528 E 5th Ave

The dream started one day in early Spring 1999, I was sitting in an office in Geneva, Switzerland and missing home.

I was day-dreaming about making it back to the States after my 3 month stint working in our European headquarters.  It was a trip of a lifetime, to be in Switzerland… a single woman with very few obligations back home:  I had a really great job (that allowed me the opportunity to pack up my bags and go work in Switzerland for a couple of months), a car payment and monthly rent.  That was about it.

I cannot express how much I missed being “home”.  I day-dreamed about making a place my own and even started looking at websites for home listings.

As I reminisce on this 15 years later, I do not remember which website I was on.  But I do remember being excited about this home as soon as I saw the listing.  The home was located in Old Escondido, a neighborhood I had only dreamed about purchasing in for quite some time.  And it was actually within my price range!

Once I got back to the States I made a point of driving by 528 E. 5th.


The house, built in the 1930s or 1940s, was located in an alley… a weird little lot on top of a hill.  The property in front of it had been built in the 1970s and it was immediately clear that the owners at the time had split the lot and sold off part of it.  And that left no access from 5th Ave… in fact, the sidewalk that had once stretched from the alley down to 5th Ave was cut-off at the property line… handrail and all.  It just ended at the fence at the back of the property.

I remember getting out of my car and walking up to the kitchen window.  The home was empty and there were no curtains on that kitchen window.  I cupped my hands up against the window and peered in to see the built-in hutch, painted white with glass doors on top… and gasped.  I knew I was looking at my new kitchen.


As a single woman in my mid-twenties I was beyond blessed to be able to purchase this home.  Beyond blessed.

And the home itself came to life real quickly.  About 8 or 9 girlfriends helped me move in … and I vividly remember us having country music blaring while we did so… windows and doors thrown open.  One of the neighbors even came over to mention the loud music… I’m sure he was not thrilled at the time.  We just laughed and kept cleaning and unloading boxes.

That was November 1999.  Since then the home has welcomed many friends, served as host for many parties (both creative and festive), warmed us through many holidays, surprised us with a few maintenance headaches every now and then, and been a perfect starter home.


When Gramma Helen saw the home she offered up a set of her china so that I would have something to put in that amazing hutch.  And so my collector’s habits started… I eventually added a set of hand-painted wine goblets that I brought home from Romania, and then a demitasse set (also from Romania), and then eventually got to add some of Gramma Ruth’s “apple plates”.  Unloading that hutch was emotional..


A year after buying the house my Dad and I built custom faux-shutters to adorn the frames of the windows… my birthday wish.  Well, he built them… I dreamt them up and painted them.

528 E. 5th Ave was also a temporary home to a few roomies:  Jen, Amie, Lisa, Kristen, even my lil’ bro when he was in town.

In May 2001 my roomie Debbie Russell (Russell at the time, but know by “Graff” now) and I started an annual tradition… Gringo de Mayo.  Yes, on May 5th.  We invited over our friends and neighbors and set out a host of food and beverage, hung a pinata and a dozen strands of lights in the backyard and partied the night away.  This tradition lived on for many years… until all of our friends started having kids and could no longer “come out & play” like they used to.

And life goes on…

In 2003 Lee and I even had a surprise for a bunch of our friends.  Although our marriage license states that we were married in Clark County, Nevada it meant a lot to us to share in some special moments with our friends IN OUR HOME.  At a 30th birthday party for me we sprung it on our guests that there was a different reason for them being invited into our home.  And we delightedly watched their faces as we shared our secret with them… we had been married a few weeks prior and had been keeping a secret… what horrible friends we were!  We proceeded to re-read our vows to each other and share in a few moments of excitement with them in our living room.


Since then, the doorsteps of 528 E. 5th Ave have been graced with friends and family for many special occasions, a surprise birthday or two, many special holidays, “hey – i was just in the area” visits (my favorite kind)… and there have been creative times in the craft room and on the patio, there have been plenty of casual dinner parties outside as well… and the backyard has seen many different variations of greenery and colorful bursts of annuals.




The backyard is now seeing a lot of our fur kid Callie… she has brought such joy to our home.  And we look forward to having a place where she can run more freely in the backyard and maybe add to our family, in the furry way.

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The walls of 528 E 5th Ave have seen MANY coats of paint  What can I say?  I’m a colorful, creative girl… and I love to paint.  So, you can just imagine…

Hours upon hours were spent in the back patio room… my craft room… crafting has been my therapy (and will continue to remain my therapy).




It goes without saying… but I’m going to say it anyway… my heart and soul went into 528 E. 5th.  And I’m going to miss this quaint, quirky, tiny little lot on top of the hill on E. 5th Ave.

And life goes on…


A friend sent a friend our way with a potential buyer, and as crazy as it sounds… we accepted their offer.  We weren’t really expecting to sell at this point of our lives.  But we prayed over the decision, welcomed the opportunity and felt led by the Lord that the timing is in His hands.

We will be living in the area, in an apartment, for the next couple of months while we look for our new home.


Over the past two weeks we’ve been busily packing away our belongings… one box at a time.  During that time I’ve only broken down in tears twice… partly because I’m (tired and) overwhelmed with the task in front of me, and partly because I’m kinda sad to let go of this ol’ place.20150124_145259_resized

It has served us well, and for a long time.  In fact, it’s been perfect for our little family for the time we were in it… and now it’s time to find our new home.  So, we’re dreaming … let the dreams soar!

