2017 Scripture Memory Team – January

Welcome 2017!

This will be my 5th year participating in the Scripture Memory Team with Living Proof Ministries It is both challenging and wonderful at the same time. This special team is held every other year. The accountability and method of memorizing two verses each month keeps me coming back. I was part of the very first group in 2009, and haven’t missed one since, having participated in 2011, 2013, 2015 and now with the 2017 group. I attended the inaugural celebration held in Houston, Texas in January 2010 (following the 2009 year of memorizing).  The blog post from that wonderful memorable event is here:  2010 SSMT Celebration 

I am sensing a theme for January and the word is “strength.” Each of my two January 2017 memory verses are from the Psalms, one of my favorite books of the Bible, and probably the one I go to the most for encouragement and yes, for strength. Psalm 105:4 says seek His strength, Psalm 59:17 says His name is Strength. I need the strength Jesus gives and I find it in His Word. Thankful.

If you don’t have a method for memorizing scripture, I encourage you to find one and get started. This method involves writing the verses in a small spiral book of notecards and carrying it with you. Repetition and reading the verse over and over will help you press it in your heart and mind.  It is a lifeline for me and God brings the verses to my mind when I need them for myself and even when encouraging someone else. I’m looking forward to this year of scripture memory.

 

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Grace Gifts 15 to 49 [2016 Favorites]

Just a little under three hours left in 2016. Twenty sixteen was a really good year for me, more highs than lows and for that I am thankful. Especially for the knowledge that the consistency and faithfulness of my Heavenly Father never changes. He is always with me and I rejoice in the good times and trust Him in the bad times, knowing that He is ordering my steps.

I’m going to post pictures from every month of 2016 – a list of grace gifts for sure! These pictures make me so happy – they are just full of simple joys and to this simple woman it just doesn’t get any better.

JANUARY
January began with an appearance on Wheel of Fortune, America’s Game – with my friend Jan Leary for “Girlfriend Getaways!” It was a highlight of not only 2016 – but of my life! A dream come true. Team Jan WON and I wrote a post about it here on the blog. You can search and find it posted in February 2016.
FEBRUARY
A trip to the North Georgia Mountains in February with our boys and their families was delightful. We stayed in a beautiful cabin and spent quality family time together. Plans are already made for a repeat of this blessed time!My mom and sister and I enjoyed a Paint Party together as a Ladies Night Out at our church.  Luke 1:50 “His mercy is for those who fear Him from generation to generation.”

MARCH
We celebrated my Mom’s birthday and I’m always thankful to celebrate her life! She is a gift to everyone in our family.

These are my Praise Team people! I love them. We love to sing together and we really love each other too. Most of all, we love Jesus.
Three little grandsons [Jackson, Abe, Zeke] in plaid shirts and khaki pants on Sunday morning. Little church boys. I love them!

An app on my phone to show my distance (almost 7 miles, woohoo!) and route when I ride my bike. I love riding the country roads near our home. I miss it now that the cold weather and early sunsets prevent me getting outside. Spring will be here soon!

APRIL
April marked a blessed event that has been prayed for by Pop and Gran Jan since our oldest grandson Zeke was born 8 years ago.  We witnessed our son baptize his son at Cartersville First Baptist. We are so thankful Zeke has professed faith in Jesus Christ!

We celebrated my Dad’s 82nd birthday with a big family BBQ. Here is my Dad doing what he loves best – grilling, and my three menfolk enjoying themselves and I couldn’t be prouder of them!

MAY
Our grandson Jackson graduated from Kindergarten in May and our hearts were full as we reminisced our son Jonathan’s graduation from the same Kindergarten 26 years earlier.
I spent Mother’s Day weekend with Jeremy and his family and we had a Mother-Son picture made at the church. I’m so proud of this preacher son of mine!

Two fig trees for Mother’s Day. My husband knows me well. I told him I look forward to teaching my granddaughters how to make delicious homemade fig preserves one day.
JUNE
The highlight of June was another awesome all clear cancer free report for my husband as we spent the day in Atlanta. We celebrated with lunch at Pappasitos, one of our favorite restaurants. We also celebrated 39 years of marriage on June 11th.

June is the best month for gardens here in middle Georgia. The weather is usually not yet blazing hot and my flower gardens and vegetable garden are so pretty! My grandchildren Jackson and Emery helped me plant these green beans during Spring Break. They were bountiful.
A little Father’s Day love…my husband loves his boys! And they are such good daddies too. They were raised by the best, their own Father!June was the month for the inaugural Gran Jan Camp. I had one camper this year – my oldest grandson. He had just finished first grade so he met the “requirements.” 🙂 Next year I will have 3 campers. This is Zeke during our early morning devotional time together. It was a week I shall never forget. We loved our time together.
JULY
July is the month for the Morton Family Vacation and we had a great time at Cape San Blas, Florida this year. The cousins played so hard together and that made mine and Pop’s hearts so happy! I made their matching shirts and that made my heart happy too.

