Monday, January 13, 2014

My One Word and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Over in Seekerville, where we Yankee-Belle bloggers all met, some of us have made it a habit to choose One Word for the year.

I chose mine in November. I thought about it, prayed about it, saw some flaws in my life I wanted to iron out...I chose "boundaries"...

...but God chose Joy.

You see, over the last few…no, several…years (or decades), I've let circumstances steal my joy. I don’t need to tell you what my circumstances are – we all have our own – but it started with one devastating event. Before I had fully recovered from that event, another blow came, and then a disappointment, and then a chronic sadness….

I let the events pile up like one snowfall after another, never letting the sun fully melt the old remnants of previous storms before the pile grew larger. Even when the sun did shine, which it does often in my life, there was always a crusty patch of snow in a sheltered spot that never melted.

Lest you think I’m prone to depression, I've always been an optimist. Happiness is easy to find when you know where to look.

Joy, however, can be denied.

Like when you’re recovering from the flu and every deep breath ends in a cough. You can try to fill your lungs with joy…but, oh, the cough. I’ll wait…until later…when I’m feeling better.

My word, Boundaries, sought to isolate that old patch of crusty snow…control it…deny it by ignoring it. Joy isn't so gentle. Joy rips into the covering of dead branches and frozen sod, revealing the icy canker, letting God’s grace melt every last remnant.

Once you give Joy access, it can’t be controlled. Joy will refuse to be hidden away behind circumstances. Joy will make itself known, and once known…you never want to let it be stolen again.

So my One Word is bright sunshine, warm rain, the scent of growing earth, bare feet in green grass, and the promise…oh, the promise!...that on that day when all is revealed, when the dark, rotting branches and mold covering my sins is stripped away…Grace will see Christ's righteousness instead. 

Oh, can there be greater joy than that?

What does all this have to do with Chocolate Chip Oatmeal cookies?

Years ago, when I was a young mother with one small son, I made these cookies often. Because of my novice helper, I would forgo bringing the mixer out of the cupboard, and do all the stirring by hand.

One of the things I've lost over the years is the enjoyment of those sweet moments with my young children…lost in a concern for mess, and getting the task done, and satisfying clamoring voices. 

Letting circumstances steal the joy instead of using the circumstances to magnify it.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients (for a small batch - feel free to double or quadruple the recipe):
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 Tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
1/2  cup chocolate chips

Let the butter come to room temperature in a large bowl – and don’t cheat by trying to hurry the process in the microwave! While you’re waiting, read a good book. Or plan ahead of time to make these cookies, and get the butter out while you’re fixing breakfast.

With a large spoon, mix in the white sugar and brown sugar. Stir and stir until it’s all smooth. Now taste a bit. Isn't that delicious?

In a small bowl, beat the egg with a fork or small whisk. Add the water and vanilla, and keep mixing until it’s all combined.

Add the egg to the butter/sugar mixture and stir. Stir until everything is all one happy mess.

Add the flour, soda and salt, and…you guessed it…stir some more.  Isn't this fun?

Now add the oats, mix it all up, and finally add the chocolate chips.

Of course you can eat one of them! Eat ten! No one will tell!

Wait…did you forget to preheat the oven? Do it now. 350° is perfect.

Drop the cookie dough onto baking sheets by the spoonful. You decide how big you want them, but be sure to leave enough room between the bits of dough so the cookies don’t all run together while they’re baking.

Is the oven hot yet? Good. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes. They should be golden around the edges, and the top should spring back when you touch one.

Let them cool as long as you can (try to hold out for at least five minutes so you don’t burn your tongue on the chocolate chips!), and then take one.

Hold an edge in each hand and s-l-o-w-l-y pull it apart. Catch a crumb on your tongue. Rescue that dripping chocolate. Pop one half in your mouth and savor it. 

Isn't that the best cookie you've ever eaten?

Now, grab a cup of coffee or tea, have a seat here in the cafe, and join in the conversation. 

Have you chosen your One Word for this year? And if you have, has it made a difference yet?

Or, what will you do to keep circumstances from robbing you of joy?

And just in case you need someone to teach you how to pluck joy from the passing hours, take the time to read this. How to Live Outside the Box


  1. My biggest joy robber is worry. Even though I know God's on my side I still worry. And I have a gazillion examples of where worrying got me no where because I've found out after the fact that God had already taken care of what I was worrying about. Sigh. I'm such a dunderhead. So now when I start to worry I turn to Him and give it over....though I'll sheepishly admit to not quite letting go all the time. :-)

    Beautiful post, Jan. It filled me with joy. The music was uplifting and that blog link was lyrical. if I can just keep hold of this warm fuzzy feeling long enough to ward off the work worries trying to nudge their way through.

    I made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies this weekend! And I found some mini M&Ms in the baking section of the grocery store so I tossed them in too. Talk about a mouthful of joy!

    1. Worry can steal joy faster than anything, can't it?

      I've found that I worry a lot less when I focus on what God wants rather than what I want. I trust that His plan for me is a lot better than mine, and His never fails. :)

      Have a great day, Kav!

    2. Kav, worry often steals my joy, too. It's something I struggle with daily. We can beat this!

  2. my post disappeared :-(

    this sounds like fun- was relaxing just reading your post! and no noisy mixer...


    1. Do we need to get Ruthy in here to give Mr. Blogger a lecture again? Eating posts is a no-no!

      Isn't a quiet morning a great way to start a Monday?

  3. Transformation is my word. And also a hard one to follow. But I ponder it everyday with out ceasing.

    Thanks for a good word. I'll pass it along to my friends!

    1. Thanks, Julie!

      Transformation is a huge word. I'm not sure I'd be up to it! But then I always tend to dig my heels in when I feel a change coming. Not the best way to live :/

  4. Jan, what a beautiful, inspiring post today. Thanks for being open and sharing. I'm sure my daughter will be calling for me to make these! :)

  5. What an amazing flash mob. It left tears streaming down my face! I hope someday to be around for one of those. :)

    1. I love this flash mob. How often do you get to hear music like this? And in a perfect setting for it.

  6. gotta get home to watch the flash mob! doesn't play well at work

  7. I love this, Jan. I have yet to choose my word for this year. I believe God's been trying to give it to me, I just haven't been still long enough to hear it. :( Since we're have way through January, I guess I'd better work on that.

  8. Not a fan with chocolate with oatmeal, but I like that this is a small batch so I may try it. Thanks, Jan! My one word is Risk. When I had to choose a buddy for an on-line class, I was nervous about asking the pubbed author. I took a risk asked her and now she's my class buddy. A small example, but it has paid off already this year. Enjoy the benefits your word will bring to you!

    1. Oooh, Risk is such a good word!

      It's amazing what a difference one little word makes in our lives, isn't it?

  9. Jan@! I am so sorry I missed this because YOU BRING ME SO MUCH JOY!!