Tag Archives: Father

Everything… and Nothing At All

A handful of felty-gray days pressed and pulled at the fringes of my heart giving off the sense that something was wrong. I couldn’t put my finger on it. Not exactly. You know that feeling: the low hum of a yet undefined anxiousness blending with a slightly ominous overtone that starts to mute the true sounds of life.

When the message came delivering that bittersweet news, those fuzzy fragments came together giving final form to the feeling.  Strangely, I was relieved because now there was a place to put it all….a place to go and sort from. It was news that explained everything and at the same time…  nothing at all.

Everything and Nothing at All

There is an appropriate response for situations like this which is somehow altogether inappropriate now. I know what I should feel except… I don’t.  Instead, instinct cautions me to stand back detached and observant as it all plays out many miles away in Louisiana. It’s not really my place to do more than this: acknowledge the life of the man who, at least biologically, was my father.

For whatever Ransol James Hebert could have been to me in the span of his 77 years, the fact remains— he largely was not.  Reading back over that last sentence, I realize it sounds a little bitter but no…it’s just a fact and one I happen to have in common with three other souls here on earth. It seems strange to share nothing but a bit of DNA and hazy memories with 3 complete strangers but this is our truth: our common thread was a man who was able to become the father of each of us while remaining a daddy to none. We are simply the “milestones” or deposits  left over the course of his tumultuous lifetime and one by one, we’ve come to realize— that’s OK.

It’s difficult to say when, but at some point, I stopped needing answers.  Ransol James Hebert was simply one half of an equation that never really balanced out as long as I was the one trying to do the figuring. The death of my mother 13 years ago assured that I was going to have to live with the remaining mysteries.  So I have.

I had no idea he existed until I was a 10-year-old trapped in the midst of a bitter divorce and custody battle between my mother and (then assumed) father. The news broke over me and lay crumpled at my feet along with many other shattered expectations. It may sound melodramatic but I was the only kid I knew at the time with divorced parents and then to suddenly find out that one of them wasn’t even real…well, it was a bomb.  That was almost 38 years ago and l today I gladly testify that God heals the broken hearts of 10-year-olds needing a Daddy.

Navy Ransol 1956

They met in Florida. He was a Navy man and she was running from her Indiana past and trying to make a life as far different from the one she’d known as possible. This crazy cajun from “down da bayou” was absolutely different.  “Charisma” was the word to describe him— you couldn’t help but like Ransol. His presence filled the room in a bigger-than-life fashion compounded by the fact that he was always bigger in his own mind. Harmless really— Ransol was a booming bear of a man with a heart fully gilded in 14-karat fools gold.

Baby Lorrie

I entered the picture in 1968.  With a wife and two children back home, let’s just agree– things were  complicated. That never changed . I think he met me a month or two after I was born. I have this picture and her story of how he snatched me from her arms and marched me up and down the deck showing me off to everyone he knew.

After that the story gets hole-pocked and hollow.
Mental illness?
A  changed man.
A “jumped ship” in a North Korean bay.
A.W.O.L and a discharge?

Any more…for certain…. I do not know. My mother would never tell me more.

Me and Ransol

I spent a brief 6 or so months with him during the summer of my 14th year. Quite possibly, I lived more life in those few months than in all the years before.

I met “my people”.
I got on a boat for the first time and trawled for shrimp and crab.
I tasted crawfish, gumbo and jambalaya.
I learned to make a roux.

But by that time I’d already developed a few problems of my own and had my hand on the brush, ready to color the world with a few shades of my own rebellion. All I can say is that God’s hand was bigger than mine and He pushed it away.   I’m so thankful.

That’s mostly all the history there is between me and Ransol James Hebert, aged 77, who departed this earth on May 10, 2016.  As I’ve had the chance to talk to family before and since, there’s this sense of resolution being passed around like a common cup. It is what it is… honestly what it always was no matter which scenario we’re talking about. He was consistent.

Sadly, there’s only a mild, dull ache for this loss here and now simply because it’s an ache  each of us spent a lifetime knowing. We made our peace with it— some of us, at the foot of the cross. In testimony to the healing and resurrection power of God and in spite of the brokenness out of which we were born, grace has allowed us to chose the path of healing and wholeness.   We are OK.

Surely, there is grief.

For my part, I suppose I grieve the loss of so much potential. I can’t grieve a father but I can grieve the void between us that was never overcome and the resulting distance that was necessary. Although, for every moment of grief there is an equal and overflowing amount of grace. Four complete strangers have now stepped into the circle of family.

Let go and Forgive

For whatever Ransol James Hebert was not able to be for each of us over the course of his 77-year life, we can now choose to be for one another in the ways God allows.  That’s grace. Grace enough to keep walking forward in spite of our own fears and failings and now…grace enough to drape loosely over the tragically misspent life of Ransol James Hebert.  Rest in peace.

Able to dance,Lorretta signature




I’m a girl in the midst of WOE! and “undone.”

Because so much like Isaiah, I was brought to the place where in my spirit, I saw the Lord, seated on His throne high and lifted up….exalted and like Isaiah, all I could say with so much fear and trembling was


To say I am utterly undone with increasing thankfulness for that moment in my life is probably the most severe understatement I could possibly make. Words don’t cut it when trying to describe a moment like that…it’s all just ….so….”Woe!” Let me tell you more…

My Kyrie

my-kyrie-cross“Jesus I’ve forgotten the words that I have spoken.
Promises that burned within my heart have now grown dim.
With a doubting heart I followed the paths of earthly wisdom.
Forgive me for my unbelief, renew the fire again!”