At the time, I didn’t know it, but…

  • I’ve already hung the Christmas cards on the back of the front door for the last time…
  • I’ve already cleaned the mason jars lining the kitchen window for the last time…
  • I’ve already made the last handmade card in the craft room…
  • I’ve already rearranged my framed photography on the walls in the hallway for the last time…
  • I’ve already hosted my last dinner party on the patio…
  • I’ve already moved the living room furniture around for the last time…
  • I’ve already picked my last bunch of freesia from the back yard…
  • I’ve already enjoyed the aroma of orange blossom in the back yard for the last time…
  • I’ve already painted those walls for the last time…



Beloved… wrapping up the theme of 2014

Around Thanksgiving every year I become rather contemplative… maybe it’s the change of the weather.  Maybe it’s the grateful pondering that truly settles in ahead of Thanksgiving.  Whatever it is, I welcome it.  It sounds cliché, but I truly do contemplate the meaning of life.  I reflect on the year … the ups and downs, the gifts (temporal and spiritual), the progress made, accomplishments and failures, dreams not yet met, and those things I keep praying to come to fruition.

And the inward reflection eventually turns to the “theme” for the year… that theme that I felt was meant to be, this time last year when I was doing this same thing.  I reflect on what I learned from it, if I’m ready to move on from it, if I’ve truly grasped the theme … and if I have, what is the theme for this next year.  (But that’s jumping ahead a bit.)

The theme for 2014 (which stemmed from overwhelming doubts about myself and a strong sense of inadequacy) was BELOVED.


To touch on this thought from earlier this year, check out this post.  I am Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

The journey this theme has taken me on has been spectacular!

I mean SPECTACULAR!  The highs of this theme were very HIGH, and the lows were OH-SO-LOW!!!  There truly are no words …

I am just ever so grateful for the promises in Psalm 139 … our Heavenly Father knows all and is always present.  (And is greater than the highs and lows, by the way!)

He created us just the way we are, and we were created in HIS IMAGE!  I am beyond grateful for the reminder that my identity lies in Him… and not my own meager attempts.

Because I am messy.  I am imperfect.  I am full of faults.  Existence is messy.  And yet He is IN the chaos.  He is IN the mess.  He works through ME!  Despite my chaos and mess and internal turmoil.

Afterall, He made it.  Me and my mess and all.  He made it.  And to borrow lyrics from a song (which I literally just heard THIS week, for the first time) “All praises to the one who made it all, who made it all.  All praises to the one who made it all, and finds it beautiful.” (Gungor, Crags and Clay)

Did you catch that?  He made it all.  He made me and my messy existence.  And He finds it beautiful.

::: exhale :::

Tears streaming at this reality… deep breath of gratitude… acceptance of His love fortifies my soul.  I am His Beloved.  And now, 12 months later… I am ready to move to the theme for 2015.  But first let me share a song or two with you…  YouTube:  Crags and Clay 

Crags And Clay

Standing up from crags and clay

The peaks of earth

In full display

They break the lines

That break the sky

That’s full of life

Full of life


The chaos of creation’s dance

A tapestry, a symphony

Of life himself

Of love herself

It’s written in our very skin


All praises to the one who made it all

Who made it all

All praises to the one who made it all

And finds it beautiful


Soil is spilling life to life

Stars are born

To fill the night

The ocean’s score

The majesty

Of sculpted shore



All praises…

Fearfully and wonderfully and beautifully made


And AS IF I needed something else to drive it home… Gungor has another song that hits it out of the ballpark when it comes to this topic.  I’ve included the lyrics below, but click here for the YouTube link:  Beautiful Things


 Beautiful Things

All this pain

I wonder if I’ll ever find my way

I wonder if my life could really change at all

All this earth

Could all that is lost ever be found

Could a garden come up from this ground at all


You make beautiful things

You make beautiful things out of the dust

You make beautiful things

You make beautiful things out of us


All around

Hope is springing up from this old ground

Out of chaos life is being found in You


You make beautiful things

You make beautiful things out of the dust

You make beautiful things

You make beautiful things out of us


You make beautiful things

You make beautiful things out of the dust

You make beautiful things

You make beautiful things out of us


You make me new, You are making me new

You make me new, You are making me new


You make beautiful things

You make beautiful things out of the dust

You make beautiful things

You make beautiful things out of us


So, I leave you with you with this.  If this is a struggle for you… read and contemplate the depths of Psalm 139.



October is Clergy Appreciation Month

I was raised in the home of a pastor.  Oh the stories I could tell!  Don’t worry… I won’t.

But in order to draw a bit of a picture, I’ll provide some color on what it was like for our family.  He often worked 6 days a week… sometimes 7.  As a family we were at church every Sunday (just about all day), every Wednesday night and sometimes on another night of the week too.  We tried to cram family time in between church and ministry obligations… and somehow we found a way to sit down at the dinner table together almost every night of the week.  My brother and I attended every kids camp, youth camp and winter camp we could.  We simply loved those camps.  And as my brother and I grew older we started teaching classes at church and participating in peer leadership.  And that’s what was visible to those outside of our home.

Not that we had a lot of secrets … but few people knew what it looked like back at home.   This was a by-product of being the Pastor’s family.  Not good or bad… it just was.

Dad often took those late night phone calls … those calls that no one wants to receive.  There were long telephone counseling appointments in the family den… that crept into our family time.  There were hospital visits, home visits and impromptu counseling sessions at the local doughnut corner.  There were stops on the side of the freeway when we would come upon a car accident… you see, the caring heart of a clergy is a strong force to be reckoned with, even when we’re on our way to a long-awaited vacation!

Being a pastor is a calling, for the pastors.  For their families… it’s just a part of life.


