Seriously?!

 

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Haven’t we had enough??

It’s been snowing off and on for the past week.

Yesterday we actually reached above freezing for the first time all week.

Neither classes nor offices closed at any time due to inclement weather. I guess they figure that Plainview is such a small town that any commuters can handle roughing it through the negative degree temps and ice.

Today is one day of relief. 50 degrees and I shaved my legs in celebration.

Tomorrow, I guess it’s back to this…

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(stolen from Facebook)

Anyway.

I tried Ashley’s Buckwheat Breakfast Bake today, using steel cut oats instead of whole buckwheat groats, almonds instead of walnuts, and dark cocoa powder+agave instead of carob powder.

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It was alright. I didn’t cook it long enough and I already know that buckwheat is an acquired taste that I haven’t fully acquired yet. I’m excited to try it out with other grains, though!

I also halved the recipe and ate a pear alongside. By the time I’d eaten it, it was nearly noon, so I’m still pretty hungry!

I think I’ll go try to convince Edgar to take me to Subway or something. I want to experience my one day of weather relief before who knows how long! I may even going running outside, but we’ll see…

I’ll be back later with the next installment of the 30 Day Challenge, plus an ACCENT VLOG!

 

How’s the weather been where you are? For the record, I’m jealous of you Virginians experiencing Springtime weather.

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Bacon and Avocado go together like Peanut Butter and Banana. Plus! The Question of Alcohol

 

Speaking of bacon…

It makes the perfect salad.

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I’ve said before that I’m not big on salad, but just like I prefer nutty/fruity/cheesy salads, I LOVE avocado-y/bacon-y salads!

This baby had romaine, spinach, a boiled egg, BACON, avocado, some bits of deli turkey, parmesan, and some pomegranate arils for a sweet crunch.

I guess some would call this something of a cobb salad. Or a turkey club sandwich. I call it an awesome lunch. Fo shizz.

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30 Day Challenge
Day 3: What are your views on drugs and alcohol?

Hmm, well this being a healthy living-oriented blog, I would imagine my response to drugs would be pretty cut-and-dry. Obviously anything illegal I’d consider a no-no on many levels.

I also try to limit any other pharmaceuticals. It’s not that I have a moral issue with them, but I don’t think they should be the primary fix for a problem. I’d rather address health issues by natural means than pop a pill. Plus, (and I’ve heard rumors that it’s because I’m a redhead) I build resistance to medications VERY quickly. If I take ibuprofen three times in one week, by the third time, it doesn’t really work anymore. And acetaminophen and asprin have never really worked on me. I like to look at pharmaceuticals as “last resorts” or “supplements” when natural means (nutrition, rest, etc.) aren’t enough.

When it comes to alcohol, I see things a little differently.

I grew up in a family that didn’t drink ever. And that’s alright. I never felt the urge to drink growing up. I don’t believe that drinking is a sin, but drinking can be a habit that spirals out of control quite easily. It can be controlling without really taking on the title of an “addiction.” Just like I easily go overboard with sugar and “dry carbs,” someone else can go overboard on occasion with alcohol. Or just like someone who eats emotionally, one can drink to drown their sorrows. Neither of which I recommend.

C.S. Lewis wrote a book called, The Screwtape Letters, which is entirely written in the form of one “head demon” (Screwtape) writing letters to a lesser demon (Wormwood) as to how he can successfully derail a particular man away from God. When I first read the book, this particular passage struck me as uniquely profound, and I still refer to it when explaining my stance on the use of alcohol:

“You are much more likely to make your man a sound drunkard by pressing drink on him as an anodyne when he is dull and weary than by encouraging him to use it as a means of merriment among his friends when he is happy and expansive. Never forget that when we are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and normal and satisfying form, we are, in a sense, on [God]’s ground. I know we have won many a soul through pleasure. All the same, it was His invention, not ours. He made the pleasures: all our research so far has not enabled us to produce one. All we can do is to encourage the humans to take the pleasures which our Enemy has produced, at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which He has forbidden. Hence we always try to work away from the natural condition of any pleasure to that in which it is least natural, least redolent of its Maker, and least pleasurable.”

