A Tale of Cake and Love

Gather round dear friends and let me tell you a tale.
It is a tale of love.
Love of parents to their children, and of spouses to each other.

It all began innocently enough when Mom decided this year she wanted to make their children birthday cakes from scratch. With the help of the son and a little input from the daughter, she determined to make from scratch a “Prize Chocolate Cake” and a “Golden Lemon Chiffon Cake“.

The Prize Chocolate Cake started easily enough, until she realized it was a 3 layer cake and she only had 2 pans. And then of course, in addition to that, she quickly realized not having a Kitchen Aide meant she was short a few hands, so Dad came to the rescue.

Now Dad and Mom have worked all day. Additionally Dad had worked hard remodeling the basement all week while Mom was busy rearranging the upstairs. As Dad assisted Mom with the chocolate cake baking, he was simultaneously working on the “honey-please-do” list Mom had given him. And she was simultaneously trying to clean the house to prepare for the Birthday gathering the next day.

They laughed and talked and joked. They complimented one another’s work on the house. How much more would they had savored the moment had they knew what was to come?

After the first 2 layers baked, Mom quickly washed and dried the pan in order to get the third layer baking. Alas. This was when things began to take a turn.

Mom, tired and slightly frazzled, started washing the pan while still wearing oven mitts. Dad laughed it off as did she. Next she cried out in a panic when she realized the oven timer was not set. Of course, it took her a moment to realize there was no cake in the oven yet as it was what Dad was currently working on. He laughed, and she decided to sit down and start reviewing the instructions for the second cake.

While round two of the son’s cake was cooking, Mom started prepping for the daughter’s cake. The instructions had phrases in it which she had never heard of before. She OK GOOGLE’D what it meant to make a “well” in flour. She sifted the flour. She made the “well”. She added in the exact order the wet ingredients just like it said to do. Meanwhile Dad was busy separating egg yolks and egg whites for step 2 of the lemon cake.

Finally it came time to “beat the mixture satin smooth“. Dad started beating, and almost instantly the mixture, a glob of thick glutenous glue, started climbing up the beater.

“How are you supposed to beat this “satin smooth”?!” Dad declared, “This is not going to happen.”

“Maybe you are supposed to use a whisk or a fork or something?” Mom wonders, not phased and simply prepared to just work around the small detail. She tries without a lot of success to get all of the glutenous glue off the beaters. Dad continues to mix it with a spoon, shaking his head.

Next came the forming of “very stiff peaks” with the egg whites.
What was to follow was the “pouring the batter in a stream over entire surface of egg whites“.

Now, Dad knew this step was coming, and his anxiety was growing with every stir of the glutenous glue. “Honey, this is NOT going to work. We need to throw this out. Something is wrong.”

“It will be fine,” Mom said, refusing to admit defeat. “Maybe it won’t be light and fluffy but I’m sure it will still taste fine.”

Dad attempted to combine the two bowls, and this was when he really started to have a very great concern over the condition of the batter.

“I’m telling you, this is NOT going to work. Seriously, we can’t serve this tomorrow. This is no good.”

“It will be fine. Maybe we need to beat it from the middle of the ‘well’? Maybe that’s why you make a well? I only have enough ingredients to make two and one is to share and one is to send home with her. We will just cute it up into bite size pieces or something and send her home with the other one.”

*** tense marital silence ***

“Honey, this is NOT going to work. This is just wrong. We did something wrong. How much oil did you put in?”

“I put in exactly what it said.”

“What about water? How much water?”

“The book is right there. Take a look yourself.”

Dad walks away from the glutenous glue which he is attempting to force to “blend” into the egg whites. He is muttering to himself, looking over the list, looking back at the bowl.

“Something isn’t right. This just isn’t right. We are not making another one. I’m making the executive decision right now. We are not making another Chiffon Cake.”

Mom puts the bowl she was preparing to start adding ingredients to for the second chiffon cake and walks away, clearly agitated. She sits on the couch. There must be two cakes. TWO CAKES.

