Friday, December 28, 2012

Which road to travel during 2013?

The day's agenda included a trip to Hattiesburg, Mississippi to pick up my daughter, Elise. Two hours there. Two hours back. Knowing the trip home would be spent hearing about Elise's Atlanta visit, I used the time driving to Hattiesburg to think, pray, and read the signs. Although I didn't need a thing, after learning of the places I could eat, shop, or fill up my tank, I became tempted to stop. A few billboards later, I began to think of these little towns along the way. Places I had never visited. Points of interest I have previously zoomed by. I began to wonder if I was missing out on anything. Then, in the time it took me to whiz by another announcement of a nearby McDonald's, I began to think of my trip a little like my life. Well, all of our lives.
Sometimes it's easy to stay on that straight and narrow path, never ever deviating, eyes on the prize, full speed ahead. At other times we may stray, momentarily distracted, but never veering too far, and quickly returning to the main road. And then there are those times when we lose focus and leave the path, sidetracked by the next pretty sign promising another adventure. Once there, disenchantment sets in. Or boredom. And the place seems as flat as the billboard which lured us. Then we move on to the next new attraction, the main road growing smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror, destinations, missions, goals delayed and sometimes forgotten.
It's almost time to turn the calendar page to 2013. The optimists among us view it as a huge gift which will slowly reveal itself. The pessimists are waiting for social, economic, or personal disaster. Others are just surprised that the Mayans were wrong and the world didn't end.
How do you view the New Year? Which road will you travel? What's your goal for 2013? Restoration of a relationship? Starting or finishing a degree? Losing weight? Gaining financial freedom? Reading a book? Writing a book? Completing repairs on your home or taking a trip? What is it?
Write it down. Read it in the morning. Take daily steps toward your dream, and do not wander from its completion. How much faster it is to arrive at our destination when we stay on course. Let's enter the New Year with a purpose, a vision, a definite goal.
If 2013 goes as well as my trip to Hattiesburg, I will not only complete my objectives, but arrive at them on time. I'm ready. Are you?
Ronny may be reached at

Challenges at Christmastime

The unthinkable has filled our minds. The unimaginable has not only become our reality, it has placed our nation in a season of simultaneous mourning, probing, questioning, and arguing over both the cause of the attack and the method of preventing another. While security guards were watching over designer fashion filled boutiques, pretty rocks in jewelry stores, and Dorothy's ruby slippers, twenty-six defenseless lives, thought to be safe in an elementary school in the idyllic town of Newtown, Connecticut, were tragically ended. If the existence of evil was ever questioned, it has been clearly answered. But we didn't need this massacre to reveal the reality of darkness for in John 10:10, Jesus warned us of the intention of the devil, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
While satan seeks to destroy, Jesus brings the fullness of His life. Especially at this time of the year, my thoughts return to His arrival on our planet, and I cannot think this without regard to the woman chosen to be His mother. Life must have looked pretty good to Mary before the angel's visit. Her engagement to Joseph was probably the fulfillment of her dream. Then the Holy Spirit surrounded her, the power of God overshadowed her, and Jesus, the Word in flesh, was implanted in her. Her dream was about to take on incredible new dimensions. The Word inside of her caused her to grow, but not just physically. He changed her plans, and challenged the thinking of those with whom she was in contact.
A few months later, while most of the world was sleeping, she brought forth Life. Because there was no room elsewhere, Jesus, the Light of the world, was humbly born in a stable. The One Who had already changed her was about to shake the community, and eventually the world.
While the story of Jesus' life on Earth begins with Christmas, it doesn't end there. He didn't remain in the manger. Jesus grew, leading a sinless life as He taught, healed, delivered, and loved. He then became the ultimate sacrifice as He willingly died on the cross for our sins.
May the fullness of His life envelop ours. Maybe we be ever challenged to make room in our hearts for Him, to allow Him to change us, enlarge our visions, and challenge our thoughts. As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, may we model our lives after His and seek to be a light in the dark places.
So while those in authority strategize, and they should, and parents question the security measures of the schools their children attend, and they should, some have suggested we agree in prayer for our nation. And we should.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Making A List

