Jessica's Jottings:

On faith, food, family and frugality

This Christmas (Work in Progress)

This Christmas (A work in progress)

This year,
The only tree we’ll assemble
Will be the one comprised
Of flesh, bone,
And shared DNA.

The only bark
Will be formed of laughter
(Although, there may be the chocolate kind,
And I wonder
What it’s like —
To see the love of 40 years,
The fruit of 40 years,
Gathered together once more.
Not just their fruit, but
The fruit of their fruit.
For their fruit fell far from the tree indeed,
Taking flight on the winds of change
And desire for more.
Finding solace in youthful hopes and dreams,
Sinking roots in unknown orchards.
Then, oh then,
They were grafted into new trees.
Produced new fruit.
And there was wonder —
And mystery.
“Oh, fruit of my fruit,
Will you relate to me
In my far away orchard?
I see pieces of me in you.
Will you come to see them too?

“You, oh fruit of my fruit,
Flesh of my flesh,

Bone of my bone,
And wonder,
I have so much to tell you,
To teach you.
Will you see me as I see you?
With wonder?
So much wonder.”
As noted in the title, this is a work in progress. I wrote it in the wee sma’s and, after reading it to Nathan this morning, decided to release it here in the hopes that someone would have mercy on me and report in with some feedback. That someone is you, Dear Reader. Please fill me in. Does the imagery ring true? Does it evoke an emotion (other than disgust at free-style poetry?) Do you have an idea for an alternate title? (I’ve never really been good at those…) Thanks, in advance, for your time and your feedback!
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Random morning mental musings

to my base elements
burning out
like an overheated filament
spinning round
lifting off the firmament
wondering how
I’m going to find a place again,
going to find a place again
place again
place again
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Found Poems

As the ongoing mission to clean my house continues, I found these within the sheets of a miscellaneous legal pad. From almost a year and a half ago, I’m not sure about the context. I only know they are about infant loss, both miscarriage and stillbirth.



Earlier I gazed
On Sorrow’s face
Born whole and round
And full of days
Yet no breath he drew
No cry he raised
He went fresh from womb
To final resting place
Oh Sorrow, Sorrow, Sorrow


When four are whole
And one is dead
Where shall I fix my gaze?
On the living?
(For sure, for there’s living to be done.)
Or on the one who slipped quickly through this place?
The mortal coil did not hold him fast
He had no need to cry “At last!”
No, he passed straight through to final repast.

Where shall I set my wandering eye?
On the ones who lived or the one that died?
This knowledge is too lofty for one such as I
To high for me to attain.

My heart is split
Cloven in two
For four are with me
And one is with You
Will You give me grace
To see me through
Ere to the other side?

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Thoughts on My Uncle’s Imminent Death

Thoughts on My Uncle’s Imminent Death

Memories claw at the corners of my mind,
Leaking out from the corners of my eyes.

You’re dying.

How can this be?

The snapshots I keep of you in the recesses of my brain-
They do not age. How did you?

What is this absurdity?

You are laughing in my head
With your ridiculous sunvisor that comes
Pre-loaded with a quantity of hair that your
Bald pate hasn’t seen in all of the years that I’ve known you.

You are laughing
Or on the verge of laughing, with a beer in hand,
As we, your relatives and party guests, fill your house again
And then, if the weather is fair, pour forth into your backyard.

You are under a car,
Or a truck, working your mechanic magic
On whatever ails your client.

You are at the beach, and your
Only son is about to be married.

And now…
You are dying.

Oh…you were dying before now in
An intellectual sense. As in,
“We’re all going to die some day.” or
“Life’s hard sometimes, but it beats the alternative.” or
“Ashes to ashes and dust to dust. Remember,
O Man, that you have been appointed unto death.”

But now…

Now, your family hastens to gather around you,
Hastens to your side to be there for the final hours,
For when the life support that has borne you up
Bears you no longer
And the agony that comes from knowing
May well be your last.
Hanging onto those breaths
As though they form a rope, holding you here
Holding you close, staving off that
Inevitable, accursed flat line.


And now…I am numb. I have wept, but I have no idea what’s happening in that hospital room or in the hearts and minds of my family. I don’t want to intrude and so I wait to hear from my parents or siblings. My brother called earlier today and he was the one who told me that everyone was gathering for the removal of life support. This was all the more unexpected as the last news I’d heard had him doing decently well on the ventilator after his open heart surgery on Monday. I want to pray, but I don’t know what to pray. Thankfully,

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27, NIV)

My request for you, my dear readers, is to cover my aunt and cousins, my mom, dad, and my mom’s remaining siblings and their families, in prayer. Ask God to comfort them and to draw them all close to him.