My brother and I accepted it, mostly because we didn’t know any different.  And Mom?  Well, she didn’t seem so thrilled with it, at least at times.  You see, planning for family time was difficult (not to mention an occasional date night every now and then).  You see, how does a Pastor say to the hurting, lost and confused person on the phone “I’m sorry you’re at such a loss… but my family is sitting in the car waiting for us to go bowling.”?

It’s tricky… being a Pastor.  Not to mention illuminating.  Pastors (like politicians) aren’t allowed to make mistakes.  At least, that’s how most of society acts when a Pastor messes up.

In my opinion, that’s where we as Christians need to do some work.  (I can say this because while I was once a “preacher’s kid” I’m now just someone in the congregation.)  The expectations placed on our Pastors, their spouses and family are more weight than anyone should have to bear.  Pastors and their family are human.  Like every other human, they are not perfect.

Sorry to break it to you.  But at the risk of sounding defensive, Pastors are also seeking God’s grace and mercy.  Pastors are also seeking wisdom and forgiveness and humility… seeking time in God’s presence, being washed with His love.

We can be critical of Pastors, or we can love them.  We can point out their faults, or we can love them.  We can tell them how unhappy we are with their decisions, or we can love them.  We can wish for them to do things differently, or we can love them.  We can treat our Pastors like we’re asked to treat the rest of mankind… with love.

(Side note: Sadly, I know full well that some of our Pastors are not seeking the Lord as they should be.  That’s when we need to love them more.)

So back to a scene at our home, specifically what happened on Saturday nights… some of my favorite times in watching my Dad.  He would break out his Bible and sermon notes and his set of colored Papermate markers.  He would join the family in the living room and do a final re-write of the sermon notes he had been working on for the week.  Using those colored markers he used a different color to emphasize a different emotion and yet another color to indicate this week’s anecdotal illustration, and so on.  I never knew which color stood for what… but I loved watching his process.  I would sit next to him on the couch and watch as he thoughtfully put the finishing touches on his weekly labor of love… delivering the Word impressed upon him by the Holy Spirit.

And now, as a grown adult, when I contemplate the constant juggling and position of preparedness he lived in constantly I know it was his calling.  There were many long days and nights.  And somehow he did his best to graciously move from visit to visit, call to call, task to task (even pruning trees and handling plumbing issues on the church campus) with the heart of a servant toward his congregation… not to mention all that he juggled at home.

He was often under-appreciated, under-paid and mostly misunderstood.  But his family loved him the same.  We missed him often… but we loved him the same.  We often wished he could have been with us more… but we loved him the same.  We hurt for him when we was hurt… and we loved him.

And many years after Dad retired from his last role as Pastor this was written in his honor, by a dear friend Tom Gilbreath:  Tribute.  These words sum up what so many families have felt about my Dad’s devotion to the congregation in which he was entrusted.  And it brings tears to my eyes, and joy to my heart, to know that my Dad has been honored in this way here on earth.  Oh to be there when he receives the heavenly welcome for his servant-like leadership.

October is clergy appreciation month.  This month many churches across America are recognizing their clergy by saying THANK YOU in what might feel like trivial ways… but we will still say it:  THANK YOU for your leadership, your sacrifice, your humility and your willingness to answer the calling.

How have you shown appreciation to your clergy this month?  Through prayer?  A kind note?  Through an act of service for your Pastor and/or their family members?  I challenge you… just love them.

To the several Pastors who have been my shepherd since my Dad retired… thank you.  To their families… thank you.  We pray for you regularly…

More articles:

With Gratitude for Pastors Everywhere

Focus on the Family

First day of High School = Most Embarrassing Moment #2

It’s back to school time!  And I’m watching all my mommy and daddy friends post pictures and status updates… feeling reminiscent and proud of their kids, and a little weirded out about how quiet the house is.  Well, here’s a laugh for you.

Let me paint the picture for you… it’s my first day of freshman year of high school.  It’s also my first day of public school in a long time.  It’s my first day with new students, as I was transferring between school districts.  I was nervous.  I was a little afraid.

Mom had taken me to campus the week before so I could check out where my locker was and try the combination on the lock.

We walked the campus so I would have a better idea of where each of my classes were located.  I was ready.

And then the first day of school came.

It rained the night before.

And I’m a clutz.

And rain and clutzes don’t mix well together.

I was slightly late to school.  You see, I wasn’t in a hurry to get there (since I already knew where I was going).

So, I was slightly jogging through campus – but at least I knew where I was going.

In the middle of campus, I rounded the corner to head to my locker… and I missed the sidewalk by a step… and my foot hit a mud puddle… and I SLID.  And then I kept sliding… until I was no longer sliding.


I was now SITTING… in a mud puddle… in the middle of campus… on the first day of my freshman year of high school… in a skirt.

Thankfully I had a change of clothes with me.  But that meant that I wore my P.E. clothes the entire first day of school.

But at least I knew where I was going.

Book Review: Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me (Renee Fisher)

Renee does well to speak to millennials.  In “Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me” Renee explores the lessons learned along her journey and relates it to others in her own unique way.  I would recommend “Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me” as a source of encouragement, inspiration and even as a helpful resource for anyone navigating the journey of forgiveness.

In her foreword, Renee tells us exactly who she is as she describes her daily journal entries to God.  “I wrote to be honest with myself and with God – honest about the sorrow, the ecstasy, and even the mundane.”  She tells us about her daily self-portraits to God, each day being something different, but as she journaled she realized more each day of her need to rely on God’s strength to move her down the “journey from pain to purpose”.

