Thursday, December 18, 2014


           I’ve spent two Christmases away from home. The first time I was 33 years old and receiving chemotherapy in an isolation room in Houston’s M. D. Anderson hospital. My husband Michael was home with our four young children, and my dad flew to Houston, courtesy of Anne and Emile Bergeron, to spend Christmas Day with me. No one knew he didn’t have the money for a hotel, so thankfully his plan to sleep on the sofa in the hospital’s lobby worked out. We spent Christmas Day visiting through the glass window that sealed me in a sterile environment. I know, I know, so far it sounds sad, but hang on, it really wasn’t.
          We talked, laughed, prayed, and paused as I received Christmas calls from far too many people to name. While on the phone, I watched as he either read the Bible or ate from the cookie-filled shoe box that a friend had dropped off. Although we were without the comforts of home, or the company of family and friends, we had a really great day. It was so very peaceful. I wasn’t depressed, angry, or visited by self-pity. I was alive. My family was healthy and safe, and I was secure in the knowledge of God’s infinite love and His ability to perform the miraculous.
          The second time I spent Christmas outside of Louisiana was a little farther north. At the time, my daughter Elise was twelve years old and dreamed to walk the crowded streets of New York City. She had never dreamed of becoming ill. How odd that a dreaded disease would somehow give way to the fulfillment of a dream.
          After bravely enduring chemotherapy treatment for lymphoma, she was contacted by the Make A Wish Foundation which grants wishes to children diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses. When she shared her wish to visit New York, her father suggested Disney World instead. “Daddy,” she replied, “I’ve been there, and that’s a place you and Mom will take us again. I don’t think you’ll ever plan a trip to New York.” (Besides being brave, Elise was also very wise.)
          Although we tried to imagine what it would be like, none of us were prepared for the actual adventure of New York City at Christmastime. We toured the city and marveled at the sights we had only seen in pictures and on television. As we walked to view the tree at Rockefeller Center, the young man on the side of us dropped to one knee and proposed to his very excited girlfriend. We went to the top of the Empire State Building, visited Central Park, Times Square, Fifth Avenue, saw a Broadway play, and didn’t let the freezing rain stop us from running around the Statue of Liberty. We were excited and determined to do and see as much as we could, but were unprepared for the emotions we felt as we stood at Ground Zero and re-lived the September 11th tragedy.
          On Christmas Day, we sat very near to the front of the stage at Radio City Music Hall and watched the Christmas Spectacular, a show beyond our expectations, especially the conclusion with the dramatic living Nativity scene. As we exited Radio City Music Hall, it began to snow.  Elise walked ahead of us, confidently navigating the crowd. Although I couldn’t speak, my heart exploded  as I watched my daughter experience her dream of walking the crowded streets of New York City, and I thanked God that my wish, my prayer, my daily plea for her life, had also been granted.
          This Christmas will be spent at home, with lots of people and presents and food. However, in the midst of all the activity, my heart will beat with the rhythms of peace, faith and gratitude that I learned through my two out-of-town Christmas experiences.
          No matter where we are, or who we’re with, Christmas Day and every day, may we be found utterly dependent upon, and thoroughly grateful to our God Who "so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Christmas is Coming

           “Tree goes outside.” My granddaughter Olivia is quite confused as to why her normally sane parents would haul a large tree into their home and cover it with lights and ornaments.
            Monique, her mom, needs to tell her, “Because Christmas is coming Olivia, that’s why. It’s also why I  bring you to the store to see if there’s an Olivia-sized bicycle for your grandmother to buy since she insists on giving you one for Christmas.”
            It’s true. I want to give her a bicycle because I’m giving one to my other granddaughter, Adeline.  Monique wants me to give Olivia a 17-piece musical instrument set.
            “She loves music,” Monique said.
            “You’re having another baby in March and you want Olivia running around the house with 17 noisemakers?” I asked.
            “Well, no,” she said and continued the bicycle search.
             While scholars argue the actual birth date, I am quite content to celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25th. The end of the year is a wonderful time to remember the fulfillment of God’s promise, the birth of our Savior. Although trees, lights and gifts have become a part of that celebration, may we never lose sight of that first Christmas season.
             Life must have looked pretty good to Mary before the angel’s visit. Her engagement to Joseph was likely the fulfillment of her dream. Then the Holy Spirit surrounded her, the power of God overshadowed her, and Jesus, the Word in flesh, was implanted in her. Her dream was about to take on incredible new dimensions. The Word inside of her caused her to grow, but not just physically. He changed her plans and challenged the thinking of those with whom she was in contact.
            A few months later, while most of the world was sleeping, she brought forth Life when Jesus, the Light of the word, was humbly born in a stable. The One Who had already changed her was about to shake the community and eventually the world.
           Although the story of Jesus’ life on Earth begins with Christmas, it doesn’t end there. He didn’t remain in the manger. Jesus grew, led a sinless life as He taught, healed, delivered and loved. He then became the ultimate sacrifice when He willingly died on the cross for our sins.
           Every time I reflect on the first Christmas, I am challenged. Have I made room in my heart for Jesus? Will I allow Him to change me, enlarge my vision and challenge my thoughts? And do the people around me know about that first Christmas?
           Just as in the time of Mary, there are many people living good lives, dreaming good dreams and making commonsense plans. But do they know the entire Christmas story of the Greatest Gift?
           I think Olivia’s right. We should take the tree outside; take the celebration of Jesus out of the confinement of our homes and into our communities. And Olivia will lead the way with 17 instruments.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thirty-three years and Counting

