Why Do You Do What You Do Each Day?

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Kindred Spirits II

“Kindred Spirits” acrylic on canvas

What makes you get up in the morning? Is it a loved one? Is it your children or a mad desire to plan and organize? Is it a purposeful job that gets your creative juices going?

Why do you do what you do? Are your efforts passion driven for the sake of enjoyment and fulfillment or do you dread every moment and wish you were doing something else?

A paycheck drives most of us. Without it none of our dreams can come true. But in spite of that, if you’re born to create, nothing, not money, road blocks, handicaps or problems can keep you from doing what you were born to do.

Some people keep plodding along for the “fringe benefits:” a company car, health care supplements and bonuses.  Entrepreneurs build businesses so they may have more freedom to pursue their personal vision of success. Fringe benefits come through tax breaks, incentives and the “cost of doing business.”

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“Moonlight Magic” 11×14 acrylic on canvas

Human behavior is usually based on “what’s in it for me.” In negotiations, the buyer and seller must agree on what’s mutually beneficial to both. When someone does something nice for us, we feel like reciprocating; it’s a two-way street.

On a more personal level, when someone is kind to us, we are more likely to be kind to someone else. Every action has a reaction. Give a negative remark or a physical rebuff in a moment of impatience and watch the domino affect disperse outward to everyone else; cause and effect.

broken-hearted-carol-allen-anfinsen

“Broken Hearted” 11×14 pastel on Bristol; matted and ready to frame

Don’t confuse loud, obnoxious behavior with strength. There is great power in self-containment. A person who can face the world unafraid without having to dominate every situation is strong and in control. Self-confidence is built on clear, concise choices that build bridges not walls.

Tickles from God

“Tickles from God” acrylic on canvas

There is a Biblical phrase that says: “Cast your bread upon the water and it will come back to you.” We get what we give. If you are always out to “get people” before they get you that’s what you will receive in the end. Life has a way of dealing honestly with us. Even our faces at the end of life can betray what kind of a life we have lived and how much love we have given away.

Note that I didn’t say “how much love we have received.” I made a point of saying “how much love we have given away.” Like the bread (action) that is scattered on the water, our deeds will come back to us in greater measure. The more we shed light and love upon others, the greater the portion that comes back to us.

A Joyful Heart, 11 x 14 pastel

“A Joyful Heart,” 11 x 14 pastel on Bristol; matted and ready to frame

Some people wallow in self pity thinking that they never get enough of life’s goodness and pleasure. They hold on so tightly to what they have that they smother any chances for expansion or growth. In order to receive, we must first be an influence for good. If you don’t believe it, see what happens when you smile at someone in a long line of people.

Some will shy or turn away, after all, you’re a stranger. But don’t give up. Keep a positive attitude. Continue to smile. If someone bumps into you and apologizes, accept their apology. Don’t always be on the defensive. Not everyone is out to get you. Do some apologizing of your own. Thank people for their courtesy.

Now imagine every smile, every positive action radiating outward and repeated by others who pass your goodwill on to someone else. Like waves on the ocean, the tide shifts outward and inward. The ripple effect comes back to you with more positive vibes than you sent out in the first place.

Let the Healing Begin; Ways to Beat the Odds

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Looking Outward (16 x 20) acrylic; frame: Old Window

Looking Outward (16 x 20) acrylic; frame: Old Window

The body is a miraculous organ that under normal circumstances functions to heal itself if injured. When attacked either by accident, bacteria or virus, through our own carelessness or that of someone else’s the body’s defenses (the immune system) kick in. Even if they don’t, modern medicine is there to take over the job and provide much needed support.

An emotional injury is quite another matter. Our very heart and soul are under siege. The mind is fooled into thinking it’s our fault either through manipulation, abuse, or false accusations. Confusion sets in. We can’t process the pain. Did we cause it? Did we say or do something wrong? Are we unlovable? Are the things the other person said about us true?

The internal pain goes deeper than we ever thought possible. So deep that some people who experience an emotional injury feel actual physical pain like a knife piercing their heart or a feeling that  life and breath are being squeezed out of them in a spasm of muscular pressure. There have been occurrences of people dying from a broken heart or who have had a nervous breakdown as a result of suffering emotional trauma similar to the PTS syndrome veterans experience in war time.

