Bowls, Baskets, and Blessings

“Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.”
Deuteronomy 28:5

Autumn, bowls, baskets and baking just seem to blend.

I close my eyes and I’m swept back into childhood to a cozy warm kitchen.

Come with me!

Smells wonderful in here.

Sunlight makes my mother’s hair glisten. I climb up onto the stool beside her.

I breathe in the scent of a heating oven and fresh dough in Mom’s big wooden kneading bowl.

My gaze roams the kitchen counter laden with a bags of flour and sugar, glass measuring cups, and measuring spoons.

Close by is a bottle of oil, a round blue box of salt and a container of snow-white vegetable fat. Mom lets me stick my fingers into the satiny white stuff so I can help “grease” the metal pans.

Over there is the big silver flour sifter with a screen in the bottom and a handle that makes a funny noise when she lets me squeeze it so the flour sifts through.

I pull the wrapper from the magical little cake of fresh yeast that’s ready to go into the next batch of dough.

Oh, Lord, Bread of Life, thank you for the gift of our wondrous senses.

There’s nothing quite like the sight of my mother’s beautiful hands as she kneads the shapeless dough and gives it form in her big wooden bowl.

Or the puffy soft feel of raised dough against my fist when I help punch it down to rise again.

Or the scent of baked homemade bread filling the house.

Or the sound of the ticking timer that matches the beat of my heart as I wait to taste and feel the blend of soft warm bread and melted butter on my tongue.

Jesus, Bread of Life, thank you for blessing our sturdy kneading bowls and overflowing baskets.

And you’ve probably baked bread with your own little ones by your side as I have and as my daughter and her daughter have.

Baking bread together is as much a tradition as breaking bread together at the dinner table

or breaking it together at the Lord’s table when we remember Him as He’s asked us to

or sharing bread with others who have little or none.

Bread.

It is so much more.

Do you have a bread story? ☺ I’d love to have you share it in a comment

Love,

Sally

“Then Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’” John 6:32 33
Jesus said “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” John 6:51
Jesus said “I am the bread of life.” John 6:48

All scripture NKJV

Need a Christmas gift for your favorite readers?

Think about giving them a copy of the new novel, The Stonekeepers.

Click on the photo of the book to take you directly to the web page where you can purchase it.

B and F Cover Capture

Back and front cover image of novel The Stonekeepers

 

Embraceable You

Little brothers~

I’m a hugger. Like my dad, I love people.

When I hug someone, once in a while there’s a little confusion as to where each of us will place our arms.

Sometimes it gets funny. But no matter what, there’s always a smile going on as we settle into a brief, warm hug that whispers of caring.

Did you know that there’s apparently a science to the action of hugging? I’d heard of it but hadn’t paid much attention to it until I decided to write this post.

Go here to find the fun wikiHow hug website. It shows you—with accompanying drawings—just how to hug everyone . . . properly!

It made me smile and even laugh out loud at some of the cute demos, though it still didn’t show me if there’s a preferred way to put my arms around someone. ☺

Sisters~

Now if you want to get all scientific . . . when you hug, there’s a release of oxytocin, the “cuddle hormone” that makes us feel good, and then there’s the stress hormone, cortisol that’s reduced, which is a good thing. No in-depth study here, but I’m sure there are probably more good things that happen, like endorphins . . . maybe more.

But when He made us, God knew we just needed love (plus, the oxytocin and cortisol were His ideas in the first place!).

Don’t ever stop embracing one another. It’s so important to show love and that’s just one small way to say “I love you” or “I think you’re a really wonderful person” or “I truly appreciate our friendship” or “I’m so sorry for your loss” or “I’m so happy to see you.” I may feel all the love, care and compassion in the world, but unless I tell you or show you, you might never know that I feel that way.

You can blow all the air kisses you want to, but love or just sweet friendship shown in a hug is incomparable.

Here’s some of what the Word has to say about embracing others,
like your Relatives:

Family~

“Then it came to pass, when Laban heard the report about Jacob his sister’s son,
that he ran to meet him, and embraced him and kissed him, and brought him to his house.
So he told Laban all these things” (Genesis 29:13).

Brothers: “But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck
and kissed him, and they wept” (Genesis 33:4).

