October 2017 – iPhone Pix

A scroll through my iPhone pictures makes me so happy! I easily get lost in the memories they evoke. I replay conversations and the sweetness of events. I did that this weekend and saved several pictures to share here for the grandkids’ enjoyment too. I do wonder about this iPhone generation of kids. I know my daughters-in-law each make memory books on-line through various resources, and I’m thankful they do.  But I rarely print a picture anymore. Not like I did when my boys were little. We were forever printing “rolls of film.” Even typing that seems strange.

Whenever all FIVE of my grandkids are together there is lots of NOISE and I wouldn’t have it any other way. They are all healthy, wonderful, and so very smart. They decided to put on a “program” for us down by the pond. It was such a great show. The only props were sunglasses and a little orange flag that stood in for the Grand Old Flag we love. Grandson Jackson was the Producer-Director. We were all requested to stand and recite the Pledge to the Flag, followed by singing the National Anthem. Then each of the actors introduced themselves, giving their age, school name, and something interesting about them. Little Abe told us he was “upset with tractors,” and the others quickly corrected his line and he repeated that he was “obsessed” with tractors. It was quite a show. Best I’ve seen in a long time. A bag of popcorn would have added to Gran Jan’s JOY.Fall gardening is my favorite for two reasons:  no humidity and I love greens!  This was my first year to plant kale and it has gone crazy in the garden. I couldn’t share a post without some garden JOY! I cooked that basket of collard greens and they were ALL eaten because Jonathan took the leftovers home.

Sweet Madie Ruth helped me roll out the dough for yeast rolls. I love time in the kitchen with the grandkids and it is becoming even better as they get older.This is one picture from a bunch I am saving for a future post! My husband and I are making a farm table for our home. We’ve been working on it for a couple of months and it is almost ready. We have taken two adult Wood-working classes and I have learned so much. Gary has really done most of the work, and we will be so proud to get the table home soon – before Thanksgiving!My sisters and I got together and made cookies together. Our mother stopped by and we had lunch together. It was one of the most delightful days I’ve had in a long time. We laughed so much I know it was pure therapy for body and soul.Our youngest grandson Abe was so proud of his John Deere Trio. He wanted me to take a picture and even got our dog Copper to pose for the picture. Abe is obsessed with tractors. 🙂   Abe’s siblings Zeke and Madie joined in the John-Deere-Trio picture to round out the fun.  I love these kids so much sometimes I think my heart will just burst. My son Jonathan will often bring Jackson & Emery down to the Farm on the weekends to play. Emery especially loves the donkeys and cows. I have a swing under a huge oak tree that Gary gave me for my birthday a couple of years ago.  I love it so much and love it even more when the grandkids swing together.Life is good in the country.


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Gran Jan Camp – 2017

The second GRAN JAN CAMP is a wrap! I went from one camper to three, so it was BIG BIG BIG! Here are my campers, my three oldest grandchildren, Madie, Jackson, and Zeke! Zeke attended the inaugural Gran Jan Camp last summer, so he was a great helper and co-director and “watch me, this is what we do” guide! He just finished 2nd grade and Madie and Jackson just completed first grade, the only prerequisite for attending, besides being my grandchild!
The theme for our camp this summer was “ENCOURAGEMENT!” Our focus verse was I Thessalonians 5:11:

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

Our focus was that our WORDS MATTER! We talked about encouraging people we don’t know and people we do know, most especially our families. We started this year with a Scavenger Hunt! I had the best time putting this together. I had 15 clues that ended up at the firepit by our pond. I worked on the clues and enjoyed putting them out all over the place… Clue 1 started inside our home, and the next clue led to another spot, to another, to another! These are some smart grandkids, I tell you that. I had to run to keep up with them and I don’t run. 🙂

So our big project was “encouragement rocks.”  Each grandchild had 4 rocks to decorate with words of spiritual encouragement, and they did amazing! Just look at these rocks! We encouraged folks we don’t know with words of hope and healing. We then went on a field trip to place the rocks in three different stores. We prayed that just the right person who needed to be encouraged that day would find the rock meant for them. We had a blast and talked about the joy that was ours to be an encourager to someone else.

We made snack necklaces to enjoy from all our hard rock placement that morning! 🙂 Zoom in close to see the “snack necklaces.”  They used pretzels, cheerios, fruit loops cereal, and gummies and enjoyed munching on these. Zeke had almost eaten his before I could take the picture!

When you live in the county without a swimming pool and it is over 90 degrees you buy a “slip and slide!”  They had a blast on this thing during the early evening and Pop and I enjoyed watching them.  After they had slipped and slid they wanted to play in the pond, and off they went. Pop even got in on the fun in the pond with them and then our lab, Copper jumped in with them too.

One of my favorite things we do is bury a time capsule on the last day of Gran Jan Camp. Jackson and Emery wrote letters to “their 18-year-old selves.” Yes they did! We will unearth these in 10 years and I pray we can all be together to do so. “Lord willing,” as my Granny Maloy always said about everything.

Madie and Jackson each added a “fidget spinner” to their time capsules.  It’s a recent new toy that is all the rage now. You basically just hold it, twirl it, and watch it spin. Jackson wondered if in 10 years if fidget spinners would even still be around. Stay tuned!

