First Days of School Days – 2015

All my grandchildren have returned to school. The two littlest ones are actually going to pre-school, but all five of them are in “school.” I am writing this post for the sheer JOY of having these pictures all in one spot so that I may look back on them one day. This blog is all about these great and wonderful blessings called grandchildren, Gran Jan’s JOY. They make me smile from the inside out. Just thinking about them can stir my heart.

My prayer for them this school year is that God will:

  • guard their hearts,
  • protect them from bullies,
  • keep them safe and well,
  • help them stand strong,
  • help them be kind to everyone,
  • help them have friends and be friends,
  • help them be a blessing to their teachers and…
  • instill in them the character of Christ and that the plans He has for them will begin to take shape.

ZEKE1-Zeke

MADIE1-Madie

JACKSON1-Jackson

EMERY1-Emery

ABE1-Abe

Amen and amen, in the Mighty Name of Jesus!

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Scripture Memory Team Verse 16 – August 15, 2015

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Ephesians 3:16 (NLT)
 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources
he will empower you with
inner strength through his Spirit
.

What a great prayer for busy women of God, for anyone truly. Whatever your current life season – busy mom, working a busy job, empty nester, student, single mom – we all need the power of the Spirit of God to strengthen us.  I love the Amplified version of this verse too:  May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the [Holy] Spirit [Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality].  This isn’t about fatigue. In fact, I don’t know many women who aren’t fatigued – this is about inner strength – HOPE – JOY – PEACE in your inner person.

This is my prayer for you today – for whenever you happen to come across this post. It is timeless and forever. Call upon the Name of the Lord, His strength will carry you with any task or burden you are facing. Way down deep.  Where it counts.

Lord help me memorize this one well, to be able to pray it over and over again, for myself and for others.  Amen.

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Scripture Memory Team Verse 15 – August 1, 2015

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Psalm 116:2 (HCSB)
Because He has turned His ear to me,
I will call out to Him as long as I live.

This verse is amazing and oh so comforting to me! Dr. Thomas Constable  says this Psalm is uncommonly affectionate. A heart of gratitude to God for hearing the cries of His child. I saw the picture below while scrolling through Instagram recently. My friend Michelle Rodriguez had posted this picture and it caught my attention. Then last week at the funeral of a pastor, I heard the verse referenced again. I perked up and listened to the context. IMG_0465It is simple, really. God listens to us when we pray. Why do we make it so hard or complex? (I said we.) There is a little book that I dearly love and love to recommend. It is called The Power of Crying Out, When Prayer Becomes Mighty, by Bill Gothard. I’ve read through the book several times. It’s a go-to book for me. I remember during the season of praying for my oldest son and his wife as they were desperately asking God for a child. I believe with all my heart, soul, mind and strength that when I get to Heaven it will be revealed to me that God heard my intercessory cries on their behalf and Zeke Morton was born. [And then followed Madie, and Abe…Zeke’s younger siblings and more gifts straight from the Hand of God.] This picture was made a couple of months ago after Zeke had spent some time at the Morton Farm with me and Pop. [We Mortons dearly love to stop at The Atlanta Varsity!]GranJan-ZekeHere is an overview of that powerful little book:

When members of the early church cried out to God in urgent need, the place shook with the power of their supplication. In this compelling vision for modern-day supplication, Bill Gothard recognizes the key truth that only God’s almighty power can rescue His children in times of distress. Using illustrations from Scripture and testimonies from everyday people, Gothard demonstrates the power of crying out — and how God can shake the world of those who cry out to Him today.

I encourage you to really trust God in that He hears and He listens. There is a difference you know. He cares. I am confident.

Blessings today to you,

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My Sister Jean ~ She Lived 25 Years, She’s Been Gone 30 Years…

Five years ago today I wrote the following post on the 25th anniversary of my sister Jean’s death, July 19, 2010. Today now marks 30 years since she’s been gone. I miss her every day…we all do, my parents, my sisters Joan and Jo, her daughter Amy and other family members. Thankful one day there will be a reunion the likes of which I can’t even imagine! 

Sisters are Different Flowers From the Same Garden…

I am the oldest of four girls all named by our parents with “P.J.” inititals, Pamela Jan, Phyllis Jean, Patricia Joan, Peggy Jo; all called by our middle names. This picture was taken back in 1981 as we celebrated our parents’ 25th wedding anniversary.  (We are standing in birth order, with me on the far left.)

This past January 18th would have been Jean’s 50th birthday if she had lived. But God had other plans, and my sister died on July 19, 1985, 25 years ago.  She was only 25 years old when a tragic car accident took her life instantly.  She’s been gone for as long as she lived.  Some days it seems like only yesterday…and other days I mourn every one of those 25 years. 

