Words & Bread

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I like bread. All kinds. Any kind. I like it a lot. In college, my roommate Mandy’s mom would make us her own version of Friendship Bread when we made the long drive to Wyoming for a visit. It was hands down the best bread I have ever ate. I have dreams about that bread. If I close my eyes right now I can almost taste it. SO GOOD.

One college summer, Chris and I spent about 8 weeks in Kazakhstan. As the afternoon sun began sinking, the heavenly aroma of bread filled the streets. We would watch the locals knock on what seemed like random windows, the window would open, money was exchanged for bread. It didn’t take us long to figure out which random window had our favorite bread. Bread is one of those few things that transcends generations and cultures.

There was a short period of time that I made bread. Nothing fancy, but I enjoyed the process. Then life got busy and I stopped. About 7 years ago my grandma got me a really nice bread machine. I used it a handful of times, but all I knew to do was follow the recipes that came with it. I never seemed to have the right ingredients on hand, but I kept trying. Then one day in a conversation, an acquaintance began raving about her homemade bread. She went on and on about how superior her bread was…and not just her bread, but any bread that is made by hands. She basically made me feel like a terrible mother if I served anything but bread made with my hands to my family. I put my bread machine up on a shelf..thinking I would begin making my own homemade bread. I never did.  I gave her words power.

Then about a month ago I saw a bread machine mix at the store. They’ve probably been around for a decade, but I had never seen them.

10.11bread-01

Pour in a cup of water, add mix, add yeast, press “Start”.
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And all of the sudden, my family began enjoying hot bread…fresh out of the bread machine…butter melts the instant it touches it. I can do all the steps in less than a minute. It bakes over 3 hours and fills my home with the best smell.

WARNING: Germ freaks close your eyes. Little boy with really dirty hands eating bread below. Sometimes I forget to remind them to wash their hands. It’s life.

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Butter + dash of sugar + dash of brown sugar + dash of cinnamon = happy campbells.
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My family eats an entire loaf with dinner. Not every night, but just enough. It is a happy little addition to our days.
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I know some moms make bread with their hands nearly everyday for their families. Maybe one day I’ll be there. Maybe I won’t. I do know that for the last several years, my family has not been enjoying a simple pleasure because I allowed someone else’s words to negatively influence me. Words are powerful, but often we are the ones that give them power. I gave her words power. I allowed her words to sink in enough to cause me to give up on something I enjoy. My bread is from a bread machine. Big deal. My family gets to gather around the table, laughing, smiling, enjoying….and eating hot bread that took me less than a minute to bake. It works for us now. It REALLY works for us now.

Words are powerful. Knowing how easily I can be influenced by the words of others makes me even more grateful for the incredible women I live the ins and outs of life with….friends are powerful. I think I need to have all my girlfriends over for hot bread (and apple cider!).

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  • meg - ashley, love this post. love the phrase “gave her words power”, such a tender challenge and reminder for our hearts, especially us mamas to be sensitive and not let that stuff set up camp in our hearts. and I love how you added just water and pressed start, I think I’ll try that too. your blog is absolutely precious, His love and affection are sweetly woven through every post. thanks for sharing and writing!

  • Ang - I always love your posts, but this one struck a chord in my heart. How very true, words are powerful, and how quick we are to change to try to fit into someone else’s ideal. I needed this today! Thank you!

  • Lisa Johnson - I love this post Ashley. So many of us let the pressure to do something “right” keep us from doing it at all.
    The power of words cannot be overstated. I can instantly re-hear in my own head comments from many years ago- both good and bad.
    When I was a young mom and had 5 little ones under 6 and felt like I was barely keeping my head above water, I had the opportunity to stop by the home of a young woman I had always looked up to. She was one of those people that just seemed perfect-lovely home, gorgeous lady, adorable kids. She welcomed me in, with laundry on the sofa and sweatpants on and invited me for lunch. She whipped out the peanut butter and said that she hoped i didn’t mind- but she fixed her kiddos PBJ’s everyday because it kept life a little simpler. Suddenly, she became a real person to me :) and helped me realize that’s ok to just do the best you can at that moment- even if it means lots of PBJ’s. I’ve always remembered that day :)
    There is nothing like the smell of fresh bread! Enjoy

  • Val - Amen! I needed to hear this too!