Fathers and sons: “Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see.
Then Joseph brought them near him, and he kissed them and embraced them” (Genesis 48:10).

Spouse: “His left hand is under my head, and
his right hand embraces me” (Song of Solomon 2:6). Disciples/Friends: “After the uproar had ceased, Paul called the disciples to
himself, embraced them, and departed to go to Macedonia” (Acts 20:1).

Bye, Grandpa.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35 NKJV).

Hugs are small and free and warm and loving and one way to obey that commandment.

How do you feel about hugs?

LoveSally

The Driver’s Day

The morning is bright and cool as the scent of fall wafts through the open sunroof. On her way to an early appointment, The Driver has her tunes playing and she’s loving the solitude.

. . . Until a sight on the side of the road goes against the grain of normal and makes her look twice.

The woman she just passed was—
Really? Trying to hitch a ride?

No. Can’t be. Not safe these days.

But a glance into the rear view mirror reflects the young woman, her thumb waving in the air, and she isn’t alone.

The double-take restarts The Driver’s day with head-shaking wonder over the nudge to do something.

You’re kidding, Lord! Turn around, go back, and pick up that young woman and her two children?

The Driver’s not in the habit of giving strangers rides. Besides, her car is too small. She’ll be late. And what if the woman needs more than a ride . . .
Her excuses pelt down like rain.

She glides past, the mind-poking irritation turning into curiosity and compassion that has her turning her small two-door coupe around a block and a half later.

Surely someone will have picked them up by the time she gets back there.

But, no. This is still hers to do.

Emergency blinkers and right hand signal clicking away, she pulls over to the curb. With a prayer, The Driver shakes her head again, plasters on a brave, like-I-do-this-everyday smile, and opens the car door, motioning for the woman and her two children to get in.

There’s hustle and bustle and back packs and the fresh scent of scrubbed clean, smiling little faces, as “mom” wedges her two children into the cramped back seat and sits in the passenger seat.

“How far are you going? Where?”

Ann introduces herself. The gutsy, determined, scrappy mother of three (there’s a baby at home) had been right out there on the edge of the busy road during morning rush hour—thumbing!

She was absolutely going to get all of them to school—her two children to the local Christian Academy and herself to the community college—one way or the other.

The Driver, whose chin is still on the floorboards at this mama-thumber, learns that Ann is a Christian and full of a diamond-in-the-rough faith. Ann shares that her husband, who is taking care of the baby, is fresh-out of a rehab for drug problems, has no job, and she may give him another chance.

She wants so much more for herself and her family that not even lack of transportation will stand in her way—and she openly thanks God and The Driver for today’s ride.

The Driver, not so openly, thanks God too, for His nudge to do this thing.

What a wonder to meet someone so determined to pull herself up and out of her current circumstances.

Ann will make it. She’s diamond, gold, and granite. A rock in the midst of the swirl and growth and change in her world.

Ann says she’ll walk from here, but The Driver will have none of that and waits while Ann walks her children to the school doors and returns for her ride to the last stop . . . the community college campus.

It’s been a long time since Ann and her children were passengers in The Driver’s little car. Once in a while, The Driver gets to find out what happened to those she’s encountered. Not this time. But it’s good to think about that heavenly urging and to pray that Ann and her little ones had a good life, maybe even the one Ann envisioned for them all that bright autumn morning.

 ♥

I recently read that we should be praying and watching and looking for the things God is doing and asking Him if and how we might join Him to help. A little different than coming up with our own ideas of serving/helping/volunteering, isn’t it?

Some time after thinking about The Driver’s encounter and writing this post, I came to another reading. In My Utmost for His Highest for February 28: “We are not told to walk in the light of conscience or of a sense of duty, but to walk in the light as God is in the light. When we do anything from a sense of duty, we can back it up by argument; when we do anything in obedience to the Lord, there is no argument possible . . .”

It’s good when our “arguments” quickly fall by the wayside.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:4-5 NKJV).

Are you paying attention to the nudges you have that you just know that you know are from God?

Love,

Sally

Beyond Reason

I’m in my late teens, young and new at motherhood. My precious baby girl has scratched her cheek, and this morning I need to trim her tiny fingernails again. She’s four months old and so adorable, smiling and cooing at me.

