This Freakin Easter Cake

It’s after 5 am on Saturday, the day before Easter. I have to be at my mom’s house by noon for lunch to celebrate with her side of our family. And I am still awake, baking a cake. This cake has been a tradition in our family for years. We love it. It’s freaking amazing. It’s a freaking labor of love. And I’m freaking ready to throw it in the trash! 


But I won’t. I’ve been baking this cake for the past 12 years. Before that, the honor of baking this cake went to my grandmother Margaret. And she was AWESOME at baking this freaking cake. Just, freaking, amaze-balls cake baking, I’m not even kidding. It was literally the perfect Easter cake, year after year. And I’m not really sure how she did it. Because she not only baked this ridiculously delicious cake, she also cooked Easter lunch, hosted it in her home, and still made it to church on time. 

So here’s the thing with this cake…the recipe is garbage! Ok, not really, but it was written by my great grandmother and published in a cookbook, only it wasn’t intended to be a triple layer, tricolor Easter cake baked in round pans. It was intended to be baked in a loaf pan and covered in caramel icing. So, I have no dang idea how long to bake each layer, nor do I know at what temperature to set the oven. 

My grandmother passed away one week before Easter 12 years ago, and like a moron, I decided I needed to keep the freakin Easter cake tradition alive. Ok, I’m not really a moron, I’m actually a sentimental cry baby, and that’s why I do this…I need my kids to know her. This is one way I keep her memory alive. For all of us. But, she never actually taught me to make this freakin cake, she only taught me to devour its deliciousness…so for 12 years I’ve sat in front of my oven, watching each layer bake. Adjusting temps and bake times. Doubling the recipe, making a recipe and a half, changing the size of the round pans…I’ve trashed layers that wouldn’t budge from the pan, I’ve laughed at lopsided cakes, I’ve even cried. I can’t get Margaret’s cake right. I just can’t. So, I give up! I’ve decided. I’m not making it anymore.

Instead, I’m making Erica’s freaking ridiculous, late night, wonky, never perfect Easter cake. Because I’m pretty sure, Margaret wouldn’t want me to make HER cake anyway. She’d want me to do it my way, and embrace it. Embrace every imperfection. So that’s what I’ll do. 


And I’ll add a crumb layer of icing because my sister says I should. And also because that dang icing is freaking DELICIOUS. And I’m probably going to be skipping the green coconut grass when I take this to my cousin, because she doesn’t like coconut and neither do I. And I’m no longer going to apologize for uneven layers or lopsided cakes or whatever mess happens in a given year. I’m just not going to. 

Because I know that this memory is not really about Margaret’s amaze-balls Easter cake. It’s about something more. It’s about her love for her family. It’s about all she did for each of us. About the legacy and the memories she left behind. And I was visiting her the other day, and she reminded me of something….if things are still well with her soul, I should probably just stop worrying about a perfect cake, and let things be well with mine also. 

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When Evil Wears A Pretty Face

