The Loft Link-Up [The Place I Call Home…]

THe_Loft_Link_Up

This week over on  THE LOFT LINKUP at Leah’s Blog our writing assignment is “The Place I Call Home.” I love this topic and claim it joyfully because I am such a homebody. Even as a little girl I wasn’t one to easily spend the night with friends. I love home!

So…HOME is one of my favorite words. I really am a homebody. The dictionary defines me as “a person who prefers pleasures that center around the home; stay-at-home.” That’s me! I have a small TV in my sewing space/happy place that I enjoy. The 1970s series The Waltons airs on the Hallmark Channel in the evenings. That’s when I can usually be found sewing as I also work outside the home during the day. The other night Grandpa Walton said “home is one of the sweetest words there is!” I heartily agree with Grandpa.

This week at The Loft is especially timely to me because my husband and I moved “home” eight years ago to the day. We moved in with my parents on our 30th wedding anniversary, June 11, 2007.  So I came back home 30 years to the day I left home…on my wedding day, June 11, 1977. We moved in with them while our new home was being built right across the pasture from them. We all bought land together 8 years ago. So yes, yesterday we celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary.

Last night my husband and I went out for dinner for our anniversary to a place called The Carriage House, a restaurant that is in an old home 🙂 out in the country not far from where we live. While there we talked about the different homes and apartments we’ve lived in since we set up housekeeping 38 years ago. We built our country home 8 years ago, and we plan to retire in this home, “Lord willing,” as my Granny Maloy always said (James 4:15). I stopped and took this picture with my iPhone as I pulled out of our driveway this morning…IMG_9968Growing up in a military family I moved many times in my childhood. In fact, I had attended 10 different schools in 12 years by the time I graduated. But my sweet mother always made every home a real home for me and my sisters. She and my Marine Corps father always made sure we girls had our bedrooms set up first…then came the kitchen, which is the heart of my home to this day. So my training for making a house a home is special to me. When I married a minister man 🙂 back in 1977 I figured my moving days would begin again, but it hasn’t been that way. In 38 years of marriage and ministry we’ve served three churches and we’ve been home at Second Baptist, our “Second Family” for 27 years now. That is one of the greatest joys of our lives, raising our boys in one church, one town, one home.

When we moved to the farm eight years ago our whole priority in the move centered around family. A place where we could be near my aging parents (who are active and healthy still) and a place where our boys and their wives could come “home.” Since then, 5 precious grandchildren have been added to our family. They love to come to the farm. We pick blueberries, we fish in the pond, we ride the John Deere Gator around, we rip and run in the fields. We bird watch and we animal watch. We just “be.” It’s our homeplace. Ministry and working are great blessings and are also exhausting at times. Home is our place to center ourselves, to rest, rejuvenate and recover.

I am so happy to share my homeplace  “Three Willows Farm,” (named after the 3 big Weeping Willow trees at the pond) with you. The best way I can do that is to give you a little tour through pictures. Thank you for stopping in, and welcome to our home. You will drive down the lane of Willow Oaks and if you turn left you will come to our home and turning right will take you to my parents. They would welcome you too!IMG_9970We could visit my garden and then sit on the back patio to enjoy the blooming Confederate Star Jasmine. Or we could sit in a rocking chair on the front porch, or on the swing by the pond’s firepit. We have lots and lots of choices for sitting places around the farm because we enjoy sitting and talking and sharing and drinking a glass of tea. IMG_9977IMG_9985IMG_9986IMG_9975IMG_9974Farms and cows go together and so do farms and grandkids. We’ve got plenty of each and we’re thankful, most especially for the grandkids of course!IMG_9987IMG_9981IMG_9976IMG_9980IMG_9998IMG_1785IMG_9999The pond is a great place to gather to sit and think, pray, and fish! Lots of family time is spent at the pond, especially around the firepit in the evenings.IMG_9994IMG_9990IMG_9973IMG_9991IMG_9989IMG_9992

