My friend and mentor, Lorraine Hiskey

“You must have silence so you can hear what God is saying to you,”  Lorraine tells me over our salads at Panera.

“How do you have silence, Lorraine? I have no silence in my life…..zero – none – nada.”

“I know,” she looks into my eyes knowingly.


It always stings when someone sees into your life accurately.  Lorraine sees my excessive business and recognizes the effects of it.  I thought I was covering so well…appearing so calm in the middle of the chaos at Tenthouse.  But Lorraine and her husband of 54 years, Jim, have been good friends since we moved to Annapolis.  They have been to Tenthouse often, and we have met with them for advice and council  when Mark and I have faced struggles in our marriage.

“Well, you have a busy life too.  How do you get this quiet?  Aren’t there always people asking you, ‘Where’s my breakfast?’ and ‘What’s for dinner?’ ”

“When I first attended to my need for quiet time, I neglected my responsibilities. You must find a balance. Of course we all need to get our work done.  It is possible you will need to do battle with yourself, and with those around you who might be demanding instant attention.  But once you establish this quiet space, you will find you must have it.  It is like air.  When I miss exercise, I feel it and I must get back to it.  The same is true with quietness.”

This comment about needing exercise and quiet like needing air makes me realize just how disciplined Lorraine is.  I notice she has not touched her baguette next to her salad… and that is the first thing I wolfed down.

“Well how do YOU do it?  Do you read the Bible?  Do you pray?  Or do you just sit quietly?”

When Lorraine smiles, as she does now, her whole face lights up.  “Have you heard of the author, J.I. Packer?”

I have.  He wrote a classic Christian book entitled, ‘Knowing God’.  I have not read it, myself, but always felt I should.

“Jim and I met with him and asked him the same question.  How do you spend your quiet time with God?  His answer was so freeing to me.  He said he would be quiet or read or pray until God spoke to him.  It might be one minute.  It might be 20 minutes.  You see, quiet time with God is not a formula.  He speaks to us, but it is His timing, not ours.”


A visit at Panera

This made sense to me.  How many times had I tried to plow through a book just to finish it, and how many times had I scheduled time to meditate and pray like I would schedule time to exercise -never pausing when new thoughts or inspirations came to me.  The fact is, I wasn’t ‘listening’ when I did this, I was just trying to ‘get the job done’.     Just one insight from God each morning is probably all I can handle for a day anyway.

As I moved from baguette to salad I had to ask one more question, ” What is the purpose of this quiet?  Is it to be peaceful and calm?  Are you trying to experience more joy?”

Lorraine looks intently at me, “There is only one purpose for quiet time with God and that is to more thoroughly form ourselves to the image of Jesus.  You and I are constantly in this process of formation.  There is no other purpose to silence.  There is no other purpose to life.”

I try to digest this comment.  Lunch is only half over and already Lorraine has given me more than enough to chew on.


But, I must digress here for one moment and leave this dialogue just long enough to let you get to know my friend a little better.

No one would guess that Lorraine is 76.  She dresses pretty hip – with jeans, scarf, cute shoes and purse.  She is always happy, even glowing.  Lorraine’s blonde, pixie haircut just fits her college nickname, ‘tweetie bird’.  I think she is  just beautiful, and it is not hard to imagine how she turned heads as a young women.  But Lorraine is not concerned with her appearance….her real beauty comes from within.  She forgets herself in your presence and becomes intensely aware – listening to every word spoken and even those  words left unspoken.

I get the sense she can see right through me.  Perhaps it makes me feel less vulnerable to focus the attention back on her.  So I ask……

“Tell me about your mother.”

“My mother, Marion Smith Langdon, was born in 1911.  At the age of four, she was orphaned and moved west to be with relatives in Idaho.  This was to be her home for the rest of her life.  When Mom was 17 she married my dad, an older man with three children.  She went on to have five children of her own (Lorraine is next to last), but then was widowed at the age of 35.”


My mother was and is a legend in our community in Idaho.

Lorraine continued, “Left alone to raise the last five children, my mom decided to take over the family business of buying and selling metal.  She was called the ‘junkyard’ lady, and wore jeans before jeans were in fashion.  She hired and managed workers, did heavy work, herself, like welding, worked hard all day every day……and became quite successful.  That is not all…she became involved in every civic, church and school group in town and was known and respected throughout the state of Idaho.  In fact she was nominated and won the title of ‘Mother of the Year’ in Idaho, and was the second runner up to the same title nationally.”  Lorraine grins happily at me, “You know she gave a speech at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City in 1952.  My mother was and is a legend in the community where we lived.”

I know the next part…how Lorraine met Jim on the playground in first grade.  How Jim actually remembers the dress she wore the day they met.  I know that the whole family likes to recount the Christmas when they were both in sixth grade when Jim shyly rang Lorraine’s doorbell and literally threw a gift into her kitchen and ran away.

Their life as husband and wife began after they both graduated from college in 1958. At that time, Jim became part of the pro golf tour and Lorraine joined him with her degree in business.

I met Jim and Lorraine six years ago when they had just celebrated their 70th birthdays by hiking across Switzerland.  Jim now has plans for his 80th birthday in four years – he hopes to climb the mountain Moses climbed in HIS 80th year – mount Horeb in the southeast region of the Sinai peninsula.  I’m sure that if Lorraine’s new artificial knee will hold up she will be at his side on this trek too.

As I recount all this information about the Hiskey’s and their life, I become acutely aware that Lorraine’s life is every bit as busy as mine.  So, I resolve to trust her experience, If she feels silence is essential, then so do I .  If she can find the time to be quiet, then so can I.

Our time at Panera has run out leaving many things to talk about another day.

As we part Lorraine’s leaves me with a verse from the Bible.  It is from I Peter 3:3  ” Your beauty should not come from outward adornment…..Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. ”

There is that ‘quiet’ word again.

Lorraine and Jim

It all began on the playground in first grade.