Set your affairs in order – you don’t know what tomorrow brings.

Set your affairs in order (cookies and coffee and spurs by the fire)

About 2 weeks ago, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Yes, that was a complete shock, and it took me a bit to process the news! The initial words were very scary –  God has given us a natural fear of pain and death, that is His way of helping to protect us. But thankfully, the dr’s believe this tumor is benign, although they won’t know for sure until after surgery.

In the following days, someone was talking to me and mentioned setting my affairs in order. But here’s the thing; I don’t need to set my affairs in order. Practically speaking yes, I would need to write down how I do things, when bills are due, etc, so the household could run smoothly without me. (except that I am not dying, by the grace of God! I should live many years yet! 😉 ) But, I had the distinct feeling that this person was encouraging me to set things right between me and others, maybe between me and God?

Set your affairs in order (snowstorm blizzard horse)

Let me tell you, if you are living your life with unresolved issues, you should not wait till you get a brain tumor diagnosis to set your affairs in order! For the past 20 years, I have lived with a clear conscience. I have sinned against God and my fellowman many times, sadly, but I have always repented and asked forgiveness when I realized what I was doing. (Sometimes people won’t forgive me, but that is not my problem. I can only do my part and hope they can one day forgive.)

But I have never allowed bitterness, jealousy, anger, or any such thing stay in my heart. As soon as I recognize some little bad attitude or sin in myself, I repent. I confess it to God, and if I have hurt others – to them as well. (if I have hurt you and haven’t apologized, it’s because I don’t realize I have hurt you. Come tell me.) Since I was 16 years old, my aim has been to keep a clear conscience, and a clean slate. I want nothing to stand between my God and me.

I have strayed into discouragement, at times. Sometimes I have struggled with doubt. Many, many times I have sinned with my mouth. And the closer I get to Jesus and the light of His Word – the more impurities I see in myself. But I walk in the light I have been given. Each day I wake up with no guilt, no shame, set free indeed by the redeeming power of Christ!

Set your affairs in order (log house)

Why wait till you are facing death? That is a terrible life – living with guilt and hidden bitterness. And you probably won’t have a preparation time to set your affairs in order. You may be gone in the blink of an eye – car wreck, heart attack, gunshot… who knows? NOW is the time to set your affairs in order. Get right with God, repent of your sins, confess your faults to those you have wronged, ask forgiveness.

Most importantly, don’t allow things in your life that you don’t want there when you are facing God Almighty. Keep a clear conscience, repent of sin as soon as your realize you have sinned. Apologize to those you’ve hurt.

Set your affairs in order today - you don't know what tomorrow brings. Click To Tweet

I am not dying, but if the diagnosis were different – if they told me I have 2 months to live – I would not feel differently. Yes, I would want to spend more time with family, maybe do some things we put off for too long, like go to Hawaii or Yellowstone. :) But setting my affair in order? Nope. My affairs have been in order for many years.

Set your affairs in order (cowboy sillouette)

Note on my tumor diagnosis:
Maybe you stumbled on this post because you too, have been diagnosed with a brain tumor. If so, consider yourself hugged! It is not a fun diagnosis.
I have a Cerebellopontine angle (CPA) tumor, a meningioma. These are generally benign. Less than 10% are cancerous. You can read more on brain tumors here: Meningioma brain tumors.

May God give you much grace and peace,

Kay (A Ranch Mom)

Pizza Tater Tot Casserole Recipe

I have never cared for tater tot casserole. (my mom taught me to say I don’t care for something, rather than I hate it. 😉 ) But somewhere in the early years of our marriage, I found this recipe for pizza tater tot casserole, and I liked it! No cream of mushroom soup – just ground beef, pizza sauce and other pizza toppings, covered with cheese and tater tots!

Pizza tater tot casserole recipe. Easy, simple, good recipe for teens and kids to make!

Super easy and fast, this is a great recipe to keep in your file for those days when you just don’t know what else to make with ground beef again! 😀  It is also easy for teens to make. I am in the stage of life where I want lots of simple recipes that my older kids can make.

Pizza Tater Tot recipe, easy and delicious, different!Brown the ground beef, drain. Add pizza sauce, green pepper, pepperoni, (and mushrooms, if desired). Stir together and place in a 9×13 pan, or 2 quart casserole dish. I used a 12″ cast iron skillet. Sprinkle with 2 cups shredded cheese, and top with tater tots. (frozen is fine) Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or till tater tots are heated through, and cheese is melted. Serve with a salad and bread.

Pizza tater tot casserole recipe


Pizza tater tot casserole recipe

I am always on the look out for new, but still simple, beef recipes! This pizza tater tot casserole fits the bill perfectly. I like to keep a bag of tots in my freezer for this quick meal. You know how it is – you are planning to serve leftovers, when you get the call at 11 am that there’s half a dozen hungry cowboys to feed, instead of one! 😀

Don’t tell anyone, but I kind of like those last minute surprises! I am less stressed because I know they weren’t expecting anything. So, I pull out anything I can find, and they like it just fine!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Pizza Tater Tot Casserole Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: main dish
Serves: 8 servings
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 (24 oz) can pizza/pasta sauce or about 2.5 cups
  • 1 cup pepperoni, cut in half
  • ½ green pepper, diced (optional)
  • ½ cup mushrooms, chopped (optional)
  • 2 cups shredded cheese, cheddar or pizza blend
  • 1 bag frozen tater tots
  1. Brown the ground beef, drain.
  2. Add green pepper, mushrooms, pepperoni, and pizza sauce, stir.
  3. Spread in a 9x13 pan
  4. Sprinkle cheese over the meat mixture.
  5. Top with tater tots.
  6. Bake, uncovered, at 350* for 30 minutes or till heated through.



