February 22nd sitting in a suicide policy committee meeting in Columbia, Mo., I see that my phone has a new voice mail waiting and the number is a different area code. I am curious and when the meeting hits a lull, I listen to my voice mail and suddenly the last year makes sense.
Hi, I am Elaine Barbee from St. Louis, Mo. I am a wife, a mom, and my job is Assistant Regional Administrator. What is that?? I supervise a high secure violent offender unit, and three alternative community based programs for juvenile delinquents, training, leadership development, community partnerships, and whatever else needs to be done.
I've been at my job for 25 years. It was a vocation, I loved working with kids and sharing my talents with them. My boss retired a year ago and his job had been promised to me by all that made those decisions. At the last moment it was given to someone else. Not only was I crushed the next year would prove to be very challenging with some very negative coworkers.
Three months after the disappointment at my job, another crisis came up, my 11 yr old son had a serious health issue and had to have a very serious surgery. We knew at some point he was going to have to have surgery. At the time we were told this the Doctors thought possibly the surgery would have a life altering impact on him. God was very good. What was supposed to be a 3-4 week hospital stay for him with weeks maybe months of rehabilitation turned into a 9 day hospital stay and only 6 weeks of recuperation. He is back to normal with no problems or ongoing treatment.
So you ask, what does all of this have to do with CUPCAKES???
It was during this time my friend Amy was telling me about the RWOP challenge with Paula Deen. She urged me to enter the contest. She was not the first friend to urge me to enter food contests. I had some time off of work to stay at home with my son and he was sleeping a lot, so with the help of family and friends, started video taping recipes for the contest. I learned a lot about writing recipes, having the kitchen and ingredients prepped, and video taping & editing. This proved to be very challenging and more than what I bargained for!
I started getting messages and friends on the site. It was crazy, thought it was a contest and here people were reaching out to me. Especially Debbie Fabre! We became friends, champions for each other, pushing each other, and especially praying for and with each other through many trials. God knew we would need each other. The friends kept coming and they were all cheerleaders in the contest and in life.
Through them I learned so much about writing recipes, editing, video taping etc.. This would lead me to a whole subculture that I did not know existed. Contest cooks!!! This whole world of food contests and people that entered them all the time! Merry Graham had a facebook page that was just for such people! What a mentor she has become to me in cooking and faith. More people to pray with and for!
God has put people in my life to help me through! There were so many avenues that seemed to lead nowhere. Yet so many wonderful people in my life praying for me and cheering me on.
February 22nd was one of those days where I was just floating and biding my time at work until I could retire, wondering where God was leading me and what the last 25 years had been about. I listen to the voicemail, its from Lisa Schiffman of Tuttifoodie. She told me that I was the grand prize winner of the Scharffen Berger Cupcake Adventure Based Contest for my You Make Me Want to Shout Cupcakes. She went on to say that the Judges loved them above and beyond 2000 entries. At this point I was so excited that I couldn't stand it. I had to ask for a break and go call Lisa back to get the details! It was evident that God had a different plan for my future and all of the events leading up to this moment were for a reason!
Plans are what you make while God is laughing!