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

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What are you hoping for?

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

Do you have high hopes this year? I'm sure Seattle fans hoped their team would go to the Super Bowl. What an amazing game.

What about all the people trying out for American Idol? They have high hopes despite stiff competition.

Asbury University's Mens' Tennis team hopes to go to their national tournament. (I hope they make it too.)

I have a younger brother, and I read stories to him when he was too little to read. I also wrote stories and songs. Then as a teenager I remember telling my mother we should write a book. After high school I decided to go for a practical degree. I tried accounting and teaching and finally decided to go into pharmacy. I put away my dreams to get a degree and pursue a career that I've enjoyed.

But deep down, the dream of writing never left.

A few years ago Brandilyn Collins encouraged my dream, but she warned me that it takes an average of ten years for an author to get published. TEN YEARS!

I haven't hit the ten year mark yet, but through the journey I've encountered some great encouragers. The biggest supporter of my dreams, is my husband. Tim has put up with soup and crackers for dinner many nights. Our house could be cleaner, and he helps with the laundry. He's amazing with his support.

He's also taken up golf. He never has to worry about me getting upset when he wants to go play golf with the guys because he knows I'll use the time to write.

Here's a picture of Tim with three of his closest friends. They are always ready to hit the links.

I'll continue to write and learn more about my craft and trust in God that my writing will one day bring him glory.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Twenty-four hours in London

Last year we flew into London, England for a brief twenty-four hour visit. The trip itself was an adventure. There were no seat assignments, and we could only take one carry on bag a piece. Sevilla was hot when we left, but London was cool and rainy which required warmer clothes. I had a sweatshirt tied around my waist as well as a denim jacket. Everything else was stuffed into my backpack. You have no idea how heavy that thing was.

By not having seats assigned to us on airplane, we RAN from check point to check point. Forget escalators, we ran up the steps. We ran until we reached another line to wai in. At last they released us outside to board the plane. Despite all of our hurrying, we did not get to sit together. Oh, well.

We arrived as Stansted Airport late Friday night and took a hour bus ride into the city. Once we got into the city, we walked to our bed and breakfast and checked it. We passed an Italian restaurant on the way that smelled amazing, so we walked back there for a late dinner.

The restaurant was owned and run by true Italian speaking Italians. We saw at least three generations of the family working that night, and the food was amazing.

Saturday morning we ate breakfast at our B&B. We had eggs, bacon, toast and hot tea. Then it was off to tour London, and we were not going to let a little rain stop us.

We bought tickets for a jump-on and jump-off tour, and that's what we did.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Never give up

Last weekend my son and his wife, Bill and Amanda, flew down to Disney World to run a half marathon. They trained hard and withstood many trials, but when the time came to board the plane and head to Florida, they took off.

I asked Amanda to share about the experience. Here's what she said...

I never thought I would be able to say it but I can now, “I finished my first half-marathon!” I completed this endeavor with my best friend and biggest cheerleader, (my husband Bill) by my side. We started the race hand in hand and crossed the finish line in the same way. Running a half-marathon had been on my bucket list for awhile and I decided last year that 2015 would be as good a time as any. I decided that if I was going to run a half marathon I wanted it to be in the happiest place on earth…Disney World of course!

I began training over the summer and faced many hurdles-not enough time (I have two small children), balancing time with my girls and husband and training became difficult. I also work part time at the Disney Store a morning or two a week. Also physical injuries-I dealt with shin splints, knee pain and my latest injury plantar fasciitis. I could have thrown in the towel or given up but I didn’t; I had made a commitment to Bill and to myself. I was doing pretty well until about three weeks before the race when I started having severe pain in my heel. My sister who is a runner herself (she completed the marathon at Disney in 2013) and an O.T. said that I probably had plantar fasciitis, and once I stopped running it should go away. Of course I wasn’t going to stop running! I had come so far! I began a regiment of rest, ice and a lot of prayer and the last few weeks were painful physically and emotionally. There were days that it was painful to bear weight on my foot, but the pain of disappointment was even heavier. I remember crying one morning on my way to work because I was so frustrated that this happened so close to my race. I felt like I was going to let Bill down because I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to complete the race.