  • Andrea - That lady would have really thought I am terrible for buying bread at the store!

    Thank you for sharing this story, it is so true.

  • Jaklynn - I love bread machine bread! Our family favorite is to slice it nice and thick and use it for dessert french toast. Delicious!

  • Brittaney - Looks delicious. And it is a wonderful thing to have great friends, isn’t it?

  • jaime - Bread or no bread, your family is happy. REALLY happy. Your kids feel loved, safe, and special. I don’t know you personally but this screams out of your pictures. You are doing things that are right for you and your family. Keep up the good work.

    Also, you are very right that words have power, your words today made me happy!
    Thank you!

  • Sarah - homemade bread is the BEST! who cares how its made! congrats to you girl!!

  • MichelleD. - So true! I let words discourage me a lot! I needed this today.

  • Christina - Oh, homemade bread IS the best! :) I hate that someone made you feel bad in any way about your mom “powers”. I hate that other parents can get judgemental and all “holier than thou”. It sucks, and it seems so hard to avoid. Just know your mom “powers” rock, even if you don’t have a kick a$$ bread recipe. :) I mean, HELLO?? Who is redoing her staircase BY HER OWN HANDS? Tell that mom to suck it. Haha!

    On another note, if you have a kitchen aid, I have an AWESOMELY easy bread recipe to share with you. Let me know if you’re interested!

  • Sarah - who cares if you’re bread comes from hand, machine, or store? I’m glad you stopped letting her words influence you. you wanna know a little secret? the best bread I’ve found is $1.50 in the walmart bakery section. it is soooo good! i’ve found a few bread machine receipes that were decent but even with a bread machine, my bread didn’t always come out right. i’ll take that $1.50 bread from walmart anyday. the important thing is that family is gathered around the dinner table each night.

  • Michelle - Thank you for sharing this. . . a good reminder and challenge for my heart.

  • Celia - Earlier this year I learned to make bread by hand… and I actually did enjoy it, but it was time consuming. I would do it while my two year old was napping. Then, about three months ago, my mother-in-law gave me her old bread machine. HELLO EASY! I can drop everything in and it’s ready for dinner or when we get home from church on Sundays. It doesn’t matter how it’s made… it’s that the family can enjoy it all around the table together… creating memories and more love! And… I’m totally going to whip up some butter like your described!!!

  • claudia - Ashley, I’m a lurker here normally but today I must comment. Your images inspire me no end – I have them in my scrapbook to look at when I feel uninspired and listless. I bet I’m not the only one out here you affect this way.

    A car seat cover tutorial of mine was recently pinned by somebody on Pinterest. Amazing, how much traffic that directed to my site. And amazing how many moms thought it was important to jump all over me because I had the gall to use non-fire retardant fabric for the seat. I was accused of pretty much everything short of outright murder. It’s quite amazing how people think they can mingle in your life just because part of your life is public.

    Good for you for coming out the other side. I’m with Christina – four kids, great photographer, wonderful writer, and then you finish your stairs while going through an adoption process. Woman, you rock. Don’t let anybody else take that away from you.

  • Nicole - How appropriately put. Such a well-written post…only makes the point more clearly. Very inspirational – thanks for sharing!

  • Yanet of 3 Sun Kissed Boys - Well, good thing you started making it. Maybe now you can climb up the better mom list. Ha! You know I kid, right? You’re awesome person, period. Serving hot, buttery, bread makes you just a little more awesomer!!!

  • Sarah - Love this post! I use the same mix and also the sourdough mix….my family loves it and it’s gone in one meal!

