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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The Loft Linkup [The Place I Call Home…]

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This week over on  THE LOFT LINKUP at Leah’s Blog our writing assignment is “The Place I Call Home.” I love this topic and claim it joyfully because I am such a homebody. Even as a little girl I wasn’t one to easily spend the night with friends. I love home!

So…HOME is one of my favorite words. I really am a homebody. The dictionary defines me as “a person who prefers pleasures that center around the home; stay-at-home.” That’s me! I have a small TV in my sewing space/happy place that I enjoy. The 1970s series The Waltons airs on the Hallmark Channel in the evenings. That’s when I can usually be found sewing as I also work outside the home during the day. The other night Grandpa Walton said “home is one of the sweetest words there is!” I heartily agree with Grandpa.

This week at The Loft is especially timely to me because my husband and I moved “home” eight years ago to the day. We moved in with my parents on our 30th wedding anniversary, June 11, 2007.  So I came back home 30 years to the day I left home…on my wedding day, June 11, 1977. We moved in with them while our new home was being built right across the pasture from them. We all bought land together 8 years ago. So yes, yesterday we celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary.

Last night my husband and I went out for dinner for our anniversary to a place called The Carriage House, a restaurant that is in an old home :) out in the country not far from where we live. While there we talked about the different homes and apartments we’ve lived in since we set up housekeeping 38 years ago. We built our country home 8 years ago, and we plan to retire in this home, “Lord willing,” as my Granny Maloy always said (James 4:15). I stopped and took this picture with my iPhone as I pulled out of our driveway this morning…IMG_9968Growing up in a military family I moved many times in my childhood. In fact, I had attended 10 different schools in 12 years by the time I graduated. But my sweet mother always made every home a real home for me and my sisters. She and my Marine Corps father always made sure we girls had our bedrooms set up first…then came the kitchen, which is the heart of my home to this day. So my training for making a house a home is special to me. When I married a minister man :) back in 1977 I figured my moving days would begin again, but it hasn’t been that way. In 38 years of marriage and ministry we’ve served three churches and we’ve been home at Second Baptist, our “Second Family” for 27 years now. That is one of the greatest joys of our lives, raising our boys in one church, one town, one home.

When we moved to the farm eight years ago our whole priority in the move centered around family. A place where we could be near my aging parents (who are active and healthy still) and a place where our boys and their wives could come “home.” Since then, 5 precious grandchildren have been added to our family. They love to come to the farm. We pick blueberries, we fish in the pond, we ride the John Deere Gator around, we rip and run in the fields. We bird watch and we animal watch. We just “be.” It’s our homeplace. Ministry and working are great blessings and are also exhausting at times. Home is our place to center ourselves, to rest, rejuvenate and recover.

I am so happy to share my homeplace  “Three Willows Farm,” (named after the 3 big Weeping Willow trees at the pond) with you. The best way I can do that is to give you a little tour through pictures. Thank you for stopping in, and welcome to our home. You will drive down the lane of Willow Oaks and if you turn left you will come to our home and turning right will take you to my parents. They would welcome you too!IMG_9970We could visit my garden and then sit on the back patio to enjoy the blooming Confederate Star Jasmine. Or we could sit in a rocking chair on the front porch, or on the swing by the pond’s firepit. We have lots and lots of choices for sitting places around the farm because we enjoy sitting and talking and sharing and drinking a glass of tea. IMG_9977IMG_9985IMG_9986IMG_9975IMG_9974Farms and cows go together and so do farms and grandkids. We’ve got plenty of each and we’re thankful, most especially for the grandkids of course!IMG_9987IMG_9981IMG_9976IMG_9980IMG_9998IMG_1785IMG_9999The pond is a great place to gather to sit and think, pray, and fish! Lots of family time is spent at the pond, especially around the firepit in the evenings.IMG_9994IMG_9990IMG_9973IMG_9991IMG_9989IMG_9992

Another happy place is our big old country kitchen. This girl loves to cook and loves to feed folks! Here we are gathered around the table and around the Christmas tree…3GenerationsIMG_9979Home for me the past 38 years and 1 day has been where this man is!  He’s led our home and loved our home and taken care of our home and I’m a blessed woman. IMG_9982As believers in Christ we know that God’s Word teaches us from 2 Corinthians 5:1 that “the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” Old songs also speak of our heavenly homes, “this world is not my home, I’m just a passing through…” and newer songs do the same “All I know is I’m not home yet, this is not where I belong…” I sang a song with our choir for many years entitled “I just call it home,” and it was all about heaven. The chorus was so beautiful and true:

Some call it heaven, where life will not cease.
Some call it paradise, a land of sweet peace.
Some call it glory, with eyes on the throne,
But I’m longing for Jesus, so I just call it home.

I’m ready for that great homecoming! Thank  you all for stopping by today.

