Category Archives: Motivation

The Passing Shadows

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I absolutely love fantasy stories and movies.  Naturally, my favorite is the stories of Middle Earth by Tolkien.  I love the whole world he imagined and wrote about.  I also love how Peter Jackson brought that world to life.  It is such a great story of good vs. evil, but it is so much more than that.  


As a christian, I often feel like I am on a journey through Middle Earth, carrying the “Ring of Power” around my neck.  Sometimes, when I see all of the evil around me, I get discouraged and feel like there is no point in trying to make a difference.  I get bogged down and don’t want to continue my journey.  I think that is why the following scene in “The Two Towers” speaks so much to me.



Frodo has lost site of the goal.  He thinks he can no longer go on.  He feels the task is too hard for him.  Then Sam steps in, and reminds him what is at stake.  He reminds Frodo that the shadow is passing, and “A new day will come, and when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.”  He redirects Frodo back to the goal of a new day that will come when evil is destroyed.  


As awesome as that is, my favorite part comes next, when Sam states his realization for why certain stories “stay with you.”  He said, “But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand.  I know now.  Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t.  They kept going because they were holding onto something.”  


Sometimes, we all need a Sam to remind us the shadows of life on this imperfect world will eventually pass.  Evil will be destroyed, the new heavens and the new earth will be, and the sun will “shine out all the clearer.”  But, for our story to mean something, we can’t give up and turn back.  We need to hold on to something to help keep us going. 


As I am writing this, an old folk song from India keeps playing in my head.  I’ve sung this song so many times, but it always reminds me, even in the darkest of days, that with Jesus, there is no turning back.  God doesn’t want me to turn back, just like He didn’t want the Israelites to turn back when they were in the wilderness.  Turning back is foolishness.  I need to put my hope in Him, and keep going.

I have decided to follow Jesus.  

I have decided to follow Jesus.  

I have decided to follow Jesus.  
No turning back.  No turning back.  
The world behind me; the cross before me.  
The world behind me; the cross before me.  
The world behind me; the cross before me.  
No turning back.  No turning back.  
Though none go with me, I still will follow.  
Though none go with me, I still will follow.  
Though none go with me, I still will follow.  
No turning back.  No turning back.  
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
No turning back.  No turning back.  


Pretty much the entire book of Hebrews is about not giving up and motivating each other to not turn back.  It’s about holding fast to the hope we have in Jesus, no matter what comes our way.  Don’t give up!  Keep going!  We have something to hold onto, because He is faithful until the very end.

Hebrews 10:19-25
English Standard Version (ESV)

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

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Sand-burs

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On my walk to the church building, I’ve been noticing a sand-bur here or there the past couple of weeks.  Usually, I only notice one when it catches my sandal or gets caught in Jackson’s pants leg.  Having only been stuck by a couple, I didn’t really think we had a problem.  Little did I know, until I started looking, I did not know how bad of a problem we really have.


As I walked my pathway to the building, I noticed clump another clump of very mature sand-bur producing weeds.  I pulled one and saw another; pulled it and found another.  I pulled sand-burs for  quite awhile, until it was too dark to see them or snakes.  I thought I pulled so many that there wouldn’t be many left for me to finish in the morning.  Then, Saturday morning, I went out to finish the job.  Wrong again.


In the morning light, it was easy for me to see how big the infestation is.  At that point, I pulled the rest of the noticeable clumps from my path and decided to come back to the others.  Since I had only noticed the weed in that part of the yard, my thinking was I could get some help and pull them before they spread to another area.


That afternoon, I took Scott with me to the backyard.  We each had a laundry basket full of wet sheets and towels to hang on our clothes lines.  Low and behold, when I went to hang a towel, I was stuck by a sand-bur!  I looked down, and all around were giant clumps of sand-burs.  Keep in mind, this is in a completely different area than the other sand-burs.  There is even a structure in between the areas.  As I looked down, I quickly became aware as to how vast of a sand-bur problem we have.  There are way too many for one or two people to pull in any short amount of time.  Scott ended up hanging almost all of the towels and sheets while I pulled sand-burs.  I cleared a pretty big area under the clothesline,  but there were many more left.  My fingers became sore, and I was overwhelmed by all of the work left to do.  


As I was uprooting the problem, and pulling stickers from my fingertips and toes, I began thinking…


How long will it be before I can go barefoot again?


Where did these all come from?


How did they become such a problem without me ever noticing?


How can I fix this problem?


The questions go on and on (just like the pain in my fingertips).


I then started thinking about other problems that kind of creep up.  Things like dirty dishes in the sink and laundry that needs put away, and serious things, such as jealousy and greed.  At first, it’s just a want or desire for something you don’t have and before long you’re bitter towards anyone who has what you can’t get, or you spend all of your time chasing after the Jones’s and you miss out on the important things.  


When I take time to stop, and really look at my life, I realize it’s often full of sand-burs too.  The closer I look, the more I see how vast my problem is.  I know you know what I mean.  I’m pretty sure we all, at one point or another, find ourselves looking at the shambles of our life wondering , “Where did this all come from?  How did it get so bad without me noticing?  What can I do to fix it?”


Fortunately, there is an answer to our problems.  It’s Jesus, pure and simple.  He has the ability to fix our problems.  If we let Him, He’ll do more than mow over our issues.  He’ll help us dig out the burs from the root.  This doesn’t mean it is an easy solution.  It’s far from easy.  Just like my sand-bur infested lawn, it will take a lot of time, a lot of hard work, and some soreness to rid a life of the painful weeds that creep up and take over.  It may take awhile, and it may hurt, but the end result will be more than worth it!

