Tag Archives: baking

Martha

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But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. Luke 10:40.

We leave for Vail on a ski trip tomorrow.  Today we made these Christmas tree cakes…

…made and delivered several of these Christmas cocoa mixes…

…sorted, washed and folded a lot of these…

…fetched my dog’s vaccination records from the veterinary clinic, shopped at Walmart (a feat of desperate courage during the holidays), packed for three of the four members of our family, washed approximately seven thousand dishes, sat in on Jack’s Christmas program rehearsal.  I ruined a double batch of banana bread.  It was undercooked in the center when the timer beeped, so I put it back and and forgot to set the timer as I scooted out of sight, out of mind in order to discipline a wayward child.  When I finally remembered the neglected loaves, they were tough in the middle and black on the edges.  Bummer.  I just love that recipe. 

The hours of my day slip away in a whirlwind as I strain to check off the list.  I snap at Jack after dinner.

“Do NOT touch that suitcase.  Mommy worked super hard to get that ready; please keep it organized. ” 

“Mommy, you hurt my feelings.  You are kind of grumpy with me.”

Pause.  I want to escalate, to blame.  I force my mind to see the priorities we choose to live.  Relationship over productivity.

“You are right, Jack.  I am so sorry.  I feel grumpy because I have a lot to do right now, but that is not your fault.  I did not make a good choice with my words.  I should speak with kindness to you.  I’m so sorry.  Will you forgive me?”

Competence should not require forgiveness.  I lose my sight when I choose a mere series of tasks to guide my hours.

After the day fades into night, the house settles into the peace of sleeping children and finished projects.  When I look at my list, I rest in a successful day.  But when I look at my heart and the hearts of my children, I feel the loss of missed opportunity.

Lord, I almost completely slipped past who they are today.  My little ones were a distraction instead of a priority.  I spent my day annoyed at their child-longing for my value and attention.  I feel ashamed.  I am sorry.

As I sit here typing, tears well up as my eyes lock on the Jesse tree standing strong on the kitchen counter.  Every day of Advent, we read a Bible story. Together we weave the ancient truths throughout history, tying the threads of Old Testament foreshadows into the profound glory of Incarnation.  After the day’s story, we hang an ornament that represents the daily fragment of grace we just experienced.  Every day, we add another simple laminated square onto a growing representation of God’s unfolding redemption story.

The sight of the Jesse tree slays me.

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

It is not that the crossed out list does not matter.  But the list should always and only be a means to an end.  The means is productivity; the end is ever increasing faith and joy embedded into the culture of our family.

Advent is a season of waiting and preparing.  It can be a hard season, because waiting and preparing are hard for fragile souls.  Today I did not attune my heart to the echoing call of Incarnation – the why of this precious season.

Tomorrow is a new day.  I will spend most of it in the car on windy winter roads with a beloved friend and five (likely maniacal) children.  Two mommies, five preschoolers, one car, three hours.  You do the math. But…..

Only One Thing is necessary.

Yes.

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Loaves

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I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. John 6:51.

I made bread today.

I start by grinding wheat.  I feed the kernels into the mill.  The mill grinds them into powder, pulverizing what they once were into nourishment.

They are more whole after they are decimated, because it is only as flour-dust that they can feed the five thousand.

Lord, how many times will you ask us to die? How much longer, O Lord, will you grind us into dust? It is very hard that wholeness comes in pieces. 


Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. John 12:24.

I pour hot water into the mixer. Steam rises in ghostly rivulets as I pour. The heat will soak through the dough, unlocking the yeast.  There is no risen bread without the power of the nearly-boiling baptism.

Once, two of Jesus’ disciples asked him an audacious question.  “Let one of us sit at your right and one of us on your left in your glory.”  To sit at either side of The King of Glory? A staggering request.  

You don’t know what you are asking, Jesus said. Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?  Mark 10:38.

That baptism is too deep for me.  I am merely earth and breath.  The cost of resurrection is a baptism too great to bear. Give me grace for only this day, only this step forward. Hallelujah.  You are the risen bread.

Oil and honey are next.  The Spirit and the sweetness.  They mingle with the crushed wheat and the singeing water.  They hold it together.

Lord, in this life all that is good is grace.  You blend joy and suffering in the mystery of transformation.  Our honey coats us with sticky joy – we are the most blessed of your Beloved.  O Jesus, we raise our faces in sated thanksgiving.

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of oil and honey; a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing. Deut.8:7-9.

A tablespoon of salt for seasoning.

Season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings. Lev.2:13.

Salt = covenant.  God’s faithful promises are the flavor, the seasoning, the preservation of the Bread of Life.

Lord, may I always salt my ways with your covenant. “This is my body, which is broken for you.”  Your bread-body, broken in fulfillment of your everlasting promise to preserve a people for Your own possession.  Salt me with your faithfulness forever.

I sprinkle yeast evenly over the bowl.

I push the button to mix.  The curved metal hook scourges the contents of the bowl, forcing the dry powders into the steaming water. The spinning claw merges the separate elements into a gloppy mass.  I identify bubbles at the edge – the yeast begins to do its work.

Yeast, also called Leaven.  Activated by the burning baptism, the yeast infiltrates the doughy mass, creating tiny pockets of air that expand, expand, expand the dough.  It begins to grow.

The pages of Scripture whisper the secrets of leaven through two opposing metaphors –

Be on your guard against the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Luke 12:1.

or

 Jesus asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like leaven that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough. Luke 13:21.

The leaven that infiltrates my life is my choice.  Hypocrisy or the kingdom of heaven? Fallen lies or eternal Truth?  With which leaven will I sprinkle what I make of my life? What will the savage mingling of elements bubble up in me?

Life or death.  That is the what is at stake with leaven.  Whatever we choose will create a rising, an expansion, a slow inflation in who we become.  The other ingredients remain the same – but the legacy is in the Leaven.

Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough?               1 Cor.5:6.

The dough is ready, after a long season of violence.

Kneading

Shaping

Shaping

Ready to Rise

Dough before rising

Risen dough

Battened dough balls transform under the heavy heat of the oven.  The closed door, the sealed tomb, does its terrible work, but death buckles its knees to Resurrection Life.

Fragrant loaves rest fresh and hot on the counter, plump invitations to a deeper nourishment.  Resurrection Loaves.  Bread of Life.

I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.  Psalm 81:10.

Later, I consume my portion in a small sanctuary of worship.  It is only a piece of homemade bread, after all, but today it is Communion.

Eucharisteo

And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?       1 Cor. 10:16.