On Chocolate Cake and Asking for the Dream

by | Feb 28, 2013 | Uncategorized


“What about a cake,” I ask Murielle as we push the grocery cart down the baking aisle. “Do you want me to make that chocolate cake for your birthday?”

She smiles the way I remember her with wispy locks and a pacifier plugged in her mouth;  a father of the bride moment for me standing in front of the pudding in Wal-Mart. Except now she’s days away from seventeen. How did I get here, the mother of a teenager?

“Oh, I love that cake,” she admits. “Yes, I want you to make that cake.”

And maybe for some, this is just an ordinary answer by your child to a simple question. But for this mother, it’s a gift. She rarely expresses what she wants because she considers others more important than herself.

The next question from her mouth? “But you won’t have to make the cake until later in the week, right? Will you have time to make it?” It’s typical from her. Thoughtfulness from a teenager that makes my heart swoon and sometimes stomp my feet. It humbles me on most days.

But standing in the aisle discussing party food with my daughter, I see my young self in her countenance. I rarely asked for what I wanted for fear of imposing on others too.

I place a box of chocolate fudge pudding for the cake on top of the snacks we’ve picked out for the party. The bags of favorite candy she thinks her friends will enjoy; carefully calculating the cost with each one as she places them in the cart.

I didn’t give her a budget. Doing this for her is a joy.


And I wonder how often I do this with my prayers.  Think I’m imposing with my requests, being presumptuous with the ask. When I have a Father who wants me to be specific and tell him what I want. What I need. What I long for in the secret places of the soul. What I’m dreaming of.

This is the Father heart of God. What makes His heart smile; the same way my daughter telling me what she wants brings me delight.

Last summer, after reading the Circle Maker, I began to change the way I pray. Just like Jesus asking the blind men at the gate, “What can I do for you,” I’m imagining my Heavenly Father taking that posture with me.

In August last year, I asked Jesus for a regular place to write in community for my birthday gift. On my birthday, He answered that prayer in a text; a message from an editor asking me about writing regularly for his column. Of course I said yes.  A few months later, when he stepped down to focus his attention elsewhere, I was asked to take his place.

Today, I’m dreaming God-sized, asking Him for things outside my grasp and abilities.  The answer may come over a bite of chocolate cake. If it does, I’ll let you know about it.

What about you, do you have a hard time being specific in prayer? What are you doing that you can’t do without an intervention from God?


Linking with Emily at Imperfect Prose from the prompt: Food.

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  1. Kris Camealy

    Oh Shelly. This is so rich. I love seeing the heart of your sweet girl through your eyes. And thank you for challenging me to pray for what I want. I too struggle to ask because of fear and worry about how it might seem–but what does He say? You do not have because you do not ask? Even now, this convicts me to go to Him and really ask! I can’t wait to see how He answers your prayer and tonight, I’m taking my big trembling prayers straight to Him. I’m asking, and trusting He will bless. By the way–when a certain editor invited me to write for a certain column, that was an answered prayer for me.

    • Shelly Miller

      So happy to know that Kris. Love our writing team and so grateful to be walking out our dreams together.

  2. Amber Cadenas

    This is such a lovely realization, Shelly… Jesus and chocolate cake and dreams and your thoughtful girl and prayer. I’m so happy that you received the birthday gift you asked for 🙂 Blessings to you this year, as you anticipate God-sized dreams!

  3. arcelia

    Shelly, I love reading your heart and had to comment on this one because I felt i was walking with you and Murielle down the aisle and I thought, “I’m like that…with God too” then to finish reading the post unexpected tears are flowing now with a knot in my throat. I’m still there…afraid to ask. Pray for me about that please. Right now, the big thing I am doing that I need intervention from God is homeschooling…that is different because He asked me. I love you Shelly!

    • Shelly Miller

      It doesn’t matter how it comes, whether we ask or He does, we still need Him to intervene in the places that feel beyond us. And really, I want to have those places in my life where I’m believing for things outside my abilities. If I don’t then I’m limiting my faith, only trusting to the degree of my capabilities. Which is small faith. I am praying for you Arcelia, it’s a privilege to pray for you.

  4. Lisa Luke Easterling

    This is SO me and my daughter (who is weeks away from 18). Our daughters seem like they were cut from the same cloth. I consider this a gift.

    • Shelly Miller

      It is a gift. So glad to know you have one like this too. I realize how much I take it for granted when I hear stories about other teen girls. So grateful.

  5. HisFireFly

    ask BIG – more than man can do so that He gets all the glory when its done!

  6. rachel

    “doing this for her is joy.” i cannot WAIT to do this with my Marian…though i can wait for birthdays, too, because it will mean she is growing up too fast for me to handle.


    • Shelly Miller

      I really resented it when people repeatedly said to me, “cherish the time, it goes so fast” during those young, exhausting years of their childhood. But now, I know what they said is true. I feel like I’ve blinked and they’ve transformed into adults. Well, almost adults. Enjoy your little one Rachel.

  7. Janet Roth

    A thoughtful heart is a rare find in teenagers…your daughter is a gem among rocks! God bless you both!