            “I always cry at weddings,” said the twenty-six-year-old visiting our home.
            “Me, too!” his friend immediately agreed. “How can you not weep at a wedding?”
            Had she been home, my daughter Victoria could have chimed in, “I sobbed throughout Monique’s wedding and used up all of the tissues I had stuffed in my bridesmaid’s bouquet.”
            “I used to cry at weddings before I was married,” I added. “Now I just sit there, smile and pray that the couple knows what they are doing and that they remember the vows they are taking.”
            This month will mark the thirty-third year Michael and I have been married. How can it seem like we’ve been married forever and also feel as though the years have quickly flown by? But back to the wedding vows.
            Michael and I wrote our own vows which I hope to have saved somewhere. It would be interesting to see if we’ve kept those promises. The only promise I know that he broke was one he made when we discussed whether or not we would wed. I had finished college, moved back home, was anticipating my first year of teaching, and unsure about marriage. When pressed on the subject, I summarized my hesitancy with, “I don’t like to cook.”
            His response should have been my clue that his future would not be in engineering, but sales. “If you marry me, I will cook every day.” To his credit, he has been faithful to a few things we didn’t think to put into our vows.
            Michael always heard our babies cry. Each and every time they woke up during the night, he would go to get them and bring them to bed for me to nurse.
            He took care of me, too. At the time I felt very old, but I was only thirty-three. Michael navigated my 117 pound, bald body through eleven months of chemotherapy. Let’s move on.
            My husband continues to encourage my dreams for the future and helps me in the present to prepare for the family and friends I love to welcome into our home. We never dreamed of all of the precious souls God would choose to enrich our lives.
            With regards to traditional vows, we’ve had better and worse, richer and poorer. We’ve endured sickness, and we’ve enjoyed health. And, thirty-three years later, we still encounter hurdles,  continue to ask God for help, and He faithfully 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 13, 2014

Dr. Myles Munroe

            You may have heard about the death of Dr. Myles Munroe, a Bahamas pastor, author, lecturer, teacher, life coach, government consultant and leadership mentor. During his lifetime, he was invited to over 80 nations to address government bodies, business leaders, universities and religious organizations.
            What you may not know is that one of the many places he accepted a speaking engagement was Reserve Christian Church in Reserve, La. It was there that I was first introduced to Dr. Munroe and have never forgotten his message.
           “The wealthiest places in the world are not the gold mines of South America or the oil fields of Iraq or Iran. They are not the diamond mines of South Africa or the banks of the world.
The wealthiest place on the planet is just down the road. It is the cemetery. There lies buried companies that were never started, inventions that were never made, best-selling books that were never written, and masterpieces that were never painted. In the cemetery is buried the greatest treasure of untapped potential.”
            Whatever your gift is, use it, share it with your world and encourage others to do the same. I believe we greatly honor God when we put the gifts He’s given us to use.
            Dr. Munroe was once asked about his mission in life. He said that he wanted to help people to become all they were born to be and to discover who they were in Christ. Quoting Ephesians 3:20, he praised God “Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work with us.” Munroe continued, “The power for you to be successful is not in your teachers, government or society. God put the power in you. I was born to transform followers into leaders and leaders into agents of change.”
            Dr. Munroe is also quoted as saying, “The value of life is not in its duration, but in its donation. You are not important because of how long you live, you are important because of how effective you live. And most people are concerned about growing old rather than being effective.” As the author or co-author of more than 100 books, study guides and audio tapes, Munroe’s life will continue to enrich our world.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Sweet Reminders

            Let me make one thing crystal clear – I don’t like to cook. It’s just not on my list of favorites, which is funny because ‘eating’ definitely made the cut. Also awarded a place in my priorities, even higher than eating and trying to invent new holidays for reasons to dine out, is helping my children. That explains why I offered to cook for my daughter Elise.
          She was invited to a potluck dinner and didn’t have time to prepare a dish. I quickly convinced her to let me cook something to bring. I thumbed through a rarely used recipe book, chose a shrimp and pasta dish, grabbed my car keys, and headed to the store.
          My mom will now have to stop reading for a moment to catch her breath. She never tries a new recipe on others until she has practiced it first. Only when it meets her approval, will she cook another batch to serve. I’d be lying if I said I don’t have time for that. I’d also be lying if I said I taste the food as I cook. None of this is my mom’s fault. She tried.
         Back to my shrimp dish. I assembled the ingredients and fired up the range. Shrimp, butter, seasonings, cream, and cheese were all getting along and blending to form an aromatic dish. The recipe also called for flour, so I grabbed a canister, and removed the pan from the heat before adding it (to avoid lumps). I hesitated for a moment, shrugged, scooped and stirred in the new ingredient. At this point I entertained the foreign-to-me idea to taste.
         It was so sweet! Adding powdered sugar to sauce does that. I tried liberal doses of salt, garlic powder and crab boil which helped, but never masked the sweetness. I started all over.
        Yes, the addition of sugar changes a dish just as the words we speak change situations. Proverbs 16:24 is as clear about that as I am about my feelings toward cooking. “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” A kind word can invigorate, strengthen and turn a person’s day around. It’s a practice I highly recommend and sincerely appreciate when I am on the receiving end.  My little powdered sugar/flour mix-up was a great reminder of the power of words.
        I learned a couple of other lessons that day. From now on, I will pay more attention to what I’m doing and I will always be prepared. I’ve already got a plan.
        The next time Elise asks me to cook for her, I’ll tell her that it’s National Order Your Kid A Meal for their Friend’s Potluck day.
Ronny may be reached at