Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Dominican Roast Pork (GAPS-Legal)

Really, I do cook in styles other than Dominican. Honest. But for now you are just going to have to trust me on that one because what I share here with you today is, yes, another Dominican recipe.

This time for pig. Preferably a piggish object raised on a farm and enjoying the title "here piggy piggy" throughout its happy and multifaceted-food-filled life. We are blessed enough to have family friends who raise pigs (and chickens) on their gorgeous Virginia homestead, and, ever since they started porking, we started buying. It was indeed a joyous day that our freezer welcomed its first pork inhabitants.

You see, we Raimundos are the closest things to living dwarves that you will come across in this neck of the woods. Can you picture Gimli's eyes fluttering as he wistfully sighs, "Aye, sal' porrrk..." Yeah, that's us.

Now, there are plenty of ways to cook pig, including doing it Cuban-style in the backyard with a huge hole in the earth. But I am packing away my quarter of Cuban for this post, and throwing out the honey-cured store-bought ham we never liked anyway, to present you with the Green Monster: a roast pork haunch. (Besides, you really don't want me to tell you about that time Dad tried to do a pit-roast an entire pig in Cold Canadia, do you....)

To accomplish this surprisingly simple dish, you will need to gather:

~ A pork shoulder or leg (uncured, raw, fresh ham cut) from a farm-raised pig
~ Two bunches cilantro
~ One or two heads of garlic (yes, heads, not cloves)
~ An assorted mixture of a few lemons and many limes, about 6 or 7 in total
~ An abundance of dried oregano
~ Generous amounts of unrefined Sea, Celtic, or Himalayan salt
~ Enough ground black pepper to get along with (I know, I am so precise)

The first step in the pork-roasting process is to make the marinade. Fill a bowl with warm water and place your citrus in there to hang out for a while. Pull out a blender (and its lid....really, you will want the lid. I tried), rinse out your cilantro (don't bother drying the pretty green bunches), and toss said herb into your blender. Next, peel your heads and cloves of garlic. You can accomplish this by banging each clove on its round side with the broad side of a big knife. Smash! Now you have a piece of garlic from which the papery wrappings magically slide off. Throw all the peeled garlic into the blender.

See the fuzzies?

And now we come to the citrus. Dry off your warmed and juicy limes and lemons and, reserving one lemon, peel them, too. First, cut off the pointy ends of the fruits so that they can stand up on the cutting board. Then all you have to do is slide your knife down the sides of the citrus to remove their crocodile skins. The naked limes and lemons resemble cute, furry fuzz-balls, like creatures out of Monster's Inc. which Boo would want for her teddy bear. Anyway. Now cut the fuzz-balls in half to easily remove the seeds, then throw fuzz-balls into blender. I know it takes a long time to write out, but this method is much quicker than having to squeeze each lime and lemon by hand, and then having to make sure you don't have any seeds in the blender. Believe me, all this involves is peeling, slicing, and popping out seeds. And who doesn't enjoy that?

So, you've got a blender full of grass and cute little frutsies and things that look like teeth. Appetizing, I know, but salt solves everything. Let some of that salt rain down on the blender (about a heaping Tablespoon will do) and then add in about an equal amount of dried oregano. You can add a pinch of pepper, too, if you like.

Blend, baby, blend.

Cilantro, citrus, and salt. 'Tis scrumptious.
 You see where the "green" of the Green Monster comes in, eh? Well now we turn to the "monster" half of the name.

Pull out your pork leg and wash it. This means: Grab that reserved lemon and slice it. Then, take a clean sink and plop in the huge haunch and run it over with water. All around ~ inside, outside, and that fifth side nobody ever notices. With the water still running, rub the lemon all over the leg, just like you did with the water. Now pat the pork dry and place it on the roasting pan in which it will be roasted.

Sprinkle both sides of the roast with more salt, pepper, and oregano, and then introduce the Green to the Monster. Slather the stuff all over the thing, twisting and turning and positioning as you go. Music might be appropriate for this situation, especially if the leg is half the size of the cook.

It really was ginormous.
This process complete, cover the roast (fat-side up) with aluminum foil and pop (or hoist) it into the oven. I do all this in the morning and then let Pork get acquainted with Oven until noon, when I turn up the heat. If you want to have a proper mid-day dinner rather than eat this at supper, you can marinade the pork the night before and let it chill in the fridge until you shove the pan into the oven at the break of morn.

