I remember watching as my great- grandmother would make biscuits, gravy, cakes, meals, desserts and more from memory. She was the best 3K teacher, allowing me to do Montessorri activities with flour before it was cool. She would recite Scripture when we would lie down for naps and she would pray for everyone and outlast my wiggly self.

For my birthday in March, I made her Chocolate Pound cake, except gluten-free. It was divine. There’s something about making a recipe that someone else has perfected it. When you have perfected theirs, it’s almost as good as hitting the lottery. I’ll be sure to include her recipe very soon!

Here she is. In all of her glory.

If you aren’t following, I’m sure you have the same feeling when you solve a puzzle or figure out the end of the movie before everyone else. To each their own.

For me, perfecting some of my most favorite recipes has given me a sense of peace, a way to calm the stirring emotions that want to come leaking out before I can process. I know there is a coined phrase for “stress baker.” And in college I was definitely one of those.

I would grab the richest Ghirardelli (triple chocolate) boxed mix and head to the community “kitchen.” You can judge but mannn those things were good. The mixing, the stirring, following mindless directions like “DUMP IT ALL IN THERE, SISTER” is exactly what I needed to restore some order and control to my life. That was until the brownies were done. Brownies are my KRYPTONITE. I can eat a whole pan and not bat an eye. I just need some black coffee and it’s like it never happened.

After being diagnosed with Celiac, it was much harder to just dump and go. I mean sure, they have the gluten-free boxed mixes, but have you ever followed those instructions and gotten a good product? If so, educate me. I always have to add more butter, oil, more milk, less milk, vanilla, more eggs, stand on your leg, hold your breath, the list goes on. I’m only mildly exaggerating.

Baking became stressful again because I couldn’t just DUMP AND GO. I had to wrestle, I had to play around with ingredients and obtain a good mixer. It wasn’t just me in college with borrowed eggs and a whisk. It was me trying to perfect and control something that I felt like order had been established. For a long time to get back control, focus, and some fun— I would dump and go. And it worked, for a season.

Until one day it didn’t. I had to wrestle with the ingredients. I had to wrestle with different mixtures of flour and it changed everything. The instructions on the box were always meant to be a guide. They can’t anticipate the temperature of your kitchen, the size of eggs you put in, if you’re really measuring the ingredients or just “eyeballing.”

This is a lot like control. We think we have it managed and we can assess everything in a five step process. Or if we do it just like everyone else, poof, DONE. The truth of the matter is, the ingredients are forever changing in a fallen world. Control is something we never had and that was proven with the first bite of that fruit in the Garden (Genesis 3). The serpent came in with all the different grains and messed up the whole recipe. HA!

Control isn’t following order. It’s taking responsibility. It’s dealing with all the different emotions (ingredients) and finding a place for them, whatever they may be. It responding instead of reacting. Ouch that one hurts. Control requires a lot of work, a lot of trial and error before you can see the results. Now I look at baking as an act for me to slow down and process and that is “stirring” in my soul. It’s about creating memories with my girls. It’s doing something foreign and failing (usually) but doing it with not other purpose than it being messy and FUN.

I hope you have someone in your life that challenges you in this, that is a listening ear and loves you through it all. If not, reach out. I’ll invite you to my Mrs. Pacman circle (it’s open), the spaces I found online for (MORE) community, and I’ll encourage you to meet with the one I put all my trust and control of my life in, Jesus.

Birthdays at home with me “controlling” the menu may be my favorite.

For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

Galatians 5:17, ESV

XOXO Jilly