Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Very Quick and Easy Beef Stroganoff with Garlic Bread

Sometimes you just need a quick and easy one-skillet meal to serve your family on busy evenings when time is limited. This Beef Stroganoff recipe is one of my go to recipes when I have little time but I still need to fill some bellies with a decent meal. 
These ingredients are based on feeding a family of five. You can adjust the amounts to less or more depending on your needs.


Beef Mixture:
1 1/2 pounds of ground beef
2 beef buillion cubes (20 grams each)
 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups of sour cream
Black pepper
Garlic powder
Salt (if more is desired)

1 can of Mushrooms (400 grams)

Pasta of your choice


1. Brown ground beef in a skillet. Drain grease. Put beef back in to skillet. Turn heat down to a simmer.
2. Add two beef bullion cubes to the prepared beef, 
3. Pour in no more than 1/4 a cup of water and stir to dissolve the bullion cubes completely.
4. Add the can of mushrooms.
5. Stir in the sour cream.
6. Season with black pepper and garlic powder to taste. You can then determine if you need to add more salt but usually the bullion cubes add sufficient flavor.

Serve over prepared pasta.

This is great served with garlic bread!

Garlic bread

1. Turn your oven on maximum temperature and broiler mode. Move the rack closer to the top of your oven, allowing space for the bread so it will not be touching the top of the oven.
2. Soften the amount of butter necessary for the size of bread you choose in a microwave or by allowing it to sit out on your counter to soften. **The nice think about garlic bread is that it does not require fresh bread. It is even better made with bread that is a day or two old.
3. Salt the butter and mix in, depending on your preference as to the amount of salt,  if you are on a field where they do not sell salted butter or, in my case, it is more expensive to buy!
4. Spread the salted butter evenly onto the bread.
5. Salt the buttered bread lightly and evenly (it helps the bread to toast).
6. Evenly sprinkle garlic powder over the buttered bread.
7. Place on a cookie sheet and place in the oven.

Depending on your oven, you may need to watch the bread the entire time to be sure it is toasting evenly and not burning. Once it is toasted to your satisfaction, remove the cookie sheet from the oven. Cut into serving sizes and serve warm!

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Pastor's Paycheck ~ A Prayer Request

My husband has been preaching through 1 Corinthians this year, and yesterday he arrived at the first half of chapter nine in which the apostle Paul challenges the Corinthians over their lack of financial support for him. We deem this lesson crucial to our baby believers as well; yet we are reticent to preach on the topic unless it comes up naturally through the course of expositional preaching, as it did yesterday.

This passage of Scripture is crucial to a baby church plant because, as I explained to my son last night, "If we want to move on to plant other churches, we must make sure this church is strong first and able to stand on its own. And if we want this church to stand on its own, it must be able to pay its own pastor."

We are reticent to preach on this topic for two major reasons:
  • the prosperity gospel and
  • the people's poverty
The prosperity gospel has burned over much of southern Africa. False pastors, syncretistic churches, and money-making miracle crusades are everywhere in Africa--copying to the extreme the abuses they see on TBN. Every one of those pastors preaches weekly about the tithe or makes big ordeals out of the collection of the offerings and rewards big givers through promises or status symbols. The church is big business over here. In fact, so many of the other churches are like that that we and our church members  simply describe them as "money churches." Thus an obvious, major difference between our church and the prosperity churches is that we DON'T talk a lot about money.

So we feel we must avoid those topics so as to not be joined in a group we consider heretical and detrimental to the Gospel; and when we do address the giving of church members, we sometimes feel that we have to add a lot of disclaimers to enumerate the differences between what we're preaching and what they say.

Poverty is obviously another big problem. How can they be expected to support their pastors when they have barely enough to live on? Would we want to live on that much?

The issue of poverty is complicated by the centuries of vast amounts of aid Africa has received through the years. The Africans get so MUCH welfare and yet seem to feel that it's not enough. So it might not occur to them to live sacrificially and plan a budget in order to pay their pastor. After all, so many needs are met from outside them. Why would this need be met from within them?

So one of the questions Seth asked the church yesterday in his sermon was, "If a church can't support its pastor, is it sinning?" What do you think? Tough question. The answer could certainly be yes; but it could possibly be no as well, if the church were too poor to support its pastor yet tried wholeheartedly to support him more than they supported self-comforts.