Tickles from God

“Tickles from God” acrylic on canvas

Such tragedies happen because we are human. How do you deal with reality when your whole being is swirling around in a surreal world of physical and emotional pain? How do you get off the Merry-Go-Round that keeps replaying the past? You look for answers, but there are none. If you replay the memory again, perhaps you’ll find a reason to make this nightmare stop or go away? Like an old-fashioned record, you’re stuck reliving the pain again and again.

This is the time to reach out for help. Friends may offer sympathy; but they have none of the skills needed to help you, or to ensure that you make a safe transition to wellness. A psychologist or psychiatrist may help you understand what has happened and guide you to a better place, but the work of healing is still yours.

Falling on your knees in prayer can help you feel the power and love of God. This action alone will give you strength to do the hard work. Trying to heal without God is like covering an open wound with a dirty rag. It’s like burying your sorrows in a dark room, curled up in a ball, and hoping that you’ll recover. The saving, healing grace of Jesus Christ must be received in openness and light.

"With These Hands -- Wonder" oil on canvas

“With These Hands — Wonder” oil on canvas

Doctor’s may heal your mind and your body, but only God can heal the jagged wounds of the heart. Spiritual pain needs a Savior. Sins of all kinds need a Redeemer to give you hope and remind you that you’re not alone. He is “worthy to be praised,” and he can heal you of your broken heart just as he did mine.

I have seen people flounder in unbelief. God throws them a life line, and they ignore it because they do not recognize his voice. They have turned away from him so often that he has become a stranger. They do not trust what they have not seen. They do not listen to one in whom they do not believe.

Instead they trust in people, humans like themselves with weaknesses, lusts and desires. They read what so-called experts have written or said as if it were gospel. They trust in the arm of flesh because it is all they know. God’s Word is mocked and treated like myth or legend. In their heart of hearts they are devoid of truth and without a light in a dark world.

Healing is a process; one that takes time and effort. There are no easy fixes or magic solutions. Some people try to find comfort in a bottle, or a needle or other physical gratification. But they are never satisfied, never filled. Their hunger creates a vacuum that sucks the life out of everything and everyone they touch.

The “Bread of Life” satisfies that deep hunger and begins the healing. The new life that follows brings peace and contentment. There is no other way. Jesus is the “well-spring” of life and his healing is permanent and eternal.

Why have I used this message in my “The Art of Living” blog?” Because in my own personal life my faith is as basic to my survival as food, water and shelter. My faith is vital to my overall satisfaction and happiness; A life void of faith is a life not worth living. (See my other blog: “Witness Spoken Here”)

Link  http://www.witness-spokenhere.com

A Loaf of Dorothy’s Bread

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My granddaughter making her first batch of mini-cupcakes.

When Dorothy was 95 years young, she still baked bread every week like her mother used to, and she saved one loaf out of three for her friends. You see, Dorothy didn’t drive. She depended on friends and neighbors or a local taxi service to get around. She repaid all of us in homemade bread (she wouldn’t take “no” for an answer). One bite of her buttery bread and you’re just this side of heaven.

I’ve also tasted her Cherry Danish, and her chocolate brownies with penuche icing that are so moist and rich the taste lingers for hours. I’m sure her love of cooking and her optimistic outlook on life have kept her young. She’s tiny and petite, but never frail. At 95, she could still climb her front stairs with vim and vigor; although, some days were better than others.

Dorothy’s mother made bread. She passed this skill onto her daughter; a legacy of love that allowed Dorothy to “break bread” with others in the same way. Sharing bread with family and friends is a tradition that strengthens the social fabric of society. Every culture around the world uses bread in one form or another as the building block for each meal. Since the beginning of time, bread has been the “staff of life.” Evidence of grain usage pre-dates recorded history.

Adding more ingredients.

Adding more ingredients.

It is still being argued over who made bread first, the Chinese or the Egyptians. The Chinese still use the same fermented but steamed bread that they used thousands of years ago. The Egyptians learned how to bake their bread, and probably built the first ovens. They discovered that fermented wheat formed a gas that made their bread lighter.

