Monday, March 26, 2012



Billy Here.......Recently Elizabeth Joy has been leading worship with her youth group, Desperation Student Ministries at New Life Church. She sings well and works with the band well and has great passion, but most of all, she worships. Since she was very little, we would put Praise and Worship songs and videos on only to have her engage with zeal and excitement. She has been singing since I can remember and over the past 16 years we have done our best to honor the fact that God has put this love for music, love for Him and love for worship in her heart and mind. Parents have a calling and responsibility to raise up their kids in the way "they" would go. This means that I do my best to look into the eyes of my baby, toddler, preschooler, kindergartner, second grader, fifth grader, middle schooler, then high schooler and discern gifts, strengths, passions, hopes, dreams and assignments from their Father in Heaven. This is not easy, but requires Faith in God. Faith that He has already done the work inside her, we only have to help keep them on the right trajectory to see it fleshed out and exercised in safety. 

Before I was married I prayed for years for my kids and wife. When in prayer for my kids I saw girls, little girls, one in particular, dancing, singing, laughing and playing in God's presence. When Elizabeth began to walk and run and dance, I keenly remember seeing her dance around the house one day and took pause. I remembered that moment, not because it had happened before, because it had not, but because I had seen it in my prayers. 

Today, Hosanna loves music and worship as well, so does Benjamin, Victoria and Eli. It seems to be a requirement to call yourself a Ramsdell. The kids sit at the piano and play, teaching themselves worship and popular songs. They dance and enjoy the presence of the Lord. Hosanna is dancing in the Thorn right now, a massive Easter production with over 500 cast and crew, presented to tens of thousands of people each year. Victoria sings and does hand motions with the worship team at NLC that goes into lead the small children. She loves it and is a great example. I'm not sure Ben has the desire or preparation to be in front of people, but he loves music and is growing in his love for Worship. We are thankful, frankly to NLC, the Desperation Band, Brad and Ross Parsley and other NLC staff who set the example of excellence in worship, music and singing. Our kids are changed because of it and I am forever thankful that we have been able to recognize the way God is leading them and just be part of that work. 

Finally, I must say that Shanna has been a huge part of the nurture side of music, worship and learning. She is the best music and piano teacher I have ever known and I believe her leadership with the kids has made a lifetime impact on them. Thanks to her for being a great mom!!!!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Start with the end in mind? Sure, But which end?

Billy and I have been married for just short of 18 years. Not shabby if you ask me. We had a lot of dreams when we first said, "I Do", first of which was to raise a family.

Elizabeth Joy was born 4 short days after our 1 year anniversary...and Hosanna only 18 months later. By the time Victoria was born, only 13 months after her big brother, Benjamin, we had a grand total of 4 kids in 5 years. My friends, it's not for the faint of heart!

Despite our struggle for daily survival (and sleep) back then, we were able to articulate something, very early in our attempt to raise a Christian family, that has proved to shape almost all of our parenting decisions...thus shaping our children. So deeply have we believed this one thing over the years, that it's dictated where we live, which church we attend, which activities we are apart of and the jobs we take. It's dictated which friends we choose, which friends our children choose, how we spend our money and where we send our kids to school. It's dictated which battles we fight with our children and on their behalf. One very important idea indeed.

God has not called us to raise "good" kids.

Yup, that's it! And fellow believers, He hasn't called you to raise good kids either. He hasn't called any of us to raise quiet, well behaved, sweet mannered children. He hasn't called us to raise smart kids or good atheletes. He hasn't called us to raise good musicians or popular kids.

To the point, God is calling us to raise anointed on a who lay hands on the sick and see them recovered. Kids who care more about people - marginalized, broken, down and out, hurting people than they do about fame, accomplishment or the riches of this world (which is a trap for so many).

God is calling Christian parents to raise their children to care about what He cares about. Humility and self sacrifice come to mind as opposed to pride and self centeredness. Kids who have ears to hear the Holy Spirit and the willingness to cooperate with what the Spirit of God is doing in their lives and in the earth. Kids who would see the world's orphan crisis curbed in their generation not only because they were willing to adopt, but because they are full of compassion and courage, willing to go to the poorest countries to plant churches who could care for many orphaned children. Kids who have compassion on the poor, the hungry, the lonely. Kids who have compassion on the outcasted kids in school. Kids who love well. Kids who understand surrender.

We believed it was our role to stir a hunger in our children for righteous things. When people are hungry, they eat. They do not have to be forced to eat, they just do - A hunger for God's word, worship, and a knowledge that in order to know and embrace God's plan we must surrender our own.

We believe that a person doesn't have to enter their adult life knowing everything. However, knowing how to hear the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit and cooperate with what He says is imperative. Teaching our children this became necessary above all else.

We believed that our role was to introduce our children to the best representatives of our faith, and train them in certain disciplines (like how to pray, how to study God's word). Then, stand back and let them react as they would. For relationships to be authentic after all, we must build them for ourselves.

Bottom line, that's called DISCIPLESHIP. And THAT is what Christian parents are called to do.

With only 24 hours in a day, you can't make your child the best at everything. You can't give them every experience nor cultivate every activity that they MIGHT be good at.

Wise people know there isn't enough time in a life span to fully know everything. But this. This one thing. Discipleship. There is time for this...if you have the courage to make the time, to let other things go, to evaluate the value of each activity based on God's Word - not on current culture.

It's risky. Your kids might appear...different. You might get called a fanatic.

Yet, to disciple our children is what we are called to do.

Parents must understand and teach their children that coming to Christ is like joining a great feast, yes? Blessings, forgiveness, deliverance, eternal life with God in Heaven. All these are ours, and thank you God for them! On the flip side, it's being willing to participate in a great fast. A fasted lifestyle that makes more of Him, more of the least of these, and less of us, of me, who is already blessed so much.

The ability to stop thinking of myself so much, and in turn think of others, to be a blessing, to be the answer to someone else's surrender our own selfish appetites for something so much greater - is a gift far beyond sports, music lessons, and an Ivey league education.

What does that cost you? Everything. EVERYTHING. The Christian life is about surrender. And staying the course for life will require everything from your child as well.

Fortunately, God takes what we offer and multiplies it and gives it back. So, someone in this home MAY get an Ivey league education, become a good athlete, or musician as well. But if they do, it will be because God opened those doors for His purpose and for His glory, not because I spent more time preparing my child for college than I did Heaven.