Thursday, November 21, 2013

This Post is NOT about Billy...

This isn't about Billy.

It's about other things...

This week, Victoria came home and told me she was in trouble at school for "cheating". 

What? 

Victoria is a freakin genius kid.  She doesn't need to cheat.

The story goes like this...

During a math test, "Not-so-Smart" kid kept looking on Victoria's paper.  Victoria could tell the girl was doing this...over...and over...and over...

Near the end of the test, Victoria's passive aggressive levels reached their peak and she turned suddenly on the girl and snapped in a LOUD voice, "You have to put that last problem in scientific notation for the answer to be right!"

She's not related to me AT ALL.

The teacher immediately corrected her for "helping" the other student.  Of course Victoria wasn't aware that she was on purpose providing any real "help" -- but she's so tired from the past 2 weeks of family insanity that she was all like WHATEVER.

Teacher calls me to discuss the "cheating incident."

He explains how the other girl "confessed".  Explained Victoria's "over the top" reaction.

I say to Mr. Teacher, "I'm not sure why she had such an over the top reaction.  Under normal circumstances, I would have instructed Victoria to turn to the girl MUCH EARLIER and yell out STOP CHEATING OFF MY PAPER YOU TWO TIMING MATAHARI (to quote George Banks)!  But, Mr. Teacher, we are not in normal circumstances right now, and I don't care that much about being a good parent.  So, I'll leave the consequences up to your discretion."

He was speechless and I felt satisfied with that.

He muttered a few other things I don't remember, finally just dismissed himself....and hung up.

I know I was just being a brat...

A brat who actually didn't have the capacity to handle the situation any differently at the moment and besides Victoria had already kinda "handle it" to my satisfaction -- but bratty none-the-less.

***

Today, I went on Obama's health insurance website.

Anyone else looked at it?

I text my sister and say, "Every time I click the 'shop now' button, nothing happens!  Obama is probably downloading spyware into my computer as I speak."

Allison, "Shanna, it's like a MAJOR story right now that the website doesn't work."

Me, "He has unlimited resources and a boat load of smart people at his disposable just sitting around thinking crap up -- and they can't get the 'shop now' button to work?  Ok, I'll call them."

Me, "There are 29 callers ahead of me.  I hung up.  Maybe we'll revisit the idea of this on Dec 31st".

Allison, "Open enrollment ends on Dec 7.  There are entire hospitals and doctors opting out, so I'd give your providers a call first.  Or just rent a movie and look on Pinterest."

Sounds good.

***

Today, I informed myself that it is ok for my joy to come back.  It's ok for my brain to turn back on.

It's definitely ok for me to shower and wash my hair.

In general, it's ok.

I'm going to stop eating rice cakes now, and get back to good nutrition and exercise.

And, that's all I wanted to say...

:)











Wednesday, November 20, 2013

2 Weeks Later...

I really, really wanted to start this blog out with a step by step tutorial on how to fry chicken.

Or with a picture of my next pallet art design.

Or maybe do an update of how much weight I've lost while eating nothing but Smart Food Popcorn, Rice Cakes and Skim Milk for 4 days.  (The bag said "Smart" -- I got confused).

Anyhow...

The thought made me laugh.

Since B has gotten sick, my blog has been read THOUSANDS of times more than normal.

And, well, I just thought it would be a funny trick to play on all my new male readers...

Logging in to check on Billy...

Having to read about my newest painting endeavor...

I think I have ICU delirium.

***

When I was 9 months pregnant with Elizabeth Joy, Billy took a second job cleaning parking lots at night. 

He managed a Christian Bookstore during the day -- and cleaned parking lots ALL night.  He literally had to run to finish before the sun came up.

I felt sorry for him.

Soooooo, one night I decided to ride with him.

9 months pregnant.

In a Mitsubishi Mirage.

Going into bars at 3am to go to the bathroom -- because what else is open at 3am?

