South Africa ~ A Reunion!

Gary and I went to South Africa for 10 days back in August of 2009. I journaled the entire experience and included lots of pictures. I love this journal and really enjoy going back and experiencing our time there all over again. The link below is toward the end of the journal, but you can easily navigate by visiting this link:

South Africa – 14 (Journal Day 9)

Fast forward almost 7 years later and my husband Gary and I were so blessed to see Rev. Errol Wesson again. He had been in the USA for several weeks and was speaking at our own Second Baptist Church.  Some of my fondest memories of our time in beautiful South African were with Brother Errol and his lovely wife Claudia in Cape Town. It was just like we had never left! That is one of the joys in the Body of Christ. He gave me a letter from his wife and she said “if lilies were allowed through the borders, Errol would bring a dozen for you.”  One day we drove along the Cape on our way to church and there were thousands of white calla lilies everywhere. One of the prettiest views I’ve even seen…

Errol_Wesson

God Bless You All!

GRANJAN

Share

He Called My Name 30 Years Ago Today!

Thirty years ago today I became a believer in Jesus Christ. I can honestly say on that day…July 7, 1985, as this song by Chris Tomlin says, “I stepped out of the dark and into the light when He called my name. I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His presence…”   This song shares exactly how I felt that hot Sunday morning in Athens, Georgia at Central Baptist Church…

So very thankful that I have the blessed assurance that it is well with my soul. I wrote my whole story here a few years ago Heaven Came Down. I do celebrate July 7th each year, but this 30 year anniversary is extra special. I’m off work today, I’ve had time alone to remember and ponder and pray. Thankful, blessed, rejoicing. 

Never gotten over that day, never been the same!

GranJan-BlogSignature

Share

Triple Trials – Triple Triumphs

I’ve been reviewing 2013 often in my mind lately. When this year began, I had great anticipation for the new year. I always do.  Many people do! There’s something cathartic about a new calendar, a fresh start. Conversely, there may be apprehension as we wonder what will come to pass, what lies ahead.  Hopefully as believers, we’ve been taught to rest in the truth that our God is in control. However, in the emotion of waiting and wondering about what may happen or what actually does happen, we can get “trials, tests, and temptations” mixed up.

Trials are difficult life events that inevitably come to everyone as we sojourn here on earth.
Tests are difficulties God sends to reveal the depth of our character and increase our faith.
Temptations come from the enemy of our souls in an attempt to destroy us, our faith and our peace.

What lay ahead for me came in three events, in this order: my father’s bout with life-threatening pneumonia, my husband’s cancer, and my oldest son’s (and his wife and 3 of my grandchildren) physical move 3 hours away from us.  Right now this very day my dad is well and playing golf, my husband is cancer-free and fully recovered in every way, and my son preached in his new church yesterday. God’s grace multiplied thrice.

I really want to share some things I’ve learned  (and quite possibly have just been “refreshed” with) on my journey so far this year…both spiritual lessons and practical ones.

  • God is good, always good, and I know without a doubt He loves me with an everlasting love.
  • Grace isn’t stored up. You don’t receive grace for tomorrow’s trials. His grace is sufficient and always on time. Always.
  • God doesn’t bring about temptations, but He does allow trials and tests.  Even Jesus endured testing (God’s Word sustained Him.)  You’ll be the better for whatever it is because God can and will use it for His glory in your life.
  • Don’t be hurt when people go on with their lives even though you feel your world crumbling. We can’t be all things to all people and shouldn’t expect that of others.
  • If you do need something, ask for help specifically and then let people help you.
  • A strong marriage is one of God’s greatest gifts.  Keeps me centered. I’m so thankful God healed my sweet man.
  • Lifelong friends are wonderful.
  • A card in the mail is a balm to the soul in a world of email, Twitter, and Facebook.
  • Praying is a lifeline.
  • Worship is wonderful – you worship from a different place.
  • A book entitled “The Power of Crying Out, When Prayer Becomes Mighty,”   is powerful.
  • Your emotions will lead you astray.  Vain imaginations.  Conjured up conversations.  Stick to the truth. God’s truth. Walk in the Spirit.
  • Stay focused, get alone with God.
  • Remember who the real enemy is.  Remember that he is defeated.
  • Get some rest.  You can’t take care of others when you’re fatigued.
  • A church family is another one of God’s greatest gifts. I really mean it when I ponder “what do people do without a church home?”
  • It is pure joy to have a family that will come through and show up and help and be there. My sons and their wives and sisters are the best.
  • Life is but a vapor (James 4:14), enjoy God’s daily gifts, pick your battles.
  • Grandchildren remain pure therapy for my soul.  Even though three of the five are no longer close by, they are alive and healthy and their daddy and momma are following God’s call. What a legacy of faith.

