Going Underground

Good friends!

I’m about to become a spy of sorts…

And this photo may seem unrelated, but it’s not.

IMG_4879

My son had a play date!

When you have a child with developmental struggles, then you might understand the  underlying meaning of my excitement. We have entered a new season here at the Meyer home.  A season of a new school, and new friends, and new hope.

You see… Last year was hard.

And this new season–a season of play dates!!!–has my mama’s heart, and my writer’s mind headed in new directions. All of my creative energies, all of my practical, and emotional, and physical energies… much of my spiritual life has all been pointed in one direction these last two years. Toward one little blonde boy, whom we adore with all our hearts. But finally I have help. Right now, he has a whole team rooting him on, teaching him things we have tried to share out of sheer instinct. He’s on a new road and progressing well. We are on a new road together.

I’m so grateful that the baking, and the giving have become second nature to me. I don’t mix one loaf, I mix two. I cart the other off to a neighbor, to someone hungry on the street, to a new mom, or someone struggling with illness. I get asked to bake for potlucks, and to add to the homeless meals on Mondays. I’ve felt my heart stretch and have been thankful for this online community who has cheered me on… Thank you!

Thank you.

But I’m ready for my giving to go underground. For it to be between me and my family, and between me and my God. I’m ready to write about other things. To write about others who give. And to write about one little boy and this home that supports him, and my friends who pray for me, and to allow those other words, struggling to come out, to find a place.

This is not the end. This blog will continue to grow and stretch. I’ll still post baking tips from time to time. And recipes. And I’ll find ways to share, but there will definitely be a shift. Just wanted you to know, since you have only offered me encouragement these last many years.

Thank you for being such lovely supporters of my giving, and my blogging about it. I’ve enjoyed sharing with you some of the ups (mostly ups!) and downs.

And I thought it’d be nice to put in some links to some of my favorite posts over the last four plus years. Maybe I’m just sentimental, but I sure have enjoyed this space…

Thankful for family. November 2009

A trip back to the family house in France. November 2009

Struggling to give. December 2009

On Silliness. December 2009

Learning from the poor. January 2010

Making salt from scratch. April 2010

Asking reluctant children to give. June 2010

Musings on blogging publicly about my giving. July 2010

A very large, sloppy cake and a birthday party in the forest. November 2010

One of my favorite ways to bake–rolls in the round. March 2011

On being a better giver. March 2011

It really does snow in the mountains above Santa Barbara. March 2011

Changed through giving. April 2011

Morning light. May 2011

The best scone recipe in the world. May 2011

On not blogging, but just giving. August 2011

All about Saint Brigid. January 2012

Slowing down. January 2012

Staying thin. February 2012

Planting wheat berries to grow wheat grass. May 2012

Learning from those who leave us. September 2012

Giving with teens. November 2012

The beauty of Simple and Slow. November 2012

Recipe for making prosphoron. December 2012

At the monastery–the best way to start a new year. January 2013

Making butter from scratch. January 2013

Two reasons I don’t often blog (my children!). March 2013

A short trip to Paris! July 2013

Sending you all love and good cheer, my friends. And happy baking!

In the meantime, you can always find me on instagram, facebook, sometimes on twitter, I log all the books I like and read on goodreads, and you can always contact me through my website.

jane

Ongoing Lesson #332–Just Ask

One little loaf of coconut chocolate bread

Baked on Wednesday

Just for me…

All week I’ve been wondering about myself. Last weekend was a douzy–as I baked enough bread to feed over 200 people. It was the first time I’ve ever taken on that level of production in my little home oven and though I had fun turning my kitchen into Command Central, the amount of flour and buttermilk and swirls with the wooden spoon almost did me in. No, the mixing wasn’t so bad, now that I look back, and the baking, with all those loaves piling up, was quite fun. It was the slicing. Hunched over the cutting board in the church kitchen, I was wishing desperately for one of those old fashioned electric slicers I used in high school when I worked at my dad’s bakery. There’s a lovely long silver lever that pulls open the blades. You place the bread in the back of the slicer, let go of the lever, pull a knob open in the front, and the machine noisily cuts thick or thin or somewhere-in-between slices in four fabulous seconds.

