Category Archives: motherhood & family life

Mother of the Year, Runner Up; 21 Years and Counting…


am rounding the final bends of active motherhood with only 4 more years to go before I shift into a more passive role.  I will NEVER stop being their mother but my relationship with them will and must change.

Perhaps, like me, you started the journey with stars in your eyes and a heart bursting with hopeful expectation.

Those early newborn days were the dawn of a whole new world for me.  I held my child, fell so deeply in love, trusting with all my heart that all in order to be a good mother I must generously apply the best of what I knew (worldly pop-psych), and then do opposite of all my parents had done so wrong.

I was a great preschool teacher and babysitter; creative and so much fun– so I would be a great mother too, right? Easy breezy!

And, (if you’re done snorting and laughing now….) you know that NOTHING could be further from the truth…..

Lawd, there were days, the voice of Gone With the Wind’s “Prissy” rang clear in my mind: “I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ no babies!”

It scared. me. to. death. Let me tell you more…

Many Years of Covering

darkandstormy_5013It was a dark and stormy morning…. no really!

It had been a rough week of storm after raging thunderstorm the year of our first full Spring in Tennessee.

I had no way of knowing if weather like this was normal or not but honestly, I didn’t mind. Thunderstorms have always been my favorite.

These were good times…sweet times for us as a family. A decent move to a new station in a better market meant more stability for my photojournalist husband. Now we were only 4 hours away from our Georgia home and family versus half way across the country in Nevada.

And that day, sleeping peacefully in the back seat of our station wagon, was our 4 week old son. We were on our first outing together while Daddy and big sister did their thing back home.

We had just finished up with his one month well check and since he was doing so well, I figured this was as good a time as any to run some errands while I was still in town.

Pulling into the strip mall, I made a mental note of the dark clouds gathering in the western sky just as the first few drops of rain hit the windshield. No umbrella…and the sky opened up.

“Oh well,” I thought, “the baby is sleeping so I’ll take some time to straighten out the checkbook till the storm passes”.

Turning off the engine, with amusement I noticed the shoe store ahead of me was having a sidewalk sale and thought, “Who in the world would want to buy rained on shoes at ANY price?!?”

Funny how certain details get burned into your mind.

There really was no time, not a split second more, before that thought was interrupted by the hammering sound of wind and flying…hail? Dirt? Rain? What?!?! spraying my car with the force of a sandblaster.

Each thought could only occupy a fraction of space and time and as the car began to rock and sway, lifting off the ground to one side….I knew:   tornado.

The unspoken force of that single word with all of it’s meaning exploded with lightening force through my mind, snapping my body into a single motion, flying half bent over the driver’s seat to shield my baby boy.

And the windows blew in.

Glass, dirt, rain,
roar, wind, pain,
howl, cry…

“Lord have mercy! Lord have MERCY!”


The silence was nearly as intense as the storm.

I rose to see that seven of the eight windows were gone, raining bits of glass from my head and back into the carseat below… where my child…my son… lay sleeping, a halo of broken glass around his head and body.  True story.


The storms that day, at the peak of the noonday lunch hour almost 18 years ago, left a huge swath of damage through the area. Miraculously, no one was killed or seriously injured. I was treated for minor cuts at the local hospital and released to a very grateful husband and father. At some point, I’m pretty sure the boy finally woke up to eat!


And today, that strong and courageous, gentle and sweet soul; my son, turns eighteen.

My heart swells and my eyes get teary just thinking about it. 

Eighteen years of legos, star wars, broken arms and stitches, artistically carved spears and swords, guns and bows and knives and My Little Pony?!?  Er…um “Brony”.

Growling and fussing, Close encounters of the dangerous kind, X-box, dub step, first deer, first prom, first car…

..eighteen years with another seeing, feeling and thinking, passionate soul much like myself.

An artist.
A lover.
A man…. my son.

Bittersweet as it is to reach this milestone and recognize the days of our life together under one roof are coming to a close, the next chapter of his story is really the one we’ve been writing and preparing for all these years: manhood.

I couldn’t grasp it then but it’s very clear now;  this is the very reason I covered and protected him in that first storm and through the many “storms” that would follow; release.

Releasing him with God’s help, into manhood with as much faith, wisdom and training as any mother is able to impart to her child, has been the goal all along.

 And I do.    I release him with much love.

Today, I want him to know I am so proud the man he is becoming. I pray he’ll continue to learn how to lead well and lean hard into God as his guide as he goes, trusting in His care and always… throughout all of life’s storms, I pray he’ll always know the way Home.Lorretta signature


a FAT slice of humble….cake.

We have just sprinted through the birthday/holiday portion of our family calendar, officially ending with February 15th and our youngest son’s birthday.  My iBoy is another year older!


