Rachel did say I could share her assignment about our family. For those outside of the family the layered meanings won't show. I baked my first batch of bread when I was 8 years old and have always felt you've made it when you can bake bread. The oatmeal was added to the family recipe after Nate and Kelsi added it to theirs and we copied them with great results. Which just shows how a family develops and evolves around each other. Michael's bread on Sundays was really a treat. Anyway here is Rachel's paper:
Bread From Heaven
The smell of freshly made bread is one that makes people close their eyes, breathe deeply, and sigh with satisfaction. It is a calming aroma that creates a homely feel wherever you are. My family is like a loaf of hearty oatmeal bread. Oatmeal bread may sound gross to some, but that is because they do not understand it and perhaps have not had it baked properly. Each of my family members contribute to the loaf as a whole. We all play a part and are necessary for the bread to turn out right. If any piece or ingredient is gone, the overall experience and taste are not what they could be, or should be.
Of all the ingredients, my mother embodies the sweetener best. She is the sugar, or in our case, the honey in the bread that makes it pleasing to the taste. It does not take much for the entire loaf to be enveloped in sweetness. In fact, too much honey and the bread it ruined. But even when a member of the family is feeling the cloying effects of too much honey, they will come running back for the healing properties that my mother possesses; her kind words, soothing spirit, and her practical first aid knowledge can bind up any wound, like a physical or spiritual salve.
Her counterpart is my father. He is the yeast of our family. He is the person that pushes everyone to be better. He enables us to rise up to any challenge. He taught us to push the boundaries of the bowl while staying solidly within the parameters of our Maker. However, too much yeast can make the dough overflow and get out of hand, a balance is always needed.
Together, my parents are like the crust of the bread. They protected us by taking the brunt of the oven’s heat and kept us from getting stale. But when the time came for their children to leave, they peeled away and let us go.
The oldest child in my family of eight is my sister Rebekah. She is the salty one, the person who can bring you to your knees with a single glance. Her brackish nature is caused in part by being the first. She will never know the importance of her role as first child. She was the one that took the brunt of our parents mistakes. Bekah is the one that paved the way for every one of us after. But salt is absolutely vital to make bread taste delicious. Rebekah is the savor of our family, the one that brings out the flavor in everyone else. Sometimes, she does not realize how critical she is to flavoring our family; when she is gone, her loss is felt. Bread without savor is boring and flat. The Adams without Rebekah is unfinished and tasteless.
Nate comes next as the oil. Oil plays an important part in keeping bread dough from becoming too elastic and worn out. He adds enough lubricant to our lives to keep us from wearing out. He developed peacemaking abilities though his years of observation and critical thinking. He keeps us from sticking to old grudges and breaking apart.
Andrew is the one who likes to shake things up. He is the mixer or kneader that throws in new, conflicting ideas that disrupt the status quo and makes everybody think differently. At the same time, his mixing causes us to become closer and by individually seeking out each of our thoughts, he bind us together as one. He could also be described as the knife that cuts through to the center of us all by asking the personal questions and bringing out the truth.
Matthew is the smart one. He is the flour that we all made fun because we knew that none of us would achieve the level of greatness that he would. He is active and all over the place, unable to be contained by parents or measuring cups. He touches the lives of everyone around him and leaves a dusting of his awesomeness wherever he goes, much like flour sprinkling the entire kitchen after bread is made. His passion and zest spurs him to rise higher than those around him.
Mike is like Matt in many ways but is definitely his own man. I like to think of him as the oatmeal in our recipe. Sometimes people outside our family do not understand where is is coming from (why did you put oatmeal in your bread?), but our family appreciates the richness and depth that he brings. His dense spiritual knowledge gives our bread a heartiness and fullness that feeds the soul. He is also full of himself in the best way possible. That confidence drives him to be the best at everything he does. Plus, oatmeal is a power food that people eat for energy and Michael always has tons of energy and stamina.
Kelsi came into our lives much later when she married Nate. She is the water or milk that goes in this bread. When making bread, water tamps down the dry ingredients and keeps the mass of dough from flying every which way. Kelsi gives our family structure with her inner-resolve and determination. Because of the organization she provides, we are able to move more fluidly.
Debbie is also a very welcome addition to our bread loaf. She is like the gluten of our family. Before she came we were gluten free and did not know how much our lives were missing. Gluten does not form until flour becomes wet. So when Debbie came in, she became a binding agent for the flour and water to create a more wholesome family. Kneading brings out gluten and makes the bread more chewy, or in other words, more delicious. Her highly educated thoughts and culture help us all understand things in a new light. She puts ideas into comprehensible words that we can grasp onto for clarity and insight.
Lastly, there is me, Rachel. I compare myself to the butter that you put on the bread after it has come out of the oven. Due to the fact that I am the youngest, and a girl who came after four boys, everybody tended to like me a lot and think of me as a sweet little person to dote on. Because of my position, I have a unique ability to reach my family members and “butter them up” so to speak. But I also have a tendency to tell people what they want to hear. I do not like conflict so my opinions shift with the crowd. Just as butter can be fattening in large doses, it can be unhealthy if you only hear what you like all the time.
With so many family members, there is a lot of room for multiple family dynamics. As the oldest and just because of the type of person she is, my sister Bekah developed the ability to understand my father better than some of the rest of us ever could and she was better able to stand her ground. Salt has two main properties in bread, one is to bring savor and the other is to act as a yeast inhibitor. When the yeast becomes too much, the salt tones it down and slows the rising process. Rebekah will not be bullied into changing her mind. She would often pinpoint what my father was trying to say and explain it in words that made sense to the rest of us, preventing him from becoming more frustrated and an overall happy family dynamic.
An important part of baking bread is finding out if the yeast is good. To do this, sugar and yeast are put into warm water. If the yeast is active, it will activate and rise. Yeast breads also rely on gluten for structure. A majority of the time, my father will take my mother’s side and Kelsi and Debbie’s side of an argument no matter what anyone else says. He actually tends to take women's sides in general but he is noticeably influenced by these three.
Butter and honey go very well together. My mom and I were and are very tight. With fat and sugar what can go wrong? Well, if these things are focused on too much, other important ingredients are left out. Usually my mom and I worked in tandem to make the family sweeter and nice, but there were times where I monopolized my mother’s attention and resources so the sweet flavor of the bread was gone and the rest of the family suffered.
The fact that two of my brothers are married shifted the dynamic of our family immensely. They now have families of their own that they must first look out for. And although it may seem like that would break the family down, it has only changed it. Our loaf may be a little misshapen but it is only getting bigger and tasting better.
Armed with the knowledge that I have after looking so intensely at bread and my family, I have realized some things. My mother needs space at times in order to love the other members of my family in the ways that they need. My dad acts the way that he does in order to keep us from stagnating and having boring lives. My sister needs to be told how vital she is to our family and that her input is valuable and valued. I can learn a lot from Nate and Kelsi and their ability to keep people together through forgiveness and careful planning. Andrew is so good at getting to the heart of people and that is a skill I can utilize and develop. Matt and Debbie go through life with zest and intelligence that enables them to be their best selves. Mike’s spiritual density and confidence are how he becomes successful and show me that I can do that too. Most importantly, I need to become my own person with my own thoughts and ideas. This will enable me to not just say what people want to hear, but to tell them what they need to hear. If you leave with nothing else, know this: oatmeal bread is scrumptious and my family is the best.
(Sorry, none of the pictures would transfer over. Rachel had the ingredients in one picture and the other pictures were bread in progress until she had the final loaf.)