I have scanned in some photos from our early years.  Every memory I have of my childhood includes my sister Jean as we were so close in age.  This could well be one of our first photos together.  I was 2 years, 2 months and 2 days old when she was born in January of 1960.

 This photograph is one of my favorites of Jean and me with our mother.
I was a brown-eyed brunette (still am), and she was a blue-eyed blonde!
 Here we are on Christmas Day – I especially love my memories of Christmases with Jean.  We loved this kitchen set, and always played “house” with our baby dolls.
We played outside for hours with this old dog.
Even though I am older, she was often my defender in squabbles.
Here we are all decked out for Easter with matching hats and dresses. 
I was 7 years old, Jean was 5, and our baby sister Joan was 9 months old.
Jo was born the very next year on Good Friday.
 This is Jean and I in front of our home in Hawaii.
Our Dad was a career Marine, and our family lived in Hawaii during
his duty there. We loved our years in Hawaii and the timing was
great as we were teenagers and we loved the beach!

A few months ago when the thought resonated in my heart that Jean had been gone as long as she had lived, I asked my mom if us girls could spend the day togther to remember Jean and celebrate her life. So that is what we did this past July 19th.  My sisters and our mom went to the cemetery and put flowers on Jean’s grave. 

There is a quote that Jean always loved, so her sweet husband had it carved into her beautiful pink granite tombstone at the bottom.  It says:

With each rising sun,
think of life as just beginning.
Show kindness and love today,
for tomorrow’s chance may be lost.

It was extremely hot that day, and we didn’t tarry too long.  But we did what we came for. We talked about how much we miss Jean, and we shed some tears. We visited our paternal grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ graves, and many of my Dad’s siblings’ graves too.  After we left the cemetery, we had lunch together and did a little shopping.  It was good to just be together.  We wanted to remember her, but not to mourn as those who have no hope! Jean had a little girl, our sweet niece Amy, who was not quite two years old when her momma died.  I texted Amy and told her what we were doing, and she was so glad.  She lives out of state or she would have joined us.  She is so much like her momma.  It is absolutely uncanny when I watch Amy and see Jean’s hand motions and facial expressions.  She did not get the privilege to raise her girl, but she lives on in her every day.  Amy is so beautiful.

This picture of Jean and Amy was taken not long before Jean died.
I cannot tell you how Jean’s death devasted our lives. The morning of her funeral was the darkest day I have ever known.  My heart was broken for my parents more than anything. Jean’s death remains the greatest loss in our family.  But this I know! Jesus gives grace and He is so faithful.  We turned to Him for comfort and He met us every time.  We miss her every day, and when the family is together, we are not complete.  But I know beyond doubt that a day is coming when we will be together again in Heaven!  Because of the atoning death of Jesus Christ on the cross and our faith in Him as Lord and Savior – we will see her again one day, alive and whole.Blessings to you all.  Love your family every day, for tomorrow’s chance may be lost…
Jan

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Scripture Memory Team Verse 14 – July 15, 2015

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Psalm 118:8
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in man.

I don’t believe I can make this verse any clearer without insulting you blog readers.  I know for myself there are times when I want to run to a friend or co-worker with an issue that doesn’t even concern them. I find myself wanting to just talk it out. That isn’t always a wise decision on my part. The older I get the more I realize the wisdom in keeping some things to myself. Taking time to let things “press in and process” in my heart…mull over as the old-timers say. Now this isn’t to discount that there aren’t times I need to seek wise counsel. When that need arises in my life I always talk to my husband. He is wise and trustworthy and he genuinely always desires the best for me, but he isn’t afraid to call it what it is. Whatever “it” may be. :) I also have several friends I can count on to speak truth to me. Lanie, Patsy, Cindy, Teresa…

However in those times when you need a “refuge,” [shelter or protection from danger, trouble] you better take it to the Lord. Don’t trust in people. They will let you down and sometimes the way down is a hard fall. To me taking refuge in the Lord means getting alone with Him, the Bible in my hands, and a quiet place to pray and wait. Time to be still and cease striving. Hope this encourages you today and this verse will come to you just when you need that refuge the most!

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The Loft Linkup [Potluck…]

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I’ve been away from “THE LOFT” for two weeks and I’ve missed this weekly connection with new friends and certainly my friend Leah Adams However, I thoroughly enjoyed some time away from my office and all things electronic and media – but I’m glad to be back today with this Potluck topic.

My dictionary app defines potluck as “a food or a meal that happens to be available without special preparation or purchase; a meal especially for a large group to which participants bring various foods to share; whatever is available or comes one’s way.”

