Thursday, January 27, 2011

March for Life

My decision to become an elementary teacher was motivated, in part, by my own educational experiences at St. Peter School in Reserve. To this day, whenever I drive past the school, I am brought back to the days of skating parties, Christmas cantatas, penny parties, and school plays. Adding to those happy memories was the fact that we lived within walking distance from the school. This allowed me to go home for lunch; something I never did on the days cinnamon rolls were served in the cafeteria.
Another equally vivid memory is from my Eighth Grade year. We were informed of a case which had been brought before the Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade, and were encouraged to write letters to the highest court in our land, asking them to protect the life of the unborn. Despite the efforts of pro-life supporters, on January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court declared abortion to be a woman's right, thus violating the right to life of the baby in the womb.
Many things in my life have changed since eighth grade. However, my committed Pro-Life stance, like many of the values I learned as a student at St. Peter, have not just remained intact, but have increased in fervor.
I was reminded of all of this as I recently watched my daughter, Victoria, and my niece, Tiffani, board a bus for Washington, D.C. They joined with many students from the Archdiocese of New Orleans to participate in the March for Life, protesting abortion. Despite a 23 hour bus trip, one in which Tiffani awoke to find her missing pillow around her sleeping cousin's neck, Victoria has already asked to return next year. She relished her time spent with friends, made numerous deposits to her memory bank, and was given the opportunity to take a stand against abortion.
While I am grateful for her experiences, and for Mrs. Dupont and Mrs. Buras who chaperoned the group, my prayers continue. I pray that the purpose of the trip, the support of the rights of the unborn, does not just remain with these students, but grows as they do. Perhaps they will return to Washington, D.C. to celebrate the overturning of Roe v. Wade

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Water Along the Way

About the time I became pregnant with my first child, my husband started to run. Michael soon began to lose weight, and I seemed to find every pound he lost. Not content with merely jogging around the neighborhood, he began to time himself, started to compete in local races, and prepared for a marathon, which is 26.2 miles of running bliss.
After his first marathon, he threw himself on the sofa and said, "Crazy people run marathons." The next day was spent in bed, and the day after that, he was back on the road, training for the another marathon. This time his goal was to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
Michael and I recently took a little trek down memory lane as we spoke of his running days. During that time, he logged thousands of miles, ran countless races, and completed over a dozen marathons, including the one in Boston. I asked him to tell me the secret of his success in finishing every marathon he started. Was it his diligence in training almost every day, rain or shine, heat or cold? Did his disciplined eating habits fuel him for success? Was it the latest and greatest shoes he always wore? Or was it my sometimes loving support that propelled him towards the finish line?
None of the above, although he acknowledges the impossibility of his goal without the proper preparation.
What was his motivation to continue to put one foot in front of the other when his body begged him to stop? "That's easy," he quickly answered, "there were people on the side of the road cheering and offering cups of water." He received encouragement from strangers who gave him water along the way, and told him to keep running. "The most challenging time of all was Heartbreak Hill around the 20 mile mark of the Boston Marathon. But all the way up the hill were crowds, about 10 people deep, yelling for you, ready to hand you water. It makes you keep going."
I cannot even begin to relate, although I've done a little running myself. That is, if running to pick up a child who has fallen off of the monkey bars, chasing an ice cream truck, and sprinting to find my phone to order an item from QVC counts.
On a much grander scale, we are all running our own races. Each journey is as unique as the individual. Sometimes our course is easy, at other times the twists and turns make it more difficult, and I don't know about you, but I've had my share of Heartbreak Hills on the route. Whether we're raising children, maintaining a marriage, navigating job difficulties, struggling with health problems, or dealing with a loss, we know we must keep running, stay focused, and pray for the strength to make it to the finish line. And I think we can all admit the importance of the support we receive from friends, and even strangers, as we travel on.
This encouragement may not be in the form of a cheer or a cup of water, but often I've been refreshed by a brief conversation, comforted by a smile when I'm weary, or had my thirst for advice quenched by the wise and honest counsel of a friend.
In your corner of the world, as your travel your own path, I pray you will find the encouragement and motivation to keep going. Even if we are strangers, may my sincere prayer be a small cup of water along your way.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Graveyard Gifts