Whenever it is you decide to do the shoving and the heating, plan on cooking it, covered, in a 300* F oven for five to six hours. After that time, and when you see that the ham bone is exposed (that is, the muscle meat has shrunk back to reveal the bone), cast aside the aluminum foil and broil the roast at 450* F or 500* F for fifteen to thirty minutes, until the fat up top is nice and browned and everything smells so good you can hardly wait.

The Green Monster Roast. Blurry because I was probably
laughing while photographing. It happens ALL the time.
Remove roast and let rest, covered, for ten minutes before carving and dishing it up. You can serve this with Dominican Rice and Beans (recipe for the latter on its way) for an authentic meal. And don't forget to enjoy!

Photos by me.
This recipe took part in the Real Food Wednesday blog carnival.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Confessions of a Self-Professed Introvert

Study of a Boy, by Thomas Sword Good

(And, yes, others will profess I am an introvert, too.)

After all, introversion is rather obvious. And common. In fact, the number of introverted memes and articles and hilarious cartoons spreading themselves all over my feed(s) have recently taken me quite by surprise. I wonder what has prompted such a tremendous outpouring of introversion mania? Lest you my fellow introverts begin to turn tail and run, rest assured that I did not login to bash our fellow brethren. Still, I am not here to defend us, either. Perhaps one would call what I am about to do "taking (parts of) introversion captive to Christ." Deal?

First off, though, is our usual definition of terms. What is an introvert?
Here are a few results from my five seconds of research:

1. A shy person
2. Turning inward (etymology for you)
3. Someone concerned primarily with his own thoughts and feelings
4. Someone who expends energy to, rather than gets energy from, other people. An introvert gathers energy, instead, from private reflection.

Now, that is what "they" ("the experts") say. Because "the experts" hardly ever know what exactly it is they are talking about, a few qualifications are in order. For one, an introvert is not necessarily shy. There are a lot of bold introverts and a lot of scared extraverts out there. Believe me, I have met them. And so probably have you. For two, extraverts can reflect and think, too. No excuses, no occasion for pride. You are human = you can reflect. For three, introverts are not necessarily quiet. For four, introverts really are capable of genuinely enjoying and loving people. We just like to make the point that 1) to enjoy someone is not to be constantly texting, hugging, talking, kissing, laughing, playing, fawning (or any other gerund you can imagine) them, and 2) to enjoy someone is not to enjoy everyone all at once all the time.

A Girl Reading, by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot

That said, are these traits inherently good? Bad? Ugly? Are extraverts on the side of God or vice versa? These are the questions I shall herein address today. ~ Please remember, I am not infallible and  any question I pose you ought to answer for yourself with the Bible and Biblical wisdom. Disclaimer over. ~

I think what should be stated clearly at the outset is that neither introversion nor extraversion is per se sinful or godly. As with anything pertaining to natural temperament, each one of us has different strengths and weakness which all need to be brought before the feet of Jesus to be ironed out, stain-removed, made white as snow, sanctified. Sometimes certain character traits need done away with altogether; others might need treble reinforcing. Thus with introversion and extraversion: one does not lie higher on the piety scale than the other; both must go to Christ to seek His heart and will on the subject. Indeed, one Christian once told me that, as he drew nearer to God, he slowly changed into a more people-tended person, whereas another Christian told me that his growth in Christ had caused him to become more thoughtful and private and reflective. No, being one or the other is not going to get you any closer to Christ. Only the journey to His Spirit will do that. And that means that you and I will have to take a good, cold, hard look at what we do and why we do it regarding introversion and extraversion and root out what is alien to Christ while watering and grafting in that which is near to the heart of God.

