I learned this recipe from one of my dearest Amish friends. She’s more like an older sister-friend to me. When I visit with her, she likes to drag me everywhere…literally, holding my hand and off she marches! She has made my life so rich and given me so many blessings. It’s impossible to not honor her with my first Friday’s Fare Recipe! I encourage you to try this. If I can make it, YOU can make it. I’m notorious for exploding chickens and burning cookies. This one is so simple that even I can make it…and the smell that permeates the house? Wow!
2 cups warm water
2/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon Brewer’s yeast (optional)
6 cups flour
Dissolve the sugar in the warm water before adding the yeast. Let it set until foamy. Add salt, oil, and Brewer’s yeast into the mixture. Slowly add the flour and mix. Knead dough until smooth then return to well-oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth until it doubles in bulk. Punch down the dough. Knead again and then divide/shape into two loaves. Place in bread pans and allow to rise again. Bake for thirty minutes at 350 degrees.
All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
Once upon a time, there was a mother bird…a little nuthatch.
(Why a nuthatch? Why not? I like them. They have cute little heads, neat coloring, and small, round bellies. They are different. Frankly, I don’t think we talk about nuthatches enough. Oh, we hear plenty about chickadees, sparrows, cardinals, robins, blue jays, hummingbirds…but no one really talks about nuthatches so today, my mother bird is a nuthatch!)
She had two baby birds. The first baby bird was very active, always wanted to learn how to fly, didn’t want help to learn how to fly, and then, when he found out it was difficult to fly, do you know what that baby bird decided to do? He decided it was better to walk and hop, even though the mother bird told him that the cat might catch him if he never learned how to fly. But that baby bird knew more than the mother bird and refused to be told what to do. And the father bird told the mother bird she was pushing too much on the baby bird.
The second baby bird was not as active and listened to the mother bird. She took her time and worked at learning how to fly. She didn’t care if it was hard work. She practiced as much as she could and eventually she learned how to fly. Unfortunately, she flew away from the nest and the mother bird was sad. Oh, the second baby bird came back from time to time, only to show off her flying, which made the mother bird happy but left her feeling isolated and lonely.
The first baby bird saw the flying sibling and felt jealous. His friends told him that he didn’t need to fly; hopping and walking were just fine. Instead of trying to learn how to fly, he refused to even try anymore. He listened to his friends and kept walking and hopping, despite his mother’s warnings of the danger that lingered ahead.
The cat captured him and wounded the baby bird.
Another bird criticized the mother bird. “Why didn’t you teach him how to fly? This is all your fault. You need to apologize to the baby bird for not supporting him.”
The mother bird refused, knowing that she had tried to teach the baby bird, but he had refused to learn. She said that the baby bird needed to learn how to fly, otherwise he had to leave the nest.
The baby bird was angry with her and left. The other bird let the baby bird move into his nest so that he could console the baby bird and, maybe, teach him how to fly. However, the baby bird still did not want to learn how to fly and let the other bird nurse his wounds from the cat. The mother bird was distraught, hardly sleeping at night and worrying to the point of becoming sick. Still, she knew that if she gave in and let the baby bird keep walking and hopping instead of flying that he would get wounded again from the cat. She also knew that she could not force him to learn how to fly…nor could she let him continue hopping and walking, not from her nest.
This is a lesson that goes far beyond a mother bird and baby bird. It happens with friends, family, neighbors, and even co-workers. Sometimes we do not have control over things that happen in life. Sometimes we have to take a step back and let people we love fail and fall. We be there to pick them up, but we cannot always rescue them from their own decisions…good, bad, or…indifferent. It hurts to stand back and watch someone we care about fall, waiting for them to hit rock bottom. Sometimes other people can criticize that we are not doing more. But to do more only enables the initial problem. Like that mother nuthatch, we can only have faith that the afflicted, suffering, and fallen will survive and reach out for our assistance. Only then can we take their hand to help them stand back up.
I suppose that’s a lot like God. He gives us all of the equipment to fly, like our little nuthatch. Some learn how to fly and do great things with it. Others do not. But He has everlasting patience. When we do not listen to Him, we often suffer the consequences. God might not swoop down and rescue us, for it is important that, just like little children and baby birds, we learn to reap what we sow. However, as soon as we ask for God’s forgiveness and guidance, He is there to pick up the pieces. He will not always carry us away from troubled times, but He can carry us through them…if we ask.
“…every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour…”
1 Cor 3:8
Don’t you sometimes feel that you are working, working, working and there is little reward for your efforts? It can be rather discouraging, can’t it? You work hard to be a good parent and something awful happens. You try to be patient with family members and someone pushes your buttons. Other people in your life pass responsibility for issues onto you as if you are the source of all the problems in the world.
