It was a crystal-clear December evening and my oldest daughter knew I had my plate full. We had just gotten home from a four-hour trip to my son’s basketball game followed by a Christmas party at our friend’s house. The next day was my Christmas baby’s birthday party and Mrs. Claus was tackling the wrapping of presents while Santa’s littlest elves were rolling out cookie dough and decorating posters. Santa was in bed snoring.
My oldest daughter was fixing to leave for work and would not be around to help with the preparations for the upcoming birthday party, so she offered to bake the cake. Upon reaching in the pantry for the vegetable oil, she mistakenly grabbed the canola oil. The cake was a tad flat...as Santa himself properly and non-tactfully noted the next morning.
Now I'm not 100% it was the canola oil that stifled its rising but the same thing happened the day before with some brownies she baked, so we're just assuming that it was the grinch in the batter.
But whether the cake was flat or high, fat or skinny, tall or short; it just didn't matter. The cake was created with high expectations that day and those expectations can rise higher than flour in a sunbeam. Upon walking into the sitting room to view her cake in all its deflated glory, our little birthday girl looked upon the Winter Wonderland creation stamped with her requested horses galloping in the drifts of snow and the marshmallow snowmen smiling frozenly on snowflake pathways and she sighed and whispered: "I just love that cake."
Whether the cake measured up to the rest of the family’s expectations or not, it was the cake the birthday girl had requested and it was the only cake that mattered to her. Somehow it lived up to her expectation and that just about measured the cup to overflowing.
Do we, in our human weakness, often have our expectations too high? Do we expect too much of our children? Our parents? Our Church? Our friends? Are our hopes and dreams often dashed like salt into our stew pots? Or do we, like a young child, take what is offered, look at the effort instead of the product, and embrace it as a gift?
Think of what we, in our human weakness, often expect from God. Do we look at what He offers us and frown in disappointment? Or do we, as we teach our children to do, accept the gifts graciously and joyfully…knowing the gift was given in hope and love and with high expectations?
“For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” Matthew 6:21
And what are the gifts we receive from God, our Father? In all families, the gifts vary; but there are some gifts that are offered to all God’s children. In the Sacrament of Confirmation, God sends forth the Holy Spirit to shine a candle on some very special gifts He has given us. Not one gift, but seven gifts. It would be good for all confirmed Catholics to review this gift list periodically because these seven gifts help to sanctify our actions and our expectations throughout life. They help us sift the flour and pick out the egg shells in the yoke. They help us to see the gift beyond the wrappings. They help us discern those times when life delivers us a deflated cake instead of a cream puff. And, most of all, they help us to look at deflated cakes and unexpected gifts and then to look at the One who bestowed them to us and say, “I just love that cake (gift).” with a heart that is blessed to overflowing.
For Today’s Meditation---Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit:
Wisdom---do we desire the will of God and, thus, joyfully accept the gifts He thinks are best for us?
Understanding---do we read carefully the gift card He presents us with the mysteries of our faith written upon it?
Knowledge---do we seek to learn the truth, that possibly things do not turn out the way we expect them, not because of anything God wills but because of our own “canola oil” mistakes and our own free will?
Counsel---are we prudent in the steps we take towards accepting our gifts and the information we are given for the next baking lesson?
Fortitude---do we have the courage to go forward, or do we pout like a child and turn away from God’s gifts?
Piety---do we accept God’s explanation for those times our cake and gifts are not what we expected them to be?
Fear (Awe) of the Lord---do we receive the presence of our Lord as the greatest gift of all and know that He can take any cake we try to bake and turn it into a simply beautiful confection?
Chocolate Simplicity Cake
1 cup Self Raising Flour (that would be 1 cup flour, with 2 teaspoons baking powder)
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 cup milk
a couple of drops vanilla essence
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Place all ingredients in a bowl and beat really hard for 3 minutes. Pour into a greased cake tin and bake in a moderate oven (340 degrees F) for 30-40 minutes.
Allow to cool for a few minutes, then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely before icing.
Cay Gibson is the author of Literature Alive! and Catholic Mosaic well as several articles published in parenting, educational, and spiritual magazines. She is the literature editor for Heart and Mind Magazine. She works as a freelance writer, a children’s literature consultant and reviewer, and a homeschooling mother of five. Her hobbies include reading, traveling, and collecting children illustrated books. She lives with her husband, Mark, and their children in Southwest Louisiana . Visit her blog (Cajun Cottage) at http://caygibson.typepad.com