Fresh from her bath, the scent of baby powder and lotion wafts around us. I lean down to nuzzle the softness of the sweet cuddly place between her neck and shoulder before I slip clean clothes on her.

We carry on our usual fun mommy/baby dialogue as I secure her on her changing table, all buckled up. A wiggly, lively baby, she’s a challenge to me to care for. I pick up the small nail scissors to cut my little one’s fingernails.

She’s in constant motion and curious when I take her little hand in mine and begin to trim those tiny nails.

Then—the unthinkable.

Feet, and legs and hands and arms move all at once, and before I can stop, the scissors slice into her tender flesh. Blood trickles from her little finger, dripping onto her white shirt. I stare down at the cut on her finger in disbelief.

Her instant cries pierce my heart.

Oh, dear God, I’ve hurt my child.

Appalled, my heart twists into an unrelenting ache. I run to the bathroom for a cloth and bandages, prayers on my lips, her wails echoing in my ears . . .

Please, heavenly Father, no!

I race back to her side.

Something has changed.

She’s suddenly quiet. I reach for her hand to rinse the blood away, but step back, and my eyes search for what is no longer there.

There’s no trace of the crimson blood that covered her fingertip and ran down her hand. There are no droplets of blood staining her now snow-white shirt, nor is there evidence of the cut on her finger. I’m stunned.

I continue to search for a piece of red thread or a scrap of red cloth, anything to give me a reasonable, logical explanation. But the more I look the more in awe I become. Thankfulness slowly replaces doubt and the ache in my heart eases.

There’s nothing red, there is no blood anywhere.

Looking up at me, cheeks still wet with tears, sweet baby sounds bubble from my little one. And through my tears of joy, I undo the confining straps of the changing table and scoop her up into my arms.

This is beyond reason, beyond logic, and I stand, holding her close, humbled, overjoyed at the power of God, thanking him over and over for what he has done—for answering my prayers.

There is no other explanation.

When I stood beside my infant daughter, searching in disbelieving wonder for evidence of blood and injury that was no longer there, I stood on ground as holy as the ground on which Moses stood at the burning bush.

Where have you experienced holy ground? As believers in Christ Jesus, it is not beyond any of us.

“The centurion answered and said, ‘Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed’” (Matthew 8:8 NKJV).

“Then Jesus answered and said to her, ‘O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed from that very hour” (Matthew 15:28 NKJV).

Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us,
But to Your name give glory,
Because of Your mercy,
Because of Your truth.
Psalm 115:1

The Gift of Interruption

“There are sometimes things more important than homework,” my grandfather told my mother. And she left her studies behind as he took her hand and led her outside.

Together they entered the darkness of the night and walked into the midst of wonder. Hand-in-hand the two of them watched the shimmering beauty of the northern lights.

That’s the way my mother began the story of when she was a little girl. Of living on Cape Cod. Of how her father interrupted her homework one evening to show her God’s handiwork.

“Wake up, sweetheart.”

We hadn’t lived in southeastern Washington State very long. I must have been about seven years old when my father stood beside my bed and whispered those gentle words.

Pushing sleep away, I opened my eyes and smiled back at him in the dim light. He bent close, and I reached to touch his dark mustache. “Why did you wake me up, Daddy?”

“There’s something I want you to see.”

He tucked the blanket around me, swept me up into his arms, and carried me outside.

And beneath the cool, blue-black desert sky, he held me, silently pointing at a wavy curtain of green and blue light. I held my breath, mystified, filled with awe, as I watched the gracefully undulating, colorful, shimmering phenomenon that my father told me was the Aurora borealis. Even the name was magical, and I’ve never forgotten the wonder I felt that night.

Dad had interrupted my sleep because wanted me to see something special—something far more important than sleep.

Interrupting homework or sleep to behold one of God’s works is a beautiful and unforgettable gift for any child. Children have a depthless capacity for wonder. Helping to fill that capacity is both a joy and a great responsibility for those who care for them.

Just as I showed them to her, my daughter has pointed out natural wonders, from the majestic to the mundane, to her children. And so, appreciation for the wonders of God’s creation passes down the steps of time and another generation has learned the value of interruptions.