My son Jonathan and his wife and children were all in a Hutto family wedding in July. It was beautiful! My daughter-in-law’s brother Jared married his beautiful bride, Deanna. Isn’t this a beautiful family? AUGUST
August brought about another awesome event for me – my first published book. I was a co-author of Tasting Grace, a book about the mentoring in the kitchen ministry that my friend Jan Hamil and I began back in 2014. This is Leah Adams, my friend and published author of several other books. The book idea was hers and I’m thankful she brought me along for the journey. It is the most fulfilling ministry for me. Thankful to my friend Beth Moore for writing the foreword for us.
SEPTEMBER
I made a “Frozen” quilt for my granddaughter Emery’s 4th birthday. It was fun to go to her party and see the JOY as she celebrated with family and friends. This is one amazing little girl!

Our Women’s Ministry and Second Baptist Church hosted the Jennifer Rothschild “Fresh Grounded Faith” Conference the weekend of September 23-24, 2016. It was life-changing for many women and our joy to serve. Nearly 2 thousand women attended.
OCTOBER
October brings the Georgia National Fair which just happens to be held not too far from our home! I braved the Ferris wheel again this year for Zeke and Madie. We had a blast!
Three of my grandkids stayed a few days with us during Fall Break and granddaughter Madie enjoyed our miniature donkeys here at the Morton Farm so much. They are named Maybelle and Moses Morton.

NOVEMBER
I love Thanksgiving so much. The simplicity of food, family, and faith – without all the trappings of other holidays appeals to me so much. This year was extra special as my parents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on November 23, 2016, the day before Thanksgiving. The family gathered for a big photograph.

I enjoyed a sweet Thanksgiving school lunch with my son Jonathan and grandson Jackson at Jackson’s school the day after my birthday. I sorta think we three look alike in this picture and of course, I love that too.

I made a quilt for some sweet family friends, Laura and Hamp Jones, and they came by the house to pick it up Thanksgiving week. It was an overdue wedding gift and I hope they enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it for them.
DECEMBER
It was so sweet to see Jackson and Emery in the Children’s Christmas program at our church. Emery was “THE STAR” and Jackson portrayed Joseph. I pray the JOY of Christmas will be in their hearts as they grow older and realize just exactly what this beautiful season means.
I love this ornament…1977, our first Christmas together. This was our 40th Christmas as husband and wife. 

It was our great joy to have Keith and Krystyn Getty at our church for their “Irish Christmas” musical. Our choir sang and they sang and played. It was an amazing night of worship. Beautiful!
My five grandchildren who bring me more joy that I can adequately express!
It also brings me such joy to see my boys spending time together with their families. They got together just this week at Stone Mountain, GA for snow tubing and I know the cousins played hard.

This picture was made just a few hours ago at my mom and dad’s home next door to mine. It’s the Maloy girls. My sisters. I love them so much. we laugh easily with each other, we love our parents, and we love each others’ families. Having sisters who are also friends is a great gift I don’t take for granted.
As 2016 comes to a close and 2017 is dawning I want to just say how much I love my Lord, my family, my church, my friends, my life. God has been so good to me and it isn’t because I’m good, it’s only because He is good. All the time. I look forward to 2017 because I know Jesus Christ is already there. He goes before us and He is so faithful!

Happy New Year from the Mortons!

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The Dressing Blessing ~ Thanksgiving 2016

THANKSGIVING is my favorite holiday and has been for many years now. I love Thanksgiving because it is a simple holiday that focuses on faith and family. We make time to be together around good food and make time to count blessings. This year my parents, Tom & Lois Maloy (who just celebrated SIXTY YEARS of marriage yesterday) shared stories of their courtship and early marriage. It was a good, good day.

Today I am sharing yet another favorite recipe and this one is extra special to me because it’s my dad’s recipe. He taught me how to make cornbread dressing several years ago. I loved spending that Thanksgiving morning in the kitchen with him and wrote down everything he did. Since I was given the dressing blessing, I wanted to share the recipe with you today. It’s simple, Southern, and very traditional. I don’t know to make just a little bit – but I guess you could half everything to make just one pan of dressing. We have 20-22 people at our table, so I make plenty!

