27 February 2014

The Red "X"


…slavery still exists?

…there are 27 million people worldwide who are trapped in modern-day slavery?

…the average age of trafficking victims is 12 years old?

…every 30 seconds another person becomes a victim?

…99% of victims are never rescued?

These people are being exploited for manual and sexual labor against their will.

On street corners.
In brothels.
In factories.
In mines.
In homes.

In the shadows, hidden.
In broad daylight, in plain sight.

Across the globe.
Here.  In America.

I am standing for these men, women, and children.
I am raising my voice.
I am using my influence.
I am praying for justice.
I am fighting for freedom.
I am shining a light on slavery.


Partner with one or more of these organizations 
that are committed to ending global slavery:

You don't have to give money.  Just give your voice.

There are 7 BILLION people 
who can fight for freedom!

I'm in it to end it.

Are you?

21 February 2014

Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff

Last night, Drew requested one of his favorite meals:  beef stroganoff.  I make this dish a lot in the winter, but it's so good that it works for balmy Houston-February days, too!  It's not gluten- or dairy-free (and obviously not vegetarian), but if you aren't under dietary constraints, and you like beef and mushrooms, give it a try!

I realize that I've blogged this recipe before, but it's so yummy that I thought it deserved a re-share. ;) Also, don't judge the fact that I'm reusing the pictures from the 2011 post!

I should warn y'all, though.  This dish is not one of my kids' favorites.  They love the sauce, the mushrooms, and the rice, they just aren't too keen on the beef.  (I know, what kids like mushrooms?!)  Anyway, maybe it'll be a hit in your house!

Cut your meat into chunks and dump it in the crock pot.
I'm lazy and like to use the pre-cut stewing meat!

Mix flour, garlic powder, paprika, and pepper in a small bowl.

Dump it over the meat in the crock pot.

Now here's the fun part:  coating the meat in the flour mixture!  
I just use my fingers to toss everything, but feel free to use some sort of utensil. ;)

Next, combine onion soup mix, cream of mushroom soup, and some water in a bowl.  

Pour it over the beef and add the mushrooms, stirring to combine.

Set your crockpot timer (or kitchen timer) for 3.5 hours on high or 6-7 hours on low.  
Then sit back, relax, and wait!  
(I always cook it on high because I usually make it during nap time.)

About 15 minutes before the stroganoff is done, add the sour cream.  
It'll turn into this creamy beefy color.  Yum!  
(I always like to sample it a little here, too... just to make sure it turned out!)

Serve it over rice and sprinkle with fresh parsley (which I forgot).
Our favorite side is roasted asparagus or roasted broccoli, but we've also done a salad!

(You can also serve it over egg noodles or quinoa -- we've tried it all!)

Beef Stroganoff Recipe
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 3/4 pounds boneless beef steak (or stew meat)
10 3/4 ounce can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup water
1 envelope onion soup mix
1 package of mushrooms, washed
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley (optional) 
1.  Combine flour, garlic powder, pepper, and paprika in a small bowl.
2.  Cut meat into strips (or use stew meat).  Place in slow cooker and toss in flour mixture.
3.  Combine mushroom soup, water, and onion soup mix in a small bowl.  Stir until well blended.  Pour over meat.
4.  Add mushrooms and toss until mixed.
5.  Cover and cook on High 3-3.5 hours or Low 6-7 hours.
6.  Stir in sour cream and parsley.  Cook on high 10-15 minutes.
7.  Serve over rice, egg noodles, or quinoa.

03 February 2014

Tebow, the Broncos, and Karma -- What I Really Think

Dear Readers,  I don't usually take on topics that could be perceived as controversial.  I try to stay away from issues that are known to spark debate, instead focusing on me, my family, and what God is doing for us.  I believe that's what this blog is for.  But I have something weighing on me that needs to be said.  And, while I feel this topic isn't really "controversial," it is one that might create discord and I am prepared for that.  To any new readers, please know that this kind of post is outside the normal scope of this blog.  I just want to be up front about that.  Thanks for reading.