*** tense marital silence ***

Dad calls out from the kitchen, “Can you look this up on a YouTube video or something?”

Without answering, Mom turns on the TV, pulls up YouTube and searches “How to make a lemon chiffon cake“. She plays the first video that comes up.

Dad comes out of the kitchen, watching the video. For the last 10 minutes he has given up “blending” and is beating the glutenous glue mercilessly with the broken hand mixer.

(That’s right, my apology reader, in addition to all of the above, the one and only hand mixer the couple owns is broken, so one beater won’t latch into place. This means it constantly tries to fall out of the hand mixer WHILE in mid operation.”

Watching the TV Dad says, “Did you put lemon juice in it?”

“The receipe doesn’t call for lemon juice.” Mom says, a tinge of exasperation beginning to break into her voice.

“Well, something is missing. Something has got to be missing.” Dad goes back into the kitchen. He stands over the recipe book, reading glasses on his nose. He goes back over to the glutenous-gluey-egg-white mixture.

He tastes it.

“Does this have any sugar any it? Any at all?”

Mom blinks. She gives him a blank stare. Meanwhile her brain is going off into a fire ball of “Wait, sugar, mix the dry ingredients. It said sift dry ingredients together. Wait a minute….” She leaps up from the couch and exclaims “That’s it!”

Dashing into the kitchen, shaking her head, she says, “I didn’t put any sugar in it. Or anything other than flour. It needs sugar! Add the sugar and other stuff!”

Dad at this time is now skeptical. The sugar, baking powder, and salt all get added. He continues to blend and finally, oh finally, the glutenous glue begins to dissolve.

“We will just serve this as lemon squares and the other will be the cake!” Mom calls out!

“I really think you should make a different cake.” Dad says. “I still don’t see how it’s going to get satin smooth.”

“I”m telling you it’s the sugar. That was the problem. It will smooth right out with the sugar.”

Now, in Dad’s defense, this is coming from the same woman who kept saying it would be fine when the batter was clearly NOT fine. We cannot blame him for not believing that the sugar would prevent another glutenous gluey mess.

“I don’t know.” He says, his face really saying it all.

“It will be fine.” Mom says, determined now to prove it will work. She gets the second bowl prepped with ALL the dry ingredients this time. She starts adding the wet ingredients to the center of the “well”.

“Are you adding those in the correct order?” Dad asks, looking over her shoulder.

“Probably not,” she says, “But it will be fine.”

“Well, let me go clean this spatula, because you are going to need it when that batter starts climbing into the mixer again.”

“It won’t, I’m telling you, trust me, it’s the SUGAR!!!”

Dad stands next to Mom, spatula ready. Mom begins the beaters, and behold, no glutenous glue forms.

“See,” she says cheerily, “The sugar! Can you get the egg white mixture ready?”

“Sure,” he says, still watching to make sure the glutenous glue doesn’t return.

“Here,” mom says, stepping out of the way. “Make the very stiff white peaks, and then you can add the satin smooth batter so that your soul can be at peace again because it’s doing exactly what the book says.”

She then bursts out into laughter. Dad turns and smiles at her. “Thank you for laughing,” he says, genuinely meaning it.

And then she REALLY starts laughing. She’s laughing so hard she nearly falls over.

“What? What?” Dad asks.

“I love us. We are so stupid. I forget half the ingredients. You can’t handle a receipe not doing exactly what the recipe says. We have spent an hour on this ONE cake batter. I just love us. We are perfect for each other!” She exclaims, and she genuinely means it.

Dad smiles and pours the second cake into it’s pan. He looks back at the first pan.

“That’s not going to cook right.”

“Oh just cook it! It’ll be fine!”

