Thursday, January 31, 2013

In His Shadow

I’m on call. On any day, at any time, day or night, regardless of my schedule or the airing of Downton Abbey, I might receive a call that Monique is in labor.
                For years I have told Monique I would not be present when she gave birth. Citing her dramatics and whining episodes, I have told her when the miracle of birth is complete, she is to call me and I will bring a nice little gift to the hospital.
                Now that my firstborn is days away from delivering her own daughter, she is ignoring everything I have previously said. Not only has she requested my presence in the birthing room, she has also given me a job to do. A job! In the midst of her labor and delivery, I have been asked to be the photographer. The photographer!
                I do enjoy the hobby of photography and have filled the space on my computer with snapshots of family celebrations, school plays, graduations, sporting events, and most recently, Adeline, my first grandchild. Someone recently commented, “Adeline doesn’t take a bad picture. “
                I immediately explained the secret to any success I may experience as a photographer, “I delete the bad ones.” I am not about to exhibit pictures of poor quality. And now, on the brink of my second granddaughter’s birth, all I can think about is whether or not I will succeed in capturing the first precious moments of Olivia’s life.
                So, here’s my plan. As soon as I get into the delivery room, I’ll become aware of the lighting, take a few test shots, and adjust my position or the camera’s settings, or both. I can’t risk shadowy pictures which might hide the baby.
                Shadows. Although dreaded in photography and on dark, lonely streets, it’s where I run to when afraid. I cling to the shadow of the Almighty. Nestled close to the Father, I find rest, a break from the heat of whatever battle I’m facing, and protection. Trusting I will only experience those things He allows in my life, I turn to God for support and direction. The plea of David, in Psalm 17:8 becomes mine. “Keep me as the apple of your eye, hide me in the shadow of your wings.”
                It’s not that I always expect to be spared difficulty or pain, although I believe we have no idea how many tragedies we’ve escaped,  I simply find peace and strength from faith in an ever-vigilant, always loving God. Perhaps Christian musician Mike Donehey said it best.  Paramedics reported he lost his pulse more than once on the way to the hospital after a car crash. He was told he would never walk again, yet two months later, he was up, moving, and eager to play soccer. Donehey is quoted as saying, “Sometimes God redeems us from struggles. Sometimes God redeems us through struggles.”
                I guess you could say that every day, and every time, during the bright sunny days and through the night seasons of my life, God is on call. Hopefully, He’ll offer a little guidance on this delivery photography. I can’t wait to see what develops.

Friday, January 25, 2013


    When,  oh when, is parenting going to get easier?
                Although the invitation had been extended for a couple of weeks, my husband and I were only recently able to join his sister, Kim, at the beach. We thought our plan was perfect: drop Victoria off to join her classmates on a bus bound for the DC March for Life, then drive to Alabama.
                The day before her departure, Victoria suffered from a migraine headache triggered possibly by exhaustion, tension, or Physics. She saw a doctor, received the appropriate medication, and assured me that she was fine to travel.
                Two days later, in the middle of the American History museum, she called. As soon as I answered her call I heard sobs, followed by, “I’m so weak.”
                “Victoria, drink a real Coke. Nothing diet or caffeine-free. Sit down for 20 minutes , then see how you feel.”  I prayed with her, ended the call, and tried to control my mind. Thoughts of my child fainting in the middle of the First Ladies’ Inaugural Gowns, or passed out next to the Star Spangled Banner were stopping me from focusing on my next job: booking a flight to Washington. Well, that and pretending to be calm while shopping for golf clubs with my husband.
                About this time, I remembered something I had read in the devotional book, Streams in the Desert, Volume 2, “Quiet tension is not trust. It is compressed anxiety.” Despite my calm exterior, and a few purchases for my granddaughters, I was not quite flowing in the faith I profess. And that bothered me as much as my decision to let Victoria get on the bus. My prayers suddenly became twofold. I wanted Victoria to be able to enjoy the trip she had looked forward to for months, and I also asked for the faith to be able to handle these tiny turbulences of life with total trust. Slowly, a real faith-filled peace replaced my anxiety.
                Two hours and twelve minutes later, I finally received word from Victoria in a text message, “I’m fine now. “ And I was, too, thankfully, even before I read her text.
My future may hold many more urgent calls to my Father. Like Victoria’s call to me, they may begin with, “I’m so weak.”
I just wonder if God thinks of me and says, “When, oh when, is parenting her going to get easier?”

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Truth about Victoria's College Decision

