Friday, September 14, 2018

What Kind of Yeast is Raising Your Dough?

My Mother and her delicious bread!
"Enthusiasm is the yeast that raises the dough." —Paul J. Meyer

My Mother made the best homemade bread. No bread machines at our house. SHE was the machine. I don't think she ever made a bad batch of bread. She taught me that one of the keys to good bread is adding the yeast at just the right time.

According to the dictionary, yeast is a microscopic fungus consisting of single oval cells that reproduce by budding, and are capable of converting sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Sounds yummy, aye?! Yeast is a very important ingredient! It raises the dough, that makes the bread, that feeds others.

I never thought of yeast as "budding", but that's the word the dictionary used. When it comes to matters of the heart, thoughts and attitudes are like yeast. They "bud". They spread—they will affect every part of you.

"Jesus also used this illustration: 
"The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. 
Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, 
it permeated every part of the dough." 
(NLT) Matthew 13:33 

I had some small particles of yeast in my heart growing up. They grew slowly, spanning decades. They were probably there from birth but never showed themselves until the heat was turned up during my Mother's long illnesses caused by the shunt in her head. I tried my best to be a good daughter and take care of the home and cook good meals when she would get sick.

Sometimes my older sister, Aspen, would come home to help out. We were always so relieved to see her. However, I began to feel twinges of inadequacy when my sister would help us—as if I wasn't capable of caring for our Mother, especially when it came to cooking. My Mother seemed to prefer my older sister's cooking. The yeast of inadequacy began to raise my dough.

Now, just so you know, my sister never did anything to provoke or fuel those feelings. But the nature of her own ability to cook (and sew) like my Mother, simply pointed out in a quiet way that I was not "them". The truth is, I wasn't real good at cooking and I even hated cooking, but I still wanted to please my Mother.

My sister and I rarely ever fought—in fact, I don't remember any fights at all. I counted her as a friend and she was an amazing big sister (and still is)! So it was a confusing feeling to be jealous of my Mother's approval of my sister's abilities to swoop in and save the day. I guess I was just desperate enough for help that it never became an issue. I just tucked it away in my heart. I didn't like those particles of inadequacy or jealousy.

In later years, the ugly yeast particles began to bud. My Mother became concerned that I didn't know how to cook. I would assure her that she did a good job of modeling how to cook, but those conversations always left me feeling even more inadequate. If she doubted me, then I easily doubted myself.

I can laugh now when I think about it. The brand new me can look at this with maturity and acknowledge that my gifts lie elsewhere and that's okay. I could have saved myself some tension in our mother-daughter relationship if I would have ignored the negative whispers trying to tell me I wasn't "good enough".

One particular pattern that seemed to reinforce my lack of ability in the kitchen was the fact that I always managed to carve interesting shapes out of her loaves of bread. I didn't mean to. I just couldn't seem to cut a straight slice to save my life. One mis-shaped slice always leads to another...and another. Even if you cut one edge straight, each slice will have a crooked edge unless you can cut them both straight. I never could.

I couldn't even cut straight slices when she got an electric knife. Sigh.

But, just as there were specific moments that planted particles of negative yeast in my heart, I can also say that there have been some very specific moments when the Spirit spoke positive particles into my heart. I DO bake bread....I'm just a different kind of bread-baker.

One day, I was making pumpkin rolls and the batter was sticking to the cloth. I was extremely frustrated and wishing I was back in Germany leading worship. I had just returned from a week of incredible ministry in Germany and I had been serving in my sweet spot. Now, as the hot tears of frustration made their way down my face, I heard that whisper—"it's okay, Frances. I know what you love and I made you that way." The Holy Spirit, also known as the Comforter, Helper and Counselor had come to my rescue. My tears of frustration turned into tears of relief.

Isn't that the message we all want to know? That we ARE good enough? That our gifts are unique and it's okay?!

From that moment on, the tension with my Mother around the subject of cooking diminished. In fact, I began to be honest with her and tell her that I actually didn't like to cook instead of trying to lie to her and let her believe that I loved cooking. I think she probably knew anyway, but I didn't want her to know!

There was such freedom in the honesty. Once I got over my insecurity, I could actually have some fun conversations with her about food and ask her opinion on things. Before, I was too threatened to even talk about cooking around her.

I still can't cut a straight slice of bread, but at least I have healthier packs of yeast in my soul and my "dough" keeps on rising. As I share my music with others, I am offering the bread of life to them. It's just a different kind of bread.