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…


God Bless You All!



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…

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


1,000 GIFTS, #246 to #269

Although I haven’t posted in several weeks, I’m always counting…the JOY ever close as I see God’s grace at work all around me, and most hopefully…deep within my heart, where the needs are greatest. Oh to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be.
246.  Remembering our time in South Africa two years ago this week. That trip changed my heart forever. I kept a journal and logged it all here.
247.  A precious email from my friend Teresa who has caught the JOY of counting 1,000 gifts. She is our Women’s Ministry Bible Study Director and loves the Word of God.
248.  A long encouraging email from Jennifer, a brand new mommy of a baby girl. Jennifer is a Christian counselor and her words matter. She is the youngest woman who serves in women’s ministries at our church.  She is our little gleaning Ruth, but truthfully, we learn from each other.
249.  My moonflower vine is blooming. I love seeing God’s handiwork and His creation blesses me so. These vines bloom at dusk, my favorite time of day.
250.  A party for my mother-in-law’s birthday.  She has been a godly influence on my life and I’m so thankful for her. Family is everything to me and she has welcomed me and loved me for a long time. I’m forever grateful to her for raising such a wonderful son, my husband!
251.  It was LOUD grace, but I counted 14 little boys under the age of 10 at Memama’s birthday party.  P-R-E-C-I-O-U-S. 
252.  There were two roses among those boys, my granddaughter Madie Ruth being one of them!
253.  My dad’s mucadine vines are loaded this year.  He loves to garden.
254. Our Interim Pastor, Rev. Joel Southerland, has been preaching from  the 4th chapter of  James. He has certainly encouraged us in the Word of God. He ended our August 15th Sunday night service by asking all our staff pastors and their wives, our deacons and their wives and our pastor search team and their spouses to come down to the front of the church.  We literally had an “encouragement hug-fest,” and were loved on and hugged and blessed by our church family.  Pure therapy from God’s Word by God’s people.
255.  This was his message that Sunday evening:
Seven Things You Can Do Instead of Slander:
     1. Edify (Ephesians 4:29)
     2. Encourage (Proverbs 12:25)
     3. Give Testimony (Psalm 145:10-12)
     4. Give Thanks (Ephesians 5:20)
     5. Praise God  (Psalm 9:1-2)
     6. Teach Others (Proverbs 13:14)
     7. Pray (Matthew 5:44) (Romans 12:14)
256. My first born son and his wife and their son all have August birthdays. My sweet daughter-in-law planned a party for the “boys” since their numbers matched up…here’s the cake:
257. My youngest son and his wife gave Zeke a “toy laptop” for his birthday.  It is very nice and a great teaching toy. When we asked Zeke what he was going to do with his laptop, he said, “I’m going to use this to work on my sermons…” He’s watching everything his daddy does. God’s grace has blessed me with sons who are modeling godly lives for their children.
258.  After record triple digit heat this summer, it was nice to have some recent rain. Last week we enjoyed two rainy evenings at home! Delight. This was my view as I drove from work, right before turning on the road to home. Summer rains are so precious.
259. My friend Jennifer, the new mommy sent me this “WAIT” acrostic last week…I love it and it is timely – I hope it will be a grace gift to you as well:
Withstand: the schemes of the devil and he will flee from you (Ephesians 6:11).
Anticipate: the need – go back to the last word God spoke before His silence.
Serve HIM in that manner while waiting on a new word.
Integrate: your faith into everyday life.
Trust: simply the most difficult, because it can be done only in a Spirit-filled life.
260. The gift of sight confirmed by a great report from my eye doctor this past week.  He is a delight – a Messianic Jew, Dr. Eisner.  We love to talk about the LORD together.
261. A great email from my friend Leah Adams requesting prayer support for some new teaching material God is calling her to concerning being “covenant keepers.”  She’s great!
262. A quick, yet wonderful and blessed trip this past weekend to Hilton Head Island, SC. We were the guests of my son’s in-laws, so Zeke and Madie had both sets of grandparents together and received a double portion of love. We had dinner in a restaurant that was near the marshes of the island.  It was so peaceful there.
263. On our way to Hilton Head we stopped for the day in Savannah, GA, one of our favorite places to visit in our beautiful state…I love the live oak trees and the history of this city. I am thankful for some overdue uninterruped conversation with my sweet mate.
264.  A short little video sent to me last evening by my youngest son’s wife. I love my smartphone and am so thankful for the way she keeps me in the know with little snippets of Jackson’s day. Grace indeed.
265.  A four-mile bike ride on Hilton Head, then meandering through the ruins of an old estate from the 1800’s called the Baynard Plantation. 
266.  An impromptu fun game with Zeke and my husband in those dappled-light woods near the ruins.  Brought back memories of him playing with our boys…
267.  Plans for a treehouse came forth from their play time.  The grandchildren are in for fun at the farm when Pop builds the tree house!
268.  To be a mom and a grandmom.  Daily DOUBLE portions of Grace.
269.  To be HIS daughter, ALL GRACE…
Encourage one another and build each other up,



1,000 GIFTS, #24 to #44

Multitude Monday is proving to be a real blessing and something in my heart feels lighter with joy as I anticipate counting to 1,000…thank you Ann Voskamp.  God gave you this plan for His people for this time. Gratitude is healing therapy.  This past week…
24. The gift of my husband’s life as we celebrated his birthday on Feb 15th. I LOVE THIS MAN!

