Pat Layton Pat Layton Pat Layton: Sweet Tea for Surrendered Sisters
It Is Finally Fall at the Layton Home

A few weeks back I was lamenting my lack of time to bring a little feeling of Fall into my home.
I finally grabbed a few hours last weekend to drag some things from my attic and place them around my house before my daughter came home for fall break.

It paid off, when she walked in the font door with her roommate the roommate "oohhed and aawwed" and said "your home feels so good!"
My daughter beamed and so did I.

That makes it all worth it doesn't it, when someone gets pleasure from your home or garden. When someone feels the presence of God in the work of your hands, the time that you take to make it pretty. My family has always loved my holiday decorating. They don't love getting things in and out of the attic but they love the results!!

The colors of my home do not "Fall" into the common colors of the season so I have to do a bit of extra creative thinking. I have all white furniture with blue accents in my family room and kitchen and purple and green in my living room/dining area.

Not even CLOSE to orange, brown, gold, ect...But hey, I am NOT Martha Stewart!!

This year I decided to pull my purple right out the front door.

These purple Mums actually traveled home with me from the mountains and may or may not last until Christmas. They are fun for now!

Weekend Blessings!!

Who do you say that I am??
Sometimes I have trouble with friends.

Sometimes the air that is shared between my mouth and their ears causes things to sound different that I mean for them to. 
Sometimes I mean for things to sound different than I should.
Sometimes an old me sneaks up in front of the new me and blasts out words of judgement, fear, control, anger, hurt, impatience, self defence, ect, ect......

I was recently having a conversation with one friend who expressed a not so flattering opinion of another friend of ours. As if to validate her perspective she said "everyone thinks **** is very ****". 
I was struck by the comment and it has remained on my heart and in my mind, not in a judgemental way but in a reflective way. As I mentioned a few post back, I am using Chuck Swindoll's "Seasons of Life" in my quite time and the study calls Fall, the Reflective Season.

It made me wonder, when my friends are talking about me......who do they say that I am?

Jesus posed the very question to His friends.

Matthew 16:13-19 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"
14 And they said, "Some say John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."

15 "But you," He asked them, "who do you say that I am?"

16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!"

17 And Jesus responded, "Simon son of Jonah, you are blessed because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth is already bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth is already loosed in heaven."

The conversation made me wonder.....who do people say that I am?  
When my name comes up in conversation, do good things come to mind and mouth?
Has my life been lived in such a way that people's first thoughts of me are good and that my character flaws are dimmer than my character strengths?
Am I blessed with having made more good choices than bad making way for others to assume the best about me? to beleive the best? to say the best?

Just another "Reflective Season" thought.

Blessings Today!! 

Wrapped up in my Baby Girl
I did not forget my commitment to blogging on a regular basis but I also made the confession about my lack of organizational skills when it comes to a fixed time and place for blogging.

My friend Lysa Terkeurst has a BIG blogging question on the table right now. 
I know she would love to hear form you. 
Most of you are very familiar with her blog but if you are not, she can be found here:

This past week, I had 3 days at the ministry to catch up on 3 weeks away!!!! UUUGGG!!! 
You all know that "after vacation payback". 
On Thursday and Friday, I had a precious speaking engagement at The Florida Pregnancy Care Center Conference" in---even map-quest cannot find---- Eustis, Flordia
I actually spent more time LOST on the back roads of Florida than I did speaking. This is true!

In any case, the ladies were lovely, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there as short as it was.

The BIG EVENT of my weekend is going to be enjoying time with my "Baby" girl. She is home from college for her first time since leaving this Fall. 
We are getting ready as I type to head to the Mall :0)......Of Course!

If you have stopped by Sweet Tea, I am honored and pray that your weekend is full of Love and Laughter!
Blessings Sweet Sisters.

Watch for my SWEET TEA PIE recipe coming up!!

ONE MORE THING!!! Our "Surrendering The Secret" Blog Giveaway is nearing the end!!
Please help us spread the healing word and check it out at:

Reflection Question: Am I anything?
My chair time this morning led me to this "reflection" upon the "Love" test found in 1 Corinthians 13. 
The following was written by a 30 year veteran missionary woman serving in Khartoum, Sudan.

I have revised it just a bit for my personal evaluation.

My daughter texed me last night to tell me that she had scored an 89 on a mid-term yesterday.

I think she did far better on her test that I did mine.