Renee has separated her book into three main areas, MOLDED, RESTORED and FORGIVEN.  Throughout each topic she explores painful topics and insight alike.  Strewn throughout the book the reader will be encouraged by pertinent quotes from other millennials, as they reflected on their lessons through similar situations.

Renee’s unique sense of authenticity is prevalent.  Her knowledge of the Bible is reflected in her use of the scripture.  But her desire to “spur others forward” is what stands out in her writing style.  Shes shares because she has been called to. And for that reason, I simply couldn’t put the book down.


While on my sabbatical I read cover to cover in a day and a half … and that’s a feat. I haven’t done THAT in a long time!

Thank you, Renee!  While our life’s circumstances are somewhat similar, our journeys have each been a bit different.  Those shared commonalities have been a place of bonding for us.  On a personal level, and I thank you for hearing my heart and spurring me forward!  


Renee Fisher

Renee Fisher is a veteran blogger and author of five books including “Dream Devotional” (2014). She is the founding editor of DevotionalDiva.com, and a graduate of Biola University. Renee’s enjoys running on sunny days in San Diego. She lives with her adoring husband, Marc, and their fur child named Star who has his own Instagram account.

My hope is in the Lord…

Psalm 25:21
Psalm 25:21 | Bible Gateway


In you, LORD, my God, I put my trust.

I trust in you;
    do not let me be put to shame,
    nor let my enemies triumph over me.

No one who hopes in you
    will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
    who are treacherous without cause.

Show me your ways, LORD,
    teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are God my Savior,
    and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love,
    for they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth
    and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
    for you, LORD, are good.

Good and upright is the Lord;
    therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
He guides the humble in what is right
    and teaches them his way.
All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful
    toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.
For the sake of your name, LORD,
    forgive my iniquity, though it is great.

Who, then, are those who fear the Lord?
    He will instruct them in the ways they should choose.[b]
They will spend their days in prosperity,
    and their descendants will inherit the land.
The Lord confides in those who fear him;
    he makes his covenant known to them.
My eyes are ever on the Lord,
    for only he will release my feet from the snare.

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
    for I am lonely and afflicted.
Relieve the troubles of my heart
    and free me from my anguish.
Look on my affliction and my distress
    and take away all my sins.
See how numerous are my enemies
    and how fiercely they hate me!

Guard my life and rescue me;
    do not let me be put to shame,
    for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness protect me,
    because my hope, LORD, is in you.

Deliver Israel, O God,
    from all their troubles!

Psalm 25


My heart and soul has been heavy over a certain area in my life.  And I have searched and searched for God’s will, His guidance, His wisdom, patience, comfort … oh the list goes on.

At church yesterday morning a very wise woman approached me with a determined look on her face… and spoke these dear words of encouragement into my life.  Her admonishment stopped me dead in my tracks and tears streamed down my face.  I let down my guard, and just fell into her embrace as she spoke GOD’S WORD and TRUTH into my life over this matter.

There is no need to defend yourself.  God will protect you and deliver you.  Work for Him and put your hope in Him alone.  He will deliver you and protect you.

Somewhere along the way I lost sight of His promises.  In Him have I, once again, found my hope…

Sabbatical 2014: Week 4 highlights

Here we are already:  Week 4 of my sabbatical time just wrapped up and I’m now back at work.  Can you believe how fast that went?!  I can’t!

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I’m telling you, dear dedicated readers (all 3 of you)… taking a sabbatical is an amazing thing!  It’s been quite the opportunity (and this is my 3rd sabbatical in 17 years at this firm).  This is, by far, one of the best benefits we are offered… and believe me, I utilize it to its fullest!

Let it be known:  I did not come back to work having cleaned or de-cluttered my entire house or having marked everything off my list of THINGS TO DO WHILE ON SABBATICAL, but I don’t really think that’s what this time is all about anyway.

If I could sum up the purpose of my sabbatical to you, it would be in these words…

We need to be intentional about creating and protecting the margins in our days, in our lives.


So, for the quick recap…



Father’s Day is an emotional one for me.  I wish my Dad and I lived closer.  I so love our conversations, his tender heart, his patience, his perspective and passion for all things right-wing.  Additionally, I miss my Dad’s Dad, Erling.  Being together with him on Father’s Day would have meant that he would have prayed over lunch and I would have once again choked up during his prayer, just as he gets choked up.

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Lastly, Father’s Day is an emotional one for me because of my Grampa Marvin who is no longer with us.  He passed away after suffering from dementia and our last weeks/months together were pretty meaningful to me.

week 4 2

The legacy that goes before us… our fathers, our mothers, our familial inheritance … for me, it’s priceless.  I am so blessed to have the family I have.  We’re not perfect, but we’re all we’ve got.  And that’s enough…



On Monday morning I attended a meeting with some local movers and shakers… and we’ve got something big up our sleeves. I can’t wait to reveal more information about this Grand Scheme… oh, it might kill me!



I enjoyed a leisurely morning catching up with a good friend over coffee and a pastry.  I don’t get to spend nearly enough time with this friend, but when I do I am hungry for more.  I so love learning from older women in our church.   It’s funny, during our time together she even said “I don’t mind being old.  I mean, I am.  I’m not going to lie.  It is what it is.”

This individual, someone I consider a mentor, has a lot to teach others.  And I pray for the opportunities before her… that she will find the courage to “put herself out there”.  I know that her ministry (which is her, just being her) will bless so many others.  I pray for her daily… love you, dear friend!



Wednesday / Thursday

As the sabbatical was winding down I knew I didn’t want to over-schedule, over-task and over-commit.  So I left these days wide open, intentionally.