I am from Texas. If you are a regular reader of this blog, or of Mary Helen’s blog you’ll know me as “the Texan”. And I’m a proud Texan. I love Texas and everything Texas stands for. Last night, in Dallas, at a peaceful protest over recent police shootings, 5 Dallas police officers were killed and 7 others wounded by snipers. Last night, Texas broke my heart. But this problem, this crisis our nation is facing, is so much bigger than Texas.
The media, and some politicians, want us to believe this is a gun problem. Others would have us believe this is a racial problem. Some would say it is a problem with corrupt police. Maybe it is a little of all of these things, maybe it is none of these, but the common theme among all of these “incidents” is guns.
So I want to talk a little about guns in Texas. See, we love our guns here. We have open carry laws, where anyone with a proper permit and proper training can carry a gun without concealment. I see men in parking lots pulling shotguns from a truck and exchanging them with a friend and I don’t flinch. I know a hunter when I see one. Kids get BB guns and, as they get older, shotguns for Christmas and then they go deer hunting with their dads. It’s a right of passage.
As a child, growing up in Texas, I was always around guns. Rifles hung over the mantle above the fireplace, proudly on display. I used to sit on the living room floor and watch my dad clean his pistol. I knew he kept it in a drawer in his bedside table. I knew the magazine was always kept next to it. I also knew if I so much as opened that drawer and breathed on his gun, I was dead. Because he would know.
I learned gun safety at an early age. I learned how to take a pistol apart and put it back together. I learned how to clean it. I learned how to disengage the safety and fire it. I learned how to load and reload and how to tell if there was a bullet in the chamber. I was taught to treat every gun as if it were a loaded gun, even if I had unloaded it myself. I was taught never to point a gun at a person unless I planned on shooting them. I learned how to shoot at the gun range. I learned how to use rifles and pistols, how each was different and unique. I fired my weapon at silhouettes on paper targets. I was taught to have a healthy fear of guns. And also to respect them.
I’m from Texas. I know about guns. I believe that people who do not have a criminal record should have the right to legally buy guns for their safety and protection. I believe they should have to pass a background check to obtain said guns. I believe they should attend a concealed carry class, and learn everything there is to learn about gun safety, even if they have no intention of carrying their firearm outside their home.
Here is where things get a little tricky. See, I believe in the basic right to bear arms. But I also believe that not everyone should have access to a gun. But if you have no criminal record, and are of sound mental health, the likelihood is high you can obtain one, should you choose. And while that’s great for the support of the Second Amendment, it’s terrifying that evil can so easily arm itself.
And that’s the real problem here. Not the guns. Not the police. Not the color of our skin. Not the peaceful protests, or the routine traffic stop, or any of the lies the media would have us believe.
The problem is, evil exists. And evil so often wears a pretty face. It does not parade itself in robes of fire, or have horns and a pointy tail. Evil looks like me. And you. And the person sitting next to you. Evil flies with us on airplanes, and sits next to us on the bus. Evil coaches little league, and sells us shiny new cars. It delivers our mail, stocks our groceries, and births our babies. It plays with our children on the playground and serves our beer in neighborhood bars. It is raised in church pews, on bar stools, in classrooms, on battlefields, and in our own homes. Evil hides in plain sight.
And it lies dormant, and you never know the evil is there, until it is. It waits and it watches and it feeds. It feeds off of our hate and ignorance. It feeds off our racism and bigotry. It feeds off our need to be right. It feeds off our infidelity and lies. It feeds off our wars, our bullying, our gossiping, our apathy, and the destruction of our families. It feeds off our addictions, our self destruction, our anger and our rage. It feeds off our religious battles, the need for one religion to be better than another, while we ignore the fact the religion is man made and that God is more than simply a “religion”. It’s feeds off good men and women who sit by and watch bad things happen because they are too scared to do what is right. It feeds off our need to be politically correct. We feed it daily.
And while it feeds, it grows. It buys guns. It stockpiles them. It downloads instructions for building bombs off the Internet and then takes a trip to the Home Depot. It makes plans. It breeds. Evil creates more evil. And when it cannot obtain a gun in a legal manner, it breaks into our homes and steals them. Or it buys them off the streets. Or it makes bombs from fertilizer. And rents a moving van. Or it hijacks a plane with a box cutter. Evil always finds a way. It always finds an opportunity to strike. To show us it’s true face.
So what do we do? Do we make more laws, laws that ultimately do very little to protect those who aren’t hiding an evil face? Do we cower in our homes and refuse to fly? Do we shrink in fear and skip the peaceful protest? Do we decide, once and for all, to let evil win? To hate every one and every thing in return, so that it can’t hurt us? I don’t think that’s the answer.

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I watched a live stream from downtown Dallas today, as people from the community lined up to shake the hands and hug the necks of those serving on the police force. I saw the tears. The smiles. The people of all colors and ages coming together in an act of GOOD.
And maybe that’s where we start. Just as light drives out the darkness and love drives out hate, so can good drive out the evil. If neighbors, and then communities, and towns, and states, and countries and nations start standing together in acts of GOOD, if they turn those acts into movements, how then can evil survive?
Now I know it will always fight to live. But what if we give it less to feed on? Can evil grow in power at such a great rate of speed if it has little to devour?
I grew up in a world where guns rested in bedside drawers without ever needing to be fired. We didn’t watch on the Internet as men and women were beheaded. We wouldn’t have dared. We would have raged against the footage rather than giving it millions of hits. We broke up fights back then, we didn’t film them and encourage escalation just for the entertainment value. We had regard for the lives of others. We could run around our neighborhoods until the street lights came on, without fear. I know such a world can exist.
Maybe I’m naive. Maybe I think too much of this world and the hearts of the people who inhabit it. But I choose to think that if we stop feeding the evil; evil will, eventually, be forced to run and hide.
This isn’t a gun problem. It isn’t a corrupt police force problem. It isn’t a race problem. It isn’t even really a God problem. We can all believe in a God of our own choosing, or believe in nothing at all, and still believe in the basic goodness of man. No, it’s an evil problem. Let us stop feeding that evil. Let us be the good. When bad things happen, look for the good. Do not glorify the evil. Do not give it a face or a name. Turn the random acts of kindness and the acts of good into a full blown movement and just keep going. One day, I’ll turn on the news, and the good will be all I see. That is my hope for today.

