What is the source of your true joy? Think about it.

I have lots or things and stuff. I enjoy all my treasurers. But do they really bring me true joy? If I lost them all in a tornado or flood, would I still find joy in my life? I think so. I have never been put to the test, thank goodness, but I do think I am not so shallow that I would lose all hope and joy if everything was stripped from me in a tragedy.

So what is my true joy? First of all, my family. Almost always when people are interviewed after a storm or flood, their comments include, “But my family is safe.” Things can be replaced and/or repaired, but we realize just how precious our family is. When anything goes wrong, we long for our families to be by our side, like at funerals.

One sweet hug or telephone call from my Landry can make all the bad things go away.

The same can be said for calls or visits or letters from anyone in my family. Their presence absorbs some of any sadness and I feel better.

Memories of my youth bring much joy and pleasure. When I call my sisters, we discuss how fun things were on the farm working and playing together. We always end up laughing so hard, almost like we did way back then.

The days and nights I spent at Grandpa’s and Grandma’s house were delicious. I have no bad memories of those times. Grandma always cooked just what I liked and I loved the stories Grandpa told in the evening sitting in the porch swing on the front porch. Grandma grew such beautiful flowers and her garden was a picture fit for any magazine. She knew every flower and vegetable and taught me all about them. What a joy it was to be in their presence. Their joy rubbed off on me and I still have fond memories of sleeping in the feather bed and smelling the sausage cooking in the morning — and the applesauce doughnuts she made — every time I came. They lovingly called each other “Ef and Will” for Effie and William, and they were so cute. The way Grandpa looked at her was so sweet, like she was the most gorgeous thing in the world, and she was. Love never fades.

I also had a wonderful life at home. We had so much fun working and playing together.

Even jobs we hated (like cleaning the chicken house) could be made fun because there was always a happy surprise when the task was completed, that made it all worthwhile. I was shown and learned about JOY: Jesus first, others second, and yourself last. That advice has served me well.

I loved everything about school. I loved reading and arithmetic and recess and taking our lunches, and the coziness of the classroom in the mornings. I loved the walk to and from school. I loved doing the homework because Daddy had been a teacher and made homework fun and exciting.

I loved searching for fossils going to and from school every day. To others, they may have just been rocks, but I identified them and enjoyed the hunt. To this day, I still enjoy hunting fossils.

Luckily, I have always been surrounded by dear friends who bring such joy into my life. I have had wonderful neighbors, and church friends, and just people in general. Everywhere I go, I meet someone new and interesting who become my friends forever.

Most of all I enjoy the small kindnesses that my friends do every day of my life. I have a friend who picks me up for Church every Sunday. We visit all the way there and back. Visit about nothing really, but it is always interesting and enlightening. I have friends of all ages that inspire me and are by my side anytime. They just seem to know when I need a special hug or smile.

I know one cannot love inanimate things, but I love my stuff and everything has a story.

I and my special friend enjoy sitting on the patio in the mornings until the weather gets too cold for comfort. It never gets too cold for Stan, because he loves winter. If it gets below 70 degrees, I have to have a blanket or jacket. But we enjoy the birds and flowers and quiet of the mornings with coffee.

Nature brings me much joy. I never tire of seeing the pastures and trees and rocks of home in Pawnee County. I thought it was the next best thing to Heaven. Now I love Enid the same way. I have grown to love the people here and the stores and so much to see and do. I don’t think I could ever move back to Pawnee because I have such deep roots here now. But joy seems to be within a person and not from outside influences. One is either happy or not.

As I write this, I am sure the things that bring joy to my readers are not the same as mine. But remember the little song we sang in Sunday School when we were little? “I have a joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart. Down in my heart to-day,” and the second verse says, “Down in my heart to stay.” We sang it with such gusto and it is still down in my heart. It is here to stay forever.

You may have memorized this poem by Grace Crowell: “I have found such joy in simple things/A plain clean room/A nut-brown loaf of bread/A cup of milk/A kettle that sings/The shelter of a roof over my head/And a leaf-laced square along a floor/Where yellow sunlight glimmers through a door.” Everything brings joy if we look for it.

Cooking, baking, eating and sharing food with others bring me joy. I hope it brings you joy also, like this easy but wonderful bar cookie:

Jam bars

½ cup butter, softened

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 regular box white or yellow cake mix

1 cup finely crushed cornflakes

1 cup jam, any flavor

Cream butter and brown sugar until smooth. Add egg and mix well. Gradually add dry cake mix and cornflakes. Set aside 1½ cups for topping. Press remaining dough into a greased 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Carefully spread jam (we like apricot or strawberry best) over crust.

Sprinkle with reserved dough and gently press down. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into squares.

Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food for Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.

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