Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Winging It

I'm thinking not bad considering I had no design plan and 4 cups of coffee in me when I did this! :-)  Customer requested teal and gray color scheme.  Doodling on cakes...

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

My Mother-in-Law and a Selfie

It was a good day...and we were color-coordinated!

Love this woman.

Lucky to know this woman.

Lucky to call her mother-in-law.

She has pretty much lived this Audrey Hepburn quote:  

She has always made me feel like she loves me and accepts me as is; what a gift!  I'd say she accentuates the positive in just about everyone; not just me.  

She also has always expressed a grateful heart...always acknowledged the good things/beauty in the world...the dementia has not taken that away.

And strong; God, is she strong.  Fiercely independent.  Maybe that is the DNA of a redhead?!

Okay, so the independent thing has created some challenges as her dementia has gotten worse and she needs to accept more help.  That's okay.  

So thankful for the kindness and grace she has shown to me.

(I asked David to describe her.  He said "genuine.")

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Remembering - Happy Valentine's Day!

When I was 19, in 1981, I was working part-time at the Dairy Queen in Clinton, MS, while attending school at Hinds Junior College in Raymond.  There was this cute blonde-haired, blue-eyed guy who used to come through the drive-thru to order an ice cream cone.  Always an ice cream cone.  Always through the drive-thru.  I didn't know him from Adam, but one day when I went to give him his order, he out of the blue asked me if he could get my phone number so he could call me sometime.

Honestly, I thought it a bit bold and strange.  I did not really know the first thing about this guy except what he looked like! And that he liked ice cream cones!

I found myself giving him my telephone number.

The truth is, I really didn't want to give it to him.

The truth is, I didn't want to hurt his feelings.

The truth is, I had no intention to go on a date with him when/if he did call.

(Maybe he wouldn't call!)

He called.

He asked me on a date.

I said "yes."

But when I got off the phone, I thought to myself "What have I done?  I do not KNOW this person!"  So the day of our scheduled date, I called him to cancel.  I don't remember my excuse.  Whatever it was, it was a lie.  I just wasn't sure I wanted to go out with this stranger.

And so the scenario went two more times...he called...a date was scheduled...then I got nervous and called to cancel the day of...

Years later, I learned that his mother had given him advice about me after those three incidences.  It went like this:  "You need to leave that girl alone!!!"  It was good advice.  I am sure I would have given my boys the same advice under the same circumstances.

As fate would have it though, I started thinking about him, and wondering if maybe I should try to get to know him.  I needed to be in control though, so I called him up and asked him out on a date...to sunday evening church...at Morrison Heights Baptist Church.  In my mind it was a safe first date...and I drove...Ah, control...

(Thankfully, he didn't listen to his mother's advice.)

I don't remember much about that night, except that at some point he grabbed my hand as we left the service.  My general impression was that this was a guy who was confident without being cocky.  And there was something about his demeanor that made me especially comfortable.  I knew instinctively I could trust him.

While I had dated quite a bit by that point, I tell everyone that he was the first "man" I ever dated.  He seemed mature beyond his years.  He seemed to know what he wanted out of life and he seemed to have a plan.

He was not romantic, though.  He didn't sugar coat things.  Again, though, this meant I could trust him.  He was direct.  I clearly remember the first time I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt he was serious about me.  His words went something like this:  "I need to know how you feel about me because I don't want to waste any more of my (precious) time with you if I need to move on (and find someone who is serious about me...)"

Confident without being cocky...

God, I loved that.

This is the man who took the initiative to perform maintenance on my car when we were dating when I didn't even KNOW I needed maintenance on my car.  (He also did maintenance on my best friend's car. How many guys would do that?)

This is the man who got me a credit card for gas when we married so that I wouldn't run out of gas anymore!  (Because I had a reputation for running out of gas...)

This is the first man I ever dated, also, whom my father approved of with these words: "You need to marry that man." NEVER heard that before from my father...

