Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Getting on the Same Page

Although I'm a planner and list maker, I love when God takes my preparations and launches them in an entirely different direction. This happens most often during the hour I spend each week with the ladies at the Correctional Facility.
I never know who will be in the meeting, or what they will share. Each lady is given the opportunity to read a verse from the Bible they have chosen and briefly discuss its importance.
I'm often amazed when their selections perfectly link to the topic I've chosen. At other times, the Scriptures they read tie together, God drops a story or another verse into my heart, and we go from there. I love it! I enjoy preparing as much as I can, surrounding my plans with prayer, and watching God's plan unfold.
Not too long ago, the best lesson came from an error. As one lady stood at the podium, she announced her verse and waited for everyone to find it. After she read a few words, I watched the group as they turned to one another, looking at each other's Bibles, whispering, and becoming increasingly more confused.
"She's reading something different," someone announced, and we realized her mistake. She simply said the wrong verse, which sent the group to one part of the Bible while she read another.
I quickly used the experience. "How did you feel when she told you to find one verse, then read something totally different?" All agreed they thought they had heard the wrong thing, felt mixed up, and couldn’t grasp what was being read because they were trying to figure out what was going on.
"That's what we do to people when we say one thing, then do another. If we instruct others, then live our lives contrary to what we've taught, it brings confusion. Anything we say after that, regardless of how good it is, is lost. I want to remember this the next time I try to tell my children what to do."
The experience reminded me of the time I called my sister, Ann. "Want to meet me at Waffle House?"
"Sure," she said. "I'll be over in a few minutes." And although I said Waffle House, I really meant to say IHOP. I went to IHOP and sat in a booth where I waited and waited, not knowing Ann was enduring the same experience across town at Waffle House. Not much fellowship happens when you send someone in one direction, then take off in another. Once I realized my mistake, Ann and I met and had a great visit.
And once all of the ladies in the Correctional Facility got on the same page, literally, we were able to listen and learn from the speaker.
Practice what you preach is the adage that reverberated in my heart as I drove away that afternoon. And as is often the case, the lesson was as much for me as it was for anyone else in the room that day.
Ronny may be reached at

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Christmas Story

I checked the last name off of my Christmas list, waited for Monique and Victoria to get tired of trying and buying skirts, and even squeezed in a brief visit with my niece Brittany. Next on my agenda: dinner.
"Would you like to start with an appetizer like our Bloomin Onion?" the waiter asked.
Before my daughters could stop me, I answered, "Oh, no, we can't. Every time Victoria and I order one, we eat a few pieces, bring the rest home, and no one finishes it."
"But they are good," Victoria added.
"Maybe you should reheat it. It's just not good cold," Monique said.
"We do have other appetizers," the waiter suggested.
"And we probably have a story about each one, " Victoria answered, causing all four of us to laugh. Victoria was correct. We have many stories, but fortunately our repertoire extends far beyond appetizers. One of my favorites is the Christmas Story.
Life must have looked pretty good to Mary before the angel's visit. Her engagement to Joseph was probably the fulfillment of her dream. Then the Holy Spirit surrounded her, the power of God overshadowed her, and Jesus, the Word in flesh, was implanted in her. Her dream was about to take on incredible new dimensions. The Word inside of her caused her to grow, but not just physically. He changed her plans, and challenged the thinking of those with whom she was in contact.
A few months later, while most of the world was sleeping, she brought forth Life. Because there was no room elsewhere, Jesus, the Light of the world, was humbly born in a stable. The One Who had already changed her was about to shake the community, and eventually the world.
While the story of Jesus' life on Earth begins with Christmas, it doesn't end there. He didn't remain in the manger. Jesus grew, leading a sinless life as He taught, healed, delivered, and loved. He then became the ultimate sacrifice as He willingly died on the cross for our sins.
As this story is told and retold, I am always challenged. Have I made room in my heart for Jesus? Will I allow Him to change me, enlarge my vision, and challenge my thoughts?
Just as in the time of Mary, there are many people living good lives, dreaming good dreams, and making commonsense plans. But do they know the story? The entire Christmas story of the Greatest Gift? Will I take the time to tell them?
Will you?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Gift of LIfe

I don't want anything for Christmas. Well, other than the shelf I asked my son-in-law, Frank, to make for me, there's nothing else I want. And except for that bedside organizer I showed Lauren while we were shopping. "Why do you need this?" my daughter asked.
"I could put my phone there at night. Right now I shove it between my mattress and box spring." She gave me the 'are you serious' look, realized I was, yet wouldn't let me buy it.
"Surely I can find a nicer one than this," she said. Lauren gave me frequent updates of her quest until she finally found one she wanted me to have. But really, now there is nothing else I want. I have much more fun selecting and giving gifts to others, and have found Act 20:35 to be true in my life, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
If there's anything my children want to do for me this Christmas, I'd like them to donate blood. I've read December is one of the slowest months for blood donations. This is likely due to the hectic Christmas season, and people running around looking for things like cute bedside organizers. I will always be grateful to the people who took the time to donate blood when I needed it, even in the month of December.
Eleven months of chemotherapy often left me in need of blood. I have no idea how many pints of blood and platelets my body desperately sucked out of those plastic bags that hung securely on the metal poles near my hospital bed during that time. Due to the generosity of blood donors: some family, some friends and many anonymous, it was always available.
One night in particular stands out in my memory. I was feverish, exhausted from throwing up, too weak to pick up my hair that was falling out in clumps, and agonizing over my hands and feet that were painfully burnt due to the chemotherapy. Michael took me to the emergency room where I sat in a wheelchair with many others in need of immediate care. Suddenly, I turned my husband and said, “I’m about to faint.”
That whisper took me to the front of the line and before I knew it, the doctor was examining me. She took one look at my pale face and announced, “You need blood.” That night I received the blood products which my body lacked.
Somewhere today, while you are reading this, someone is in need. No amount of vitamins, antibiotics, or superb medical care will take the place of a blood transfusion. Nothing replaces blood but more blood. According to the American Red Cross, only three out of every 100 people are blood donors. If you are one of those three, thank you for your gift. You will never know the lives you've helped.
So really and truly, I would be thrilled if my children passed up the mall and donated blood this week. But if Frank already made that shelf, I will graciously accept it.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, December 8, 2011

College Nightmares

I smile when one of my children calls me. It happened again as I was ending a conversation with Lauren before sitting down to lunch with a friend. I just had to answer this call from Elise. Well, actually, what appeared on the screen was Lil Lise, a nickname given by a friend and adopted by me because I love it. For some reason, Lil Lise, evokes the picture of the happy one-year-old blonde baby who would stand in the foyer, point to her jacket hanging on the coat rack, and use her big brown eyes to plead with me to take her somewhere. Anywhere. The child just loved to be on the go. Not one to be denied, when her older siblings were involved in an activity, or headed out of the door, she would run after them saying, "Me, too. Me, too."
As soon as I took her call, her sobs stopped my happy memories. "I missed my final," she began. "I thought it was for 1:00, but it started at 10:30."
My heart sent out a quick Thank You to Heaven that although serious, it was not one of the terrible things that race through a parent's mind when a child calls crying. "Email your teacher immediately," I said.
"I already did."
"Then we'll pray. You walk in the favor of God. Let's pray for the teacher to be merciful and allow you to take the exam." Without waiting for a response, I prayed as she wept, then said, "Elise, do you know what it's called when you think an exam is at 1:00 and you miss it because it was at 10:30? A mistake. I've made tons, and your teacher has probably made a couple, too. I'm going to continue to pray that she'll allow you to take the test. Now, set your timer for three minutes while you cry it out. When the timer goes off, dry your eyes, and continue with your day as you wait for your teacher's response."
At that point, it would have been futile to analyze the error. She made a mistake and for rest of her life, or at least the rest of college, she will carefully confirm the time of scheduled events. I just hope that's not the only lesson she remembers from the day she missed her medical terminology exam.
I want her to always call someone when she hurts. Only God knows the number of times I've told a friend, "Don’t try to fix this; just let me tell you what happened." Somehow it always helps when I verbalize what I'm experiencing, and I've often received treasured advice from faithful friends.
I pray she always, always forgives and extends mercy to others who make mistakes. May she respond like her teacher who allowed her to make up the exam the following morning.
And when someone calls her, I hope she always directs them to God, her Father. I believe He always smiles when one of His children calls Him.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Once upon a time, many, many years ago, my husband and I decided to buy an above ground pool and have it installed a couple of feet into the ground. Before it was even filled with water, I knew I wanted a small deck. Eight by ten feet. Just enough to give the kids a place to wipe the grass off of their feet before jumping into the water. Michael agreed, but only if my brother Matt could build the deck. Michael knew Matt was a gifted carpenter, but I think he forgot how creative he was.
I told Matt about my idea. You know, the eight by ten platform.
"No," he said, "I will build it all around the pool."
"Uhmm, okay," I agreed.
"Can we put lights on the step?" I asked.
"That can't be done," Michael said, already regretting the whole pool/deck idea.
"Matt?" I said, turning to my brother.
"I can do that," Matt said. "And I'll put a spot for a small table on one end. On the opposite end will be an open area for plants…" And it was all over. Michael and I had lost control and it was now Matt's project.
Board by board, we watched Matt's vision become our reality. His ideas were so much better than ours, and we were grateful for our decision to let him build what he wanted us to have. I'm not sure we had a choice.
As I look toward my future, I refuse to limit God by what I believe is possible. In my life, and especially the lives of my children, I trust God will do so much more than I can imagine. Day by day, I pray I am faithful to the tasks God places in front of me, and open to receive His plans. Jeremiah 29:11 never fails to encourage me, " 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." How foolish I am to ever want to take my future out of God's hands and place it in my own.
Ronny may be reached at

