What do you think of when you hear the phrase Fresh Bread? I think of my huge desire to make fresh baked bread for my family, and my enormous failure to do so.  I have friends who store and grind their own grain, who have been baking bread for their families for years!  I have held onto the hope that someday I will join them… but alas!  I have not.  I have never even successfully kept the friendship bread cycle going when it has been generously given with someone else’s glorious expectation of how it will just bless my boots off!  Instead, the yeast concoction was so long-forgotten in my fridge, only to be rediscovered later behind leftover containers and all of the other once-edible-now-petri dishes of sorts.
I don’t even go to the grocery store!   In fact, the other day I was out with a friend to get items from the craft stores for some last-minute back-to-class teaching preparations.  I allowed myself to become COMPLETELY distracted in Garden Ridge by the discounted hardcover books.  The kid-friendly cookbooks caught my eye.
“This is the year!  I am going to teach my kids to cook in the kitchen with me… I am going to put fun in what I dread… we will eat FRESH!!!  Then maybe, just maybe, I will even make them fresh baked bread!”
There are a few juicy and embarrassing morsels about me that you must know – confessions I must make before I say another word…
Mike and I have been married for thirteen and a half years (he would know to the exact day), and about a year into our move to Atlanta, Mike took over all of the grocery shopping.  I don’t believe he realized that by helping me out while I was juggling a part-time ministry job and five house-cleaning jobs that he would still be working full-time and doing all of the grocery runs TWELVE YEARS LATER!!!  :::blushing:::
To dig my hole even a little deeper, I have a more recent confession.  On the night before I was out looking at the cookbooks, I actually had this cell conversation with Mike on his way home from work:
Mike: What do you want to do for dinner?
Me: I don’t care.
Mike: Well… do you need me to pick something up?
Me: Sure.
Mike: (waiting for me to tell him what… but nothing sounded good.) Well, I’ll just get Arby’s then.
As if the dreadful dinnertime lack of enthusiasm isn’t bad enough, or the fact that we fed our small children “liquid meat” for dinner (ew), it gets worse.  I called him back…
Mike: Hello.
Me: Are you still in the drive-thru, or have you already paid?
Mike: I haven’t made the order yet.
Me: Oh GOOD!  Can you add a few kid milks to the order?  Then they’ll have milk for cereal in the morning, and I can make my morning latte…
Did you catch the insanity, people???  I, the wife and Mom of this beautiful little family was TOO LAZY to go to the grocery store to pick up milk!!!
So that is what led me to browse through the cookbook section with Emmalee and say, “This is the year!  I, Ami, am GOING to man up to the grocery store!  I am giving Mike some time off!!!  I will cook, and we shall eat.  Whatever I make!  No more money to Sanders, McDonald, P.F. Chang, or Wendy.  With the simple help of Williams, Sonoma, Betty Crocker, and Emeril… I shall cook my way out of this insanity!”
Okay, maybe it wasn’t quite so dramatic.  However, as Emmalee and I sat at Chick-Fil-A looking through my new cookbooks while the kids played, I realized that it was time to start a blog.  THIS could be MY Julie & Julia!  Now, I know that no one in the world CARES what the Shroyer family eats for dinner, or whether Mike or I shopped for the groceries, but I began to wonder if perhaps there are more women out there like me.  Women (and men) who want to sit and talk around the dinner table, who want to create family life-moments that will become forever memories… but who are busy people, and perhaps even people who really don’t like to cook.
Did I just say that? (I am so sorry Mom!!!)  Actually I love to “guinea pig” elaborate foods for dinner parties and for friends, especially if they look pretty (the foods, that is.  Friends can look however they wish!).  By and large, the long line of family cooks, dare I say fantastic chefs, came to an abrupt halt… with me.
I know this is a blog (more like a drive-thru), and I am being long-winded (resembling a slow-cooker), so let me serve up the point:
Ever since last Wednesday, I have been doing all of the grocery shopping!!!  I have been on a quest to get in the kitchen with my kids, and we are freshening things up as a family!  J Michael and Sadie have been making meals with me and learning to read recipes and how to measure ingredients.  They are even discovering how to find their way through the appropriate canned good aisles in a grocery store…
***But don’t think for a second that this blog is only going to revolve around shopping and cooking.  In fact, that is an afterthought to the real goal.  You see, I have been making lots of random living spaces “HOME” as we have relocated to North Carolina with a house in Atlanta that took over two and a half years to sell!  Right now, we are making a small cozy condo that the kids call “Mr. Condo” our DREAM HOME, and as we venture into making the Cre8 ministry become a reality… we are on a daily quest to make FRESH BREAD.
Fresh Bread is DAILY LIFE for the family.  We all need it! 
I adore this quote from the book God’s Trademarks, by George Otis, Jr:

Bread (John 6:32) is exactly what God offers us, and it is “the true bread from heaven,” the one who declared, “I am the bread of life; He who comes to me will never go hungry.”  It is Jesus the satisfier.  The Bread of heaven is the Word of God in expression.  He is not only true, he is fresh and creative… Apart from God’s holiness and selfless and far-reaching love, it is His creativity that stands out as perhaps His most dominant characteristic.  God is, and always has been, a creator.  Creativity is His nature, His very essence.  It is impossible for Him to author or deliver ministry that is worn, vapid, stale, or routine.

As we live each day to reach our bigger goals, we can’t miss the now-life moments that are right there in front of us, ready to fill up our time, feed our spirits, and not only create our best family memories but also the best of each family member.  We are first ministers in the home, serving those who surround us every day.

One personal and practical Fresh Bread challenge for me:  I am going to keep up the grocery shopping and the cooking, blogging until the first time I mess up and Mike has to go out and get something that I didn’t!

One personal spiritual fresh bread challenge: I know that I need to be in the Word before the kids wake up, so even though we are late-night people, I need to be fueling myself in the morning.

Fresh Bread Challenges for us all:  During this time, please really think about what it is in your home that needs to be “made fresh daily” and then serve it up.  Share what you are doing.  I’d love to know what you are cookin'(spiritually as well as literally)… and I believe that we can and will learn from each other,  kind of like  the friendship bread yeast concoction that made it OUT of the fridge and then “rose” to its intended purpose!  (please don’t send me any real friendship bread.  That would just be too much too fast.)

I will leave you with just a few pix from “Mr. Condo” of the kids in the kitchen.  (Sorry for the image quality.  They are from my phone since my camera is on the fritz… se la vie.)  Enjoy!

Making Grape Poppers for an appetizer

JMichael’s first casserole!  Look at all of the green they ate, and each child had at least two helpings!!!
Toasting JMan’s Messy Milkshakes – MMMMM…
“Thank you, Mommy!” they both said to me in unplanned unison.
Miss Emmalee, joining in on this crazy family fun!

A FRESH BREAD Child, Rising