Friday, June 1, 2018

40 Things I've Learned in 40 Years of Life...

40 Things I've Learned in 40 Years of Life...

1) Being a people pleaser is exhausting.
2) My favorite foods are the ones I was nervous to try at first.
3) Love people expecting nothing in return.
4) There's nothing like a shoe with good arch support.
5) God doesn't break His promises.
6) People are way more gracious with you when you own up to your mistakes.
7) "A Christian" is not a synonym for "A Republican."
8) Sex was worth the wait.
9) But the wait was HARD.
10) Sense of humor is one of my highest values in friendships.
11) Find a mentor. And that doesn't mean asking a stranger to meet with you once a week for an hour.
12) Some things you learned as a child just aren't true. Keep learning, growing, asking questions, and don't be afraid to change your stance.
13) Your thyroid effects way more in your body than you ever realized. Not having one effects all. those. things.
14) Giving to someone in need is equal parts about helping their need, and about helping my heart.
15) Keeping short accounts of offenses is a path to freedom.
16) There is nothing in life I have control over, except the choices I make.  Period.
17) "God won't give you more than you can handle" is a lie and not found in the Bible.
18) There are lots of "Christianese" sayings that aren't biblical or true.  We need to stop saying them. 
19) Don't belabor and exasperate your acceptance of an apology.  Accept it and move on.
20) Apologizing to your kids when you're wrong is a powerful gift to them. You pretending that you don't need to apologize is not.
21) There is nothing I can do to make God love me less.
22) There is nothing I can do to make God love me more.
23) Comparison and contentment cannot co-exist.
24) "You're easy to come home to!" is one of my favorite things my husband has said to me.
25) "I'm pretty sure if there was an award given for who has the best sex, we would win." is the other favorite thing my husband has said to me.  Loving your physical relationship with your spouse is good.  Very good. 
26) I don't like the taste of alcohol.  I have tried to acquire the taste.  It just isn't something I enjoy and that's ok. This frustrates some people.  And that's ok too.
27) When I parent with 'behavior modification' as my goal, it is very dissatisfying. When I parent with 'reaching their heart' as the goal, it is very satisfying.
28) Divorce when kids are involved, no matter the reason, and no matter how loving the parent, has lasting effects on the kids.
29) God speaks to us if we are willing to listen.
30) Listening to God takes space. And time. And shutting our mouths.
31) The inventor of Poo-pouri deserves an award.
32) The greatest gift my parents gave me was their healthy, loving marriage.
33) We keep a loving, healthy marriage with gratitude and selflessness. And annual get-aways without the kids.
34) Being an intentional mom and a spontaneous mom are equal parts important.
35) The key to living a content life, is living open handed. Willing to release what God wants you to release, and ready receive what God wants to give you.
36) If someone gossips TO you about other people, they will gossip ABOUT YOU to other people.  Don't gossip. Period.
37) "More of Jesus and less of me" does not mean I diminish who I am.  It means I magnify who HE is IN me.
38) Learning to say "No" is one of the most powerful things I learned, way too late in life.
39) There is one ingredient to having the most painful times in life turn out to be the most powerful, joy-filled, healing times in life.  And His name is Jesus.
40) "40 is the new.." nothing.  It's not the new 30. Or the new 20.  40 is 40. And that is OK. It's good, even.  Each line on my face tells a story.  The times I laughed until I cried, found rest in a warm, sunny getaway, cried myself to sleep...  The joy, the pain, the laughter, the tears. 40 years of life and life to the full.  How grateful I am to be alive!

Cheers to 40 and cheers to 40 more!

Image may contain: Deanna Rischer Ramsay, smiling, sitting, table, dessert, food and indoor

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Line for 5th Grade Graduation... PS Send Coffee.