Jesus was often stopped in the midst of what he was doing to speak to the need of another. Parents interrupted his teachings, placing their little ones into His arms, wanting their children to experience the touch and attention of this great man of miracles, the Son of God. Jesus never turned them away. The children were blessed indeed.

“Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 19:13-14).

When have you been interrupted and your eyes opened to God’s handiwork?

Please share a comment ~

Love,

Sally

All scripture is from the New King James Version

Little Things

Multitasking as a wife and mom, starting a new job, and keeping a household in some semblance of order was a challenge.

There were mornings when I’d end up on my hands and knees, maneuvering in a business suit, wiping up spills when my six-year-old tested the effects of gravity and let his nearly full cup of juice do the Jersey Bounce off the kitchen floor.

Then before I could breathe again, “Mommy, the dog got out!” from my frantic ten-year-old daughter—wearing exactly what I’d said she couldn’t only five minutes ago. You know—the times when you could just grab a pillow and scream into it.

There was always that choice—

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, there was always hope I’d find the dog, deal with the dressing disaster, get them to school on time, and make it to work without wearing some of the juice—

And prayer. There were times I’d be mopping up mess and praying  “And while I am down here, Lord . . .” and the prayers would spill like the juice had, with splashes of complaining, and pleas for help with patience, and wishes for more time and energy to cope.

It helped to come across little things like Klara’s poetic prayer and how Brother Lawrence turned work into worship.

And while I am down here . . .

Lord of all the pots and pans and things
Since I’ve not time to be
A saint by doing lovely things or
Watching late with Thee
Or dreaming in the dawn light or
Storming Heaven’s gates
Make me a saint by getting meals and
Washing up the plates.

Although I must have Martha’s hands,
I have a Mary mind,
And when I black the boots and shoes,
Thy sandals, Lord, I find.
I think of how they trod the earth,
What times I scrub the floor.
Accept this meditation Lord,
I haven’t time for more.

Warm all the kitchen with Thy love,
And light it with Thy peace,
Forgive me all my worrying and make
My grumbling cease.
Thou who didst love to give men food,
In room or by the sea,
Accept this service that I do,
I do it unto Thee.

Poem by Klara Munkres

 

 

 

“We can do little things for God. I turn the cake that is frying on the pan, for love of him; and that done, if there is nothing else to call me, I prostrate myself in worship before him who has given me grace to work; afterwards I rise happier than a king.”
Brother Lawrence, from The Practice of the Presence of God

When have you tugged on the Father’s robe with your most earnest prayers?

“For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you’” (Isaiah 41:13 NKJV).

“Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand” (Psalm 73:23 NKJV).

“The LORD is a shelter right by your side”  (Psalm 121:5b  HCSB).

Popcorn Memories

I’m honored to have author, speaker, singer, Ann Cooper McCauley, posting on the blog today! I know you’ll love her warmth and humor as much as I do. Enjoy Ann’s . . .

POPCORN MEMORIES

One night, a few years ago now, my body as always longed for rest, but the alarm jolted me awake at midnight’s blue, when the kids would be fast asleep. What?!? Then I remembered. I slipped from beneath flannel sheets and electric blanket into the still cold of our ancient house, looking back with longing at my soft pillow. The century-old stairs creaked as I scaled them in cloak of darkness, a tight fist about a one-dollar bill. I tiptoed through the upstairs maze, my feet dodging dressers, cast-aside shoes, and prickly, little carpet tacks at every portal. As I shivered, I smiled to myself; my mission would soon be accomplished. A baby tooth awaited me in a snack-sized Ziploc tucked under my second-born’s pillow.

Carefully, carefully, I inched toward Jarred’s bunk. Five feet… Four feet… Three feet away from his wee, slumbering snore… Faint moonlight softened his little face into a deceiving sweetness. Two feet… I reached out… And the world plunged from its axis! My legs went sprawling in mid-air; the breath I’d been holding burst into a wild, squeal of terror. The room shifted, rocked, rolled, and I landed in a bruising heap among more than a thousand glass marbles.

