Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

It's been said that some people stay up until midnight on December 31st to welcome the New Year, while others stay up to make sure the old year leaves. I'm more of an optimist, so I regard a New Year with excitement and anticipation. However, I can’t look toward the New Year without taking a backwards glance at the old. My life is filled with family members who are dear friends, friends I count as family, and the rare privilege of writing and praying for people I may never meet. I count it a huge blessing to have the opportunity to share my life with you. Thank you for visiting with me each week.
As I enter this brand new year, there are a few things I refuse to leave behind. I am bringing the lessons I have learned from both failures and successes, the memories which bring comfort during trying times, and the relationships I cherish.
I do have a few goals for 2011, which are motivated by my immediate family members. For my husband, I resolve to learn how to operate whatever electronic equipment he attaches to our television, regardless of the number of remote controls required.
Monique will be happy to discover that her fear of me arriving barefoot at her wedding will not be realized, for I intend to find a cute and comfortable pair of shoes. At least comfortable. For Geoffrey, even if he forgets to ask, I will offer my opinion on... well, every topic. I will nag, I mean encourage, Lauren to make decisions in accordance with her dreams. Phone calls from Elise, my child who lives in Thibodaux, will continue to make me smile, even when they interrupt my sleep. And for Victoria, I commit another year of late night talks and overprotection.
My final goal? I'm going to dress better. Now, before you contact my husband and urge him to shred my credit cards, the style I desire is already available, timeless, and best of all, free. I will not be taking the fashion advice of the editors of InStyle magazine, but rather the wisdom of Paul published in Colossians 3, “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience… and over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Wouldn’t it be great if this was the new fashion trend?
Happy New Year!

Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Got Room?

During Monique’s recent visit, I reminded her, “Look in the garage. I have extra garland. Do you still need some?” Less than a minute ticked away before she was back in the kitchen holding a large plastic bin filled with Christmas decorations.
“Could you open the front door for me?” she asked. “I’ll just take this whole bin and look through it later.” I watched her disappear, whispering ‘good-bye’ to the bin I will never see again. The decorations, though, will somehow be recycled, for Monique has recently become quite sentimental.
Geoffrey then informed me of an amendment to his Christmas list, which previously had only one item, a suit. After some apparent deliberation, he scratched off the suit and is asking for something Xbox related. Boys who like video games grow up into young men who like video games. It really does make me happy that my otherwise thoroughly seriously-minded son still enjoys Xbox.
Earlier, I used a shopping trip with Lauren to share something I had learned. “Did you know fire ants eat the worms which destroy sugar cane? Don’t you just love finding out this type of information? Don’t you love the fact that everything has a purpose?”
Instantly, Lauren responded, “So what’s the purpose of the worm?” I quickly changed the subject. But with Lauren, a young woman of many thoughts and many words, any topic results in interesting dialogue. And lots of laughter.
Elise is enjoying her life as an independent college student, except for the financial challenges. Somehow her budget cuts expand ours. On a recent visit, she brought her laundry. “Don’t you have a washer and dryer?” I asked.
“Yes,” she answered, “But I’m trying to cut back on my utilities.” On a positive note, laundry does lengthen her visits, and it’s a lot more fun hearing her stories in person, rather than over the phone, or through text messages.
It took a while for Victoria to come inside after school. She explained the delay, “When I noticed the beautiful yellow leaves on the trees, I just had to get closer to them.” So she did. She threw her book bag to the ground, and climbed up the tree. I’d write more about this, but Mrs. Mary Ann Brady asked me not to pick on Victoria so much. So I won’t. For the remainder of 2010, I won’t pick on Victoria.
Five children. Five personalities. Each will forever have a place in my heart. When someone is important to you, you make room for them.
As December 25th nears, we will likely revisit the story of the very first Christmas, the birth Jesus. The manager scene is a vivid reminder of the humble birth of our Savior, born in a stable because there was no room in the inn. And it’s always, at this part of history, that I ask myself if there is still room in my heart, in my life, and in my thoughts, for Jesus. Or have I allowed myself to be filled with other things that are not as significant? When Someone is important to you, you make room for Him.
Merry Christmas!
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, December 9, 2010

What Would You Like?

My frantic search for breakfast items finally ended when I discovered a few packets of instant grits. The little milk remaining in the refrigerator became hot chocolate, and Voila, breakfast was served.
I immediately sat down to write a grocery list, which took much more time than the preparation of breakfast. Geoffrey appeared in the kitchen, so I asked my son, “What would you like me to cook for dinner?” I was desperate for ideas.
“I don’t know,” he said as he glanced at the bowl of grits, made an about face and walked out of the kitchen saying, “It really doesn’t matter to me.”
Seconds later, Victoria came down the stairs and made her appearance. I repeated my question. “Hamburger Helper!” she instantly replied.
“What?” I asked, surprised at her answer.
I was expecting her to say gumbo, roast, or shrimp stew. As a child, she never wanted to order from the kid’s menu. She didn’t like lettuce, and would remind me by saying, “Tell them not to put salad on my hamburger.” And once, when she was far too young, I thought, to know the difference in beverages, she ordered a Coke.
“Is Pepsi okay?” the waiter said.
“No, it’s not,” she calmly said. “I want Coke.”
As soon as Geoffrey heard her request for Hamburger Helper, he rushed into the kitchen saying, “Victoria, you could have answered anything. Never ask for Hamburger Helper when you can ask for anything.” Wow! I guess suddenly dinner mattered to him. He quickly turned to me as he continued, “Mom, how about Imperial Chicken? Can you cook that tonight?” I could almost see him trying to push the Hamburger Helper idea from my brain.
Deciding not to mention that at least Victoria had an idea, I added a few more items to my list, put down my pen, and started to pray. Something about my early morning conversation with Geoffrey and Victoria had brought the words from James 4:2 to mind, “You do not have because you do not ask God.”
Lately my prayers have been very general and even mundane. Just because I haven’t yet received an answer to past prayers shouldn’t deter me from continuing to pray. I’m provoked to prayer by the encouragement of Jesus in Matthew 7:7, “Keep on asking and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”
That afternoon, following a very long shopping trip, I began dinner. Imperial Chicken with a side of Hamburger Helper. Why not?
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas - Home or Away

I’ve only spent two Christmases away from home. The first time I was 33 years old and receiving chemotherapy treatment in an isolation room in Houston’s M. D. Anderson hospital. Michael was home with our four young children, and my Dad flew to Houston, courtesy of Anne and Emile Bergeron, to spend Christmas Day with me. No one knew he didn’t have the money for a hotel, so thankfully his plan to sleep on the sofa in the hospital’s lobby worked out. We spent Christmas Day visiting through the glass window that sealed me in a sterile environment. I know, I know, so far it sounds sad, but hang on, it really wasn’t.
We talked and laughed and prayed. We paused as I received Christmas calls from far too many people to name. While on the phone, I watched as he either read the Bible, or ate from the cookie-filled shoe box that a friend had dropped off. Although we were without the comforts of home, or the company of family and friends, we had a really great day. It was so very peaceful. I wasn’t depressed, angry, or visited by self-pity. I was alive. My family was healthy and safe, and I was secure in the knowledge of God’s infinite love, and His ability to perform the miraculous.
The second time I spent Christmas outside of Louisiana was a little farther north. At the time, my daughter, Elise, was twelve years old, and dreamed of walking the crowded streets of New York City. She had never dreamed of becoming ill. How odd that a dreaded disease would somehow give way to the fulfillment of a dream.
After bravely enduring chemotherapy treatment for lymphoma, she was contacted by the Make A Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to children diagnosed with life threatening illnesses. When she shared her wish to visit New York, her father suggested Disney World instead. “Daddy,” she replied, “I’ve been there, and that’s a place you and Mom will take us again. I don’t think you’ll ever plan a trip to New York.” (Besides being brave, Elise was also very wise.)
Although we tried to imagine what it would be like, none of us were prepared for the actual adventure of New York City at Christmastime. We toured the city, and marveled at the sights we had only seen in pictures and on television. While walking up to view the tree at Rockefeller Center, the young man on the side of us dropped to one knee and proposed to a very excited young woman. We went to the top of the Empire State Building, visited Central Park, Times Square, Fifth Avenue, and didn’t let the freezing rain stop us from running around the Statue of Liberty. We were excited and determined to do and see as much as we could, but were unprepared for the emotions we felt as we stood at Ground Zero, and re-lived the September 11th tragedy.
A Broadway play and the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall were both beyond our expectations, especially the dramatic living Nativity scene which concluded the Christmas Spectacular. As we exited Radio City Music Hall, it began to snow. Elise walked ahead of us, confidently navigating the crowd. Although I couldn’t speak, my heart exploded that Christmas Day as I watched my daughter experience her dream of walking the crowded streets of New York City, and I thanked God that my wish, my prayer, my daily plea for her life, had also been granted.
This Christmas will be spent at home, with lots of people and presents and food. However, in the midst of all the activity, my heart will beat with the rhythms of peace, faith and gratitude I learned through my two out of town Christmas experiences.
No matter where we are, no matter who we’re with, Christmas Day and every day, may we be found utterly dependent upon, and thoroughly grateful to our God, “Who so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Ronny may be reached at