Basically, I just made us both miserable.

That's EXACTLY what it was like to spend night #12 in the hospital with Billy!

Miserable.

By morning, we were both hallucinating.


***

Apparently, the following things give me Post Traumatic Stress...

Beeping monitors, nurses, blogging, helicopter rides, text messages, going to work, headaches, being bossed around by Billy, Benign Subarachnoid Hemorrhages, and Duck Dynasty beards.

***

When the doctor asked if we were ready to go home, I was concerned to say the least.

Billy's pain is VERY serious.  He sleeps MAYBE 3 hours at a time, and has nightmares so intense he wakes up sweating.

He has 2 - 3 hours of "feel good" each day right now -- and he's fought with all his might for that!

Addressing my concerns, the doctor reminded me that the trauma in Billy's brain had occurred 13 days ago. 

The bleeding had stopped and no new bleeding, stroke, etc etc etc had occurred and that they infact knew this because they had looked at his brain from every conceivable angle every day since.

Again, the pain is due to blood in the spinal fluid and it will take several weeks (4-6 to reabsorb into his body).  As the blood reabsorbs, the pain will go away.

Billy takes 3 different narcotics --  the kind they keep in time lapsed safes and you have to show your ID to purchase.  He is dopey, drugged, sleepy, non functioning and STILL IN PAIN.

I am ready for PAIN to GET.  OUT.  OF.  MY.  HOUSE.

***

I have let Billy back on facebook.  During those few "good" hours he tries to make phone calls, reconnect with the world -- but it's all laborious for him.

I can't even say how tired all 7 of us are....

For people who like living fast...being forced to live in slow motion...has just drained us in every way possible!

We are praying that the blood would reabsorb QUICKLY, that the pain would go away, we would all have good sleep, and make a full recovery.  Sooner rather than later. 

We are praying for strength to rise.

***

For each and every act that YOU have done to lighten our load, we can't say thank you enough.

We are keeping a list of DAILY IMPROVEMENTS -- NO MATTER HOW SMALL.

I am very thankful to be living one day at a time, versus one hour at a time.

And that's, #1 on the "no matter how small" list.

***

We are officially home,

Monday, November 18, 2013

Actual Day, 11 - Feels Like Day, 11,234

So, yesterday, I arrived at the ICU, and I just wasn't in the mood to be told what to do.

What can I say?

I had had enough.

I had decided that Billy WOULD get shaved and showered.  And, I was more than willing to go head to head with whoever stood in our way.

It was a simple enough request in my sleep deprived mind.

As I walked in the room, I noticed B's duck dynasty beard was gone.

Me, "I see you've already shaved."

Male Nurse, under his breath, "I wasn't in the mood to die today."

Yea.  Smart of him.

But I wasn't even remotely pacified.

I leaned over, kissed Billy and whispered, "My aggressive side has arrived.  You are fixing to get your shower."

B, under his breath, "What took you so long?"

I stand up and look Male Nurse straight in the eyes.  I say, "He needs a shower."

Male Nurse, looking me straight back in the eyes as if we were playing chicken, "We don't have a shower in the ICU."

Me, "That's a lie.  I know you have a shower."

Male Nurse, not breaking his gaze, "Let's wait and see if he gets transferred today."

Me, determined to win, "How about no.  How about I don't care if I have to get in the shower with him, he gets one now."

Billy, giggling, "Yea, let her get in with me!"

He continues to blab something in-coherent about a conjugal visit.

Still looking eye to eye with the nurse, and not even remotely amused, I say, "Billy shut up."

Nurse, finally ready to give in, says to the orderly, "Get her some towels."

Yup.

***

Doctor comes in mid day to let us know that Billy's condition has been down graded enough to allow him to move out of ICU and into a regular room.

Doctor laughing, "I see you have had a shower."

He smiles at me, "That's a story for your blog."

Me to the doctor, "You've heard of my blog?"

