to have a winner

before bed last night,
I asked my daughter to tell me a number between one and six...
she picked three.
dearest nancy, looks like you are the winner.
can i just say you may be the most difficult to choose a gift for?
but i'm thinking about it, so i'll get back to you.
don't worry, it won't be lord of the rings.

and everyone else,
thank you so much for your comments!
i love learning about you.
this journey with you is amazing.

happy easter friends!
Woot woot!


to have a blogiversary (and a giveaway)

A year ago,
last April,
I began this blog.
When I first started this blog I titled it To Train Up a Child with Love,
in outcry to what seemed to me an epidemic of a whole lot of child training
on the internet but not a whole lot of love,
until I found communities of beautiful people shining with His Love and
began to breathe a little easier knowing not everyone who called on the name of the Lord
was also calling for no mercy with their children
(The LORD is merciful and gracious,
         Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy).

and that they weren't all desperately set on first time obedience
(Oh when Lord have I ever obeyed the first time?)
and suddenly this blog had a new purpose, 
it wasn't about just training up children with love,
it was about doing everything with love.
That if I did anything, thought anything,
said anything,
it would be nothing if I did it without love,
that God is Love and keeping my focus love,
would be to keep my focus God,
to do, think and say all in the name of Love,
is to do, think and say all in the name of God.

And so the name changed from to train up a child with love,
and became simply
To Love,
and the thought behind each post's title is kind of like that game
90210 introduced like 18 years ago,
you know when you have a fortune cookie you put the phrase
"in bed"
at the end of your fortune, 
and it's creepy but still, you can't really help it when you have one.
Well with each of my post's titles you are supposed to add the phrase
"with love" at the end,
so let's take a look at some...

to be a rebel (with love)
to delight in the after party (with love)
to let my arms pop up (with love)
to be cancer (with love)

get it?
I just need to do, think and speak with love,
or else I fail,
which I do,
all too often.

 1 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing. 


So for my blogiversary, I would love to get to know my readers more.  
I am hosting a giveaway, but I'm not quite sure what I am giving away.
It will be personal to the winner, something I choose for them.
To enter, leave a comment telling me three things about yourself that will
help me know you better and
(hopefully) help me pick a gift for you if you win. 
Thank you for reading, and journeying with me as I seek to 
focus on Love (God).
*** Giveaway ends Friday***


to search for food in the desert

With only a few days left of our vacation,
the days which would be the thousand mile drive home,
we made an adventurous decision,
go a new way.
The drive we had made over a dozen times,
from Eastern Washington to the central coast of California,
was beautiful, breathtakingly beautiful,
but this time,
with our (only three at the time) children,
we decided to explore and take
the 395 all the way through Oregon into California,
and it was completely unknown to us.

Dawn broke,
and we were already on the road,
and this mama made lighthearted talk,
looking for a Starbucks to wake up to,
and yet we drove,
town after town,
too small to have one,
too small for much of anything.
Finally a town with a gas station and a drive thru
Burger King,
would have to do for breakfast and coffee this morning,
though the grumbling was high,
the hunger was worse.
We filled up, ate, and drove,
through brown hills, and
brown hills and, yes,
some more brown hills.
Oh, and lots of sage brush.

Hours later when bathroom break and gas was needed,
we came upon a tiny filling station in a not-even-on-our-map town,
and stop,
searching for somewhere to get lunch,
but this little station is the only thing around and contains nothing but
with which our car is filled.
We look at our map, notice a town, a town in BOLD print,
and we know that means a good sized town,
about a hundred miles away,
and we all decide to wait for the town,
sick on snack food,
desiring real food,
we set our sights on the bold town WAGON TIRE,
and move on.

We drive through nothing,
just brown hills and occasionally an old battered barn,
passing landmarks from our map,
knowing that Wagon Tire must be getting close,
and the hunger is so strong but we all try
to make the best of it.
Turning a bend we see miles of nothing,
just flat brown land and I wonder aloud,
"where is Wagon Tire?  I can't imagine there being a big town
out here, but the map says there is.  Where can it be?"