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Marriage Sharpens Me

Michael and I met when I was 16 years old, and it wasn’t long before he said we were going to get married. I’m not sure how many girls wish to discuss a wedding at 16, but I was not one of them. We went in and out of each other’s lives until, six years later, we were married. I still didn’t think I was ready. “I don’t like to cook,” I said. Ever the salesman, he replied, “If you marry me, you’ll never have to cook. I’ll do it all.”
We’re very different, and at times I’ve become confused and annoyed by his refusal to be like me. I’m impulsive; he analyzes everything. I love a light-filled home; he wants it dark. I like to go out for dinner; he’d rather go to a movie, which I consider buying a seat in the dark where I can’t talk or even make a phone call.
To read or write, I like total silence, and preferably an empty house. He can work at the kitchen table in the midst of people and noise. At least I don’t disturb him by cooking. He reacts very quickly to negative circumstances. I take a lot longer to arrive at anger, but when I do, I camp for a while. Michael moves on and never looks back.
Our children are well aware of our differences. At an early age, Geoffrey named his father’s vehicle, The Library, because of the silence his father sought while driving. Both of us like clean cars, but we approach the goal in different ways. When Michael drives my car, he makes snide little comments about the contents of my trash bag. “Wow, lots of garbage in there.” Or, “When’s the last time you emptied this thing?” I don’t respond, nor do I remind him of what once happened when we were in his car, but I’ll tell you.
Michael was driving and I had just finished drinking a Coke. Offering the empty can to him I asked, “Would you please put this in the trash bag?”
“I’d rather not,” he said, “It will take up too much room. I don’t like to fill the bag.”
“No problem,” I said, and threw the can in the back seat, shocking both of us. I still can’t believe I did that, nor can I believe we both just burst out laughing.
Despite our differences, or perhaps because of them, last week we celebrated 29 years of marriage. Bill Gothard once said, “If two people agree on everything, one of them isn’t necessary.”
Not only are we both necessary in this marriage, I believe we have both become better, more patient, more flexible individuals through the course of married life. Whenever I think of our differences, I also think of Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
Yes, we’re different, with different roles, different temperaments, and different outlooks on life. But much to my children’s disappointment, neither of us enjoys cooking.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, November 18, 2010

So Thankful

Can we all agree not to rush Thanksgiving? I realize the stores are already displaying Christmas trees, gifts, and candy. I understand the desire for Christmas music, and I admit to already collecting Christmas lists from my children. Well, two of them. Monique and Geoffrey were the only ones to respond, so I guess Lauren, Elise, and Victoria want to be surprised. But please allow me a chance to enjoy this week of Giving Thanks. It won’t take long. I promise. I’m only thankful for three things.
First of all, I’m thankful for the past. My sister, Kay, and I have a pact. We will not become people who long to relive those days gone by. Although the past holds many wonderful memories, there are also times tucked between the good which were bad. To be honest, some were awful days we never wish to repeat. Kay and I agree to be thankful for the blessings of the good days, appreciate the growth resulting from the bad ones, and forever be grateful for God’s ability to weave them all together for our good.
Next, I’m thankful for the present; the gift of today. I only have this moment, so I’m going to squeeze all of the life I can out of every minute. I want to live in such a way that the people in my life have no reason to doubt my love. Before most of them even open their eyes in the morning, I have already brought their names before God in prayer. In addition, today I am going to work diligently to complete the projects I have begun so I can start new ones. This gives me little time to weep over the past, or worry about the future.
And speaking of the future brings me to my third area of thankfulness. I am so grateful for the days to come. They are all in God’s hands, and I trust Him. I commit the unknown future to the well-known God, Who said in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” As the days are revealed, He will provide the wisdom and grace to handle each one. I am sure of it.
While Thanksgiving Day comes once a year, taking a few minutes to thank God for all He has done should be daily. “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1

Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Leave a Legacy

Although I don’t dwell there, it’s not unusual for me to reflect upon the past. Planting flowers brings back happy memories of my grandmother and her love of the garden. Old, and even recent, photographs cause me to smile as I remember the occasion which provoked the click of the camera lens. And when I’m in a tight spot, I remember the many times God has either rescued me, or given me grace to endure.
Lately, I’ve found myself swimming in two different streams of thought. I’ve been reflecting on the history of my hometown, Reserve, Louisiana, and planning for the future as I contemplate the letter I will place in the 50 Year Time Capsule.
Reserve is in the midst of a Sesquicentennial Celebration, the 150th anniversary of its founding. The past has been remembered through a Lecture Series and a documentary which weaves historic photographs and interviews into a film sure to be viewed and enjoyed for years to come. (The film will be televised on WLAE, Saturday, November 13, at 9:00 p.m.)Believing there is no better way to preserve the history of Reserve than by transferring it to the future generation, the Sesquicentennial Committee sponsored an Educator’s Workshop which encouraged the inclusion of oral history projects in the classroom. Our personal histories should be passed on to those who follow in our footsteps.
A Fun Day is planned to celebrate the present with the best of Reserve’s food and music, along with games and activities for the next generation. This event, on Sunday, November 14, at Regala Park, from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., is also the event at which a letter and photo may be submitted for the Time Capsule. And here’s where this column takes a peek into my home.
Always the planner, I wanted to be sure my children would attend the opening of the Time Capsule. I asked each of them to make a mental note to show up in 50 years so they could read my letter.
I phoned Monique at work to inform her of the event scheduled to take place in 2060. “I don’t know,” she said, “that’s a big commitment.” She thinks that’s a big commitment?! She’s in the midst of planning a wedding!
Elise took my request quite seriously, and responded, “When I’m 69? I hope I remember! What if I forget? Tell Victoria to remind me! Where will it be?”
Lauren and Victoria were together when I told them the news. “I really don’t think I’ll remember,” Victoria instantly said. She asked her sister, “Lauren, will you remind me?”
“Yes,” Lauren assured her, “I’ll pick you up. We can go together.” I hope they remember to include Elise.
My parents just happened to walk into my kitchen right after I asked Geoff to prioritize this event. “Mom, we talk so much,” he said, “Can’t you tell me everything you want to say right now?”
Turning to my Dad, who is near the age Geoff will be when the Time Capsule is opened, I asked, “What would it mean to you to read a 50 year old letter from your parents right now?” For a man of many words, my Dad found none with which to form a response. Sometimes the absence of words relays more emotion than the most eloquent of speeches.
Although I will add a letter to the Time Capsule, I’d like to warn, I mean, assure Geoff of my intention to tell him everything I need to right now. It’s part of my response to something I read years ago. “If you were going to die soon, who would you call? What would you say? Why are you waiting?”
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Made Any Pearls Lately?

Life’s full of surprises for someone like me. I buy, then hide gifts, and eventually discover them. Recently I was excited to find another one while cleaning out my desk. I quickly lifted the lid of the small white box to expose a double strand of pearls. Instantly I remembered buying the necklace for Victoria’s 13th birthday. Or the Christmas she was 13. Let’s just say I remembered part of the reason for the purchase.
What type of child wants pearls when she’s 13? The type who relaxes by listening to classical music, and who, for her 10th birthday, wanted and received a mixer, cake decorating kit, and various baking accessories so she would be ready to run a restaurant. Victoria and her cousin, Tiffani, dreamed of the day they would open BananaWasps, the name they chose since Applebee’s was already taken. This is my Victoria.
As I looked at the pearls, I was faced with a decision. Give them to her immediately as an early (or three years late) birthday gift, or keep them until the actual celebration? Not trusting myself to find them again, I called Victoria into my room.
“I just found something I bought you three years ago,” I announced. She smiled broadly and quickly looked inside the box.
“Pearls!” she shouted, then carefully dangled them between her fingers as she seemed to examine each one. “I was just looking for my pearl earrings. Do you know where they are?” Great, I thought, she’s just like me.
I jumped over the hurdle of the lost earrings and ran toward the goal of the object lesson for tonight. “Remember how pearls are made?” I asked, as we both sat down on my bed. Before waiting for a response I continued, “When a foreign substance, like a grain of sand, intrudes upon the quiet world of the oyster, the oyster reacts quickly. A substance which lies within the oyster instantly begins to coat the irritant, resulting in the production of a pearl. While I admire many gems, pearls amaze me for they were produced inside of a living creature.
“When we stay close to God, He shows us, too, how to transform irritations into beautiful qualities in our lives. When a trial intrudes upon my life, I want God’s grace to cover the pain, and produce a pearl of wisdom for the future. Just think, one day you’ll tell the story of the pearl to your child.”
“Mom, it’s safe to say I’ll never have these conversations with my kids.”
“Well, do you think one day you’ll give them something you hid three years earlier?”
“Oh, yes,” she said as she placed her new (well, three years old) pearls around her neck.
“Then, that’s a start.”
She laughed while she hugged me, unaware of how much I was thanking God for her life, and knowing beyond doubt that Victoria will be a far better mother than I have ever been.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Laundry Day

In my house, every day is laundry day. Although the people who live here are all capable of managing their own laundry, I don’t mind keeping up with it provided they sort it in the proper bins. Let me add, if the clothes are not sorted properly, I’ll make the necessary corrections. However, I do not, and will not, go into bedrooms or bathrooms in search of items to wash. If someone decides to pile dirty clothes in the corner of their room, then they have to do their own laundry. I believe those rules are more than fair, and since I’m the only person writing the laundry rules around here, there won’t be any amendments in the near future.
Although laundry is a daily chore for me, I don’t think about it much, yet this morning, my laundry basket was one of the first images my mind produced. As soon as the alarm jolted me out of sleep, there were two thoughts waiting for me. They were the same two thoughts which circled my mind only a few hours before, when sleep was no where to be found. Both involved struggles with situations outside of my control, and perhaps that’s the reason for the mental battle: I want to fix everything. Oh, and I want everyone to be happy.
That’s when I remembered my laundry basket, and my rule about only taking care of what’s in the basket. I thought about how freeing it would be if I would just place all of the troubling thoughts into God’s basket, and let Him handle them. For too long, I’ve mulled over the situations stacked in the corners of my mind. So I did it. I gathered the thoughts, every one, and before sorting them I whispered Reinhold Niebuhr’s prayer, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Things I need to accomplish today were placed on a list, and a prayer for improved time management skills were put in God’s basket. I wrapped the decisions I need to make in a prayer for wisdom and courage, and placed them, too, in God’s basket. Finally I threw in the situations over which I have no control. I thanked God for His constant love, protection, and presence in my life. My trust in Him is truly greater than any disappointment I’ve experienced.
As soon as I finished, I remembered Philippians 4:6,7, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
The process of sorting out my thoughts, then praying over them as I released them to God brought the peace I sought. In my life, every day needs to be this type of laundry day.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Where's the Funeral?

