First Days of School Days – 2015

All my grandchildren have returned to school. The two littlest ones are actually going to pre-school, but all five of them are in “school.” I am writing this post for the sheer JOY of having these pictures all in one spot so that I may look back on them one day. This blog is all about these great and wonderful blessings called grandchildren, Gran Jan’s JOY. They make me smile from the inside out. Just thinking about them can stir my heart.

My prayer for them this school year is that God will:

  • guard their hearts,
  • protect them from bullies,
  • keep them safe and well,
  • help them stand strong,
  • help them be kind to everyone,
  • help them have friends and be friends,
  • help them be a blessing to their teachers and…
  • instill in them the character of Christ and that the plans He has for them will begin to take shape.

ZEKE1-Zeke

MADIE1-Madie

JACKSON1-Jackson

EMERY1-Emery

ABE1-Abe

Amen and amen, in the Mighty Name of Jesus!

GranJan-BlogSignature

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A Year to Remember…2014!

Here I sit on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2014. This has been a very blessed year for me and mine. We have all been healthy and strong. My husband is leading worship with more joy and passion than I’ve ever known him to, and he takes such good care of me and our home and family. Our church is growing with lots of new young families. Both my boys have experienced growth in their lives – Jeremy in ministry as a pastor and Jonathan with leadership awards and job growth in his career. My daughters-in-law are delightful – loving my sons and taking good care of their homes and children. What more could this mama desire for her family? I received a promotion and began a new job June 1st within my same organization. My parents and sisters and their families are all well. My heart is full…

Sometimes when I have the time, (or just because it brings me joy) I will scroll through the pictures on my iPhone. I did just that earlier this afternoon and picked out one (sometimes more) special favorite for every month from 2014. Letting pictures do my blogging has become common for me, so here I go again.

January 2014
Atlanta was hit with a huge snowstorm in January. This is the view from the passenger seat of my husband’s truck as we drove back home from the airport. My flight (and all flights) were cancelled for several days. I was meeting my friend and we were scheduled to fly to California to appear on the “Wheel of Fortune!” YES!!! Hopefully we will be rescheduled in 2015. We are ready to buy vowels and spin that wheel! 

January

February 2014
This is a picture of my youngest grandchild, Abe that was on the big screens in the church where my son Jeremy (Abe’s father) is the Pastor. My husband and I were there for a special service of dedication of Abe’s life. It was also my husband’s birthday. It was a great weekend – our first time to hear our son preach since he began his ministry at First Baptist Cartersville in September 2013, just one month after Abe was born. A very special weekend.

Feb

March 2012
This is my mom on her birthday! My sisters and I took her to lunch at a fun Mexican restaurant and celebrated her life and had a great time. We always do. I love my mom and I’m thankful for her faithful, consistent life. No drama! Just love and support.

March

April 2014
In April I went to Callaway Gardens with a dear friend, Sharon Riley. We attended the Birds of Prey Show and I am still tickled pink with the timing of this picture of a Great Horned Owl. I literally stuck my iPhone up and snapped the shot as this great bird flew over my head. The bird’s talons touched the top of my head as it flew over…wow!

April

May 2014
May was so special for my three oldest grandchildren! Zeke graduated from Pre-Kindergarten, and my 2nd and 3rd grandchildren (Madie and Jackson) celebrated their fourth birthdays just two weeks apart. (Each of my daughters-in-law had children born in May of 2010.)

IMG_6748 May-Madie May-Jackson

June 2014
A big summer shower produced some GIANT puddles here at the Morton Farm. The weather cleared and was great for puddle jumping and running followed by s’mores. This was a special memory and these two grandboys had a blast together. 

June

July 2014
The Fourth of July was a great week! I was off work and the weather was unseasonably cool and my boys and daughters-in-law and all five grands were here. We had a big breakfast together and then they all fished in the pond. This picture was impromptu and has become so precious. I have it framed at work and here at home and on my computer desktop. I am one blessed Gran Jan! 

