“I Stand at the Door and Knock;” Every Salesman’s Nightmare

Standard

When I was 10 years old, my friend and I were trying to shake a young pest named Ruthie. She was half our size and followed us everywhere; dragging a teddy bear behind her. In our attempts to shake her, we ran headlong into a field of scratchy hay stubble. Ruthie followed us, anyway.

Out of breath, we stopped beside a rotting shed on the verge of collapse. When Ruthie caught up with us, we shoved her inside. She pulled the teddy to her frightened face; her blonde ringlets cascading like a waterfall over the bear’s fuzzy body.

My friend banged the door shut, and we leaned against it, waiting for the screams of desperation from within. We felt powerful and sinister. At first, the silence from within startled us. Why wasn’t Ruthie yelling at us, pleading for us to open the door? Her silence seemed to grow like a dark menacing cloud ready to pounce. We flung the door wide.

The bright sunlight lit up Ruthie’s wet, tear-stained face making her squint. She seemed to shrink before our eyes; appearing smaller than we remembered. A second shaft of light fell on the floor beside her where a dead rat sprawled among soiled rags and rusting tools. Feeling our cruelty in the pit of our stomachs, we fled across the field, leaving Ruthie far behind us.

As a young mother, I sold cosmetics door to door. I never got used to being rebuffed, and dreaded ringing that bell or making that first knock. “What’s behind door number one?” I joked to myself, trying to turn trepidation into adventure?

In sales, you hear terms like the “door of opportunity,” or when “one door closes, another one opens.” Doors do play a significant role in our lives, whether in selling or working to provide a service or a product. In one of my crossword puzzles, the clue was: “Means of access.” The four letter answer was “door.” What is your current “means of access” to opportunity?

As a child, I tried to imagine what was behind each door in my neighborhood. Who lived there? What did they do? What were they like? When we locked our doors at night, our family felt safe and protected. The locked door gave us a superficial feeling, at least, that we were free from harm. We were the only ones who had a key. When we bolted the door at night, it was like shutting the world out with all of its violence and evil.

Thieves can and do break in “to steal and make afraid,” but they usually come in by some other way: a pried open window, a break in the glass, a basement well unguarded, or a place left unnoticed and unlatched through carelessness. Thieves usually can’t or don’t come in through a locked door.

Jesus likened himself to a shepherd and his followers (believers) as the sheep. “I am the door,” he said; “by me if any man enters in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

Jesus was talking about the doorway or entrance to heaven, and that through him alone we find entrance and rest…”I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:1-7, 9-10 KJV)

Throughout the Bible, God uses the word “door” as a metaphor for the “right way,” the “straight and narrow,” the “entrance” to the Kingdom of God. He told Cain “If you do well, shall you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door.” (Gen. 4:7 KJV)

At Christmas, Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus. And every year at Easter, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus while Jews celebrate the Passover. Ironically, a door is used as symbolism for both, reminding people that the blood of the Passover lamb (representing the Messiah) smeared on their doors would keep them safe. “For the Lord will pass through…; and when he sees the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.” (Ex 12:23 KJV)

Jesus is the Lord of the Old Testament. He came to fulfill prophecy and to provide a way for us to come back into God’s presence. His coming and his atonement are foreshadowed throughout Old Testament scripture: “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory.” (Psalm 24:9-10 KJV)

Many people think that they can get to God through “some other way,” as long as they believe in God; whether it’s the God of Buddha, Hindu, Islam, etc. But in the Bible Jesus clearly declares that “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6-7 KJV)

Jesus said: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come into him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Rev 3:20 KJV) He continually knocks on the door of our hearts. He is waiting for us to open up to him and know him: “This is life eternal, that they may know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3 KJV)

He is a loving God. He wants us to come to him and be saved. He forgives sins and listens to us when we call on his name: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For everyone that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened.” (Matt 7:7-8 KJV)

There is no need to fear when we knock on Heaven’s door. Our faith is the key that unlocks the door of God’s heart and allows us to enter his Kingdom. We, in turn, can invite him into our lives by opening the door of our hearts and allowing him to reside there.

 

cards 006

Let the Healing Begin; Ways to Beat the Odds

Standard
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

Standard

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.