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