“No-cook” Crockpot Chili

I’m always looking for ways to make my life easier. If there are time saving steps for anything I do, I would love to find them. I love using my crockpot. It is my favorite way to make dinner for my family these days.

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I love chili. Everyone in my family eats it well, and it’s one of those one-bowl meals, which also means less clean up. Can’t go wrong with that, right?  All the crockpot recipes I found required cooking the beef first. That didn’t sound like something I wanted to do. What’s the point of making it in the crockpot if I have to cook it and use another pan first?

Then, I had an idea. What if I put the meat in the crockpot without cooking it first? How would that turn out? There was only one way to find out. I tried it!

I posted on Facebook, asking if anyone had tried doing this before. No one had.

I’m either really dumb or brilliant! My husband and kids will either have chili or Chick-fil-A tonight. (My husband joked, “or diarrhea.”)

Here are my ingredients. Everything was in a can, which some may or may not like. I try to use fresh when possible, but I’m okay with canned tomatoes and beans, too.

ingredients

I threw everything in the crockpot, starting with the meat. I figured it would help it cook faster if it was at the bottom. Then I just dumped the tomatoes, sauce, beans, and seasoning. I didn’t stir. I set it on HIGH.

An hour later, I peeked at my chili. I took a spoon to see what the meat looked like. To my surprise, it was brown! I’m not sure if it was completely done for sure, but it looked like it was close if not already. So, I gave everything a quick stir, breaking up pieces of beef as I stirred. I didn’t see pink in the meat at all. Score!

At this point, I was only one hour in, and I still had six hours before it was time for dinner. I started thinking this was going to be just fine. And it was. 🙂

I forgot to take a pic of the chili right before we ate it. This is what was left of it.

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Ian likes chili with cilantro and green onion. (I know, weird.) Here’s his bowl.

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The chili was kid and  husband approved. Ian only suggested that I use more of the seasoning next time. And our tummies are just fine today, which means the chili was completely done.

Here’s my recipe.

RECIPE:

2 lbs course ground beef for chili

2 cans diced tomatoes (I found some chili style at HEB)

1 small can tomato sauce

1 can kidney beans

1 can pinto beans

4 T quick chili mix (found this at HEB, too)

EASY INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Throw everything in a crockpot, starting with the meat at the bottom.

2. Cook on HIGH for four hours. STIR and break up meat after ONE hour.

3. Switch to LOW the last couple of hours if you’d like. (My chili was so bubbly I thought it was going to explode to I turned it down to low.)

4. That’s it!

***If you are home, give it a stir every once in a while to make sure it’s cooking evenly.

 

You’re welcome! Now you know you can make chili without cooking the meat first! One less pan to wash!

 

 

No Regrets.

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It’s amazing how the meaningless things fade away when you’re sitting in a hospital room with your dying husband. The trash he didn’t take out last week? Who cares? The parenting argument you had? Doesn’t matter. The money is in the bank? It can’t help you now.

All that matters is right now.

This. Moment. In. Time.

You are staring death in the face.

***

A few years ago, life threw my husband, Ian, and I a curve ball. Out of the blue, he was critically ill, and within hours of arriving at the hospital, approaching death. It was incredible. I had to pinch myself to be sure it wasn’t a nightmare.

Instead, it was like a sad movie. The kind of movie where you can’t help but cry for the poor wife sobbing over her dying husband’s body as the doctors tell her her there’s nothing more they can do. Say your goodbyes, they tell her. Get your preparations in order. Your heart breaks for her.

That poor wife, you think. How is she going to tell her three kids their father died? They’re all under the age of five! How is she going to make a living when he was the only provider in their family? God help her.

Then the movie’s over and you forget all about her. You’re glad it wasn’t you. Your life goes on.

Well, that wife was me. My husband was the one dying. My kids would be the ones told their father died. I was the one who had never worked worked a day since having our children. I was the poor wife from the sad movie.

