The Smell of Love and Goodness

“I don’t like the smell of bread baking.”  said no-one ever.  Everyone likes the smell of bread baking.  Then, getting Mom to cut  a slice off a warm loaf and spreading a slice with butter that will melt in.  Mmm.

I come from a long line of women who were all excellent bread bakers.  My Grandma Schumacher and her sister Aunt Lenice passed down recipes that I’ve used since I was a freshman in high school.  We’re talking nearly 50 years ago!

My Mom was a great bread baker, but I think her specialty was Sticky Buns.  Of course, my sister and I followed in her footsteps, and it makes me smile to know our daughters are following in ours.

Whenever we were at Grandma’s, for breakfast we always had a sweet roll made from Aunt Lenice’s recipe.  I can remember sitting on a chair and watching Grandma mix and form the rolls.  Then the sweet smell of bread and cinnamon filled the house.  I’m taken back to my childhood every time I bake bread.  Which isn’t as often as it used to be, but I bet it’s more often than a lot of people.

There really is much to be said about the love that goes into baking bread.  It’s not just a matter of mixing the ingredients and putting the mixture in the oven.  No, I carefully measure each cup of flour, as to not pack it down.  I’ve often thought about weighing it, but ‘Nah’.  Grandma didn’t.

I use a wire whisk to combine the flour, sugar, and salt.  The yeast is stirred into warm water (for very special occasions I’ll substitute milk) to ‘proof‘ until perfect.  That’s something you just have to feel good about.

For everyday bread I use lard.  I know!  Don’t judge me.  For rich flavor I use butter – Real butter, no substitutes.

Texture is important too.  Again, for those special times, I add a couple of eggs to the mix. Early on, we had chickens.  When we had an abundance of eggs, even the everyday bread was special.  Even more than the eggs, the kneading is ever-so-important.  I remember asking Mom how long to knead it.  There’s a whole science about it, but I’m not that person to talk to about that.  Her reply was, “Oh, about 10 minutes, or whenever it ‘feels right’.”  The more you make bread, the more you’ll get the feel for if it’s ready, or not.  That being said, I rarely go the full 10 minutes.

So, now for the drum roll – the recipes.  These recipes aren’t any different from the recipes you’ll find anywhere on the internet, but they are Grandma Schumacher’s and Aunt Lenice’s and that’s what makes them special for us.

I hope you enjoy time to get to know the joy in baking, and breaking, of bread.

grandma-schumacher-bread

 

Triumphant Song of Confidence

I’ve found myself a little behind in reading my Christmas devotions.  I’m so glad I didn’t totally dismiss this one (I couldn’t find the author of this Christmas devotion).  It spoke so loudly to my heart, I just had to share it.

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid? – Psalm 27:1

“Mary, the mother of Jesus, is held in very high esteem by many of us, because she was chosen by God to carry His Son and bring Him into the world.  It was the greatest task anyone has ever been given.  Even though we hold Mary in high esteem, it’s important to remember that she was a normal person just like us.  In fact, she probably battled fear as much if not more so than most people.  She was an unmarried teenager that found herself miraculously pregnant after an angel told her she would give birth to the Messiah.  She was probably afraid of the great task that God had given her and dealt with fear from the backlash she and Joseph received because of the unique pregnancy.  She probably battled fear on their long journey to Jerusalem, as she was nine months pregnant and travelling on a donkey.  Despite her fear, however, she remained faithful to God and the task they were given.”

“The song, Breath of Heaven, gives us a prayer that Mary most likely prayed asking God to hold her together, be near her, and to light her darkness.  How many times have you prayed a similar prayer?  Christmas is a joyous time, but the reality for many of us, is that it’s hard to experience joy in the midst of all the turmoil and trials that are happening around us.  Jus as God protected and guided Mary through a difficult time, allow Him to guide you this Christmas.  Pray and share with Him what troubles your spirit, and allow Him to restore the joy of Christmas within you by holding you together, being forever near you, and lighting your darkness.”

“What trials are you enduring currently that are robbing you of the joy of Christmas?  What are some things you can do to reclaim joy and hope in your life?