July

August 2014
August 22-23 was a weekend that had been planned and prayed for since April of 2013! Our church was blessed to host Priscilla Shirer of Going Beyond Ministries for a women’s conference. All 2,200 seats of our church were filled and we had overflow seating in the choir loft. It was a glorious weekend that I will always remember. Many lives were touched and I pray that eternity will bear the results of this weekend. 

August

September 2014
Little Miss Emery, grandbaby number four, celebrated her second birthday with a Minnie Mouse themed party. Here she is with her daddy (my son), and sweet mama. (I made Emery’s birthday shirt!) It was so much fun and she is absolutely precious. She and big brother Jackson actually spent the night last night here with me and Pop. We made cookies, watched Frozen and had a big time. Gran Jan’s JOY.

September

October 2014
My sweet man and I went to the beach for a few days in October. We rested, ate delicious seafood, walked on the beach, shopped, and had a wonderful time. This time away together was way long overdue. We also visited a brand new church called Sunrise City Church in Fort Walton Beach that is being planted by two young men and their wives and two other couples that we’ve had the privilege to know most of their young lives. It was a great trip with special memories.

October October2014

November 2014
Back in September my best friend Lanie and I had a “sew-in” and I made these Christmas jammies for the grands. I gave them to all five of them on Thanksgiving and they donned them for a picture for me! It just doesn’t get any sweeter than this! More Gran Jan’s JOY!

November

December 2014
This picture was just last week on Christmas evening after our family tradition of breakfast on Christmas Day night. I love my family. As I’ve looked back over my camera roll today the themes of faith and family are everything to me. This blog is a record of the legacy I pray to leave for my grandchildren especially. I am very humbly grateful for God’s grace on my life and I sincerely mean that.

SONY DSC

No party tonight here at home, but lots of celebrating in my heart! We have always preferred a quiet New Year’s Eve. I like to think about the year that is leaving and anticipate the dawning of a brand new year. May the Good Lord bless you all in 2015 with His great love. He is so faithful!

GRANJAN

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A Time For Everything

I’ve been reading through the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, and the first verse of Chapter 3 may be the most well known passage, “For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.”  Everything – all of life translates to seasons. From the beauty found in the four seasons of a year to the way the seasons of our lives change.  Everything.  To everything there is a season. 

Autumn may be my favorite season on the calendar, but I look forward to Winter and the joy the Christmas season brings, then there is the anticipation of a new year in just four weeks. I really love gardening in the Spring and Summer too. Each season brings its own beauty and joy. I want to savor some family memories here on Gran Jan’s Joy, so I’m going to post some pictures from our lives for the past several months…seasons and times for which I am so thankful.

Summer Family Breakfast with Four Generations at the Table!

Breakfast

Zeke and Madie in the cornfield across the road from our farm.

Corn

Sweet Emery in a dress I made for her…

Emery-greendress

A trip to the Farmers Market with the bounty of summer fruits and vegetables…

FarmMkt-Veggies

Gran Jan’s JOY – all five of them!

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Riding backroads…Georgia Red Clay

GA Red Clay

My oldest son and his family enjoying time at our pond…

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My youngest son and his son fishing…

Jonathan-Jackson-Fishing

Grandyounguns…there is nothing sweeter!  I love that they are all so close in age.

Lineup

Moonflowers from my summer garden…it was dark by the time the bloom unfurled.

Moonflower

Sweet peach ice cream on a hot summer evening…

PeaceIceCream

Summer storms and rain puddles for grandsons to jump!

PuddleJump

Homemade Fig Preserves…

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Front Porch Swings on Summer Saturday Mornings…

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My dad and my youngest grandson Abe…I love this picture so much.

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Zeke’s First Day of Kindergarten…that season came too soon!

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Sitting by the pond and the firepit my husband built for me on a cool summer evening…

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Sweetest (and best) little soccer player…Jackson Morton!

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A ride with my parents and this…the house my Dad lived in when he was 15…a true memory lane trip.