If I have the language ever so perfectly and speak like a pundit, and have not the love that grips the heart, 
I am nothing.
If I have decorations and diplomas and am proficient in up to date methods and marketing,
and have not the touch of understanding love, 
I am nothing.
If I am able to worst my opponents in an argument so as to make fools of them, and have not the wooing note, 
I am nothing.
If I have all faith and great ideas and magnificent plans and wonderful visions, and have not the love that sweats and bleeds and weeps and prays and pleads the cause of the lost and broken, 
I am nothing.
If I surrender all personal pleasures, set out from my home, my friends, my comforts, and give myself to the showy sacrifice of a life in ministry, and turn sour and selfish amid the daily annoyances and personal slights of a ministry life, and though I give myself to be consumed by all that I perceive to be the "Call of God" on my life, and have not the love that yields its rights, it's coveted leisure, its pet plans, its need for approval and praise,
I am nothing, nothing.
If I can heal all manner of sickness and heartache of those in my service, but wound hearts and hurt feelings for want of love that is kind, 
I am nothing.
If I write books (or blogs) and publish articles and make grand speeches that set the world agape and fail to transcribe the Word of the Cross in my Daily Language of LOVE, 
I am nothing.
I may be competent, busy, fussy, punctilious and full equipped,
like the church of Laodicea, nauseating to Christ.

Thank you Lord, that your mercy is new for me today.
Help me to love better.

John 17:26

A Season for Reflection
I am sitting in my prayer chair for the first time since September 30th!! 
That is 21 days!! 

As has been photographically recorded here at "Sweet Tea", I have spent the past couple of weeks wallowing in the wonder of God's Fall Festival, which my honey and I found to be absolutely spectacular, in the mountains of North Carolina. 

This was definitely the longest that I have ever been away from home (not to mention my children and my G's!!--I was having absolute withdrawals and still am for a few of them!)

In spite of the amazing time that we had, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of peace when I walked into my home on Thursday night. 

I love getaways and I LOVE coming home!!

As I have transitioned back into my everyday life, I am possibly as rested as I have ever been in my entire life (considering the limitations of rest at my age of course). I feel as if my brain has been "de linted" kind of like a dryer vent! 
It feels so good!

But, more important than that.......

My heart has been fully prepared to enter the season that God has established in my life for Reflection.

As I was heading to my chair this morning I grabbed a devotional book by Charles Swindoll called "Seasons of Life". He nailed my jumbled thoughts beautifully in his "Autumn" chapter. 

I have come to understand that life, my life anyway, has "seasons", not only physical but mental and spiritual seasons, that I can pretty much count on. 

They do not always look the same. Some of the same seasons can, from year to year, look very different.

We heard over and over while in the mountains "this year is showing a fast "peak" because of the rainfall and the unusual warmth. It was true. We literally watched the leaves change while we were there. Every morning brought a new level of brilliance until on our final days, there seemed to be more leaves on the ground than in the trees.

Life is like that. Things happen during the year that lead into a different Fall from year to year. Regardless of what has been going on in my life there is one thing about Fall that remains the same and that is CHANGE! 

Fall is a season of change.
Change of weather (Praise God!!)
Change of backyard birds.
Change of clothing (another Praise God)
Change of nature. Change of family activities. (for example where honey spends his Sunday afternoons!)

For me, Fall has always been a season of REFLECTION and a time to evaluate where the year has gone and what God might be wanting to do next. It is always my desire to stay connected to THE VINE! 

In the busyness of life, ministry, being a wife, a mother, a Grandmother, a friend, a daughter, a sister (ect,ect).....sometimes I feel like I get on a treadmill and if I slow down too much or worse, STOP, I will be thrown off completely.

That is why I love seasons. We can be sure of them!

Philippians 1:6 says 
I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you, will carry it to completion, until the day of Christ Jesus!

I love to spend some extra time, during this particular season, to REFLECT on the "work" that God has done in my life and the ministries that He has given me, so far, this particular year.

Spiritually speaking, has is been a rainy year? a dry year? a
Am I on the right path Lord for where you are leading me? 
How is the "color" of my life Lord? 
Show me the things that need to be adjusted. Help me to be sensitive to adjustments that you are making. Let things die that are not yours and magnify the things that are.

God is good. All the time!!

PS...I will be mailing out books this week to the sweet sisters who helped me to REFLECT on my blogging plan for my return home...So far, so good!
Please be sure to send me your mailing address if you have not already and would like some new Fall reading material!
Love you!!

Blogging Buddies Book Bonanza
I am not sure if "bonanza" is the best word but it begins with B so.....

For that matter, so does BLESSING!! That is what honey and I have been experiencing over this past 10 days of rest and restoration. 
We are always blessed but this time has been a very precious gift. We are on our last 3 days of this amazing, peaceful, beautiful vacation getaway.

