Tag Archives: healing

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


2500 Miles, A Story of Life, Death and Resurrection

We bought a large paper map.

It covers the entire Eastern portion of the United States and the major roads, towns and cities between here and there. I pinned it to the dining room door so I could take in the whole picture— see the entire journey spread out before me and somehow plot the course for the weeks ahead.  For a trip like this, a GPS or Google Map just won’t do.

2500 Miles

We’re back.

Of course, even a brand-new paper map can’t show everything. It didn’t show the place in Virginia where we pitched our tent that first night with hundreds of pet-grade bunnies hopping around.

It didn’t show Pennsylvania roadsides strewn with wild raspberries, ripe and ready for the picking by the hand, mouth and bucket-full. The mountain ranges were etched on there, but not the rows and rows of windmills planted along their ridges like monstrous, aluminum and steel daisies. 

In so many ways, this land we call America, is breath-taking and beautiful.


There was a purpose for the going.

Practical, promised and somewhat sacrificial, the youngest had qualified for a special Ranger School that had us delivering him to the Eastern Pennsylvania mountains adjacent to the Appalachians and very close to the hills I once roamed in Northern New Jersey.

Kinda crazy and massive in it’s scope and somewhat bigger than any trip we’ve taken overseas, this was about as organized as we get.  Some parts were planned— the camping, the visit with dear friends, the whirlwind tour of DC. Others were tentative— open-ended and accidental, possible but not set in stone, leaving plenty of wiggle-room for change if something didn’t look or feel quite right.

Mountain RoadBig Beautiful Barn

My husband was insistent.

He’d never seen this part of the country—never imagined how beautiful it would be. I’d always told him about my childhood home— the open spaces, rolling hills, farms and fields and now he’d see for himself.

He insisted on taking me further.

Insisting I needed to go all the way back this time..and he was right. Going all the way back was the next step to going fully forward. It was time:
any sooner, I wasn’t ready. Any later, and I might have missed it altogether.

Franklin Pond SignFranklin Pond

Franklin Pond Waterfall

From a picnic at Franklin Pond where memories of day camp and swim lessons in the summer mingled with frostbitten remembrances of ice skating in the winter, to walking the grounds of Franklin Elementary school and remembering this place that sheltered me during some of my darkest years. I halfway expected it to be torn down, replaced by something more modern. Instead, the well-worn brick and mortar gave off a sense of warmth and familiarity I hadn’t expected to greet me.

Franklin Elementary

Driving around to park in front, my breath caught as spotted “her”: The Tree. I’m not really a tree-hugger by definition but I came close to hugging this one. I was so glad to see her. I’m pretty sure it was 3rd grade with Mrs. Fitzgibbons: every morning after the Pledge, as a class we’d turn toward the window look out at the tree and sing,

I think that I shall never see,
a poem lovely as a tree

I confess… the sight of this tree made me cry for all that was and was not… and well— never would be.

Trees 3

But now, it was OK. This time, I could say a proper goodbye and move on… thankful for what IS.

Nearly missing the turn, we found that trailer park and drove all…  the way…  to the top.
I think I spotted Elsie’s trailer.
I know I saw the other one.
It looks like she still lives there.
The place is a dump.
I didn’t knock.

It’s enough to know the slight satisfaction of having left as a weak and wounded child— and to now return as a whole woman of God— as an outside observer to the mess that was and still remains.

I came.
I saw.
Choosing to be moved lightyears beyond…
I walked on leaving her…. all that…. behind.

The last place would take me further than I thought I wanted to go. But he was waiting for me and in 26 years had never met my husband. Again, it was time.

The first pictures tell all: my shields are up, not quite ready for that “Hallmark moment” to be thrust upon me— not ready to easily  dismiss all the hurt and disappointment that had accumulated over the years. I didn’t mean for it to be so obvious but it’s just where I had to begin. I had to be sure. I had to wait and see.

Shield's upShields up TWO

Inside I watched him shuffle around the kitchen happily chatting and preparing for dinner. Watching as he helped feed and rock his great-granddaughter to sleep. Observing his frailty and age, his tenderness and patience to those around him. All the while, somewhat keeping my distance, looking in from the outside at this scene my heart had craved for so long.

Three times he told the story.

Warning them not to toss the baby around like that because once, he’d been playing with me that way.  I was eight months old. He was tossing me back and forth to my mother — and missed. I landed at his feet. “Horrible.” he said , “You just don’t know how horrible you’ll feel if you miss.” 

Three times….. I heard his voice quake at the memory.

I thought— “Really?!? Because 33 years ago, You dropped me again and walked away.”

Through the years I’ve struggled quite a bit with getting back up.   There were times I missed the mark, wrongly trying to fill those gaps through other ways and people. God picked me up, it’s true, and my husband has been a strong arm to lean on as we’ve walked this God-guided road together. I had to learn these GREATER things along the way and I wasn’t expecting any of that to change this day.

Listening and watching I stood my ground til he moved around the kitchen island toward me and with few other words, simply said, “I’m sorry”.  In that moment nothing would replace the relationship denied to both of us. Nothing would replace the damaged years or innocences lost.          Nothing could or was supposed to.