“Who died?” Lauren asked as she walked through the kitchen.
“Is it that obvious?” I answered with a question of my own.
“You wear the same outfit every time you go to a funeral,” she informed me, unnecessarily.
What can I say? My wardrobe has become dull and predictable. When I was her age, I had stylish clothes, although my closet currently has no evidence to support that statement.
I left the house, and drove for only a minute before my husband called. “Where are you?” Michael asked.
“On my way. I’ll be there in ten minutes,” I assured him.
“Why did you tell me it was at St. Peter Church? No one’s there. Didn’t you read the newspaper? Where’s the funeral?” So many questions!
“Well, go to the…”
“No, they’re not at the funeral home, either. Didn’t you read the newspaper? Where’s the funeral?”
“No, I did not read the paper. My parents told me the time of the services and I just guessed the rest.” I guess I was wrong. “It’s not like they’re on the move.” I added. “We’ll find them. Give me a minute.”
I called my Mom and my Aunt Judy. No one answered. Great, I thought, they must have read the paper and they’re already at the wake. My next call was to my sister. Kay and I rarely bother with pleasantries, but rather go straight to the point of the call. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, but it’s the nature of our relationship. Our conversations begin with sentences such as, “I’m hungry; what did you cook?” “Is your dryer empty, mine broke.” “Victoria needs to borrow a pair of school socks.” Or, in this case, “Google an obituary for me.”
I soon had the answer, and called Michael. “St. Joan of Arc,” I announced, triumphantly.
My husband was unimpressed. His only response was, “I can’t believe you didn’t read the paper. Who guesses about funerals?”
We all know the answer to that question. I do.
Michael and I made it to the church on time, and I titled our morning, “The Amazing Race.”
Occasionally, I have days like this. Thankfully, those days are minor parts, and not the sum of my life. While I may drop the ball with daily details, I’m not guessing about my final destination. One of the many verses circled in my Bible is I John 5:13. “I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.”
I’ve titled that verse, “The Amazing Grace.”
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mirror, Mirror

Of the many mirrors on my wall, which one do I like best of all?
Well, that’s easy: it’s the full length mirror Monique brought home after one college semester. In the absence of space elsewhere, I placed it against a wall in my bedroom. I should have also placed a sticker on it: “Warning: Objects in mirror are larger than they appear.” A slight bow in the center of the mirror caused me to look slimmer. Oh, how I loved the lie Monique’s mirror told.
Looking in that mirror has not been the only time I’ve had a distorted view of myself. I’ve sometimes defined myself by the mistakes I’ve made in the past. Or I’ve looked to others whom I’ve thought of as more successful, and walked away with a very dim view of my life. Equally as deceptive is to compare myself to those who choices have been less than stellar, then suffer from an inflated ego. When I want to get an accurate view of myself, I don’t look to the world, but to the Word to determine who I am.
According to God’s Word, I am His workmanship, created in His own image, fearfully and wonderfully made. That’s just the beginning. As a Christian, I am a member of His household, a fellow citizen with God’s people, an heir of God, and His treasured possession. He orders my steps, makes me more than a conqueror, gives me hope for the future, and has promised to never leave or forsake me.
Maybe I should put these Scripture verses around my bathroom mirror so that I can always be reminded of who I am in Christ. I’m probably not the only person to suffer from mistaken identity. Should you find someone searching for answers, or even using you as their mirror, cast a gentle, true reflection as you point them to Jesus.

Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Wedding Dress Music

“I think I’ve found my wedding dress,” Monique said as soon as I answered her call. “Want to come with me to try it on?”
I would not have answered more quickly or enthusiastically if she had asked me to go to the beach, hire a chef, or have liposuction. (Although hiring a chef would have been close.) “Of course I’ll be there! When are we leaving?” I asked. Shortly after, my Mom, Aunt Judy, Lauren, and I arranged our schedules for the big day.
In addition to the dress she found on the internet, Monique selected a few others. When she walked out in the first one, we all gasped and commented, over and over again, on the beautiful dress. She finally said, “Stop. Other people aren’t talking. We need to be quiet.” She was right. Girls were walking around in beautiful wedding gowns, and no one else was oohhing or aahhing. We all just looked at each other, and assured her we would try to be quiet.
We got better and better with each dress. We smiled, nodded, and every time Monique disappeared into the fitting room to put on a new gown, we complimented each other’s behavior. It was during one of these intervals that Lauren said, “I can’t believe the music that’s playing here.” The rest of us were busy burying our emotions, and had no time to analyze the lyrics of the songs being piped in. Turning to the salesperson, Lauren said, “Why would you play such depressing music on one of the happiest days of my sister’s life?” The surprised employee said something about being tired of other music when Lauren added, “These songs are bringing back memories of all my failed relationships. I just want you to know when I try on wedding gowns, I’m bringing my own soundtrack.”
Once I started listening to the words, I had to agree with Lauren. There were songs with lyrics such as, “I’m not a princess, this ain’t a fairy tale, I’m not the one you’ll sweep off her feet…” Or “I’ll never get over you getting over me.” And how about, “Remember all the things we wanted. Now our memories, they’re haunted. We were always meant to say goodbye.”
Lauren was right. Although the tunes are melodic, many of the lyrics are just sad. I’m not an expert on psychology or the effect of music. Actually, I’m not an expert on anything; however, I believe songs can find a home in our minds, and dwelling upon thoughts of heartbreak, sorrow, and regret will produce sadness. In Philippians 4:8, Paul instructed us to think on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy. Since thoughts become words, and words become actions, I want my mind to be filled with life-giving thoughts.
No song could have dampened the mood when Monique walked out of the dressing room the final time. She was wearing THE dress. “She’s glowing,” Aunt Judy said, and we all added our own exclamations of approval, regardless of the other solemn shoppers. Monique would not buy the dress until her Dad and her other two sisters saw it. A few hours later, we returned for the purchase.
Now my daughters are worried because I haven’t bought my dress. At least there are no music issues when I shop. Regardless of the store’s song selections, the only lyrics I hear in my mind are from U2, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.” But when I do find it, I’d like there to be lots of oohhing and aahhing.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cruising through Life

I usually play by the rules, and until fairly recently, wouldn’t even cut the tags off of new pillows. This is not to say I’m perfect. Just ask my husband, my kids, anyone I know, or a few policemen who have issued tickets to me.
Admittedly, I make tons of mistakes, but I try to learn from every one of them. One huge mistake I made almost three years ago has been stuck in my head all week.
It was December 2007. Michael wanted the two of us to go to Hawaii. The thought of spending so much money while the kids stayed home left me with more guilt than I was willing to carry, so he booked a cruise for the family.
At the time, I was teaching, helping to prepare students for our annual musical, and frantically buying Christmas gifts. I was anxious to sail away on December 26; however, my daily schedule left little time to think about the cruise, or read the packet of information regarding our trip. This is my feeble attempt to explain why Victoria almost missed the boat. Literally.
Passports were not yet required to cruise to Mexico. My three oldest children had driver’s licenses, and Elise had an identification card. I didn’t bother getting one for Victoria. She was only thirteen, my baby, and I had never been asked to produce her birth certificate, although I carried every time we flew. I decided no one would question her. Obviously, I had not yet met the lady at the cruise terminal.
One by one, she checked our tickets and identification, then turned to Victoria. I verbally verified that the girl standing before her was Victoria Michel, my child, my baby, too young, I thought, to require additional identification. When asked about her birth certificate, (the one required according to the information I received, but never read) I assured her that Victoria did indeed have one, but it was at home, three hours away. (Oh, did I mention we were cruising out of Mobile, Alabama?) I don’t even remember the rest of our conversation. I just kept talking and talking until the lady said, “Go on, but I don’t think they’ll let you on the ship.”
As we stood in line to board the boat, Michael gave me the look I know so well. It’s the one I get when we are in the middle of an argument, right before he says, “I’m sending you to law school.”
I calmly explained our situation to the next lady, and was told, “You can board, but I don’t know what you’re going to do in Mexico.” Mexico! I had forgotten about Mexico! This was my first time out of the country. The closest I had ever been to the border was Taco Bell. As soon as we were settled in our rooms, I called my sister, who went to my house, found Victoria’s birth certificate, had it notarized, and faxed it to the ship. The document provided Victoria’s name, age, citizenship, and the fact that she is my child. So much information for one little piece of paper. Once I had Victoria’s birth certificate, I traveled in confidence, knowing I could produce her identification upon request.
Documentation is not a new idea. The apostle Paul rejected the need for letters of recommendation, asserting he needed no such letters to authenticate his authority. (I could have used his help at the cruise terminal.)Rather, he said, the lives of the people to whom he ministered were enough confirmation of his ministry. I like The Message version of his words in 2 Corinthians 3:2-3, “You yourselves are all the endorsement we need. Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it-not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives- and we publish it.”
I wonder what the letter of my life reads. Do my words and deeds indicate I am a child of God? Does my response to the actions of others, and situations outside of my control, show a maturity in Christ? Am I storing up treasures in Heaven, or more focused on accumulating stuff on earth? Can I travel this journey, in confidence, knowing my life publishes all of the really important information about me? These questions challenge me daily.
And speaking of challenges, I’m now faced with a packet of information about a class trip Victoria wants to take to France. I’m reading every single word of it.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Stay on Fire without Burning Out