Another happy place is our big old country kitchen. This girl loves to cook and loves to feed folks! Here we are gathered around the table and around the Christmas tree…3GenerationsIMG_9979Home for me the past 38 years and 1 day has been where this man is!  He’s led our home and loved our home and taken care of our home and I’m a blessed woman. IMG_9982As believers in Christ we know that God’s Word teaches us from 2 Corinthians 5:1 that “the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” Old songs also speak of our heavenly homes, “this world is not my home, I’m just a passing through…” and newer songs do the same “All I know is I’m not home yet, this is not where I belong…” I sang a song with our choir for many years entitled “I just call it home,” and it was all about heaven. The chorus was so beautiful and true:

Some call it heaven, where life will not cease.
Some call it paradise, a land of sweet peace.
Some call it glory, with eyes on the throne,
But I’m longing for Jesus, so I just call it home.

I’m ready for that great homecoming! Thank  you all for stopping by today.

GranJan-BlogSignature

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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…

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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…

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Summer storms and rain puddles for grandsons to jump!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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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Spring 2013 – Lots of Living Being Lived!

So much “living has been lived” since I blogged a month ago! Life is good because God is good, He is always good. He continues to faithfully reveal His love to me in wonderful ways. I take pictures all the time with my iPhone camera, so I really want to let my pictures do the blogging for me…as I did when I was counting grace gifts to 1,000 here on my blog the past two years. There have been lots of celebrations this month in our family! My life continues again with familiar themes of faith, family, fun,  farm, and always of course…the flowers

FAITH
June 1st marked a very special day for my husband and me – the 25th anniversary of  ministry at our wonderful church! Our church family gave us a love offering and a paid vacation trip of our choosing.  Last night (June 9th) we celebrated with a reception and so many memories flooded our hearts. They are precious people, a  loving and generous church family. God surely blessed us when He led us there with our two little boys 25 years ago…1989-MortonFamily25 Years

I was blessed to serve on the planning team for the recent Living Proof Life event in Atlanta. My church had 76 ladies attend and we had a wonderful time.  Beth Moore and Travis Cottrell make a great team as the Word was shared and the Worship was divine. The last session was a celebratory time of responsive reading, singing, praying, and dedication like nothing I’ve ever experienced – unprecedented for one of the LPL events.  So thankful for the time I shared with friends there.

This group of ladies with our fearless leader Mandy Parker were tremendous servants.
(Mandy is in the white blouse kneeling on the first row.)LPL Team

LPL2013

My friend Sophie Hudson, author of this book below, “A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet” was at the conference  (on the far right in the picture above).  She is a genuine, precious woman of faith.  I LOVE HER and this book is one I will re-read and go to often. She loves her family, her Southern heritage, and I so get her.  She is one of the blessings that have come to  me from “the internets.” Sophie'sBook

FAMILY & FUN
May is the month my two middle grandchildren celebrate their birthdays exactly two weeks apart! They each celebrated their 3rd birthdays with sweet parties planned by my daughters-in-law.  Madie had a “Bubblegum Party” theme (since she is now allowed to have bubble gum), and Jackson had a “Jake the Pirate Party.”  They each had so much fun at each others’ parties with family and friends, and Gran Jan had fun making the birthday shirts they wore at their parties.  Here are the hugging cousins at Madie’s party…it just doesn’t get any sweeter!HuggingCousins

Here is the Birthday Princess wearing her “#3 Bubble Gum Machine” shirt made with love by Gran Jan.  She is a sweet girl!Madie-3

Here is Jackson’s  “#3 Pirate Birthday” shirt made with love by Gran Jan.Jacksons3

My daughter-in-law Carrie took this picture of Zeke and Madie on their last day of playschool.  She couldn’t have captured a sweeter moment! It is perfection and I’m so thankful to have it here to share with you.  One of my favorite pictures ever. I pray these two will always be there for each other…nothing like siblings!ZandM

We also celebrated my nephew Payton’s graduation from high school on May 25th with a HUGE FAMILY GATHERING complete with matching “Maloy Family” shirts compliments of my sister Joan. We enjoyed delicious King Crab and all the trimmings at the “Crab Fest 2013.”  It was so great to have everyone together and my daughter-in-law Erin has great skills for setting up a photography shoot! Crabfest2013