I guess *I* listened to my parents' advice, occasionally.

I had no idea, though, really, of how incredibly lucky I was TO GET TO marry this guy.  Not really.  It was a case of pure luck.  Or fate.  Or God's hand, maybe?  Looking back now, I am in awe.

Can't imagine a man who would treat me better.

He is kind and respectful and he has *always* been consistently kind and respectful...even when we don't see eye to eye.  That is something I take for granted, but if I really think about it...WOW.  How lucky am I?  There is no one in the world I trust more.  He is dependable.  He is steady.  He is patient and perserverant.

The man has run a nuclear power plant.  I can honestly say there is no one I would trust more to run a nuclear power plant!  We are talking "This is a man whose life you can put into his hands.  He will try to do the right thing."  Solid.

It may not be exciting, but God, I am grateful...grateful for a man who has loved me well...in word and in deed.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

I have suffered from anxiety and depression most of my life.  It has been an ongoing battle!  On the surface I may look like I am doing pretty well.  After-all, I created a cake blog with the subtitle "CELEBRATING cake and life..."  And I do try.  I try to have a grateful heart.  I try to smile most days.  I try to encourage others.  I try to push myself to learn new things.  I put on a good game face most days.  I would say I am a fighter!  But I still get sucked into anxiety and depression from time to time...

So when a friend, a counselor, and a fellow church member recommended a book, The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle, as a cure to depression and anxiety, I jumped to read the book.  

I can honestly say it is one of the most profound books I have ever read.  It is about learning to really listen to the incessant chatter of our minds; to also become more conscious of the emotions felt in our bodies; to observe them non-judgmentally; so that we can redirect ourselves to live/be in the present moment.  Okay, not a great one but that's my best attempt at summarizing. Bottom line:  It was a really good read and spoke to me.   I recommend it.  

(And then HERE is an alternative review!  Because hindsight IS 20/20.  I still give it a huge thumb's up.  Worth reading, for sure.)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer Cake

Well, this was a first for me...replicating a face in chocolate (actually, melted and piped Wilton Candy Melts using the chocolate transfer method.)  It was copied from an ink drawing image I found on the internet...cannot take credit for the original drawing!  I'm thinking my attempt is not perfect; but not bad!  I can live with a little imperfection...

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor, theologian, and anti-Nazi dissident with a remarkable story.  He was executed during World War II by hanging a month before the Nazi regime collapsed.  You can read more about him: Here

His book The Cost of Discipleship is a modern classic.

I just downloaded on Kindle this book:

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy  You can find it Here. 

I also would like to watch a documentary on his life.  Must put on my to-do list.

So many great Bonhoeffer quotes I found surfing the net; was hard to decide which one to use.

(Cake done for a college professor who is teaching six classes this semester on Bonhoeffer.  Fun cake to do!)

Monday, February 8, 2016

Monday Meditation

I have a friend I want to tell you about.  Kevin.  I met him by accident.  I say by accident, but not really, because I've always believed that God puts people in my life, as I've needed them, even when I don't know that I need them.  Kevin is one of those people.

Kevin and I met through Words with Friends, an online gaming app very similar to Scrabble.  He challenged me to a WWF game over a year ago, at a time when I was not coping well with life.  I was deeply depressed after losing my father to cancer, caring for my mother-in-law who is struggling with dementia, watching a dear friend battle lymphoma, and dealing with other personal crisis I shall not go into.  Suffice it to say, I was in a "dark funk," holing myself up in my room as much as possible and doing as little as I could get away with!  

When Kevin sent me that first WWF game request, I was playing Word with Friends mostly with my mother.  I started playing WWF shortly after my father's death, and my playing WWF with my mother was my way of being "near" her as she grieved, even if I wasn't physically with her.  It gave me comfort.

