Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Month: February 2013 (page 1 of 3)

Day old bread

Please, allow me to convince you, once again, what a freak I am. 

(Normally I try to dust it under the rug or cloak it in hipness. Or justify it away as simply a different version of normal. But no,  this morning we shall lay it out there for all the nerdiness glory that it is.) 
Fermentation. Fascinating really. 
It’s no secret that our eating habits have changed as my body decided to reject the contemporary means of keeping food from spoiling, namely, processing and preservatives. It’s been just about a year now (I remember Girl Scout Cookie time last year was a low point) and my knowledge of how plants and animals come to serve as food has increased greatly. Oh, don’t let your eyes glaze over yet
Mmmm. Glaze. Like a donut…. (see? I still value my roots). 
So in my food discoveries it should be no surprise that I picked up a book called The Food and Feasts of Jesus. It combined my favorite topics of conversation and research! Not to mention it contains a heavy Jewish-practices component, another secret fetish. Win-win, win. I’ve enjoyed not only the history but the culture that unfolded when you begin to look at how a people group eats. 
One of the primary means of nourishment “back in the day” came down to bread. Not a fluffy white loaf of Wonder, but a basic loaf made from a variety of grains depending on availability. And, as with most food, the means to make it came from a handy little process called fermentation. Really, the best foods in which we tend to over indulge come from tiny little bacteria making a party – wine, beer, bread, cheese, yogurt… all of them are “living and active”, made vibrant on your kitchen countertop, defying the need for refrigeration. The key to good eating: take a lump from your last batch and add it to the new. This, my friends, efficiently leads to daily bread. 
You take what grew last week, add some grain, milk or fruit, and let it fester. Not in the refrigerator  where things go dormant, but right beside it where the coils produce enough residual warmth for things to grow comfortably. A good 24-72 hours later and we have a new food product.
(Show of hands for who just put down their Yoplait?)
Though the traditional sourdough kept a staple place on the dining room table, it wasn’t really welcome at the alter. In fact, in nearly all grain offerings made at the temple were mandated to be unleavened – without the piece of yesterday’s fermentation in it. It was basically baked flour+water+oil. Like a cracker. KLR made unleavened bread once for an event and there were rules around how quickly you had to get it in the oven to ensure that nothing started to grow. And taste? Well, yes. It tasted exactly as you think it did. We choked it down out of principle. 
But if bread with air bubbles was standard practice, why couldn’t it make its way into standard worship? What did God have against leavening? Even Jesus uses the idea as an unbecoming description of the Pharisees, warning followers to “beware of the yeast of the Pharisees.” 
If yesterday’s loaf was the means of life for the culture, why did God keep it out of worship? 
I read how the Todah, or thanksgiving, feast offering differed from other sacrifices of worship to the Jewish believers. The Todah took place after a believer came face-to-face with death and lived; it acknowledged the saving hand of God. Typically after recovery, you’d take a large animal and 4 loaves of bread – one of them leavened – to the Temple for sacrifice. Then you’d have a party large enough to eat all the offerings as a celebration that same day. You’d retell the story of how you were delivered and the people that loved you most celebrated the fact that you’re still here. 
This act of worship celebrated that which had already happened. The authors noted, “the person making the sacrifice and holding the feast came to the temple already experiencing shalom, not seeking it.” 
Now, I don’t want to take any theological leaps or liberties here; numerous reasons stand behind God asking for His bread to be sans bacterial reaction. One of them comes from His history with the Israelites fleeing Egypt, leaving before their bread had time to rise. I’m sure other people more wise or educated than I can provide supplemental reasoning. But allow me to throw my own loaf on the table. 
What if God’s primary concerns aren’t the yesterdays, but the tomorrows? 
Of course, God commands us to remember (actually throughout the book of Deuteronomy it comes up several times). But not remember who we were or what we did, but rather keeping in mind the actions of God and His faithfulness. 
But bringing to worship something that ties us to the past doesn’t seem to fit with God’s general prerogative. God seems to think that when it comes to facing Him, all things become new. 
 If I had to guess, the Todah allows leavening because we remember what God did; our other efforts at worship and connecting to God are asking him to do something in the future and God doesn’t need the past. At least, not our past. He’s over that. 
Maybe God doesn’t want us to bring something with life already in it because we may be tempted to miss that He is the giver of life itself. He’s about creation, about making things new. He doesn’t need what we’ve already done. In fact, what we’ve already done seems pretty inconsequential, both for the good and the bad.

Instead, God looks ahead to what He will do. How He will provide. How He will reach down and connect with His people and reestablish peace and shalom in our lives. How He will use what is dead to breathe life into us. 
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The prayer of a righteous one…

Today I stood in a McDonalds, waiting on my McLatte, reminded of wonderful breakfast memories I had with a bunch of kids on Wednesday mornings. Of course, we had the awkward silences here and there, the days when taking prayer requests consisted of anatomy projects and English tests. But I adored those mornings, praying for whatever conversation arose. 