“OK Mom.  See that seat right there?”  Taylor said, pointing to the front row, center seat in the auditorium, “That would be the perfect seat for you sit in, so you can see me best.”  I laughed.  “Well obviously, honey.  But there are how many kids in the 5th grade?  And multiply that by how many parents and grandparents and siblings will be here?  The chances of me getting that seat are very rare.  This dad standing next to me JUST told me that at last year’s 5th grade graduation, he arrived at 7:45am for the 9am grad, and the line was already wrapped around the building. I also heard they cram the room full, and a lot of parents end up just standing in the back.  So whether I’m sitting or standing, I’ll be able to see you from wherever I am and it will be fine, OK?”  “Ok.” Taylor shrugged.

Just 5 minutes earlier, I had literally said to another mom, “I’m not some crazy parent that’s about to wake up in the middle of the night to get a good seat in the cafeteria, I mean, ‘auditorium’ for 5th grade graduation.  Let’s be honest, 5th grade grad is, well, JUST FIFTH GRADE GRAD.”  Don’t get me wrong.  I love a good celebration!  I love to celebrate and acknowledge and honor… But I also like things to have their rightful place.  Let’s not treat today’s “graduation” like a college graduation.  (Did I just see a money lei?  STOP.)  

But as the day went on, I could not stop thinking about my little interaction with Taylor from earlier in the day.   Why were my chances of getting the front row seat so slim?  If I were to be honest, the only thing between me and that front row seat was my opinion. I didn’t think it was worth it.  I didn’t think it necessary to wake up at O-Dark-Thirty for this ceremony.  Yet clearly it was to her.  

And so this morning I got up before the sun was up.  I lugged my chair and a blanket and here I sit.  The first person in line.  Because This:  Am I willing to love her to the degree to which I think she should be loved?  Or am I willing to meet her where she is and love her how SHE wants to be loved?  

I feel this all the time in marriage.  We’ve all heard it - the 5 Love Languages… meeting your spouse's needs… I know it’s a value there.  I know I need to love Jon in the way that best serves HIM, not me.  But what about with young children?  I mean, I know Reese needs physical touch and Morgan needs quality time… And I try to meet my kids where they are for that.  But what about these types of things?  When we clearly value different things?  With little things, like those certain shoes they really want and you just don’t get it… or the rolling backpack you know they’ll end up hating, but they “have” to have….  or the front row seat at a 5th grade graduation.  Do I try to convince them otherwise?  It’s not THAT important!  Or do I say, “What matters to you, matters to me.”  

Can I do it 100% of the time?  Nope.  But as much as I can, may I love with my eyes on THEM and not on ME.  Because loving others while keeping my eyes on myself, seem to be 2 mutually exclusive activities.  

So I let them choose the shoes. And the backpack. I set the alarm.  And get the front row seat. Not for me. For them.  Because I’m learning that “for them” is reason enough.  <3 





Tuesday, March 27, 2018

My Husband and I Slept in Separate Beds Tonight...

"Daddy, can you and I have a sleepover tonight?" Morgan asked.
"Ya, and can Mommy and I have a sleepover too?" Reese echoed closely behind.  

A few hours earlier, Taylor was at a swim party that spontaneously turned into a sleepover invite.  And Jackson was out to dinner with us, which ended with a close friend inviting him to go over for a sleepover as well.  

Neither Jackson or Taylor had bags packed.  It was spontaneous.   

"Yes!"  
4 times over.
Yes, you can just borrow jammies after swimming and spend the night at your friend's house.
Yes, you can go home with them and have a sleepover there, buddy.
Yes Morgan, you can sleep with daddy tonight.
And Yes, Reese, I'll sleep with YOU tonight!
All. The. Yeses.

We spend so much time as parents creating boundaries for our young children.  Because, quite honestly, creating boundaries for our kids is one of the greatest gifts we can give them!  
No, you can't touch that.  It's hot!
No, you can't step off the curb.  You could get hurt!
No, you can't skip your nap again today.
No, you can't have 5 scoops of ice cream. 
No, you can't play with the lighter.
No, you can't watch that particular movie or play that video game.

We know what is healthy and what is beneficial and what will help our kids thrive.  We know what will hurt them and what could trip them up and what will keep them from being all they are created to be.  