I’m a stickler for the truth, and have occasionally investigated the stories I receive in email on It’s not a trust issue. I just don’t want to spread tales that aren’t true.
            Some of these urban legends have wonderful meanings and full circle conclusions. They would make fabulous fables. And I admit to being more than a little disappointed to learn that a cut onion placed  in my room will not really absorb the flu virus. I guess as long as I’m going for full disclosure, I should also admit that, despite snopes, I will continue to rub Vicks VapoRub on the bottom of my feet at night to prevent nighttime coughing.
            Something else I recently researched had to do with eagles. I’ve heard many interesting stories about eagles, including the belief that if an eagle strays too far from its home, pressure on its eyes urges it to return home. The suggestion being we, as Christians, likewise experience a type of pressure, or spiritual nudge,  to return to the Father.
            I love that story;  however, I’ve yet to be able to confirm it. I even asked Veronica Sylvest to check out the story with her husband and her son. Still nothing about the pressure of eagle’s eyes. I want it to be true. I want it to be true for eagles, for Christians, and for my own children.
             I have, not quite jokingly, told my children they are allowed to live within a two hour radius from me. It can be two hours away in any direction. The choice is theirs. (I’m not trying to control their lives.)
            The reason for my request is, of all things, Grandparent’s Day. When I taught, I was often upset for the children whose grandparents were unable to attend the annual celebration because they lived too far away. I decided as long as my grandchildren lived with two hours from my home, I could drive to their school for lunch, check them out of school after lunch, take them to the park, zoo, mall, and/or Chuck E. Cheese, return them to their parents, and still be able to drive home that night. (Perhaps my husband is right when he says my mind never rests.)
            Somehow, in all of my instructions about their future homes, I neglected to include conditions for college. Therefore, I blame myself for Victoria’s inclusion of Northwestern University in her list of college possibilities. Northwestern is in Natchitoches! Four hours away! What is she thinking?! (Please don’t answer.)
            When my soul was finally settled,  and I had not only accepted, but actually embraced the fact that my youngest is confident enough to consider such a move, she approached me with a simple question, “You are going to visit me if I go to Northwestern, aren’t you?” I explained the distance, the hours of driving, and the unlikelihood of a lunch date. I did add that perhaps I could plan an overnight stay every other month. Even as I was speaking, I thought, my radius has just expanded to four hours.
            And that’s the truth.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, January 10, 2013


I am so easily sidetracked. What was supposed to be a quiet day at home with Adeline blossomed into much more. Initially my goal was to keep my granddaughter content, happy, and quiet. Quiet. I know. An eight month old doesn’t really understand quiet. It’s just that Elise was home from college and I knew she could use the extra sleep.
            Keeping Adeline quiet involved playing on the floor, watching her drop and pick up her toys, and occasionally singing to her. The only problem was whenever I would sing, she would laugh out loud and the neighbor’s dog would bark. Instead of singing, I held out the pink toy cell phone, causing her to drop mine, and allowing me to make a call.
I was soon talking to Lisa Young and scribbling down her recipe for Chicken Enchilada soup. Or Chicken Tortilla soup. I’m not sure what it’s called; I just asked for the recipe of the soup she fed my daughter Lauren. Although I hadn’t intended on cooking, I decided to try the soup while Lisa’s instructions were fresh in my mind.
            As soon as Elise woke up, I handed Adeline to her and began to cook. All went smoothly until I had to look for a spice. This proved quite historical. In most cases, I could remember buying, but not using the spices. Lemon pepper? When did I ever use lemon pepper? One sniff of the long forgotten seasoning assured me it was well past its prime. I also found bacon flavored salt from Victoria’s pre-vegetarian days and more Italian seasoning than I’ll ever use. When I found one spice stamped with a 2008 expiration date, I began tossing spices in the trash can.
            Did the discovery of the variety of seasoning my cabinet held inspire me to want to cook more? Only in my family’s dreams. After cleansing the cabinet of stale spices, I grabbed the salt shaker and returned to the stove. As the salt flowed freely into the enchilada/tortilla soup, I thought of this simple spice and its ability to bring out the flavor in foods into which it comes in contact. In addition to flavoring foods, salt purifies, heals, preserves, creates thirst, and so much more. According to the Salt Institute, there are over 14,000 uses for salt.
            In Matthew 5:13, Jesus tells us that we are the salt of the earth. So what does that mean? Perhaps we should season our world, affecting  people positively, bringing out the best in everyone and every situation. Maybe it means we should preserve Godly values by countering the moral decay in society. It might also mean we should do our part to heal the hurting and wounded we encounter with the love of God. I believe if we do those things, the salt in us will also cause others to thirst for the Living Water.
            Being the salt of the earth is a task from which I cannot allow myself to become sidetracked.
Ronny may be reached at

Friday, January 4, 2013


          We  have relived Christmas every night since December 25. It's really Victoria's fault. While in the midst of trying to come up with unique gifts sure to please my youngest, baby of the family, child we weren't supposed to have, vegetarian, recycler, animal advocate, coffee connoisseur, old soul daughter, she made one remark I took as a personal challenge. "Remember when I wanted a telescope?"
            I found one the next day. Online. Great deal. Grabbed a credit card, typed in a little information, and imagined the Christmas morning joy. I wasn’t at all disappointed when she opened her gift. As a bonus, her excitement was matched by my son-in-law's. It didn't take long for Frank to assemble Victoria's latest gadget. They ran outside to see what they could see. Apparently they could see a lot, which prompted Victoria's comment, "I may not have gotten a Michael Kors watch, but with this telescope I can watch Michael Kors."
            It was all going as I had planned until Victoria approached me later in the day and asked, "I love my telescope, but what made you buy it?"
            "Are you kidding me? Isn't it the thing you've always wanted?"
            "Yes," she answered. "When I was eight. But I really do love it!" It seems we all do.
Every night now, we take turns star-gazing and examining the surface of the moon. Frank even found Saturn, or so we think.
            King David may have spent a few nights under the stars before he wrote Psalm 19, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge."
            With or without a telescope, it's impossible for me to look up into the night without thinking of the God Who created it all. Victoria's telescope just brings the beauty of the heavens a little closer. And isn't that what the first Christmas did? Didn't it bring Jesus, the bright Morning Star, a little closer to us? And shouldn't we look to Him, not just on Christmas Day, but every day?
            Let's relive Christmas, appreciating the life of Jesus, every day. And while we do that, Frank will likely continue to anticipate next year as he wonders, "What did Victoria want when she was nine? I can't wait to find out!"
Ronny may be reached at