 

 

Ever Get a Song Stuck in Your Head?

Last Sunday our congregation sang a song during communion that is familiar to most Lutherans (and probably others too).  Usually, if the tune lingers in my head, it’s only for a few hours.  This one, however, didn’t stay with me at all.  That is, until this morning. I was beginning my typical routine of the morning…take the dog out, brew a cup of tea, write in my journal, read a devotion, pray for the people…THEN, I’m supposed to begin reading the day’s entry from “Christ in Our Home“.  All of a sudden I hear, in my head, “Let me ever walk with Jesus…”  I can’t remember the rest of the words, so I figure after I’m finished with my morning readings, I’ll pick up my copy of the Evangelical Lutheran Worship and I’ll find the song. “Let me ever walk with Jesus”… Again, and again, this is repeated to me.  This is becoming a bit annoying.  I can’t ignore this any longer.  So I go to the shelf, remove the book, and search. It took me a bit to find it, but I did.  Of course, I was singing “me” instead of “us”!  I sang the song.  I read the lyrics.  I cried.  Yeah, I’m brought to tears a lot in my guilt-ridden humbleness.  I tried to ignore it.  I prayed. I prayed asking God why this is being repeated over and over and over, again and again.  So, then I look up at the sign from Donna.  “Be still and know that I am God.”  I tried but didn’t hear an answer, except that I should put this into words here, but I’m not feeling much release here either.  I’m hearing this song as background music. This will be a strange Saturday for sure. *Head in hands, shakes her head* Let Us Ever Walk With Jesus (#802 ELW) 1 Let us ever walk with Jesus, Follow His example pure, Flee the world, which would deceive us And to sin our souls allure. Ever in His footsteps treading, Body here, yet soul above, Full of faith and hope and love, Let us do the Father’s bidding. Faithful Lord, abide with me; Savior, lead, I follow Thee. 2 Let us suffer here with Jesus, To His image e’er conform; Heaven’s glory soon will please us, Sunshine follow on the storm. Though we sow in tears of sorrow, We shall reap with heav’nly joy; And the fears that now annoy Shall be laughter on the morrow. Christ, I suffer here with Thee; There, oh, share Thy joy with me! 3 Let us also die with Jesus. His death from the second death, From our soul’s destruction, frees us, Quickens us with life’s glad breath. Let us mortify, while living, Flesh and blood and die to sin; And the grave that shuts us in Shall but prove the gate to heaven. Jesus, here I die to Thee There to live eternally. 4 Let us gladly live with Jesus; Since He’s risen from the dead, Death and grave must soon release us. Jesus, Thou art now our Head, We are truly Thine own members; Where Thou livest, there live we. Take and own us constantly, Faithful Friend, as Thy dear brethren. Jesus, here I live to Thee, Also there eternally.

Resting In His Love

WARNING: This may be a very emotional post.  So, far I’ve not gotten through any of it without many tears.  I’ve read it, and I’ve written it, and now I’m putting it out for the world.

I know that if two or more of my devotional readings line up, I’d better pay attention. Maybe because it’s raining and I’ve recently changed my thinking about raindrops being kisses from heaven.  Or maybe because I miss those who have gone before me.  Maybe I don’t know…but today is one of those days.

Even though, I know how my own mother’s love for me was unconditional, and I know how the love for my own children is unconditional, I’m so totally overwhelmed, blown away, with the unconditional love of the Father.  Perhaps it’s my deserve level I need to work on.

Read Romans 4:1-5,13-17.

In today’s entry from Christ In Our Home by Rev. Gene G. Bradbury, I read, “God acts first and foremost on our behalf. That is the gospel, the “Good News”. We are loved because God is love. We are not loved because we deserve love; rather, we are like the child welcomed onto the mother’s lap because she is the mother. There are no conditions.  It is as simple as that.  God welcomes us.

Gracious God, thank you for your continuous welcoming love, through Christ. Amen”

Read Psalm 33:22.

