Can I just say, I’m astounded by the amount of food that teenage guys and men in their early twenties can eat without it affecting their waistline at all. Sometimes I sit at “family meals” here at TLC and just laugh to myself as my boys, fresh from their carpentry and aviation jobs, scarf down plate after plate of dinner.
To keep up with their voracious appetites (and because we don’t have the luxury of buying bread from a grocery store) I spend one, sometimes two afternoons a week baking bread for my students and staff. My students have gotten spoiled with homemade bread for sandwiches, toast, and to eat with the copious amounts of homemade soup that Tom and I feed them, and as much as they joke about becoming addicted to my “white people” cooking, I absolutely love having the time to spoil them a bit by baking them bread “with love”.
On a more selfish note, I love that my afternoons of baking give me an excuse to blast my worship music and twirl in my oven-warmed kitchen like a fool while breathing in the sweet scent that reminds me of my Tia’s kitchen on holidays. Baking has always been a stress reliever for me and I absolutely love that it’s become a part of my job description for this season of life.
The alchemy that occurs when I pour the ingredients into a mixing bowl, knead the dough that subsequently forms, and watch it rise in the ancient metal pans I found at village swap-meet astounds me. It just doesn’t make sense to me, this magic of baking, but it’s taught me a lot about life over the years. And if I’ve learned one thing this year through baking enough bread to feed a small army every week, it’s that you can’t rush the process.
When I try to hurry through my “memorized” list of ingredients, I inevitably forget the salt.
When I get over ambitious and try to make all six loaves at once, at least two somehow get screwed up.
When I convince myself that I need to rush, I don’t let the dough rise for long enough and my bread loses its beautiful, smooth top and its light, fluffy texture.
For someone who is, in the words of my car-obsessed grandfather, “All gas and no breaks”, spending time allowing my bread to rise seems like a waste, but it’s essential. The sitting and waiting, the patience, the “down time”… it’s essential in baking bread and I’ve been reminded that it’s essential in my walk with Christ.
In the last week or so, the Lord has brought me to a place of “rising”.
Since roughly December I’ve felt like someone put my brain inside my Kitchen Aid and turned it on high. As March has approached (aka the time of year when teachers usually begin signing their contracts for the next school year), my post-Alaska plans have been at the forefront of my mind. And in the last few months, the Lord has dumped what feels like nine million opportunities in my mixer with me and watched as I’ve spun and stressed and struggled, trying to figure out which is the “right choice” for the next season of life. Stressing and edging God out of the equation is so often my default reaction to seasons of change, even though I know deep in my heart that all I need to do is quiet myself before Him and ask (slash trust Him) to lead me.
I debriefed all of this with one of my most dear friends today (while our day’s worth of bread rose). She laughed and fed me the exact advice that I’d given her last summer when she was stuck on spin-cycle with Jesus.
“I don’t think God is going to tell you where He’s leading you, Kacy. I think He’s just going to let you sit and enjoy your time with Him, and then He’s going to take you there. I think you just need to wait and see; be silent and follow as He leads, one step at a time.” (Ironic advice given the number of times Exodus 14:14 has come up in our conversations with and prayers for each other throughout the last several months: “The Lord will fight for you; you need only be silent.”)
As I sit at my kitchen table this afternoon with pans of bread slowly rising next to me in my window sill, I know this to be true. This is to be a season of patience and listening, waiting and “rising”– not hurrying to get to the next thing on my to-do list or rushing my proverbial “baking”process… (or running full speed ahead into the obscure darkness, which almost seems like a shame because I’m SO much better at all of those things. #sarcasmfont)
I’m not gonna lie—I’m hungry and am anticipating eating the magical smelling bread next to me, almost as much as my heart is anticipating seeing what the Lord is going to do with my life next. As it currently stands, there’s a very good chance that three new countries and the ability to help found a non-profit that Denver drastically needs are in my immediate future… But all of that seems to be another blog for another time. Plus, I need to get off my tush and put this next round of bread in the oven before no one has anything to eat for dinner tonight.
I would love it if you would join your hearts in prayer with me as I wait and “rise”, sweet friends. Jesus is up to something… I have no idea what it is, but in the words of the United Pursuit song that I love so much, I know “It’s gonna be wild, it’s gonna be great, and it’s gonna be full of Him.”
PS: If you need to find yourself needing to breathe and pray, to quiet yourself and bake some bread today, here is the recipe that I’ve fallen in love with, courtesy of the lovely Mrs. Sarah Wardell.
Basically Manna from Heaven Recipe
- 3 c. warm water
- 2 tbsp. active rise yeast
- ¼ c. agave or honey
- ¼ c. coconut oil
- 1 tbsp. salt
- 5-8 c. flour
Mix warm water, yeast, and agave in your mixer for roughly a minute. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes to allow the yeast to proof. Slowly mix in the flour, oil, and salt until your dough forms. Mix/knead the dough with a bread hook for five-ish minutes. Spray your bread pans with non-stick spray and allow the bread to rise for thirty minutes. Bake at 375* for thirty minutes. Makes two sandwich loaves. (Disclaimer: This temperature and time works well here at sea level; you might need to adjust it a bit if you’re baking in the high-altitude promise land of Colorado.)