For example, here are a few personal realities which I think most people would attribute to my "introversion":

~ I come home tired after being with people, even people whom I love to be with
~ I enjoy being alone, whether I am busy or not
~ My preference most certainly does not wend towards small talk, or any talk that does not get to an important point, for that matter ("important", admittedly, being a Jenn-arbitrary standard)
~ I enjoy "looking on" rather "being in"
~ I do sit on my bed and cry after being with people "too much" (again, another Jenn-arbitrary standard)
~ My preference is to have a small group of close friends rather than a vast amount of "buddies"
~ Along the same lines, I would rather have one long and deep conversation than engage in six short and chatty ones
~ I get a kick (whatever that means) out of thinking about the why's and when's and how's and what's of my actions, and those of others (I mean, have you read my blog lately?)
~ Articulating is a conscious, tasking process for me, thus I write more easily than I speak
~ Books (not Reindeer) are better than people...I These were confessions, right?
~ And people are scary (better put, Jenn fears people. And definitely a confession.)

Yes, confessions. That is the Jenn version of introversion. See how not everything is bad, not everything is good, much needs to be cut out, some needs to be improved upon and Christ-saturated? So it goes for anything.

A Man Reading, by Thomas Sword Good

What I want to hone in on in this episode is the relationship with people that intro/extraversion involves. Most places you look will say that introverts are drained of energy when with people. The question for a Christian, for me, is why? Why do I get tired out when with people? This is where I know that I at least need to bring "introversion" to my Master.

I know that on many occasions the reason for my post-polyhomosapien exhaustion rests in my fear of people. Now, am I really scared of people? Do I think they turn into green-eyed monsters with fangs who lurk around at night? Of course not. People drain me because I feel as though I need to invest in them so they will appreciate me, like me, respect me, admire me, love me. I see myself through what I think they think about me, and that necessarily disregards everything God thinks about me. When one views people in this light, one does not love; one uses. One does not give, one takes. In short, when I seek validation and applause in people, I worship them. And whom you worship, you fear. But the hitch is that only God can be feared and loved and worshipped all at the same time, for He is the only one who ought to be worshipped. And, as C.S. Lewis so often liked to say, putting second things first corrupts the seconds and casts out the firsts.

Unfortunately for this side of Jenn-introversion, Dad is preaching through 1 John at our church. And if you know anything about the Johns, you know that a huge emphasis is on loving people because of and through the love God pours out on His children.

"...the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes." (1 John 2:8-11).

Tough, at least for the fearful introvert. Sure, if one returns tired from a long day at a party because he or she expended energy into loving the people there, that is perfectly alright. The Bible is not here commanding that you be a bouncy well of energy that merrily yips and yaps at every turn. What the Bible here commands is for us to put others before ourselves and seek the best in Christ for our fellow brothers and sisters of the faith. So, if I trip into my room exhausted from a hard day's work of making people like me (aka using them), then we have a problem on our hands.

That is control. That is pride. That is worshipping others, which is ultimately worshipping yourself.

What is the secret to true love, then? How can I truly love the brethren? How can an introvert experience that holy weariness which comes of loving the People God loves, and of loving our neighbors whom we want to someday, Lord willing, love like brothers and sisters? There's a verse for that.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:1-7)

Encouragement in Christ. Participation in the Spirit. Comfort in love. We introverts (and extraverts!) have supernatural aids in loving people. Christ encourages us to look like Him. The Spirit dwells in us to change our beings into godliness. God Himself comforts us in His love. And see another thing that has happened here? We are living for God, not man. We have found our security in Him, not in the praise of people. We don't need others to complete us. We don't need others to worship us. We only need them to worship with us, to be completed alongside us. Yes, indeed, putting second things second really makes the second things shine.

A Girl Reading, by George Cochran Lambdin

So, is people-fearing a problem only for introverts? Nah, extraverts have it, too. They just show it in different ways. But the answer to both manifestations is the same, because it is the same problem: "And He answered, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself'" (Luke 10:26). Interestingly enough, these are the opening lines for the parable of the Good Samaritan. Loving God with everything you are, in such an intensity that you give yourself up to Him, and that alone, allows you to love others, not use them.

Does that mean I am not an introvert anymore? Nah again. I still like books, I still like quiet, I still like writing really long reflective and not so brilliant but very introspective blog posts. In fact, it is good for people to develop the virtue of sitting quietly and thinking about the motives of our actions and how we can look more like Christ. But it is also good to develop the virtue of not just looking at  the other mathematicians shoes, but also to look in his face and show Christ's love to him. It is not that I am becoming an extravert to become more godly; it is that I am becoming a more Biblically-minded and Christ-like Jenn. Thoughtful, reflective, sure (any Christian extravert can be that, too). But also bold, and selfless, and communicative, and humble (any Christian introvert can be those things, after all). Honestly, it comes back down to the pure and simple: Becoming a Fair Lady, and becoming more like Christ. ;)

There are of course a bajillion more things I could say on the subject of introversion, but, well, there are better things to be doing. Ahem, please excuse me whilst I go read a book (and don't you ever interrupt me...).

