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



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


  • 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.


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



Posted by on Sep 13, 2017 | 3 comments


(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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Hope in the Hurricane



Posted by on Sep 10, 2017 | 3 comments

Psalm 57_1 - Encouraging Scripture in Storm - Irma - by Robin Dance

In the eye of a hurricane
There is quiet
For just a moment….
~ From “Hurricane” by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton

I’ve listened to the Hamilton soundtrack 317,256 times, give or take. I love it. For its story and history, of course, but more so for the madness and brilliance of Lin-Manuel Miranda. Smart (although at times explicit) lyrics companioned with incredible music – hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B, and Broadway – bring me to tears in places, which is saying something. I’m not an easy crier.

My friend Monica has listened a million times, too. For their anniversary, her husband scurried her off to New York, and between that and a surprise pair of tickets to Hamilton he won the Husband of the Year Award (congratulations, Derek).

During a conversation about her visit we discovered we both do the same thing: instantly think about Hamilton when we hear a word or phrase in everyday conversation that includes a snippet of lyrics. I wish I could remember what the reference was when we were with a group of friends and someone unknowingly said a line from one of the songs. We looked at each other, both repeated it, and grinned. “Wait for it…”? “Rise up”? “I’m not throwing away my shot”? Who knows? I just sure we had a moment.


There’s a song called “Hurricane” in Act II of the musical, referring to both a hurricane Hamilton literally survived, and also  figuratively to a life storm he faces. When Harvey punched Texas in the face a few weeks ago, and now with Irma crashing through the Caribbean and bullying her way straight up Florida toward me – three hours from any coast for heaven’s sake – this song keeps ringing in my ears.

This morning in church our pastor talked about storms and what they reveal about God and/or man. Tim knew Irma was on everyone’s mind and we likely had evacuee visitors (we did). Our church has already been reaching out to those affected by Harvey, but with this one hitting closer to home – we have five evacuation centers in our area (and an extra one for pets) – it’s personally relevant.

He threaded together stories of people in the bible who faced storms…Noah, Jonah, wise and foolish men, even Jesus and his disciples…but it was a beautiful passage from Psalms that gave me the most encouragement today, Psalm 57:1.

If you find yourself squaring off against Irma (or Harvey), or facing any kind of life storm (both can level you, can’t they?) I hope you’ll find life and encouragement in these words, too:

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
    for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
    till the storms of destruction pass by.

My thoughts and prayers are with you, the millions of neighbors affected by these storms. My greatest hope is that you will see the goodness and glory of God in the days to come.



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The Kindness of Strangers



Posted by on Sep 6, 2017 | 4 comments


It was a day of inconveniences, the kind where you wonder if you’ll be able to get it all done.


Since I was driving out of town the next day, taking my car to the shop for its past due oil change was top priority. The wait was hours long without an appointment (what? they take appointments?!), and I could’ve kicked myself for not bringing work along, or better yet, a book from my never shrinking stack. I called my son to see if he could leave his job to come and get me. He said yes, but even his time was limited, and he didn’t have the extra minutes to run by the grocery store on the way home so I could grab something to cook for dinner.

Influenced by both our year living in Germany (where we biked or walked everywhere) and my husband’s wellness plan at work (that pays us to track health and fitness), I made the decision to have him drop me at Publix and I’d walk home.

While I had mentally calculated the distance between home and Publix – a little more than a mile – I hadn’t factored in July’s stifling heat and humidity. Mylanta, summertime in middle Georgia is a big, fat, steamy sauna.

I crossed the street into my neighborhood, sweat-drenched and questioning my sanity. It had seemed like such a good idea at the time, especially if I wanted to have dinner ready before midnight. Now, I would’ve been happy to troll the pantry and make a meal out of Cream of Mushroom Soup and Ritz Crackers–aren’t they the base of every good casserole, anyway?

About that time I sensed a car approaching from behind, slowing down beside me. I kept a confident and determined stride, staring straight ahead and painting a fiercely intimidating expression on my face (a surefire method for disarming potential kidnappers and murderers). I tried to act like I didn’t notice them…

Which is next to impossible when the window rolls down and you hear…


Please click over to Grace Table today to discover what happens next!
(It’s a story I love.)

