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.