There are so many other questions that can be included in this issue. For example, should our poor, small church try to support us with whatever finances they can? At first I said no, because we are church planting missionaries, which is not the same thing as a pastor. But my husband reminded me that the apostle Paul was also a missionary when he assumed the Corinthians should support him.

Please pray for your church planting missionaries around the world, because they cannot leave their churches and begin new works until the churches are selfish, meaning that they have the "Three Selfs":
  • Self-supporting
  • Self-governing
  • Self-propagating
and supporting their pastor includes two of those points. We need a change in their cultures and worldviews to allow for sacrificial giving to their pastor (and to missions). At times this seems like an impossible task indeed, but God can do what seems impossible!


Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Heart of a Quitter (Part 2)

If you haven't read it already, The Heart of a Quitter (Part 1).

Seriously. No one wants to quit. No one wants to be a quitter. But we must realize that any of us can be tempted if we don't know the warning signs and the pitfalls that lead to quitting. Even great men like Elijah gave into the temptation of quitting.


1 Kings 19:9-10 "And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there;
and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him,
What doest thou here, Elijah? And he said, I have been very jealous for the
LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant,
thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword;
and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away."

Elijah felt alone... isolated. He was feeling overwhelmed. The task was too great for him, and there was no one to help. He just knew he was the only one left. This loneliness brought him to the point of quitting.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Caramel Apple Spice (Hot Apple Cider) Starbucks Copycat Drink

Today I am posting this yummy hot cider drink recipe because it has become a favorite requested drink for our annual MK (missionary kid) Harvest Party. I originally found this recipe on Pinterest from this site when I was searching for the perfect hot apple cider recipe. This year's party became a memory last night as we all gathered together with other missionaries in the area we live in here in Siberia, Russia. I will be posting more details about that on my personal blog once all the photos have been sorted, but for now, I wanted to share this recipe with you because to me it is the best cider recipe I have ever tasted. Now, that may or may not have something to do with the fact that there is caramel involved!
This recipe also calls for brown sugar, which may not be easily available for you some of you missionary ladies around the globe, but if not, friends, there is another item to pack into a missionary care package!


1/2 Cup Water
1/3 Cup Brown sugar
1 Cinnamon stick
2 Cups Apple juice
1 Tablespoon Caramel sauce
Whipped cream


In a small pot bring water, brown sugar, and cinnamon stick to a boil.
Stir until sugar is dissolved completely. Discard cinnamon stick.
Add in apple juice and caramel sauce and stir.
Pour into glasses. Top with whipped cream and more caramel if desired.


*For the party we used hot coffee cups, but at home, my hubby and I enjoyed some cider in these cute glasses I received for Christmas the year before. It is very pretty served in clear glasses!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Laughter Is Really Serious

A long time ago when someone was interested in possibly joining our ministry here, our team compiled a list of what we thought were missionary "essentials" in order for our team to work well. If you wanted to join our team, we hoped that you would agree with these essentials and have them in your own life. Since then, I've sometimes thought of other "essentials," or at least, good-to-haves. I thought I'd share them with you when the mood strikes.

So what makes a good missionary?

One of the original points on the list was a sense of humor. We were not made to carry the gravity of the most serious task in the world without a break of merriment. Steel can only be stressed so long and so hard. Now this point does not require that you would be expected to perform extemporaneous stand-up comedian routines, but can you recognize humor and have an appropriate sense of humor?

This is actually an important issue in team ministry. What we laugh about says a lot about us. Likewise, what a culture in general finds funny communicates their worldview and character. So in a mission team, when there is only one other person or couple in your large area who understands both your home culture and your host culture, it can be extremely frustrating if the teammate laughs at things that you deem un-funny, or highly disappointing if they don't see the humor in something you find obviously hilarious. In fact, we can get very angry about what others laugh at or don't laugh at.

