Picture Perfect? I Think Not By Sandra Byrd


My good friend was about to start a new job, one that was perfectly suited to her, one which she’d acquired, to my eyes, almost without effort.

We celebrated together, first by text and afterward, in person.

Then I returned home and sat down in the darkened living room.

It’s not that I wasn’t happy for her; I’d told her I was thrilled, and I truly was. I felt a little bad about having mixed feelings, but I needed a job, too.

Why wasn’t anyone opening the doors upon which I kept knocking?

Did God love her and see her needs but not love me nor see mine?

Well, I kept knocking though with perhaps just a little less enthusiasm as the weeks and months added up.

My faithful, employed friend encouraged me day by day, week by week. And in time, I was hired!

We celebrated together, of course. First by text, and afterward, in person.

A few years later, her husband told her he was leaving. He promised to provide for her and their child, but not for her heart’s needs.

She was terribly wounded. My marriage was in a steady place, and one night when my husband and I left her company I saw her looking after us longingly, maybe a little angrily.

I understood that longing and my heart ached as her suffocating foggy weeks and months added up. However I could, whenever I could, I cheered her onward till her clouds cleared.

When we’re in a dark place, it sometimes seems as though we are forgotten, overlooked, unloved.

The lives of everyone around us seem to be bear fruit, and yet we feel like a stripped stalk. It’s easy to feel we stand alone, a rejected Esau in a field of Jacobs, those that God loves.

But that simply isn’t true.

As I mulled on this, I thought about another friend, one who lives in Australia – down under!

We joke online about our upside down seasonal differences: when it’s summer for me, it’s winter for her.

When I am planting, she is reaping.When I am tanning, she is freezing. Rain falls on both of us so that seeds planted may grow.

We each encounter all four seasons, just not at the same time.

And then I understood, and understanding made all the difference. My summer circumstances often coincide with a stark time in a friend’s life.

My task, my pleasure, my privilege, is to share my sun and give her the warmth she needs.

She’ll do it for me, later, when my winter blows in and ices my world—for a season—just before spring arrives again.

This way, we’re always dividing the grief and sharing the joy, together.

What season are you in right now?
Can you offer to share your warmth?
Do you need to reach out for help?

In this way, friends make sure both are always right-side up.

If you carefully obey the commands I am giving you today, and if you love the Lord your God and serve him with all your heart and soul, 14 then he will send the rains in their proper seasons—the early and late rains—so you can bring in your harvests of grain, new wine, and olive oil. 15 He will give you lush pastureland for your livestock, and you yourselves will have all you want to eat. Deuteronomy 11:13-15

Apple Upside Down Cake

Apple Upside-Down Spice Cake (From The One Year Home and Garden Devotions )
Serves 12

One Boxed Spice Cake Mix, prepared {if you have a favorite scratch recipe, use that!}

Two apples
1/4 Cup brown sugar
1/4 Cup butter
1/3 Cup Cinnamon Imperials, better known as Red Hots!™

Peel apples, then thinly slice. Melt butter in a large skillet; add brown sugar and apple slices. Brown till the slices are pliable but not applesauce!

Lightly butter and flour a 9-inch round springform pan, the kind you’d use for cheesecake. Sprinkle the RedHots™ evenly across the bottom of the pan. Layer the apple slices over it in a pretty circular pattern.

Pour prepared spice cake mixture over, and bake according to cake instructions, perhaps 5+ minutes longer than required for a 13 x 9-inch cake. The cake is done when browned, does not jiggle when moved, is beginning to pull back from the edge of the pan just slightly, and a tested comes out clean.

Enjoy… and share with a friend!

Best-selling author S andra Byrd has published nearly three dozen books in the Christian market, including her latest series, French Twist, which includes the Christy finalist Let Them Eat Cake (2007) and its sequel, Bon Appétit (2008). Many of her acclaimed fiction and nonfiction books target the tween and young adult market.Recently, Sandra Byrd and her husband purchased a “fixer upper” house and have worked to restore their new home to its original beauty. She discovered that the lessons she learned through the renovation process had strong impact on her view of herself and the world around her. Grab a cup of coffee and a snack, and join Sandra as she shares those lessons in her One Year Devotions for Home and Garden . You will learn to see the beauty in yourself and the world around you in a new way – through God’s eyes.

This article was originally posted on A Holy Experience by Ann Voskamp.