23 Blast

23 blast

Where there is tragedy and loss, God can still give hope and abundant life. {Tweet this} I thought about that as I watched the movie, 23 Blast. It’s the true story of a boy who plays football in a small Kentucky town where game time looks like something you’d see in Friday Night Lights. The town loves football. The boy loves football. And the boy’s parents love watching him pursue his passion.

Then, in a 24-hour span, the boy, now in high school, goes blind. When I saw what his mother and father experienced, it made me think of how I felt when we learned about my daughter Emily’s illness:

When you discover your child has a life-threatening illness, you grieve for the loss of the life you envisioned for your child.  Knowing they will be bound to a schedule of medication, a body that responds differently to life, and a more high-risk future is painful to take in.

But the boy’s story doesn’t end there. He overcomes in a big way. He plays high school football — even with his blindness! After graduation, he gets his Ph.D. 

I think his parents might feel as I do, as I wrote about before

After a time, a long time, my pain eased as I witnessed my amazing child cope and develop a discipline I never imagined possible.

Take your children to see this movie. They’ll love the football action. They’ll learn about friendship and perseverance. They’ll see that where there is tragedy and loss, God can give hope and abundant life.

Posted On: October 24, 2014     cat-folder Be Encouraged 1 Comment


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Crock Pot Chicken and Rice, Potatoes and Apple Bars

Crock Pot Chicken and Rice

This week our friend Jackie Brown over at Mom on a Mission shares a few more of her simple and delicious crock pot recipes –Crock Pot Chicken and Rice, Potatoes and Apple Bars! Let’s all take a little lesson from her and make the most of our Fall days with our crock pots so we can enjoy our family. 

 Crock Pot Chicken and Rice Conversation Starters

Main Dish

There is nothing like a home cooked crock pot meal on a chilly fall evening. I know you’ll love that there is no cooking rice prior to crocking and it contains healthy broccoli, fresh or frozen, whatever you have on hand. This meal is freezer friendly, too. Freeze 2-cup cooled portions in flattened quart size freezer bags. Thaw overnight and empty the single serve meal into a microwave safe dish. Microwave at 70 percent power for three minutes and you have a home cooked meal in a flash.  – Jackie Brown

Chicken and Rice
  1. 2 cups brown rice
  2. 1 quart chicken broth
  3. 1 onion, finely diced
  4. 3-4 chicken breasts
  5. 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  6. 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  7. 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  8. 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  9. 1 cup light sour cream
  10. 2 cups sharp shredded cheddar cheese
  11. 2 cups frozen (12 to 14 oz) or fresh broccoli florets
  1. Spray crock pot with cooking spray.
  2. Pour in rice and chicken broth and onion.
  3. Lay chicken breasts on top. Sprinkle with salt, Italian seasoning and garlic powder.
  4. Cover and cook on high for 4 to 6 hours or until chicken breasts are cooked.
  5. During last crocking hour, remove chicken breasts and cut into bite-sized pieces. Add chicken back to crock as well as sour cream and cheddar cheese. Stir together and place broccoli on top.
  6. Cover and crock an additional thirty minutes to an hour until most of the liquid is absorbed, broccoli is tender and rice is done. It will further thicken as it is removed from the heat.
  1. *Cool leftovers and freeze in individual or family size servings without the mess. Thaw and reheat in the microwave for a healthy lunch.
  2. *Adjust time and temperature of your crock pot as necessary. All crock pots cook differently.
Susan Merrill http://www.susanme.com/

Side Dish

Did you know you can crock pot potatoes without water? That’s right, grab a big bag while they are on sale this fall and plan this easy side dish. Scrub the potatoes as usual and place desired number in a crock pot. I fill mine to the top, but left some wiggle room. I set the timer on high for four hours. My crock pot cooks extremely hot and my potatoes were done in about three hours. Check with a knife or fork after three hours to determine doneness. The result is a soft interior with a boiled/baked like texture. It’s so easy to scrub them and throw them in the crock pot and leave for a few hours and come home to ready-made baked potatoes. The warm setting on the crock pot will keep them ready for several hours for a party, dinner or play date. This is perfect for a potato bar with fun toppings or a grilling event.  – Jackie Brown

