Tag Archives: God

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.

Darkness Before the Dawn

Even if we could…where else would we go?


I must speak so carefully… so respectfully for the sake of everyone concerned.
I must draw from the deepest, most horrifying recesses of my own soul…
draw from this common place of shared anguish over something that has once again risen sharply into focus… oozing it’s way slowly across the entire world:


We all seem to feel it; we can’t help itEven those who say they do not believe there is a God know it’s true: Something is dreadfully wrong and there is nothing we alone can do to fix it. 

Flags fly at half mast, stuffed animals and tributes line the streets of Newtown Conneticut and a memorial may likely be built in memory of this innocence stolen and forever burning a little town’s name on the map of our conscience.

Pronouncements will be made and fingers pointed.
Accusations will arise and justice sought,
Arguments will be heard and laws levied.

But our guts wrench at the thought of it all because in the end we know: no answer will be satisfactory and no earthly justice can be adequately served that will deliver children back into the aching arms of their mothers and back into the hearts of their community. Not in Newtown or anywhere else where evil has scratched it’s ugly mark upon human history.

Because, we can’t control or legislate against evil; we live in it’s territory. 

As for those who’d argue that their “jesus”, their “god” would never allow such things to happen, I can not answer with regard to their understanding of who Jesus really is. 

I only know that Jesus taught hard things
to a hard people
often using hard examples. 

This is hard.
He knows it.

God knows that sometimes it takes difficult and jarring moments to shake us from our daze when we might almost be willing to relax and listen to the coaxing voice of that enemy, very nearly convincing ourselves that we’re safe and all is right with the world. It’s not.

And we hate that about God. We might want to hate Him too…but we know we really can’t. We grieve and mourn, not only the wreckage and horror strewn before us, but we grieve most the wreckage within

That horrible moment when our words and sensibilities fail us and we’re repulsed and choking on the noisy silences in response to our search for a sensible answer….and there isn’t one.

There’s just no way to make sense of it because we’re not supposed to.

We’re not supposed to be able to make sense of evil at all. 

And maybe God does not owe it to us that we should. Maybe He has told us what we need to know and that’s all we’ll get. This is indeed a hard teaching. I’ve heard this a couple of times and I believe the spirit of these words are true: I should not say that God allows these things to happen or that these things are part of His divine will. Even if it might be true. Why?

Because that’s not my business. Because that’s not my place. Because those words are not helpful and that attitude is not healing or loving. And even when I can’t explain why it seems that sometimes God allows evil to have it’s way, I need to trust HIm. I must trust that this….even this.. will one day be redeemed.

As I stood at the clothes line yesterday pondering this thought, something so shocking occurred to me that even now I’m startled by it:

Perhaps most often, even as a Christian,  perhaps I’ve not been asked to defend God or His word  or even to explain His ways. 

Instead, maybe I’ve only been asked to represent Him, His word and ways. Maybe only God, himself can make the defense clear….in His own way,  in His own time….for His own glory.

The price of  representation is often painful, costly and awkward but it’s  part of being His chosen people and a royal priesthood. It’s my part of bringing comfort to those walking in any darkness by walking with them and sharing the light of His counsel and comfort which usually has come at the expense and depths of my own pain where…
….He has best comforted me…..has best comforted us.


So that from that comfort,  moments to humbly speak truth may come to us and be born in us but only because  the Spirit bears witness and testifies through us. 

And the testimony is simple: this– even this, does not have to be the final word. There is hope and this is not the end.

We’ll hear again this Christmas the words from Isaiah and positioned later by John that people walking in darkness have seen a great light and this light is the Light of all men.

His name is Jesus.

What’s terrifying  to us is the sudden realization that no matter how far we think we’ve come, it’s still dark. We’re often lulled into forgetting that it’s just as dark now as it was when those words were first scribed…just as dark now as it was on the night Jesus was born.

The only hope we have, for here and now and for tomorrow is in knowing that the Light can not be overcome by the darkness no matter how dark it gets before Jesus returns.  It’s through the darkness that the light can best be seen and that Light– Jesus,
must. shine. through. us. 

God planned it this way.

So while we must and will mourn with those who mourn, we must not give in to grieving as those who have no hope.

We must grab hold our lasting comfort in Him, share it with one another and then turn that comfort back over to others in this hurting world. To those who are this day, groping and grasping for peace and a reason for hope anywhere in this darkness… and they need to see and know Jesus.

We do this certain that even though it seems to be getting darker and darker, we know how this story ends. Recalling that somewhere it’s been said that it always seems darkest before the dawn.

And Dawn is coming.

Lorretta signature



healing worship

“The path of the righteous is level;
    you make level the way of the righteous.
In the path of your judgments,

        O Lord, we wait for you;
your name and remembrance
      are the desire of our soul.

  My soul yearns for you in the night;
    my spirit within me earnestly seeks you.

              For when your judgments are in the earth,
                   the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness. “
                                                                                            Isaiah 26:7-9