Doctor laughs, "No."

Whatever.

***

Many, MANY people have text me, just to make sure, that we do indeed have health coverage.

I know you "don't want to pry".

So, let me set the record straight once and for all.

OF COURSE WE HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE PEOPLE -- there is no need to host a telethon.

Actually, if you want to host a telethon, go for it.  I wouldn't mind one little bit.

***

Last night Hosanna drove me home.

Me, "Are we babysitting Michael's dog over the holidays?  It might be therapeutic for our family to have a dog around for a little while."

Hosanna, "Say that again.  It's fixing to be my facebook status."

I know only some of you can appreciate that.

***

My 14 year old son kisses the top of my head as we get ready to turn in.

Ben, "It's going to be ok mom.  Dad is strong."

And, well, how many 14 year old boys in America today can say, "My dad is strong."

And know that he is strong.  In all the ways that a man can be strong.

***

Not much change today.

PT.

OT.

Headache.

UTI.

And, well, I'm gonna try to spend the night at the hospital for the first time -- and we're gonna try not to kill one another.

Because we're at the point.

Ya know, Billy's gonna live -- so I just might kill him.

Relax.

It's just an expression.

We're just ready to blow this joint.

:)






Sunday, November 17, 2013

End of Day 10 - Strength is Rising

Do you want to know my greatest fear?

It isn't that Billy or one of my children might die.

That's my second greatest fear.

***

I have deep respect for profound grief.

I watched my father's sudden and tragic death tear my mother's heart and soul so deeply it tore into her mind.

13 years later, I am watching God slowly redeem and restore.

I know that He looses the chains of wasted years.

***

Granga said to me once, "The older you get, the more people you know who've died."

Truth be told, if one lived LONG enough, they could possibly live to see everyone they ever loved die, yes?

***

My greatest fear, is that if I were called, entrusted even to bear the weight of such a horrific moment...

That I couldn't in that day -- or any day ever after -- say again that God Is Good.

That - God Is Unfailing.

And for those who are quick to respond, "Yes YOU could."

Please know, that I've spent hours, days, years even contemplating this as it relates to myself.  And, I say, I'm not sure.

At the thought, my forehead is actually wrinkled with worry and I have to think about catching my breath.

***

I haven't posted since Day 7.

Because Days 8, and 9 were more than I could bear.

Truthfully, had Elizabeth not had the where-with-all to come home to be with me this weekend, I would have had an all out mental breakdown.

The last couple of days have left me speechless and well, that doesn't happen often.

Actually, I wasn't speechless.

I was exhausted.  I didn't want to update the world.

So, me and the kids got an online journal going.  For Billy.  And, it was therapeutic for us.

His mind seemed all but broken.  I believed he sensed this too.

His pain unbearable.

 Delirium, hallucination, depression, hopelessness...

3 families around us, unhooked their husbands, their fathers and waited for them to die.

Leaving every night ripped my heart out.

Whether or not he knew I was there, I laid my hands on his chest, and commanded strength to rise.

Laid my hands on his head and commanded pain to separate from his body.

I picked up the medical pamphlets and prayed over every function of his body to work supernaturally, just the way God had designed it to work.

Then I'd drive the hour home and cry, cry out, so intensely that I couldn't remember how I got there.

***

And, this is what I think.

Should my heart and flesh fail in the worst of the worst moments...

If my greatest fears materialize...

Should I find one day that I am in fact incapable of saying with my mouth, much less deep in my Spirit, that God is good -- that He does not fail...

Then, in that moment...MY FAILURE is what I'll offer.

For I already know that sometimes, our pain, our searing grief, our disappointment, our anger, our unbelief, our hate...well...these things are at times all we can offer.

So, I circle back around to knowing that the deepest need of my heart, of my life, and the prayer that is more real to me today than 10 days ago...

"One thing I ask from the Lord,
    this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple."  Psalms 27:4


And, I look my worried and tired children in the eye and say these very things.

