Tag Archives: love

what a father’s love can look like

She was there before me.

He loved her—maybe more than he loved me at first— and I knew it. Not in the “classical” sense of love however, there was no denying  she owned and occupied a significant piece of real estate in his heart and I would have to learn how to deal with it.

What else could I do?

what a father's love can...

Even his mother understood this and the story is told how when they first met she asked, “David… what kind of girl is going to go around with you in that thing?” His response?

“One who can climb up in it!”

I was more than willing (ahem) and “she” was a 77 Jeep CJ-7, the love of my husband’s life.  Big ol’ tires and a bikini top, this vehicle was the stuff of his rough-and-tumble, adventure-seeking dreams come true! Honestly, I might have loved him just a little more for having her around.oil check jeep

I knew just enough about vehicles and mechanical things to pitch in where I could so I learned to care for her the way he did. I could do little maintenance things and once I changed her water pump. Yup…we were family.

Five months later to the day, he and I were married and she carried us off on our “exotic” treehouse honeymoon at the youth hostel in Brunswick, Georgia.

Just Married HostelJeep at hostel

Then came the Air Force because sometimes a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. With a mound of debt between us and no job offers in sight, it seemed like this was the best option for getting back on solid ground.  A month and a half after we said “I do”  we said “goodbye” sending him to Lackland, Texas for basic training.

For eight weeks, it was just me and the ol’ CJ-7 looking forward to tech school and the day we’d all be together again. Packed to the gills (with a cat and 4 kittens– don’t ask) I drove West to breath-taking Colorado for a short but glorious chapter in our lives.

From Colorado we were on to Illinois and finally able to explore what the stable, married life could be like. He worked at the base while I tried going back to school and working full time at a daycare center.Airman Stembridge

Truth be told, we had a lot of growing up to do but enjoyed life while learning what that meant. We found a church and began to deepen our understanding of God, ourselves and what a Godly marriage was supposed to be like. Money was tight and we argued over our poor decisions a lot occasionally. Some things meant walking through to the end but we were in it together.

I’m pretty sure we were both very involved in the planning of our first child or at least we thought this was a good idea whether we understood how to plan or not! I’m can’t lie— we were clueless. We only knew we had love to share and so…we did.

Medically, the military takes care of it’s own so affording the pregnancy was never a problem. However, even our combined salaries couldn’t do much to take down the mountain of debt incurred before we met— school loans,  poorly managed credit cards— two car payments all collided with daily living expenses. Now a baby was on the way and we knew— something would have to change.

I don’t remember the discussion. Even now I can’t imagine it was easy for him to place the ad to sell our Jeep. I get choked up just thinking about it… I mean he loved her. However,  he was now a husband ..about to be a father and  tough decisions needed to be made. It wasn’t an easy sell but eventually someone came along and we waved good-bye.

This should have been the end of the story. UGH! we were so naive. Because we mercifully floated the loan to another Airman trusting that with his steady job, he would make the payments to us and we’d pay the bank. That worked for a few months. Then nothing. He was discharged and went silent.

It took a long time to find him and when we finally went to get the Jeep… the damage was unimaginable. No way could we afford the towing fee. We had to leave her… and our hearts, behind. Oh… it was terrible. Now not only did we not have the Jeep…  we had no choice but to continue paying her off.

So.   much.   ouch

These words came:Baptism

This was 24-ish years ago.  I know there are things we should have-could have done, but it was too late for a do-over. We had to keep moving forward.  It was sad and we had regrets. He loved her, no doubt about it… but he loved us more.

daddy and chelsea babyThe “happily ever after” part of this story was born later that November. Now a new girl had won his heart.. one who would be the first to call him “Daddy” and one for whom he’d gladly sacrifice a Jeep…. and so much more. 

Oh.. I know he still thinks about those days and the time we spent running around in the CJ-7. I’ve caught him looking at other “girls” and getting a little hot with Jeep-envy from time to time!  Maybe someday.

The Three Kids

In the meantime, three of the best decisions we ever made will truly celebrate him as their father on Sunday and from what I can tell, there’s nothing in the world he would take to go back to or trade for the priceless position he holds in their lives.

Father Daughter Dance

Somebody wiser than me once said: “Most any man can become a father but it takes a real man to be a Daddy.”

That’s Him: my God-fearing man…husband of one and proud Daddy to three… the love of my life.Lorretta signature.

bless my adulterous heart

The seasons are changing— I’m glad. I sorta need it.  I’m hungry for a good thunderstorm and the shiver of a brisk wind pointing me in the direction of Autumn. Mostly, I long for an outward sign marking the inward and subtle changing of seasons within—and everywhere as far as I can see.   Good changes.     But slow.

With the heat of summer and a life-altering trip behind me, it’s not surprising that some things have come loose and undone in my life and there’s no putting them back where they were before. Nothing major— in fact, only those closest to me and my heart could sense my frustration as I wonder what still fits and where it all leads. Right now?    It’s here.

In this HERE place I’m sensing God’s question: “Am I your enough?”
And He wants….deserves… an answer.

Precariously straddling the chasm between the “already” and the “not yet”, I’m realizing with a sense of shame that while my heart and mouth may cry out “Yes Lord!”, my flesh and attitude may tell a different story.  Prone to wander, Lord… I feel it. 

Oh bless me and my fickle,    adulterous heart.

bless my adulterous heart

Let me tell you more…

thou shalt

Stepping outside,  I manage to catch the last rosy rays streaking low behind silhouetted trees as the sun passes it’s baton to a healthy slice of moon taking up post for the night watch.

The call and response  of crickets chirp back and forth as night sounds begin to creep in closer from every angle. Somewhere at the end of the street, a hoot-owl calls the evening to order as the sun exits and dusk finally gives way to deepening night.

I saw the first fireflies tonight. I heard a few cicadas too.

Laying on my back looking up at the moon glinting far beyond the trees, the angle of my repose makes the Queen Anne’s lace look smoky and sultry, mysterious and lovely in the gathering darkness.

A deep breath of the cooling air relaxes my body by degrees until I feel my shoulders give way against the grass, sinking into the comfort of God’s obvious and quiet presence there with me.

My cat joins me, purring,  and neither of us speaks a word. It’s enough just to be there together with Him.

I am thankful.

Soon, I will find myself under a different piece of the same sky in Africa.

Let me tell you more…