  • Seriously Sassy Mama - I have a bread machine I have not used since the year i got married. That would be 10 years. I am getting it out today and giving it a good clean. Then I am going to make some bread. With my machine and not my hands. if we were supposed to make bread with our hands all the time, there would not be a bread machine. Just sayin.

  • Brook Stewart - I think I will ask for a bread machine for Christmas!…I love bread and can make it by hand, but it really is time consuming and I only do it about once a year. Inspiring post as always!!!

  • Sarah Pratt - You should try “honey butter” next time. Oh the yummyness!

  • Jennwith4 - I was making a handmade bread for a short time. Boy that took forever! Then I found a great recipe that used a mixer. Time saver!! Then someone gave me a bread machine!! Now I just throw the ingredients in and start the dough cycle then bake it in the oven. Much easier.
    Still have ingredients on hand but haven’t made any in a while after a story I read abt a mom who passed away from cancer. Asked if she had any regrets she said she would have not made bread. She would have spent all that time making bread enjoying her kids and family.
    It sounds like you are on the right track! :) don’t feel bad about not making bread. Your family will remember you not the bread.
    Have a fantastic day!!
    (gotta try out that super easy mix myself!)

  • Rebecca - Your words and actions have power over me. I work 40+ hours a week and often wonder why. Reality creeps in and reminds me of things like health care. Not to be a “debbie downer” I think I’ll need to pull out my grandmother’s bread recipe. When I was a little girl I at the center out of one of her loaves. I remember the pleasure I had way back then.

  • faith - As I was reading your post, my 2 year old rolled over and was waking up. He saw the pictures and said, “Yummy! Owen wants bread!” That should confirm to you how wonderful it is whether it takes you 1 minute or 1 hour to prepare. I figured you would believe his honest opinion more than us grownups since he isn’t already biased with thoughts of your awesomeness!

  • Mandy - Ooo.. friendship bread DOES sound amazing; along with a road trip to WY w/ you!! The last year or so I’ve tried to make bread and every single time, it flopped. Tasted good but must have killed the yeast. Yesterday I tried again and FINALLY got it right! :)
    Thanks for the reminder about how incredibly powerful words are in our lives. So true, they can truly empower a person or knock ‘em down. You empower many.

  • Suzette Mahoney - Well, you’ve convinced me…I am purchasing a bread machine today! I want my boys to remember the smell of bread in our home and I don’t have a lot of time with them left in the home because they are 16 + 14! Thanks for the beauty of this post.

  • Elizabeth - I use my bread machine EVERY day to make fresh bread..and I blog about it a lot!! Almost any bread recipe can be made in the bread machine. I let the bread machine make the dough..I take it out and then bake it in the oven..that way I can make it the shape I want it to be…..pizza dough, cinnamon rolls, challah bread..hotdogs in a blanket….you name it..it can be done in the bread machine! Some people try to tell me my bread isn’t home made because it is from a bread machine..this just isn’t true!!! Good luck and enjoy!!

  • Alice H - yum, bread! I buy Wonder Bread and since my grandpa worked there for 47 years and lost part of his finger once in the machine, I’d say they make that bread from their hands also. Haha!! I want to get a bread machine!

  • erica - your words are a gift.

  • Tonya - I love that I am not the only mom to forget to tell them to wash their hands! Love love love it!

  • fullertonregan - For sure sister! We all tend to do that. I had a therapist who tried to break me of the habit of giving others’ words power and she said, “If they said you had green teeth and purple eyes, would you believe them?” I thought it was so hokey, but looking back (and being in a better place), I see how right she was. It’s just as silly to put stock in the things others say. It’s been a long journey getting from where I was to where I am, but thank goodness for my Linda and all of her sage advice.

    Also, ummm, if you need anyone to give you an honest opinion of your bread, please send it post haste to me here in Orange, CA. Oh, and send some of that butter too, k??? :D XOXO

  • emmybrown - love it!

