Sausage Gravy!

Good old Southern Sausage Gravy is a favorite breakfast of my husband. It really is also a good supper meal on a cold winter night. It is most assuredly a meal that you eat in moderation!

It is actually very simple to make – here is my tried and true recipe.

Note – this recipe doubles well!

INGREDIENTS – (Serves 4-6)
1 lb. Jimmy Dean pork sausage (mild, hot, sage-flavored or a mixture)
[We like to mix the hot and sage flavors together.]
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup of flour
4 cups of milk (whole or 2% milk, don’t use skim)
1/3 stick of butter

  1. Crumble the sausage and brown over medium heat until no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper at this time. You will be amazed at how lean this Jimmy Dean sausage is – no grease to drain!
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-low and then sprinkle on the 1/4 cup of flour and mix well so that the sausage soaks up the flour. Keep stirring the sausage and flour together for another minute or so.
  3. Now slowly pour in about 3 cups of the milk, stirring constantly.
  4. Continue to cook the gravy, stirring frequently, until it thickens. (This may take a good 5-7 minutes.)
  5. Now go ahead and add the other cup of milk and the butter and stir well. You are done!
  6. Spoon the sausage gravy over warm buttermilk biscuits and serve immediately. It is sooooooooooooooo good!

Happy Sausage Gravy Making
Gran Jan

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Covid-19 Quarantine Memories

I wore a mask to go to the grocery store…it was a strange time for sure!

Yesterday, May 1, 2020, was the first day in almost a month that our State of Georgia wasn’t under a “shelter-in-place” order due to the Covid-19 Corona virus. I wanted to document this very unusual season in the life of our home, family, state, nation, and…world. A global pandemic.

I’m 62 years old and recently shared with my grandchildren I had never experienced anything like this in my lifetime. They have told me they will talk about this quarantine when they are my age. They are now ages six to eleven.

The closest thing that comes to my mind is standing in a long line as a 6-year-old (with lots of other children), to have sugar cubes placed on our tongues by nurses wearing white starched hats and uniforms, white hosiery, and white shoes. It was 1963 and I was in first grade. We were receiving treatment for polio. It was a Department of Defense School at the Marine Base in Cherry Point, North Carolina.

These are the things I want to remember…and I pray I do remember them. I know we are apt to easily forget and quickly go back to our former selves and routines when normalcy returns. But I seriously hope the good things that came out of this season will remain in my heart and mind.

  • I’m a happy homebody, but I really missed seeing my family. It made me think of growing up as a military child and being separated from my dad, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. It was too long.
  • Face Time was a great gift during this season of quarantine. Not the same as a visit, but I am so thankful for the family face times and technology in general.
  • I missed my church, and my church people. We call them our second family at Second Baptist. Not being able to physically attend church made me long to be there. I hope on those occasions when I think I’d like to stay home, I will remember missing church. Yes, we “had church” on-line, and it was great, but not the same. I’m grateful for how pastors and worship leaders just stepped up and did the best they could in such unprecedented times.
  • I loved more time to actually focus on my outside spaces. My garden especially, but also the jasmine arbor and the swings I love that are there. So grateful that this quarantine occurred during Springtime and not Winter. Being outside was a place to go and the weather has been so beautiful. Thank you God!
  • My mother and I made masks for my sister Joan’s employees at Jackson Heating & Cooling. I made one for my husband and myself to wear to the grocery store. It was the only place I went! I didn’t like wearing the mask and seeing everyone masked. It just felt so weird to me. But don’t we “wear masks” every day anyway? Lord help me to unmask and be genuine and Christlike to others all the time.
  • I am thankful for all the medical professionals everywhere – doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, assistants, and anyone who worked on the front line. Heroes! Also our first responders, and all the ways they served and risked their own safety for anyone in need. So many good stories of kindness and hope were to be found. May we remember.
  • More time with my husband Gary. We really enjoyed being together and of course, I cooked and he loves when I cook for him! I really did enjoy lots of time in the kitchen and I found some new recipes that will remain in our “rotation.” A new way to make biscuits…after 43 years! I plan on a whole post for that soon.
Church from home…at the kitchen table. That is our Pastor, Jim Perdue!
Family Face Time, a special gift!

All in all I remember how people everywhere responded (for the most part) with diligence and attitudes to get through this. A similar theme was “we are in this together.” Yes we were, but truthfully, we are always in “this” life together! Please may we remember. Help ME remember. And not forget.