Both my boys have celebrated wedding anniversaries recently…Jeremy & Carrie celebrated 9 years May 22nd and Jonathan and Erin celebrated 5 years on June 7th.  NO GREATER JOY for this mom than to see my sons and daughters-in-law building homes together!JandC

JandE

Zeke played tee-ball with Upward Sports Ministries at our church this Spring and we had a great time watching him “play ball!”
My son was one of the coaches and we enjoyed watching him too! 🙂Zeke-TeeBall

Little Miss Emery is now 8 months old and brings everyone JOY with her sweet and precious disposition. She is a GOOD GIRL!Emery 8 monthsEmeryandMe

Grandbaby #5, our gender tie-breaker! (We have 2 grandsons and 2 granddaughters.)
We love you already and can’t wait to meet you in just under  3 months. TieBreaker

Mother’s Day 2013 was special and I’m thankful for my boys’ wives who gave me great gifts – pretty red jewelry from Carrie and this photo collage flowerpot that Erin put together with all the grandchildren’s pictures around the whole pot! I love it!PhotoPot

Today is Memama Morton’s 91st Birthday. She is the Morton Family Matriarch and the best mother-in-law this daughter-in-law could ever have.  She loved me from the start, she prays for our family, and she has never once “interfered” with our lives.  I pray I can be as good to my daughters-in-law as she has been to me. We love you so much Memama! Memama91


FLOWERS!
We’ve had a great Spring 2013. The weather has been cool and rainy, my flowers and garden are flourishing, and best of all
God’s tender mercies are new every morning…image

Daylilies… MidnightMagic

PurpleJoyJan'sTwisterGlorious gardenias and roses…GardeniasRedMrLincoln My “Blushing Bride” Hydrangeas…BlushingBrideHydrangea

Blackberries…Blackberries

Wonderful sweet-smelling Confederate Jasmine over the spring arbor…Jasmine

As I close this post tonight, I am thinking toward a very special day, the most special day a man and woman can celebrate.  Tomorrow is our 36th wedding anniversary.  Gary and I began our lives together 6-11-1977. God has blessed us with a wonderful family, a fruitful ministry, and a solid marriage based on trust and love. I am so thankful that 36 years ago as a young (way too young to be getting married) 19 year old woman that God knew what I needed and provided you for me when I didn’t even know He was taking care of me.  I love you Gary – and my love for you is stronger than ever. Being your wife has been my life’s greatest joy.  Thank you for taking such good care of me… even going to the blueberry garden early in the morning last week to pick blueberries for my yogurt.  You’re a fine man and I’m one spoiled, blessed woman!GaryPickingBlueberries61177

Love to all of you and thank you for reading all the way to the end…life’s SIMPLE JOYS are really the best,
and only made sweeter when surrounded by the love of Christ.

GRANJAN

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1,000 GIFTS, #949 to #966

949.  As I get so close to the GOAL of 1000 gifts, I am remembering today where it all began.  I was attending a conference for worship pastors (and their wives) with my husband, and we were in Birmingham, AL.  My first gifts, one to ten are here.  That conference is 2 weeks from today and we are part of the team that is hosting the event (Metro II) here in our state in beautiful Savannah, Georgia.  Time flies…

950.  And speaking of worship – here is our grandson Jackson singing “Where I Belong”  (Building 429)  in the tub just last night. He had heard that Pop (my husband) had sang it in “big church.”  Click on the little link below (Jackson-Tub) for 20 seconds of pure JOY.  “All I know is I’m not home yet, this is not where I belong…take this world and give me Jesus, this is not where I belong…”  Jackson-Tub

951. Phone calls at work that begin like this, “Mom, you want to meet me and Carrie and the kids at Chick-fil-A for lunch?”  Indeed!  Then lots of hugs and kisses from Zeke & Madie Ruth before I head back to the office.  My favorite way to spend a lunch hour!  Thank you Jeremy for calling and inviting me.