I had my first “drink” while visiting an Episcopal church while in college. They held communion every Sunday and always used real wine.

I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to “swig” wine, and my throat burned for quite a while.

Besides that time, when I first started getting interested in cooking I decided to start experimenting with cooking wine. Yes, the vile, sodium-laden abomination toward grapes. But hey, we start somewhere, right? I didn’t care to drink before the age of 21, and when I did turn 21, I make it my personal mission NOT to go drinking to celebrate my birthday, simply because I think that’s overrated and cliché. I did have my first “real” drink about 2 weeks before my 21st birthday while hosting a fancy roast beef Sunday dinner with my roommate. I used a Cabernet Sauvignon to braise the meat, and we also served it with dinner. I could barely drink it. I forced down four tiny sips and gave the rest to Edgar! The roast was amazing, though. 😉

Since then I’ve had and enjoyed various different types of wines and tasted a few weird beers (pumpkin ale, anyone?) more out of culinary curiosity. I have developed a bit of a taste toward some wines, but I usually can’t finish a whole 6 oz glass, and that’s perfectly alright with me. I think I prefer cooking with it, but I do enjoy it occasionally as a drink when the mood strikes, which happens maybe once a month. And in the spirit of my C.S. Lewis quote, it’s only when I’m enjoying relaxed merriment with a very small group of very close friends or in the comfort of a cozy evening with Edgar. If anything, having to sip a drink slowly helps me slooooow dooooown and enjoy the moment instead of being a spastic hostess. Hah!

 

Did you grow up in a house where alcohol was tolerated? Encouraged? Discouraged?

I’m a whatever-works-aterian

 

It really is a good thing when you take the time to prepare your meals and snacks for the next day. I’ve been spending most my lunch breaks in rehearsal with international choir (the premier choir on campus, with which Wayland Singers is collaborating for the trip to Europe in a few weeks), and since I have Wayland Singers three mornings per week, I have to make sure I make up enough time at work to cover those three hours. This means I eat my lunch at my desk, spend 30 minutes with Int’l choir, and come straight back to the office. I don’t get to go home for anything, so I’ve spent quite a few mornings over the past week and a half emailing Edgar lists of things I needed him to bring me because I didn’t take the time to prepare it myself the night before. This hasty preparation hasn’t really worked out to the best that it should. The past few days I’ve found myself insatiably hungry and whatever I brought (or had Edgar bring) hasn’t really satisfied my hunger. This means expensive trips to the campus bookstore to grab a bag of almonds, a fruit cup in light syrup, a sugary Clif bar, or a bag of trail mix. Clearly, I can do better.

Last night I made a point to pack my breakfast (overnight oats in a peanut butter jar. unpictured), lunch, and all snacks that I might possibly need:

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  • Sandwich with avocado, hummus, pepperjack, and spinach on Oroweat “Healthfull” 10 Grain bread
  • Red Grapes
  • Heirloom navel orange (it was AWESOME!)
  • Organic edamame (for the protein. More on that in a sec)
  • Carrot slices (I don’t like biting into big thick baby-cut carrots!)
  • ½ cup of nonfat plain yogurt mixed with 2 oz of blackberries and a squirt (4g) of agave

About protein, etc.

I’ll say first that I respect people who adopt vegan or vegetarian lifestyles, as long as they’re doing it for the right reasons, going about it in a healthful way, eating whole foods, etc. I do believe that it is possible to get sufficient protein from plant sources if you are conscious of the nutritional content of your food sources.

However, I do know that it is very difficult to get other nutrients that are commonly paired with protein in an exclusively plant-based diet. Zinc, vitamin D, selenium, niacin, vitamin b-12, and to some extent iron and calcium, are all more heavily concentrated in meat/dairy products, and unless you’re being very, very vigilant, it’s easy to overlook these necessary nutrients.