Southern Cornbread Dressing (makes 2 9×13 pans)
Ingredients:
A large pan of cornbread (recipe below – you will need 8 cups of crumbled cornbread)
Four pieces of white bread (allow to dry out or lightly toast, tear into small pieces)
Two cups (1 small bag) of Pepperidge Farm Herbed Stuffing
One can of Campbell’s Herbed Cream of Chicken soup
Two medium onions, diced well
One cup of chopped celery (I like to use the small tender pieces)
One stick of butter
Two teaspoons of poultry seasoning (more or less to your taste)
Salt/Pepper to taste
Three eggs
Chicken Broth (can make your own or used store-bought, you need 8 cups)

Instructions:
1. Make cornbread first – I usually do it the day before, and this is a larger than average skillet.cornbreadCornbread Recipe
2 1/4 cups White Lily self-rising cornmeal
3/4 cup of White Lily self-rising flour
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups of buttermilk
1/3 cup of oil
Crisco shortening to grease cast-iron skillet

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and grease a large cast-iron skillet, and then dust it with cornmeal. Set aside. Now mix oil and egg and add buttermilk, mix well. Add cornmeal and flour and mix together with buttermilk mixture. Pour into the greased skillet. Bake 20-25 minutes until nicely browned.

2. Make your chicken stock early so it can simmer a couple of hours, unless you are using store-bought chicken stock. I fill a stock pot with 3-4 quarts of water. I add 3-4 chicken thighs or if you’re roasting a turkey use the turkey neck, 2 onions quartered, 2-3 stalks of celery with leaves, 1/2 stick of butter, salt/pepper. Simmer.1

3. To begin making the dressing, first combine the crumbled cornbread, dry white bread and the Pepperidge Farm herbed seasoning crumbs together in a large bowl. Set aside.
34. Melt a stick of butter in a large skillet over medium heat and saute the diced onion and celery together until it is soft, transparent – but do not let it brown! Pour the onions/celery over the cornbread mixture.
25. Next, add in the can of Herbed Cream of Chicken Soup and the 2 teaspoons of poultry seasoning (add more to taste if you like a stronger flavor).

6. Now strain your chicken stock (broth) so you just have the liquid (not the meat, celery, onions). Pour the hot broth over the whole mixture and stir well. You want the dressing to be the consistency of oatmeal, not too soupy, not too thick. TASTE NOW BEFORE ADDING RAW EGGS!  This is where you can taste the dressing and add salt/pepper or more seasoning if you’d like.  We say Less Is More when it comes to sage/poultry seasoning.
47. Add 3 beaten eggs and mix again.

8. Pour the dressing into 2 buttered/greased 9×13 casserole dishes and bake at 400-425 degrees until browned on top, 30-45 minutes.

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I forgot to take a picture of the “browned/baked” dressing, but I found two pictures that show it among the Thanksgiving spread (and my delightful grandchildren) our family enjoyed. It is in the oval dish on the far right and in the partially consumed dish below!

SONY DSC

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Cornbread dressing is a staple at Southern tables. We don’t say stuffing, we say dressing. You can also sprinkle a little paprika on top for color, or add some chopped pimentos for color if you’d like. Dressing is not a pretty dish, but it is a delicious dish!

One last thing! I make the dressing the day before Thanksgiving and leave it in the fridge in a big bowl. The next day I put it in my casseroles for baking. I think it helps the flavors all meld together – but actually it also gives me time to do all the other cooking I have to do for Thanksgiving!

Counting my blessings this Thanksgiving Day!

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Whipping Cream Pound Cake

My friend Jan Hamil and I recently held the Fall 2016 Session of “Tasting Grace,” our church’s mentoring-in-the-kitchen ministry. We love our Saturdays in the church kitchen so much. I made a whipping cream pound cake and wanted to share the recipe here. My dear friend Lanie Nash gave the recipe to me as her go-to pound cake. Every Southern woman has a go-to pound cake recipe and if you don’t, this one can now be yours! [All pound cakes start with butter, sugar, flour and eggs; variations include buttermilk, sour cream, cream cheese, whipping cream.] I promise this whipping cream version will not disappoint. I made another one when I got home Saturday because my husband had “FOMO” [Fear of Missing Out] when I brought home that empty cake plate! He also likes my buttermilk pound cake, but says he will need a taste test to pick his favorite. I think he just wants ANOTHER pound cake! He’s not fooling me. We’ve been married 39 years, I know these things…wc-pound-cake

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs (room temperature)
  • 2 sticks of butter (room temperature)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whipping cream (also known as heavy cream)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

  • Grease and flour tube pan.
  • Cream butter and sugar until smooth (I use my stand mixer.)
  • Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
  • Sift the flour and add to creamed mixture alternately with whipping cream.
  • Mix all until fully incorporated.
  • Stir in vanilla.
  • Pour into prepared pan and place in a cold oven.
  • Turn oven to 300° and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes.
  • Cool completely before removing from pan.

Trust me about the cold oven…just do it!

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Grace Gifts 1 to 14

fullsizerenderWhen 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 “sunshines” 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 occasionally 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 for me, 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 really are the reason for this blog, Gran Jan’s JOY.  Following posts may be themed too, most times probably 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

pop

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.
fair

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.

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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!

 

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

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