952. Grace beyond all measure in the continued strength and healing in my dad’s recovery.  He is a miracle of the Lord and my heart is full to overflowing with thankfulness.  He is still in the hospital but is most assuredly on the mend.  Thank you for praying.

953.  My friend Lanie invited me to an “art party.”  The sponsor is Truth Be Told Art and it was absolutely wonderful.  It is a wonderful ministry where you paint His Truth on canvas. We painted the scripture from Galatians 5:22-23, the fruit of the Spirit. The artist led us step by step and we are so proud of our artwork!  Left to right in the picture is Kathy, me, Lanie, and Joy.  Both Kathy’s and Joy’s husbands are staff pastors at our church.  Blessed time of fellowship.  Pears
954.  Thank God for the JOY of some springtime weather right in the middle of winter…record highs last week.  This may be the perfect weather to me.  Just warm and wonderful, breezy, low to no humidity.

955.  My oldest grandchild and I spent a long time just sitting on the bank of our pond on that beautiful Spring day last weekend. Zeke is a talker and we enjoyed long conversation. He calls this weeping willow our “picnic tree.”  We had a most wonderful time and I’m so thankful.ZekePond956.  And that perfect day was made more perfect by some “flowers” from Zeke. Dandelions…delightful! 🙂Dandelions

957.  I love the music of Travis Cottrell and our choir and orchestra and really our whole church enjoy his music.  Our Praise Team is working on “Jesus Saves.”  My husband is planning something very special when we sing it and it will feature a presentation of ALL the people who have come to Christ and been baptized in our church recently…YES! Jesus Saves!  I was actually in the audience the night Travis recorded this music at First Baptist Woodstock, Georgia. What a great memory!

958. I planted a Rose of Sharon last weekend.  Mine is white and I love this old-fashioned flowering shrub.  A sweet and precious friend, Jan Leary brought it to me from Atlanta.  Her father was in the hospital at the same time as mine.  We met in the hospital lobby and talked and encouraged each other through that trying time right at Christmas.  She is very special to me.  I love you Jan! We have a lot in common, beginning with our names.

959.  Life is but a vapor…James 4:14 from the Amplified Bible.  Barely a week goes by that I don’t think about something I learned from the Bible study on the book of James (Mercy Triumphs) by Beth Moore and her daughter Melissa Fitzpatrick. One cool morning last week as the vapor and fog was wafting through the pecan trees I stopped to take a picture…

Yet you do not know [the least thing] about what may happen tomorrow.
What is the nature of your life?
You are [really] but a wisp of vapor (a puff of smoke, a mist)

that is visible for a little while and then disappears [into thin air].
Vapor

960.  Love this new “app” for the Scripture Memory Team!  I am memorizing Psalm 103 this year.   SSMT app

961.  Thankful for the safety of my friend Cindy who was home during an attempted break in at her home last weekend.  She is a woman of the Word and had the presence of mind to know that the attempted “robber” needs Jesus.  I am praying for God to bring her peace of heart and mind as she works through everything.  Jesus be near.

962. I had everyone over for a big family breakfast this past Saturday and we enjoyed some time outside. I love this picture of Jackson and Madie running.  They are exactly 2 weeks to the day apart. I pray they will be as close in friendship as their ages are in days…Running

963. Sweet Emery is always so HAPPY and I enjoyed some time with her in the house while everyone was visiting the cows!Emery-JOY

964. Our Pastor preached one of the most practical and clear messages yesterday on what it means to be a disciple of Christ that is GROWING in relationship with Him (from Hebrews 5:12-14).  I so desire to be a mature woman of faith!
12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.
13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.
14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

1. Lack of growth limits your ability.
2. Lack of growth hinders your productivity.
3. Lack of growth reveals your immaturity.

965.  I assure you I did not draw any attention to myself or disturb anyone around me as I quickly took this picture (with my iPhone) at church yesterday, but I wanted to preserve this moment in my mind…a group of friends praying together at the close of our services.  I have no idea who or what they were praying for, but it touched me way down deep.  So thankful for small groups, Bible study, Sunday School and JESUS!  The bond that holds us all together is His love.  Thankful for that grace moment yesterday.PrayingTogether

 966.  And lastly…this quote from Dr. Perdue yesterday:

Grace didn’t come with a “to-do” list, Grace came with a DONE list.

