Life Lessons Learned in the Kitchen, Random

When Advent Gets a Little Weird

Daily devotions by my advent wreath”
Advent Card ‘Calendar’ Tradition
“Cookie Baking with friends”
Sing in the Vespers Choir
“Use more paper plates” …

Wait, what?!?
How did paper plates make their way onto my mental “Ways to celebrate Advent this year” list?!?

To be honest, I’m not exactly sure.

Maybe it’s an excuse to be lazy.
Maybe it’s just flat out weird.
However somehow, as I explored the Advent Conspiracy phrases of Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More, and Love All, I found myself wondering if perhaps those few minutes it takes to wash the dishes each day could be better spent somewhere else.

A ten minute drive around the neighborhood to look at Christmas lights
An extra moment to write a Christmas card to a soldier or missionary
The chance to hit the snooze button or simply sit quietly on the couch during an often busy, stressful season

A theme God is teaching me a lot about in my life right now is the idea of holding both myself and others to a standard of pure grace rather than perfection and some days that means paper plates.

Sure there will still be pots and pans to wash. And of course, sometimes I may choose to get out the even fancier dishes than my normal dishware, but as I think about ways to care for myself and others this Advent season, I’m glad “paper plates” made the list.

20131202-180642.jpg

31 Days of Imperfection, First Trinity, Life Lessons Learned in the Kitchen

Ministry is Messy! {31 Days of Imperfection – Day 30}

While my blog series focusing on “being okay with imperfect” started 30 days ago, God’s been teaching me this lesson for quite a while longer. One of the ways I’ve seen myself being forced to be okay with imperfect is in realizing that ministry is MESSY! As you’ve probably figured out in the last 30 days, I prefer perfection. I prefer things to be organized and always in their place. I’ve come to realize that just can’t happen in effective ministry.

Take First Trinity’s Young Adult Ministry for example.  As I packed up my car and moved halfway across the country to begin my internship, First Trinity’s “College Ministry” consisted solely of writing notes to college students a few times throughout the year. I am extremely thankful for this ministry and it continues to be a blessing to students still today. However, that didn’t give much direction for the overall ministry that made up 45% of my job description.

Without many young adult ministry models to follow, it’s been a messy process. Aside from simply getting to know people and building relationships with them, “trial and error” has been our most frequently used method.  However, I’ve seen God do some AMAZING things in the midst of the mess.  GOD IS AT WORK! LIVES ARE BEING CHANGED!

Whether it’s starting a new ministry or just going through the everyday tasks as a DCE, I’ve come to realize that I can’t really make anything happen that’s worth anything if I’m not willing to live with a little mess for a while. Often this “better way” is very intimidating. Taking the effort to make programs and ministries that are truly valuable can be very daunting. It’s kind of like baking bread, which can often be an intimidating task. I can have this great idea to bake my own bread instead of just buying a cheap $.99 loaf from the store. However, the process can just seem overwhelming; the hardest part is just getting started. Even if you know it’d be worth it in the end, and each step in itself is not difficult, you still have to actually DO it.

There is a huge part of me that likes to dream big dreams, but holds back because of the mess it may take to get there. I have to be willing to take that first step and “get out all the ingredients”… I’ve gotta just get started.  Thankfully, as we turn to God, he is always faithful to give us the “ingredients” we need. Instead of being scared of the whole process and worrying about getting it perfect, we can simply just keep turning to him for the next step, and the next step, and the next step, of the recipe trusting that even if it looks a little messy right now (like when you have to dump flour all over the counter to knead the bread dough), it will be worth our time and effort in the long run.

Thanks be to God that our Savior Jesus was willing to show up, right in the middle of our mess as a man and walk with us on this earth… Dying, rising, forgiving, loving. And he still enters in, day after day, right in the middle of our mess! And that’s why we have to be okay with messy sometimes, because that’s often where God shows up in the biggest ways… in ministry, and just in life!

Life Lessons Learned in the Kitchen

A Need to Be Kneaded

After my post about making bread last night, I decided to investigate WHY bread needs to be kneaded.  As I did a google search and read what www.wisegeek.com had to say about it, I was amazed at how God was STILL speaking to me through the simple act of baking bread.