As I was pulling through my recipe files looking for the requested “plain yellow cake”,  I was startled by the memory of another “plain yellow cake”  I volunteered to make almost several years ago. And I cringed.

Oh my.
Yeah, I remember that.

The story goes something like this:  3 kids and many gray hairs  ago…

I thought I could decorate cakes for extra money. I learned the basics, loved to bake and like most things (then and now); what I lack in true talent, I’ll make up for with enthusiasm! At least, that was the plan.

What didn’t factor into my delicious money-making plan was the “three children” part of my story. Some reading today have way more children and have done just fine. God bless you. That was not me.

It may or may not come as a surprise to learn that I thought I could handle it all, or at the very least,  bluff my way through anything.

It was a relative breeze going from no children to one child. And child number two was not that big of a change either. So, hey, I got this thing!

Enter child three…..whoa Nelly. I can’t explain it but, this third child triggered a veritable vortex in my world which sucked me down and held me under for quite a long time.

Long. Time.

All the things I used to do with ease and grace…were not easy and seldom graceful. People, I was a wreck. Nothing could prepare me for the assault on my pride, intellect and vanity to discover inwardly that I could not do it all and, what little I could do, was not going to get done well.

But I’d never confess it.

I expected life to get back to “normal” but there was no such place to get back to. “Normal” had changed it’s address and left no forwarding number!

Cake. This story is about cake. The moment of my undoing began one morning as I sat in the middle of “Mt. McLaundry . I was trying to nurse child three to sleep for his morning nap, propped on a pillow held against my knee, while  attempting to match socks. The phone rang. It was son #2’s Preschool Director asking me what time the cakes would be ready for the graduation ceremony on Friday.

Silence. Shock. No awe.

I’d completely forgotten about the 2 half-sheet cakes I had been hired to make for graduation… now only 2 days away.

Quick!  Bluff! RECOVER! Hanging up, with happy assurances they’d be there…I went into instant panic mode. How could I forget? Shoot, HOW could I remember?!?

Abandoning my tenuous foothold on “Mt. McLaundry”, off to the grocery store I went to buy supplies before the afternoon carpool run. So much for nap time.

Bah. I could do this. I would do this.

People. I was an un-holy cake-baking terror for the next 24 hours. On a mission to preserve my reputation (more like salvage my ego), I undoubtedly wreaked family destruction in the process. Those cakes got made by glory.

Step one done:
Frost and set. Check.

The cakes were placed in the  garage/office area allowing the  frosting to “set” while I mixed up the decorator icing; one on the workbench and one on the chair. Check.  Husband would keep an eye on things. Check.

Who knows how long it took.  All I recall is the “NO! Don’t sit….” followed by “Uh-oh”: the “shot heard round ” my world  that night.  My dented cake and middle son’s frosted backside was all it took to take me down…..down….


I didn’t cry; I howled. Fists banging and screaming, I collapsed in a heap. Ugly cry time. No time, money or ingredients  to start over.  Bondo.

I quickly whipped up another batch of frosting and filled that moon-crater with as much as it would hold.  A huge, disgusting glob fleshing out a whole corner. Mmmm. Then decorated with lots of squiggly stuff everywhere and acted like it it never happened…the end. I wish.

The cake…was edible if not rather hideous and gaudy. I think it turned everyone’s lips and fingertips yellow. For some reason, there was a lot left over…maybe because my son kept telling people about the “hiney cake” and showing where he sat. Nice.

I found this picture and had to laugh! Oh my goodness. So funny and so terribly SAD! Look at that cake and….look at that poor girl!

6See it in her eyes? Pride? Fear? The die-hard people pleaser so far from God and so afraid to fail.  Miserable and lonely most of the time. So unsure of herself and too afraid to ask for help.

That was me.
Could be still
if I’m not careful.


Not that I’ve come SO far since then…it’s more, that I’m gradually turning toward home. Maybe accept the challenges as well as my limitations and desperate dependency on God, who I’ve since come to know not only as my Savior…

but as my Lord.

So I can remember this event with humor and compassion, extending grace, love and mercy to that poor girl 13 years ago and love the girl in the mirror now.

 I can also choose to see with new eyes, and extend grace and mercy to the struggling women around me…

  • some fearful of failure,
  • some lonely and young with children,
  • some newly married and  learning what love really is,
  • some broken from the “whatevers” of life.

That’s where the healing is and the power of God’s redeeming, restoring 3. Over time, as God redeems,  these memories soften and what once could have been a source of shame and bitterness is now a sweet source of strength. I’ve learned “humble cake” is really not so bad. I don’t mind sharing!

Dancing with my mouth full,Lorretta signature