Archive for August, 2011

Wilton Cake Decorating Course 1: Class 4

Last night was our fourth and final cake decorating class.  We learned how to make roses and handwrite on cakes.  We brought to class an iced 8″ cake, and mine got semi-destroyed sitting in my bucket seats on the ride over.  Fortunately, Rhonda, our kind and patient teacher, helped me mend my icing and I had a nice, smooth cake to work with. 

Here are pictures from the class.



Wilton Cake Decorating Course 1: Class 3

In the spirit of learning the skills needed to be a good wife, I signed up for a cake decorating class, and last night was the third of four sessions.  We learned how pipe several different types of flowers: drop flowers, rosettes, pom-pom flowers, and shaggy mums.  We also learned how to ice cupcakes.

Drop Flowers

Drop Flowers Close Up

We prepared all of our decorating bags with icing (made prior to class) and the tips we would need for the remainder of the session.


Rosettes Close Up

Shell Border and Leaves

Pom Pom Flower

Shaggy Mum

Shaggy Mums piped on cupcakes

Pom Pom Flower piped on cupcake

Iced Cupcake

Next week we will learn to make the Wilton Ribbon Rose and we will decorate a Happy Birthday cake with flowers, a border, and writing.

Today I feel heartbroken because my brother was in an accident and his knee was badly broken.  He will have surgery tomorrow.  I have not been in contact with him yet and have only gotten brief updates through his emails to my dad, but I long to be there for him.   I am thankful for my husband Smith who prayed for my family with me last night; it was a great comfort to me.  I am thankful for my church family who is covering my brother in prayer.   

There was a long period of time in my life when I prided myself on being independent, and I did not think I needed anyone.  I saw relying on others as a weakness.  However, since I became a Christian about six years ago, God has shown me the blessings and love of others, and I am so thankful to have the support of my brothers and sisters in Christ.

What the Heck is an INTJ?

I get a lot of traffic on my past posts about being an INTJ, particularly INTJs in relationships.  Being an INTJ myself, I am fascinated by personality theory and throw around perplexing jargon as if everyone naturally knows what an INTJ is.  However, it has come to my attention that this information is not common knowledge (read with irony, a common INTJ trait).  So, I would like to elaborate.

Learning about my personality type

INTJ is one of sixteen personality types as defined by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a personality test.  This personality test is in widespread use by both therapists and businesses.  I studied counseling in grad school, so I am very familiar with this assessment tool, and I have done a great deal of reading and research on Myers-Briggs Personality Theory over the years.  For 95% of my life, I felt like something was drastically wrong with me.  When I began to truly understand my personality type, I realized that while my personality was rare (about 2% of the total population), there exists an entire group of people with the same quirks that I have.  Sadly, we are all so introverted that we do not know each other.

I must also add that as I grew in my Christian walk with God, I also became more comfortable in understanding and accepting myself.  I believe that God opened my eyes to learn more about personality theory in order that He could help me to accept myself, to know that He created me just as I am, and that no one can be a better me than me.  Interestingly, I began working at a large church shortly after I became a Christian, and the lead pastor is also an INTJ.  As a result, there is an abnormally large percentage of staff members who are INTJs.  Additionally, last year, God brought my husband into my life, and he is an INTJ, as well.  My husband Smith has been hugely instrumental in helping me to accept and love myself because he is so similar to me; we share many of the same quirks.  There has been enormous freedom in my relationship with him, and after all, marriage is the closest earthly representation of God’s relationship to us, so you can see the parallel.

The Four Dimensions of Myers-Briggs Personality

So, back to personality types.  There are four “dimensions” which make up the four letters:

Extraverted or Introverted (E or I): Extraverts prefer large groups of people, with a wide variety of friends; they act first, and then think; they are distracted easily, without as much concentration on a single task; they are very talkative and outgoing.  Introverts prefer small intimate gatherings of close friends; they think first, then act; they focus well, but not as much concentration on the big picture; they are good listeners and more private.

