Monday, February 15, 2016

My One Word and Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies - a rerun post with a reason

Life happens, doesn't it?

Last Monday morning, I got a call from my dentist's office. They had an opening at 10:00, and would I like to come in to get my pending crown done then instead of waiting until March? 

"Sure," I said. 

What I didn't know is that MY plans for the rest of the week had just flown out the window. Because once my dentist started preparing my tooth for the crown, he opened a whole can of worms.

Okay, not really worms (Ewww!), but definitely not what he expected from the x-ray we had taken the week before. 

So Monday morning I got my first implant. If you've never had one, you can read about them here. If you're familiar with them, you understand what I spent last week doing. And what I'm going to spend the next four or five months doing. The healing - the knitting together of my bone and this new implant - is a long-term process.

What does this have to do with my "One Word"? My "word" for this year is "be still." Yes, I know, that's really two words. But it's one idea.

Be still (to me) means to take my hands off the wheel. Let God do what He needs to do in my life without trying to take control back into my own hands. Be still means to watch what God is going to do with this situation.

I could fret about this delay in my writing schedule. (LOL! What writing schedule?) Or my looming deadline, or the pending contract my agent is working on for me.

I could fret about my already packed year with two book releases, multiple deadlines, and the wedding of the decade!

But I've found that when you prayerfully choose that One Word, God has a way of bringing the reality of His Word into your life.

The reality of His presence into your life.

So I choose to Be Still. God has this.

This week's experience reminded me so much of the year that God chose my Word for me. I wrote the following post in January of 2014, little knowing what lay ahead in that year. The ups of multiple book contracts and the bittersweet passing of my mother, among all the other, less momentous happenings through the days, weeks, and months of that year.

With that knowledge of how my 2014 went, this blog about JOY was especially meaningful to me this week. 

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.

The word I had chosen, 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

* * * * * * * * 

Now that we're six weeks into 2016, how is life with your One Word going? 

If you haven't chosen your One Word yet, do you think you might?


  1. Oh, boy. I am SO sorry about your tooth. I've never heard of implants. Maybe that's something you get when you're older? I'm still dealing with fillings, here. My 12 year old just had a filling and I felt like I was failing as a mother. *sigh* It's a "brand new" molar and it had a cavity! Our dentist says some people are just prone to them so that's what I'm going to hang on to...

    My one word is FORWARD. :D In 2013 it was JOY. 2014 it was HOPE. 2015 it was REST. I really needed a 2015 of rest, but now I'm ready to move forward again. For me, that means opening up my schedule and plans and dreams and seeing what God suggests.

    Of course, as soon as I chose that word, my kids started asking about visiting China. I've never really wanted to visit China, but two of my older kids have studied it for years. (And the tickets are pretty cheap from the West Coast.) So... I'm just sitting with that suggestion and seeing if we should move FORWARD with it. Who knows what this year will bring? Maybe the Great Wall!

    1. Yeah, implants. It was either that or a root canal, and the implant is permanent. I'll never have to deal with that tooth again. Well, once this is over!

      I have friends who go to China every year. Roger teaches at a university here, and his specialty is agriculture. Specifically grasses. So he's invited over to teach at a university in China once a year. This year they're going in the fall so he can watch the harvest of some specific kind of grass. Oh, they travel and see the sights, too. But that's more of an afterthought. :)

    2. That is really neat! I've always loved the IDEA of China: the photos of beautiful places, the history, the language, the people. But I know about 5 words of Cantonese so I never considered going there. Maybe if I had a guide or a tour or someone to help facilitate the travel. Otherwise, it's scary!

  2. Jan. :( The tooth thing is a bummer. I love what they're able to do, but it's not an easy process. Every time I see a commercial that says "Yes, we can do this all in one day..." I cringe, because friends have had it done and it isn't a quick fix!

    Mary Jane, CHINA!!!! What an amazing opportunity, oh my gosh, my kids would trade me in for you in a heartbeat. I am totally applauding the thought of such an adventure! Whether you do it or not this year, you've got such a great insight at stretching out and spreading your wings. I'm so proud of you.

