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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Whipping Cream Pound Cake

My friend Jan Hamil and I recently held the Fall 2016 Session of “Tasting Grace,” our church’s mentoring-in-the-kitchen ministry. We love our Saturdays in the church kitchen so much. I made a whipping cream pound cake and wanted to share the recipe here. My dear friend Lanie Nash gave the recipe to me as her go-to pound cake. Every Southern woman has a go-to pound cake recipe and if you don’t, this one can now be yours! [All pound cakes start with butter, sugar, flour and eggs; variations include buttermilk, sour cream, cream cheese, whipping cream.] I promise this whipping cream version will not disappoint. I made another one when I got home Saturday because my husband had “FOMO” [Fear of Missing Out] when I brought home that empty cake plate! He also likes my buttermilk pound cake, but says he will need a taste test to pick his favorite. I think he just wants ANOTHER pound cake! He’s not fooling me. We’ve been married 39 years, I know these things…wc-pound-cake

Ingredients:

  • 6 eggs (room temperature)
  • 2 sticks of butter (room temperature)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whipping cream (also known as heavy cream)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

  • Grease and flour tube pan.
  • Cream butter and sugar until smooth (I use my stand mixer.)
  • Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
  • Sift the flour and add to creamed mixture alternately with whipping cream.
  • Mix all until fully incorporated.
  • Stir in vanilla.
  • Pour into prepared pan and place in a cold oven.
  • Turn oven to 300° and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes.
  • Cool completely before removing from pan.

Trust me about the cold oven…just do it!

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Old-Fashioned Chocolate-Oats Stovetop Cookie

I’ve made two batches of these old-fashioned no-bake cookies the past 2 weeks. These cookies are my husband’s all-time favorite. He reminded me of that just last week when I made them at his request. I remember my mother making these for me and my sisters when we were growing up. They are quick and I usually have all the ingredients on hand. I tell my people they are healthy with the raw oats and cocoa in them…and just don’t mention the butter and sugar. Balance anyone?cookie

 

  • 1 and 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla flavoring
  • 3 cups oatmeal
1. Go ahead and line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large pan on the stovetop, bring the butter, milk, sugar and cocoa to a gentle boil, stirring until smooth.
    [Don’t boil too long – just until mixed well,  30-40 seconds.]
3. Remove from heat and stir in the peanut butter and vanilla flavoring. Mix well again.
4. Now fold in the 3 cups of oatmeal. I love this part!
5. Drop by heaping tablespoons on to the parchment paper to cool.
6. Allow them to cool and harden for about 30 minutes.
7. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days (if they last that long)!
Go make some!

 

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Gran Jan’s Tomato Pie

Yes, TOMATO PIE! This savory pie recipe is one my husband requests often. He loves it! In fact I made two just yesterday afternoon. With all the wonderful fresh tomatoes available this time of year, it is a summer staple for us. Add a nice green salad, or even a vegetable side and you have a great meal. Tom Pie

INGREDIENTS
1 9” pie shell, I buy the Pillsbury ones that come 2 to a package in the refrigerated section of the grocery store , and I use my own pie plates.
• 1 sweet onion (Vidalia if available), chopped & cooked in microwave for 2-3 minutes with a splash of olive or canola oil
• 3-4 medium size ripe tomatoes, diced and drained to remove juice (I let them sit in a colander for a few minutes)
• 2 cups grated cheese (sharp cheddar & mozzarella mix, could use pepper jack)
• 2 strips of bacon, cooked crisply and crumbled
• ¾ cup mayonnaise
• 3 to 4 dashes hot sauce (optional, but actually I use about 7 good dashes)
• salt & pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, place room temperature pie shell in pie plate, and then place in oven to allow to lightly brown for 7-10 minutes.

2. Remove pie shell from oven and set aside. 
3. Place the microwaved chopped onions first in the bottom of pie shell.
4. Next spread tomatoes over the onions, salt/pepper to taste, then top the tomato layer with crumbled bacon
5. Mix cheese, mayo, & hot sauce together
6. Spread cheese/mayo mixture over tomatoes and bacon
7. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until browned, and be sure to let pie cool for 10-15 minutes before serving/slicing

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Zeke’s Baptism & Family Blessings

The Good Lord has been especially near to me lately. He is always near, even those times when I’m not where I need to be to hear Him, and for that I am thankful. But lately His goodness has been evident in many ways, more than I ever deserve. This past weekend we enjoyed one of the most blessed days in the life of a family of faith. We witnessed and celebrated the baptism of our oldest grandchild, Zeke, for whom this blog was begun almost 8 years ago now.  I wrote my very first post back in July 2008 about waiting for his birth. So much living has gone on since then. My name changed to Gran Jan and nothing is the same now, and it’s wonderful! This picture is from Sunday when my oldest son Jeremy baptized his oldest son Zeke. It was a precious visible picture of our spiritual legacy continuing to the next generation. Blog18

These are my four oldest grandchildren together at Cartersville First Baptist this past Sunday [April 24, 2016] for Zeke’s baptism. Sweet cousins holding hands. I love everything about this picture! Zeke was so happy and isn’t his plaid jacket the greatest?  I love even more that he and cousin Jackson were sporting their plaidness together. Our sweet granddaughters are bookends in this picture, Jackson’s sister, Emery is on the left and Zeke’s sister, sweet Madie is on the right. Little Abraham was in the church nursery.
Blog10After we had a delicious lunch prepared by our daughter-in-love Carrie, Zeke’s mom, Sunday after church, Pop and my mom and I drove back to our home church because Jackson had a solo with our Preschool Church Choir. He is a singer like his Pop. Jackson throws his head back and sings! We loved hearing him singing “You Are God Alone.” He is in the orange shirt below at the microphone. He did so well – we are so proud of him, and he knew every word!Blog8