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A painting party with some sweet friends…girlfriend therapy…

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Baby quilts I made for new grandchildren born to two special friends, Pat Boutwell & Joan Falldine…

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Emery’s Minnie Mouse 2nd Birthday Party…Delightful! (I made her shirt, made me so happy!)

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My youngest son ordained as a deacon at our church…no words to describe my joy.

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1 & 2 Thessalonians Bible Study, “For not all have faith, but the LORD is faithful.”

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A trip to the beach in October with my sweetie…it was so special!

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While at the beach we attended Sunrise City Church – a highlight of the Fall Season for us.

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Meeting Eric Metaxas at Covenant Care’s fundraiser and getting my book signed…

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A text with grandgirl Miss Madie sporting a GranJan creation…day made!

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White violas in a strawberry jar…one of my Fall traditions…

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Coming home to find love notes from my husband all over the house…what a blessed woman I am!

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Fall cotton fields…I love living in the country…

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Christmas dresses for my grandgirls, made at a weekend sew-in with my BFF Lanie!

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Babysitting our youngest grandchild, little Abe, two weekends in a row this past month!

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These pictures cover lots of time from this past Summer and Fall and each one is a sweet memory for me. I’m so thankful for my family and the JOY they bring to me. I’m also thankful for this season of my life…grandmothering these young ones. I can truly say I’ve loved and learned in every season of my life and I pray that continues to hold true for me as long as God leaves me here. He is so faithful.

GRANJAN

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May 2014 Memories

The past month has been so very busy – and as I’ve so often done in the past on my blog, I’m going to let my pictures tell the story. I really am a visual learner – and this is confirmed in my preference of sharing pictures. I see and I read and I remember…and I don’t want to forget any of these wonderful spring memories!  Because my people are my heart…

Family heartI had a great time last month with a dear co-worker and friend, Sharon Riley.  We spent a beautiful afternoon at Callaway Gardens, Georgia. While there we took in the “Birds of Prey” show.  I had an “up close and personal” encounter with a Great Horned Owl.  It was glorious.  The trainer even came up and asked me I was okay after the talons of the owl touched the top of my head as it flew over.  I told her I wasn’t fine…I was marvelous.  It was thrilling.  Look at the wingspan of this beautiful owl!  And the very next week on my drive in to work, I saw one in a tree as I drove…double delight.

owl

Two of my grandchildren are both four years old, Madie and Jackson are cousins exactly two weeks apart.  More double delight!  Madie is the oldest and she had a “princess party.”  She told me she was actually the Queen.  Indeed.  I made a shirt for her to wear.  All the little girls wore purple princess capes that Madie’s materal grandmother made.  It was quite the event.  She is quite the Queen…of our hearts.

Madie - crown

Madie-collage

Jackson had a “Grand Prix” tractor-truck-car birthday party.  All the children brought their little cars.  It was a FUN time for all!  It was here at the Morton farm with lots of space to drive.  My daughter-in-law even made “roads” for the children to follow.  It was a great theme and the adults had as much fun as the children.

Jackson-bday party

I also made a shirt in honor of Jackson’s fourth birthday. He loves orange and Gran Jan was happy to comply.  He is a precious boy and we love him so much too!

Jackson- 4

Jackson-collage

Sweet notes of love from my boys for Mother’s Day. They are both fine men, respected in their work, genuine and kind. Being a mom to Jeremy and Jonathan is pure JOY to me. I am so thankful and this right here holds true for me…

love you mom

My grandson Zeke graduated from Pre-K a couple of weeks ago. It was a great time! He sang his heart out, and I can honestly say it was one of the sweetest children’s programs I have ever attended. My son and his wife, and my husband Gary and I were so proud of him that our hearts were about to burst.  He has brought so much JOY to this Gran Jan and is the reason this whole blog began for me…  Great things ahead for this little fella – he has a heart for God.

Zeke - graduation

I was able to keep my youngest little grandson for a couple of nights and my JOY was full as he napped in the same baby bed as his daddy. I am such a softie when it comes to things like that.  Traditions, family legacy, God’s goodness.

