Life seemed to be falling apart for little Desiree Gibbons. Her best friend, Missy, had just moved to another city. Another friend, Daisy, was on again, off again with her. And, summer was fast approaching. Who would swim with her at city pool? Who would ride bikes and whisper secrets under the willow trees in her backyard?
With her chin resting between her curled knees, Desiree sat on the back steps of her bungalow contemplating her fate and how she would make it through middle school next fall with no friends. Her index finger etched Missy’s name in the empty flower bed.
A high-pitched squeaky noise interrupted her thoughts. She raised her head just in time to hear her grandma’s scolding from beyond the tattered screen door.
“Desiree Irene Gibbons. Whatcha you doin’ out here? Feelin’ sorry for yaself? Now, c’mon in here child and help me.”
Desiree’s forlorn expression was almost too much for Grandma Tessie who had been Desiree’s mother since her real mother left her a year ago. Tessie shook her head thinkin’ back to that day her own daughter ran off with some man and left little Desiree on her doorstep. It shamed her. What a disgrace her youngest daughter had been—not carin’ for her own flesh and blood. I’m gonna make it right for this little one, though. With the power of the Almighty, I’m gonna love this one right into the arms of Jesus. This one won’t get lost, Jesus, I promise.
Reluctantly, Desiree untangled herself, climbed the stairs, and followed her grandma into the kitchen.
“Wash ya hands dear so ya can help me with this bakin’.”
Desiree returned to the kitchen to see her grandma bent over the kitchen table arranging all manner of ingredients for their afternoon of baking. The glass flour and sugar canisters sat open, ready to dispense their marvels and grandma’s favorite blue pottery mixing bowls lined one side of the table.
“C’mon over here child. It’s high time you learned what bakin’s all about.” A wide smile burst across her round brown face and her chocolate eyes sparkled.
“I know it ain’t been easy for you losin’ Missy and all. But, let’s try to have fun today.”
Desiree smiled, temporarily lost in the wonder of her grandma’s sweet world of baking. Grandma was all business when it came to her bakin’ and this Saturday was no exception. They would spend all day bakin’ for the annual church picnic the next day.
Wrapped up in her favorite hand-embroidered, frilly apron, Grandma Tessie attacked her work with passion. Soon, butter was blending, sugar was skirting the bowls. Eggs were erupting and the flour was flying. “Land sakes, gal, whatcha doin’ there? You’re just like a handful of baking powder bubblin’ all over da place.” Her laughter was contagious.
“Oh, grandma, you’re so fun when you’re cookin’.”
“I’m serious child. Don’t ya know all these ingredients got a purpose, just like you do.” Grandma smiled her wisest smile and went on to explain how each ingredient worked together in a recipe to make delicious cookies and treats.
Desiree listened to her grandma intently, attempting to grasp all the chemical reactions and significance of leavening agents. “Grandma, I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying.”
Grandma Tessie laughed heartily, patting Desiree on the back. “It’s okay, dear one, all ya gotta know is how to follow the recipe.
Be tender and soft as shortening—don’t let others upset you.
Be sweet as sugar—lovin’ others with Jesus’ love.
Be flavorful and nutritious as eggs—readin’ your Bible and learnin’ God’s way.
Be as bubbly as baking powder—spreadin’ goodness wherever you go.
And be as structured as flour—helpin’ others find their way and keepin’ them on track.
That’s your recipe for success."
As the afternoon progressed, rows of perfectly round cookies made them way from the oven to the cooling racks. Desiree gazed longingly at the sugary delights, inhaling the sweetness that filled the kitchen.
“Grandma, may I have just one?”
“Why of course. Help yourself. Cook’s gotta sample the batch, right?” She winked.
Desiree picked a lightly browned sugar cookie from the line-up and took a nibble. It was still warm and fragile to the touch. She watched as flakes of sugar wafted to the floor.
“‘Member child, sometimes life crumbles, but then you’ve got cookies.”
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