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.
A few notes from here in Nashville, here in this first week of October:
1 / An autumn that’s all big mums and our neighbors’ porches filled with pumpkins, right alongside bare feet and sundresses.
2 / A few blog updates, some obvious (design changes) and some not (new hosting). If anything seems wonky when you stop by this space, it probably relates to one of the things we’ve changed, and we probably don’t know—so please tell us.
3 / A a new library book I’ve been waiting for, an interview with its author (posted here) and my favorite quote from that interview: “My description of this room will differ from your description of this room will differ from everybody else’s description of this room because we are limited and graced by our own pair of eyes, the things that we notice in the foreground versus the background—That’s the beauty of creative work.”
4 / A good chunk of time thinking about this story, especially because of one line about always wanting everyone to understand what you do, and why you can’t and they can’t, so just stop: “For several years I felt this overwhelming need to explain ourselves and the decisions we made as a family to other people. I hated that I lived in that trap, and yet I couldn’t seem to get out of it. But God slowly freed me of that in Oklahoma.”
6 / Extra work hours, new projects, more social activities and several upcoming trips—and how all of these things, with the tighter schedules they bring, are good things we are being given right now.
7 / Remembering August, when I cried in the middle of Wal-Mart, by myself, walking the aisles to buy copy paper so we could print out paperwork to try to get back earnest money from a house we thought we’d buy, but lost.
8 / Remembering last night, when I cried in a Goodwill parking lot, next to Tim, out of sheer and overwhelming joy at how shockingly we have been comforted and encouraged since then.
9 / Words like these, from Naomi Shihab Nye : “I want to be famous to shuffling men who smile while crossing streets, sticky children in grocery lines, famous as the one who smiled back. I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous, or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular, but because it never forgot what it could do.”
10 / A mug filled with creamy, frothy pumpkin pie you can drink—recipe below.
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!
Even growing up in the Depression didn’t make my grandma immune to persuasive tactics at the table. “Carrots are good for your eyes,” she’d tell me as I pushed the boiled orange coins, floating in pools of butter, around my plate. Grandma had worn thick, plastic-framed glasses the whole time I’d known her, and I’d qualified as near-sighted almost as soon as I went to school, so the idea of not wearing glasses was appealing. She knew her audience, you could say. Thanks to her, carrots became one of the first vegetables I wanted to eat, along with green beans and potatoes, if you’re the type that calls potatoes vegetables, but I can’t say it was because I liked them.
Tim and I got a new bathroom ceiling this week. First, we got a massive ceiling bubble that Tim had to pop with a knife, straddling the toilet and the tub, a five-gallon bucket in his other hand while water shot from the ceiling cyst like milk from a cow; but then, beginning Wednesday and ending, hopefully, right around the time this post publishes, a nice handyman named Jim patched and worked and painted things, and our ceiling looked like a ceiling again. I’m not afraid to use the bathroom anymore, and I don’t have to drive down the street to White Castle to sneak into the ladies’ room, so obviously things are looking up. Also, Monday night and Tuesday night, like rewards for the days we’d survived and laughed through, the two of us sat down to matching plates piled high with salads like this one. Even I have to admit it’s hard to complain when your plate is full of this.
From your comments, I know many of you experience strawberry season a little later than we do here in Tennessee. So if it’s been June instead of May that’s sent you picking strawberries and bringing buckets of them home, listen up. Whether you’ve just made homemade jam or are about to (or if you picked up jam from another source!), have we got a treat for you. You already know about turning strawberry jam into ice cream. You already know how good it is slathered on buttered toast. And maybe you’re like us and have already whipped up this Bon Appétit recipe for baby biscuits baked with circles of jam on top? If so, and you’re looking for yet one more way to put that berry jam to good use: here it is. Just over a week ago, Tim and I discovered yet another beautiful reason to love strawberry preserves—and, boy, let me tell you, it’s show-stopping.