Hearts in Touch
By Ronny Michel
The look on her face had me puzzled. Wasn’t it the expression she had a few days earlier upon realizing the actual size of the mini Blizzards at Dairy Queen? Yes, that was it, but tonight there was just a dab of fear mixed in. What could have possibly caused Victoria to break rank during the first quarter of the football game and run to one of her cheerleading coaches?
I learned soon enough. Mrs. Eymard found me in the bleachers and said, “Victoria left her straightener on and she’s worried the house might burn down.”
I missed the next several plays of the game as I sent text messages, arranged for someone to check on the house, and took a little trip back in time to a winter afternoon when I was the stay-at-home mom of two preschoolers.
Michael had come home for lunch and built a fire in the fireplace for me to enjoy while Monique and Geoffrey napped. As I relaxed before the fire, God gave me instructions about my future. Little did I know, my future would cast me with five children, a full-time teaching position, and a husband whose job included much travel. Less did I realize how many times I would return to that afternoon, that fire, and that precious quiet time with my God. I’m grateful I paid attention when I heard the Great Teacher impress upon my heart, “I’m going to show you how to stay on fire without burning out.” And although many, many words have been written on the topic, God knows me, my love of simplicity, and my limited attention span, so His lesson was reduced to three easy points.
Feed the flame. The love and energy I have for God, my family, and the precious people and activities He places in my life will grow if I keep the fire burning. Wood is necessary for a fire; proper diet, exercise, and rest for a body; and the spiritual nutrition of God’s Word and prayer are needed for me to burn brightly for Him.
Remove the ashes. Spent ashes in a fireplace should not be allowed to accumulate, but must be removed. I must release my grip on things that are over. Clinging to the past is draining, and hinders the new things God wants to do in my life. I must always move on with God.
Stay within the boundaries. A fire in a fireplace is warm and inviting. The same fire, if placed on a coffee table, would be destructive, cause people to flee, and may even require professional help to extinguish. I have to know and stay within my limits to maximize my life. As much as I would like, I cannot change others. I have a difficult enough time trying to make changes in my own life.
Back to the present. Monique unplugged the very hot straightener before any damage was done. Our team won the game. And I was reminded of a simple lesson that has seen me through the complexities of life.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Untangling My Messes

I tried to ignore it, but it would not disappear. Every time I sat at my desk, the shiny confusion challenged me. Left by my daughter, Lauren apparently thought I would be able to untangle the two chains. Both were gifts; neither cheap. Both were knotted; neither could be worn in their present state. Both were Lauren’s; neither Lauren nor I could fix the problem.

Oh, don’t think I didn’t try. Armed with straight pins and a pair of reading glasses, I did my best to free the necklaces from each other. Every time I tried, I failed. The precious little pile of confusion was worthless despite the original price tags.

One day, Victoria walked in, looked at the mess on my desk, and said, “Hey Mom, want me to try to fix this?”

“Sure”, I said, “Every time I try, it seems to get worse.”

Merely minutes later, two freed necklaces dangled from Victoria’s hands. At that moment, she earned the title, The Untangler, and is the only person we go to with knotted necklaces.

I wish that jewelry was the only thing that ever got mixed up, but it hasn’t been that way in my life. There are times when my emotions are in a maze, situations become complicated, and words only add to the worry. And every time I try to fix things, they seem to get worse. When I can’t think of one more thing to do or say, I pray. Even if the prayers are finished, and the dilemma doesn’t change, I do. There’s just something about putting my problem in the Hands of the One Who soothes my soul.

God brings clarity to my confusion, straightens out the snags in my thoughts, and frees me from fears as I trust Him with my future. One day, I’ll learn to go to God immediately, for He is the only answer to my questions. As David wrote, “And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in You.” (Psalm 39:7)

Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Still A Child

My sister, Kay, sat at my kitchen table, and began to give me the doctor’s report on her daughter, Tiffani. My daughter, Lauren, soon joined us. She was returning from her job where, in her words, she “labored on Labor Day.”

Suddenly I heard a familiar sound and announced, “The ice cream man.” Lauren and Kay raced out of the house, and I followed them. “Don’t forget Tiffani,” I shouted. If the prescription and IV fluids she received at urgent care didn’t help, maybe a “cartoon character-shaped ice cream on a stick” would.

The following night ended with my husband and I stopping at the store after the quarterback club meeting. Victoria needed to make a poster. I walked in, grabbed twenty poster boards (to be prepared for the next time), a gallon of milk, and was headed to the register when Michael announced a detour. “Let’s go down the ice cream aisle. Every time I shop I check to see if Blue Bell has any new flavors.” Yes, that really happened.

You might think we are all in our second childhoods, but that’s impossible because we have quite obviously have never left our first. Now that could be a good thing. Jesus thought so much of childlike natures that He used a little child to illustrate a big truth about His kingdom. While the disciples were jockeying for position, Jesus called a child to stand among them, and said, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:1-4)

What did Jesus mean when He said that we must become like little children? Well, probably nothing to do with a love of ice cream, but everything to do with trust and humility, characteristics which abound in precious young lives. Just as children are dependent upon their parents, I believe that Jesus wants us to totally trust that He will not only meet our daily needs, but be there, already waiting for us, when tomorrow arrives.

Children also trust that parents will do what they say they’ll do, without thought as to how it will happen. I believe Jesus wants me to trust in His Word, whether or not I fully understand His ways.

I cannot resist a child who stands before me and holds up his arms, begging me to lift him from where he is, and take him to heights he cannot achieve on his own. While I am limited, Jesus can do the impossible. When I humbly reach up to Him, He faithfully responds.

Although we can never recapture our childhood, we can change and return to the humility and trust we had as a child. And I think it’s okay if we also find joy in simple pleasures, like ice cream.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Light Your Path

I crept down the stairs at 5:00 a.m. to dry a batch of clothes. I didn’t want to awaken Victoria, who was sleeping on the couch because her room had been painted, and I didn’t want her smelling the fumes, and her furniture was still out of place. Discovering Lauren had already done the laundry the night before was a pleasant surprise. Still not wanting to disturb Victoria’s sleep, I decided to return to bed, but not before turning off the lamp and the light which had been on all night.
Forty-five minutes later, I headed back downstairs to begin breakfast. I decided not to turn on any lights, and attempted to navigate the stairway by memory. Apparently I don’t have a very good memory because just as I was thinking about loading a flashlight application onto my phone, I missed a step. Suddenly I didn’t care that everyone else was sleeping. I screamed. It didn’t do much good because no one woke up. Not Victoria, who was around the corner, but wearing ear plugs. Not my husband or son. Nope, Michael and Geoffrey remained asleep. Not even Lauren, although she later told me she heard a scream, but thought it was one of her crazy dreams.
I managed to get up, hopped into the kitchen, and began to fry bacon, Victoria’s breakfast staple. Someone falling down stairs and screaming may fail to disturb her sleep, but the smell of bacon works every time. I put a bag of ice on my foot, waited only a few seconds, and then called my husband’s cell phone. At least he responded to my call, if not to my screams.
I have to admit Michael took very good care of me, except when he ran into my foot. Twice. My foot stayed elevated, and iced, and while I waited for the Aleve to kick in, he went shopping for ice cream and chocolate candy.
Most of my day was spent alone, and while I don’t mind being alone, I don’t like being immobile. The lack of activity gave me much time to think, and to pray, and to think about how I should spend more time praying than thinking.
My little trip down the stairs (pun intended) resulted in a minor inconvenience, which left me with a major lesson. I was so foolish to choose to walk in darkness when there was an abundance of light available.
What greater foolishness it would be to walk through my life in darkness, without the Light of God’s Word guiding me. Psalm 119:105 clearly states, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” The Bible contains the guidance I need for my life. If I turn my back on the wisdom it contains, I will be unsure of my steps, stumble, and fall. But I never have to be without it, for God’s Word is available to me. It’s my choice to read and obey it. And it’s your choice, too. May we both choose wisely.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Elise, 8 years later

Eight years ago this month, my daughter, Elise, was diagnosed with lymphoma. She was ten years old.
As a cancer survivor, I should have been prepared to handle the experience. I wasn’t. Knowing terminology and procedures meant little when I had to enter Elise’s hospital room to tell her she had cancer. I had to dig deep and hold on tightly to my composure when she looked at me with those big brown eyes and said, “Momma, I don’t want to die.” Then it happened. The depths of grace, peace, and faith I had experienced throughout my own ordeal with cancer guided our conversation. Elise faced her future with calmness, maturity, faith, and tenacity far exceeding her age. An ambulance later transported us for the first of many trips to Children’s Hospital.
My husband was able to be with Elise most of the time, but one rare day he had to be in the office, so I brought her to the hospital for another dose of chemotherapy. On the menu was the drug I had begged the doctors not to administer. It was the one which, years before, made me lose my hair, and everything I ate or drank. It was the one that caused severe burns on my hands and feet. So severe I couldn’t even pick my hair up off of the pillowcase. So severe I had to crawl to the bathroom on my knees when I became sick.
As the nurse donned her thick protective gloves and connected the chemicals to my daughter, I began to crumble inside. I watched the red liquid enter my baby’s body, and fought for control over both my emotions and the contents of my stomach. Then I raced to the exit door, ran out of the building, and called my husband to desperately cry, “I can’t do this. I’m not strong enough.”
“I’m leaving now. I’ll be there as soon as I can.” Michael said.
“No,” I insisted. “It’ll be over before you get here. Just pray. Promise me you’re praying. Promise me you won’t stop praying.” Being fully aware of my frailty has taught me to lean heavily on my Jesus, and the words of 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”
I re-entered the room, and if Elise noticed anything odd about my behavior, she never expressed it. That night, she became ill and a few days later, I found chunks of her hair in the bathroom garbage can. Soon after, she ditched the wig, and began wearing her brother’s baseball cap to cover her scalp.
“How do people go through this without Jesus?” she asked. It is one of many questions for which I have no answer. I cannot imagine going through anything without leaning on the strength of my Savior.
This week, I watched Elise, now in her second year of college, as she showed me the shortcut to Children’s Hospital she learned while volunteering there last summer. I watched her lead me through side doors, and hallways, to waiting rooms. I watched her fill out forms, and sit, and wait to be called, but I looked away when she said, “This test is really uncomfortable.” And as I turned away, I watched parents pushing wheelchairs, and holding infants, and adjusting caps covering precious little bald heads.
Tonight in my prayers, I’m including parents who are in Children’s Hospital, trying to sleep on chairs that convert to beds, never wanting to leave their child alone. May they have the strength to continue in the fight for their child’s health. May they receive answers to the cries of their hearts. And may they realize they can lean on the strength of Jesus to go through each day of it.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mercy, Mercy