Thank you,


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New Recipe: Vegetable Casserole

Vegetable Casserole

  • 1 1/2 T. oregano
  • 1 lb. 2% Cottage Cheese
  • 1 lb of California Blend frozen veggies
  • 2 c. cooked chickpeas
  • 1 1/2 c. cooked chicken
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • coconut oil for greasing casserole dish(es)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350*F and grease your 9″x 13″ casserole dish (or if, like me, your casserole dish is dirty, you can use a couple smaller dishes.)
  2. Cook the California Blend according to package directions (or wing it. Put water in a pan, add a little salt, bring it to a boil and add your veggies. Measure nothing, you ne’er do well, you. Don’t you feel adventurous now? 😉 ).
  3. While the veggies are cooking, mix the oregano and the cottage cheese (I love Daisy! It may not be organic, but it has no crazy additives.) together in a medium to large mixing bowl. Set aside.
  4. If you, like me, freeze your meat and beans in prepackaged portions, you can add the frozen portions to the veggie cooking water. This will help thaw them quickly and heat everything to an even temperature. After everything is thawed, drain the water out and add the veggie/bean/chicken mix to the cottage cheese/oregano mixture. Stir well and then pour into your prepared dish(es).
  5. Top with shredded cheddar and bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
  6. Remove from the oven, let cool for a few minutes, and then enjoy. 😀



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Asparagus, Bacon, Tomato Bowl

Asparagus, Bacon, Tomato Bowl

  • 1 # asparagus, tender parts, chopped to 3/4″ pieces
  • 12 oz. bacon, raw, cut into 1″ or shorter pieces
  • 1 small onion, finely sliced
  • 4 small to medium cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 16 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 T. Greek dressing
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium to medium high heat. Add bacon and stir to separate pieces.*
  2. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then add onion slices and stir.
  3. Cook another 3-5 minutes, add asparagus, stir again, and then cover the pan to help steam the aparagus.
  4. After about 3 minutes, remove the lid, stir in the garlic, and replace the lid.
  5. When the asparagus is cooked, but before it’s mushy, remove heat, and add the can of tomatoes and Greek dressing. Stir well and serve with a side of bread.

*I used kitchen scissors to cut through the whole bag of bacon. I thought that would be easier than trying to slice each piece individually. It worked well. 🙂

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Daffodil Joy

During a rare trip out alone, the sight of yellow faces dancing atop slender green spears filled my eyes and my heart with wonder.


Mine eyes enlarge my soul
When they take in
The green and gold
Of daffodils
Bursting forth from Georgia clay
Captive no longer

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Bison Zucchini Poppers – Yum!

We’ve been trying out a lot of new recipes recently as we’ve been trying to clean out our pantry and edge our way into a grain-free season.

Tonight, we made two pans of Jessika’s Roasted Vegetables* and modified One Lovely Life‘s Chicken Zucchini Poppers** to work with what we had on hand.

The recipe calls for one pound of ground chicken and green onions. We used one pound of ground bison and some chopped white onion. I say “we” like I did anything other than shred zucchini (go, go food processor!), chop onion, and thaw out the meat. Nathan was the one that did the mixing, molding, and frying*** – you know, all the messy, time consuming stuff. 🙂

To say that the finished product was well-received would be an understatement. Our older two girls (6 and 8) were talking about how they needed to learn how to make this so that they could make it for their kids. hahahaha! That’s never happened before.

The recipe says to dip the poppers in your favorite dip. We didn’t think there was any need. They were so moist and full of flavor that a dip would only distract from what was already there.

We will absolutely be making this again.


Now for footnotes! Because, well, footnotes!****

*I LOVE this recipe. It’s so very versatile and allows you to use up all of the loose veggies floating around in the bottom of the fridge. I love how my kids will pick out several favorite vegetables and be willing to try a few extras. Tonight, they each tried a piece of roasted jicama – and liked it. Whee!

**I don’t like to copy recipes from other blogs onto my blog. I don’t feel like it respects the author’s time and energy and it *certainly* doesn’t help their business. Thus, I will link to it, hope you click on it (I don’t earn money from that, btw), and enjoy the recipe as well.

***He did fry the poppers in bacon grease. We try to not cook with olive oil as the heat does wonky things to the oil and makes it less than stellar for ingestion. If you’re not a fan of bacon grease (what!!!), you can always substitute expeller-pressed coconut oil or ghee. OR, if you decide that you’d like to completely recreate this meal at your house and you don’t want to fry anything, you could bake the poppers alongside the veggies. Both recipes have a 400*F baking temp. You’re welcome. 😀

****I’ve been out of college for far too long. I need to take an English class again and get all of these footnotes out of my system. 😉

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Easy Beef Stew – a one pot meal

One Pot Beef Stew

It’s easy and delicious!









Aren’t one pot meals wonderful?

When cutting out processed foods, an unexpected side effect is a massive increase in the amount of dishes produced. Massive. Ugh.