Crock Pot Potatoes
  1. Clean Potatoes {enough to fill your crock pot}
  1. Fill crock pot with potatoes. Crock on high up to four hours until soft and tender. Top with all your favorite toppings.
  2. Total cooking time depends on crock pot variety, potato sizes and the number of potatoes in the crock pot. You may want to baby sit your first batch to see how long it takes until they are fork tender.
Susan Merrill http://www.susanme.com/


Apple season is in full swing and there is no better time to make scrumptious apple bars. Perfectly paired with coffee or hot tea, these Applelicious Bars hit the spot on a Fall day. I’m taking advantage of seasonal apples and putting them to use in this sweet treat. It’s a moderate amount of sugar, more than I normally use, but it’s a wonderful recipe to share with friends or family, which is exactly what I did with this pan.  Don’t shy away from the steps, you can always omit the crumble topping or glaze, but they are both easy to make and make the bars sweeter and more desirable at a potluck or gathering.  – Jackie Brown

Apple Bars

Apple Bars
  1. 1/2 cup butter, room temperature or 1 stick softened for fifteen seconds in microwave
  2. 1-1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  3. 2 large eggs
  4. 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour {I use white whole wheat flour}
  5. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  6. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  7. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  8. 1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
  9. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  10. 2 cups peeled and chopped apples
Crumble Topping
  1. 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  2. 1/2 cup all-purpose flour {I use white wheat flour}
  3. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  4. 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  5. 1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, optional
Brown Sugar Glaze
  1. 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  2. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  3. 2 tablespoons water
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the dry ingredients and fold in the yogurt and vanilla. Fold in the apples. Pour into the prepared baking dish, spreading out to the edges.
  3. Topping: In a clean mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and butter, and mix with paddle attachment until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in nuts if desired. Sprinkle the topping over the cake and bake until golden brown and set, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes.
  4. Glaze: In a small bowl, combine the sugar, vanilla, and water and mix until smooth. Drizzle the cake with the glaze and let harden slightly. Cut into squares and serve warm or cold.
Susan Merrill http://www.susanme.com/
Posted On: October 23, 2014     cat-folder Sunday Suppers Leave a comment


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Mark’s Perfect Pancakes and Yogurt Parfaits

Mark's Perfect Pancakes

I think this weekend calls for a quick and easy dinner, so I’m making breakfast for dinner! My husband, Mark makes the best pancakes. In fact, the kids always called them ‘perfect pancakes’ growing up. Top these Perfect Pancakes off with anything you’d like, but my kids always enjoyed mini chocolate chips! For some protein to balance the meal out, make my version of Yogurt Parfaits. I add lemon curd and raspberry preserves in place of fresh fruit–I even make it for dessert. 

pancake conversation starters

Main Dish

Mark's Perfect Pancakes
  1. 2 cups flour
  2. 2 cups milk
  3. 2 eggs
  4. ½ cup vegetable oil
  5. 2 Tbs. sugar
  6. 3 tsp. baking power
  7. 1 tsp. salt
  8. Maple syrup
  9. Mini chocolate chips
  1. Heat griddle or skillet; grease if necessary.
  2. Mix all ingredients with electric mixer until smooth.
  3. Pour batter by 1/4 c onto hot griddle. Cook until edges are dry. Turn; cook until golden brown.
  4. Serve by immediately with butter and hot syrup. Or, pile on the mini chocolate chips!
Susan Merrill http://www.susanme.com/

Side Dish

yogurt parfait

Yogurt Parfaits
  1. Greek yogurt
  2. Lemon curd
  3. Raspberry preserves
  4. Granola or nuts
  1. Layer as little or as many of each ingredient as you would like in a bowl.
Susan Merrill http://www.susanme.com/
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Posted On: October 16, 2014     cat-folder Sunday Suppers Leave a comment


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