Why the world needs more stay at home moms.

I thought I would share some January photos from around the ranch. It has been a lot milder winter than last year – so far! We haven’t had as many big blizzards, or the snowfall that we had last year. Hopefully we will get more snow. (wait, hold the phone!!  did I just say that?! I must be turning into a real-deal ranchwife! More worried about grass than warmth. 😉 )

Anyways. Nothing too exciting going on around here. My husband feeds hay to the cows every day, and works on other projects around the ranch. Some days he goes to one of the other places to help work cows. (three ranches under the same corp) He has been working on some leather projects on the side. Gun leather, chaps, etc.

cows on a ranch under cloudy skies

I stay quite busy with all my projects. Helping the kids with school, cooking, housework, blogging, etc. Again, nothing too spectacular…

Or that’s what society would have us believe. But what I must remember, is underneath the sometimes boring exterior, there is a bigger purpose.

Our kids, our men, our communities need moms who work at home.

Moms who fry the eggs, scour the pans, teach kids how to clean up when they miss the toilet. We need moms who care more about their kids’ souls than their kids’ bank accounts. Who care more about serving their husband, than serving the idol of Self.

She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.  Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.  Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.  Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. (Proverbs 31:27-30)

The world needs moms who stay home -- gray horse on winter prairie

Our communities need moms who stay home.

Our communities need moms who raise kids to be decent human beings. Kids who help the weak and elderly. Kids who shut up and listen when wisdom and age speaks. Kids who are strong when they are standing up against wrong, but humble enough to take correction.

Our communities need moms who do that.

Our COUNTRY needs moms to stay home. To stay home and soothe a foster child, because that’s what communities do. We  jump in when there’s a need. Our country needs moms who raise leaders who have integrity. Leaders who watched their mom and dad lead the family with grace and humility.

(Can I get an amen on needing leaders with humility?!?!?)

“To be a mother is by no means second class. Men may have the authority in the home, but the women have the influence. The mother, more than the father, is the one who molds and shapes those little lives from day one.”  ~ John MacArthur

Our country needs moms who stay home -- icy river water

Our churches need moms to stay home.

We need moms who are there when we are sick. There to stir up a pot of chicken noodle soup and run to the store for Nyquil. We need moms who have weathered the storms of parenting and can teach the younger women how to do it too. (Without losing our ever-loving minds.)

We need moms who stay home and create a loving, peaceful home, so the younger wives can look on and learn. Our churches need moms to stay home and be ready with a casserole when someone dies. To have time to prepare a Sunday School lesson that speaks straight to the child’s heart. To have time to listen to a struggling sister. To invite the strangers into our homes.

Our country needs moms who stay home -- barn down snowy lane

Children need moms who stay home.

Moms who are there when they wake kinda grumpy from their nap, and need a snuggle on the rocking chair. Children need moms who teach them to cook, tuck them in at night, and laugh at their silly jokes.

Children need moms who are there every morning when they get up. Moms who sacrifice a few years to love and train their kids. Moms who play Memory with them and set up impromptu picnics in the backyard. Moms to teach them how to make a bed, wash their clothes, clean up after themselves, and eat proper meals. Moms who are not exhausted and stressed from their day jobs, but who can be relaxed and gentle.

Moms who stay home --haybale in field by mountain

Children need moms who are far more concerned with God’s opinion of them, than society’ opinion.

When will we stop marching to the tune of Hollywood and Women’s Day, and start opening our Bibles?

Let’s read what Scripture says, first of all. Let’s look at the Godly examples of women of the faith whose children ‘turned out’ to be passionate about Christ.

Moms who stay home -- mountain top covered in snow


“Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,  to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” Titus 2:3-5


“When Eve was brought unto Adam, he became filled with the Holy Spirit, and gave her the most sanctified, the most glorious of appellations. He called her Eva, that is to say, the Mother of All. He did not style her wife, but simply mother, mother of all living creatures. In this consists the glory and the most precious ornament of woman.”  – Martin Luther


Moms at home -- mountain barn

“Only God Himself fully appreciates the influence of a Christian mother in the molding of character in her children.”  – Billy Graham

Are there exceptions? Of course. There are times and reasons that make it necessary for a mom of littles to go to work. In those cases, God gives the grace to cover the children.

Scripture doesn’t forbid mothers from working, so it is not sinful. But can you argue the idea, that it’s as beneficial for kids to be raised by daycare workers, or even loving Grandmas, than by their own mother?

I personally have seen what happened when my mother had to work. The home life took a hit! I remember wishing SO BADLY that my mom could just be at home. (at age 12)
I have also seen young men who grew up without a mother in the home. They had certainly missed that loving training of responsibility and diligence that a mom teaches her sons.

I think we can agree that moms are just ideal for caring for their own offspring!  Why then, the need to work?

Financial necessity at times. Personal goals. Perhaps boredom with repetitious household duties.

I can understand these reasonings. But I stand my ground that kids – especially young kids – need their mamas.

I don’t know your reasons for leaving your kids. I am not trying to guilt trip anyone! But I am saying: “Consider the good, consider the immense good that comes from a few long, hard years as a stay at home mom!” 