Friday, February 7, 2014

A Receipt for Rice, Dominican Style

Sure, I have not eaten rice in ages, but that does not mean I don't cook it. Indeed I do! For one, there are the facts that my dad hails from the Dominican Republic, Musmie grew up in South America, and my brother is...well, my brother. That equals Rice in just about anyone's books. But then there is my take on the matter; viz., that fruity fragrance of fluffy whiteness simmering away in an old pot with its bent lid, the sounds of the crackling, then the drip drip of the condensed steam pattering atop the grains, the pale little heap of snow-like yumminess crying out for a sauce to cover and protect it. Rice. So sweet.

I suppose years without rice allows one to romanticise a bit, right? Okay, so maybe I like that it cooks up in 20 minutes and you can slap it against basically any thing and call it a complementary side. Romanticism has its practical moments, too.

Still, there is the question of how to cook it. I remember the first time I saw an American family prepare rice. 'Twas shocking. Sand-coloured kernels poured into a bigblackthing (I later discovered this was a "rice cooker" [which always reminds me of "pressure cookers" {which is not a good thing because don't we have enough pressure already?}]) with a lid screwed or heaved or pressed on a metal tub as tight as possible, like something out of B.F. Skinner. Up flipped a switch, on came a bright light, and that was it. No crackles, no pitter-patter, and no innocent whiteness. 'Twas sad.

Don't get me wrong. Since then, I have come to love the earthy, nutty brown texture and flavour of brown rice. But this post shall not be weighing the nutritional or gastronomical pros and cons of brown and white rice. This is simply, and unabashedly, a recipe for white rice, the way I was grown-up to love it.

(In case you were wondering, I have yet to reconcile with the rice cooker. But that's okay, weaker brothers, Christian liberty, and all that jazz. ;))

~ 2-4 Tablespoons cooking fat. Use a good olive oil or lard for this one, the only exception being if you are planning on serving this with an Asian dish, in which coconut oil is allowed. Otherwise, olive oil or lard is your best bet. (I save butter and bacon fat for brown rice ~ oh, so good!)
~ 2 cups white rice, whether Basmati or Jasmine, or Long-Grain. Dad likes Basmati, Musmie likes Jasmine, and my brother likes Long-Grain. Yeah, it's an interesting life. 
~ 3 cups water
~ 2-3 teaspoons unrefined sea salt (the Real stuff, ya know). 

A grain, an oil, a salt, and some water. You have to appreciate the simplicity of thing. 

The first step is to maneuver and wriggle out a medium-sized, wide-and-heavy-bottomed pot with matching lid. Peaceful music might be required, unless you are one of those sane people who keep their most-used pots and pans at the front of their cupboards. *cough*

Then place the pot/pan/thing on a working burner and turn the heat to medium-highish. Spoon in your oil or lard and, while it is heating up, measure out your two cups of rice. Take care not to let your fat burn (smoke). Dash in thy rice and stir the little dearies so that they are well coated in the oil or lard. 

See? Dashed and stirred and well-coated wee little white things.
While the rice is having a jolly time sautéing in the pot, measure three cups of water and have it near to hand, poised and ready for just the right moment. That moment will come when the rice grains have transferred from translucent to solid white, and an unmistakably tantalizing smell crescendos in the kitchen. That is when your water must strike.
Solid white. Add the water. Now.
Dousssssssssse! That simmering sound have I always rather relished. Anyway, throw in the salt and give the rice a last quick stir and cover the pot with its lid.
Now, about the lid. My lid, as I have aforementioned, is bent so that there are little spaces between pot and lid where air can escape. This is intentional, and if your lid does not twist and turn as does mine, then you need to leave your pot open a crack. Just knock the lid off-center as if you were upset with your CDO sister. There. Now your rice will have the perfect texture.
Waiting to be bonneted.
The next thing to do is to get going on whatever else it is you are making for supper. Wash the lettuce, check the meat, taste the soup, just don't leave the kitchen and don't stare at the pot. In a few short minutes, you will sense (see steam and hear bubbles) that the rice water has come to a boil. Without opening the lid, turn the heat down to plain old medium. Get back to preparing thine other vittles. Keep your ears sharp.

