Friday, December 12, 2014

My Loaf

If you are Mormon you've doubtless heard numerous accounts of Sisters feeling the influence of the Spirit to bring a loaf of bread to someone out of the blue. It always shows up just at the right time to prove that God loves and is aware of the recipient. These stories always bugged me because I have never had a prompting to deliver bread and have never had bread brought to me in a moment of need. Obviously I was doing something wrong.

Then there was this.

My workday had been rough. Too much to accomplish in a time frame that was nigh on ridiculous. It was usually a relief to walk through the doors of my home but that evening as I was assaulted with the mess that four kids make in their regular comings and goings I felt my tired start to ache.

Dirty bowls sat on the kitchen table with the remnants of hours old chicken Ramen in them. A tennis shoe that had been abandoned in the middle of failed bedazzling attempt was surrounded by a halo of pink glitter on the floor and nearby some lightly drooled on dog biscuits (which were doubtlessly involved in a vain attempt at teaching the skill of rolling over) littered the landscape.  On top of that I was informed by the natives that in addition to the already malfunctioning dishwasher that now the decades old refrigerator had decided to go on to greener pastures.

My hubby was off doing something for someone while fulfilling his church calling and I was feeling overwhelmed in the midst of the usually happy chaos. I began to mutter in frustration under my breath. I needed to get all that food out of the frig before it ruined. 

As I unloaded the perishables into a camping cooler my teenage son brought me my cell phone with a serious look on his face. “Mom, you've got a text you need to look at.”

I stopped arranging ice cubes around a large blue jar of mayonnaise and uprighted myself from my bent over position with a groan. I took the phone and saw that the text was from the number of a seriously ill friend. She had been in hospital for quite a while and had not been able to speak. I felt a brick drop into the bottom of my stomach. I swiped my finger across the text icon and slowly read the message  “Nancy went home to her Father today. We will see her in eternity.”

I stood in the middle of the kitchen too numb to do anything. My friend was gone. Her long battle with cancer was over. I could feel the air moving in and out of my lungs but nothing else seemed to move or make a sound. Time stopped.

After a moment I closed the lid on the cooler and told my concerned son that I just needed a minute. I walked back to my bedroom and closed the door where the sorrow and frustration of the day descended on me with a physical weight, I hunched over as I felt it try to press me into the ground.

Silent prayer flowed out of me in an almost involuntary way. "I'm glad she isn't suffering any more Father...I'm so sad... Bless her family..."

A talk I had recently listened to in my car on the way to work came to mind. It was by President Monson and was about a woman who had received a prompting by the Spirit to take bread to someone she barely knew. That random delivery had touched a young mother who was struggling with deep depression. It was a love note from God sent in an unmistakable way to disciple in need. 

I began to wonder why that hadn't ever happened to me? I had experienced moments of profound need and no one had ever showed up on my doorstep with fresh baked bread. Not to say that I had never received help, I had and in abundance, but never in this much talked about way. It seemed that every Relief Society lesson I had ever heard in the last decade had a similar story-line.

It seems selfish now but sitting on the edge of my bed with my husband unavailable, a houseful of problems to be solved, and the loss of my sweet friend coursing through me I needed a sign of God’s love and attention. I needed Him to notice me.

“Could you please send someone to me?” I prayed, but somehow knew nothing would happen. I knew that He could do something but it seemed in my experience the Lord wanted me to learn self-sufficiency. Crisis moments needed me to just buck up and be strong.

I waited a few minutes and no good sister rang the doorbell with baked goods in hand. "Deal with it Brenda." I said to myself.

At just that moment my 10 year old daughter quietly opened the door and came into the room. She stood in front of me and said “Mama, I know you are sad about Nancy and I wanted to give you a hug.” She leaned forward and wrapped her arms around my neck.

I couldn't stop the tears that flowed from my eyes. I should be strong and be taking care of her but as I wept on her shoulder I felt the unmistakable love of the Savior flow over me. He knew, He cared, and he had sent me my loaf not through an acquaintance but through a precious child. 

No random sister was needed for me to feel that tender mercy, what came instead was so much better than any physical nourishment. A little girl who loved me best had delivered a message of peace and comfort from the Savior strait to my heart.

So if during the stress that always seems to come with Christmas you find yourself overwhelmed and wondering if God notices know this, loaves come in many different ways. They may be in a sunset or a song or the arms of a child but they do come and the love they convey is filling to the soul. God knows you, hang in there, it will be alright in the end.



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