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Something magical happened this weekend, something so rare it almost felt like a miracle straight from heaven.
We had absolutely NO plans.
Zero. Zilch. Nada.
No games. No tournaments. No practices.
When Saturday dawned, our calendar stretched wide open in front of us, deliciously void of any pressing “must-do” events or tasks or obligations. To have a weekend like this for us is so exceedingly rare it’s almost like a unicorn. Being in that chaotic stage of life with three kids in three different sports with social lives and parties and events, downtime on a Saturday or Sunday is what happens between 9:00-10:00pm once the day is done and they are all sleeping like angels in their beds. But this weekend, downtime was all that we had. It felt magical, like fairy dust had settled over our little family. It was a gift, this swatch of time, a gift to be treasured. Like a calm before the storm, this weekend right before the holiday chaos kicks in was a time for us to slow down and just BE. Just BE a family. Just BE ourselves. Just BE.
In the past, time to JUST BE would have intimidated me. It would have felt mountainous and terrifying, and my inclination would have been to frantically fill our calendar with things to do to shut out the quiet, the stillness. I would have run like a bat out of you-know-what from the fear of what I would find in the downtime. Because to Just BE requires, by nature, you to strip away the outside. To get down to the bare bones. To slow down. Settle down. To be quiet and listen. And that can be really uncomfortable.
It can be uncomfortable because we spend so much of our time being so many other things that it’s easy to forget how to be JUST BE who we are. Life requires us to wear so many hats, it’s so demanding of our souls, that we give little pieces of our identity to each hat that we wear. And this is not a bad thing, at all. But it can be a dangerous thing when those little pieces of identity begin to add up and create a mismatched pile of outside hats that you stare at in disbelief, not even recognizing yourself. You’re fragmented and split apart, no common foundation of YOU holding you together. You’ve given it all away.
You’ve given it away to be a fabulous mom and a wonderful husband or wife. You’ve given it away to your job and your career. You’ve given it away to the cause where you volunteer your time. You’ve given it away to be a soccer mom or a baseball dad. You’ve given it away to the college that you attended (only relevant for those in the South). You’ve given it away to being Irish, or Italian, or Greek or Hispanic. You’ve given it away to the house you own, the car you drive, and the clothes you wear. You’ve even given it away to the church you attend.
And not one of these is a bad thing. They’re each valuable and deserve your time and attention. But they’re not deserving of your identity. And the danger comes when that’s exactly what they get.
When I left my job earlier this year, one of my colleagues and very good friends said to me in complete shock and disbelief at my departure,
“What are you going to do at home? I mean, you’re such a professional.”
She wasn’t being mean. She wasn’t even wrong. But this question stuck deep in my soul for a long time. It stuck with me because it was true. I had lost myself to being “such a professional.” I had allowed that to take up such a huge portion of my identity that it had crowded out room for me to effectively be other things. And it definitely broke my ability to just be ME.
It took me a long time to come to grips with the fact that I had allowed my identity to be doled out to a job that, while great, was no more permanent than the wind, because I had not allowed my true identity to take root deep enough that it was unshakable. I had let the louder and more aggressive voices of the world overpower my true identity. I had forgotten that I was a wife, mother, daughter and friend. But most importantly, I had forgotten that I was a child of God.
It took me some time to reclaim this identity, to hold it up to the light examine it, and restore it to its rightful place. It wasn’t instant, but it’s my belief that nothing of value comes quickly. I had to truly humble myself to realize that I am not the center of my universe. I am not the most important thing in my life. Yet I am so much more valuable and loved than I ever believed.
To be a child of God is not to be perfect. It’s not to take away from being a mom. Or a dad. Or an Aggie. Or the MVP of your company. It’s to be the foundation where all of these things flow. I’m a better wife, mother, friend and daughter now that I understand that first and foremost I am a daughter of the God of Love. The God who so loved me that His perfect son died to set me free so I can stop throwing identities on the wall of my life like spaghetti, hoping one will stick. I can hold it close, treasure it, give it time and energy and love. And once I did this, everything else fell into place as it was meant to.
So this weekend I didn’t run from the downtime. I embraced it. As a family we relaxed, we laughed, we loved and we played. It felt like the magical time it was, because I was fully in it, reveling in my identity as a woman of God who loves her family with all of her soul and might.
And how do I show love? Well, one way is by cooking. To feed and nourish the people that I love is to give them life, to give them a part of me. And while I love a good marathon cooking session, I love an afternoon game of family football more. So I didn’t want to waste my time chopping away while everyone else was sharing laughs outside. And that’s where the slow cooker comes in as a moms best friend. I made this Butter Chicken and we happily dined on leftovers all weekend. Unlike my Thai Green Curry
, this isn’t an acquired taste. You can love it from the start, no growing pains required. It’s sweet and tangy and smooth. I first fell in love with butter chicken at my old job, ironically. We had Indian Food Fridays and this was my go-to. Still in love with the flavor, but wanting to clean it up a bit, I stumbled on this recipe in Laura Lea’s Balanced Cookbook
. I talk about Laura a lot, mainly because she is inspiring in the kitchen, but you really can’t go wrong with a traditional take out meal, stripped down to clean foods and thrown into the slow cooker. I call that a win.
Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken
- 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 15 ounce can of full-fat coconut milk
- 1 6 ounce can of tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
- 3 cloves garlic, minched
- 2 teaspoons chili poweder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon tumeric
- 1 tablespoon salt, plus more for tasting
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional but if you like heat at all, use it)
- 2 tablespoons corn starch (or arrowroot starch)
- Step 1 Add all ingredients except corn starch to a slow cooker (at least 6 quart). Stir to combine and turn to low heat. Cook for 8 hours. Taste for more salt and add accordingly. In a small bowl, mix starch and 2 tablespoons water until dissolved. Add to slow cooker and stir until mixture thickens. Enjoy over rice and with naan.
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What is your identity? Are you a mom? Wife? Teacher? Accountant? Placing your identity in any of these is wonderful, but there is a place we are called to place our identities that is permanent and free. As a child of God we are loved more than we know. #Jesus #childofgod #godlywoman