Positive conversations with old and new friends. I'd love for you to join me on my back porch.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

I've enjoyed spending this year with you, and I wanted to wish you all a very merry Christmas.

We've been to Chicago and picked up our world traveler, Scott. It's so good to have him home for Christmas!

I hope you are able to find time to worship our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, this week no matter where you are or who you're with.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Family changes

I've missed being here the last couple of weeks. We've been going through a big change in my family. I met my husband twenty-six years ago. I think I fell in love with him the moment our eyes met. We dated for two years and then married. I've been a Layton since May 27, 1989.

The past month my father-in-law, Harold Layton, has declined. Around midnight he finally left us and went to meet our Lord. I've been remembering so many times together. He always enjoyed coming to watch my boys play sports. In his last conversation with my oldest son, Bill, he asked about UK basketball. Our family will miss this sweet man.

On another note, my son Scott will be home next week after three and a half months in Sevilla, Spain. Even though he's been in college for two years, it's been different with him so FAR away. I can't wait to see him!

He didn't know anybody when he flew out of here, but he's made some good friends with a group of students from California. This summer when they sent him a list of students he discovered there were only five guys going over for the semester. This would be another adjustment because he was raised with a brother and mostly hangs out with guy friends. So he learned a lot of Spanish, and he learned things like what a "wedge shoe" was.

He also joined a gym and worked out almost everyday.

I wanted to share some pictures with you that make me happy. I hope they bring a smile to your face.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Remember Thanksgiving

I love to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family and friends. It makes me sad to see people rushing into Christmas without taking time to celebrate Thanksgiving.

I understand many of the reasons:

1. Spread out the spending makes it easier on the budget.
2. Spread out the shopping so you're not stuck in long lines the days before Christmas.
3. All of the Christmas parties take away time from preparing for Christmas.
4. Thanksgiving is late this year. Not as many days between it and Christmas.

I know there are many more reasons, but these seem to be the main ones I hear.

So I guess as long as we slow down and remember to thank God for all of our blessings, that's the main thing.

As for me, I still plan to wait until the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Q is for Queen Elizabeth

Tim, Scott and I took a weekend trip to London, England during our visit to see Scott in Spain.

Scott booked our plane tickets on an airline where we could only take a backpack. That's it. I'd already blown the electricity out at the hotel in Sevilla when my converter didn't work on my hair dryer. So I wouldn't need to pack a hair dryer or curling irons.
I discovered one secret to packing for a weekend without much space was to layer your clothes. I wore jeans, t-shirt, sweater, and jacket tied around my waist.

I was not prepared to fall in love with London. The place is charming, and we all want to go back one day when we have more time to explore.

We mostly visited outdoor sights because we didn't really have time to tour, but we saw a lot of different things.

One of the amazing sights we saw was Big Ben. It turns out it's Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben is the name of the massive bell inside the clock tower. (It weights more than thirteen tons. No wonder they call it big.)

I hope you've enjoyed visiting Spain and London with me. It's been such an exciting time of my life.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Plaza de Espana

One of the most beautiful sights we saw in Sevilla was the Plaza de Espana.

It's so pretty we visited it in the evening and the day.

Notice all of the beautiful tiles.

We saw lots of beautiful sights in Sevilla, but seeing Scott was the best!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Bull fighting in Spain

Bull fighting is a popular sport in Spain. Tim and I toured the bull fighting arena in Sevilla.

The Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza is on the main street in Sevilla across the road from the river.

The arena holds about 12,000 people. The lower seats in the shade go for the most money.

Your ticket buys you the opportunity to see three bull fighters (toreros) fight six bulls in about three hours.

Each torero has a team of five other men. Two on horseback antagonize the bull with long spheres. Then the other three men stab the bull with knives. (This is the way I interpreted what our guide told us.) By now these five assistants have got the bull good and mad so the crowd and judge can see a good fight.

I'm so glad the fighting season was over by the time we arrived in Sevilla. It seems like a gruesome sport. The owner of the arena gives profits to charity which is super nice.

Toreros can make almost no money per fight when their career starts to $300,000.00 per fight. They may have one hundred fights per year.

This got Tim to thinking. (You know he's into raising money for ministry.) If he could learn how to fight a bull, it wouldn't take a lot of fights to raise money for the next phase of Wesley Village or pay off the building debt at our church.

I'm usually supportive of whatever he wants to tackle, but I'm drawing the line at bullfighter.

Have a great week.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Outdoor cafes

One of my favorite things about Sevilla was eating outdoors.

Most of the restaurants had very little indoor space and plenty of tables outside.

Three mornings we ate at a bakery outside. This bakery is just steps away from the apartment where Scott lives.