This is what I remind myself of, when I have boring or hard days at home. It’s like exercising: small daily acts add up to a huge reward.

But you have to do the daily, monotonous tasks to get there. You cannot take a pill to get fit, you cannot buy a program good enough to replace a mother’s presence.

Moms who stay home -- mountain and clouds

Stay warm and walk with Jesus.


10 New Year’s Resolutions For Christians.

10 New Years’ Resolutions for Christians.

I have been on and off about New Year’s Resolutions – first I said no. I mean, why bother when we can’t even keep them. Silly. 😉

But then I discovered how much fun it is to sit down and make a plan or set a goal, and so I have made some New year’s Resolutions the past few years. I haven’t kept them all, but I don’t regret setting them. It’s like a quote I once read:

“Shoot for the moon and you will land among stars.” -Unknown

Last year I resolved to learn to rope. I didn’t do well at that, but I did learn to ride a lot better! I need more hours in the saddle before I am ready to handle a rope, too. And it was fun! This year – well, I have some goals and plans, but the most important one is not a cut-and-dried goal…

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My New Year’s Resolution is to be more present with my kids, make memories with them! To spend more time with my husband in his work. (we both enjoy that!) And to be more fully engaged with local Christians – fellowshipping, meeting, caring, spending time together. I hate how life has a way of just slipping along and before you know it, the year is gone and who did I actually take time to sit down and care about?! I want to change that.

10 New Year's Resolutions for Christians in 2018

On that note, I was thinking about New Year’s Resolutions that all Christians should make. It might make a good study for the month of January. Take 3 days on each point, study what God has to say on the subject. My words can be wrong – but God’s Word is never wrong! The Bible is always 100% relevant, applicable, and useful for our present situation.

10 New Year's Resolutions for Christians. #newyearsresolutions Click To Tweet

Be a peacemaker. 
Matthew 5:9 It is so easy to get worked up about things; people who wrong us, family drama, church drama, etc. But resolve to be the one who brings peace. Don’t spread the rumors, don’t listen to the stories, don’t join the clique. Be the one who initiates peace and unity.

Only do things that are pleasing to God.  John 8:30  Jesus made the statement that he only does those things that please the Father. He is our Older Brother and our perfect example – so we too, should only do the things that please our Father. We are not saved and justified just so we can do whatever we like – our salvation comes at a great price! Therefore, Paul tells us, you are not your own. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Always do the work of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:57-58 This old broken world makes it seem pointless to do good works. But it is not pointless. We need to keep on working, keep standing steady on God’s Word. Nothing done for Christ is lost.

Triumph in Christ.  2 Corinthians 2:13 This is only possible by the power of God’s Spirit within you. To triumph over depression, bad moods, grumpy attitudes, jealousy, selfishness – this is a bigger miracle than healing from sickness! Ask God to fill you with His Spirit, and walk in obedience and humility, and you will begin to triumph in Christ!

Die to self every day.2 Corinthians 4:9-11 This is the secret to victory over sin. To die to self; all MY desires, MY will, MY plans – and offer myself as a sacrifice to God, daily. Dying to my need to be right, dying to my need to be respected, dying to my need for comfort… dying to ME daily. This is what ‘taking up my cross’ means. It’s not some woo-woo theory – it is painful, daily, death to self and all my flesh desires. Wanting to get back at someone who has hurt me, wanting to profit at someone else’s expense, thinking only of my own interests – these selfish desires and habits need to die, so I can be transformed to the image of Jesus Christ.

Walk by faith2 Corinthians 5:5-7 Faith that God’s Word is true. Faith that He will fulfill His Word. Faith that God will take care of me, also faith that He will punish sinners – like He said. Faith that He will guide me every day. Faith that if I live a life fully given to God, and walk by the power of the Spirit – everything I do will be rewarded by God. Maybe not in this life – maybe not physically – but rewards of an eternal nature.

Always be rejoicing in the Lord. 2 Corinthians 6:9-11  Life is often hard. Painful. Unexpected trials. But when we have the assurance of God’s love, we can rejoice in the midst of our trials, because we know that God uses everything in our lives to draw us closer to Him, and form us into the image of Christ. If we have this faith in our hearts, we can be like the apostles who sang hymns at midnight when they were in jail. Acts 16:25

10 New Year's Resolutions for Christians in 2018

Give thanks for everything. Ephesians 5:19-21 Again – we don’t feel like giving thanks in every circumstance! But here we can go back to giving our bodies as a living sacrifice; giving thanks whether we feel thankful or not! It doesn’t say: “give thanks of you feel thankful”, no, we need to give thanks – period. End of story. It is a command, and this is where we need to obey in faith. If you start giving thanks regularly, I bet you will start to have more peace in tough circumstances. It just works that way!

Let Christ be exalted in my body. Philippians 1:19-21 We like to sing about giving it all for Jesus’, but when it comes to our body and what we do with it – there we take a step backwards. We want to do things we want to do. We have freedom, right? But here’s the thing – when Jesus Christ redeemed us from the curse of death, he paid an immense price! So we should not take that lightly. Our eating habits, manner of dress, how we care for our bodies – these things all need to be surrendered to jesus and His Lordship. I want my body to glorify Him this year.