***

And...by the way...

Today, Billy turned a corner.  At least that's what the doctor called it.

His pain was considerably less -- and they have begun to wean him off some of the meds.

His status was down graded.

Non critical.  

Stable.

Benign.

Non traumatic.

Although, we'd beg to disagree with that last part.

He was moved to a regular room.

He showered TWICE.  He walked.  He talked like a normal person mostly.

Three of our five children came to see him.

So night and day from their last visit...they buried their heads in his chest and cried.

He cried too.

***

Much to process.

***

Tomorrow he begins physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and cognitive therapy.

And, we'll miss another day of school and work.  And drive an hour to Denver.

And, it'll be a new day.

And we can live with that.

Blessings,












Thursday, November 14, 2013

Update - Day 7

I, actually, have no sense of humor that I'm aware of.

Today, I discussed Billy's illegible facebook status with my sister.

I say, "It's disturbing."

She says, "Yes, it is.  It's not funny...but it is sort of funny."

And, with a totally straight face, that pretty much sums it up...

(Admittedly, there is a chance that when my mind and body are constantly slammed with a barrage of strong emotion - anger, fear, sadness, thankfulness, love, confusion, resolve, annoyance, hysteria, to name a few - that the "sarcastic centers" of my brain are heightened.)

I am exhausted.

My routine when driving home from the hospital each evening is to blare the music at volume 37 in the car.

Then, once the sound of the hospital monitor is thoroughly drowned out in my mind...

I can think.

I can pray.

Our kids are exhausted.

They haven't seen Billy since the day he landed in the ICU.

And, I probably need to plan to remedy that soon.

College kid is coming home tomorrow.

Victoria is currently sitting at the digital piano, volume 37, playing and singing at volume 137.

Ben is strumming his guitar.

Hosanna works - forces her mind to be present in THAT moment.

They are like their mother.

Billy is TOTALLY exhausted.

He hasn't had 1 night of good sleep in 7 days.

Last night, he was up every hour.

His pain vacillates from a 4 - 9.  More bad moments than good, but SOME good moments.

He takes very, VERY small steps forward each day.

Today, for instance, he sat up for a meal.  He opened his eyes.

He has a slight "ICU delirium".  No sleep, can't remember the day, doesn't know if it's day or night.

Doctor's assure me it will wear off.

He's hallucinating.

Doctor's assure me that that's the drugs talking.

Older nurse, "He's smashed."

According to him, being smashed is kinda cool.

Me, "What do you see?"

B, "Not anything scary.  Not zombies."

Ooooookkkkkkkkkkk

His own sarcasm is off the charts.  Clearly he's frustrated and really attempting to regain control of his situation.

I see that as positive.

Example:

Billy, "Will you get me an ice pack for my head."

Nurse, "If you'd like that."

Billy takes ice pack.  Says, "Shouldn't I have something warm instead...to make the blood flow better?"

Nurse, "If you'd like that."

Billy, annoyed, "Geesh!  Why do I have to think of everything around here!"

***

Billy, "Shanna, where is my remote?"

Me, "Up by your shoulder."

Billy, loud, "Why do they put it there?  It's like this whole hospital is built for midgets."

(Sorry for the use of the word midget)

And on and on my day goes.

They continue to do scans and sonograms and vein thingys and all other configuration of tests each day.

It all seems to be going in the right direction, all be it slowly.

If his pain can be managed a little better, they move him sometime this weekend to a regular room.

That will be good for him.  And, us.

In the meantime,

For the meals, the gift cards, and the cash...

For my studio families who "donated" their piano lessons so I didn't have to come in or lose the income...

For the DLA student who took Victoria to coffee...

For my friend Paola who helped Elizabeth with her plane ticket...

For my friend Lynn who tracked down prayer cards from 15 years ago to mail to us -- after I expressed I was so desperately looking for my own set...