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#SolarEclipse2017: A Playlist To Maximize Your Viewing Experience



Posted by on Aug 21, 2017 | 6 comments


Really, truly, it doesn’t make sense even to me:


Ever since my sister mentioned today’s total solar eclipse ages ago – The Greatest Celestial Event since the founding of our country – I’ve been downright giddy at the thought of it. It is even the inspiration for my (in)courage post today. I’m a little jellie, (okay…a lot) of the folks who’ll see it along the path of totality (I’m looking at you, Sissy), and I am K.I.C.K.I.N.G. myself for not getting eclipse glasses (in case you’re wondering, stacking sunglasses will not prevent damage to your eyes. Darn.)

It looks like we’ll have pretty good coverage where I live, maybe 90-95% (HOLLA Macon, GA! The moon will be closest to the sun at 2:39pm. Set your watches, homies.)

I’m back from a long weekend out of town and don’t have time to go deep with All The Eclipse-inspired Thoughts I’m having this morning, so I thought it would be fun to create a playlist of sun- and moon-themed songs to play during eclipse viewing. Please do chime in with your favorite, or share good songs I’ve missed.

And my FAVORITE sun-song:


And for the moon songs?


And because this is an Event for the Ages, I believe it’s absolutely appropriate to end with one of my top favorite songs of all time: 100 Years by Five for Fighting, a reminder of life’s brevity.


Today is a day we’ll remember for the rest of our lives. For the first time in a very long while, it feels like we live in “one Nation, under God, indivisible.” I have this lovely sense of human connectedness that feels both foreign and familiar.

This moment is fleeting but the memory is forever. 

Hold tight. 

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On (my) radio silence



Posted by on Aug 10, 2017 | 5 comments


Most folks reading my blog today don’t know me from back in those early days, the ones after the six months or so when I never actually told anyone I had a blog; the years and years I published daily and when comment threads created vibrant community among virtual strangers.

That season was before blogging conferences en masse became a thing, when BlogHer was the only show in town; it was founded the same year I started my (at-the-time-anonymous) blog. Back then bloggers didn’t trust the internet. We typically didn’t reveal our real name, we didn’t include pictures of ourselves (for years my avatar was my feet), and we would NEVER dream of sharing images of our children.

That last one’s hard to believe, yes?

It was also before Zuckerberg figured out what Facebook was, and definitely before it caught the attention of Boomers and Gen X. Twitter hadn’t even been born.  Pre- YouTube, Instagram, podcasting, and OH MY WORD–I just realized smart phones hadn’t yet been invented! (Technically, I guess they had…Blackberry and all, but I’m talking pre-iPhone….)

There are a lot of years between then and now – almost 12 – and the changes in my life since then are significant.

But this isn’t about that, exactly; nor is it about the seismic shift in blogging and how social networks forever-impacted its landscape.

It’s mostly about all the noise out there. I had to quiet my heart…my head…my soul.

Wait a second…that’s not entirely accurate. The noise does have something to do with it – there is no dearth of opinions about everyfrickingthing, and does what I write (say) add value or just more noise? – but it was more about the way I had my phone in my hand more often than not, the way I was umbilical corded to technology.


While there has been a lot going on this summer – a wedding, travel, moving, and then some – one day it was like a switch flipped, and I couldn’t do it anymore.



For a few weeks I ignored messages, emails, and who knows what else, and I shared next to nothing. It was an unofficial sabbatical of sorts, and I’m afraid that meant missing some writing obligations, too (Please forgive me if you fall into this camp? Can I beg grace??).

But it sure did feel liberating.

Anyways, I’ve been missing writing lately, and that feels good. During my sabbatical I had a revelation of sorts, and it has my brain all spinny. It’s the kind of substantive thing that will take a while to unpack, and I’m trying to figure out how to articulate my thoughts; some of them are important, and I humbly believe will bring more value than noise to the internets.

I hope a few of you are still around to listen.








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