Be humble 1 Peter 5:5 Humility is such a tricky thing, isn’t it? The thing I like to remind myself of, is that other people’s opinion is worthless to me. Only what God thinks of me, matters! Whether others think we are good, or whether they think we are bad – throw it into the trash! I only consider whether God is pleased with me.

“Do not desire to be the principal man in the church. Be lowly. Be humble. The best man in the church is the man who is willing to be a doormat for all to wipe their boots on, the brother who does not mind what happens to him at all, so long as God is glorified.”  Charles Spurgeon

I hope this list of New Year’s resolutions for Christians has prodded your mind to think of what is truly important, what needs to come first in our lives. It surely has given me a lot to think about, as I looked up verses and reflected on these things. May God bless your new year, and may your life reflect His, in every way.

10 New Year's Resolutions for Christians in 2018

7 Christmas Gifts Every Ranch Mom Wants This Year.

This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission if you click on them. 

Christmas is such a sweet, fun time with family, food, and gifts. Maybe you are the kind who shops for Christmas gifts in July, or maybe you wait till Dec 23. I am more of a procrastinator – but my dread of joining the shopping-crowds forces me to get it done before Christmas week! 😀

7 Christmas gifts every ranch mom wants this year! Christmas gifts for women. #giftguide

Living on a ranch has its own challenges at gift-buying time. You may only get to town 1-2 times in December, and if you forget a gift… well, let’s just say Amazon is your new best friend! Especially for folks who hate shopping! My husband has bought gifts for me and used the Amazon gift wrap option, so the gift comes already wrapped and I just stick it under the tree.

I think men are hard to buy gifts for – but they claim we are difficult, too. 😉 So for all the men who don’t know what to buy their ladies; here is a list of gifts your wife will be happy to receive!

1. Instant-Pot. This is truly a one-pot wonder, and judging by the number of times it is mentioned online and word-of-mouth, it is hugely popular right now. Ranch wife or not – just about any woman would enjoy this gift. I was reading recently how great pressure cookers are for those of us living at high altitudes. I know many ranches are high altitude. I think one day I would like to try an Insta-Pot. Click here to check it out.

2. Automatic chicken door opener. You guys, I’m not even kidding! I would totally love this gift. 😀 Maybe my kids would love it more than I would, since they are the ones who have the chore of shutting the door. I mean, all it takes is one night when you forget to shut that coop door, and bam! A varmint gets all your precious egg-layers! So yes. Your ranch wife will love you for this gift. Click here to get a door opener.

3. Muck Boots. The best invention for farm and ranch chores! Any ranch wife who lives where the winter gets cold – needs these boots. They are warm, easy to wear, comfy, and stylish to boot! (see what I did there?! 😉 ) I wear mine every single day from October to April, and sometimes more! If your ranch mom friend has a pair already – no worries! She will always use another pair. 😉  Click here to see all the pretty colors!

4. Leatherman Micra. This sweet little multi-tool is so practical! I guess by now you can see that I like practical gfts, right?! Haha! Well, I do! My husband gave me a little tool similar to this, and I packed it everywhere. I kept it in my purse, and used it all the time. With 4 kids, we were always opening a plastic package, cutting food in half, snipping things… we used it so often. Sadly, I forgot it was in my carry-on at an airport once, and had it confiscated. :( Some of the great tools included are: scissors, knife, flat/Phillips screwdriver, bottle opener, nail cleaner, tweezers, nail file, and more. What great Christmas gifts these would make! The Leatherman brand is quality stuff, too. Check it out here!

5. Stormy Kromer hat. You should hear all the compliments I receive on my Stormy Kromer® Hat! Just about every time I go out, someone says: “I like your hat!” or “What a  cute hat!” Well, I think it’s cute too, but more than that – it’s warm! Made right here in the USA; every hat you buy is helping American economy. They also have other great products, like jackets, coats, scarves, and handbags. I have their mittens and LOVE them! (so does the rest of my family – sometimes I have to fight for them!) I have a coupon code for Stormy Kromer – you can get 20% off your first order! So go ahead and stock up because this code is only good once. 😉 Go here to see my favorite hat, and use code RBA72Z42887Y17 

7 Christmas gifts for every ranch mom!

6. Quality Knives. I wrote a blog post featuring these knives, recently. I have been loving them! I knew I needed some good quality knives, but I kept putting it off. I mean, I am the queen of thrift! But my  husband has been good at helping me see how quality pays for itself over time. It’s true – when I buy a good quality product, I rarely regret it. And these knives have been a great example of that. I use them all the time, and love them! Go to Southern Kitchen and search for Cangshan TC Series knife set. They have many other cool products to choose from, as well.

7 Christmas gifts for every ranch mom!

7. Memory Foam Slippers. My sister recently gifted me some slippers very similar to these, and I wear them all the time. They are so cozy and warm! Like many ranch moms, I live in a place that gets cold. We have chilly mornings and cold drafts. I love tucking my toes into these soft slippers first thing in the morning. They also have a hard outer sole, so I can dash outside to start my vehicle or grab some firewood without changing to shoes. 😉 Yes, I am sort of lazy like that! They have soft, luxurious memory foam inner soles that are very comfy. You can check them out on Amazon.

Bonus Gift Idea: Call a local housecleaner and gift your ranch wife/friend a couple weeks of house cleaning service! Talk about a gift to remember! 😀

7 Christmas gifts every ranch mom wants this year. Click To Tweet

What Christmas gifts would YOU love to get, this year? Comment and let us know! Personally, I would love an order of two dozen baby chicks. 😉

The Gift of Beauty.

