Tag Archives: testimony

How Free Can You Get?

God bless, it’s “Murica” time!

Come on out and wave those banners and flags! Pull out the graphic tee, gather with the Fam, and find a spot on the grass for the annual fireworks display! Let freedom ring from the mountains to the prairies— if only for a day.

I can’t say much about what I knew as a child regarding freedom’s call or price but I surely knew the taste of it. The occasional family gathering at my grandmothers or the local lake seasons my memory with bluefish on the grill, some meat on the whining spit and lot’s of running wild in all directions. Sparklers and fireflies and the nylon-webbed aluminum chairs that clanked together as we took our place on the blanket spread before them. There the musky scent of rotting apples at the base of the tree, some sulphur and magnesium wafting through the air, blended together with the sharp smell of OFF! mosquito spray.

This only happened a handful of times but in my soul I felt cared for, loved and strangely free as I sat with my childhood family eating and watching the bursts of color spread over the sky above and rain down in streams of light.  I could relax in their presence if only for a moment. On that day, we were a family. We were Americans… citizens of “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” But the truth of the matter is that none of us was then truly as free as we could get.    Not yet.

It has made me ask: how free is free?  How free can you get? Is freedom based on where you’re born? Where you live and work? What your passport or driver’s license says? Is freedom based on a document? A constitution? A pledge, a vow or a good score on a citizenship test?

No doubt there are some places in the world where documents hold the key to our freedom and security. Those of us born into a world where this is never questioned cannot truly understand the inner workings of the heart and mind of those for whom this has never been true.  However, we owe every bit of our understanding to the ones who came before us, making the journey from wherever it was and deciding to walk towards the light of the freedom they dreamed could be a reality.  A “leave your kin, ticket-punched” kind of freedom purchased, no doubt, using all the guts and courage anyone could ever imagine. Fought for in various ways on various battle fronts both public and private, foreign and domestic, we live life in a “better country” someone else fought for…. and likely died for.

But is freedom an address? Is it simply where we get our mail? How free can you get? Is there still a freedom worth fighting for, sacrificing for, and on many levels, dying for?

Considering the past, the present and the future, I am grateful to know that the Holy Spirit has revealed a greater freedom in my life. The moments of celebration in my childhood were brief, sweet and precious few— shining against the backdrop of deep dysfunction and abuse. The family-styled celebrations of these moments in our nation’s collective history that provided these private highlights grow strangely dim in the light of that singular moment at the age of 12 or 13, when God revealed himself to me through the Gospel of Jesus Christ and showed me how to begin the walk of True freedom.

I was a child when it began. I spoke as a child and understood things through the eyes, mind and worldview of an American-born child. But now I’m grown… I’m growing… and I know that whatever rights and privileges I’ve ever known have only been granted to me in order to serve the cause of the Greatest Freedom there is as a citizen of Heaven.  No matter where in the future I may get my mail, I am grateful for the representative flag and banner I’ve been privileged to live under all my life but most especially, for the freedom it purchased so that the REAL FREEDOM I’ve come to know through Jesus as a result— can frame and foundation my life and future choices. It’s as free as one can get here on Earth at any address, in any capacity.

Free from guilt.
Free from sin.
Free from the demons of the past within.
Free from pain.
Free from loss.
Purchased by Christ’s heavenward cross.

This time next year, we will be living in another place where the 4th of July will merely be a date on the calendar. It will feel weird and bittersweet on some levels. Will we still celebrate? Most certainly. Because while our citizenship won’t change on earth we will still have reason to celebrate our freedom in Christ for, at the end of it all… it’s the only freedom that counts.

How free are you? Freedom is no small matter because God says so.  I am compelled to remember the many times I’ve flown across the continent or ocean hoping to shed some light for myself, but also for others in the name of the Gospel. Each time, the safety speech given about the oxygen mask procedure grabs me. I don’t ever want to use it! But it’s also the part where we’re told to secure our masks first ….then do so for another. Likewise, with our freedom in Christ. Once our freedom is secure, we must  do all we can to secure it for another.

Here. There. Everywhere.
This is the freedom  worth celebrating 24-7-365

how social media saved my marriage and restored my soul

Social Media Saved

I know this is going to sound slightly over the top, but I’m beginning to realize that by the grace of God, social media has helped save my marriage. And maybe…just maybe, it’s helped to save me too.

We hear often how the internet and social media have contributed to the breakdown and destruction of marriages. No doubt about it. This could have been true for me except for the most marvelous phrase in all of Scripture:

“But God”.


I’ve been a Christian since I was about  13 years old. Obviously, I didn’t understand all that meant then…or now and I’m still learning.  However, the last several years have changed and cemented me in ways only God could have designed.  I now understand a great deal more about my own heart and I understand more about God’s heart as well. He is good.

Well over 20 years and 3 kids ago… shoot, I was really just a kid myself– a writer, a poet and 2nd-rate performance artist, full of dreams and creative aspirations. Sadly, I was also full of the fear and dysfunctional behaviors that go along with chronic abandonment and abuse.

I confess that when I met my dear husband he fulfilled my number one (maybe only) qualification for “marriage material”:

he was nice and he didn’t hurt me.