For my mother-in-law, who relieves me at the hospital (in a way that I can really trust)...

For my friend Ginny who sent me an email filled with scripture that so deeply spoke to me...you know...in a way only someone who's known you for a long time can do...

For my neighbor Lori who brought over bags of junk food for my kids...comfort food...

For my friends Rose and Rebecca who came over to finish my Jesse Tree ornaments...

For my sister who daily keeps my spirits up...

FOR ALL THE PRAYERS

And well, for a myriad of other things...

We are thankful to be taken care of...

Love to you all,
















Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Day 6 is better than Day 1 - and other OBVIOUS things...

This morning when I came in, the nurse meet me in the hall and said, "It's day 6.  Day 6 is better than day 1."

I suppose that is true.

Obvious Medical Facts I've Been Given Over and Over:

- The pain is caused by blood in the spinal fluid

- The pain is very hard to control

- It takes time for the blood to be absorbed back into the body

Thus making Day 6 -- better than Day 1.

Got it.

Day 5, however, was a bitch.

Yesterday, after what has felt like a million hours of EXCRUCIATING pain, they decided to do a spinal tap.

Removing some of the bloody fluid causes pain reduction in SOME people SOME of the time.

It didn't work.

My heart threatened to fail.

They decided to try "one more med" - something that starts with a T and is often used for kidney stones...because that's about as clearly as I hear things these days.

Within an hour, his pain was a 3.  He opened his eyes for the first time in days.  He spoke.

He ordered blueberry pancakes, bacon, french fries, whole milk, root beer, a strawberry protein shake, and a cinnamon roll for dinner.  And ate most of it.

I cried.

It felt like a miracle.

When I arrived this morning, he was dressed and sitting in a chair.  His pain was a 9.

Another obvious medical fact,

On a pain scale of 1 - 10, a 9 is not as good as a 3, but way better than a 12.

The doctors continue to hold that Billy's healing is taking a predictable path.

His brain is healing.

It needs more time.

His pain will continue to go up and down, but the numbers should be lower.

He should make a full recovery, have no permanent brain damage...

And...most importantly...and not as obvious to me...

The chances of a benign subarachnoid hemorrhage happening again, are low.

****

This morning, Billy called and asked if I were coming to the hospital.

30 minutes later, I received this text...

asdlfkwoeha;dsdnff  asoiifhhw
a;sdhfe   feihwhoehhfoe  fowhfeh

Thinking that he may need me to bring him something, I called him.

Me, "I didn't understand your text.  Did you need something?"

Billy, "No.  I was just texting you to see if you were coming up."

I forward the text to my sister.

She responds, "Did he butt text you?"

THE DOCTOR SAYS HE ISN'T LIKELY TO HAVE ANY LONG TERM BRAIN DAMAGE.

****

Thought:  I should make a bitstrip cartoon about this.

THE DOCTOR SAYS I AM NOT LIKELY TO HAVE ANY LONG TERM BRAIN DAMAGE.

****

Billy requested that I go get him some BenGay for his neck.  He has symptoms (stiffness) similar to meningitis. BenGay doesn't help per say, but the smell does distract him.

When I stopped at Walgreens to pick it up, I also grabbed a giant candy cane.  Because he likes those.

Me, "I got you a present." (Hand him the Candy Cane)

B, turning a little pale, "Is it Christmas now?"

:)

Strength is rising,












Monday, November 11, 2013

No Knew News is Good News...

I didn't go to Denver today.

Not because the nurse told me how "good" it would be for me to "take a day for myself."

Really, I don't want a day for myself.

I stayed home because we still have bills to pay.  I still NEED to work.

I stayed home because I leave little notes around the house for myself.  Sometimes on BIG pieces of paper with bold writing.  Notes that say things like SHANNA DON'T FORGET TO PAY THE LIGHT BILL!!!

