Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bread

What a dreary couple of days it has been! I've been sick with a real honest-to-goodness cold. I finally felt some better this morning, but still not up to par. Anna is sick too. Julia has a cough. Adam's spring allergies are tickling his chest. We sound like a hospital ward.

And the weather has been dreary. And to be truthful, I've been a bit low myself, in spirit. There are some things in life that can do that: uncertainty about the future, extended terminal illness, trouble with one's children. My worry is the first of those. An uncertain future can actually be an exhilarating thing when you're young, the future all before you with so many options. But as one gets older, an uncertain future feels more and more ominous. All of our futures are uncertain, in a way. Tomorrow is a blank. Heaven, however, I look forward to with great excitement and comfort. About that, I have no uncertainty. Only this life seems fraught with potholes and detours.

So, tonight I made spaghetti, our old family favorite. And some French bread to go with it. The bread turned out particularly pretty this time. Must have been the butter I rubbed over the top generously when it was about half-way baked.
They say bread is the staff of life. The constant on the table. The food we carry with us, when we have nothing else -- a crust on the path of life. I've tried recently to remind myself of the things that will remain constant, no matter where we go: my morning devotions in God's Word, my joy in my children, my reading, music, a fond and happy marriage. These are constants on life's bumpy path. These are bread for the spirit.

This bread recipe comes from dear friends who've been missionaries in Europe for about 10 years now.

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 tsp yeast
1 tbls sugar
1 tbls olive oil
4 cups flour ( I used a bit of wheat.)
1 tsp salt

I put all this in my stand mixer, and let it rise in there with the dough hook attached. Twice I came in and turned on the mixer, scraping the dough away from the bowl, then allowing it to rise again. I rolled it into loaves by hand and baked it at 350º (later 400º) until deep brown.

I can't help but wonder if God comes along every once in a while and scrapes us off from the sides of our familiar bowls. We collapse for a bit, but then rise again into good bread. And since we are all at various points of joy or sadness in our lives, let us remember to comfort and encourage one another, according to our place in the cycle.

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