Sensing or Intuitive (S or N): Sensors focus attention on observation and have facts-oriented learning; they are practical, focusing on individual steps; their eyes are on the present; and they like predictable relationships and tasks.  Intuitives are conceptual and have association-based learning; they are imaginative, with broad ideas of a project; they tend to look towards the future; and they enjoy the changes in relationships and tasks.

Thinking or Feeling (T or F): Thinkers think through decisions; they work better with a list of pros and cons; they are critical by nature and are more truthful than tactful; they are more motivated to be right.  Feelers make decisions based on feelings; they think through a decision based on how it effects people; they are people pleasers and are more tactful than truthful; they are more motivated for harmony in relationships.

Judging or Perceiving (J or P): Judgers are not judgmental, the name is a misnomer.  They like dependable situations; they plan everything, with a to do list in hand; they enjoy completing projects; they feel stressed by lack of planning and abrupt changes; they are more likely to complete a goal.  Perceivers are not more perceptive, the name is also a misnomer.  Perceivers like flexible situations; they wait until multiple ideas come up, and pick what to do on the fly; they enjoy starting projects; they feel closed in by specific plans, and looks forward to changes; they are more likely to see an opportunity.

What is your personality type?

When you know which side you fall on for each of the four dimensions described above, you have your complete personality type.  Click here to take a 15-minute questionnaire that will give you your personality type.  It is important to note that your personality is more than the sum of its parts.  I am more than Introverted-Intuitive-Thinking-Judging. 

What is an INTJ?

INTJs like systems, particularly analyzing systems to see if there is a better way to make the system work.  INTJs are aloof and socially awkward.  They tend to be highly intelligent and know what they know, while they are willing to admit what they don’t know.  INTJs are perfectionists and are highly efficient.  INTJs are independent and are not necessarily rule-followers, unless the rule really makes sense.  Authority, celebrity, and marketing ploys have little sway with an INTJ.  INTJs analyze everything and are most comfortable with things that are logical.

INTJs are highly imaginative and reliable.  INTJs place a lot of value on respect, and they quickly lose respect for people who are perceived to be incompetent, lazy, or illogical, and that respect is difficult to gain back.  INTJs tend to think they are always right, and they are good decision-makers because they are not impulsive and tend to weigh the pros and cons of an issue.  They are highly insightful and motivated to closure and organization.

INTJs are natural leaders and are generally respected by others, yet they often prefer to remain in the background.  INTJs spend a lot of time inside their own minds and have a vast internal, and often subconscious, rule system.  INTJs are often told they are “too serious” or “analyze things too much.”  INTJs, like other introverts, do not tend to smile a lot.

Others may falsely perceive the INTJ as being rigid and set in their ways.  In fact, the INTJ is committed to always finding the objective best strategy to implement their ideas. The INTJ is usually quite open to hearing an alternative way of doing something.

INTJs have particular difficulty with close interpersonal relationships, particularly romantic relationships, in part because INTJs have a difficult time grasping social rituals like flirting or small talk.  A lot of people do not make sense to an INTJ, which is frustrating at times.  Others may perceive INTJs as being intimidating because many INTJs have high expectations of themselves and are often driven to be the best person they can be and love personal growth.  INTJs, however, have the valuable asset of being very motivated to work at relationships and are very loyal.

Previous INTJ posts

You can read my previous posts on INTJ personalities here:

INTJs in Relationships – what INTJs are like in relationships

More INTJs in Relationships – how to understand the INTJ you are crushing on

Things Every INTJ Should Know – more on the personality of an INTJ

Uniqueness, Part I and Part II – why being a single INTJ woman is frustrating (ironically, I wrote these the week before I met my husband)

My Pet INTJ – what you should know about the INTJ in your life

Pop! Quiz – a fun quiz where one of the right answers is “a. INTJ”

Favorite INTJ: Stewie Griffin.  It is totally normal for Smith and I to spend Sunday nights watching “Family Guy” while analyzing and “personality typing” all the characters.

Why I Agreed to Honor and Obey My Husband

A relative of mine recently expressed concern over my wedding vows because I said in them that I vowed to honor and obey Smith in our marriage.  I can understand the concern because everything in our society affirms that men and women are equal and should be treated as such.  Additionally, we see extreme examples of men who abuse the authority that God has given them by controlling and manipulating their wives.

