Teach Me Your Way + Chocolate Cake {The Grove: Teaching}

“Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness.” – Psalm 86:11

I wish I could say this verse has been running through my head for the past several months. Instead, I’ll tell you that it is now and will for a while. This is one I need to hear now. Over and over.

I distinctly remember a sermon from our home fellowship about trials. “On average, everyone has a major trial—death, divorce, major illness, etc. – every seven years.” I heard that sermon about ten years ago, and since then, I kept thinking, When is this major trial going to hit? Will I respond the right way? What if I don’t?

I suppose you could call moving overseas a trial. That first year definitely had its major valleys for me. But for some reason, that didn’t count in my book. So I was still anticipating it to come. Not obsessing, but just really curious what it would be and who or what I would choose to turn to.

Two days before we were to head back to the field last month, it happened.

My husband’s oldest brother suddenly passed away.

It was sudden. It was confusing. It was shocking. It was awful.

We got the phone call as we were headed to hang out with his siblings one last time. We all rushed to the hospital, but he was already gone. We cried. A lot. Together. I was moved at how many of his extended family came. It was heartbreaking to watch each of them receive the news.

But then our gentle, comforting, faithful Father started shining his Light in this dark, dark time.

Because we changed our tickets for a week later, we got more family time than we’ve had in the past 5 years put together.

We reminded each other the importance of speaking Truth with one another. My husband’s father, in particular, was heard whispering truths to each family member throughout our grieving. What a gift.

It gave us a chance to talk about death with our boys. And to pull it full circle to why we serve on the field. The Gospel is Light. And everyone needs it.

We left at 8am the day after the funeral. Looking back, that wasn’t the smartest plan, but we had already re-booked twice. So we went with it. Little did I know more trials were to come.

We all have airport stories. This one goes down as one of the worst starts we’ve ever had. It started the night before when our toddler, who was sleeping in the same room as us, decided she didn’t want to sleep…at all. When the alarm went off at 4am, I think the three of us managed a few hours of sleep, but a migraine had formed. Great. On the drive to the airport, I was dry heaving into a ziploc bag. My husband and four-year-old promptly prayed for me. It was gone by the time we got to the airport!

So, there we were, the 5 of us with 10 large suitcases, 6 carry-ons, and a stroller. Yep, that family. Things were about to get rocky. I’ll spare you all the details, but there were ticketing issues and the not-so-nice agent was threatening to cancel our entire flight. Um, no, lady. We just want to get home. Do you know what kind of week we’ve had?!

As the tears fell out of frustration, our steadfast Father whispers, “Don’t worry. Keep looking for Me during your trip. There is good yet to come.” It’s all I could cling to…because ticket lady still wasn’t helping.

We managed to get on the plane, but with some extra fees. Then another miracle: The toddler fell asleep! My children are notorious for not sleeping on planes. No, I don’t feed them extra sugar. Yes, I’ve tried melatonin. They just like their own beds. See? I’m still here, Beloved.

As we walked up to the gate in Dallas, we told the ticket agent our situation. He just shook his head in disappointment and encouraged us to seek a refund. Blessings for you.

On the 13-hour flight, more whispers of His faithfulness: every child slept! The toddler slept for 4 hours…in a row! We slept! We watched a movie! I kid you not, these things haven’t happened in our 9 treks across the world. Then, for a snack, they served salted caramel ice cream. Ok, honestly, I was cringing at first, thinking of the sugar attack my kids would have, thus feeding even more movie watching and game playing. But, then I just chuckled. Here He is again, making me laugh in awe at his provisions.

The capital airport is never a good cultural experience for me. That day, I thought for sure all one billion plus people were in that airport, and all of them were in my way. I was sweating, because why put AC in one of the largest airports?! I had to run half a mile to retrieve luggage carts. And then I dumped my cart of six bags. Twice. And after all of that, we realized we were in the wrong terminal! Our three and a half hour layover was quickly dwindling. We had to move fast. My husband thought there was no way we’d make our next flight. I was sure we would. Don’t let me down, now!

After more sweat, baggage fees, literally running to our gate, and shocking the ticket taker that yes, there are more passengers, we made it. Finally. We’re going to make it home! Later, my oldest shared that he “prayed in his head that we would make our flight.” Precious child, keep following His ways.

As we were landing during that last short flight, I literally laughed out loud when my daughter pooped. I couldn’t get up, nor would it be worth my while because that airline didn’t have changing tables in the bathroom. I thanked our Father once again, this time for a culture of people that don’t care (or at least they don’t react like most westerners do) that this mama had to change one stinky diaper in the seat next to me.

This past month, with all its pain, grief, and frustration, could have pulled me the other direction. I could’ve gone into a pit, unable to see the Light. By God’s grace alone, I have been pulled into His lap. Since we’ve been back, the reminders continue. May we all remember to look around for His goodness, no matter the circumstances.

What is God teaching you about his goodness?

*****

I’m not a big cake fan. I’ll take pie every time, thank you. But birthday parties call for cake. This recipe is from a dear friend who used to make and sell cakes. It’s her go-to chocolate cake, and it’s been mine since she shared it. It’s super moist, which is why I can stand it more than most other cakes. Who likes dry cake? There is a special ingredient, that’s available to ALL of us, that makes this cake amazing. Check it out and report back with pictures and results!

