As Mother’s Day approaches, Kathy Harrison remembers her wonderful mother who passed away too soon, and reflects on a full life as a grateful mom with a large family of children and grandchildren. Kathy and her husband, Dr. Darryl Harrison, feel “blessed beyond measure” for their family as they both serve in a variety of ministries.
Dr. Harrison often fills in as guest speaker at Trinity Church and Oak Bowery Methodist Church. Together the Harrisons teach preschool music at Trinity Church and sing at the Trinity Troopers meetings. As they share their faith, Kathy and Darryl have begun writing music.
Darryl holds degrees from Samford University and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and he has a doctorate in Instructional Leadership from the University of Alabama.
After serving as a pastor for 18 years, Darryl began a 30-year career in higher education. He served as president of Gadsden State Community College before accepting a position as vice president for adult and professional studies at Point University (formerly Atlanta Christian College). Darryl held the position for 10 years. During his time at Point, he also served as professor of Biblical studies and Christian ministry.
Growing up in East Point, Georgia, Kathy learned at an early age to rely on God, which led her to ministry.
“My parents divorced when I was in the first grade,” she recalled. “Sadly, my father was not a part of my life growing up. My mother worked seven days a week to raise three children on her own. It was a very difficult time for her and our family.
“Over the years, I truly came to appreciate just how hard that must have been and what a tremendous sacrifice she made to give us stability, despite the financial trials she faced,” she said. “There was a feeling of pain through their divorce. My mom was very hurt by their marriage ending, but she carried on in strength and perseverance. She was a tremendous mother.”
Both of her parents had been singers, which inspired Kathy and her siblings to have a love of music. Even though life’s struggles were difficult, Kathy and her siblings remained in church choir and grew their musical skills. They would sing together at youth rallies in their teens, which were among their happiest times.
Kathy’s sister, who was in high school, became like a mother to her. The sister would take their mother to work at a dry cleaner where she began working at 6:30 a.m. Then she would take Kathy to school and pick her up. After keeping her younger siblings, the sister then picked up their mother at work.
“It made my sister like a mom half the time,” said Kathy. “She always took good care of me.”
Kathy’s mother became ill with cancer and only lived a few months after the diagnosis.
“It was such a shock to lose my mother at 20 years old,” she said. “I struggled without her. Both of my siblings had moved away to other states. I remember dreaming and waking up crying a few times in my younger years because I dreamed my mother had died. I came to believe God was preparing me for that outcome. I really missed them all, and moving on was difficult.”
The first Mother’s Day without her mother was extremely sad for Kathy.
“I wasn’t prepared, and it hit me hard,” she said.
After Kathy married her first husband and had two children, Joey and Brandy, they were the lights of her life. She was a stay at home mom when the children were young, which she was thankful to be able to do since her mother had worked so much. The family was busy with baseball, scouts, softball and life on her husband’s family’s farm.
It was important to Kathy that her children were raised in church and came to know God.
“I also wanted them to know that there wasn’t anything in their lives that they couldn’t bring to me,” she said. “It was in their teen years that they wanted to talk about difficult things. They both learned to work hard and are successful in their chosen professions because of the strong work ethic in-stilled in them.”
After Kathy’s children were grown and finished college, her marriage ended. Kathy worked as an LPN and later at Endoscopy Practice at Piedmont Fayette Hospital in Fayetteville, Georgia.
“I found a new strength in myself that I had not experienced before,” she said.
After Kathy met Darryl, she discovered they both loved music, Alabama football and golf, but mostly they loved the Lord and serving in various ministry capacities.
Together, they have five children and 14 grandchildren as a blended family. Kathy’s son, Joey and his wife, Saneth, live in Idaho and have five children, J.C., Amelia, Annika, Abigail and Annalise. Her daughter, Brandy, has two daughters, Kylie and Ali, and reside in Roanoke.
Darryl’s children are Chris, Chad and Amanda, and they all live locally. Chris has two daughters, Stella and Lucy. Chad has a daughter, Prezleigh, while Amanda and Jimmy have four children, Bella, Bauer, Jillian and Kinley. At an upcoming wedding in June the family will gain two more granddaughters. Darryl will honorably perform their ceremony.
With their families living locally, Kathy and Darryl enjoy taking grandchildren for ice cream and going to watch them play sports. Sometimes they take grandchildren to sports practice or games to give their parents a break.
“It is such a privilege to be a Nana,” she said.
Kathy also has a love of cooking southern style. She enjoys making dishes from scratch and feels home cooking is the best. She wishes she had paid more attention to the dishes her mother made since she was a wonderful cook. Kathy remembers a special cake she made that was a work of art.
Other “moms” in her life taught her cooking skills, including her first mother-in-law and Darryl’s mother that she remembers as a beautiful person inside and out.
Since the Harrisons are busy in ministry on Sundays, Kathy will often cook on Saturday and reheat dishes after church. The chicken casserole is good to prepare ahead and reheat.
“To me, making good food feeds not just our body, but our mind and soul,” said Kathy. “It brings comfort in a variety of ways. Darryl enjoys my homemade biscuits and cornbread fritters. Regardless of what I am cooking, it is a joyful experience that fills me with gratitude to be able to do what I love.”
Kathy is also interested in painting, floral arrangements and other crafts.
“My newest hobby has me writing songs that gives me great joy,” she said. “This is always a reminder that God is not through with me yet.”
For young mothers without family support, Kathy suggests finding someone in their church or where they work to mentor them, such as an older lady who has raised children. She said she believes in encouraging children and being slow to anger. Talk to children about why they did something and how it made them feel.
“For me, [motherhood] means my two children were gifts from God to love and cherish always,” she said. “I feel so fortunate to have been given the blessing and responsibility of motherhood. I am so proud of our children that Darryl and I share together and all of our beautiful grands that make our life so full.
“We are surrounded by people we love and enjoy sharing time together. We love serving the Lord in different capacities as well. Every day is a gift, and we rise in the mornings grateful for the blessing of a new day that we can share together.”