Yesterday, my Mom flew in to join us for a few days and a trip to the Biltmore House. We picked her up at the Asheville airport then drove back to the cottage by way of the Blue Ridge Parkway.....just as the sun was setting on one side of the mountains and the moon was rising on the on other.

Thank you to those of you who have given me such great advice for my blogging life when I return to Tampa.
I will use a bit of each idea!
I would love to send a new book to each of you!
Please send your mailing address to my personal email at and tell me your book preference of Fiction, Woman's Christian Living, Devotional or Bible Study. I will choose one and surprise you!
Thank you sweet blogging buddies! 

We will be home by the end of the week and I will mail your goodies early next week! 

I can so see how this happens around here!!
Honey and I ventured out on what has become our daily exploration drive yesterday and ended up in Tennessee!! We won't talk about the fact that it was by accident, or that it happened at the end of the day, as darkness that only the mountains understand was approaching, or even that the tiniest bit of grouchinesss began to creep in. And I DEFINITELY will not talk about the fact that I was the DRIVER and he was the NAVIGATOR and that we had never gotten lost one single time when the roles were switched. 

I any case, we did find our way home which leads me to the truth of the matter that I can totally see why someone would just grab their book, a hot cup of Chocolate with marshmallows running over the top and plop down in a rocking chair until they begin to resemble the truck above.

I can Sooooo understand that!

In any case, here is a bit of yesterdays journey....

My truck find...Can you see in the far back, this was actually a "Blacksmith" shop until the hot chocolate took over!

The fall colors have intensified every day of our visit. Yesterday's drive was beyond description. Breathtaking!
I am not really very camera savvy so my colors do not do this Fall Foliage justice.

These Llama friends live at the bottom of our mountain. They come out when we stop to visit but we keep our distance....
Do Llama eat people?? As a matter of fact, we were wondering just exactly WHAT Llama are good for?? Milk? Meat?( I have never heard of a Llama burger) Fur? Photo opps? 
Does anyone know?

This is the campus of Western Carolina University located in Sylva, our nearest town. Check out the clouds hanging low on the mountains. It was so cool! 

My honey napped in the car between my photo journeys! He later took me to a Circuit City to buy a bigger lense so that my walks would be a bit shorter or maybe I could even catch a few shots as he blows by on the girls know what I mean! 

We are off now to visit Balsam National Forrest! Pray that I don't fall out of the window as I try out my new lense.

Good Morning Lord, It is ME and Sweet Tea!!!
I  journal every morning during my quiet/prayer time. I have been journaling for over 24 years. Since June 9th, 1984, the day that I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ.

I had never kept a journal before that day, but from the moment I lifted my head and drew up my knees from the alter of my surrender, I had an urge to write. 

Each morning, I sit in my "prayer chair" in my living room with a cup of coffee and write my heart out. I am always there for at least an hour and usually much longer. All my supplies stay right there waiting for me--journal, a variety of Bibles, highlighters, pens, sticky notes, index cards, my personal prayer lists and emails that friends send asking me to pray. They are all in a basket on the floor to the right side of the chair.

Here at our friend's Mountain Cottage, I gather those things, plop down in front of the blazing fire that my Honey has prepared for me. (I know, he is a keeper!)

For the past 24 years that morning time has been my daily writing outlet. 
That is...until...blogging came along.
I LOVE this new hobby of blogging, 
this creative outlet for writing and sharing, 
this amazing world of surrendered sisters, 
this new place of such deep spiritual insight and discussion,
this place of fun and connection with new friends. 

The challenge is fitting it into my life on a regular basis!!!

How in the world do you ladies do it????

How do you make time for your personal time with God, MAYBE a bit of exercise, work full time or even part-time, serve your family, keep your home in order and BLOG!!!! 

Help Me!!!! I want to learn and I am willing to give stuff away to get answers!!! 

I am so amazed at how some of you work this out and how beautifully you write!

I was excited and looking forward to having some extra blogging time while on vacation but there are these mountains and streams and flowers...... 

I would love to build the discipline of daily blogging into my life and would greatly appreciate any ideas that you girls might have to offer.

How and when do you fit Blogging into your day on a REGULAR Basis???
Do you keep your time with God separate or do those of you who write devotion type blogs, blend those times together???
Do you see your blogging as a ministry, a personal hobby or a way to connect with other women?

I have a stack of  books-Fiction, Non-Fiction, Christian Living, Bible Studies, Marriage, Teens that I gathered from the International Christian Booksellers Convention in July that I will gladly GIVEAWAY for any tips that you all are willing to share over the next few days.

I am looking forward to your ideas!