25. I am so grateful for the way Gary takes care of me and that God brought him into my life and that our marriage was part of God’s plan before we were ever born.
26. Bible study with my ladies every Wednesday evening…we just finished Loving God With All Your Mind by Elizabeth George on Feb 16th, such a timely study.
27. Two days off from work this past Thursday and Friday, a chance to s-l-o-w down a bit, and b-r-e-a-t-h-e.
28. Time in my garden with red potatoes, Texas sweet onions, English peas, and snow peas all planted.
29. A harvest of the collard greens I planted last fall to make room for the onions, and the greens are now in the freezer…can’t wait to cook them, my three men love them!
30. A family lunch on Saturday with the boys and their wives and our 3 grands…simple joys that are priceless.
31. A bottle of bubbles and a 2 1/2 year old grandson to chase them…
32. A new camera…I can’t wait to learn how to use it.
33. A missionary from South Africa who preached Sunday at church.  Dr. Harold Peasley of Multi Ministries from Johannesburg preached a message from Genesis on the life of Lot. So good. 
34. Memories of our trip to South Africa from August 2009 were so real as we reunited with Dr. Peasley and my journal contains everything.  I will never forget these children:

35. The joy of singing a solo Sunday about “The Power of the Cross” and the sweetest folks I know singing behind me in the choir…
36. My Sunday afternoon nap…short but oh so sweet.
37. Choir rehearsal on Sunday afternoons and catching my husband’s eye as he leads in worship.
38. A trip to Kroger after church and a husband who doesn’t rush me…
39. A quiet day at the office today.
40. My sweet boss Mrs. Linda took me to lunch today at “The Oil Lamp,” a local restaurant run by the Mennonites, and they sure know how to cook.
41. Blueberry plants growing and warm temperatures today.
42. My husband was off today, and he had grilled steaks ready when I got home from work. Reference Gifts #24, #25, #37, #38.
43. My grandson Zeke just called me on my cell phone, “whatcha doin’ Gran Jan?” I’m loving you Zeke.
44. A walk across the farm after supper to visit my parents next door. They’re good people and I’m thankful for them too, even when it’s inconvenient. 
Count your many blessings
Every doubt will fly
And you will be singing
As the days go by!


Good Morning Friends.  I am writing this Sunday morning from the balcony of a beautiful condo in Sandestin, Florida.  My husband and I are here for an extra long weekend, a time of rest and renewal.  As my sweet daughter-in-law Carrie told me before we left, “this will be a vacation, when the whole family comes, it’s a trip!”  There are times for both, but she is right…this has been a vacation, long awaited.

I am on Day Eight of one of Beth Moore’s devotionals entitled 90 Days With JESUS The One & Only. I should complete this one around Christmas. This morning’s reflection was from one of my favorite passages in scripture, the verse from Luke 2:19, “But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.”

As I was writing in my journal and took note of today’s date 10-10-10; and since I have time and haven’t posted in a while, I wanted to do a “Ten” List. Very unorginal, but I’m inspired with the whole Ten-Ten-Ten date today.  This list is not a Top Ten, but rather ten things I have often pondered in my heart.

Ten Ponderings
1.  The amazing grace of God and why He loves me like He does…
2.  The blessed gift of a long and faithful marriage with the love of my life…
3.  How absolutely right all my friends were about the sheer joy of being a grandmother…the inspiration for Gran Jan’s Joy
4.  The great delight it is to be friends with my boys, now grown men…and the thankfulness that their wives are taking such good care of them…
5.  How I absolutely love to garden and wonder if those things are truly inherited and if so, then it came from my maternal grandmother…
6.  Sometimes at night when I slip outside I marvel that God really gave names to all the stars and that He knows my name too… Psalm 147:4 “He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name.”
7.  After my trip to South Africa last year, I think of the beauty there, but also the devastating poverty in the shanty towns, and I especially ponder a little boy that used a plastic bread bag as his hat. My South Africa journal for that day is here...
8.  How some songs are so anointed and touch me every single time, and how thankful I am to have my own music man for a husband and that I know I am and have always been his favorite choir member…
9.  When God allows me to serve other women even with all my flaws, His mercy overwhelms me…
10. The older I get the more I understand the peace of being quiet and listening more…and often wonder why I didn’t glean this truth earlier in my life, but the ways of God are a mystery…

Well, 10-10-10 is here and I’m getting up to enjoy my last day on the glorious Gulf Coast of Florida!