Looking up at the ceiling, I knew with icy certainty— my favorite red-haired mischief-maker had booby-trapped the tooth fairy! Every scene from The Ransom of Red Chief went flying through my head, as I turned red with fury.

That night carried the real potential to send me over the proverbial edge, though I forgave my repentant son, toothless grin and all. The next day, black-and-blue and sleep deprived, I needed a vacation, but there was no money for such a luxury. I calculated the cost of a sitter for the day and decided I was worth it, but none were available. Randy will watch the kids this evening, and I can escape. But events conspired against me, and of course, he had to work late.

I was stuck. Stuck! Stuck! Stuck! And in the midst of my stomping about with no glamorous place to hide from this exasperating day, memories began skipping through my brain like popcorn. Pop! Pop! Pop!

POP! The time my creative toddlers destroyed their room. No, I really mean destroyed. As in every toy out, every stitch of clothing strewn. Have you ever stood at the door to that room? Well, I knew they couldn’t clean up their mess alone – but I simply took one look, turned and walked away, shaking my head like a lunatic and babbling, “Just – clean it up.” When I returned, they had cleaned it all right. Around the baseboards in perfect rows marched a baseball, a shoe, a Big Bird bank, a sock, a soldier, another shoe, baby lotion, a Fisher-Price tape player, another sock, and on, and on, all the way around the room. I sipped my iced tea and studied the two-man clean-up crew, now chasing their squealing younger sister.

POP! The morning my son, Joshua, decided to take down the chain link fence. I had never analyzed how a chain link fence is put together, much less taken down, but my son visualized a fort built from that section of fencing. Not only did he dismantle the section screw by screw, he also took the garden shears and cut an ingenious doorway through the middle of it. Would you think dull garden shears could cut through chain? I stared at the gaping hole, thinking, My head is actually going to explode this time.

I had two choices: I could have an aneurysm, or not. Making the obvious choice, I looked at my son and said – teeth clenched – voice low, “Put. It. Back.” By sunset that evening, the section was back in place, the center bound together with wire like a great incision.

I learned from each catastrophe. When did each shenanigan my children pulled, transition in my mind to an endearing memory? Finally, I sat wilting on the back stoop, watching my kids romping in the yard, and with memories came bubbles of laughter.

I sipped my iced tea and reflected on my life with children. Hadn’t God been good to me, after my first child was stillborn? Hadn’t He whispered to me that I would have children? Me. The mom of six blessings. My heart softened. Despite my annoyance, He refreshed me. From that night forward, the tooth fairy never again retrieved teeth from under children’s pillows—making the exchange instead at the downstairs’ bookcase.

But I learned that survival is about clinging to God’s merciful gift of humor, gracing me with the perspective to laugh at, and occasionally even with, my children’s hoodlum ways. Sometimes a restorative vacation is just a step backwards into a few blessed minutes of hysterical laughter.

So, pop back in time, and tell me your funny. When did humor help you survive?

Previously published on anncoopermccauley.com shared with permission.

Thank you, Ann for sharing your post with us!  Be sure and visit Ann’s blog and enjoy her delightful sense of humor as she shares her many stories. Here’s a little about Ann.

Ann McCauley married her sweetheart thirty-eight years ago. The McCauley’s have seven children, four internationally adopted. Ann’s first stories were published by Baker/Revell in the book, Loved by Choice—True Stories That Celebrate Adoption. She led a local chapter of The Compassionate Friends, a national organization for grieving parents, and a grief counseling support group, Wellsprings. Ann, a songwriter for many years, has led praise and worship, shared her original music with churches, and performed in fundraising for Holt International Adoption Agency. Mrs. McCauley has shared her adoption and homeschooling experiences with churches, rotary clubs, women’s seminars, and homeschool support groups. She’s been a speaker and singer throughout Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Ann’s motivational speaker service, The Power Behind the Story, can be found on her website. She is now taking bookings for engagements. Having written three historical novels, Ann hopes one will be picked up by a publisher soon. Her agent is Diana L. Flegal of Hartline Literary Agency.
Website and Blogs: anncoopermccauley.com

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6 NKJV).

“How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings” (Psalm 36:7 NKJV).

“A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones” (Proverbs 17:22 NKJV).

Has humor helped you survive? We’d love to have you leave a comment!