And still we drive on,
until finally,
in the distance we see a barn,
a REAL barn,
as in well kept and still in use,
and I shout,
"yes!  That must be the first sign of Wagon Tire.
Come on Wagon Tire!"
Spirits are lifted in the car,
and we begin talk on lunch, now almost dinner time,
what we will be eating,
hamburgers, french fries,
some want pasta, it doesn't matter,
we just want some food,
and now we have almost reached the barn,
the barn, with a "Welcome to Wagon Tire" sign right in front,
and I catch my breath as I read aloud small words underneath,
"Population: 2"

(let me tell you, cafe, motel, gas, gifts...had to be a joke...none, anywhere.
I just imagine some ole couple sitting in their house,
laughing at everyone drive by confused)

We all look at each other, trying to process what has just happened,
and then, suddenly,
our minivan of 5 bursts out in laughter,
loud, gut busting laughter.
Our only hope of food for hundreds of miles, and
population 2.
And yet, what can you do but laugh?
So on we drive, eating our crackers, dry cereal,
cookies, and everything we are so sick of,
but laughing nonetheless.

I think of it now as I find myself waiting,
eagerly anticipating times of solitude for prayer,
and moments of quiet to rest in God's presence,
and as I wait for them I dwell in anxiety,
just trying to make it through to the next moment,
when I can be still,
and yet, like dependence on Wagon Tire,
they don't come.
My anxiety worsens, I just need that dose of Peace,
and when is it going to come?
Right in the midst,
I notice it...
twins digging in the garden, talking of their hard work,
bookworm daughter reading up a tree, legs dangling from the leaves,
cool wind blowing, bathing me in relief from the heat from
that amazing, glorious sunshine,
baby pointing at gray squirrels running by, saying "oooooohhhhh"
with a face of awe,
sensitive artist child lost in his world of make believe, sword fighting
invisible assailants,
irises blooming everywhere I look, dousing our land with hues of purple,
dear elder neighbor watering his plants as he does so diligently,
everyday, with a wave and a smile on his face,
butterflies... everywhere,
and I whisper praise and gratitude,
realizing this, here, now is His presence,
and His peace can rain on me in all moments,
not just the ones I set apart,
if I would only notice Him and let Him rain on me.
And then,
just as in Wagon Tire,
I laugh.

(Those were gifts 463-475)

***and just in case you are wondering, we actually drove another five hours before we found a town with food.  It was 8pm when we made it to a grocery store in a little town in Northern CA, we bought stuff for sandwiches, which we promptly made and ate and then began our drive again, searching for a hotel in the dark.  We had a wonderful time, but were so hungry and exhausted by the time we finally stopped that night around 11.  Needless to say, we probably would not drive the 395 through Oregon again.  But many wonderful memories were made, as well as some humorous stories.


to tell myself it's okay

I am tired.
There is food on the floor left over from dinner and I do not have the motivation
to sweep it.
Tonight I put my baby to sleep at 6:30.  I may regret it in the morning,
but now, I am breathing deeply.
My twins are dirty and waiting for a bath and pajamas,
which probably won't come.
Not tonight.

Bookworm daughter and sensitive artist child are outside
running free,
they haven't done their evening chores,
and I probably won't go find them to make them,
hopefully they will come back soon.
Husband and eldest child are watching baseball,
baseball season, the only time of year our television is on,
and only for the Dodgers.
I am so tired, and so unmotivated to do those things I should be doing,
but my family is at rest,
enjoying themselves and each other,
the sun is shining, still,
baby beat it in going down tonight,
and though I feel a bit of guilt letting things go,
letting all run wild,
I think it's okay.
I think I can drink these moments in,
moments of home disarray but
joy seeping through veins,
in smiles,
in children roaming in evening breeze,
neglecting work but feeding imagination and
They cannot come that often,
but sometimes I need to breathe and
tell myself,
it's okay.

On In Around button
linking up late, but hey, it's around monday


to learn the love of a f(F)ather

Wind blows hard on my neck,
and I shiver fierce, laugh aloud and I wonder
is this Papa's way of playing, tickling me,
His child?
I close green eyes and breathe moment in,
Him, me, here, us, play,
I can feel Him, I know Him and
here is safe, is peace.

