Retirement Year 1 – Done!

June 1, 2019 – I am most grateful to say that today marks one full year of retirement for me. I honestly had no idea what retirement would “be” for me. I totally expected to walk out of my office last year on May 31, 2018, skip to my car, and never look back. Well…

Houston County Board of Education. I love this old building and spent 20 years working here!

That didn’t happen. I reflected often those first few months and discovered quickly that the “work me” had way more of a hold on me than even I realized! I loved my job responsibilities, and I cared about the people I worked with for so many years. It took me a few months to unwind, sort out my new season, and to finally give myself some grace. I took on too much in the early months because I mistakenly believed retired people had time to do everything! They don’t. They do have more time than working folks for sure…but they have the blessing of choosing the things that will occupy their time. I had to learn that and it just takes time to sort out!

So here I am today, reflecting on my first year of retirement. I’ve always been a “dates person.” Sometimes that’s good, sometimes it’s not! In this instance, it has been very good for my soul to look back and see all the ways God has blessed me this first year of retirement! He is so faithful.

The pictures below are highlights from each month, June 2018-May 2019. (I decided not to add all the pictures of my garden, the books I read, and the quilts I made…although those are a “few of my favorite things.“) These last few months I have looked at retirement through a different filter. After time in prayer, and conversations with my husband and friends, I have been reminded again of the reasons I retired in the first place (besides just being old enough), and that is for time with my family and time for me. And it’s okay to slow down. I’m learning that every day that passes.

My friend of 30 years, Lanie Nash and I went to Hamilton, MO the first week I was retired, June 2018. We attended the “Missouri Star Quilt Company Academy.” It was a wonderful trip in every way.
My sisters and I took our mother on a weekend cruise to celebrate her 80th birthday! It was so much fun. This was June 22-25, 2018, so I enjoyed two trips in June!
Gran Jan Camp! July 1-3, 2018 with Zeke, Madie and Jackson. Our theme was “following God’s path for our lives.” I cherish spending time with my grandchildren like this, pouring into their lives and being intentional about family legacy.
The Mortons, July 2018, Cape San Blas, Family Vacation
I spoke at “Go Georgia,” a training event sponsored by the Georgia Baptist Mission Board. I shared about Tasting Grace, the mentoring-in-the-kitchen ministry I love so much! This was August 17, 2018 at Mable White Church in Macon, GA. It was so much fun! My dear friend Joan Falldine accompanied me and helped me so much!
Our youngest grandson, Abe came to stay in early August 2018 for almost 2 weeks, because he didn’t have to start school until after Labor Day!
We LOVED having him with us!
My friend Patsy Randall and I went to Huntsville, Alabama, September 14-15, 2018, for the Beth Moore Simulcast.
It was a great trip with lots of good conversation.
This stop for “all things cast iron” was so much fun for me!
September 16, 2018, was a very big day in the life and ministry of our son Jeremy and his wife Carrie. Jeremy preached at First Baptist Woodstock. This picture was made after church with Dr. Johnny Hunt and his dear wife, Janet. Jeremy is now Co-Pastoring there with Dr. Hunt as Pastor Johnny transitions to the North American Mission Board full time in January 2020. He is a wonderful man and has been a great mentor to our son.
