You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—-the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—-to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” Matthew 5:43-48, The Message
It’s been one of those weeks. Rich blessings, steady work, hand pies with my old roommates Wednesday night—but with a few mean-spirited people thrown in, too. Most mornings, you know what I’m fighting for in my heart? The ability to stop focusing on, and sinking into discouragement over, the mean-spirited people. Tim and I were talking about this yesterday—about the friends you can’t share good news with because they’ll be jealous, about the miserable people who spit out meanness because of how unhappy they are inside, about what interacting with unkindness and spite does to our own hearts (namely that seeing hatred in someone else always makes me see it in myself, and seeing that doesn’t feel good). You can eat ice cream while your heart is sorrowful, you guys. Don’t let anybody tell you different.
As the last post pointed out, fall is here and we are welcoming it with open arms. Shanna and I love this time of year (we got married in it!) and always look forward to the changes and reminders it brings.
Yet even though it may be the season to be breaking out hot drinks and jackets, we have an ice cream recipe for you today that we really enjoyed. (Let’s be honest, we will be enjoying ice cream year round, even in the dead of winter, so don’t be surprised if you see another ice cream recipe from me then.) This ice cream is a great taste of fall though, with its mild pumpkin flavor that sneaks up on the finish. Enjoy!
Last week, my friend Christina and I went strawberry picking. I like Christina. Christina is sharp and funny and unassuming enough to regularly surprise you as you get to know her over time. She’s one of the maybe three friends I’ve ever had who is a twin. I’ve always wished I were a twin. People sometimes mistook my brother and me for twins (do you see it?) but, as his knee-jerk reaction has always been sheer and absolute horror when these assumptions have been made, I think it’s safe to say I’m the only one flattered there. I met Christina’s twin, Nicole, a few months ago over tacos at a table barely as wide as a paperback book; I liked her, too.
From where I sit in Nashville, it’s is a balmy 80+ degrees right now. Neighbors are sitting on porches, people are biking down our street and the sun is turning everything this gorgeous golden hue. It’s so easy to love this time of year—and not just because of the warmth and daylight. I mean, you guys, one word: popsicles. On that note, today, I’m thrilled to be over at Carrie Vitt’s killer site, Deliciously Organic, sharing the basil creamsicle recipe from our ebook and the one that, every time we make it, we can’t stop eating.
Go on over to Carrie’s site to read the post and see the recipe—and then stick around to find scores of grain-free recipes you can count on to work. Thanks so much for letting us share on your site, Carrie. We are your always fans.
We ate this ice cream late Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning, amidst some of the coldest temperatures Nashville has seen this year. I was just finishing my second (but not last) bowl as Parenthood ended, crying to Tim about something Crosby said to Julia and epiphanizing about how we all have these moments where we just need an encouraging word, and then the Nashville Evening News came on. We really never watch the nightly news, mostly because the beautiful flat-screen TV my brother gave us as a wedding gift for some reason only gets three or maybe four channels (thankfully one of those channels is NBC for Parenthood and another, public broadcasting for our weekly Downton Abbey fix) and so we don’t even bother turning it on unless we have a purpose. Accordingly, my reaction to what came next might have been overly sensitized, a little like that of a few generations before us the first time a motion picture hit the screen, but nonetheless, here it is:
Last summer, summer 2011, was the summer of wedding planning (also known as The Pit). I spent all my free time hunkered down in there, absorbed in the constant tasks of ceremony details, caterers, jazz bands, invitations, favors, showers, guest lists, seating charts, expectations, and I’ll be honest with you: sometimes it got a little dark. Thankfully, Tim was with me. Having the two of us together made The Pit more cozy.
The only problem with hunkering down for a summer, however, is that you miss a lot of things. It has to happen, but you do. While we were making regular trips back and forth from Chicago, the rest of the world continued on, the way it always does. While our weekends were spreadsheets of to-do lists and hours picking towels and bed sheets at Target, I tuned out of blogs and stopped reading or writing or paying attention to, well, anything that couldn’t get into The Pit with us. Sometimes my family got in there. Sometimes, our friends. But everything else didn’t fit, and so I let it go.
For the most part, that was OK. Simplifying, even. But then a few weeks ago, I was washing dishes in our kitchen, looking out the window, and I noticed how big and tall and purple our neighbor’s tree had gotten. In an instant, my eyes moved across the street to another one, hot pink like a Spring Break bikini. We drove to the grocery store, past that vintage brick apartment complex we always see, and an entire row of trees bordering the road had exploded into whites and reds and violet and deep maroon. It was then that I realized just how deep we’d been buried, together with our heads down, moving through that tunnel in the dark.