Abe-happyAbe-babybed

My oldest son and his wife celebrated TEN YEARS of marriage in May also! Talk about family legacy, love, and the JOY of life. I am the most blessed mother-in-law.  My two girls love my sons and are awesome mommas to our 5 grandchildren.  You can’t put a price on any of these gifts from God!  I made a scrapbook for them of their dating, engagement, rehearsal dinner and wedding.  I know the grandchildren will love seeing the foundation of faith into which they were born. More gifts of God’s grace to us! My youngest and his wife will celebrate SIX YEARS next week. 

10 years

Fun times abound around blueberry time here at the farm and the early varieties are bearing beautifully. Blue bounty for sure. The kids love running in and out of the blueberries with me close behind reminding the little ones, “only pick the blue ones, the blue ones, the blue ones…leave the green ones.”  Who knew this would become such a fun tradition that cold day my husband and I planted those 20 bushes?

blueberry garden

The Jasmine and petunias are so pretty right now too.  The petunias are from my maternal Grandmother.  They re-seed and are an old-fashioned variety that smell so good.  I love that connection to my grandmother.  She was a green-thumb girl and I always say I inherited my love for gardening from her. The jasmine over our porch swings is an annual delight in May. Sweet.

petuniasjasmine

I love sewing for these two little granddaughters.  They have brought a tenderness to me and my husband that we didn’t experience because we raised boys! We are so thankful to have these littles girlies in our lives…we enjoyed some time on the swing during Jackson’s birthday party a couple of weekends ago.

grandgirls

Just today I made this little outfit for Emery (Miss Hollywood above).  She is a sweetheart and also spent the night here at the farm this past weekend.  For one who is especially attached to her momma and daddy…she never once mentioned them! I love it – she was happy happy happy with Pop and Gran Jan.

Emery-capris

Pop and I love our family. We literally share with each other EVERY DAY about how thankful and blessed we are.  We count our blessings. We keep God’s goodness ever in front of us as reminders of His love and faithfulness.  There is nothing sweeter than getting a grandchild to sleep and then holding him in your arms. Gary got Abe to sleep during Zeke’s graduation and by the smile on Pop’s face, he was enjoying the sweetness.

Pop and Abe

These FIVE grandbabies (5 1/2,  4, 4, 20 months and 9 months) are a source of great JOY and they also bring a great sense of accountability to me. I want to stay by the stuff, live strong, and show them all what it means to be a Christ-follower. I want them to know that Gran Jan believed what she lived and that Jesus is everything.

5 grands

This quote helps me.  Sometimes I’m so busy thinking ahead, planning ahead, and being ahead that I can miss the moments that count every day.  Chasing grandyounguns through the blueberries, blowing bubbles for Jackson and Madie to jump and pop, reading to Zeke, playing with Emery, rocking Abe…quiet times in my sewing room and in my garden.  Long conversations over coffee while sitting in the swing by the pond with my sweet man. Those are the gifts I cherish – that keep me centered.  Faith and family.

May 2014 has been full of them.  This is one content Gran Jan.

be all there

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Fabulous February – 2014

I fully hoped with much faith that 2014 would be a “better” year than 2013 was for our family.  God is faithful and was so good to see us through the trials we faced. I experienced His grace in so many ways in 2013.  I wrote about it in a post entitled Triple Trials. You can’t always see God’s purposes in every season, but His peace and His presence are very real.

February has been a great month for so many reasons! Remember my blog counting to 1,000 GIFTS when I posted pictures and shared the JOY of counting His gifts of grace? Well, this post is going to be similar as the pictures tell the story…here goes!

I spoke at a retreat for pastor’s wives in North Georgia at the beautiful Georgia Baptist Conference Center in Toccoa.  The theme was “Live Out Your Legacy,” and God blessed in every way. The most precious time for me was when my son Jeremy introduced me before I spoke on Friday evening. Talk about a living legacy! He made me cry my eyes out – it was a surprise and a blessing all rolled together. I love him so much! He and his brother were pure JOY to raise.

