Grand Baking

by DanWolgemuth on February 9, 2024

In the fall of 2020 I took a Zoom bread baking class with my daughter, Alli. Our instructor was Sara Ward, from her austere kitchen at Hen Corner in West London.

One class led to two, and then three… and then I was hooked. Now, I would consider bread baking my favorite hobby. I have a recipe notebook, and a large Moleskine journal to memorialize my adventures, and to document my experiences.

From classic sourdough to English muffins. From rosemary crackers to cinnamon crunch cereal. From my Mom’s famous dill bread, to Finnish Nisu. Oatmeal bread for sandwiches, and pumpernickel for gifts. Bread has become a joy and an outlet. 


(Note the shower caps behind the muffins…
these are indispensable for bakers covering their proofing dough!)

It’s Mary who often remarks that at our age, “carbs are not our friend!”, consequently, baking has become a pathway to gift giving. And while I love baking for a wide array of friends, there is nothing like baking for grandchildren.

This seems obvious… but there is more to this delight than simply connecting with eleven of my favorite people on earth. The reality is that my grandchildren consume my bread with urgency, focus and without constraint. Seriously. Loaves disappear. Bread retention strategies become unnecessary. And jubilant anticipation accompanies any and every delivery.

All eleven grands…

While their parents keep them in braces and gym shoes, I keep them in gluten.

The other day as I drove back to my home after one of my deliveries, I reflected on the joy this brings to me. Instantly I was tugged to the words of Jesus…

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. (John 6:35, ESV)

Bread.

Jesus is the bread of life.

And what He’s looking for are appetites like my eleven grandchildren.

His followers… me, you… should be filled with anticipation and delight as we come to Him. To be filled with Him. To be thrilled with Him. To throw a party because of Him.

Instead, I gauge my consumption. I calibrate and measure.

In the case of Jesus, there is no such thing as “too much of a good thing.” Is it any wonder that Jesus loved children?

Unencumbered. Unconstrained. Unashamed.

Bread eaters.

And the delight of the baker, is just a small sample of the joy of our Savior.

He is our bread. Sometimes sourdough. Sometimes cinnamon rolls.

Unlock the delight.

Bread.

For life. Jesus…

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In the Middle of the Ashes

by DanWolgemuth on February 6, 2024

The call flashed on an iPhone screen. A recognized name, at an unexpected time. A neighbor, and a reliable source. Questions rushed as voices connected.

“Your house is on fire, and I’ve called 911.”

A house that had been a renovation project for the last three years. An investment of time, money, sweat, and dreams. An historic home in a connected community.

The minutes felt like hours as fear mingled with flashes of dread. The thirty-minute drive home was excruciating.

Then reality. The rush of firemen. The pulse of urgency. The vision of unmanaged destruction.

Text messages pulsed throughout a network of family and friends… of which I was a part. Prayers offered into the uncertainty. Pleas for mercy. For safety.

Then, news began to ripple back on the shores of anticipation. Then a picture. 

Sincere and deep gratitude for lives protected, but grief for property lost. For plans pummeled. For dreams dashed.

The family began taking mental inventory. A journey of the mind from room to room began to assess and accumulate the massive losses. Memories and musical instruments. Technology and tooth brushes. Sacred books and stuffed toys…

Gone.

Ashes.

Hoses and fountains of water doused the flames, even as the firemen did extraordinary work. Their focus was laser-like accompanied with an air of lament and sobriety.

The moments melted away as a small community assembled at a safe distance from ground zero. Hugs. Tears. Reflection… and calibration.

The flames of destruction exposed the priorities of the soul. No shallow platitudes, but an anchored faith.

A family who knew what they believed about a loving Heavenly Father when they pulled out of their driveway on their way to work and school… who now demonstrated the depth and breadth of that faith. God had not changed. His love hadn’t faded. His trustworthiness hadn’t suffered.

The simmering embers couldn’t extinguish His faithfulness.

Loss with companionship. Devastation with perspective.

The next day… a return trip to the scene. Firemen had remained onsite overnight to galvanize their confidence in their work.

In the light of day, an informed assessment of the magnitude of the destruction. Then a flash of divine communication. A message in the mess.  Not something placed after the fact, but a sacred survivor.  Right where it had been hung when the walls were walls. A reminder that had endured the onslaught; as a proclamation. A contract of the soul.

An angel in the midst of the fiery furnace.

A message of hope with an aroma of smoke.

“It is well…”

Not because sparks don’t ignite fire, but because even then… even in the middle of the fire, God is there. A companion and a comfort.

A family displaced, but souls at home. At rest.

Confident in uncertainty.

Belief surrounded by rubble.

A test.

A family with more questions than answers… emboldened by the God they love, and the community He has dispatched to care for them.  And what a community.  Engaged.  Generous.  Committed. And propelled by Christ’s example to care for the brokenhearted.

A thousand miles from the scene of the destruction, I hear clearly. Indeed, it is well…

We love you, Taylor and Laura. Our prayers surround you. Your Father has you.

Thank you for showing us the way through the ashes to the throne of your King. 

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Casa Bonita… again!

January 19, 2024

It was March 25, 1974, when Bill Waugh opened the doors to Denver’s Casa Bonita for the first time. Waugh had opened several restaurant locations, but his Lakewood, Colorado location would become legendary. I remember hearing about it for the first time from family members who were in awe of the meal and cliff diving […]

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“And why are you anxious about clothing?”

January 12, 2024

A new year. Fresh starts. And yes, more courageous evaluations of current priorities. In fact, we generally start a new year with what Mary calls, The Purge. This is where we freeze, gift, or discard any remaining food items that no longer fit into our “get thinner, get fit” New Year’s plan. What I’ve discovered […]

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More than a drill…

January 5, 2024

Baby boomers will remember. I certainly do. As I suppose this current generation will as well. Specifically, I’m speaking of the “drills” that took, and take place in school classrooms around the country. Frankly, these drills provide a slit through which I can catch a glimpse into our culture, history and current events. In the […]

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Best Supporting Role – Luke 1 Continued

December 22, 2023

During the month I’ve spent a great deal of time considering the vital role of Zachariah and Mary to the birth narrative of Jesus. Their historic position in the story is a foundational building block to the efficacy of our redemption position.  And now, as we move toward Luke 2, I am focused on omission, […]

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The Tale of Two Questions – Luke 1 Continued…

December 15, 2023

And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” (Luke 1:18) And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34, ESV) In the months that preceded the birth of Jesus, the angel […]

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Maternity Coverage on Medicare – Luke 1 Continued…

December 8, 2023

Shortly after Luke commits to writing an accurate and orderly account of the life of Jesus, he introduces us to Zachariah, and then to his wife Elizabeth. The carefully chosen words of description about this couple would be a sacred endorsement to anyone. “And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the […]

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More Than An Onramp

December 1, 2023

It seemed providential. Right as we enter the 2023 Advent season, I’m landing in the book of Luke in my regular Bible readings. On closer inspection, page 857 in my ESV Bible shows as much wear as any page in my Bible. That’s Luke 2. A chapter that carries the heading… The Birth of Jesus […]

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Seeds and a Scoop

November 17, 2023

“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” (Matthew 6:26, ESV) Retirement from full-time employment has afforded me the opportunity to engage in a few routine activities around the house. This includes the care and feeding of our winged neighbors […]

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