When we boarded the plane on Friday I was still unsure if I was going to be able to physically complete the race. I was still limping and in a lot of pain. Once we reached Disney World we checked into our hotel, threw our bags in our room and headed to the race expo to pick up our race bibs. As we were walking around the expo we came upon a booth that was selling K-tape (kinesiology tape). I told the girl my situation and told her I was desperate and needed something to just get me through the race. She told me that they were doing free tapings and that I might have to wait thirty minutes…I waited the thirty minutes. The K-tape helped out tremendously; it didn’t heal the pain in my foot, it just made It more manageable. After walking around the rest of the expo, Bill and I decided to head back to the hotel and find some dinner. Once we ate we decided that it was time to call it a night since we would have to get up at 3:00am the following morning to get ready for the race. I went to bed that night and prayed that God would allow me the physical and mental strength to endure the 13.1 miles.

3:00am came sooner than I wanted it to. I had trouble sleeping due to nerves and worrying about my gimpy foot. We got suited up for the race, and we were on the bus. It was chillier than we had anticipated but it made for nice running conditions. There were thousands of runners bundled up eager to start the race. The adrenaline began kicking in as we headed into our coral waiting for the gun to sound and see the fireworks explode as we started the race. I was nervous and excited to begin a challenge that I had spent months training hard for. The gun sounded, and we were off! Each mile brought fun sights and sounds from high school marching bands, to beloved Disney characters like Goofy, Mary Poppins and Cinderella. My favorite moment was running down Main Street at the Magic Kingdom giving high fives to the spectators cheering us on as we gazed upon the castle lit up in clear Christmas lights. As we finished each mile I had such an overwhelming sense of accomplishment; I was competing in my first half-marathon! As the sun began to rise we were more than halfway complete. Once I reached mile 11 I began to get tired, physically and mentally. This was the most I had ever run; I only made it to ten miles in my training and had to stop because of injury. As we started mile 12 I felt the pain setting in all over my body; at times I wanted to stop; my feet never hurt so bad in my life. I didn’t stop! Bill was such an encourager and I began praying for God to get me through the last mile and He did! I will tell you I have never been so happy to see the number 13 in all my life  as I crossed the finish line hand in hand with Bill I was overjoyed that it was over.

I remember thinking “I just ran 13.1 miles, something I wasn’t even sure I was going to be able to complete the day before” and thanking God. I really consider it a miracle that I completed this race. I am so proud of myself for completing this obstacle, because at times that’s what it was. I wanted to be able to show my daughters that once you put your mind to something and train hard that anything is possible with God even when we may not think it is.
It has been a week since I completed the race and I am contemplating which half marathon to sign up for next!

Jackie here, like I said, I'm so proud of Amanda and Bill for running this race. Somehow Bill managed to run and snap pictures along the way, and I thought I'd share a few.

And one last picture. Congratulations Amanda and Bill!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Millennial Generation

I heard a new term this week. Millennial generation. It refers to people born between 1980 and 2000, or ages 18 to 34 in 2015.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Millennial generation will surpass the Baby Boomers at some point this year.

Both of my sons are part of the Millennial generation.

(The one in the middle is a Baby Boomer.)

The Millennial generation is not afraid of technology. They don't fear making their computers crash, and they can figure out anything you need on your phone, laptop, or whatever electronic gadget you need help with. I learned another term for this group. Digital native. Because they've grown up in the digital age, they are native to it while being taught by non-natives.

I've noticed this group doesn't mind taking risks. Whether it's caving, mountain climbing, investing in the stock market, or traveling around the world. They show no fear.

As I researched this group, every source or survey, reported this group to be optimistic. I find this amazing because they've grown up with 9/11 and lived through a recession. There are many interesting facets to this generation including they wait longer to get married.

From my personal experience, I've noticed this to be a fun, caring, and energetic generation. They care for others and don't seem to be focused on making a lot of money. Many mothers are staying home to raise their children and volunteer at churches and schools.

Others may trash the young people today, but I'm hopeful. I see a bright future for us as this group goes out into the world.

Saturday, January 10, 2015


Today I'm so excited to have my son, Scott Layton, share about a trip he took to Greece.

