After my mom passed away, my daddy married Vivian, a beautiful lady who loved our family like her own. For over thirty years, Vivian has taught me lessons about life, and parenting, and service to others. She inspires me with her wisdom, her kindness, and her determination.

I frequently think about her caramel cake.

First let me say, Vivian is a remarkable cook. She produces homemade bread and cakes and pies from scratch like it’s no big deal. To this day, she never shows up at our house without a tray of her famous cinnamon rolls.

Several years ago she shared her caramel cake recipe with me. It was rich and complicated — no wonder it tasted so good. I decided to attempt the dessert as a part of my Christmas baking. Despite my best efforts, the icing flopped and I had a sticky mess on my hands. The next time I saw her, I told her about my fiasco. I will always remember her response.

“Any time I have a cake that doesn’t turn out, I immediately make it again. I can remember and correct what I did wrong if I do it right away.”

Whether you’re talking about baking or relationships, Vivian’s rule makes sense.

Timing Is Everything


Your problems with other people will be resolved more quickly when you address the issues right away. Sometimes that means taking direct action. Make the call, ask for forgiveness, issue the invitation, or say the kind word. Sometimes the resolution will occur because you make an internal change. You choose to forgive someone who has never apologized. You choose to improve your attitude. You choose to stop keeping score.

It’s not easy. Most of us would rather discuss how we feel than take the risky action to solve a problem. We can argue with ourselves about who was right and who was wrong and magnify the harm that was done in the situation. We can avoid and delay and pretend and lose the opportunity to repair what is broken. We can choose to live in our negative emotions. Or we can decide to attend to the problem in productive ways.

Whether it’s caramel cakes or relationships, timing matters. I may never conquer the frosting but I am learning to quickly address the messes in my life— long before the walls are built and hard feelings take root and grow.


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