Saturday, July 30, 2011

Quietness. Yes! Even with my sanguine and outgoing personality, I love solitude and quietness. I actually crave it. Quietness...some definitions I love:
  • making no noise or sound, especially no disturbing sound
  • restrained in speech, manner, saying little
  • free from disturbance or tumult; tranquil; peaceful, a quiet life
  • being at rest
  • refraining or free from activity, especially busy activity
  • making no disturbance or trouble; not turbulent; peaceable
  • free from disturbing thoughts & emotions, mentally peaceful, a quiet conscience
  • expressed in an unobtrusive way
  • not showy or obtrusive; subdued
  • not busy or active
The past few months have been a lesson for me in the discipline of quietness.  I read a tweet recently by James MacDonald of Walk in the Word Ministries.  It simply said:

"Finding out all the facts in every fiasco you face is overrated -
consider the discipline of not knowing - it will help you give grace later on."

I wasn't "facing a fiasco" as mentioned in the tweet, but had been through a season in life that was difficult and quite frankly, was draining me in body, soul, and spirit. As I sought solitude God began to speak to me through His Word, drawing me to quietness, to "not knowing everything going on." This "not knowing" brought peace. Here are some passages that really encouraged my heart:
Exodus 14:14
 "The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent."

Job 34:29 
When He gives quietness, who then can make trouble

Psalm 4:4  
"Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still"

Psalm 46:10 
"Be still and know that I am God."

Psalm 141:3 
Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips 

Isaiah 30:15
"In quietness and confidence shall be your strength."

Isaiah 32:17
 "The work of righteousness will be peace, And the effect of righteousness,
 quietness and assurance forever."

1 Thessalonians 4:11
 that you also aspire to lead a quiet life,
to mind your own business and work with your hands

If you are going through a rough time, step back, get quiet, and be still before the Lord. The wonderful passage in Psalm 46:10 about "being still" means cease striving...take your hands off, relax.  I promise you this, you will find out and know - HE IS GOD. He has everything well under control - yes, HE IS GOD. 

Get some rest, seek quietness. I know you young moms and busy wives have precious little solitude, but try to carve out some time in the day, even if only a few moments...to just close your eyes and meditate on the goodness of the Lord.  Be Still. R-E-S-T in Him.
~Georgia Jan

1,000 GIFTS, #216 to #230

Monday, July 25, 2011

Although I've never met Ann Voskamp, her heart for Jesus shines through cyberspace - her blog, her books, her tweets...and she blesses me. This discipline or holy habit or awareness, or whatever you name it...this way of counting grace gifts to one-thousand is a wonder! The consciousness of intentionally seeing God at work all around is uplifting. Some of the gifts are divine and spiritual, some are tangible "things," some are His glorious creation seen around the farm, some are just in my heart, but ALL are from His Hand, Grace.

216. Singing "I Bless Your Name" at church with our praise team. I love singing with Melissa, Meredith, Tammy, Megan, Gary, Lou, and Gary R.  God is knitting our hearts together more each time we sing.
217. A heart that is healing, sweet victory, answered prayers, awareness of true friends, health, peace of mind - these have been mine in abundance the past few weeks.  I am so thankful.
218. Our long-time pastor, Rev. Rastus Salter always talked about how good the "late peaches" are, the Elberta peaches. He was right - they are the best.  He passed away in 2005 and is certainly enjoying the fruit of his labors. In the presence of Jesus!
219. An impromptu pizza party with my husband, our boys, their wives and our 3 grandchildren. Sometimes unplanned is more fun.  Just "y'all come," and let's get together.  And when it ends up that Zeke spends the night, well that is just icing on that sweet cake!
220. Could she be any cuter? This is sweet Miss Madie with her first pigtails. She is talking up a storm and holding her own with big brother Zeke.  She and cousin Jackson are precious to watch together.
221. Front porch rocking chairs, hummingbirds zooming by, and long talks with my sweet husband.  We always say to each other, "it just doesn't get any better."  I pray we will be blessed to grow old together (Gran Jan & Pop pillows were made by our daughter-in-law Erin!) I love that man. I love to hear people speak of his integrity... and I've heard that spoken often these past months, and it blesses me every time!
222. Fig preserves. Delightfully Southern.  One of my Dad's sisters (he had eight) taught me how to make them.  Aunt Jimmie Lou.  Even her double name is delightfully Southern! There is nothing better on a hot buttered biscuit than fig preserves.
223. My moonflower vine has blooms. I can't wait to share the first flowers with you.  One of my favorite authors, Jan Karon, has a book entitled The Trellis and the Seed that is about encouragement...using these wonderful flowers. I grow them from seed each spring and give away all but a few plants to enjoy for myself.
224. I finished the quilt top from the beautiful jelly roll* of batik fabrics.  I can't wait to quilt it. *By the way, a "jelly roll" is an entire fabric collection that has been laser cut into 2 and 1/2" strips, then rolled up like a bakery confection and tied with a bow.  Each pack contains one 44" long strip of each fabric in the group. I LOVE THEM! The possibilities are endless.
225. Which leads to this...the next quilts I'm planning! I bought a lot of John Deere fabric to make quilts for the boys - the big boys and the little boys!
226. New life on the farm just today - this Monday.  A new calf, and three new lambs - one a set of twins...this wee one is but hours old.
227. Twins - the momma is black and white like this baby.  These are just a few hours old...
228. Hearing the reports from the mission teams that went to Brazil and to Ukraine from my church. Seeing people I know and love light up and come alive when others are won to Christ - of seeing them "love to tell the story."
229. A letter from my Compassion child, a daughter in Uganda. We wept. I am so thankful to partner with Compassion International to sponsor a boy in Colombia, and a girl in Uganda. I so love this ministry.
230. My magnolias are blooming again. I have two trees - they were given to  me by the women of our church at the Women's Ministry Christmas Brunch, 2007.  I love that!
Blessings to you on this summer Monday,