And just as surely as God has given three of the best outcomes to my three trials, He would still be God and He would still be good if there were different outcomes. Yesterday at church we had a guest pastor preaching, Dr. Ron Lynch.  He shared a quote by Major Ian Thomas:

 “You can’t—He never said you could—He can, He always said He would. So let Him.”

God gave Major Thomas this message through Galatians 2:20 (Amplified Bible):

I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Lord Jesus, I can’t—You never said I could—but You can, and always said You would. That is all I need to know.

ALL I need to know.

Jan

Share

Five Minute Friday – HOME

Five Minute FridayThis is my FIRST EVER “FIVE MINUTE FRIDAY,” although I’ve loved this concept of fast fun friendly five-minute writing for a long time – almost as much as I’ve loved getting to know the creator of this Friday Fun, Lisa Jo Baker.  It’s really crazy…but just because I spent 2 weeks in South Africa (almost 3 years ago now) I think I KNOW her…because that is her HOMELAND and could have been mine too because I loved the people there so much.  Here goes…

HOME
I literally  just heard Building 429 singing “Where I Belong,” from my K LOVE iPhone app.  The lyrics that speak of HOME…

 “All I know is I’m not HOME yet, this is not where I belong,
take this world and give me Jesus…this is not where I belong.”

We know as believers in Christ that our real HOME, our eternal HOME is Heaven. I’ll admit there are days my sojourning on this globe make me long for that HOME because I can feel deep in my bones that this really isn’t my HOME.  As a child I had many homes, and none were ever even ours because my father was a career Marine and we lived in what’s called “goverment housing.”  We lived all over…and even though we didn’t own those houses, my mom always made them feel like HOME. So HOME for me as a child wasn’t a specific place, but a knowing that wherever my mom and dad and sisters were, that was HOME.  If ever I was away from them, I would be so homesick.  Home is my people.

HOME for me as a newly married pastor’s wife was a little duplex apartment. Our first HOME as a married couple. We’ve served three churches and every HOME I’ve “set up” has been so special – not because of the bricks and walls, but because of the memories made with my church people during the seasons of life we served them.  A lot of living went on in these HOMES…Home is my church family.

The HOME near our first church that my husband’s grandfather had lived in 50 years before…
The HOME we lived in when we brought our baby boys home from the hospital…
The HOME we lived in where I had my first garden…
The HOME we lived in where we raised up our boys…
The HOME we lived in when the boys got married and left HOME…

And now the HOME we live in as empty nesters.  My sweet  man always says, “this house ain’t empty, we’re still here!”  And yes we are, and this HOME now welcomes four little people, Gran Jan’s JOY – Zeke, Madie Ruth, Jackson, and Emery.  HOLLERLUJAH! Grandbabies make every HOME precious.OURHOME

As my five minutes wind down, I am reminded of an older version of “Where I Belong.”  🙂  If I close my eyes, I can hear my mom’s younger sister, my Aunt Sandy singing in her Southern twang…

This world is not my HOME, I’m just a passin’ through.
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door,
and I can’t feel at HOME in this world any more.

And I believe this with all my heart! Wonder who I’ll live next door to in Heaven?