Beauty is a gift from God. God uses beauty to soothe our souls from a sin-weary world.

The sun was setting in a cold February sky, sinking behind massive cloud banks to the southwest. The clouds were shades of blue and purple, surrounded with pink and gold and crimson. I turned and gazed at them as I rode along, my hands freezing cold inside the thin jersey gloves, my face icy in the wind.

It was my 14th birthday, and I was spending it in a dreary Midwestern winter, where the damp cold seeped into your very bones. I went to school in the morning, and there was singing and good wishes. But, as soon as I got home, I had to change into work clothes, saddle up my horse, and ride 3 miles to my dad’s sawmill to help him cut lumber.

I hated that sawmill, and never more than in cold weather. I was glad I had a horse to ride, (my begging had finally paid off) but the cold was just going clean through me, till I reached the sawmill.

Beauty is a gift from God. God uses beauty to soothe our souls from a sin-weary world.

The sawmill.

Several hours later, we had finished that load of pallet lumber and I climbed back on my horse and headed for home. As the sun set, those blue clouds looked for all the world like a mountain range off in the distance. I gazed at them, soaking in their beauty, thanking God for such a wonderful gift on my birthday! Beauty is a gift from God. God uses beauty to soothe our souls from a sin-weary world.

We were poor, and my birthday always fell in the winter when finances were especially tight. This year, mom either forgot about my birthday, or couldn’t squeeze any extra gift money out of her budget.

Anyway, she had a small pair of new sewing scissors that she’d bought for herself, but she wrapped them and gave them to me. I hated sewing, it gave me hot prickles on my neck! But I knew she wanted to give me something, and I appreciated the effort. I knew we couldn’t afford nice gifts. I used those scissors for over a decade, and thought of mom every time I snipped thread. :)

So, after a somewhat dreary birthday – this stunningly gorgeous sunset was a feast to my eyes. God knew I loved mountains! He understood my heart! He knew I wanted to live out West, and He ‘gave me’ some mountains on my birthday! I felt His love and kindness and understanding for me. I felt it deep in my soul. He cared about me! I rode the final mile in near-darkness, but the memory of that sunset has stuck with me for over 20 years.Beauty is a gift from God. God uses beauty to soothe our souls from a sin-weary world.

As a child, I felt misunderstood. I got angry because I felt like I couldn’t be heard. As I grew older, I tried explaining myself,  but that didn’t help. I didn’t know how to communicate what I was feeling, without getting into trouble. It was very frustrating, and I lashed out in anger because of it. But there were times when I caught a glimpse of how God understood me. He understood my longings, my fears, my deepest desires. He understood how much I wanted to please Him, how much I wanted to be ‘good’, how I hated myself for my failures. No one else understood me – but God did.

Many times this glimpse of the Father’s heart came through beauty. Beautiful scenes, beautiful pictures, beautiful words, beautiful music. It was like He gave these lovely treasures – memories – that I could carry in my heart forever. I still can get teary about a beautiful piece of music, picture, or story. Beauty is a gift from God. God uses beauty to soothe our souls from a sin-weary world.

This world is so broken, so ugly and messed up from sin. But God – our Father – He still loves beauty. He gives us these gorgeous gifts freely to enjoy. I encourage you to start noticing beauty. To begin accepting it as a gift from a loving Father.

God uses beauty to soothe our souls from a sin-weary world. Click To Tweet

God knows what kind of beauty your heart craves. Is it the sight of a perfectly conditioned cow? The gentle ripples in a pond? The mesmerizing flicker of a campfire, or the iridescent sheen on a trout? Does a soaring hawk give your soul wings? Does the sound of a harmonizing chorus make your heart want to burst?

Beauty is a gift from God. God uses beauty to soothe our souls from a sin-weary world.Beauty is a gift from God. God uses beauty to soothe our souls from a sin-weary world.

Is it the dance of a cutting horse or the flashing of grouse on the wing? Maybe the lush green of a hay field ready to cut that makes you smile, or the sight of dewdrops on grass. Does the crash of ocean breakers make your heart thunder? Does the unexpected sight of a bright desert flower, or the grandeur of a black starry sky make your eye light up?Beauty is a gift from God. God uses beauty to soothe our souls from a sin-weary world.Beauty is a gift from God. God uses beauty to soothe our souls from a sin-weary world.Beauty is a gift from God. God uses beauty to soothe our souls from a sin-weary world.

Whatever makes you stop and smile – thank God for that gift. He is a good, good Father who loves to shower us with beauty and love. Let’s stop rushing through life and see the roses, at least. Beauty is a gift from God. God uses beauty to soothe our souls from a sin-weary world.

The funny thing is, I now live by the mountains. Practically in them! I often stop and wonder how this is real?! This gorgeous place we call home. It may not be long-term (cowboys rarely stay one place for real long), but while we live here, I am thoroughly enjoying it.

I am overwhelmed with the beauty around here. I ride my horse through these mountain meadows and just get lost in the wild beauty. God has generously fulfilled my childhood desire to live ‘Out West’ and by the mountains. I don’t deserve it. I don’t deserve any of the good things in my life. But God understands. He gives good gifts. Beauty is a gift from God. God uses beauty to soothe our souls from a sin-weary world.