But above everything else, I feel that everyone needs to do what it appropriate for their own lifestyle and body’s needs. For me, I require more protein (and possibly other nutrients that are paired with protein, as listed above) than many other women. I’m taller than average at just about 5’7”, moderately active, have a large body frame and 115 lbs of lean body weight (total weight minus weight in body fat). And I’ve found that while I can successfully limit my consumption of meat for economic, environmental, and ethical reasons without trouble, eliminating animal proteins completely from my diet leaves me feeling lethargic, hungry, and possibly with some blood sugar issues. I’ve found that to feel satisfied, my body requires roughly 90-100 grams of protein per day. This is quite a bit more than the standard minimum of about 45g/day.

Now about soy. Many vegetarians turns to soy as their primary protein source, and I don’t see a problem with that if that’s appropriate for your body. Soy is high in protein, polyunsaturated fats (which can lower your LDL cholesterol!), fiber, and many micronutrients. However, many studies suggest (here, here, and here) that the phytoestrogens in soy could encourage growth in breast cancer cells in those at risk for estrogen-induced breast cancer. Since my mom was diagnosed with estrogen-induced breast cancer a year ago, I’m automatically at risk. While the jury is still out on the subject, and studies are still conflicting, I don’t want to take a chance. This is why I try to limit my soy consumption to the very occasional organic, non-GMO, whole-food soy product (soy milk, tempeh, tofu, edamame, soy sauce, etc.  Nothing trying to parade around as something it’s not, like “chick’n patties”). In general Americans eat waaaaaaay too much soy, specifically in processed food (soy lecithin is in EVERYTHING, and now soy protein isolate is popping up a lot, too), and at that level of processing, I can’t imagine that any of the benefits of soy still remain in the product.

So when you factor in my need for protein, my hesitance toward soy, and my lifestyle (land-locked by cotton fields, cattle ranches, and Mexican food restaurants in the middle of the Texas panhandle plains), I do eat meat and don’t plan to ever try to eliminate it from my diet. However, I do try to be responsible about it. I get the majority of my beef, pork, and lamb from Paidom Meats, a local rancher who raises only 100% grass fed meat (with the exception of his “transitional” pork). The bison meat I can pick up from the local grocery chain comes from Comanche Buffalo in Lawton, OK (sort of local). I can typically get free range chicken at our Walmart, but when I can find Rosie’s Organic Free Range chicken at Sun Harvest for not too much money, I pick it up then. Occasionally I’ll get some grass-fed meat from Central Market, Whole Foods, or Sun Harvest when I can find it inexpensively. When I choose seafood, I try to go for what’s been declared a sustainable variety. And yes, doing this may cost marginally more money, but it’s offset by the fact that I don’t usually buy it until I see it on sale. Plus I don’t depend on it. I’ve had a stash of meat in my freezer for a while now, and it’s not exactly dwindling very fast! I typically eat meat once a day, and that’s usually at dinner, but it’s not uncommon for me to be too lazy to thaw out the meat that I just decide to go meatless. It’s not a big deal. I try to include a combination of beans/legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, eggs, and dairy into my diet to make up some of my protein requirements. Plus, a side benefit to this is that the greater variety in that sort of diet makes it possible to meet more of my daily nutrient recommendations!

Of course, I’ll also mention that I definitely do eat the occasional bacon, full-sugar Dr Pepper, or the skin off a roast chicken (I take that back. I ALWAYS eat the skin off a roast chicken!), and I have no problem with that. I don’t really have hard-and-fast rules with my diet. I don’t think eating any less-than-nutritious food is going to derail my health overnight, nor is it something to be ashamed of. What matters is consistency, and I am not constantly eating those things. While I prefer to put nutrient-dense, biologically beneficial, economically responsible food in my body, I don’t think there’s such thing as a “perfect” diet, even if I was able to successfully eliminate anything and everything that scientific studies deemed “bad” for me. I’m not into labeling my eating habits or my food. I just like to test the waters, explore my possibilities, see what works best for me in my eating habits and lifestyle, and learn some new things on the way!

