April 7, 2014

Receiving Sweet Ministry

God sends us people who minister to us in a special way and provide us with godly examples. Often these people don't realize how deeply they touch our lives. One such woman, let's call her Alice, used her gifts for my benefit for several years before she retired to another state far away.

Alice and I have some things in common. We grew up in conservative churches. We love baking sweet desserts. We both agree that my husband is a stellar preacher. We are different, too. Alice starts projects right away because, in her words, she wants to get it all behind her. Instead, I put things off. While Alice is very generous, I hold material things too tightly. Because of a negative experience in a cult-like church, Alice never wanted to join ours. On the other hand, I think commitment to a local church is very important.

Alice had the gifts of hospitality and of nurturing, and she used them freely with me. She did this, not in a diligent mother sort of way but more like an indulgent auntie, who didn't have the day-to-day responsibility for my upbringing. I knew that Alice enjoyed being around me. I felt completely accepted and at ease.

When Alive lived nearby, I went to her house sometimes to cook with her. I learned a lot, not just about food preparation but about how Christ can bring you through severe trials. In addition, she shared some of her dessert recipes. One of them was for a carrot cake that she mailed to her sons on their birthdays.

After she and her husband moved, Alice urged us to visit their new home in the West. So, we went a couple of times. I felt like I was staying in a five-star hotel and eating in a five-star restaurant. She even let me drive her car to a neighboring state just so I could say I had been there. These were relaxing times that energized me for ministry.

One recent day, when I was baking her carrot cake for a special dinner, my husband came home to say that Alice's husband had called him at church. The couple is facing declining health. It seemed that I may not see Alice again, and I cried. But then I realized that once we both get it all behind us, we will meet in heaven, and I can tell her that she is sweeter to me than any dessert.

"Alice's" Carrot Cake

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 eggs
1 cup cooking oil
1- 8 ounce can crushed pineapple, drained, plus enough grated raw carrots to make 4 cups (about 3/4 pounds of carrots)
3/4 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup raisins, optional
  • Mix flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat eggs until foamy. Slowly beat in oil.
  • Slowly add flour mixture to egg mixture until smooth.
  • Mix in carrots, nuts and raisins, if using.
  • Pour into 3 greased and floured 9" round cake pans.*
  • Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans. 
Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting 
4 Tablespoons butter, divided
2 cups coconut
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons whole milk
3 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Melt 2 Tablespoons of the butter in a skillet. Add coconut, stirring constantly over medium low heat until golden brown. Spread on paper towels to cool.
  • Cream remaining butter with the cream cheese. Add milk and sugar alternately.
  • Add vanilla and stir in 1 3/4 cups of the coconut. (Save remaining coconut for garnish.)
  • Frost between cooled cake layers and on top. Sprinkle with reserved coconut.
* If using different sized pans, adjust the baking time.

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