It didn’t matter much that both of us had no clue what we were doing.
It didn’t matter that we had no real family guidance or grounding.
It didn’t matter that we had no plan,

Five months after we met, we were married and on our way…to who knows where. All we knew was to do marriage better than we’d seen our parents do it–how hard could that be?

It also didn’t matter at the time that I’d traded in my personal dreams and goals, exchanging them for the supposed security of that coveted “M.R.S.” degree. Heck, these things would sort themselves out later. Right?


You know, it’s hard to succeed when you wake up every day and go to bed every night slightly terrified you’re doing it all wrong and you can’t ask anyone for help. You’re certain everyone else has it all together and you have to pretend you do too. That was how I felt.

Somewhere, along the way, I’d lost my identity. A gaping, lonely hole was working it’s way into my soul and I didn’t know how to fill it.  Believe me, I tried. Basically, I lived most of my days in fear that sooner or later, someone was going to call my bluff and I knew I didn’t have any real or lasting answers.

It took the jolt of a sudden and unplanned move to care for my dying mother to reveal that I –in a very real way– was dying too. Dying on the vine. My final shreds of sanity were wearing thin. The very slender hold I had on my identity as Christian, wife, mother…and daughter– was slipping fast. I recall how one day I stood outside as a friend was leaving and all I could say was, “This is not who I really am.”   Trouble was; I no longer knew who that person could be.

I certainly didn’t know where to look.  I just wanted to push “pause”, catch my breath, rearrange the scene a little so I could catch up, sort it out and start again. Not happening.

Little by little, I was beginning to unravel.
But God.

I understand now how necessary this unravelling was. God was up to something bigger than I could see and was also about to step into my mess in ways I could never have known to ask for.

Truthfully,  it got much worse before it got any better.  I just couldn’t find my way through the maze of what God was revealing as my next step in doing life with Him. He was speaking and I know I heard something. In my grief and confusion, the enemy wasted no time in luring me off track with empty words and promises spoken in the midst of my brokenness… words I trusted were shared from God –but were not. I had hit bottom.

I was a wreck.
My marriage was a wreck.
My family was disintegrating.

But God.

You know, God  is in the redemption business and little by little He was buying back every piece of me I had given away over the years.  It got deep. It was intimate. It was a *particular* redemption.  God himself became… and then gave me back… the key to everything…. to me, who I am in Him.. to my heart and my soul.

All I had to do was surrender.


The healing came ever so slowly as I began to write again.

I took a chance on a blog and  began to reach out and discover whole groups of women–and a few men who are serious about the nitty-gritty living of this sometimes, ugly, underbelly life. People who care about God and others and themselves and about BEING the Body of Christ. My faith and hope in the right things was restored in the right ways.

I discovered a community passionate about things worth fighting for and the Reason behind the fight. In arranged marriages yet committed to their spouses and faithful to the cause of Christ. Some struggling transparently with infertility, cancer, ALS,  eating disorders, depression or the daily grind of the daily do of family life.

The internet became an altar and these writings became my sacrifice to Him because somewhere out there, somehow, some way some one needs to know there’s hope…needs to know that no matter how far they think they’ve gone,

Home is calling and our caring Father is waiting and is really is
only one step away.


So yeah, call it the hyperbole of the century but fact is,  social media saved my marriage and restored my soul…sorta. Saved my sanity, is more like it I guess. All I know is God didn’t let me go, he brought me through to here.

If you’re reading this today and see even a small piece of yourself in my story, I’m inviting you to come on home. He’s got your key too and I’d love to help you open that door.

Let’s be brave, shall we?

Restored, Lorretta signature



Something bigger than me

beautiful-in-its-time3I still recall the night I lay on my belly, top bunk gazing out the window… past the pussy willows and lilacs…. into an endless night sky littered with stars so numerous it terrified me.

The mountain breeze was early-autumn crisp and clear,  light was scarce, except for that blanket of stars winking above me in the night sky.

I was 8 or 9 years old  and I had a secret: a calm and steady Voice inside my head  somehow held things together inside of me even as the adult world around me was falling apart.

It held me when parents were fighting and the police would come, when bullies were mean and friends were scarce. It held me together all through days I seemed invisible to everyone around me. It sheltered and protected me even when those who should have, did not.

Looking out the window, I struggled to think past the angry voices rising,  falling and crashing in the other room. Fixing my eyes on the starry sky above and the stars, I relaxed and an inner dialogue began:

“Where did I come from?”
“Mother.” I heard.
” And where did she come from?”
“Many mothers before.”
“And them?”
“Heaven.” came the answer.
“Yes, and Mary and Joseph and Jesus came from God.” I thought.
“God is in heaven too.”
“He is.”
“Those stars came from God too. And all the planets…the entire universe….everything!”
“Yes. “

Suddenly, panic seized in my chest. Earth shaking awareness came over me so terrifying because my next question… somehow, even in my child-like, barely-churched existence… I knew…would not have an answer:

“Where did God come from?”.


No answer….not then.   I cried myself to sleep that night.

