Team Ramer Is Growing

Julie and I are elated to announce that we are expecting the birth of our first child in early November of this year! As of this writing, Julie is 12-weeks pregnant and both child and momma are healthy. (Aside from the morning sickness, or as Julie likes to call it, ALL-DAY sickness!)

 9-week sonogram.

9-week sonogram.

 12-week sonogram.

12-week sonogram.

As Julie and I thought about how to announce our pregnancy we decided a blog post would be the best as there is more to the story then just us being pregnant.

TWO-YEARS IN THE MAKING
During our engagement to be married, Julie and I both communicated we wanted to start a family soon, but also wanted to be married for a little bit before we did. About five-months into our marriage we both started to have the itch to work on starting a family sooner than later. In the spring of 2016 we began to try and get pregnant.

As each month came and went we understood that getting pregnant was not as easy as 1, 2, 3. We trusted God and continued to try. As 2016 gave way to 2017 we watched friends and family get pregnant, sometimes seemly without any great effort. I wish I could say I did not have moments of disappointment and frustration, but I did.

Even though my disappointment and frustration was very brief, I began to ask the age-old question of, Why? Why others and not us? We desire to be parents. We desire to have our own kids. What are we doing wrong? These thoughts and questions came and went very quickly, but they did come.

Julie, being as great and gracious as she is, reminded me that we are not owed anything, a spouse, a kid, a job -- anything. When we were both single for as long as we were and watched as our friends and family got married, we were never promised a spouse, even though we both desired one and believed God would bless us with a spouse one day. We had moments in our singleness that we did not walk through well, but we have a chance to now walk through this season of waiting to be parents in a more redemptive way.

On Mother’s Day last year we both cried as we took communion at church. Even through the tears we both knew that God would bless us to be parents one day. We just did not know if that was through having our own child, fostering, or adopting.

Summer came and went.

As we headed into the fall Julie visited her doctor who encouraged us to go see a fertility specialist. After the month and a half of tests and blood work, we both came back with a clean bill of health. The months passed. We celebrated Christmas and welcomed in 2018.

Then one night, after returning from a work trip, Julie gave me a card.

Snapseed-1.jpg
Snapseed.jpg

Thank you to all of you who have been praying for us these past two-years. Julie and I know that we are never promised to be parents, but we know that we are called to care, lead, and love our child in a certain way. We are blessed and thankful to be entrusted with such a great and wonderful previlage!

3 Ways To Meet and Engage Your Neighbor Today

I live in a neighborhood of over a 1,000 single-family homes. My specific neighborhood has 71 homes. My street, 44. I have lived in my neighborhood for close to a year-and-a-half and know the names of the families that live in three of those 44 homes. And that is about as far as my relationship with them goes, I know their names.

Barely.

While barely knowing their names is a start, that is not where I desire the extent of my relationship with them to be. I would love to know them. Really know them. Their dreams, fears, hopes, and hurts. I want to be able to give them a cup of sugar or break bread with them on the regular. In days past this type of relationship may have simply been assumed. These days, this level of trust and intentional living takes time.

I want to do life with them and be able to share the love of Christ with them as I do.

 Photo by  Nina Strehl  on  Unsplash

Photo by Nina Strehl on Unsplash

At the end of 2017 I encouraged the church I serve in to reflect the love of God by loving their neighbor. I told of a idea I had to help me - and my introverted personality - to meet and engage my neighbor. Sadly, I have not done well with this idea. Not because it doesn’t work, but because I did not employ it.

Here is that idea and two others I have thought up and would like to try over the next few months.

GOOGLE MAP OF YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD
In my sermon I talked about how I had entered my address into Google Maps and zoomed in on my neighborhood. Specifically, the six or seven houses around me. I took a screenshot of my computer screen and printed the picture out on my computer. Using the picture as my map of sorts, I now am able to enter my neighbor’s names on to the map as I meet them. I can then reference the map as I learn more about them and add details of their lives to the map. This is now an easy reference point and prayer guide for me to love my neighbors.

TAKE A WALK AFTER DINNER; LEAVE THE PHONE AT HOME
While a seeming majority of Americans are spending more time inside their homes or in their backyards, there are still many opportunities to meet our neighbors out front. Take an undistracted walk around your neighborhood, enjoy the outdoors and keep the phone at home or put away. As you walk the neighborhood say hi to the husband getting the mail after a long day at the office. Or the soccer mom loading the Sienna for soccer practice. Do not worry about striking up a long conversation about life or feel you failed if you don't get a chance to invite them to church. Those conversation will come. To start, simply smile and say, “Hi”. The conversation will grow as it can from there.