I distinctly remember one morning; the conversation somehow had come up regarding an article in Relevant magazine, and I’m pretty sure Anna either brought it up or had read it at the same time I did. The article covered pastors who struggled with addictions to pornography. 
Note: if Anna was present, this was my first year in the youth director role. Genius material to discuss. 
I don’t recall the course of the conversation, but 7:35 quickly approached and it was time to pray out. One of the kids – Scott? Anna? Mary? I wouldn’t put it past any of them – said, “I think we should pray for these pastors.” 
And my heart melted a little more for the innocent ones who recognize that all have fallen short, that all struggle, that none can be put upon a pedestal of perfection. Their prayers were authentic. Their prayers didn’t even know the whole story, yet they they wanted, somehow, for God to take action in the hearts of unnamed people. 
Today that same former youth called me and we briefly chatted about the fallenness of yet another in the field of ministry. I looked up the reports online and my heart just sank. Disappointment. Grief. Frustration. Emotions on behalf of the young girl and her family. Emotions on behalf of the church family left to wonder. Emotions for this young man who allowed the grip of sin to take control and so many will feel the consequences of it.

I can only hope there’s a small group of high school kids meeting in the morning and the Spirit falls upon them to pray. Not just to point and fault and shame, but to ask God for healing. For everyone.  

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I want you to want me

It’s naptime, we had a great morning and I sit down and think, “I should write something. Something brilliant. Something witty. Something to lighten a sunny Saturday.” 

Instead, you’ll get something honest. 
I hit my zero-point this past week. As a family we endured 2 straight weeks of illness, someone falling to pray (or sit upon) the porcelain god, with a recovery rate of 4 days. On average. Ah yes, the flu. 
Everyone gets the bug from time to time. It infests households, moms wash loads of pukey sheets and hold back precious hair. Cartoons available in limitless availability. Cooking slows to chicken soup and jello. And then we go back to work. 
Except, when you don’t. 
As my first battle with the sick germs while staying home with the kids full-time, coupled with the duration in which it stuck around – seriously, 2 weeks is not a “24 hour bug” – I walked stumbled crawled away from the experience enlightened about the toll in which simple setbacks can take on the homefront. 
While I thank my lucky stars I have the privilege to choose to stay with my kids, I’m aware that in so doing, a person trades one set of stresses and frustrations for another. Because there are no profitability studies on clean-plate battles or naptime struggles (let alone a per-dishwasher-unload analysis), it’s tough to compare apples to oranges. The truth is, kids need the person caring for them much in the way that any job needs to be done. 
The neediness of a child can’t be compared to the neediness of a functioning adult. Cuddles and hugs may seem elective, but in the development of children I assure you, they’re not. I don’t need to preach this if you’ve ever put a kid to bed at night. By nature, kids need love and attention. And when kids are sick, their pickiness and finickyness grows while their patience decreases exponentially. 
While it sounds okay in theory, the reality of “needing mommy” is simply exhausting for any normal functioning human when endured for an extended period of time. That’s why God created them to be only 24 hour bugs, right? And for those of us without much outside-the-home responsibility, we enjoy freedom to sit and cuddle and be needed. Yes. We have no fear that the work project goes untouched. 
But it still doesn’t alleviate the weight of always being needed. 
Stand this in stark contrast to the isolation of SAH-motherhood, where rarely are you “wanted.” No one stops by your cube to walk for a cup of coffee. No one randomly IMs you to do an enjoyable recap of Modern Family. Actually, seldom arrives a personalized email in any form asking you to function as a contributing member of society. 
Other moms probably do this SAH thing better than I; they’re connected to other moms for playdates, library storytimes and church MOPs**. Don’t get me wrong, they exist around here, but germy kids aren’t really welcome. So even if my phone was constantly text-alerting (because really, who calls anymore?), engaging during flu season poses a bigger challenge. 
So it really wasn’t the puke. Or the laundry. Or even the whining. 
I didn’t hit zero out of frustration, I landed there because of isolation. To be needed is to live up to your duty. But to be wanted is to be loved. 
Seasons change; summer brings a new look upon my lifestyle (especially with a teacher-husband and a lakehouse full of family). Even spring and fall pose a few more opportunities to get out and about and interact, if even for a walk around the block or a trip to the park. So it’s for such a time is this that I endure. I realize it’s not forever – in fact, it will evaporate before I have the good fortune of being fully grateful for it. 
On the one hand, I must stop the wallowing and see the big picture. On the other hand I make room to admit and accept the truth about what is an isolating experience. 
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