We can Celebrate!

When my husband was little, his mom looked at her boys (four at the time) and said: “Pick your cake and stick with it!” So each of them picked a favorite cake and every year, that was the cake they had on their birthdays. It was a wise move for a woman who had four boys by the time she turned 21.

My husband picked carrot cake.

When we first got married, I don’t think I had ever made a carrot cake. But I began that year and have made one every year since. It is a production of sugar and oil; of carrots and coconut; of pineapple and nuts. It is delicious. Truly delicious.

Yesterday evening I went out to buy all the ingredients. As I was paying for them, I looked at the woman at the checkout counter and said “I think I might make the best carrot cake in the world!” She burtst out laughing and relayed her story of trying to make a carrot cake, wondering why it didn’t turn out right only to realize she had forgotten the carrots. At home I began the process — first whipping up eggs to a light yellow, then adding the other ingredients until it was ready to bake. It now sits on our kitchen counter, a splendid golden brown, ready to be iced with homemade cream cheese icing.

I have noticed that the older my husband and I get, the less interested we are in celebrating birthdays. Yet, in so many ways, we have so much more to celebrate now than when we were younger.

We can celebrate the confidence that comes when you realize your security cannot be in your looks or your physical strength; when you ruefully laugh at another grey hair and an extra chin. We know when we look in the mirror that we don’t have to believe everything that we see.

We can celebrate a growing family, a grandchild who even at two months old lights up our life, bringing giggles and so much joy.

We can celebrate our children – amazing human beings in their own right. Each uniquely gifted, each walking a journey that includes both joy and pain.

We can celebrate the extraordinary friendships we have with both family and friends — some who have walked by our side for years and others who have more recently come into our lives.

We can celebrate the miles and kilometers that we have traveled; the countries we have traversed; the people we have met along the way. We can celebrate the journeys that are still to come, the adventures that are awaiting us.

We can celebrate that we don’t give up. Ever. We are doggedly determined to continue living through the hard; determined to love better and learn more.

We can celebrate that we know how important it is to express love, to walk through the hard stuff, to support each other when life gets stormy and forgive each other when the inevitable conflicts and opinions start to choke out compassion and love.

Most of all, we can celebrate God’s great kindness to us; celebrate a God that has promised to sustain us through old age and beyond.

So Happy Birthday Cliff!

Thank you for bringing the world so much laughter and joy. May we celebrate well today! 

Note: We can also celebrate Carrot Cake!

  • 2 cups grated carrots (I put them in food processor with pineapple juice)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup light brown sugar (packed)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple
  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Put carrots in food processor or equivalent and add some of the pineapple juice. Blend and set aside. Beat up those eggs! When they are whipped to a frenzy add in the light brown sugar. Beat that up until it is smooth and perfect looking. Then add white sugar and do the same thing. Add the oil and beat until blended. Add in cinnamon, vanilla, baking powder and soda. Add 2 cups of flour and blend till smooth. Then add mashed carrots, coconut, pineapple and walnuts. Mixture will be dense. Put into greased 9″ by 11″ pan and bake for about 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool and then frost with your favorite cream cheese icing.


10 thoughts on “We can Celebrate!

  1. Belated Happy Birthday,Cliff! We bought the card a couple of weeks ago, but alas, due to our advanced age, we forgot to mail it until this reminder – so sorry! Marilyn, have we never been with you to celebrate Cliff’s birthday? I don’t think I have ever tasted your fabulous carrot cake. I feel as I’ve really missed something. This is a lovely post, a special tribute to Cliff, a man worth celebrating. Love to you both.


  2. Marilyn,
    Love this post and I loved your book. I shared the book with my daughter who is a third-culture kid and grew up in Thailand (we served there for 9 years). Haven’t seen you in years, but when I read your writings, I feel as though you are sitting across the table speaking to me. Grace to you!
    Kathi DeCanio


    1. How fun to hear from you Kathi! It sounds like you know well the joys and challenges of a life of movement. I love that you feel like we are talking together – that is grace! Maybe it will happen but until then I’m so grateful that you commented!


  3. Yes indeed, HAPPY BIRTHDAY CLIFF! You all are winners when it comes to celebrating because you do not take your life and your loved ones for granted. You know from where you come and you know to whom the praise belongs. This makes your celebrations all the more genuine! Thanks for the beautiful collage of pictures that so illustrate this image of celebration! We LOVE you all! The Costers


  4. Happy Birthday, Cliff!! Happy Celebration of you two, your family, your life together . . . and your famous carrot cake!



  5. One of our kids loves carrot cake (minus the coconut and pineapple), so that’s an every year thing, at least when we’re here. Another wants lemon pie, no cake. Imagine that! It IS wonderful to celebrate every year. I’m always a bit saddened when I meet people (some from other cultures) who don’t celebrate birthdays. What a wonderful chance they are (the birthdays) to heap extra love on those who mean so much to us.


  6. All my children (and their parents) over here in Cambodia love carrot cake too! Hope you have fun celebrating your husband and your life together and, of course, the fact that God made carrot cake :)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Our husbands really must meet! It seems that we are you two all over again. Yes, his favorite cake, which I faithfully make once a year, is carrot cake and the recipes are almost identical, except that I put raisins in mine. When are you coming to the midwest?? Our door is always open …

    Liked by 1 person

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