Pumpkin Cake


On Saturday night, I got a cake with icing pumpkins on it. In August.

It made me tear up.

You see, in February of 2007, I was wrecked.

I stepped down from my position as the worship director at our church. I had been accused of things that were simply not true and no amount of adjustment on my part would make the pastors happy. I was told that I was not welcome to participate in music ministry in any way at this church.

When this was happening, I swore I wasn’t going to stop playing the piano. I wasn’t going to let them take from me the thing that most connected me to God. But I didn’t step behind a keyboard again until June of the following year.

We had been going to CRC for just shy of a year. I was singing with the children, which I enjoyed, but singing wasn’t my “thing.” My “thing” was playing the piano. It had been since I started playing hymns in third grade on Mrs. Doerr’s big upright piano in spare room in her little house.

My first time out that June, I played second keyboard for a special song. It was probably just an organ or strings patch. Nothing fancy or complicated, just something needed to fill out the song a little bit more. But I was behind a keyboard again, and it felt amazing. And terrifying.

Over the following months, I began filling in a bit more. Always very tentative. Despite being a good pianist, I doubted my abilities. Despite a desire to pour out in worship, I feared baring my whole self. In the early months that I played at CRC, I spent a lot of time worrying that I was going to mess up. Worrying that I was going to alienate another group of Christians. Worrying that I was going to be told that no, I didn’t belong. Not on their excellent worship team, not in hip their church, not in their orthodox faith.

But my fears were unfounded.

I was embraced, figuratively and literally by these people. During my four years playing there, I never should have fit in, but they made space for me all the same. I wasn’t a thin, cute, young person, but I was never hidden away. I wasn’t a leader, but my opinion wasn’t ignored. I wasn’t married to a believer, but my faith wasn’t questioned.

Over and over I experienced acceptance and grace and encouragement.

Fear gave way to courage. And love. And joy. All of the things I thought that I had lost, I discovered as I allowed myself to be vulnerable again.

Those gifts allowed me to move from the safety of this church into a place that’s a bit more uncomfortable for me. There are some elements that remind me of my old church and those try to stir up some of that old fear and insecurity. They make me want to stay where I have found a place to fit in. To stay where things are comfortable and safe.

Memories of that pumpkin cake are helping to assuage those negative thoughts.

The cake was totally seasonally inappropriate. It was a marble cake, so it was a mish-mash of flavors. It had garish little plastic leaves stuck in the corners. It didn’t fit in with the aesthetic of the green room.

But it made us laugh. It tasted delicious. It was given in love.

It didn’t have to fit to be appreciated. It just had to be what it was.


Today I’m linking up as part of the synchroblog for Ed Cyzewski’s new book, Hazardous: Committing to the Cost of Following Jesus. You can read more submissions about stories of hazardous faith and add your own here. Be sure to grab a copy of the book as well!

  • http://www.inamirrordimly.com/ Ed_Cyzewski

    I love this story Alise. The fear of rejection is so powerful. It can keep us from revealing our true selves for sure. I’m so glad you’ve found a place to be yourself, to use your gifts, AND to even stretch yourself a little more.

    • http://www.alise-write.com Alise Wright

      It was a balm, that is for certain. I didn’t think I’d get over that EVER. I’m forever grateful to the folks there for loving me through a really bad season and making me strong enough to tackle this new adventure with far less fear.

  • Tara_pohlkottepress

    ” Fear gave way to courage. And love. And joy. All of the things I thought that I had lost, I discovered as I allowed myself to be vulnerable again.” – love this. getting back to vulnerable is such a raw cycle. so glad for you and that cake :)

    • http://www.alise-write.com Alise Wright

      That cake was perfect. It summed up everything just right.

  • http://charityjilldenmark.wordpress.com/ Charity Jill Denmark

    “It just had to be what it was.” That’s some lovely truth. I hate thinking about the time I’ve wasted trying to be “relevant,” trying to be what the church “core group” expected, etc. etc. My husband and I started attending a church and were shocked to find that it has retained the “offertory music” tradition that many churches forgo (for different reasons, some legitimate), allowing anyone who wants to share a song to participate, regardless of talent or contemporary-ness. (This means we’ve heard a lot of sweet Gaither backing tracks lately.) It is refreshing to be in a place that makes no apologies for being what it is.

    • http://www.alise-write.com Alise Wright

      It’s funny, because this was a mega-church, so a lot of energy was put into being relevant. And they were good with me anyway, because ultimately, people were still more important. I’m okay with whatever people do. I just want us to do things authentically.

      • http://charityjilldenmark.wordpress.com/ Charity Jill Denmark

        That is funny! I hope I don’t come across as ripping on big churches, because I have been to some really wonderful ones. The authenticity is the key – we are in agreement!

  • http://somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah | the smitten word

    alise, what a fantastic story. so glad you get to share your gifts with a community that loves like Jesus. beautiful.

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  • Carol

    Great story.

  • Laura

    Alise, I don’t know why you were rejected from your worship team, but I’m glad that you are free to worship again. I’m thankful for unconditional love. This post has been reposted in Athenians, a Christian news aggregator. You can read the comments it generates at