I had a friend once who referred to herself as “thirty plus” among the mostly twenty-somethings that we worked with at the time. With my birthday approaching in November, I have spent the past few weeks feeling particularly ‘thirty plus’ as I have danced to Rachael Yamagata’s 1963 in my kitchen while cooking entire meals for myself, intentionally baked goods that have no trace of chocolate nor cheese, and nested a few upgrades to the turf shack.

The first seven days of October were marked by a smooth staycation from work featuring mini day-trip adventures and somewhat of an early birthday celebration. I had planned to re-create the cake that my good friend Hilary and I enjoyed on my twenty second birthday. We were meant to have a bake-date in her gloriously cozy and impressively remodeled kitchen and bake a sophisticated, thirty-plus rendition of a chocolate brownie cake with nutella frosting. Hil’s birthday is towards the end of October and I thought it would be fun to have the cake to celebrate both of our birthdays {and not eat an entire chocolate cake by myself, ha}.

From about age eight, my annual birthday cake was a chocolate cake with chocolate chips, chocolate frosting, and M&Ms – made from scratch by my momma {and served with vanilla ice cream, of course. ha}. My mom died the September of my senior year in college; and in her absence, I baked what I dubbed a “lazy chocolate cake” – a box of milk chocolate brownie mix {it was either Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker}, prepped with an extra egg and slathered with Nutella.

The grand plan for The Redux was to: a) make 2-3 spherical layers as opposed to a 9×13 sheet cake; b) infuse the cake with espresso powder; c) use melted butter in place of the oil mixes typically call for; and d) adorn the tiered dark chocolate brownie cake with hazelnuts and Ferrero Rocher.

Unfortunately, something came up for Hilary and we weren’t able to follow through with the bake-date. Since my palate was already primed for rich chocolate brownie cake, and because I had been low-key interested in a test-run of the Ghirardelli chocolate chip brownie mix upgrade, I ended up with essentially another lazy chocolate cake – frosted with melted hazelnut chocolate bar, and imperfectly transferred from pan to plate.

Hardly the beauty I had in mind, but still worth a VSCO photoshoot . . .

happy early birthday to me.


I think one of the deepest transformations that has taken place in me since I’ve crossed the threshold of my thirties is my relationship towards perfectionism. With increased humility has come increased clarity on who I actually am. Sober assessment, as Romans 12 exhorts us. I am recognizing that being an honest artist is as messy as being an honest human. I am willing to move forward in faith, trusting that God will keep me . . . acknowledging the fact that it’s not my job to sustain myself, and resting in Him who is able to keep me from stumbling and to present me blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy {Jude 24}. Such deep refreshment. Particularly when I consider the difference it makes in relationships . . .

Right now, with siblings and friends and colleagues and strangers and growth groups and bible studies, but also – in marriage and motherhood. I don’t quite remember what inspired it, but a few months ago the thought came to me that I will not be a flawless wife or mother. Where I once would have leaned back and clutched my pearls at such a suggestion, it actually brought a lightness and rest. I won’t be a flawless wife and mother, but I can be good. I can be faithful and gracious and forgiving and humble and teachable and dependent on the grace of Love and the empowerment of His Holy Spirit. The whole ordeal can be the best kind of lovely adventure.

. . . & &

happy happy birthday to all the autumn babies out there. you are greatly loved by Love.

6 responses to “thirty plus”

  1. Happy, happy birthday to you!!! Hope you enjoyed your day and your delicious-looking cake! Brownie Cake? Who would’ve thought? I guess I’m envious I didn’t!!!!

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