My husband, Steve, is a serious Ice Cream Maker. Actually, Steve is a serious guy to begin with, and he takes his ice cream very, very seriously. Especially vanilla ice cream. He reads textbooks about ice cream making, drives long distances to find just the right vanilla beans, compares his products to others, spends extra money on organic dairy products from small farms (keep in mind, this man comes from Dutch stock). Friends who come to dinner are automatically roped into a focus group to analyze dessert. They are given spoons, paper and pencil, and small scoops of ice cream for blind tasting. All this as Steve eyes them carefully, watching every bite, trying to discern subtle reactions. It’s a wonder they keep coming back.
Recently, Steve attended Ice Cream School at Penn State. After the first day of class, he called me the first night to check in. “Today I learned that the American public has been lied to!” he said in holy outrage.
“About what in particular?” I asked politely.
“About the content of air in ice cream!”
This ice cream thing is starting to get a wee bit ridiculous. Steve returned from Ice Cream School with brochures of ice cream machines that cost more than a new car. Now he’s hinting for a kitchen remodel to include space for this behemoth machine.
Not a chance.
But! I digress.
Steve does make delicious ice cream. He’s experimented with all kinds of flavors: salted caramel, dark chocolate with a hint of orange, wild strawberry, lavender honey, chai, rose tea. With the exception of rose tea, which tasted like perfume, he’s been pleased with the results. But not with vanilla. As of this writing, he’s on vanilla recipe #56 (no exaggeration!). He won’t stop until he’s made the equivalent of Haagen-Daaz’s premium line of five ingredients, called “Five.”
You might think it sounds bland, but a good—really good—vanilla ice cream is intricate, with depth and richness. Here’s the curious thing: it is foundational to all other ice cream flavors. Get it right and you’ve got your base.
Getting it right, though, is hard work. Vanilla is so pure that it reveals mistakes and inconsistencies. Strong flavors like chocolate and coffee can mask them, but not vanilla. Small things affect its quality. Vanilla has utmost integrity.
Sometimes I think we writers need to be more like vanilla ice cream. Our walk needs to match up with our talk—on-line and off-line. We need to beware of gray areas. Nothing harms the kingdom of God more than hypocrisy. Just like with vanilla ice cream, small choices add up and affect our integrity: gossip, envy of other authors, grumbling about a publisher or agent, taking shortcuts in our work, not delivering the goods.
In the early church, the Apostle Paul instructed Timothy, his spiritual son in the ministry, to “...keep himself pure” (1 Tim. 5:22, niv). Timothy’s integrity mattered to the young church. It matters to our modern world. Paul was reminding Timothy that he was responsible for his daily choices, and those choices would be noticed. We are faced with choices every single day—some big, but most small. Those choices might seem benign, unimportant, but they add up. They affect the quality of our witness.
Integrity isn’t easy. Not with us, not with vanilla ice cream, either. (Why else would it take my husband fifty-six tries… and counting?) It’s all about choices and intention. But if you’ve ever had amazing vanilla ice cream, well, the product speaks for itself.
Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling, award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction about the Amish for Revell Books. She hosts a blog, Amish Wisdom, and has a free Amish Wisdom app that delivers a daily Amish proverb to your iPhone, iPad or Android. In between ice cream tastings, she can be found on-line at www.suzannewoodsfisher.com.
In honor of Suzanne's visit to Seekerville we thought about giving away ice cream, then decided it might not mail well. Instead we are giving away any Suzanne Fisher book available in Kindle format and one in print. That's TWO different winners announced in the Weekend Edition. Let us know in the comments if you want your name in the bonnet!
Coming July 1st.
The Revealing (The Inn at Eagle Hill Book #3)
Naomi King, soft spoken, loyal, and easily overlooked, has a gift. She sees what others can't see. Intuition, she calls it. Others in Stoney Ridge don't know what to make of it and dismiss her hunches and inklings altogether.
When a young woman arrives at the Inn at Eagle Hill with a shocking secret about Tobe Schrock, Naomi fears the worst. She can't ignore the feeling that something sinister is at work-- something more than a threat to the tenuous love begun between her and Tobe.
As signs mount, they begin to point to Jake Hertzler, the elusive mastermind behind Schrock Investments' downfall. Soon, events spiral hopelessly out of control and Naomi must decide whether to listen to her head or her heart.