And all is broken with yells from house, 
carried down the street,
ringing out above the roar of car engines and hungry call of jays overhead.
I gather self, fighting against urge to stay in this peace,
but how can I stay when there is no peace for
the sensitive artist child howling loud over minor frustrations?
I must go in, try to ease this storm...
Whispered prayers pour forth while I make way from
contentment to chaos,
"Jesus, You know what he needs.  Show us, guide us now, in this moment,
for his good."
Door closes and I see my sweet boy crying, yelling,
desperate for an end to his frustrations,
frustrations which no one knows but him.
Husband standing in kitchen, I see he is murmuring prayers too,
and we smile knowing smiles at each other,
he nods,
together we hug boy, love flowing from our calm
to his turmoil, and he tries to fight but
slowly, gently,
his yells subside and become whimpers and whispers of "I'm sorry mama,
I'm sorry daddy."

And we forgive, of course we do,
and sensitive artist child doesn't even remember why he was upset,
but now the sorrow overtakes him, guilt ridden for having lost control
and his seven year old body shakes as he looks up remorseful,
his sadness pouring over with words of contempt,
"I just can't do it right.  Why did God even make us anyway?"

Taken aback, I search for right words, and stammer forth with
apologetics  that are meaningless to a child,
and why am I trying to explain in these terms and
only confusing him?
Husband looks at me
and then he pulls boy to him, wraps arms around and says,
"God made us because He wanted children.  Just as mama and I
wanted you and your brothers and sisters.
 We would have been fine on our own,
but we wanted you to love, to care for, to give to, to love us.
That's what God wanted.  That's why He made us."

And tears stop, and this mama catches her breathe for
this man I married has said it right, more beautifully,
more true than I ever could,
"God wanted children"
and  how could I forget, me,
just moments ago basking in the love of Daddy for daughter,
how could I forget He wanted us, wanted children
and sensitive artist child smiles,
he gets it, God wanted him, us,
and we want him,
and perfection is not a requirement,
the only requirement is love.

so now as we enjoy sunshine and spring,
gifts from Father to children,
I cannot help but count all the gifts He has given,
to me, His child,
that He loves and wants...

452 husband's wisdom
453 son beginning to understand the love of God
454 two hooded orioles arriving for spring, nesting in our yard, eating from our feeder
455 irises blooming
456 baby sleeping
457 baby dancing
458 eating dinner outside with the family...
459 perfect temperature and
460 delicious food
461 date night with husband
462 contentment
463 the Father that loves me and wants me


to write stuff

may i recap a recent conversation?  i find it quite... humorous.

speaking with an old friend, she questions me about my writing...

"so, i hear you are a writer."

"well...i write.  i wouldn't necessarily put the "er" at the end."

"what do you write?  because bob (name has been changed to
protect the innocent) told me you wrote poetry."

"um, i guess i do sometimes.  it's more like i don't like to write full lines,
so i press enter when i feel like it and that kind of puts my writing in
verse which makes people call it poetry sometimes."

"so you're a poet?"

"i'm a non-sentence liker.  i guess i'm just impatient when i write.
but yes, you could say i write poems sometimes."

"what do you write?"

"stories about life, faith, family."

"like fiction?"

"well, no.  more like my life, faith, family."

"oh so you're writing an autobiography?"

"no, just stories of my life."

"and poems?"

"stories of my life in poem-like form."

"ooohhh.  i don't get it."

"neither do i."

"how about i just call you a writer?"



to run away (take a vacation)

When I was 16 I ran away from home,
at least I call it that now,
but at the time I said I wasn't running away from home,
After a day full of teenage pain, angst and tears,
I left a note for my mama which stated simply,
"I am not running away.  I will be back soon.  I just need a vacation.
You know, you can just get away for the weekend, go to San Fransisco
or somewhere whenever you want,
but I can't.  And I need to.  So I'm just going to take my mini vacation,
and then I'll be home.  Don't worry.  I'll be back."
I left the note on my bed, took a back pack full of clothes, a notebook,
pens and books,
and walked out of my house at about ten o'clock at night.

I lived at the edge of town, in a little bit of suburbia,
but just beyond our housing development was a semi-country road
ten miles long, leading into another town,
the town where my friends were,
the town I was headed to.
I knew I couldn't make it walking ten miles that night,
and I was nearing the end of street lights...
the road gets very dark,
no lights,
covered by trees,
meaning no stars, no moon...
very dark.
So what is an angst-filled, heart sick, petite sixteen year old girl
to do alone, late at night?
Hitchhike, yes, of course.

