There's a bit of a story here before you get to my favorite Chicken Salad Recipe.
We stopped attending our Sunday school class at church about a year ago, we just didn't feel that it was where we were supposed to be. We kept the boys in their two hours of Sunday School fun, but stopped going to our second hour. Instead we purposed to sit together in the cafe, and earmark that time to really connect with one another - about the deep-down soul stuff we'd been carrying over the course of the week, or piling up over the years of our marriage.
It was an incredible blessing on so many levels. Primarily, it took the edge off of anything that burdened me throughout the week. I'd relax at the thought, "Sunday's coming! Matt wants to know my heart. I can share what concerns me today... on Sunday." Within this safe place, we started sharing with more courage and listening with more grace about all the issues in our marriage, our parenting, our individual dreams and struggles. It was a safe time, a loving time, a healing time.
Then the day arrived when we stopped coming to the table with an intense need to be heard. It's like all the build-up from the first 12 years of marriage had been worked through and we were communicating well and loving one another intentionally again - Not just on Sundays but throughout the week as well. It just took six months worth of Sunday mornings to get us there.
Now there we sat, across the green patio table, him with a breakfast sandwich and me with my cup of tea, just smiling because we had nothing left to work through. And he said, "So what do you want to do now?" I shrugged, and noticed how light my shoulders felt. It was then I remembered an announcement in the church bulletin that morning about a newly marrieds group just forming. Sure we weren't newlyweds, but we felt brand new on the inside. So I opened up the Sunday program and showed it to my guy. He shrugged his own unburdened shoulders and said, "let's go."
And so, after 13 years of marriage, my husband and I walked into a class for newlyweds.
We walked into the small classroom 10 minutes late, and half a dozen young couples looked up. I noticed immediately how close they sat to one another. We waved awkwardly and sat down. They were halfway through an ice-breaker, where everyone shared the song they'd chosen for their first dance together at the wedding. So much laughter. Then it got to us and Matt stuttered, 'uh... it was by George Straight I think, yeah?" "Yeah," I affirmed, "and we danced the cowboy cha-cha." Crickets.
Then the young girl who was leading the class with her husband stood up and explained how the class would stay connected via an iphone app, and I turned to Matt and whispered, "this isn't our generation... and I think that girl baby-sat for the boys when she was in high school, like three years ago!"
After class we chatted with the couple upfront, turns out Nicole had babysat our boys, and they told us how they'd been hoping and praying for a mentor couple to join them. And there we'd been, sitting together on the patio wondering, "What should we do now?"
The answer came easy, "Absolutely."
Now, a few short months later, and there's no way to describe in one brief paragraph how dear these young couples have become to us? Matt has sincere love for the young men, and I absolutely adore the gals. And each time I look at them, pouring over the pages of good marriage books, learning to care and pray for one another, I think how lucky they are to be building these skills so early in their marriages. And we're learning right beside them, and shedding light on what these principles can look like over a decade in.
To celebrate the start of fall we had all the couples over to our home for lunch. It was 105 degrees with Santa Anna winds blowing hard, and eucalyptus leaves chattering in the breeze. That's what fall looks like in Southern California, friends. The ladies circles around the patio table poolside with the men on the inside of our home. I watched them through the window, loading up their plates and sitting on the orange couch with a rug at their feet that reads "family." And we broke bread and laughed hard.
I served my favorite chicken salad recipe and they all clamored for the recipe, which didn't surprise me because it's a gem. I say it without pride; I didn't invent this medley of fabulous flavors after all. But I love it heart and soul, and keep Trader Joe's apricot chutney in my pantry at all times just to be prepared.
Today I offer it up to you, wishing I knew the special occasions and people you will share this with in the years to come. But I also share it with the encouragement, to those of you who are married, to find the time you need in your busy lives to carve out a safe place, a sharing place to deal with the real life challenges you are facing. Bless you and your husbands today. Now go make those men some chicken salad!
The Best Curry Chicken Salad (Like Ever!)
Combine Dry Ingredients
5 Chicken Breasts - cooked and chopped
(I prefer two rotisserie chickens for ease)
1 bunch green onions, sliced
2-3 granny smith apples, peeled and chopped
3 celery sticks, chopped
1 cup raisins
2 cups cashews
In a separate bowl whisk together
1 jar mango chutney (I use Trader Joe's brand)
2 tsp. curry
3/4 cup mayo
2 tsp. lemon juice
garlic salt / pepper to taste
Prepare and Serve
Allow the dressing to sit on the countertop or in the fridge for a good 30 minutes before you toss the chicken salad and serve. This allows the intense flavors to meld. Also, if serving this as a main dish, you can stir in 3 cups of cooked rice. I, however, usually serve this beside a few other salads; shown in the picture with this quinoa salad topped with avocado, and a wedge of brie to complete the plate.
You will own your dinner guests
after serving this dish!