This picture was made from one of my favorite places – on the big back porch at the wonderful Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC.
We took a group of Senior Adults there in September 2018.
September was a BUSY month for this retiree and I loved every single event!
Second Baptist Women’s Ministry hosted a Liz Curtis Higgs event on October 25, 2018. This was my last official event as Women’s Ministry Director. I served at Second Baptist for over 20 years. A new team has formed and they are fabulous!
I am now helping my husband in our church’s senior adult ministry.
We are loving this new season in our ministry!
October 29, 2018 we added a new family member. This was taken right after we got home with her. “Her” is Queen Esther Rose, “Rosie.”
We love this sweet German Shepherd puppy.
Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2018.
My parents celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary on November 23.
I am so thankful for them and so blessed to be retired
and enjoy having them in my life!
Christmas 2018! Being retired brought more joy to Christmas for me.
I didn’t feel rushed and had time to enjoy all the music, lights,
and celebrations in a deeper way. I love my family!
I welcomed January 2019 by keeping these 3 grandchildren while my son Jeremy and his wife began their move from Cartersville to Cherokee County! It rained non-stop and one day after a spell
of cabin fever, we got outside and enjoyed the puddles!
We celebrated my husband’s birthday in beautiful North Georgia
in February 2019 at Big Bear Lodge! FAMILY TIME IS THE BEST!
It was a joy and privilege for me to be part of the Selah Retreat in Clayton, GA for women’s ministry leaders across the state of Georgia. I enjoyed teaching several sessions and spending time with these amazing women’s ministry leaders.
This was the first weekend of March 2019!
My sisters and mom and I got together in March 2019 for shopping and lunch to celebrate our mother’s 81st birthday. We laugh with and at each other – always!
The last week of March, 2019 included a trip with my friend Lanie to Washington DC for a 4 day visit with our dear friend, Mrs. Mary Perdue. This was my first trip to DC and it was wonderful!
It was hard to just choose one picture, but I loved these cherry blossoms blooming. My favorite thing was the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider at Arlington National Cemetery.
Second Family Senior Adults went to Kentucky in April 2019 to visit the Ark replica (and also the Creation Museum). We had a wonderful trip.
These folks are amazing and it is a joy to serve the Lord with them!
We celebrated my Dad’s 85th birthday on April 29 in Macon with a meal of his choosing at Texas Roadhouse. Retirement has brought more time with my parents.
At my age, I don’t take that for granted and thank the Lord for His grace.
Front porch coffee time with Zeke & Madie (May 2019).
Abe and his siblings came for 10 days (May 2019) while their parents were in Israel. He is sitting on a rock that my 85 year old dad
sat on when he was also 5 years old.
We brought that rock from Henry County
here to the Morton Farm 12 years ago.
May 2019 – these two sleepy-eyed grandchildren came to the Morton Farm to stay with Pop & Gran Jan while their mom finished up her post-planning day at work.
They are full of energy and fun! I love them so much!