My family has taken group texting to a whole new level. Ann, my youngest sister, sent a message to ten of us suggesting a time and place to pull names for Christmas gift giving. 166 text messages later (I couldn't believe it either!) it was done. Not only did we break a family, and possibly a world record for the longest group message in the shortest amount of time, we have taken our tradition of pulling names to the internet.
            Brittany, Ann's daughter, registered our family's information on, a site which does the name picking for you. There's even a place to specify immediate family members so that they don't get each other's name. Once the information is logged into the system, an email sends you the name you (or the computer) picked and a link to their wish list. The best part is the ability to view everyone's gift list.
            Frank's list was quite revealing. Normally a Home Depot gift card is the perfect present for him. Still in the midst of repairing their home from Hurricane Isaac's visit, it seems as though he's ready for a little diversion. My son-in-law requested a gift card from Academy, an LSU or Saints shirt, and, I quote, "socks, because Monique doesn't wash mine."
            My niece Mattie's list was the perfect ending to the night. After listing a few of her favorite things, she concluded with, "Don't stress… grateful for anything. J" It made me smile, too, Mattie.
            Gift-giving shouldn't be stressful; it's truly one of my favorite things. Gift-receiving, on the other hand, has occasionally induced stress. A recent text message from Lauren read, " You'll love your Christmas present. I've been saving up for it." Now that scares me. Please, Lauren, please put that money away for Adeline's education. Trust me, you'll need it.
            At least Lauren's text was better than the comment I've occasionally heard while being handed a gift, "When you open this, you'll cry." What? Talk about pressure! Their expectation of a dramatic reaction leaves me wishing the gift was the ability to weep on demand.
            In the midst of all of the Christmas preparations, I am often visited by the questions, how much of this celebration is really about the birth of Jesus? How many parties have completely ignored the guest of honor? At how many birthday celebrations have I arrived empty handed? What would be on Jesus' wish list?
            Maybe one of the answers would be daily communication with His children. Reading my children's text messages, answering their phone calls (including the one Lauren accidentally made to me while dropping her phone in her boot while at work) and real, live visits with my family and friends are gifts I hope to never take for granted. Even those 166 messages. I'd like to think I've met my personal goal of praying and just talking to Jesus as much as I interact with others, however I'm sure I've fallen short on many occasions.
            So what am I going to do this season? I'm going to continue to enjoy the decorations, attempt to make pralines, buy a few more gifts, savor the family moments, continue to search for the white mesh ribbon I put around the front door last year, and most of all, I will lengthen and strengthen my communication with the One for Whom we celebrate December 25th. I hope to take my relationship with Jesus to a whole new level

