Today would have been my father’s 90th birthday. Four years ago on December 23, 2013, my father’s spirit left this planet to be joined face-to-face with the One he loved and for whom he lived, his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Are birthdays celebrated in heaven? I don’t know; but I do know this! Of all the gifts Dad ever received on his birthday, there are none that compare to what he is experiencing today. Talk about a celebration! “Praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!” (Psalm 150:1-6)
Dad may not be physically here, but his spirit lives on . . . and there’s nothing preventing me from joining with him in the celebration! I can almost hear the music! “The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him!” (Exodus 15:2)
In honor of my father, I want to share the recipe of one of his favorite birthday desserts! Without fail on his special day, Dad could always count on receiving a slice or two of this delicacy from one of his children and he relished every bite. So, here’s to you, Dad! I’ll eat a piece for you!
1-1/3 cups white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated or ground
½ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup canola oil
3 large eggs
2 cups carrots, finely grated
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped or ground
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour through salt) with a whisk. Add oil and eggs and stir together with a spatula. Stir in carrots and nuts. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Slide a knife around the cake to detach it from the pan. Release the cake from the pan, invert and peel off parchment paper. Let cool right-side-up on rack. Frost with light cream cheese icing, if desired.
Light cream cheese icing:
6 oz. 33% less fat cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup sifted powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Using hand mixer or wooden spoon, whip until creamy.
Store iced cake in the refrigerator.
As I reminisce about my father’s earthly birthday celebrations, I have to smile. Dad was famous for taking forever to open a gift! When he was handed a brightly wrapped package, he’d set the gift on his lap and study it, grinning. Then he might hold the gift up to the light, softly shake it, or run his hands over it, feeling for any unusual bumps or edges. Surrounded by an audience of expectant family members, he would then begin the process of slowly, excruciatingly removing each piece of scotch tape . . . being ever so careful not to rip or mar the wrapping paper in any way. When the last piece of tape was finally removed, he would slowly lift up one corner of the wrapping paper, peak inside . . . and look up at his audience with another grin. Finally, he’d reveal the gift much to our delight . . . and relief!
Dad took great pleasure in the joy of opening a gift. There was no rush to “get on with it”, but rather, he did all he could to savor, prolong, and enjoy the moment. In a similar way, we are surrounded by gifts to be savored and enjoyed that have been created by our heavenly Father for our pleasure. Think about it. Many of the things we see and hear are gifts to us, products of God’s wonderful creative hand. As small as a tiny flower or as grand as a mountain, as lovely as the song of a bird or the sound of a soft summer rain, His gifts are there, waiting to be seen and appreciated and to speak to us in individual, God-designed ways. But, too often we move through life with blinders on, flying along at warp speed, trying to complete all of our many tasks, rushing through our days so quickly we don’t think about creation or our Creator, let alone sit back, relish and enjoy his gifts . . . and Him.
Psalm 71:8 says: “Just as each day brims with your beauty, my mouth brims with praise.”
So take a lesson from my Dad. Slow down. Savor the moment. And truly enjoy “opening the gifts” God has given you. He’ll watch with pleasure.
— Cheri Henderson