But then somewhere between keeping our kids safe and well-balanced, we lost the art of the Yes.  
We got comfortable, and safe, and we enjoyed the control.  
Saying Yes can be inconvenient.  It can be messy.  It doesn't always fit inside our box.  

But there is power in a YES.  Freedom to be found in a YES.  Empowerment in a YES.
Aside from risking safety and well-being, Jon and I have made a choice to lean in to the YES.  
Can we make a huge fort using all the blankets and sheets in the house?
Can we have "backwards dinner" and eat dessert first?
Can we go for a spontaneous bike ride? 
Can I sleep in my sister's room tonight?
Can we sleep tonight in that fort?  
Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. 

I remember the first time my kids asked to sleep on the couch in the family room "just for fun."  My knee jerk reaction was, "No, not tonight."  But why?  Why did I care?  To be honest, I didn't.  It was just that I felt like I should care.  I didn't hear about other parents letting their kids do that.  I mean, maybe for a fun, special occasion, but not just on a random night of the week.  But why not?  This question of "why not" continued to haunt me.  
"Can I paint a picture?"  No.  Hmm... Well, why not?  Because it's inconvenient for mommy, really.  
So the answer?
YES.  
"Can I have a sleepover at my friend's house?"  No... Hmm... Well, why not?  Because we only do sleepovers at a couple of very close family friend's homes.  And this isn't one of them.
So the answer?
No.  

The answer clearly can't always be Yes.  But when we can, we will choose it!
Because it validates their ideas and their hopes.  It makes them feel seen and heard.  It shapes their hearts toward leadership and initiation.  
And because the deeper and deeper I dove into most of my "No's," the more I saw them rooted in selfishness.  
The request was inconvenient.  It took some time.  It didn't give me enough time to plan.  It was messy.  It's not what I was thinking of.  It's not the way I did it when I was growing up.  

Maybe you need to join us in leaning in to the YES.
In parenting, perhaps.  Or maybe your YES is just for LIFE in general.
What's your hesitation?   Do you have a clear sense of right and wrong in your situation? Ok, then say No.  
Or is it really just fear?  Fear of the unknown... Fear of failure.  Or maybe it's comfort.  You're so tied to your comfort level, you can't just try.  Maybe it's not what you had planned.  Your bags aren't packed.  You didn't anticipate this.  I'll say it again: Lean In.  Dabble in a Yes.  Put your toe in the water.  The temperature might be different, but honestly? Sometimes you think you want a warm bath when really, an exhilarating cold shower might be the exact thing you need.  And if not?  Hop in the bath when you get home.  (I know that's right where I'm sending my daughter when she gets home tomorrow in yesterday's clothes.)  ;)  

So tonight, I cuddle my 5 year old instead of my hubby.  And he has a foot in his face from our 6 year old's crazy sleeping habits.  Because that's what we had hoped for tonight?  Not at all.  Tomorrow we will go back to falling asleep holding hands like we usually do.  But tonight?  Tonight we said YES.  


Friday, February 2, 2018

That Time My 5 Year Old PREACHED To Me...

A small children's chair from our upstairs loft had somehow made its way downstairs today.  At the end of the day as we were tidying after dinner, the last item at the bottom of the stairs, waiting to be taken up, was the chair.  Reese ran over to it and said, "I'll carry it up!"  I had to hold back my laughter.  Sweet Reese is 5 years old but she looks about 3.  ;)  She is in the 6th percentile for height and weight and is as petite as they come.  But her heart and spirit?  Oh man, they are fierce!  "No honey, I will carry it up," I replied.  But she frowned at me and insisted she could do it.  The other kids all went upstairs to get ready for bed and I returned to the kitchen sink to wash the final pot from dinner.