Mr. Huey

I am not afraid. Although some are counting down the days until Christmas, and others have begun to put up their holiday decorations, I will not fear. Even when I walked into WalMart last week and saw a tall Christmas tree in the center of the aisle, I did not flinch. I will not panic. I will remain calm.
Have I completed my Christmas shopping? Hardly. I am a last minute shopper and no longer even entertain thoughts of shopping for Christmas before the mood strikes me. Besides, I have a plan.
My tree has been ordered through a fundraiser for my nephew's baseball team. A few pieces of costume jewelry were purchased at another fundraiser, and thanks to my cousin, Julie, I already have ideas for some of the people on my Christmas list. Julie recently sent me an article which suggested the purchase of gift certificates from local businesses. Hair cuts, pedicures, massages, gym memberships, car washes, oil changes, lawn services, or cleaning services are all options to be explored. Gift cards to local restaurants and coffee shops top my list of gifts to give. As much as possible, I want to support the business owners in my community. I always look for and welcome gift giving ideas. Except when it comes to Huey Louque. I have purchased the same gift for him for the past eighteen years. A box of cordial cherries.
It all started when my son, Geoffrey, was in third grade. He surprised me by asking, "Can I give Mr. Huey a gift for Christmas?"
"Sure, but he's not your teacher. Why do you want to give him something?"
"He lets us play football at recess."
And that's when the cordial cherry tradition began. The following year, Mr. Huey was Geoffrey's teacher, so in addition to the Christmas gift from the class, Geoffrey gave him another box of cordial cherries. Maybe it's because habits are difficult to break, but probably because Mr. Huey was such an important person in my children's lives that we continued this Christmas tradition. It's a simple reminder to a past teacher that we still think about him and appreciate his part in our lives. My daughter Elise best summed him up when she said, "It's obvious that Mr. Huey likes to teach and it makes me want to learn."
Although he is no longer teaching, his impact on my children, and hundreds of others, has remained. His kindness, generosity, love of teaching and love of learning continues to resonate in those fortunate enough to have once been his students.
We have thought about him a lot this past year because his Christmas 2010 box of candy is still sitting on the top of my refrigerator. The small brightly wrapped gift never quite made it to Mr. Huey, but it's generated many conversations and more prayers. I admitted it to him in a recent phone conversation. "Huey, I didn't forget about you last year. Every time I see your gift, I pray for you." In typical Huey fashion, he laughed and thanked me.
This year, I will buy a fresh box of candy, wrap it, and deliver it to my former colleague, one of my children's favorite teachers, and a faithful friend. I know it's not much, but it represents so much more than the couple of dollars it costs. It's a sweet reminder of the past; of a tradition born from a child's gratefulness to a selfless teacher.
As we approach the celebration of the birth of our Savior, I hope you have a list of people whose lives have impacted your own. Whether or not you buy them a gift, I hope you take a moment to make a call or write a note and thank them for their role in your life. I hope I remember to deliver all of my Christmas gifts, and for the first time in eighteen years I just thought of something, I hope Huey likes cordial cherries!
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Attention. Attention. I have an announcement to make. For the first time ever, I am responsible for the Thanksgiving turkey. Okay, so maybe it's not earth-shattering to you, but it's a big deal to me. When a family of great cooks, like mine, combines with a family of equally talented cooks, like Michael's, the culinary-challenged in the group, like me, are rarely given such a responsibility. I don't even pretend to have been the first choice, but I will rise to the challenge.
When I shared the news with my friend Lisa Young, whose hospitality is outshined only by her always abundant display of artfully and deliciously prepared food, she said, "Well, you know you have to brine the turkey." I did not know. But now I do, so I will begin to research what that means. But first, please allow me a chance to express the things for which I am thankful. 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 live each one to the fullest. I am sure of it.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What to Keep?

Sign me up. I both qualify and welcome the opportunity to participate in a few reality shows. The door is wide open to any producer looking to redecorate or in any way improve my home. Same for my closet. The show What Not to Wear would love me. Tired of hearing my son call me Johnny Cash due to my tendency to wear black, I decided to branch out. I'm not sure I journeyed far enough because yesterday Geoffrey looked at me and said, "I didn't know there were so many shades of grey." (Maybe I should just begin a new reality show, My Children Try to Run My Life.)
There is one show in which I would not be able to participate: Hoarders. This show focuses on people whose homes are filled to the brim with their belongings. I love to throw things away, but cringe when my husband starts to look for a small kitchen appliance. He rummages through the cabinets saying, "I just know we have a ___." Fill in the blank: George Forman grill, tea brewer, fruit juicer, or salad shooter. Through the course of my episodes of decluttering, none them made the cut and were tossed. For some reason though, I held onto my hot rollers, a decision for which my daughter Lauren is grateful. (Upon hearing of Farrah Fawcett's death in 2009, she decided to try them as a memorial and never turned back.)
Not only do I frequently purge my home of unused items, I don't even stock a decent pantry. A recent attempt to create a meal without a trip to the grocery store was futile. All I had to work with were pork and beans, blueberry pie filling, artichokes, and marshmallow crème. Add to that the deer sausage I found in the freezer, and the fact that I'm the only one in my family who eats pork and beans, and I still had nothing. Well, nothing but a good excuse to order pizza.
So what do I keep? Photographs, cards, anything my children write, and journals. And in the absence of a well-stocked pantry, I work to obey Proverbs 3 by storing God's teachings and commands in my heart, and keeping kindness and truth so close to me that my actions and attitudes reflect my God.
What about the bad things? The times when life doesn't follow my plans? Or when disappointments threaten to cloud my days? I can't throw them out, but I can trust God to work all those things together for my good. To somehow make the bitter sweet. To make lemonade from lemons.
And speaking of lemonade, my Dad makes the best ever! It's not uncommon for me to call him and ask, "Would you like to come over and make a pitcher of lemonade?" But now I have to add, "And could you bring your juicer?"
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Memories of Marie

Rarely at a loss for words, the past few days have found me struggling to properly express the impact Marie Ory Dupont had on my family and the tremendous grief we feel over her sudden death.
Marie walked into our home and left an indelible mark on our hearts when she and Monique, my oldest daughter, met six years ago. Although they grew up only streets apart in LaPlace, it took a graduate school business class at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette to cause these two overachievers to cross paths.
Marie was… well, Monique knew her so much better than I did. Let her tell you about one of her best friends…
"The first night I met Marie we were sitting just two seats away in a class. She complimented me on my necklace and as we started chatting she said that by my accent she could tell that I wasn’t from Lafayette. I told her I was from LaPlace, and that was all it took for us to be best friends.
"I wouldn’t have made it through graduate school without Marie’s encouragement and friendship. On several occasions I told Marie I was quitting graduate school. She would always say, 'What...and leave me here?' We would laugh and I always promised to finish school. I’m so happy I stayed. It was during that time I started calling her “Momma Rie.” She always took such good care of me, reminded me to eat dinner on busy and stressful nights, and made soup when I was sick. She was an absolute God-send to my life.
"After we both completed graduate school, Marie began her job hunt. That search didn’t last long, as a position became open at St. Charles Catholic. She was so excited to return, not just to the high school she had attended, but to the close knit SCC community she considered family. Marie absolutely lit up when she talked about new ideas she had for the school, and was always proud to tell me about her students, whom she called her kids. When my little sister Victoria started attending SCC a few years ago, it was such an amazing feeling to know that Marie was looking out for her.
"We had survived graduate school, began to thrive in our careers as educators, and before we could catch our breaths, we were planning Marie's wedding to Mickey. Only a year after they were married, Marie witnessed my own marriage vows to the man she had insisted I meet on a blind date.
"Every week for the past year, Mickey and Marie, Frank and I, and our mutual friends, Pete and Deann enjoyed what we called Dinner Game Night. We all looked forward to a night of good food, even better company, and a healthy dose of competition.
"My last conversation with Marie was the night before her death. She came over to my house where we talked and laughed before finishing our visit over chips and soup at La Carreta. Marie spoke of the Homecoming activities at SCC the week before and we threw around ideas about how to make it even better next year (if you're curious…our ideas included a dessert competition). She was so relieved that her kids at SCC seemed to enjoy her hard work for that Homecoming. Our night at La Carreta ended as we took a few minutes to relish in how content we were with our lives. When she dropped me off at my house, she said how happy she was that we had made time for each other that day. I am too. I'll be eternally grateful for that
"Our friendship had only six years to develop, but I’m grateful we squeezed so many laughs and memories into that time. Marie was absolutely the best person I’ve ever met. She was the hardest worker, always selfless, and ever the servant. Her enthusiasm and passion for every single thing she did was awe-inspiring, and she would do absolutely anything to make someone else’s day better.
"I miss my friend."