Studying abroad in Spain last fall, my friends and I were given a week long vacation to travel across Europe. We were more dedicated to traveling than studying, so we turned our 7-day vacation into an 11-day vacation by starting our break from school a little early. On our trip, we hit three different locations- Athens and Mykonos, Greece, and Rome, Italy. Rome was amazing. We visited many different historical landmarks and literally felt like we were walking through history. Although Rome was my favorite city we traveled to, the most intriguing part of the trip was the vast contrast between the congested city of Athens and the island life of Mykonos.

I was incredibly excited to visit Athens, but as soon as we stepped off the plane, I was ready to leave. To begin with, we could not read any of the signs in Athens thanks to the Greek alphabet but we were lucky to have been correctly labeled as American tourists and were helped by a local who could speak English. Really, being unable to read the signs was not that big of a deal. What I could not handle was the fact that EVERYONE smoked in Athens. Being allergic to smoke (thanks Mom), I had a constant headache for the two days that we were there. Not only was it smokey, but the city was polluted with trash, probably thanks to the declining economy. It was also sketchy (and supposedly dangerous) in the part of Athens where our hostel was located, especially after dark. We passed many labeled drug exchange spots and all the police were in vests and masks as they walked the streets. Although I have typed negatively of Athens, I loved walking up Acropolis Hill and touring the Parthenon. We also watched the sunset on a rocky overlook of downtown Athens where the apostle Paul preached many sermons.
Two days in Athens were plenty enough for me, and I could not wait to board the propeller plane for the tiny island of Mykonos. Everything that was wrong with Athens was right in Mykonos. The island was incredibly clean and beautiful and every building featured the iconic white walled, blue roofed theme. Mykonos is a party island in the summer, but we visited in late Fall and it was practically a ghost town. We took full advantage of this. Being one of the few tourist groups there, it seemed like the island was our playground. Every beach we visited was our private beach. Every restaurant we went to was our restaurant. One day we rented 4-wheelers, and we took over the streets. We winded down the skinny and curvy roads, with buildings closing in on both sides and then made it out of the town to the open farmland that covered most of the island. We reached the very top of the island (with no clue how to get back to our house) just in time to witness the sunset that covered the whole sky and touched down to the endless ocean below us. We stayed on the island for four days, and no one wanted to get back on the plane to head to Rome.
Notes on Greece:
-The people were the nicest and most helpful of any country that we visited.
-I probably ate 13 gyros during our time in Greece. They were the cheapest food around and tasted better than anything else Europe had to offer.

Thursday, January 8, 2015


Job 5:15-17 New King James Version

15 But He saves the needy from the sword,
From the mouth of the mighty,
And from their hand.
16 So the poor have hope,
And injustice shuts her mouth.
17 “Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects;
Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty.

I love this. "So the poor have hope..."

We have hope in God. If we're poor in material possessions or even poor in spirit, God will take care of our needs.
So keep hoping in our great God and see how he meets our needs.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Alcázar of Seville

While in Seville, Spain Tim and I visited The Alcázar of Seville (Spanish "Reales Alcázares de Sevilla" or "Royal Alcazars of Seville."

Many artists were scattered about the palace grounds painting. The flowers were amazing, but the tiles fascinated me the most. Centuries after it was laid out, it was still beautiful.

Did I mention this tile work was outside? I came home fired up to lay tile on the steps both inside my house and on the front porch, but Tim convinced me we needed to wait.

I hope you enjoyed today's post. This fall when I asked what you all would like to see more of, travel was the top choice. Adios for now.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy 2015!

Do you make new year's resolutions? Yearly goals? Two years ago I was challenged to leave resolutions behind and focus on one word each year.

This year I will focus on hope. My favorite definition of hope is:

To desire something with confident expectation of its fulfillment.

To desire...what do you desire? Is there a specific thing you desire? Is it something you can work toward like running a race, losing weight, learning a foreign language or graduating from college?

Or is it something you must completely rely on God for? Comfort from loneliness? The desire for a mate? A baby?

Are you confidently expecting this desire to come true? Are you sharing your dreams and desires with God? Our God wants to delight us. Join me this year as I hope and trust God.


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