Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Remembering Mrs. Patti

           There's just something about baseball that I love. You start from home with the intention of rounding the bases. To do so means you must face everything the opposition throws at you. Curve balls, fast balls, sliders. They all come flying as you attempt to bat that ball as far away from you as possible. When you do, your teammates cheer as you venture away from home and run out to make your mark. All the while, the other team still attempts to put you out of the game. Your goal? To make it back home safely, where your teammates run to greet you.
I'm not going to say sports are important to my family, but two years ago,  my Dad asked my Mom to consult the baseball schedule before making an appointment for her surgery. A few years before that, they drove 21 hours in one day to watch my nephew Kameron play in Kansas City. And this week, when I realized Kameron had a baseball game, I bought a rotisserie chicken for dinner, simplified the breakfast menu I had scheduled for the next morning, and headed to the ball field.
            The only thing about the above paragraph that may have surprised you were the words, ‘breakfast menu.’ I don’t usually plan breakfast, however I had volunteered to host the Bible Characters and wanted to prepare dishes that went beyond my usual fruit/cereal/scrambled eggs rotation.
            Who are the Bible Characters? Just a group of friends and relatives once brought together by a common neighborhood, church, or  school. We share a love of God’s Word and a daily devotion to Him. We reminisce, but do not live in the past, support one another through difficulties, and prayerfully plan for our futures. The name of the group came about during a visit with Mrs. Patti Waguespack following the death of her daughter. She introduced us to her sisters as her Bible friends. We joked about being people from the Bible who occasionally visited Mrs. Patti, then returned to the Bible when the coffee pot emptied. Soon, Bible Characters was informally adopted as our name.
            This week’s gathering was particularly important to me because it was the first time we met since Mrs. Patti’s death. I began to prepare for our meeting by throwing a pat of butter in the pan so I could scramble a few eggs, and thought of my recently deceased friend. Mrs. Patti once entered her daughter Lisa’s home for a meeting and asked Lisa if she had ‘good butter.’ She expressed her distaste for margarine and shared, “I usually put a stick of good butter in my purse when I’m going somewhere because you never know if they are going to try to serve you margarine.”
            It was strange to have friends sit around my table, knowing we would not be saving a seat for Mrs. Patti. I knew we would pray, but Mrs. Patti would not be there to suddenly ask, in the middle of prayer, “who are we praying for?” No one ever had to interrupt Mrs. Patti with such a question. We always knew who she was praying for. Everyone. Every person or people group she could think of and that gave me insight into her private prayer life. It was not a three point sermon she shared on prayer, but her example that both touched and taught me. And as was fitting, we ended our prayer time with the words she always used to end hers as we prayed for God to help those “most in need of Thy mercy.”
            As I started the dishwasher after they left, I summarized my morning. I couldn’t offer my friends yogurt because someone had eaten all of it and I had time to either fix my hair and makeup or head to the store. I served scrambled eggs and grits rather than researching a recipe from pinterest because I had spent an evening at the ball park with my family. But I did use good butter, and I know Mrs. Patti would have approved of all of my choices.
            I’m honored to have been on Mrs. Patti’s team, to have prayerfully supported her and to have received the blessing of her prayers and fellowship. It makes me smile to think that as she entered her Heavenly home this past Good Friday she was met by teammates who had gone before her.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, April 18, 2013

What Do You Want?

           To anyone else it might sound like random syllables strung together which form this almost one year old’s singsong babble. To those who love her, my granddaughter Adeline is speaking. The translation depends upon the listener, but soon her skills will improve and her thoughts will be loud and clear. (Emphasis on loud.) She will learn to combine syllables to form words, words to construct sentences, and sentences to create conversations. Around this time, she will ask her first question. I wonder what it will be?
            “Is it really against the law for me to leave the house without a bow on my head?” (Her mother’s motto is ‘the bigger the bow, the closer to God.’)
            “Is there anything for me to eat?” (Adeline was the baby in the restaurant last week who spit out her pacifier when she saw a waitress approaching, then cried as the waitress brought the food to another table.)
            “Why can’t we just spend the day on the patio swing?” (Actually, that’s my question.)
            This whole ‘first question’ train of thought arrived as I read Jesus’ first recorded words in the gospel of John. After John introduced Him as the Lamb of God, Jesus turned to the two disciples who began to follow Him and asked, “What do you want?”
            It’s not enough for me to follow Jesus. Outward actions look good, but isn’t it just like Jesus to want to get to the heart of the matter?  He wants to know why.  Why am I following Him? What’s my motivation? What do I want?
            Like the beach ball left behind at the end of the day, those questions and more have been bobbing around in the sea of my thoughts. Do I follow Jesus out of habit? Is it because I was raised in church and it’s part of who I am? Am I in it for God’s stamp of approval, or more answered prayer?
            Quite simply, I follow Jesus because I want to be more like Him. I want to learn forgiveness from the One Who sacrificed His life for my sins. I want to learn love from One Who lavishes so much on my life, and I want to learn peace from Jesus, Whose words smooth out the wrinkles in my soul.
            Why do you follow Jesus? What do you want?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Touring My Heart