I stayed home because I acknowledge that some level of "normalcy" is healthy for the rest of us.  And, frankly, there are some things only I can do.

But, I mostly stayed home because (all of a sudden) I wanted to work on Billy's things-to-do-list.

The thought that he'd "wake up" from this ordeal in 2 weeks -- then have a pile of paperwork, meetings, church calendars, emails, phone calls, bills to pay and well -- just all the things that would pile up on a person who existed a big life for a time...and it just didn't set right with me.

I wasn't happy about staying home.  And frankly, I disagree that it did him or me any good.

****

I taught a little this morning.

I reason that teaching is in reality 65% teaching and 35% acting.  I don't mean to insult ANY of my teacher friends.  I just mean it's a job where you are "on" ALL.  THE.  TIME.  And, on those days you don't feel like being "on" -- then -- you are acting like you do.

Today, I think I was just the 35%.

My mind just wouldn't cooperate and work in a straight line.

****

I managed to go to the Y (and forced Victoria to go as well).

A friend approached me there and asked for me to tell her what happened.  I couldn't remember the next sentence of what I was suppose to say.  After a few minutes of silence, I said with a confused tone, "I guess I can't talk about it?"  Frankly, I had forgotten what she had originally asked.

I managed to get some nutrition in my body.

Admittedly, as my adrenalin wears off and I fully embrace "overwhelmedness", I find it increasingly more difficult to eat...ANYTHING.  Strange.

I did finally mange to get some protein powder....

****

Billy's pain is terrible.

When people ask how he is doing, I really don't have words.  If I do answer you, it's just an automatic response.

Currently, they are throwing every drug they have at him.  That means some moments his "12" on the pain scale is a "6".  But it always goes back up.

I hope, really HOPE, pray that he doesn't remember these days.

I thought about writing everything down for him.  He's that kind of person.  He'll want to know.

But I'll probably just end up saying something like, "Read my facebook."

He isn't really eating.

The have stopped doing neuro tests every hour (24/7).  You know, "Who's the President?  How many children do you have?  What day is it?"

Now they are doing them every 2 hours, 24/7.

It's the tiniest step -- but it's a step -- and I am grateful for it.

They plan to allow him to sleep from 10pm - 3am this evening.  That's good too.

****

My other random thoughts today...

**  I hope B doesn't wake from this "experience" and try to do something all mid life crisis like and buy a motorcycle.  People with brain injuries shouldn't be allowed to buy motorcycles.

**  When this is "over" I may decide to do something all "feel good" like put up my Christmas tree BEFORE Thanksgiving.  If so, I don't want to hear any crap about it.  When I post the pictures on facebook my "friends" better be all LIKE, LIKE, LIKE.

**  It's sad to come home at night without him.  My kids are sad and worried too.  They express it in different ways.  Victoria is emotional and a little crazy.  Ben and Hosanna are extremely, painfully even, quiet.  Reserving their energy.  Ben is often found doing chores in the evening that would be things B might be doing -- quietly takes the trash out, vacuums the floor.  And, we all miss Elizabeth.

**  Eli?  Who's Eli?  Does he still live here?

**  This will possibly be a "life changing" experience for Billy.  I don't know what that means.

**  When I log on to facebook in the midst of crisis and read about your favorite sports teams, what you cooked for dinner, what your kids did today...it DOES make me feel better.  I find peace, oddly, in the fact that life goes on.  I am certainly ready for this situation to move on.

**  Overtly positive comments are appreciated, but they often seem LOUD for some reason.

**  We are all going to need some counseling after this.  Have you ever seen the show BONES?  You know how Sweats follows everyone around -- giving them free counseling every time they have a problem?  Yea, well, the RamFam needs a Sweats.

**  When you ask what can you do?  The truth is, I don't know what to say.  I'm not shy about asking for help.  I really just can't think of what to say.

"Can you teach piano?" comes to mind.