Ronny and Monique may be reached at

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Gift

It doesn't take much of a reason for us to get together, but when we realized my cousin Tommye Lou's birthday was coming up, it was more than enough motivation for my Mom, Aunt Judy and I to spend a day with her. We shopped, we ate, and we saved the best for last. The gifts.
"I'm not sure if you're going to like it," Aunt Judy began, "but don't worry about it. I love it and if you don't want it, I'll take it and get something else for you."
Tommye Lou held up the beautiful red scarf which had a large charm attached to the center. "I thought this red color would be perfect for you. Look, this is how you wear it," Aunt Judy continued as she took heathe scarf and placed it around her own neck. It really was pretty. She slowly removed the scarf and handed it back to the birthday girl who promptly placed it around her head! "Or you wear it like that… but I don't mind keeping it..."
Now it was my turn. I wasn't sure how she'd feel about the book I bought, so I, too, offered a choice. "I'm not sure if you have time to read, but if you do, this is a book I really enjoyed. If you don't want it, I'll keep it and get something else for you." She looked at the new copy of Todd Burpo's book Heaven is for Real and said, "I've heard of this."
"Me, too," Aunt Judy said.
"What's it about?" questioned my Mom, and a long (trust me, long) conversation followed as we discussed the book. It was finally time for my Mom's gift.
"I'd just like to say something before you open it," she said. "If you don't like it, or it's the wrong size, don't worry. They fit me so I'll just keep them and get something else for you." Tommye Lou quickly assured her that the comfortable looking zebra print slippers were perfect. Despite our offers, she scooped up her gifts and headed for home. We did, too. Well, we did after we stopped for Aunt Judy and Mom to each buy a copy of Heaven is for Real.
I recently spoke to Tommye Lou and discovered she has already worn the slippers and the scarf. She also read the book and is ready to read it again. It didn't take her long to use her gifts.
Gifts! I love giving them, and I don't mind receiving them, either. Of all the gifts I've been given, I must say that God's are the best. He liberally gives talents and spiritual gifts expressly suited for the individual. It's our responsibility to develop and use the gifts for His glory. His ultimate gift is one which is continually offered. Daily, people choose to accept or reject the gift described in Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
There is nothing else to compare to that gift. May it be accepted and shared.
Ronny may be reached at

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Welcome Mat

The mat outside of my front door is rather plain. It's just black scrollwork and will be there until it completely disintegrates. When I do replace it, I think I'll order the one I saw online, "Come in, but don't expect much."
If you want to see a fancy mat, go to my daughter and son-in-law's home. Theirs is beige, trimmed in black, and bears the large initial of their last name in the center. Someone gave Monique and Frank that very nice wedding gift.
Travel to Thibodaux, and you will find the other end of the doormat spectrum. Elise has several mats both outside and inside her home. Each bears a different phrase, but all have to do with college, studying, and I believe I saw the word 'party' on one. Hurry up, graduation!
Regardless of their appearance, they all perform the same function. Doormats allow people to wipe the soles of their shoes before walking indoors.
In the course of a day, a look at my shoes will reveal what I've walked through: dirt, rocks, grass, and even flowerbed mulch. While I can't stop the stuff from clinging to my shoes, I can prevent it being tracked throughout my home.
In the course of my life, I have walked through many things. It's likely you have, too. The list includes disappointments, heartaches, setbacks, employment or unemployment difficulties, sickness, financial troubles, or the challenges of raising children.
Part of every challenge is the choice to collapse or keep walking; shrink in fear or rise in faith; resent the event or become thoroughly thankful for another opportunity to grow. Regardless of the severity of the trial, I am learning to stay close to the God Who said He would never leave or forsake me. His Word in Isaiah 43:1,2 settles my soul, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you." While I may not be able to avoid difficulties, I believe I can immerge from them stronger and wiser, without any junk like bitterness, worry, or condemnation clinging to me and being tracked throughout my life.
At the start of each day, I ask God's presence for every step of my walk. As I approach Him in prayer, I find He has always put out the Welcome mat.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Real Friends

While driving home from a meeting, I called my Dad. "Where are you?" I asked.
"On my way home from teaching a DWI class. Let's have coffee." And even though it was 8:30 p.m. and the last thing I needed was coffee, we met at PJs.
He was already seated at a table with a sugary apple cake. I opted for black coffee, and tried to pretend it was as good as his dessert. We talked, laughed, and solved a few of the world's problems. He waited as I ordered a Bananas Foster iced coffee to bring to my son, and spent the time gazing into the dessert showcase. All of a sudden, I heard him ask, "What are these things?"
"Which ones?" asked the employee, who was probably anxious to call it a night.
"The ones right here. The ones that look like eggs," said my Dad.
"They're eggs," answered another employee.
"But what are they really?" he asked, begging to know the true identity of the small, white, oval shaped objects.
"They're boiled eggs."
"Who buys them?" He just wouldn't quit. "How much are they?"
"Dad. Stop." I felt an obligation to end this interrogation. "You're going to be one of those people who shouldn't leave the house. Let's go."
In his defense, I've seen baby blankets and socks shaped to resemble cupcakes and cookies decorated to look like little footballs. The groom's cake at my niece's wedding looked exactly like a pot of boiled crawfish. I guess that's why my Dad had a difficult time believing there were really eggs next to the desserts at PJs.
But sometimes things, like eggs, are exactly as they appear. People, too. While many try to put up a front and pretend to be someone they're not, there are still people who are real and are really exactly as they appear. Meet Nikki Clement.
My daughter, Elise, met Nikki during their first semester at Nicholls State. When she entered our home, I felt as though I had known her for a very long time. She seemed to be warm, friendly, and sincere. I soon discovered she was also very energetic. Within minutes of our meeting, I looked out of my kitchen window and there she was, in the front yard on all fours, pouncing in the grass with Victoria's cat, Bacon. But that's Nikki. Unafraid of the opinion of others, she is true to herself and is exactly the person she portrays.
More than once, Nikki and her family have stepped in to help Elise before I was able to make the 50 minute drive to Thibodaux. They've done more for me than I will ever be able to repay. Knowing the Clements are only a few streets away from my daughter helps me to sleep better at night. Elise is probably in better hands with them anyway, for they are much nicer than I am.
When Elise decided to break her 'never live with close friends' rule, Nikki's mom, Trudy, found a house for them to rent although she had already bought a condo for Nikki to live in. See what I mean? She's a much nicer mother than me. Nikki's dad, Chris, and her brother, Trent, worked diligently and tirelessly during the grand move, creating a more than comfortable place for Nikki and Elise to share with their other roommates, Shay and Courtney.
Weeks after the move was complete, Trudy and I had an opportunity to visit. In the midst of much talk and many questions, answers, and phone calls, we discovered that Chris' mom, Joyce Cavalier Clement, and my parents where high school classmates. That makes Elise and Nikki… well, I guess it makes them best friends whose grandparents know each other, but I still think it's a major line in their 'connect the dots' story.
In a world of increasing apathy, lack of involvement, and neighbors who are strangers, I am pleased to report there are still warm, loving, generous people, and God has given me more friends like these than I will ever deserve. Elise, too. In Nikki, she has found a true friend. (I would love to say that Nikki's a good egg, but I fear that would be too corny, so I will choose another ending.)
May our lives be filled with friends like Nikki, and may we be the friends upon which others can depend.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Need to Tweeze

That's it! I'm buying a pair of tweezers for each of my girls to carry and one to put in the car of every member of my family. Maybe I'm overreacting; you be the judge.
While at Children's Hospital for Elise's yearly checkup, we were told it would be another hour before the doctor could see us. We quickly left in search of lunch.
We couldn't go to Camellia's Grill. Elise ate a hamburger from that restaurant while she was in the midst of chemotherapy and the associations are too strong. I wanted to go to La Madeleine's. "Oh, no," said Elise, "I'm very hungry and I don't think that food will fill me." Strange comment coming from someone who never finishes a meal. I knew better than to suggest Burger King. She claims to have eaten there after so many high school games that she will never return.
"Whoever heard of being in New Orleans and unable to find a place to eat?" I asked as I drove up and down South Carrollton before turning onto Oak Street. We slid into a parking space, jumped out of the car, and quickly got into line at Tru Burger. A lady soon entered and said, "Did you know you have to buy a ticket to park?" She informed me of the procedure before I left Elise with the task of getting our lunch.
There, not far from my car, was the machine that sold the tickets. Nowhere in my purse was enough change, so I grabbed a credit card and shoved it in the machine. I tried to press the buttons for the required amount of parking time I needed and nothing happened. I tried again. And again. I decided to cancel the transaction and retrieve the card, and I got nothing. My card was stuck and the fraction of an inch protruding was not enough for me to grab onto to yank it from the grip of that machine. I panicked.
I called the number on the machine, explained my plight, and was frustrated when told "somewhere off of South Carrollton" wasn't enough information as to my location. When I was able to offer more details, I was assured someone would be sent to help. I ran across the street to the salon in search of tweezers and was told they had none. I called Elise only to hear, "The lady and I are wondering what's taking you so long." Elise said I might find tweezers in her makeup bag, so I quickly went back to the car and engaged in a futile search. I approached two women on the sidewalk. Thankfully, one of them found a pair of tweezers in her car. I ran back to begin the task of removing my credit card, and fought the urge to call my husband to ask him to just cancel the card. After many unsuccessful attempts, a man on a bicycle approached me. Surely this was not the person the city sent to help. He said he knew nothing about the machine, but seemed to be amused by my predicament.
The lady with the tweezers gently mentioned that she had an appointment. "Well, I really have to get my card," I said as I continued with my project, and finally the card came out! I profusely thanked the kind lady for the use of her tweezers and for the money she gave me, placed the ticket in my car, then rushed back to Elise.
She was calmly eating her hamburger. I plopped down, grabbed a napkin to wipe the sweat from my face, phoned the city of New Orleans to cancel my need for assistance, and told Elise, "By the way, you don't have tweezers in your makeup bag."
"Yeah, I didn't think so, but I didn't want to destroy your hope."
What did I find out about myself? Regardless of how well I think I'm doing, or how mature I believe I'm becoming, when a little pressure it applied, what's inside comes out. I can still become impatient, stressed, worried, abrupt, and rude; all qualities I tend to judge in others. Matthew 7:2-5 must have been written just for me.
Yes, I do believe I will buy several pairs of tweezers. They'll come handy if credit cards get stuck, or items fall between the seat and the car's console. I'll use my tweezers for lots of things except taking the speck out of someone else's eye. Not when I have a huge log in my own.
Ronny may be reached at