What a great first year for me! As I reflected back over all my pictures (both the ones here and the ones on my iPhone), I see the joys of family, faith, and fun in every picture. Thank you Lord for giving me this year. May my life continue to be a blessing to others in all I do. I am so grateful.

Gran Jan

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Homemade Apple Butter

Well, I’ve been retired 5 1/2 months and for the first time in my blog’s 10 year duration, I missed posting for 2 months. “They” say you are busier than ever in this season of life, and I’m beginning to believe that! But I am making plans to slow down a bit and I’m not sad about that at all. I think it takes a while to figure out how to “be retired.”

So this morning I got in the kitchen, and that is one of my favorite places to be. I made homemade apple butter using the crockpot. It turned out so well, so I wanted to share exactly what I did here on my blog. First the recipe, then the pictures! I enjoyed some already on an English muffin!

CROCK POT APPLE BUTTER (This made 5 pints and a little jar for my fridge!)
*5 1/2 lbs. of apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
(1 pound of apples is approximately 4 small, or 3 medium, or 2 large apples. I used about 25 small-medium apples of mixed varieties: Golden Delicious, Pink Lady, and Gala).
*4 cups of sugar
*1 Tablespoon of cinnamon
*1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves
*1/4 teaspoon of salt

  1. Peel, core and slice the apples. I used an apple corer and then I pulsed the cored pieces in my food processor just enough so they appeared chopped.
  2. Spray your crockpot with some Pam and then place the chopped apples in the crockpot.
  3. Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and salt in a bowl and pour over the apples, stirring well.
  4. Put the lid on the crock pot and cook on high for one hour.
  5. After an hour, reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 hours. I put the apples in the crockpot before I went to bed and even got up once to stir them. The apple butter will turn a dark brown, thicken and smell wonderful!
  6. This morning (after 10 hours), I took a small emulsion blender and mixed the apple butter right in the crockpot to smooth it all out. The texture was perfect!
  7. Then I put the apple butter in hot clean pint-sized mason jars (with a canning seal/lid on top) and processed the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes to can them. See the pictures below or research canning if you aren’t familiar with the process. Canning the apple butter just allows you to keep it longer; otherwise, you’d have to eat it up or give it all away within a couple of weeks (or you may freeze it in freezer containers). I prefer to can the apple butter because I just love doing so!

Happy Thanksgiving week to all of you from the Morton Family Farm!

Gran Jan

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Retirement is Here!

I had no idea 30 years ago when I started working for our local school system that I’d stay for a whole “career.” I just wanted to have the same schedule as my boys and one year led to another and now…today…I retired. I am overwhelmed with all the kindness, gifts, flowers, love, hugs, and just sweet attention I’ve received the last month. My heart is full and overflowing. I love this quote – obedience is a long walk in the same direction. Thirty years is a long walk! God’s new mercies every morning and His sweet grace to just keep getting up every morning to go to work made it possible. And now, today, the last day of work came.

Psalm 37:23 A person’s steps are made secure by the Lord when they delight in his way.

Jesus surely did make my steps secure and I have thanked Him over and over! My first celebration was a surprise breakfast given by our Board Members on May 1st. They really surprised me. I had no idea. I walked in thinking it was for my boss, Superintendent Dr. Mark Scott, and it was for me. I was tickled to pieces and loved being surprised. Next was our amazing “System Celebration,” on May 8th where over 100 retirees from our school system were honored with a dinner and the company of their families, guests, and co-workers. My husband, parents, and sister Jo came. My sister retired last year. She was an elementary school principal.

My favorite celebration of all was on May 17th. I was able to see so many former coworkers and bosses. Some of my favorite people in the world spoke and there was much laughter at my expense. Mr. Anthony Lunceford was the emcee. He made it extra special. It was all well done and delighted me to no end!I was given a quilt made with tee-shirts from all 38 of the schools in our system. I love it so much, and thank my sweet former boss, Cindy Flesher, Deputy Superintendent, for making it happen. I love that all my family was there. My husband, our sons and daughters-in-love, and five precious grandchildren. My heart was full and overflowing for sure.

I had the joy of working for Mr. James Kinchen for 20 of my 30 years with our school system. I was able to help him open two brand new schools – Houston County High in 1991, and Bonaire Middle in 1996. Then he and I moved to our district office in 1999 and that is where I finished my career. He is on the right below. He is a fine man of integrity, a former high school math teacher. He is family to our family, and we love him. Mr. Dyson, a former high school principal and district employee was also a great co-worker.

These two ladies were very special bosses of mine. Linda Horne on the left and CIndy Flesher on the right. I learned so much from them and loved working for and with them!

Finally, this picture is of four of the School Superintendents I’ve worked for who served our top-notch school system! Left to right, Dr. Robin Hines; Mr. Danny Carpenter, Dr. Mark Scott (current Superintendent); and Mr. David Carpenter.It’s been a great 30 years and a great 31 days of May with fun celebrations and walks down Memory Lane. I’m worn out, emotional, but with a deep sense of peace that I was able to finish and finish well. All glory to God!

And now…I hope to take a stroll among the daylilies in my garden first thing in the morning with a good cup of coffee. It will be the beginning of what I pray to be another long walk in the same direction. More family time, ministry opportunities, and time to just be.

