When the phone rang yesterday morning I never expected to hear those words coming from the quivering voice of my friend on the other end of the line. I am not really sure I heard anything else she said after the word. It’s scary and confusing, overwhelming and sad. The unknowns, that is the scariest part of any diagnosis. Our minds race and think of a million things in 2 seconds, all polar opposites of each other. All the “what ifs” and the plans you can’t even imagine making. Your life just took a whiplash-speed turn and now your course is just questions and fear.
I tried to pay attention and hear what she was saying, but my mind raced. I prayed, I teared up, and I tried to comprehend what those words meant. When we got off the phone I told Superman and cried. He suggested we pop in for a quick visit that night to show our support and maybe shed some tears together. I instantly loved him more for suggesting that. I do love that man’s heart so much. We didn’t end up going over. She was exhausted from crying, and was done talking about it for the day. Completely understandable. I did, however send her husband a message of encouragement and support. Most husbands have a protective, fixing part of them that an illness like this completely upsets. He is supposed to be able to protect her. He is supposed to be able to fix the problem. He is supposed to. But this time he can’t, and that goes against every cell in his body. So he supports and encourages, prays and cries, all the while needing those things himself. So that is where we are right now. Praying, crying, supporting and encouraging. It doesn’t feel like enough.
When it was in the plan to do a pop-in visit, I started making a caramel apple cake to take over. I had made it as an experiment last week, and it needed some adjustments. Superman loved the original and had asked me to make it again, so I though 2 birds… As you know, baking is my go-to for just about everything. It’s a therapy of sorts, and it allows me to share my heart with those I love. I know an apple cake will fix absolutely nothing. I know it won’t calm fears or ease pain, but food is my love language, and it is what I do. I am almost certain my friends will not be able to eat even a morsel right now, but it is what I can bring to let them both know we care and we love them. It’s not about the making or the eating, it’s about love and support, and that is what we need to do.
Making this cake was hard. Each ingredient I added was a reminder of why I was making it. A reminder of fear, of sadness, of the unknowns that lie ahead. No, I am not the one with the diagnosis, but our friends are our family, so it is personal. Each time I make food for someone who is hurting I feel this way. It’s the constant reminder that the dish I am preparing is because of something we wish they weren’t going through. I wish I could take away their pain. The closer I am to the people I cook for, the harder it is, and these two are something special to us. I would love to tell tales of our times together, but now is not the time. When there are positives and celebrations I will tell many tales, and shout gratitude to the Lord for His mercy from the rooftops. But right now we hunker down and try to remember to pray more than worry.
We all know someone who has received a scary diagnosis. Certain words in our language send chills down our spines and cause our stomachs to flip. There is a personal kind of ache when it is someone you love. I hate hearing anyone has a dangerous disease, but when it hits close to home, that is something different altogether. God calls upon us to bear each other’s burdens. (Galatians. 6:2) So this is what we will do. Burdens are not light- they are heavy on the mind and heavy on the body. They are tiring, exhausting, and consume energy. This is why we have each other. This is why we have friends and family. We cannot do it alone, nor should we. As the friend, it is my privilege to help bear my friend’s burdens. It is my honor to sit quietly, to laugh, to provide meals, to comfort and encourage, and to cry. When we share our burdens, they become lighter. Words like tribe, girlfriends, or as we call it, core, describe those girls you want by your side on a weekend away, or in the middle of the storm. They are the ones you laugh with until you pee your pants, and the ones you call when disaster strikes. These people must be what God had in mind when He said to bear each other’s burdens. It’s about being there in the good times and the bad. The middle of the night phone calls, and the doctor visits. The test results and the miracles of favor. This is what friendship is about, and our core will walk with her every step of the way, praying without ceasing for God to heal her body and renew her strength. Isaiah 40:31 says “Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not be weary. They will walk and not be faint.” Ah, the waiting. That will be my most difficult part. In my heart I know that God’s timing is perfect, and that He was not caught off guard by this news, but that doesn’t make my heart desire waiting. I want her healed NOW! These 2 verses are what I have started praying. They encourage me and remind me that God, not Lisa, is in charge. So with this recipe and each ingredient in it, I am both sad and prayerful…
Caramel Apple Cake (adapted from Paula Deen)
- 1 1/2 C Unsweetened Applesauce (can also use unsweetened cinnamon applesauce)
- 3 Large Eggs
- 2 1/2 C Sugar
- 1 T Apple Pie Spice
- 1 T Vanilla
- 3 C Flour
- 2 1/2 C Jonathan or Honeycrisp Apples- peeled, cored, sliced, and cubed
In a large mixer combine applesauce, eggs, and sugar. Beat on medium 2 minutes. Add apple pie spice and vanilla, mix again and scrape down sides of the bowl. Add flour and mix until combined. Add diced apples and mix until just combined. Pour into greased 9×13 pan and bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Remove pan from oven and transfer to cooling rack.
Caramel Topping (adapted from Nourish My Heart’s Crack recipe)
- 1 C Brown Sugar, packed
- 1 Stick Butter, Melted
- 1/4 C Corn Syrup
- pinch salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
Melt butter in medium saucepan. Add brown sugar, salt, and corn syrup, stir well. Bring to low rolling boil. Boil 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add vanilla, stir. Poke holes all over cake with knife or thin round wooden utensil handle. Pour hot caramel syrup over cake, spread evenly. Can be eaten while warm. I actually like it better the day after it’s made.
Just a minute after I left the cake on the front steps and rang the doorbell, I got a message. Turns out a piece of caramel apple cake was just what the doctor ordered on a cold, rainy morning. It is so much more than food, and today it was love.