A few years , a nasty divorce and an abusive stepmother later, an early morning escape on a Greyhound headed south would deliver me to Georgia and although I didn’t know it then, it would lead me one step closer to the answer I’d stopped seeking.  The Answer, however, never stopped seeking me.

Places inside of me were hardening while Something else struggled to take root in the softer parts left of my soul.

Still, there’s very little love to be found for an awkward Yankee transplant in the heart of the deep South and I soon felt myself sliding sideways into my early teens with little to hold on to and the dirty weight of gravity pulling me down. Parts of me contemplated  selling out to the “status quo” even while that Something inside encouraged me to hold on.  Why or what, I really did not know.

An invitation outside of the norm of my deeply abnormal existence would change the tenor of my life. A neighbor, a concert…a group going from their “church”, a rock band was playing for the youth that night…did I want to go?   Sure… why not?

You need to understand, “church” was not at all a part of my family’s history. They wore the label “Catholic” which  was about as meaningful as ” 100% Cotton” or “Dry Clean Only” on their shirt tags.   Nothing more.

Until that point, my recollection of “church things” was shaped by time spent with a childhood neighbor, Elsie and shrouded in vague memories of a Sunday bus ride to a Big Place of juice, cookies, happy Ladies, flannelgraph stories and crayons. While I didn’t get to stay in these places for very long, Something met me there and seeds were planted.

So off I went with the neighbors to “church” that night.
No cookies…
No juice…
but whoa…the place was PACKED!
These people were HAPPY!
These people were LOUD!
The band,  “Mylon LeFevre and Broken Heart”, kicked in playing the most amazing music (to my highly sophisticated, Journey, Styx and Billy Joel lovin’ 13-year old ears!). I was trans-FIXED…in awe of this energy…this music…these happy people and those words. The combination was overwhelming.  OK, honestly….  I was confused as hell.

Things settled down and the lead singer, Mylon started telling a story. It was his story… his messed up and broken, sold-out to the world, rebellion, pain, drug and alcohol story. The story of a man from a successful family who’d hit bottom nearly killing himself….until Something clicked inside of him. “It was Jesus.” he explained.

This Something is Jesus?

Then Mylon sang a love song and… I can’t explain it any other way but that Something came alive inside of me.  A connection was made and a million pieces of me came together. It wasn’t weird or cosmic or all that spiritual… just a growing warmth of love, peace and acceptance for the first time ever and suddenly, the answer to my question of long ago rang out loud and clear;

“I am….   and I always have been   and I always will be …. for you.   Come.”

I did.  I walked straight into that place…towards the Voice I now knew was Jesus. Salvation was mine and the restoration had begun.

I’d like to put the finishing touches on this story, cue the cheesy inspirational music and call forth the “Happily Ever After ” but there isn’t one. Life didn’t get easier after that night; in fact it got much harder almost immediately. Many things still didn’t make sense.

I walked wide circles of misunderstanding God and floundered without discipleship.  Further home disintegration would place me in foster care where, in low self-esteem and quiet rebellion, I chased after other lovers and wandered in enemy territory for a time. Too long.

But God…
was faithful …
even then …
even when …
even though
I am not.

  • God was there before I was born, knitting me in my mother’s womb and whispering to me even then. I knew His voice.
  • He met with me through the darkness of my world, at my window and showed me how to fix my eyes on Him…long before I ever knew His name.
  • He guided me safely through each moment of pain and confusion, guiding me to Elsie, and the happy Big Church Ladies, caring teachers at school and  just loving me through the years of abuse and onto that Greyhound bound for Georgia.

In every moment, God was plowing my life and allowing seeds to be planted…His deep Gospel seeds. They would begin to sprout at a concert that night where I’d learn the name of the One who put them there.  Although the growth was painfully slow and for many years, largely unseen…God was still at work.  I’m thankful to say, He still is!!

Of course there are many details from that point forward shuttling back and forth weaving the tapestry I know as my life. Many good, wonderful,  difficult and still happening  God things.

Some argue it’s “not fair” what God allows in the lives of those He loves and calls according to His purpose. I disagree. Looking back, I agree with Paul that whatever I was for good or for evil…is garbage compared to the glory I know in Christ. It was worth it. It’s making me who I am and making me wholly His.

Some who read this  are today struggling to come to terms with life and what God is allowing to happen to you or a loved one. It’s no small thing.  I am sorry.  I only know He is faithful.  I pray you’ll  find ways to lean hard into God and learn of Him with the prayers of a faithful friend.    Message me; I’d be honored to pray and walk with you.

Others need to know that time you spend inviting  friends and neighbors to church and into your home, or ministering to “those” kids from crazy, fractured places; those of you who have taken the time to invest in broken lives,  discipling a young mom,  family or foster kid…it’s worth it.

You truly never know where you’ll find yourself the lineup of God’s grace in another person’s life. And since you may not  hear it from them, allow me say…“Thank you.”

I have the privileged perspective of one who’s lived life on both sides –as one “sheltered” and now as one who can “shelter”. It’s a wondrous blessing.

This is my story. This is my song…praising my Savior, all the day long. Do you know it?

Singing and Dancing,Lorretta signature