It happened last month, but I still laugh when I think about it. My Aunt Judy Duhon was visiting and was excited to tell me that her son, Travis, had delivered her Christmas gift to the cemetery. He bought her a bench to place in front of the family tomb. No, that's not a morbid gift. At least Aunt Judy and I don't think so. It's not unusual for either of us to visit the cemetery to bring flowers or water the plants.
My family has also accepted something else about me. Whenever I have a major decision to make, or if something is really bothering me, I head to the graveyard. Why? Because nowhere else do priorities seem so clear. No other place so obviously illustrates the brevity of life on earth. As I gaze at the graves of those who have gone before me, I realize the importance of the decisions I make, for they will determine the legacy I leave.
As soon as Aunt Judy left, Elise and Victoria announced their idea for dinner. Poboys. "Sure," I agreed, "But first let's go to the cemetery to see Aunt Judy's Christmas gift. Travis bought her a bench."
"I hope it's not on cinder blocks when we get there," Victoria said. Elise and I were a little confused by her comment, but we were hungry, and in a hurry, so neither of us took the time to question her.
As we drove to Reserve, Victoria was given the job of calling her brother to get his dinner order. Her end of the conversation left Elise and I puzzled. All we could hear was "We'll be home as soon as we go to the cemetery to see Aunt Judy's Christmas gift… yeah, Travis is hiding it there …a car… Mercedes… shrimp, fully dressed, got it."
"What in the world were you telling Geoff?" Elise asked.
"Not much. He just wanted to know what kind of car Travis bought Aunt Judy."
"Victoria, Travis didn't buy her a car. He bought her a bench."
"Ooooohhhh," she said, "I thought he bought her a Benz."
It was a simple misunderstanding, and a story easily corrected. My only question was, "Didn't you and Geoff think it odd that someone would hide a car in the cemetery?"
"In our family?" she said, "No."
Good point.
And I guess it's right here that I'd like to point out something else. While hurried conversations (at least the conversations in our family) can lead to confusion and misinformation, weighty matters, matters of life and of death, should be dealt with quite seriously. If you question 20 people about God, Heaven, or the existence of either, you'll likely get at least 20 opinions. I've chosen to read, study, and trust the Word of God as the authority on such matters. I'm not going to follow the latest spiritual trend, or mystical advice from celebrities. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me." (John 14:6) Those are the words by which I live. One day, should a descendant of mine think of me as they stumble upon my name etched on a tombstone, may the life I led clearly reflect the Jesus I love.
Ronny may be reached at

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Finding My Way

I admit it. I'm navigationally challenged. Despite my best efforts to pay attention, watch the signs, and follow directions, I have been lost on more than one occasion. I recently made a few wrong turns, heeded really bad advice from someone who apparently knew even less than I did, and found myself wandering around in Oschner Hospital, two floors and many hallways from where I was supposed to meet my daughter.
I once got lost in Houma after a volleyball tournament in which two other daughters were playing. I decided to go home rather than follow the team to a restaurant. Bad decision. The next thing I knew, I was in a part of town I did not know, and thanks to my wonderful daughters, when I turned on the GPS, the directions were in French.
The moment I realize I am not where I'm supposed to be, I remember the advice I heard years ago while wandering the country roads of Eunice in search of a retreat center. The calm and experienced driver, who never once ridiculed me for my inability to direct her to a place I had been before, simply said, "We'll just retrace our steps and go back to the last place you knew was right." And we did. We then asked for help and followed the map to our destination.
I've used that same advice in many different situations. Occasionally it's when I'm in a strange, or even familiar town; in hospitals or office buildings; but most often when I find my life has gotten off course. When I'm unsettled about something, if the road I'm on is leading nowhere, or when my attitude gets off track, I return to the last place I knew all was well and I had peace.
I then try to determine where I went wrong. Often it's because I chose to worry about things over which I have no control. Sometimes I discover I have been wasting time on activities which do not profit, and neglecting more important matters. And yes, although I hate to admit this, there's been an occasion or two, (or many) when I realize I need to apologize for something I've said or done.
I'm so grateful for the availability of God's wisdom for this journey through life. Nothing matches the comfort I receive from His Word. It provides direction for those important crossroads, and assurance that even if I take a wrong turn, I can stop and get things right. Proverbs 28:13 reminds me, "People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy."
Mercy. I've received it in abundance and extend it freely. Even to the daughters who messed with my GPS. So, as you continue on your journey, in the words of the French lady who tried to guide me through Houma, Bon Voyage.
Ronny may be reached at