Then I read this from Mornings With Jesus, 2013, the March 16, 2013 entry by Erin Keeley Marshall.  ”I wondered at the effect of Jesus’ love resting on us. Just snuggling against her mother’s familiar heartbeat called Emma, when we draw near to Jesus, His nearness soothes us and allows us to find true rest.  I can almost feel the warmth of His hand on my back now, the stresses of life fading under the gentle press of His care, my head supported, the race of my thoughts slowing in time with His.

Someday I will be held by Jesus in person.  That truth stuns me, and I savor it…Someday I will hear my Savior’s heartbeat.

What a thought.  It is enough to rest in today.

FAITH STEP:  Give yourself a time-out, even if it’s only ninety seconds long, to imagine meeting Jesus face-to-face.  Enjoy a measure of rest simply anticipating those first moments with Him.”

I know there are many more references to be recognized, but these are the ones that bring me to my knees today.

Listening for God’s Direction

lent-reflect_1-logo

I really need to be more attentive to posting.  This is actually a draft I started in early January.

So many verses, devotions, thoughts, are coming together this morning that I can hardly recall them all, nor contain myself for all the emotion within me.  I saw a video, I thought was from a Max Lucado email.  This video of A Child From Bethlehem, sung by a boys choir, brought tears to me.  I am so upset that I can’t find it anywhere.

2 Chronicles 3, Isaiah 42:1-9…Everything has reference to the events of yesterday when I made the decision to withdraw from college and wait until after my 60th birthday to take advantage of the Senior Citizen discount from $98 to $18 for fees (how frugal of me).

We’re now in the midst of Lent, and I’m in a bit of a tizzy.  Because my poor planning, I haven’t decided what my Lenten discipline should be this year.  I don’t know why I expected that this year would be any different from past years.  I’ve been in depressed state of mind since Mom passed away in October.  I don’t think it’s anything serious, but I know it’s there.  I thought about adding a prayer devotion, but instead, I’ve now added yoga and a walking regimen.  I’ve been such a slug for the past six months and it’s evident that changes need to be made.

My friend Jill, and I, had a most beautiful conversation about praying, being still, and listening for God’s direction.  It so reminded me of Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God…”  A few years ago my beautiful friend, Donna, gave me a  sign that lives above our dining room windows.  I see it every day.  Pray, and then be quiet, and He will give you his message, maybe not right away, but He will.  Too many times I seem to be hard-of-hearing.  I can only hope that the next time we get together, He’ll speak up a little, or maybe cure my deafness.

Happy Lent.  Listen for the message.

Penmanship

Working in the County Treasurer’s office, I see a lot of different writing styles.  So many times it’s not even legible. It’s amazing that the young people, especially, do more printing than cursive writing. Cursive writing isn’t even taught in the schools anymore.  It’s truly becoming a lost art.

Since the first of the year, I’ve been doing more journaling, which translates into, ‘I’ve been doing more writing.  I’ve always been pretty proud of my penmanship and I’ve been paying more attention to it.  I always thought my mother had the most beautiful handwriting, and now I can see that I have picked up many of same strokes of her pen.  I think it was early in the third grade when Mrs. Boebel introduced us to the Palmer method of cursive handwriting.  The Palmer method isn’t quite as artistic as the writing of the 19th century, but it is more so than D’Neilian, which was taught to us in the fifth grade.

I always struggled with the perfect formation of the capital “I” and “W”, and I really wasn’t all that excited about what the “F” was all about. There’s just something about that “F” that isn’t very attractive to me.  So, today I spent way too much time on Google searching for the writing charts of my early school days.  I think I found one that at least satisfies my need to fine tune my writing.  I think this chart will help me be more consistant.  I don’t think I’ll let go of all of the ways I write, but I’ll be happier knowing I’ve gotten back on track.

 

Continued from October 2011 – The Keil Place

Ha!  I bet you thought I’d died or something.  Not so.

From Palmer Canyon we moved to HWY 34, south and west of Wheatland.  We rented from Bernetta Carberry.  There was a garage, barn, and chicken house.  I loved having chickens, but we had a rooster who hated Mrs. Carberry.  She came out to the place once or twice a week.  The  chickens were pretty much free range and when her back was turned he’d nail her in the back of her leg.  That happened twice, but the last time she insisted either we wring his neck or we’d have to move.  We liked chicken and dumplings so he met his demise, but it wasn’t long and we moved east up the highway to the Keil place.