It’s All Grace,
Gran Jan

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Gran Jan’s Chicken Pie Recipe

I was home last week as my office (our local school system) was shut down for Spring Break. It was a marvelous week.  I am fully convinced (as if there were any doubt) that I am going to be a fan of retirement. I worked harder than ever in my gardens, but it was great. I spent one day visiting two different women in very different seasons of life. One is a brand new mother with a 1 month old son, the other is a beautiful wife and grandmother who recently had surgery. I loved visiting with them and also shared a pound cake with them. The Retirement Countdown is officially at 40 DAYS! FORTY! FOUR-OH! FOR-TY! The slower pace will be so welcomed. Was I busy? Absolutely! But I picked my own pace – therein is the JOY!

Today I am sharing this wonderful chicken pie recipe again. I’ve made it twice recently and it is a keeper. It makes such a nice meal and the crust on top rises up in perfection. This recipe is one that I had published in a Gooseberry Patch cookbook several years ago, entitled Slow Cookers, Casseroles & Skillets I also made it for another friend who recently had some surgery and she and her husband both said it was pure comfort food. I like that.

I also like that it is simply a chicken pie with simple vegetables. You may keep it plain or add peas/carrots or even a can (drained) of mixed veggies. I like to have a big salad as a side dish, or sometimes another hearty vegetable like black-eyed peas or corn on the cob.

Pick up a rotisserie chicken from your local deli grocery store and you’re halfway through with the preparation!

Ingredients:

1 rotisserie chicken, meat pulled from bone and cut into bite-sized pieces 
1 can of drained peas/carrots or mixed vegetables
1 can cream of chicken soup (10 3/4 oz size can)
2 cups of chicken broth
2 tablespoons of cornstarch
1 1/2 cups of self-rising flour (White Lily preferred)
1 cup of buttermilk (maybe a splash more if it seems too thick)
1 stick of melted butter

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Lightly spray a 9 x 13 casserole or a large round casserole dish with non-stick spray.
  3. Spread cut up chicken over the bottom of your casserole dish. (Lightly salt/pepper the chicken.)
  4. Evenly spread the can of drained vegetables over the chicken. 
  5. Whisk together until smooth the cream of chicken soup, broth, and cornstarch and pour this over the chicken.
  6. Now whisk the flour, buttermilk and melted butter together and pour/spread evenly over the soup/broth mix.
  7. Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Serve with a side of your favorite vegetable or a big green salad!

This recipe is simple comfort food.  Love your family, make a chicken pie tonight. Sit around the table and linger for a while in conversation. These are the best times.

~Gran Jan

        

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Countdown to Retirement

For a woman who could probably find her own picture in the dictionary by “get-it-done,” or as we say in the South “git-er-dun,” I am so excited about my upcoming retirement from my 30-year day job (May 31, 2018)! I’ve worked in our local school system for that many years, beginning as a school secretary and retiring now from the Queen Bee 🙂 job as administrative assistant to the Superintendent of Schools. My heart is full of wonderful memories as I’ve been blessed to work with some of the finest teachers and administrators anywhere! I began working when I was 15 years old as the popcorn-maker ticket-taker in a local cinema. Those were the days! This old gal is ready for the next season.

R-Relax

This one is going to take some time for me because I’ve been bound to a set schedule for many years. You know the drill – get to work by 8:00, take a lunch hour, leave work at 5:00 PM. I know I will relax, of course I will, and honestly, having more time in the mornings is going to be glorious.

E-Entertain
I love to cook and actually just told my husband this past weekend that I’m looking forward to having guests for supper and we will enjoy sharing our farm with them. That’s hard to do when Saturdays are your only day to get chores done and catch up from a work week. I want to enjoy hospitality without stress!

T -Travel
Truthfully I’m really a content homebody at heart, and most of my traveling will be to spend time with grandchildren! However – two fun events are already on the schedule for me. My sisters and I are planning a cruise to celebrate our mom’s 80th birthday, a memory-maker for sure. Oh, and there’s a trip the week after I retire with my BFF Lanie! We are going to a quilting conference in Missouri. Quilting is our JOY and we can’t wait.

I – Indulge
The dictionary says to indulge is to “give in to wishes and whims.” I’m not sure what indulging will look like for me, but I hope it includes coffee with my parents next door, long bike rides, occasional naps, and time in my sewing room and garden. I still can’t believe I won’t be clock-bound every morning. Thankful.