Kathy’s Good Chicken Casserole
½ stick butter
6 to 8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can cream of celery soup
½ tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. Kitchen Bouquet browning sauce, optional
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup extra sharp cheese, shredded
½ tsp. salt and pepper each
½ cup milk
Melt butter. Place chicken breasts in large casserole dish and pour melted butter over chicken. Mix both soups, cheese, all seasonings and milk together in a medium size bowl. Spread evenly over chicken.
Make topping and spoon and spread on top of casserole.
Bake casserole at 350 degrees for 1 hour covered with foil. Then uncover, cook another 15 minutes until topping is light brown.
1 long sleeve Ritz crackers or 3 small stack sleeves
1 stick butter
Crumble Ritz crackers well. Melt butter and mix with crumbled crackers.

Cornbread Fritters
1 cup self-rising white cornmeal
1/3 cup self-rising flour
1 tsp. sugar
1 egg
Canola oil
Combine dry ingredients and add egg; mix well. Add buttermilk in small increments into mixture to a consistency that is a little thicker than pancake batter.
In a skillet, pour canola oil to cover the bottom of pan and heat oil on medium to high. When hot, drop cornbread mixture in skillet in silver dollar sized spoonfuls, cooking on both sides until brown and firm.

My Mom’s Barbecue Beans
1 lb. lean ground beef
½ cup sweet onion, chopped
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 lb. 12 oz. can of pork and beans
½ cup ketchup
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. vinegar
½ tsp. Tabasco sauce
Brown ground beef and onions. Drain fat. Add remaining ingredients; mix well. Put into a large casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Lasagna with Four Cheeses
3 Tbsp. cooking oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1½ lbs. ground chuck
Three 16 oz. cans tomato sauce
1 Tbsp. parsley
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. oregano
1 cup ricotta cheese
16 oz. mozzarella cheese
1 box lasagna noodles
16 oz. bag of sharp cheddar cheese
3 oz. Parmesan cheese for the top
In oil, brown onion, garlic and meat. Add tomato sauce, parsley, sugar, salt and oregano. Simmer on very low heat for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, cook lasagna noodles; drain. (Or you may use the flat unbaked kind like Barilla if you choose.)
Layer noodles, sauce, ricotta, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on the top.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until lasagna is bubbly and slightly brown on top.

