Thursday, September 29, 2011

Need to Tweeze

That's it! I'm buying a pair of tweezers for each of my girls to carry and one to put in the car of every member of my family. Maybe I'm overreacting; you be the judge.
While at Children's Hospital for Elise's yearly checkup, we were told it would be another hour before the doctor could see us. We quickly left in search of lunch.
We couldn't go to Camellia's Grill. Elise ate a hamburger from that restaurant while she was in the midst of chemotherapy and the associations are too strong. I wanted to go to La Madeleine's. "Oh, no," said Elise, "I'm very hungry and I don't think that food will fill me." Strange comment coming from someone who never finishes a meal. I knew better than to suggest Burger King. She claims to have eaten there after so many high school games that she will never return.
"Whoever heard of being in New Orleans and unable to find a place to eat?" I asked as I drove up and down South Carrollton before turning onto Oak Street. We slid into a parking space, jumped out of the car, and quickly got into line at Tru Burger. A lady soon entered and said, "Did you know you have to buy a ticket to park?" She informed me of the procedure before I left Elise with the task of getting our lunch.
There, not far from my car, was the machine that sold the tickets. Nowhere in my purse was enough change, so I grabbed a credit card and shoved it in the machine. I tried to press the buttons for the required amount of parking time I needed and nothing happened. I tried again. And again. I decided to cancel the transaction and retrieve the card, and I got nothing. My card was stuck and the fraction of an inch protruding was not enough for me to grab onto to yank it from the grip of that machine. I panicked.
I called the number on the machine, explained my plight, and was frustrated when told "somewhere off of South Carrollton" wasn't enough information as to my location. When I was able to offer more details, I was assured someone would be sent to help. I ran across the street to the salon in search of tweezers and was told they had none. I called Elise only to hear, "The lady and I are wondering what's taking you so long." Elise said I might find tweezers in her makeup bag, so I quickly went back to the car and engaged in a futile search. I approached two women on the sidewalk. Thankfully, one of them found a pair of tweezers in her car. I ran back to begin the task of removing my credit card, and fought the urge to call my husband to ask him to just cancel the card. After many unsuccessful attempts, a man on a bicycle approached me. Surely this was not the person the city sent to help. He said he knew nothing about the machine, but seemed to be amused by my predicament.
The lady with the tweezers gently mentioned that she had an appointment. "Well, I really have to get my card," I said as I continued with my project, and finally the card came out! I profusely thanked the kind lady for the use of her tweezers and for the money she gave me, placed the ticket in my car, then rushed back to Elise.
She was calmly eating her hamburger. I plopped down, grabbed a napkin to wipe the sweat from my face, phoned the city of New Orleans to cancel my need for assistance, and told Elise, "By the way, you don't have tweezers in your makeup bag."
"Yeah, I didn't think so, but I didn't want to destroy your hope."
What did I find out about myself? Regardless of how well I think I'm doing, or how mature I believe I'm becoming, when a little pressure it applied, what's inside comes out. I can still become impatient, stressed, worried, abrupt, and rude; all qualities I tend to judge in others. Matthew 7:2-5 must have been written just for me.
Yes, I do believe I will buy several pairs of tweezers. They'll come handy if credit cards get stuck, or items fall between the seat and the car's console. I'll use my tweezers for lots of things except taking the speck out of someone else's eye. Not when I have a huge log in my own.
Ronny may be reached at

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fruit in All Seasons

The season is changing. I can feel it in the air. Well, sometimes I can. The slightest cool breeze is enough to signal the change that's about to take place. My plants already know it. I've eaten my final home-grown banana pepper, cut the last two gardenia blooms from the bush, and water the periwinkles with the hope of coaxing their pink blooms just a little longer. As I slowly say goodbye to the summer, I look forward to the next season, for with it comes chrysanthemums, beautiful autumn colors, and my favorite fruit, satsumas.
Just as surely as Fall follows Summer, the seasons of life change. The passing of one brings the dawn of the next, and the wise fully embrace the new season with joy, anticipation, and faith. Since it's impossible to live in either yesterday, or tomorrow, I am determined to make the most of the season I find myself in today. I believe we are given an appropriate task to accomplish in every phase of our lives. It's up to me to discover, accept, and appreciate God's purpose and timing for each portion of my life.
In an recent effort to try and figure out what I am supposed to be doing with this season, I was instantly calmed by reading Jeremiah 17:7-10. There I discovered that by simply trusting and placing confidence in the Lord, I'm blessed, and like a well-watered tree, I will never fail to bear fruit. And that's my desire: to be fruitful and productive and accomplish something during every season.
I found it easier to assess my life when I was younger. As a student, frequent evaluations informed me of the results of my studying. Raising young children caused me to daily gauge my child-rearing techniques and adjust as needed. Teaching also kept me alert, constantly measuring test results and seeking better methods of instruction.
Now, I find fewer outward signs of productivity. Perhaps that's part of my present season. Maybe my script calls for me not to do more, but to be more. To be more faithful, more prayerful, more joyful, more peaceful. I no longer seek to fill my days with activities which keep me busy, rather I've been filling my heart with an increasing number of prayer requests which cause me to run to my Father.
John 15 records Jesus' instruction to stay close to Him, like a branch attached to the vine, so that we can be fruitful. The fruit of a life joined to His are listed in Galatians 5:22: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. What a huge accomplishment it would be to exhibit this fruit every day of every season of our lives. Not only would it add a greater dimension to our lives, but we would be able to nourish those in need. Times may change, but the fruit of the Holy Spirit is always in season.
Ronny may be reached at