  • Amanda - gosh this spoke to me… i’ve been the open-mouth-insert-foot girl more often than i care to admit. i hate that about me. your post serves as a nice reminder to seek the Lord to change me and help me speak less and listen more.
    i have the same bread machine. it’s so great, isn’t it? glad you got yours back down to use. :-) that butter sounds amazing!!

  • Jamin (@FrayedParent) - There is nothing wrong with bread from a bread machine… in fact, there is something incredibly right about it! Who cares if you don’t make it by hand—that’s like saying “Your Starbucks coffee is terrible because grinding your own espresso at home is the only way to go.” Ya know what? Sometimes you just need coffee, and they do coffee pretty well… Sometimes you kneed bread (get it?), and bread machines rock!

  • Jen - Your perspective on life always makes so much sense in my heart. What mom hasn’t felt bad about something another mom has said? We have a tendency to be judgmental, maybe because we’re insecure about the choices we’ve made?

  • paige - Homemade bread is awesome, but sometimes seasons in life prevent me from making it—-like now! Bagged bread here I come! Love using the machine when I can though! I’ll have to look @ the mixes…..look delish! Wonder if they have whole wheat?

  • Barbara Stevens - Off to dust off my bread machine. Thank you.

  • mandi@herbanhomestead - Yes! Good for you- doing what is right for you and your family! I had a moment in my late college years where my now husband and I were visiting the home of a family (the dad repaired guitars- why we were there). We walked in and the house was a mess. I guess, I don’t really remember the state of the house. But I assume it was because the words of the mom. We walked in and she didn’t apologize. She just said “oh, the house is a mess. You know, we live here…” And that was it. It was the first time I had ever been to someone’s home where they didn’t scurry to clean it before we came over. I loved that moment.

  • Fiona - You’ve inspired me to pull our bread machine out of the closet and dust it off. Thank you.

  • Stephanie May* @MayDae - That looks SO yummy! Num num num!

  • natalie - i wonder…if I don’t have a bread machine, that box says ‘easy oven baking’ hmmm…

  • Anna Joy - Your bread looks delicious! Does it really matter how it was made as long as it is made with love?

  • natalie - p.s. every time my (Indian) mom-in-law comes to dinner, she lectures me about how I should be making plain yogurt for my family instead of buying it. I know how to make it, but it takes time and the cost of milk pretty much equates to the cost of the store-bought yogurt, which I think tastes better (I like the thick greek stuff) anyway- enjoy your bread and I will enjoy the encouragement to lift up a friend with my words today…or my kids for that matter!

  • Vénusia - I am thinking to buy a bread machine. But i’ve been told the break easily if you use it on a regular base. Did you use it a lot ? I really don’t know what i’ll do.

    I myself was against bread machine. I do hand bread once in a while, but I could never do it on a daily base, so the bread machine seems for myself also a good choice. Or a Kitchenaid mixer, so I’ll don’t have to do the rough part. So I completly understand your choice !

  • amber - I come from a long line of bread lovers;). And, I & my daughter are no exception! I recently donated my bread machine, because it sat in my cabinets for way to long unused. Now you’ve got me rethinking that decision. Oh well. And…what an excellent reminder to fill ourselves with words that give life each day, so we don’t fall victim to words that tear us down. I need a hot piece of bread…

  • Shari - That is our favorite bread mix too. YUMMY!!! I grew up with a mom who made fresh bread all the time. LOVE the smell and the hot buttery goodness on it. My kids love it too. I need to make it more often but my waist seems to like to hold on to it and savor it a little too much. ;-)

  • Dana - Ashley, I just wanted to say that I am ALL ABOUT families doing whatever works for them! I love that you nourish your family in the way that is right for you. And, I love that your son has dirty hands. I always forget to remind my little one to wash up, and honestly, I don’t care!
    Lots of love!

  • Rebekah - Ashley…great post, of course–thanks for sharing :-) We also use our machine for dough…SUCH a time saver!! More cinnamon rolls and homemade pizza for us!!

