Warm banana bread, the slice heavy in your hand, the butter melting into all the crevices as you watch. Is there anything more comforting?
Last night I made this loaf, happy to have something more interesting than eggs, soaked oats, or a smoothie waiting for us in the morning.
But then we crawled into bed and my happy thoughts began to shrink as Brad showed me his right ankle and foot, puffy and swollen, the skin stretched tight and making his still-bony toes look a little ridiculous. You’re like a seven-months pregnant woman! I joked. But in my heart, I choked. Another new symptom, another scary sign that this illness is here and not giving up, despite years of hard work.
Last night, once Brad’s breath was even and soft (and I prayed, for the thousandth time, Thank you, Lord, for sweet sleep that offers him at least a little relief from all this suffering), I reviewed Brad’s latest symptoms one by one in my head.
The swollen ankle and foot.
The persistent tight, sore throat and mucus drainage.
The chills all day long, not relieved by the on-again, off-again fever.
The weight loss.
The worrisome signs of digestive trouble.
The sensitivity to sound.
The pain. The pain. The pain.
When I turn them over like this, examining each of them from the perspective of someone distant, separating each ache and fever from our label of Normal, I’m scared by what I encounter. I feel an intense urgency to fix this. The most primal part of my mind says this is going a direction I don’t even want to think about and it’s dark as pitch.
So I scream and scream at God in my mind, begging Him to say the word I KNOW will heal my husband. I ask Jesus to show my husband the compassion I read about over and over in the gospels. I say, What about Lazarus? Remember Lazarus, Lord? Remember watching Mary suffer and weep at your feet after he died and being so affected by it, you wept? Remember saying, This illness is not for death, but for the glory of God? And I ask if that’s true for us. I plead and plead with our Savior to make it true for us.
When I run out of examples to throw at the foot of the throne, and run out of ways to ask for mercy, when I’ve exhausted the scriptures I’ve memorized and exhausted myself crying, I repeat over and over again:
Will you do that with me?
Can I ask you to plead with our gracious and loving Father to heal Brad right now? To increase our faith? To give us hope and joy? To give wisdom to the doctor we’re planning to see in a few weeks? To stay the pain my dear husband endures every single moment of every single day?
And when you’re done, if you’re hungry–and you will be, because carrying someone else through a battlefield will always make you hungry–have some banana bread.
Banana bread is the easy-come happiness I needed this morning after whispering myself to sleep.
It has the barest sweetness from rapadura, a touch of honey, and bananas. It has satisfyingly chewy bits of coconut and carrot. It has the heft I always want in a quick bread. But even if it didn’t have all those things, this banana bread made Brad happy this morning. So in my book right now, it’s tops.
Coconut Banana Bread
adapted from here
makes 1 loaf
I used a mix of rye and einkorn flours because we had them on hand, but I imagine you could use all spelt or all whole wheat or any combination you like, provided at least 1 cup of flour is a bit lighter (so, not all rye). You can use white sugar or any type of sugar sweetener as a sub for the rapadura, but it will likely be sweeter so you may want to use less of it.
1/2 cup rye flour
1-1/2 cups einkorn flour (what’s this?)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, softened
scant 3/4 cup rapadura (or other dry sweetener)
1 Tablespoon honey
2 large bananas (the more ripe the better)
2 carrots, shredded (that equaled about 3/4 cup for me)
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup plain whole-fat yogurt (I used goat milk yogurt)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re using a glass or metal loaf pan, oil or butter it lightly. I used a stone loaf pan and did not a blessed thing to prep it and the loaf lifted right out.
Whisk together both flours, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
In a mixer, cream together the butter and rapadura on medium speed until well incorporated. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Add honey, banana, carrot, yogurt, and vanilla. Beat until banana is mashed and the carrots are evenly incorporated.
Add half the flour mixture; beat just until moist. Add the remaining flour and do the same, being careful not to overmix. It’s ok if some flour is still hanging out here and there. Stir in (or beat on low) the coconut flakes.
Scrape batter into the loaf pan and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. If you know your oven heats unevenly (Mom), rotate the pan halfway through. Mine was done right at 55 minutes.
Cool until easily handled, then spread butter over it. It can’t be eaten any other way.
Tears in my eyes over here, praying with and for you.
My prayers are yours and Brad’s, Joanna. Know you are not praying alone. Sending love from Minnesota.
I am praying for comfort and healing for you both.
Thinking of you both – I hope Brad finds some relief soon.
praying for you both, sweet friend!