The time capsules were placed in the ground right outside Pop’s shop in Gran Jan’s zinnia garden.  Zeke’s was already there from last year and so we know exactly where they will be. I printed some pictures from the week to place inside, and I also wrote a letter to Madie and one to Jackson to place inside the time capsules too. Pop wrapped them up tight with plastic and sealed them well.

The joy of Gran Jan Camp is all about memories and family legacy. I loved having uninterrupted time with my grandchildren these three days.  Time to just be with them, praying and playing together. What a joy to be able to share in the lives of these precious little people.  I love them so much it hurts. You grandmothers out there know exactly what I mean by that.

I’m already getting a folder of ideas for next year’s camp and will enjoy this season while it lasts.  To everything there is a season (Ecclesiastes 3:1), and I know my campers will eventually outgrow Gran Jan Camp, but prayerfully they will never outgrow the memories.

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2017 Scripture Memory Team – May

May is here and has been delightful in many ways. The weather today is so nice. Right now it’s a beautiful 77 degrees with a nice breeze blowing. My favorite kind of gardening weather.  Two of my wonderful grandchildren have May birthdays and were born exactly two weeks apart back in 2010, Madie on May 10 and Jackson on May 24. They both just finished first grade and are Gran Jan’s JOY! The time is flying by.

Another fun event in May was our annual Worship Ministry Picnic for our choir, orchestra and technical team workers. We hosted it at the Morton Farm the first Saturday of May and it was a lot of fun. The families enjoyed having the room to roam and see the cows and chickens, and fish in the pond. Grilled hamburgers and hotdogs with all the trimmings filled the menu.  Everyone pitched in and helped serve one another in love. The fellowship was sweet. That brings me to my May 1st memory verse. It’s quick, it’s simple, and it’s necessary! Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. Offering hospitality is a way to show love. Doing it without grumbling is icing on that cake you may serve! We had over 150 folks and we enjoyed each one.  I pray I will always be kind and hospitable…without grumbling.


This next verse jumped out at me during a recent sermon by my Pastor, Jim Perdue. I love the Psalms and when he announced his text I was eager to turn there in my Bible. The Lord IS righteous and he LOVES righteous deeds. The best part is He gives us the righteousness through His son Jesus to do those deeds. We can’t be righteous in our own strength.  He will take care of us with His fellowship, protection and with the favor of a loving father. One day we will be in His presence and enjoy those blessings for eternity. But aren’t you thrilled to know those blessings now? I need Him every hour of every day.

It seems as though our society is getting darker and darker, people getting more and more evil. I believe it is because of quick news and media and the way we hear about everything so quickly that makes it seem this way.  This verse helps me press in to my heart the truth that God is in control. He sees and He knows every single deed being done, whether righteous or unrighteous.  I don’t need to keep any score pads in my purse (or in my mind and heart either). He’s got it all in His Mighty Hands. Let’s remember that He will take care of us as we trust in Him. And one glorious day, we will BEHOLD HIS FACE! Wrap your mind around that truth for a moment.

Gran Jan

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2017 Scripture Memory Team – April

It’s the last day of April and this month brought joy to my gardening heart. I planted flowers and fixed up some containers on the front porch for ferns and red geraniums. In my raised bed vegetable garden, I’ve planted tomatoes, three kinds of peppers, sweet onions, butter peas and pink-eye peas. Everything is up and growing. In fact, we just got home from church a little while ago and I couldn’t wait to get in the garden to check out how everything was doing. I let my hens out of the chicken house to free-range for a bit and just enjoyed the last few hours of this last day of April. The two verses I am working to memorize from April are in the New Testament, I John 2:6 and Ephesians 4:32, both of them have to do with our walk, our behavior.

Our beliefs dictate our behavior. We behave what we believe. If we claim His Name I just believe folks ought to see that in our daily lives. Do I mess up? Of course, every day. But my aim is still to walk in the manner Jesus walked. Shining His light, listening for His voice throughout the day and walking in His Spirit. I can do that by praying, reading His Word, and by just being kind – as stated in Ephesians 4:32. I want to be known as a kind woman, and for the law of kindness to be on my tongue (Proverbs 31:26).

I love the tenderhearted word in this verse. To stay tenderhearted we have to forgive, be kind, forgive, love people, forgive. FORGIVE. As we’ve been forgiven. If you’re hurting due to unkind behavior from someone, as hard as it is to do – pray for them and ask God to help you forgive them. The more you pray for them the more tenderhearted your heart will become. And tenderhearted folks are a joy to be around.

Signing off now, expecting some April showers tonight…my next post will be my May flowers.

Blessings,

Gran Jan

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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
Three to four stalks of celery, diced small (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
1/2 cup of vegetable or Canola oil
[Crisco shortening or bacon grease or vegetable oil to grease cast-iron skillet]

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and then put 2-3 Tablespoons of either Crisco shortening, solid bacon grease, or vegetable oil in a large cast-iron skillet. Place skillet in oven while oven is pre-heating. Now mix wet ingredients: oil, beaten egg and buttermilk. Mix cornmeal and flour together and add to buttermilk mixture. Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven, swirl skillet around to be sure melted grease covers the skillet (this takes practice, be careful)! Now pour the cornbread batter into the hot greased skillet. Love that sizzle! 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 prefer to use a whole hen, but you can use 3-4 lbs. of chicken pieces, breasts/thighs (and if you’re roasting a turkey, add the turkey neck), 2 onions quartered, 2-3 stalks of celery with leaves, 2 carrots cut in large pieces, 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, carrots, 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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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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