Tuesday, September 13, 2016

MRI's... Unemployment... And our "New Normal."

"New normal" is an interesting concept.  Is it really a thing?  There was a day I never thought our "new" would ever feel "normal" after Jon's surgery.  But a few years in, and life goes on.  Or so I thought.

I'm sitting here in Starbucks, with my stomach in knots.  Not because of one thing in particular, but because of a lot of things in general.  There are a lot of question marks in our life.  I've learned that question marks frustrate me.  I want the life with the beautiful, gigantic, shiny bow.  Heck, I'll even settle for a pretty little bow.  A tiny one.  But for the love of all things, just give me a blasted bow.  But nope.  Just when I feel like the bow might be getting tied, one of the ends get pulled and it unravels.  Square one.  Start another "new normal."

1 year ago, Jon left church ministry to sign on to work for a friend of ours at his non-profit.  It was a year commitment, with hopes from both sides, for it to be a much longer partnership.  However, as is often the case with privately funded non-profits, there just wasn't funding to sustain his position beyond this year.  So 2 weeks ago, after an awesome season with a dear friend, Jon ended his year there.  Insert big fat question mark.  Ok God, what now?  3 years ago, I was confident that if Jon needed a job, he could get one in an instant.  He had been a full time worship leader for 16 years and was constantly contacted by churches with job offers.  It wasn't uncommon for him to receive several calls or emails in a month, asking him to prayerfully consider coming on to "so and so church" staff.  But that was what seems like a lifetime ago.   A life where his degree in music, his experience in music, his passion for music all worked together for his employment.  Now that's off the table.  Ground zero is a scary place.  There are a ton of rabbit trails.  Which should we pursue?  How do you start over at age 40?  Where's my blasted bow?

Tonight,  Jon goes in for his big MRI.  The MRI that reveals the state of his brain tumor.  Has it grown?  Is it the same?  Did a miracle happen and it's gone?  MRI's are often The Trigger for some emotional unraveling for me.  We all have Triggers.  You see That Person that triggers That Feeling.  You read That Email that triggers That Emotion.  You see That Post that triggers That Hurt.  Triggers are all around us.  And one of mine is when Jon gets called in for tests.  What if?  So. Many. Question. Marks.  

So I sit here and surrender My Plans once again.  I sit here and watch God care for even the birds outside.  I feel a twinge of comfort.  Then I click on my blog and read from 2013.  And 2014. And 2015.  God is not going to stop being faithful now.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  My "new normal?"  Not so much.  My "new normal" has yet to be consistent.

"So I fix my eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."   THAT is my "new normal."

Now where's my blasted bow....  ;)

Monday, May 9, 2016

Twas the Day After Mother's Day...


Twas the day after Mother’s Day
And all through the house
Every room was a disaster and I had a poo stain on my blouse.

The kids were all crying and fighting like crazy
While yesterday’s amazing memories
Became faded and hazy.   

The day before had been loving and sweet
Breakfast in bed, homemade cards
It was a mini retreat.  

I had relaxed and slept in a whole extra hour,
And even shaved my legs 
In a long, steamy shower.  

I was told “Mom, I love you!  
You’re really the best”
About 1 million times until I laid my head to rest.

Then sometime between “good night” and “good morning” 
All bets were off - 
Without any type of warning.

I woke to whining, crying
And spills on the floor
And in my 30 second shower, there were 17 knocks on my door. 

Kid 1 and Kid 2
Bickered and fought throughout the day
While Kid 3 and Kid 4 chose not to obey

Our trip to Target
Was one for the books
Spilled slushees, smashed fingers, and lots of strangers giving “looks.”

But nothing compared 
To our dinner at CPK
“I can smell your butt from here!” is what my 3 year old chose to loudly say.

Did I mention my husband 
Is out of town until late?
He *might* be coming home to a wife in an “unhealthy state.” 

But the kids now are in bed
So no need to freak out
I just needed to keep it real with a good vent and a pout. 

I treasure the memories
Of yesterday’s glory

And hold on to the promise of 364 days until another “perfect day” story.  


Friday, May 6, 2016

The One Thing EVERY Mom Wants on Mother's Day.. And it's Not What You Think...

"Give her the day off."
"Do something active together."
"Send her to the spa."
"Don't send her to the spa, it's too crowded on Mother's Day at the spa."

The messages are loud and clear.  No, I take that back. The messages are loud and seriously confusing.  Every article says something different.  Every blog has a different formula.  Just yesterday, I read a Facebook post that said, "Men, don't let your wife get off of the couch on Mother's Day."  And directly underneath it was another Facebook post that said, "I find it seriously insulting that people think Mother's Day is about doing nothing.  I want to go on a rigorous hike with my kids on Mother's Day."  It's no wonder men approach this day with fear and trembling.  They don't know how to "win."  They want to win.  They do.  But every idea seems as good as the next and at the same time, as horrible as the next.  Cooking your wife a home cooked meal could be a huge win.  Or she could be ticked off that now there's a mess in the kitchen.  Having the kids serve her breakfast in bed could really win her heart.  Or it could make her seriously frustrated that she didn't get to sleep in longer.

Men, do you want to know what every wife wants on Mother's Day?  I'm serious.  I know I just disputed the idea that every wife wants the same thing, because clearly that's not true.  But this?  This is what we all want.

To be known.

That's it.  It's that simple.  Know her.  Like, really know her.  Be a student of your wife.  Know that your wife really wants to run a family 5K on Mother's Day.  Or that she wants to sleep until 11.  Know that she actually hates that big, fancy brunch and she'd rather eat a breakfast burrito from a yummy hole-in-the-wall joint.   Not every mom wants the same thing.  So know YOUR wife and love her how SHE desires to be loved.

And if you still don't know or can't figure it out?


Seriously.  Just ask.  Not in a, "Hey, so it's almost Mother's Day and I was wondering what you had planned?" kind of way.  But in a, "Hey babe, Mother's Day is almost here and I want that day to be a celebration of who you are.  I want you to feel loved and cared for.  How can the kids and I honor you best on that day?"  Ask it with love and with genuine interest.  I know it's only 2 days away.  The lie you may believe is that it's too late.  It's not.

Now moms, this is where our role comes in.  If your husband asks you what you desire to do on Mother's Day, be gracious.  Take it as a sign that he cares.  Closing the gap between expectations and reality is a daunting journey.  If your husband is willing to make the effort to close that gap, then receive it as an act of love.  Don't belittle him for not knowing.  Your relationship is a journey and whether he has you figured out already or he is intentionally continuing to seek you out, it's beautiful.   It's all beautiful.

And in just 6 short weeks, us moms get the opportunity to return the favor on Father's Day.  So be gracious.  And thankful.  Seek to know and be known.  And if it all falls flat?  Choose grace.  :)

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Tons of Grace...

I was racing to meet my In-laws, who were returning my 2 'Littles' to me after having them for a sleepover.  I had left Jon at home with the rare opportunity to have a few hours of quiet in the house that he desperately needed.  His seminary classes are intense this semester, so any moment of silence and space for study time is golden.  My in-laws and I had found a great "halfway point" between our houses, and on this day, I was running late to our meeting place - the Bed, Bath and Beyond parking lot.  I pulled in and searched for their jeep.  I couldn't find it.  Whew!  I beat them here!  As I pulled into a spot to wait, I began to read through some emails and scroll Facebook to pass the time.  After a little while, I decided to text my mother-in-law to let her know I was here, but to take her time. (I know wrangling 2 Littles is a feat of its own.)  That's when I saw it.  The last text that was sent between us.  "We will drive the Littles to your house at 1:00." Oh. Crap.  I didn't read that text well the first time.  You can't skim over texts, Deanna!  I'm at the wrong place!  I just drove 25 minutes for nothing.  JON IS HOME FOR INTENTIONAL STUDY TIME AND 2 LITTLES ARE ON THEIR WAY!  I quickly called Jon's cell.

Jon: Hey babe.
Me: Um, hey.  Are you home alone?
Jon: Yup.  Why?
Me: Well, I'm sitting here at the "meeting place" to get the Littles... except I just re-read the text and your parents actually said they'd drive the Littles all the way to our house instead. I am so sorry, but they're going to be there any minute.  I obviously didn't read the text closely.  I've just been a mess lately.  I forgot to run that one errand yesterday, and I haven't sent that letter I said I would, and..
Jon: (interrupting my rant) Babe, I have tons of grace for you.  Tons of grace.

That's where this story ends.  Oh, of course the day continued on and there were 2 busy Littles and afternoon baseball practice and dinner on the run.  But nothing mattered after those 3 words.  Tons of grace.  I have tons of grace for you.  Has anyone ever said that to you?  It stops you in your tracks.  Quite honestly, it's been 2 weeks since that moment, and I still haven't gotten it out of my head.

We live in a day when grace is scarce.  You messed up?  I'm done.  You disagree with me? Let's battle it out on social media.  You let me down?  You're cut off.  These words, this phrase... tons of grace... it is counter cultural.  Oh sure, we extend grace at times.  But let's be honest.  Most of the time we dabble in grace.  A little here. A touch there.   Not too much though, lest they miss the point that I'm HIGHLY offended.  Not too much though, lest they think they're off the hook.

