Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge!

I have yet again taken on more than I can probably handle, but the smell in my kitchen right now makes it all worth while! An old friend from High School with whom I reconnected with via Facebook is quite the foodie. She started a bread baking challenge to bake our way through The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread and I signed up for the task. We are talking about a year of bread baking! 43 loaves if I only do one variation of each. The challenge will consume the better part of a year!

Well, my first bread, called Anadama Bread, came out of the oven about 17 minutes ago. Yes, it's midnight, but I'm contemplating staying up to slice into one of these beauties, because the smell is absolutely overwhelmingly yummy! I cannot believe how glorious they look!

See for yourself! Take a look at my and others photos at our Flickr site. My name is ladygustafson so you'll be able to find all my photos. Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Patience is a Virtue...

...virtue is a grace...Grace is a little girl who didn't wash her face. I think of this Shel Silversteen poem every time I think about God's grace. Probably especially since Emily loves to read those poems! But patience is much more than a child's poem. Patience is one of the hardest things for anyone to learn - especially Christians. The saying goes, "Never pray for patience!" As according to scripture:

Romans 5:3 (King James Version)
3And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

and who wants more tribulations! This road of infertility has lead to a great lesson in patience. I'm an only child. I may not be the stereotypical spoiled brat, but I do have great expectations and being patient isn't at the top of my list. I have had very little patience in my life. I want something done immediately. I'm top of the heap! I'm the only one. I had a mom and dad that sacrificed a lot to make me happy. And I had no model for waiting on the Lord and praying. I was told things like, "YOU can do it," "YOU can make it happen," and "YOU are in charge of your destiny!" So I did work hard. I did well in school and my career. And sometimes I would achieve greatness - and sometimes I didn't. And was I quick to complain! "Bill is making more than me - yet I am more qualified!" "I didn't get promoted! I demand to know what it takes to reach the next level. I will do it!" and "I didn't get as big a raise as Heather! What is the problem? Where do I need to improve." A vicious cycle of comparing myself to ambiguous standards and demanding more. More responsibility. More work. More time. More travel. Whatever it takes to be recognized as elite. And by God it was all about me!

Well, isn't the Lord cute. He put me in situation after situation like that. In school, there was always one person better than me! Dating - boy did I kiss a lot of frogs trying to find my prince. On the job, I would work hard, but I was slow to promote and slow to advance. Of course I had years where I did very well, but the reward was soured by the wait! All goals were achieved, but I always let the rough road of the journey spoil the achievement.

I had always planned to be a PhD. I wasn't sure in what, but I was sure I wanted to teach college. So I pursue my bachelors and go immediately into grad school. Now that seems noble, but I actually was so frightened to enter the workforce full-time that what may seem ambitious to some was actually my way of staying safe - attending school was safe for me! Well, I finished my Master's degree and decided that maybe I couldn't take several more Indiana winters. I decided to throw in the towel and face the dreaded "career" part of my life. I got a job and started working as an engineer. But for years, when recanting my life story, I would say, "I went to grad school, quit and came to work." I realized years later, I never even mentioned that I did receive my Masters of Engineering! I never claimed the prize I did obtain because I fell short of my goal of PhD!

I do it all! I want to be in control of my home, bills, laundry, my family's needs, meals, arrangements, activities, vacations, weekend plans, etc. I tend to take on so much that I have a friend who calls me "The Amazing Andrea" and promises that one day she'll make me a cape!

And then there was my fertility. I assumed like anything else I would be able to plan it out, and achieve the goal! I got married and within 6 months we began to work on being pregnant. Well, that was a process that took 9 months. Much longer than I expected. When Emily was born healthy (although I didn't have the best pregnancy) I assumed that having number 2 would take a while, but not too long. Well, here we are. Emily is almost 6, and we are not there. I should have bought stock in EPT with as many pregnancy tests and ovulation predictor kits as I have bought. I would read pregnancy and conception websites incessantly during the TWW (two week wait.) I would mark temperatures every day, worrying over each .01 degree! And all it did was add stress to my life - affecting my husband, my work, and the child I do have!

God is so good. He has shown me now that the girl who peeked at every Christmas present could now wait days after the holiday to find out what's in the box. He has taught me that all blessings come from Him and how amazing they are! He has made me able to see the greatness in my achievements because they are with his help, and he is showing me how every blessing can bring Him glory!

Romans 5:4 and 5 goes on to say...

4And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
5And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

The hope is the goal. Patience is the tool. If we have patience, we have hope! Patience in other more modern translations is worded as "perseverance!" To persevere means to overcome adversity! Funny how hope plays into that as well! If we have patience we can endure the trail, persevere with hope and enjoy the success and the fruit as a gift from the Lord!

I do pray still for that second baby. In whatever shape or form. From my womb, my genes or someone else's, I know that God will help me to remain patient, and persevere! And best of all, enjoy the blessing as it will bring me joy and bring glory to God!

Wow, it's been a while!

Well, to be honest, I got so caught up on facebook and my other blog that I haven't blogged here in quite some time. I forget that this is the best way to keep up with some. But I need to get busy here as I am about to start a year long BREAD!

Yes, not that I'm not busy enough. A friend of mine from high school is quite a foodie, and I am joining her challenge - to bake our way through the book, The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread by Peter Reinhart. 50 loaves at a rate of one per week. It will be a crazy time, and I'll be blogging about the experience here!

Wow, what has happened! My last blog was so long ago. Emily has been skiing twice - once in Big Bear and once in Idaho. We went to Idaho to visit Chris' grandma. Emily has been doing great in Martial Arts as well. She is advancing quite rapidly! She is doing so well in Kindergarten! She's reading books! Real books - not just Dick and Jane types of books. Probably easily a first or second grade reading level. We are so proud of her. She has also completed her AWANA studies (bible verses) and the extra credit book about 4 weeks early.

Chris fulfilled a life long dream. We are Harley Davidson owners! He got his license, and bought a Harley Sportster. He is loving too! I actually got my permit and am planning to take a class to get my license as well. Chris also finished DCO school last week in Rhode Island, and was recently promoted to Lieutenant.

I am working on my infertility blog - I believe that the Lord is using my story for encouragement to others. We are also planning on starting a home fellowship bible study soon in our home. So I have been (with the help of my dear mother-in-love Nanci) decluttering the house and trying to live a little more simply!

So much on the calendar for this summer. Em and I are going to Indiana to visit friends. Then later we are all going to visit my mom in Grand Forks, ND. In november we are going to Maui (thanks to Uncle Stu and Aunt Dar for the condo!) So much fun I hope.

I will try to be better about posting more often. Check out my infertility blog, my facebook "Andrea Renee Johnson Gustafson" and follow me on Twitter (ladygustafson) as I tweet about my side business - going green with Melaleuca!