Thursday, June 27, 2013

Aunt Bea

           The door was always open, a beautiful smile welcomed visitors, and if you left hungry, it was your own fault. Such was my experience at the home of my Aunt Bea.

We used Liverpool Rummy as an excuse for our visits. At least I did. For me, the card game was merely a vehicle to visit, to travel through the lives of those gathered around the table. Over the years, hours of conversations have allowed me to tour other states and countries, and attend family events, all while holding a handful of cards and trying to keep up with the game.

            Lately our group had been the four of us: Aunt Bea, my cousin Coy, my Mom, and myself. I’m pretty sure Aunt Bea and I shared a secret I don’t hesitate to reveal. We were there for the fellowship. Although smart enough to realize every card left in our hands would bring us farther from victory, for the price of an additional unknown card from the stack we would ‘buy’ what the others discarded. We just loved to buy. You know, just in case we might need it later. To make it even easier for the other players, we didn’t pay much attention to their moves. Aunt Bea and I were a good balance for  our competitive companions.

            On June 24, 2013, I lost my card buddy. Her obituary will include her full name, Beatrice Waguespack Boé. It will also mention the husband she diligently cared for, Caire Boé, and name their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, succinctly summarizing her 88 years. The gaps left will be filled in with memories unique to the person holding the pen. I’ll use my turn to reveal another peek into our card games.

            Over the years, it became obvious we couldn’t give Aunt Bea too much notice of a potential game. She always wanted us to go to her house and we didn’t want her to go through the trouble of cooking. It didn’t matter. She was always prepared. For anything. Chips and dip? She had that. Relish? Do you want olives, sweet pickles, bread and butter, or dill? Cheese? Sliced, wedged, or baked Brie? A sandwich? Yes. And it would be cut in perfect little triangles, served with relish. Hungrier still? The freezer was stocked. The food was not only delicious, but artfully presented.

            Of course we brought snacks, Cokes, fudge, relish and cold cuts. And we always told her we were bringing the refreshments. It didn’t matter. She was ready for us before she ever knew we were coming.

            I didn’t realize our last card game was to be the final one with my aunt.  In all other respects, it was a typical evening. We shared memories, current events, and recipes. Toward the end of the night, I had an unusual craving for a cup of hot tea. She instantly directed me to her perfectly organized hall pantry.  On the way back to the kitchen, I passed the den which housed the computer she used to update her Facebook page, the books she loved to read, and the pictures of the people she just loved.       

            Today as I sip a cup of Bigelow Plantation Mint, the tea she introduced me to, I thank God. He  provided me with a real live example of gracious hospitality wrapped up in a beautiful and articulate lady who fondly spoke of the past, fearlessly approached the future, and in the meantime, played the cards she was dealt.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Time for a Rest

I love surprises. The little unexpected turns in life. The serendipity moments.
            Every year I experience this when I see my mock orange plant, which appears dead and dried up all winter, prove the life it had all along by bursting into greenery and beautiful white flowers each spring.
            An even better surprise was watching the child, name purposely withheld, who was once on the verge of failing 7th grade Reading, turn a corner to become not only an avid reader, but an insightfully gifted writer.
            And then there are the short verses in the Bible I find tucked here and there which display God’s nature as much as a lengthy Psalm. Want to know one of my favorites? Exodus 15:27. Don’t look it up just yet; let me set the scene for you.
            The Israelites have been slaves in Egypt for 400 years. God uses Moses to lead them on their first trip out of the country, through the Red Sea, and into a desert. For three days, the people cannot find water. Finally, they spy a source and surely race to it, only to discover the water is bitter. Undrinkable. Tempting, readily available, but useless to quench their thirst. Under the Lord’s direction, Moses tosses a tree into the water and the bitter water becomes sweet. God then reminds them, “I am the Lord, Who heals you.”
            I know. You’re surprised I’m not focusing on the lessons in the previous paragraph. God’s deliverance from bondage. Power to lead His people through anything. The deception of appearances. Turning circumstances around when we obey. God’s healing. All important lessons just begging to be studied individually, but I’m anxious to get to the 27th verse of Exodus 26.
            “Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water.”
            Again, I could get caught up in the Biblical meaning of the numbers 12 and 70, and I would actually enjoy doing so; however, I don’t want to miss the overall message this verse delivers. Knowing what they had been through and, just as importantly, what was ahead, God brought them to Elim. A desert oasis. A break from their dusty journey. Refreshment for their weary bodies. Rest so they could sort out the events of the past month. Maybe even a little opportunity for relaxation and restoration as they stretched out before the water they camped near.
            Just 21 words. One sentence. Yet it causes me to pause every time. To thank God, not only for giving these newly-freed slaves a little vacation, but for recording it in His Word. It’s my gentle reminder to occasionally slow down, rest a while, recover from the past, and prepare for the future. And I surely won’t complain if He leads me to palm trees and water.
            Ronny may be reached at

Friday, June 14, 2013

Promises, Promises

“Remember when you promised to take me back for a tour?” She never forgot to say it every single time we passed Destrehan Plantation. My response varied according to the situation.
            “We’re already running late.” “I don’t have time.” “I don’t feel like it.”
            Elise would persist with the memory which prompted the promise. “I was in third grade on a field trip. Mrs. Selina called you to come and get me because I threw up. I never even got to go inside the plantation.” Thirteen years later and she could still recite the story.
            That all changed a few days ago. Elise and Victoria wanted to accompany me to a paint store in Covington. In an odd act of preparation, I called the store to check on the hours and discovered it is closed on Mondays. Plan B, if left to my daughters, would have been shopping. Before they could say “Charge,” I made an announcement: lunch and a tour of Destrehan Plantation. It’s part of my Discover Louisiana summer agenda. Fulfilling a promise was an added benefit.
            Do I keep all of my promises? Sadly,  no. However, I serve a Someone Who does. “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through Him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 1:20
            What’s my part? Just to believe. And I do. I don’t know when or even where, and I’m okay with that. God’s timetable is not mine and if I have to wait until Heaven, that’s okay, too. I’ve decided to continue to trust in His faithfulness.
            As we concluded her long-awaited visit, I told Elise, “I think you appreciate the tour more now that you’re older. You probably wouldn’t have understood it 13 years ago.”
            It makes me wonder if God holds a few answers, a few surprises for later in life when they are more appreciated.
Ronny may be reached at