About 30 seconds later, I heard her.  She was out of breath.  There was a strain in her voice.  Each word had about 2 seconds between the next.  She spoke to herself through gritted teeth.  "Just.. because.. it's hard... doesn't.. mean.. God's not here."  My eyes grew huge.   My eyes filled with tears.  Oh sweet baby girl, may your whispered prayer, through gritted teeth, steady your heart not just for this moment, but for all the moments of your life.
I turned around to see my baby giving all she had, to get the chair up just one stair.
Her words rung in my ears.  "Just because it's hard, doesn't mean God's not here."  She pushed.  She pulled. She lifted.  She struggled.  She sat for a rest.  And finally, big sis Taylor, on her way downstairs for a glass of water, offered to help.  Reese accepted the assistance, this time with gratitude.  And together, they got the chair safely up the stairs.

Sometimes God gives us supernatural strength to get through something beyond what we ever could have thought we could handle.

He is present.  Empowering. 

And sometimes God sends people to walk alongside.  To support us and hold us up.  To cheer us on, and sit in it with us, and to share in the heavy lifting.

He is present.  Providing tangible support - His hands and feet.

And sometimes, God just sits with us in the warm sun.  Toes in the sand, with blessings flooding our thoughts, and peace that goes beyond our understanding.

He is present.  Providing rest and goodness.

When life is easy, God is here.
When life is hard, God is here.
He Is With.
Always.

Sometimes we have to look for Him.
Sometimes we have to pause and listen for Him.
And sometimes His presence is an undeniable force we can't dismiss.

But then there's those other times.  The times we don't see, and we don't hear, and we don't feel, but we KNOW.  We know His character. We know His promises.

And so we wipe the sweat from our brow, take a deep breath, and through gritted teeth, we declare the Truth and choose to let our faith conquer our doubt.

"Just because it's hard, doesn't mean God isn't here."






















Tuesday, January 30, 2018

You Can Do ANYTHING. But Not EVERYTHING...

I was 26 years old and I sat in a stranger's living room, holding my 11 month old baby boy on my lap.  I had recently joined this community group of young moms as a way of linking arms with others in my same life stage.  There is nothing more powerful than hearing the words, "Me too," and boy did I need to hear that as a new mom!  The past year had been a whirlwind and I was exhilarated and exhausted all at once.  The moms had chosen to read through a book written by a well known "stay-at-home mom" and author.   We all marveled at the author's candid honesty, her wit, and her ability to write about poopy diapers in a way that made us laugh and cry at the same time. Yes, about poop!  She talked about the balancing act between being a mom and a wife.  It sparked conversation between us in the group about what that balancing act looked like in our own lives - with all the hats we wear.

And then she said it.  A girl in the group I really didn't know said something so off-putting.  "You know, ladies.  You can't have it all."  I was so annoyed.  And offended.  Um, yes you can! You see, I had been happily married for 5 years, had traveled Europe for 3 months, singing for our U.S Troops with my newlywed hubby, and had a thriving singing and speaking schedule.  And when I became a mom and had my baby boy, I just put him on my hip and continued with my lifestyle.  At 11 months, my son had been on 34 flights!  Sorry chick, but you are wrong! You CAN have it all!  I was wife-ing, and mom-ing... and speaking, and singing and traveling and etc... etc..   Besides, this author whose book we were reading?  She was a stay at home mom!  She poured into her kids and hubby... and also had a thriving speaking ministry, as well as top selling books!  I "got" her.  We were crushing it!

However, a few years later, as I continued reading and meeting with other moms, I began to have more of a pit in my stomach.  I now had 2 kids and they were entering school.... and I knew I couldn't keep the same pace or lifestyle.  My son wanted me to be "room mom" and my daughter wanted me to take her to dance class.  There was soccer and t-ball every Saturday.  And the reality was, I couldn't be in more than one place at one time.  (duh.) So what would win?  The bookings and honorariums and hotel rooms?  Or my presence at home.  Around the dinner table.  And at the school jog-a-thon.  "You can't have it all!"  It still annoyed me.  And yet I suddenly found myself in a season of loving the power of "No."  Saying "no" to opportunity and invitations became empowering.  Because although I was saying "no" to something good, I was saying "YES" something great.  This Greater Yes became my drive.  It became my heartbeat.  Now don't get me wrong, I didn't say "no" to everything, but I definitely cut back to find a balance, and weighed everything against what I believed was my Greater Yes.

