Tag Archives: redemption

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


one angry mutha


Rescue and redemption are costly.

God intends for them to be inseparable although we often seek one without the other. I believe it’s why Jesus asked “what do you want me to do for you?”  We think we need healing–He knows we need HOLY even more.  He also knows

it’s costly.

I ought to know… because I used to be…


one angry mutha

I’ve been thinking about this for a while.  Of the examples found throughout the Bible — two  immediately come to mind.

There’s the fairly well-known account of the woman at the well That woman, with a reputation as bad and long as the string of men trailing behind her, creeps through the heat of day to fetch water for her family and the man she’s shackin’ up with.

And Jesus is waiting for her.

So many wonderful moments grace this story and we’ve heard many of them taught before. But here’s what I want to know:

after meeting Jesus and her life was changed, after leaving her water pot and calling the entire village to come see the “man who told her all she had done and who had to be the Messiah!”, after Jesus stayed with them 2 days and many were saved… what happened on day three?

Did she marry?
Did her neighbors treat her differently?
Did they swap Pinterest boards and were her children invited to their birthday parties?
Did she go along with the women as they fetched water from the well that day?

Human nature tells me that possibly a certain level of loneliness remained present in her life. Some possibly couldn’t see her any other way. Of course, I really don’t know.

I do know there’s another story of healing and redemption — that crazy man, naked and raging at the tombs, after being healed and found dressed and in his right mind– even HE wanted to go with Jesus rather than go back home. Why? Because he knew his people might never fully see him now beyond the shadow of who he once was.

Hard stuff.

Honestly, this post isn’t where I’ d planned to go “next”. But God won’t let me walk away from this thought: if I’m to truly show myself to be “Jesus with skin on” then I must be willing to show my skin–the wounds, burns, scars–all of it.  I need to continue this path of transparency and authenticity for His sake and glory, by showing my self and life to be what it truly is:


 Y’all, I tried.

I envisioned what it might be like to be a mommy blogger, crafter of my nest and diva of delightful delicacies– from my kitchen to yours. I mean, I do all these things in my own way and I could easily share in those places.  I can be light-hearted and funny too, darn it! 

So, I pressed against God asking for some direction besides these deep, sometimes heavy places and well, He’s just impressing me back with peace and love that this is my obedience.

There are many…oh so many things I may eventually share here. Because I’ve watched with the eyes of my heart and I’m seeing  we’re not all that different on the inside. Our “guts” are the same even if  many other things are different. Inside we feel and need mostly the same things even if we don’t express or understand them the same way.

We need love. We need acceptance and I believe we spend most or part of our lives walking through the hazy “valley of the shadow of death”… quite often afraid….of something.

Eleanor Roosevelt is credited with saying,  “a woman is like a teabag, you can’t tell how strong she is until she’s in hot water.”  I guess that makes me strong in the sense  I’ve been “steeping” most of my life. It hasn’t all been hell, but it’s sure been hot sometimes!

At one time,  I’d be really upset for anyone to know the things I’ve been sharing in this space. Again, that’s a manifestation of fear… which is daily being perfectly cast out by the perfect love of Jesus Christ. Giving me very little reason to hide, shy away or…lie.

A few years back…before these epiphanies began  dawning in rapid succession in my life, I walked in and out of a personal darkness. I wasn’t a horribly bad person…I just wasn’t wholly good, which makes me just like anyone else ,


I was also heavily involved in church, loving it and at the “top of my game” so to speak. I’ve talked about that before– my rise and fall and the “wilderness” training leading to now.  We’d started a program –a good one called Celebrate Recovery and I was looped in to the leadership team to counsel women. As part of the training, everyone went through the book, participating and becoming familiar with the program for when “they” came.

You know, “they”: the broken, the addicts, the abused and the abusers. Those who needed help and we’d be the guides and walking them through to Jesus and healing.

I thought I was prepared.

See, I’d already done a lot of this sort of “work” in my life.  Believing that understanding my past, the abuse and the resulting behaviors, was akin to the healing–if I could talk about it as if I was on the “outside” looking in, then it was because I’d dealt with it and was beyond it.