Yes, one pot meals are a lovely break from the norm. This stew has the added bonus of being mostly hands off – ahhhh, bliss.

Even better – my entire family likes this one. One pot, hands off, and fuss free – does it get any better? 😀

Easy Beef Stew

  • 1-2 T. of coconut oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 -ish lbs of beef stew meat, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 16 oz bag of frozen, organic corn
  • 1-2  16 oz. bags of frozen green veggies (okra and Fordhook limas are a great combo, but green beans are also tasty)
  • 1 beer
  • 1 1/2 tsp. of sea salt


  1. Melt the coconut oil over medium heat in a 5 or 6 Qt stockpot.
  2. Toss in the onion and stir it a few times to coat it in the oil. Let it cook until soft, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the stew meat and stir occasionally until browned.
  4. Add the veggies and the beer, then cover and let cook for 10-ish minutes or until bubbling.
  5. Remove the lid and let it cook until the meat and veggies are fully cooked. This lets the alcohol in the beer boil off, but allows for the flavor to remain.
  6. Stir in the salt*, remove from heat, and serve.
  7. Enjoy! 🙂

*If you’re using salted tomatoes, you may want to start with 3/4 tsp. and then add more to taste.


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A Chronicle or Confession – I know not which

A Chronicle or Confession – I know not which

Children are mileposts in the stream of time.
(Yes, really, Mother!
For sure, Father!
Compare your past and your present and your future with me.)

When I walked alone
(Though not by myself – thank God!)
Time meandered along
Days blurred one into another
As I lived for my (and His) pleasure.

When I married
My pleasure took on new dimensions
Sometimes soaring, sometimes falling,
As the two of us began the beautiful
and awkward act of becoming one.

(Becoming one forced encrusted layers off of me:
Selfishness, willfulness, independence –
All things that I thought myself to be rid of –
These things did rise to the surface
Like trash when the tide slunk silently away.)

Then, children –
O, children!
The loss of our first sank deep claws in my heart –
The fruit tossed before its time.
Despair rode me wild like an unbroken horse
Twin spurs of fear gouged me again and again
When the monthly reminders of my failure as a woman
Announced my lack with a bloody regularity.

And then–
Then Joy was born.
Conceived in Love and carried ‘neath my heart
Through fierce battles of Faith versus Fear.
(Many a prayer was said and sung,
For this woman wages war through worship.)
Before we knew her, held her, caressed her,
Joy was earmarked for her middle name —
For we knew that she would be a harbinger,
A herald, a living proclamation,
“The Joy of the Lord is my strength!”

Her escape from my womb was traumatic,
But the sight of her, the smell of her, and
At last, the touch of her made everything else
A vision she was — and a propellant.
(Truly, Mother!
For sure, Father!
Screw up your face and your courage and remember!)

Time, that once gentle river that I had mostly mastered,
(Foolish woman I am, but my day planner bears witness!)
Began to distort in the most curious of ways:
It simultaneously sped up
-owed down.
Its rhythm ceased to be such
And turbulence engulfed my perfectionist heart.

Before I could get my bearings
and know my way around this nursing babe,
she nursed no longer,
had a birthday,
and then a sister.
Where did my baby go?

(Pictures tell me she existed,
but my memory –
Lo, my memory sees but through a glass darkly
and thick, gray fog blankets all.
But for the digital imagery tucked away —
It could have all been a whiff of imagination.)

Now, two – an infant and a toddler and
The law of entropy kicked in to overdrive.
Long days, sometimes longer nights –
Months pass by even as time stands still.
A brother joins us and another sister —

And, my Joy is now eight.

I stand in the center –
A maypole
A merry go ’round.
They (these children mine!) spin, dance, cavort
and grow
So fast and yet (!)
Sometimes not fast enough.
(How I long to be through with diapers!)

So fast and,
“Won’t you please slow down?”

“I can’t, Mama,” she sings and dances and grows,
Up, up, and away.
Her time with me, sliding away through my fingers —
If only I could grasp it!

So, I tell you, Mother,
And I urge you, Father,
Look into those eyes.
Look down deep —
See the heart beating within.
A few short years
(“Such long years!” my selfish soul cries)
to teach and impress upon and to lovingly instruct and correct,
Such a short time to lay down your life
For those who come after –
Those grandchildren that you would not sentence to the fate of Hezekiah’s.

Mother, do the hard work now
So the harvest may come in —
Father, acknowledge that you matter.
Model what you want them to be —
that when young ones are grown
With young of their own,
When you have joined in with
That great cloud of witnesses,
You, too, can rejoice with Paul,
“I did not run my race for nothing!”

Yes, children are mileposts
In the non-stationary stream of time.
We rise, we fall, and
More come after – Selah.
Let it not be for naught.

Follow me, young ones,
Follow me as I follow Christ!


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