Friday, October 26, 2012

Do Not Complain About What You Permit

What do a bonsai tree, moisturizing exfoliator made with salt from the Dead Sea, a photo of the St. Louis Cathedral on a foggy night, and a praline have in common? (I was going to add candied pecans and honey mustard salsa, but I thought the list was already too long.) Give up? All were items  purchased by my daughter, Victoria, during a recent craft show at Oak Alley Plantation.

            Way too soon after our arrival, we were loaded down with merchandise the craft vendors were anxious to part with.  My Mom, sister Ann, daughter Lauren, and granddaughter Adeline were with us, and Adeline's stroller quickly doubled as a shopping cart. Nevertheless, I somehow got stuck with, and by, the bonsai tree. Those little leaves are sharp! But we kept walking.

            Turning the corner, we found a booth filled with wooden signs, yet Victoria and I were drawn to the same one. "Do not complain about what you permit." We talked about it briefly, walked on, and now, days later, those words replay in my mind.

            I've thought about how the simple message applies to raising children, choosing friends, workplace situations, and as I headed out to vote early, I realized it even applies to choices we make at the polls.

            Yes, I vote. As soon as I was of age, I have exercised my civic responsibility to choose the candidate I felt was best for the job. I thought everyone did. I recently researched the topic a little and was surprised to read that 1 in 5 self-professed Christians are not registered to vote, and of those registered, only 60% voted. I wonder if anything would be different if all Christians participated in the voting process. Would abortion still be legal? Would the ban on prayer in schools continue?

            If you haven't seen the movie, Monumental, presented and produced by Kirk Cameron, you can borrow my copy. It traces America's beginning and reveals the true 'national treasure' that made our country great.

            There are many who would like to forget our Godly foundation, and remove the name and principles of God from the public arena. Voting for candidates most likely to preserve the freedoms not afforded in other countries is one small act, which when united with others of like mind, significantly affects our future, and Adeline's.

            And speaking of Adeline, thanks to yet another craft show purchase, we will be able to record her height with a pink princess growth chart. Even though she isn't born yet, I bought one for my granddaughter, Olivia. Over five feet tall, those charts proved to be more awkward to carry than the bonsai tree. I guess the motto, "Do not complain about what you permit," applies to craft show purchases, too.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, October 18, 2012

and that's the Truth

Decisions. Decisions. Or rather, Monique and Frank's decisions, decisions. There have been scores of them as my daughter and son-in-law plow through the process of bringing their hurricane-flooded home back to live-in condition. Because they are living with me during this restoration, I have the fun of listening to their plans and watching them choose flooring, paint colors, and kitchen cabinets. The very first discussion centered on a certain wall separating the kitchen from the dining room. We all thought it should be removed to create a large, open space. There was only one question. Was it a sustaining wall? If it was necessary to support the structure of their home, removing it would open up the home a little too much.
            Walls, nails, and in my house, super glue are responsible for holding things together. Belts, too. And while the belt on your pants may hold your outfit together, the belt of Truth described in Ephesians 6:14 provides an important function for the Christian.
            The apostle Paul's instruction to the church of Ephesus remains a foundational lesson for us today. To explain spiritual warfare, he chose the analogy of a soldier's armor. The belt was a crucial part of the Roman soldier's armor for it had a place for the sword, strips of leather to protect the lower body, loops for lances, ropes and a rations sack. In addition, the belt held together the other parts of the armor. No soldier would race into battle without his belt. Spiritually speaking, Paul admonished the Christians to wear a belt of Truth.
            So what is Truth? In praying to God, Jesus said in John 17:17, "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth." God's Word, each and every instruction, commandment, warning and blessing is the Truth. That Truth is what sustains, protects, keeps everything else together, and prepares us for the spiritual battles we face daily. I believe that without Truth, things fall apart and we are rendered helpless. As a belt wraps around a waist, Truth should encompass every part of our lives. 
            Unlike the little wall in Monique and Frank's house which was discovered to be unnecessary, Truth should never be removed from our conversations, schools, government, and every other part of our lives. It's not always easy, and sometimes painful to face, but Jesus said, "the truth will set you free." (John 8:32)
             Monique and Frank are sure to feel free once they are able to get back in their own home, but I will miss them. And that's the truth.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Olivia Renee Roth... we think