What If Your Blessings Come Through Raindrops?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

This song "Blessings" has absolutely blessed my SOUL all day today. I first heard it recently, but not enough of the lyrics to find the songwriter...until today.  My best friend Lanie and I spent the day together shopping and enjoying coffee and sweet fellowship.  Lanie is an ovarian cancer survivor for over a year now.  The song came on the radio today in her car and I said, "that's the song I've been looking for."  She told me how it had ministered to her in her deepest moments of need the past year and a half. I pray it ministers to you too.  This young woman is gifted and you can tell she writes from a deep place.  She is also the writer of "Mighty to Save."  Her name is Laura Story and her "story" is full of God's grace.
'Blessings' - it's one of those songs that unexpectedly touches listeners in their deepest need,"
says Wally Dekker from WBFJ-FM in Greensboro. "Laura Story's simple delivery of such a
poignant message provides instant connection. If you want a song that elicits response,
please consider. If you want a song that will touch hearts for eternity, it's a must add."

1,000 GIFTS, #207 to #215

Monday, July 11, 2011

 I have had one of the absolute BEST weeks in a long time! It has been very peaceful and quiet - and this wafted over to the same PURE Joy in my spirit - all from Jesus. This JOY will be reflected in my list of counting grace gifts to 1,000:
207. Nowhere to go last week...off work...reconnecting with all things H-O-M-E...stillness.
208. Celebrating my re-birthday this week, the day I became a born again believer in Jesus Christ, on 7-7-85. I'm 26 years old in the LORD, and I wrote my story here.
209. Lots of garden time last week and the daily delights of fresh tomatoes.
210. A "sew-in" with my friend Lanie. I had a pattern for a "sewing mate," and we made them together. So peaceful and fun, more JOY. This creation holds all your sewing notions close at hand. The bag on the far right is a little trash container for threads, etc.
211. My son is fishing in Canada this past weekend, and he is so proud of this Walleye, the biggest catch at the Lodge this summer. He is a JOY to my heart.
212. On my backroad drive to go to my friend's for our sew-in, I saw this hay bale. I loved it and was reminded to pray for my friend Beth Moore as she wraps up her study on the book of James.  The other side of the bale said "James 5:16." 
213. Plans are being made for a baby shower in a few weeks, and I'm one of the hostesses. The baby girl we are celebrating will be born into a family of strong women of faith and she will mark the Fourth Generation!  I sure love y'all - Mrs. Mary (great-grandmother), Pat (grandmom), Pam (great Aunt), Jennifer (mom-to-be), Lindsey (aunt), Allison (aunt), Stephanie (aunt), and little miss Taylor Kate (baby girl due in August).  The joy of long-time friends from serving in one church for over 23 years...PRICELESS!
214. My mom and I spent most of Saturday morning painting our front gates...the fellowship was so good and I really did enjoy spending that time with her.
214. The reference of Habakkuk 3:17-19 has come to me from many sources the past month. Again this morning while listening to David Jeremiah and his new series entitled "The Joy of Encouragement."  He did.
215. My daughter-in-law Erin saw this bookrack in a magazine and that smart girl duplicated it! Her Dad made the rack and I sewed the fabric that made the "shelves."  Jackson loves it - he loves books. So did his daddy. 
Counting my blessings, naming them one by one - all the way to one thousand!

1,000 GIFTS, #190 to #206

Monday, July 4, 2011

It has been a month since I shared the wonderful story of Caitlyn's conversion. She was baptized a couple of weeks ago and is aglow in her new walk with Christ. We still rejoice in being in the right place to water the seeds others faithfully planted. I am continuing to count His gifts with JOY and Ann Voskamp. This counting discipline has affirmed more and more the value of simple things in my life. This simplicity keeps me centered and brings me the most JOY. I don't take them for granted - I am very thankful.  It has also reassured me of the purpose of blogging - my way of documenting my simple life - my family, our home, our ministry - all grace gifts and His blessings.