Friday, September 16, 2011

Eternal Preparation

"Your shoes gave me a blister." Lauren said as she walked through the front door.
"So I guess you won't wear them again."
"Yes, I will, but I'll just be prepared."
Maybe it's just me, but blisters are not even close to one of the things for which I want to prepare. No shoes are that cute.
I do enjoy preparing for the days when Victoria invites the cheerleaders from the Junior class to eat and get ready for a game at our house. My family enjoys this time, too, for they know that despite any culinary disasters they may have endured during the week, I will rally and rebound when we have guests. Victoria's job is to issue the invitations, then I proceed with the preparations.
Jesus understands preparations. In John 14, we are told He is preparing a place for us in His Father's house. When questioned by Thomas as to the way to get there, Jesus responded in verse 6, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
The Life Application Bible comments, "As the way, Jesus is our path to the Father. As the truth, He is the reality of all God's promises. As the life, He joins His divine life to ours, both now and eternally."
Although it would be easy to stop here and rest on our assurance of eternal life, I believe we, as Christians, have a responsibility to go a step further. I think it's our job to share this message, issue this invitation, and spread the good news to those in our lives. God says in Isaiah 52:7 that the feet of such people are beautiful. "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns."
But before you go, wait up for Lauren. She's preparing for blisters.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Shannon's Lesson

Oh, the lessons I learn from the people I meet. Although many years have passed since my formal education, I've chosen to remain a student of life, observing, listening, and learning from the constant parade of instructors God assigns to me.
Last week's teacher? Shannon. I'm not going to reveal her full name for two reasons. First, it really doesn't matter; second, I don't know it. Although I met her in LaPlace, She's not from the River Parishes, but none of that is really important to her story. God loves me enough to have scheduled our lives to intersect briefly, and it was during this little encounter that I was again reminded how big my God really is.
Shannon was in a group of ladies I met at a correctional center. While sharing my own Bible study method, I mentioned, "Don't just randomly open the Bible and read the first verse you see."
"Why not?" came the question from Shannon. "It worked for me."
She now had my full attention, "Tell me about it."
"I was in jail, saw a Bible, and even though I really didn't believe in God, I said, 'God, if You're real, prove it to me.' I opened the Bible to a story about two prostitutes, and read about how God was angry at their sin. I made a promise to God that day and kept it even though I was tempted."
What exactly was the promise she made to God ? Shannon gave me a general idea, and I believe she would have answered any specific questions I had, but it really is none of my business. God knows, and Shannon knows, and I believe when God deals with people, it is Holy Ground upon which I tread very carefully. Besides, I was too busy mentally racing through the Bible stories I am familiar with, trying to figure out which one she had read. Nothing came to mind.
I found it the next morning. There, in Ezekiel 23, is the comparison of two nations to prostitutes, and God's anger towards their sin. I again thanked God for His Divine intervention in Shannon's life, and for allowing me to learn her story. It always amazes me that the God of the universe continues to deal with people individually and hears the humble cries from our hearts.
This past week, I handed a Bible to another lady in our study group and said, "Now, don't start in Genesis. I think you should start reading the book of John…" I didn't finish my sentence, for out of the corner of my eye, I saw Shannon, smiled as I remembered her story, and finished, "Start wherever you want. Just start. And ask God to open your heart to what He has to say to you."
Hey, I may not be the brightest student in life's classroom, but I'm learning.

Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Change of Plans

"If Plan A fails, remember you have 25 letters left."
I don't remember when I first read this; however, I've repeated it several times lately. Five children and one husband have taken this former teacher from a highly organized, schedule stickler to someone who has learned to adapt to changes, even when I don't like them.
I now have a front row seat to the alteration taking place in my oldest child, Monique. Remember Monique? She's the one who got married February 5, 2011. She picked that date because her chosen venue was already booked in the spring and she didn't want to wait until the summer. Not only did she elect to get married in the winter, but she planned an outdoor wedding. And we had the nerve to be surprised when the Blizzard of 2011 moved the ceremony indoors!
This was not the only amendment to her careful plans. First, Monique and Frank decided to honeymoon in the mountains of Tennessee. That was cancelled due to a probable snow storm. Plan B was a trip to Charleston, South Carolina, which was also cancelled due to extreme weather conditions. The newly married couple spent their first few days as man and wife at the bay house of Frank's family. Now, Monique says it was what they should have planned all along.
Monique still has a little trouble yielding control, especially when scheduling vacations. She is in the midst of planning a little trip to New York. Last week I got the following text: "I'm scared to go to New York."
"Why?" I texted back.
"Because of the earthquake. Would you be scared?"
"No. It happened and it's over."
"But it could happen again." "
"You are covered by prayer every day and bound to God's will. You are protected."
"True. Forgot about that."
The next day brought Hurricane Irene, more concerns, more messages, and a conclusion to continue the scheduling of the trip, adjusting plans if necessary. Although these issues are important to Monique, she would be the first to admit they are very slight breezes in comparison to the winds of change others have had to face.
My thoughts go to Mary, a young virgin who was engaged to be married to Joseph. Her life became subject to change when the angel informed her of God's plans for her to give birth to Jesus. She shelved her plans, yielded to God's, and her cousin Elizabeth said of her, "You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what He said." Luke 1:45
People's plans change constantly. Granted, none as dramatically as that of Mary, yet her example of submission to God's will encourages my own.
Perhaps you have found yourself like me, somewhere between Mary and Monique. And like me, your plans may have been altered many times, due to the direct intervention of God, a sickness or death, the wrong decision of another, the economy, stock market, or yes, even the weather.
May we all receive comfort from knowing that even if Plans A-Z fail, God is not restricted by the alphabet. He will continue to work out His will for our lives as long as we turn to Him for direction. "You can make many plans, but the Lord's purpose will prevail." Proverbs 19:21
Ronny may be reached at