The weather turned this weekend. It’s part of the resiliency of living in the Midwest-that no matter how long the Winter, Spring is sure to follow.
Sunshine and warm temperatures bring out the best in me-the motivation and intense need to explore, do, see, and be as active as possible. I had an excellent weekend outdoors-biking 16 miles on my beach cruiser, taking my clubs to the driving range, rolling down the windows in my car, drinks in the beer garden at Founder’s Brewery. I also met with two dear friends and their baby girls for a Saturday picnic lunch in East Grand Rapids.
These women are two of my closest friends, the kind that know everything about you, the unedited version, the raw parts. We’ve grown together over the past seven years, traveled together to Australia, Chicago, Charleston. They’ve been by me on the most important days of my life-the good, and the bad. They know my laugh, my smile, my humor, the things I’m most passionate about. They’ve also seen the tear stains that have marked my face like soldiers marching to battle, not fully knowing how many have fallen before or will fall after, but all the while, standing next to me as I rebuild: reassuring, reaffirming, helping me redefine. I’m so thankful for these ladies, their encouragement and faith, the wives they are to their husbands, the mothers they are to their daughters. I’d love to share this life season with them, but there is something incredibly inspiring about being a spectator, a cheerleader, and a confidant to them, knowing my time will come when and if it is meant to happen. If it does, I am so fortunate to have amazing role models like them to emulate.
Our meal was incredibly simple, yet there’s something about sharing a meal with people you love: The connection, the community, the bond that is formed over sharing a meal, over breaking bread. I believe bread is a love language.
I love bread in any form: the smell, the texture, the taste, and what it represents. Nourishment. I love the hard shell of a baguette and the chewy center, the smell of a rosemary and garlic ciabatta in the oven, the crispness of a raisin crostini.
The only person I know that may love bread more than me is my dad. He grew up in Nigeria and was sent to boarding school at a very young age, not able to grasp why his parents left him for 20 weeks or if they were coming back to get him, although I’m not sure you can understand that at any age. He learned to play soccer in Africa, and he was excellent. They left as the war was breaking out, and my dad went on to be a soccer star at Calvin College, twice winning the MIAA MVP award, (although he’d never want the attention or recognition on him.) One of his favorite memories in Africa was saving the few coins from his allowance. While the other children spent theirs on candies, he saved his for the fresh bread that became available every so often.
When I was little, my dad was a deacon in our church. On communion Sunday’s, we’d sneak to the church basement together after the service, bypassing the Dutch windmill cookie trays, and head straight for the kitchen where we’d eat the leftover bread. I’d sit on the kitchen counter, kicking my black Mary Jane’s and white frilly socks back and forth, popping piece after piece in my mouth, giggling.
A few months ago, I returned from a business trip in the dead of winter. My plane was delayed for weather related reasons, and when I touched down in Grand Rapids hours after I anticipated, my dad was there, waiting for me, ready to bring me home since my car was in the shop while I was away. As I apologized for inconveniencing him so much, for the delay in the plane, for being the reason he was awake so late, he reassured me it was ok and handed me a plastic bag. In it, I found a loaf of artisan bread and a stick of butter. To anyone else, this is seemingly the most ridiculous gift, but to us, it’s the most simple and effective way to say “I love you.”
I want my life to be defined by how well I’ve loved others. Sometimes it means time, or investing energy, walking shoulder to shoulder in the midst of a hard season, and sometimes it’s as simple as a sandwich and an hour in the park.
Pressed Picnic Sandwiches:
Pesto (GB Russo!)
1 T mustard
1 T honey
½ t dill
sprinkle garlic powder
¼ c vinegar
½ c olive oil
Fresh Cut Strawberries
Chocolate Chip Cookies