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Cooking With Myra: Finding purpose, eating pizza

By Myra Starkey
Sept. 24, 2013 at 4:24 a.m.

Pizza with calabrese salame, tomatoes and pistachios

A preacher I was listening to told a story of his 5-year-old coming into the living room and saying she had a surprise for him.

The little girl told him to cover his eyes while she led him to her bedroom. "Now, look," she exclaimed as she pointed to her bed and told him proudly how she had made it up all by herself.

He rejoiced with her but in his mind thought it didn't look so good - not that he would expect a kid that age could make a bed like an experienced adult. As rumpled and crooked as it was, he praised her for her efforts.

With a little time and help from her parents, she would master the task.

Just as the church service was beginning, a guy and his wife, both late middle-aged, came wheeling down the center aisle. They were smiling, neatly dressed and happy to be there, even if they had arrived late. They had a place picked out up front.

The thing was, she was in a wheelchair and had some sort of respirator tube hooked to the front of her neck. They listened to the sermon just like the rest of us. The message was about how we were called to serve others and not ourselves.

At another church we go to, there is an old woman who sings joyfully each week in the choir. Her makeup is neat, and she usually has a nice bow in her hair. When this group goes up on the stage midway through the service to sing, I've noticed that one of the younger guys will steady her as she goes up the steps because she doesn't seem to have much control of her arms. And so I always wonder how her hair and makeup look so good. Somebody cares enough to help.

Moms and dads routinely make great sacrifices to care for their helpless infants because it takes at least a year or two for a child to even begin to do anything for themselves.

And for those disabled kids who never make the step to self-sufficiency, those same parents seem to rise to the challenge of serving with no end in sight.

Teachers, aides and therapists tirelessly work with challenged kids in our schools. Nurses and certified nurse assistants help elderly and other disabled folks live with dignity. Some would say they do this work simply because it is their job, but the reality is that they find great joy in helping those who can't care for themselves.

Taylor and I were in Houston this past weekend to visit our daughter and son-in-law. It always amazes me to see the level of wealth in the beautiful neighborhoods. The stores are packed with shoppers, and there are lots of pretty things to buy. The restaurants are so numerous that one could never eat in them all. There were fancy cars and fancy people everywhere I looked.

There are museums filled with priceless art - some of it so strange that I cannot even tell what it represents. Million-dollar athletes compete in stadiums while the fans cheer them on from their high-priced seats. Everyone seemed to be in a rush to go here and there. For a small-town person, it is almost exhausting.

I am not saying that each of us should devote each minute of our lives to doing meaningful things such as serving those in need. There is no doubt that serving others without expecting payment or reward is one of the most gratifying things that we can do as humans.

And conversely, to endlessly seek self-gratification and self-promotion leads to a miserable, empty dead end. As in most things, there is a balance we have to find. If we never spend money on food, clothes, homes and cars, then our economy will crash, and no one will have jobs. Live within your means while you enjoy yourself.

There will be people in your path who need help. Take the time to show kindness when you have the opportunity, and you will be blessed.

Hannah's in-laws, Randy and Patti, joined us in seeing the "kids" this weekend. We did the usual things parents do when they visit their offspring: They take them out to eat. We dined well all weekend. One of my favorite places was The Pass & Provisions, a relatively new restaurant. The restaurant is beautiful, and we ate lunch there Saturday.

The dishes are presented on large, slate tiles and shared among those at the table, so everyone got to taste a little of everything. We ordered a salumi pizza topped with parmesan cheese, roasted cherry tomatoes and chopped pistachios. It was delicious. Here is my version, which may not be quite as good, but to have the real thing you will have to get in your car and head to the city.

Myra Starkey lives in Victoria. Write her in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901, or email myra@vicad.com.

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