R- Read
Now this is happening for sure! I have a tower of books waiting for me as well as several special reading places outside by our pond, on my front porch, and in a comfy chair in my home study. I have loved reading since I first learned at the age of five and long for more page-turning and less computer screen-staring!

E – Enjoy
Since I’m planning to relax, entertain, travel, indulge and read – enjoyment is sure to be mine. I also have plans to partner with my husband as he begins a new ministry as Pastor to Senior Adults at our church. He has been a worship leader for 45 years so this transition is big, and one we anticipate with joy. We are thankful to continue serving our church family in this new ministry. I have a desire to establish a mentoring program between our senior ladies and the young women in our church and community. That will be something I know I will enjoy.

My retirement app on my phone says “2 months and 29 days” to retirement. WOW! Let the countdown begin!

Psalm 130:5 Amplified Bible (AMP)
I wait [patiently] for the Lord,
my soul [expectantly] waits,

And in His word do I hope.

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Buttermilk Pie Recipe

This is my mother-in-law’s buttermilk pie recipe. My husband Gary, is her baby boy and this is his favorite pie recipe. I loved my mother-in-law, Isabel Morton…and she loved me. She was small in stature but mighty in spirit. Memama is what my boys called her. She was a good cook and shared this recipe with me many years ago. Memama passed away a couple of weeks before Christmas in 2015 at the age of 92. We’ve missed her so much the past 2 years, but we know she’s in heaven and we will see her again one day.

Buttermilk Pie
1 deep dish refrigerated pie crust (or make a homemade pie crust – always better!)
1 1/2 cups of sugar
2 tablespoons of flour
3 eggs, well-beaten
1 cup of buttermilk
1 stick of melted butter (1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon of vanilla flavoring

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
    You don’t have to, but I prefer to prebake my pie shell for 5-7 minutes.
  2. In a mixing bowl, blend the sugar and flour together with a whisk or a large fork.
  3. Add the beaten eggs and buttermilk to the sugar/flour and mix well.
    (You can use a hand mixer if you want to, but I just use a good strong whisk and it works well for me.)
  4. Pour the melted butter and vanilla over the mixture and mix well again.
  5. Pour your buttermilk pie into your pie crust and bake 50-55 minutes or until set.

I hope you will make a buttermilk pie for your family soon! It will become a family favorite in all it’s old-fashioned goodness!

~GranJan

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2017 Scripture Memory Team – December

It’s the last day of 2017 and I’m plugging this last post in before the clock strikes 12 midnight. My goal for 2018 is to blog more – and I really look forward to that! The year 2018 is shaping up with two BIG events on the calendar. One for my sweet husband and one for me! That post will follow very soon. God is so good! 

In 2017 we celebrated five events that ended with a zero: Gary celebrated his 60th birthday in February, in June we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary, in October we celebrated living in the country for 10 years, my 60th birthday rolled around in November, and then 3 weeks ago I celebrated 20 years serving in women’s ministry at my church! 60+40+10+60+20=190 years of life and love!!!

So on this cold rainy Sunday afternoon here in middle Georgia, I am closing with my last two memory verses for 2017.  

December 1 – Ecclesiastes 7:8 (CSB Version)

The end of a matter is better
t
han its beginning;
a patient spirit is better
than a proud spirit.

December 15 – Luke 1:37 (Amplified Version)

For with God nothing is
or ever shall be impossible.

These two passages are full of hope and full of confidence in Almighty God. As I look forward to 2018 I know the end of a matter is surely better than its beginning. As we end 2017, I can say yes to looking back on the faithfulness of God in my life. I know that a patient spirit will guide me into 2018 and… nothing is OR EVER SHALL BE impossible with God! What can you even add to that. As 2018 rolls in tonight, I am trusting God and this powerful truth to hold me close.

I pray you will do the same! 

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