I don’t have a very big sweet tooth, but my mom has some pretty spectacular dessert recipes that when prepared, make me morph into some kind of unrecognizable addict.
Like somehow I can justify eating three pieces of cake a day.
Her chocolate sheet cake is one of those, and I thought I might like to try it out this weekend to honor a friend’s birthday.
As most of her best recipes go, they’re well, loose, in places. Her macaroni and cheese, for example, calls for no specific ratio of macaroni to milk to eggs. It’s just, “until it’s the right consistency.”
This sheet cake recipe is my Mimi’s recipe, and it has a couple of interpretive elements. For one, the cake batter is to be poured into “the pan,” which refers to one pan. And I don’t mean one particular sized pan, but the actual pan that Mimi used, and that Mom now uses. In other words, the one I don’t have.
Mom doesn’t know the exact size, but only that “it’s bigger than a 9 x 13.”
And the icing calls for “1-1½ boxes of confectioner’s sugar.”
My grandmother’s and mom’s generations are not making it easy on daughters like me to carry on our favorite cooking traditions, I tell you.
Needless to say, between the wrong pan size and the un-measurements (and my omission of some critical vanilla in the icing), Round One was a disaster.
I called Mom today to report back. “I just finished making my second chocolate sheet cake, if that tells you anything.”
How often this happens in our spiritual lives! Despite the guide and instructions that we’ve been given by the Lord — and no, the specifics are not always explicit — we mess up all the time.
Disappointing? Sure. Costly of time and energy (and another round of ingredients)? Uh-huh. Normal? Absolutely.
But praise Jesus, he is gracious, and generous with second chances. He allows us opportunities to learn from our mistakes, and to learn his ways, that we often struggle to understand.
Mom was very sweet and said to me, “Well, it’ll get easier when you make it more. That’s probably one of those we should’ve done together the first time.”
I think God’s like that, too. I think he knows when we’re trying, and encourages us to keep at it. And no matter what we’re doing, or how many times we’ve done it, I imagine he’s always saying to us, Do it with me. It’ll turn out better that way.
Gracious Lord, continue to remind me that you are the God of second chances, and that whether I’m on the first, tenth, or hundredth chance, I’m better off doing life with You.
And please, Lord, let this chocolate sheet cake be an acceptable birthday dessert for my friend offering to you.