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fruit in All Seasons

The season is changing. I can feel it in the air. Well, sometimes I can. The slightest cool breeze is enough to signal the change that's about to take place. My plants already know it. I've eaten my final home-grown banana pepper, cut the last two gardenia blooms from the bush, and water the periwinkles with the hope of coaxing their pink blooms just a little longer. As I slowly say goodbye to the summer, I look forward to the next season, for with it comes chrysanthemums, beautiful autumn colors, and my favorite fruit, satsumas.
Just as surely as Fall follows Summer, the seasons of life change. The passing of one brings the dawn of the next, and the wise fully embrace the new season with joy, anticipation, and faith. Since it's impossible to live in either yesterday, or tomorrow, I am determined to make the most of the season I find myself in today. I believe we are given an appropriate task to accomplish in every phase of our lives. It's up to me to discover, accept, and appreciate God's purpose and timing for each portion of my life.
In an recent effort to try and figure out what I am supposed to be doing with this season, I was instantly calmed by reading Jeremiah 17:7-10. There I discovered that by simply trusting and placing confidence in the Lord, I'm blessed, and like a well-watered tree, I will never fail to bear fruit. And that's my desire: to be fruitful and productive and accomplish something during every season.
I found it easier to assess my life when I was younger. As a student, frequent evaluations informed me of the results of my studying. Raising young children caused me to daily gauge my child-rearing techniques and adjust as needed. Teaching also kept me alert, constantly measuring test results and seeking better methods of instruction.
Now, I find fewer outward signs of productivity. Perhaps that's part of my present season. Maybe my script calls for me not to do more, but to be more. To be more faithful, more prayerful, more joyful, more peaceful. I no longer seek to fill my days with activities which keep me busy, rather I've been filling my heart with an increasing number of prayer requests which cause me to run to my Father.
John 15 records Jesus' instruction to stay close to Him, like a branch attached to the vine, so that we can be fruitful. The fruit of a life joined to His are listed in Galatians 5:22: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. What a huge accomplishment it would be to exhibit this fruit every day of every season of our lives. Not only would it add a greater dimension to our lives, but we would be able to nourish those in need. Times may change, but the fruit of the Holy Spirit is always in season.
Ronny may be reached at

Friday, September 16, 2011

Eternal Preparation

"Your shoes gave me a blister." Lauren said as she walked through the front door.
"So I guess you won't wear them again."
"Yes, I will, but I'll just be prepared."
Maybe it's just me, but blisters are not even close to one of the things for which I want to prepare. No shoes are that cute.
I do enjoy preparing for the days when Victoria invites the cheerleaders from the Junior class to eat and get ready for a game at our house. My family enjoys this time, too, for they know that despite any culinary disasters they may have endured during the week, I will rally and rebound when we have guests. Victoria's job is to issue the invitations, then I proceed with the preparations.
Jesus understands preparations. In John 14, we are told He is preparing a place for us in His Father's house. When questioned by Thomas as to the way to get there, Jesus responded in verse 6, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
The Life Application Bible comments, "As the way, Jesus is our path to the Father. As the truth, He is the reality of all God's promises. As the life, He joins His divine life to ours, both now and eternally."
Although it would be easy to stop here and rest on our assurance of eternal life, I believe we, as Christians, have a responsibility to go a step further. I think it's our job to share this message, issue this invitation, and spread the good news to those in our lives. God says in Isaiah 52:7 that the feet of such people are beautiful. "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns."
But before you go, wait up for Lauren. She's preparing for blisters.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Shannon's Lesson

Oh, the lessons I learn from the people I meet. Although many years have passed since my formal education, I've chosen to remain a student of life, observing, listening, and learning from the constant parade of instructors God assigns to me.
Last week's teacher? Shannon. I'm not going to reveal her full name for two reasons. First, it really doesn't matter; second, I don't know it. Although I met her in LaPlace, She's not from the River Parishes, but none of that is really important to her story. God loves me enough to have scheduled our lives to intersect briefly, and it was during this little encounter that I was again reminded how big my God really is.
Shannon was in a group of ladies I met at a correctional center. While sharing my own Bible study method, I mentioned, "Don't just randomly open the Bible and read the first verse you see."
"Why not?" came the question from Shannon. "It worked for me."
She now had my full attention, "Tell me about it."
"I was in jail, saw a Bible, and even though I really didn't believe in God, I said, 'God, if You're real, prove it to me.' I opened the Bible to a story about two prostitutes, and read about how God was angry at their sin. I made a promise to God that day and kept it even though I was tempted."
What exactly was the promise she made to God ? Shannon gave me a general idea, and I believe she would have answered any specific questions I had, but it really is none of my business. God knows, and Shannon knows, and I believe when God deals with people, it is Holy Ground upon which I tread very carefully. Besides, I was too busy mentally racing through the Bible stories I am familiar with, trying to figure out which one she had read. Nothing came to mind.
I found it the next morning. There, in Ezekiel 23, is the comparison of two nations to prostitutes, and God's anger towards their sin. I again thanked God for His Divine intervention in Shannon's life, and for allowing me to learn her story. It always amazes me that the God of the universe continues to deal with people individually and hears the humble cries from our hearts.
This past week, I handed a Bible to another lady in our study group and said, "Now, don't start in Genesis. I think you should start reading the book of John…" I didn't finish my sentence, for out of the corner of my eye, I saw Shannon, smiled as I remembered her story, and finished, "Start wherever you want. Just start. And ask God to open your heart to what He has to say to you."
Hey, I may not be the brightest student in life's classroom, but I'm learning.

Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Change of Plans

"If Plan A fails, remember you have 25 letters left."
I don't remember when I first read this; however, I've repeated it several times lately. Five children and one husband have taken this former teacher from a highly organized, schedule stickler to someone who has learned to adapt to changes, even when I don't like them.
I now have a front row seat to the alteration taking place in my oldest child, Monique. Remember Monique? She's the one who got married February 5, 2011. She picked that date because her chosen venue was already booked in the spring and she didn't want to wait until the summer. Not only did she elect to get married in the winter, but she planned an outdoor wedding. And we had the nerve to be surprised when the Blizzard of 2011 moved the ceremony indoors!
This was not the only amendment to her careful plans. First, Monique and Frank decided to honeymoon in the mountains of Tennessee. That was cancelled due to a probable snow storm. Plan B was a trip to Charleston, South Carolina, which was also cancelled due to extreme weather conditions. The newly married couple spent their first few days as man and wife at the bay house of Frank's family. Now, Monique says it was what they should have planned all along.
Monique still has a little trouble yielding control, especially when scheduling vacations. She is in the midst of planning a little trip to New York. Last week I got the following text: "I'm scared to go to New York."
"Why?" I texted back.
"Because of the earthquake. Would you be scared?"
"No. It happened and it's over."
"But it could happen again." "
"You are covered by prayer every day and bound to God's will. You are protected."
"True. Forgot about that."
The next day brought Hurricane Irene, more concerns, more messages, and a conclusion to continue the scheduling of the trip, adjusting plans if necessary. Although these issues are important to Monique, she would be the first to admit they are very slight breezes in comparison to the winds of change others have had to face.
My thoughts go to Mary, a young virgin who was engaged to be married to Joseph. Her life became subject to change when the angel informed her of God's plans for her to give birth to Jesus. She shelved her plans, yielded to God's, and her cousin Elizabeth said of her, "You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what He said." Luke 1:45
People's plans change constantly. Granted, none as dramatically as that of Mary, yet her example of submission to God's will encourages my own.
Perhaps you have found yourself like me, somewhere between Mary and Monique. And like me, your plans may have been altered many times, due to the direct intervention of God, a sickness or death, the wrong decision of another, the economy, stock market, or yes, even the weather.
May we all receive comfort from knowing that even if Plans A-Z fail, God is not restricted by the alphabet. He will continue to work out His will for our lives as long as we turn to Him for direction. "You can make many plans, but the Lord's purpose will prevail." Proverbs 19:21
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Elise's Journey