Wrong. I had no idea what sort of festering wounds lay beneath the surface of my superficially-healed scars. I honestly couldn’t look at my life and see the manifestations of a woman on the verge of self destruction. Denial and manipulation had become so much a part of my personality that it was nearly indistinguishable from any other character traits. What’s funny is, many of the people around me–in the church–behaved the same way. I thought I was ok.

I wasn’t.

I knew I had a problem but honestly didn’t know how to get help. Long ago I’d tried and met with so much discomfort on the other end that asking for help became more taboo than trying to hide it….when I could.

Although few could confess to my issue,  Celebrate was a space where I was finally safe to speak it aloud:

I had an anger management problem.
In short..inside, I was one angry mutha

It was an anger based in fear and frustration, rooted in abuse and abandonment  stemming from a hard life filled with more questions than answers and very few people I could trust. I’d have “episodes”, now funny to my kids and husband, which cause me to cringe at the memory of my foot-stomping, door-slamming, screaming, frozen hot dog and fit pitching self.


Hormones, lack of help and bad hair days frustrated me to the point of spontaneous combustion, melting me into a heap leaving me feeling like there was no place to recover my dignity, my sanity… my reputation in the eyes of my family.

I was so ashamed.

It wasn’t easy to talk about it.  I don’t mean to offend but,  in some ways, I’d rather have confessed a substance or alcohol addiction, gambling, etc. There’s sympathy and programs, 10-steps and love, love, love. Lot’s of group hugs and understanding.

But just mention the phrase “anger problem” and I’d watch eyes shift towards the easiest route of escape…a backwards step and change in tone as if I’d lunge at any moment!

Of course, anger wasn’t the issue; it was a symptom of those deeper issues same as alcoholism, substance abuse, eating disorders, etc. The “guts” are the same.

Confession helped..but God healed. I sought the rescue which could only come after releasing myself completely to God without reservation and in that repentance, I was restored. 

I still struggle occasionally with fear, anxiety and self-control. But my responses are so radically different that I can almost outwardly watch myself deal with an issue and be inwardly amazed at the same time by the difference.

I am a new creation, daily embracing the truth and
walking away from the enemy’s two BIG lies:

  1. Did God really say?
  2. It’s too late.

Where you imagine you misheard the truth of God’s love and healing promises and how they really do apply to your life, your heart and situation NOW. Or, if you make it past that one, you might be tempted to despair, believing it’s too late to make a difference in your life or relationships now. Ask the thief on the cross what that’s all about.

Because God really DID say and it’s NOT too late!
I’m proof.

Lessons in Deliverance

Y’all, God is restoring  things on so many levels in my life and while the clock can’t be turned back, reset or paused– our God who powerfully exists OUTSIDE of time has wasted no time in mending the breaches of my fractured life.

I’ve just returned from a weekend spent with my engaged daughter who’s graduating soon. Already there are deep veins of new life flowing between us in ways neither of us imagined were possible. It’s so good!

So, I don’t know where you are in your journey. Maybe you’re caught between a rock and a hard place or “one step away from a bad decision”.   Or one step too far.

It’s one step back too.

I’m saying…hold on. Talk it out.  DO NOT BE AFRAID… Jesus is near and the healing is yours–one day at a time. Please don’t stand there alone– come inside and let’s talk.


While I wait, I’ll be checking out my Pinterest board for something fabulous to cook for dinner tonight and I’ve got some crafting to do for this upcoming wedding!  Because you know, I’m fun like that.   You are loved; don’t forget it.

Being restored,Lorretta signature


the temple prostitute

Fact: some stories can not be told. Sometimes they don’t belong entirely to you.

While powerful pieces may be yours,  there’s no good to be gained from the telling. These stories are best entrusted to the hands and heart of God who lovingly absorbs them into the greater mesh of His own.

Still, others need to be told… gently.

God alone knows which is which and guides us to know the difference. He also guides the how and when…and to whom these stories ought to be told.

Reading Scripture I think about the crazy collection of stories God chose to present to us. Out of all the stories in the world since time began, He chose these for us to learn from, share from and declare for His glory. The beauty is they’re not all “pretty-pretty-happily-ever-after” stories. In fact, some are downright ugly. Painful, good medicine.

My story has places in it like that too. Some things need not be told because God holds them now. I trust Him.  Others, must be offered because they contain the threads of hope woven into the common fabric so many of us share.


It’s the rare beauty of story redeemed.

the temple prostitute

Let me tell you more…