And if we're honest, the hardest people to extend grace to, are those closest to us.  (Read: often times, family.)   You know who I have tons of grace for?  Neighbors.  Friends.  Other people's kids.  But if my kids leave their backpack in the middle of the family room one more blasted time!??!  Or my husband forgets that thing he pledged and promised to do?!?  It's on like donkey kong!  That's probably why Jon's words struck me so much.  The one that's closest to me? The one I probably fail the most? THAT person has TONS of grace for me?  It's ridiculously overwhelming.

Who do you have grace for?  Who don't you have grace for?  Where might you find an opportunity to extend tons of grace?  I promise you, the opportunities are there.  A spouse running late.  A friend who flaked. Again.  A neighbor who is too loud.  A child who did that specific thing you said not to ever do.  A driver who cut you off.  A grocery checker who is slow.  A waiter who messed up your order.  Tons of grace. Tons of grace.

2 weeks ago, I felt like God used Jon to invite me into a "tons of grace" type of living.
I'm up for the challenge. Are you?

Let there be GRACE on Earth and let it begin with [God in] me.  :)

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Hello. It's Me. ;)

Do you have a friend you know well, and you love, but you haven't talked to in a long time?  You know the friend.  The one you would love to reconnect with, but you would need at least 2 hours of heart-to-heart talking, just to start scratching the surface of the lost time. (3 of mine are pictured above)  So when you're in between Point A and Point B and you have 5 minutes before arriving at Point B and your phone rings, and it's THAT FRIEND, your insides die a little because you know answering the phone won't work right now.  5 minutes isn't enough because you haven't talked in for-ever.  So you let it go to voicemail because you can't possibly pick up the phone with the friend you need 2 hours with and be like, "Hey! Oh man, I'm good, how are you? Cool, I gotta run now." Because that would be weird and awkward and just not right.  So you miss that call and wait for a time when you have some space to talk...and  more and more time just goes by... And it's not because you don't love each other and want to talk.  It's just that to re-connect properly, you would need time and space, and Lord knows that's a hot commodity these days.

OK.  So that's me.  With you.  Yes, you. The one reading this right now.

The holidays hit the Ramsays (and the rest of the world, or course!) in full force.  Lot's of speaking engagements, lots of neat opportunities, lots of decking halls and fa-la-la-ing.  So. Fun.  Not to mention Jon started his adventure with his new, post brain tumor part time job working with a non-profit + part time seminary student at Talbot.  (which = full time awesome, amazing, crazy, FULL, exciting, pushed to the limit, life.)  (see blog: "We're Out of the Waiting Room" from Sept. 15 for those details. I would link to it, but I DON'T KNOW WHAT THOSE STEPS WOULD BE. Don't judge me. I'm a hack blogger.  A Hackgger. Whetevs.)

Then came January.  Exhale.  And then there was me going, "Man, I miss my blog.  I miss the people I get to do life with via the blog."  But, The Time.  The 2 months that had passed.  I couldn't just hop on and say "Oh hey!  I'm good, how are you? Cool."  I would need to sit and catch up.  The whole "2 hours of heart-to-heart" thing.  But who has space for that?

And then came the "other blogs." The ones I would see passed around social media.  The ones that promised 10 days to a perfect marriage, 7 steps to the perfect kids and 5 steps of faith to receiving God's healing.  All while I walked through divorces with dear friends who DID ALL THE STEPS, and counseled parents  WHO USED THE BLASTED FORMULA, and I spent time with my sick mother who WE HAVE HAD ALL THE FAITH FOR.  So many promises. So many formulas.  The idea of blogging got less and less appealing.  I'm not like them.  I don't have all the answers.  I can promise nothing outside of whatever Jesus Himself has promised.  I have a husband who we pray healing over daily, who has yet to be fully healed.  I have kids who love Jesus but don't pick up their Bible on their own.  I have a load of laundry in the washer that's going on it's 3rd time through because WHY CAN'T ANYONE REMIND ME TO PUT IT IN THE DRYER THE SAME DAY?  The struggle is so freaking real.

Then there were the articles on social media that actually said something really, really well.  Like, life-changingly well.  Like, life and hope and truth.  And my dirty laundry (literally) just seemed like it had no place next to real, legit fancy people.

So time went by.  And things would happen and I'd think, "Oh man, I'd love to share that on the blog. Oh wait, that would be weird.  I can't be like, "Pray for Jon - he had social anxiety for the first time ever and I think it's related to his hearing loss but we don't know for sure" because you'd be like, "Woah, slow down the train.  Who are you again?"  But whatever.  Here I am.  This is our 2 hour talk.  Our re-introduction.  Because God hasn't released me from this Living Out Loud thing.  So I'm here.

Well, I was here. But the spin cycle is done and for the love of all things good and holy, I CANNOT wash that load one more time.