Monday, December 5, 2016

Don't Trip over your Messes

            She didn’t do it on purpose, but when my granddaughter Adeline spilled the green, plastic ornament hangers on the floor next to the tree, I asked her to pick them up. I guess that’s a lot to ask of a four-year-old who is focused on finding just the right spot for each bright, shiny ornament.
Before I could stoop to pick up the pile of small, tangled wires, Adeline spun around, took a step, and slipped on it. Fortunately she didn’t grab onto the tree as she went down. As I bent to pick up the child and the mess, I thought, “You trip over stuff you don’t clean up.”
Whether it’s spilled milk, extension cords left in the middle of the floor (over which my granddaughter Olivia tripped), or words that should have been left unsaid, messes need attention. And I’ve learned that if I was the one who created the mess, I need to initiate the clean-up.
With regards to relationships, rather than ask for, or grant, forgiveness to the person involved, it’s often tempting to talk to others about a sticky situation. Whether it’s accidental or intentional, if I’ve created the mess or I’m just near to it, I want to be part of the solution, not the problem. To ignore it is to invite continued trouble.
            Paul’s instructions to early Christians is still valid. “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:17, 18
This Christmas season, the season of giving, I’m taking a good look at my heart to see if there’s any mess that needs to be straightened out.
Ronny may be reached at

It's OK to Pray

           When something goes wrong, either my husband or I begin the list. You know, the one where you list all the good things that are in your life in an effort to put the problem into perspective. Some have begun with:
            “At least we’re healthy.”
            “It’s not the compressor this time. The air conditioner will be fixed this afternoon.”
            “We know many people who have endured things far worse.”
            We only need to watch a few minutes of the news and learn of local and worldwide problems that make our own seem trivial. While I believe that we should keep running gratitude lists, I don’t think that they should prevent us from praying for our own needs – the great and the small.
            In the Bible I read that God has numbered the hairs on my head, records my tears in a bottle, and has engraved my name on the palm of His hand. God is concerned about the details of our lives, and is never too busy to listen to our prayers. In fact, He want to hear them, and the instructions of Philippians 4:6 are clear. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
            So enlarge your prayer list, add the needs of others as well as your own, and as God answers your prayers, your list of blessings will grow as well.  
 Ronny may be reached at

Living Wills

            Every Monday at 6 p.m. is Family Dinner at my house. My children and their spouses take turns choosing what I cook, which means the menu is vastly different each week. So is the conversation.
The only consistent thing I hear is my daughter Monique saying, “My kids aren’t this loud or active at home. Only here.” My son Geoffrey has suggested we move Family Dinner to her house, but she hasn’t offered yet.
            I can usually flow with any topic of conversation, but I wasn’t prepared for my daughter Elise’s first words when she walked into my kitchen a few weeks ago.
            “Tonight we’re all deciding our power of attorney,” she said. “And we all need living wills.”
            “Can I just take the lasagna out of the oven?” I said. “Let’s not talk about this now.”
            “There’s never a good time to bring up the subject so let’s just get it out of the way,” she said. “In a medical emergency, do you want extreme measures taken? Do you want to be resuscitated? Do you want a feeding tube?”
            “Well, I certainly don’t want to be hungry,” I said. “So yes to a feeding tube. Lasagna’s ready.”
            “Geoffrey,” Elise said. “You can be my power of attorney.”
            “Shouldn’t that be your husband?” Geoffrey said.
            “Oh, no,” Elise said. “He’s too sensitive. He’ll never let me go.”
            “Nobody pick me,” my daughter Lauren said. “I’ll keep y’all alive forever.”
            “Geoffrey, you’re going to be busy,” I said, after everyone selected him.
            “Not at all,” he said. “I’ll make the decisions very quickly.”
            And we laughed, ate, dodged the granddaughters as they ran screaming through the kitchen, and forgot about our earlier conversation.
            But Elise is right. We don’t mind talking about the details of our lives, and we anticipate the Heavenly home that God has prepared, yet speaking about end of life issues makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Me included.
            My driver’s license has made it clear that once I’m gone, my usable organs should go to someone in need. But I do need to make my wishes clear regarding medical directives, and although this didn’t come up that night at Family Dinner, I need to make a will. Mine will be short. It will simply read, “Sorry, but while I was alive, I spent as I went.”
Ronny may be reached at