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

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Let Us Eat Pie

In TV Land, the “Friends” fellowshipped over coffee in their favorite cafĂ©, while the “Golden Girls” gathered around the kitchen table for cheesecake. In our home, it’s Edwards pies.
These gatherings are rarely organized. Instead, they happen when family members and friends fill the chairs around the kitchen table. One minute, we’re talking about work, school, or relationships, and then someone says, “It’s time for pie.”
I really should anticipate these moments and always have a pie in the freezer, but I don’t. When the time for pie arises, a couple of people take a trip to the store, then we all settle in for another round of conversation.
My daughter, Lauren, said that from now on, we will haul our kitchen table to every family shower or wedding, since so many of our memories have been created there. If she does that, I’m warning everyone right now, it won’t be a pretty sight. When new, it was a large, beautiful table that could accommodate seven chairs. Now it bears the marks of many meals, birthday parties, and science fair projects. A closer look will also reveal fingernail polish, bare areas where someone used acetone to remove the fingernail polish, which also removed the finish, and stains from hair dye. The table’s not perfect, but neither are we.
Recently, Lauren and her friend walked through the front door with a plastic bag that held yet another pie. Soon her sisters and a few cousins appeared. When they found out that homework prevented someone else from joining them, they quickly delivered a slice of pie and a few minutes of conversation to their studious cousin.
This traveling comfort took a trip across the river this past week when my oldest daughter, Monique, asked me to drive to Thibodaux with her to visit her sister, Elise. Lauren was also available to join us, along with Jackie, my college roommate. I thought Jackie would enjoy seeing how the dormitory situation at Nicholls had progressed in the last 30 years. Before leaving, I did what the girls would have expected me to do, I bought a pie.
After dinner, and after getting the approval of the restaurant staff, I pulled the box of chocolate pie from my purse. (I chose a very large purse that night.) The look on Elise’s face was worth the effort and the drive. Monique distributed the plastic forks that I had also brought, and we dug in.
We all realize that the pie has no power to console or to soothe. It has just come to represent times when family members that are best friends, and friends who are as close as family members, join to encourage one another. What a blessing it is for my children to grow up surrounded by supportive people who make themselves available to offer the wisdom of their counsel and the comfort of their company. King Solomon would agree, for he wrote, “If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:10)
I’m determined to stand firm against the busyness of life so that I can always be available to nurture the relationships of family and friends. And I’ll bring the pie.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Hearts in Touch

I’ve washed a lot of dishes in my life, and chances are my future will include many, many more hours of standing in front of my kitchen sink. Do I enjoy dishwashing? I don’t stop to think about it. It needs to be done, so I do it.
My Nanny, Lillie Reno, whose memory I still cherish, once told me that putting a bird bath in front of your kitchen window is therapy. So I did. I thought about Nanny a few days ago as I stood before my sink and watched a bird land on the bird bath. This was probably the most determined of the flock for she wasn’t deterred by what looked like a dry bird bath. She persistently poked her beak beneath the dead leaves that the silver maple tree had shed, finding something that I couldn’t see. Water lay under the leaves, and she was not going to fly off until she had her fill.
Something about watching the activity in the bird bath made me forget my worries of the future, complaints about the present, and frustration over nonstick pans that do not quite live up to their name. I stopped washing dishes and simply allowed my mind to relax and enjoy nature’s entertainment.
Was my Nanny right? Is that therapy? If therapy can be defined as an activity that causes the body or mind to return to a state where it operates properly, then pausing to watch that bird was indeed therapeutic.
In Luke 12:24-25 Jesus said, “Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”
I have faith in God. I’ve experienced His health, provision, and direction in abundance, so I really get aggravated with myself when I allow fear to cover up the faith that I know is there. The good news is that I’m really determined to poke beneath the negative thoughts until I tap into that life-giving faith and trust in the One Who cannot fail.
If God can take care of that bird outside of my window, surely He can take care of me. And you.