Every year, my mother made a Mississippi mud cake for my birthday. The recipe was her mother’s and it was unique to our family because she didn’t add marshmallows like most Mississippi mud recipes call for. This was because neither my grandmother Lucy nor my mother were fans of the marshmallow. However, they were fans of pecans, so that’s what they substituted for cylindrical pieces of sugar, water, and gelatin. I once ordered a slice of Mississippi Mud at a restaurant and they brought out this gooey, white, nut-free mess and I was so offended that I almost asked for the manager.
At every family cookout, Mama made a Mississippi mud cake (sans marshmallows). Oh mercy. Heaven on earth is a slice of warm Mississippi mud cake (sans marshmallows) with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. When Mama died, I framed her handwritten recipe for MMC (sans marshmallows) and set it on my kitchen counter.
What I’m saying is, Mississippi mud cake (sans marshmallows) is life.
It never failed: the day or two after my birthday, I would sit on the couch with the pan in my lap and finish off that delicacy. I didn’t care about the calories. Or the carbs. Or the points. Or the bathing suit in the drawer. That cake was joy. Bliss. A 13×9 pan of life’s simplest pleasure.
Another simple pleasure in my life is finding a pair of shoes that fit. Bonus points if they don’t make me look like a clown at the circus. What does that mean? Well, I’m blessed with oversized feet that make Sasquatches jealous. When I was in school, my mother attempted to comfort me concerning my large feet by saying, “Susannah, supermodels have big feet!”
And I would retort, “So do linebackers, Mama. What’s your point?”
Anyway, I cannot accurately put into words how much joy I feel when I walk into a shoe store and walk out with an actual pair of shoes instead of a confirmation number because the salesperson had to order my size from the warehouse. (I want to know where exactly this warehouse is and why don’t they open it up to big-footed women like myself. Road trip!)
One night, my sister Carmen, Natalie Ann, Bennett, and I were shoe shopping while on vacation in Florida. My sister has beautiful (small) feet and was trying on shoes that wouldn’t even house my big toe. I admired the cute sandals and mumbled and grumbled a little bit about having behemoth feet, but then I heard a sniffle. I looked down and my precious son had tears forming in his eyes. I asked him what was wrong, and he began to cry. “Mama, I just feel so bad you have big feet and can’t wear any of these shoes.”
“Oh, sweet boy,” I said, “don’t you cry! They can call the warehouse!”
I love life’s simplest pleasures. I love cheering in the stands for my daughter as she storms down the basketball court. I love cuddling with my son on the couch and watching Teen Titans Go! I love singing in the car, rocking on the front porch, riding with the windows down on a warm spring day. I love sitting on the beach and reading a good book. I love writing on my back porch while crickets chirp. I love playing on the floor with my dogs. Simple pleasures are the best.
James, the half brother of Jesus, told us in James 1:17 that every good and perfect gift comes
from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
Mississippi mud cake (sans marshmallows) and cute shoes and pets (I refuse to say fur babies, all right?) are good and perfect gifts. They must come from God!
Those words remind us that our lives, families, talents, abilities, friends, and opportunities — the very things we so often take for granted — are gifts we receive from our heavenly Father’s own hand. He showers blessings upon us, not because we have earned them or deserve them, but because He adores us and wants to give abundantly to His children. And God isn’t like people who often give gifts with strings attached or expect something from us in return. Instead, He is always faithful, dependable, and unwavering in His consistency. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
It seems a simple concept, that all good things come from our heavenly Father, but if we really begin to understand it and relish in it, we will look with awe at beautiful sunrises and starry nights and clouds scattered across the sky. We’ll really appreciate the times spent with our loved ones and the warm chocolate cake with a scoop of cold ice cream melting on top. The same good Father who healed our bodies or protected us or gave us children, who blesses us time and time again, painted the sky and aligns the stars for our delight. He gave us our people and invented the cocoa bean.
All creation bears witness to His love and majesty.
One of my favorite places in the entire world is Pensacola Beach, Florida. My mother, sister, and I went nearly every summer on a girls’ trip. Some of my fondest memories are sitting on the white beach with Mama and Carmen, listening to the waves, talking about life and laughing until we couldn’t breathe. And when Natalie Ann was born, I brought her along. I can still see Mama building sandcastles with my precious baby girl wearing a pink seersucker bonnet. Mama took dozens of photos of Natalie Ann with her phone that trip and then asked me how in the world to retrieve the pictures. (She wasn’t the most tech savvy, bless her heart. She once called me while I was on a date with Jason and asked me to come home to set her new electric alarm clock because her Big Ben wouldn’t wind anymore.)
I adore the smell of the warm, salty air and the sound of waves lapping onto the white sand. I am in awe of the brilliant sunsets that form over the Gulf of Mexico. I don’t even mind when seagulls dive into my beach bag and eat my chips. Wait, that’s a lie. I don’t like that one bit, but I tolerate it.
In all the years I’ve been to Pensacola Beach, I’ve never fully credited God with making that serene spot for my pleasure. I’ve oohed and ahhed at the picturesque ocean, but not until I meditated on James’s words did I really appreciate the splendor of Pensacola Beach. Suddenly what was always such a favored place of mine became even more favored. I was in more wonder of the smells and the sights and the sounds. I was more appreciative of the generous helping of tartar sauce and slaw that accompanied my shrimp po-boy at Peg Leg Pete’s.
I encourage you to take a moment to recognize that every good gift in your life, including life itself, comes from God’s mighty hand. Ask Him to make you more aware and thankful for all He has freely given you. Look at the sunsets, the stars, and even your family, friends, and talents with new appreciation. Praise Him for He is unchanging, and you can rely on His love and mercy every single day.
Life is hectic. Enjoy the simple pleasures. Admire the sunset. Marvel at nature. Buy the shoes if they have your size in stock.
Eat the Mississippi Mud cake.
Excerpted with permission from Can’t Make This Stuff Up by Susannah Lewis, copyright Susannah B. Lewis.
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What do you love? What is your favorite food? You favorite view? Your favorite vacation spot? Those things are good and perfect gifts to you from your Father who loves you! Let’s thank Him today! Come share your thanks to Him with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily