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