three years longer than her great-grandmother.

Medical opinions vary about when women with family histories of breast cancer should have their first mammogram; one popular suggestion is ten years prior to the diagnosis of first-degree relatives. While my daughter has no first-degree connection to breast cancer, her grandmother and great-grandmother died young, and her aunt endured aggressive treatment for DCIS and a malignant lump.

There are several methods to predict or evaluate your risk (for example, here or here). But I’m of the strong opinion it can serve you well to get a baseline early for future reference. 

Here’s the thing: no one wants to have a mammogram. They aren’t exactly painful, but they’re incredibly awkward and contort and smash your body into positions you didn’t know were possible.

Know what I say to that? So what? Get over your fear or dread or excuses. Early detection could save your life.

 

Continuing a streak of awesome adulting, my daughter recently decided to schedule her first mammogram (she’s a plane-ride away from me so if it’s going to happen, she has to make the effort without me dragging her kicking and screaming). She questioned me about anything she might need to know before she called a local provider, and I explained to her since it’s preventive (and given our family history), it’s covered under her insurance.

Well.

The office she called told her she did not need to have a mammogram yet, that she was too young and it wasn’t necessary. Of course, Rachel was thrilled and felt like she was off the hook for now. It was like they had handed her a “get out of jail free card.”

My response was volcanic.

 

“YOU DO NOT WANT TO GO TO A DOCTOR’S OFFICE THAT SUMMARILY DISMISSES A HISTORY LIKE OURS! FIND ANOTHER ONE! THIS IS NOT A TIME WHEN YOU CAN AFFORD TO BE SATISFIED HEARING WHAT YOU WANT TO HEAR! YOU COULD BE DEAD! YOU’RE JUST ANOTHER PATIENT TO A NEW DOCTOR, SO IT’S UP TO YOU TO BE YOUR OWN ADVOCATE FOR YOUR HEALTH! DO NOT ALLOW ANYONE TO MINIMIZE YOUR CONCERN!”

or some manner of poked mama bear vitriol.

I want my daughter to benefit from my experience, to learn how to make herself heard when others aren’t listening. It is too damn easy to accept a medical professional’s advice BECAUSE THEY’RE THE PROFESSIONAL. We want to hear the easy, not scary thing. But this I know:

I am my best advocate for my own health. So is my daughter. So are you.

 

We cannot afford to be passive when it comes to our bodies. We must be brave enough to press in and ask hard questions and resist the temptation to back down if there’s something still disquieting in our spirit. We must speak loudly until we are heard. Doctors are not perfect – one friend helped me put it in perspective by reminding me that they’re practicing medicine and don’t know everything -but if your doctor isn’t listening to you or quickly dismisses your concerns without relevant explanation, find another one.

We’re nearing the end of Breast Cancer Awareness Month aka When Athletes Wear Pink; you don’t have to get a mammogram during October, but you DO need to have one if your age and/or family history warrants it. Even if your insurance won’t cover a baseline mammogram, it’s worth it to pay for one. Better yet, be on the lookout for free screenings. Most cities and towns host health fairs at some point during the year where you can receive a mammogram at no cost to you.

Just do it.

/end of rant

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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.

 

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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??) 

 

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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!).


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