Last night, after crawling into bed after a dissatisfying Super Bowl game (I'll let you guess who I went for), I opened up my Facebook app to see what the world was saying.  

It was mostly things like, 
"I skipped Downton Abbey for this?!"
That's what I'm saying!
"The best part of the Super Bowl… #jackisback" 
Amen and hallelujah.
"God punished the Broncos for cutting Tim Tebow."
…………………. wait, WHAT?

I don't know if people were joking or not, but it seriously shocked me.  Allowing a certain team to suffer an embarrassing loss in the biggest game of the year just for cutting a certain player?  How could anyone consider that that's even in God's nature?

I'm not trying to single anyone out here; I honestly don't remember who wrote those updates and I don't pretend know the heart behind them.  For all I know, they may have been joking.  If you wrote something along these lines, please don't hear judgment from me.  That's not my heart.  I just don't agree with this sentiment and I wanted to share my reasons why.  If you were saying it in jest, you have my permission to ignore the rest of the post. :)

1.  God is not some big karma-doling Being who spends His time determining who should be punished and how.  Our blessings do not correlate to our behavior.  Jesus said, "For He makes His sun shine on good and bad people alike, and He sends rain to the righteous and the unrighteous alike" (Matthew 5:45 CJB).  God doesn't withhold blessings from the wicked.*  Otherwise how would the wicked ever come to know Him?  I'm not saying the Broncos are wicked.  They are a team made up of people, some of whom I'm sure are believers and some of whom are not.  But that's not the point.  The point is that God isn't punitive, y'all.  If He was, none of us would be standing right now.  I know I wouldn't, anyway.

* Obviously there is a difference in blessings and favor, guys.  I'm not discounting the fact that there is real hand-of-God favor on the lives of all who have chosen to believe in Jesus.  I'm just saying there are certain blessings that are just a part of life.  You win some, you lose some.  Football is football.  Please, let's not make it all religious. :)

2.  This attitude is essentially saying that God favors Tebow over every other football player in Denver.  Combined.  I don't believe my God is capable of that kind of favoritism.  And I don't want to.  I want to believe in a God who loves everyone equally, roots for everyone equally, is just as happy to see Peyton Manning succeed as Tim Tebow or Russell Wilson.  And I do.  I think God was happy to see Wilson lead his team to victory.  I also think that He mourned with Manning and the Broncos.  (I obviously also like to believe in a God who enjoys football.)  And, of course, I sincerely believe that He has plans and a future for Tim Tebow.  Which brings me to my next point…

3.  I can't agree with the belief that Tebow was cut by accident, that God turned His head for a moment and looked back to see -- "OOPS.  I didn't mean for that to happen."  Y'all.  Seriously.  Nothing happens by accident.  Maybe God has bigger plans than for Tim to play football.  Maybe his short football career was a temporary platform for him.  Maybe it was just a way for him to get the nation's attention, for him to publicly challenge people to unashamed faith, for him to communicate his message of life and love and hope.  And maybe Tim will end up playing again.  I don't know.  But I know the Lord is sovereign.  Who am I to question what He does with my life, much less someone else's?

4.  This statement is just poor logic.  If one follows it through, it's basically saying that if the Broncos had retained Tim Tebow as their starting quarterback, they wouldn't have been punished.  In fact, they would have won.  I mean, guys.  Really?  Let's rewind a couple seasons.  AFC Championship 2012.  Denver vs. New England.  Tebow had his chance.  And you know what?  He didn't win.  In fact, the point difference in that game was the same as yesterday's Super Bowl.  Denver lost both games by a whopping 35 points.  Was Denver being punished that year?  If so, for what?  It's just not logical.

I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything.  I just wanted to share a different perspective on something I saw repeated on Facebook and I felt like a status update wasn't the place for it.  No one has to agree with me.  But if anyone else was confused and/or shocked by statements similar to these, please know you were not alone. :)

Comments welcome.  You don't have to agree with me.  I'd love to hear what people think.