Want to peek inside of my journals? Elise was ten years old at the time of the first entry. On several nights, she entered my bedroom crying and clutching her stomach as she crawled into my bed. I held her as she cried, whispered urgent prayers, and slept only after she did. Repeated trips to the doctor revealed no reason for the pain other than a probable virus.
August 13, 2002: East Jefferson Hospital. Elise is sleeping now. Victoria asked me to come home. She said she's used to waking up and seeing me… at the computer! Oh, my… into how many pieces can the human heart be torn? It surely must be the strongest, most versatile organ God ever created. It breaks, then heals. It gives, then grows. And the more it breaks and gives, the stronger and larger it becomes.
August 14, 2002: Still waiting on the results from the biopsy. I'm so glad God gives free refills on grace. Grace supports your legs when your knees buckle at the words, emergency surgery. It hides the pain in your eyes when your child cries out in agony and lets her see only strength and love. Grace lets you urge that child to walk after surgery when you'd rather carry her in your arms, then calms you so you can sleep on the hospital couch, existing on coffee and graham crackers, which is more than she's been allowed to have. Grace pushes out fear of the unknown and replaces it with a stronger and deeper faith that what's to come will be infinitely greater than what has gone.
August 15, 2002: Yesterday afternoon the doctor brought me into a conference room and said, "The tumor has been identified as lymphoma."
I returned to Elise's hospital room to inform her of the news. She looked at me with her big brown eyes and said, "I don't want to have cancer."
"That's why we'll do everything we can to get rid of it," I said.
"But I don't want to die," she said as tears spilled onto her cheeks.
"Look at me, Elise. I had cancer and I didn't die."
We held each other and cried together until she said, "I'm going to be all right. I'm ready to fight this." Elise is amazingly strong.
We've been transferred to Children's Hospital. When Elise found out that she would have to drink four cups of red liquid for the scan, she cried and said, "When we checked in here, the nurse said no child should ever be uncomfortable or in pain. To drink that would make me uncomfortable so I don't think I should have to drink it." I wanted to pour it down the drain and lie to the nurse, or pick her up and walk out of the door. Instead, I offered her $20 and a Limited Too outfit. She drank all four.
September 14, 2002: As Elise goes through treatment, I'm reminded of what happened during mine. Although her prognosis is far greater, and she has experienced none of the side effects I did, the process mimics mine, and with every step is a painful memory.
November 23, 2002: Her well runs deep. Stripped of the external comforts of a carefree childhood and placed in a world of doctors, tests, and treatments, Elise has learned to go deep beneath the surface to the Source of life for sustaining power. She eagerly returned to school despite a discolored neck, skinny legs which stretch out forever from her navy shorts, and a bald head covered only by her brother's baseball cap. She no longer asks why it happened to her, but instead asks why it has happened to the others she meets at the hospital. These questions only force her to go deeper and dig deeper to a place where comfort can be found. Rarely are they resolved while kicking the dust on the surface, so she dug deep. While she may have never found an answer, she swims in the strength from her Source, and this immersion in God's Gulf Stream has begun to wash away nagging questions, and silence fears and self-pity.
April 2008, taken from Elise' speech at the Relay for Life: "It was weird to think cancer was in my body, but I trusted my parents to know what to do, and I trusted my doctors to know what to do, and I trusted that God would heal me. I still have a scar from my surgery, but it doesn't bother me. When I see it, it reminds me of the kindness and diligence of my doctors, the support of my friends, and the faithfulness of my God."
August 22, 2011: I don't think eternity is long enough to thank God for healing Elise.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Realtiy Shows

"I should have my own reality show."
Oh, if only I had a day of maid service for every time I've heard Lauren utter those words. I admit it. My daughter's life is quite interesting. Although it happens often, I'm still surprised by the salespeople who recognize her, and strangers who approach her seeking advice before making a purchase. I've also overheard phone conversations which might begin with a quest for directions, or an order for a cookie cake, and don't end before she asks a few questions, engages in small talk, and assures her new friends that their diligence should earn them a raise.
Despite all of this, Lauren does not need a reality show. Although her life consists of many funny, interesting, and exciting experiences, if Lauren's life was a reality show, the camera would also have access to our family's share of misunderstandings, arguments, and leaps to wrong conclusions. Granted, some of those episodes have appeared here in print; however, it is after the dust has settled and never before I receive permission. Just ask Victoria. On the return trip from her second visit to the doctor's office in one day, I asked, "Can I write about the Indian fire?"
"Too soon," she said. So if the topic comes up around her, let's all just act natural.
Back to reality TV. I'm just not a fan. Well, wait. There is one program I watch, Celebrity Apprentice, but I become uneasy when they argue. Why can't they just all get along? And I hate when Donald Trump fires someone. Why can't they all work and live happily ever after? Now, I'm a huge fan of happily ever after.
No, I don't like drama, but I love peace. I don't accept every invitation to argue, and realize there can be no tug of war game if I refuse to pick up the rope. I also must try, try, try to heed the wisdom of Proverbs 15:1, "A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare." It's never easy, but always worth the effort.
My aim is Psalm 43:12-14, "Does anyone want to live a life that is long and prosperous? Then keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies! Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it." Now I'd love for this reality to show in my life!
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Back to School

The school supplies have been carefully selected according to the theme chosen for this year. Cheerleading practice has resumed, causing anticipation of Friday night football games. She has even purchased a dress for the Back to School dance. Okay, I'll admit she still has to finish her third summer reading book, but other than that, Victoria Grace is ready for her Junior year of high school.
Regardless of the calendar or tradition or anyone else’s viewpoint, my New Year begins with the first day of school, rather than January 1. As a former student, then a teacher, and now the mother of a high schooler and a couple of college students, I put much more preparation into the beginning of school than the beginning of a new calendar year. I believe one of the most important things I can do for my children’s academic success is to pray for their teachers. These educators, the people whom God has selected to be in my children’s lives, receive my support and daily prayer.
Though I haven't taught in a while, I still remember the energy required for the job, the many hours spent outside of the classroom preparing lessons, and the constant personal goal of treating the children as though they were my own. Teaching is demanding and exhausting, but so rewarding. My heart’s cry is for all teachers, not just the ones who have daily contact with my children, to be refreshed and ready for the challenges of their profession.
May the people who are impacting and training our next generation look to Jesus, the greatest Teacher, for the patience and wisdom to successfully impart knowledge and allow lasting learning to take place. And may they realize their classes are made up of beautifully unique individuals who are dependent upon them for instruction, understanding, and direction. Educational consultant Larry Bell's advice to teachers sums it up perfectly, “On your worst day, you are some child’s greatest hope.”
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Leaving Your Mark

Although they have computers of their own, my family loves to use mine. It doesn't take long to figure out who was logged on last. When I see summaries of past legal cases, I know Geoffrey has been researching something.
Google searches of 'cute book bags' or 'cell phone covers' tell me that Victoria has been doing a little investigation of her own. She won't let me forget my own Goggle inquiry that she and her friend Chelsea discovered: 'how wide is a 26 inch tv?' Nor will she accept my explanation for the question. Moving on…
Large hooped earrings and shiny bangles left on my desk indicate Lauren's use of my computer. And if the jewelry isn't a big enough clue, her habit of writing her name on any available piece of paper is blatant proof of her recent presence. They certainly leave their mark and there’s no need to dust for prints to see who has been on my computer.
One person whose prints would be impossible to detect is quadriplegic Joni Eareckson Tada. After being nominated to serve on a National Committee, she had to undergo an investigation which included being fingerprinted, a task the agent found impossible to complete. Confused, she asked if this was a common problem. He explained that the only people without prints are people who never use their hands. He went on to add that carpenters, bricklayers, typists, homemakers, and anyone else who uses their hands a lot would have good prints.
Tada has been without the use of her hands for the past 44 years, when a dive into a shallow lake left her paralyzed from the shoulders down. But don't think for a minute that she is inactive. She learned to paint with a brush held between her teeth, wrote over forty books, recorded musical albums, starred in a movie about her life, traveled as a conference speaker, hosts a radio program, and is an advocate for the disabled. Although incapable of leaving a fingerprint, Tada's life leaves a mark that points people to Jesus.
The mark we leave in life has little to do with the clarity of our fingerprints, but everything to do with our development and use of the gifts God has entrusted to us. When we use what we have, our God-given talents and abilities, we are able to bless and serve others, leaving behind evidence that points to Jesus.
Today will hold many opportunities for us to use our abilities to serve God and others. May we live up to our full potential and not waste one single moment.
Ronny may be reached at

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Waves of Mercy

Those waves never stop. Some are large enough to topple my inflated raft, causing me to swallow much more salt water than anyone ever should. Others are so gentle they might go unnoticed except for the soothing sound made as they spill onto the shore, but they never stop. This rhythm of the water never fails to soothe my soul as I yearn to sync my heart to God's. Oh, how I love the beach.
Although there are times I miss having young children, vacation is not one of them. I've logged enough days balancing babies and bottles, washing sand off of pacifiers, applying and reapplying sunscreen, and perching on the edge of panic as they ride the waves.
Now I sit back, read, pray, sleep, and shake my head when I think of how much happier Elise would be if she would only date the person I've selected for her. I tune out the music of an IPod, preferring the sounds of the surf, an occasional chorus of Marco Polo, and a precious little voice asking, "Can you catch me, Frank?" It's my four year old great nephew, Dylan, standing on the ledge of the pool, calling out to my son-in-law.
"I can catch you, Dylan."
"Frank, are you sure?"
"Yes, I'm sure."
"Can I make it?"
"You can make it, Dylan."
Still not fully convinced, Dylan has another question, "Are you going to miss?"
"No, Dylan, I never miss." And with that final answer, Dylan leaps toward Frank's outstretched arms, laughing as he safely lands.
Frank then places Dylan on the other end of the ledge, which is just inside of the circular pool. Dylan walks around until the ledge ends and the questions begin, "Can you catch me, Frank?" The scene is repeated over and over, tiring neither Dylan nor Frank.
Frank can assure Dylan, not because of Dylan's strengths, but because Frank knows his own ability to navigate Dylan safely through the water. Dylan is only required to trust Frank and jump. I know just how he feels.
I've spent a time or two (or eighty) poised on the edge of challenges and decisions, unsure of what would happen if I took the leap. I've questioned God, over and over, out of fear of the unknown and uncertainty of my success. I wonder if God ever tires of my questions. I know I never grow weary of His answers, or of His comfort, or of the security I feel when I realize my future and my success is not in my own strength, but in the One Whose Arms I trust. He never misses.
And every day His waves of mercy and grace are there to wash over my soul. Those waves never stop.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Prayer Chair