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Ramblings And Silence And My Own Passive Aggressive Response

  
  I want to give you the benefit of the doubt. But as each day passes, my doubt grows. 

  Maybe you don’t know. Maybe you truly do not understand, but I think I should tell you, your silence speaks volumes. 

  So you’re angry. So your ego was bruised. So you worry about your job, you worry what others think, what they say. Are they talking about you? Do they still respect you? Can you survive the gossip?

  To that, I say, who really cares. I don’t. I don’t care about your ego. I don’t care how fragile those work relationships may be. I don’t even care if my writing this makes you mad. 

  Wanna know why? Because my ego can take it. My self worth is not wrapped up in who you are or what you think or how you expect me or anyone else to act. But more importantly, I don’t care because she’s MY BEST FRIEND. She’s my person. And I love her wholly, completely, and without measure. I love her without counting the cost. My love does not ebb or flow based on my mood. It simply is. It’s love. In its purest form. 

  And maybe, just maybe you don’t understand a love like that. Maybe your love is about control. Maybe it’s a passive aggressive kind of love, that roars when things are going great, and cowers in silence when the days are rough. Maybe. 

  Again, I don’t care. I don’t care how you qualify her love. Or on what scale you measure her worth. I simply do not care.

  She is priceless to me. Her value does not decrease based on your inability to see her worth. But to her, to her, it’s everything. Your love is everything to her. 

  She’s been abandoned before. She’s been broken. And you know that all too well. You promised not to leave in anger. But you break your promises. And for some reason, she still has faith in you. 

  She believes you are good. Loving. Caring. Capable of change. 

  But your silence says something else. 

  And I’m tired. I’m tired of her aching. I’m tired of her tears. Don’t misunderstand, I can meet her where she is and sit with her in her pain. I can hear the tears, and let them fall, knowing she is loved no matter what. So I’m willing to be with her in that pain. But I’m tired.

  She deserves better. She deserves a man strong enough to hold her and simply just be, without worry of abandonment. She deserves to be allowed to be herself. She shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells just to be in relationship with you.

  Your passive aggressive silence speaks volumes. 

  Want to know what it says? I’m gonna tell you, even if you don’t care.

  Your silence says she isn’t good enough. It says you don’t care who you hurt. It says you aren’t capable of having an open, healthy relationship. It says she doesn’t matter. That she is worthless in your eyes.

  See the problem is, I don’t believe that. I believe she is worthy. And I even believe you are capable. 

  But she’s my best friend. And when you hurt her, I grieve. Knowing the trust she built, and the love she thought was so strong, has been destroyed once again.

  You don’t love her. Not like she deserves. I’m under no illusions that love should ride in on a white horse and pick her up and magically make it all better. But I firmly believe, no matter how angry you are, love should be there. To hold her and sit with her and just be. 

  But you can’t do that. You run away and you pout and you delete every trace of yourself. But you cannot delete yourself from her heart. 

  So she sits and waits in the corner like a punished dog. And she believes she will be better enough for you. She will be everything you need her to be if you will just talk to her. 

  I believe she is enough just as she is. And if you can’t see that, you are blind. 

  Maybe you are just the jerk everyone says you are. Maybe all you care about is yourself. I’d like to believe differently. But honestly, what I think doesn’t matter. At the end of the silent and sad day, she waits. And she trusts and she loves.

  Because that is who she is. 

  And you are silent and withdrawn and cruel. Because that is who you are. 

  She is my best friend. And every day you treat her with silence and aggression, I pray she sees the truth of who you are. I pray she picks herself up and tells you “never again”. She doesn’t deserve this and you don’t deserve her. I pray it. Daily. 

  Meanwhile, I will love her with everything I have. I will meet her where she is. I will sit with her tears. And if she allows you the privilege of holding her heart once again, I will keep my mouth shut. And I will embrace you and everything I know you to be. Because THAT is what love does. 

  But your silence speaks volumes.

  You want control. You want to be the puppet master, let her know what she can do and say and write and how she can act. I pray every day she cuts those strings. 

  Because you want to know what I think? I think someone else will love her one day. Love her the way she deserves. Someone will cherish her, uphold her, and deem her irreplaceable in his life. Someone will love her. And until they do, I pray she learns to love herself. 

  It’s easy to sit in silence knowing your happiness isn’t dependent on someone or something else. That kind of silence is easy. Especially after you. 

  So I’ll be there. And I’ll love her, even when you don’t. 

  Your silence speaks volumes.

  

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Distorted Love: The Toll Of Our Christian Theology On The LGBT Community

john pavlovitz

SadGirl


Love doesn’t always look like love.

