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Rising with Grace

The Story of Carson Barra and the

Sovereign Sourdough Bakery

I would like to begin by expressing my utmost surprise and gratitude for the fact that I now own my very own bakery, a venture I could never have fathomed in my wildest dreams. While I had envisioned pursuing a career as a professional dancer in New York or even obtaining a medical degree, the idea of becoming a sourdough baker simply did not enter my realm of possibilities.

This turn of events reinforces the notion that God always has grander plans in store for us, surpassing what we can envision for ourselves. It is quite amusing how God orchestrates our lives, completely altering our path within a matter of minutes, particularly when faced with unexpected challenges.

For those who are unfamiliar with my background, allow me to introduce myself. I am Carson Barra, a 30-year-old individual who has encountered numerous curveballs that shaped me into the devoted follower of Jesus, wife, mother, and friend I am today.

My childhood was far from ordinary, marked by a mix of blessings from parents who loved me and an array of hardships that most individuals do not experience until later in life, if ever. Growing up, my father was chronically ill, with our family well aware that his time with us was limited. While this perspective provided us with a clear understanding of life’s priorities, it also required me to take on additional responsibilities that seemed to shift the balance unfavorably in my direction. At least, that’s how I perceived it at the time.

As my father’s condition worsened, my mother was presented with a significant and much-needed opportunity to provide for our family financially. While this was undoubtedly a blessing, it further impacted my perception of the mother-daughter relationship I observed among my friends. Consequently, the majority of my time was spent with my father. Looking back, I am immensely grateful for the extra time I had with him. In fact, without that additional time, I am uncertain whether my priorities in life would be as clear as they are today.

You see, my father’s character resembled that of Jesus. He instilled in me the importance of maintaining faith during trials and tribulations. Through his actions, he exemplified a selfless love for others, extending a helping hand whenever possible. His love was so profound and pure that a single glimpse into his eyes would ignite a burning sensation within your soul. Unintentionally, my father underscored the significance of time and the need to focus on what truly matters, emphasizing the priority of family, regardless of personal cost.

Naturally, during my college years, I gravitated towards career paths that involved nurturing and finding ways to empower individuals with disabilities. After completing a degree in Science, specifically Kinesiology, my primary focus revolved around designing comprehensive medical treatment plans to enhance the quality of life for others. I worked with diverse conditions such as diabetes, stroke patients, traumatic brain injuries, and various disabilities including autism, cerebral palsy, and Down Syndrome. Witnessing the positive impact I could make brought me great joy.

During my first year of graduate school, I unexpectedly became a single mother while carrying my first child. Simultaneously, my father, the most extraordinary person I have known and my best friend, began to deteriorate. At 21 years old, I found myself juggling the responsibilities of being a single mother, pursuing a medical career, and witnessing my beloved father’s health decline. From a human perspective, my world seemed to crumble. However, from God’s perspective, the best years of my life were about to unfold.

Fire & Salt

In 2015, I gave birth to my beautiful daughter. Becoming a mother transformed my desires, shifting my focus away from the frenetic pace of the medical field. Instead, I yearned to experience every aspect of my children’s lives: the intimate moments, the tears, breastfeeding, morning walks, snack time, tantrums, trips to the playground, bedtime, bath time, story time - everything. Thankfully, my mother and father enabled me to fulfill this aspiration. For the first year of my baby girl’s life, I was a stay-at-home mom, and I thrived in that role. Moreover, during this time, my father was constantly with us, cherishing every bit of joy this precious child brought into the world. I, in turn, had the privilege of spending precious moments with my father before his time on earth drew to a close.

Reflecting on the heartache I felt during my journey as a single mom, I can unequivocally say that I would not trade that experience for the opportunity to relive it differently. It was during those challenging months and early years that God worked in miraculous ways. He provided invaluable moments for my father and me, fostering a strong bond between my baby girl and her grandfather, even if it was only temporary. Furthermore, through God’s grace, my daughter’s father surrendered his life to Jesus, resulting in a restored relationship that has now blossomed into a marriage. The magnitude of God’s greatness is truly astounding. As stated in the book of Romans, God declares that all things, even the hardships, work together for His glory. My life is a testament to God’s love and promises, representing restoration, forgiveness, and His unwavering faithfulness.

In January 2018, my father passed away and, contrary to my expectations, I experienced an overwhelming sense of peace. When one knows Jesus, they grasp the fullness of heavenly promises, and it is this understanding that breeds hope for the future. On days when grief would strike, I unknowingly sought solace in the kitchen, seeking to immerse myself in the act of baking. Although sourdough was not yet my focus at the time, it marked the beginning of my therapeutic inclinations towards baking.

Fast forward to 2020, our “Midwest” family of four made the decision to abandon city life and embark on a new adventure of “slower living” in Knoxville, Tennessee. It seems as though there is something truly magical in the Tennessee air or perhaps it’s the influence of Tennessee whiskey. Either way, we are now proud to be a southern family of five (not including our pug, Rosie, and ten chickens)! We are incredibly grateful for the blessings bestowed upon us.

As you can discern, our family has wholeheartedly embraced a more natural and homesteading-oriented lifestyle. We prioritize biblical truths, quality family time, and proper nutrition. Consequently, we have chosen to homeschool our girls, prepare meals from scratch, cultivate our own food, and, as you may already be aware, bake our own sourdough bread. Though we have adopted a slower pace of life, our days are unmistakably busy! Therefore, more often than not, you will find me dressed in comfortable attire, sporting a fresh-faced look and a top knot hairstyle. After all, who has time to dedicate to getting ready, right?

Brolin & Bailey Co

In all seriousness, I acknowledge that not all families possess the luxury, time, or knowledge required to “do it all,” despite their sincere desire to do so. Hence, I have made the decision to pursue baking bread professionally. Bread is a staple in every family’s diet, consumed at least once a day. So, why not create a delicious and nutritious loaf that can spark conversations around the kitchen table, the heart of any home?

For those familiar with my products, you know that with every loaf, cinnamon roll, cake, or cookie that I bake, I intercede in prayer for you, your spouse, or your family from the moment I begin mixing the dough until I complete packaging the product. Baking sourdough, as you will discover, is much more than a simple culinary task; it is a spiritual and therapeutic endeavor that yields incredibly delightful results.

Realizing that it is logistically impossible for me to bake for every individual in the world, my aim for this book is to demystify the fears and insecurities surrounding sourdough and guide you on a journey toward feeding your family not only physically but also spiritually. I aspire for this book to serve as a celebration, not only bringing people together around the table, but also introducing them to the love of Jesus.

My purpose is to encourage you to pursue what Jesus calls you to do and to invest your time in your family, creating a nurturing environment in which your legacy will endure. Perhaps this sourdough journey can be a part of that lasting heritage.

So, are you ready to embark on a journey that only requires some flour, water, and a touch of God’s incredible creation? Fear not, for this is not simply a scientific experiment; it is more akin to a lively and joyous scientific party taking place in your own kitchen. And I am here as your party planner, committed to ensuring that it becomes the best party of your life!

To learn more, please visit our website! You will find two books (one for sourdough bread, and another for gluten-free sourdough bread), as well as our class schedule, swag, and more!



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