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