I recently ran into an old friend who is going through a very difficult time. In the short time we visited I saw her tears and listened to her humbled heart. I was reminded of a great gift from God that I often overlook amongst all His other wondrous gifts – forgiveness. I was reminded that while I strive to be in a constant state of awareness of God’s forgiveness given to me, I often fail to remember the great gift of receiving and giving forgiveness that He allows us to have for one another.
My friend was grateful for all the love and forgiveness that has been extended to her recently. It was beautiful to see the effect of such grace. To think God allows us to be the granters and receivers of such an amazing kind of love might be just the most beautiful thing ever. But of course it should be – and when we choose to extend forgiveness to others we are taking on God’s nature.
When we receive forgiveness and grant forgiveness we are freed from what can only be described as chains that bind our Spirit – the very Spirit of God within us.
I am grateful to see God’s purposes working themselves out in my friend’s life and in the lives around her and I am just grateful for reconnecting with my friend. We talked of the shared experience of being overwhelmed by people reaching out to us during her time of need now and my time of need when my mother passed away.
I remember all the food people brought to us – one friend in particular brought me baked bread. What a wonderful offering to someone in need – fresh bread – a gift of comfort and warmth and the simple and beautiful symbol of God’s forgiveness extended to all His children. My prayers are with my friend and with all of us in need of such forgiveness.
1/2 cup warm water
3 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1/4 cup bread flour
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 cups quick cooking oats
2 cups whole wheat flour
4 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
2/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
10 cups bread flour
-In the mixing bowl of an electric mixer, stir together 1/2 cup warm water, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/4 cup bread flour, and yeast. Let grow for about 5 minutes. It will bubble almost immediately.
-Measure oats, 4 1/2 cups warm water, whole wheat flour, salt, 2/3 cup sugar, and 2/3 cup oil into the mixing bowl. Mix on low speed with a dough hook for 1 to 2 minutes. Increase speed slightly, and begin adding bread flour 1/2 to 1 cup at a time until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. Humidity determines how much flour you need before the bread pulls away from the edge of the bowl. It is normal for the dough to be sticky.
-Place dough in an oiled bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover with a damp cloth. Let rise in a warm spot for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
-Divide dough into 6 pieces. Shape loaves, and place in greased 8 x 4 inch pans. Let rise until dough is 1 inch above rim of pans, usually 1 hour.
-Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, or until tops are browned. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes, and then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.