AMEN AND AMEN!
Jan

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1,000 GIFTS, #901 to #927

On this last day of the year 2012, I am winding down to the last 100 gifts in my goal of counting 1,000 grace gifts.  This journey has been one that may not always “show up” here on my blog, but is ever before me in daily life.  The realization of His grace has never been more true or more near than the last four weeks as I realized a new journey in faith during my father’s serious illness and hospitalization. Dad is still in ICU, but I am most grateful that he is alive and beginning the long journey back to restored health.

901. Immediately on my heart is thankfulness for family time in times of pain.  I’ve spent more time with my mom and sisters the past four weeks than I have the past four years…or so it seems.  It has proven to me that we are there for each other when it counts. What a gift of grace.

902. I love this fun tweet that I sent on 12-12-12 at 12:12:12.  Silly me – but fun.12 12 12

903.  Christmas isn’t just a date on the December calendar – it is knowing in my heart why Jesus came, to be born to die for me, for you. For the first time in my entire life I didn’t spend Christmas Eve with my parents, and yet we had JOY.  My son Jonathan brought a little tree to Dad’s ICU room and it really brought  joy to us all.hospital tree

904.  Support from both my sons as they have texted and called me with “how is Papaw today?” Knowing how busy they both are with young children and still taking time to check in means so much to me.  I love my boys and their wives so much.

905.  Dolls under my Christmas tree – a first for this mom of boys! Both Madie and Emery got “Bitty Babies” from American Girl for Christmas.  Madie calls her doll a “Tiny Baby Bitty Baby.” Precious. American girl

906. An unexpected Christmas gift for me from my husband – totally a surprise with our schedules upside down with daily trips to the hospital…he gave me an iPad and I love it!

907. Christmas Day Night is the time our family gathers as we continue our tradition of blueberry pancakes and bacon. I love my family so much. SONY DSC

908. Prayer. Times of crying out to God with pleadings for Him to heal my dad. Intense, and yet comforting to know I can intercede and enter His presence. I will NEVER get over the privilege to pray. I’ve become more aware as people have told me they are praying for my dad that I am so grateful for their intercessions. I want to take requests for prayer from others way more to heart than I ever have. One person even stopped and prayed for my dad right over the telephone. That blessed me so much.

909. My sweet mom with her youngest great-granddaughter, my granddaughter Emery, celebrating her first Christmas. I’ve been so proud of my mom as she’s seen her mate of 56 years go through such a hard time…what a testimony of her faith in Christ.EmeryandGigi

910.  An email to tell us that the shoebox of toys and supplies we put together for Samaritian’s Purse ministries went to Central Asia. Oh I pray that the child who received our gift was blessed and heard the story of Jesus and received the truth of Christ and His love! shoebox

911. I harvested sweet potatoes from my garden – a first for me.  One afternoon I went to my garden and worked and dug and dug sweet potatoes and prayed and worked.  Gardening is and has been good therapy for me, physically and emotionally.taters

912. Most folks that know me well understand my love of gardening and birds too. This picture was on Twitter last week and I love it. Redbirds are my favorite!redbird

913.  My co-worker Brenda gave me this Christmas cactus two years ago and it was so pretty this year. I love that it knows just when Christmas is and when to bloom.  Isn’t God so creative?cactus

914. Oh the joy to attend the Christmas program at my son Jeremy’s church and see our grandson Zeke portray Joseph in the program! It just doesn’t get any sweeter than that… Joseph

915.  One morning before Christmas I was listening to Dr. David Jeremiah on the radio and he shared a message on “strength in waiting.”  I needed that so much as we waited and waited for news of my dad’s health each day, I was growing weary. The wonderful passage from Isaiah 40:31 was so good as Dr. Jeremiah spoke that “those that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength and mount up on wings as eagles…”  On my way to work just minutes after hearing that message, I got a text message from my sister Joan who had a picture to send me…of this glorious eagle that was in a tree in her front yard!!! We both rejoiced as we received this special sighting as God being very near and very dear. I will never forget this as long as I live.  An EAGLE landed in that tree just for me and I shared with her my morning and we both REJOICED and thanked God that He sent His eagle that morning to visit her front yard! Eagle