Last weekend, when I was sawing my way through loaf number 14 or so of the thick-crusted soda bread, I felt a blister develop on my right palm. God is so good. In walked my husband and I smiled, then handed over our dulling bread knife. Have at it, Oh, Mighty Husband of Mine! He slices bread beautifully…

Anyway, the day following the Big Bake I headed over to our church school and had an awesome time speaking to the kids about Saint Brigid and making crosses. They are precious little munchkins. A full day–but so fun.

But come Tuesday I was beat. I’d been baking and blogging like crazy all January, and still with one big event on the horizon–one more Saint Brigid baking adventure with thirty or so women from our church (tomorrow).

So, it didn’t surprise me too much, when late Tuesday night I mixed only one batch of bread for the next day’s bake. As I was quickly stirring the water into the flour, and coconut, and chocolate mix (something I’d been wanting to try all January but didn’t because it didn’t seem very fifth century!) I knew I was being stingy. I was full of yawns and sleepy thoughts, and yet, what excuse was that? I’m full of yawns most every night when I mix my next day’s bread. I was purposefully leaving my neighbor out of this. To be truthful, I didn’t much care.

This both surprised me, and didn’t. I can be contrary–even to myself. On the one hand, I know that writers, mothers, folks in general, all need seasons of breaks to regroup and catch their breath. With several big events sitting on the back side of my week, and another big event still to come, one measly loaf of bread seemed just fine in the middle. And yet…  I didn’t sign up to bake just for me. I didn’t.

So, I come to you a bit ashamed. I went dormant and bare, like the oak pictured above–that beautiful oak that we found in our snowy mountains only two weeks ago. But that snowy oak is supposed to be dormant and bare! Aha, there’s the catch. That snowy oak, despite his season of rest, still holds out his branches to the birds. So, the comparison isn’t even fair. He sticks to his purpose, season in and season out, and I don’t. He’s got a spirit of giving wrapped all around those beautiful bare branches, and my spirit of giving shriveled into one loaf of delicious, yet very selfish coconut chocolate bread baked just for me and those who sit daily around my table. (It figures chocolate would somehow figure into the equation!!!)

I hope I learned yet another lesson this week–to stick to the sharing plan, even when tired. I didn’t think I had the strength to mix another batch, to give yet another batch–and I probably didn’t. But we all know that there’s more strength to be had if we just ask.

Forgive me, Lord. I didn’t even ask.

Stormy Weather

bowl full of pomegranate seeds

hot cup of Hoji-cha green tea

seed cookie

struggling with giving more…

For two days I have baked, but haven’t blogged. Wednesday I made two lovely loaves of molasses bread and shared them with the folks at church. During Advent we have a paraklesis every Wednesday, then a short teaching, then a soup dinner… Homemade bread is always welcome and it’s great to see the folks enjoying it with such vigor during this time of fasting.

Yesterday I shared a loaf of French bread with Kh. Jan, Father Nicholas and their dinner guests. They are the ultimate givers. If I could, I’d make them a loaf of bread every day.

And there’s the rub. Even though I’m enjoying baking bread and giving it away in these small doses, I’m struggling that we’re not doing more. So many pleas are coming in the mail and we just can’t write any more checks. And it’s freezing at night, literally, and despite California being a haven for homeless folks, freezing weather is freezing weather. And when it rains, I feel guilty, sitting here sipping my tea, Dragon Tales on in the background, the dishwasher and heater humming…

Last week I met a young girl who held a sign asking for help. I stopped. I didn’t used to stop. I chatted with her and heard a bit of her story. She was so cute with her clean, round face surrounded by a colorful knit Scandinavian hat. I asked her her name and took her phone number–said I’d call. Even thought about offering my office as a place to sleep.

For days I felt guilty, her name coming to mind over and over–and yet I wouldn’t call. On the one hand my heart seems to be softening and on the other hand I see just how hard I am.

So, it continues to rain, and I continue to bake, and drink my green tea in my cozy home.

My friend, who works with the homeless day in and day out, says you just need to be satisfied with what you can do right now. That the guilt can overwhelm you and drag you under.

Baby steps.

The thought of Cheyenne weighs heavy on my mind. I never should have said I’d call–it was a false thing to do–just something that made me feel oh-so pleased with myself at the moment. I deserve an entire lecture on good intentions.

If you have any words of wisdom for stormy days like this–I’d love to hear your thoughts…