These are the words I sang with our praise team this morning and as I looked out over a sea of faces, I wondered within, “Do they know I’m singing about myself? Do they know this place too?”  Oh but it gets worse:

“I have built an altar, where I’ve worshiped things of man.
I have taken journeys that have drawn me far from You.
Now I am returning to your mercies ever flowing.
pardon my transgressions….help me love You again.”

I have a  friend, Michelle, who wrote a few days ago that she just can’t read Scripture or sing a song without *feeling* it. Conversely, she has a hard time singing empty songs that hold very little meaning and truth. She’s so beautiful and right…. I feel the same way and I’m not even struggling with her cancer.

This particular song gets me in the gut every time. I’d like to skip these verses because they’re just too honest…too telling and all too convicting on every level.

  • I don’t like admitting the fact that I’ve built altars and worshiped things of man.
  • I don’t like confessing that I’ve willingly taken journeys that have drawn me far from God.
  • I’m embarrassed by the idea that I might need God’s help and pardon to make the return journey.
  • It’s hard to face that I’m going to need His help to love Him and to love myself again.

I don’t like that I’ve been there and have done that.
And I HATE that I might do it again.

Several many things have been swirling around in my soul for quite awhile so as I stood there with this song and these thoughts, I was truly overcome with how wretchedly… how gloriously hopeless I am without the love of God.

And every time I sing this song, strangely enough there is one particular passage of Scripture that connects deeply within me when I get to this place. It’s the story of the Prodigal Son found in the 15th chapter of the Gospel of Luke.

It’s a story almost too familiar to many of us. So familiar that it’s difficult to get it moving past our puffy, pride-filled heads so that it can make it’s way deep into our hearts.

If you’re anything like me you can sorta “get” the story and the lessons there,  all the while almost feeling a little smug that you are merely on the outside looking in. I mean, heck, that guy isn’t me–I’m not like either of those brothers and what irresponsible parent goes and gives their party-boy half the estate anyway?  Besides..I’m a girl…no girls in this story.

Oh but look again…there I am… on every line.

And that’s just the thing–when God really opens the eyes of your heart to His Word, there’s no place you can’t see Him at work and there’s no place you can’t see yourself anymore.

I owe the deeper vision of this story to one of my favorites; Pastor, Teacher and Apologist Dr. Ravi Zacharius. Ravi tells the story of a trip he took with his wife Margie and of an artist he met along the way.

In conversation with the man, the question came up about a piece of work which was very different from the others he had in his studio. It was of an obviously drunken and homeless man, lying on the ground with an empty bottle. The artist created that work, which was very meaningful to him, because it reminded him of who he was— before he, like the Prodigal, “came to himself.”

Read Luke 15–specifically verses 17-20. Do you see that moment? The son was miserable and about to lose his last shred of decency. He’d been caught up doing “his own thing his own way” and came to the inevitable end of it.

{Have you been there too? I have.}

It doesn’t’ have to be wine, women and song…it can be anything –any idol that takes us to building dirty altars and worshiping “things of man”.
      {Money. Success. Status. Stuff. Blog stats. Facebook likes…ouch?}

It can be anything that places our feet on a journey that with just the first step can lead so far from Home.  It can even start out as a “good” thing gone wild, a good gift from God that becomes “god” or a foreign source for our identity…
      {a job, a friend, a spouse, a child, a talent, a ministry or a calling}.

So it’s not hard for me to see myself in this pivotal place. I’ve been here to one degree or another.

  • I know that panicky moment of realization when I look up and suddenly realize how far from Home I have wandered…the landscape so barren and unrecognizable.
  • I recall that certain flash of hopeful remembrance of Who my Father is and the safety and provision I experienced in His presence.
  • I can feel that resurrective quickening in my Spirit that calls me to drop everything and turn towards Home.

{Do you know what I mean?}

And while I’m walking I’m deeply, humbly grateful because, let’s face it, there’s a great deal of grace in the whole darn thing.

Enormous grace in that sometimes God will allow us to run our demanded course with our fists full of only half our earthly inheritance just so we can breathlessly get to the end, come to our senses before Him, turn our whole selves back and so gratefully receive the full portion of our heavenly, imperishable inheritance.

Are you there? To any degree? Are you asking like I have, “do I need to come to my senses?”  Because the sweetness of the story in the song goes on:

“I have longed to know You and all Your tender mercies 
like a river of forgiveness ever flowing without end.
So I bow my heart before you in the goodness of Your presence,
Your face forever shining, like a beacon in the night.”

God moves upon our hearts and then waits. He’s drawing, moving and prompting us to “come to our senses” and then guides our journey back from the wilderness.

And like the Father in the prodigal story, while we are still a long way off He’s been scanning the horizon for our return…patiently waiting to meet us with His tender mercies, endless rivers of forgiveness and the shining goodness of His presence.

Here is where we can safely bow our hearts before Him and be held and embraced fully–heart, soul, mind and strength.

This is the love of the Father for His wandering child…
and maybe you too.

And so I sing…
“Lord have mercy.
Christ have mercy.
Lord have mercy on me….”

..on us.
And He does.

Are you weary? Let’s go Home.