Whoever coined the phrase “That was a piece of cake” was talking with his mouth full of a delicious slice someone ELSE had baked and iced – not him! Eating cake – this is something I can handle, even with a bit of dexterity and finesse. Making cake, not so much.
As I ponder what happened a week ago Saturday I am reminded of a few verses I have been thinking about lately from Romans 5. “...we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering builds perseverance and perseverance character, and character, hope…”
I know the word suffering evokes images of persecution and real pain due to sickness and death, but don’t we grow in Christ from the every day annoyances that come our way? Many of us never REALLY suffer in the way we see on TV or hear about in the news. But I think that God grows us through our reactions to the “little” sufferings, too. The days when the car won’t start or we can’t find our keys. Our reactions in those moments are absolute fodder for growth in God. My latest test of “suffering” came in the form of a cake mix, some icing and food color and the imminent arrival of little boys.
February 2nd was my sweet boy’s 9th birthday party. He wanted a Lego cake and friends over to celebrate. In our planning I decided to make the cake. You need to know that after the fact it occurred to me that I have NEVER made my son a birthday cake. Never. I have always bought the cake or my good friend Stacey in California has made him a cake. But for some reason, I knew that I could do this. In fact, I wouldn’t just make Noah a cake, but a Lego cake. I would make a sheet cake and then use little upside down cupcakes to make it look like a toy Lego.
As usual, my planning came with Walter Mitty like visions:
My son hugging me in delight, thanking me profusely for the exquisite creation!
Moms dropping off their boys but wanting to see the cake first. Admiration and envy cover their faces.
Before we sang “Happy Birthday,” a room of little boys who oohed and aahed over the cake, each looking at Noah and nodding in respect for the mother God gave him.
Saturday morning I began my project. I used Betty Crocker cake mixes and made up miniature cupcakes and then two sheet cakes. Betty Crocker would come through for me, I just knew it.
“Noah, what color Lego do you want?”
I mixed green food color with the icing. I was ready.
When I turned the first cake over, it fell apart. No big deal. I have watched that TV show “Ace of Cakes” and I know that cakes can be fixed. Anyway I was going to cover everything with icing. Carefully, I gathered my tools and went to work. How difficult could this be?
It looked, well, like a green kindergarten mud pie.
Every time I tried to put icing on, brown speckles of chocolate cake showed up and the cake itself kept falling apart. I decided I needed different tools. In my brainstorming, (dangerous) I decided it would all be better if I iced with my fingers.
Tears came with the suffering. My final masterpiece looked like a bright green eroded castle in Scotland.
At this point, I had several choices.
1) I could serve it as is. Knowing myself though, I would probably hand out the slices with a frown and warning, “DO NOT SAY ANYTHING ABOUT THIS CAKE OR I WILL CALL YOUR MOTHER IMMEDIATELY.” I don’t think Noah would understand Mommy’s rage in the middle of his good time.
2) I could continue on and mold the thing into a volcano. As I served it I could reference Richard Dreyfuss and the scene in Close Encounters of the Third Kind where he designed the Devils Mountain out of mashed potatoes. It could be art! No, they wouldn’t get it.
3) I did the only thing I could think of to do.
Honey will you take this out to the trash and go buy another cake? John used that “Okay, dear,” smile he has. This means he is not happy about going out again in the snow and ice at all but he knows if he doesn’t he will end up in the snow and ice anyway.
John brought back a great cake. Noah never knew the difference.
So in my suffering, I chose to laugh after a moment of tears. It was a silly little project and I decided that knowing my limits (or signing up for cake decorating) is the way to go. Did I grow? I hope so. I hope Christ will use this to teach me once again, laughing at myself and my mistakes makes way for joy to grow.
A moment about me throwing away that food - if you are wondering about the starving children of China, I invited them to the party.
They RSVPed, “Who is making the cake?”
When I replied that I was, they emailed me, “We are not that hungry.”