True Love.
The love of Parents to their children – to make home made, from scratch, birthday cakes when they don’t have enough pans, counter top space, or a properly working hand mixer.
The love of Spouses to one another – when they can make two complicated, from scratch birthday cakes for their kids, when they don’t have enough pans, counter top space, or a properly working hand mixer, at the end of a long busy work day, and still love one another with laughter and smiles. Even when the cakes come out of the oven and one looks fantastic while the other looks a little special.

The End.

The Mundane Morning and The Truth

There is a routine that happens during the fall/winter mornings at my house.
I confess, it’s pretty sad.

It begins with my alarm going off multiple times.
I set 4 different ones.
This is after my husband’s has already gone off.
And 99% of the time, I still don’t wake up until he comes to gently nudge me awake, encouraging me to get up before I am late again.

For the record – I am always late again.

In a rush I get up, get dressed, get my make up on, rush to prepare my lunch, check to make sure the manchild has everything he needs for school. Without fail, I always forget something.
My water. My coffee. My lunch bag. My phone. My breakfast shake.

Finally with everything in tow, our manchild calls out to his dad
“love you dad, hope you have a good day!”
My husband wishes him a good day at school and calls out “Love you too”.
Then I give my hubs a good-bye kiss and follow the manchild out the door.

Getting into the actual car becomes another whole ordeal.

Holding a water bottle, a coffee cup, a purse, a breakfast shake,
and a lunch bag proves to be too much.
Without a word, I hold out my coffee cup to the manchild
who takes it and places it in the cupholder.
Then he takes the water bottle while I twist and turn to set my bags in the back.
Most mornings he or my husband have already cranked the car, so it’s warm and defrosted.
On the rare morning they don’t, at this point my son and I scramble back out of the car to wipe and scrape off any snow or ice.

Once we are in and actually ready to take off,
he is in charge of making sure my coffee doesn’t spill.
He turns on the radio, I drink my breakfast down.
Then I’ll toss the empty shake cup down and reach my hand out, he hands me my coffee.
After a bit of coffee we may pray together about the day ahead, or just chit-chat.
Sometimes we sing along to the radio, or we laugh and poke fun
at each other about who made who late.
Some mornings one or the other or both of us are grumpy, maybe instead of “I love yous” we left the house with harsh words and criticism.
Those mornings we ride in silence until it’s time for him to get out of the car.
No matter what, he always turns down the radio as he gets out of the car,
I always say “love you, have a good day”.
And he says “love you too, bye”.

Last week, in the midst of one of these mornings
when we reached the point he was handing me my coffee,
after protecting it from spilling as we bumped over all the potholes on the dirt road,
it struck me.

aaaaaa

I’ll only be taking him to school for two and half more years.
A little less if he has a car to drive himself his senior year.

At the stop sign, as he was checking with his head turned away from me
calling out “nothings coming”, I just took the moment in.
The rushing. The hecticness. The frustration and the laughter at it.
The reality that these mornings are coming to their end, this season of our lives together
as parents and child is winding down.
I took a deep breath to steady my emotions and pulled onto the road.
In the quiet I said gently, “I’m going to miss these mornings with you kid.”

Because it’s true. I am.

I only have one biological child, this manchild of mine. My husband adopted him,
he’s our son growing into a young man.
I have a step-daughter who is already out in the adult world with her own son.
In a few years time my husband and I will enter into what people call “the empty nest”.

Which is a lie. 

That’s what the Lord has laid on my heart these last several months.
You see, my husband and I will not have an empty nest, because we are still here.
He and I, we are the ones who will be living in this nest of ours.
With a puppy, a kitty. And the fish if I can remember to feed them. (RIP greenie).

I was too young when I had my son. The teenage mother statistic.
The truth is, I’ve never been an adult without being a mom.
It’s terrifying to think about.
My entire “adult” life, every decision I made, every thing I did,
I had to consider this son of mine.
I didn’t do it perfectly by any means.
I have volumes I could share with you on all the wrong things a parent can do
because I’ve done it.
However, I did try my very best. I still do.