Anyway, somewhere along the way I learned Kevin sent me that first Words with Friends game request by mistake. I don't exactly recall, but I think it wasn't until a few games in that we chatted and he realized I was not the Lisa E. he thought I was!  Graciously, he continued to play me anyway. (Or maybe not so graciously...as I think he liked beating me!)  Our initial chatting was light-hearted and mostly what I call "STAT-CHAT."  Kevin is a statistics nerd and so he kept me abreast of our scores/statistics.  For some reason, these serious stat-chat updates made me laugh.  And so the friendship began.

We became Facebook friends as well, and it is from Facebook that I learned Kevin had been diagnosed with ALS...Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis...or Lou Gehrig's disease.   While I was somewhat familiar with ALS because of the Ice Bucket Challenge videos on Facebook, I had never personally been affected by the disease.

I am a naturally curious soul.  I researched.  I googled.  I read a book (which I recommend):

I also watched a film.

I wept.

My heart ached for Kevin and for his family.  Why God?  Why do you allow people to suffer?  I would imagine most of us with any smidgen of compassion have asked this question, if we believe in a loving God, but when suffering hits home, when it hits the people WE know and care about, it is a heart-wrenching question.

I still don't have the answer.  I know lots of people have their opinions on the whys of suffering, but for now I accept it as one of those mysteries of life I will not fully understand until I have crossed over.

But this I do know:  When a friend is hurting, I try to put myself in his shoes.  I realize it is not entirely possible to do so, but I do *try* to imagine what he might feel.  How does someone feel when he has been told he has a "terminal" illness?  How does he feel when he has had to quit his job?  Give up driving?  How does he feel when he needs a machine to help him breathe?  When he needs a feeding tube because he has trouble swallowing?  How does he feel when he thinks he may lose his ability to walk, to talk, to function independently; to do all the things most of us take for granted?  How does he cope?  

"It is what it is."  That is what Kevin has told me, on more than one occasion.  I think that is his way of saying he has come to a place of acceptance with this ALS thing; that he has learned to take one day at a time; one problem at a time; one moment at a time.  And in all that he has even learned to squeeze as much joy out of life as he possibly can.  Isn't that all any of us can do with our lives?

Knowing Kevin has shaken my world, to tell you the truth.  His friendship has made me ask important questions of myself.  "What do I *really* value in life? What *should* I value in life? What makes someone's life have worth?  What makes MY life have worth? What if I could no longer be 'productive'?  What if I had to rely on others for my every need?  Do I still have worth?"

And so, out of those questions were born these truths for me:

1. I am so much more than what I do.  I am more than my accomplishments/failures.  I am more than my talents/weaknesses.   I am more than my material possessions.  I am more than my productivity.  I am a soul inside my flesh and bones and as such, I am loved unconditionally.

2. My priority and goal in life is simply to love unconditionally.  This includes loving MYSELF unconditionally.  It is important that I treat myself as tenderly as I treat anyone else.

3. I don't have to solve the world's problems.  In fact, I don't have to solve anyone's problems except my own.  Everyone has his/her own path to take; everyone has to learn his/her own lessons and everyone has to find his/her own meanings in life.  This includes my children.  They will be okay.  They are okay.  My job is to encourage them, provide direction if I can, but mostly, my job is to love them unconditionally.

4. I can choose what I put into my head, or at least what I continuously feed my mind.  I can choose fear OR I can choose peace.  I can choose to live in the present or obsess about the past/future.  It is up to me. I do have a choice.

5. I may forget these truths from time to time, and that is okay too!   (See number 2..."It is important that I treat myself as tenderly as I treat anyone else."  That means forgiving myself when I have a bad day, when I don't feel good, when I feel/act less than loving.)

So thank you, Kevin, for making me think.  Thank you for helping me learn to love myself unconditionally.  It has been a lifelong struggle but I feel I am getting there!  Thank you for being a friend, by giving me your presence in some very dark days.

You once asked me if I was aware if I had ever been used by God.  Well, what I believe is that we are *all* used by God, anytime we do, say, think, or pray anything out of love.