Saturday, January 21, 2012

Perfectly Imperfect

I wanted to feature a guest blogger who keeps things forever "real" for me, my mama.  She taught me to be a warrior.  

This is my grandson Jack's 1st birthday cake. His party was yesterday and my niece fondly referred to this as the "murder cake." Red frosting is just bleeding all over the scene of this decorating crime.

Every mother wants everything perfect for her child's first birthday and my daughter is no exception. The red and green icing tubes were left over from Christmas, and just after finishing the "k" on "Jack", things looked pretty good. Within minutes however, the icing began to bleed, and this is what the cake looked like after an hour (that's a pirate ship, with anchor and sails, at the top).The little piece cut out was Jack's first piece of cake and he loved it. It was a Banana Cake with Whipped Cream frosting and it was absolutely delicious.

Never judge a cake by what it looks like on the outside (and that goes for people too). I've been offered plenty pieces of gorgeous and perfectly decorated cakes that were unpalatable. The love behind Jack's Banana Cake was present in every imperfectly decorated bite.

The helium balloon purchased the night before didn't survive its icy cold trip home. In the midst of party preparations, my daughter was determined to head back to the store to get the balloon replaced or to get her money back. A slightly deflated, imperfect "Happy Birthday!" balloon was simply not acceptable for her Little Prince. Jack thought otherwise. It floated, it made crinkly noises, and it was fun. He loved it. The imperfect balloon was perfect fun.

Prior to beginning party preparations in earnest, I went running for the first time in a week. I had been under the weather and tried to talk myself out of going because it was going to be ugly. I wasn't going far and I wasn't going fast - so why go? I went anyway. Yak Trax kept me sturdy on the icy road and the combination of blue sky and sun was a balm for my soul. The run was perfect in its imperfection and offered just what I needed. I have yet to experience a "perfect" run and I'm not sure I ever will. I have, however, experienced the near-perfect joy that comes from stretching myself and rising above physical discomfort and negative head chatter.

The lessons continued on into the afternoon in more subtle ways. Nancy's dad and his wife Joyce came to the party. Joyce and I had an enjoyable chat in the kitchen at the party's end. I boxed up (delicious!) Banana Cake and cupcakes for her and celebrated "Aarrrgyle the Sock Puppet" Jack's gift from his grandpa. After years of struggle with the imperfection of our broken marriage, I saw clearly yesterday, in all the laughter and smiles, how perfectly imperfect all of our lives really are.  

Jack's first birthday party was perfect in all the ways that matter. The guests came to celebrate Jack's life and his mother and father's joy. Love permeated their crowded and noisy home. Nancy's grandmother was a last-minute cancellation (imperfection); her honorary brother Eric, in from Alaska, was an unexpected surprise (perfect!). Everyone that came was fully present. What a gift.

Sometimes people, places and things don't come off as we intend. If we are able to look beyond immediate and surface disappointments, we may see how we are gifted in wonderful, unexpected ways. Each experience of imperfection encourages us to shift away from seeing the flaw - to cherishing the essence.

God can speak to us in life's perfect imperfections, and this past Sunday, at my grandson's perfectly imperfect 1st birthday party, the sweetness of God's loving messages just flowed.

How perfect.

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