Gran Jan

P.S.  10-10-10 is also some mighty good garden fertilizer.  I’m just saying…


South Africa – 16 (Journal Day 11 – FINAL ENTRY)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dear Blog Friends:  I so hope you have enjoyed this journal, because it was certainly a joy for me to keep.  We are home now, and may I use a well-worn saying? There is no place like home. As often as we have all heard that said, I know in my heart that it is the absolute truth, for I have experienced it first-hand.

We went through customs easily in South Africa and our flight was good. If you don’t really bemoan the fact that there were many (many) children on our flight home who were ALL awake and ready to play at 3:00 in the morning and they were all sitting very close to me and my husband. 

May I just say that it is unnatural to fly for 17 hours straight? I was just about  “squirrley” the last 2 hours.  I mean it.  I had to get up and walk and move around and sit and then get up again.  I had to really pray and breathe deeply.  I was ready to get OFF that plane and RUN!

We did not sleep as well on the flight home as we did going over, so I know the jet lag cometh, but I will be in my own bed, can I give some praise to the Lord?

We were met at the airport in ATL by some precious folks from our church, Mr. Jim and Mrs. Maggie Dollar, and also Mr. Pat Bembry. They drove the church minibus up to bring us back home. Mr. Pat was part of the mission team to Kariba, Zimbabwe last month, so he knew the joy in our hearts to be home.

Coming home at 6:55 in the morning is the way to do this!  It was great. The airport was not really crowded and we came through customs expeditiously! Everything had to be searched and examined, but I was so proud to be home I didn’t care if they wanted to look through my purse, my luggage, my wallet, my pockets, or my carry on bag! Help yourself! I had nothing to hide except a bad case of “17-hour-hair.”

We stopped at a McDonalds on the way home and had a McBiscuit and some McCoffee and it was McDivine!  I was McDelirious and so McHappy!  I am not McKidding!

When I got home, I made myself “stay up.”  I unpacked, I washed clothes, I went through the mail, I watered my plants, I checked my email and all my text messages.  Then I walked around and just relished the joy of being back home.  Yes, my experience was amazing. I do pray the things I saw and learned won’t soon leave my heart, but the joy of being home is so good. 

Makes me ponder the joy of being really home – to my heavenly home.  To that place where there will never be any shanty towns, or crime, or HIV Aids, or little children with no shoes or coats.  No pain, no sorrow, no cancer, no heartache, no divorce, no gossip, no evil…

And one more glorious thought…no 17 hour flights, for the Word of God says we will be there in the twinkling of an eye.  Glory!


South Africa – 15 (Journal Day 10)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009               

Today is our last day in South Africa. We fly home tonight.  My emotions are swinging like a proverbial pendulum.  Ready to go, want to stay, ready to go, want to stay.  But go I must, and hopefully I will return another day to this beautiful land.  We had a nice breakfast this morning at the Golden Crest. There were other guests at the lodge. This picture shows where we stayed.  This lodge was the one surrounded by a concrete fence and a razor-wire electric fence – and that is after you get through the locked iron doors that front the street.  The crime in Johannesburg is rampant.
We ate with a pastor and his wife from Australia, and they were accompanied by a lady named Merle from New Zealand. She was on her first mission trip and was 73 years old! She had been making dolls for a long time and brought lots of dolls with her to give to the children in the shanty towns. I enjoyed her company very much.
Our breakfast was served to us by Dahlee, pronounced Dolly. She had a hard time understanding me because I talked way too fast for her. But her smile was sweet! 
After breakfast we were picked up at the Golden Crest by Rodney Grobler, the Multi Ministries associate. He helped Gary load the ministry vehicle with our luggage so that we could travel to the airport directly after our official debriefing meeting with Dr. Harold Peasley.

We had a great meeting with the Multi Ministries staff. I cannot say enough good things about this ministry. Dr. Peasley wanted to know about the highs and lows of our trip and what their ministry office could have done to assist us in any way. They are a first-class organization wholly dedicated to international missions. There was nothing that we would have changed. They gave us many opportunities to minister and gave us downtime to reflect and see their beautiful country as well. Over the years they have learned that there is a delicate balance required on a short-term mission trip. There must be some diversion and rest provided among the ministry times. If not, people are easily overwhelmed. Most days we went from daylight to dark. For me, this trip was more challenging emotionally, but it was not strenuous or physically challenging. I adjusted very well to the time difference!  Our accommodations were adequate and we were well cared for everywhere we went. There were several times we knew we were not in a safe environment, but we knew to trust in the Name of the Lord our God!

We are taking home some invaluable lessons, the most important one I can think of right now is the knowledge of how very blessed we are – both as a family and as a nation. With all the issues and problems our country faces, it is still the greatest place in the world!

After we said our goodbyes to Brother Rodney at the airport, we went through customs again. Everything went smoothly!  And as much as I really dislike flying (and I do), this was a welcome sight to behold!