Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Little Einsteins Rocket Cake

Just to mix things up a bit, here's the first cake I ever attempted for my kids' birthdays: Rocket from the Little Einsteins.

I made this cake before I learned how to use fondant, so everything you see—except, of course, the Leo, Annie, June and Quincy toys in front and the cherry lollypop on top—is buttercream. To get buttercream this smooth, I used a little trick from my mentor involving a water misting bottle and an icing blade. Took a long time, but for my first fun/character cake, it turned out okay.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Daddy, Read the Next One

My husband reads our children a chapter each night from The Jesus Storybook Bible. Tonight our son hung on his every word as Daddy read about Jesus' death on the cross. The chapter ended with the stone sealing up the tomb.
Normally, Doug will read one chapter, then the kids will pray together. Then I take over and read a chapter from a children's book (we're currently re-reading Little House on the Prairie), pray over them, and tuck them in. But tonight as Doug closed the devotional book, he asked our son, "Do you know what happened to Jesus next?" Little guy couldn't remember. He begged him, "Daddy, read the next one!" So we forewent the chapter book tonight and continued reading in the devotional.
Thank goodness for the rest of the story.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Toy Story Cake

My little guy's birthday party was yesterday. I created a cake for him based on Toy Story, with Andy's room as the theme. If you've never seen Toy Story, this cake will look like a random, over-loaded hodgepodge of mismatched toys. But if you've seen any of the three movies, you'll understand just how essential the characters are.
My design isn't original (you can find other similar cakes online), but the execution and construction was unique.
The cake is two layers of 9x13 sheet cake, iced with buttercream (chocolate filling), and then covered in fondant. Most folks only use a crumb coat under fondant, but my family doesn't care much for how fondant tastes, so I ice with buttercream or cream cheese icing. That way my husband can just peel the fondant right off. It's the best of both worlds: a cake with the yumminess of buttercream or cream cheese icing combined with the design flexibility and wonders of fondant.
Aside from the toys, which were part of my son's birthday presents, every part of this cake's structure is edible...except a few strategically-placed toothpicks, used as anchors. That's one of the true challenges in cake decorating.
I constructed the headboard from a sheet of matzah, large pretzel sticks and gummy candy balls, all rolled in a fondant/gumpaste mixture. The pillow is a small sliver of cake, again rolled in fondant. The sheets, blanket, rug, and letters are also fondant.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Truest Friend

Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence. True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation.
- George Washington
I have precious few true friends, with whom I can confide anything, knowing they will not judge or betray. In fact, I can probably count them on my fingers. That small number stands in stark contrast with my "friends" count on Facebook, currently nearing 600. And that's just fine with me.
Association is not the same thing as friendship. In this respect, many social networking sites have become glaring self-contradictions. Marketing on the individual's need for companionship, they've conveniently, perhaps subconsciously, mislabeled all our associations as friends. But is that true? Have the folks on your friends list truly earned the title?
If we're honest, I think we would all have to say we've allowed the word friend to become too commonplace, diluting its value to the point of near-worthlessness. And part of me wishes Facebook would change that label, for the good of society. Don't get me wrong. I value my Facebook friends. But I also know that there's something more precious. Just as our first Commander in Chief said,"True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation."
Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, et al, will only sustain you so far in filling that lonely void of companionship that we all feel, keenly at times. Even true friends can fail us or have their own issues that keep them from always being there when we need a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen. There's only one true cure for loneliness. I've found Him. I don't always cultivate my relationship with Him like I should. But He is always there. He will never leave me nor forsake me.
So why do I spend so much time commenting on Facebook statuses and tweeting on Twitter, when the friendship of a lifetime is waiting right here, in my Bible and in prayer?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

How Not to Look Like a Moron

Pay attention, folks, because I'm going to give you a piece of advice that, if heeded, will keep you from looking like a socially inept moron and possibly extend the length of your life (or at least keep it from being cut short). You ready? Good.
You're just absolutely sure that little bump under her top is a pea in the pod. And sure, you think she has a lovely glow that could only mean motherhood. Perhaps you pride yourself on your ability to spot a pregnant belly earlier than anyone else can. Fine. Now listen to me: 
NEVER ever ever ever ask a woman, "when are you due?" Or the more obvious, "are you pregnant?"
I don't care if she looks like a beached whale and you could have sworn you just saw something kick. There is at least a 50% chance that she will NOT be pregnant, and you will have unwittingly told her that she looks...well...pregnant...which translates to fat. And even if she IS pregnant, she'll never be as far along as you think she is, and she won't enjoy thinking she looks as far along as you think she does. Trust me.
And if you think your radar picks up pregnant woman and decide to throw caution to the wind and make this terrible social snafu, and she turns out to (surprise!) not be pregnant, whatever you do, DO NOT follow up with, "are you sure?"
Got that? Excellent! You will probably live a long and fruitful life.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

All I Need?

