2017 Scripture Memory Team – May

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

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


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

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

Gran Jan

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Biscuits & Sausage Gravy

A week ago my friend and ministry partner Jan Hamil and I hosted the Spring Session of our Tasting Grace Mentoring Ministry. We went Southern all the way with homemade biscuits and delicious sausage gravy.  Tasting Grace is a “mentoring-in-the-kitchen” ministry of encouragement. It is our passion, and we have loved every single moment we’ve spent in the kitchen with the women who attend. All ages come and that is part of the joy!

This past Saturday I was blessed to serve by teaching two sessions on Tasting Grace at the 2017 Georgia Baptist Women’s Spring Event.  I had the absolute best time! My husband Gary came and supported me and ran the book table. He was so much help and we sold 70 Tasting Grace books. I pray each and every attendee caught the JOY of Tasting Grace and will use it as a ministry outreach in her church and community.

I wanted to share the recipes here with anyone who happens to stop by.  As I shared with the girls last week, this is a moderation meal. Not something you eat often, but definitely enjoy on those occasions you prepare this delightful Southern combo.

BUTTERMILK BISCUITS – Doubles easily!
(This makes about 10-12 medium sized biscuits.)
2 1/2 cups of White Lily self-rising flour
1/2 cup of Crisco shortening
1 cup of buttermilk

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease a cast iron skillet or baking sheet pan w/Crisco.
  3. Mix flour and shortening together until the mixture resembles crumbs. You may use a fork or pastry tool, but I just use my hands and squish the flour and Crisco together.
  4. Next, pour in buttermilk and mix well. (I hold the bowl with my left hand and use my right hand to mix everything together – but you can use a large fork to mix if you prefer.)
  5. Now wash and dry your hands well and then “dust” your hands with more flour.
  6. Pinch off some dough, enough to fit in your palm  (you’ll get the size down as you make more and more biscuits) and roll it by cupping your hands with your palms sufficiently floured. Don’t handle the dough too much – my Grandmother always told me the biscuits would be tough if you overwork the dough. Just a quick knead is all you need! You will get better each time you make biscuits.
  7. Place the biscuits on the pan so they touch each other – this makes them softer.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter and serve.

The Fine Art of Biscuit-Making ~ “Roll & Cut Out” Biscuits OR “Pinching & Patting

  • Accurately measure ingredients. Flour is measured by the “SPOON & LEVEL” method – spooning into a measuring cup and leveling off with a straight edge (like a butter knife). Sifting is not needed.
  • Shortening should be packed into a measuring cup so there are no air pockets. Then it is “cut” into the flour mixture using a pastry blender, two knives or a fork. The result should be pieces the size of coarse crumbs.
  • Mixing the liquid ingredients into the dry ones can be done effectively with a fork. First, make a well in the center of the flour. Using a fork to gently blend in the milk or buttermilk lessens the chance of over-mixing.
  • Turn dough onto a lightly floured pastry cloth or other surface. Knead gently only until dough holds together and can be rolled out – about 10 to 12 strokes or less. Do not add too much additional flour when kneading and rolling.
  • Roll dough to about 1/2-inch thickness to ensure a biscuit with good height. Cut biscuits with a sharp-edged cutter. Cut straight down without twisting cutter to ensure tall, straight biscuits.
  • Place on a baking sheet 1-inch apart for crusty sides or almost touching for soft sides.

SAUSAGE GRAVY – doubles easily!
(Serves 4-6)
1 lb. Jimmy Dean pork sausage (mild, hot, sage flavored or a mixture)
[I like to mix the mild and sage and double the recipe by using a pound of each)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3-4 cups milk (whole or 2% milk)
Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Crumble sausage and brown the sausage over medium-high heat until no longer pink.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
  3. Sprinkle on half the flour and stir so that the sausage soaks it all up, then add more little by little. Stir it around and cook it for another minute or so.
  4. Pour in the milk, stirring constantly.
  5. Continue to cook the gravy, stirring frequently, until it thickens. (This may take a good 5-7 minutes.)
  6. Sprinkle in the salt and pepper and continue cooking until very thick and luscious!
  7. If it gets too thick too soon, just splash in another 1/2 cup of milk or more if needed. Taste and season with salt and a generous amount of black pepper.

Spoon the sausage gravy over warm biscuits and serve immediately!

My friend, you will love serving your family this comfort food.  I plan to make this for breakfast when my family is together for our beach vacation this summer. I know my boys will love it and I hope to teach it to my daughters-in-law.  I’ve taught them both how to make biscuits, sausage gravy is next!

Happy May Day to all,

Gran Jan

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2017 Scripture Memory Team – February

Happy last day of February! It is like Springtime here in Georgia. We always have a cold snap before spring officially arrives, so I’m sure March will come in like a lion tomorrow before going out like a lamb at the end of next month.

I am continuing with the Living Proof Ministries plan for memorizing scripture and can’t wait to share my two verses for the month. This is one of the best plans for accountability with a “do-able” program to keep you encouraged.

