Today was a rainy day, therefore, my boys’ sports practices were cancelled, which always makes for a nice surprise and a free evening. I had already planned on having spaghetti, which is my go-to dinner if I don’t feel like cooking anything fancy. Most of the boys like it and it is very easy to make. But since I had extra time this evening, I made some homemade French bread that my boys call “Minecraft” bread, because it looks just like the bread that Steve eats in the video game, Minecraft. It really is so simple to make, as long as I have the few ingredients needed and a good chunk of time. The boys, and especially my husband, loved this bread. I did too. I could literally eat an entire loaf straight out of the oven. So, so good! It made our plain spaghetti dinner into a feast. At least it felt that way. Our family of 6 ate almost an entire loaf. AND we have another loaf to make toast or heat up with a slice of butter for a snack! Yum! I know that 6eauty in a house full of boys really does look like good food most of the time.
As I was cleaning up the kitchen tonight, I got to thinking about how each stage of creating this bread can be compared to things we go through in life. Here is my recipe for the bread of life….
Assemble the Ingredients
Before I can make this yummy bread, I need to have the ingredients available and a good recipe to follow. The ingredients are pretty basic, so as long as I evaluate what I have in my pantry ahead of time and make sure I go to the grocery store regularly, it is easy to have these items on hand. I don’t just wing it when making bread. The recipe is very important. With life, if we take inventory of what we need, make good decisions, plan for the future, follow God, and have a good attitude, we set ourselves up for success. But that is only the beginning.
Combine the Ingredients
Once we have assembled all the ingredients, we prepare the yeast with some sugar and warm water and let it bubble and get a little frothy. When we mix just the right ingredients, something magical happens. It helps to form that yummy goodness inside the loaf of bread—the perfect texture when you bite into it. When we surround ourselves with godly people who support us and we have the right mix of mentors, friends, family, teachers, church leaders, significant others, the real magic happens and it is extraordinary. I recently found a song called Extraordinary Magic. Listen here: https://youtu.be/YEjvMOWxQg8
Mix it up and add some flour
After all the ingredients, besides half of the flour, are added to the mixer, we mix it using a dough hook. Now, this can get pretty messy. The dough hook pushes and pulls the dough until the ingredients all form a ball. With only half of the flour, though, the dough is so sticky that it sticks to everything it touches: the bowl, the hook, the spoon, our hands/fingers, everything! As we go through life, we have to figure out how things work. We get pushed and pulled in so many directions, and it can get messy at times and get us into some sticky situations. But we still have some learning to do, some flour to add. And little by little, a half a cup at a time, we add the remaining flour to the dough. And when we add a little bit at a time, we find we have just the right texture of dough when all the flour has been added. When we go through life (our experiences, advice we get from others, decisions we have made, places God has led us to) each of these mold us into who we are, and give us the wisdom to carry us through to the next stage of life.
Mix some and wait some
Once all the flour is added, we mix it until it is smooth and not sticky to the touch. Then…. we let it rest for 10 minutes. We wait. Mix it a bit more, and wait… mix it again…. wait, until we have mixed it 4 times with resting in between. This allows the dough to rise and grow a bit between mixing times. We can all think of those periods of our lives when we were pushed and pulled in many directions and, after looking back on them, found we had grown in some way. After challenging moments in our lives, we need to rest and reflect on how God has brought us through them, wait for His timing with what He has planned next for us, and learn to rely more on Him in the future. When we do that, we are better prepared for the next tough time that comes around when we feel we are grabbed by the hook of circumstances and pounded against the side of life, feeling bruised and defeated. Maybe we have lost a loved one or we have to make difficult choices with what seems like only horrible outcomes. When we reflect and wait and realize we have come out on the other side of other difficulties in life, we can benefit from the time between trials so much more. Each of these struggles prepares us for what happens next….
Cut the dough in two.
The dough now can be cut into two halves. We don’t have just one dough ball anymore. There are two. It has multiplied. We have children and all the experiences we have had and all the decisions we have made, affect our children in one way or another. They will either benefit from them or be harmed by them. It depends on how well we stick to the recipe or if we use the best ingredients or not. Raise up a child in the way he should go and he will not turn from it.
Roll out the dough
We take each ball and roll it out into a rectangle and then take the long side and roll it into a cylinder. Place the rolled dough, seam side down onto a baking sheet topped with parchment paper. Cover loosely with a towel and let it rise for 30 minutes. Our lives start out as a well formed ball and over time can be flattened out into a completely different shape than we could ever imagine. When we have followed the recipe, the rolling out is a more pleasant experience than the dough worked by the hook. We have become flexible, moldable, teachable, and can be shaped by our Father to be what shape He wants us to be. We are taken into His hands and he molds us with purpose and the knowledge of what we will become. We don’t fight it as much as we did when we were in the mixer of life, before He brought us through those difficult times. And He places us on the pan with our ugliness tucked in and unseen. We have gone from pieces to a whole. Sticky to soft.
Cut slits in the top
We cut two slits at the top of each loaf and let it rest for 30 minutes. We make ourselves vulnerable by showing others what’s inside-what we are made of. We do this by being still. Listening. Waiting. Being there for the people we love and for the people who just need someone to lean on.
Brush with egg wash
Brush the tops of the loaves with an egg and a splash of water. This helps form a nice crusty outer layer to the bread. When we are slathered in God’s love, we are able to stand firm for all we have learned, stand up for the things we believe and not be conformed to the patterns of this world. This outer layer of protection, love, allows us to combat the insults, criticism, and the harshness of the world we live in.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes
Lastly, we place the loaves in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. We love to turn the oven light on and watch as the lumps of dough turn into glorious loaves of bread. The oven is where God places us in circumstances to show his mightiness and to show how he can transform us from just a few raw ingredients into the 6eauty that we become. He forms us into who He wants us to be, because He is the bread of life.
When we take the bread out of the oven, it can be enjoyed by all those who are present and even packed up and shared with those who aren’t. That warm goodness topped with a slice of butter. Mmmmm. Life is good. Enjoy it. Savor it. Share it. And most certainly, don’t waste it!