You won't be sorry if you read this very long quote that says this much better than I can:
...I propose to cut through it by considering one of the raw materials from which culture is built, namely laughter. All rational beings laugh--and maybe only rational beings laugh. And all rational beings benefit from laughing. As a result there has emerged a peculiar human institution--that of the joke, the repeatable performance in words or gestures that is designed as an object of laughter.
Now there is a great difficulty in saying exactly what laughter is. It is not just a sound....Nor is it just a thought, like the thought of some object as incongruous. It is a response to something, which also involves a judgment of that thing. Moreover, it is not an individual peculiarity....Laughter is an expression of amusement. Laughter begins as a collective condition, as when children giggle together over some absurdity. And in adulthood amusement remains one of the ways in which human beings enjoy each other's company, become reconciled to their differences, and accept their common lot. Laughter helps us to overcome our isolation and fortifies us against despair.
That does not mean that laughter is subjective in the sense that "anything goes," or that it is uncritical of its object. On the contrary, jokes are the object of fierce disputes, and many are dismissed as "not funny," "in bad taste," "offensive," and so on. The habit of laughing at things is not detachable from the habit of judging things to be worthy of laughter. Indeed, amusement, although a spontaneous outflow of social emotion, is also the most frequently practiced form of judgment. To laugh at something is already to judge it, and when we refrain from laughing at what someone nevertheless believes to be funny, we may thereby show our disapproval of that person's stance.
~Roger Scruton in Culture Counts, pgs. 6-7
When stressful events rain down all at once like it's trial monsoon season or it seems like your life is an all-too-frequent example of Murphy's Law (we had nine machines break in a short period of time one year--car, fridge, stove blew up, etc.), sometimes you have to crack a sarcastic joke about it.
When you're going nuts because of some element of the host culture that you're not used to or even think is rude, sometimes it is cathartic to laugh with your teammates until the tears come to your eyes at the unexpectedness of this or that happening. Just keeps you sane sometimes and helps to release the anger or bitterness that shouldn't be there.

Those are examples of how you might laugh at events out of your control, such as elements of your host culture. But being able to laugh at yourself is perhaps even more important. Isn't that really an element of humility? To be able to laugh at yourself when you make a language mistake or harmless cultural gaffe or have a most embarrassing moment on furlough, etc., is very important as well. Be humble, and laugh at yourself.
I was embarrassed to see this proof of my failure to tie my baby to my back African style that my teammates took of me while I was keeping score at a Bible Quiz tournament. But it WAS funny!
I was embarrassed to see this proof of my failure to tie my baby to my back African style that my teammates took of me while I was keeping score at a Bible Quiz tournament. But it WAS funny!
Seth has tried before to pin down what people may universally find funny, and he came up with this: "Connecting two things in an unexpected way." You weren't expecting those two ideas to be put together like that. Let me give you one example recently that our team found funny in our host culture because it was unexpected. There is danger in giving examples because someone may miss my main point in shooting down the example, but here goes:

Recently our team laughed until there were tears in our eyes over someone's account and imitation of a song blared at his house. Here is an event that frustrated the missionary couple: neighbors 20 meters away put up 4-foot high speakers and blared an inane, offensive song so loudly in the direction of their house that the speakers went staticky; and this continued for hours, including the kids' naptimes. (I'm sure this is a common issue for missionaries, not only in Africa.) Now, this is actually a very frustrating occurrence, and we began by expressing our sympathy for them. The funny part was when the narrator told us, and then imitated, what was in the song: belching.

Completely unexpected. Songs and belching don't go together. Add to that volume. These Africans liked this music so much, they wanted it to be heard loudly by everyone! Who produces this music??? It's just...funny.

Now some people at this point may object. "You're judging their culture. You're laughing at them!" Our politically correct culture doesn't like to laugh at other people's cultures. But as that quote above begins to express, we are making judgments all the time in what we laugh at. Every culture does this. Some things shouldn't or can't be laughed about. For example, when someone is hurt or when something is sinful, we shouldn't laugh at those things. Some people have a cutting sense of humor that only makes fun of others in a belittling or demeaning way. That's inappropriate. But some things can and should be laughed at.

And that brings me to the next objection: "Are you saying someone shouldn't be a missionary if they don't have a sense of humor? What if they just don't have the same sense of humor as you?" Exactly. This is the issue.

It isn't enough to say that the teammate must have a sense of humor. Even though we may judge another person with the statement, "He doesn't have a sense of humor," what we mean is, "He doesn't appreciate my sense of humor." Or "I don't appreciate his sense of humor." So that is the key. Can that teammate laugh at things that you deem important to laugh at? Can she laugh at herself? Can you laugh together over similar things without one squirming with discomfort or another blankly staring in misunderstanding?

Remember that excellent quote above: "And in adulthood amusement remains one of the ways in which human beings enjoy each other's company, become reconciled to their differences, and accept their common lot. Laughter helps us to overcome our isolation and fortifies us against despair."

Yes, some things shouldn't be laughed at. But on the other hand, "a merry heart doeth good like a medicine."