Conversation: Debra Risner
The gift of love
Debra Risner is an editorial director for Hallmark Cards,
Inc., in Kansas City, Mo. Risner monitors trends and lifestyles to identify how
people express themselves to those who mean the most to them, then works with
writers and artists to help create products promoting that expression. She and
her husband, U.S. Army Maj. Brett Risner, attend Evangel Temple (AG) in Kansas
City. Risner recently spoke with Scott Harrup, senior associate editor.
tpe: What are you celebrating this Valentine's Day?
RISNER: I celebrate any memorable moment in a relationship
that reflects the best of what that relationship has to offer. That can be
anything from something funny, to a sweet or touching experience, or something
momentous or even bittersweet. Those moments encapsulate what that relationship
is all about.
Valentine's Day is built around the idea of expressing
tenderness, care and affection to those who are most important to you. And that
goes beyond romantic relationships to include all the people you love. Our
consumers want to communicate their feelings, and we want to help them do that.
tpe: You and Brett have some bittersweet moments coming up.
RISNER: Brett is getting ready to deploy for about a year
with his National Guard unit. It looks like he will be in Kosovo. It will be
tpe: What kind of support structure do you have in place?
RISNER: We have a wonderful church family. And a lot of my
support comes from our Hallmark family. It is such a loving place to work. They
have been wonderful about helping me restructure my work so I can take care of
our 1-year-old son, Cam. They're helping us make the changes we need to
accommodate this life change.
tpe: Hallmark lives up to the sentiments they put in their
RISNER: Absolutely. That's one of the things that attracted
me to the company. I wanted my professional life to be about bringing people
together and helping them to connect and enrich their lives and relationships.
tpe: What are some key ways to balance marriage, family and
career? How are you going to make Kosovo work for you?
RISNER: We're learning to be very deliberate about our
relationship and to maintain some margins in life. If you aren't deliberate
about creating moments and opportunities to tell people how you feel about
them, you get to a point where they don't understand the depth of your
feelings. With Brett being gone, that intentionality of reaching out to each
other and expressing those feelings is going to be important.
I'm rereading The Overload Syndrome by Richard Swenson. It
talks a lot about creating a space between the load you are carrying and where
your limits are. That's the space where you have time to rest and heal, whether
that is giving yourself a buffer zone in time, commitment level or finances.
That resonates with me. If we overscript our lives, we don't
have a chance to take our eyes off our goals and actually look at each other.
tpe: How does your faith impact your relationships?
RISNER: I believe people are God's gift to each other. He
deliberately places us in each other's lives. And in giving us unique
personalities He puts in each person a unique ability to show love. No one else
on earth can express love the same way.
I want to show love the way God has uniquely designed me to
show it. I want to be ready to offer the encouragement, support, insight or
whatever manifestation my love takes at that point. If God puts me in people's
lives to do that for them, I need to fulfill that mission. It's an individual
calling we all have.
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