Darryl’s Sausage Balls
1 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups Bisquick baking mix
Hot sauce, optional
1 lb. Jimmy Dean mild sausage
¼ cup milk (if too dry)
Mix sausage, cheese and Bisquick. Add milk if difficult to mix. Roll into 1-inch balls and place on parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.

John’s Cheese Ball
12 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 small onion, finely grated
3 Tbsp. hot sauce
Chili powder to taste
Additional chili powder for rolling
Crackers for serving
Mix cheese, cream cheese, onion, hot sauce and chili powder together. Mix well. Form into a ball and roll into more chili powder for the outside. Chill. Serve with Sociable crackers or crackers of choice.

Parmesan Crusted Potatoes
3 lbs. red potatoes, washed and quartered
3 Tbsp. olive or Canola oil
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
½ tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp. olive or Canola oil to grease cookie sheet
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place potatoes in a large bowl or a gallon Zip-lock bag. Drizzle oil over potatoes and toss. Mix all dry ingredients and cheese, then toss over potatoes until evenly coated.
Place potatoes in a single layer on a large baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes then turn potatoes, then cook an additional 20 minutes.

Kathy’s Easy Apple Cobbler
Pour crust mixture into baking pan and top with apples. Crust will rise to the top.
4 Granny Smith apples and 4 Fuji or Honeycrisp apples
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup light or dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 capfuls real lemon juice
½ stick butter
½ tsp. salt
Peel apples, then cut apples into 1-inch pieces and place in a large boiling pot with water to cover about half of the apples. Add all other ingredients, stirring often. Simmer on low heat until soft.
1 stick butter, melted
1 cup milk
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup granulated sugar
In a medium-sized bowl, mix all ingredients together. Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Pour crust mixture into pan and then top with cooked apples. The crust will rise to the top while baking. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 to 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Our granddaughters love these!
1 cup softened butter
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. cornstarch
¾ tsp. salt
¾ tsp. baking soda
2 ½ cups chocolate chips, semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cream butter and both sugars until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and continue mixing for 1 minute.
Add flour in small increments, along with the cornstarch, baking soda and salt: mix well together. Fold in chocolate chips until evenly distributed.
With a soup size spoon, drop dough onto parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 11 minutes until the edges turn a light golden brown. Let stand for 5 minutes before removing from cookie sheet. Then, remove to a cooling rack to cool.

Mrs. Prince’s Cheese Wafers
1 lb. extra sharp Cabot brand cheese, shredded
2 sticks butter, room temperature
3 cups allpurpose flour
½ tsp. red pepper
1 tsp. salt
Mix cheese and butter together well; add remaining ingredients.. Either roll out and cut round half-dollar sized biscuits or 2-inch strands. Bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes or until the edges are light brown.

Ann’s Peanut Butter Balls
2 sticks butter, room temperature
16 oz. powdered sugar
12 oz. creamy peanut butter
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ bar paraffin wax
Mix butter, powdered sugar and peanut butter with a stand or portable mixer. When blended, scoop out with a spoon and roll into balls. Put in freezer for an hour.
Melt chocolate chips and paraffin wax in a double boiler: stirring well and often.
Remove peanut butter balls from freezer, and using a toothpick dip each ball into the chocolate mixture and let cool on wax paper. Fill toothpick holes with chocolate mixture.
This is a big hit, and you can store these in your refrigerator or freezer.

Crock Pot Candy
2 lbs. chocolate bark (white or milk chocolate)
1 pkg. German sweet chocolate bar
24 oz. unsalted peanuts
18 oz. semi-sweet morsels
Place all ingredients in the crock pot on low for two hours, stirring often. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto wax paper.
Let candy cool on wax paper or place in refrigerator. Store candy in an airtight container in the refrigerator.