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