“Have you seen my school shoes?” Victoria asked, calmly.
Oh, how I dread that question, especially at 10:00 p.m. It almost delivered me from the ‘my youngest child only has three more years of high school’ thought that has been echoing in my mind this past week. “No, Victoria, I have not seen your school shoes.”
“I’m pretty sure I left them in the locker room. I had P.E. last period, then cheerleading practice after school. Yes, they’re in the locker room.”
“So, now what?” I, the mother, asked the child. “Do I write a letter? Do we go to school early to search for the shoes? Do I keep you home until the store opens and I buy another pair?”
“Hmmm, I’m not sure,” she quietly said. I was a little surprised by her demeanor. Just a few hours before, she had yelled at her sister for chewing too loudly. Now, in the midst of a real dilemma, she was deep in thought. This aspect of Victoria’s personality is a lot like mine. The more stressed I am, the quieter I become as I try to sort out my options.
“I’ll find some,” she announced. She sent a text message to her friend, Megan, who contacted her cousin, who said that Victoria could borrow her shoes. Within minutes, two more families were drawn into our little late night drama.
As we drove to pick up the shoes, I thought how some parents, and even some psychologists, would advise me to send her to school without the shoes, allow her to suffer the consequences, and learn a lesson. However, since I’ve been the one who has been blessed to raise Victoria Grace, she’s stuck learning lessons my way.
I’ve not only accidentally forgotten things, but I’ve made also made wrong decisions, and sometimes said things I should not have even thought. At times such as these, I quickly fall on the mercy of the Father, and quietly wait to hear His voice. My soul is refreshed when I remember the words of Lamentations 3:22, 23, “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh every morning.” If there are consequences, I know they are buffered by the love of my God. Because of His graciousness towards me, I don’t deny it to my children.
I pray Victoria lives her life fully aware of the unfailing love of her Heavenly Father. As she moves from dependence on me, to dependence upon Him, I want her to bask in His love, swim in His mercy, and be quick to extend it to others.
Okay, and I want her to remember her school shoes.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

God's Got My Back

Someone with my skin tone has no business in the sun. Or near a pool. Or at the beach. But I love the water and the sunshine, so I invest heavily in sunscreen. Although spray sunscreen is more convenient, most of the time I use lotion. I feel better when I can apply it as thickly as I want, much to the embarrassment of my children. I wish I had a bag of pretzel M&Ms for every time I heard one say, “It doesn’t have to be visible to be effective.”
The first person to comment about the thick sunscreen on my nose is usually the one I ask, ‘Would you put some on my back?” That’s the one area I can’t reach, so I ask for help to cover my back. It won’t be long before I know if I, or someone else, missed a spot, because I will surely burn. The good news is that if I get burned, I put on different lotion to soothe the sting, and I’m more careful the next time.
Often, when going through the sunscreen ritual, I think of my desire to keep my loved ones covered in prayer. I want every area of their lives brought before the Throne of God and for His Will to be accomplished. I want them to go through their classes and jobs and relationships without being burned. I know that’s a lofty goal. We make mistakes, or we are at the receiving end of someone else’s mistake, and we get hurt. (Then we heal, and are more careful next time.) However, as much as possible, I pray for God’s protection.
On January 12, 1993, during a very difficult time in my life, Mrs. Raspberry, the mother of a good friend, called me with the following Scripture. “The Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” Isaiah 52:12.
On that day I realized, God’s got my back. Not only will He lead me where I need to go, but He’ll protect me from things that would try to sneak up on me. And He doesn’t have to be visible to be effective.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Monique and Frank

When Marie Ory Dupont tried to arrange a blind date for my daughter, Monique, to meet the new teacher at St. Charles Catholic, Monique refused. She hates blind dates.
When Victoria told Monique, “You just have to meet my Science teacher,” Monique declined her youngest sister’s request. Apparently she feels the same way about Science as she does about blind dates.
But when Monique realized Marie and Victoria were talking about the same person, and this person, Frank Roth, began texting her (thanks to Marie) she decided to respond. That was over ten months, many dates, more phone calls, and mountains of text messages ago.
Frank’s phone calls, however, weren’t limited to Monique. He recently called my husband and arranged to meet with him. Michael called me soon after their meeting and asked, “Do you have any problems with Frank? He wants to propose to Monique and the ring is beautiful.”
I wish I could remember where I was when I received the call. I think I was at a baseball game. According to my son, Geoffrey, “There’s only thing we know for sure. You were not standing by the stove.”
Although Michael and I agreed that Frank would be a great husband for Monique, and a wonderful addition to the family, Michael never called Frank to tell him. Frank waited a week, then called Michael again for the answer. Although Michael approves of Frank, he is just not ready to walk his daughter down the aisle.
Monique had an appointment the following day to sign the papers for the new-to-her home she was buying. That morning, our family received a text message from Frank, alerting us of his plans to propose. I called my Aunt Judy Duhon to tell her the news, and she said, “You have to buy a cake to celebrate.” That evening, after Monique entered her first home, she turned to find Frank on one knee. And she said, “Yes.”
Her Aunt Kay Serven was the first to arrive minutes later, and Monique’s house was soon filled with family members eating cake, offering their congratulations on the engagement, and approving of her day’s purchase.
Soon after, many of us headed to a Zephyr’s baseball game, courtesy of Monique’s Aunt Ann and Uncle Mike Watson. As soon as we sat down, we looked at the scoreboard and saw, “Congratulations Monique and Frank.” Her Uncle Matt Keller had arranged for that message to be displayed throughout the game.
Although a date has not been set, yes, we are excited about the upcoming wedding. Yes, the ring is beautiful. Yes, we are busy getting Monique settled in her home. And, no, Michael is still not ready to walk his daughter down the aisle.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Pointing to the Park

My parents are wonderful. They offer advice freely and have never steered me wrong. When I’m really aggravated about a situation, I can trust them to listen, knowing they will, without reservation, challenge my wrong attitude. We speak daily, lunch frequently, and have logged in many, many hours at sporting events. Most recently, American Legion baseball games. Three in the past week. It would have been four, but I was out of town. I hope that our future includes many more such events, but I think I’ll have to use my own car.
The first game of the week was scheduled for 2:00. They picked me up at 12:30, and we headed to Mel Ott Park in Gretna. I thought we were leaving a little early, but didn’t question the decision since I wasn’t driving.
Right before we were to cross the river in New Orleans, my Mom started issuing directions. My Dad said he knew what he was doing. He had driven to that park 3 times in the past two weeks. Armed with printed directions and a GPS, my mom continued to debate his decisions.
Once we crossed the bridge, I relaxed a little too soon, for the next words I heard were, “Now we just need to look for a water tower.”
A water tower? What about the GPS and the MapQuest directions? I frantically began a Google search for the park on my phone. Before it could download, we were paying a toll, back on the bridge, and headed to New Orleans.
“Now we’re going back to New Orleans,” my Mom said. Nothing gets by her.
We convinced him to take the first exit, and got directions from the man on the corner who was asking for donations, which struck me as a little odd. My Dad would not listen to the GPS, or my Mom, yet he paid close attention to the man who approached him at the red light. Somehow, someway, we made it back onto the bridge, crossed the river again, took a different exit once we reached the west bank, and resumed our search for the water tower. Up to this point, my words had been few. When I could no longer hold back, I asked, “Is this the route you usually take? Is this the reason we had to leave so early?”
After a few more turns, and U-turns, my Dad pointed toward the sky and said, “See, there’s the water tower!” Soon after, we were seated at the park. “That GPS was messing me up,” he insisted.
“Yes, well, I didn’t have the address to the park, so I just put in the street name, and picked a number,” my Mom revealed.
My parents are wonderful. They can point people in the right direction in life, and even try to steer them toward Heaven. Just don’t ask them how to get to Mel Ott Park.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


A long time ago, in a small town along the Mississippi River, a young couple began a family. Would they have possibly known that they would raise eight children on this farm? Could they have guessed that their home would eventually be moved so that a levee could be built? Did they imagine that they would one day have indoor plumbing and electricity? Or did this young woman, my grandmother, know that twenty years later, at the age of 47, she would give birth to her last child, my mother.
In time, the children married, moved away, and began families of their own. And on most Sundays, they returned to gather around the kitchen table to enjoy Memere’s cooking and each other’s company.
Many chapters have been written in my family’s history since those Sundays of visiting with cousins, sliding down the levee on cardboard boxes, and speaking broken French to my grandmother who spoke very little English. And in the quite open book of my life, this month’s chapter is about reconnecting with cousins I first met in Mt. Airy, and most recently visited in Phoenix.
Of my Mom’s remaining siblings, Uncle Ray lives nearby in Reserve, and Aunt Elma lives in Phoenix, surrounded by much of her family. Thanks to phones, email, and sharing photos through facebook, we have kept in touch. But that was not enough for my Mom, nor should it have been. She wanted to see her sister in person, hug her neck, sit and visit all day long. That’s why my cousin, Coy, and I drove with her to Arizona.
What began as a mission to get my Mom to Phoenix, ended with me not wanting to leave. Years melted away as I spoke with cousins. I was re-introduced to their children, many of whom I had not seen since their childhood, and met new members of this ever-increasing family. Three of my children were able to fly in to meet us, and it was a joy to sit back and watch them discover that they shared much more than DNA with these family members. There were instant connections, similar life stories, and genuine love. Between barbecues and long conversations, we were able to listen to the musical talent of family member, Kyle Phelan. My favorite song of the night, not surprisingly, was one entitled, Family. It summed up our desire to journey to Phoenix, the pleasure we had while there, and the reason we are all planning to attend a reunion next year. All because a long time ago, in a small town along the Mississippi River, a young couple began a family.
Ronny may be reached at

