Friday, February 24, 2012

Guarding the Treasure

I usually get a little nervous around an armored car. The security guards look as though they are taking the responsibility of protecting the cash very seriously and I wouldn’t want to get in their way.
Come to think of it, most of the guards I’ve observed are quite intent. I once watched a TV program which showcased Dorothy’s ruby slippers. I was surprised, and a little amused, to watch the procession of people guarding those red shoes. I don’t happen to put the same value on those shoes as other people do, but that’s okay.
Soldiers who watch over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the guards at Buckingham Palace, the men and women who guard the Hope Diamond, and the thousands of security personnel stationed to protect people and treasures around the globe go through rigorous training to qualify them to protect such valuables. I believe the best guards are placed around the greatest treasures.
Personally, I can think of no greater treasure than our children. My husband and I make no apologies for doing our best to guard the gifts God has given to us. It’s not an easy job and hasn’t always made us popular with them, but we have been committed to their protection.
Years ago, one daughter introduced us to a young man she had met at college. Later, she asked us what we thought. I told her we wanted some time to get to know him. She expressed her fear that her new friend might feel we didn't like him. I bit my tongue while her father chose a more diplomatic approach. He explained to her that we did not have to win him over; he had to impress us. She was our treasure and we were determined to stand guard and protect her.
On another occasion, while discussing her relationship with her boyfriend, a different college-age daughter said, "Well, it's my life."
"Don’t be ridiculous." I quickly responded. (My husband was not around to buffer my words.) "It's not just your life. It's my life, too, and the lives of everyone who loves you and rushes in with comfort every time you're hurt. In the end, it may be your decision, but I will not stand by silently and agree with this destructive relationship."
Sometimes I feel hugely inadequate for this job of parenting. More than once I have said, somewhat jokingly, "I apologize for everything I did wrong, and anything I did right was probably an accident." With only one child still in high school, you might think I would be coasting through this time. I'm not. I hate to say, "No. Never. Not on my watch." when I'd much rather say, "Yes! Yes! Yes!"
(How do they respond to my answers? Usually much better than I do when my Heavenly Father's answers to my prayers don't conform to my plans, but let's not talk about that.)
I can't imagine a day when I will ever forget to pray for help as I walk through, and work through, this parenting thing. I choose to trust God, Who is the greatest Guard of all, to protect my treasures. I do not have a Hope diamond, but I have been blessed with children filled with hope and bright with promise. I am entrusting them to God’s faithful watch.
Ronny may be reached at

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Victoria's Valentine

It was February 14, 2002. Victoria’s seven-year-old eyes slowly scanned the Valentine loot scattered on the kitchen table. Pushing aside treat-filled plastic bags, small white envelopes bearing her name, and the wrappings of the candy that didn’t survive the ride home, she reached for the large, red, heart-shaped box.

“And who is this for?” she asked, her voice filled with hope that she was the intended recipient.

“Sorry. I bought it for your Dad,” I replied while thinking Victoria’s choice of the Whitman sampler was pretty impressive.

“May I open it?” she boldly questioned.

“Well… okay,” I answered after deciding Michael wouldn’t mind. By the time he returned from his business trip, he’d barely notice it anyway. I continued, “Just don’t lose the little map inside. It lets you know where each type of candy is located.”

My husband does not like surprises. With regards to candy and to life, he wants to know what’s in store for him before he sinks his teeth into it.

“Okay, I won’t lose it,” she happily promised as I left the kitchen.

Only moments after she had ripped the cellophane from the candy it had been protecting, Victoria found me in the study. Her solemn expression informed me that her next words had been carefully chosen.

“I didn’t lose the map,” she quietly began, then continued with a rush of words, “but I dropped the box and all of the candy fell out and I don’t know where any of it belongs.”

In her defense, I never told her not to drop the box. I only asked her to guard the map. She followed me into the kitchen where we began to pick up the candy. The bounty of strewn sweets dwindled as we attempted to return each piece to its proper place. It was a difficult task, except for the cashews. It’s easy to spot a nut, even when it is covered in chocolate and trying to masquerade as a candy.

And so it is with life…

Sometimes we drop the box. The pieces of our lives are then in disarray and suddenly we don’t know where anything belongs. Spouses, children, jobs, ministries, hobbies, unspoken dreams, friends, and even nutty relatives (I can’t believe I wrote that!) viciously vie for our attention. They all start to look the same. Well, except for the nuts. They’re easy to spot, even when they try to masquerade as something sweet.

Keeping my priorities in order is an ongoing task for me. I am so grateful for my God, Who kneels beside me to take those sweet, but scattered portions of my life and return them to their proper place. Even the nuts!

Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Kerri's Brisket

Kerri's brisket is the best. Everyone knows that. Well, at least everyone in my family. If there's an event calling for brisket, my niece cooks it. And if she prepares it for her husband and son, she often shares a portion with us. I think she was more than a little surprised when I asked her, again!, for the recipe. She's explained it to me in the past, but I apparently put it in my mental file marked, "Forget this information because you will never use it."

She began, "Well, do you have a blue pan?"

"No. Should I?"

"Yes. You can get it at Wal Mart. It looks like the pan Aunt Ann always uses to bring the turkey for Christmas."

In our family, once you experience success with a dish, an unwritten rule states you will supply that dish at subsequent events. Ann's husband, Mike, always prepares the turkey.

"Or," Kerri continued, "you can borrow mine."

"I'll borrow yours."

"Fine. Now, you need two bottles of sauce, but don't even bother looking for one of them. The only place you can get it is Matherne's"

"Where do I get the other one?"

"Anywhere. I'll go to Matherne's for you and bring the sauce when I bring you the blue pan."

And she did. After working all day, she picked up her son Dylan, and brought me everything I needed for a successful brisket before going home to fix dinner for her family.

Speaking of Dylan, it wasn't long ago when he walked into my kitchen and proudly handed me a gift.

"What's this for?" I asked.

"It's just because I love you."

The pretty notepads, stamped with ASAP, sit on my desk; a gentle reminder to Always Say A Prayer. At this moment, my prayer is one of gratitude, not just for Kerri and Dylan, but for my other nieces and nephews. Each of them graces my life with kindness, generosity, wisdom, and wit. I pray for their protection and obedience to God's direction. May they daily use their lives in service to God and others.

I'm not sure what Kerri's prayers began with today, but they probably ended with, "And could You please remind Aunt Ronny to return my blue pan?"

Ronny may be reached at