This was a nice Italian restaurant where we had lunch with Scott one afternoon when he finished classes.

I enjoyed all of the foods we tried while in Sevilla. I enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere. The waiters never rushed you even when you were obviously finished eating. In Sevilla meals seem to be about more than food, it's a time to enjoy being together.

Sunday, October 27, 2013


We've just returned from visiting Scott in Seville, Spain. They spell it Sevilla.

It is a traditional city in Spain with very few people who speak English.

This tower is the first "sight" we saw. We took the EA bus from the airport and were supposed to get off here.

We stood up when the bus stopped. The driver opened the doors and before we got out, he took off. So we had to get off at the next stop and figure out how to get back to the tower because that's where we were to meet Scott. We wore our jeans and were carrying and pulling our luggage. It was hot. Like ninety-four degrees hot. By the time we found Scott we were beside ourselves. He walked with us to our hotel in Triana and helped us check in. Then we found a place for dinner.

I was fascinated with the tile work all over the city. Some of the tiles were laid thousands of years ago and still survive.

I've been talking to Tim for a while about placing tiles between our steps leading upstairs one day. Now I'm truly inspired.

I'm still suffering from jet lag, but I'll share more in the days ahead.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Memories in Munfordville

Last night my husband and I took a chair to Goodwill. We didn't have room for it nor did my son's family.

Tim carried it into the storage room for the lady at Goodwill. She thanked us and we began to walk away.

As I looked back I could remember it at my grandmother's house in Munfordville, KY.

It sat in her living room. Whenever my dad was with us, he almost always sat in it. I can remember at Christmas time leaning on the arm of the chair and watching Dad open his Christmas gifts.

My mother remembers doing homework in that chair.

My grandparents had a farm with a chicken house, a barn, cattle, corn and tobacco fields, a pond, and a garden.

One thing that was unique about the farm was a Civil War fort on it. It was the most basic of forts. Basically it was a great big sallow hole in the ground. I can picture maybe 30-50 men lying on the ground peeping over the sides and shooting at the enemy.

My brother and I would go out to the fort and spend hours playing.

So back to the chair...when I turned back and looked at the chair for the last time a lot of memories came back to me. I got in the car and started telling Tim as he drove away. He looked at me as only a husband can and asked if I wanted to go back and buy the chair. I said no, and he told me I could keep the memories even without the chair.

I'm tempted to go back and buy it anyway. I'll keep you posted.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, October 11, 2013

L is for Last as in Made to Last by Melissa Tagg

Today I'm so excited to welcome Melissa Tagg to my back porch. She graciously answered a few questions for us.

I know you're a Tim Tebow fan, but what about football in general. Do you prefer college or NFL? Favorite college team? Favorite NFL team?

Haha, okay, I actually know very, very little about football and really can’t classify myself as a fan. BUT I’m hoping to write a story soon about a female high school football coach, so I’m on a quest this fall to learn the game…and to hopefully fall in love with it.

As for my favorite team, now that Tim doesn’t have a team anymore, I don’t really have a favorite, I’m sad to say. BUT one year back when I was a reporter, I participated in an office football pool. Everyone else in the office had a favorite team—I didn’t. At the time, though, I had two friends in grad school in Pittsburgh and I’d already bought plane tickets to go out and visit them that winter. So I randomly decided to become a Steelers fan for the season. It was a good year to do so, because they ended up winning the Super Bowl AND I won the office trophy. Woohoo! So that’s about the closest I’ve come to having a favorite team. :)

Tell us a little about your story.

At its core, Made to Last is about discovering who we are underneath the trappings of success (or lack thereof) or relationships (or lack thereof) or the labels we give ourselves. It’s about a home building TV show host who has to juggle a fake husband, former fiancĂ© and the cute reporter who is shadowing her every move.

Are you good with your hands? Do you fix things around your house (Or apartment?)

Umm…I wish I could say yes. I really do. But no, I’m not good with my hands (unless typing counts…or playing piano…or tickling my nephew). I’m horrible with building things and crafts and that kind of things. And when something needs fixed around my place, I call my landlord or my dad. Haha!

What is your favorite HGTV show?

Uh-oh, you may have stumped me here. I watch very little TV so I’m not up on my HGTV shows. But isn’t there an international house-hunting one? I have caught some episodes of that before. I like seeing what homes are like in different countries.

How did you come up with the idea for this book?

It all started with the 1945 movie Christmas in Connecticut. In it, Barbara Stanwyck plays a journalist who has built a fake life for herself…including a fake husband. She’s forced to actually find a stand-in, pretend husband in order to keep up her ruse. I loved that angle, so I borrowed the fake marriage plot point and ran with it.

Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing with us today, Melissa. I hope you have much success with your book.