February 1: I am continuing with the Psalms – Psalm 62, verse 8.  Dr. Thomas Constable says, “There is scarcely another psalm that reveals such an absolute and undisturbed peace, in which confidence in God is so completely unshaken, and in which assurance is so strong that not even one single petition is voiced throughout the psalm.” What a JOY to know that we can Trust in God at ALL times and pour our hearts out before Him.  He truly is a refuge. A refuge is a shelter or protection from danger and trouble, a place of safety. Isn’t that wonderful news? God is a refuge. Pour out your heart before Him – He is safety. Tell Him everything – He already knows anyway and you will be so refreshed when you lay those burdens and heartaches down. 

February 15:  February 15th is my husband’s birthday. He is a wonderful man, worship leader, husband, father, grandfather and more. The simplicity of Philemon verse 4 is how I feel about this man of mine. I thank God for him daily as I pray for him.  I thank God for bringing  us together over 40 years ago as high school sweethearts.  I really do thank God for the joy of being his wife and partner in ministry, and the mother to our sons.

Our choir had a surprise party for Gary as his birthday fell on a Wednesday this year. We celebrated at the end of choir rehearsal with a beautiful cake and much love and laughter! We love our Second Baptist family and are thankful and blessed to serve them. This cake was HUGE and very delicious (from the awesome Wilson’s Bakery in Warner Robins, Georgia).

“Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
the last of life,
for which the first was made.
Our times are in his hand who saith,
‘A whole I planned, youth shows but half;
Trust God: See all, nor be afraid!” 

Robert Browning

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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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Grace Gifts 1 to 14

fullsizerenderWhen I began this blog eight years ago I was in a season of waiting to become a grandmother.  I’m very thankful to say that I am now Gran Jan to FIVE amazing grandchildren, each of them truly the “sunshines” of my life. Ever since I can remember I have loved to write. At this season of my life I don’t write much except occasionally in a journal during my prayer times. For the past month or so I’ve felt prompted to begin sharing God’s grace gifts here on my blog, in pictures. I counted gifts to one thousand along with Ann Voskamp several years ago. All those posts are labeled 1,000 Gifts. I absolutely love going back and reading those posts. It was a good discipline for me, and I want to do that again. A conscious awareness of God’s goodness and grace has a profound affect on my spirit.

This inaugural GRACE GIFTS post is themed around my grandkids since they really are the reason for this blog, Gran Jan’s JOY.  Following posts may be themed too, most times probably random, but always about His grace in my life. The older I get the more I cherish and embrace grace.

1. This is one of my favorite pictures from the Morton Family Vacation at Cape San Blas, Florida this past July. All five grands in the outside shower at our rented beach house – getting the sand rinsed off before heading in for lunch. I love how they play together and that they are close in age. These are memory-making vacations.beach-shower

2. This was such a fun impromptu picture my daughter-in-law took when the kids were running and playing in their Gran Jan “crab shirts.” I love how Abe grabbed Jackson around the waist.  Sweet smiles all around.SONY DSC

3. The kids all loved to come to Pop & Gran Jan’s room to play and I would tell them stories and we would just laugh and be silly. cape1

4. This picture we were all “bed-heads and sleepy-eyed.” It was early morning and we were all about to head home and go our separate ways. One last squeeze of their necks and my heart.headedhome

5. & 6. Jackson & Emery were in their Uncle’s wedding this summer. To me, they were the highlight of the wedding party!jemem

7. & 8. A quick trip to Cartersville one Friday evening in September was worth every moment for Pop & Gran Jan! z

pop

9. Emery wanted a “Frozen Quilt” for her fourth birthday September 27th, so Gran Jan made one! I loved stitching every snowflake…what a precious girl!frozen

10. A quick trip to Hawkinsville for my oldest was made sweeter because he brought Abe with him! We rode around the Farm on the golfcart and enjoyed seeing the animals. abe

11. My Fall Break from work in early October started with keeping the Cartersville Crew and it was a fast weekend that included time by the pond with Zeke and Abe and their “poking sticks.” pond

12. Madie and Maybelle – sweet friends at the Farm.  She loved little Moses the donkey too. We love our miniature donkeys.fullsizerender

13. Gran Jan faced her fear of heights again this year with a ride on the Ferris Wheel at the Georgia National Fair in Perry, with Madie and Zeke.
fair

14. This girl loves to help in the kitchen! Emery is a wonderful helper. We were making those chocolate oatmeal stovetop cookies. The recipe is here on my blog, the previous post!emc

I always try to remember to “BE ALL THERE” when I’m with my grandchildren. Sometimes I manage to, and other times I’m just trying to keep up with their boundless energy. Each time with them makes my heart happy, that’s for sure.  Gifts of grace straight to my  heart.

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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

CampGranJan

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

Camp5

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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My Story, My Song – 31 Today!

31  birthday cake

Today is the 31st time I am celebrating July 7th, as I have every year since 1985! It’s my re-birthday! The day I was born again, redeemed by Jesus Christ. The day HE called my name!

So very thankful that I have the blessed assurance that it is well with my soul. 

Here is last year’s post with the song that blesses me EVERY SINGLE TIME I hear it – Chris Tomlin’s “Jesus Loves Me.”

He Called My Name 30 Years Ago Today!

My heart was a stone when He came for me…

I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His presence…

Couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His arms – JESUS, He Loves Me!

Never gotten over that day, never been the same!

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