Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A little leavening....

leaveneth the whole lump.

I'm becoming a bit obsessed with bread making. Not the bread machine kind, though there's nothing wrong with that. No, I mean the kind of bread that you mix and knead and shape by hand. It's not necessarily perfectly shaped, it might have inconsistencies and irregularities, but that is part of it's beauty. It's therapeutic for me, breadmaking.

I am amazed that you can mix together a few simple ingredients, wait a while, bash it around on the counter a bit and end up with something delicious and fragrant and life-sustaining.

Lately, I've been trying to perfect a type of country french bread-- Pain au levain--that begins as a little cast-off piece of dough from the last batch...the cast-off is fed and grown until it becomes a chef, or a starter, of wild yeast wonderfulness.

Once you get it started, it lasts indefinitely as long as you feed it. Essentially, every loaf you make is a descendant of the first batch--that first little cast off piece of bread dough--and it has in it the necessary leavening to cause new loaves to rise. I know, it doesn't take a lot to amaze and amuse me, but this is a miracle in a crock, people!

So today, I'm kneading and thinking and chatting with my children, two of whom are kneading alongside me, and I realize that bread and kids are not that different.

You feed them, love them, help shape them and then you wait and see what happens. I know I don't want bread machine kids. I don't care for them to be perfectly sized, shaped, and predictable. I don't desire that they fit the mold ---mine or anyone elses, but God's. I am looking forward to seeing the finished product, though these days that seems to be approaching far too quickly. I am embracing their uniqueness, their sense of humor and their originality. I am thankful for the authentic people that I'm beginning to see take shape.

Most of all, I'm humbled. Humbled that God would see fit to take a little cast of dough and allow it to bring forth four amazing children. If I am careful, I'll be baking bread with this starter for years to come. If I am purposed, I can say the same of the generations to come in my family. I want to be the kind of leavening in my home that grows my family into the fullness of their potential. My prayer is that their lives will be a beautiful reflection of the Bread of Life.