916. My grandson Jackson sent his Papaw a get well picture…it is still hanging in his room at the hospital tonight.  get well from Jackson

917.  It’s garden greens time in my garden…and these cabbages and collards are huge.  I just cut a “mess” of collards to cook for New Year’s Day tomorrow.  This is a very Southern tradition and I am very Southern.  And thankful to be! 🙂greens

918. A new little donkey born on 12-12-12. He is too cute and has already been promised to a little boy at our church named Zack that wants him! He’s already been to visit “Jack.”  He doesn’t get too far from his momma, Ellie. new Jack

919. Especially grateful to my husband for keeping up around the farm with chores for my dad…and even more thankful for Gary being a rock to my family of women.  My mom and sisters and I have really needed his strength.  I am so blessed.farm chores

920. I really love this picture of Gary’s tractor and the reflection in our pond.  I snapped it from across the pond as he was driving back after giving the cows some fresh hay. May we all be “reflections” of Jesus in 2013. 🙂Tractor reflection

921. I love this group of young men and women so much!  They are all going to Passion at the Georgia Dome this coming week. Five  of them are planning a church plant in Florida in 2014.  They bring such hope to me as they serve Jesus. passion kids

922.  So blessed by the sweetest smile on this little face as she coos at her Pop on Christmas night.  I look so forward to making some dresses and fun little things for her next year!SONY DSC

923.  Hospital waiting rooms are difficult places, made more pleasant by my niece and nephews…I love y’all!waiting room

924. I made a book of pictures for my dad to see of things he loves; hopefully to encourage him and jog his memory of all he has to look forward to as he heals.  He was under sedation on a ventilator for 20 days…we “missed him” so much!

925. This prayer means more to me these days and I hope will stay with me in 2013…healty

926. The last sunrise of this year as I took this picture this frosty cold morning December 31, 2012…God be near in 2013  and I thank Him for His GRACE every day the past 365 days.sunrise

927. Thank you faithful blog readers for your support, prayers and love. I know this post was full of comments about my dad and all I’ve experienced the past month, but that is what this place in cyber space is…the ramblings of a woman who loves Jesus and her family and seeks to live each day to the fullest.  I pray God’s blessings on you and your loved ones this year.  Treasure every single day you have, they are ALL gifts of God’s glorious grace.me

In Christ,

Jan

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1,000 GIFTS, #875 to #900

It’s been a long month since I last posted, a long month.  We all have times of joy and times of sorrow; and then there are times where joy and sorrow meet. Even tonight as I write, my dad is in the Intensive Care Unit of our local hospital with a severe case of double pneumonia, a very sick man. Please pray for him. I sure love him and miss him and want him to be home soon.  So with that leading this post, I want to say…

875.  Thank You Jesus for the grace of a normal day, where we go to work and school and do our chores and come home again in the evening with everyone in full health. I’ve missed that so much the past week since Dad has been in the hospital…

876.  Thankful for another year of LIFE – I celebrated 55 years on November 16th. My husband, my parents, my sons and daughters-in-law and four grandchildren came over for dinner.  It could not have been sweeter and I am very thankful.55 cake

877.  A dozen pink roses…delivered in person to me at my office by my husband. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love this man. God graced my life 35 1/2 years ago with Gary.  He is a gift straight to my heart.bday roses

878.  55th birthday blessings continue with the sweetness of my card inscription from my husband.  It was his BEST EVER and I mean that! (And of course I don’t have the energy of a 25 year old or the wisdom of a 75 year old…but I want to keep believing he thinks I look 35!) bday card

879.  Here are the FOUR JOYS of Gran Jan’s Joy.  This picture is everywhere now, on my iPhone, my computer…I love these grandchildren.Fou

880.  My first “senior discount” at a restaurant. I was truly excited and my sister-in-law thought I was “crazy.”  I am…crazy about being older and healthy and blessed, and not ashamed to get the discount!

