Grace Gifts 1 to 14

When I began this blog eight years ago I was in a season of waiting to become a grandmother.  I’m very thankful to say that I am now Gran Jan to FIVE amazing grandchildren, each of them truly the sunshine of my life. Ever since I can remember I have loved to write. At this season of my life I don’t write much except in a journal during my prayer times. For the past month or so I’ve felt prompted to begin sharing God’s grace gifts here on my blog, in pictures. I counted gifts to one thousand along with Ann Voskamp several years ago. All those posts are labeled 1,000 Gifts. I absolutely love going back and reading those posts. It was a good discipline and I want to do that again. A conscious awareness of God’s goodness and grace has a profound affect on my spirit.

This inaugural GRACE GIFTS post is themed around my grandkids since they are the reason for this blog, Gran Jan’s JOY. Sometimes my posts will be themed, sometimes random, but always about His grace in my life. The older I get the more I cherish and embrace grace.

1. This is one of my favorite pictures from the Morton Family Vacation at Cape San Blas, Florida this past July. All five grands in the outside shower at our rented beach house – getting the sand rinsed off before heading in for lunch. I love how they play together and that they are close in age. These are memory-making vacations.beach-shower

2. This was such a fun impromptu picture my daughter-in-law took when the kids were running and playing in their Gran Jan “crab shirts.” I love how Abe grabbed Jackson around the waist.  Sweet smiles all around.SONY DSC

3. The kids all loved to come to Pop & Gran Jan’s room to play and I would tell them stories and we would just laugh and be silly. cape1

4. This picture we were all “bed-heads and sleepy-eyed.” It was early morning and we were all about to head home and go our separate ways. One last squeeze of their necks and my heart.headedhome

5. & 6. Jackson & Emery were in their Uncle’s wedding this summer. To me, they were the highlight of the wedding party!jemem

7. & 8. A quick trip to Cartersville one Friday evening in September was worth every moment for Pop & Gran Jan! z


9. Emery wanted a “Frozen Quilt” for her fourth birthday September 27th, so Gran Jan made one! I loved stitching every snowflake…what a precious girl!frozen

10. A quick trip to Hawkinsville for my oldest was made sweeter because he brought Abe with him! We rode around the Farm on the golfcart and enjoyed seeing the animals. abe

11. My Fall Break from work in early October started with keeping the Cartersville Crew and it was a fast weekend that included time by the pond with Zeke and Abe and their “poking sticks.” pond

12. Madie and Maybelle – sweet friends at the Farm.  She loved little Moses the donkey too. We love our miniature donkeys.fullsizerender

13. Gran Jan faced her fear of heights again this year with a ride on the Ferris Wheel at the Georgia National Fair in Perry, with Madie and Zeke.

14. This girl loves to help in the kitchen! Emery is a wonderful helper. We were making those chocolate oatmeal stovetop cookies. The recipe is here on my blog, the previous post!emc

I always try to remember to “BE ALL THERE” when I’m with my grandchildren. Sometimes I manage to, and other times I’m just trying to keep up with their boundless energy. Each time with them makes my heart happy, that’s for sure.  Gifts of grace straight to my  heart.



Old-Fashioned Chocolate-Oats Stovetop Cookie

I’ve made two batches of these old-fashioned no-bake cookies the past 2 weeks. These cookies are my husband’s all-time favorite. He reminded me of that just last week when I made them at his request. I remember my mother making these for me and my sisters when we were growing up. They are quick and I usually have all the ingredients on hand. I tell my people they are healthy with the raw oats and cocoa in them…and just don’t mention the butter and sugar. Balance anyone?cookie


  • 1 and 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla flavoring
  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1. Go ahead and line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large pan on the stovetop, bring the butter, milk, sugar and cocoa to a gentle boil, stirring until smooth.
    [Don’t boil too long – just until mixed well., about a minute.]
3. Remove from heat and stir in the peanut butter and vanilla flavoring. Mix well again.
4. Now fold in the 3 cups of oatmeal. I love this part!
5. Drop by heaping tablespoons on to the parchment paper to cool.
6. Allow them to cool and harden for about 30 minutes.
7. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days (if they last that long)!
Go make some!



