Life Group.

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Life Groups are small groups at church that meet to study God’s word, fellowship, pray and in our case, eat.  And then we go back for seconds.

I have been in a few Life Groups, and I must say our current one astounds me, because when I look around at the people God has brought together, I see something only God could do, and I am grateful.

My friend Keri and I have prayed over the downtown neighborhoods for years.  She had to move from the area we prayed over, yet God has brought the very folks we’ve prayed about through my front door on an acreage south of town.

We are all so different:  A single mama working and raising her two kids.  An airplane mechanic from Texas.  My son-in-law’s sister and husband from Washington. A gal who hopped on a bus in Oakland, California a year ago, and hopped off the bus in our fair city to start a new life.  The neighbors she invites!  Our neighbor and her son from Ohio.  A woman with an intellectual disability who loves people, loves to gather together, and calls me her aunt.

So we give God the glory for bringing this motley and amazing snippet of the Body together, giving us a rich fellowship and oh, so many different perspectives.   And a side blessing is that my kids enjoy this, too.  They actually get out of bed on Sunday mornings to join us.  That should tell you something.

Sebastian’s Table.

I am not a foodie.  I am not a gourmet cook.  I am just an average person.  I usually find something I like at a restaurant, and get it over and over again.  Like the Tortellini Bianco at Vincenzo’s for 15 years.  That’s me.

However, for some occasions I break out of the mold, and try something new.  For my mom’s birthday, we tried Sebastian’s Table.  We liked it.  Then I took my daughter when she was visiting.  We liked it more.  Then I met an old friend there.  We loved it.

Can I recommend this to everyone?  No, because I think food preferences are subjective.  But if you want to try something new, please go now.

Sebastian’s Table serves Spanish tapas, which are just smaller plates of food.  You share 2 – 3 plates with a friend, and go on a Tuesday night for $2 sangrias.  I love these sangrias so much I would go there just to drink one.  But there’s more.

I have NEVER eaten a brussels sprout.  Until now.  And I would eat them every time I go.  The scallops?  Divine.  I love scallops, and it is difficult to get them just right.  They did.  The ham and cheese croquettes were in a creamy tomato sauce that made my daughter lick the plate, and my friend glance furtively around to determine if she could also lick her plate.  The risotto and the macaroni and cheese were fine, but I will try something else on the menu next time.  There are so many dishes that sound delicious.  In fact, my friend and I kept stopping the waitress when she was taking food to other tables.  “WHAT IS THAT?”

The ginger cake?  So many flavors I was forced to chew slowly, to savor every bite.  Sadly, this cake wasn’t on the menu the last time I went.  Please, bring it back.  For the love of all that’s good and right.

The service was very attentive and prompt, except for once.  I like the wonderful old building the restaurant is housed in, and the price is right.  Highly recommended.

Notes: I took these pictures when the restaurant was almost ready to close after the lunch hour, which is why it is mostly empty.  It certainly wasn’t because the food wasn’t tasty.  I was so enamored with my food, I barely managed the scallop picture with my phone.  In the last picture,  I acknowledge Ashley is blurry.  But her expression while she laps up the creamy tomato sauce is priceless.

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sebastian's table

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My birthday is tomorrow, and it is a full day (my husband is having outpatient surgery; my daughter has a piano recital).  I was resigned, and not unhappily so, that there wouldn’t be a lot of birthday celebratin’.

My husband asked if we could go out tonight (we could).  I figured we’d go find some gourmet fries.  He informed me we were going out for something a little more upscale (we did).  The scallops were divine.  Thank you, my dear.  We celebrated, in spite of it all.

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At first glance, it may be difficult to see the beauty here.  I didn’t take it during the Golden Hour when the light was just right.  It isn’t part of the snow-covered landscape.  But it was part of a lovely evening, where a few women gathered to make freezer meals for a friend who had surgery.

I can’t explain what is so special about serving together.  Maybe it is how God wired us?  He commands us to love one another, so should it be surprising that serving one another can bring great joy?

Anyhow, I was able to make lots of burritos, roll out pizza pretzels, drink some wine, and get to know these wonderful gals a bit better.

As if this weren’t enough, I was able to see evidence of the little people who live in this house, which made my joy complete.

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Today was Christmas Baking Day, for those of you who don’t celebrate this holiday.

Every year we head to my mother-in-law’s with a trunkful of ingredients, and return home with all sorts of cookies and candy we should share, but rarely do.

When the girls talk about what they love about Christmas, this day rates way up at the top.  I am thankful.  I don’t feel like much of a tradition-maker, but traditions have seemed to happen in spite of my lack of planning.

What was NOT traditional this year was the ninja gingerbread man cookie cutter one of the cousins sneaked in.  We made a few regular gingerbread men for grandma, but the rest of us wanted ninjas.  Two years ago we had Harry Potter characters, and last year it was zombies.  What will the cousins think of next?

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Gabe comes over once a week after school while Maddie gives his sister a piano lesson.

First he asks me if I have any snacks.  We look together.  Then he sits down at the kitchen table, and crumbs scatter in a 5-foot radius.  Then he tries to wipe the crumbs into his hand, and throws them away.

Sometimes he plays with our old legos, but his go-to is Rebecca’s favorite book at his age:  Snakes and Reptiles:  The Scariest Cold-Blooded Creatures on Earth.  The book only shows the most deadly critters, usually poisoning or chomping some unsuspecting humans.

Then it is time to go home.  He likes it when he has a ride, but if it is nice, I encourage him to walk.  Sometimes, he gives me a hug that makes me melt.  I’ve never had a little boy, but if I did, I wouldn’t mind if he was like Gabe.