In ten to fifteen minutes, you will start hearing a drip-snazzz, drip-snazzzz, drip-snazzzzz. I know, best part of the whole evening. The engaging sound you are hearing is the steam of the water hitting the lid and condensing into drops right before it snazzles back onto the hot pan. Now, remove the lid and what should meet your eyes is this:
Air pockets!
There should be little sink holes in your rice. I have no clue why this happens. It just does. If your ear has not yet been accustomed to picking up on the drip-snazzz sequence, simply sequester the pot lid after ten minutes of lowering the heat to medium, and check to see if "soupy rice" has become "air pocket" rice. If you are still in the "soupy rice" stage, just recover the pot and wait another few minutes. (No, it won't kill the rice or the flavour or the texture to uncover the pot before time. It will survive.) Once the rice has reached sink-hole mania, however....
The Well
...It is time to make The Well. Uncover your pot and leave it uncovered for the remainder of this program. Take your cooking spoon (spatula, stick) and push most of the rice to the sides of the pot, leaving a well in the centre with a thin layer of rice at the bottom. This is how one creates that Dominican dainty, con con. Don't ask me about the etymology on that one. Jenn has no idea, and I don't think any Dominican has the faintest, either. Nevertheless, con con is an epicurean delight, and it is the crunchy bit of browned rice located at the bottom of any good Dominican cook's rice pan. One spoons out the regular rice into a serving dish, and then scrape, scrape, scrapes out the con con to serve it on the side. Oh, my, so good. Which is why I am teaching you how to make it.

So, The Well. You made The Well and now you are going to put the heat back onto medium-high and wait for the 3-5 minutes it takes for the skin of rice to become golden and crunchable. Watch the transformation.
See the honey-hued rice at the bottom?
Can you see it now?
And that's con con. Shift all the rice back into its proper place (as in, mess up The Well), and serve the rice and con con with your meal.
An especially edible pot of white fluffiness.
This rice with a vegetable, a meat, and a sauce combine for a scrumptious meal. Enjoy!

Photos again, obviously, by Yours Truly. I really need to do my camera better justice. Ahem.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Taking Courage and Slaying Dragons

Bleak Midwinter is not so bleak, after all.
And you thought you were through with New Year blog posts. Ha.

Nope, you get to read me break one of my characteristically long silences with an equally characteristically* long missive to the Internet. And it is about the New Year, because this is still a New Year, right?

Now, I am not much for "New Year Resolutions" both because nobody expects to keep New Year Resolutions anymore (did they ever?) and because I don't think we should curtain off serious reflection about the state of our lives to the very early wellsprings of a budding bout of 365 days. But, hey, we should take advantage of any opportunity we get to think hard about the important things of life, even if that opportunity has been trivialised by a culture acclimated to failure. So I am taking it (the opportunity, that is).

I know: way to start the New Year on a positive note. It gets better, though. Honest, it does.

However, instead of fondly telling you all about my take on New Year Resolutions and then listing them out for all the world to see (if I have any), I would rather leave you with a simple thought and theme that might encourage you as you start afresh on an unknowable, exciting, painful, joy-filled, frightening, and stretching new batch of 525,600 minutes.

There. That was a short thought. Shortest blog post of the...entire history of Jenn.

Wait, what? You missed it? Really? You missed it, didn't you...

The thought was encourage. May this year be an encouraging one for you, and may you help it be an encouraging one for others.


Oh, alright. Let me explain, but don't forget that you asked for this! 

See? There are little prettinesses in every season!
As I was thinking of some principle that would take all of us, no matter where and what we are doing in life, towards a New Year overflowing with more of Christ, this verse came to mind: “Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD” (Psalm 31:24). In conjunction with this verse, a quote from C.S. Lewis (surprise!) leapt up from my memory’s not-so-distant past, speaking of what courage is and what it means to the Christian: “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point” (Screwtape Letter #29). 

