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How Baking Bread Made Her Hopeful for The Future

After her divorce, she struggled to feel joy and move forward with her life. How would she gain the enthusiasm to continue?

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I stuck my frozen dinner into the microwave, feeling more than a little sorry for myself. When I opened the cabinet to grab a plate, the bread machine on the bottom shelf only made me feel worse. All that appliance did was remind me of my old life, when I was warm and happy in my spacious kitchen, baking away while my little dog sniffed the comforting aromas.

Baking had always brought me joy back when I was married. I especially loved the fragrant loaves that came from my bread maker. But there wasn’t much joy—or room for baking—in the post-divorce studio apartment I shared with my little dog, Paco.

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After my marriage ended, Paco and I moved to Jacksonville, Florida, where my son lived. I started going to church with him and found a welcoming community there. I wasn’t shy about opening up among such caring people. I’d lost so much along with my marriage. Not only a partner, but the home we had together, the kitchen I loved to bake in, the couples we socialized with, a whole life that felt safe and familiar. In some ways, I’d lost myself. Physically I’d moved on, but emotionally I didn’t know how to move forward with my life. Did God see a future for me? So many in the congregation lent a listening ear.

One Sunday, someone actually surprised me with a gift—a brand-new electric bread maker. I accepted it graciously, but inside I felt a twinge of embarrassment. I couldn’t risk using it. What if baking no longer brought me joy? What if I had no joy left in me? I hid away the appliance in my kitchen cabinet without even opening the box.

The microwave dinged, and I averted my eyes from the bread maker. I reached for a plate, put my dinner on it and shut the cabinet door. “Do you think I’ll ever be happy again?” I asked Paco.

In the weeks that followed, I tried my best to jumpstart my life. I focused on my new job. I lived paycheck to paycheck, and I managed to make ends meet. I went to church, grateful for friends I made there. Maybe it was no longer the fulfilling life I once had. Maybe I would never reclaim the joy I once knew. But I was getting by.

One evening, after a full day’s work and a walk with Paco, I came back inside to start on dinner. A homemade meal tonight. Nothing special. I opened the cabinet to set myself a nice place at the table. The bread maker stared me in the face as it had done since the day I brought it home. I was about to close the cabinet after getting what I needed, when something stopped me. Did I need the bread maker too? Was I ready for what it might offer? I stood looking at the box for a long moment, then pulled it out and set it on the counter. Paco looked up, waiting for my next move. “Here goes,” I said, and lifted the machine from the box.

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It was larger than I expected, shiny and new. I waited for the sadness I feared would come. But curiosity got the better of me. The bread maker sported colorful buttons that would make it much easier to program and operate than the machine I’d left behind. The instruction manual was thicker, with clearer instructions, and contained some mouthwatering bread recipes. There was even one for my favorite cinnamon bread. I could almost smell a loaf baking and imagined that’s what angels smelled like. Enthusiasm welled up within me. “Paco, it’s time to make some bread!” I announced.

I read the directions, gathered the ingredients, then read the directions again so I would not miss a single, important step. With every task I completed, I felt more energetic. Life seemed more hopeful than it had in months. I moved about the kitchen area of my studio apartment with the same spring in my step that I had working in my old, spacious kitchen. I was doing something I truly loved, and it hardly mattered where I was doing it.

While the machine worked through the dough cycles, I cooked myself a lovely dinner and enjoyed plating it for a leisurely meal. While I was finishing up the dishes, the bread started to bake.

“Something smells mighty good, Paco,” I said. His tiny nose was already pointed up, sniffing the scent of what was to come, just like he used to do. I too looked toward the future. The immediate future, when I’d taste my first loaf of homemade bread in far too long, and the bigger future God had waiting for me after that. He’d given me time to grieve the life I’d lost, then helped me let it go. A whole new life awaited. And it smelled delicious.

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