My prayers are changing. They still begin almost immediately after I silence the alarm.
            Time Out. Let's stop right here. Who ever named it an alarm clock? The word 'alarm' is defined as "sudden fear caused by the realization of danger." I don't want to be jolted from sleep by fear due to danger. I'd rather receive a phone call greeting, or a gentle nudge, or have the scent from a fresh cup of coffee lure me from my dreams to reality.
            Once in reality, despite my method of entrance, I arrive on the scene grateful for another night spent resting comfortably, and another day filled with opportunities yet to be discovered. My eyes and thoughts race to see which will focus the fastest as I begin to talk to God.
            Because I am easily distracted (see paragraph 2), I have chosen to write down the names and issues I sent to Heaven in prayer. I don't pray out of sudden fear, or even the realization of danger, but because God has granted me the privilege of downloading my heart to Him in prayer.
            The top of my list is Kassidy Terrio. I was teaching first grade in 2006 when Kassidy was diagnosed with cancer. In our morning prayers, the students and I would pray for the little girl whose story touched our hearts. Although I no longer share prayer time with first graders, Kassidy remains in my heart and prayers. Since her diagnosis, this brave young soldier has battled the disease and its two recurrences, and has been in remission for eleven months! Whether or not you are privileged to know Kassidy, I hope you join me in praying for her continued health.
            After I pray for the people in need of healing, I pray for people I know who are looking for jobs, comfort for families still grieving loved ones, and then those expecting babies. And this is where my prayers have recently changed.
            My daughter Monique and her husband Frank are expecting a baby in early February and have elected to find out the gender before the due date. The day after an ultrasound gave them a peek at their baby, the couple gathered a few friends and family members together to reveal the news. On an afternoon that couldn't have been any sunnier, Monique and Frank lifted a lid from a large white box and smiled as pink heart-shaped balloons gently floated to the sky.
            It's a girl! More specifically, Olivia Renee Roth. Olivia, because they like the name, and Renee, in honor of Frank's deceased mother.
            And while you would be correct in suspecting the change in my prayers is the inclusion of the name of my grandchild, that is only half of the story. Twice in the past week, we have received news of women who were given incorrect information during their ultrasounds. One friend, ready to greet her daughter, was surprised with a son. Another went into delivery with visions of blue which had to be quickly replaced with pink. So, when I pray for Olivia Renee, I also pray for the doctor who informed Monique of her gender. If he's wrong, he will need much prayer when he speaks to Monique. I may be the one to sound an alarm for him.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Ready, Set... Slow

I was first in line to welcome the cool fall breeze that blew through last week. I was ready to put on a light jacket for my early morning quiet time on the patio swing. I was anxious to turn on the oven to bake sweet potatoes; and I thought I was prepared to turn off the ceiling fans until I looked up to see what had accumulated since the last time those blades were motionless.
            During the heat of the summer, my ceiling fans work constantly. Only when they wobble or make a noise do I pay attention to those much needed appliances in my home. And only when a fan is still am I able to make the necessary adjustments and clean the blades. As I stood on a chair, armed with a bottle of Windex and a roll of paper towels, the parallel to my own life was a lot clearer than the glass globes which protect the fan's lights. Maybe you can relate.
            Everyone is busy. You may have to leave your house way too early in the morning and return much too late in the evening. You may be unemployed, yet overworked as you pick up after children or grandchildren, drive carpool, and keep the troops fed and in clean clothes. Or your relentless search for a job may have you drained. I know you have a lot to do, but I want you to stop. That's right. Stop long enough for the wheels in your wonderfully complex, Divinely constructed mind to find rest. Let the blades stop spinning. Walk away from the whirlwind of activity around you for just a moment. Cease from thinking of the next thing you are going to add to that heavy plate you are trying to carry. Ignore the voice that says just one more email response, just one more bill to pay, just two more hours of television. Ready, set, slow. Slow down. Quiet yourself and take a few moments to reflect, assess, and pray, and in the words of the classic railroad crossing sign: Stop, Look, and Listen.
             Even Jesus sought solitude. He left the crowd to grieve the death of John the Baptist. He chose a quiet mountainside to pray to God after a hectic day of teaching, healing, and feeding a multitude with a couple of fish and a few loaves of bread. If spending time alone with God was important to Him, it should be my top priority.
            Only in these quiet moments before God am I recharged. Sometimes He shows me how to become more balanced, or less noisy, or work more effectively. Other times He points to the dirt (wrong ambitions, anger, worry) that has accumulated in my quest to move faster and faster. A few minutes spent before God fills me with strength for my day, peace for my troubles, and direction for my confusion. 
            Regardless of the season, or the season of my life, spending time with God in prayer should begin and end each day. It's much better than cleaning ceiling fans.
Ronny may be reached at