Lest you think: “how perfect your life is”, let me assure you that there are trials in every type of life. My floors get crunchy and my laundry piles up. Sometimes we have relationship issues we have to work through, and we aren’t gonna retire in Beverly Hills. (horrors!) But, we serve a good God, and if you open your eyes to His beauty all around you, you might start seeing how much He loves you!

Beauty is a gift from God. God uses beauty to soothe our souls from a sin-weary world.

My real life mountain! We live here. Pinch me!

Cheesy Ham and Potato Casserole

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Southern Kitchen®. All opinions are entirely my own.

If you are looking for a way to use up those Christmas ham leftovers – I have the perfect, delicious recipe! This cheesy ham and potato recipe is easy and filling. It is a great comfort food for those days after Christmas when you just want a simple meal.

Cheesy Ham and potato casserole, easy one dish supper for Christmas leftovers!

I know how it is to host a crowd for the holidays – after the big Christmas rush, you just want to kick back and relax, but then – you still need to make meals! With this casserole, you can use up the leftover ham, add a bag of frozen hash browns, and a few other items and there ya go! Just pop it in the oven and you have a hearty, yet simple meal.

– You can use any kind of frozen potatoes, with peppers and onion, plain, shredded, cubed, etc.
– I live at a high altitude. You may not need to bake it as long as I did. Just start watching it at 40 minutes.
– You can use less cheese if you want.
– Salt is optional. If your ham is really salty, you may not need as much, if any.
– It will be pretty runny when you get it out of the oven. Let it set a few minutes before serving.
– If you don’t want to use cream of chicken soup, you can use white sauce. Recipe here.

Cheesy Ham and Potato Casserole, perfect for christmas leftovers. Easy, one-dish meal.


Dice up some bell peppers (I used those mini ones, because that’s what I had in the fridge!), and dice a half of an onion.
I loved using my sharp paring knife from Southern Kitchen! It made the dicing super easy. And it has a smooth handle – no sharp edge between handle and blade. That is my pet peeve with paring knives! ALL my paring knives have it. But not this knife! This has become my go-to paring knife, because it has a smooth handle-to-blade transition. (yes, I am picky about my knives!)
I used some turkey ham for this recipe, but I will probably make it again after Christmas, using my leftover ham.

This recipe makes a great potluck dish, also. Just put it in a slow cooker for 4 hours on high.

Cheesy Ham and Potato casserole, perfect for using christmas leftovers! Easy, one-dish meal.

Slice up some ham – leftover ham works great – cut the slices in strips, then cut the strips into squares.

I have been using these Cangshan series knives for a while, now, and they are amazing. Their weight is balanced perfectly, so it is a pleasure to use them. You know how some knives are just nicer to use? You reach for that knife over and over? Well, I have been reaching for these knives first. They just fit nice in my hand, which makes them fun to use. Plus, they are sharp! They sliced smoothly through the ham, no sawing needed.

Cheesy Ham and Potato casserole, perfect for using christmas leftovers! Easy, one-dish meal.

Place the potatoes in a bowl, add all the remaining ingredients, and stir well. I just use frozen potatoes, but you can dice leftover baked potatoes, too.

Cheesy Ham and Potato casserole, perfect for using christmas leftovers! Easy, one-dish meal.Cheesy Ham and Potato casserole, perfect for using christmas leftovers! Easy, one-dish meal.

Spread mixture in a greased 9×13 or similar size baking dish. Bake for 40-50 minutes. (60-70 minutes if you live above 5,000 ft elevation) I like to add a small handful of cheese to the top for the last 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Cheesy Ham and Potato casserole, perfect for using christmas leftovers! Easy, one-dish meal.Cheesy Ham and Potato casserole, perfect for using christmas leftovers! Easy, one-dish meal.

I had fun creating and sharing this recipe, using products from Southern Kitchen, and guess what? You can submit your own recipe to Southern Kitchen! Southern Kitchen has regular recipe contests – more info here:

You can go browse their website to find inspiration and beautiful kitchen tools. And, to make it even better, I have a special offer for you! I have partnered with Southern Kitchen to offer my readers a special discount for Southern Kitchen’s online store. You can get $10 off your first purchase over $50 when you use coupon code WELCOME10. Go check them out! Think Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, etc. Hey, any cook I know would be happy to receive this knife set under the tree! 😀
Cheesy Ham and Potato Casserole recipe, perfect for christmas leftover ham!
The knives I used for this recipe are the Cangshan TC Series 3-Piece Starter Knife Set + Wood Sheaths. They are sleek, modern, and oh, so sharp! I chose the 8 inch chef’s knife for dicing the ham, and the 3.5 inch paring knife for the peppers. There is also a 5 inch serrated utility knife included in the set. I like to use it for tomatoes and more.

The knives come with beautiful wooden sheaths that protect the blades. The sheaths are magnetic, so the knives stick to them, plus, you can stick them on the fridge or your magnetic knife strip for storage. I was excited when I saw that the sheaths were magnetic, just ask my husband, haha!
I really enjoy using these knives, they make meal prep fun! You can go to their store to find them.

Southern Kitchen Knife set, sharp, beautiful, sleek, modern.

I love how the sheaths are magnetic! SO handy!

Cheesy Ham and Potato Casserole
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 8-10
  • 1 bag frozen hash browns (21 oz)
  • 2 cups diced ham
  • ¼ cup diced bell peppers, optional
  • ½ onion, diced (about ½ cup)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can milk
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (opt: plus ½ cup for topping)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper, optional
  1. Place all ingredients into a large mixing bowl, mix well.
  2. Spread in a 9x13 baking pan.
  3. Bake at 375 for 40-60 minutes. Start checking at 40 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle with ½ cup shredded cheese during last 5 minutes. (optional)
  5. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.