When I published this blog post two weeks ago, I was prepared for some people to applaud it, and for others to condemn it. That’s what happens whenever you put an opinion out there.

I was fully prepared for the waves of both support and hostility that accompany any vantage point on anything, especially a controversial topic like Sexuality. 

What I was not prepared for in any way, were the literally hundreds and hundreds of people who have reached out to me personally, to thank me for bringing some healing and hope to their families. Parents, children, siblings, and adults have confided in me (some for the first time anywhere), telling of the pain, and bullying, and shunning they’re received from churches, pastors, and church members; from professed followers of Jesus.

Scores of people from all over the world have shared with me their…

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When God Says “No”

This week has been a rough week. A really, really rough week. Not necessarily for me personally, but for many people I know and love. I have prayed a lot this week. Others have prayed a lot this week. And sometimes, I can’t help but feel so defeated when those prayers aren’t answered the way that I would like them to be.

A precious friend of mine lost her twin babies yesterday, after going into preterm labor. A labor that couldn’t be stopped, no matter how hard she fought. And those beautiful babies were born too soon. I, personally, begged on bended knee for the lives of those babies. I know many others did as well. Prayer chains were started. They were added to prayer lists across town. I know that a momma, in a hospital bed, riddled with pain; both physical and emotional, begged in prayer for the lives of her babies. But God said “No.”. And as she held her tiny babies for the first, and last time, we all felt the weight of that answer.

Last weekend, two young boys were in a car accident. Two amazing, handsome, talented, brilliant, spunky, young boys; their entire lives ahead of them. One of those boys was injured so badly, he was taken to the hospital in a coma. And hundreds of children from his high school gathered in the glow of candles, and prayed for his life. Teachers, friends, an entire community; once again on bended knee. Begging God for a “Yes.” But God said “No.”. And, after we all waited with bated breath for two days, today we found out that darling young man would never wake up. And as parents hugged their children a little tighter, drove a little more carefully, and lectured on the importance of seat belts; we all felt the weight of that answer.

Jeremiah 29:11

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

So, what does it mean when God says “No.”? I’ve asked myself that many times this week. I’m not a pastor. I don’t know the right Scripture for this situation. But I know how it feels. It’s utter anguish. It’s paralyzing grief. It’s total helplessness. But, it is NOT hopelessness. And for that, I am so, incredibly grateful.

I know that God has His reasons. I know that He has a divine plan. I know that He works all things together for good, according to His will, and in His own timing. I cling to that hope. I grasp, desperately, to the promise that was made to us as Christ drew His last breath on Calvary. I know, that even when an answer is “no”, or “not right now”, or “wait”, or anything other than immediate relief, it is an answer according to God’s plan. And even if I don’t like it, “No” is still an answer. Every tear filled plea, every cry, every beg, every whispered prayer is heard. And every single one is answered.

And every baby, every precious high school boy, every hope of every prayer ever uttered; will be waiting for us one day, in our Heavenly home. So many promises will be fulfilled on the glorious day, when we meet Jesus face to face. For He has promised that “He will wipe every tear from their [our] eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4).

Yesterday, He said “no.”. And again today, He answered the same. And all I can do is praise Him. Praise Him for a promise, waiting for me one day. Praise Him for the times He says “yes.” Praise Him for the comfort He brings when the answers aren’t what we want to hear.

And it’s hard. It is so, brutally, hard. Being in this world, is hard.

I’m going to go to bed tonight, and give a prayer of thanks. For the times when He has said “yes.”. And I’m going to pray for healing, patience, and wisdom, for all the times He has said “no.” For all the times He will have to say “No.” again.

The thing I refuse to do, is stop praying. To throw up my hands in defeat. No matter how great the sorrow. I will never stop praying.

Erica Miller

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Why I Won’t Get a Pinterest Account & Other Stories

No offense to you Pinterest moms, but I’m not joining your party.

It’s not just that I already have Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and my own personal blog (in which I regale you with tales of how I mess up my life, fail dating, and struggle to not be an idiot almost daily), it’s because I simply refuse to do something that will make me feel bad about myself.

I have a friend who tries those Pinterest creations and she’s amazing @ it and I’m so proud of her, but I am not crafty, I only learned to thread a needle two years ago to sew a monster from a monster making kit someone got my middle daughter. I work 44 hours a week and my commute takes an hour. I’m commuting to another city twice a month to find a house for a relocation. I do not have time to attempt the latest in trendy kids treats or make adorable invites for my kids’ parties or “upcycle.” I also have no desire to. There’s also all of the mom guilt that comes from Pinterest. While my one girlfriend is amazing and actually does all of these things and it’s a great passion for her, 99% of my Pinterest mom friends update their FB with “sigh…why can’t I make this?” “Sigh…my baby in a pumpkin picture just didn’t turn out right.” My college friend hit the nail on the head when she said Pinterest was the best way to see the wedding you’ll never have, the crafts you won’t make and the food you’ll never cook but with all the shame.

