My kitchen is an enormous and unbelievable disaster right now. I should be cleaning it. But the thoughts in my head are rumbling around too much, so here I am.
I've been making birthday cakes tonight.
This is quite the project for me. We have four children with summer birthdays, and each child typically gets two cakes...one for our family dinner on their actual birthday, and one for their bigger party with either friends or extended family. (My Grandpa always said to celebrate as much as possible, and so we do...)
So that means I make 8 birthday cakes each summer.
I love it, but I'm not great at it.
Oh, I have great visions, for sure. Grandiose ideas that I get really excited about. And sometimes, I actually have surprised myself with some really fabulous cakes. (Note: I have intentionally never been on pinterest...I am so glad that I don't have pinterest cakes to compare mine to!)
But then sometimes, like tonight, I end up texting my girlfriends trying to figure out how in the world to get red frosting instead of mauve. My boy cannot have a mauve firetruck cake!
Tomorrow we have a big family party for two children. Thus, I'm up late tonight making a boy cake (fire truck) and a girl cake (a sandy beach ocean scene on an ice cream cake). I try to honor their requests, because I love to see their faces in the mornings when they look at their cakes.
But tonight has been a doozy. Have you ever tried making fire truck red frosting? I used a whole tube of red gel food coloring, and then (after googling it of course) I added two packs of koolaid powder and ended up with terrible mauve frosting that smelled and tasted like cherry koolaid. (GROSS)
So I threw it out and made chocolate frosting. As in, brown.
I am the wife of a fireman and my boy has a brown firetruck. I'm embarrassed. I did have a tube of red frosting (that would NOT spread so I couldn't use it to frost the whole truck), but at least I could edge the truck in red. I added a white ladder so he'll be able to tell that it's a fire truck (I hope!).
Hopefully he will love it anyway. But it's not what I planned. I'm disappointed.
The beach scene ice cream cake is going better, but it keeps melting on me as I'm decorating it so I have to keep fixing my palm tree and putting it back in the freezer before I can finish. My girl requested flip-flops on the beach too, but they looked proportionately like half the size of a palm tree, and that bugged me, so I had to scrape them off. Alas, no flip-flops.
It's a very imperfect process for me, for certain. And a disastrous mess.
But I make their cakes anyway. Every one of them.
And, as children so often do, they humble me with their excited, loving reactions.
It's a labor of love. What an honor to make four children's birthday cakes.
And tonight as I kept scraping off the flip-flops and reshaping my melting palm tree and failing at making red frosting, I just realized how much cake-making is like my love.
It's imperfect. It's very flawed. It's not what I hoped it would be. It's less than my kids and my husband and my friends deserve. I have to scrape away my selfishness and re-mix my reactions and adjust my priorities and reshape my attitudes at an embarrassing frequency. And I often make a mess along the way.
My love falls so short of what I want to give my kids. My husband. My church. My neighbors. My God. My love looks so different than what I hope each day to be able to offer. Each day I have grand ideas of how I'll listen and clean and organize and play and read and teach and help and serve and, and, and.
And then the day actually starts and I start messing up, oh, about immediately. Scrape that off, change that, start over there, re-do that, take a deep breath here, apologize there.
It's a labor of very imperfect love.
But I give it anyway. My love is so imperfect. I don't listen well. I nag. I turn on the TV instead of playing. I forget to wash dirty sheets. I interrupt. I yell. I look at facebook when I should look at my child's face.
My love is so much less than my kids deserve.
But when I give what I have with all my heart, they revel in it. And they know that I try (imperfectly) to tailor my love specifically for each one of them, kind of like a birthday cake. I try to give them what they each need.
They know it's imperfect, but they forgive me for that. They allow me a hundred do-overs every day. And no matter how much of a mess their mother is, they somehow still call me "pretty mama."
My love is like my birthday cakes. Imperfect. Messy. Not enough.
And yet, my imperfect love still delights them. And grounds them and calms them.
And in that place, I get to point them to their Savior whose love isn't messy. And isn't imperfect. And is always enough. And I get to watch as they learn to delight in Him.
And that's better than any birthday cake (even a pinterest one!).