I ran some errands…

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However, I didn’t necessarily make any big time commitments.  My life is already packed full of emails, blogging, PR, social media posts, writing, driving, calling, … the list goes on.

I wanted to use these margins a bit differently… and I did so very intentionally.  Best decision I made for these two days.



And then it was time to go back to work.  I was reintroduced to my pc (to which I forgot my password – of course!).  And was warmly welcomed back, by way of 799 emails.  No kidding.  And so it begins…  but I’m feeling refreshed, recharged and restored.  My focus is back.

week4 6


And I’m reminded of Colossians 3:23… when I’m struggling at work, when I’m having a problem focusing, when I’m wishing I had more time off to adventure through life, when I’m dreaming about big Grand Schemes… I am reminded of this verse.  And I am grateful for my job, the opportunities before me, my sabbatical benefit… the list goes on!

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My Heavenly Father knows my emotional, financial, relational, spiritual and physical  needs… and He has met them, EVERY.SINGLE.ONE.OF.THEM… and then some!  And for that, I am ever so grateful!


But let me go back to the beginning of this post with this question… are YOU intentionally creating and protecting the margins in your life?  Are you leaving room for the Holy Spirit to direct you to act, to help someone out, to sacrifice something of your own for others, for sitting and listening, for reading an extra chapter, for spending more time looking up at the stars?

What does that look like for you?  Leave a comment in the section below… I want to hear how YOU create and protect those margins… after all, I’ve already started the list for the next sabbatical!


A peaceful soul…

Here’s another TRUE Crazy Lori Story!


A monk walked up to me on Friday night, holding out a book…


internet image edited via picmonkey.com


…and he said “Hi, I’m a monk from a local monastery. I want to invite you to read this book on peace. (pause) But you already look like a peaceful soul.”

I replied,  “Thanks. I am rather peaceful.”

And with that he walked away.


He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord!  Isaiah 26:3


I’m telling you people – I cannot make these things up!

Sabbatical 2014: Week 3 Highlights

And here we are again… yes, I’m on week 3 of sabbatical and as I type this I’ve just realized that means I only have one week left.  Actually, LESS than one week left.  But, hey… it’s been a killer time off!  I’m as happy as happy can be… and rested… and blessed… and happy!



The last highlight reel left off on Sunday morning… I’ll finish up Sunday by saying I got to spend some time with friends who are just as passionate about a new interest of mine as I am, essential oils.  We got the gang together to hear about the highlights from the FUEL San Diego conference (put on by the amazing Lemon Dropper team for Young Living Essential Oils) and chatted about oils and shared lemon recipes and discussed the ins/outs of the oily business with each other for a couple of hours.  I love our inspiring times together…

week3 - 1
lemon drops for the Lemon Droppers!



On Sunday, near the end of hanging with the gang, I noticed that I had a voice mail from a high school friend who also attends our church.  She was distraught and calling for help.  I prayed, seeking guidance from our Heavenly Father, about how best to help and returned her call.  She was asking for some practical help on Monday morning.. but I recognized that we could also offer some emotional and spiritual help as well.

On Monday morning I was accompanied by two servant-minded women friends …. we arrived at the home of our sister-in-Christ who needed some support and prayed over how best to provide this help.  We started the morning off by praying and asking for guidance and wisdom through the situation our friend had not asked to be put in.  There in the parking lot we sought God’s direction in how to best help our friend and her daughter and further His kingdom.

For several hours we ministered to this family unit, in practical/emotional ways and prayed with her over their family needs… and when the three of us drove away from her house we knew we were the ones who had blessed…

I’m telling you… flat.out.blessed.   Humbled.  Blessed beyond words.

“And now, through Christ, all the kindness of God has been poured out upon us undeserving sinners; and now he is sending us out around the world to tell all people everywhere the great things God has done for them, so that they, too, will believe and obey him.”  Romans 1:5


And I followed up this time by meeting another friend for coffee… who, NOT coincidentally was sharing with me about her innate desire to get out into our community and just “DO”… to be the example that Christ calls us to be to our community.  We talked through ideas, caught up and laughed with each other, learned about some similarities we weren’t aware of … and overall just had a really enriching time visiting together.

Why am I constantly amazed at these providential occurrences?  I should know by now… that’s just how our Heavenly Father operates.



I stole away for lunch with my crafty partner-in-crime Debbie, to a local haunt by the name of Swami’s Grill… again.  This was the first time to lunch w/ Debbie in years.  I say “again”, because they’re getting to know me over at Swami’s.  I’ve been a regular there over the past couple of weeks.  ::: ahem :::   I am not ashamed.  It’s so darn yummy!  They’re so darn helpful.  And I’m just comfortable there.  (Plus, I spilled a whole cup of water on the floor today… and I find that when I make a mess somewhere I just feel a bit more at home…..    what?!)  ::: wink ::


Lunch was later followed by our normal walk with the dog, Callie.  As usual, we enjoyed the sights and sounds of the neighborhood…

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Following our inspiring afternoon walk I headed out to meet my friend Jessica for dinner.  We had been craving sushi… so, sushi we got. She needed “adult time” (aka ‘time away from the kids’) and I just needed sushi.  And I have to tell you, even though I’ve known Jessica for almost 20 years (WHAT?!) I learn new things about her every time we hang.  And the more I get to know this quirky, lively, grounded, creative, wise woman the more time I wish I could spend with her.  We have a lot of life happenings in common… and I just love her.  When can we do sushi again?!  seriously!

Sushi Yama!  Yum!
Sushi Yama! Yum!