Here's a quick link to Amazon if you can't wait to read Made to Last.

Here's a little more information on Melissa if you're interested.

Melissa Tagg is a former newspaper reporter and total Iowa girl. Her first novel, Made to Last, releases from Bethany House in September 2013. In addition to her homeless ministry day job, Melissa is also the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy, a craft and coaching community for writers. When she’s not writing, she can be found hanging out with the coolest family ever, watching old movies and daydreaming about her next book. She’s passionate about humor, grace and happy endings. Melissa blogs regularly and loves connecting with readers at www.melissatagg.com.

Melissa Tagg is a former newspaper reporter and total Iowa girl. Her first novel, Made to Last, releases from Bethany House in September 2013. In addition to her homeless ministry day job, Melissa is also the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy, a craft and coaching community for writers. When she’s not writing, she can be found hanging out with the coolest family ever, watching old movies and daydreaming about her next book. Melissa blogs regularly and loves connecting with readers at www.melissatagg.com.

During her reporting days, Melissa interviewed presidential candidates and llama farmers, rode a hot air balloon and flew a plane, and once came face to face with a buffualo. But today she gets her kicks by letting her characters have their own fun. She’s passionate about humor, grace, and happy endings.

Links where people can find Melissa:

My website/blog: www.melissatagg.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMelissaTagg
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Melissa_Tagg
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/melissatagg
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/MelissaTagg

Made to Last back cover blurb:

Miranda Woodruff has it all. At least, that's how it looks when she's starring in her homebuilding television show, From the Ground Up. So when her network begins to talk about making cuts, she'll do anything to boost ratings and save her show--even if it means pretending to be married to a man who's definitely not the fiance who ran out on her three years ago.

When a handsome reporter starts shadowing Miranda's every move, all his digging into her personal life brings him a little too close to the truth--and to her. Can the girl whose entire identity is wrapped up in her on-screen persona finally find the nerve to set the record straight? And if she does, will the life she's built come crashing down just as she's found a love to last?

What people are saying:

"Entertaining and light-hearted... Made to Last is a sweet love story that asks poignant and universal questions about truth, faith, and forgiveness." --ForeWord Reviews

"Clever plot. Engaging, funny, fresh writing. A winning voice with deeper layers that touch the heart."
-Rachel Hauck, award-winning and bestselling author of Once Upon a Prince

"If there is such a thing as a perfect story, Melissa Tagg has written it with this first novel. Laugh-out-loud funny, a delightful premise, hunky heroes, surprising plot twists and poignant, heart-tugging moments, all wound together with beautiful writing. Made to Last is a keeper that will charm its way onto your shelf, and into your heart."
-Susan May Warren, RITA Award winner and bestselling author of Take a Chance on Me

"Made to Last is a fun romantic comedy that will have you turning the pages. Melissa Tagg is a fresh voice to watch."
-Jenny B. Jones, award-winning author of Save the Date and There You'll Find Me

"Melissa Tagg has written a fun, fast-paced romance. Her first novel will certainly not be her last."
-Kristin Billerbeck, author of The Scent of Rain

"A must for fans of romantic comedy! Melissa Tagg's endearing characters charmed me and their story line captured my imagination. Reading Made To Last was like eating a hot fudge brownie sundae with girlfriends. Fun. Delicious. Completely entertaining."
-Becky Wade, author of My Stubborn Heart and Undeniably Yours

"Sweet, fun, and faith-filled, Melissa Tagg's Made To Last is a story made to delight lovers of romance and behind-the-scenes reality TV. Pull up an armchair and enjoy!"
~Lisa Wingate, National Bestselling Author of Blue Moon Bay, one of Booklist's Top 10 of 2012

Friday, October 4, 2013

K is for 5K

Have you noticed how many people are running 5K races now? They've become very popular. Yet our nation has an epidemic of obesity. I'm not sure I understand how both things can be on the rise.

My oldest son married a runner. So Bill has begun running too.

He participated in Extreme Rampage with his brother-in-law, Caleb Benge, and sister-in-law, Sarah Benge Clifton.

One of the healthiest times of my life was when I ran. So I've decided to begin running again. I probably won't do a 5K, but we'll see what happens.

Here's my plan for transitioning from walking to running.

Week One:

Monday: Run 3 min/Walk 2 min; Repeat six times.
Tuesday: Walk
Wednesday: Run 3 min/Walk 2 min; Repeat six times.
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Run 3 min/Walk 2 min; Repeat six times.
Sunday: Rest

Run-Walk Workout: Warm-up by walking five minutes at a brisk pace. Begin my run/walk intervals. Then cool down and walk last five minutes.

Do you run? I'd love to hear your suggestions.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Avenue in the Rain

I like flags and I love being a citizen of the United States of America.