Pickled Okra or Okra Pickles!

When you are blessed with friends who have both gardens and sharing hearts, this time of year you get okra, lots of okra. (Or as my Granny said, o-kree.) My friend Rhoda and I attend the same church, her family has been there way longer than we have and we’ve been at Second Baptist going on 29 years. She called me last week and said “you want some okra? I will bring it to you!” Now you know that’s a friend indeed! Because if you’ve never cut okra from a garden…well, it will make your hands and arms so itchy. But you forget all that when you are blessed to eat okra any way you can prepare it – fried, boiled, sautéed, or pickled! I’m sharing from my kitchen again with this post on how to make pickled okra.


Gran Jan’s Pickled Okra
(double or triple as needed, this recipe makes 4 pint jars)
1 ½ pounds fresh small tender okra pods
2 teaspoons dried dill
1 teaspoon celery seed
2 teaspoons minced garlic
4 teaspoons sugar
1-2 tablespoons red pepper flakes (or to taste, or may omit)
(or use fresh cayenne or jalapeño peppers – 1 per jar)
3 tablespoons canning/pickling salt
2 cups water
2 cups vinegar
4 one-pint canning jars and lids, sterilized

1. Prepare jars by washing, sterilizing and simmering bands/lids/jars.
2. Prepare okra by rinsing well under cold running water. Trim just stem ends of okra, leaving the cap intact. Soak okra in cool water for about an hour then drain and pat dry.

3. Place the spices (dill, celery seed, garlic, sugar, pepper flakes) in a bowl and mix well. Divide evenly among the jars.3
3. Put okra in the sterilized canning jars, placing some of the pods up and some down, packing tightly.4
4. Bring water, vinegar, and salt to a good rolling boil.
5. Ladle the hot vinegar into the jars of okra and spices, filling to within ¼” of the top.
6. Make sure there are no air bubbles in jars, wipe rims clean, and cover jars with lids and screw bands firmly in place. Turn jar gently back and forth in your hand a time or two to mix the spices.
7. Process jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Remove jars from water and cool on a dish towel on your kitchen counter. Jars should seal as they cool. I love to hear the pops!


Allow pickles to mature at least 2 weeks before consuming, if you can’t wait…go ahead and eat some!



Gran Jan’s Tomato Pie

Yes, TOMATO PIE! This savory pie recipe is one my husband requests often. He loves it! In fact I made two just yesterday afternoon. With all the wonderful fresh tomatoes available this time of year, it is a summer staple for us. Add a nice green salad, or even a vegetable side and you have a great meal. Tom Pie

1 9” pie shell, I buy the Pillsbury ones that come 2 to a package in the refrigerated section of the grocery store , and I use my own pie plates.
• 1 sweet onion (Vidalia if available), chopped & cooked in microwave for 2-3 minutes with a splash of olive or canola oil
• 3-4 medium size ripe tomatoes, diced and drained to remove juice (I let them sit in a colander for a few minutes)
• 2 cups grated cheese (sharp cheddar & mozzarella mix, could use pepper jack)
• 2 strips of bacon, cooked crisply and crumbled
• ¾ cup mayonnaise
• 3 to 4 dashes hot sauce (optional, but actually I use about 7 good dashes)
• salt & pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, place room temperature pie shell in pie plate, and then place in oven to allow to lightly brown for 7-10 minutes.