And before I knew it, we’re already in the middle of the week.  I had some last minute things to take care of before leaving town the next day… and then it occurred to me “Why do I have to wait until tomorrow to go?  Why can’t we just go today?!”

So “GO!” we did!  We

Several months ago debi and I started talking about going away for a writing retreat during my sabbatical, especially since her time off coincided.  We searched out a place to stay, talked about the food plans while we were away… and the only other thing we really knew was that we were going to write.  There was no set agenda for the time away.  There was no real concern over what to wear or what to bring or what we were doing while we were gone.  We were bringing a book to read, our laptops and our bathing suits.

So, why wait until tomorrow morning to leave?  I mean really… let’s just go!




Let me take this opportunity to explain some things about my friend debi.  Yes, she spells her first name with a lowercase “d”, just deal with with.  She’s hilarious.   She gets me.  We have a blast together… and I love that we’re still getting to know each other.  Years ago we bonded, at our church women’s retreat, over a plate of snickerdoodle cookies.  So, naturally, our nicknames for each other are “Snicker” (me) and “doodle” (debi).

Yeah, just deal with it.  ::: wink :::


And so since we left the San Diego area after dinner time, we got to Palm Desert well after dark.  But we found our place in no time flat and quickly unpacked.  Then we found our way to the back patio even quicker while we waited for the air conditioning unit to do it’s thing inside the hot house.  It was 85 degrees inside the house at 9 pm… and 80 degrees on the back patio, with a nice breeze.

We put our feet up and stared into the darkness… and chatted and laughed until well past midnight.  This is the life…



sitting on the back patio, at midnight.  it was still 80 degrees...
in Palm Desert… sitting on the back patio, at midnight. it was still 80 degrees…



We got up early to hit up Starbucks and the grocery.  And then we were set.

Instant human.  Just add coffee.
Instant human. Just add coffee.


Dear Trader Joe: Thank you.
Dear Trader Joe: Thank you.


We had a quick breakfast, found our places and set to the business of writing … and simply dove right in…

debi | writing
debi | writing


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for about a minute we fought over this window seat, and then i won!


another responsibility for the weekend, some editing...
another responsibility for the weekend, some editing…

It wasn’t until the late afternoon that I realized, and verbalized to debi, that I finally felt relaxed.  While writing and editing is a bit of a task… it felt phenomenal to be doing what I really wanted to be doing.  I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for months… and I had purposefully “cleared the desk” so to speak so that I could focus on the purpose of the weekend.

The lack of a TO DO List was freeing.  The open laptop was permission to write and research and pursue something I rarely get time to do.  Usually it’s rushed and a bit frenzied… and I rarely get to spend as much time writing as I wish I could.

I was in heaven, in Palm Desert… even though this was happening…

Yup, it's late in the afternoon.  And it's well over 100 degrees.
it was late in the afternoon, and it was well over 100 degrees outside.


Due to the windy mornings and nights, we didn’t get to go in the pool today.  It was just too filthy (thank you, nasty palm trees for making it difficult for us – first world problems).  So, we called the pool guy to see when he might be there … hmph, not until tomorrow?   OK, getting back to the business of writing…



Today consisted of more of the same.  More coffee and food.  More chatting and belly-laughs and getting to know each other, and learning from each other… and more of us just being us.  I was still editing, the last few chapters (of debi’s book).  And this statement, randomly tucked away in a paragraph jumped right off the page at me:  I think we just found her book’s sub-title.


And this struck me...
And this struck me…

We talked further about her audience:  age range, place in life, their faith, purpose of her book, why she wrote it, etc… and then we talked briefly about branding, the cover of her book, and her next steps.

It’s crazy to think that she entrusted me with these pages and actually wants my editing advice!!!


And then the pool guys arrived… and within 20 minutes the pool was all sparkly clean … and we were waiting by the back door to go out and play!!!

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If you can’t find us, we’ll be “at the office”…

We floated around for a while, swam around for a while, got all pruned up… and then sat on the back patio and kept reading for a while.  This is SERIOUSLY the life!  (Until I realized how badly sun-burned I had become… and was sorely regretting not reapplying that sunscreen.  However, I do NOT regret all that floating.



Up early.  House packed.  Checklist of things to do to “turn off the house” … check!  And it was time to get back on the road.  It was just the perfect amount of time.  Two full days of focusing on what our hearts desired.  And now it’s time to get back to reality… it was a blast!  Let’s do it again!


#snickerdoodle #palmdesert #sabbatical2014
#snickerdoodle #palmdesert #sabbatical2014



My fur kid, Callie.  See that grin?!  She was happy that I was home.
My fur kid, Callie. See that grin?! She was happy that I was home.


It was nap time… because later on Saturday night I had more big plans!  I was given the opportunity to meet (for the very first time) one of my internet-world blogger/writer friends, Renee Fisher.  She was throwing her 32nd birthday party, and I received an invite!  I couldn’t wait … to go back to Cordiano Winery AND to meet new friends!!!

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The night was beautiful!  Simply beautiful.  New friendships were formed.  Bonds were created.  Good food was enjoyed, and there was lots of laughter.  What fun it was to meet Renee in person, and her friends as well.  Truly an enjoyable evening … at a stunning location.


And with that I wrap up the Week 3 highlights… and wait for one last, and final, week of rest.  I have fewer things planned this week with the hopes of spending that time at home and continuing on with the writing focus.  Once again, I’m so grateful for the opportunity to take this time off of work and either vacation or pursue wherever you wan owith them.


Until then…

Sabbatical 2014: Week 2 highlights

Week 2 of #sabbatical2014 was so full that I hardly had time for any naps.  Just sayin’!  Let’s see … I’m sure I’ll count them out for you… in the meantime, here are some of the highlights.


