Friday, September 27, 2013

One Last Time

            I forgot.
            Navigating through the traffic to get there, circling the lot for a parking spot, moving from room to room for her to have tests run, back to the clinic to wait for the doctor, and not once did I remember the importance of the day.
            Dr. Yu entered the room, smiled and said, “Elise, this is the last time I get to see you at Children’s.”
            Then I remembered. The hospital services children from birth through 21 years of age. Elise’s 22nd birthday brings a halt to the excellent care she has received at that facility.
            Over the past 11 years, Children’s Hospital has been the launching pad for many pleas for help. Those prayers haven’t been limited to concerns about Elise, but for fellow patients, children being wheeled down the hallways, and parents wishing for good test results. I can’t walk through that place without my heart being tugged in many different directions.
            After our visit with Dr. Yu, there was one more scan for Elise to get. We waited the few minutes it took for her to be called in, and as soon as the scan was completed we bolted for the door.
            Our feet had barely touched the parking lot pavement when the wail of an approaching ambulance caught our attention. It passed us on its way to the Emergency Room. Just that quickly I was back in time 11 years ago when I rode in an ambulance with Elise on that same route. The memory of that experience raced through my mind as I thought, our journey has ended, but someone else’s is just beginning. And there, right there behind Children’s Hospital, I thanked God for my child and prayed for the one now arriving.
            In 2 Corinthians 1:3,4 Paul offers praise to God, “who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”  I vividly remember the many people God used to provide strength and encouragement to us during our time at Children’s. I hope I never forget.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Stephen Ford

Dear God,
            Down here, it’s still difficult to believe he’s gone. I would have loved to view the scene in Heaven when Stephen Ford flew in Friday. Stephen packed so much life into the 28 years You gave him. In the words of my son Geoffrey, he was “funny, brave, hardworking, smart and fought a courageous battle.”
            Stephen was like a brother to Geoffrey. They were together from elementary through high school. They played countless games of football, basketball, and baseball, and enjoyed the company of a close-knit group of friends. It never bothered me that Geoffrey spent so much time at the Ford’s home. Stephen’s parents, Gary and Karen, are two of the greatest models of authentic Christianity I know. You have abundantly blessed our family with amazing friends.
            Seven years ago, Geoffrey stood in Stephen’s wedding. Stephen moved his young wife Krista to Georgia to be near the two sisters he loved so much. Karen and Gary joined them and as the years passed, many little blessings were added to the Ford family. Geoffrey has always admired the love and devotion Stephen had for his wife, his son, and his two daughters. Stephen’s huge heart also held dear his parents, sisters, brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews.  Stephen was scheduled to walk in Geoffrey’s wedding. Now, on Geoffrey and Ashley’s special day in November, one bridesmaid will walk alone, for no one can replace Stephen Ford.
            I’m sure I speak for many when I say that Stephen’s four month battle against cancer did not end the way we wanted it to end. Left behind are family, friends, and so many questions. Questions I can’t even begin to ask. It’s not because You can’t handle my questions, Lord, it’s because I can’t. They do not fit into the frame I’ve created for You, or me, or life as I know it. My thinking is too finite; my understanding too limited. And even if You answered my first question, it would lead to another, then another and, well, I’ve chosen a different route.
            I’ve buried my questions on that little hill in Hoschton, Georgia, where Stephen’s earthly remains were laid to rest. I am so grateful for the life of Stephen Ford and the impact his life had on my family. I praise You for the blanket of grace You have placed around the Fords as they walk through this difficult time. I honor You for the strength and dignity bestowed on that precious family as they worship and trust You to provide comfort.
            Thank You, God, for reminding me of John 20:29. Thomas needed to see the risen Jesus, place his finger where the nails were, put his hand in Jesus’ side to believe. Jesus complied with Thomas’ request and said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
            I have not seen Jesus, yet I believe in the power of the Cross and His triumph over death.
            I did not see Stephen’s healing manifested on earth, but I fully believe his life continues in Heaven where he is whole, healed, alive, grinning that Stephen grin, and freely worshipping You.
            I did not witness Stephen’s entrance into eternity, yet I believe.
Loving You forever,

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Saints in Circulation

I don’t know much about Lord Oliver Cromwell, however I read something about him that held a very important lesson for me. During his reign, coin production was threatened due to a shortage of silver. Men were sent to a local Cathedral in search of this precious metal. They reported that the only silver was in the statues standing in the corners of the Cathedral. Lord Cromwell responded, “Good. We’ll melt down the saints and put them in circulation!”
            I like his theology.
            What does it mean to be a saint melted and in circulation?  I believe it means that you have allowed the heat of trials to mold you into a better, more patient, less judgmental person. You then search for ways to invest in the lives of others by becoming involved in your community and responding to the needs there.  
It means that you are not afraid to speak of God outside of the confines of the church. When someone asks for prayer, you don’t just say that you will, you really pray. 
I know saints who are in circulation. You probably do, too. They coach the little league teams because they want to be a positive example to the children. They volunteer at the hospitals or schools. They open the doors to their homes and the gates to their pools so that their children’s friends have a place to hangout.
Saints in circulation don’t have their Christian lives neatly separated from their secular interests. They believe that wherever they go, they represent Christ and are unashamed to speak of Him. They bring their convictions to the sales meetings, the job sites, and even on vacation.
            You might run into them at DisneyWorld or the Sandwich World; Popeye’s or PJ’s. They are the ones who take the time to smile, offer an encouraging word, and slow down to listen if you need to talk.
            Appearing in church on Sunday mornings and maintaining your best behavior for a couple of hours is not that much of a challenge. Walking through the exit doors and into the world is where the test begins.

Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Elise's Mattress

I typically receive permission from my children before writing about them. Today is no exception. Elise is full of surprises and her immediate approval of this column shocked me.
            The Michel’s Summer of 2013 held highs and lows, beginnings and endings, and a spontaneous mattress purchase. Elise was in the middle of a stressful summer school class when I asked if she wanted to go furniture shopping for Victoria.
She began talking as soon as we picked her up. “Victoria’s getting new furniture for college and I’m sleeping on an old mattress. I’ve never had a new mattress.”
            “Elise, you’ve had new mattresses,” I said, quickly chronicling her mattress and bedroom furniture history.
            “Well, I don’t remember any of that. Anyway, I read that old mattresses can have dust mites. You know I’m allergic to dust mites. I woke up with a headache this morning, probably because my mattress has dust mites.”
            “Did you take your allergy medicine?”
            “I don’t like to take it.”
            I continued to drive the thankfully short distance to the furniture store. As soon as we were greeted by the sales force, I asked to see the mattresses. “Which of these can be delivered  tomorrow afternoon?”
            A few keystrokes of his computer later, the salesman responded, “I have both of these in stock.”
            “Elise, which one is more comfortable?”
            “I can’t sit on a mattress in public.”
            “I’ll take this one,” I said pointing to a pillow-topped model while turning to Elise. “After class tomorrow you will sit in your condo and wait until it’s delivered.”
            I quickly found Victoria, “Do you see anything you like?”
            “I’m afraid to buy something with Elise here.”
            Returning to the car, I had one more thing to say, “Elise, in the future, would you please phrase all requests in the form of a question. It would take less time and emotional energy, yet  produce the same result.
            And like so many other times in my life, the experience had a dual purpose. I can wish and hope and whine and complain. Or I can pray and simply ask God to release the answers I seek. From now on, reading Matthew 7:7, “Ask and it will be given to you,” will remind of Elise.
            Now she needs a dresser. I’ll just order the same type I bought for Victoria. Elise will just love that!
Ronny may be reached at