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas Past

On Thursday mornings, I wake up a little earlier than usual to write this column. Normally, I commit to paper the thoughts that have been stewing in my heart for the past week and pray for clarity to get the message God is trying to teach me. But sometimes my heart gently, but firmly tugs me back to something I've already written, and I hope you agree, bears repeating. Although I wrote what follows two years ago, it's a story which began Christmas Day, twenty years ago, in Houston, Texas…
            I’ve only spent two Christmases away from home. The first time I was 33 years old and receiving chemotherapy treatment in an isolation room in Houston’s M. D. Anderson hospital. Michael was home with our four young children, and my Dad flew to Houston, courtesy of Anne and Emile Bergeron, to spend Christmas Day with me. No one knew he didn’t have the money for a hotel, so thankfully his plan to sleep on the sofa in the hospital’s lobby worked out. We spent Christmas Day visiting through the glass window that sealed me in a sterile environment. I know, I know, so far it sounds sad, but hang on, it really wasn’t.
We talked and laughed and prayed. We paused as I received Christmas calls from far too many people to name. While on the phone, I watched as he either read the Bible, or ate from the cookie-filled shoe box that a friend had dropped off. Although we were without the comforts of home, or the company of family and friends, we had a really great day. It was so very peaceful. I wasn’t depressed, angry, or visited by self-pity. I was alive. My family was healthy and safe, and I was secure in the knowledge of God’s infinite love, and His ability to perform the miraculous.
The second time I spent Christmas outside of Louisiana was a little farther north. At the time, my daughter Elise, was twelve years old, and dreamed of walking the crowded streets of New York City. She had never dreamed of becoming ill. How odd that a dreaded disease would somehow give way to the fulfillment of a dream.
After bravely enduring chemotherapy treatment for lymphoma, she was contacted by the Make A Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to children diagnosed with life threatening illnesses. When she shared her wish to visit New York, her father suggested Disney World instead. “Daddy,” she replied, “I’ve been there, and that’s a place you and Mom will take us again. I don’t think you’ll ever plan a trip to New York.” (Besides being brave, Elise was also very wise.)
Although we tried to imagine what it would be like, none of us were prepared for the actual adventure of New York City at Christmastime. We toured the city, and marveled at the sights we had only seen in pictures and on television. While walking up to view the tree at Rockefeller Center, the young man on the side of us dropped to one knee and proposed to a very excited young woman. We went to the top of the Empire State Building, visited Central Park, Times Square, Fifth Avenue, and didn’t let the freezing rain stop us from running around the Statue of Liberty. We were excited and determined to do and see as much as we could, yet were unprepared for the emotions we felt as we stood at Ground Zero, and re-lived the September 11th tragedy.
A Broadway play and the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall were both beyond our expectations, especially the dramatic living Nativity scene which concluded the Christmas Spectacular. As we exited Radio City Music Hall, it began to snow.  Elise walked ahead of us, confidently navigating the crowd. Although I couldn’t speak, my heart exploded that Christmas Day as I watched my daughter experience her dream of walking the crowded streets of New York City, and I thanked God that my wish, my prayer, my daily plea for her life, had also been granted.
This Christmas will be spent at home, with lots of people and presents and food. However, in the midst of all the activity, my heart will beat with the rhythms of peace, faith and gratitude I learned through my two out of town Christmas experiences.
No matter where we are, no matter who we’re with, Christmas Day and every day, may we be found utterly dependent upon, and thoroughly grateful to our God, “Who so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Ronny may be reached at

Saturday, December 1, 2012


I love a project. My daughter's latest one has me finding my way back to the sewing machine. Monique's search for nursery bedding, conducted throughout the world wide web, has resulted in a box filled with beautiful fabric. Pastel colored lovebirds, paisley, stripes and dots stare at me, begging to be taken out, measured, cut, and pieced together to form a comforter, dust ruffle, and pillow to surround baby Olivia with warmth and beauty.
            If you could see the pictures in my mind, you would be surprised by the coarse sketches I've made to guide me through this latest endeavor. I do have a plan, which is gradually taking shape, but only I know it. Even when questioned by Monique, my response is, "Trust me. I know what I'm doing."
            Washington Roebling had a much greater plan to carry out. Upon his father's death, he became the chief engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge. An injury confined him to his home where he shared his plans with his wife, who took it upon herself to learn the art of bridge building. Daily she carried his plans to the site and took over many of the supervision and project management duties.
            When at last the great bridge was completed, Roebling was placed on a cot and carried to the bridge. After allowing his eyes to examine every facet of the structure, he joyfully exclaimed, "It's just like the plan; it's just like the plan."
            An even greater plan by an infinitely greater Architect is being carried out today. We may not see the full picture right now, but God does. Jeremiah 29:11 assures me of that, " 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' "
            We may not understand or even appreciate the simple day to day tasks we face, but if we remain diligent and focused and faithful to complete each one, we will gradually see the bigger picture. The events we call coincidences, the people we meet, and the situations we face, when treated as Divine appointments, all work toward God's plan. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28.
            Although I'm sometimes tempted to question God, I've decided to wait it out. Besides, I'm sure I'd hear Him say something like, "Trust me. I know what I'm doing."
Ronny may be reached at