Writing Our Autobiographies

So, what’s the title of your book? C’mon.  Haven’t you thought about it? Dreamed about it? Written a few chapters?
            I think most of us have a book we’d like to write. We should. With all of the experiences we’ve had, people we’ve met, and children we’ve raised, volumes of wit and wisdom abound. We share our lives through phone calls, text messages, coffee shop conversations or Facebook. We’re just a few keystrokes of a computer, or in my case, a pen and a piece of paper, away from writing a book.
            Whether or not we feel we have something to say, and even if we never take the time to commit our thoughts to paper, a book is being written. Our decisions are dictating our actions, while thoughts are often revealed through our speech as our autobiographies are acted out.
            I love the way The Message Bible translates the words Paul wrote to encourage the Christians in Corinth. “Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ Himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives—and we publish it.” (2 Corinthians 3:2,3)
Our books, or rather our lives run the gamut: action, mystery, comedy, or drama. Sometimes there’s a little of each in every chapter. Until then, as we live our lives, our book is being written. When possible, we edit our mistakes. As we grow, our character develops and deepens. Through it all, our life message is read by the world. Despite the opening lines, or the twists and turns of the plot, I know how it ends for the Christian. On the last page, we will triumph through Christ.
If you have the time, opportunity, and desire, write that book. In the meantime, may the theme of our lives remain centered on Psalm 150:6, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, June 13, 2013

What's Your Snail's Name?

Such a temptation. It looks good. So good. Good enough to eat. Barely a moment passes by before the medusa jellyfish consumes the snail. The other creatures in the Bay of Naples could not warn the jellyfish of the consequences of that decision.
            No problem for the snail. Its shell cannot be digested by the jellyfish so it simply attaches itself to the inside of the jellyfish and begins to eat away. Free room and board. The jellyfish travels along, unaware that it is gradually being consumed by yesterday’s snack.
            Interesting story, but unfortunately not one confined to the food chain in the Italian Bay of Naples. Across the globe and present in every segment of society are people slowly being consumed by things they allowed into their lives.
            Sometimes we’re enticed by things we want and think we deserve. We work more to get more, forfeiting family time and financial security while allowing materialism, greed, and debt to eat away at us.
Then there are those dangerous attitudes that seem to crawl around right when someone else’s actions haven’t met our expectations. Anger, bitterness, gossip, all right there, waiting to be gulped. Don’t do it. They’ll just eat you up.
What other snails are there? Oh, so many. Smoking, insecurity, alcohol, worry, drugs, gluttony, selfishness are just some of the self-destructive snails that are easier to swallow than to live with.
Every now and then, it’s good for me to take a little personal inventory and ask myself, Am I allowing anything to consume my life? What’s eating me up?
May we all have the strength to swim past the next temptation.
Ronny may be reached at

Good Morning

            It’s what I’ve prayed for. For years and years. And now that I don’t have a need for it, it’s happened.
            I’m now a morning person.
            I wish it had happened when I was in college. I sure could have used the energy, especially the semester I scheduled daily 8 a.m. classes. Big mistake, yet one from which my children have benefited. My advice to them, which may or may not be the better part of wisdom, has been to schedule classes when you’re most likely to attend. Work with what you’ve got.
            Being an early riser would have also been helpful while raising young children. When they were finally asleep at night, I seemed to get a second wind and had the desire to complete something. Anything. A dress. A wreath. A hair bow. Something I could start and finish. I needed tangible progress since cooking, cleaning, and picking up toys never ended. However, staying up late did not mesh well with children who woke up early.
            And I certainly would have benefited from energy in the mornings during the season I spent teaching. Enter large amounts of caffeine. The first cup of coffee was poured while everyone else slept. I wanted to be awake early enough so that I could pray before the rush of activity began.
Morning prayer has long been a goal (unfortunately, but honestly, not one I had in college.) To compensate for the times I failed, I would grab moments of prayer throughout the day: when the children napped, as I drove, or when I opened my Discover bill. I learned to  snatch prayer time here and there.
            Now that I don’t work, don’t have to wake kids up for school, and still have some time to wait until I’m old enough to attend college free, I’ve become a morning person. Whether it’s a habit or just part of the aging process, I’m enjoying it.
            I love having a quiet time to read, pray, and ponder the day before me. In addition, I’ve clung to the small, yet fervent whispers of prayer I learned to shoot to Heaven whenever a need crossed my mind. So now,  as I alter Brooke’s dress, I pray for the young woman who grew up down the street and into my heart. When a character in a fictional novel reminds me of my brother,  I close the book and intercede for Matt. As Victoria walks out of the house with her car keys in her hand… well, if you’re a parent of a teenager you can fill in that blank.
            Various translations of 1 Thessalonians 5:17 offer the same message. “Pray without ceasing.” “ Pray continually.” “Pray all the time.”  Praying throughout the day, not just in church or at a specific time, keeps my focus on God. And that’s another thing I’ve prayed for.
 Ronny may be reached at