What's the scariest thing you can think of?  I can think of several really scary things, some of
which I've lived through and some of which I've been spared. We all have that special fear of
something: fear of heights, fear of being alone, fear of bugs, fear of lightening and storms,
and others much worse. Many of our fears are founded by plain old common sense while
others are caused by some prior event in our life.

Now, if fear could be ranked on a scale of 1 to 10, then a "1" is a goose-bump, a "4" is a
nervous sweat, and a "7" is hair standing on the back of your neck. Any number higher than
that is running scared!

Marian was afraid of biscuits. Although she never admitted it, I'm certain in her eyes it carried
a score of "5". I finally came to understand her fear of biscuits, but I must tell you it took me
many, many years. You see, Marian was my mother, and a mother teaches her children many
things by what she does rather than just what she says. Trust me, I know she was afraid of
biscuits.

Breakfast was a scary time in our house. Biscuits. To begin with, we didn't have store-bought
biscuits, and she made them every Saturday morning from scratch. Her eyes showed great
bravery as she mixed each ingredient, patted the dough into shape, placed them on the pan,
put them in the oven, and . . . waited.

Oh, you don't think that's scary? What if the biscuits don't rise? What if the oven doesn't
light? What if they burn on the bottom? What if they don't get done in the middle? What if
they turn out hard as rocks and suitable for target practice? There's a lot of fear here! If the
biscuits don't turn out right, then the gravy is all for nothing, and breakfast is ruined. In a
southern household, you can't have biscuits and gravy without biscuits. I can still smell the
sausage gravy simmering on the stove and the smell of biscuits rising in the oven. I can still
see her standing at the edge of the stove, waiting... afraid to peek, lest the biscuits will fall.

Years later, as technology advanced and we used our time-saving devices until we had no
time left, breakfast took a sharp turn. Store-bought biscuits. Guaranteed to rise. Follow the
directions properly and they are also guaranteed to be "just right" every time. But first, you
have to open the container. I have to smile in remembrance, but I saw her fear even then.
That penultimate moment as she prepared to puncture the container, knowing it is going to
explode with a loud pop! She tried using a spoon to break the seal, but she got so paranoid
about it that eventually she learned a hard smack on the corner of the kitchen counter would
do the trick as well, with less fear. The fear score went down to a gentle "2" for many years
after that. Unfortunately, she just didn't care too much for canned biscuits.

I remember the day she finally explained to me about her biscuit-phobia. We were discussing
how she had always wanted to be a great journalist, and her dreams of writing the perfect
story. As a newspaper editor for several years, writing a column of her own for a small town
newspaper, she insisted that some day she would sit down and actually write a book. I asked
her, now that she was finally retired, when she would ever go ahead and write that book.

Her response was simply, "Oh, I'm afraid I just got baked in the squat."

Naturally confused by that phrase, she explained to me, "When a biscuit goes into the oven,
it squats down and thinks about how glorious it is going to be to rise. It's going to rise higher
than any biscuit ever to be the most beautiful, wonderful thing there could be. But sometimes,
biscuits get to thinking too long and before they know it, they get baked in the squat. Then,
they're not good. They're hard and dry and have to be discarded."

She explained that's what happened to her writing career. She spent too long thinking about
it and got "baked in the squat". I chuckled at her analogy, but that thought stayed in my mind
for years.

When cancer came and refused to leave until it had done its due, Mom was very brave. She
faced death head-on with a courage I've never known. Her faith was strong in the Lord,
knowing her final destination would be at His side. She was brave up to the end when her
body finally went into a coma and God covered her in His mercy, taking away the last
vestiges of her pain.

As I stayed by her bedside at Hospice, I again thought of those silly biscuits, and
remembered her words: "It squats down and thinks about how glorious it is going to be to
rise. It's going to rise higher than any biscuit ever to be the most beautiful, wonderful thing
there could be."

By her faith, she knew how glorious it would be to rise, and she knew she would rise again.  I
know in my heart that one day I will see her in that Heavenly place ~ a place where there is
no fear.
Biscuits & Bravery
©  Ferna Lary Mills
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