  • Jennifer - Butter, cinnamon, and sugar are our favorite things to put on our friend – yummy – I’ll have to pull my machine out again

  • andy - love warm bread, any way made. love your post and the honesty in it. planning on sticking close to those women in my life that are encouraging. women sometime do such a bad job of encouraging and sticking together. why is that?

  • Frankie - Words can be so powerful. This was a nice reminder that we all have the ability to take words to heart or to ignore them. Words have power, but we have more. Thank you. This was a nice lesson wrapped up into a lovely post.

  • Stephanie Catlett (Mom's Happy Place) - THREE CHEERS FOR BREAD MACHINE BREAD!

    HIP HIP HOORAY!
    HIP HIP HOORAY!
    HIP HIP HOORAY!

  • Bri Schaaf - Oh your bread looks amazing! You go girl…I still like to get mine from an isle in the market!!

  • Irene - Dear Ashley, I love this post. I am not a mother just yet, but I know what it’s like to hear such comments. Recently I have given power to other ppl’s opinion and made me sulky for a while. Then I thought everyone’s entitled to give an opinion but its just how we take it in our heart.. You and ur family is such a joy and inspiration to me! Have a beautiful day :)) Irene NZ

  • Kari - The statement, “I gave her words power” just drilled a hole right through my head. It isn’t even about other people–it’s the power that I give them and their influence.
    Thank you for saying it so plainly. Am typing that out today and posting in front of my face in my office. What is it that I’m giving power to? What deserves it? What isn’t getting it?

  • Ashley - what kind of bread machine do you have? I have been wanting one for a long time!:)

  • amy - i just started making bread…well ihaven’t made a loaf yet but dinner rolls, tried bagels…didn’t really turn out. i love doing it. but it’s a lot of work and a big mess. i just told my family yesterday i would love a bread machine for christmas!!!

  • Amy - Good for you. I heard one time…”If you’re busy being someone else, who is going to be you?” It stuck with me. I bet your family loves it when you’re…you. :) Thanks for writing your blog. It’s like a little dessert every day.

  • Ingrid - ‘doing is better than perfection’… i have to remind myself that one so love this post – always love your honestly & openness ashley ann :)

  • Mercedes - I totally needed to hear this today… thanks!

  • Jennifer T. - My papa use to make homemade bread from a bread machine for us on the holidays. It is what I looked forward to every year. He past away two years ago & haven’t had any homemade bread since! After reading this post, I now am going to purchase a bread machine and start making bread for my family. I am happy that you rose above the negative words because this post was truly inspiring to me!!!v

  • Harriet - Oh my goodness. I love bread! I am seriously sitting here ready to drool over that goodness that you are serving! AH. Doesn’t help that I haven’t had my lunch yet. Love this post! Not just because of the bread although that does play a big part. Thank you for writing from your heart. I just love your blog and look forward to reading it and getting a little encouragement for the day! You are a blessing! …ok, I need to go and buy some bread now!!!!

  • Tara A. - Ashley, awesome post. I love how you said that. I gave her words power. So true. I love all your post but this one really stuck with me. Thanks for this. TARA

  • Julie - Thanks for the reminder about our words, especially to other moms living the life of little ones. I needed that kick in the pants.

  • Carmen - *beautiful* -thanks

  • mindy t - Ok I am dying to know where you got that lovely measuring cup. And now i need some fresh bread too!

  • Christy - Hi, came from the Pinterest post on Christmas tree photog & stayed to look around. I loved this post – I had a bread machine on my shelf for 8 years because I thought it would be better to make it with my own hands (to be like someone in my life I give too much power to)and last year I took it down and it has changed everything!! A little tip (not that you asked:))once I found a recipe I liked, I bought containers that fit well in my freezer and started making my own mixes – all the dry ingredients ready to dump in. All I have to measure is the wet. There were days I found it hard to get the “work” of the recipe done, but now I have no excuse. Beautiful post.

  • Kristin S - I seriously think you just inspired me to pull my bread machine out of the attic. I put mine away under pressure to “make it with my own hands” too.

    My mouth thanks you.
    My rear end now so much.