We know for certain that grains like rye, millet, barley, and wheat were cultivated in Palestine 100 years before the birth of Christ. Flat breads fried over an open fire are still the basis of nomadic diets in the Middle East. Some things never change.

The Bible is filled with references to bread and its importance in human history. When Joseph was in prison, falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife, he gained a reputation for interpreting dreams. The Pharaoh heard of this and called for Joseph to interpret his dream.

God warned Pharaoh in the dream that Egypt would experience seven years of feast and plenty, and seven years of famine. Joseph explained the purpose of the dream, and suggested that Pharaoh store up grain in the good years so they might have food during the years of famine. Pharaoh did as Joseph suggested and made Joseph ruler over the land of Egypt. There was none higher than Joseph, except the Pharaoh on his throne.

Enjoying a taste!

Enjoying a taste!

The scriptures tell us that during the seven years of plenty, so much grain was stored that it was impossible to count it all. But when the famine came, all in Egypt had food to eat, and they had enough to sell to anyone who wanted it. People came from all around the region, and by this means was Joseph reunited with his family; a blessing and an example that God provides for his children when they obey him.

Jesus said: “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” He knew the people of his day understood the importance of bread in their lives. Now he was telling them that his teachings were as important to their lives and well being as bread and water for if they ate his bread (the Word of God), they would be filled.

The finished product.

The finished product.

We are also commanded to ask the Lord in prayer for our daily bread. Having clothes on our backs and food to eat are basic needs that God promises to provide if we but call on his name and have faith that he will answer.

Wheat and other grains, if properly stored, can last for many, many years and stay viable enough to sprout. Sprouts are chock-full of vitamins and can be used with bread to supplement the diet and add extra nutrition. Sprouts can top a sandwich much like lettuce. Fresh green sprouts can be eaten as a salad, or used as a vegetable. A family could survive and live well in a crisis just by storing wheat and legumes for a designated period of time.

When combined, bread, lentils, peas or beans form a complex protein that sustains a healthy life style. Vegetarians depend on these complex proteins in their diet. The great thing about eating this way is that it’s not only healthy, it’s inexpensive. Who knows, a diet like this may help you live to be 95? Maybe that’s the secret to my friend Dorothy’s longevity?

"With These Hands Wonder" available by clicking image.

“With These Hands Wonder” available by clicking image.

Dorothy’s bread has been broken and shared with many people. “Cast your bread upon the water,” scripture tells us, “for thou shalt find it after many days.” Dorothy’s bread goes out and returns to her in blessings and love from her friends, but she will tell you she receives much more than she gives.

Dorothy revised her bread recipe to accommodate her weakened arthritic hands. Her recipe requires less kneading because it has an extra rising in the refrigerator overnight. Since it’s a big job, the bread is made in two stages: the first day, she mixes and allows the bread to rise in the fridge; the second day she forms the bread, lets it rise again, and then bakes it. Still, quite an accomplishment for a 95 year old woman!

Dorothy has no children of her own, so I am sharing her recipe with you. Pass it along to your friends, enjoy it yourself, and help her legacy of love continue for many generations to come.

Dorothy’s Bread

2 pkgs. dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 C. warm water
Dissolve yeast in sugar water for at least 5 mins. or until the yeast bubbles and grows.
Add 2 large eggs, beaten
Fold into dry ingredients (waiting in another bowl):
6 C. flour (3 whole wheat, 3 white)
1/2 C. Sugar
1 T. salt
Add 1 C. vegetable oil alternately with egg/yeast mixture.
Add 1 C. boiling water, gradually; stirring until smooth.
Add 1/4 C. melted butter over the top; cover and chill overnight in the refrigerator.

Next day, turn out dough on heavily floured board. Knead a few times and divide into thirds. Roll with rolling pin; form into three loaves; place in loaf pans. Brush with melted butter. Rise for 1 1/2 hours. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for one hour.

Enjoy! And, Dorothy, dear; may God bless!

Epilogue: Dorothy is now 99 years old and has been confined to a rest home for the past three years. Her bread making days are over which makes this article and her recipe all the more special.