Posted by: shelleyjo's life beat | February 29, 2012

Gifts alive! – (why does a loving God keep bringing children into this messed up world?)

Dedicated to Fred, who loves to hear about his beautiful wife. This one’s for you. xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

As I sit here thinking of the awesome family God has placed me in, I have this warm memory creeping in. I have been remembering this “snapshot” of our lives quite often lately.

We were living in a green house with a huge picture window. I loved that house. It was probably my favorite house we ever lived in. It was the house we were in just before living in Oregon for a short stretch.

My sister, Diana was in high school then, and dad was home for a very odd moment in our lives. But there were good little snippets, most of which we have to work to remember. Have you ever had to dig deep for what was good in part of your life, or for any memory at all?

Anyway, I was thinking about this particular memory because the majority of our little family thinks of me as the “artsy” one of us, yet I clearly see the arts and creative writing, gifts, varying gifts …very strongly in each one of us.

In this particular moment in time, my sister had some project in school she had to get done, and she was feeling quite tense about it. You could feel it crackle in the air, the stress and tension. But I could also see this wave of something greater than the stress. It was anticipation and this excitement of the moment. It was also filling the air. I am not sure if the tension was due to the assignment itself, or due to dad being there to help her. I am thinking it is both, but also some of the positive tension was that fact that he was there, too.

I believe the particular artistic idea came from Diana herself, but I would have to ask her to be sure.

Diana was awesome in many crafty-type of things, which I mentioned in the last blog, also embroidery, and other things. In this particular assignment, it was a new art form for her. And Oh!…was she good!

I wish in those days we photographed everything like we do these days. I would love to have a pic of the stages of this project to share with you. It is very clearly etched in my mind, colors and all. Yes, it was that good.

First, she baked a cake. There was some cutting and assembling of the cake for size and shape. Then it was frosted (hand made and home colored) with lovely greens and blues. I remember dad showing her how to “sketch” with toothpicks in the cake the design you want. She did her own work and art, and learned immediately.

As it went along, dad was showing her things like how to make a rose or other object on paper, then using a knife to lift it up and set it where you want it on the cake. I still remember this as clearly as if it were yesterday. I remember Chuck eating the demonstration rose as dad and Diana were working.

Along the way, over what seemed like hours to me (a definite day-long project) it took shape, etching, coloring frosting, using common tools and items from the kitchen to do remarkable things I wouldn’t have thought of.

Watching the image grow to an almost 3-dimenshional masterpiece, and finally…the completed work was ready to display.

It was a map of the world, a global work of art on a simple homemade cake. In our generation this was a huge accomplishment. No copied images, no internet, no special equipment. Just the imagination, study and skill of the artists.

My dad was a baker in the navy. His pastries were highly requested by high-ranking officials in many countries. But the truth is, my sister did this work herself. She did this with just a small amount of tutoring from a master, some simple and basic advice that she took in and applied. There is at least this one good moment between daughter and father. I was blessed in it, too just to be there.

I have no recall of the grade she received, but in my heart and mind, she got an A+.

I have noticed as grandkids have moved near their Oma, that she has been baking and beautifully decorating wonderful cakes and goodies for their special days.                                                                                                                                                  

She has been known in her community for decades now as the pie lady. She also bakes amazing cinnamon rolls, cookies and various treats for her church, fund raisers, family, friends and neighbors. It is a lot of expense, time and work. But she and her husband, Fred generously give of the gifts God has given them to those in their lives.

As I ponder all of this, I realize that sometimes our gifts show themselves early and we just don’t know that is what is happening. We don’t nurture them because we either don’t recognized them as they present themselves, or because we don’t believe we have any. Perhaps we don’t think what we do matters.

Just ask anyone who eats my sister’s wonderful baked goods if her gifts matter! Ask anyone who hears her talks if she has gifts that matter.                                                                   

But God. God has a way of exercising our gifts in any way we will cooperate with Him, as with church, family, or however He can bring it up for the people in our lives.

Have you ever had a sore or touchy subject? Sometimes when we see our parents or relatives in ourselves we just can’t stand it if someone notices that.

But God made everyone good, with promise, gifts, talents and great purpose. Whatever warps along the way isn’t because He didn’t make them good.

God also keeps those good gifts alive, whatever they are, in the generations to follow.

Fred3 baking cookies with Oma

I am very happy to say that, even though it is usually the men in our family who get credit for being good cooks, my sister is our generation’s gifted and exceptional baker. She is a special and precious gift through our dad to us all, and I am so thankful for that happy, happy, good gift.

Many fond memories of good food and baked goods are in my life. Our mother is a very good cook, thanks to dad’s early tutoring her and her ability to alter a recipe until it is perfect. She is also very good at baking. But I must say, this gift my sister has is absolutely through the father-side of things. And I am glad.

Thank God for His never giving up on people, and continuing to keep gifts, talents, purpose and promise alive through the generations.

Yes, He knows the mess this world is in, and the mess people are. But more importantly, He knows what is good. He knows He can and will answer our cries when we are in trouble, and send light to us when the dark times come.

He knows that good overcomes bad, and He plants new good lives among us every day, to bless and encourage us to keep on living, to see the gifts and to celebrate life. He gives us a chance to see how good He is, and His great love for us.

He brings hope on this earth with every new life.

New, fresh hope, new promise, new gifts and new blessings. I am eagerly watching and delighted as I “watch” my sister’s (and brothers’) children and grandchildren grow up. Watching to see who God made them to be, what He has kept alive in them and what He has added to us through them.

Not to sound too religious, but I have to be honest. I am truly blessed!

Just sayin’.


  1. Shelley- This is an awesome way to honor both your sister and your Father. I love it! It’s been great reading this, and look forward to more blog posts!-Jen James

  2. You have such a wonderful gift of remembering and writing! Actually, I got a B+ on the cake from my geography teacher…I switched Norway & Denmark! Sigh……

  3. ShelleyJo, you have such a tallent, skill, ability at writing your blog. I am always touched by what you write. Even after being married to your sister for 38 years I am still amazed by what I learn about my wife from your writing. By the way I have seen people bid over $100 for one of Diana’s pies at fund raising auctions. Diana is known for baking the BEST pies!

    • Fred, I am not surprised at the $100 bid on her pie. After she made my favorite banana cream pie from the old original recipe, I am convinced she really is the “pie lady”. I wish I had taken a picture of it!

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