TAKE A BREAK AND RELAX WITH YOUR NEIGHBORS
I know for some of you reading this the thought of spending time with strangers may sound exhausting and the complete opposite of relaxing. But give it a try. People are naturally more at ease and open to conversation when they are comfortable and relaxed. Here are some easy ways to relax with your neighbors:

  • Grab a friend and go to the neighborhood pool to read your latest book or magazine there. Skip being alone in the backyard and open up the possibilities of meeting new friends in a relaxed atmosphere!
  • Take your kids to the local park and meet the parents or grandparents of the other kids playing. If you do not have any kids, ask to take your neighbors kids to the park for them (so mom or dad can have a break) or tag along when they go.
  • Have a game night. This is super simple to plan and execute. You can purchase board or cards games pretty cheap. Have dinner on your own beforehand and simply provide some chips or easy snacks for refreshments. Competition typically brings out the true character of people and this is a easy way to get to know someone quickly and understand better how to care and love them well.

There are just a few of the variety of ways to meet and engage your neighbors today. Because we live in an ever-connected and moving world we need to be more intentional about how we get to know our neighbors. While social media may help to introduce us to them, we would be hard-pressed to say we could truly know someone through a screen. It takes intention and a some work. But the pay-off is great. You not only learn more about someone else, but you will get to learn more about who you are.

Reflecting the love of God as you do.

Start

There are several things in my life that I really enjoy -- that give me life. In alphabetical order:

  • Being a disciple of Jesus the Christ
  • Fishing
  • Hunting
  • Julie, my bride
  • Pastoring
  • Photography
  • Reading
  • Woodworking
  • Writing

All of those things help to define me in one way or the other. However I spend very little time doing most of them. It has been over 3 years since I have hunted, I just started fishing again, I have to borrow tools to complete wood projects, and the last thing I wrote was the first blog post for this blog four years ago. 

Why do I not engage with the things I love? Because I want to be the best at everything I do. If I write a blog post on resolutions and don't do any of the said resolutions or if I start reading a book (or 10 different books) and, maybe, complete 2 of them, I quit. And then soon I am defining myself not by the things that give me life, but by my self-perceived failures. So I just immerse myself in a hundred things that are of no consequence to get easy wins. What I did not realize is when I sell myself short by going after the easy wins all of the time and allowing myself to rest in mediocrity, I am also selling those around me short as well.

During a recent lunch with a friend I was challenged and encouraged to start doing the things I love and stop being paralyzed by fear. Not for selfish reasons, but for life-giving ones. Life-giving not only to me, but to those around me. My friend challenged me to invest in the things that God has given me healthy desires for and to cultivate them.  

So today I write my second post on this blog that I started 4 years ago. This post will not win any awards for writing. This blog may never get read by more than family and close friends. And that is okay.

2014, A Year of Discipline

The word for me in 2014, will be - discipline. That word has been at the forefront of my mind as I have been reflecting on the past year and looking forward to 2014. 

One of the definitions the Merriam-Webster dictionary has for discipline is: control gained by enforcing obedience or order; orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior; self-control.

When I think of someone being disciplined, I think of them being self-controlled. Being self-controlled has not been one of my greatest qualities. As I think ahead towards 2014, I want to work on being disciplined in various areas of my life. I list them here in a effort to hold myself accountable to this process.

In 2014, I resolve to be more disciplined in the following:

Prayer
Spending time praying to God must be of first priority for me. Right now, its not. I pray, but it is very sporadic and usually very focused on me and things I want with very little praise or petitioning for others. Without prayer the remaining areas of my life that I desire to be disciplined in will be fruitless and lack direction.

Bible Study
The study of God’s word really goes hand-in-hand with prayer. One of the ways God speaks to us is through his Word. Being faithful in my prayer and reading/studying of the Bible will allow me to grow closer to God and will mold my heart to embrace God’s will.

Finances
I have spent the majority of my adult life in debt. At the end of 2010, I was able to finally get out of debt and start saving money. In 2012, I had to exhaust my savings because of poor financial planning by me. I never want to be in a place where I don’t have money because of my lack of discipline with it.

Exercise
In 2011, I began living a healthier life. I started eating better and became disciplined in cardio exercises. The one area I want to really focus on this year is building muscle strength. This has been one of the hardest areas for me to stay consistent in.

Writing
For the past 15 years I have had a desire within me to write. I have started blog after blog with hopes of writing. However, I always seem to get paralyzed and never stick with it. This is the year I will make it a priority. I have a lot to share about a lot of different topics.

Reading
My desire to be more disciplined in reading is two-fold. First, reading allows me to grow in knowledge in just about anything I desire. Secondly, because I want to write more and write well when I do. When asked how a person could be a better writer, Williams Faulkner said, “Read, read, read.”

Over the next week, I will expound on each of these areas and give more insight into how I plan on gaining more discipline in these areas.