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We moved across state a year and a half ago, and as anyone who has been through a move knows, it’s an expensive adventure. Soon after our arrival, we went through several very lean weeks. We were still dealing with moving expenses, and our paychecks accidentally got mailed to our old address. By necessity, we had to get pretty creative with our grocery shopping. Praying for our daily bread suddenly got very real, as each day we eagerly awaited the mail only to find no checks.
One desperate afternoon, I decided to try something I never had before…making my own bread from scratch. I had all the ingredients in the pantry already, and there was a recipe for ordinary white sandwich bread in my Betty Crocker Cookbook that didn’t seem too intimidating. What did I have to lose, right? If it worked out, I could save a few dollars at the store.
How did it turn out? Well, let’s just say I’ve been making my own bread ever since. I’ve branched out a bit beyond white bread. I also make honey wheat, white whole wheat, cinnamon swirl, oatmeal, dinner rolls, pizza dough…all very basic, daily bread. There’s no point in wasting money on store bought bread anymore. No one in my family will eat it.
There is surprisingly little hands-on time when it comes to making bread, mostly you’re just waiting around for it to rise. But you do have to get things started by kneading the dough for 10 minutes. I’ve found that to be a great time for prayer. There is no multi-tasking while making bread–all other demands just have to wait. A set of clean hands, and a few uninterrupted minutes are a must. But in a quiet kitchen, the kneading process can be quite meditative. Still your thoughts, open your heart, and listen for God’s voice. It’s amazing what God can do with 10 minutes.
God often molds and shapes us like a baker kneading bread; transforming us from a ball of sticky dough into the smooth, rounded form of a beautiful loaf. The Spirit works through us as yeast, helping us rise to become something more than the simple sum of our ingredients. Something that can provide joy and nourishment to those around us.
Throughout history, and across cultures, bread has been a staple of life. It is also a symbol of Christ’s sacrifice in the form of the Eucharist. Pretty powerful stuff made from nothing but flour, sugar, salt, oil, yeast, and water. Sometimes the simplest things in life are the best teachers after all. I certainly never realized how much of an impact making bread was going to have on me the day I scoured the pantry looking for cheap ways to feed my family. But now I’m so very glad that I did.
(If anyone wants my simple bread recipes, I’m happy to share the joy!)
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