190. Celebrating 34 years of marriage 6/11/77 to 6/11/11!  Blessed and spoiled. I love you so much Gary and thank God for bringing us together - high school sweethearts.
191. A blessed productive afternoon spent with two outstanding women's ministry leaders. Cindy, Teresa, and I inventoried our entire Bible study library and put together a spreadsheet. We are ready and geared up to serve the women of our church. God sure blessed me by sending these women to serve alongside. I love them both so much.
192. Attending the wedding of Jordan and Kristin and knowing them both since they were wee ones - that is so special.
193. A sweet little helper in the garden...this is my grandson Jackson.
194. Being released from the ortho doctor after 5 months - I had torn the PCL in my right knee and it is healing beautifully with physical therapy alone.  Thank you LORD.
195. Another quilt class called "Take 5."  Five fabrics used in every block.  This is the class I took where I made the quilt for Beth Moore. I received a sweet thank-you note from her day before yesterday. God has used her so much in my life, and I know He is rewarding her in ways that will matter for eternity.
196. Father's Day dinner with ALL my menfolk around the table (the two below in matching shirts for Father's Day): Husband Gary, sons Jeremy & Jonathan, Dad Tom, and grandsons-Zeke & Jackson. Blessed indeed. (Thankful for the women around that table too...)
197. A churchwide picnic with fantastic food, fellowship, fanfare (music), fireworks and FUN.  I went by and picked up my grandson Zeke and we had a blast. He was mesmerized with the orchestra.  I adore this picture:
198. An antique biscuit cutter that has scalloped edges...and my grandmother's biscuit recipe (in the post right before this one).
199. Blueberry bounty and a little granddaughter who loves them.
200. Another new quilt started with a jellyroll of fabric. A jellyroll is pre-cut strips and these are especially beautiful.
201. It is coming together nicely:
202. My backyard garden, a happy place for me to be (if I'm not in the sewing room). :)
203. I have had the blessing to keep my two older grandchildren for 5 whole days (and nights). My daughter-in-law is away visiting her sister & brother-in-law who serve as missionaries. My son is also staying with us and he has been a wonderful help. It has been good to see him be a daddy up close. I worked so hard to get a picture of them...
204. My youngest grandson and his first trip to the ocean. Delight...
205. Blackberry bounty. My dad's vines. We have had good family time picking these blackberries. Simple things yet again.
206. On this Fourth of July, I'm so thankful and yes, proud - to be an American and live in the greatest country on Earth. Even with all the flaws, I'd still rather live here than anywhere I know.  Send a revival to our land dear LORD.

As I wrap up this list, you can see there is nothing as glorious as the salvation of Caitlyn last month, but these are grace gifts all the same. Family time on the farm surrounded by good food and sweet fellowship...and yes at times some tempers and tired folks, but still all GRACE. And I'm so grateful.

Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits

Saturday, July 2, 2011

We are having a great Saturday here around the farm. It started this morning with a big Southern breakfast at the request of my oldest son. (Big Southern breakfast to us includes: grits, eggs, bacon, sausage, homemade bisuits and preserves, and sliced cantaloupe!) I made homemade biscuits this morning, and I wanted to share my recipe. I have the ingredients down to measured amounts - which is unusual for most Southern women and their "pinch here and there" while making biscuits!

Gran Jan's Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits
(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
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  • Lightly grease a baking sheet or pan with some Crisco.
  • I use this cast-iron pan  for baking biscuits and absolutely love it!
  • Mix flour and shortening together until the mixture resembles crumbs.
  • 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.)
  • Now wash and dry your hands well and then "dust" your hands with more flour.
  • Pinch off some of the dough and roll it in your floured palms. Don't handle the dough too much - my Grandmother always told me the biscuits would be lighter and fluffier if you don't handle the dough too long. Just a quick knead is all you need!
  • Place the biscuits on the pan so they touch each other - this makes them softer.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Brush with melted butter and serve.
Today I felt a little whimsical fancy :) and decided to roll the dough out so I could use one of my antique biscuit cutters. I bought the biscuit cutters at an antique market in Atlanta several years ago. I used the scalloped edge biscuit cutter today. I have a large one and a small one. (The three small biscuits were for the grandchildren.) If you roll the dough out instead of just forming the biscuits with your hands, be sure to flour the surface of the counter first.
After breakfast my husband, son, and grandson all decided to take a swim in the pond. They had the most wonderful time and swam for almost 2 hours...which means they had hearty appetites for lunch!  These hearty appetites led to another Southern delicacy...Tomato Sandwiches!!!
I am very thankful for the garden bounty we've had this summer.  I love to garden for the pure joy it brings me, but the side benefit of the delicious produce is wonderful this time of year.
My youngest son and his wife and son joined us for lunch today and we had a wonderful time around the table. The grandchildren are at the age now where they can play together a bit more. Zeke will be 3 next month and Madie Ruth and Jackson are both almost 14 months old.  Good times indeed.  I am counting my blessings this Saturday, and family time is right up there at the top of my list!!!

Happy Biscuit Baking!



1,000 GIFTS

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