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Fourth of July

On the birthdays of my children, I always think back to the day they were born. This morning, I thought back to the birth of America. July 4, 1776. I wasn’t there, although my children may insist that I could have been. It was 234 years ago when 56 men gathered together to sign the Declaration of Independence. The youngest among them was only 26 years old and the oldest, Ben Franklin, was 70. The majority of these men were prosperous, wealthy, and secure; lacking nothing except that which they were willing to risk their lives - their freedom.
They reviewed the document that listed their grievances against the king, proclaimed their freedom from Great Britain, and outlined the universal principles that would shape the character and direction of the emerging new nation.
They signed their names in ink, but it may have well been with their own blood, for if the cause failed, each could have been found guilty of treason against the crown, and hung. As Jefferson said, “We mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” They risked it all for liberty.
Signing was an act of heroism matched on the battlefield. Five of the signers were captured while fighting in the war. Like hundreds of others at that time, many of the signers saw their homes and property occupied, ransacked, and vandalized. One signer watched as his two sons were captured and another witnessed his son’s death on the battlefield. These experiences were shared by countless other brave men.
The freedom that was won has had to be maintained over the years. Freedom is not free. In any community, you will find veterans who have sacrificed their time, strength, and sometimes their health as they have served our country. Others have sacrificed their lives.
America is still producing brave young men and women who serve in our military. My niece’s husband served in Iraq, missed the birth of his son while in Africa, and spent six months in Japan. And I don’t think that it’s just to get away from our family. He has found a cause greater than himself.
Concerning the Fourth of July, John Adams wrote, "I believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival... it ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other..." I know that many cities will unite this year to fulfill his wishes.
I love the fireworks that go up unnoticed, then suddenly burst into light against the dark night. I’d like to think that our prayers are like that. They may be solitary and silent, but as they reach heaven, under God’s anointing, I believe that they return to earth in wisdom, strength, direction, and protection for the men and women who serve our country.
Today, and every day, may God bless you, and may God bless America.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Home in Arizona

I was a little worried about my decision to drive to Phoenix when, after leaving Reserve, we stopped after only six miles, in the town of Mt. Airy. My Mom wanted to be certain she had packed her medicine. She did, and we were back on the road.
We were headed to visit my Mom’s sister, Elma. Aunt Elma’s health prevents her from traveling and my Mom doesn’t fly. Coy, my very kind and patient cousin, offered to drive her. I went along for the ride, and to distribute the snacks.
A lot can be learned while traveling in a car for three days. I decided to use the time to study my family’s history. Under the tutelage of Coy, the family historian, and my Mom, I gained not only knowledge, but immense appreciation for my ancestors.
On the second day of our journey, Coy produced a recording of my Mom and five of her siblings. Another brother and sister died before the project began, and three of the ones on the tape have since died. The recording was often stopped for Coy and my Mom to elaborate the stories. I can’t imagine riding a skiff across the river to visit my grandparents, learning English to be able to attend school, or living without electricity and plumbing.
If we had turned around after driving for three days, I can honestly say it would have been worth the trip. But we didn’t turn around. It had been six years since my Mom and Aunt Elma had seen each other, and the reunion was worth every mile. I was content to simply sit back and watch the two sisters interact.
Our first day in Arizona ended with a delicious meal at the home of my cousin, Phil, and his wife, Lori, who have warmly and graciously opened their home to us. Sitting at the dining room table, surrounded by family members I’ve known all of my life, and ones I had just met, I truly felt as though I was at home. There’s just something about family. I would have traveled twice the distance for half the pleasure.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Living Water

“Don’t forget to water my flowers,” were the last words I uttered to Lauren and Elise before leaving for only two days. I asked my two daughters (both in college, both of average to above average intelligence, both employed, and both highly capable of watering flowers) to do nothing else while I was away. No laundry, cooking, cleaning, home repairs, not even pick up the mail. I only asked them to water my flowers.
Upon my return, my eyes were drawn to the wilted impatiens desperately clinging to life. “Why didn’t you water my flowers?” I asked the two girls who greeted me.
“We watered the ones in the backyard,” Elise proudly answered.
“How can you tell that we didn’t water the ones in the front?” Lauren asked, sincerely puzzled.
“Look at them!” I said, with much less patience than I am capable of expressing.
Pausing only to put down my suitcase, I gathered the family and said, “Let’s go to dinner.” (Remember, I never asked them to cook while I was away.) On the way to the car, I stopped to water the flowers
“I don’t think that will help,” said my son, Geoffrey.
“It’s not too late. They’re not dead yet,” I replied. The flowers were in good soil, the right location, properly fertilized, but in desperate need of water. There’s just no substitute for water.
Neither is there a substitute for Living Water. I believe that we all share a longing for God, as expressed by the psalmist who, in Psalm 42:2 wrote, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” No job, vacation, family, or friends can quench my thirst for God. That need was met in my life many years ago, when I surrendered my life to Jesus, the Savior of my soul. Through Him, the Fountain of Living Water, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are filled.
I have put my trust in the words Jesus told another thirsty woman, “but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14.
When we returned home, Geoffrey was surprised to see that my flowers had perked up, and looked as though they would make it. “That’s amazing,” he said.
What’s really amazing is that on a much, much grander scale, Jesus can save, refresh, revive, and cause you to thrive when you trust in Him. It’s not too late.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fighting for Freedom

I ate a snail. Walked through Versailles. Viewed Napoleon’s tomb. Window shopped down the Champs-Elysees. Strolled through the gardens of Luxembourg. And viewed the city of Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower. The week spent in France provided memories for a lifetime.
Traveling is not always easy, and things don’t always go as planned, but traveling with my fun-loving, easygoing, always optimistic sister-in-law, Vicki, made the trip a breeze. Also along on the adventure were Vicki’s son, Jai, and his two daughters, Destiny and Sydney. Jeremy, Vicki’s other son, and his wife, Deborah completed our travel group of seven excited tourists.
Jai’s love for his girls was demonstrated daily through his patient attentiveness to their needs, and constant desire for them to maximize their experiences. Jeremy’s calm demeanor and appreciation of history reminded me so much of my own son, Geoffrey, and getting to know Deborah, the newest member of the Michel clan, was a highlight of my trip. Jai and Jeremy are excellent navigational guides, and I realized just how good they were when Vicki and I tried to use the city’s transportation system to return to our apartment. After many failed attempts, we hesitated only momentarily before hopping into a taxi.
Although we experienced many wonderful moments while in France, I have to agree with eleven-year-old Destiny that my favorite part of the trip was the day we spent in Normandy. Sixty-six years after the Allied forces invaded this territory held by Germany, we had the incredible opportunity to roam freely through the area still marked by craters caused by the assaults and concrete bunkers built by the enemy.
As I walked along the cliff on a sunny day, cooled by the gentle breeze from the Channel, only the occasional chirping bird interrupted the silence. But this serenity could not mask the images filling my mind as I imagined that day not so long ago. The enemy’s best attempts to invade and destroy freedom were swept away by young men who dared to scale the steep cliffs and take back the land. With every step I took, I thought of the ones who breathed their last breaths and left their last drops of blood on this foreign soil so that one day, I might stand in freedom. Their futures were sacrificed for mine. About that time, I met six-year-old Sydney, who had stooped to pick one of three small yellow flowers daring to bloom on the edge of one of the craters. And I smiled. And I thanked God for the blessing of freedom, and for the men and women who continue to unselfishly serve to defend it.
Suddenly, as I stood on the shores of Normandy, 4,000 miles away from my children, years away from my grandchildren, and future generations I may never see, I was filled with an indescribable yearning to continue the spiritual fight for their futures. The battle rages as satan, the enemy of our souls, fights to steal, kill, and destroy our families. I desperately want my family, and yours, to always walk in the freedom and the abundant life available through Jesus. And I am determined to continue in prayer.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Protecting the Kids

The lawn of my childhood home never won any awards. It may have had something to do with the random brown patches of charred grass that dotted our landscape. In an attempt to protect us from the ants, my Dad burned the ant piles. I thought that was the reason they were called fire ants.
Although I don’t share my Dad’s method of extermination, I understand the desire to protect a child’s play space. When my children were younger, I vigilantly sought methods of destroying mounds of ants, carefully aimed cans of Raid at bees, and got much exercise from stalking mosquitoes that threatened a sleeping child. My mission to protect was also carried out in the living room, where I did my best to ban the viewing of cartoons and movies I considered detrimental. Protecting them mentally and spiritually was just as important to me as ridding their environment of danger.
Four of my five children have made the transition from high school to beyond, and now bear the responsibility and consequences of their choices. No longer do I dictate their viewing habits, nor am I able to swat the things that bite and sting. And I’m not just referring to insects. I never have figured out a way to make little bumper pads for their hearts. (Why does the same child who seeks my opinion when scheduling classes, accepting jobs, and choosing jewelry, not want my thoughts regarding relationships?) So what’s a mother to do?
Pray. A lot. And I do.
I trust God to protect them from accidents, diseases, impurities, and imposters. I ask for good friends to be added to their lives, and for them to be godly examples to others. I pray they have wisdom from God when making decisions, remain in the center of His will, and realize their daily dependence upon Him.
I know that you, too, have specific prayers that you pray for your children. May our children not only benefit from the prayers that have been invested in their lives, but develop an ever increasing prayer life of their own.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Geoffrey's Graduation