PWRetreat

We’ve had a TRUE winter here in the South. Lots of snow and lots of fun! I’m hoping tomorrow when March rolls in…we can see some signs of sweet Springtime! I’m ready to get in the garden.

Zeke-snowman snowbabies

Abe-JD&snowBasketball Snow

We’ve had some great meetings this month and the momentum is building! Second Baptist Church Warner Robins is blessed to host Priscilla Shirer Live this coming August 22-23, 2014. The event is open to all women and we hope that all 2,300 seats are taken! Please go to LIFEWAY to order your tickets before June 27th for a discount!PSL-SBCWR

This blog began because of my JOY in becoming a grandmother.  The joy continueth…

EM and bitty babyZeke-possum

marshmellowsZekefeedingAbeAforAbe

More random… My friend Jan and I auditioned last summer in Atlanta to be on the Wheel of Fortune! We did really well and made it through to the final cuts… SEVEN MONTHS LATER…we were called to go to Culver City, CA for taping, and the snowstorm of Atlanta cancelled our flights and the trip to “spin the wheel” was postponed.  The fine folks at Wheel of Fortune say we are at the top of the list for rescheduling a “Girlfriends Getaway” themed week…and we hope it’s soon! “TEAM JAN” is ready to go!

WOF

Quilting is another love of mine. I made a quilt this month at my sister’s request (several months ago) to help raise funds for her son’s high school baseball program.  She is in charge of the annual big fundraiser.   I sure hope it does well for them – tomorrow is the big day!  Ola-Quilt

My sweet husband and I had the privilege to attend our son’s church this month! It was our first time to be there since they moved last September. This Sunday was special for several reasons…it was our first occasion to attend, we were able to hear Jeremy preach a wonderful message, it was my husband’s birthday, and our youngest grandchild “Abe” was dedicated to the Lord.  Our hearts were overflowing.

Abe-DedicationAbe-ittybittyAbe&pop&me

February 2014 has also provided some good times here at the Farm enjoying the sunsets and time around the fire pit on those rare warm days we enjoyed. SunsetFirepit

Teaching Wednesday Night Bible study is a JOY and privilege.  To experience learning and growing in the Word of God is something I hope to never take for granted.  This study “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World” has been timely, rich, and wonderful!MaryHeart

I always see a pattern in these posts…faith and family – the two treasures I hold dear.  I hope that never changes. I’m so very thankful.Christmas2013

Love and JOY from Gran Jan on this last day of Fabulous February 2014!

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Five Minute Friday – GRACE

Five Minute Friday

Grace. The older I get the more I desire both to be and to be known as a woman full of the Grace of Almighty God.  So for me to be a woman of grace I have to believe that His grace really is sufficient, and to be known as a woman of grace, I must show grace, give grace, and live grace.  I love the title of the book by Liz Curtis Higgs, “Embrace Grace.”  Welcome to the Forgiven Life!  I remember the first time I heard the acronym for GRACE, which the speaker said meant “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.”  I’ve never forgotten that definition. It cost Jesus everything – His very life – to allow me to embrace the gift of salvation and receive His grace. His grace was given so freely to me that I really want to share His grace with others.

For me…SHOWING GRACE means giving the benefit of the doubt when my flesh wants to criticize or hold someone accountable.
GIVING GRACE means forgiving immediately without any need for a why or a cause for explanation.
LIVING GRACE means  every moment of every day to live out a life of grace.  At home, at work, in the grocery store, at church, in the tough times.  To be leaning in close enough to hear Christ whisper grace to me so that I can show grace to everyone who comes across my path.

By showing, giving, and living grace, I will be blessed to become that woman of grace.  I so want to be that mentor of a grace-filled, grace-full woman to the young women who God brings into my life, beginning with my two daughters-in-law and two granddaughters, Madie Ruth and Emery Caroline.

The words of the old hymn “Grace Greater Than Our Sin” have always been such a treasure.  I love the hymns, and this one is a favorite.