So as my son is preparing to step out into the adult world, in a way, I am too.
For the first time, I’ll be an adult without a child at home.
My husband and I will have a wide open future before us.
Which is why I think the Lord is telling me to start nesting.

Preparing the nest for the hubs and I. 

I remember nesting before my son was born.
It was instinctual. A God given instinct to prepare myself
and the space I had to bring this boy into the world.
Now I am nesting because my son is becoming an adult.
This is a God given instruction to my heart,
to prepare myself and the space I share with my husband
as we prepare to release this manchild into adulthood.

I don’t fully know what this will look like. I just know that it’s happening.
Writing helps me to process things, and this life transition is both painful and exciting.
My mother’s heart is sad and struggling with what life will look like
when the manchild is no longer in this nest.
My wife’s heart is excited about the future adventures with my husband,
the two of us having precious time together we’ve never had before.

I know I’m not alone in this life transition.

In the upcoming years I am praying the Lord will place women in my path who have gone down it before me, who can encourage me and lift me up.
I have women in my life who are going through it at the same time as I am,
and I am praying we will be an encouragement to one another.
All this so that ultimately, one day, I will be the woman who has gone through it
and can love on a younger sister facing it.

I guess that’s why I’m choosing to blog about this.
To tell the mother hearts out there, your nest is not empty, and you are not alone. 

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One Word 2016 – 2017

One Word 2016Last year my One Word was the word hope. I shared in that blog post that 2015 had been an extremely difficult year. So it’s not surprising 2016 began with us still climbing out of the difficulty.

And God is faithful.

He worked in 2016. Sometimes in totally unexpected ways.
Wounds remained from the previous year, yet they were being healed. Even now there are days that my family feels the effects of the wounds and the healing. It’s a hard process, yet I’ve come to accept the hard process is the refining process and it is a good thing.

I didn’t blog much in 2016. Instead, I allowed myself to be vulnerable to a few trusted women, and they walked with me during the difficulty in truth and love. I continued to seek personal Godly counsel for myself. I recognized areas in my life where I needed to grow, where I needed to turn away from sin, and where I needed to forgive.

Then as 2016 continued, and the healing, I traveled. I spent some wonderful time with family and strengthened relationships. I started to find deeper peace and contentment. After being away from home for nearly a month, I looked forward to returning. God was at work. He spoke into some of my fears, He stirred my heart to recognize and appreciate what He has provided me with at home, and He gave me back my voice that I had somehow started to lose along the way. As the year went on, I continued to feel closer and closer to God and Jesus.

20160620_070518I know one of the reasons for this was I was consistently in His Word. Last year for the first time, I read my Bible cover to cover. I eventually ended up using the Quieting Your Heart: 6 Month Bible Study Journal to help me really chew on what I was reading. I used up two of them over the course of the year. The daily habit of reflecting on God’s character, being intentionally thankful, and prayerfully asking what He was teaching me/revealing to me through His word was a blessing I can’t put into words. I realize now the necessity for a Believer to dig into God’s word personally. Not just in a class, not always with a group of people, and certainly not just at church on Sundays.

And because my word for the year was hope, it meant every day I was eagerly searching for hope in His word. I have come to believe that hope is not an emotional feeling. Hope is much deeper than that. It’s a reality. It’s a truth. A promise. It’s something I can rest securely in, even in the midst of a difficult trial. There are so many four letter words that try to destroy our hope. Fear, Loss, Need, Hurt, Pain. My heavenly Father was slowly and lovingly teaching me that in the midst of those words, I could trust Him. I could still place my hope in Him and Him alone. When everything around me fails, He is unfailing love.

I’m thankful to say that by the end of 2016, we had grown as a family. Our difficult days have become difficult moments. There is more laughter. More peace. It’s not because of us, it’s because of the One who has lifted us up as we have submitted ourselves to Him.

With hope in my heart, I prayerfully considered my word for 2017.

one-word-2017-mine

This year I am looking to focus.