    • Shelly Miller

      I know what you say to be true Janet. And I’m thankful for her.

  8. Jillie

    Hi Shelly…Truly lovely post. Your Murielle…what a girl! My daughter had no trouble asking for what she wanted, on a consistent basis. 😀
    I too, am one who is often afraid to dream big and pray big. As a girl, I often had to ‘win’ my Dad’s approval, and when I messed-up, I had to wait a long time to re-enter his good graces. And even though I know in my head that God is not like that, I still often approach Him in the same way. Lately, I’ve been quoting His own words back to Him at the beginning of prayer—that “I come boldly before His throne of grace…”
    Right now, I am praying boldly, yet, at the same time humbly, that “He would please let our new granbaby stay with us forever!”, as the adoption process could take 2-3 years here, a time in which the birth mother could change her mind. This qualifies as something in which we truly need the intervention of our Mighty God!

    • Shelly Miller

      It is interesting and something to note, the way we perceive our relationship with our Heavenly Father in comparison to the father who gave us life. And I like what you are saying Jillie, to come boldly because he wants you to. I’ll pray with you too, for God to have his way in the adoption of this little one by your children. I was thinking about you yesterday, so glad to see you here today.

  9. DeanneMoore

    Okay, you want to hear a big confession right out here in front of everybody? I pray and I pray specific and have received quite amazing answers. I pray for others and with others, but I really, really struggle with praying for myself. When I am alone and need to pray about things God is showing me, laying on my heart, prompting me to do—when I need courage or faith, I become distracted and feel disconnected. It’s like picking up a land line and hearing no dial tone. I think I will go refocus in a bit, go unload the dishwasher. My mind chases other things. Put me in a room of people, particularly women with great needs, and I can pray in my spirit or speak openly the prayer of my heart. I know that the Spirit of God is guiding my prayer and he is worshipped and I am humbled. I can pray written prayers but asking God for something that concerns me, I get all tripped up, stumbling over words and end up often just saying, “Lord, you know.” I need a prayer intervention. Shelly, would you pray for me today? Pray a circle around my life that I will step into the little or the big and not miss a moment of this glorious opportunity to live for Christ in my time and place. I never ask anyone to pray for me. Today I really need to be in the middle of the circle. Happy Birthday, to Murielle! How blessed she is, and you are, to have each other. I know I have my Annie, my first born, my joy.

    • Shelly Miller

      You are worth it you know Dea? Worth whatever it is you want to ask Him. Honored you asked me to pray for you because I love you so much. Holding you up today before our generous Father.

    • Pam

      Dea, as a strong intercessor, I too have always been able to pray for others, and understand what you are saying about praying for yourself… i have a thought right now about something I’ve been praying for others and just started praying regularly for myself… and I want to encourage you to do the same: start praying Ephesians 1:17, 18 and Ephesians 3:14 -20 and inserting your name into the prayer (you can name others too if you want) each day. I think we all need to truly have revelation of more and more of Him, more and more of His love for us, and that makes the difference in opening up prayers for ourselves… Blessings to you in all of this! – Pam, http://wordglow.wordpress.com

      • DeanneMoore

        Thank you, Pam. i love Ephesians and it wasn’t too long ago when I was meditating on those particular passages. God is answering and yesterday after I posted this comment, God answered a specific intercession that I had prayed for someone else, but then all morning he brought together some things he had been revealing to me that I couldn’t fit together— the only way I could have understood was through a revelation from him. Thank you for sharing and your encouragement. And thanks, Shelly…God answered your prayer. He moved in amazing ways to show his love and grace toward me! it was so beautiful, such a precious gift from our generous Father. I am humbled. Thank you so much dear friend.

  10. Jody Collins

    Shelly, what resonated here with me is realizing that my entire life until just a few years ago it never occurred to me to ever expressed what I liked. I didn’t feel I was worthy and no one ever asked me. We were poor and I wore home made and hand me down clothes, my parents both drank which ate up the money even more so asking for anything special was out of the question. It has taken me a very long time as a believer to believe that 1) My Father in Heaven made me who I am and He thinks it’s great if I want sponge cake instead of carrot cake (thank you) and 2) He longs to give me my heart’s desire as I delight in Him.
    What a loving God He is–your testimonies here are an encouragement (and that’s an interesting looking cake!)

    • Shelly Miller

      Me too, I’ve always had a hard time asking for what I want Jody. And that cake is actually not the chocolate cake I make for my kids. It’s a red velvet cake my aunt makes. We have it for my uncles birthday when we are in Canada. Love it.

  11. kelli woodford

    i have one like that, too, Shelly. she’s a giver. thoughtful, sacrificial, yes. there’s something beautiful in it, but there’s also a way that it can be dishonest, isn’t there? like forgetting the importance of self-care in the quest to never be an inconvenience. i get that.
    and i love your encouragement to be real with God. He can handle it, and is, in fact, the right place for all our dependency.

    • Shelly Miller

      You know, I never thought about my daughter that way and it actually gives me some much needed insight. Thanks Kelli.

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