I had an appointment with my midwife a couple days ago.
Things have been going very smoothly the entire pregnancy. But this time when she checked my blood pressure, she noted a significant spike in numbers. I told her that it could be because of the anxiety I’d experienced over the holidays. I was struggling to reconcile the fact that every time I tried to move forward in current projects, I felt a clear command from Jesus that drove me crazy:
Stop and rest.
I asked her what I should do to lower my blood pressure. She gave me advice about supplements and other instructions, but told me to first address the anxiety and to listen to the Holy Spirit.
“Why not rest?” she said.
The irony of it all is that I just released a coloring book devotional all about slowing down, waiting, and resting. The thing is, I just wasn’t expecting that I’d have to follow my own advice right now. Now doesn’t seem like the most convenient time to take a break.
But then again, if I don’t take the time to let God refresh me, then I’m left striving for things that only wear me out.
The funny story behind this blog is that it all started with sourdough.
It’s a story of letting flour and water ferment for several days until it changed from the inside out —going from plain old dough into wild yeast that could produce delicious homemade loaves of bread.
That was two years and one apartment ago. I remember sitting in my little kitchen early one morning as I mixed those two simple ingredients. I’d never even made bread before, let alone a sourdough starter.
And I was full of questions —not just about baking, but about my life. My calling. My hurriedness. My identity. I was in the midst of a season that was full of uncertainty. And somehow, the Holy Spirit answered my heart through a bowl of flour and water.
That was the answer I got.
Wait for Me, Jeana. I do work in the unseen things when you wait on me. I am moving even when you’re not.
After a few days, my starter was faithful to ferment and produce a beautiful loaf of bread. And that year, Jesus was faithful in teaching me the healing that comes from living a slow paced life.
Most of all, He taught me the beauty that comes from waiting on Him.
Sourdough requires rhythm; it takes hours for the starter to become fully refreshed (or ready to make bread) after you feed it. If you want to make a loaf tomorrow, then you should feed your sourdough starter the night before. If you want to start a loaf of bread to rise overnight, then you should feed it before noon.
The yeast is alive and active, and must be maintained somewhat regularly. So if you don’t feed and refresh your starter, then you can’t make bread. At least, you can’t make the best, healthiest, most nourishing kind of artisan bread there is.
All that to say, I forgot to refresh my starter last night. I was already in bed for the night when I realized this, so I decided I’d just feed it in the morning. It’s been a recurring theme, which means I’ve put off baking for over a week now. (I could blame it on the fact that I’m still recovering from the holidays, that I’m six months pregnant, or that I’m taking caring of my husband with the flu. But I digress. I’m full of excuses.)
I awoke early this morning with the house to myself. And as I fed my starter —which takes less than 5 minutes— began to talk with the Lord.
I told Him about how I haven’t written anything or painted in while, especially after my book launch. I told him about how I don’t really know what the next step for this year is as I get ready for this baby to come in March. And what am I supposed to do to prepare for my husband to transition out of his current job in May? It all kind of feels like the way I felt 2 years ago in my small apartment kitchen as I waited for flour and water to become something new. Back then I was waiting for Jesus to make my heart new, too.
And like a Good Father, He answered me kindly and tenderly:
“You can’t make bread if you don’t feed your starter.
You can’t write if you don’t take care of your heart.
You can’t expect to mother if you don’t let Me Father you.
Spend time with me, and I will feed you what you need.
Let me care for you, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
It’s not just my sourdough rhythm that’s been neglected in all the busyness.
It’s the pace of my soul that tends to get lost when I don’t pay attention to it.
I lose my rhythm until my soul is malnourished. Because in all reality, I forget to feed my starter. I forget to let God refresh my heart.
I don’t know if you’re feeling the same thing —that rush that seems to linger long after the holiday season. It’s as if the new year comes with a set of goals we need to achieve, and there’s not a moment to waste.
But perhaps this year, we can choose to be refreshed continually through rest.
Because that way —when the time is right— we will be ready to make our bread.
We can create our best art.
We can mother or father the things God grows within us.
And we can do it all without striving or running on empty.
"All creatures wait expectantly for you
to give them their food as you determine.
You come near and they all gather around,
feasting from your open hands,
and each is satisfied from your abundant supply."
I’m learning that even resting requires the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit. I’ve been praying for over a month about what this season of rest is supposed to look like, and His peace is only now starting to settle within me.
I’m only now becoming okay with the idea of doing less to make room for a healthy rhythm.
Though 2018 was a year of growth, it’s become clear that 2019 is supposed to start off with REST. That instead of chasing after my resolutions and goals, I can come back to them after I let God heal and refresh me —however long that takes. Maybe a month, maybe all year.