Every January over the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, my church has a winter retreat for the youth group. I helped out with the youth here and there, but I never stepped outside of my comfort zone to do anything too scary. However, all of that changed with one little phone call. I was home sick when I received a call from the youth pastor just three days before the retreat. The husband and wife who were supposed to cook at the winter retreat that year were pregnant. They had just found out that there were complications, and that they would not be able to go. I hesitantly answered that I would be willing to cook. I was grateful to find out that all of the shopping and menu planning was already done. I would just need to show up and head up the kitchen with three other helpers.
What had I gotten myself into? I had never cooked for fifty people. I wanted to call the youth pastor back to tell him that he had asked the wrong person. I had been praying that God would give me opportunities to serve, but this wasn’t what I had in mind. I was scared. I was too young to be heading up the kitchen with helpers older than I. What if I ruined a meal or the kids didn’t like it? I had to set aside my concerns. I couldn’t let fear keep me from doing what God wanted me to do. I had to laugh at myself. I wanted to say no to the very thing for which I prayed. Do you ever tell God that He has made a mistake? That He doesn’t know what He is doing by calling you to [fill in the blank]. *sigh* Deep down, I knew that God had not made a mistake. He knew exactly what He was doing. He wanted me to step out to do something that He had prepared for me to do. I love what Ephesians 2:10 has to say, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
The winter retreat went well. I will admit that there were a few hiccups, but nothing went dramatically wrong. In fact the next year, things went even better. Yes, I continued to cook for the winter retreat for five years until I moved away. This is the first January that I haven’t thought of menu planning or shopping for the retreat. I miss it. I enjoyed being able to serve the teens and leaders at the retreat. It was fun to come up with a menu and to do the shopping. The teens liked some meals so well that they asked for them every year. Here is the recipe for a much requested dessert.
Chocolate Éclair Dessert
3 individual packages of graham crackers
2 (3 oz.) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
3 cups milk
1 (8 oz.) thawed whipped topping
1 (16 oz.) prepared chocolate sauce
Chocolate SauceMix 1/3 cup cocoa, 1 cup sugar in sauce pan. Add 1 tsp. vanilla, 1 stick butter, and 1/4 cup milk. Boil for 1 minute; then set aside to cool.
Line the bottom of a 9x13-inch pan with graham crackers. In a large bowl, combine pudding mix and milk. Stir well. Stir in whipped topping to pudding mixture. Spread half of mixture over graham cracker layer. Top with another layer of graham crackers and the remaining pudding. Top with a final layer of graham crackers and frost with chocolate sauce. Refrigerate for 7 hours before serving. Enjoy!
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Growing up with a strong Christian family, Shelly has had the privilege of having many godly, influential people in her life. Besides going to college in Indiana and teaching school for 1 year in Texas, she has lived in Minnesota her whole life. Recently, she moved to Colorado after meeting her husband on E-Harmony. She is extremely humbled by how the Almighty God works in our lives in such personal ways. Shelly is now a missionary to college students. She is thrilled with the opportunity to share the gospel with college students, to help them grow in their faith, and to encourage them to be sold out servants for God. She enjoys coffee, books, volleyball, bike rides, movies, long walks, and playing games.
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