Talent vs. Perseverance…

I need to talk to y’all about talent verses perseverance.

There are some things in this life that we are naturally going to be really good at…like a duck to water, right?

Yes, even when we have a natural talent for something, we will always need to hone our skills, but for the most part, we are building on what is already programmed into our DNA. That is what I mean by talent.

Then there are those things that maybe we just really stink at…it might even be something that we really want to do. We might even be passionate about succeeding at that thing, but in spite of all that enthusiasm, we might just be a real stinker when it comes down to execution.

I want to tell y’all that I have many talents, or at least a lot of potential. I have a wide range of interests and this blog has been such a great medium to share some of those things with y’all. However, I have to confess that there are many things that I straight up can NOT seem to be able to master.

One of the (many) things that has eluded me is baking sour dough bread. Now look, on another day, in another post, I would love to share with y’all the reasons that making your own sourdough bread is so much better for your overall health. But for now, suffice it to say that anytime you make food at home instead of buying it at the store, you are doing your health and the health of your family a huge favor. Sometimes you just buy the dang stuff from the store because it’s easier, and you may even think, “Ain’t nobody got time fa’dat.” (God bless you, Ms. Sweet Brown!!!)

That has been my general attitude towards making sourdough bread…until recently. For various reasons, I have been a little more motivated to give sourdough the ol’ college try again. The first time I attempted it, I made a huge mess and spent a lot of time cleaning bread goo from my oven. I was worried that it wouldn’t rise, but to my astonishment, it did in fact rise and blow up in my oven. I cleaned up the mess and salvaged what was left in my bread pans. I spent a lot of time on that dang bread dough and I decided to bake it anyway. The result was what can only be described as…a bread brick.

When I was in high school we had to do job shadowing for career day and I “shadowed” my dad who was working on tuck-pointing bricks on an old school building. I can honestly say that if we had laid my ‘bread brick’ into that wall, it would have fit right in. In fact, barring decomposition, it would probably still be there, blending in with all the other bricks…a completely incognito bread brick.

***

So this is what I was up against when I decided to attempt making sourdough bread again. This is where perseverance steps in, y’all. I had a lot of encouragement from both my sister, Starla and my mom, who are both very accomplished bread bakers. Believe me when I tell y’all, I needed the encouragement because my starter had been sitting in my fridge, neglected for months, and it was going to require a lot of love to resurrect it back to life again. If you are new to sourdough, it’s not made with yeast as we know it in the little packets. A sourdough starter is just flour and water that has been set out and through the process of fermentation has drawn natural yeasts from the air. That’s one of the reasons why it’s so good for you, because it’s literally feeding off of the natural yeasts specific to your environment. It’s actually a living thing that needs food (flour) and water…and mine had been sitting dormant in my fridge for months!

So after a lot of feeding, stirring, waiting and sweet talking…this is what I ended up with:

Yep. There you go…

The pan on the bottom was supposed to be hamburger buns…there were supposed to be eight of them, I ended up with two fused-together-hamburger-bun-loaves.

Oh yeah, and that round thing on top??? Yeah, well I only had two bread pans so my genius self thought, “Hey, if I put this dough in a Pyrex dish, maybe it will look kinda like a country loaf.” (Thanks a lot, Pinterest…)

BLESS!!!!!

Well, there I was, yet again with a whole mess of bread dough-goo, after an ungodly amount of flour flying all over my kitchen, so yes…once again…I decided to salvage what was left after clean-up, and bake those suckers anyway.

The result was similar to the first time, I had a couple of bread bricks which were about as ugly as homemade sin, but they did make pretty good toast. These were not your soft sandwich kind of breads on account of the extra crunchy exterior, but the taste was pretty tolerable.

So, about my ‘country loaf.’

Well, it ended up being more like a bread-brick-muffin…

Ok, let me tell y’all. I knew that we were going out of town soon after my sourdough bread baking sesh, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to use my bread-brick-muffin right away (if at all). However, I thought that at least I could chunk that thing in the food processor to make bread crumbs out of it. That’s when I got the brilliant idea to put it in the freezer for just such an occasion.

Fast forward a few weeks and I am attempting to make meat loaf for my family, which as y’all know, requires bread crumbs. Genius! I will redeem the bread-brick-muffin and use it for bread crumbs. I pulled it out of the freezer and attempted to cut it with a bread knife:

Wow, that is some tough stuff…that’s when I broke out the electric knife:

That’s when I burned up the motor on my electric knife.

No joke. I had to throw my electric knife into the trash…the bread brick muffin killed it.

That’s when I decided to make like Elsa and “Let it go.”

While I was at it, I decided that it might be therapeutic to have some fun letting go of my bread brick muffin and releasing the darkness of my sourdough baking failures. So, I called on my son for some back up.

I’m not even kidding y’all, this was the bread brick muffin, completely intact, after several shot put style chunks onto the pavement of our driveway:

This is where it met its final demise: in the compost:

I want y’all to know that I have acknowledged that I have no real talent for baking sourdough bread, but I really want to master this. I really want to give my family a healthier, more affordable alternative to the breads available at the store. In order for me to achieve this, I know that I will have to persevere past feeling stupid, untrained and inadequate. It’s really true for so many things in this life. I hate to think about how many things I have missed out on over the years because I was afraid of failure, or even the work it would require for me to master it. More often than not, when things get tough, I give up pretty quick. So now I’m choosing to use this bread baking disaster as a lesson for life. I don’t have to be awesome on my first try, or my second, or maybe even my third. But, I have faith that perseverance really can trump talent…it just takes time, trusting Jesus to see you through, and maybe a teacher who can impart wisdom and experience.

I think that this is one of the central themes at the heart of our blog. We don’t always know what we are doing. We entered into our 20’s and 30’s and realized we did not have a lot of the skills that we needed to live our lives fully and abundantly. Sometimes it was because we lacked training, other times it was because we lacked the funds or the resources. But out of that poverty, Jesus has met our needs and he has been our teacher. In an era where most of our life skills have been aquired from Youtube tutorials, Pinterest and yes, even blogs like this one, you can’t get more specific training than that offered by the Holy Spirit.

“Jesus could have been the greatest fisherman of all time. Jesus could have been the greatest anything of all time. [Including what you are.] Jesus knows it better than you. You might want to ask for his help.” ~John Ortberg, Purgation

What skill or hobby or activity have you been avoiding because it seems too hard? Have you ever mastered something through perseverance rather than natural talent?

Give a girl some HOPE and share your story with us in the comments!!!! God bless y’all!!!! ~Shanna

 

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