It’s that time of year. You know, the temps are dropping, the leaves are falling, pumpkin decorations are lining the shelves…it’s fall! My favorite! It has been a busy start to September with work and three kids in fall sports. In the midst of my busy, I signed up to bring a meal to a sick friend this week. As I looked at my calendar, I realized I had no time to cook thanks to our baseball schedule. However, I wanted to bring at least one thing homemade to her, so I wouldn’t be a total friend failure. I decided on my pumpkin bread. It’s quick and easy to make, I had all the ingredients and everyone loves it. Done.
I got out all my supplies and reached for the recipe box (yes, I still have a recipe box). As I pulled out the recipe page, I remembered, this wasn’t my pumpkin bread at all. Clearly written across the top of the 8×11 page, in my friend’s penmanship, was “Amy’s Pumpkin Bread.” This was Amy’s pumpkin bread recipe. Amy, my neighbor from my old hood. Amy, who lived across the street and loved me so well for 11 years. Amy, who taught me how to be a good neighbor in my first real neighborhood. Amy, who brought me pumpkin bread every year when the weather got cooler. Amy, who gave gifts and meals when all the babies came. Amy, my neighbor.
I got a little emotional for some reason looking at the recipe page. I remembered. I remembered all the years of eating Amy’s amazing pumpkin bread and looking forward to it arriving in its pretty package with a note on top. I finally asked her for the recipe and she wrote it down in her cursive handwriting. It sits in my 20 year old recipe box, pulled out every year about this time. The boys always start asking for her bread when the weather cools down. They know it’s pumpkin time, and Amy’s bread has become a part of our fall traditions.
This recipe page has yellowed and is covered in oil and pumpkin stains and looking at it today just hit me. As I was making pumpkin bread for my sick friend, I realized something. Amy’s generosity and kindness has multiplied. I have made countless loaves of pumpkin bread. The recipe makes 3 loaves, so we always make some to eat and some to share. Every time we make it we share. My mom has the recipe and she shares too. That’s multiplication. My kids are watching the sharing. They were watching 2 weeks ago when we made some for us and shared 2 loaves with neighbors who are in a rough spot. The boys will come home today and enjoy some bread and know the other loaves are being given away. They are seeing the multiplication. Maybe there is a lesson there for them. That’s a Kingdom lesson you know, multiplication.
I wonder did Amy make the recipe so large so she could share? So she could multiply? I bet she did. That seems like the Amy I know. But did Amy know that she was planting a little bit of the Kingdom in my heart as a young wife and a young mother just by bringing by bread? Just by loving on me and my babies? Just by being there to listen and be my good neighbor? My friend at Faith, Hope, Love and Therapy always says “Go love your neighbor.” Now, those are some good words, Go love your neighbor. Those are kingdom words. Jesus told us to do that, to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, and boy, don’t we love to love on ourselves!
Loving our neighbors equals multiplication and multiplication equals a growing Kingdom. Jesus was always loving neighbors and multiplying loaves for those in need.
I’ve benefited from watching folks work out multiplication over the years. They didn’t even realize it, but they were growing the Kingdom just by loving their neighbors. I watched my dad loan his tools out and make sure his garage was open on Saturdays for anyone that needed a repair. I watched my mom serve tirelessly as she worked full time but made sure the house was open and food was cooked for Bible studies or church meetings. I watched my grandmothers bake for and serve the sick and the needy. This is the easy part. Loving others is the easy way to bring heaven to earth, to grow the kingdom of God, to multiply His goodness.
He said others would know we belong to Him by the way we love, so…just go love your neighbors, those in your circle, those who you hear about that have a need: the friend at work, the kids down the street, the new mom at church, the tired family that just moved in, the teacher that’s overwhelmed. We all have something to offer, whether it’s time or money or just an ear to listen. Go and love your neighbor, go and multiply the kingdom, just go…you never know who’s watching or listening…you never know how God will use the gifts you have to change someone.
Here is Amy’s Pumpkin Bread recipe. Now you really don’t have an excuse! Remember, it makes 3 loaves, some to eat, some to share. I don’t think she will care that I am offering it up. I think this was her heart the whole time…to love others…to multiply the good things God had given her.
Amy’s Pumpkin Bread
3.5 cups Flour
3 cups Sugar
1 cup Water
1 cup Oil
2 tsp. Baking soda
½ tsp. Baking powder
3 tbsp. Pumpkin pie spice
1 tbsp. Cinnamon
1 tbsp. Vanilla
1.5 tsp. Salt
1 Large can of pumpkin
Mix all ingredients together. Options – sprinkle top with mini chocolate chips or chopped walnuts. Spray 3 loaf pans and pour in batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 1-1.5 hours. Insert knife to ensure center is cooked. After removing from pans, rub with butter.