Every Monday at 6:30 PM, it suddenly becomes Tuesday at my house.
The smell of baking brownies and sounds of canine excitement signal the weekly time warp. Tails wag as teen girls, hungry for a combined spiritual and sugar rush, file through the front door. This weekly ritual played out every Tuesday night for ten years until I started my Masters program. After Tuesday evening classes forced a move to Mondays, everyone cheerfully adjusted to the time change, but not a name change. We’re still the Tuesday Night Bible Study. We just happen to meet on Monday.
What’s different about tonight is that instead of making the brownies ahead of time, I’m waiting for the girls to arrive so we can bake them together. The format change is for the benefit of a photographer who is coming to take pictures for a story about our group which will run in a local women’s’ magazine and, apparently, the newspaper as well. The brownie making angle is a concession to the fact that, for photography purposes, taking pictures of us baking would be more interesting than pictures of us sitting around on couches eating the brownies, which is what we usually do.
I won’t have the pictures to post, but, as I happened to write the article, I’d be happy to give you a sneak peek at it.
It goes something like this:
Who knew when I sat down in my living room one late spring evening with two teen girls, a pan of double chocolate brownies and a Bible that my life was about to change? Sure, I was excited about building relationships with some of the girls at church, but I had no idea I was beginning a chapter of my life that would be peopled by dozens of teenagers who would bring me not only encouragement and joy, but also inspiration in the pursuit of a lifelong dream.
But that’s exactly what happened. Our weekly living room sessions around the brownie pan are now eleven years strong. Over the years, I’ve been in two weddings, and another
two marriages exist because of friendships that formed in Tuesday Night Bible Study.
Along the way, we’ve prayed together over lost loves, sick pets, and plummeting grades. We once sat and cried together at a funeral, too. Sometimes the older girls come back from college or married life and get to know the new girls. It’s a continuous thread.
I was a late bloomer, of sorts. A caution-to-the-wind kind of gal with a flair for the dramatic and a penchant for impulsive road trips during school hours. Having managed to survive into my twenties, I felt a responsibility to extend a map of sorts to my younger sisters—a guide marking the best stepping stones around the tough neighborhoods.
But even my husband, who has been a constant source of encouragement in endeavors ranging from international travel to the ill-advised adoptions of numerous strays, was skeptical.
“It’s a great idea,” he said. “But I’m not sure if you’ll get them to come. I don’t want you to be disappointed.”
But come they did—sometimes in trickles, others in droves. And our group quickly expanded as the girls brought their friends. Soon girls from all over the community began showing up at my door each week for a dose of scripture, a listening ear, and, of course, a brownie.
I keep a few trophies—but not the kind you have to polish. My favorite is a little Ziploc baggie full of “contraband” a couple of girls unexpectedly gave me one night at the end of a study. Not even 24’s Jack Bauer could get me to divulge the contents of the bag, but I promise you, it was worth way more than every chocolate chip I’ve ever had to buy and every hour that stretched beyond our usual two.
And that lifelong dream I mentioned? My experiences with the girls actually gave me the nudge I needed to jumpstart my frustrated writing ambitions! It began as a chapter-a-week online saga featuring a protagonist who, as one girl put it, “is a little bit of all of us.” The experiment grew into two young adult novels that have opened doors for me to talk with girls who would never have the opportunity to walk through my door on a Tuesday night.
Those who come usually hit the door with a single question: “Are there brownies tonight?” They claim my super-chocolaty recipe has “ruined” ordinary brownies for them.
I understand. A brownie isn’t just a brownie for me anymore, either. It’s a warm, gooey celebration of enduring friendship and the unexpected joys of giving.
Cynthia Davis is pursuing an MAT in English at Christopher Newport University. To contact her or learn more about her work, visit http://www.runningwithletters.com
Maybe you'd like the brownie recipe?
Bible Study Brownies (Nestle Double Chocolate Brownies)
This is the recipe for the authentic Tuesday night brownies!
3/4 cup unsifted flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 package Nestle semi-sweet morsels
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In small bowl combine flour, baking soda, and salt--set aside. In small saucepan, combine butter, sugar, and water. Bring just to a boil, then remove from heat. Add 1/2 package of morsels and vanilla. Stir until morsels melt and mixture is smooth. Transfer to large bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually blend in flour mixture. Stir in remaining morsels. Spread into greased 9 inch pan. Bake 30-35 minutes.