If your family, like ours, feels like it's constantly running a million different directions, may I suggest you bake a loaf of bread.
If you feel like your conversations with your spouse are harried and more filled with times and schedules than with dreaming and hoping together, may I suggest you bake a loaf of bread.
If you feel like your kids have spent so much time watching TV or glued to their hand-held devices that they may not remember how to exist in a 3-D world, may I suggest you bake a loaf of bread.
If your experience in the kitchen lately has been a mad-dash to get something edible to the table (or just in-hand, while mad-dashing to the car), may I suggest you bake a loaf of bread.
If you've forgotten what it is to taste real food, may I suggest you bake a loaf of bread.
And, bake it at such a time as to come out of the oven (or bread machine, whatever the case may be) at about 9:00 pm or whenever everyone is assured to be home. You won't even have to tell them to gather 'round. There will be no timer or all-call needed. They'll smell when it's ready, and they will come. Pour a few glugs of olive oil into a dish, grind some fresh pepper into it, and tear it off in warm, soft hunks, offering it up to those you love most in the world.
As you huddle 'round the kitchen bar in your pajamas, reveling in the warm comfort of the bread and rehashing your day and laughing together, don't forget to whisper a little prayer of thanks to the One who provides us moments like these, families to huddle with, and bread to share.
And once you've sent the little ones back to bed with their "just-one-more-piece-please" piece in-hand, fill a couple of glasses with wine (or milk, or whatever you prefer) and move the bread loaf to the living room and get so wrapped up in the kind of conversation you would have when you were first discovering that you wanted to break bread with this person forever that you don't even notice when the cups run dry and the last crumb's been eaten. And, as you turn out the lights on this evening, may you count yourself full -- full of bread, full of life, full of blessings.
Don't know where to begin? Here's a recipe that works for me every time.