Tag Archives: mother

iron maidens and the dragons they slay

A giant nearly ten feet tall stepped out from the Philistine line into the open,
Goliath from Gath. …”  (1 Samuel 17-4)

She cussed like a sailor.
She smoked like a freight train.

unnamed-4For awhile she drove an eighteen-wheeler from one end of the country to the other to earn her living.
She lived large, laughed loud and drank her whiskey straight.

When she set her mind to something, it was done— five minutes ago.
She tore apart several houses and put them back together the way SHE wanted them.
Sadly, sometimes it wasn’t her “house” and she left a trail of men in her wake.

She intimidated the crap out of me and yet,  I wanted to please her most of all.
I often felt like I didn’t and I’m sorry I didn’t understand her better.

She was my mother. The toughest thing going and to this day, a good bit of who she was remains a mystery to me. There are not many folks alive who can tell me much more than I know so I’ve gotten used to the fringes and shadows of what few memories I possess.

To be honest, there were many years I was flat out mad at her. Might have said I hated her. Hurt and disappointed by her choices and behaviors— and though it wasn’t her fault alone, I didn’t know how to process what I was experiencing.

In fact, for a while if you wanted to make me so mad I might punch you hard and cry harder, all you had to do was say I was a lot like her. That was enough to draw me out swinging. Not anymore.

So much more is clear to me now that I’m older with a fresh perspective on life and it’s struggles and also… now that she’s gone.  I realize now, we were both tragically misunderstood. I loved her more than I feared the pain of her rejection but somehow never found a way to break through.

I miss her. She was strong and amazing.  She was a tough cookie with a soft spot for the underdog, the downtrodden and the strays. And….in at least the best ways I can tell— I’m a lot like her.

She wasn’t a very big woman but recently I have begun to realize that the pain that once passed between us has cast a giant shadow over me for most of my adult life.     It was a giant I had to slay.      One of many actually.

“David asked …Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?(1 Samuel 17:26)

Iron Maidens

People…     giant slaying is some downright dirty and difficult work.

 God has wrought so much healing out of this painful place of struggle in me as I’ve done that dirty and difficult work and I willingly open myself for Him to use whatever He deems useful to heal those deep wounds in others. It’s why I’m here. In the process of it all, I find myself now surrounded by a number of other “tough cookies”…. Iron Maidens is how I like to refer to us — as in the “iron sharpening iron sort of way described in Proverbs 27:17.

None of us exactly chose to be this way. None of us asked for this responsibility or the difficulty of having to slay some pretty terrible giants from our past in order to get here.  But none of us would have it any other way if God can use us. It’s the way we are and because we are His, this is also how He’ll use us if we allow it. Imperfect yet beautifully useful… restored for a purpose. Set apart for a holy privilege. Iron Maidens are brave.

The becoming

And you know writing through my brave here may seem like I’ve gotten a bunch of stuff figured out but if there’s one thing I need you to know — I’m mostly figuring it out as I go along.     Like everyone else.

There are days I’m just aren’t feeling it. Days when all the molehills become towering mountains covered with gigantic problems that seem tainted and flavored like my past. Those are the days when I’m not sure I can— or even want to fight the battle or slay another stinkin giant ever again.

It’s hard.   Me?      On those days I want to quit.
I feel unqualified to speak on behalf of God or to anyone else.
Maybe even like it’s not worth it.
It’s so much….bigger than me.
Sometimes I feel naked… because I forget Who’s really got me covered.

“Then Saul gave David his own armor—a bronze helmet and a coat of mail. David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before. “I can’t go in these,” he protested to Saul. “I’m not used to them.” So David took them off again.(1 Samuel 17: 38-39)

The Sure Cure of the Light

In those moments, God shows me the truth of what it truly means to surrender… ALL.  He may use another person in my life to remind me of the preciousness of this place and the call to keep slaying those giants. Or He might simply meet with me in His Word, under a tree, “face to face as a man meets with a friend.”

But He reminds me that in His hands— everything about my life and journey is useful for this Kingdom call and the tools He’s given me to fight these battles with are ones I know how to use well.      They fit.

 David quickly ran out to meet him. Reaching into his shepherd’s bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it with his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face down on the ground..” (1 Samuel 17:48b-49)

This early story of David flew home to nest in my heart this past week because this is the very same situation we must apply to any and all giants we must slay in the name of the Living God.

As I re-read the story God spoke and revealed there was more than one giant present that day. The obvious one— yelling and screaming and looking all scary, then David’s own family members who mocked and belittled him. He had to respectfully stare down the giant of a wrong authority-figure who wasn’t willing to face the giant himself…and there might have been the giant of pride in there somewhere too.   All these and more he’d face again somewhere down the line.

But the biggest thing God revealed is that in the end, it wasn’t a stone that slayed the giant that day. God could have done that Himself.     What killed the giant…… was obedience.

Faith in God and obedience to the call.   As David eventually learned,   it’s the only way to slay ANY giant.   In fact, it may be the biggest brave of all.

So…. what giants are you facing down today?  Let’s do this thing.

An Iron Maiden Dancing,Lorretta signature

“Birdie Bread” {a family tradition}

Bread is my mortal weakness.
***********       It’s the “achilles heel” of my thighs!

Not all bread mind you…no I am a …. {gasp}

Bread SNOB!

In fact, I have to confess…I am a food snob of sorts….but that’s a different post for a different day because today, I must share with you one of our family traditions; Birdie Bread!  Typically, these delicious things show up at our table for Thanksgiving, but they’ve been known to make an appearance for Christmas or Easter as well.