The Evolution of a Dream

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As far back as I can remember, there have been two foods I absolutely love, ICE-CREAM and CAKE.  I think it’s no mistake that the two go so well together (but not in the same bowl, I don’t like the ice-cream making my cake soggy, or my cake making my ice-cream gritty).  I can eat good cake and good ice-cream until I’m sick!  Given my love for both, it was no surprise to myself when I first realized I would love to have a bakery and decorate cakes and bake all day.


It started about 11 years ago when my college roommate and I started baking cookies (LOADS OF COOKIES) and putting them in decorated bags for our friends at the UC (secretly of course).  This spread to more baked goods and dinner parties.  I started baking and “decorating” cakes for the birthdays of some of my close friends.  I knew at that moment I wanted to keep doing this and learn more so my creations would look (and taste) better.  When I was planning my wedding, I even thought about making my own wedding cake.  Thankfully my mom talked me out of that one.  After all, I was already arranging all my flowers and making my really long veil during a very busy semester my last year of college.  I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact all of my baked goods up to that point tasted great, but lacked a little in the looks department.  I wish I had some pictures to show you of some of my first stacked cakes, but if you were one of the “lucky” ones, you probably remember all too well and were just nice enough to not let me know it wasn’t exactly pretty.


After I was married and finished with college, I realized the dream I had of taking some decorating classes wasn’t really going to fit with my budget, schedule, and location.  I put this hobby aside and went on making an occasional cake or something for church and work pot-lucks.  Then we moved to La Grange, TX.  I stayed home with our 1 year old and decided I would like to start baking again and since I wasn’t going to be able to take some decorating classes, I decided to get the materials and teach myself with the aid of the internet.  Some of my cakes did not work as planned, but I still learned, and had a blast.  With every cake I have baked and decorated I’ve improved and learned something important about the art.


This is one of the first cakes I decorated when I was still dabbling.  I had not decided to really learn how to do things the right way. I still had the idea stuck in my head that I had to take a class in a classroom to teach me how to decorate a cake.  I didn’t realize I could learn, on my own, with some great resources.

These are some cupcakes I decorated about the same time I made the butterfly cake.  I still thought it was possible to use canned frosting (yuck!) to decorate.  It really does not taste that great, and it doesn’t have the right consistency or body needed to decorate a cake, or cupcake with!  It does take color fairly nice, but that’s about it!  If you need to use a canned frosting, make sure it is a decorators frosting like Wilton or a brand like that.  I recommend making your own.  It tastes better, and you can make it the consistency you need for your project.

For a little while, I made a bunch of cupcakes.  These are my favorite ones.  They are strawberry with a 2-toned buttercream.  I think they are some of the prettiest, and tastiest cupcakes I make!  These would also be wonderful with a cream-cheese frosting.



Naturally, the more cakes I made, the more I improved.  I started bringing a cake each month to our church potluck so I could get the practice.  Originally, these were to celebrate the birthdays in the month, but I just decided to start bringing cakes.  Here are some of my favorites.

  
This cake was the first time I started using scrollwork and I realized how much I like to pipe.  I think it’s pretty fun.  This is one of my favorite cakes because of its simplicity.

Who doesn’t like cheesecake right?  This is my favorite cheesecake to make.  It is called Cinnabon Cheesecake.   






The rose cake was inspired by the hymn “Where the Roses Never Fade.” This was the first time for me to make buttercream roses.




 The first “big cake” I made was for my sons 2nd birthday.  It was the first time I had ever worked with fondant.  I had several ideas for his “Toy Story” party and went for it.  It was definitely a learning experience, but I am still proud of this cake!  I learned a lot about working with fondant and gum paste, and I learned a lot about stacking cakes!  

I made everything on this cake except for the Buzz and Woody figures.  I thought they would be a little too ambitious for my first attempt with fondant.  Plus, we already had those figures.  I just washed them and added them to the cake with all of the other pieces.  My favorite figure was Slinky Dog.  He even “slinked.”  I was also very proud of my “Barrel of Monkey’s” monkey.




As I made more cakes for different occasions, friends started asking me to bake cakes for them!  In one month, I made several graduation and birthday cakes.  I finally began to feel like I was realizing my dream!

  

This going away cake is one of my favorites.  It was my first attempt at sugar flowers.  I didn’t have any cutters at the time so I hand cut all of them.  I like the way they turned out. The colors and scrolling also turned out nice.

I made this daisy cake for a wedding shower.  I used daisy cutters for it.  I purchased them after I made the going away cake.  Cutters make it a LOT easier to get nicer flowers with uniform petals. 










This graduation cake was fun!  I used a paper template to cut the silhouettes. I did a lot of grey and black because the two graduates this cake was for are both boys and their school colors clashed.  They both liked the cake, so I was pleased with it!  

In the year and a half since I have been baking and decorating cakes “seriously,” I have always came back to my dream of having my own bakery.  In the fall of 2011, Texas passed a cottage food law enabling me, and other home bakers, to have our own home bakeries, LEGALLY!  That means I can bake and sell my goods from my home as long as I follow the specifications listed in the law!  This wedding cake is very special to me.  Not only is it my first wedding cake, it was also the first cake I made from someone I never knew before, and it was my first official cake to make from my at home bakery!  
While I still have a part-time job, I am realizing my dream.  I may not have a store-front bakery, and I may never have one, but I finally feel like I am living my dream. My dream has finally evolved into a reality. And perhaps, one day, my dream will evolve a little more. If you have a dream or goal, and something is holding you back, don’t let it!  Go for it!  It may take awhile, but you will never achieve it if you don’t try.  I’m not sure who originally said this because it has been attributed to so many different people, but I love this quote! 

“Shoot for the moon.  Even if you miss you will land among the stars.”


If you are in the La Grange, TX area, and would like to talk to me about cake, feel free to leave me a comment or shoot me an email.