To focus on where and how God wants me to serve my immediate family, my church family, and others.

To focus on my dream to write a book from start to finish.

To focus on His Word daily, to continue the habit of personally meeting with Him.

To focus on preparing my nest as my son is a sophomore in high school, and in a few short years my husband and I will have the house to ourselves.

To focus on my health and wellness, and continue to put into practice truths God revealed to me through my Made to Crave journey.

To focus on blogging where I feel inspiration to share, because I believe God has given me a gift of writing, and I want to use it to encourage others, even if I never know who or how I’m encouraging.

NewYearDay2017 photo 15875080_10155687911158642_5945607124946238094_o_zpsqebmgxul.jpg
New Year 2017

 

Here is to 2017 Friends.

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When You Taste The Bitter Pill

5_Habits_Woman-195x300I finished week 2 of the #5HabitsBook study with #P31OBS. Our second habit in the study was She follows through with her commitments despite how she feels.

It should not have been a surprise to me how the reading last week nudged deep places in this tired, battle weary heart. We all go through these seasons of life where our hearts are under attack, and as the attack continues our hearts stiffen. We go into what the hubs calls “survival mode”. You stop thinking about the future. You stop making plans. You have one goal and one goal only, and that is to make it through today.

The thing about this stiffening of the heart, is that it happens so gradually, we don’t truly realize the effects of it.Read More »

The Significance of 22

It’s just a number. Maybe an important date. Birthday. Anniversary. Number of years married. Part of a phone number. Part of an address.

For me, this morning, this is the number of pounds I have lost since January 1st, 2015. 

I did the happy dance and rushed to share the victorious news with my husband. I smiled and pranced in front of the mirror for a few moments and whispered “Thank you Jesus” several times.

As it really sunk in, I started thinking back.
Back to when the weight started piling on.
Back to when I spent hours and hours, alone during the day, sitting on my couch, eating and watching TV.
Back to when I wore my favorite red hoodie every day, not because it was my favorite red hoodie, because I was covering up. Hiding from the world.
Back to that moment when I went to put on a pair of jeans, and realized, not even my “big” jeans would fit anymore. I was literally without any pants to wear. And I sobbed. And my poor husband wanted to help, and couldn’t, because I was in this foggy, lonely place.
Back to smiling and saying “I’m fine” when people asked, putting on the front, and withdrawing and emo-eating at home.Read More »

Refinement Hurts Before It Heals

5_Habits_Woman-195x300I just finished Week One of the #5HabitsBook study with #P31OBS. This week we were focused on the first Habit which is The Assignment of Refinement. 

In addition to the book itself, I also invested in the “A Woman Who Doesn’t Quit” study guide. Everyday there is a “Quit Quitting Verse of the Day”. Two of these versus stood out to me more than the rest because of the word “HOPE”, my One Word for 2016.

 

 photo verse1_zpsxd75cnwe.jpgRead More »

“Becoming More” Book Review and Giveaway

 

becomingmore_cover-202x300I recently finished Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa TerKeurst. I read the book as part of the Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Study. I decided to take it a step further and invested in the Participant’s Guide. It helped me dig deeper in scripture and reflection. So for this particular book review, I decided to simply answer the final question asked in the participants guide:

If someone asked you what was the main thing you walked away with from this book,
how would you answer them? 

To seek God.

Really seek God.Read More »

First Wednesday of the New Year – Water and Prayer

wellnessupI decided it was time to refocus on my “Wellness” journey. It seems to always be the first thing to go when stress, hardships, and trials enter into life. At least for me.

Which is kind of stupid.

Really.

When life gets hard and stressful, my response is to start eating lots of carbs, fats, processed foods, let my finances get out of wack, and stay up too late. Plus, last year, I started smoking again. After THREE YEARS of being smoke free, I broke down and became a smoker again to try and help me “deal”.

Clearly, this isn’t really “helping” me in the long run. Now I’m facing the same hardships and trials, with less energy and mental clarity.Read More »