Thirty Years of Worship Ministry

I well remember that long hot drive from Athens, Georgia, back in June of 1988. Our young family was moving to middle Georgia so that my husband could begin his ministry as the new Music Minister at Second Baptist Church. I was driving our big old green 1978 Ford LTD, and the air conditioner had quit working. My youngest son Jonathan was so hot his curly hair was wringing wet. My husband was driving a truck loaded down with boxes I’d been packing for days. Our oldest son Jeremy, 6 years old, was riding in the rental truck with the kind men who had come up from our new church to help us move. Jeremy was quite a conversationalist (and still is a talker) and this momma was actually wondering what in the world he may be telling those guys in that U-Haul! (Jeremy is a Pastor so God was preparing Jeremy even then to use his gift of words to preach God’s Word!) We had no idea the great goodness of God that was ahead for the Morton family. He has blessed us beyond what our young hearts could have even imagined. Gary started leading worship on church staff at the age of 16, so he has led worship for 45 years, 30 of them in one amazing church!

Sunday, June 3, 2018 was a day of celebration for Gary as our church family celebrated his 30 years as worship pastor. God has blessed us by allowing us to serve this wonderful church all these years. What grace! Both our sons came to faith in Christ here, were baptized here, and both of their weddings were also at Second Baptist. There is a sweet peace about being in one church and community for 30 years. They are truly our Second Family!

Our sons had a special part in the service as Jeremy preached, and Jonathan shared about his dad’s ministry and then prayed. Gary and I sang with the choir.

Our pastor and his wife, Jim & Stephanie Perdue presented us with gifts and they were so sweet to include our five grandkids in the presentation! It was a very emotional day, but a day with hearts full of praise for God’s tender mercies and faithfulness in our lives. Gary and I hosted lunch following the service for our family who came to celebrate with us, and some special friends who have supported us all these years. It was a sweet time!

I love these two pictures of our amazing choir and orchestra, approximately 25 years apart! The first picture below is from the early days, what us old timers at Second Baptist fondly call “The Red Church.” Red pews, red carpet, red choir sashes, red curtain over the baptistry. RED, that’s it. You know how long someone has been at SBC when they say red church!

This picture is from Christmas 2017 and our choir/orchestra’s beautiful night of worship. (We moved into our “new church” October 3, 2004). There are some folks that were in the choir above and are still in the one below! Me included! I have loved singing in my husband’s choir for 41 years…

This picture is also from the early days at Second Baptist, and the event was a children’s choir awards program. Jonathan was about 5 in this picture. 

After serving 30 years as worship pastor, Gary is now transitioning over to Senior Adult Pastor. He will continue as Executive Pastor, a role he has had for over 25 years. We are grateful “beyond beyond” for the privilege to stay at our beloved church and in this new ministry. (Ephesians 3:20-21).

I’m thankful to have been by his side all these years, and plan to be by his side in his new ministry. I’ve been retired exactly one month and I am loving my new season. Lots of new, lots of change, but thankful for the blessed truth that Jesus Christ is the SAME, yesterday, today, and forever! (Hebrews 13:8).

And another joy…looking down the back row of the choir and seeing my sweet man singing in the choir he has led for 30 years! God is good and I am so thankful!

Gran Jan

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Retirement is Here!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s All Grace,
Gran Jan

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Buttermilk Pie Recipe

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

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

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

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

~GranJan

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2017 Scripture Memory Team – December

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

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

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

December 1 – Ecclesiastes 7:8 (CSB Version)

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

December 15 – Luke 1:37 (Amplified Version)

For with God nothing is
or ever shall be impossible.

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

I pray you will do the same! 

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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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2017 Scripture Memory Team – September

Yes, it is true –  my blog has only consisted of my Scripture Memory Team posts for several months now. I’m totally sure there isn’t anything better or more valuable to post about than the “Wonderful Words of Life” found in the Bible.  I pray for my grandchildren every day. One of my prayers for them is that they will love and treasure and trust God’s Word. His Word is Life – and He is Life. Jesus. Just the mention of His Name brings peace and life. 

The two verses don’t have an apparent theme this month, but they sure stand alone in truth! They are short and simple. Romans 8 is one of the dearest chapters of the Bible to me. I love it and recently shared it with a young woman, a new believer in Christ, who was questioning her ability to pray and asked me what intercession even meant. I shared verses 26 and 27 with her about how the Holy Spirit intercedes for us, on our behalf, when we don’t even know what to pray. That right there is glorious truth when you are struggling and can’t put thoughts to your heart’s emotion. He knows. Just get before Him and trust the precious Intercessor. 

Early in chapter 8 is the simple verse below. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Boom. Doesn’t even require explanation except for what it means to be in the flesh. That is the opposite of walking in the Spirit. It is having our own way – not seeking God’s will or way. Not a safe or good place to be. We can all get there but we sure don’t need to remain there.  

The second verse from Psalm 16 has always been a favorite to me, a true night owl, and most especially lately. My mind is the most active and clearest at night. I’ve been that way as long as I can remember, and that’s when the Good Lord will often speak to me. I’m thankful He speaks to me through His Word. My husband is a morning person – he always has been. He’s up early exercising, having his time in the Word, awake, talking, going strong…and I’m stumbling around trying to just brush my teeth and wash my face and wake up!

Back to the old hymn, written by Philip Bliss in 1874, “Wonderful Words of Life.”  This one took me back to the church where my husband and I met. He was the young worship leader, just 16 years old. The melody is happy and I especially love the lilt in the chorus on wonderful words of li-iii-ife

  1. Sing them over again to me,
    Wonderful words of life,
    Let me more of their beauty see,
    Wonderful words of life;
    Words of life and beauty
    Teach me faith and duty.

    • Refrain:
      Beautiful words, wonderful words,
      Wonderful words of life;
      Beautiful words, wonderful words,
      Wonderful words of life.
  2. Christ, the blessed One, gives to all
    Wonderful words of life;
    Sinner, list to the loving call,
    Wonderful words of life;
    All so freely given,
    Wooing us to heaven.Sweetly echo the Gospel call,
    Wonderful words of life;
    Offer pardon and peace to all,
    Wonderful words of life;
    Jesus, only Savior,
    Sanctify us forever.


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Our 40th Wedding Anniversary

40 Years!!!!

June 11, 1977
14,600 Days
350,400 Hours

2,080+ Choir Rehearsals
2 Sons
2 Daughters-in-Love
5 Marvelous Grandchildren
 

All because two people fell in love…this family!!! 

Here we are, on our way, married just a “minute!”
Married now for 21,024,000 minutes!

Thank you Gary for leading and loving well.

There has been much JOY in the Journey and I look forward to

walking with you as we walk out this life together!
This rolling pin is also 40 years old…
It’s rolled out lots of biscuits, pie dough and dumplings…

I love the way the flour fills in the etching of our names and wedding date.
I pray one of my grandchildren will cherish this old rolling pin as much as I have.

I’ve loved my life as your wife, Gary. I’m thankful for the man, minister, husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather, and friend you are. God blessed me with you and I’m thankful for every minute (over 21 million of them). The hard times and the good times have blended to make us stronger together. You are a gift straight from the Hand of God to me and I’ll love you forever. After all, we’ve got 40 years invested in each other…let’s keep on going!

Jan

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