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Houses of Bread

“The bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”  
John 6:33, NIV

It wasn’t an everyday after-dinner occurrence, but there were times in my childhood when my sister and I would bundle up on a cold evening and ask our mother for bread. We’d each grab a slice, run to the large oak tree in the middle of our front yard, squat beneath it, and eat our fluffy white treat.

I know it sounds strange. And if you asked me why we did it, I wouldn’t be able to give you an answer. All I know is that when I remember those times shared with my sister, my heart smiles.

I’d almost forgotten about our odd ritual, until recently when I ran across a book written in 1995 by Dennis, Sheila, and Matthew Linn, Sleeping with Bread, Holding What Gives You Life. The Linn’s created their picture book to help families remember moments of consolation that had emerged from times of desolation and be grateful.

The book recounted the bombing raids of World War II when thousands of children were orphaned and left starving. The fortunate ones found refuge in camps where they could receive care, but fear kept many awake at night. Nothing consoled the children until someone thought to give each child a piece of bread. Holding the slice, they would fall asleep. The food reminded them, “Today I ate, and I will eat again tomorrow.”

The story of Ruth in Scripture opens during a time of famine in Israel. Elimelech had taken his wife Naomi and their two sons from their home in Bethlehem (The House of Bread) to the idolatrous region of Moab for refuge. The opening verse states, “he went to live there for a while.” Elimelech fully intended to return to Bethlehem, but he and his two sons never went back to the Promised Land. They died in the pagan land of Moab. Elimelech’s intentions were good, but leaving God’s place of provision was a bad idea.

Famine provokes movement. How many trips have you made to the refrigerator because your tummy rumbled? Or perhaps you can connect on a deeper level. How often have you jumped the fence for greener pastures only to find your “feast” short-lived?

The temptation to leave our houses of bread in times of physical or spiritual famine appeals to us, but our quick fixes are often short-lived. Jesus tells us, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35).

Don’t settle in a place outside of God’s will. You’ll stay longer than planned and forfeit the consolation and permanent solution that only comes from the giver and sustainer of life. Choose the bread God offers and grip it till morning comes. There in the early light, in the midst of God’s comforting presence, your heart will smile—and so will God.

Blessings,

Starr

Rainy Days and Mondays

“The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous.
Psalm 145:8, NIV

For those who survived the mind-bending seventies―an era marked by anti-war protests, women’s lib, bell-bottom pants, lava lamps, and Saturday Night Fever―the soft, compelling voice of Karen Carpenter was a welcome reprieve within the psychedelic acid rock and hippie subculture of the day.

Born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1950, Karen and her brother, Richard, released more than a dozen hit records by the time she was twenty-four. Less than ten years later she was gone. A victim of heart failure brought on by anorexia nervosa, a devastating eating disorder the general public knew little about until her death. Although known by her friends to be goofy and fun loving, inwardly she struggled to feel loved and accepted.

I write this devotion on a Monday. It’s raining—again. The words of Karen’s 1971 hit, Rainy Days and Mondays, roll through my mind. As she sings of how rainy Mondays always get her down, I note her words in the following line hold the solution to her pain. She states, “The only thing to do is run and find the one who loves me.” I wonder if she knew the One who truly loved her. If those who feel unloved and discarded in today’s society knew the One who loved them, there would be far less anxiety, depression, and suicide. God’s Word tells us that without hope, people perish (Proverbs 29:18). We see this sad conclusion play out daily in the news.

Our Heavenly Father is a God of compassion who desires to lift us above our circumstances. He encourages us to come to him when we are “weary and heavy-laden.” Walking daily by his side is where we’ll find rest for our souls (Matthew 11:28-30).

Do you know the One who loves you? If so, are you willing to share Christ’s love with someone who hasn’t experienced this freeing reality? Psalm 145 tells us that Jesus is loving and faithful. He is our Protector, Provider, Sustainer. He is our Savior, and he is near. Believers are Christ’s hands and feet in this turbulent world. The words we speak can lift the heads of those who are down-trodden. Be Jesus with skin on.

Rainy days and Mondays don’t always have to get us down.

Blessings,

Starr

Will Anything Do?

“So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to him.And when he had come near, he asked him, saying, “What do you want me to do for you?”He said, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.” 
Luke 18:40-41, NKJV

A blind beggar sat beside the road near Jericho. When he heard people approaching, he was told, “Jesus is passing by.” The beggar cried out to him for mercy, but those accompanying Jesus said, “Be quiet.” The blind man was desperate. He was not about to let the one able to heal him pass by. He hollered even louder. Jesus stopped. He stood still and asked for the blind man to be brought to him. When others reached out to lead him, the beggar dropped his outer garment and ran to Jesus.

“What do you want me to do for you?”  Jesus asked.

“Lord, I want to see.” 

He spoke. “Receive your sight. Your faith has made you well.”

Immediately, the blind man could see. He followed Jesus out of the city glorifying God. Those that witnessed the miracle glorified him too.

What a beautiful account of our compassionate Savior. Yet, when reading the story, I thought it odd that Jesus stood still. Wouldn’t it have been easier for everyone, if he’d simply walked over and healed the blind man?

I’ve lived through times of extended trials when I’ve wanted to pound my fist and say, “Jesus, don’t just stand there—do something.” Perhaps, you’ve had those moments too.

Our daughter has Down syndrome. While growing up, she was outgoing and talkative, but around the age of twenty-six, her personality changed. She became despondent and withdrawn. No one in the medical community had answers for us—only educated guesses and an abundance of medications which worsened her condition.

We held out hope for years that our daughter would return to her previous self. “Why are you standing there, Jesus? Why don’t you do something?” We live with a new normal now. Jesus didn’t move as we had hoped, but he did move.

We’re grateful our daughter is no longer despondent. By God’s loving mercy and grace, she’s happy—without the aid of medications. She still talks very little and seldom initiates conversation. Not because she can’t. She simply chooses not to. When there’s something she needs or wants, she prefers to point. That’s when we insist, “Use your words.”

So why does Jesus stand still? Perhaps, so we’ll see our need for his mercy. It’s in times of desperation that we exhibit a profound faith in his ability to meet our needs, drop all that hinders, and run to his side.

Jesus asks, “What is it you want me to do for you?” 

Don’t let him pass by. Use your words. If Jesus doesn’t give you what you want, I can assure you, he’ll give you something far better. He’ll give you what you need. Now that’s a reason to praise him.

Go ahead. Don’t just stand there. Use your words.

Blessings,

Starr