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The Loft Linkup [I Am…]

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I am joining in a weekly link-up with my friend LEAH ADAMS called “The Loft” and am really looking forward to this.  Topics are assigned and you write and share. This appeals to the student and life-long learner in me. This week’s assignment is a sort of introduction, hence “I am…”

I am Jan, a woman of faith in Jesus Christ…a seasoned woman. Seasoned is a sweet way to say I am older. Born in 1957 – age 57! [I love that number alignment that won’t come around again.] I am a woman of many roles, but I first want to say this – I am a woman who knows THE GREAT I AM. Here is a link to MY STORY! Jan_MortonI am a wife, a pastor’s wife ~ I have been married for 38 years to my high school sweetheart Gary. He is such a fine man and we are still in love. I respect him so much. He has been a worship pastor and in ministry for over 40 years. In fact we first met at a country church and I was only 16 years old. He was leading the choir and congregation that long ago Sunday, and we caught each other’s eye even then.October2014I am a mom ~ I have two grown sons and they have brought me more joy than I ever dreamed. Raising them has been my life’s privilege. My oldest is the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Cartersville, Georgia. My youngest works as a program manager involving something with the F-15 and the B-1 planes (I’m really not sure – it’s technical) for the United States Air Force (he is a civilian). They both love what they do and I’m so proud of them. They love their mama too. (Oldest on right below, youngest on left.)BoysI am a mother-in-law ~ My boys married two classy girls and they are precious to me. They love my boys and take care of their homes and children. They are tall and beautiful and gifts of God to our family, both of them are answers to many prayers for my boys. (Blonde is married to my oldest, brunette is married to my youngest.)IMG_3950I AM GRAN JAN ~ I had to put that in all caps because…5 grandchildren! Ain’t nothing like it. The inspiration for my blog, the JOYS of my heart! They are ages 6½, 5, 5, 2½, and 1½. To me, grandchildren are God’s best “do-over” and I am smitten with every single one of them.NovemberI am a daughter/daughter-in-law/sister/sister-in-law/aunt/niece/cousin ~ My parents live next door and are in good health. I cherish all my people. This is my family of origin, I’m the oldest of 4 sisters. One is in heaven. Dad and usI am an employee ~ I have a good job working as the Administrative Assistant to our local School Superintendent. I can retire in less than 2 ½ years and I’m longing for that season, but aim not to miss anything in my current season. be all thereI am a simple woman. I don’t think I’m  even high maintenance (whatever that means). I really love to be home, puttering in my garden, working on a quilt in my sewing room, reading a book, sitting in the swing by our pond, or cooking a meal. I love to sing in my church’s choir, teach the Bible and plan women’s ministry events. I’m healthy and strong and I really do “shout for joy at the work of His Hands.” I love the night sky, full moons, and God’s glorious creation. When I found that dove nesting in my River Birch tree this past weekend…IMG_4159IMG_439094339-6IMG_439094338-7IMG_4215I was recently a guest writer/contributor on Beth Moore’s blog a few months ago as part of a Scripture Memory Team. My post there tells some more about who I AM and the SEASONS OF LIFE. I am looking forward to meeting others in The Loft.

Blessings,

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Icebox Banana Pudding

BPI reached way back in my recipe box this past weekend for this Southern delight! By way back I mean I’ve had this recipe for over 30 years… Even the title signifies it’s an old recipe. You don’t hear the refrigerator called an “icebox” these days! There was a sweet older woman in our church in Athens, Georgia named Miss Lillie Bell, and this is her recipe. When I was a young wife and mama she was a mentor to me, but I didn’t realize that’s what was happening at the time. All I knew was that she loved me. She just quietly came alongside and helped me with my two young boys. She worked in a mill that made clothes for children and she literally provided clothes for my boys when they were toddlers.  She made teacakes for my husband Gary too – that will be another post for another time!

I brought this banana pudding to work yesterday to celebrate working surviving :) one year in the Superintendent’s office. (See yesterday’s post!) Here is the recipe for you:

ICEBOX BANANA PUDDING

  • 2 four-serving sizes of Jell-O Vanilla Instant Pudding Mix
  • 3 cups of cold milk
  • 1 can of Eagle Brand condensed milk
  • 1 large container of Cool Whip
  • 1 box of Nilla Wafers (no off brands please)
  • 6 to 7 bananas

I layer mine in a trifle bowl – wanted you to know that first!

  1. Using a mixer (I use a hand mixer) mix the instant pudding mix and 3 cups of cold milk in a large bowl.
  2. Pour the Eagle Brand milk in the pudding mixture, continue to mix until creamy and well blended.
  3. Now add 1/2 to 2/3 of the Cool Whip (save enough to spread on top) to the pudding mixture and mix well.
  4. Layer in this order: vanilla wafers, bananas, pudding, vanilla wafers, bananas, pudding…repeat!
  5. Top with Cool Whip.
  6. Chill at least 4 hours or overnight is best.

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