"I pray for the family at night," my sister, Kay, announced as we began to dip our nacho chips into salsa while waiting for the rest of our party to join us for lunch. "I had to change the order of the names, though. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and realize I fell asleep before I finished praying, so I had to bump a few people."
"I pray in the morning," I added, after expressing my surprise over the manner in which Kay has prioritized her prayers. "So at least we're covered in the morning and at night."
"Then I'll pray at noon," Tiffani piped in.
Kay looked at her daughter and responded, "Perfect. You'll wake up right in time for prayer."
Although that conversation took place almost two months ago, it still makes me smile as I sit all curled up in an oversized chair to write this column. My home is not large, yet there are many other spots I could choose to sit. The most obvious would be at my desk. But there's just something about this chair (bought on a whim, for a great price because of a very small tear on the back) that brings me both comfort and inspiration. It's where I pray. And read. And write. And it will soon be replaced.
Elise, my stubbornly independent nineteen year old, is relocating the chair to Thibodaux, with my blessing. I told her to take the chair last year, but it didn't fit in her apartment. Her new place has room for my old chair, so away it goes.
I'm not sure what Michael and I were thinking, or IF we were thinking, when we not only allowed, but encouraged Elise to move from the security of our home to a dormitory at Nicholls State when she was only seventeen years old. Because we had both graduated from NSU, we knew she would love it, and I naively assumed she'd be content living in the dorm. Well, we got it half right. She does love her life in Thibodaux.
The timing of this furniture transfer seems perfect, for I've sat in this chair and prayed for her a lot lately. Elise has recently encountered a few bumps in the road, and although I would love to drive over there and bring her home, I both respect and agree with her decision to remain on the bayou. I'll just continue to pray and wonder how God could possibly love this child more than I do. That's the true source of my comfort. Not a bargain chair, but a brilliant God who breathed the stars into existence and lights Elise's little corner of the world with His love. May she always turn to Him… whether it's in the morning, at noon, or at night.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Eclairs, Guilt, and Paris

"What's an éclair?"
I thought she was joking, but a second glance at her innocent face assured me of the sincerity of this cashier's question. As I began to describe the famous French pastry, I thought, my kids may not be able to name the four food groups, but they know their desserts. The young woman standing before me was likely the product of a nutritionally sound mother who kept her children out of the bakery.
The reason for my purchase could have added another layer of guilt. The éclairs were headed to a friend who was recovering from surgery. Now, don't be too hard on me. I've made my share of chicken soup, but this time, I was more inclined to buy something sweet.
As I left the store, I decided I would not spend a minute of my day regretting the foods I've introduced to my children. Nor would I feel badly about the fact that although I have prepared many, many meals in the course of my almost 30 year marriage, I still do not enjoy cooking. I've felt guilty over too many things for entirely too long. When I worked, I felt as though I should have been home more; now that I'm not working, I feel guilty for not earning any money; if I let myself, I'll even start feeling guilty for having no desire to recycle. It's at times like this, God reminds me of a prayer I prayed a very long time ago.
As a young wife and mother, I was blessed to be surrounded with many Godly women who served as my examples. They baked their own bread, sewed their own clothes, and never thought of overspending at the mall. I cried out to God, "I can see why you love them. It's so obvious. I just don't understand how You could love me, too. I can't promise to ever be like my friends, but if You help me, I'll be the best 'Ronny' that I can be." My life, my marriage, and my mothering skills may not be perfect, but they're perfectly me.
Amazingly, I don't feel guilty about my youngest child, Victoria, being my first to travel abroad. When the opportunity arose for her to join the group her French teacher, Christine Klibert, was leading, we put her name on the list and began making monthly payments.
Last year, when I returned from Paris, my firstborn, Monique, presented me with a coffee mug bearing a beautiful sketch of the Eiffel Tower.
"Oh," I said, "You want me to always remember my trip"
"No," she cheerfully replied, "I just want to remind you to bring me the next time you go."
I know some day, some way, I'll make sure my other children enjoy the same adventure. In the meantime, as Victoria and her cousin, Tiffani, stroll the streets of Paris, I hope they make a detour into a bakery and enjoy an éclair.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Victoria's Swimming Lesson

I can't believe we're halfway through another summer. No one wants to stretch out the remaining days more than my daughters. Monique is off on Fridays during the summer months, Lauren and Elise have limited their classes to online courses, and Victoria is raising few objections to my 'no working while you're in high school' rule. It seems as though they are enjoying every minute. I know I am. No longer do I have to monitor every move they make while they are in the pool. It wasn't always like this. Every year about this time, I remember the summer Victoria was only five years old…
Having taught her to swim the year before, her grandfather confidently sat on a lounge chair to watch her jump into the pool. She jumped in, but never surfaced. Her cousin Tiffani, only seven at the time, was able to grab her arm and pull her towards the ladder. Her grandfather dove in after her and made, in his words, a heroic rescue. (If you don’t believe me, just ask him about it and he will describe it in great detail.)
Once on the safety of the concrete deck, my Dad asked Victoria, “Did you forget how to swim?”
“Well, PawPaw,” she replied, “I just forgot one part.”
“Yes,” Monique, her oldest sister, injected, “You remembered to bring your beach bag, your towel, your goggles, and your sunscreen. You just forgot the main part, you forgot how to actually swim!”
Their conversation made me think about the many times that I ‘forgot the main part.’ It isn’t difficult to remember to go to church, to pray, to read the Word, to tithe, to participate in worship… to do all of the things expected of a Christian. That’s all wonderful, but what about the most important part. When Jesus was asked to name the greatest commandment, He replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37,38
I always think that I’m operating in love, until I read the checklist in 1 Corinthians 13 and am reminded that love is patient and kind. Love doesn’t envy, or boast; it isn’t proud, rude, self-seeking, or easily angered. Love keeps no record of wrongs, doesn’t delight in evil, but rejoices with truth. Love always protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres and never fails.
Victoria’s PawPaw didn’t hesitate to jump in and save her when she was drowning. I pray that when I forget the greatest commandment, the commandment to love, that God will jump in, take me aside, and again teach me how to love.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, June 30, 2011


I don't remember when I first met Sibyl Louque Loiacano, but I've known her most of my adult life. When she worked in the church nursery, every Sunday I handed little Elise, and later Victoria to her. They were her babies, she said, and when I would return to pick them up after service, they were usually sitting on her lap. Elise and Victoria were in very good hands when they were with Sibyl.
Lauren was placed under Sibyl's watchful eye when she entered school. I was so worried about sending Lauren to first grade. After homeschooling her for Kindergarten, I was well aware of her incessant talking, her reluctance to stay seated, and her ability to divert attention from what she was doing wrong to… well, anything else. I held my breath and prayed, but every minute of worrying was wasted. At the end of the year, her teacher Mrs. Pousson, and Sibyl, who was then an aide in the classroom, gushed over my little Lauren, calling her Miss Sunshine. Lauren had spent the year in very good hands.
Monique and Geoffrey were in high school when Sibyl was transferred to serve as the school secretary. Her kindness went with her. They fondly remember Sibyl ordering lunches for the students, simply waving them into class when they were tardy instead of issuing a detention, and referring to each of them as, "Love." Other teachers and administrators dealt out the discipline; Sibyl, always the mercy. Monique and Geoff were in very good hands with Sibyl.
My most recent visits with Sibyl only add to the treasured memories I have of this very special lady. I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to tell Sibyl that she was one of the Godly women my Heavenly Father knew I needed in my life, and I thanked her for her example. We reminisced about the past and she spoke frankly of the cancer invading her body. Her only concern was for her family, and for comforting and assuring everyone that she was okay. And as she spoke, she would reach out to take my hand in hers, and I realized just how much I, too, had been in good hands with Sibyl as my friend.
The last time I leaned over her bed to hug her and tell her good-bye, I whispered, "I'm going to see you again." She only smiled and nodded, perhaps knowing better than me that although we will see each other again, it was not going be in the hospice facility.
In the early morning of June 27th, as Sibyl slept peacefully, the Jesus Whom she trusted with her salvation decades ago, called her name. I believe He reached out to her, and she put her hand in His as she entered her Heavenly home. And even though my heart still hurts, it makes me smile to know that Sibyl is in Good Hands.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, June 23, 2011

My poor husband. Once when he was at a convention in Las Vegas, he received a fraud alert from our credit card company. Not long after it was discovered that someone had stolen my credit card, license, and checkbook while I was at snack time with the second-graders. Now that I think about it, why do I feel sorry for him? I was the one who was home with the kids and handling the details of the theft. He was in Las Vegas!
While Michael was at another convention, I informed him of the new addition to our family. He seemed to relax when I said it was a kitten for Victoria. I'm not sure what he was thinking.
He was in Houston when the pharmacy called to say that the prescriptions were ready. I explained Victoria's trip to urgent care to my confused spouse. I may or may not have told him of our visit to Pier 51 afterwards. We had to do something while waiting for the prescriptions to be filled.
And just this week, he received a call from a manager at Dollar Tree, telling him that Monique's check and library card were found. Our daughter was baffled when she went to the store to retrieve the items. She was handed a check made out to Cash, my library card, and a $10 bill.
"Mom," she said when I answered her call, "the check I gave you was found at Dollar Tree with your…"
"So that's where it was!" I said before she could finish the sentence. "I've been looking all over for your check!" We both spoke of how nice the Dollar Tree employees were to go out of their way to return items which could have easily been brushed aside. Apparently, when I ran into the store to buy fingernail polish remover… for one of my daughters who needed to remove her polish before she had to cheer… I dropped a few things in my haste. Things like that happen when you're careless, and I was happy to be able to recover the things I had lost. Not everything works out so well.
I do not want to be careless with my time. When I taught school, I lived by a strict schedule and a To Do list. One of the things I enjoy about being home is the flexibility of my days, but I quickly realized things don't get done unless I plan them. I grew tired of telling my husband, over and over, of all the things I was going to do. Now, I only say what I've done.
Neither do I want to be careless with my words, for they cannot be retrieved, and the damage they inflict is not always easily repaired. Regardless of the situation, I am desperately trying to think before I speak. I smile when my children repeat words of advice I've given them over the years. It surprises me because I didn't think they were listening, but they were, and they remembered my words. This makes me quite cautious as I realize they will also remember the negative things I say.
I think I'll use a little time today to call Michael just to encourage him and report that all is well at home. I hope he's not afraid to answer the phone.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Father's Day