Lord, I know you're all I have,
but I don't know You well enough
for you to be all I need.
-Dr. Larry Crabb in Finding God
My friend Sam told me this quote probably 10 years ago. It stuck with me, and I have often reflected on the simple, yet profound truth of it.
People fail us. We fail ourselves. But God will never do that. He'll never leave us or forsake us. Do we know Him well enough to trust Him at His word? This is probably my greatest struggle of all: trust. Trust that He'll be there to catch me when I fall. Trust that He'll wipe away the tears, heal the hurts, protect the innocent.
There are really only a few ways to get to know Him this well, and they all require spending time with Him--reading in His word, talking to Him, and spending time with those who reflect His image.
Lord, help me know You well enough.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Broken Collection

The Lord has been excavating my soul of late, unearthing childhood wounds so that He can apply the healing they desperately need. Through this process, He has made me more sensitive to the presence of similar wounds in others.
I have come to the conclusion that we are all broken. Every last one of us. Some are scarred by childhood abuse and neglect, most have self-inflicted wounds, carved by our own choices. The bottom line is that every last one of us is broken in some way by sin.
The Bible says we're all broken. Damaged. Scratched and scarred. Marred and blemished in some way (Rom 3:23). And there's nothing we can do about it. Absolutely nothing.
Then along comes the Lord. For some reason inconceivable to us, He really likes damaged goods.
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
-Psalm 34:18
Scripture states this again and again (Ps 147:3), even in prophetic messages about Jesus the Messiah (Is 61:1). Come to think of it, Jesus even said that He came specifically for the broken, not the perfect (Mt 9:12-13, Lk 5:31-32, Mk 2:17)
Barbara Bloom once wrote, “When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.”
The Lord is like that. He searches out the damaged pieces. He uses the broken, filling in the fractures with His glory and redemption. What a strange Collector God is. And I'm so glad He found a place in His collection for me.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Birthday Gift

Check out this dialogue from my house this morning. Keep in mind that my daughter is five, and my son is three. I've left out their names to protect them:
Daughter: Mommy, are you 36 today?
Me: Yes!
Daughter: When people get really old, they shrink a little.
Me: That’s true. But I’m not really old.
Son: When you get really old, you die. Are you going to die now, Mommy.
Me: No! I’ve got a long time left to live, Buddy. And so do you.
Daughter: Mommy, do you know Mamaw and Papaw’s neighbor?
Me: Evelyn?
Daughter: Yeah. She’s really old, and she said she shrank a little!
Me: *laughing* Well, I haven’t shrunk any yet. You know, you’re not really old until you’re like 90.
Daughter (I think): Do you die when you’re 90? (or something like that)
Me: Well, some people live to be over 100.
Daughter: Do people live to be a million or a billion? (Stay with me here, it’s about to get amazingly good, I promise.)
Me: No, people don’t live that long. But before the flood, people sometimes lived to be 700-and-some years old.
Son: When will heaven come down?
Me: When Jesus comes back.
Son: Is Jesus here now?
Daughter: No, silly!
Me: He hasn’t come back yet, but He is here. He lives in your heart if you believe in Him. Do you believe in Him, Son?
Son: Yeah.
Me: Do you want to ask Him to live in your heart?
Son: Yeah. Live in my heart, Jesus.
Me: Come here, baby. Do you want to pray and ask Jesus to be your God?
Son (on my lap): Yeah.
Me: Well, let's do that. I can help you pray it.
Son: Okay
Me and Son: Jesus, I know I’ve sinned. I’m not perfect. But you died for me and paid for my sins. Come live in my heart and be my God forever. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
How awesome was that?? And ON MY BIRTHDAY!! I told him, “Buddy, this is the best present Mommy could ever have gotten, to have you ask Jesus to live in your heart.” He was very pleased.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Robes for Rags

I'm really thankful that the Lord doesn't just leave us to our own demise. He embraces us when we're filthy and willingly trades His robes for our rags, His righteousness for our stench.
So what's the catch? He won't force us to hand them over. He simply and patiently waits, gently prompting but never forcing, until we're ready.
Why don't we hand them over more willingly? Why do we hold onto our junk when we could give it all to Him and walk in complete freedom?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Years ago my pastor told me that disillusionment is a good thing and not to be avoided, because it means we're being delivered from an illusion. So now, when I feel disillusioned, I try to stop and thank the Lord for delivering me from the deceit. It still hurts, especially when we're feeling disillusioned with a friend or family member...even a long-held dream, but there's freedom if you take the time to find it.