Friday, March 23, 2012

Lent Day 27: Thankful for recovery sabbaths

"Do you ever rest?" my sis asks me. The simple answer is yes. Deeply, deliberately, and defensively.

After each big event (whether that's been hosting big events, watching my grandbaby born, or defending my dissertation), I shut down production and ignore work for a mini-sabbatical.

Instead of hitting the trail, I putter. After a day of exhausting stress Tuesday, I read the Bible, baked bread (easy method below), walked the dogs, napped, and incorporated the celebration leftovers of kale and cauliflower into a ramen supper Wednesday. Nothing I did had a measurable impact - except in recovery.

My mom remembers a neighbor commenting on my teen energy, "Sie hat sieben Ziegen an einem Schwanß" (She has 7 goats by the tale). I've left such unflagging enthusiasm behind, obviously.

The secret of clear thinking, sound decision-making, and good work lies in seasons of meditation and rest. World religions focus their meditations on achieving "nothingness" and emptying the mind. In contrast, Christ calls us to revive our souls from emptiness by filling up with his abundance.

It takes solitude and quiet to hear the voice of the Shepherd. When stress, grief, or change unbalance our focus on God, we need to draw into silence and renew our strength in God's presence. It took me two days of drawing away from studies to refocus. I could have panicked about the deadlines looming, but my body and soul needed to step away.

I took a walk in the sunshine and had a healthy breakfast this morning. Now I'm ready to tackle dissertation revisions. On the clock, I'm two days behind. Yet, while the deadline hasn't changed, my heart is happy and excited to do good work.

The gospel writers spotlight a few events from Jesus life while admitting that the world's books could not contain everything he accomplished. They took time to record nights of prayer and times away with his disciples that might have been Jesus' sabbath seasons. He also celebrated the weekly Jewish day of complete rest.

Who are we to think our work is more important or our bodies more capable than his? Don't let anyone force you into living like you're super-Jesus. Such a blasphemy of overwork pays only in collapse and burnout, not in better ministry or healthier persons.

Read more:
*Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. 2 Chronicles 14:11 NIV

*The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand." Psalm 37:23-24 NLT

*Jesus said, "The farmer plants seed by taking God's word to others. The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don't have deep roots, they don't last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God's word. The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God's word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced.

And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God's word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!" Mark 4:14–20 NLT

*Paul wrote: My God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 NLT

Moravian Prayer: Christ Jesus, you are our mighty fortress and in you we find our sin and evil is conquered. Thank you for breaking the rod of the oppressor and winning our salvation. We dedicate ourselves anew to you this day. Amen.

BREAD: leftover dough from making pizza (I saved 1/2 c. Trader Joe's pizza dough). Add 2-3 c flour, 1-2 c water, and (optional) 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp salt. Use your hands to stir and knead until the flour is absorbed. If it's runny and wet, add a few tbsp flour. If it's hard and dry, add a few tbsp water.

Cover. Let sit on counter 1-5 hours. Put in fridge or break off the piece of dough you'd like to bake. Always leave 1/2-1 c dough in the bowl as starter, to which you add flour, water (and maybe sugar and salt). Repeat the steps above endlessly.

  • Preheat the oven to 400 (softer crust) or 425 (crisper crust). 
  • Sprinkle on the middle of a clean baking sheet: 3-5 tbsp of any combination of cream of wheat, cornmeal, rolled oatmeal (or other grains), sunflower seeds, flax seeds, etc. You can use more or less, depending on how big you want to make your bread loaf or bun.
  • Pinch off the amount you want to bake from the dough, then roll it in the grains and seeds. Make sure there's enough on the pan so the baked bread won't stick.
  • Let it rise to about 2/3 or double the size. I put the pan over a bowl of hot water to make it rise faster. (Don't touch the water but let the heat rise under the bread.)
  • Bake (approximate baking times below). When bread is done, a knock with a knife sounds more like a tap than a thud. 
  • Set the dough = Softer crust: wrap in a clean dishtowel for 20-30 minutes. Harder crust: cool on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes.
  • OH YUM YUM YUM. Hot fresh bread.
Hints: use the middle rack of the oven with a regular cookie sheet. Use the bottom rack of the oven if you have a bread pan, or non-stick or double-layered cookie pans. If you don't have a convection oven to circulate heat, put another preheated clean cookie sheet on the upper rack (above the bread) to heat the top of the bread.

Baking times:
@400: 20-25 minutes for a bread bun or small loaf; 35 minutes for a medium loaf; 45-50 minutes for a large loaf
@425: reduce baking time by 5 minutes.

Bread-baking is an art. An easy one though. You'll have fun with this and get the "feel" of bread without hours of kneading. Then, be creative:
  • Mix and match the flour portion by subbing whole grain, soy, teff, etc. flours
  • Add unusual seasonings like 1 tbsp of olive oil and 1 tbsp of Italian seasonings (rosemary, basil)
  • Add mashed potato flakes and 1 tsp black pepper.
  • your creative ideas here!

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