It was many years after my childhood when I realized my father was way ahead of his time. He blazed a trail, going where few men had gone before… the kitchen. If we went to school hungry, it certainly wasn't his fault. In fact, it was very difficult to get out of the house without eating breakfast. Don't think he did as I would later do with my own children and point out the Pop-Tarts, or tell them to fix cereal in a plastic cup to eat on the way to school. No way. He insisted we sit down to eat the most important meal of the day. Bacon, eggs, grits, biscuits, fruit, and freshly squeezed orange juice were our breakfast staples.
To give us a break from the cafeteria, he would occasionally bring us lunch at school. In addition to the hamburger, fries, and a Coke from Mac's Grill, the bag would also hold a York peppermint patty bought from Donaldson's Drug Store, conveniently located across the street from the bank where he worked. But the candy always smelled like Brut. I concluded that he would buy the candy, put it in his suit pocket where it absorbed the scent of the cologne, then pick up the hamburgers and deliver them to school. This helps to explain why I think of Brut and Dad and hamburgers and St. Peter School, when I see a York Peppermint patty. (Why I can remember all of this, yet walk into a parking lot without a clue as to the location of my car, still remains a mystery.)
I love celebrations, and am happy to celebrate Father's Day with him this month. I'd also like to wish a Happy Father's Day to the men whose lives I've observed, some from a distance, and some up close.
Happy Father's Day…
…to the fathers who work 40+ hours per week to house, feed, clothe, and educate their children. On top of that, they volunteer hours of their time at school, church, and in the community. May their diligent example echo for generations to come and urge many others into lives of service.
…to the men who have jumped off of the corporate ladder, realizing the money they made was nothing compared to the moments they missed. May they experience the overflowing blessings of God for their commitment to their family.
…to the dads who have the wisdom to draw boundary lines for their children and the courage to maintain those boundaries. Remember that the best guards are placed around the most valuable treasures. May they be strengthened in their God-ordained positions.
…to the men who, for a season, or for a lifetime, have found room in their hearts and in their homes to care for someone else's child. May they reap bountifully from their giving.
…to the fathers who are waiting for their prodigals to come home, or for those whose child has preceded them to our Heavenly home. May they find continual comfort from the Holy Spirit of our God.
…to the dads who, at times, were called to also fulfill the role of Mom. This includes my own husband who spent nearly a year cleaning up after I suffered the effects of chemotherapy, talking care of our four young children, and keeping up with his job. He has never, ever, even in the midst of our most lively conversations, brought up all of the sacrifices he's made. May he one day see in himself what I see in him daily.
…to the men who have been diligent to train their children in the ways of our Lord. May they find great joy in watching the seeds they've planted bear much fruit.
These men may never see their names in lights or as the byline of a best-seller, but no earthly achievements would make me respect them more. They are men of integrity. They do the right thing just because it's the right thing to do, and I believe all of Heaven applauds them.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Who's Got Mail?

What did you discover the last time you read your mail?
Unsealing an envelope, especially one on which the address is handwritten, is enough to make me smile as I anticipate the news I am about to receive. Through this means, I have learned of births, graduations, marriages, and most recently, the beginning of my cousin, Kenneth's new computer business.
My sister-in-law, Vicki, stepped back in time when she opened the bundle of letters she inherited. Dating back to 1895 and spanning 25 years, the letters capture the thoughts, daily life, and advice of her great-grandmother. This lively lady detailed the success of her garden, warned her sons of the dangers of drinking, instructed them on what to wear to a wedding, and unapologetically shared her opinions about their relationships.
Her letters sound like the text messages I send my children. Well, except for the successful garden part. My three tomato plants look like the before picture for an advertisement for Miracle-Gro.
Jesus' brother, James, had some advice of his own. In the book bearing his name, he begins by saying "consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." (James 1:2) Now this is a perfect example of a verse I would rather discuss than experience, but I think of it whenever life issues a challenge. In my latest attempt to find joy in a trial, I came to the conclusion that joy comes the moment I stop trying to figure out the answer and fully release the situation to God's will. James continues to instruct me to ask God for the wisdom to know what to do, not doubting, but fully expecting Him to answer. (1:5,6)
The letter James wrote is filled with wisdom applicable today. He reminds us of our need to extend mercy, since we have been forgiven of so much. (2:12-13) His words also provoke us to action. Although we do not obtain salvation by good works, but rather through faith in Jesus Christ, faith should result in good deeds. (2:14-26) I think it's simply a matter of obedience. While we should always pray for the needs of others, sometimes God tells us to be the answer to the problem, and that's when our faith is put into action. In skipping ahead to the end of chapter 4, James writes, "anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins."
And it's not enough to do the right thing, but to say the right thing. He begins chapter 3 with a warning about the need to control the tongue. Comparing it to a fire starting by a tiny spark, he writes of the need to tame the tongue. Like a fire, harsh words destroy. Lying, gossip, manipulation, and berating can destroy people and relationships. To again borrow James' words, "be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger." (1:19)
I think I'll summarize the letter James wrote in a text message to my children today. I'll use James 2:8, "Love your neighbor as yourself."
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Words with Friends

"Really, Victoria? Roquet?" I asked my youngest after seeing her latest move on the Words with Friends game we were playing. "What does roquet mean?"
"I don't know. I just move the letters around until a word is accepted." Victoria, by the way, is winning. Maybe I'm just a little rusty since I haven't played this Scrabble-type, cell phone game, in almost a year.
I've also got a contest going with my niece, Mattie, who is expecting her first child in January. We're going to get in as many games as we can before welcoming a brand new life into the world, and Mattie intends to beat me each and every time. It appears her strategy is to use short, well placed words, such as ut, qi, and uh. Mattie, by the way, is winning.
Another match has me facing my friend, Jackie, an English major. Guess how that's going! She's using words like tope, mon, and zoa. Jackie, by the way, is… well, you know…
Over the course of the game, we're all given the same letters, and the way we choose to play them determines the winner. It always helps when a letter with a high value falls on a 'triple letter' or 'triple word' place. I'm not going to try to fool myself by thinking I'm behind due to the timing of the letters, or the positions open on the board. I have to face the fact that I'm not making the best use of the letters and spaces available to me.
I sure hope I do a lot better with the 24 hours I'm given today. This morning I read Psalm 39: 4, “LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be." God does me a favor when He reminds me of the brevity of this life. It's a motivation to use my time wisely, take the opportunities He's provided, and make the best use of available space.
William Borden used up his space wisely. As an heir to the Borden Dairy estate, he was a millionaire before he was a high school graduate. Upon graduation, in 1904, his parents sent the 16 year old on a trip around the world. He returned with the desire to become a missionary and began his mission in the next place he landed: Yale University.
During his first semester, Borden began to pray with a fellow student. Other students soon joined the prayer group, and by his senior, year, 1000 of Yales' 1300 students were involved in similar prayer groups. In addition to his impact on campus, Borden founded a rehabilitation home for the drunks he rescued from the streets, and also reached out to the widows, orphans, and disabled.
He eventually set sail for China, contacted spinal meningitis before reaching his destination, and died at the age of 25. In the back of His Bible, he had written the words, "No Reserves. No Retreats. No Regrets."
Those words, my friends, are a winning strategy.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Few Favorites

"Lauren, you are going to fly away," Elise said to her sister as they sat down to watch a taped episode of a reality show.
"Yeah," Victoria added, " I heard chirping when I passed your room earlier. You are really turning into a bird."
"Y'all are just jealous of my feathers," Lauren said in her own defense.
Feather hair extensions are Lauren's latest fashion accessory. Although I don't think she needs more, I love the ones she has. She's young, and they're a fun summertime trend. In my opinion, which I freely give to her before she ever has to ask, hair extensions are better than tattoos, or additional piercings.
Lauren is not shy about, well, anything, but certainly not about sharing her favorite fashion items. She has begun to do so via her facebook page. Soon after she featured feather extensions, she choose to highlight her most comfortable summer shoes. Her next installment will be devoted to soap, which is okay, but I'm waiting for her to discuss eye makeup. She's told me what to get, but as soon as I walk into the store and see all of the shades, I cannot remember what to buy.
I have my own list of favorites which includes reading an interesting book, watching a baseball game, dessert, laughter, and sitting on my patio. In the past two years, I seem to have prayed more on my patio than in any other location. When I pray I like to use Scriptures, and I often revert to a few favorites. Lately, those favorites include one I first heard Milton Simoneaux use about 30 years ago, Exodus 23:25, 26. "Worship the Lord your God, and His blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span."
Children, the children of my friends, and my own nieces and nephews are high on my list of prayers. I cling to Proverbs 22:5, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it."
Finally, with all the recent emphasis on the end of the world, I turn to Matthew 24:36 where Jesus tells us no one except God knows the day. Although I pay no attention to a human who believes he has it all figured out, I pray we don't become callous toward the subject, but live our lives in constant preparation for eternity. My prayer includes Jesus' words in John 14, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going… I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
So, Elise is right. One day we will all fly away. With or without feather extensions.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tiffani's Graduation