But first let me say… the morning hours are my favorite time of the day when I have a day off and I’m at home.  The house is quiet and cool and I can spend creative time in the studio before the sun warms up the back of the house.  This phrase goes through my head… daily I’m grateful that He loves me this much.


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#ablessedmess #mylifeaslori


Friday through Sunday

Friday afternoon I picked up my wacky g’friend debi (love this girl!) and we headed up into the nearby hills to meet up with the rest of these gals.  These special ladies are a group of dedicated souls who love ministering to the women of our church.  The weekend was dedicated to learning more about each other (and we had a blast doing exactly that), cooking together and cleaning up together, freaking out about mice together, playing a little and learning A LOT about ministry … I love each of these gals as if they were my own sister…

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Karen, Nancy, Victoria, debi, Bette, Dawn, Vickie and Katherine – Hidden Meadows, Ca (I’m not in this picture – Instagram cropped me out)


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We studied leadership, dysfunctions of a ministry team (Patrick Lencioni principles, by way of Nancy Ortberg), various materials from Carson Pue, the topic of Conflict (recognizing, avoiding and resolving) and we learned about our love languages (Dr Gary Chapman)
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Our Team Retreat was about 10 minutes outside of town, in Hidden Meadows. We rented a home-turned-retreat-center. It was quiet out here…
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We even made sure we scheduled time to play. This is the view of the pool area from the kitchen window.
week2 - 1e
Our ministry director, Dawn, breaking her “alabaster jar” in front of the cross… as part of our very meaningful communion time.


Gone from Friday through Sunday I returned home and proceeded to nap.  Emotionally spent and sleep deprived… I think I actually took 2 naps.  (I still felt the exhaustion the next day – good thing I’m on sabbatical!  The rest of these gals had to resume normal work/volunteer commitments on Monday morning.)

Nap count: 2



Late on Monday it started to bother me that I was struggling to focus on any one thing… I felt this way last week too.  At first, I chalked it up to sleep deprivation from the weekend.  I was easily distracted, and more so than usual.  At first I didn’t think too much about it.  After all, I reminded myself that I know I want to get some things accomplished during this time off… but I’ve got 3 more weeks to do them… so take it easy!


For the record, I’ve become very fond of our afternoon walks.  They are turning into a great way to unwind … we head out with the dog on the leash and meander around our neighborhood.  We live in a beautiful historic district … and this sight is just around the corner from the strange alley we live in.

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as seen on our afternoon walk, on Monday #ablessedmess #mylifeaslori


Yes, I said “alley”.  I live in an alley.  Now THAT sounds intriguing, doesn’t it?  It’s hard to explain.  But let’s see if this helps… we live on a split lot.  The house in front of us sits on the street.  And our house is directly behind it… and accessed only through the alley, with a tandem driveway next to the house.   That’s actually rather common here in these historic districts.  Two of the things I love about where we are located is that 1) no solicitors EVER find us, and 2) our house is perched on a hill above the house in front of ours… and we look right over her rooftop.  In fact, the view from my studio is of the tree tops and house tops in this amazing community.  We are blessed… we truly are.



Today brought another bike ride, with my riding partner Sandy… and hopefully we’ll get another ride in this week as well.


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Mule Hill Trail, as part of the San Dieguito River Trail.  I simply LOVE starting the days this way! #ablessedmess #mylifeaslori


On Tuesday night my hubby took me on a date… to one of his favorite places, the San Diego Velodrome.  It’s a place he spends a lot of his time racing his fixed gear bicycle.  And I rarely get down to San Diego during the week.  You see, it’s a “school night”… and since I’m at work by 5:30 am I’m not typically worth anything on “school nights” (and typically in bed by 8 pm).  That doesn’t mix well with staying up late and being an hour away from home.  So… I welcome THIS chance to hang out with him, enjoy some tamales and remember a fellow racer, Jackie Price Dunn. The evening was dedicated to her memory, sponsored by her husband Durward Dunn IV.

week2 - 3
date night with hubby at the San Diego Velodrome



Thankful for another day… coffee and catching up with a girlfriend, chiropractic adjustment and various errands.  No naps.  Hmph…

And the lack of focus continues.  Why is my head fuzzy?  Is it a fatigue thing?  Do I need a nap?  Is something else going on inside my body?  Where has my drive gone that typically pushes me from task to task, powering through that TO DO list?  There is so much I want to accomplish on this time off, that I don’t typically have time to do.  I guess I still have 2 1/2 weeks.  ::: don’t beat yourself up, Lori :::


But, now let me tell you about the BIGGEST highlight (and honor) of the week!!!  Background: A few weeks ago I posted about the firestorm that ripped through north San Diego County … and during those fires it was determined that several of the fires were considered “suspicious”.  One of those fires burned down a church several blocks from my home.  The Calvary Assembly church of Escondido was a complete loss.  Several of the walls are still standing, but only because they are being held up by large posts.

2 days after the fire I was awakened by a nudge from the Holy Spirit…  at the top of my priority list that day was a stop at the site of the church fire to inquire as to what they needed and how I could help.  One girl… I was being directed to ask how I could help.    I stopped by and introduced myself to the Associate Pastor Mario Soto… and immediately he thanked me and said they want to buy chairs for their services, so that they can still have a place for their congregation to sit when they met in the parking lot on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings.

