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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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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Gran Jan Camp – 2016

The inaugural Gran Jan Camp was a long-awaited event for me. Before I was even a grandmother I heard Mrs. Esther Burroughs speak at a women’s retreat. She is a great mentor to many women.  She shared about her “Nana Camp,” and I decided right then I would do that one day. Well that day came last month, the week of June 20-24, 2016. I talked with a couple of other grandmas and decided the requirements for Gran Jan Camp would be completion of first grade. So this Inaugural Gran Jan Camp 2016 was one-on-one with my oldest grandson Zeke, who just finished first grade.  (The 2017 Camp will include Madie and Jackson as they are both about to enter first grade, then it will be a couple of years before Emery and Abe will join their camper cousins.)

Having this uninterrupted time with Zeke for a solid week was very special to me and to my husband Gary (Pop).  We are thankful for his parents who shared him with us for a week and for the opportunity to invest in his life without the distractions of a quick visit or a hurried schedule.  I’m going to share some pictures from our time together.

We met my son Jeremy and his family after church on Sunday afternoon June 19 (Father’s Day) in Atlanta at a family favorite restaurant, THE VARSITY, to get Zeke and bring him home with us for Camp. When I sat down next to Zeke at the table, he said, “FINALLY!” Almost as if he knew how long I had been anticipating this event myself…even before I was a grandma. We stopped for delicious peach ice cream at Lane Southern Orchards on the way home from Atlanta. We were off to a sweet and delicious beginning!Lane

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We enjoyed early morning coffee on the porch, a tradition Zeke and I began when he was a toddler (his coffee was mostly milk with a splash of coffee…still is).  We would have our journal and prayer time after breakfast, and then we just played and enjoyed the day.  My friend Mary Perdue told me to keep in mind that time together was the priority, not the theme or the plans.  She was exactly right.  Zeke told me right away he didn’t want it to be like school, he just wanted us to play and have fun!  So that’s what we did, and I have no regrets.

This is Zeke sitting in my chair in my quiet time place. The first day of camp was actually the Summer Solstice that included a full moon, an event that won’t be repeated in my lifetime. The longest day of the year, how much better could it get? The day with the most daylight and I got to share it with Zeke! We read from Genesis every morning about God’s creation and of course on Day 1, God said “let there be light.” The significance of all of that was not lost on me or Zeke. So we talked about His Light and the longest day of daylight. I will be honest – this was Gran Jan’s favorite time because we prayed and shared together and I was able to speak into his heart and life. We memorized Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of our God stands forever.”  I kept his journal and next year he will add to it. I will give the grandkids their journals when they graduate from Gran Jan Camp, which I hope is when they are about 30… 🙂GJCampOne afternoon we drove to an animal farm out in the country and bought a new miniature donkey for the Morton Farm, actually to keep our little girl donkey, Maybelle company.  Zeke named him Moses Morton and they took to each other so quickly. Moses seemed to recognize that Zeke was a little person too. Moses

We  enjoyed our time at this farm out in Eastman, Georgia. The farmer had every type of bird, duck, goose, chicken…and even peacocks! Have you ever heard a peacock? They are extremely LOUD and beautiful!Camp2

On Wednesday afternoon Zeke and Pop and I went to see the movie “Finding Dory.”  It was a great way to escape the heat and enjoy an outing.Camp1

After the movie we went shopping and Zeke told me he wanted some new pajamas with sharks on them. I was so hoping we could find some because we had also had some learning time at Camp about sharks, orcas, whales and big sea creatures…at the request of Zeke. I will admit I actually learned way more than he did because he already knew everything we studied. He is one smart boy! Guess what? Kohl’s had 2 sets of pajamas in Zeke’s size and they BOTH had sharks on them.  God is in the details, oh yes He is! CAMPfun

After shopping for pjs, we went to church and Zeke went to choir rehearsal with me. I enjoyed that so much. Then of course he wanted to play around in the inside playroom – it was way too hot to be outside and he was way too big since our last visit there, as shown in the above picture…he is growing up so fast.

Every evening we enjoyed rides around the farm in our trusty golf cart. I let Zeke drive and he did an excellent job. This was taken at dusk when we were way way out in the big 25-acre hayfield. I pray these memories will hold in both mine and Zeke’s heart. It was really a special week.Farm

We also enjoyed some time by the pond in the early evenings. Zeke and Pop did some fishing and we made s’mores by the firepit too. No big agendas, just quality uninterrupted time…two-way conversations with lots of listening on both sides, truly priceless. Time to actually hear the things on this little fella’s heart. He is mighty special!Camp22

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On our last day of Gran Jan Camp, Zeke wrote a letter to his “18-year-old-self” and we buried a time capsule. Pop picked out a great spot with room for the next 4 time capsules and a place we could find and remember. 🙂 Zeke put some items in the capsule and we decided we would dig it back up when he turned 18.  I read the letter Zeke wrote and one of the things he included was memorizing Isaiah 40:8.  He wrote, “I hope you still remember this…” I do too little buddy, I do too!Camp3

Pop-GJ-Z

We had a wonderful week and I’m already looking forward to the next year, and the next and the next…Lord willing as my Granny Maloy always said about anything she was planning for the future.

If you’re a grandmother, I hope you’ll consider doing something similar with your grandchildren. Make it your own, do whatever works for your family. But just do it! You will not regret the investment of time. And when it’s over you can take 2 Advil and enjoy a long nap…

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TASTING GRACE PRE-ORDER!

Today is a BIG day – a very BIG day – for several reasons! First, it is the inaugural day of GRAN JAN CAMP! That will be a post for later when my heart has calmed enough that I can even write. “Grandmother Camp” is something I learned about from Esther Burroughs years ago before I even became a grandmother. (She calls hers Nana Camp.)  Zeke is my only camper this year. The prerequisite to camp is finishing first grade. He just did! Next year I will have 3 campers – Zeke, Madie, and Jackson! And so it goes…until Emery & Abe are added. Gran Jan’s JOY runs deep. I can’t wait to post…Tasting-Grace-Pre-buy-800x671

Next, today is the day (Summer Solstice) that pre-sale begins for the book of which I am co-author with Leah Adams. TASTING GRACE is a woman’s mentoring-in-the-kitchen ministry. It first began in the hearts of Jan Hamil and I. It has absolutely brought us so much JOY – the simplicity of Tasting Grace is so refreshing. Sharing the Word of God, teaching a cooking skill, sharing a recipe, and sweet fellowship together. Mentoring that is practical and precious in a day of drive-through, hurry up, social media hype!

And have I shared with you that BETH MOORE wrote the foreword for the book? What grace for Leah and me to have that blessing! Only God!

Tasting Grace is a book that offers women  a complete how-to guide to hosting their own event. The book includes four weeks of Bible study with a focus on biblical mentoring. There are five days of Bible study in each week of the study that will take about 10-15 minutes each day to complete. Also in the book are recipes, devotionals, and tips from Leah and me on how to host a Tasting Grace kitchen event in the reader’s home or church.

Tasting Grace will not be in bookstores until August 1st, but our wonderful publisher, Warner Press, is opening up for pre-launch orders. Beginning TODAY, and running through July 18th, you can pre-buy Tasting Grace.

If you pre-order the book, you will get some extras: a digital version of the book in addition to your print copy. TWO FOR THE PRICE OF ONE!!!  You will also get access to a private Facebook page for the book. Also, in addition to the wonderful recipes contained in the book, pre-buy friends will receive a few extra special recipes that are mine and Leah’s favorites!

Please consider pre-ordering a book today! 🙂

Love & prayers and much thanks,

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