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All the essentials to a cake. Plus lots of cocoa!

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The special ingredient: boiling water! YES, it will make your batter scarily thin, but that’s what makes it so moist!

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Ready to rise into chocolaty goodness.

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Don’t overbake, or you’ll negate the boiling water trick.

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I definitely do NOT claim to be an awesome cake decorator. Not one bit. But, there are a few tricks I want to share. First, the crumb coat. (See below for full details.)

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The final layer of icing. Do you see any chocolate poking through? Ok, maybe a little. But not much!

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The paper towel trick makes for a smooth-looking caking. Helpful for this non-decorator.

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Bumps galore, and not perfect, but much better!

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I’m not even going to show you the final result of the Batman emblem I iced on because the crazy tube of icing blobbed out a big ol’ chuck where Batman was NOT supposed to be. So, look at this yummy slice and go make some!

Chocolate Cake

Recipe by LauraLee (and probably Hershey’s)

Estimated Time: 2 hours

Serves: 20 (thin slices)

2 cups sugar

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and lightly flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa (sifted), baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be very thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Do not over bake! Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

For the crumb coat (a must-have when using light-colored frosting): Frost cake with thin layer.* Refrigerate 30 minutes-1 hour. Add another layer of frosting. Refrigerate for another 30 minutes-1 hour. If desired, add decorative frosting.

*My simple, go-to vanilla frosting:

1 cup butter, room temperature

4 cups powdered sugar

dash of vanilla

pinch of salt

splash of milk, if needed

Mix well.

*****

This is The Grove. It’s where we gather to share our thoughts, our words, and our art.  So join us in the comments. Link up your own blog posts on this week’s prompt.  

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10 Comments

  1. Danielle Wheeler September 8, 2016

    So amazing to see how he’s drawn you into His lap all throughout the incredibly hard month that you’ve had. Love hearing His whispers to you in the midst of it all. Hugs to you, friend.

    1. Ashley Felder September 9, 2016

      Let’s hope I can learn to keep listening for those whispers!

  2. Ashley R September 9, 2016

    I’m getting ready for my first solo flight to the States with four boys…through Dallas, no less, and I SO needed to read this today. Will be looking for signs of His goodness along the way. (But I’m not going to lie that I’m very happy my husband will be with us for the flight back to the capital. I’m also happy that since a move, this is the first time that arriving in the capital means a van ride home and not one more flight. I always walk into that airport with the worst attitude!)

    1. Ashley Felder September 9, 2016

      Lord, help Ashley to see glimpses…or hey, even big pictures!, of you along the way. Help the boys to sleep, be entertained, and have good attitudes during the long trip. May You be glorified during this otherwise not-so-fun trip!

      1. Ashley R September 9, 2016

        Thank you, other Ashley! Maybe I need to make that chocolate cake tomorrow for these last couple of days of preparations for the trip!

        1. Ashley Felder September 9, 2016

          I mean, it does cover at least half of the food groups… 😉

  3. Ruthie H. September 9, 2016

    This post comes at just the right time. I have been on the field for almost 7 years and have had similar thoughts, “When is this major catastrophe going to hit?” To be honest, I have had relatively few serious challenges on the field. This week it hit; less than two weeks before I return to the U.S. for a visit. Recently I have been memorizing and meditating on the first few verses of Psalm 25, and this morning God faithfully reminded me of them when I feel my world is tipped on its side. This evening, a woman from 6000 miles away, whom I have never met, but who works in my agency’s home office, wrote me an e-mail saying the home office staff prayed specifically for me this morning; though unaware of my present circumstances. A short time later, a former student who knows nothing of my challenge shared an encouraging message about God’s work in the “middle” of the challenges. To me those are amazing glimpses of God’s goodness. Thank you, Jesus.
    Thank you, Ashley, for being open and honest about your recent “adventures,” and for reminding me/us that God remains good and sovereign.

    1. Ashley Felder September 11, 2016

      It amazes me every time when I actually SEE his perfect timing! Prayers for you, Ruthie, during this challenging time. May He continue to show you goodness in the midst of the valley.

  4. Elisa Groth September 10, 2016

    Ashley, thank you so much for sharing your recent and detailed story of His faithfulness to you and your family! I will continue to lift you all up as you continue to grieve the loss of M’s brother! But I’m so glad that through all of the pain and in the depths of trial that you were able to see the Father working and hear his still small voice! And I absolutely loved hearing about your kiddos lifting up so much! Reminds me of why JC asked us to have faith like a child! And yours, friend, are precious! Thank you for sharing this too because we all need to hear reminders of his faithfulness and his love for us in the midst of the muck. I was greatly encouraged by your post and be passing it on to others that I think it would bless! Thanks for sharing, dear sister! Oh, and I will most definitely be trying this cake recipe out on my teammates during one of our birthday bashes! BTW what major airline did you fly back? AA? I think I had the same ice cream! 🙂

    1. Ashley Felder September 11, 2016

      Thanks for your encouragement. 🙂 Yes, we were on AA!

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