Gran Jan

Share

1,000 GIFTS, #711 to #728

Was it only just last week I was so excited about a week off to slow down? Well…my heart is FULL to overflowing from the JOYS of last week’s slower pace. We enjoyed a simple staycation, a stay-at-home vacation, a concept I highly recommend…so restful for both body and soul.
711. So thankful for a wonderful service of patriotic music and powerful preaching at my church. I’m thankful to be an American citizen. Even with all the issues in our land today, there is still no place I would rather live as I sojourn this Earth…I’m praying for our country in this election year. (Daniel 2:20-23)
712. My friend Lanie and I had a “sew-in” last Friday. She brought her machine and several projects over and we also made dresses for our granddaughters. We laughed like only friends of many years friends can do. It was a day of JOY and soul therapy too…bonding and sewing and quilting.
713. Thankful to God for granddaughters. Lanie and I both raised sons, and now she has two granddaughters. I have one granddaughter and one on the way…God’s wonderful gracious grace. Here are the dresses we made on Friday…complete with monograms.
714. And here is my sweet girl in her dress…my daughter-in-law Carrie sent me this picture just this morning…touched my heart.
715. A trip to the Farmers Market with my daughter-in-law Erin for fresh vegetables to “put up” as we Southern women call that process. We blanched butter beans, zipper peas, and crowder peas for our freezers. Hard but fulfilling work. I loved spending the day with her and one of the reasons is because…
716.  …she left Jackson with us to spend the night and we had such a wonderful time with him. He is our youngest grandson, reminds us so much of his daddy at that age.

717. Here he is on the front porch with Pop, watching down the road for his mommy and daddy to come…

718. Can you see why he reminds us of his daddy at that age? Herein is proof…

719. Time with my parents without the rush of a work schedule…we spent a day going to the local peach packing sheds and enjoyed fresh peach ice cream too.  I love my parents. Did you know the first commandment with a promise in God’s Word is found in Exodus 20:12?  Honor your father and mother…


720. Garden time. Enough said.

721. An entire day spent with my husband…shopping, eating out, uninterrupted conversation, reconnecting. So sweet and so important for good marriages.

722. Praying daily for a missions team from my church in Ukraine. I love these folks – every one of them. They are gathered here on their way to the airport in the wee hours of the morning last Friday. They are awesome people on mission for Jesus. As our Pastor, Dr. Perdue says, his desire is that the sun will never set on the ministry of our church as we serve globally. We also have students in South Africa as well as down the street from our church this week, serving in a trailer park conducting Backyard Bible Clubs. I LOVE MY CHURCH FAMILY…

723. Celebrating the JOY of my spiritual birthday – July 7th. Reflecting on the day the Savior reached down for me…I.HAVE.NEVER.BEEN.THE.SAME. Half my life I have known Him. And Hallelujah, He’s known me since before there was a me. (Psalm 139:16)
724. I know I often mention my fondness for sewing and embroidery, but I am especially happy to share these “crab shirts” I made at the request of my daughter-in-law Carrie for my grandchildren and some of their friends for a beach vacation. I loved doing this for them. I asked my daughters-in-law to save all the shirts I am making for the grandchildren because I think it would be fun to make a quilt out of them all one day…can we say Memory Lane?
725. Be still my heart. My little yet-to-be-born granddaughter’s first of many monogrammed gifts from Gran Jan. TIny little Emery, we are praying for your arrival to the family in September. Can’t wait to meet you…
726. The JOY of a rare opportunity to attend our son’s church and hear him preach yesterday morning – a message from the fifth chapter of Mark where Jesus delivers the man possessed by demons. Jeremy made a strong, clear biblical application and this momma’s heart was deeply moved and thankful.
727. My daughter-in-law Carrie’s pot roast dinner on Sunday. Family around the table is one of God’s sweetest gifts in my life.  

728. One of my favorite delights from last week is this picture I took of an old fireplace out in the middle of the country. My dad stopped to let me get the picture (that in itself is a gift too). I can’t help but wonder about the family that lived here long ago and the hands that built that fireplace.

What am I building that will stand the test of time? Am I investing in the lives of others for eternity and for Christ’s Kingdom?  God help me to see past the busyness of daily living that can so easily distract me from my true purpose here…

Jan

Share

Half My Life

Today, 7-7-12 is my 27th re-birthday and I am 54 years old…which means that I have lived exactly half my life as a believer in Jesus Christ.  Everyone has a story.  It all comes down to this, and I would love to share mine with you. Click HERE for the story of the day my life was changed forever and eternity.

