Nourish: 5 Healthy Crockpot Recipes

If you're like me, cooking meals during the week can feel overwhelming. The last thing I want to do after working all day is prepare a meal.  This must be why a genius invented the crockpot. Simply throw a few ingredients in the pot before you leave for work and when you get home, it's ready for you to enjoy! I love crockpots and with our schedule, I don't know how we'd eat without one.

Below, I've put together a list of some of my go-to recipes that can be done in the crockpot for a healthy and easy meal. I'm not chef-like enough to come up with my own recipes, so click on the links to visit the original recipe and source! I'm thankful there are amazing people out there sharing their gifts for creating great food. Check them out!

1. Chelsea's Messy Apron: Crockpot Italian Chicken, Quinoa, and Vegetable Soup

2. Paleo Newbie: Paleo Crockpot Chili

3. Give Me Some Oven: 2-Ingredient Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

4. Paleo OMG: Honey Ginger Apple Shredded Pork

5. Innocent Delight: Slow Cooker Whole Roasted Chicken

An Anniversary Reflection

We were married on a brisk November day two years ago. The leaves were perfect shades of yellow and the fall sun kept the air from being too frigid. I woke up that morning with joyful anticipation knowing that in just one day my life was going to change in the most beautiful way.

We both dressed up in our very best. I wore my elegant white gown, and you wore your gray suit. My hair was done just like I had imagined. I wore my shiny jewelry and my dancing shoes. As bride and groom, we looked fresh and manicured. In marriage, we’re rarely dressed up in our best. We see each other on our bad days and when we feel like a mess. You wake up to my puffy, childlike eyes in the morning and my tie-dye shirt from college I’ve worn too many times to count. I giggle when I see your Chiefs charms you bring out during the Sunday game and the gym shorts that you’ve worn since high school. Our lives are uncovered and unfiltered for each other to see.

During the ceremony, we recited our carefully crafted vows in front of our friends and family. We outwardly confessed our love for each other and exchanged rings of loyalty and commitment. As public as this was, with wedding pictures galore to prove it, these vows speak most loudly behind the scenes of our lives. In marriage, we practice these promises to each other in the quiet moments in the car, when we’re making dinner, cleaning the toilet, and taking walks together. We practice them in honesty, imperfection, and in the moments unseen by the rest of the world. That’s when I see our vows truly come to life.

I remember how excited we were to take communion together on our wedding day and serve it to those who were celebrating with us. As we dipped the bread in the wine, we reminded ourselves of the beautiful truth that Jesus’ blood covers our sins and in only Him do we find our hope. Our marriage and our lives are founded on this very truth. Yet, how quickly we forget this. We get easily distracted-- losing sight of Jesus and each other. We believe temporary pleasures will reap us more joy and we seek our own well-being instead of serving each other. Just as we shared the sacred act of communion that day, may we remember every day our great hope we have in the gospel of Jesus.

This beautiful union brought our people, ambitions, and stories together. We joyfully gave up our single ways for a better one together. The next time we’re sitting on the kitchen floor exhausted from an argument, I hope we remember that choice. When one of us tries to go a different way, I hope we chase hard after one another. When our house feels divided, let us remember that it’s not about who is right and wrong: we’re on the same team now.

Of course, our wedding day was one of the best days of my life. It was relaxed, full of our favorite people, yummy food, and the best dance playlist. The ceremony was meaningful and reflected us perfectly. It was exactly how I wanted it to be. Yet even the greatest detail put into that day, the sweetest GF wedding cake, the best Usher song, the grandest of gestures couldn’t compare to the richness of my everyday life spent with you.

The reality is: marriage isn’t played out in a gorgeous white gown and heels. It’s not lived in front of a crowd or behind a filter. It isn’t scripted and it’s far from perfect. Marriage is choosing each other day in and day out -- when I’m sick and you’re tired -- When things are going great for us and when the shit hits the fan--that’s when our vows really mean something. Marriage is laughing on the couch and drinking our favorite tea together. It’s seeking understanding and pursuing your heart relentlessly. It’s not letting each other quit when it just feels too hard. Marriage is embracing Jesus, one another, and whatever life brings our way.

I’m sure glad I’m doing this with you. Without a doubt, I’d go back to that cold, November day and choose you all over again. In my white gown and your gray suit, we’d dance the night away. Then we’d raise our glass and toast to the days to come.

Melanie: Hospitality

When I think about hospitality, Melanie comes to mind.

She is the first to offer her house for a gathering and all the goodies that comes with it. She won't ask you to bring anything and won't ask for anything in return. Gluten-free baked goods are my love language and Melanie makes sure I have my share at every event. At Melanie's house, I've tasted things like devonshire cream (I don't even know what that is) and cranberry scones like I've never had them before.  I first met Melanie when a group of women from our church started meeting regularly for a book study. Melanie spoiled us with her open home, secret tea recipes, and delectable desserts.