I believe that the Bible is the Word of God.  Proving that to my readers is beyond the scope of this essay, but there are plenty of resources available.  (Click on this link and open the document entitled “Life Issues Book PDF” about half way down the page for a brief examination about why people consider the Bible to be God’s Word.) 

A lot of times, what God says in the Bible is counter-intuitive to what we would think on our own.  Many times, the Bible goes against what is commonly thought in society.  Our sin often clouds our minds as to what is “right.”  Doing what God asks is not always easy, but it is always right, and I have found that obedience to God’s will brings far more peace and joy than disobedience does.   Jesus lived a vastly different life than we live, and yet he is seated at the place of highest honor before God.  His life was not without struggle, but the eternal outcome is a place of honor and glory.

I sometimes ask people who want to defend disobedient behavior or behavior that goes against God’s instruction to us, “How is that working for you?”  No one ever responds that their way is working out great.

So, back to the “honor and obey” clause.  God says in Ephesians 5:21-33

And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.

For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church.  And we are members of his body.

As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

God has given Smith (and all husbands) the final authority in their marriages.  This is what God says to me and to all wives, and I aim to live authentically by Scripture, and thus I did willingly vow to obey Smith.

As can be seen in the Ephesians passage, the husband is charged with loving his wife as Christ loved the church, with an unselfish love that honors her and cares for her.  Both the husband’s and wife’s roles are to be rooted in love and submission to each other.  Yet God gives someone the final “say,” and He gives it to the husband.

A wise woman once told me that when people tell her that it doesn’t seem fair to women, she replies that it is fair, because women do have a choice.  Women choose who they marry.  I am convinced that a Christian woman ought to only agree to marry a man that she is able to respect and obey before she makes those vows in front of God and her new husband.  Smith values my input and opinion, he solicits suggestions from me, he has a strong and admirable character in tough situations, and I respect the way he thinks through decisions and weighs consequences.  Smith is a man I knew I could trust as the head of our family.

I have heard the pastor at my church say that when a husband and wife have a difference of opinion, the man’s final decision takes responsibility and protects the wife.  If he chooses “his way,” and it fails, he takes responsibility.  If he chooses “her way” and it fails, he also takes responsibility.  If the outcome is successful, they can share in their thankfulness because they made the decision as a team, since the husband made the decision and the wife ultimately supported it (even if it wasn’t “her way”) because she respects her husband.

I am deeply convinced that by honoring Smith and submitting to his final authority, I am serving God.  I am not serving Smith as the king of a kingdom; I am honoring God by adhering to His word.  I am showing respect for my husband, which God has called me to do in several places in His word (Ephesians 5:33, 1 Peter 3:1). 

There will likely be times when Smith is wrong; that is normal because we are all sinful and imperfect.  I can voice my opinion and then I can still do right by honoring his final decision.  In this, I am honoring God, and God will not disappoint me (Romans 5:5).  There are many times when I will be wrong, too.  There are many times when I will disappoint or frustrate Smith.  Yet these times are no surprise to God, and in His economy, it will all be used for my sanctification and His glory.

Unfortunately, some women end up in abusive marriages, despite their attempts to honor God in choosing a husband.  God does not promise us an easy life.  We all have trials, and this is the burden that many women carry.  I have been in several abusive relationships, and I know the pain and the erosion that results.  I thank God that I did not end up marrying these men.  Even when our husbands disappoint and wound us, God is faithful to love and heal us.  I am responsible only for myself, and I am responsible for my obedience.

Today I am thankful for God’s Word.  I am thankful that I live in a time when it is readily available to me and that it contains all the answers to life.  I am thankful that God honors my obedience even when it doesn’t makes sense to me, even that He enables me to be obedient in the first place, for it is only by His grace (and not my own strength) that I am able to do anything good or worthy.


Feeling Discouraged

I have been feeling very discouraged over the past few days. reads:

dis·cour·age [dih-skur-ij, -skuhr-] 

verb (used with object)

  1. to deprive of courage, hope, or confidence; dishearten; dispirit.