    :-)

  • Lacey - I just made pizza dough from my bread machine tonight! So easy and So good!

  • Jeannette - Yum, I can taste it! I used to love making bread with my bread machine until it died :( I have NEVER made bread with my hands for my family and they turned out ok! I do insist on bread made without preservatives, whole grain, all that jazz, but I don’t have to make it.

  • Jenni Goodlin - ummm I totally want fresh bread now, and a bread machine. I just told my husband to ask his dad to get me one for Christmas. Who knows, maybe it will happen.

  • Amanda Keeys - Mmm nothing like fresh hot bread whether traditionally made by hand, or whether made by hand with the help of a breadmaker! I need to dig mine out of the cupboard again.

  • Michelle - I miss bread! I can’t eat it anymore because it seems to just twist up my tummy. Who cares if it’s from a bread machine or not…it looks divine!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Thank you so much for sharing this. it is so very true. words are so powerful and so often it is us that gives us those words the power.

    I would LOVE to join you for hot bread and apple cider. That sounds absolutely amazing!

  • jennie otanicar - Ashley,
    So powerful! I love the thought of not letting words get power over you! Thanks for sharing that story.

  • Lisa - Thank you so much for sharing this. There is so much that I have been struggling with lately and my feelings of inadequacy as a Mom. Your words of encouragement have given me confidence to listen to my instincts and not past judgements. And to be the mom that the Lord has given me strength for today.

  • Maria - I think I need to dig out our bread machine…I can’t remember the last time we used it…perfect time of the year for it!

  • CharlaL - yummy! ?

  • Shelly - Thank you so much for the reminder. Not only should we remember that the words others speak only have power if we let them, we should remember that our words can have power over others. I don’t know if that acquaintance meant to belittle you or not, but her words did have power. Sometimes I say things sarcastically or out of insecurity. I try to be funny and glib and let everyone know how confident I am (ha!). Your story reminds me that all of my words should be spoken out of love and their purpose should be to build others up. Thank you!

  • Amy D - thanks for this post! i have been thinking of the people whose words I have given power in my life… Probably all too much! Good to recognize that!

  • tracy a - ashley, you know what i love about your blog? it is something that you and chris taught me in hawaii…the gospel needs to be spoken in the language people need to hear it. you speak gospel truths in a language that everyone can speak, even if they don’t know what they are receiving. i smile when i read your words and i think God does too. bless you friend.

  • Windy - What a wonderful lesson to learn and share! Thank you.

  • Lisa Catania - Hot Bread & Apple Cider, Yum!

  • Sarah - Awesome post Ashley…about the words, about the bread and about the dirt :-) especially love the dirt. Boys and dirt are just meant to go together :-) We are a million miles away (almost) here in NZ but yours is the only blog I read. Every one, faithfully and i love them all. Thanks so much for sharing your world with us :-)

  • Heldine - I ate the best homemade breads in NZ. My friends made bread by hand and by the machine and both were equally delicious. So I think either works. :) Homemade pizza is really good too.

  • Liene - Beautiful post.

  • Suzan - Did you and your husband happen to be serving with FOCUS while you were in Kazakhstan?

  • Jolie - Ashley, you’re gorgeous. And I hate how we give power to other peoples’ words that they truly don’t merit! I’m sure 50 years ago some sanctimonious housewife poo-poohed another’s sponge cake because she’d *gasp* used a mixer, lol! Thank you reminding me yet again to remember not to get caught up in someone else’s nonsense!

    Does your bread machine have a dough option? I have an awesome (easy! no weird ingredients!)recipe for pizza dough that we love around here…and there’s nothing like pizza making to get the kids truly involved in the kitchen! Let me know if you;d like it!

    ps. we have dirty hand eating sessions around here too…I just try to remind myself I’m raising children, not veal!

  • charla lane - I got a bread machine for Christmas and searched for this article!! I have been making bread by hand and I am.out of time! Super excited for hot bread at dinner! Have any great recipies to share?

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