This is something I’ve never understood; why we as humans do things that make us feel badly about ourselves. It’s like how when we smell something super gross we tell our friend to smell it. Why would you do something, or subscribe to something that makes you feel badly about yourself or others? It’s the same as online dating. Those sites make me wanna hurl, so I’m not on them. Bathing suit shopping makes me uncomfortable, so I won’t go unless I have to.  For a long time, I hung out with friends that made me feel badly about myself, I was in a marriage where I felt badly about myself and throughout 2013 I’ve noticed a shift in my self-esteem because those things weren’t in my life and I had to decide how I felt about myself. In order to like myself, I had to stop subjecting myself to things that were only designed to make me feel badly about myself and my parenting. Now, I refuse to participate in something that will make me feel guilty for not being a supermom or the perfect wife or whatever. This goes for those mom bloggers that talk about their perfect homes and kids. I don’t need to compare myself to those people. Their lives are not mine. They have a partner. They have higher incomes and a cleaning lady that comes in twice a month. They aren’t living my life of scraping to make ends and balancing home and work and calling the FRO because your ex husband still refuses to pay child support. If I even try to compare my life to their standard, I’m going to be depressed. Just like when people this week went off about the flawless Gisele Bundchen breastfeeding photo. No, our breastfeeding photos weren’t so glam and we didn’t look so flawless, but we don’t live her life. We’re not rich supermodels married to Tom Brady with millions of dollars and two nannies and four housekeepers and a private jet. We’re us.

Too often, we as people try to live up to some kind of standard that doesn’t fit us, whether it’s something that our parents said as a child, or through those “bounce back after baby” People Magazine headlines, or Pinterest. Why put ourselves through that? I have enough about my life that could make me feel badly about myself, I don’t need to add more. I have fought long and hard to learn to like myself, that I refuse to make my inability to create lemon chiffon cake pops with unicorns drawn on them presented on a super easy rainbow made entirely out of gumpaste and recycled candy wrappers and served on my upcycled dining set made out of a garbage can and a raccoon add to that.

So, if you’re one of those people who does the Pinterest crafts and recipes and they turn out and you’re happy, that’s awesome. I’m happy that you’re enjoying it. However, if you’re feeling miserable because you’ll never have a wedding photo that romantic, and your crayon mural looks like melted poop and you’re sitting with your wine feeling like less of a mom; log off. I’m sure you’re doing just fine. Focus on things that build you up, make you feel good instead of the things that tear you down.

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The Story of How Erica Converted Me to Veganism For One Day & Other Tales

My friend Erica is awesome.

Seriously. She’s the sweetest, coolest cat I know. She’s also vegan. If you didn’t know, she’ll tell you upon meeting you. Her Instagram is inundated with vegan propaganda. It’s a huge part of who she is. She’s a mom, a wife, a woman of God…& a vegan.

Erica has always been there for me through the hardest times over the last eight years. We joke that her youngest & my middle daughter are betrothed. When she went into recovery, I was one of the first to know. We are weird soulmates & it works.

But because she lives in Texas, it’s hard for us to be there physically when we need a friend. So, when I learned that she was having some medical stuff done on Wendesday, I offered to lend support the only way I thought would make her happy; I offered to convert my family to Veganism for one day.

She & my hippie bestie are slowly converting me. While I won’t give up my L’Oreal makeup, I have been going to colourists (& using box dye) that do not test on animals. I started using vegan friendly shampoo. I have been leaning towards synthetic materials. But I still love red meat & cheese. However, this means a lot to them so I try to make little changes to show my support. This also means no meat, cheese, eggs or dairy for 24 hours. One day of no bacon. Welp.

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My friend’s wife has gone vegan & she looks & feels amazing. Maybe this is something I could consider full time & thank Erica for converting my family. Or midnight will come & I’ll eat my weight in steak. But it means a lot to her that people try to understand, so I’m gonna try.

The most important thing you can do for someone is try to “get” their way of life. Erica has understood & defended my wacky moves, unorthodox parenting style & that choice to bleach my own hair as a parenting lesson for years. It’s my turn to understand why being a vegan is something she’s so passionate about.

I’ve got recipes, done research & I’m ready because come Wednesday, we’re gonna try this vegan thing.

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