I didn’t like wearing a mask, but I loved my time in the sewing room…always!

The Lord is our Rock, in Him we hide, a shelter in the time of storm.

GranJan

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Sixty-two Trips Around the Sun!

Today is my 62nd birthday and I am so grateful for this beautiful life God has given me. Lots of folks don’t make it to this sweet age. My husband Gary conducted a funeral this week of a woman only 46 years old. My own sister Jean died at age 25. Gary and I support St. Jude’s Hospital for Children and the pictures and cards of the sick children there make us weep. Life is a precious gift from Almighty God.

The book of James in the New Testament says in verse 14 of chapter 4, “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” Some translations use the word for vapor as morning fog, mist, or puff of smoke. The word references the vapor your breath makes on a cold morning. It’s not visible very long. Life really is a vapor. I can’t believe I’m already 62! One of my favorite verses in the book of Psalms is in chapter 139, verse 16: “And in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.” God knew all the days of my life before there was even a me! That makes me feel so very loved and so very special.

One of the things I want to do this next year is be more active here on my blog. Slow down a little bit and write more here. Us retired folks are busy…who knew? Gran Jan’s JOYS remain rooted deeply in faith and family. I love the Lord more today than I did yesterday. My grandchildren are growing up way too fast for my heart. They are now 11, 9, 9, 7 and 6 years old. Let me tell you they are fun and keep my heart young. My sons and daughters-in-love bring me peace of heart as I see them parenting intentionally and loving each other well. My husband of 42 years is still the great joy of my heart. He is way too good to me. He is the epitome of a “long walk of obedience in the same direction.” Truly. My parents are 81 and 85 and live next door to me. I cherish that. My two sisters are my best friends and we communicate daily – I treasure them.

So as I’ve pondered my 62nd trip around the sun on this birthday…this I know, this I confirm. God is faithful and my life is evidence of His love, mercy, and amazing grace. Truthfully, it’s all grace. Grace upon grace upon grace.

I am one blessed woman…and I’m so grateful for this life.

Jan

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Retirement Year 1 – Done!

June 1, 2019 – I am most grateful to say that today marks one full year of retirement for me. I honestly had no idea what retirement would “be” for me. I totally expected to walk out of my office last year on May 31, 2018, skip to my car, and never look back. Well…

Houston County Board of Education. I love this old building and spent 20 years working here!

That didn’t happen. I reflected often those first few months and discovered quickly that the “work me” had way more of a hold on me than even I realized! I loved my job responsibilities, and I cared about the people I worked with for so many years. It took me a few months to unwind, sort out my new season, and to finally give myself some grace. I took on too much in the early months because I mistakenly believed retired people had time to do everything! They don’t. They do have more time than working folks for sure…but they have the blessing of choosing the things that will occupy their time. I had to learn that and it just takes time to sort out!

So here I am today, reflecting on my first year of retirement. I’ve always been a “dates person.” Sometimes that’s good, sometimes it’s not! In this instance, it has been very good for my soul to look back and see all the ways God has blessed me this first year of retirement! He is so faithful.

The pictures below are highlights from each month, June 2018-May 2019. (I decided not to add all the pictures of my garden, the books I read, and the quilts I made…although those are a “few of my favorite things.“) These last few months I have looked at retirement through a different filter. After time in prayer, and conversations with my husband and friends, I have been reminded again of the reasons I retired in the first place (besides just being old enough), and that is for time with my family and time for me. And it’s okay to slow down. I’m learning that every day that passes.