2. Remove pie shell from oven and set aside. 
3. Place the microwaved chopped onions first in the bottom of pie shell.
4. Next spread tomatoes over the onions, salt/pepper to taste, then top the tomato layer with crumbled bacon
5. Mix cheese, mayo, & hot sauce together
6. Spread cheese/mayo mixture over tomatoes and bacon
7. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until browned, and be sure to let pie cool for 10-15 minutes before serving/slicing



Gran Jan Camp – 2016

The inaugural Gran Jan Camp was a long-awaited event for me. Before I was even a grandmother I heard Mrs. Esther Burroughs speak at a women’s retreat. She is a great mentor to many women.  She shared about her “Nana Camp,” and I decided right then I would do that one day. Well that day came last month, the week of June 20-24, 2016. I talked with a couple of other grandmas and decided the requirements for Gran Jan Camp would be completion of first grade. So this Inaugural Gran Jan Camp 2016 was one-on-one with my oldest grandson Zeke, who just finished first grade.  (The 2017 Camp will include Madie and Jackson as they are both about to enter first grade, then it will be a couple of years before Emery and Abe will join their camper cousins.)

Having this uninterrupted time with Zeke for a solid week was very special to me and to my husband Gary (Pop).  We are thankful for his parents who shared him with us for a week and for the opportunity to invest in his life without the distractions of a quick visit or a hurried schedule.  I’m going to share some pictures from our time together.

We met my son Jeremy and his family after church on Sunday afternoon June 19 (Father’s Day) in Atlanta at a family favorite restaurant, THE VARSITY, to get Zeke and bring him home with us for Camp. When I sat down next to Zeke at the table, he said, “FINALLY!” Almost as if he knew how long I had been anticipating this event myself…even before I was a grandma. We stopped for delicious peach ice cream at Lane Southern Orchards on the way home from Atlanta. We were off to a sweet and delicious beginning!Lane


We enjoyed early morning coffee on the porch, a tradition Zeke and I began when he was a toddler (his coffee was mostly milk with a splash of coffee…still is).  We would have our journal and prayer time after breakfast, and then we just played and enjoyed the day.  My friend Mary Perdue told me to keep in mind that time together was the priority, not the theme or the plans.  She was exactly right.  Zeke told me right away he didn’t want it to be like school, he just wanted us to play and have fun!  So that’s what we did, and I have no regrets.

This is Zeke sitting in my chair in my quiet time place. The first day of camp was actually the Summer Solstice that included a full moon, an event that won’t be repeated in my lifetime. The longest day of the year, how much better could it get? The day with the most daylight and I got to share it with Zeke! We read from Genesis every morning about God’s creation and of course on Day 1, God said “let there be light.” The significance of all of that was not lost on me or Zeke. So we talked about His Light and the longest day of daylight. I will be honest – this was Gran Jan’s favorite time because we prayed and shared together and I was able to speak into his heart and life. We memorized Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of our God stands forever.”  I kept his journal and next year he will add to it. I will give the grandkids their journals when they graduate from Gran Jan Camp, which I hope is when they are about 30… 🙂GJCampOne afternoon we drove to an animal farm out in the country and bought a new miniature donkey for the Morton Farm, actually to keep our little girl donkey, Maybelle company.  Zeke named him Moses Morton and they took to each other so quickly. Moses seemed to recognize that Zeke was a little person too. Moses

We  enjoyed our time at this farm out in Eastman, Georgia. The farmer had every type of bird, duck, goose, chicken…and even peacocks! Have you ever heard a peacock? They are extremely LOUD and beautiful!Camp2

On Wednesday afternoon Zeke and Pop and I went to see the movie “Finding Dory.”  It was a great way to escape the heat and enjoy an outing.Camp1

After the movie we went shopping and Zeke told me he wanted some new pajamas with sharks on them. I was so hoping we could find some because we had also had some learning time at Camp about sharks, orcas, whales and big sea creatures…at the request of Zeke. I will admit I actually learned way more than he did because he already knew everything we studied. He is one smart boy! Guess what? Kohl’s had 2 sets of pajamas in Zeke’s size and they BOTH had sharks on them.  God is in the details, oh yes He is! CAMPfun

After shopping for pjs, we went to church and Zeke went to choir rehearsal with me. I enjoyed that so much. Then of course he wanted to play around in the inside playroom – it was way too hot to be outside and he was way too big since our last visit there, as shown in the above picture…he is growing up so fast.