 

Check out one of the reason behind kneading:

“One of the most important things that takes place during the kneading process is the development of gluten. As the flour that makes up the dough is moistened and stirred, the gluten begins to form and also gains in strength as the dough is subjecting to the kneading process. Gluten can be thought of as the binding agent within the dough, allowing the loaf to take on a cohesive texture that will allow the substance to not fall apart during baking.”

Do you see it?  Do you see the connections?!?

 

Yesterday in my post I was talking about God kneading truth into my life.  As this happens… I get stronger. 

 

As I submit to the kneading process… something that would probably be labeled as “weak” in this world… I actually gain strength. 

 

That truth works with the other ingredients that make up everyday life and becomes the binding agent that holds my life together and allows me to not fall apart when the tough times occur.

 

Bread of Life, knead Your truth into my life every moment of everyday!  Remind me to submit to this process, that I may gain strength to face whatever comes my way.

Bekah's Heart, Life Lessons Learned in the Kitchen

It’s Kinda Like Making Bread…

Upon returning home from work today, I decided I would NOT try to go out to volleyball tonight.  The roads weren’t too bad but after almost getting stuck 3 times going in/out of the church parking lot today, I decided not to press my luck (for lack of a better phrase).  Instead, seeing multiple unused yeast packets in my fridge, I decided to make some bread. 

 

As this process has gone on this evening, I’ve realized that sometimes what God is doing in our life is kind of a lot like making bread, especially the process of kneading the dough. 

 

There seem to be a rhythm to it… a process… repeated… necessary … for the bread to turn out.  

 

Knead.  Rest.  Rise.  Knead.  Rest.  Rise.

 

I feel like we’re constantly somewhere in this process as God shapes us into who he wants us to be.  As I look back over the past few months, I see God working in my life like a baker works with dough.  There have been some areas of my life where God has come and said, “Let me knead some Truth into that, Bekah.”

 

DSCF9213But kneading it’s not always a pleasant process.  Some descriptors in the kneading section of the recipe I used tonight were “punch,”  “squeeze,”  “stretch,” “pound,” “twist”.  When we think about the possibility of God doing these things in our lives… to our hearts, it does not sound like a very fun process.  

 

Oh, but God understands the need to knead. 

 

He’s got to work that yeast, His Truth, through our whole lives.  Sometimes that truth comes like a punch to the gut.  Other times he needs to stretch us out of our comfort zone.  Sometimes it comes as a pound on the door of our heart simply saying, “Something’s not right here. Let me fix it.” 

 

As God continues to knead our lives, it hurts, but it’s good.  It also takes time.  Those 10 minutes (or 10 hours, or 10 months, or 10 years) seem like forever, but God knows the perfect amount of time needed to knead. 

 

I also realized that the process isn’t exactly the most exciting for the Kneader as well… the punching, the squeezing, the stretching, the pounding, the twisting… it’s hard work.  And maybe that’s what it means to know that we are His “workmanship”. 

 

DSCF9214 And then, in the perfect time, the kneading ends, at least for a while, and the dough is shaped and placed in a ball in a bowl, covered with a towel and left alone. 

 

Sometimes when God’s been working on us for so long… for those 10 days or weeks or months or years, it kind of seems weird for the kneading to stop.  I mean it seems in my life that just when I get used to the kneading, and finally believe the Baker for its necessity, that’s when He says, “Okay, now it’s time to rest.”  Sometimes it even feels as if I’ve simply been beat up and left alone.  But God does not leave, he only knows our need to rest and let His Truth do its work… to rise up in our hearts and bring healing to the areas where he’s punched, squeezed, and stretched us.

 

But again, that’s often not the end of the process.  After the certain time… known by the Baker alone, the process begins again…. the punching, the pounding, the twisting, the shaping.  Again, it’s crucial, it has to happen.  There is a need for our lives to be kneaded… shaped again and again by the Master Baker.

DSCF9215 

And then He tells us to rest once more, letting Truth rise up in our hearts.

 DSCF9216

Again and again this process takes place.

 

Knead.  Rest.  Rise.  Knead.  Rest.  Rise.

 

Through the process we just have to trust that He knows what He’s doing.  The dough doesn’t knead itself… the dough doesn’t know how long to wait in the resting period… the dough doesn’t know how many times it needs to be kneaded before going to the oven.  But the Baker does. 

 

Lord, teach me to give in to Your kneading… Your pounding, Your twisting, Your stretching and squeezing… and help me to rest when I just need to let your Truth rise up in my soul.

DSCF9223