881.  My oldest son Jeremy is a pastor. He preached the doctrinal sermon at our denomination’s state meeting on 11-13-12. The state convention happened to be held at our church, the church where Jeremy grew up. It was a full circle moment for me. If you’d like to hear a glorious message on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, go to a video of him preaching  the message here.  JD at GBC

882. My husband is a hunter – he especially loves deer season.  He was pulling out early one morning and I snapped this picture of him, his truck, his Gator, his “stuff.”  It made me happy to see him getting to do something he loves so much. Gary- hunting

883.  Gary and I love the fall foliage of  our  local Hickory trees. We found a couple of dozen on our land in the woods and spent one afternoon “tagging” them. We hope to transplant them around our home and pond one day soon…Tagging Hickorys

884. My three oldest little turkeys on Thanksgiving Day at Gran Jan’s house.  I made their shirts…they made my day!SONY DSC

885. My daughter-in-law Erin made a delicious Paula Deen banana pudding…it was so good, and the best part was she left it at my house on Thankgiving Day!  The recipe is Not Yo Mamas Banana Pudding and is very very good.

886.  Four little reindeer shirts for my four grandchildren. I really love creating things for them. I know the “season” for this is short (especially for the boys) and I want to enjoy every moment. They do grow up so quickly.Reindeer shirts

887.  A new little calf on the farm…with the perfect markings of his mother. So fun to me!cows markings

888.  Last week before my dad was moved to ICU, he and I had a heart-to-heart talk that I will treasure forever. He wanted to apologize for his shortcomings as a father and I was reassuring him that I had no memories of those.  He was still in the hospital, but was awake and alert, and it was a moment of such peace for this daughter.

889.  Firepits on the patio and coffee and conversation.  We always say…”this is why we live in the country.” Firepit

890. First Thankgiving…First Christmas…precious granddaughter Emery, with a Gran Jan embroidery design 🙂Emery Christmas Design

891. Sitting outside on the patio and cracking pecans for the freezer.  Time to be busy and time to think…at the same time.  I love that.Pecans

892.  I snapped this picture from my car window while sitting at a traffic light a few days ago.  In fact, a lot of folks were pulled over taking pictures of this gathering of crows on the water tower.  It was so noisy and quite a sight…made me smile!crows

893.  Every other year Living Proof Ministries hosts a “Scripture Memory Team” where you memorize 2 verses a month for a year and post them on their website for accountability.  It is WONDERFUL.  Watch for all the details at the http://blog.lproof site in the next week or two.

894.  Prayers and prayer support from friends.  Today I have received emails, text messages, and voice mails from friends praying for my dad’s recovery.  They are such a strength to me, and I hope when we are through this journey that I will remember the “comfort with which I was comforted,” and do likewise.  II Corinthians 1:3-4

895.  The most glorious Christmas worship music ever presented by our choir and orchestra.  It was so wonderful to have the support of our Pastor as he presented the gospel and 12 folks joined the Family of God and trusted Christ as their Savior.  He is the greatest gift of all.Choir

896. My best friend Lanie has a new little grandson, born a couple of weeks early, little Levi is doing well.  Can’t wait to see him grow up in the Lord as he is raised to know and love Christ.Levi

897.  My little grandson Zeke practicing his letters.  My son said he chooses to do this at bedtime as a stalling tactic.  He tells his parents he “needs to write his letters.”  His dad was a staller too.  He still doesn’t require much sleep…like father, like son (like Gran Jan).Zeke - letters

898.  The full moon and this cross of clouds on my way to work caught my eye one morning last week.  Creator God.morning moon

899.  Health care providers, doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, food service workers, janitors, technicians – everyone – working, serving, caring.  God bless them all.  Reminded this week how much we all need each other.  Thankful, so thankful.

900.  Roses in December. These are my Mr. Lincoln roses showing off. I needed them to do so – and I am enjoying this promise of springtime, both here, and in my heart.  Mr Lincoln

Love and blessings –

Gran Jan

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