Getting to That Place where Churning meets Calm

Honey and I woke up this morning, day 3 of our mountain getaway, to the sounds of a steady rain filling the air in the cottage. You can see by the photo below why this beautiful place is called a mountain "cottage" rather than a mountain "cabin".  

It is now almost 3pm and we are still lazily wallowing in this special rainy day!! We have burned through 5 buckets of firewood and I have not moved from the couch in front of the fire for anything but the bare necessities!

We started our day with a quiet fireside breakfast/brunch of French Toast, Bacon and steaming pot of Creme Brulee' flavored coffee that has since been refilled 3 times (almost keeping up with the firewood bucket)!!

Both of us have been more than content to settle into God's Word for an extended time, with God providing the worship music of the morning. 

The rain sounds different from this mountain porch than it does from our suburban home in Florida. 

Silence is the background music for each rain drop to touch the billions of tree leaves that surround us. 
It is impossible not to totally focus your listening ears on each falling drop. I so wish that I could tape the sounds to add to my words.
The mountain stream that flows behind the cottage is struggling to continue to be heard. 
It all combines to truly create a symphony of God's very own instruments. 

He, the single conductor, musician and sound system. 

He has our undivided attention. We have His.

"The Lord spoke to you face to face
out of the fire
on the mountain"
Deuteronomy 5:4

Yesterday's outdoor journey's took us on a stroll throughout the reserve and some of the more gentle trails. 

The Fall leaves are just getting started and splatter the mountains according to their hearts desire. They refuse to be ordered around by any particular pattern or boundary and have increased in passion each day since our arrival.
They do what they want to do, where they want to do it!

Mountain streams flow every which way throughout the property.

Sometimes ending in a fisherman's dream. Our G-boy Jacob would be in fish heaven!!

Butterflies and Bumble Bee's seem to be working on Summers last provision.

Fall decorations created by people try to work together with the drama created by Gold, Yellow and Reds of the mountain splendor.

Honey and I completed our day with a trip to a little "Downtown" Bistro for dinner. No 5 o'clock rush hour around here.

"Great is the Lord and most worthy of Praise
in the city of our God
His Holy mountain
It is beautiful in it's loftiness
The Joy of the whole earth"
Psalms 48:1

He Leads Me Beside Still Waters
Honey and I are half way into our second day of rest in the stunning mountains of North Carolina. 

We have been blessed by some precious friends who have opened their mountain home for our restoration. I broke into tears when I stepped into the foyer. 

This is the living area and a glance at the indoor fireplace doing exactly what fireplaces are supposed to do!! They magically draw you into watching every flame skip and dance and do their thing to keep you completely enthralled and melting into dreams and imagination, all the while.....warming up every part of your body, soul and spirit. Amazing!

Our first day here was spent as most first days of vacation are spent.....bringing the head and the heart to where the body is! 

After sleeping in until 9:30am under an open window of cold mountain air, I made my way to the kitchen and whipped up a big fat mountain breakfast for my honey. We both spent a good part of the day sitting in front of the fireplace, an ipod on constant worship music, answering emails. Mine had gathered while I was out of touch at last weeks conference in Atlanta and his, well they just gather daily.
He agreed to take 2 whole weeks with me if I would allow him to keep those things under control. I was happy to oblige giving us both a chance to GET where we ARE!

About half the day through we both slammed down computers and headed for the outdoors. We explored this beautiful mountain resort and oohed and awed in harmony.

We ended our day with a fabulous dinner that we cooked and ate outside on the porch as we listened to the crickets and the sounds of the creek running outside of our cottage. 

This morning, after sleeping late again, I nestled with my bible and my coffee in front of the outdoor fireplace to settle deep into the quiet arms of my Jesus.

My entire being is awaiting His fresh outpouring for such a time as this.

Don't you covet those special times away from the everyday hustle and bustle of life when God has our ears and our eyes and all of our attention. times when we say....

Speak Lord, your servant is listening!!
I am so there!

ps...please don't forget Melinda's contest...see below for details.

A One of a Kind Giveaway!
Good Morning! My name is Jane and I am Pat's assistant. Pat is enjoying a little time away in the mountains with her husband. She will be blogging along the way, but this morning she asked me to share some exciting news with you all.

Pat's friend, Melinda, over at Traveling the Road Home has organized one HUGE giveaway that includes one leader kit and 12 learner guides (or member books). If that isn't big enough there will be a total of 5 winners. Wait, there is even more, she is allowing everyone two chances to win! So check out Melinda's post at Traveling the Road Home.

Don't wait a second longer...get on over and enter this incredible giveaway!!!

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