From an old South Australian cookbook, Circa 1945.
Yesterday something happened with our son that magnified the importance of creating daily FRESH BREAD moments in the home.  This is J. Michael.  He is a very caring boy with a magnetic personality.  It is impossible for him to hide his guilt, and ever since he was a baby I have thanked God every day for giving him such a special heart.
He spent plenty of time in the time-out chair when he was little, learning that whatever misbehavior he had done had come from within,  that bad words are not a mouth problem but a heart problem, that disobedience is not an action problem but a heart problem, etc. He would sit in “time out” until he “found his happy heart” and offered a sincere eye-to-eye apology.  This tender kid would at times put himself in time out after doing something that Mike or I did NOT see, and we would find him sitting in the dining room in the time out chair, looking out the window, even singing a song.  He has been quite easy to raise and to read, simply because this beautiful boy has such a high conviction meter!
The main struggle in JMan’s life has always been his desire to accumulate STUFF, and all week long now, he has been begging me to take him to the craft store to purchase some medieval knights and action figures to start yet another collection.
On Thursday, he brought out one of his banks (I will share our system for money-handling with the kids someday in a future post).  He proceeded to beg me to let him use his own money, promising me all manner of things that he would do if only I would let him get those toys.  So, not realizing what life lesson was about to ensue, I let him wear me down.  I said, “Okay, then.  For your math lesson today, you need to organize your coins and correctly count them.  You have twenty minutes, and I will allow you to take to the craft store as much as you can correctly count in that time.”
What I did not realize was how MUCH he would be able to accomplish in twenty minutes.  It certainly was not all of it, but it was, to my surprise much more than I would have intentionally agreed to.
We completed all of his other school subjects, and when Mike came home, we left for the craft store with J. Michael carrying a very heavy zip-loc bagful of coins.  On the way, I prepared him for the fact that he should not spend all of the money and why, even though I had set up the challenge in the way that I had.  With toys on the brain, he was not really listening.
When we got to the section with the figures, they were no longer organized well, and it was impossible to tell which ones were 50% off and which ones were full price.  So I let him take a basketful to the check-out, knowing full well that some would have to be put back.  He agreed.
Only TWO of the many he had chosen were even on sale at all! The manager then told me that in a week, they may be going on sale, so I told J. Michael that it would be wise to come back next week.  His great anticipation clouded his ability to reason along with the fact that he is a seven-year-old boy, now staring at a counter of collectibles that he is already playing with in his mind.  So with a heavy sigh, I can tell you that we ended up putting some of them back, but then went on to purchase as many as his bagful of money would allow!  (Side Note: it took a LONG WHILE, as we paid the entire bill in quarters, dimes, and nickels!)
Everything was wonderful in this little man’s world… until he was showing his dad the new toys.  Then when Mike asked how much he spent, J. Michael wouldn’t answer,  but stared with guilt at the floor.  I knew something much deeper was now at play.
I did not know that Mike had told J. Michael not to spend all of that money on those toys, and for the next day and a half, we were living with a different boy – one who was struggling with guilt and unease. 
I also allowed him to change his school presentation, scrapping the one he had planned and practiced in order to show his class his new treasures.  The boy who loves presentation time more than anything, struggled through it the entire time.  He was not himself for the rest of the afternoon either, and I could see in his shifty eyes that the inner conviction was growing like a wild-fire.
This brings us to yesterday and the MAJOR FRESH BREAD MOMENT!!!
As I was leaving to get my hair done, JMan and I had a short conversation.  I put my hand on his heart, and said, “I can see that you are struggling right now.”  He slowly nodded yes.  “So I think that you should go into your room and talk to God about it.  You can ask Him to forgive you, and He will.  You probably will not hear Him talk back to you with a voice like mine or Daddy’s, but it will be good for you to tell him how you are feeling about all of this.  After you do, then let’s talk about it together.  I am looking forward to seeing you free from this guilty feeling you have been carrying.  Daddy and I love you so much, and I am so sorry for the role that *I* have played in all of this, too.  You are growing up now, and there will be decisions like this one that Mommy and Daddy won’t be able to make for you.  Please forgive me and know that we are both here and we love you, no matter what!”

We hugged and I went to my hair appointment…

Later… Mike, the kids and I ate out with some friends, to celebrate some job promotions with them, and this is when I was completely overwhelmed by the power of FRESH BREAD:
J Michael and I walked alone in the parking lot of the restaurant.  He asked me to stop walking so he could tell me something.  “Mommy, I have been waiting all afternoon for a good time to tell you this.  After you told me to go to my room to talk to God, I did, and do you know what happened?”
I was eagerly listening…
“I just started to cry.  REALLY HARD.  I told Him EVERYTHING that I was feeling, and that I had been very selfish.  I kept asking Him to forgive me, and then I felt like my heart changed.”
He was now teary and choked up, and so was I.  “Mommy, that is the first time that I felt like God talked back to me, and He changed my heart, Mom!  He really did!  All of the bad I had in there went away!”
We just stood there hugging in the parking lot.  He asked me to help him tell Daddy right away, so we went inside and did, right in front of the tankful of swimming lobsters listening in.
A natural rock at the property where we hope to build Cre8

It was a beautiful dinner, sitting at a round table with friends, celebrating their accomplishments, and in our hearts, that of our son.  On our way home, J. Michael asked me to tell you this story and to ask you to not be afraid to talk to your kids about Jesus.  It is not always easy to do and we certainly do not always have the answers, but we do have a Rock to build those conversations on, and the Fresh Word that will speak life to our situations. 

Here are the lyrics from my song “If I Only Could” from my CD 40,000 Reasons:
This picture says much more than I ever could
If I could hold your heart and take the pain away
If I could shelter you from life’s bitter rain
Or help you search within yourself to find your smile again
You know I would
If I only could
If I could bring you to your knees at the foot of the Cross
Show that really living life is in the loss
And peace is in your willingness to pay the price
Oh, it’s in the Sacrifice

I can pray for you, my friend
And place you in the Hands
Of the One whose voice will call you in the night
He will guide you through the storm
Keep you safe, keep you warm
When you need to know the way, the truth, and the life

Just remember, lift your eyes to the Maker
The Maker of the deep celestial skies
His look is love
His arms are strong enough
To carry you.

Fresh Bread, to fuel both body and soul

One of the things we are doing to hide the Word of God in J. Michael’s heart takes place during his handwriting practice.  Right now, as he writes each capital letter, there is a coinciding Old Testament verse to write and memorize (example: A is for Awesome.  “How awesome is the LORD Most High.” Psalm 47:2).  Then we will repeat, using New Testament verses for each lowercase letter practice.

You can also see the FRESH BREAD snack awaiting him (still store bought, for now….)
But I have GOOD NEWS!!!  I was shocked and thankful that a local reader and friend brought me a very special gift the other night!  Inside is a super-easy package for me to make my first REAL fresh baked bread...
DETAILS and pictures COMING SOON…….
Love to you all!!!  I have been reading your suggestions and can’t wait to share some of the FRESH BREAD things that you are doing in YOUR homes… also, FRESH ARTISAN BREAD coming soon… readers say WHAT??!!!  YEP!!!  And I am going to bake them ALL…. one fresh loaf at a time….  (Mom – don’t faint!)
Go feed your families, and bon Appetit!!!
A little Short Bread, On-the-Go
The FRESH BREAD Challenge (My first blogpost ever!)