Today I wanted to share with you a picture I have in my kitchen.

This painting was painted by Childe Hassam in 1917. When I looked him up I noticed he was born before the Civil War, lived through World War I, and died after the depression hit. I imagine he witnessed a lot of sadness in his life.

This painting has sad undertones, but I also see glimmers of hope shining through the rain.

Romans 5:5 "Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

I hope you have a great week.

Friday, September 27, 2013

J is for Jehovah-Jireh

Jehovah-Jirah means The Lord will provide.

In Genesis when Abraham is about to sacrifice his son Isaac, God stops him at the last moment and provides a ram to be sacrificed.

Abraham refers to God as seeing his need.

"So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, "On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided."
Genesis 22:14 NIV

God has provided many things in my life that I consider a blessing. Sometimes He has waited until the last possible moment, probably to test my faith, but He does provide for me in ways I never dreamed possible.

What about you? Are you aware of the ways God provides for you everyday?

Monday, September 23, 2013

First day of fall

We woke up to forty-nine degrees this morning.

The cooler temperature puts a little perk in my step after the hot humid days of summer. (Although I'll take summer over winter any day.)

When I lived in Georgia, fall became my favorite time of year. In the fall we have tailgating, Halloween, and Thanksgiving to celebrate.

Recently Tim and I took our dog on a walk through the woods. We saw many rabbits but we also saw two white tailed deer. They took one look at us and ran off in graceful beauty.

Sports is another big part of the season. Soccer, football, and volleyball are some of the sports we can watch in the fall. Yesterday we attended our first college volleyball game. We watched the Asbury University Lady Eagles win their game. I didn't know the rules, but it was fun.

I hope you find time to enjoy all that fall has to offer.

Friday, September 20, 2013

I is for Inspiration

What inspires you?

Is it the beach?

What about clouds?

Maybe a sunset inspires you.

Is it a Bible verse?

"Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly more than we can ask or imagine … be glory …” Ephesians 3:20-21

Merriam Webster defines inspiration like this:

a : a divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation
b : the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions

So to me the answer is yes. All of these things inspire me and so much more.

God inspires me through his Word, through this world he's given me to live in and through his people to create or act in a way to please Him.

I hope you come across something inspirational today.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Ask God for one thing

This weekend I was blessed to hear the amazing Robin Jones Gunn speak. Twice. And I cried both times.

She shared one story about a girl who asked God for one thing. And God replied.

Another day this same girl asked God for one thing. And He answered.

Every request she made brought her closer to God. The girl's last request in the story was to meet Robin. The girl didn't know it at the time, but she and Robin were on the same island in Hawaii for about six hours together. And Robin had a very small window to surprise the girl with a visit. She could have ignored God's nudging, but she sought out the girl.

They had a wonderful visit and to this day remain friends.

This weekend I asked God for one thing. He BLESSED me with three. I'm so excited that my head is still spinning.

What about you? What one thing would you like to ask God for today?

Friday, September 13, 2013

H is for Heron

Over Labor Day weekend my husband and I found a heron and before we knew it more came. It must have been feeding time.

We spent about twenty minutes quietly observing them and I thought I'd share some pictures with you.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Flag of the Week

I thought this was very patriotic for a family to bring a flag to the beach.

I hope you all have a great week!

Friday, September 6, 2013

G is for Garden

If you know me well you probably guessed I'd share pictures of my garden.

We have flowers, vegetables, fruit, wind chimes and a bird feeder.

The lot behind my yard is a city park and neighbors walk along the sidewalk and often speak to us. My dog enjoys the deck where he can watch over the entire neighborhood. He seems to think he's the appointed guard dog and alerts us to strangers, rabbits, school buses and UPS trucks.

I hope you have a garden where you can find time to sit back for a few minutes of peace.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Somebody saved a life...Anna Wallace

Over the weekend we traveled to Murrels Inlet, SC to visit our dear friends Melissa and Willie Lee. These are the kind of friends you pick up with even though you've not seen each other in a year. And when it's time to leave, we feel like we didn't get enough time together.

Sunday night we hopped in their boat and drove to The Point to watch the sunset. Anna Wallace, Melissa and I went to walk on the jetty while the guys played Bocce.

A man walked out to put stuff in his boat and his toddler followed him without his knowledge. Suddenly the child went under. Popped up and went under again. Melissa reacted first and pushed her daughter toward the water urging her to grab the baby. Anna Wallace ran out and saved the child while I stood and yelled to the man the baby was under water. He had no idea his child had even followed him.

So we walked away feeling terrified at what could have been and amazed at how God put us in the right place at the right time.

I hope you find yourself in the right place at the right time.


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