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