Friday, April 25, 2014

Thermometers? Thermostats?

It’s not a difficult decision. With the arrival of warmer days comes the need to turn on the air conditioner. In our family that begins the battle to control the thermostat.
On a typical day, a family member walks into the house, turns off the ceiling fan, and adjusts the thermostat. In response, I say, “Get a jacket,” while I turn the fan and air conditioner back on, and threaten to install a lock box over the wonderful temperature-regulating device. The exercise reminds me of a question a preacher once posed, “Are you a thermometer or a thermostat?”
A thermometer simply reports the temperature of the atmosphere, its mercury rising and falling accordingly; while a thermostat sets the temperature.
A thermometer Christian gauges the atmosphere of the room then adjusts his opinions, language and attitude to reflect the majority. His actions mirror that of the group. Thermometer Christians conform to their surroundings.
In comparison, a thermostat Christian changes the environment. He does not fluctuate or compromise his values regardless of who is present. Additionally, the thermostat Christian maintains a cool head even among hot tempers. Thermostat Christians transform their surroundings.
Without a connection to a power source, an air conditioner’s thermostat is ineffective. Thermostat Christians, people who desire to change the atmosphere of a home, workplace, school, or world know they must remain connected to God, the source of all power. Their ability to remain steadfast even if all around them shifts comes from the One referred to in Jeremiah 32:17, “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” Jeremiah 32:17
So, are you a thermometer Christian or a thermostat Christian? It shouldn’t be a difficult decision.
Ronny may be reached at

Friday, April 11, 2014

Facing Life

What should I write about this week? I have a note pad filled with thoughts and ideas all given their own page, to which I occasionally add a few lines at a time. Hours, days, or weeks later, something else will happen that seamlessly ties into the story and it weaves itself into a column. I don’t understand the process and have never tried to figure it out.
On one page of my note pad is a list of responses to my girls as they’ve walked through various relationships. Not enough time has gone by for that page to be revealed. Besides, I’ll probably never get permission from all four daughters. A novella published under a pen name may be my only choice.
But this week is different. I want to share something I read a few days ago when I picked up The Word for You Today devotional. It continues to roll over in my heart, taking on a greater dimension every time I think about it. If you’ve never had a struggle, trial, problem, or child (just kidding, pun intended) you won’t be able to relate to the rest of this column.  
When you face something that stops you in your tracks, sociologists claim you will handle it in one of two ways. You will give up or grow up. Giving up is easy, but dangerous for it begins a cycle often difficult to break. Yielding to the choice of facing the situation, developing the character to deal with the difficulty, and growing stronger in the struggle causes a person to grow up.
Noela Evans writes, “Challenge is a dragon with a gift in its mouth. Tame the dragon and the gift is yours.” For each of us, the dragon is different, as is the gift. The gift resulting from your challenge may be a college degree, job, health, budget in the black, restored relationship, or sobriety.
May we all have the courage to face our challenges and find strength in the words of Isaiah 41:10,“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
Ronny may be reached at

Friday, April 4, 2014


            Although I missed the opportunity to travel to Bellingrath Gardens last week, a visit to my sister-in-law Monica’s home made up for it. Her azaleas are in full bloom beautifully signaling the arrival of spring.
I’m ready to add a few flowers to my own landscape, but other than hanging baskets, I’ll wait until after Easter. Why? First of all, it’s just easier. Every Easter Sunday there is an egg hunt at my home. The children who once ran across the lawn in search of additional candy to add to their baskets have produced little ones eager to do the same. It’s more fun for everyone if I’m not worried about new flowers getting trampled.
The second and most important reason is because it’s what my Maw Maw Jello taught me. She was the person who instilled in me a love of all things outdoors. In one of my earliest memories of her, she is kneeling next to me, showing me the difference between a weed and a flower. She taught me to throw used coffee grounds and egg shells on azaleas, to plant when the sun first begins its’ descent, and to always wait until after Easter before adding new flowers to the garden. So I do. It’s tradition.
            It’s also tradition that my daughter Elise and I plant at least one Gerber daisy, the favorite flower of my grandfather, who died four years before I was born. This week, in honor of the only person I still miss despite never meeting, I’ll plant a Gerber daisy.
            Tradition. My family is full of them and I only hope to add to our collection. I believe traditions solidify the family and provide a firm foundation for future memories. Traditions are also avenues for preserving a family’s history.
            I regret that I didn’t preserve my grandmother’s memories of her family by writing them down, and I hope that my children do not make the same mistake. I hope that they are paying close attention to the stories that they are privileged to hear. They have had access to my late father-in-law’s eye witness account of many of the battles of World War II and the childhood experiences of both sets of their grandparents. My goal is to begin a new tradition of capturing these many, many stories in print.
            J. S. Bryan said, “Many men can make a fortune, but few can build a family.”
If you visit St. Peter’s Cemetery this spring, you’ll find Gerber daisies at the grave of Louis and Mae Keller. They didn’t build a fortune, but a family rich with memories and traditions invaluable to this writer.

Ronny may be reached at