Wouldn't you know I was picked up almost immediately...
by a young guy, probably about 18,
and I am pretty sure he was on something.
But it was better than that darkness...
and he took me to a payphone (yes, I said payphone)
and I called the friends who should have been waiting for me,
my heart sank when there was no answer...
three times...
and now here I was, with this guy I didn't know
(because yes, though he was young and on drugs,
he was a gentleman and he waited for me)
and I had no idea what to do...
so I decided to go home.

My new friend was so kind,
he didn't hesitate to turn around and drive back the way we had come,
and we talked about life and what I was doing and why,
and then when he turned on my street I just about had a fit.
I started yelling at him,
"turn around, turn around, turn around!"
which he did promptly and a little bit unsteadily,
for he was already driving erratically thanks to the chemicals and turning that
car quickly was not easy for him.
"sorry.  the lights were on at my house and my parent's car was gone so,
i. can't. go. home."

Back we drove, the same road,
for the third time.
This time he drove me by my friend's house but when we were pulling down the street
I was horrified at seeing my parent's car and my step dad walking
to the door.
So my driver and I sped off again,
this time I had no idea where to go,
and it was about one o'clock in the morning.

"You can stay at my house.  My parent's are asleep by now and
my little brother is spending the night at a friends.  You can have
his bed, we just need to wake up early and leave before my
parents get up."  He was such a gentleman.
And so I did.  I fell asleep, hard, in this enormous strange bed,
and it was the best sleep I have ever had to this day.
The end came too soon when he gently shook my shoulder at
seven o'clock the next morning and told me
we needed to be off.
And so we were.  And he bought me donuts for breakfast.
This stranger that picked me up hitchhiking (I wish I could remember his name)
was the greatest part of my vacation which ended a few hours later.
Ended in the police finding me at a friend's house
(because, yes, that day I eventually found my friends who were,
of course, the people the police were searching for to find me)
being taken to a group home,
then for a month stay at an aunt's house,
which all led to my first trip to the adolescent psychiatric hospital...
so I guess it was some sort of vacation after all...
I didn't go home for two months.

I'm thinking of this time when I was 16
because my eldest child is just about to turn 16
(yes, I am 28.  yes, that makes me 12 when he was born.
If you are confused, read here.)
I was raised with love but no understanding of Love,
with freedom to do what I wanted, but no one guiding me
to the One who would show me what to want.
These are the things we give our children, but, still...
so I ask him,
"Ian, do you want a vacation from us, from your family?"
He responds,
"Yes!  That would be awesome!  How about I ride my bike
to the grocery store?  I'll pick up some things we need while
I'm there."
I smile.  I am so okay with his choice of vacation.
Way better than mine.


to say i love you

we were young and in love,
soon to be married but not yet,
working at competing coffee shops in the same town.
early morning gray found us opening,
both arriving at our respective cafes at 5.
he knew i was awake, working across town,
and i was so aware of his morning work,
and with each other in mind we set about our tasks,
brewing black, setting out breakfast delight,
making a comforting, welcoming environment for the morning crowd.
the idea struck me quick when i saw the car and i knew i had but a moment.
i grab pen and paper, or rather pastry bag, the closest thing to paper i had nearby,
and write a short note.
in walks first visitor of the day, the bagel delivery man,
and i ask had he been to other cafes yet,
and he answered,
no, we were first stop.
so i give him young girl pleading look and ask,
please, would he deliver this folded note for me when he delivered bagels
across town.
he smiles, laughs, takes bag turned note in hand,
and drives away.
ten minutes later i can picture him,
tall, handsome, confused,
taking note from delivery man, unfolding bag and reading heart words,
"good morning!  i love you!  have a wonderful day.  love, your soon to be wife"
 shortly, phone rings, his voice makes heart swoon,
"i love you too. thanks.  that made me smile."

and i'm thinking on this, the ways we show love, the things we do,
while considering the many, countless ways He shows love to us...

440 slow, lazy days
441 children dressing in costume and playing
442 watching eldest become a man, and a wise one
443 admitting (learning to admit) when i am wrong and
444 trying to remedy it
445 gardening in the sunshine with the kiddos and
446 hummingbirds and butterflies flying overhead
447 the Peace of God
448 cool morning air
449 every day a new day
450 lying on quilt in shade reading with the kids
451 He cares for us

in all these ways, He is telling us He loves us,
these are His love notes, written on baggies, scribbled out amongst the heavens,
saying, simply, and amazingly, "I love you."