Cupcakes and gratitude go together really well.
I don’t say that to satisfy my sweet tooth or to justify my baking hobby, although my sweet tooth combined with my baking hobby does tend to get the better of me on a regular basis.
My neighbor’s mom holding my daughter, January 2013
Recently, my neighbor’s mom passed away. In the past year, I’ve watched my neighbor lose her father, her mother, other relatives, and pets. In the midst of the onslaught of loss and grief in her life, she has managed to continue caring for others. She almost always has a smile on her face and a hand extended to people in need.
A few weeks ago, I felt the urge to bake pound cake. Specifically, I sensed that God wanted me to bake pound cake for my neighbor and another friend who recently lost her first baby to miscarriage. It used to seem odd to me when God urged me to do various random things for people. The more I acted on these urges, though, the more He urged me to do more things for more people. Sometimes it’s making a phone call for what seems like no reason at all, finding out that my friend is in the middle of a monstrous family crisis that I didn’t know about prior to calling. Other times it’s sending my friend a letter about how great a mom she is and letting her know that I felt God urging me to send it–and finding out she didn’t have the best mom growing up, and that this letter encouraged her greatly.
This time, it was baking pound cake.
I didn’t even hesitate. I try not to anymore. If He urges me to act, I try to just act. If I start questioning the rationale behind my actions, I will blow the whole thing off. I’ve done this before and later discovered that I’d ignored God and that someone didn’t receive the encouragement they so desperately needed. And I missed an opportunity to bless someone, too, and receive a blessing myself.
So I softened four sticks of butter, set 10 eggs out on the counter, and gathered the rest of my ingredients. I tinkered with a pound cake cupcake recipe I snagged from Southern Living magazine, replacing the mascarpone cheese with cream cheese (cheaper, and already in my fridge). I added a little orange extract for fun. The final decadent product was delicious.
I gave one pound cake to my friend who is mourning the loss of her baby. I gave another pound cake to a friend who went above and beyond in providing dental work to a family member recently. That left me with a double batch of pound cake batter to convert into cupcakes, and convert I did. I frosted those puppies after they cooled and ate one. Or maybe four.
I decided to give half the cupcakes to my neighbor.
At this point, her mom was still alive and thriving. My neighbor’s son scurried down the road to pick up the cupcakes and delivered them to his family, graciously sharing them with everyone (personally, I would have been tempted to hoard them or eat half of them on the walk home, but that’s just me).
My neighbor’s mom died about a week later.
When I talked to my neighbor about her mom’s passing, I told her that I had felt the urge to bake the cupcakes for them.
“I know it wasn’t much, but I am glad God urged me to do that before she passed.”
“Oh, Bethany, she loved them. I think she ate most of them, actually. And she loved getting something you made in the house she grew up in,” my neighbor said.
Cupcakes are cupcakes. A letter is just a letter. A hug is only a hug.
But God can use anything to bless us. When He urges us to take action, and we do the thing, we add to other people’s gratitude lists. We feel blessed, too, and have more to be thankful for ourselves. And I like to think that when God urges me to act, and I do, it blesses Him, too.
Isn’t gratitude sweet?