I’ve found a friend Who is all to me,
His love is ever true.
I love to tell how He lifted me,
and what His Grace can do for you.
Saved by His power divine,
Saved to new life sublime.
Life now is sweet and my JOY is complete,
for I’m saved, saved, saved.
Blessings to you today,
Jan
Share

THE LORD LISTENED AND HEARD…Malachi 3:16

It was a JOY to participate in 2009 as part of the Scripture Memory Team. One of my verses was Malachi 3:16, and it fit our celebration this past weekend in Houston so well! As we talked with each other and shared our verses, the LORD listened and He wrote a scroll of remembrance concerning the Siestas! Isn’t that the most wonderful glorious news?
“Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard, and a scroll of remembrance was written in His presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name!”
Deborah, Georgia Jan, Beth, Emmy, Wendy

The Georgia Four Wendy, Emmy, Deborah and me were so excited to be in Houston, TX for the LPM SMT Celebration! We had agreed to pray God’s Word together through the promise of Psalm 90:17 “May the favor of our Lord God rest upon us, and establish the work of our hands.”  Indeed He did!

Amanda, our wonderful Blog Queen, had let us know earlier that there would be about 500 of us, and as you all know, that is really a “small group” for a Bethie event!  I loved the intimacy and focus of the Siestas that attended.  The like-mindedness of all of us memorizing scripture for one year together was palatable in that place. It was sweet to see Beth get to be up close and love on the siestas – something she doesn’t get to do in an arena setting.  It was like a family reunion!

I love to make lists, and this list is alliterative.  It covers so many of the wonderful blessings from this past weekend. Nothing.Disappointed.  Nothing!

  • Beautiful Beth
  • Amazing Amanda
  • More Master’s Degrees Melissa
  • Wonderful Worship by Terrific Travis
  • Lovely LPM Staff
  • Hospitable Houston
  • Georgia Girls
  • Sweet Siestas
  • Warm Weather
  • Verified Verses
  • Fantastic Food

But the list doesn’t share details and pictures, so I would love to oblige with that now…

We had a great flight to Houston from the ATL and I knew we were off to a great start as Emmy was ALREADY watching a DVD of Beth on our way there to see Beth.  Gotta love that!  I took this picture from my seat right behind her on the plane!

The Georgia girls started the morning early with some pampering at the spa within the Omni Hotel. Facials, sauna, whirlpool, the works!  It had been a very long time since I enjoyed that type of pampering.  Thank you sweet Deborah for blessing me with that gift!

Friday afternoon I was so happy to see our wonderful worship leader, Travis in the lobby at the Omni. I love his musical gifts, but I love his heart of worship more.  Always gracious, he kindly took time for pictures and conversation with many of us.  Thank you Travis Cottrell for being used mightily to bless this Baptist “music minister’s wife!”

Here are some random pictures of the weekend.  Words cannot describe the fun and joy-filled time we all had together. So much preparation went into memorizing all that scripture, and much preparation obviously took place months before our arrival. The LPM staff are as sweet and helpful as can be.
Here is my friend Lora from By the Lamplight, I loved meeting her! Lora writes beautiful poetry as God speaks to her heart. Maybe she will share the words to her new poem (quite different from her usual writing). It is called “Purse on the Chain,” sung to the tune of “Pants on the Ground” after she saw a purse at the Houston Galleria for almost $2,000.

Here is my friend from Florida, Karen Barrows. She and I met last October in Orlando, FL at the Deeper Still event. We said our memory verses to each other on Saturday afternoon. It was a very special time.
This is the littliest Siesta. Her name is Dailey Rae, and she memorized her scripture too.  She took these notes while Beth was teaching.  Isn’t this the sweetest picture ever? Little girls like her are our future.  Let’s live our lives so that we will be the Titus women that these young ones need.
Here is another friend, Lindsee Eddy.  She led a big group of us to eat at Pappasitos and it was so very good. There was some sort of green sauce on the table that I claimed as my very own.
Beth taught us from Psalm 119, Life with God from A to Z, and it was marvelous!  “I’m a resident alien, seeking direction, in deep want of wonder, in peril and need, troubled by humanity, especially my own, knowing that to follow is the only free road for a straying sheep, longing to be found.”
I love you Beth – thank you for all you do for all of us Siestas and for being my bff. Your life has been used mightly of God in mine.  Thank you for loving on me so that I can love on others. You are a delight!

Georgia Jan

Share