31 Days to a better marriage: Speak well of him.

31 days to a better marriage: speak well of him.

Do you realize the power of your words? You can build up your husband or tear him down – by how you speak of him. When you speak well of your husband, you are respecting him, you are showing others you care about him, you are reminding yourself of your love for him. I am sure you have heard women who are sarcastic and derisive of their husband. It just doesn’t sit right, does it? I mean, even if it is a funny story or whatever – we feel bad when we sense the pointedness of the remarks.

We need to be careful to respect our men with our words. Maybe you are just sharing a funny story that involves him, but be careful – some funny stories should never be shared. If you are feeling defensive about it, ask yourself if you would like if the situation was reversed? What if he told stories like that about you? That’s an easy test to see if it is actually funny, or maybe should be kept to yourself.

Speak well of your man in public. Even if he has faults – maybe especially because he has faults! Praise the good things about him, tell others what a great dad he is, what a hard worker, what an awesome hunter, buckaroo, farmer, whatever. It helps YOU remember why you like him, for one thing. It will reach his ears at some point, too, and encourage him.

The way we talk about people shows how we expect them to act. Click To Tweet

The way we talk about people shows how we expect them to act. If you are always telling your girlfriends how your husband works late without calling, you will notice every time he does that. Soon, it will seem like that is how he ALWAYS behaves. That issue becomes bigger than it is. Mountains out of molehills, you know.

But if, when that happens, you brush it off with: “well he is working on that extra project”, and focus on how dedicated and hard-working he is – you will be grateful instead of complaining.

Action: Think of one area that you have been complaining about to your friends. Ask yourself what your husband is good at –  start focusing on the good side of this issue, and being grateful. Whenever that issue comes up – remind yourself you are only taking it to God from now on, and share only the good trait.

Example: Your husband makes a mess in the kitchen after you have it cleaned for the night. You could whine about to your friends, OR, you could be thankful for how he eats anything you make without complaining, etc.

Read the rest of the series HERE.

Two secrets to great photos, and some preg-checking.

I have been snapping shutters for many years, but only in the past 2 years have my photos begun to really show the mood and personality that I want in an image. The reason I am beginning to capture great photos, is largely due to two secrets I’ve learned. I am shooting with the same entry-level DSLR camera that I was using 5 years ago – but the quality of my images has greatly improved.

Two secrets to great photos, and some preg-checking. #Wyoming #ranch

Last week they preg-checked about 800 cows. It was an ambitious undertaking, even in good weather! With shorter days, just getting it all done in daylight would be a challenge. As if things weren’t interesting enough – a snowstorm rolled in during the night, and preg-checking  would happen in an all-day snowstorm!

But ranchers are tougher than most, and they bundled up, saddled up, and were out at the first gray light – pushing cows through the alley to the chute. The vet was there, apron on and wand in hand. The snow swirled as they worked – a couple guys in the back, pushing cows, a couple in the alley, moving the cows into the chute, a few guys at the head – checking numbers, running the chute, writing down info.

Two secrets to great photos, and some preg-checking. #Wyoming #ranch

Two secrets to great photos, and some preg-checking. #wyoming #cowboy

Two secrets to great photos, and some preg-checking. #Wyoming #ranchTwo secrets to great photos, and some preg-checking. #Wyoming #ranch

One man sat in the truck, out of the snow, so he could write down each cow’s information. That seemed like the best spot to be, on this stormy day! (Although he’s the kind of guy who’d rather just be out there working with the others, I think. ) Anyways, each man had his job to do, and they did it well. I didn’t help, but I did go out and take pictures. As Dave Stoecklein said:

“The worst weather makes the best pictures.”

He is so right! My photography made a huge leap when I read that and started implementing it. I wanted great photos, but my natural instincts and personality make me stay indoors (or at least in the truck) when it is bad weather. Especially cold! But I read that by Stoecklein, and decided to put it into practice. It worked! I started getting images far more interesting than those I captured from the comfort of my truck or house or behind the fence.

Two secrets to great photos, and some preg-checking. #Wyoming #ranchTwo secrets to great photos, and some preg-checking. #Wyoming #ranch

I started getting up early to catch sunrises. I bundled up to get snow images. I just got wet capturing spring rainstorms. (maybe I should get a slicker? 😀 My fingers went numb from standing on a cold hillside on a chilly fall day. But my pictures began showing mood and interesting elements that they’d been missing.

I still dislike cold. I would much prefer to live somewhere tropical – somewhere that palm trees grow and the worst weather is storms over the ocean! But for now, I am here in Wyoming where weather is usually bad and always cold. And I will continue capturing the ranch life through snow and below-zero temps. 😉

Two secrets to great photos, and some preg-checking. #Wyoming #ranchTwo secrets to great photos, and some preg-checking. #Wyoming #ranch

Another secret to great photos is one I learned from Chris Dickinson. I stumbled across his images on Instagram several years ago, and was immediately struck by the amazing action moments he captured! In your face brandings, over-your-head horses, and hooves just inches away. (that’s how it looks, anyways!)