That summer I played on the women’s slow-pitch team for the Commadore Bar.  It was so much fun.  Right up to the point when I tore the muscle on the top of my right thigh.  Here’s the play by play…Rick Bowen, owner of the bar and coach, put me in as catcher.  So far I’m doing great.  He also had me down as first batter (not a great strategy.   I stepped up to the plate, swung, and hit an incredible drive between the short-stop and second base.  I ran hard, but about four steps toward first base I felt this excrutiating pain of the muscle separating.  Rick was being the first base coach and kept yelling, “Run!  Run!”.  So, I ran! Clear to second base where he called in a replacement runner and carried me off the field.  Someone pulled a bag of ice out of a beer cooler and it layed on my leg, and there I set for the remainder of the game.

It seems I don’t have very good luck with playing the baseball sort of games.  In the early evening on the 4th of July, before Red and I were married, we were playing baseball in the pasture east of Curly and Bonnie Dura’s log house on Washington Road.  I was playing third base.  Walt Mann hit the ball my direction.  It hit the rock we were using for the base and bounced up and popped me in the lip.  It split my lip and Red dashed me off to the doctor’s office where Dr. Howshar put four stitches in it.  We were out of there in time to watch the fireworks, but I wasn’t feeling to cheerful.

Rick and Shirley Keil owned the trailer house we moved into after the Carberry place.  I was pregnant with Sarah.  Red was working for Worthen Van Service in Guernsey.  Allen King moved in with us that summer.  We had two bedroom.  Since Red and Allen worked nights, Jeremy and BJ slept their usual routine.  I would get them off to school and then Allen would sleep in one of their beds during the day.

After Sarah was born I think I suffered from post-partum depression.  Understandibly since it had been 9 years between babies, and the fact that she was a colicky baby.  My God!  I remember a time when I was so depressed, I put a sign on my bedroom door that said something to the effect that ‘the Queen was in her room and was not to be disturbed!!!’ and I went to bed.  The guys took it seriously and I was able to sleep all afternoon.  I never had to do that again.

WARNING!  If you have a tendency to be offended by women who nurse in public…DO NOT READ beyond this point.

I was producing mega amounts of milk after the little red-head birth.  So much so, even though I was taking those little football shaped pills to dry me up, I could sit in the bathtub and literally take a milk bath.  What a wonderful feeling to have the pressure released from my breasts.

When Jeremy and BJ were born, I was told by their father that I could not breast-feed my babies.  “No wife of mine is having a baby hanging off her chest!”  Yeah, that’s what I thought too.  Anyway, one afternoon I was in so much pain, and Sarah was crying so much.  Her poor little guts were just killing her.  For some reason the maternal instinct took over and I put the babe to my breast.  HOLY MOTHER OF GOD!!!  She sucked so hard and my breasts were so tender.  It hurt so bad, I never did that again!

One night during the coldest night of the winter, maybe during Christmas break when Jeremy and BJ were in Wisconsin (because I was alone with Sarah) I was hearing noises.  I was getting really scared, so while Sarah slept, I was wide awake.  My imagination led me to believe someone was outside the mobile home.  So I picked up my .22 revolver and watched out the windows.  I couldn’t see anything but was still hearing the noises.  Now keep in mind that I most always had someone around at night and this young woman wasn’t all that brave.  My next course of action in my near hysteria was to call the Sheriff’s Department, and call I did.  Whomever I was talking to was so calm and patient.  At some point she offered to send a deputy, but I was calming down some and we decided that was’t necessary. The moment I told her I had a gun she really started paying attention.  She asked me all sorts of questions about it.   I think she wanted to make sure I knew what I had and maybe even that I was familiar enough with it to use it.  It wasn’t long, and we were nearly friends at this point, that we agreed that it was probably just the extreme cold causing the metal to creak.

In April of the following year we moved to the Cozad place, owned by Harvey Cozad, one mile south of town.  This was a good place for us.  We stayed eleven years and then bought our present home in town.

More for another day.

 

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