People….Few things can take me down a sinful path faster than a hunk of freshly baked bread slathered with good butter…or just hot out of the oven. I can work up an appetite just *thinking* about the stuff! Part of it is psychological and emotional; my mother showed me breadmaking in action. The rest?

It’s all me baby! Let me tell you more…

this is My


Over the years, I have come to enjoy the process of making bread. For me, it’s as much of an art form as it’s become a whole-body therapy for my soul. I don’t mind confessing: bread is my comfort food. I’ve always loved it--the aromatic, earthy smell of the freshly ground wheat berries blending with the various sweet and savory ingredients and yeast, (for a leavened bread, of course).  I love the pliable warmth of the resulting dough rolling between the heel of my hands and folding through my fingertips.

Kneading is where you get to know your dough.  I truly enjoy the whole-body physicality of communing and connecting with these ingredients and this process as old as time…an ancient ritual of sorts.

I love the rhythm of kneading that dough for sometimes eight, up to ten minutes; rocking back and forth while keeping time to a tune in my head or simply thinking. Rocking and rolling the warm dough… over and fold and through…over and fold and through.

The rhyme and the rhythm relaxes my mind and soothes my soul and before I know it, I’m becoming one with both the process and the dough. Quite often, in the midst of it, I find myself daydreaming and easily transported to places locked in my distant memory and far beyond my kitchen.

And it’s personal. Bread making is one of the few things that still connects me with my mother.  Ours was a strained relationship fractured by divorce, distance and a radical difference in lifestyle. I am a Christian and  her life was one of bitter disappointments, poor choices and resulting hardship, and from what I could discern; she did not share my salvation.

Thankfully over time, and if we allow it, God has a way of growing us and filling the gaps present in even the worst of relationships.  As an adult, I learned this and in the years leading up to her death in 2004, we were just beginning to discover and explore our common ground. Although she never actually taught me how, I can still remember that smell–that sweet, sweet smell and the light and happy feeling that came over our house when there was freshly baked bread to be eaten.

The memory of it stands out bright and clean against the backdrop of so much pain that had been more commonplace in my childhood. Almost golden, those bread memories rest in my mind neatly nestled alongside cooking, sewing and gardening.

My mother did those things
and almost instinctively by heart, I do too.

Lately, I’ve been given the blessing of making communion bread for my church. I am grateful to make this  offering to God… being able to offer something to His table and for my church family, means something to me deep inside.

Recently, due to some healing changes and epiphanies in other areas of my life, making the communion bread has become something so amazingly different— so much more intimate.

Seeing myself, a sinner saved by grace alone through faith alone, this ministry takes on new light. Now, I am acutely aware of God’s presence and the privilege I have of setting this bread before God and my church family.

  It’s caused me to pause and recognize all the intensely intimate ways our Creator reaches out to us through His word and how He’s revealed Himself through all of His creation and the seemingly “simple” elements of bread and wine.


I am now keenly aware of a deeper meaning behind what takes place as I crush those kernels of wheat and beat the ingredients together to form the dough.


I am aware of Christ’s presence as I mix and fold and knead and score it and bake it; all the while remembering from the book of Isaiah that He…HE, Jesus, was pierced for MY transgressions and crushed for MY sins. Here, my kitchen becomes a sanctuary and I click  with my more liturgical roots, which quicken my memory to recall the words of the Nicene Creed.

And I found myself reflecting more deeply on how in John chapter 6 , after miraculously feeding the multitude, Jesus calls himself the Bread of Life come down from heaven and would later in a borrowed room with only hours left to live

He would take that symbolic bread, give thanks and break it, giving it to his disciples saying  “This is my body given for you. do this in remembrance of me.”

  •            “Do this  in remembrance of all I have taught you”.
  •             “Do this in remembrance of the life I lived before you; live this way too.”
  •              “Do this in remembrance of my promises.”

    He was saying…

“No matter what happens next;
don’t forget; remember.

Remembrance; this is what it’s all about each and every time. The bread broken and given from His soon-to-be pierced hands extends itself through the centuries through remembrance reaching out through me as my hands kneaded the dough, to be given later into the waiting hands of my church family gathered around His table of remembrance.

Each one of us hearing in turn, “This is body of Christ, broken for you.” Because of His sacrifice for my sin,  His great gift of grace was now mine to give in this small offering and it was a joy–a true communion– to share it with my church family.

It’s the echo of Christ’s words spoken through the ages, the resurrection ripple sent rolling through history that would change the world forever. It was the simple act of obedience to a simple command: remember. I pray that I’ll never forget.


Sweet Communion Bread

(my version of Luther Seminary’s Communion Bread Recipe)

  • 2 C      Whole wheat flour
  • 1 C       white flour
  • 3 T        brown sugar
  • 1 1/4t   baking powder
  • 1 1/4t    salt

Sift dry ingredients together 3 times. Set aside.
Mix together:

  • 3/4 C – 1C very HOT water
  • 3 T     honey or brown sugar
  • 4 t      oil
  • 1/4 t   vanilla

Add wet mixture to dry mixture and mix well. Dough should be slightly sticky; lightly knead but not much.

  1. Divide dough into 4 balls and flatten/roll into a loaf/disk 1/4 in thick.
  2. With a knife or fork, score the top of each loaf into serving portions or with a cross pattern.
  3. Lay the loaves on a baking sheet and bake @ 350º for 10 mins.
  4. Remove from oven, brush with oil/honey mixture. Bake additional 5-8 mins. Let cool.

Yield: four 8 oz loaves each serving 60- 70 pieces depending on the size given. Loaves freeze well.