“Don’t be afraid to get in close to the action!” Chris Dickinson

Chris is not afraid to get in close! He will let calves nearly run him over – and his photos show that intensity. It is mesmerizing – I study each picture at length, feeling the whoosh of air as hooves rush past, smelling the cow-trampled dirt, hearing the swoosh-and-thwack of the rope as it settles around the neck.

You don’t get that kind of action from the other side of the fence! You have to be in there, smelling, hearing, feeling. I have no desire to become the next CD Photog, (even if I could)  but I did learn to get in a lot closer, feel the action, not insulate myself from the experience. Again, my photos improved. I began catching the cowboys’ expressions, the cattle’s motion, the mood of the moment.

Two secrets to great photos, and some preg-checking. #Wyoming #ranch

You can read all day about photography, but the best way to improve is to get out there and start experimenting. If you make some terrible shots, ruin some perfect moments – that will teach you faster than anything else, what not to do. It will force you to learn how to fix it and get better! :)

Another great way is to invest in a photography course or workshop. This will give you hands on help for your specific issues. It will teach you how to get great photos faster than just google or experimentation.

Leave me a comment and tell me what is your biggest challenge in making great photos?

Two secrets to great photos, and some preg-checking. #Wyoming #ranch

Two Secrets to Great Photosand preg-checking on the ranch


31 days to a better marriage; Hormones and Women.

31 Days to a better marriage; Hormones and us

Do you ever feel like you are so OVER dealing with hormones?! You know how it is with hormones and women; first you get weepy and cry over spilled milk. But the next two days you are just mad as a cow who’s stuck in a bog! Your husband can’t do anything right – you become like your 6 year old who screams: “Mooomm!!! He’s looking at me!” If you are lucky, you may get one week of feeling somewhat normal, before starting the whole cycle over again.

Hormones and women, 2 tips to help pms

Cow stuck in a bog. (we got her out)

OK, so that may be an exaggeration. But you get my point. It is hard. Our hormones change all over the place, and these changes happen every month. Up and down and sideways, till we just want to curl up and sleep for a week. Maybe that is actually what we need.

Anyways, my point is, you KNOW that your cycle does crazy things to your feelings, so do not, I repeat: do not make big decisions on your crazy days. Don’t get all crazy because “he doesn’t really love me…” or “he never does so-and-so, he must not truly care about me…”  Don’t go down that road! Chances are, he will seem totally lovable again in 2 days. And it is not fair to your man, to take out your physical problems on him.

Know your cycle. Track your symptoms for several months. See what days you feel cranky, and which you feel weepy. Keep track. Yes it is a pain, but it will help you tremendously to know what is coming – to know what to expect. You may feel like this is real, but then you look at your calendar and say; “you know what? maybe I’m overreacting.”

Take care of your health. It is your responsibility to take care of your health. Why should everyone around you suffer because you are too lazy to research what could help you? Or because you are too stingy to pay a few extra dollars per month for a product that would help. I am not a fan of drugs, for the record. I have found much better help in the natural remedies. But either way, try some things.

My best results have come from two things: Red Raspberry Tea and essential oils. I alternate them, some months taking tea daily, the next rubbing ClaryCalm™ on my abdomen. They both help a great deal! I found the tea helps more with cramping, and the oil helps more with mood swings. Try them both and see what helps you the most!

Ask God for help. We cannot separate our daily life from our spiritual one. Our holiness on Sunday is no higher than our holiness on Monday. Is your God bigger than your hormones? Do you use your hormones as an excuse to be crabby and unpleasant? While you get a handle on your health, you can still be Christ-like and kind. Ask God to fill you with his Spirit, to give you control over your emotions.

Yes, it can be tough. But think of it as a higher grade in school – once you pass the lower evel, then you move on to the higher grades. If you always stay in first grade, you will never go to college! But God wants us to grow and learn! Let’s not use physical problems as an excuse for our human nature. Pray for a sweet spirit when you are feeling yucky. Pray for wisdom in how you plan your days. Pray for wisdom to know how to treat your body.

Our holiness on Sunday is no greater than our holiness on Monday. Click To Tweet

Work with your body. Don’t plan too much on the days when you feel bad. (This is why you track your cycle) As much as possible, keep your schedule easy. Plan bigger things for those days you feel ‘normal’. On the worst days, remind yourself that it is the hormones talking. Don’t do or say anything rash. Don’t set up marriage counseling, or comment too much on social media. One snippy text when you are in ‘bad hormone mode’ can ruin a friendship. (related: don’t throw a friendship out the door from one snippy text. Maybe she was hormonal that day!!)

On the worst days, remind yourself that it is the hormones talking. Don't do or say anything rash.… Click To Tweet

Take naps, go to bed on time, eat more than chocolate and coffee. (raises hand) Sometimes I tell my man: “I am feeling emotional today – it will be better in a day or two. I’m sorry, it’s nothing to do with you!” That way he knows it is just hormones, and not to worry that I am losing my mind! Ha! That doesn’t give me excuse to be mean. It just helps him understand why I break into tears over a picture of a baby on facebook. 😀

Some folks find real relief from network-marketing type products. I have tried several, but the  only one that given me relief, is essential oils.
You can find those here —>  Essential Oils. 

Homones and women, two home remedies to help with monthly cycle

And with red raspberry leaf tea (must be from the leaves, not the berries). I drink one cup a day and if I am faithful about that, it helps with cramping tremendously! You can find that here —> Red Raspberry Tea.

If you have found help with your monthly cycles, please comment and share with us what has helped you!