Let me take you back to that hospital room for a minute. My husband is asleep with a breathing tube down his throat. The machines plugged into him are beeping constantly signaling his vital signs are not right.

Thoughts flood my mind. I wish I’d been nicer to him. Why didn’t I show him how much I love him? I should have been more interested in him. We should have spent more time together. I should have placed him above my kids. I wish he’d worked less. 

As I sat in that room next to him, I envisioned what my life would look like after his death. All I could think about were the regrets I had. I’d wasted so much of our time together worrying about petty things, and not enjoying the moments. I’d criticized him for his mistakes. It was so hard for him to please me. You didn’t help me with that, I’d say. Why do you have to work tonight? I wish you were more like so-and-so’s husband.  Ouch. Poor Ian. I was heartless.

I knew he strived for my acceptance. He probably felt like he couldn’t do anything right in my eyes.  My expectations of him were high. And yet, when he reached the mark, I raised it over and over again. He felt like he couldn’t ever reach it. I’m so sorry, Ian. You were so good. I should have told you that. Please forgive me. 

***

A wonderful unexpected turn of events happened. God answered the desperate prayers of a wife for her husband and graciously performed a miracle in Ian’s sick body! The doctors that prepared me for the worst were more stunned than I was with Ian’s miraculous recovery. (But, that’s another story for another day, friends.)

I’m so grateful my husband is still with me and our kids. Our scare a few years ago has been the best thing that’s happened to us. We don’t take one another for granted, and we definitely know where our priorities lie. I learned a valuable lesson the hard way. No more regrets for me.

We tend to be hard on our husbands.. Are our expectations realistic? Can they ever make us happy? Give your husband some slack. He’s probably doing the best he can.

And don’t wait until it’s too late to care. Tell him you love him and how much he means to you. Tell him you appreciate what he does for you and your family. Show him with your kindness and gestures as often as you can. Every day is a gift. If something unforeseen happens like it did to us, you’ll never have to worry about the what-ifs or should-haves.

No regrets.

 

(this post first appeared at lifeaswelearnit.com)

Valentine’s Day. {Throw back to when we were in the hospital 3 years ago.}

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I’m kinda cheating today. This is a REPOST from Valentine’s Day 3 years ago. But, I thought it appropriate to share today. Especially the part about Jesus being our ultimate Valentine.

 

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I am glad to be spending the day with my valentine.  I was able to go to Emma’s school for her Valentine’s Day party.  She seemed to enjoy having me there for just a little while.  Then I went home and ate lunch with my boys and helped put them down for naps.  I loved every minute!

