Monday, April 1, 2013

A Recipe That Brought An Unexpected Blessing

My husband recently celebrated his birthday. I wanted to do something special for him. Give him a birthday he would always remember. I decided I was going to make him a homemade birthday cake. Now, some of you may be spectacular in the kitchen. I can be totally honest with you and say the kitchen is not my gifted area. LOL I think my family can attest to that fact too.

Well, let me make this a little more clear. The area of baking is not my greatest asset. Oh, I try. I try with all my heart, but it just never works out quite like I have it envisioned in my mind. In my mind I am seeing perfection, but that is not what ends up on the cake plate.

A few years back I tried to make homemade bread. Oh friends, I followed the recipe. I made sure I read over the instructions and as I finished each one I would check it off. This was a beautiful bread. It was twisted and golden shiny. I opened the oven and my heart was soaring. It was breathtaking! I thought I had really done it. That is until I put it on the cooling rack. This bread could have weighed five pounds and was hard as a rock. No kidding. The dog wouldn't even eat it. It was probably that he tried but couldn't sink his teeth in.

My heart that had soared with good intention had now sunk and my heart felt as heavy as this brick of bread. I felt tears starting to stream. I had purchased all the ingredients. Followed directions and it flopped! I had every good intention. I wanted to make my family happy. I wanted to see their faces light up when I set this bread on the table for dinner. After that I kind of gave up on trying to bake. It took a while before I attempted anything again. It seemed the more I tried the more something just wasn't right.

So, here I am years later giving it another go with a homemade cake for my husband. It was a mango/carrot cake. He loves mangos. When I found the recipe I knew he would not only be surprised but thrilled. My husband isn't one for big gifts. It's just giving of your heart that wins him and brings a smile to his face.

I get myself together on this snowy day and brave the cold for the needed ingredients. In my cart I also add an extra cake mix and icing made by Betty Crocker herself. You know, just in case it didn't turn out. I was already facing doubt. I too had a little fear racing through my mind. I mean, who can't bake a cake? That would be me, folks!

I hurry home. Trekking through the snow. I put everything away. Pour a cup of coffee and begin making my mango/carrot cake. I gather everything. Read over the recipe twice. Here I am once again checking everything off as I add it to the bowl. I'm ready to mix and pour. I open the oven and pray. Yes, I actually said a prayer that all those ingredients I added would turn into perfection.

The aroma was splendid. The minutes are counting down and as I open the oven my heart sinks. Yes, once again, my dream of perfection, was anything but. My cake was done, but it didn't rise. I wanted to cry. I grabbed my magazine that held this delicious dessert and read over the recipe. Yes, I followed the instructions. Did I beat it too long? Not enough? Did I forget something? Put too much of something in? What in the world went wrong this time? I waited for this cake to cool and added my homemade cream cheese icing and little ringlets of carrots and walnuts to top off this creation. It looked divine. It truly did look spectacular. Well, all except for the rising part. LOL

I now called on Betty Crocker to help me in the kitchen. It was her turn. Of course, her carrot cake would turn out just perfect.  Have you ever compared yourself to the actions or gifts of another? Some how we just never seem to measure up do we? Even as I empty Betty into the mixer and add the eggs, I feel a lesson coming on.

My home smelled as if I had baked perfection. The aroma was inviting. I was so tired after my morning shopping and my afternoon in the kitchen I just put the topper on my cake plate and forgot all about it. I was feeling like it was a wasted day. I didn't want to see disappoint on my husbands face. I wanted to see sheer joy.

My husband came home a bit early from Chicago. He entered the kitchen and said, "Well now, you have been busy." He looked at my cake with such pride. He cut a piece and said, "Babe, it tastes great!" I told him he didn't have to eat it. I explained what had happened and how I had no idea what had went wrong. He wrapped his arms around me and said, "Thank you for making my birthday special." He was delighted I had made such an effort to make his day one to remember. He was thrilled I had tried again. He didn't care one bit that it didn't rise. It wasn't so much how it turned out. It was the effort I put forth. It was the love that I had given through my actions. This is what meant the world to him. I seen sheer joy upon his face.

As my husband tasted the icing, he says, "The icing tastes great!" I had forgotten I had iced the cake with the homemade icing I had made. Yes, the icing, my first homemade icing I've ever made turned out just perfect! I was so focused on the cake I had forgotten all about the icing.

So, yes, this will be the birthday we remember the cake that didn't rise to the occasion. But it too is the afternoon the Lord reminded me that I am a work in progress. No matter how much I try to be the perfect wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, I am first and foremost a daughter of the King of kings. He loves me in my imperfections, because it is through Him that I find perfection. It isn't anything I can do on my own. It's all Him. It's all His love, mercy and grace. It's the Holy Spirit moving through me to create beauty through actions of love.

We can be so terribly hard on ourselves. Friends, this is where grace comes in and covers all. This is where the sweetness of mercy lives. I'm learning to stop doubting myself. I'm growing into the woman who is accepting herself, mistakes and all. I wake each day and embrace the moment. Those mistakes are going to come. I'm learning to face to them and realize that beyond that mistake, that mess that I created, is the sweet love of Jesus. He is just waiting to embrace us.

Even through baking a cake the Lord can teach  great and mighty lessons. Whether I'm trying my best and still cannot hit that mark or whether I misread the instructions and make a mistake by following my own recipe, the Lord is with me. He knows my heart.

Sometimes no matter how much we try it just never seems to turn out as we envision. Sometimes it turns out even better than we could ever imagine.

"A man's steps are established by the Lord, and He takes pleasure in his way. Though he falls, he will not be overwhelmed, because the Lord holds his hand." Psalm 37:23-24

"But I will look to the Lord, I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me. Do not rejoice over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will stand up, though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light." Micah 7:7-8


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