And that day a Go Fund Me account was setup.  And the word was spread …

To donate to the Fire Fund: http://www.gofundme.com/9acslo


Calvary Assembly | Firestorm May 2014
Calvary Assembly | Firestorm May 2014
Calvary Assembly |Firestorm May 2014

So, this is all bad news.  Why is this a highlight?  Because my Pastor, Chico Goff, had contacted me last week to say that our church would be making a donation to their Fire Fund.  And he asked that I be there to help deliver the check.  For the gracious gift, for the servant-like attitude our church has always had towards helping hurting people…   I read that email and sat at my computer and bawled… like a baby, bawled.

On Wednesday, my Pastor met me at Calvary Assembly and promptly handed me the check!!!  Humbled, I had the distinct honor of delivering a $1,000 check to Pastor Floyd Freeman and Associate Pastor Mario Soto … which met 50% of their goal for funds for the chairs.

The Pastor of Calvary Assembly took the check and said nothing.  He stood there and looked at the check.  And just kept looking at the check.  And I wanted him to say something… so badly I wanted him to say something.  Anything.  Instead he quietly walked away and got to the business of starting their midweek service.

And driving home… I knew that IF he had said something it would have diminished what our Heavenly Father was doing in that moment.  It broke my heart… and I bawled again… all the way home.

This highlight will be one of the highlights of my entire year… and it happened this week.   I am wary to share it… because I’m a big believer in being obedient in helping others (without bragging about it or patting myself on the back).  (In fact, my first draft of this post did not include any of this information.)

But to share the good news that GOD IS GOOD and HE knows our needs and knows how to meet our needs… that is what this is about.  It’s not about our church, my Pastor or me… it’s about paying attention to the heavenly tap on the shoulder and being obedient to act on it.  That’s why I share this…

again, bawling…   #wheresthetissue




Many more errands…  but I stopped in the middle of the day to use a local gelato shop as my office, to answer emails, update my TO DO List and get a sweet treat!  Ahem…


my office away from the office, EscoGelato.


oh… and THIS is happening in our backyard today.

week2 - 9 week2 - 8 week2 - 6



Yay!  Time for another bike ride!

week2 - 9b
It’s hard to see in this picture, but the traffic on the freeway above me is at a dead stop. So glad I’m on this bike trail instead!


And I think there may have been a nap on the docket for the day… I can’t remember at the time of writing this post.  And the nap didn’t quite make it on to the calendar.  HA!  So, let’s just give me the benefit of the doubt, sound ok?

On Friday, I started this post… but again, became very distracted by the shelf I wanted to finish painting, the silverware project I wanted to test out, the basket of goods I needed to deliver to a friend… point is, it didn’t get done due to the distractions and lack of focus.  And I’m starting to get very worried about my weird predicament…  maybe I need to quit doing so much during my sabbatical and just REST.  Hmm… good thing the writing retreat I have planned isn’t until the end of next week.   There’s no way I would have been able to stay focused enough.


Friday’s afternoon walk took us to downtown Escondido.  We live just a few blocks south of downtown, so it makes for a nice walk with the fur kid.  And on Friday nights the majority of the city attends or participates in Cruisin’ Grand.  It’s truly a unique community event that always draws a an impressive crowd.


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Cruisin’ Grand is the place to be on Friday nights, from April through September. Car enthusiasts with vehicles older than 1960s come on down to park in front of the stores. The rest of us walk up and down the sidewalks enjoying the atmosphere, smell of gasoline and sounds of loud rock ‘n roll (and loud engines). #ablessedmess #mylifeaslori



On Saturday morning I hopped on the bike again and this time rode downtown…  and I spent the morning at the Escondido Saturday Market.  I pulled up a chair and sat and chatted it up with some friends, took some pictures, stuck around for lunch and got home in time for a nap.  Nap count: 3 (?)  See, I had to scroll up to count naps.  Focus, Lori, focus.

As seen at the Escondido Saturday Market, 9 am - 1 pm
As seen at the Escondido Saturday Market, 9 am – 1 pm



This morning I woke up early… determined to finish up this blog.  I opened up the laptop and sat down on the couch next to the fur kid… and happened upon this image and quote by Billy Joel.



And like a slap across the face I realized why I’ve lacked focus.  I have had very little music on for the past two weeks!!!  WHAT?!?!  I always have music on!

And I was reminded of something I learned a long time ago about myself… having music on helps me focus!  It works while I’m studying, while I’m at work analyzing, while I’m processing emotions… it’s like a meditation of sorts.  Sometimes the music is just on… and I’m not paying attention to it.  Sometimes I’m singing along and dancing to it…


My brain is activated by music… and I know there’s some science behind this.  I mean there has to be.  But it’s like my mind is unconsciously distracted by the processing of the noise and I can better focus on the task at hand.  Is that weird?  It kinda sounds weird when I type it out.  But this would be on the top 10 things I would need with me on a deserted island.  So, how did I go so long without my normal shot of music?  So strange…

Anyway… at this point the music is back on… and I’ve powered through this post.  I’ve only been distracted enough to stop twice… to make myself a cup of coffee and update my TO DO list for this morning.  It’s going to be a full day… and I can’t wait to tell you all about it next week!!!


Let me leave you with this beautiful drawing.  It so beautifully depicts my thoughts and feelings on music.  This is how my soul sees music.




And with that, I wrap up Week 2 of #sabbatical2014.  There are a few things on the calendar for this next week… but towards the middle of this week I’m high-tailing it out of town again… off to a quiet retreat with a dear friend.  And I will bring my music and my laptop… the focus of the getaway is to write.  And I’m so glad the musical epiphany hit today… it will help with my focus.

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for music and the unique talents you’ve given your creation in regards to creating music.  I love music…