I’ve heard that when death is near, a person’s life flashes before their eyes. I don’t know about that; however, I know that when a child graduates, moments from their past are replayed in my mind. It happened again this week when my son, Geoffrey, earned his degree from Loyola University’s College of Law.
Throughout the day of his graduation, I remembered conversations from the past that were clues to his future. At the age of four, during a visit to the state capitol in Baton Rouge, Geoffrey said, “I want to work here.” For the next several months, he insisted on wearing a suit and tie for church, social events, and the photo which still sits on my desk.
Another voice from the past, one belonging to Geoffrey’s third grade teacher, echoed loudly in my mind as I pressed his graduation gown. “He’s going to be a lawyer,” Mrs. Muriel Louque said. “Before Geoffrey asks a question or informs me of a situation, he states the facts, and presents his case.”
Beginning in sixth grade, Geoffrey would read the paper, and want to discuss court cases that were in the news. His love of the law and desire for justice were not reserved for current events, but first applied in the home to issues of rules, curfews, and arguments with siblings. The conflicts that arose among his four sisters have given him years of mediation experience.
These memories mixed with so many more as I watched Geoffrey walk out of the auditorium at the conclusion of the graduation ceremonies. My father leaned over and said, “He walks like Michael.” I smiled and agreed. Geoffrey shares not only his father’s physical features, but many of his mannerisms. As he walks into his future, I pray that Geoffrey will hold onto the values that he learned from his Dad.
In addition, I pray that Geoffrey, and your children, too, daily reflect and rightly represent their Heavenly Father. May every decision be made in submission to God, Who, according to Ephesians 3:20, “is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think."

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Hearts in Touch
By Ronny Michel
“Now that my grandchildren have gotten older, they don’t need me.” My Mom tossed this shocker into our otherwise upbeat conversation.
I wonder if she knows that Dad feels the same way. Just a few days ago, we had this exact conversation.
She continued, “Your Dad and I talked about it and we realize we’re no longer needed.”
It’s no wonder they sound alike. They’ve rehearsed this! So that’s what they talk about on their daily trips to shop, dine out with friends, or attend high school sporting events? Or do they discuss this during their weekly trips to minister at the drug rehab?
“Mom, all this time, for all of these years, I have felt guilty for asking you and Dad to take my kids to the doctor, dentist, and orthodontist. More guilt was added for those field trips both of you chaperoned, and the lunches you delivered to the kids at school. I thought you’d be relieved to rest. I should have asked you to bring Victoria to the dentist. Michael just dropped her off and made her call when she was finished. I couldn’t believe my husband didn’t wait for our child.”
“Well, you should have called me. I would have waited for her,” she smugly replied.
I’ll just start thinking of things they can do for us so they’ll feel useful again.
“I have an appointment at the eye doctor Monday. Can you bring me? I don’t like to drive when my eyes are dilated?”
We both smiled as she agreed.
Parents! They give and give and give, and then when they have an opportunity to rest, they want to give more. They should be appreciated daily, but sometimes it takes a conversation such as the one I had, or an annual holiday, to celebrate these treasured people.
With Mother’s Day near, let’s remember to honor the special women who have poured into our lives. I am thankful for the countless ways mothers care for their children, and grandchildren, and for their daily examples of unconditional love. May they see the result of every prayer that has been whispered over a cradle, or cried out in desperation. I’m also mindful of women whose hearts are full, yet their arms are empty. May God bless you with the precious gift of a child.
Now, back to my own mother. Thank you for continuing to be a shining example of a wife, mother, and grandmother. Your grandchildren may not need you as they once did, but their phone calls, invitations to lunch, and requests for cooking classes are proof that they still adore having you in their lives. And let me remind you and Dad that one of your great-grandsons will enter preschool this fall. Let the field trips begin!
Oh, and by the way, why did you just drop me off at the eye doctor? I had to call you to come and get me. You never would have done that to Victoria.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Activated Obedience

Regardless of our mission, when Brenda Pousson and I are together we usually add a ‘quick stop to shop’ to our day. We were in the middle of one such impromptu mall visit when my husband called.
“Still at the doctor’s office?” Michael asked.
“All done. Everything’s fine.”
“Great! Are y’all stopping for lunch?”
“Just ate. Now we’re in Macy’s.”
“Your new card came in. Don’t forget to activate it when you get home.”
I held up my shopping bag as though he could see it. “Oh, my account is very active.” I keep that account active by using it. Sometimes I buy something for myself, but usually my children benefit from my purchases.
Michael’s reminder to activate my account set catapulted my thoughts far from the mall. Over and over I wondered, Have I activated my faith recently? For what, for whom am I using my faith?
As soon as my heart was settled and at peace with my responses, I remembered the instructions in 2 Peter 1: 5-7, “… add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.” Wow! It takes a lot of faith for me to believe that I can do all of those things! However, I have a huge desire to obey God’s Word.
That desire originates from a heart full of love for Him, and eternal gratefulness for all He has done, then extends to thoughts of my children. Their lives are affected by my decisions. Although they have the responsibility to find and maintain an ever-increasing relationship with their Savior, I want them to benefit, and not be hindered, by my example. My prayer is for my life, and my activated obedience to the Word of God, to leave a clear path with strong imprints of the way to the Father.

Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Little Things that Stop Me

Hearts in Touch
By Ronny Michel

The stretch of Interstate between Kenner and LaPlace is a road I’ve often traveled. I usually enjoy that drive over the lake, but a few weeks ago, something happened which caused me to spend a lot more time there than I anticipated.
My Mom and I were engrossed in a conversation, while my daughters, Lauren and Victoria, shared the backseat with their friend, Renee. The mission of our trip has been lost in the part of my mind that prioritizes information and apparently spit out that fact. In its place lie the details of the trip home.
The girls heard an odd sound, followed by another strange knock, coming from the rear of the car. I pulled to the side of the road and hoped that I wouldn’t see the flat tire we feared was the cause of the noise. A quick glance at the rear tire on the driver’s side confirmed our diagnosis.
As soon as I found my cell phone, I called my husband. “Michael, I have a flat.”
“Is it bad?” he asked.
Thinking he was referring to the time I was with my sister when she had a blow out, I answered, “Oh, no. This time it’s only flat on the bottom.” My Mom groaned as I instantly regretted that response.
As we waited for Michael and AAA to arrive, my Mom was amazingly calm, while I tried not to worry about the cars, trucks, and eighteen-wheelers that whizzed by.
Because she is always a witness to events such as these, Lauren was convinced that a hidden camera was recording her life. Renee wondered if we had a fishing pole so they could fish over the side of the bridge, and Victoria gained instant popularity when she brought out a bag of chocolate. The trio then used their phones to update their statuses on Facebook.
When Michael arrived, he said that he’d wait for AAA. We quickly left the car with the flat tire. Except for Lauren. She looked over the side of the bridge, and very reluctantly joined us in the other vehicle. “Lauren,” I asked, “Why were you afraid?”
“It’s a whole different world out there,” she said.
When my thoughts return to the time we spent on the bridge, I think of the small piece of metal that punctured the tire, and immobilized us for an hour. And in this journey through life, I want to pay attention to the things I don’t always notice, like the wrong attitudes, misplaced priorities, and sharp words, which can suck the air right out of me and impede my progress. I’m so grateful for a God Who urges me to, “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” Psalm 50:2 He has never failed to put me back on track.

Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Victoria's Vision

I’ve sewn my last seam, ripped my last mistake, and positioned my last bead. When Victoria was invited to the prom, I knew that somehow, somewhere, she would find a dress. I even jokingly said that I’d make one for her. I really was joking.
Then it happened. We were in the second dress shop, trying on the fifth dress, when she said, “I’d like you to make one something like this one, in another color, with a different bow.”
“Can’t we just order this one in another color?” I asked while searching for the price tag.
The owner of the shop quickly rounded the corner and chimed in, “If you buy this dress, I’ll take off 10%.”
I forced myself to swallow a scream. My math skills may be meager, but they are sufficient to subtract $49 from a $498, and leave me with a number that was not within the budget. (To be honest, I never finished the subtraction problem, and I wasn’t sure what the budget was, but this dress was out of it.)
Before I could say, “I’m really nervous about sewing a prom dress,” Lauren, Victoria and I were in the fabric shop. They quickly found a pattern and debated only a few minutes over the fabric. I can do this, I thought, I can sew this dress. While I headed toward the register, Victoria took one more step in the direction of her dream dress with words which caused me to stop in my tracks, “Mom, can you bead the top?”
“I’ve never beaded anything. I can’t do this. I can’t bead this dress.”
“Sure you can and I’ll help. We’ll learn together. I’ll work on it every day after school.”
What she probably meant to say was, “You can work on the dress every day. Then one day after school, cheerleading practice, eating with friends, and homework, I will watch you sew one bead.” That’s what happened. She sat next to me for less than a minute, stood and said “Wow, that’s a lot of work,” then left the room.
As she walked away, I looked back at the dress that was being transformed by tiny beads that lit up against the emerald bodice. Victoria’s vision was becoming reality because she trusted that I could do something that I had never done before to give her something that previously existed only in her mind.
My prayer throughout this project has also undergone transformation. What began as a desperate plea, God, help me to make this, has changed into a prayer not just for Victoria, but for your children, too.
May our children’s dreams sparkle against the fabric of their futures. May the confidence that they have in us be magnified and placed in God, the giver of dreams, and the One Who will provide them with the means to bring their visions to reality. And may God do something so wonderful with their lives that only He can get the glory.

Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Raise your hand if you have more than one daughter. Now, pat yourself on the back if you have solved the “she’s wearing my clothes” argument. If your hand is still raised, don’t worry, so is mine. In fact, both my hand and my method of handling such situations are up in the air.
I’ve tried the “only wear your own clothes” rule, which never works. Sooner than later they are granting permission for certain objects to be borrowed, but I can never keep up with the list.
I once glanced out of the kitchen window and said to Monique, “Look at Lauren out there. Did you know that she’s wearing your shirt? I’ll take care of this.”
“Ssshhh,” was the urgent response from Monique, “Don’t say anything. I’m wearing her shoes.”
Not long after, Victoria called Elise. “I’m missing two pairs of shorts.”
“Oh, yeah,” Elise said, “I took them to Thibodaux.”
“Great,” said Victoria, “My shorts went to college before I did.”
To further rub it in, Elise sent a text message to Victoria, “I need some advice.”
Thinking this was serious sister stuff, Victoria scrolled down to find a photo of Elise wearing one pair of the missing shorts and holding the other pair in her hand. The caption read, “Which should I wear tomorrow?” Victoria just laughed.
Our latest episode involved a pair of jeans. Elise was ready to return to college when she realized that Victoria and I were at a baseball game, and Victoria was wearing her jeans. Elise called to say that she was headed to the game to reclaim her clothes. Victoria calmly said that she wasn’t changing, I kept insisting she do so, and Elise searched for us at a ballpark five miles from where we were.
When she finally arrived, Victoria met her at the car for the big showdown. They looked at each other, burst into laughter, swapped clothes, and each happily went on their way as though nothing had happened.
That afternoon, around the fifth inning of the game, I realized that my little girls have grown up. They’ve discovered ways to resolve their conflicts, and it’s usually with heavy doses of laughter. They still borrow clothes, replace what they ruin, and hopefully realize that relationships are worth more than even the best fitting pair of jeans.
One day they will probably quit borrowing from each other, but until then, I should let them know how proud I am of the way they get along. I’ll tell them as soon as I get back from my sister’s house. She’s lending me her black shoes.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Spring has sprung. I’ve spent much of the past week in my backyard enjoying the pleasant weather, and the rest of the time replacing the candy that I wish my family had saved for Sunday. It’s difficult for me to believe that Easter is already here.
Although I enjoy this season, I don’t wait for it to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. That’s something that I think of daily. As a child, I never understood why it was necessary for Jesus to die. I had a difficult time wrapping my mind around the idea of a sinless man dying a brutal death. Now, when I think of Easter, my thoughts go back to the Garden of Eden.
Created in the image of God and clothed with His Glory, Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed. Once they disobeyed God, they realized their nakedness, attempted to clothe themselves with fig leaves, and then tried to hide from the presence of God.
Before banishing them from the Garden, God made them garments from an animal skin. This animal was sacrificed to cover for the guilt and shame brought on by the sin of Adam and Eve. For many years after that, people sacrificed animals to atone for their sins, while prophets predicted that God would send a Messiah to redeem man.
John the Baptist introduced Jesus as the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world. God had sent His Son to be the sacrifice for the sins of the people. Although tempted in every area, Jesus was without sin, yet He willingly became the final sacrifice for our sins. “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” I Peter 2:24
I could make a lengthy list of the sins from which I’ve been forgiven, the sicknesses from which I’ve been healed, and the freedom that I’ve found from financial difficulties, fear, and mental torment, all as a result of Jesus’ sacrifice. As difficult as each one was to bear in my life, they were spread out over a fifty year period. What astounds me is that Jesus bore not only the contents of my list, but the lists of everyone at one time. This is a pain I cannot imagine endured by a Savior I will not deny.
Although my sins were enough to nail Jesus to the cross, they couldn’t keep Him there. Easter Sunday marks His triumph over death. May we daily experience the results of His sacrifice, and live in the freedom He so willingly purchased for us.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I Surrender All

Wouldn’t it be great if life came with a sound track? Eerie music would prepare us when something frightening was about to happen. Canned laughter would accompany even our most feeble attempts at humor. Symphony music would swell right before we said, “I do.”
If life had a sound track, I wonder what I would have heard during the worship service at LifeGate Church last Sunday. Would there have been any indication that it was the last time that I would see Joseph B. Winters at the piano? Only four hours after he played his last note, Joey went out to walk his dogs, and stepped into eternity.
I’ve known Joey for a little over a year, but it didn’t take that long to realize his passion for worship. He began piano lessons at the age of six, graduated from Carnegie-Mellon, and spent his life teaching, conducting, and composing music in worship to God Who blessed him with the gift.
Whenever someone’s death hits close to home, it causes me to ponder my own mortality. As a result, I often shift a few priorities. Joey’s death was on my mind as I read this question posed in a devotional, “One second after I’ve arrived in God’s presence, what am I going to wish I had done?” No one can answer that question for another person; however, Joey’s musical accomplishments would indicate that he used his God-given gift to the fullest.
I can immediately think of many answers to the question in the devotional. Can you? The conversations that we want to have, the things that we want to accomplish, and the gifts that we want to develop should become our priorities.
Oh, and with regards to the sound track of life, maybe the last song that I heard Joey play would have been appropriate. It may not have warned of his death, but it seems to sum up his life, and I will probably always hear it in my heart when I think of him. I will picture him at the piano, playing, and singing, “I Surrender All.”
©2010 Ronny Michel - Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dining Room and Other Changes

Of the sixteen years that I’ve lived in my home, the room that has changed the most is the one behind the kitchen. Any realtor would say that it should be a dining room, and I agree. However, what is obvious is not always what works in our family.
We moved into this two-story house with young children and lots of toys. I didn’t like the idea of the kids playing upstairs while I was busy downstairs, so we turned the dining room into a playroom. Although he never admitted it, Michael hated that room. He would look into it, shake his head, and say, “This playroom is too messy for them to play.” Michael spent far too many hours picking up toys and searching for missing puzzle pieces.
Gradually, the children grew too old for a playroom, and a real dining table replaced the Little Tikes furniture. I even bought drapes for the window, and hung a large, gold-framed mirror on the newly painted red walls. Other than using the table on a few holidays, we rarely entered the room.
As college moved children out, and in, and out, and back into our home, we saw the need for an additional bedroom. The dining table was given to my sister, and Geoffrey filled the room with his stuff.
Another college move raised the question of who would live in the downstairs bedroom. Lauren, then in high school, immediately answered, “Not me! I will be too tempted to sneak out. No, I need to stay upstairs, across the hall from you and Dad!”
So Elise moved downstairs, then to Nicholls. Victoria’s belongings now occupy that room, though she prefers to sleep upstairs so that she can talk to Monique before falling asleep.
Will I ever again use that space as a dining room? Maybe, maybe not.
Lately, I’ve felt like that room. What I obviously should have done with my life is not what happened. Any life coach would tell me that with a degree in Education, I should have spent my adult life teaching. I credit my Dad for giving me the freedom to break from the obvious. While in college, I told him, “I’m going to get married and raise children. I’m wasting my time and your money on college.”
He answered, “An education is never a waste of time or money. Even if you never teach, stay in school.”
I’ve spent half of my adult life raising children, half in the classroom, and now I’m back at home. Projects such as arranging Victoria’s clothes like the colors of the rainbow occupy my time. (I couldn’t remember if the clue to the order of the colors was Roy G Biv or Roy B Giv. In the end it didn’t matter because the child has nothing green.)
Will I ever again use my Education degree and return to teaching? Maybe, maybe not. While I sort things out, I credit my Heavenly Father for seamlessly moving me from one phase to another in the past, and quieting my thoughts of the future with His words from Jeremiah 29:11, “‘ For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Out of the Box

Did I ever tell you about the 28 days that I spent in isolation? I was 33 years old, 350 miles away from home, and undergoing treatment for acute leukemia.
Entering that room at M.D. Anderson Hospital was necessary. I needed a sterile environment to prevent infection from invading my body once my immune system was destroyed by the chemotherapy.
As I walked through the door of the isolation room, to my immediate right was the foot of the bed. The door and bed consumed the width of the room. Directly opposite the door was a large window through which I could view visitors. It didn’t take long to inventory the furniture in my sparse, new home. In addition to the bed, there was a sink, a camper’s potty, and a television on a metal stand.
The bed was along the wall that housed an opening protected by a thick plastic curtain. My IV tubes ran through this opening and nurses would place their hands in gloves, which were incorporated into the curtain, to check my vital signs throughout the day.
This was undoubtedly the most primitive environment that I had ever lived in. My idea of camping is a hotel without a microwave, but it didn’t take long for me to adjust to my new surroundings.
The day that I was released, I quickly walked through the corridor to join my husband, who stood by the visitor’s window outside of my room. Suddenly, I turned and looked into my room and stepped back in surprise. “It’s so small,” I exclaimed. “That room is so incredibly small.”
“Yes…” Michael hesitated, “But didn’t you realize how small it was when you were in there?”
“No,” I answered, surprising even myself. “When I was in there, it didn’t feel that small. But now, on this side of the window, it seems so tiny.”
While I was in that room, the box, it was sufficient. However, once released, it was amazing to think that I had existed in that small space. I just wanted to stretch my legs, walk away, and never again live in that box.
Through a miraculous healing from God, I never returned to the isolation room at M.D. Anderson, and I was blessed with a fifth child, Victoria Grace. She is my daily reminder that all things are possible with God.
In spite of all of this, I am embarrassed to say that I sometimes allow myself to go back to living life in a box. Maybe not a box at a hospital, but mental, self-constructed frames that confine my ideas, my dreams, and even my prayers to what I can believe is possible. When I do that, it’s as though I also place God in my own little theological box, doubting His ability to be all that He is, the God of the impossible.
I am determined to break out of the box and return to the faith I so easily exercised when I was in desperate need of a miracle. Looking past my own faults and fears, I am placing my trust in the One Who cannot fail, for “He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.” Job 5:9
Ronny may be reached at