On the way there, I was listening to the radio (KLOVE) and was reminded that God is our ultimate Valentine.  He loves us more than we could ever imagine.  He formed us in our mother’s womb and knows the number of hairs on our head and how many days we will live.  He knew that Ian and I would be going through this long before this even began.
If you do not know the love of Jesus, now is the time to get to know Him.  Today, a day when we focus on the love of those around us, know that Jesus loves you.  He loves all of us!  Gosh, where would we be without Him??  God sent his only Son to die for our sins so that we could have a relationship with Him forever!  What a loving God He is!
PRAYER REQUESTS:  Continue to pray for God to show us where we need to go.  Lifecare still does not have a room for Ian, and they don’t know when they will get one.  We are soooooo anxious to move on to our next phase of this journey.  It seems like Ian is still not ready for a rehab like RIOSA either.  So, we wait.  And wait.  God has us in a waiting room.  We are listening closely and learning to be patient and trust Him in everything.
JACK:  My sweet three year old is having some sleeping issues.  He seems to be the one most affected by this situation.  Last night when I was home, he woke up crying twice.  He wants his bedroom door to be left open, which he has never requested before.  Please pray for his little heart and soul to be comforted.  Pray that God would give him comfort and peace and that he would know how much he is loved.  Pray that the small amount of time that he sees me each day would feel like it is multiplied to much more time.
Emma and Luke:  Also pray for their little hearts.  Pray that they feel loved and that they know that this situation is only temporary and will be over soon.
**Ian loves all the details, so he wants me to share the following with you:
  • White blood cell count is now normal at 9,000!!!
  • Anemia is improving, but he will probably still be anemic for a while.  Hemotologist came in and told us that everything is happening just as expected and blood is continuing to get better.
  • He is feeling more pain in his hands and feet.  This may be a good sign.. meaning that the nerves in there are waking up!  Praise God!
  • He has had his central line removed and he is on a regular IV but it is not connected to anything.
  • He took a few steps (with help) to get to a chair in the room.  then he sat in the chair for an hour.
  • The hospitalist doc told us that Ian is starting to get boring.  🙂
  • Ian is now taking oral antibiotics instead of through IV.
  • Cardiologist does not believe that Ian will have any long term heart damage since he recovered so quickly.  He still wants Ian to take 2 heart meds for several months to strengthen his heart.
  • Ian had a dream about taking a shower a few nights ago.   He is really really looking forward to it!
We have wonderful friends!  We are so blessed by all of you!  Ian loves all the visits, so feel free to stop by and see us in room 507 anytime!
Thank you all for the encouraging cards and donations!  You have no idea how great they are and how uplifting it is know that we have such wonderful support!  Thank you to those of you who have delivered meals to our children each night for the last 3 weeks!  It was been wonderful that our kiddos have dinner each night without us having to worry about that.  Such a blessing!  You are all truly being the HANDS and FEET of Christ!!!
We are really trying to keep you all updated as much as possible.  I will continue to post information as we get it.  PLEASE pray for our little family when you think of us.  Keep knocking on God’s door for complete healing of Ian’s HANDS and FEET!
love,
denisse

life lesson: When your kid doesn’t get invited to a birthday party.

My newly turned six year old buckled himself in his seat when I picked him up. I didn’t expect to hear his words for several more years.

“So-and-so’s having a birthday party, and she didn’t invite me.”

“What?” I wanted to make sure I heard him correctly. He repeated what he said. I’d heard correctly.

My heart sank into my stomach.

“Oh, baby, I bet it’s a party for just girls. No big deal.”

“No, Mama, it’s not. She said there’s too many kids in our class. She invited some of the boys, just not me.”

Ouch.

For him.

And for me.

My first reaction was anger. Why wouldn’t he be invited to this party? And why on earth would she even tell him about it? It would be better for him if he didn’t know about this party at all. 

I was worried for him. I hope he doesn’t feel bad about himself. I hope he doesn’t think people don’t like him. Oh my goodness, maybe he’s not a good friend and the other kids don’t WANT to invite him. The head was full of these thoughts. There was silence in the car.

This is a good teaching opportunity. I can tell him that sometimes we just don’t get invited to some things. That’s okay. That’s part of life. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t like him. Maybe she just has some friends she plays with more than she plays with him. There are some friends he plays with more, right? I can help him understand. Hopefully he won’t be upset. I hope he doesn’t let it bother him..

“I told her I was mad at her,” he said. Then he grinned. By the look on his face I knew he wasn’t really mad at her. At least not anymore. I was relieved.

“It’s okay, Mama. I’m fine.”

“I’m glad you’re okay. You know, sometimes we get invited to some things, and sometimes we don’t. We just need to be thankful when we do.”

“I know,” he said. And that was the end of it.

I’m not sure if this will come up again. I will ask him about it sometime to get a better feel for how he’s dealing with being left out. My Mama heart hurts for him. And, yet, I know disappointment is part of life. Maybe this little life lesson came too early. Nonetheless, I have to help him through it. I pray that I’ll do a good job.

Dear Lord, please help me be a good Mama. I want to teach my kids to live life in a loving way, no matter what they are dealt with. And I want them to know they are loved. No matter what. But that the world does not revolve around them. Help me see situations objectively. Thanks for helping me keep my cool when I, too, was disappointed for him. Amen.

