A couple of weeks ago I took the kids to our favorite garden for fall photos. I’ve been doing this since they could walk. We have a history of images all taken in this familiar setting, chronologically recording their monumental growth. But it’s not just any garden. It’s a quiet garden, a memorial garden. A place where people can come to remember the saints who have died.

We wander the stone path remarking periodically at the names and dates engraved beneath our feet. Some of the weathered stones hold the words to Psalms, or hymns. Others are blank, telling no story of their own, but for the damp hoof print of an early morning deer.

“Stand here, this light is perfect,” they hear me say. They turn and pose accordingly. Tilting and grinning just so. We are all old hat at this by now.

“Shhhh”, I remind them. “This is not a garden for wild romping”. This is a place to remember. A place to pray. A place to feast on the goodness of the promise of heaven.

It is also a place to grieve. A place for sitting still without rushing, and there seem to be so few spaces that invite both joy and sorrow in the same breath. We are more mindful, hidden here in the alley of trees, beside the small pond whose waters have caught countless tears, and a few pennies tossed with wishes attached.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
 In the morning sun, a copper round glints beneath the surface. I see it, barely visible beneath the wild blanket of lily pads,  but I don’t tell the children. I don’t want them to ask me for a penny of their own. I want them to believe more in the power of prayer than to pin their hopes to a coin.

The world is aways willing to ask us to pay for that which we can have for free. God gives freely, abundantly.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
His presence that morning in the garden is a feast. The light cascading through the trees beams with His glory. The gentle rustle of the levees sound as if He is brushing past them as He strolls hidden in front of our eyes. Oh, it requires a small imagination to sense Him there while we’re posing and snapping, making time stand still for a millisecond. But this space requires your attention. Artfully, and without effort, it demands it. This is after all, a memorial garden, built not for the dead, but for the saints who remain. Built for us. 
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

Later that evening I watch the sun slip pink behind the blackening pines at the front of our neighborhood. From my regular post at the kitchen sink, I have a nightly view to whatever glory the sky holds in her last few moments before dark. I’ve already seen close to 547 sunsets since moving here nearly 2 years ago. The world has spun and spun without slowing. Our smaller world within these walls has whipped in steady revolution, each new day dawning ever-eager on the heels of the one before.

“Blessed, Blessed, Blessed.”

We’ve returned to familiar paths through gardens made of earth and stone, and we’ve made new paths through the hallways and up and down these stairs. I’ve walked miles around the kitchen island preparing small feasts for us and occasionally, for others. We live here, this rowdy communion of saints. We gather again and again around laundry baskets overflowing, and school room tables messy with work. We gather at the sink, elbows-deep in the suds. We gather in gardens, in driveways and in cars. We gather around tables and hover over hot bowls with grins spreading at the smoky aroma.  Tonight, we gather around Taco soup. It’s not a fancy feast but it’s warm. It’s simple. It sustains. It is enough.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:1-12)



Slow-Cooker Taco Soup
Serves 6
Write a review
Prep Time
30 min
Prep Time
30 min
  1. 2 lbs lean ground beef, (ground turkey, ground chicken or ground pork)
  2. 2 cans of Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilis (or plain diced tomatoes)
  3. 1/2 cup of salsa
  4. 1 onion, diced
  5. 2-3TBSP Taco seasoning
  6. 2 8 oz packages of cream cheese
  7. 4 cups of chicken or beef broth
  8. shredded cheese (for garnish)
  9. fresh cilantro (for garnish)
  10. sour cream (for garnish)
  11. tortilla strips/chips (for garnish)
  1. Brown ground meat in a skillet, with diced onions. Drain off fat.
  2. Add cooked ground meat with onions to crock pot.
  3. Add to crockpot, tomatoes (or Rotel), cream cheese, taco seasoning, salsa and broth.
  4. Set slow cooker to 4 or 6 hours setting.
  1. This recipe is easily adapted for the stovetop. If you don't have 4 hours, you can whip this up in under an hour on the stove. You can also tweak the ingredients to suit your tastes. Go meatless by adding in black beans or pinto beans instead, and using vegetable broth. Increase the heat in this soup by adding crushed red pepper or a dash of chili powder.
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Kris / Posts / Blog
Kris is a writer and artist living in the middle of Ohio. She loves Jesus, people, and words. She is most often found in her tiny kitchen, where she plays with her food. Having recently mastered the art of preparing perfectly crisp dino-nuggets--she is her children's hero.
  • Kate

    You may want to correct your ingredient list to Rotel šŸ˜‰

    November 1st, 2017 8:09
    • Kris

      Thanks Katie. It’s fixed now šŸ˜‰ Sometimes that auto-correct is a real pain.

      November 1st, 2017 11:05
  • Sally Tempro

    Thank you for your words, and this recipe sounds wonderful! But, I think autocorrect may have played a trick on you in the list of ingredients for the tomatoes. šŸ™‚

    November 1st, 2017 10:11
    • Kris

      Yes, Sally. That autocorrect is a nuisance! Thanks for reading and for your grace. And for the love, please do not put ROTTEN tomatoes in your taco soup. šŸ˜‰

      November 1st, 2017 11:07
  • Dea

    How blessed we are by our gracious God! Your words are a sacred echo to me this morning, Kris… thank you for sharing them and for the recipe. I hadn’t thought to put cream cheese in taco soup. Love that! I’m sure it gives it a rich creamy note. I put a package of taco seasoning mix and a package of Ranch dip mix in mine for seasoning. Your version sounds delicious.

    November 1st, 2017 10:43
    • Kris

      Thank you, Dea. So grateful for your kindness. The cream cheese does make it quite creamy, but your addition of ranch seasoning intrigues me! Thank you for sharing that. šŸ˜‰

      Grateful you.

      November 1st, 2017 11:08
  • Bronwyn Jardin

    Good Morning, my daughter!
    Thank you for another beautiful, inspirational piece. (and the photos!) We are blessed, indeed, through highest heady moments of joy and heart-shredding times of grief. Blessed, blessed, we need to keep reminding everyone the Lord places in our path that we are blessed, and why we have this confidence.
    Love you!

    November 1st, 2017 10:51
    • Kris

      ((hugs)) much love to you, Mom. God is so good….He always gives us room for the highest highs, and the lowest of lows. He is patient and most generously present in both.


      November 1st, 2017 11:10
  • Diane Bailey

    IN my heart Iā€™m walking those stations with you again.

    November 1st, 2017 15:19
    • Kris

      Praying for you, Diane. LOVE you big.

      November 1st, 2017 16:50

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