Lately I've been working on a project. One that I truly love...decorating cake. I really enjoy the creative outlet and there are so few opportunities for me to pull out my artistic side when life revolves around diapers and late night feedings.
But it takes its toll. Everything must fit into a space somewhere and I'm reminded again of why I don't do hardly ANYTHING besides take care of children. There's not time for it and then someone suffers. I feel like the child who can't keep his hand out of the candy jar even though he knows that one more treat is going to make his stomach sick.
Cake decorating is relaxing to me. My insides smile. Especially when I'm learning a new technique or concept. This year's cake has been no different. I entered a completely new world to me: gumpaste. I saturated myself on YouTube tutorials, got the supplies that were relatively necessary, came up with alternatives for buying thousands of extra supplies, and sat down to figure out how people make these gorgeous creations. It's utterly fascinating! I'm hooked! And it takes HOURS! Days even.
While I knew it would take a lot of time, I generally figured on working on it after the children went to bed. Unfortunately I forgot that I have children on different schedules- namely, a baby that likes to eat on the schedule of "as soon as everything else has settled down and you think you have time to get something done." Justin is really a good little baby, but honestly, sometimes I think he conspires in his crib to get me as soon as I sit or lay down. I think he perhaps hears the sigh of relief and knows that's his cue for food.
So here I am, two weeks into flowers, loving it and while I've tried really hard not to let it affect my attention to my kids, I suppose it has. Generally when I get to this point, I think the children are too stressful and I need a break from them. More and more I realize though that as much as the cake stuff is an "outlet" for me, it's also what is causing the stress. Not the children. They are the God given responsibility. They are that which God is pouring out his grace and mercy and giving me energy for. The cake...
*Case and point...interruption to deal with misbehavior. Not handled well...sigh...Calm down, apologies, move forward.*
...the cake is the extra that I added in. I think God led me to do the cake and I think he gave me a vision for it, but perhaps I...I really don't know where the Holy Spirit's leading left off and my own enthusiasm and excitement took over. I think I do that a lot. I get excited about a vision God hands me- and then I jump in head first, with both feet following and I've got my package of ideas tucked under my arm to make it great. Then when I can't swim with my package I think either that God didn't want me to swim in the first place, or He's not helping me enough. Most of the time though, I think he just asked me to jump in- maybe with a floatie and I see the floaties and go to pick which one I want and walk out with eight, cause I get the idea that swimming with all the colors of the rainbow would be really even MORE fun!
And it's not just cake that does this to me over and over again. Really it's any outside thing that I volunteer for. I get inspired, as I should, but then I allow the desire to make it great and my vision to cloud my hearing the Holy Spirit and all the while he's probably in the back ground saying, "Wait! I only meant..." But I'm gone. Leaving dust behind to follow the exciting path that God pointed out to me.
It makes me just want to never volunteer for anything. Ever. And no one did it to me. No one over committed me. No one expected me to conquer such a huge mountain. I'm sure some of this is pride. I want it to be great! I want it to bless other people. But if it blesses other people at the expense of "unblessing" my family what good is it?
I heard someone say, "I can get the house clean or I can be nice, but I can't do both." I can relate to that statement and I strive to make it my measuring stick. Whatever God gives me to do, I should be able to be nice. If it's too much to stay nice, something is off.
So now what? Well...I can't cancel the cake. I'm committed. But I can try to use my time more wisely and keep it in the line of priorities where it should be. Yesterday I realized that I was exhausted and ignoring my kids. So I dropped all the cake stuff. I realized that it would be fine. Even if it turned out less glorious that I planned, it would still be fine. I put it aside, didn't really even clean up my mess, and went up and crawled in the toddler bed with Renna and we sang together. Joseph came over and crawled on top of me with a big grin lay down on my leg. Rachel stayed in her bed, but sang with us. It was a sweet moment of remembering that my kids come first over my other interests- even when the other interests are what seem like the "fun" thing. If it's too much to do, then the other interests have to go first- in spite of their "relaxation" or "stress release factor" or "service to others" or "ministry value". Even when I would rather just farm out the kids to a babysitter or give that responsibility away for a while instead. God called me to the children. First my husband, then my children. Cakes and other stuff, regardless of my love for them are so much further down the list.
So, while I'm desperately hoping that I will be able to pull this cake off this week. I'm reminded again where it fits in line. For the husband to be first means that I can't be calling him to bail me out of my over ambitiousness. It means his priorities must be my priorities. It means that my children can't suffer from lack of attention because I need to "get this done". They come first. And the cake will just have to be what it is. I'm sure it will be fine. But I'm done trying to tackle the world this week.
One of these days I hope I learn this lesson for the last time. This has got to be at least the 50th time we've been around this circle. And yet, I'm thankful God took me around it again, really. In fact, it's a good reminder before we enter the summer and I get all inspired about the vast amounts of things I will conquer while I'm not teaching school. I think this will motivate me to change my priorities to do whatever I can do AND experience my family at the same time.
If I'm not careful...next week I'll get excited about something and forget this whole lesson entirely in the momentum of the next great thing. God help me!
Until then, I think I'll go settle up with the kids for my misbehavior this morning, spend some time praying with them for all of our attitudes, and see how I can meet their needs best this morning. And I'll trust God to redeem the time for what I need to accomplish on that cake business.