My friend of 30 years, Lanie Nash and I went to Hamilton, MO the first week I was retired, June 2018. We attended the “Missouri Star Quilt Company Academy.” It was a wonderful trip in every way.
My sisters and I took our mother on a weekend cruise to celebrate her 80th birthday! It was so much fun. This was June 22-25, 2018, so I enjoyed two trips in June!
Gran Jan Camp! July 1-3, 2018 with Zeke, Madie and Jackson. Our theme was “following God’s path for our lives.” I cherish spending time with my grandchildren like this, pouring into their lives and being intentional about family legacy.
The Mortons, July 2018, Cape San Blas, Family Vacation
I spoke at “Go Georgia,” a training event sponsored by the Georgia Baptist Mission Board. I shared about Tasting Grace, the mentoring-in-the-kitchen ministry I love so much! This was August 17, 2018 at Mable White Church in Macon, GA. It was so much fun! My dear friend Joan Falldine accompanied me and helped me so much!
Our youngest grandson, Abe came to stay in early August 2018 for almost 2 weeks, because he didn’t have to start school until after Labor Day!
We LOVED having him with us!
My friend Patsy Randall and I went to Huntsville, Alabama, September 14-15, 2018, for the Beth Moore Simulcast.
It was a great trip with lots of good conversation.
This stop for “all things cast iron” was so much fun for me!
September 16, 2018, was a very big day in the life and ministry of our son Jeremy and his wife Carrie. Jeremy preached at First Baptist Woodstock. This picture was made after church with Dr. Johnny Hunt and his dear wife, Janet. Jeremy is now Co-Pastoring there with Dr. Hunt as Pastor Johnny transitions to the North American Mission Board full time in January 2020. He is a wonderful man and has been a great mentor to our son.
This picture was made from one of my favorite places – on the big back porch at the wonderful Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC.
We took a group of Senior Adults there in September 2018.
September was a BUSY month for this retiree and I loved every single event!
Second Baptist Women’s Ministry hosted a Liz Curtis Higgs event on October 25, 2018. This was my last official event as Women’s Ministry Director. I served at Second Baptist for over 20 years. A new team has formed and they are fabulous!
I am now helping my husband in our church’s senior adult ministry.
We are loving this new season in our ministry!
October 29, 2018 we added a new family member. This was taken right after we got home with her. “Her” is Queen Esther Rose, “Rosie.”
We love this sweet German Shepherd puppy.
Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2018.
My parents celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary on November 23.
I am so thankful for them and so blessed to be retired
and enjoy having them in my life!
Christmas 2018! Being retired brought more joy to Christmas for me.
I didn’t feel rushed and had time to enjoy all the music, lights,
and celebrations in a deeper way. I love my family!
I welcomed January 2019 by keeping these 3 grandchildren while my son Jeremy and his wife began their move from Cartersville to Cherokee County! It rained non-stop and one day after a spell
of cabin fever, we got outside and enjoyed the puddles!
We celebrated my husband’s birthday in beautiful North Georgia
in February 2019 at Big Bear Lodge! FAMILY TIME IS THE BEST!
It was a joy and privilege for me to be part of the Selah Retreat in Clayton, GA for women’s ministry leaders across the state of Georgia. I enjoyed teaching several sessions and spending time with these amazing women’s ministry leaders.
This was the first weekend of March 2019!
My sisters and mom and I got together in March 2019 for shopping and lunch to celebrate our mother’s 81st birthday. We laugh with and at each other – always!
The last week of March, 2019 included a trip with my friend Lanie to Washington DC for a 4 day visit with our dear friend, Mrs. Mary Perdue. This was my first trip to DC and it was wonderful!
It was hard to just choose one picture, but I loved these cherry blossoms blooming. My favorite thing was the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider at Arlington National Cemetery.
Second Family Senior Adults went to Kentucky in April 2019 to visit the Ark replica (and also the Creation Museum). We had a wonderful trip.
These folks are amazing and it is a joy to serve the Lord with them!
We celebrated my Dad’s 85th birthday on April 29 in Macon with a meal of his choosing at Texas Roadhouse. Retirement has brought more time with my parents.
At my age, I don’t take that for granted and thank the Lord for His grace.
Front porch coffee time with Zeke & Madie (May 2019).
Abe and his siblings came for 10 days (May 2019) while their parents were in Israel. He is sitting on a rock that my 85 year old dad
sat on when he was also 5 years old.
We brought that rock from Henry County
here to the Morton Farm 12 years ago.
May 2019 – these two sleepy-eyed grandchildren came to the Morton Farm to stay with Pop & Gran Jan while their mom finished up her post-planning day at work.
They are full of energy and fun! I love them so much!

What a great first year for me! As I reflected back over all my pictures (both the ones here and the ones on my iPhone), I see the joys of family, faith, and fun in every picture. Thank you Lord for giving me this year. May my life continue to be a blessing to others in all I do. I am so grateful.

Gran Jan

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Thirty Years of Worship Ministry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gran Jan

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Retirement is Here!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s All Grace,
Gran Jan

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Buttermilk Pie Recipe

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

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

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

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

~GranJan

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