Although I had read  Steel Magnolias, I had never seen the entire movie, nor did I know it was based on a true story. It didn’t take me long to catch up when my sister in law Vicki and I visited Natchitoches. Vicki and I could be rightfully accused of having a good time anywhere we go. Our latest adventure,  relaxing for three days in the oldest city in Louisiana, was a first time visit I hope becomes annual.
We stayed at the Steel Magnolia house, or M’Lynn’s house in the movie. I slept in Shelby’s room which really is pink, her signature color, and perfectly matches the pink tub in the adjacent bathroom. The home was built in 1840 and used as a hospital during the Civil War. It was once visited by Ulysses S. Grant and much later by Julia Roberts, Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Dolly Parton, and Daryl Hannah while filming the movie bearing its present name. Although beautiful, its appeal is the history and people whose shadows once darkened the French doors of the stately home.
During the tour, which blended historical facts, movie trivia, and heartfelt facts about the family on whom the film was based, I began to think, What would a tour of my house be like? I laughed to myself as I thought of having to describe the various people who we’ve had the pleasure of entertaining. The children’s slumber parties, bridal and baby showers, crawfish boils, Bible studies, birthday celebrations, and impromptu gatherings over lemon pie which all blend to write our family’s history. Then I thought, What would a tour of my heart be like?
I’d like to say that my heart has never entertained wrong ideas or harbored negative attitudes. I’d love to say ill feelings towards others have never visited, much less found a place to rest there. However, all I can truthfully say is my prayer is much like that of David’s when he wrote, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23,24)
I hope to always respond to God as He is faithful to illuminate any dark areas and challenges me to change. May He always point out a wall I need to break down, regardless of where it is and how long ago it was built, so that I remain open to His plan for my future. And may He always show me how to strengthen and build up any weak areas to be sure the foundation remains strong.
On a tour of our hearts, may peace, wisdom, and faith found to be permanent residents.

Friday, April 5, 2013

What's draining your battery?

My Mom just got an iPhone.
            I’ll wait a minute while you let that sink in.
            She was in the market for a new phone and I volunteered to accompany her on the search. When I asked which features, she immediately said, “I want to be able to check the weather. When I’m at baseball games, other people are able to get on their phones to look at the radar and see if it’s going to rain. I want to be able to do that.”
            I referred to one phone we were looking at and said, “I’m not sure if this phone has that feature.”
            “Oh, well,” she said, “I guess at the next game, I’ll just have to sit by someone who has a phone with radar.”
 I called my sister, Kay, for advice. “What kind of phone should Mama get?”
            “An iPhone. Most of us have them, so if she has any questions, she can call us.”
            “Isn’t that an argument for NOT getting her an iPhone?” I responded. I was only kidding. Really, Mama, it was a joke. Nevertheless I felt guilty for saying that. Add that to the guilt I would experience over my mother searching the stands at the next baseball game to find a friend with radar on their phone and you will understand why we left the store with an iPhone.
            Now, my Mom is very smart; second in her class. (Mrs. Vianne St. Martin was first.)  It’s not surprising that she has very quickly adapted to this new phone. She also has the wisdom to learn only one new feature at a time. When I thought it was time to teach her how to save notes on her phone, she proudly said, “I already know how to do that.”
            “Great!” I said, “Now let’s save your battery.” I double-tapped her Home button and pointed out the multi-tasking bar at the bottom of the screen. “These apps are still open. Press one and they all start jiggling. Press the small red ‘minus’ tab to close down the app so that it no longer drains your battery.”
            Oh, if  life was that easy. If only I could press different parts of my brain to shut down the thoughts that nag and wait to pounce as soon as I wake up. Mediating and filtering everything through God’s Word always brings peace. The Amplified version of Acts 1:8 reads, “You shall receive power (strategies, solutions, and strength) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”
            I’m being very careful about what will occupy my mind, and my time. Activities can also act as leeches that have the potential to suck the life out of me. Running full speed for so many years while raising children and working caused me to be able to live at a pace no longer necessary. I’m so grateful for those years and the energy to keep up with those demands, and now I’m  learning to slow down and look around. Busyness isn’t always productive; neither does free time mean a barren life.
            Teaching my Mom to use her phone is an activity which will remain. At the rate she’s going, she will soon be teaching me.
Ronny may be reached at