 God wants us to come to the end of ourselves, to use up all our own strength and effort, because only then do we turn to Him and rely on Him.  What a challenge it is to trust in Him when our own resources (emotional energy, finances, strength, etc.) are depleted!

The evil one would love to see us lose courage and hope.  He would love to get in the way of our relationship with God.

I read one of my favorite Bible passages last night: Philippians 4.  Paul, who suffered far more in his life than I ever have (and how much more than that did Jesus suffer!), yet he writes, “I have learned how to be content with whatever I have.  I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything.  I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”  I am so far from what God calls me to in this passage.   How discontented I can feel, telling God that I will be happier “if only. . .”

Paul also writes in Philippians 4 “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.”  Yet how I worry!  I do trust God more now than I did earlier in my spiritual walk, I have learned more of an attitude of thankfulness over the years, and I have more peace.  Yet I am so far from fully trusting Him.  It is as if I am trying to jump over the Grand Canyon, and I used to be able to jump 2 feet, and now I can leap a full 4.5 feet. . . yet the Grand Canyon ranges in width from 4 to 18 miles.

Over the past few months, I have been feeling particularly strong in my relationship with God, and perhaps it should come as no surprise that the evil one wishes to chip away at my strength and peace.  I feel physically run down and overwhelmed by my workload.  I feel distant from my friendships.  I feel worried about making ends meet financially.

Daily, even hourly at times, I cry out to God, telling Him I simply cannot do it.  I cannot complete my daily work without His help.  I cannot cover all my expenses without His help.  My physical strength and energy comes only from Him.  I know He will provide for me, yet not knowing how or when is so challenging.

I believe unquestioningly that the Bible is the Word of God, that all of it is true.  I remind myself of God’s promises to me.

Psalm 86:7 – I will call to you whenever I’m in trouble, and you will answer me.

God always answers my prayers.  Not always in the way I demand of Him, yet He is so faithful.  I have never gone hungry.  I have never passed out from exhaustion.  My work always gets done.  I have all I need and more.  He has blessed me beyond measure.  I spent my lunch break yesterday in my car, sobbing from discouragement, and God sent three people (one by email, two in person) during the afternoon to speak encouraging words to me.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I don’t know that I could be as bold as Paul, yet I know that he suffered far more than I ever have, and still he felt Christ’s strength.  My areas of weakness are my delight, because that is when I most allow God to take over and shine through.

Romans 8:18 – For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

An eternal perspective helps.  A few days or weeks or months of struggle here on Earth are nothing compared to an eternity with my heavenly father.  And further, I know that He is working all things for good (Romans 8:28), even the struggle.

One of my favorite Tim Keller quotes is this, from “The Reason for God”: The Biblical view of things is resurrection—not a future that is just a consolation for the life we never had but a restoration of the life you always wanted. This means that every horrible thing that ever happened will not only be undone and repaired but will in some way make the eventual glory and joy even greater.

Today I am thankful for my home, my vehicle that reliably transports me where I need to go, my job especially in a time when so many are unemployed, and for my faith in God.  It is by his grace I am saved, and no matter what earthly difficulties I endure, nothing can take away His love for me.

Wilton Cake Decorating Course 1: Class 2


I completed my second of four cake decorating classes at my local Michael’s craft store last night.  Our instructor Rhonda is very patient with us; she is the ideal cake decorating instructor.  I am one of the overachievers in the class, but I think most of the ladies are to some extent, which is why they signed up for a cake decorating course in the first place.  I know virtually nothing about cake decorating, but I am thankful that my mom baked with me as a child, so I understand the basic principles of baking a cake, consistency of the frosting, and how a decorating bag works.

Last night, we learned how to make a zigzag pattern and a dot using tips 18 and 12, respectively, and I found out that I am terrible at understanding the correct angle of the bag, the amount of pressure to use, and how far away from the surface my tip needs to be.  Much of these issues have to do with my lack of patience, particularly when the instructor zips through the patterns with ease.  I want to zip through them with ease, as well, but it requires experience and practice.

