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.

GranJan-BlogSignature

 

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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.

GranJan-BlogSignature

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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,

GranJan-BlogSignature

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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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Scripture Memory Team Verse 11 – June 1, 2015

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Proverbs 3:21-22 (NLT)

21 My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment.
    Hang on to them,
22 for they will refresh your soul.
    They are like jewels on a necklace.

Jewels

Common sense – a flower that doesn’t grow in everyone’s garden. In fact, there appears to be great disparity of common sense in our society. The definition for common sense is sound practical judgment that is independent of specialized knowledge, training, or the like; normal native intelligence.”  And then there’s discernment…”acuteness of judgment and understanding.” I believe each are gifts and go hand in hand, or better yet, heart to heart. 

Today, June 1, is the one-year anniversary in my job as Administrative Assistant to our School Superintendent. [I’ve been working in our local school system for 26 years, promoted into this position June 1, 2014.] This year my job has been challenging and oftentimes lonesome. (It really is lonely at the top, and by “top” I don’t mean to sound arrogant, but my boss is the boss of everybody, and also the boss of me!)  I’ve learned so much and I’ve prayed for wisdom in trying situations, but I’m telling you…good old common sense and discernment have been my special comrades each day.

My favorite part of this passage is “they will refresh your soul.” Folks with common sense really are refreshing to one’s soul. Have you ever heard someone that can just bring something down to the level of good old common sense? That is refreshing, isn’t it?  In this world today it appears that folks not only lack common sense, some appear to have no sense. Voting on what marriage is? Come on people – God established that and it has not changed. Common sense, please!

So today as I post my scripture memory verse, I am thankful to say that I desperately want to never lose sight of common sense and discernment. I’m going to hang on to them and keep my soul refreshed.

As Voltaire said, “Common sense is not so common.”  So fashion that necklace of jewels around your neck and hang on tight to common sense and discernment! You will be the better for it and so will those around you.

GRANJAN

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Scripture Memory Team Verse 10 – May 15, 2015

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Psalm 68:19 [Amplified Bible]

Blessed be the Lord,
Who bears our burdens and carries us day by day,
even the God Who is our salvation!
Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!

I’m reading through the Chronological Bible this year. I am enjoying this plan very much and learning more than I ever imagined, which always makes me happy. [Just this morning I spent some time trying to identify a bird I’ve seen around our pond this Spring. I pray I never cease wanting to discover and learn. I believe it keeps me young…at heart. The bird was an Eastern Kingbird in case you’re interested.]  :)

Anyway, I am now in the Psalms and they are beautifully arranged.  The Psalms of King David come alive as you read them aligned with the times of despair in his life as he was writing them.  I read PSALM 68 recently and this was one of those jump off the page verses for me. My favorite portion is that the Lord carries us day by day. I pray I never lose sight of that wonderful truth. Obviously the Psalmist felt the same way as he exhorts us to “Selah…pause and calmly think of that.”

So when I need to pause and calmly think of that awesome truth, I pray the Good Lord brings this memory verse to my mind. I’m thankful for God as He is my burden bearer, day by day carrier, and my salvation.

In Christ,

GRANJAN

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Scripture Memory Team Verse 9 – May 1, 2015

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Things are hard in our country, our world. Just the past week…the awful riots in Baltimore over the death of a young man while in police custody, the tragic loss of thousands of lives in Nepal due to an earthquake, our Supreme Court attempting to decide or rather “redefine” marriage. This I know and this I believe with all my heart – God is not asleep and He is on His throne. He knows the score and He is in charge. He will sort it all out one day and I must trust and pray.

Ephesians 4:3
Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit,
binding yourselves together with peace.

I know I’m not home yet…I’m a sojourner here. But I want to be united and at peace with others, by His Spirit – until that appointed day He calls for me. We must bind ourselves together. This verse says to “make every effort.” That means we have to be earnest, diligent and purposeful in our living. This is a challenge I face every single day. Memorizing the Word of God helps me in this EFFORT.  And God is so good to bring passages of scripture to my heart and mind in ways that I know He is leading, guiding.

Jesus be near,

GRANJAN

 

 

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TASTE & SEE – A Mentoring Ministry in the Kitchen!

Psalm 34:8
Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!