30 Day Challenge
Day 2: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In ten years. Hmm.

It’s hard to say where I see myself in ten years. Right now Edgar and I live in a state of limbo, waiting for him to graduate before moving on to the next step. For us, the next step is hopefully the military and moving around from state-to-state, country-to-country every three years. Not much is constant, and experience has proved that I will definitely not know where I’ll be just one year from now, much less ten!

But I know that in ten years, I would like to be homeschooling my kids. And possibly have a masters degree in photography.

But really, I’m okay not having everything planned out. Sure, I have short-term goals, but beyond knowing that I want to be a mom and a homeschool educator, I’m pretty fluid when it comes to anything beyond the next few years. I think it’s best that way, anyway. Makes it easier to accept God’s will when I’m not busy grasping desperately onto my own plans. 😉

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Do you have any “rules” to your diet? Any food you specifically avoid?

Sense of Humor

Things are finally starting to wind down here a bit. I just finished paying off my trip to Europe yesterday, and my cupcake fundraising is soon coming to a close. I’ll be glad to not have “failed” cupcake lying around my kitchen anymore. I’ll admit I’ve spoiled my dinner with such confections at least three nights in the last week. It was admittedly strange to have a real dinner tonight. I have a problem, I know. I feel like I’ve been in a perpetual sugar coma.

This dinner that I had was a cheap fix I prepared a few days ago. I like to get a ham hock from my local rancher/meat supplier and toss it in a pot of beans for a really cheap protein source that lasts for about a week, but I decided to mix it up with a 15 Bean Soup mix. Really, it’s just a mix of 15 different kinds of dried legumes. It has a recipe for an actual “soup” on the back, and I used it for reference. Oh, and I left out the “ham flavor” seasoning packet. Yuck.

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Unfortunately none of the pictures of the finished product turned out. Ah well. It was tasty, though.

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On another note, apparently there’s this 30 day blog topic challenge going around that I’m only aware of because I found it on Mary’s blog. And because I turned 13 back in 2001 and haven’t grown up since, I’m into these survey-type things and shall jump the bandwagon.

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Day 1: Your Current Relationship

So… my relationship?

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It was early 2006 and I was visiting Wayland Baptist University for the second time before becoming a student there in the fall. I was 17 and was focusing only on my new-found friends as we frolicked about the “concrete prairie” (a massive concrete surface in the middle of campus). At some point whilst I spun in circles and improvised ballet turns under the stars, he appeared out of virtually nowhere. (I am not the only one that uses this phrase when describing his arrival on the scene. Others attest, it really was as if he appeared from nowhere!)

I didn’t pay much attention to him. I was concentrating on how many constellations I could find and how to answer the question that Greg had just asked of me: “Would you rather go to Europe or Japan?”

Then I heard a friend say his name.

“Edgar…”

I thought it was a funny name. I didn’t know any Edgars!

He was 19 and a sophomore at Wayland studying instrumental music performance and business administration.

For the rest of the evening he tagged along in our little group. We shared a small bit of conversation, mostly about choir. I didn’t pay him very much mind since, truthfully, I was interested in someone else. But I did notice in his questioning that he was interested in getting to know me, and in his focus on me when I spoke I could see he cared about what I said.

After that weekend, I went home to Fort Worth, graduated high school, and planned my move to Plainview in the fall. I didn’t give Edgar any more thought than I would give a casual acquaintance, or so it seemed at the time. One evening in late July I was in a contemplative mood, thinking about the roles people play as they come in and out of your life. I was thinking about how my closest friend at that time had been going to the same church as me since I was four, but we didn’t meet or become friends until ten years later. I got to thinking about anyone we come across in life could be someone incredibly special to us later in life. I got to thinking about how I might have already met who might be my maid of honor* at my wedding, or even my husband, and not even realize it. I had these thoughts as I flipped through old pictures I had taken at the WBU Big Weekend that previous March.  I saw the photos of myself, my new friends, and Edgar frolicking on the concrete prairie, and the idea drifted into my mind…

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“No! It’s not him!”