Congratulations to the Class of 2011. You have probably anticipated this moment for a very long time. The years devoted to your education will be crowned with a well deserved degree, and as soon as that paper is in your hand, your parents will likely breathe a huge sigh of relief. While you may view this day as an end to your education, I pray it is only a step to the next level of learning.
A recent survey revealed that one-third of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives, 42 percent of college graduates never read another book after college, and 80 percent of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year. I hope the Class of 2011 does their job to improve these statistics. Be good stewards of the brain God issued to you, and never stop learning. Above all, place the Word of God on your "Must Read" list of books.
Of the many students who will cross a stage, accept a diploma, and turn a tassel during graduation ceremonies this year, I am blessed to know several, and have not neglected to pray for each of them. One of these new high-school graduates is my next door neighbor, and niece, Tiffani Serven. I'll let you read the note I'm putting in the envelope with her gift.
Dear Tiffani,
Thank you for the graduation picture. Lauren has already taped it to a kitchen cabinet. It's a beautiful photo, and just as good as the many others taken throughout the years. That collection includes class, volleyball, cheerleading, wedding, family reunion and prom pictures. And although I love each and every tangible and artfully captured treasure, the pictures I have in my mind are the ones I see when I think of you. These are the scenes I hope to forever hold in my heart, for it's there that I still see you and Victoria playing volleyball in the pool, sitting at the table eating chicken fajitas, crashed out in my bed after a long day at school, jumping on the trampoline, running after the ice cream man, working on an art project, inventing a new recipe, experimenting with a pottery wheel, and finding me in PJs to talk me into letting y'all buy a fish. However, even more than I cherish the past, I anticipate your future. You have been fully prepared academically and trained in the character of Christ.
Remember the time Victoria broke her arm? Not when she was in Kindergarten, ran up the high slide the wrong way, and fell off when a student came sliding down. It was the year before; she fell while climbing in the gym. After surgery, and a night in the hospital, I brought her home and set her up on the couch. You walked into the living room holding your latest gift, a puppy named Sable, carefully placed Sable in Victoria's good arm and left her there to comfort your cousin.
As you walk into your future, you do so fully equipped with many God-given gifts. I pray you use those gifts in service to God and to the people with whom He graces your life. Continue to bring comfort into lives which have been broken. Speak strength into the weary. Encourage the exhausted, and urge them to hold on to hope. And as you walk, know that my prayers surround you.
I love you forever,
Aunt Ronny.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


It's official. I am now 52 years old. Maybe it's just me, but it sounds so much older than 51. It's okay though, really. I don't mind talking about, or revealing, my age.
My youngest child, Victoria, used to hate to talk about her age. For several months prior to her sixth birthday, she insisted she was already six years old. One day, after I corrected her and reminded her that she was only five, she ran to her oldest sister and pleaded, "Monique, Momma thinks I'm five, but I know I'm six. I've been counting my birthdays."
My husband does not enjoy talking about age. I’ll never forget a conversation we had many years ago. It was one month after I finished chemotherapy. We were celebrating his birthday when he glumly asked, “Don’t you get depressed about getting older?”
“Depressed?” I shouted. “I’ve been fighting for the past year for the privilege of getting older!”
No, I’m not depressed about getting older. I’m 52 and even if I would for a minute try to deny it, the mirror, and the many pairs of reading glasses that I have strategically placed throughout my home, would scream otherwise. I’m so thankful that I didn’t die at 33. And if getting older did sadden me, I would never tell that to my sister-in-law, whose nephew lost his battle against chicken pox when he was only four years of age. Nor would I tell my Dad, whose friend's son died during his high school football practice. And I wouldn’t dare tell the mother of one of my students, whose husband, the father of her seven young children, was killed. The list of people whose lives have been tragically cut short is endless. I refuse to complain about getting older; it’s a blessing.
I want to squeeze all of the life that I can out of each day of the additional years that I’ve been granted. I’m determined to live this life to the fullest. There are no ordinary days for me, every day holds something extraordinary if I just open my eyes and look for it.
Whatever your age, celebrate; and celebrate the ages of those around you! I love the children, for their energy and enthusiasm invigorates me. I love the young adults. In them, I see parts of my past and I am flooded with memories of life when Monique and Geoff were my babies. And I especially love those who have journeyed on this path of life a little longer than I have. They know where the road may twist and turn and where the potholes may lie. If I stay close and gleam from their wisdom I am sure to learn something.
May God grant more years to your life and more life to your years

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Lens of God's Love

"What do you want for your birthday and Mother's Day?"
I hate that question, but I do understand it. Because I've probably returned as many gifts from my husband as I've kept, Michael has become quite apprehensive before expending any energy in buying gifts for me. What he does not know is that I am now committed to a 'no return' policy. I will keep, use, and appreciate any and every gift he takes his time to select. However, thinking I would save him time and money, I answered, "Nothing. I really don't need a thing." And I meant it.
Michael left the house in search of a new grill, which he is unfortunately buying too early for me to pawn off as a Father's Day gift. A few hours later, he found me on the patio. "Guess what I bought for your birthday?" He grinned while holding a Cabela's bag.
"Well, I hope it's fudge. That's the only thing I want from Cabela's, and I think fudge is a wonderful birthday gift."
"Sunglasses!" he announced.
"Oh, no," I groaned, totally dismissing my new pledge to appreciate all gifts.
"But these are different…" he began.
"Save it," I said, stopping him before he launched into full salesman mode. "No matter what you've read, somehow I will scratch them. Or sit on them. Or lose them."
"Not if you keep them…"
"I know. I know… in the special brown pouch…" I said. We've played out this scene before.
"It's not just a pouch. Look. You can use it to clean the lenses."
I tried on the sunglasses before simply and honestly saying, "Thank you."
A couple of days later, Monique asked me, via facebook, what I wanted for Mother's Day. I guess she forgot about my birthday. The first thing that came to my mind was fried pickles. (Let's just totally ignore the fact that fudge and fried pickles rank high on my wish list.) In response to my daughter's question I answered, "I would like fried pickles from the Wharf in Orange Beach, Alabama." Monique has not yet issued a response to my request.
In the meantime, I've been wearing my new sunglasses. What a difference from the ones I usually wear. These filter the glare and improve the visual quality. My new sunglasses literally change the way I see things.
Much more important than sunglasses is the lens through which I view life. I tend to look through the proverbial rose colored glasses, which casts a cheerful and optimistic view on even the worst of situations. I don't wish to look through a magnifying lens, exaggerating faults, and focusing on the smallest of defects. Mother Teresa said, "If you judge people, you have no time to love them."
Speaking of love, perhaps that would offer the best view of all, looking at people through the lens of God's love. His love cuts out the glare of my judgment, gives me a more realistic view of the situation, and improves the way I see things. That's it! I'm going to remind myself to look at life through love every time I reach for my new sunglasses.
And speaking of sunglasses, the next time I hear from Monique I will offer her the use of my new pair. She may need them for the drive to Alabama.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mother's Day

I expected groans of disapproval as I informed my family of my desire to attend the early church service on Easter. When they readily agreed, I still wondered if we'd make it on time. Despite my lack of confidence in my three youngest girls, we pulled out of the driveway closer to 8:00 a.m. than I had anticipated. Lauren did cause a slight delay. She hates wrinkled clothes and refused to put on her blue linen dress until the rest of us were headed to the car. I believe people who hate wrinkled clothing should stick to polyester, but because I choose my battles, I said nothing. Besides, I was still celebrating my victory of getting them to the early service.
Elise quickly climbed into the third seat and closed her eyes. I expected the same from Victoria. Instead she asked, "Is it weird to have kids?"
"You mean to give birth?" I wondered.
"No. To have them around. To see them. To talk to someone who came out of you. Who started as a tiny speck and is now living around you. What does that feel like?"
As I turned to talk to Victoria, I became a little distracted by Lauren. She was looking in Michael's rearview mirror, arranging and rearranging her necklace, and fluffing her hair.
I thought of what it was like to watch a piece of my heart walk and talk and move independently from me. To be overwhelmed by the desperate desire to prevent a child from repeating my mistakes, to experience the burden of trying to download everything I think I know, painfully realizing they just might make mistakes of their own, and praying their gradual independence from me will lead to a lifelong, growing dependence upon God.
In the midst of all of these thoughts and emotions, the only words to come out of my mouth were, "Wow. I never thought about it like that. It is weird to have kids." I'm now embarrassed that this was the best I could do.
Motherhood! Nothing I've done has been more difficult, or more rewarding. Fortunately I've been blessed with an excellent role model, for my own mother is patient, loving, and unselfish, not just with her family, but with everyone she knows.
Many of us will spend the coming days in search of the perfect gift to express our love for our mothers. May I suggest you share your heart with her through a letter? Not a text message or a facebook post, but a real handwritten, heartfelt note of appreciation. If the relationship needs mending, attempt to do so before any more time elapses. If your mother is already gone, write a note to a young mother in need of encouragement. You may even want to thank someone who has been a mother figure to you.
And to all mothers, I want to remind you that motherhood is, without question, the most important job in the world. From the moment of your child’s conception, you have accepted the responsibility to care for their miraculous life.
A mother has the incredible challenge to be available to their children 24 hours of every day. A wise woman realizes this task is impossible without God’s continual assistance, and she seeks His guidance daily. No one but God realizes the amount of time and energy you put into raising your children, and only He can equip you for this lifelong commitment.
I honor you for the job you’re doing with your children. But I know your impact reaches far past your own family. You often go beyond your borders and touch the lives of all of the children you love… nieces, nephews, grandchildren, students, children of friends and your neighbor’s children, as well.
I want to speak for them, for all of the children you have mothered, and thank you for a job well done. I want to stand, representing them, and applaud your unselfish and often sacrificial gifts of time, energy, love, and, yes, money. And I want to kneel in their place and ask our Father to strengthen you, to energize you, to fill you and allow you to overflow with His love, joy, peace, mercy, wisdom, and blessings.
I know I'm a little early, but I'd like to be the first to wish you a Happy Mother's Day. Psalm 127:3 beautifully declares, "children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward." May God continue to pour out His grace on all mothers as we daily care for our precious gifts.
Oh, and if I could have a redo with Victoria, I'd simply say, "Having kids is wonderful; watching Lauren get ready for church is weird."