The other day, I was driving down my favorite road (yes, I have a favorite road…Dickson Mill Road in Harding). It’s long, winding, and very isolated. There is a brook that runs through a field on the left and pretty farms on the right. When the weather is nice, I sometimes ride my horse through secret paths in the woods that parallel the road. It’s a road that makes me feel happy…good memories, especially the first time I went riding there with my neighbors and they didn’t warn me about the unexpected “jumps” ahead of us around the curve in the path. My Quarter Horse, Levi, cleared them…no problem…while I barely hung on, “grabbing mane” so I wouldn’t fall…as I usually do! Talk about an adrenaline rush. Ahhhhh, good times.
Unfortunately, on this particular day, this winding road was also covered in ice…something I had not realized when I started my journey. With the mounds of snow on either side of the two lane road, it had turned into a one and a half lane road. And my car stinks in the snow and ice. Apparently a car coming the other way did not know the poor driving conditions on the road either for the driver was trying to do a K turn in the middle of the road and at a curve.
I wasn’t driving fast (as I am known to do) because of the ice and I was able to slow my car down. But my face must have shown my annoyance at the poor decision making of this man. Fifteen feet behind him was a driveway. Ten feet before him was another. There were two very good choices for turning around. Instead, he chose to turn around at a very tight spot…on a patch of ice…in the middle of the road and at a curve. And when I approached, I had to slow down, praying that my car would stop.
What did he do?
He gave me one of those annoyed hand shakes. You know the kind…when the person scowls and waves their hands as if saying, “What are you, an idiot?”
I was stunned. In hindsight, I don’t know why I was so shocked. I’ve been seeing more and more of this behavior from people in recent days…weeks…years. It’s not just the weather, either. It’s an attitude that makes my heart weep. So many people blame others for their woes and problems when, if they examined their own actions, they might be surprised to see what they have done to contribute to (or even cause!) the situation.
I see this attitude everywhere…in adults and in children, including my own: the inability to take responsibility for their actions and deal with the consequences.
- Children sulking because they did not get what they wanted after misbehaving or being disrespectful.
- Students asking for extra credit to make up for poor grades when they didn’t do the work in the first place.
- Parents blaming the school system for their children’s performance (or lack thereof).
- Patients accusing the doctors for their illnesses and duration of treatment.
- Employees questioning why they didn’t get a raise when they gave less than 100% of their effort.
- Owners of companies wondering why morale is so low when they have unfair business practices (such as laying off people before throwing lavish holiday parties or announcing no annual raises to employees while secretly giving bonuses to upper management).
But God sees everything. Even when one person works hard and tries to do the right thing with no visible reward, God sees. And God rewards accordingly: ”…every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour…” It’s not easy putting others first all of the time, worrying about children, wanting to do the right thing, trying to help people in need whether it’s a homeless student shivering in the streets of Newark, NJ during a blizzard or a distraught woman in a doctor’s office who needs a hug from a stranger. There is no reward…no earthly reward…for having the empathy to reach out a hand and home to that student or hug that stranger and listen to her problems. Most people would walk by, oblivious to the needs of those people. It’s easier. Believe me. Helping others, putting them first, is hard labour.
But, when I’m feeling despondent and weary, I reflect on this verse: ”…every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour…”
God sees the person whose labour is laziness and not hard work. He sees those people who blame others for their problems. God sees those people who complain about their situation in life but are not willing to do a little extra to rise above. God sees those people who skirt responsibility and cut corners, whether with school work, chores, relationships, or life in general. God sees those people who blame the school system, teacher, employer, parent, spouse, employee, or someone else for the problems in his or her life.
God sees. And God rewards accordingly.
It’s hard to do the right thing. Sometimes I question whether I should throw in the towel, forget the right thing and do the easiest thing (which is usually the wrong thing). I’ve done it before. I’m not perfect. And for that, I apologize. But I know better. Whether my reward is here on earth or not, I have no choice but to make the hard decisions and stand by them. And hopefully, just hopefully, that man who shook his hands at me on Dickson Mill Road thought back on his nasty gesture and felt bad. Maybe he apologized to God for being irritable and taking it out on a stranger.
As for me, I’ll continue extending a ear to the weeping woman in the waiting room or helping people in need, regardless of how much easier it would be to simply turn my back and walk away. I’ll accept responsibility for my contribution to problems in my life rather than look for scapegoats. And I’ll continue to enforce consequences when I have to, refusing to enable others, especially when it impacts the lives of those people I choose to include in my life. After all, I have to live with myself and, more importantly, the knowledge that God sees everything…