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