Then I was immediately struck with the feeling of guilt toward my less-than-humble presumption. I turned to God and said, “just because I said that, if it’s him, You have a sense of humor!”

And He did.

Once I arrived on campus in August, Edgar laid it on thick. I could tell that he was interested in me. I was still not interested in him, though.  I was still recovering from the reality of what was not going to become of my prior interest, and plus… Edgar was a jerk.

Yes, I said it. He was rude, arrogant, and selfish.

But despite my best efforts, despite turning him down on three different occasions, I grew steadily more attracted to him. It also helped that he was also growing steadily more kind, humble, and genuinely interested in the good of others. Even our friends were noticing a change in his attitude. He was more open and friendly toward everyone. The darkness (which I’m convinced is actually visible in his pre-2007 photos) was falling from his face.

I struggled hard. I prayed. I tried to convince myself that I wasn’t interested in him. I tried staying away from him, and I tried praying for specific signs. I had spent the last three years absorbed in the intention that I wouldn’t date someone I didn’t plan to marry**, and I had absolutely no clue whether he was the one or not. I shared my struggles with a friend and she came back with one verse for me: “Perfect love drives out fear…”

Later that weekend, while Edgar was out of town, I prayed. I let go of the thoughts, the fears, the baggage that was holding me back. And I realized that God wanted me to live by faith instead of looking for a clear, direct sign.

On the Monday night before Thanksgiving, I took a leap of faith and called Edgar from my dorm room closet. I told him I’d changed my mind.

We shared our first date on December 2nd. It was dinner at my favorite local restaurant (Tokyo’s), a movie (Casino Royale), and Christmas-light-looking. During dinner he explained that he had called my dad that morning to ask his permission to date me. And just after midnight, Edgar asked me to be his girlfriend. I said no.

Kidding!

I almost did, though, to be hilariously cruel! But no, I actually said yes. And we hugged. And we dated for another 25 months before he asked me in a poem, over a chicken crockpot dinner that I had prepared myself, to be his wife. We were married on November 21, 2009, in a church that neither of us attended but had both, on separate occasions before we started dating, decided that’s where we wanted to have our wedding.

 

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( December 3, 2006. The day we officially become a couple. At lunch the next day for Ana’s birthday)

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*I hadn’t officially met her yet, but I had been visiting her Xanga site through the Wayland blogring, and she was a friend of a friend, so I knew who she was.

** ‘Tis true. It was my intention that I wouldn’t date someone I wasn’t going to marry. And I really thought I was probably going to dump all that down the drain by dating Edgar, but God does have his sense of humor! I did end up marrying the only person I ever dated!

Unwind

This week has been somethin’ else.

Between cupcake fundraising, work, family life, and choir (in the past 48 hours I have been to four choir rehearsals, and I’ve got another in 11 hours), I’m exhausted. Today I came home devoid of energy and sat in front of the TV cuddling with Maggie all evening.

Clearly I haven’t spent a great deal of time taking pictures or cooking anything interesting.

Okay, maybe I sort of did yesterday, but I think that can wait a day or two.

Tonight, it’s time to unwind.

 

I like to unwind to movies, music, art, and poetry.

Here’s what I’ve been unwinding to:

 

This is a song we are singing on the School of Music trip to Germany/Austria/Czech Republic in about 6 weeks. I love so many of the songs we are slated to perform, but the poetry in this captivates me.

All Flesh is Grass by Christina Rossetti

So brief a life, and then an endless life
Or endless death;
So brief a life, then endless peace or
strife:
Whoso considereth
How man but like a flower
Or shoot of grass
Blooms an hour,
Well may sigh “Alas!”

So brief a life, and then an endless grief
Or endless joy;
So brief a life, then ruin or relief:
What solace, what annoy
Of Time needs dwelling on?
It is, it was,
It is done,
While we sigh “Alas!”

