There seems to be a lot of talk these days about happiness versus joy. Now, trust me, I am a big believer in joy. I’ve written about it often, I pray for joy for myself and others, and I understand its beautiful power. Joy is a divine thing. A God thing.
But today, I’m coming to the defense of happiness.
Somehow in the debate, happiness has been given a really bad rap. It’s been shamed and treated as a shallow, hollow expression of emotion. Yes, happiness may ebb and flow based upon what’s happening in our lives. But happiness isn’t the bad guy. In fact, it’s quite beautiful. Honestly, when I read Luke 15:10, where it says angels rejoice, I can’t help but picture the angels in Heaven having a raucous celebration every time someone says, “Jesus, I’m Yours.” I promise, they’re doing a whole lot more than a tiny handclap and a head nod. They’re having a block party and inviting everyone and not caring if they make too much noise. That’s happy, people. Pure happy.
Happiness shows up all around us – in good conversations and messy kisses from little ones and the fragrance of a bloom on a tree. Today, happiness found me while driving a golf cart around the parking lot of our church so my assistant and I could have a meeting (the office was crazy-busy, so we improvised). We got a summer plan in place for our intern and didn’t run over anyone in the process – it was a pretty sweet moment.
And tonight, happiness found me in the kitchen. It finds me there often, because I get to create. And I get to serve. Seriously, happiness and joy have dance parties in my kitchen. Tonight, the dancing was in honor of my friend Leah, who left a sweet message on my Facebook wall.
“So I was thinking… If you make that wonderful strawberry cream cheese cake, cupcake… And you have extras, I will get them off your hands.”
You see, Leah doesn’t like wedding cake. So when she got married, she and her hubby had their own special “his and her” cakes for everyone. For Jeff, it was classic yellow with chocolate fudge. And for Leah, it was strawberry with cream cheese frosting. It’s been a few years now, and the idea of that cake brings back all the happy memories of a beautiful evening. Because gosh, that wedding was a blast. They danced and everyone feasted and toasted and sang. I think about all the weddings I’ve been to over the years – and most of them are overflowing with happy. Joy’s there too. But happy is having a hey-day.
Now, Leah’s going to be even happier, because the strawberry cakes I’ve made her are better than the ones we baked for her wedding. The recipe is a classic – and it’s incredibly simple, even with the few tweaks I’ve made to it. And the frosting is also easy and delightfully rich.
I’ve baked my cupcakes in tins prepared with sugar instead of flour (it makes for a lovely even crust) and served them upside down, split and filled and dusted with powdered sugar like little naked cakes.
Yes, I just might call them Naked Babies. Proudly. With a smile. Taste one. You’ll smile too. Trust me.
Chances are, tomorrow I’ll be hanging out with joy. And if happiness wants to find me, I’ll most certainly let it. Because happiness is a God thing too.
STRAWBERRY NAKED BABIES
Makes 24 classic cupcakes
1 (18.25-ounce) box classic white cake mix
1 (3-ounce) box instant vanilla pudding
1 (3-ounce) box strawberry-flavored instant gelatin
1 (15-ounce) package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed
3 large eggs
2 t. vanilla (of course, I use Mexican vanilla because it’s awesome)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
Prepare cupcake tins, using sugar instead of flour. Preheat oven to 350. In a medium mixing bowl, stir cake mix, pudding, and gelatin until well blended. Add strawberries, vanilla, oil and water and blended for 2 minutes or until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, until well-blended. Using a ¼ cup scoop, fill tins until ½ full. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until cake springs back when touched. Remove from oven and allow to cool 10 minutes, then remove from pan and place on cooling rack.
INCREDIBLE CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
2 sticks butter (1 cup), softened
1 package cream cheese, softened
3-5 cups powdered sugar (please use pure cane rather than beet sugar)
1 t. clear vanilla
2 T. or so heavy cream
In a medium mixing bowl, cream together butter and cream cheese. Carefully add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until frosting is actually too stiff to be spread or piped. Add vanilla and heavy cream and keep blending on low speed until smooth and creamy.
Ronne Rock is a creative insomniac who used to wear business suits and win awards in corporate America. Those awards are now boxed and sitting in the attic, next to luggage, Christmas ornaments, and life-size replicas of Yoda and Spiderman. These days, you’ll find her sharing her marketing expertise with faith-based organizations, serving the orphaned in discarded places like Guatemala, Romania, Jamaica, and Uganda, or cooking up new recipes in the kitchen with friends. She is hopelessly addicted to Hope, a painter of words, a believer in kitchen therapy, and a collector of adventures with those she loves.
Ronne lives in the Texas Hill Country with her husband Brad, their son, daughter-in-love, and beautiful grandkids. She considers home to be anywhere her heart finds its beat.