Every evening we enjoyed rides around the farm in our trusty golf cart. I let Zeke drive and he did an excellent job. This was taken at dusk when we were way way out in the big 25-acre hayfield. I pray these memories will hold in both mine and Zeke’s heart. It was really a special week.Farm

We also enjoyed some time by the pond in the early evenings. Zeke and Pop did some fishing and we made s’mores by the firepit too. No big agendas, just quality uninterrupted time…two-way conversations with lots of listening on both sides, truly priceless. Time to actually hear the things on this little fella’s heart. He is mighty special!Camp22


On our last day of Gran Jan Camp, Zeke wrote a letter to his “18-year-old-self” and we buried a time capsule. Pop picked out a great spot with room for the next 4 time capsules and a place we could find and remember. 🙂 Zeke put some items in the capsule and we decided we would dig it back up when he turned 18.  I read the letter Zeke wrote and one of the things he included was memorizing Isaiah 40:8.  He wrote, “I hope you still remember this…” I do too little buddy, I do too!Camp3


We had a wonderful week and I’m already looking forward to the next year, and the next and the next…Lord willing as my Granny Maloy always said about anything she was planning for the future.

If you’re a grandmother, I hope you’ll consider doing something similar with your grandchildren. Make it your own, do whatever works for your family. But just do it! You will not regret the investment of time. And when it’s over you can take 2 Advil and enjoy a long nap…



My Story, My Song – 31 Today!

31  birthday cake

Today is the 31st time I am celebrating July 7th, as I have every year since 1985! It’s my re-birthday! The day I was born again, redeemed by Jesus Christ. The day HE called my name!

So very thankful that I have the blessed assurance that it is well with my soul. 

Here is last year’s post with the song that blesses me EVERY SINGLE TIME I hear it – Chris Tomlin’s “Jesus Loves Me.”

He Called My Name 30 Years Ago Today!

My heart was a stone when He came for me…

I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His presence…

Couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His arms – JESUS, He Loves Me!

Never gotten over that day, never been the same!




Today is a BIG day – a very BIG day – for several reasons! First, it is the inaugural day of GRAN JAN CAMP! That will be a post for later when my heart has calmed enough that I can even write. “Grandmother Camp” is something I learned about from Esther Burroughs years ago before I even became a grandmother. (She calls hers Nana Camp.)  Zeke is my only camper this year. The prerequisite to camp is finishing first grade. He just did! Next year I will have 3 campers – Zeke, Madie, and Jackson! And so it goes…until Emery & Abe are added. Gran Jan’s JOY runs deep. I can’t wait to post…Tasting-Grace-Pre-buy-800x671

Next, today is the day (Summer Solstice) that pre-sale begins for the book of which I am co-author with Leah Adams. TASTING GRACE is a woman’s mentoring-in-the-kitchen ministry. It first began in the hearts of Jan Hamil and I. It has absolutely brought us so much JOY – the simplicity of Tasting Grace is so refreshing. Sharing the Word of God, teaching a cooking skill, sharing a recipe, and sweet fellowship together. Mentoring that is practical and precious in a day of drive-through, hurry up, social media hype!

And have I shared with you that BETH MOORE wrote the foreword for the book? What grace for Leah and me to have that blessing! Only God!

Tasting Grace is a book that offers women  a complete how-to guide to hosting their own event. The book includes four weeks of Bible study with a focus on biblical mentoring. There are five days of Bible study in each week of the study that will take about 10-15 minutes each day to complete. Also in the book are recipes, devotionals, and tips from Leah and me on how to host a Tasting Grace kitchen event in the reader’s home or church.

Tasting Grace will not be in bookstores until August 1st, but our wonderful publisher, Warner Press, is opening up for pre-launch orders. Beginning TODAY, and running through July 18th, you can pre-buy Tasting Grace.

If you pre-order the book, you will get some extras: a digital version of the book in addition to your print copy. TWO FOR THE PRICE OF ONE!!!  You will also get access to a private Facebook page for the book. Also, in addition to the wonderful recipes contained in the book, pre-buy friends will receive a few extra special recipes that are mine and Leah’s favorites!

Please consider pre-ordering a book today! 🙂

Love & prayers and much thanks,