 

What would God say about the Measles vaccine?

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I NEVER share my opinion on things. EVER. I’m afraid I’ll upset people. I’d rather just keep the peace.

That being said, I think I’m a smart person.

1. I have an education.

2. I have life experiences given to me by my marriage and children.

3. I believe in God. I try to live my life with the Bible as my instruction manual, and the Holy Spirit as a trustworthy guide.

This whole measles issue breaks my heart. People are dying. And a lot of other people are mad. They are mad because the disease could have been prevented, they say. If everyone just got the vaccine, then no one would be dying of measles, they say. Others, however, who have not had the vaccine (or countless other vaccines against other diseases) stand firm in their right to refuse them. Who is right?? Why can’t we all just get along, right?

I wish it were that easy.

Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about this myself. I’m hoping that as I write this, I can form a conclusive opinion based on what God would say. I’m going to use the Bible as my guide and pray the Holy Spirit leads me to verses on this topic.

What MIGHT God say on the issue of the measles vaccine?

God tells us in Matthew 22:39:

Love your neighbor as yourself.

It is the second greatest commandment, only second to loving GOD with all your heart, soul, and mind. God wants us to show one another love. It saddens me to see people argue with one another, belittle one another’s opinions because they might have a different perspective, and bad mouth them when they, too, are God’s people created in His own image. (Another reason why I don’t get involved politically.)

Loving your neighbor as yourself implies you love YOURSELF. So God values each of us. It’s okay to love yourself and your body. This reminds me also of the verse where God tells us our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.

1Corinthians 6:19-20 says:

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

Yikes! So He wants us to love our bodies, BUT He also says our bodies are not our own. God asks us to keep our bodies pure and holy, avoiding sexual immorality among other things. What does that mean for vaccines?

There are two scenarios.

1. Should you NOT GET the vaccine because you don’t want to cause harm to your own body?

2. Should you GET the vaccine because you love your neighbor and want to protect him by having the vaccine in your body?

With the first scenario, does it make you selfish to refuse the vaccine? Some of the vaccines have a posed risk associated with them. By refusing, you would be looking out ONLY for yourself (or your child) rather than putting others first. You would actually be hurting someone else by denying them protection they could receive from you. (This is because some people who are not healthy enough cannot get the vaccine themselves. You would be their only source of protection.)

Well, what about the risk to your own body by getting the vaccine? Well, that IS a VALID concern, and a definite risk. You would have to be okay with hurting your own body for the sake of protecting your neighbor.

Here’s what I think about that. Ultimately, God has your life in His hands. After Ian’s unfortunate experience, I’ve learned that WE ARE NOT IN CONTROL OF ANYTHING. God is. God calls all things together for HIS purposes. (Romans 8:28) So, even if you refused to get the vaccine in order to protect only your own body, you could get hit by a bus tomorrow and die. Your child could choke on a chicken nugget and die. And the whole time, you refused to arm your body with a medicine that could have kept your friend from getting a deadly disease. For nothing. You tried to take matters into your own hands, BUT, God still calls all the shots.

In the second scenario, maybe to love your neighbor means to get the vaccine to protect that neighbor from disease and thus risking harm to your own body.

Phillipians 2:3-4 says:

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

God loves everyone. The story in Luke 15 of the shepherd who is willing to leave his 99 sheep to go after the 1 lost one makes me think He loves every single one of us. He values all life.

We, too, should also value all life. We should live selfless lives, taking an interest in others and intentionally seeing them as better than ourselves.

Now, I understand my conclusion on this might anger some people. Here goes.

I DO think God would want us to have the measles vaccine.

Here is a graphic that shows how vaccines have changed our world.  The graphic has data from 2007, but I don’t think there would be significant difference today.

Pre-Vaccine Era Morbidity

It is a disease that, fortunately, can be prevented. A lot of you might disagree. I’ve done my best to think of this strictly in a way that the Bible would advise. Because ultimately, my goal is to please God, not other people.