Made with Love
by Catherine Finger
Such light, such joy flows out from this house. It affects all who come here. Do not feel that you have to try and help them. Just love them, welcome them, shower little courtesies and love-signs on them, and they must be helped.
-God Calling, by A.J. Russell
“I can’t tell you what this means to me.” Misty eyed, my octogenarian-friend Pat pulled one hand from her walker and lifted it over me in a gesture of thanks. “The Lord wasn’t one bit surprised by this virus. Oh, no. He’s got plans for it. And us.”
“Well His plan for us today definitely involves pea soup, some chicken soup, and a bit of rosemary bread fresh out of the oven for you, my dear.” I hoped she saw me smile through my mask as I offered her my bag of homecooked goods as we stood in the vestibule of her quarantined senior center.
“No sir-ree, our God was not surprised by this business and He reigns over us, even now. And you have no idea what this means to me. And to Him.” As Pat started backing through the door, signifying the end to this week’s visit, I assured her there was more to come.
And there will be. This week’s plans include a few loaves of potato bread (magnificent in meatloaf sandwiches), meatloaf (see previous statement), and soup of some sort for my gentle-toothed senior friends. And some blueberry oatmeal bars, a batch or two of “clean” cookies, and maybe another round of my individual mini Bundt cakes.
My friends have dubbed this phenomenon “Catherine’s COVID Kitchen.” In fact, they schedule drive-by’s to come and get whatever I’m cooking up for the day. We’ve had some amazing curbside chats as I pass the goods through their window like some nefarious person exchanging illicit goods. We’re planning a COVID-appropriate bonfire at the moment, and I’m thinking of ways to create some campfire favorites in a way that will allow our six feet of perceived safety.
I love knowing I’m making someone’s day, and I also love to cook and experiment in the kitchen—so this is a win-win for me. As a single woman living alone, the last thing I need to be surrounded by during a mandatory stay at home order—that has just been extended through May 26 in Wisconsin—is the result of my baking benders! Enter Catherine’s COVID Kitchen—problem solved.
Cooking meals for yourself and others is a great way to extend your heart and home right now. Preparing, serving, and delivering warm, tasty meals are a great way to share God’s love with others. I prepared my traditional Easter meal—slow roasted leg of lamb—even though it was “just” for my brother and me. The requisite lamb and lentil stew I threw together with the leftovers was delivered with little happy notes to the porches of friends and a few dear seniors from church who are living in quarantine. I wish I could have bottled up the warmth flowing from Pat’s eyes as I stood in her vestibule, gloved and masked, with an unexpected basket of love—taking the form of homemade soups, breads, and mini cakes.
Sometimes love doesn’t have to be complicated. Love can be the extra few minutes you offer a stranger at a chance encounter as they pour out their frustrations of living in a fallen world. Love can be the simple gift of a genuine smile shared with a hurting soul. Love can be a daily text check-in with those in your life who live alone. Love can be an online game of Words with Friends expanded to include someone you don’t know very well. Love can be sharing a book with someone, reading at the same pace, and chatting about it online. Love can be a walk in the sunshine at a distance of six feet from your neighbors and their children, listing the things you will do together once the ban of being closer together is lifted.
How’s your home love life? This unpredicted time at home ringing round the world is the perfect opportunity to up our game in our hearts and homes. I like to think of my home as a place of love—as an extension of the love of the Father. I believe we all need a sense of home, of being grounded, of knowing that there is someone there preparing a place for us around their table. We can still embrace our concept of home, and of welcoming others into our home, during—and more importantly after—this challenging time of COVID.
To jumpstart your home love life, ask God to show you people in your life and on the edges of your life in need of a word or an expression of love today. You don’t have to cook and deliver meals—handwritten notes, daily phone calls, or texts also communicate value to others. Simply walking around your neighborhood if you are able to get out is a nice way to share a glimpse of life and life-to-come with those around you. A lot of people live most of their lives in fear—and that fear is on steroids right now. Remind them that perfect love casts out fear—simply by living your love out loud.
1 1/4-ounce packet active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup warm water
5 tablespoons softened butter
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons dried rosemary (Optional: 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary can also be added. Cut back to 1 tablespoon dried rosemary.)
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper as desired
- Stir the yeast, sugar and 1/4 cup warm water in a large bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer). Let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.
- Add butter, flour, rosemary, salt and 3/4 cup warm water; stir with a wooden spoon (or with the dough hook if using a mixer) until a dough forms.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, dusting lightly with flour if necessary, until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes. (Or knead with the dough hook on medium-high speed, adding a little flour if the dough sticks to the bowl, about 8 minutes.)
- Brush bread pan with olive oil. Add the dough, cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until more than doubled.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake approximately 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool.
Catherine Finger loves to dream, write, and tell stories. Retired from a wonderful career in public education, she celebrates the ability to choose how to spend her time in a new way during the second half of life. So far, she chooses to write books, ride horses, serve others, and generally find her way into and out of trouble both on the road and at home. She lives in the Midwest with a warm and wonderful combination of family and friends. Capsized by Death, the fourth novel in her Jo Oliver Thriller series, was released by Elk Lake Publishing in December 2019. Catherine loves to interact with her readers at www.CatherineFinger.com. Follow her on Facebook at Catherine Finger, Author, and on Twitter at CatherineFinger@BeJoOliver.
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