    I'm dying to bake this week, but there is no one here to eat it but me, and that means Ruthy can't fit into her clothes. Although I might do it and tuck things in a freezer... and these oatmeal cookies look marvelous.

    Praying for your comfort and your work. With hugs.

    1. No, it isn't an easy process! I'm amazed at what my dentist can do, though. I was dreading having to make an appointment with an oral surgeon, but Brian has all the certifications to do it himself - and the equipment. He also makes the crowns on site with a special machine similar to a 3-D printer. So doing that in one day is great. :)

      Don't try to make these cookies and freeze them, thinking you won't eat the whole batch. This is the voice of experience speaking! They're almost as good straight out of the freezer as they are straight out of the oven!

    2. It really would be, Ruthy, since I don't SPEAK CHINESE. I mean, definitely starting now, but I swear they're interested in that continent because we've always focused on what I know: Western and Eastern Europe. So, to them, it's new an awesome.
      For me, it's just scary. LOL. I don't like to travel where I can't ask for help if I get lost. Which is often.

  3. Love your one word. I've used that endlessly and actually have it posted everywhere to remind me. Hugs and prayers for you. You can do it. smile

    1. Thanks, Sandra!

      I keep my one word in front of me all the time. I usually have it as part of my computer's screen saver, as well as on jewelry and bookmarks and...well, you get the idea. :)

  4. Ugh to all things involving teeth and dentist. The whole implant thing totally fascinates me. It's come so far in a short time. I'm a wuss when it comes to dentistry so I send sympathies and gentle hugs. You need some special fur hugs from Wynter and Thatcher too.

    And yay for this paired down chocolate chip recipe. I might have enough ingredients to make a batch. My standby recipe makes a ton but since it also has one egg I never could figure out how to halve it. I'll have to compare the recipes and see what's so different. But you have to know I'll be putting in more than half a cup of choco chips. :-)

    1. Yes, you'll have to compare the recipes. Baking is such a science! So with more eggs, there might be less shortening (or butter), or more sugar. You'll have to check it out.

      You're right that dentistry has changed so much! Just the fact that I'm able to get all of this work done in the dentist's office instead of going to a specialist is a wonderful convenience!

    2. I agree, Kav. I'm not usually a cookie baker. But I'm sorely tempted by the fact it's a small batch. :)

  5. What a beautiful post on joy, Jan. I'm so glad you re-shared it. I hope you're able to be up and about over the next weeks as you have procedures and your mouth heals.

  6. I'm glad you liked it, Missy!

    Recovery is going well. I saw my dentist this morning, and he said the healing looks good. The ache is down to "minor" after last week's "throbbing." It feels much better. :)

  7. Oh, Jan, I'm sorry you're having to go through all that pain and healing. That said, I know first hand that God can often find a way to make us BE STILL when we aren't necessarily cooperating. Not that you weren't, I'm simply referring to my own experiences.

    And the cookies look amazing. Yum.

    Hang in there, my friend, and allow you're body to heal.

    1. No matter whether I'm cooperating or not, God always tends to remind me that I can always "be still-er," if that's a word!

      And healing as fast as I can. :)

  8. Jan, thanks for the smaller recipe.....good for my downsized household.....and we still love our cookies.

    Your implant will be worth it after the few months. I had one done four years ago and I'm thankful I went with that decision.

    The word God put on my heart this year is REFLECT, somewhat similar to your BE STILL. I'm working on slowing down and savoring.....then plan to shine by reflecting the wisdom I hopefully gain this year. :)

    Praying for your healing and comfort.....

    1. I love that. REFLECT. Beautiful word.

    2. Reflect is a good one! I like that!

      And thanks for the perspective on the implant. I look forward to being completely healed.

  9. Jan, this post is so beautiful. I read it yesterday, but I was rushing out and didn't have time to comment. It stayed with me all day. I kept meaning to come back and comment and share it. Such beautiful, resonating words.
    Thank you for sharing both the new reflection and the old post - and the cookies!