Yet saints are singing in a happy hope
Forecasting pleasure,
Bright eyes of faith enlarging all their
scope;
Saints love beyond Time’s measure:
Where love is, there is bliss
That will not pass;
Where love is,
Dies away “Alas!”

 

It is based on the scripture passage that reads:

6 A voice says, “Cry out.”
   And I said, “What shall I cry?”

   “All people are like grass,
   and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
7 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
   because the breath of the LORD blows on them.
   Surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
   but the word of our God endures forever.”

(Isaiah 40: 6-8 NIV)

 

What beauty, what Truth. This world is only temporary, but God, His Word, His Love, is forever.

That’s something we can find solace in.

 

What do you find solace in? What helps you unwind?

Of a Wednesday.

It’s approximately 6:42 on a Wednesday evening and I’m sitting here at my desk, eating leftover stacked Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas, for the sheer fact that I’m too tired and lazy to cook dinner, which is partially the same reason the enchiladas were stacked instead of rolled in the first place.

Picture? Hah! No. Besides, I used too much sauce and not enough cheese. And stale corn tortillas, so it’s not remotely photogenic. The taste is a bit mediocre too. Except for the chicken itself. I used Rosie’s Organic Chicken Drumsticks, which are pretty incredible. Oh, and the cheese. And the sauce itself isn’t bad. Okay, fine. It tastes pretty good, if only the texture was right.

You still want pictures?!

Gah. Fine. So demanding.

You can have the pictures I shot of it when I cooked it two days ago.

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And since we’re on the subject of food prepared a few days ago, here’s my lunch yesterday. See? Much more nutritious AND photogenic. See the pretty colors!

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That would be black beans on a sweet potato, with a side of massaged kale and half a blood orange I had chillin’ in the fridge

 

It’s a theme. Pulling random things from pantry and fridge and trying to think up a meal. See, I’m trying to clean out my fridge and buy as little additional food as possible. Ideally, I’d like to see my fridge empty of everything but condiments by the end of the month, but we’ll see. Spring cleaning has come early, apparently.

 

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On the fitness front, I think I’m going to bring back my fitness schedule page, for personal accountability’s sake. I’ve had a bit of a struggle getting back into the fitness groove since the holiday, but this week I’m determined to pick it back up again. In fact, today at Zumba Toning class, I remembered why I love a good sweat every once and awhile.

 

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Now I’m off to scrounge for some conditioner. My hair has been ridiculously static-y this winter. Ack!

Entertaining Angels

 

It’s not every day that you receive gratitude for what you do for other people. So it meant a lot to me when I received this flower arrangement for hosting my Saturday night dinners every weekend.

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I’ve mentioned my Saturday night dinners before. I prefer not to blog about them too much because I like to be as undistracted and available to my friends as possible.

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I’ve explained the origination of these dinners before.

Edgar and I were feeling lonely and purposeless last Spring.

Then one Sunday during Sunday school, our minister explained that we needed to offer something back to God and others, and not be stale and stagnant in the Body of Christ, taking everything and giving nothing in return.

I enjoyed cooking and hosting people at my house, and I had classmates that I wanted to get to know better. Thus, the Saturday night dinner was born.

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I never expected it to take off like it did. I was expected it to last through the summer, while schedules were wide open and socialization opportunities were limited. But “demand” extended into the fall semester, and now into the spring, strong as ever.

This past weekend we had 10 people at our house, including a friend who lives in Alaska and was only in Texas for a short time. News spread of Greg’s visit to our part of the state, and Jarrod and JennyBeth traveled from an hour away to come join in the festivities and catch up with Greg.

They came bearing flowers.

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I’ve received some minor criticisms to this. Namely, why am I spending my resources hosting these dinners for friends and not expecting anything in return?

This is why:

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

– Matthew 25:34-40

And…

Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

– Hebrews 13:1-2

 

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And I have certainly received something in return. Something more than gratitude and pretty flowers. I’ve received friendship and purpose.

 

(I hope you enjoyed my flower pictures. I’ve been playing with my new macro filter!)