Do you seriously think God can’t use you?

I’m in this great new small group at church, and we’re reading Me, Myself and Lies by Jennifer Rothschild.  I love this woman!  Not only is she a woman who really strives to know the Lord, she’s got a great personal story.  And she’s a good storyteller, too!  That usually makes a difference.  Read more about Jennifer on her homepage here.  You might hear me talk more about her later, since she’s a favorite of mine.

But this week, we talked a lot about labels.  Labels that we impose on ourselves, labels that others impose on us, or labels that just sort of become part of who we are.  Some labels we might use to identify or describe ourselves could be things like “stepmother,” “outgoing,” “teacher,” “anorexic,” “fat,” “stupid,” “divorced,” or “irrational.”

“Incapable.”

“Broken.”

“Failure.”

Ouch.  When I examined my own labels this week, I really had to dig through which of my labels were actually true and which ones weren’t.  Whether they are true or false, unchangeable or permanent, how often do I find myself hiding behind them?  How often do they keep me from acting, saying or doing something that I know I should?  Should I allow them to hold me back?

I can think of quite a few labels that paralyze me or hold me back.  I bet you can, too.  Often, particular labels that I choose to (or simply have to) bear seem to have the ability to render me useless to God.  Or so I think they do.  There are things I want to do, or wish I could do, but inside I hear myself making excuses based on my labels.  “It’s useless to try because you know you won’t finish. You’re just lazy.”  “Why would they believe anything you say about {whatever}?  You’re just ______!”

I’ve been mulling all this over since small group this morning, wondering about those various labels I hide behind, knowing that God wants me to start taking them captive.  That’s right -full on imprisonment.  Punishment.  Life Sentence.

Then later this evening on Pinterest  {Remember my love affair with the site?}, I came across this great quote.  Ok, a bit more than a quote… a mini essay.  But it speaks to exactly what I’ve been thinking about, and I know God put it there to catch my eye.

{So, is wasting time on Pinterest permissible when it’s really divine intervention?  As I say… “oooh, how pinteresting.”}

{By the way, what a fun image of Jesus, pinning.}

But seriously.  One label in particular can really hold a lot of power over me.   It can sometimes make me feel incapable of so many things.  I’m finally ready to pull out my handcuffs and read it the Miranda.

Anything you can take away from it?

xo,

Jen

My favorite artisan bread

If you’re like me, you spend too much lots of time on Pinterest.  These days, who doesn’t?

{Oh, you don’t?  You are missing out.  Well, email me for an invite, and we’ll take care of that.}

Anyway, one of the very first things I found on Pinterest when I started playing around a few months back was this amazing artisan bread recipe.  It’s super easy to prepare, and very affordable for a cost-cutting grad student like me.  It’s also easily the best bread I’ve ever had, so that’s what I call a triple-win!

 

I’m reposting it right here so you can have it, and also so I don’t have to dig through my bookmarks (or Pins) to find it.

What a waste of valuable ‘pinning’ time that would be.

http://theitaliandishblog.com/imported-20090913150324/2010/2/26/amazing-artisan-bread-for-40-cents-a-loaf-no-kneading-no-fus.html

Easy Homemade Artisan Bread

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups lukewarm water – just a touch above 100 degrees
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of granulated instant yeast {or two packets}
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of kosher or coarse sea salt       *I tried regular table salt once, bad idea…
  • 6 ½ cups unsifted all purpose flour

Make the dough:

Dump all the ingredients into your stand mixer and mix just until combined.  20 seconds is all it should take!  (If you don’t have a stand mixer, just stir it with a wooden spoon.)  The dough should be loose and pretty wet.

Transfer your dough to a plastic bucket and cover with lid (not airtight).  The dough needs to be able to breathe.  I use a basic plastic shoebox from the Container Store.  Let your plastic bucket sit on the counter at room temperature for at least two hours.  Let it rise!  Then, put it in the refrigerator for at least three hours before shaping a chunk into a loaf.  Unless you are so hungry for bread that you can’t wait to bake it!  In that case, just know that your dough will be sticky and harder to work with.  It’s the price you pay for impatience.

{Three hours later}

Shape it:

Place a piece of parchment paper on top of a baking sheet (or upside down baking sheet).  Dust your hands and parchment with a bit of flour.  Grab your dough from the fridge and marvel at how big it has become!

Cut a chunk of dough about the size of a grapefruit and shape it into a ball.  You need  to stretch the skin of it out a bit on top to smooth it out, and push the excess underneath.  I don’t have pics of this but my link does.  {maybe I’ll add some later.}  It is hardly as complicated as it sounds, just pull the dough taut onto itself.  This smoothes the top and creates the “gluten cloak” for a good crust.  It shouldn’t take you any time at all once you get the hang of it.

Let the loaf rise for an additional 30-40 minutes uncovered on your parchment paper-lined sheet.

{Hungry yet?  I know!}

Preheat your baking stone or sheet on the middle rack for 20 minutes at 450 degrees F.  Put an empty cake pan below it to preheat as well.   Set a cup of water next to your oven.  You’ll need this!

{30-40 minutes later}

Dust your loaf with a tiny bit of flour and slash the top with a very sharp knife.  Make it pretty!  Three slashes across or an X.  This allows the gases out of your bread while it bakes.  Pretty and functional.

{It’s time, my friend.}

Bake it!

Slide the sheet of parchment with your lovely loaf onto the hot baking stone/sheet in the oven.  Quickly pour that cup of water into the baking pan under the baking stone and close the door!  Quick!  Did you hear it sizzle?  That’s the sound of a crispy crust forming on your bread.   {I usually have T help me out because the oven is so dang hot by then!}

Bake for 25-35 minutes or until crispy golden brown.  When you remove it from the oven you will hear the bread ‘sing’ and crackle.  That means you did it just right!

It will be cool enough to eat in about 15 or so minutes, or as long as you can wait for it.

Keep the remaining dough covered (not airtight) in the refrigerator and enjoy it for as long as it’s there.   It’s like wine, it will get better as the days go by.  {Ok, well up till about 2 weeks or so!}  The original recipe says to keep the little bready bits in your container when you make a new batch.  I usually clean it after maybe three go-rounds or so.

The hardest part of this recipe is the waiting.  Honestly!  It takes a small investment of time but it is such a cost-savings.  Most of these loaves will run you $3-5 each at the grocery store!  This bread is fabulous with Nutella, butter, jam… I love it best with the homemade apple butter I made in the fall.  Sometimes before baking, I sprinkle a bit of sea salt on top to make it like a yummy salty pretzel bread.  So good!

Why hello, yummy pretzel!

So, what are you making that you found on Pinterest?

xo,

Jen