I recently went over to Melanie's house to bake with her. By the time I got there, she already had a handle on the homemade cookies, so I picked up the recipe for the gluten- free chocolate chip pumpkin muffins and got started. While cracking eggs into a bowl (and fishing out the egg shells), I asked her what she loves most about baking. I think it dawned on Melanie for the first time as she reflected on the question, "It's not baking in itself that I enjoy necessarily, it's who I am baking for."

It's true. Melanie wouldn't just hand you a plate of cookies by itself, her contagious smile and laughter are offered with it. Melanie reaps joy from hospitality--- that's when I see her most come to life.

Melanie also shares her heart and talents with a Christian women's shelter in Kansas City. The women living at the shelter there are recovering from substance abuse and other unfortunate circumstances while they rebuild their lives and their faith. For 3 years, Melanie has taken dinner twice a month to the shelter. She even schedules special events for our group of women to serve with her there. A few months ago, she planned a tea party for us to help with---full of tiny cookies, tarts, chocolate covered strawberries, and tea. We all sat at the table together with the residents, sipping on tea and feeling fancy. Her reasoning? "Every woman deserves to attend a tea party," Melanie replied. I felt like I was watching Melanie in her element: sharing homemade baked goods and the love of Jesus with other women. That combination sounds like a super power if you ask me.

While the muffins baked in the oven, Melanie and I sat at the table and took in the aroma. I asked her why she's so inviting and hospitable to our group of women, hosting and feeding us without expecting anything in return. She responded, "I remember what it was like to be newly married and with kids. It's a busy and overwhelming time of life. For those who don't have family in town, who else is going to spoil them?" 

I asked Melanie how she would encourage women in my stage of life, she replied:

"I would remind you that you are enough....we spend so much of our lives being hard on ourselves, never feeling like what we do is enough. We always think someone else is doing better and we're not where we're supposed to be. You are enough." 

Melanie's gift of hospitality reflects the generosity of Jesus. I see it in opening up her home, welcoming us to the table, and inviting us to serve beside her. It's not just her baking abilities that amaze me, but the joy I see in her face when she's using them to love and serve other people. 

Thanks for flourishing, Melanie---from all of us.

3 Ways to Find Joy in the Mundane

Two weeks ago, I wrote about how the majority of our lives are spent in the in-between where life feels ordinary and mundane. My petition is that these moments should be celebrated. Here at Flourish, we don’t want to just share big ideas but rather bring them down to real life for you. We always want to be asking the questions, “So what does that actually look like?” “What does that mean for me?” We can talk about big concepts all day but, it’s fruitless if we don't bridge those concepts into our actual lives. As a follow-up to my post The In-Between, what would it mean to really celebrate the ordinary, to embrace the mundane moments in our lives? Today, I’m sharing 3 simple ways to find joy in the mundane:

 

1. Look at what’s around

We spend a lot of time dwelling on our past, worrying about our future, and looking at what everyone else is doing. Our eyes seem focused everywhere else instead of our lives right now. Ask yourself the question, “Who are the people, places, and commitments in my life right now and how can I be more engaged in them?” Here’s how this question influences areas in my own life:

Work- Sometimes I feel stuck in a rut at work, so I find new skills and concepts I can learn in my profession. When there’s down time at work, I work on these projects to grow myself and improve in my job.

Relationships- Instead of spending all my time making new friends (because I love doing this!), I hone in on a few friends already in my circle and pursue them. I send a couple texts to check in, make a coffee date or two, or write someone snail mail (everyone needs a pen pal).

Neighbors- To brighten up our street, I recently bought bright orange mums (my new favorite flower) and placed them on my neighbors’ porches. There is an elderly woman that lives across the street and instead of just laying the mum on the porch, I took the time to knock on her door to check in on her and chat about the day.

My City- For those of us who love to travel, we sometimes forget to discover the actual city we live in. So, I make a list of restaurants and places I wanted to visit in Kansas City and cross them off the list as we try them. It’s fun!

2. Do It Together

Is it just me or do “days off” not actually feel like days off anymore? #chores #adulthood. I used to try to cram all of our chores into one day, but I burned out pretty quickly. Matt had the revolutionary idea of doing chores together (never occurred to me). Since then, grocery shopping has turned into one of our favorite times together. Doing this has made grocery shopping less burdensome, more enjoyable, and adds quality time to an ordinary task.

3. Switch It Up

You know those people that can eat the same thing every day? Not me. I love routine, but I still need variety. One way that I enjoy a mundane part of life like cooking dinner is trying new recipes. For planning purposes, Matt and I keep the base of our diet the same with a few foundational meals to turn to every week. But when I get bored with dinner, I find a new recipe that lets me experiment with different ingredients that I’ve never tried. This provides just the new flavor and variety I need to make meals exciting again.

When we take the time to slow down, we share in the richness that the ordinary brings to our lives. Look around, do it together, and switch it up— you might find that beauty and life are already around you. And if you weren't able to catch the In-Between a couple weeks ago, you can read it here!

What are ways you find joy in the mundane? Inspire us and share below!