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The Gift of a Lifetime

Dec

15

Posted by on Dec 15, 2017 | 0 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.

 

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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…)

 

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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…

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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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Have You Ever Wondered What Your Faith Would Look Like If You Didn’t Have a Bible?

Oct

31

Posted by on Oct 31, 2017 |

500th Anniversary of Reformation Graphic_RobinDance

 

Recently, our pastor led a sermon series that caught me by surprise, six messages celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation (which happens to be today, October 31, 2017). It would have been almost expected in the former denomination we attended (Presbyterian (PCA)), but not what I’d predict from a Southern Baptist church.

I like surprises.

I owe Pastor McCoy a debt of gratitude for inspiring my thoughts at {in}courage today, and I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read and comment. His sermons also pointed me in the direction of some helpful resources (and a few quotes that found their way into my post). Learning about Church history strengthens my own faith, understanding the price so many paid that I might have the luxury of reading my own Bible, and worship without fear.

On this day in 1517, history – or maybe, more so, tradition – tells us Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door of Wittenberg Castle Church, thereby ushering in a faith movement that led to the formation of the Protestant Church. Originally titled “Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences” but more commonly known as the 95 Theses, Luther raised questions related to authority and salvation. One of his major points of contention centered on the practice of indulgences where people could basically buy their way out of sin.

Please read “Jesus Loves Me This I Know…” over at {in}courage to learn why Luther’s work matters to all of us, and I’d challenge you to ponder what your faith might look like if you didn’t have access to a Bible you could read on your own. Really–linger in the ramifications of that question; I’d genuinely love to hear your thoughtful responses (either in comments, if you’d like to share publicly, or via email).

Last, if you love learning, below are links to Dr. McCoy’s sermons and to the resources he used in his research (thank you, Dr. McCoy!):

The Unfinished Reformation by Greg Allison and Chris Castaldo

Theology of the Reformers by Timothy George

The Smalcald Articles by Martin Luther

The Bible Translation That Rocked the World, Christian History, Issue 34 by Henry Zecher

The Babylonian Captivity of the Church by Martin Luther

Find audio files and pdf guides here for Pastor McCoy’s sermon series The 500th Anniversary of the Reformation beginning September 24, 2017 and ending on October 29th.

  • Sermon 1, How Well Do You Know Your Story?
  • Sermon 2, What Does the Bible Say? Sola Scriptura and Following Christ Today
  • Sermon 3, All of Grace: Sola Gratia and the Way of Salvation
  • Sermon 4, Sola Fide: Abraham, Luther, and Justification by Faith
  • Sermon 5, Jesus Paid It All: Solus Christus and the Way of Salvation
  • Sermon 6, Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone

Related content:

http://www.history.com/topics/martin-luther-and-the-95-theses

Katharina and Martin Luther: The Radical Marriage of a Runaway Nun and a Renegade Monk by Michelle DeRusha

 

Note: my affiliate links are included for books listed above.

 


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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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