Last summer, I don’t remember a flower. This year, giant blooming trees are EVERYWHERE.
So if there’s one thing I’ve wanted for summer 2012, it’s to stay above ground. That’s one of the reasons I’ve been here so often. When I look back on this year, I’ll remember making risotto with my brother, enduring weeks of three-digit-temperature days, sitting inside while the sky got dark with clouds and rain and thunderstorms.
I’ll remember walking through neighborhoods with Tim to see the world in bloom, camera around my neck, marveling at the different colors and the intricate petals and the way they look against the early evening sky.
I’ll remember telling myself to take the time to notice, really look at and observe, the life I’m living: the mornings Tim and I shuffle to the dining table, laptops in hand; the afternoons walking down the driveway, feeling the heat as we grab the mail and see that couple across the street who wave like friendly grandparents. I’ll remember walking through a park last night, where the air smelled mossy and moist, surrounded by one hundred different shades of green.
But mostly, I’ll remember what we’ve been eating:
The ice cream.
Summer 2012, in addition to being the first summer we were married and the first summer I felt like I lived in Nashville has also, more notably, been this, at least in our house: The Summer of Ice Cream.
There are new flavors rolling out every week, from frozen yogurt to chocolate chunk to cinnamon honey, and we eat it almost as quickly as it comes out of the machine. The first time Tim made this strawberry version, plumped up with chopped walnuts and big pieces of soft chocolate chunks, we polished it off in one day. It might be our current favorite.
In fact, the way things are going, this fall may be The Autumn of Ice Cream and this winter, The Winter of Ice Cream, and who knows how long it will go. But whatever the future brings, ice cream and otherwise, one thing’s for sure:
I get to have my eyes open to notice it, right now, today.
It’s a bloody hot day in Nashville, a Wednesday, the kind of day where walking the 50 or so feet from your kitchen door to the mailbox means beads of sweat forming fast on your forehead and upper lip. Tim and I are inside, working, I at my laptop on the dining room table, he from his computer on the sofa. When I look up from the article I’m writing, I see him straight ahead; when I turn to the right, it’s all blue skies and beating sunshine above our front yard.
I want to be sitting in the grass, I want to be having a picnic, I want to be sipping lemonade while rocking on a giant front porch.
Then I remember the heat, and I change my mind: I want to go swimming.
“What time is it?” I say to Tim. He tells me it’s half past noon. “Too bad,” I answer back. “Wish we had time to go to the lake.”
And then we look at each other from across our freelance perches, and he says what we’re both thinking: oh yeah, we do.
So we finish our work and throw some towels in a bag and drive 20 minutes to Percy Priest, the manmade lake that makes Nashville feel a little less landlocked. We haven’t been there since last summer, when we were still engaged, on a Saturday that was loud and crowded and earned me a sunburn on my back.
Today it’s quiet, just a few dozen people grilling or swimming or soaking up sun. We stretch our blanket out in the green grass, sandy shores ahead of us, the smell of charcoal in the air. We step into the water and it’s warm, like a bathtub, and I don’t have to shudder when I dip my toes in first.
We’re only there two hours, but it’s two hours that feels a million miles from life—a few hours that feels like a summer vacation in the middle of the day. We walk, hand in hand, to the water; come back to the blanket to dry off; go back to the water; come back to the blanket. It’s so peaceful, so relaxing, so like Wisconsin or Florida.
I finish the book I’ve been reading, “Writing Down the Bones“, in which Natalie Goldberg talks about one of her favorite writing prompts for students: to talk about a time when you were happy. She says this is worth doing because,
“Stories stay with us … Our stories are important … To begin with, write like you talk, nothing fancy. This will help you get started.”
I look up from where I’m laying on my stomach, elbows propping me up, and a little girl runs past us in her bathing suit. I hear voices laughing in the water. I see Tim laying next to me, a smile on his face. We go back into the lake, and the way I talk to him, while we’re standing together, water coming just above our shoulders, minnows swimming past our feet, is with a breathless, “This is so fun!”
We come home, taking showers and sweeping up sand and unpacking our towels, and we make frozen yogurt. It tastes like soft serve—the kind I used to get at places like TCBY, perfect for piling high with toppings like fruit and coconut and nuts, perfect for eating on the couch with your husband after an afternoon at the lake.
And I want to tell you here, the way I’d tell you if we were talking, how much I like this day, how much I love laying by the water on a weekday, surrounded by forests and swimmers and picnic tables.
But then I think about Natalie Goldberg and about writing how we talk, and all that comes out is “It was wonderful!” and “I love this” and “This is so fun!” So then I think, you know, sometimes, maybe that’s exactly right.