Even with all the ways for people to connect through social media nowadays, nothing replaces a face-to-face conversation. And there is something REALLY special about gathering around a good meal at the table. TASTE & SEE wants to do just that! TASTE & SEE is a new ministry of encouragement for women of all ages to connect and share together while learning cooking (and life) skills. My sweet friend Jan Hamil and I are so enjoying this outreach. The book of Titus exhorts the older women to teach the young! We get together and cook and talk and laugh and share. I’ve heard many women say over the years that the “quilting bees” of long ago were good for women to share and connect, and it wasn’t all about the quilting! Women need women like never before in our social media driven society. I’m thankful to have the blessing of sharing my life’s experiences (and love for cooking) with these precious young women. When I was a young pastor’s wife I had the same blessings from older women in my life, but we didn’t know it was mentoring. We were just doing life and it happened along the way, nothing forced or organized. It was just the pure joy of coming alongside another woman to be an encourager. You can’t get that from a computer screen, or texting, or an iPhone chat. I certainly don’t want to take away from modern technology, because I sure do love my convection oven, dishwasher, and air conditioning! We wouldn’t have had nearly as much fun at TASTE & SEE if we’d had to chop wood to load the stove before making these biscuits! Can I get a witness? :) But these are GIRLs – Girlfriends In Real Life!

These pictures are from my church’s (Second Baptist)   April 11, 2015 session of TASTE & SEE in one of our big old church kitchens. Learning to make homemade biscuits was on the menu. [Our Winter session included two different soups, cornbread, and a delicious Honeybun Cake.] Our devotional was from John 6 where Jesus talks about the True Bread of Life! We are meeting again in July and October also with much deliciousness and delightful conversations planned.

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TASTE & SEE THAT THE LORD IS GOOD!

GRANJAN

 

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Scripture Memory Team Verse 8 – April 15, 2015

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I am moving along in my journey of participating with the SIESTA SCRIPTURE MEMORY TEAM 2015! The verse The Lord led me to for this go-round is from the New Testament Book of JAMES, my husband Gary’s favorite book of the Bible. One of the best Bible studies I’ve ever completed was entitled JAMES: MERCY TRIUMPHS by author and teacher Beth Moore [her ministry, Living Proof Ministries, is also the founder/sponsor of the Scripture Memory Team].  I remember my friend and partner in women’s ministry at Second Baptist Church, Cindy Schult, saying, “I feel as if we are leaving behind a dear friend,” when we completed the study on that last night. It was a tremendous study and we all learned so much. Here is my memory verse from the 19th verse of that first chapter, taken from the Amplified Bible.

James 1:19 – Amplified Bible (AMP)
Understand [this], my beloved brethren.
Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener],
slow to speak,
slow to take offense and
to get angry.

I had a friend send me a tweet regarding this verse saying “this is a hard one to live by.” A text conversation with another dear friend earlier yesterday shared the same sentiment when I texted her the verse. Let’s break it down:

QUICK TO HEAR [A READY LISTENER]
I am not quick to hear because I often find myself formulating my response to the person talking to me rather than really listening to them. I am over 10 months into my new position and I’ve had to do a lot of listening, more than ever. So it’s safe to say I’ve listened more than talked…at least while I’m at work. True. It’s been hard for me because I am a talker…but I have learned that it takes practice and concentration and intention to really listen. It’s actually hard. Sometimes I want to say, “if you only knew how much I really wanted to say when I was listening…”  I attended a women’s ministry leader’s retreat called “SELAH” this past January 23-24 in the North Georgia mountains. The main speaker gave me a great takeaway. She said we need to W.A.I.T.  Stop and wait and ask yourself, “Why Am I Talking?” W=Why A=AM I=I T=TALKING? Get it? So I typed it out and taped it to the bottom of my computer monitor. It is a trigger for  me when I see it to stop and W.A.I.T. if need be! And it often is!

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SLOW TO SPEAK
If you are practicing the “W.A.I.T.” [Why Am I Talking] discipline, then you are going to be slow to speak. I’m asking the Lord to keep me from the habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion. Give me ears to hear and a heart to just listen…and listen well.

SLOW TO TAKE OFFENSE AND GET ANGRY
The only way to handle being offended and getting angry is by walking daily in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is difficult and only comes about by much prayer. I also believe that growing older and acquiring the wisdom that accompanies aging is a benefit! You’ve seen more and just know when to “pick your battles.”  And always, above all – we must put on love.  Being Christ-like in our response when offended will bring much harvest if the offense is one concerning our faith. I Peter 3:15 talks about always being ready with a response that is gentle and courteous.  If the offense is personal it may be harder especially if it involves your family or friends. The best response is a soft answer and avoidance of anger.

Well, this is a great verse and I pray one that will settle deep in my heart. So now, I’m going to sign off so I don’t have to say, WAIT …”Why Am I Typing?” :)

GRANJAN

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