Rhonda suggested that to gain more experience, we could make cakes for our friends’ birthdays, which seems like a great idea to me.

The fun part of the class, and what took up most of our time, was decorating a one-layer 8” round cake that we brought to class.  I had leveled my cake and glued it on a 10” cake board prior to class.  I put my cake on the turntable and iced it with the cake decorating tip (tip 789), which makes icing a cake a hundred times easier than using a spatula alone.  I then used the angled spatula to spread the icing out from the center of the cake.  We let our cakes sit for 20 minutes to “crust,” and then smoothed the icing by placing parchment paper over the cake and smoothing it with the angled spatula.

I was extremely thankful that I had made the extra investment in having good quality, Wilton brand supplies.  There were a few items that I questioned purchasing, but most of the individual items I bought were $3-10 each, so I went ahead and got everything on the list in our Lesson Plan.  There was a real difference in quality and ease between the students who had the proper supplies and those who did not.  You can read my previous post to see the items required for the course.

After smoothing the main icing layer, we traced a pattern onto parchment paper with piping gel.  We flipped the parchment over onto the cake and used our fingers to press the gel onto the cake.  We then filled it in with icing to match the picture in the Wilton Course 1 Lesson Plan.

Things I learned:

  • How to make “cake balls”: when a cake is broken or unusable, you can crumble it up and mix in cream cheese  or frosting (enough to make the cake hold together), roll it into balls, dip the balls in chocolate and freeze them.  You can use lollipop sticks to make them into “cake pops”
  • Stir the piping gel before using it so it is smooth, use tip 1 for the piping gel
  • Squeeze a thick line of piping gel onto the parchment, since only about half of it transfers
  • The consistency of the icing makes all the difference in decorating
  • Having the proper equipment really makes a difference
  • If you use store brand shortening (versus Crisco brand) for the icing, add a bit less water to the recipe
  • A Kitchen Aid can make either 3 or 4 recipes of icing at a time, depending on whether it is a 4.5 or 5 quart bowl (I need to check what size mine is, but I think it is probably 4.5 quart)
  • Do not put the icing down the drain; try to put most of it in the garbage
  • The best way to clean tips is to clear out the hole with a toothpick and then put them in the dishwasher (either in a closed compartment of the silverware basket or in a Wilton mesh bag that is tied to the basket)

 I highly enjoyed this particular class.  It was fun to learn new techniques and to actually apply them to a real cake.  You can see my review of Class 1 here.

Tuesday Poll August 16 2011


Among other genres, I enjoy several specific makeup and beauty blogs.  One such blogger puts out a Monday Poll, which I decided to fill out for today’s entry.  Feel free to copy the questions and paste your answers in the comments.  I love reader feedback.

1. Mood:

Joyful in all circumstances.

2. What’s your least favorite vegetable?

I’m not a big fan of vegetables.  Rarely eat them.  Yes, I am a vegetarian.  I don’t care much for asparagus.

3. When was the last time you took a midday nap?

Smith jokes with me because when I want to take a nap, I close my eyes for ten minutes and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to go.  That is his idea of just blinking his eyes to get out a piece of dust.  His idea of a nap is like an hour or two of deep and dreamless sleep.  To me, that is a good night’s sleep!

4. Do you ever/still rock scrunchies?

Hell to the no.  Plain black no-damage hair elastics all the way.

5. What’s the best piece of relationship advice you ever received?

Don’t date guys you meet at the gym.

6. I love it when…

I’m learning!  Also when I’m spending quality time with Smith.

7. Sleeveless denim vests: yea or nay?

See #4.

8. Have you ever given yourself highlights at home?

I have given myself hot pink highlights.   I have naturally blonde hair and many people think I color it, but I don’t.

9. What would you do if a first date asked you to split the check?

I would have graciously paid my half and then just as graciously never talked to the guy again.

10. Weekly goals:

To write a blog post about my second week in my cake decorating class and to write a post about why I said in my wedding vows that I will obey Smith.

Today I am thankful that it is no longer Monday.  I am thankful for lower humidity and beautiful sunshine.  I am thankful that I am feeling better this week, as I was under the weather last week.