I’m baking bread this morning. There is something so therapeutic for me in the mixing, kneading, shaping, and baking of this almost twenty pounds of bread dough. I needed (no pun intended, I NEEDED) it desperately this morning. The sky was bright when I began my task, not at all the kind of weather that I like for baking bread. I decided that the rainy day was in my heart and maybe things would be okay.
Out in Holmes County, Ohio, the youngest Grandson is in the hospital with pneumonia and RSV. Just another confusing chapter in the life of three little boys. The two oldest call him “Baby” and they love him deeply.
“Come home!” The three year old orders his mommy sternly. “Come home!”
Regina longs to do just that, but it will be another day at least. The hospital ran some tests, there are some things needing to be watched a bit yet. And then, as if having one in the hospital and two at home and Daddy at work and Grandma Yoder filling in, Regina is coming down with something. Probably the same thing the little guy has, but it really isn’t convenient. She sat most of the afternoon yesterday on a hard chair in the emergency room holding a sick little boy, and it would not be surprising if she was achy, but now she has a sore throat in addition to being achy, and she really doesn’t feel good.
But then I think about the word “convenient” and remember that “Our ways are not God’s ways, neither are our thoughts His Thoughts,” and it actually stirred this rivulet of hope and excitement somewhere inside. In the chapter of life that is right now, God has his hand, and He is writing the story. Who can even imagine what we might see when we look back some day to this time and this place? So much to think and pray about, hope and watch for.
When I went to mix up the bread a few hours ago, I only had a fraction of the amount of bread flour that I needed. It made me feel like not even attempting to make bread, but I had unbleached on the shelf, so I decided to use that. (I used to always use plain old unbleached flour for bread until I thought that I discovered that bread flour works best. And it probably does.) Then, I put the second oven load of bread in on the wrong temperature. I came back when the ten minute buzzer rang to find that it was set on the second temperature setting instead of the first. Oh, NO! I decided to just bake it straight through on 375 and see what happened.
Well, the one thing that happened is that those five loves have “blowouts” on the sides. But I solved a mystery for me with that discovery. I could never figure out why some people’s bread always broke apart along the side while they were baking. I’m guessing it comes from not putting into a hot enough oven to kill the yeast straight off. because I never have that problem, and the only thing I did differently was to not start it in a very hot oven for ten minutes. They still look good, and I am just about ready to cut it and put it in the freezer, so I will soon find out about texture and softness.
I looked at the ten loaves of bread on the cooling rack and thought about life and especially life right now. It feels sometimes like this situation with Raph and Gina and the boys is a little like my bread baking today.
The ingredients for a healthy family are there, at least in part. Add to the right “bread flour” the stuff that feels like it just isn’t quite ideal, and it could make a person not even feel like trying. And then, even if it would be okay, what about the wrong temperature, the things that can make things just not turn out right? The best intentions and even experience and knowledge don’t always translate into success. Now does it?
But there were prayers that went into this batch of bread and it is sitting out there on my cupboard looking like we just might be able to eat it. Actually looks pretty good. I suspect that it will be a staple in more than one meal and we will give thanks over the broken bread and the life it gives.
And this family, this little family. Lord Jesus, the road is broken and things are not easy. There is laying down of lives and not taking them up again. There are unknown factors and confusion and little boy hurt. There is change on every hand, not only for the boys but for a couple who have had just two adults to think about for almost five years. And there is a thousand unknowns — at least to these humans who already fiercely love these three little boys.
How grateful I am that you know the end from the beginning. That through all of this you are writing a story. It is good, it will be good, and even, Lord Jesus, though I may not always feel it, it has ALREADY BEEN GOOD. May we never forget that we do not need to fear the future because not only do you know it, you are already there! Already there, in and through all the unknowns that we could fear so much. You have a plan. May we embrace that plan without rancor or regret or resistance.
And may these little guys read our hearts and know that it is all okay.