To me, the word Potluck brings to mind memories of 38 years as a pastor’s wife and many, many, many (did I say many?) covered dish lunches, suppers, and fellowship times around the table. I believe meal time is so important and something sadly missing in today’s families. A time to relax, connect, and share conversation. When I was growing up we didn’t eat on the run, or really even eat “out” very often. Most families ate at home…together. Some of my sweetest memories surround being in the kitchen with my mother and my sisters.  Although I do recall many squabbles with whose turn it was to wash the dishes and whose turn it was to dry! Gotta love being raised in a house full of sisters. To this day one of my favorite times is when both of my boys have their feet back under their mama’s table! 3GenerationsSo for our potluck gathering today at The Loft I am going to literally share a potluck with you – some of my favorite recipes. Click on the title link below for each one and I hope you will try one, or some, or all of them. I will tell you that the meatloaf recipe receives more “hits” than any on my blog! So fun!

Icebox Banana Pudding

Morton Meatloaf – Delicious!

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Jalepeno Cornbread Muffins

Southern Tomato Sandwich :)

Peach Cobbler!

Quick & Easy Lasagna

Buttermilk Biscuits

Happy Potluck! It’s Wednesday, how about that? Many churches have potluck suppers on Wednesday night!

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He Called My Name 30 Years Ago Today!

Thirty years ago today I became a believer in Jesus Christ. I can honestly say on that day…July 7, 1985, as this song by Chris Tomlin says, “I stepped out of the dark and into the light when He called my name. I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His presence…”   This song shares exactly how I felt that hot Sunday morning in Athens, Georgia at Central Baptist Church…

So very thankful that I have the blessed assurance that it is well with my soul. I wrote my whole story here a few years ago Heaven Came Down. I do celebrate July 7th each year, but this 30 year anniversary is extra special. I’m off work today, I’ve had time alone to remember and ponder and pray. Thankful, blessed, rejoicing. 

Never gotten over that day, never been the same!

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Scripture Memory Team Verse 13 – July 1, 2015

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Having just spent a week away at the wonderful “forgotten coast” along the Gulf of Mexico in Florida (Cape San Blas), my verse selection was very special…

Psalm 95:5
The sea is His, for it was He who made it

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This beautiful view was from the porch of the home we rented for the week. There is something peaceful about the ocean for me. I love the sound of the waves and the constant breezes.

But my favorite view of the week was the precious faces of my five grandchildren. I loved having uninterrupted time with them last week. Waking up to see them all in their pajamas and playing together all day until they went to bed at night, and then beginning that over again and again each morning. Thankful!5Grands-July 4 2015

Thankful to know the wonderful Creator of that beautiful ocean, and thankful that He knows my Name!

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The Loft Linkup [Picture Prompt…]

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Loft-HaybaleHow fun to have a picture prompt for our writing assignment for The Loft Linkup this week! Especially when these hay bales are tugging at my heart as they remind me of my father…and of course, it’s also Father’s Day Weekend.

When we moved to the Morton Farm eight years ago one of the things my dad was most excited about was a 25 acre field of coastal Bermuda hay that was already there.  Of course it needed some care and fertilizer and so that’s what he began to do. It now feeds the cows that have been added and dad also sells it to farmers and horse owners around our county. Here is dad on his BIG JOHN DEERE tractor, the hay barn full of baled hay, and the cows getting a fresh bale in the hay ring. IMG_1862 IMG_7543 IMG_3182So this lovely prompt of the peaceful hay bales reminds me of my dad. He celebrated his 81st birthday this past April. He is active and healthy (slowing down some, yes), a career Marine (still a Marine), and a great daddy to me and my 3 little sisters growing up.  He also has 7 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren that call him Papaw. I dedicated a post to him when he celebrated his 79th birthday in 2013 because we almost lost him a few months earlier due to a serious pneumonia and 52-day hospital stay. But he rallied and as he prayed recently over a family meal “Lord, I know I’m really not supposed to be here, but I thank you…”IMG_2055

I say thank you too for a father who I’ve always looked up to and respected.

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Scripture Memory Team Verse 12 – June 15, 2015

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Those of us participating in the Scripture Memory Team with Beth Moore’s Living Proof Ministries have crossed the halfway point now. I don’t have my 11 prior verses perfectly memorized, but I’m starting to go over them more and more.

Psalm 119:114
You are my hiding place and my shield;

I hope in Your word.

He is my hiding place and my shield. A Place to go and a Protector to defend. He is everything, and His Word is truth, my lifeline. His Word sustains me in every situation I face.  My pastor, Dr. Jim Perdue preached through Psalm 119 [Life By the Book] last Fall. This is his message below from the portion of Psalm 119 from which my verse is selected:

Keep clean and close to Jesus. He wants to be and will be your hiding place and shield too. Your hiding place when you need to rest and renew…your shield when the battle is raging all around. You can emerge from the hiding place because He is your shield. After the battle you can run back to the hiding place. Either situation or time, rest or battle…HE IS ALWAYS THERE!

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