In that moment, yesterday was not the point tomorrow was.  Forgiveness was requested and it was mine to give. The power and the gift, first given to me by God, was mine to transfer to him then and there. He opened his arms for a hug…  and I let him. After 33 years, he came back to pick me up….to begin, somehow… again.  

It was time.

Ephesians 2-4-10

We all ate dinner together.  My husband took many more pictures.  I played with my niece and helped with the dishes. Then we said our goodbyes, got into the car and with a paper map in my lap, we turned towards home.

Towards tomorrow and whatever tomorrow brings.

Lorretta signature

loosed by love to stand up straight and free

“a bruised reed he will not break,
 and a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory;”
                                              Matthew 12:20

It’s fascinating.

It’s my third year making this 40-day journey through the New Testament and I’m pure-T astounded at all the things I’m reading for the first time— though it’s surely not the first time.  I’m convinced more now than ever before, that this Word from God we are privileged to hold and read and live from, is always currently alive and timelessly breathing God’s meaning into our lives.

In fact, what I’m discovering this time around is that I’m not simply reading the Bible;  the Bible is reading ME…  and it’s reading God into me and shedding His light all over the place.

It’s probably why I can see her now.

Loosed by Love

Honestly, I‘d never noticed her before… not really. But there she is, in the thirteenth chapter of Luke— a woman bent over, doubled in two, crippled and tormented by an evil spirit… for 18 years.

Eight. Teen. Years.

She was bent over and unable… to stand up straight.
For 18 years, she was there, day after day… Sabbath after Sabbath — bent over and unable to stand… in the church.

How have I never seen this before?  I found myself asking questions like:

     Why did she stay?
What bent her so badly?

     What kept her from being able to stand?
What weight pulled at her so hard that her gaze never left the ground?
     Looking down for so long that maybe… she had stopped hoping to ever see the sky.

And those Pharisees and Scribes– those “Men of God”,  when did they stop noticing her?Did they ever see her at all?  Why was she so invisible to them?

Because here, it’s the Sabbath and Jesus has come to town to teach;  to open the Word of God in the temple– He’s come to BE the Word of God in their midst… in ours.

 Luke says that Jesus,  as he is teaching, notices this poor woman. He sees her. He didn’t have to ask what was wrong; he already knew. He also knew how long she had suffered— and why.

She didn’t even ask. Maybe in her mind, she had come to expect nothing would change about her condition or the way she’d been treated. She had grown used to being bent by this evil spirit and the burden she bore. She had become accustomed to not being able to stand.

Even in her own mind,  she was invisible.

Jesus is there for one day and she’s one of the first things He notices. Calling her to Himself, he touches her and instantly…

Healed and whole, she stood— looking Jesus in the eyes and she praised God !

Of course, it’s a scandal and an embarrassment to the men of the temple and the leader chastises Jesus (God!) instructing the crowd that there are six other days to do this kind of work but the Sabbath isn’t one of them.


Because what other days are there and what better place is there to find healing and wholeness than in the church on the Sabbath? And Jesus tells them so.

Not to mention…. EIGHTEEN YEARS.

 This woman had gone un-healed, un-noticed and un-cared for– being further bent over, burdened and shamed through the negligence of the very ones who professed to know God most… and yet knew Him not at all. They had been so busy with the “work of the church”— maintaining rules and regulations, buildings and reputations, they’d lost sight of the true work of God: worship and witness… truth and mercy.

It’s easy to do.

They’d been reading God’s words, but on this day, the Word of God was coming to read THEM.  Jesus has come to teach. He’s come to set her… and me, and the bent and broken record straight,  giving us a way to stand— whole, again.


I’ve been in the presence of many such women all gloriously touched and made whole by God. In the hills of Northern Kenya I met Rose. On the dusty streets of Nairobi, I met a former prostitute named Claire*.  Yesterday, I sat in a room with a woman once broken by addiction. And just this morning… I locked eyes with the girl in the mirror… and smiled because she knows.   Because she is known.

As one who’s spent time bent over and unable to stand  I’m here to testify, there is nothing sweeter than being called to Jesus, and hearing Him speak into my aching spirit,Woman, you are loosed…!.  Nothing better than being touched by Him and made able to stand straight again with nothing in my hand but grace upon grace to spend lavishly toward others.

Christian Artist

I don’t know for sure what that dear Woman did for the rest of that Sabbath day when her life was changed forever or what she did on the many days afterward. But I get the feeling that she never stopped praising God. I get the feeling that because she was no longer bent, because she was now able to stand, that she spent the remainder of her life in worship and witness, keenly aware of others who needed the same touch.

And standing… she could see them.
At least, this what I want to do: to see, speak and to touch others with this love of Christ.

So maybe today, you find yourself  “bent”,  doubled in two and unable to stand beneath the weight of your burden. I pray that you can clearly hear these words from Jesus now– saying  “… you are loosed from your infirmity!”  Whatever that may be and then come… stand with me.

Praising Him,Lorretta signature

Linking with Jennifer and Kelly!