Monday, July 2, 2018

Do You Need a Dose of Joy Today?

by Jan Drexler

When I was getting ready to write this post, I thought I'd share my recipe for Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies with you.

I was going to tell you how this "change of life" my husband and I are going through since he entered semi-retirement has brought about one wonderful new habit in our lives...after nearly 36 years of marriage, we are eating most of our meals together. After all, when you work in food service, you eat at work!

I was going to tell you how I've started making cookies again so that hubby can pack them in his lunch. I was going to tell you about my father-in-law, who took these cookies to have with his lunch every day. Four cookies. Every day.

But then I realized I had already shared this recipe on the blog, and when I reread it, I decided I needed to share the entire post that I wrote back in January of 2014. 

In the months after I wrote this post, it became clear to me how very, very good God is. My mother passed away just a few weeks after I wrote this, and the rest of the year wasn't all that great, either. BUT, God knew I needed this word. He knew I needed to be reminded of His joy.

And as I read this post again, I realized that you might need to read it. If my prayer list is any indication, a lot of us are going through circumstances that have set us back on our heels.

Because LIFE IS HARD. Really wonderful, and sometimes...often...really hard.

But God didn't intend for us to go through this alone. If you're having a hard time with something - anything - tell a trusted friend so they can pray with and for you. 

Then mix up a batch of Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies, and enjoy the moment.

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.

(Let the music play while you read the rest of the post.)

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.

Jan Drexler lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband and growing family. When she isn't writing, she loves hiking in the Hills or satisfying her cross stitch addiction.

You can find Jan on Facebook, Jan Drexler, author, or her website, Jan


  1. Oh, this is balm in Gilead for certain! You made me smile and then get teary-eyed and then smile again, you brat.

    Because life can be hard... That's the way of it, sure as shootin'... but it is also such a kaleidoscope of wonderful that sometimes I just want to shake it up and marvel at the beauties...

    And grab hold.

    We're going into the mid-nineties here again today so there is no baking happening. We're eating store-bought cookies and freeze pops...

    But I will make these when the temps go back to some kind of normal again and I will love them!

    Thank you, sweet Jan!

    1. I felt the same way when I read this post again. I had forgotten that I had written it! And for sure and for certain, we all need the balm of Gilead at some point. :-)

      I'll be thinking of you and the rest of the East that's sweltering this week. We missed this particular heat wave, but I'm sure we'll have our turn sometime.

    2. Ruthy, that sounds like our kind of weather. So do y'all get humidity because of the lakes?

  2. Okay, I've got my tea, but I'll have to wait on the cookie. These do sound (and look) amazing, though. Oh, and way to make Ruthy cry. Woot-woot! :P

    1. You can have a virtual cookie, Mindy. :-)

      And you can keep your hot weather. I'm enjoying no air conditioning and open windows!

  3. So beautiful and much needed. I want to tarry in the snow though...which isn't the point but it's hideously hot and I am thinking of snow fondly now. lol Yesterday -- Canada Day -- it was 96 with the humidity making it feel like 116!!! Hottest Canada Day on record. And today is the same...and on into next week. Yuck. And me without air conditioning. Double yuck. But I love these cookies, Jan. I make them all the time. I love that they have less sugar and fat...though I guess if I eat more at one sitting it cancels out any benefits. I like how the oat flavour really shines through...not disguised by too much sugar. Must make another batch whenever it cools down enough to bake...or I could save on electricity and bake them on the sidewalk!

    1. I feel for you, Kav! I hate heat and humidity, but folks in the northeast suffer with it the way the south suffers when they have snow and ice in the winter! It will eventually pass on and cooler weather will come, but I know it isn't any fun while it lasts!

      And Happy Canada Day! (a day late) Enjoy the holiday!

  4. Beautiful and timely, Jan. Life brings ups and downs but glad God is there at all times and has given us a beautiful world to live in. Also, freedom here in America that others do not have. Have a blessed and happy 4th of July.