Fast forward a few years and a few kids later, and there I sat at a Leadership Conference.  I was there to attend, not to speak.  To listen and learn.  My now 4 kids were with grandma for the day, and I wanted to take a day for self care.  A young mom and well known author took the stage as one of the keynote speakers and I leaned in, excited to glean wisdom from a mom in a similar life stage.  She boldly challenged us moms to not sacrifice, but to get out there and pursue our passions.  That we would have regret if we didn't.  And yet I sat there once again with a pit in my stomach.  But this time for a different reason.  "But, how?" I thought.  How do I not sacrifice?  Something has to be sacrificed.   You can't "have it all."  BLAST.  That annoying phrase was haunting me again.  This speaker was doing it all, wasn't she?  What was wrong with me??  I wanted to find her afterward and pick her brain. I stepped outside the conference into the gift shop and that's when I saw it.  THIS.  A wall hanging.  I stopped and took a picture.  THIS is what that other girl years ago probably meant.  THIS made sense.  THIS made me exhale.





I wanted to find the speaker and say - I know that to be here speaking, you're away from your kids for a few days and it takes a toll on your family.  Right??   And also, I was just hired to write an article for a parenting magazine, and I know how many hours it took me to get that done and edited to the perfect word count... time that my husband had to manage the kids on what used to be our date night.  So this high selling book you just released HAD to have taken its toll on your family, right??   Why aren't you saying that part??  It's OK!  It's OK that there is a cost!  But don't pretend there isn't one at all!

Fast forward to today, and the pendulum has swung once again.  The same authors and speakers are now confessing to strained marriages, sacrificed time with kids, and admitting to the physical toll "the hustle" has taken on their bodies and families.  They point back to the past few years of writing and speaking and traveling and they are now pulling back.  Choosing rest.  Saying no to the hustle.  And saying yes to more simplicity.  Ahhh... Yes!  THIS.  This is what I was wondering!  I had been so frustrated.  I had felt so misled.  For years I had sat in circles with other moms, and together we wondered how all these moms in ministry were "doing it all."

And yet the reality was, they weren't!  Something had to give.  They just weren't talking about it.  Moms, women... heck, men, anyone -  each one of us can do ANYTHING!  But, we can't do EVERYTHING.  Those authors were choosing which "anything" they wanted to partake in.  We have that choice too! And friends, you know what?  There is no right or wrong!   There is just a choice to be made.  Every day!  WE get to choose!   I look back on the first year of being a mom and part of me loves the jet-setting life I chose.  And part of me regrets that I didn't just soak him in a little more.  And now I get to let those learnings and feelings impact my present decisions!

Now please hear me, I am not speaking to the financial aspect of life.  This conversation is not about working moms vs. non-working moms.  It is about the pressure to be all things to all people at all times.  And to keep up the facade that it's all glorious and seamless and there is no cost.  The reality is, there is a cost.  And that's okay!

Today, I find that I myself have let the pendulum swing pretty far in the other direction... and I need to find a middle ground once again.  In an attempt to find balance, I think I have let go of more than I should have.  I have let that "empowering no" become an excuse to stay comfortable.  None of us is perfect.  We are all on a journey.  Mine has me pondering, at 1am on a Monday night, what "Everything" I need to release and what "Anything" I want to embrace.  What is it for you?  What hustle do you need to let go of?  And what passion or calling do you need to lean into?  What are you willing to sacrifice to make that happen?  And once you pray and listen and decide, join me in guilt-free obedience.  There WILL be a cost.  That's ok.  And if we start down the road and it doesn't feel right?  No shame.  No judgement.  Pray again.  Re-assess.  And start again.

Choose your Anything.  Release your Everything.  2018, here we come!