Here is my husband, Gary. The grandkids call him Pop.  They love him and so do I!  The top picture is from a recent opportunity he had to participate in a Worship Symposium at Liberty University. I was so proud of him as he was able to share his knowledge and experiences as a worship leader for over 40 years! The next picture is the famous RACE that the grandkids love. They are always bantering back and forth about beating him in a foot race. He told me that sweet Jackson will sometimes “slow down” and let him appear to win…love that sweet boy.Blog17

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Here is the Maloy patriarch, my father Tom Maloy, also from this past weekend. My dad will be 82 years old this Friday, April 29th. He hosted a family reunion and I saw cousins I haven’t seen in years! He is the only child still living from his family of origin that included 11 children. He was ninth in birth order, there were  8 girls and 3 boys. Here he is in his element – cooking! He smoked a whole hog and made his famous Brunswick stew and my mom and sisters made cole slaw, potato salad and baked beans, and there were lots of desserts. It was a great day for the Maloys. My three men are in the picture below Dad, enjoying the delicious meal. Blog2

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The next pictures are all from the past several weeks, just random family times and fun with the grandkids. I love every picture and the LOVE it represents in our hearts and home.  Here are the 3 grandboys at our church one Sunday. Jackson, Abe, and Zeke, all sporting their plaid shirts!Blog14Here is sweet Emery Caroline. My daughter-in-law captured this picture from Emery’s preschool at church as the kids were saying the blessing. This picture is already one of my all-time favorites. I don’t think words can describe the sweetness here. I said a blessing of thanks for the privilege to have her as a granddaughter. Blog15

Here is a picture of Jackson and Emery from Spring Break back the last week of March (2016). They spent the day with me at the Morton Farm. We planted green beans and squash, had fun with the animals and enjoyed the beautiful day.  I can’t wait for them to see the vegetables they planted – they are growing well!Blog12

This is sweet grandgirl Madie Ruth on a Daddy-Daughter Date with Jeremy.  She is as sweet as sugar, a little shy, and I believe she’s going to be a good athlete!Madie

Here is another athlete! Basketball is Jackson’s main game, but he’s doing well with T-Ball too! We love watching him at whatever sport he is playing at the time. Jonathan sends us videos on our phones of him playing with kids in the neighborhood who are older. Jackson holds his own and normally outplays them.  Hashtag Proud GranJan. Blog1

Abe loves to eat. He’s a Morton all the way with this trait 🙂 and reminds me of his daddy so very much. I captured this picture from my son’s Instagram account of Abe at a recent church dinner. I’d say it appears he enjoyed his chocolate brownie!FullSizeRenderI made a quilt as a gift for my youngest sister Jo’s 50th birthday on April 8th. She has told me several times how much she loves it and I can say I loved making it for her. I hope it brings her years of joy, just as she has brought to me.Blog11I discovered a nest of redbirds (my favorite) last weekend while doing some weeding in my garden. They are in a yellow rosebush. I saw the mama bird fly away so I know they are Cardinals. I can’t wait to see them fledge. Granddaughter Madie loves the outdoors with me too.  She already knows the names of flowers and loves to see the birds too.  Gran Jan’s JOY!Blog4

This last picture is of the Resurrection Ferns on the pecan tree near our driveway. They are dormant most of the time, but when it rains and they are refreshed they come out and make me so happy! Thank you Lord for times of refreshing. Blog13

Acts 3:19
Repent therefore and be converted,
that your sins may be blotted out,
so that times of refreshing may come
from the presence of the Lord

The pictures I’ve shared today have all refreshed my heart in some way. The Good Lord has blessed this Gran Jan beyond what I ever deserve. His grace is so real to me, His mercy so tender. I pray for times of refreshing in your life today.

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Scripture Memory Team Verse 14 – July 15, 2015

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Psalm 118:8
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in man.

I don’t believe I can make this verse any clearer without insulting you blog readers.  I know for myself there are times when I want to run to a friend or co-worker with an issue that doesn’t even concern them. I find myself wanting to just talk it out. That isn’t always a wise decision on my part. The older I get the more I realize the wisdom in keeping some things to myself. Taking time to let things “press in and process” in my heart…mull over as the old-timers say. Now this isn’t to discount that there aren’t times I need to seek wise counsel. When that need arises in my life I always talk to my husband. He is wise and trustworthy and he genuinely always desires the best for me, but he isn’t afraid to call it what it is. Whatever “it” may be. 🙂 I also have several friends I can count on to speak truth to me. Lanie, Patsy, Cindy, Teresa…

However in those times when you need a “refuge,” [shelter or protection from danger, trouble] you better take it to the Lord. Don’t trust in people. They will let you down and sometimes the way down is a hard fall. To me taking refuge in the Lord means getting alone with Him, the Bible in my hands, and a quiet place to pray and wait. Time to be still and cease striving. Hope this encourages you today and this verse will come to you just when you need that refuge the most!

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

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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.

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