Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Geoffrey and Ashley

The day was a blur, and not just because an eye condition left me without my contact lenses.
            Twenty-eight years of praying for a wife for Geoffrey, my only son, ended on November 23, his wedding day. Why did I begin praying for a wife for my tiny (10 pound) baby boy? Because I wanted her, whoever she was, wherever she was, to be nurtured, protected, and eventually prepared for marriage to my son.
            Geoffrey has been an absolute joy to raise. He is intelligent, kind, quick-witted and has maintained emotional stability throughout the many moods of his four sisters. Simply put, he sails on the Sea of Tranquility. His words are few, but wisely well-chosen, and when he speaks, his sisters pay attention. However, parties are not on his list of priorities.
            Far more practical than I , he reserves his time and energy on the practice of the law and sports. I don’t think he has ever understood the need his sisters and I have for fellowship with others, food and fun. Ashley Schwertz changed that.
            For weeks she was a mystery. Geoffrey’s sisters picked up on tiny clues which would have gone unnoticed by most. Their internet stalking reached new heights as they dug to uncover bits of information about the young lady their brother had been dating. Finally, on Lauren’s birthday, she asked her brother for one thing: to meet his girlfriend. Being the brother he is, Geoffrey fulfilled Lauren’s only request. And the rest is our family’s history.
            The many preparations leading to Geoffrey and Ashley’s wedding day produced a beautiful event: a ceremony lovingly performed by Geoffrey’s grandfather and a reception thoroughly enjoyed by the family and friends who gathered to celebrate the couple’s marriage.
            It was joy to watch Geoffrey smile and laugh and dance!  I think he finally realized the importance of celebrations and why I place such an importance on them. Despite expectations, life sometimes includes rocky places, disappointing circumstances, and quite a few lemons. So we make lemonade, persevere, and wipe each other’s tears. But when something wonderful happens, like Geoffrey and Ashley’s wedding, I believe in joyous celebrations.
            Even without my contact lenses, it was clear to see that Geoffrey and Ashley thoroughly enjoyed their first day as man and wife.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, November 21, 2013

32 years...

Thirty-two years.
            I have been married for thirty-two years.
How can it feel like I’ve always been married, yet also feel as though the years have flown by? In the oddest celebration yet for us, Michael and I spent most of our anniversary apart, going in different directions for a shared purpose, our children.
Michael picked up the rented attire for our son Geoffrey’s wedding, and I headed to Thibodaux with Elise to get the cap and gown she’ll wear in next month’s graduation.
As we walked the narrow street on the side of  Nicholl’s bookstore, Elise was on the verge of tears when she said, “I don’t want to graduate. I don’t want college to end. I just want to put my four years on repeat over and over.”
While she was busy holding back tears, I thought of my own days on the familiar campus and all that had transpired since my own college days. Never did I imagine what the future held.
Despite the undeniable rough roads we’ve traveled, I’m grateful for my husband and each of the five children we were blessed to raise. And I really and truly mean it when I say that Michael and I had a wonderful 32nd anniversary even though our bathtub leaked through the ceiling of the living room and we had to fix the brakes on one child’s car. We were too busy with wedding preparations to dine out and chose leftovers and takeout.  Personally, it was my favorite way to celebrate: actively involved with my children during the day, sharing our stories with Michael in the evening, storing away the memories at night, then praying for the strength to do it all again tomorrow.
With regards to our marriage, we’ve had better and we’ve had worse. We’ve endured sickness, and we’ve enjoyed health. We’ve been richer, and we’ve been poorer. And, thirty-two years later, we still meet hurdles. We still ask God for help, and He still meets us where we are, and shows us how to get to where we need to be. I pray that it will be this way, until death parts us.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, November 7, 2013

What are you crying out loud?

            It was a terrible condition.
            The disease which isolated its victims didn’t travel alone, for the mention of the word brought fear, dread, and despair. As soon as the first white patches appeared on the skin, terror swept through the unfortunate and his entire family. Leprosy.
            The leper was sent away, forever, without a kiss, a handshake, a hug, or even a pat on the back. No touching allowed. In addition, the leper was to tear his clothes, wear his hair loose and unbrushed, cover the lower part of his face, and cry out, “Unclean! Unclean!” should he ever come near the healthy. Doomed to a miserable existence difficult to call a life, lepers were forced to dwell outside of the community.
            Enter Jesus.
            Ten lepers saw Him. Despite their instructions, their past shouts of “Unclean!” and their present condition, they “called out in a loud voice, ‘Jesus, Master, have pity on us!’” (Luke 17:13.) Right here, in the middle of this scene, I want to make a note to pay attention to my vocabulary. To watch the things that come out of my mouth. To move from complaining to positive, faith-filled declarations. To realize my words frame my future. To move my eyes and my words from present conditions and look to Jesus for help. However, I don’t want to miss the end of the story.
            Jesus sent them to the priests to be declared clean, and they were cleansed on the way. “One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him… Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?’” (Luke 17:15-17)
            Before returning to his family and running into his now bright future, the grateful man bowed in worship to the One whose words changed everything.
            In a month dedicated to Thanksgiving, I want to follow in the steps of the grateful leper, bow at the feet of Jesus, and thank Him for all He has done. It’s a little easier this month, when my Facebook friends are daily posting their blessings. My personal challenge is maintaining continual appreciation and living with an attitude of gratitude.
            Now that’s a wonderful condition.                                  
Ronny may be reached at

Friday, November 1, 2013

Looking Up

            I would have missed it had I not looked up.
            I had taken the four hour trip to Natchitoches for my daughter Lauren to see the house where her favorite movie was filmed. My sister-in-law Vicki met us there and we watched Lauren walk the grounds of the Steel Magnolia Bed and Breakfast, video the rooms, and nap on the edge of the pool before we decided to test out the swing and rockers on the front porch. And that’s when, in mid conversation, a substantial bird’s nest caught my eye.
            It was high up on a beam under the protection of the porch. A cool, shaded spot in the middle of a still hot Fall day. A dry place if the clouds decided to release their rain. A safe, well-built haven tucked in a quiet spot of a house that over the years has welcomed nineteenth century businessmen, family, friends, doctors, nurses, wounded soldiers, and even Hollywood stars who descended upon the oldest town in Louisiana to bring Robert Harling’s play, Steel Magnolias, to the screen.
            While there is little for me to relate to in that beautiful Southern Bed and Breakfast, I could instantly identify with the bird in the nest on the porch. From now on, whenever I read Psalm 84:3,4, I will think  of that moment when I looked up and saw it.  “Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young - a place near your altar, O Lord Almighty my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.” Psalm 84:3,4.
            Like the sparrow, I seek a place to land. An escape from the heat of a trial, chill of a loss, a drought or flood of emotions. I need a place of safety to sort through the things life sometimes throws at me, a refuge, a quiet spot to let healing begin. I need a nesting place and I have found it in my early morning quiet moments before God.
I would have missed it had I not looked up to Him.