I love how beautifully this quote fits into the verse from Psalms. Hoping in the Lord leads to courage as that very same Lord, our mighty God, strengthens our hearts! And it works etymologically, too, for the word “encourage” comes from the idea of “taking” or “making” or “putting in” heart. For the Christian, taking courage simply means taking on the heart of God. Being encouraged implies that we as Sons and Daughters are putting on His ways, His will, His loves and His hates, His heart. And that is why courage is every virtue at the testing point. If we are truly adopting the heart (coeur) of God, if He is making us be more and more like Christ, then the coeur-age to act more and more like Christ will naturally follow. He gives us His heart. We act on it. He gives us His courage. We act in it. 

See how taking courage is so very closely connected with sanctification, with having God make us look more like Himself? We know that sanctification comes by the Word of God, by Christ and by the Holy Spirit working through Scripture. Not surprisingly, then, sprinkling the Bible are plenty of verses directly linking the idea of “encourage” with the idea of the Word, doctrine, and Christlikeness. Here are a few of them:

~Titus 1:9 “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” If you look in different versions, you will see that the phrase “give instruction” has also been translated as “encourage”. A leader of the church and any Christian, really, must work towards the skill of encouraging fellow believers in doctrine. And since Scripture’s truths are what encourage us as followers of Christ, should we not be daily returning to the Bible if we long for encouragement during this year of 2014? If we hope to be that encourager to our brothers and sisters as the new twelvemonth unfolds?

~Hebrews 3:13 “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Other versions translate the word “encourage” as “exhort”. This exhort/encourage exchange takes places a few times in the New Testament, and I find that concept so very powerful. In the face of sin and temptation, what encourages our hearts is the exhortation of the Word. Courage is every virtue, righteousness, at the testing point, and that stalwartness before the deceitfulness of sin can only come from God Himself. Do you want to be encouraged and encourage others? Have the heart of Christ formed in you by living in His word, and you will be able to withstand both the wiles of the Enemy and the wickedness of the flesh. That way, the gritted teeth of “I will, I will, I will do the right thing” will melt into the meek smile of “I love, I love, I love doing the right thing.”

Silvery sylvan style
~2 Timothy 4:2 “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” There is that exhort/encourage word again. These are commands for the believer to be ready at all times, like having courage to face the dragon. It is courage, it is bathing in the word, it is knowing God, that will gift you the courage to live the Christian life.

~2 Thessalonians 2:17 “Comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.” Here lies a glimpse into another facet of taking courage. The word comfort here is the “encourage” word in which we are interested for this blog post. Yes, courage is not merely a selfish bravado. Courage for the Christian, for the man who puts on the heart of God, means to share that courage. Sharing Christlikeness by showing Christlikeness (“establish them in every good work and word”) comforts the hearts of believing soldiers around us. The church is, after all, akin to an army, wise as serpents and gentle as doves, fighting the kingdom of darkness inside us and surrounding us. Of course, we fight not in our strength. We walk in Christ’s light and life and love and truth. So does it not make sense that what would comfort our souls and encourage our hearts is that very light and love and truth? Seize the word this year, and you will be comforted, to then comfort others. 

~1 Thessalonians 5:14 “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” The Bible urges us, brothers, to encourage, to comfort, to exhort. To know God by knowing His word. To pursue the best, which is being conformed to the image of Christ His Son. 

And this idea, this notion of courage equalling conforming to Christ, brings on yet another quote, which will help us end on a zinger for the New Year. G.K. Chesterton once wrote that “courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die” (Orthodoxy, Chapter 6). Does that remind you of something? Christ showed the ultimate courage. He conquered at the testing point of the testing point of righteousness. He was the lamb led to the butcher’s block in order that life might be made possible for so many. And that is courage. He is the example of the champion, the knight, the supreme slayer of dragons. Why not follow Him? Why not take on His heart? Why not be encouraged? May this year be one in which you seek His courage, my friend, and spread it wherever you go.

*What is an adverb of an adverb called anyway? Or are those not supposed to exist? Whatever; go diagram some sentences.

New Year photos taken by Yours Truly. Sorry, I am still about ten notches below presumptuous amateur photographer. Working on it!