Marvelous grace of our Loving Lord,
grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt.
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
there where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.

Grace, Grace, God’s Grace
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within.
Grace, Grace, God’s Grace.
Grace this is greater than all our sin.

Thank you Lord for your Amazing Grace!

Gran Jan

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One Year Ago Today…Great Is Thy Faithfulness

I was looking around my blog this morning, and noticed in my Google stats that someone from INDIA (Mumbai, Maharashtra) had landed on the following archive post.  I have no idea why or what they were looking for, but I decided to re-read the post myself, and then realized it was posted exactly one year ago today! I love that. God’s faithfulness is just POURING over in my heart and mind right now. Even with the hard season last year during my dad’s serious illness, my husband’s cancer, and my oldest son and his sweet family moving away next month, I have celebrated the births of two new grandchildren this year (a little girl and a little boy) since this post.  Morning my morning new mercies I see, Great Is Thy Faithfulness!

It has been a wonderful long 3-day weekend filled with time at home, time in worship, time with family, and time with friends.  Those gifts are all wrapped up in my list this evening…
786. Three-day weekends with Monday’s off. Grateful.
787. Celebrating my oldest son’s birthday. He’s a fun-loving, passionate preacher – but he was sweet enough to wear this “chick-fil-a hat” for his children. My husband and I met Jeremy and his family for lunch on his birthday last Wednesday – August 29th.  Fun times.
788. Counting one of my life’s greatest JOYS and blessings, being a mom. I’ve been one for 31 years now…and I’m grateful for my two boys, two daughters-in-law, and precious grandchildren.  I love being a mother.
789.  And I LOVE being a grandmother too, this is my oldest boy’s boy. When he came running to me at Chick-fil-a last week and gave me that big hug I thought my heart would burst open. God’s grace.
790. Getting ready for my fall garden planting this morning, and I found this praying mantis on my lemon thyme…he really struck a prayerful pose for me, now didn’t he?
791. Homemade tomato pie – my husband loved it and it blesses me to cook for my happy hearty eating family.
792. I’ve spent a lot of time in my sewing room this weekend and made four ”burp cloths” for my little Emery…September is her birth month!  Can’t wait to meet her. Won’t be long now.
793. As my husband, youngest son and youngest grandson were leaving church Sunday, they were playing the “one two three jump” game and I grabbed my iPhone and snapped this picture…THREE GENERATIONS leaving church together. Thank you LORD.
794. Ann Voskamp – who is the inspiration behind 1,000 Gifts, retweeted a tweet of mine last week and it just made my heart happy. She wrote a beautiful post on marriage…you can go read it here.
795. I love fall the best of all and I’m making a cute little fall jumper for Miss Madie Ruth…complete with a fall scarecrow. This applique was 25 steps and I had a lot of fun picking out the colors and fabric scraps to design it.
796. A little hummingbird flew into our garage and I was able to hold her while she caught her breath – then she zoomed away…and I caught my breath. I loved that.
797. Sending a quart jar of pickled okra to my mother-in-law because I know she loves it and making it for her brought me a special joy.  She’s been such a good role model for me all these 35 years I’ve been married to her baby boy.
798. Breakfast is my husband’s favorite meal of the day. We enjoyed good conversation this morning over delicious jalepeno cheddar sausage made at a local shop called M & T Meats.
799. My daughter-in-law Erin is great with child and we are counting the days to Emery’s birth later this month.  She and Jonathan have prepared the most beautiful room for this baby girl…I am so thankful for my boys and their wives – they are great parents and it brings me such JOY to know my grandchildren are being raised up in love and being taught the ways of Christ.
My grace gifts lists have a common theme – faith – family – friends. I am thankful for the joys of simple living and counting these gifts makes me realize even more that my JOYS are those simple treasures of daily living. I am very thankful and counting my blessings makes me even more aware of how blessed I am.  It’s a good discipline and it will keep your mind and heart focused on what really matters…faith – family – friends.
God is Good,
JAN
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