I pulled up to the conference center and waved at Rachel as she walked toward the car, smiling. She was in town for a Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation event, and though the weather had thwarted plans for a sunset cruise on the lake, we were still looking forward to catching up over a great meal. (We did, of course, make a stop to see the lake, and to make sure she got true Tex-Mex queso and such).
“It’s been almost four years now, hasn’t it?” I commented. She smiled and replied, “I know, right? I look at my life and – truly – I wouldn’t be where I am right now if it wasn’t for the group.” We met in 2013, both responding to an obscure call for adventurers with machetes and passports by a guy named Jon. Over 1000 people also responded to that call, and strangers became friends in an online group first known as The Start Experiment and then later, Dreamers and Builders. The group grew over time, and we celebrated dreams and goals, weddings and funerals, new babies and new jobs together. “Fear fears community” was the mantra, and the boldness that came through the encouragement, prayers, and heartfelt discussions within the bounds of Facebook and in real-life meet-ups fueled friendships, careers, and life changes. Even now, when scrolling through my social media feeds, the friends made that summer are prominent. “It’s crazy when I think about all that’s happened – I wouldn’t be working at Paradigm Shift if it wasn’t for Jon,” Rachel said. The company’s owners both are members of the group. It was what I learned about myself and my personal purpose in the group that gave me the courage to step toward a life of creative storytelling and ministry. Rachel was the one to design my logo and “Hug and Heart” icon. And so, on a blustery Austin night, I was going to finally get to say “thank you” with a little #kitchentherapy. Best friends Courtney and Ryan joined us – Courtney has become part of the group in the past year, and she and Rachel met last summer when we all spoke at the Launch Out Conference. (The conference itself is a dream-become-reality for another man in the group, Randy Langley.)
I’ve gotten to welcome other Dreamers and Builders at CasaRock over the years. In fact, Brad now simply asks, “They’re in the group, right?” when I ask if we might have someone over for dinner – or for the weekend. I just smile. Extending the invitations has been good for both of us, and it’s truly been an answer to a prayer we both prayed as we moved to Austin years ago. “Make our home a place where people find respite and kindness.”
We’re still praying that prayer. Remember, you are always welcome at CasaRock.
Despite the chill in the air, we had dinner on the patio as the sun set in the Texas Hill Country and Pearl did her best to beg for tidbits of grilled chicken. And then, we had dessert.
If you know me, you know I love to make desserts but I don’t necessarily love to eat them. Every now and then, though, I discover something I can’t wait to serve – and eat – again and again. I fall just a little bit in love.
And I have fallen just a little bit in love with Prosecco Peaches. Cooking with wine is always fun – and pairing sparkling wine and fresh fruit creates a perfect dish for an evening with dreamers become friends.
Yes, the recipe is simple. Honestly, truly simple. I served the Prosecco Peaches with a little vanilla curd (store-bought) spread over sweet scones, and topped with a dollop of whipped cream. You might want to serve them over ice cream or on a meringue, or you might want to use them as a topping for cheesecake. Or you might be like Rachel, Courtney and I that night – and think they are best when eaten straight out of the serving bowl. There is no shame.
Make Prosecco Peaches. Fall a little bit in love. Welcome dreamers into your home and let community wash away fear. Eat dessert straight out of the serving bowl. These things – do these things now. These are all very good #kitchentherapy.
And hey, share your favorite “fall a little bit in love” recipe with me. I’d love to try it – maybe it will become the new favorite at CasaRock!
(makes 6-8 servings, maybe)
1 bottle Prosecco or other semi-dry sparkling wine
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons vanilla (use Mexican vanilla if you can get it)
2 cinnamon sticks
1 pound fresh peaches, peeled and sliced OR 1 16-oz. package fresh frozen peaches
In a saucepan, mix first five ingredients. Add peaches, and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until liquid reduces by 2/3, stirring often. Remove from heat and let cool. Enjoy!