Or, how about "Can you help Elizabeth get her Visa?  Purchase her plane ticket?  Renew her passport? Fund raise? We're on a dead line here."

And, "Where can I apply for Obamacare?"

**  Finally, for the few men and women who went to school all the way from Kindergarten to Becoming a Brain Surgeon.  I am sooooooo thankful you did.  YOU are doing for my family currently that which no one else can do.  And, we are so terribly grateful.

Until tomorrow,



Sunday, November 10, 2013

What ExAcTlY Happened???

Warning:  I'm not really good at blog posts like this.  There's just nothing really entertaining about our current situation.  However, I know that so many of you want to know.......

Billy is currently sleeping.

He hasn't slept since Wednesday evening.  Since it's Sunday afternoon -- well -- you do the math...

I have really, really appreciated the literally hundreds of texts, and other messages.  There is no way I can respond to them all.  Some moments, I'm too overwhelmed to even click "like".  But, I am reading them.  And, I tell Billy about them.

If I ever doubted I have praying friends, all I have to do is listen to our voice mails.  Message after message of people praying.  We are listening.


Thursday evening, about midnight, Billy said he had a bad headache.

He has an old sports injury in his neck, causing a pinched nerve -- and gets a related headache a couple of times a month.  It's easily treated with over the counter meds.

This time, the meds weren't working and the pain was getting worse.

Around 1:45am I startled awake with Billy standing over me...

He very calmly said, "I need you to drive me to the E.R."

Billy has a very high pain tolerance.

Billy doesn't panic.  In 20 years, I'm not sure I've ever even seen him anxious.

That's more me.

He's the solid one.

At the E.R. the triage nurse says, "What's your pain on a scale of 1 - 10?"  He quietly and controlled says, "It's a 10.  No, an 11.  Actually, I think it's a 12."

I was keenly aware that this wasn't normal.

They treated him for a migraine.  No relief.

They talked about his pinched nerve.

Finally, the doctor says, "Let's do a CAT scan just to be safe."

Shortly thereafter the doctor comes in and sits close to me.

He is speaking in a low voice.

"Mrs. Ramsdell, it's good you came here.  There is bleeding in your husbands brain.  It could be a bleeding aneurysm, or something in that category.  I don't see the source of the bleeding and we don't treat this here.  I've already called the brain center in Denver.  There is no need for you to not stay calm.  Especially since they want to life flight Billy to the hospital and you'll need to drive there."

As if they were standing in the hall, just waiting for the doctor to get these words out, 6 new people immediately entered the room -- they introduce themselves as the pilot, his flight nurse, etc etc and a bunch of things I didn't hear.  One of their jobs was clearly to keep me focused and distracted.  Squaring my shoulders...explaining how it's important that I make the hour drive slowly and carefully because "I can't alter the outcome by driving crazy."

Driving crazy, huh.

They had me walk with Billy as they loaded him into the helicopter and helped me to my car as it took off.

As I shut the car door, I temporarily forgot what I was doing.  A minute or so later -- I breathed deep and said out loud, "Shanna!  Call Denise."

I called Billy's mom at 4 am and led off with, "No one has died, but..."

I woke Hosanna and we made the hour drive to Swedish Hospital in Denver, which just so happens to be recognized as one of the nations's top centers for neurotrama, and brain injuries.  I had never heard of it.

Enter...Facebook Status Updates...and you are pretty much up to date now.

His condition is considered serious, but stable.

They do neurological tests every hour.  He mostly passes.

He has a hard time keeping food down, can not walk, and even has a difficult time sitting up.

This afternoon, they decided to give him some anti anxiety meds -- and they have AT LEAST allowed him to sleep.

Sleep is the great equalizer.

Currently, they are still asking that he have no visitors.

He is sometimes allowed access to his phone and computer.

Please pray that he sleeps.  For the next couple of DAYS if possible.

As far as me and the kids are concerned...

We are dealing...because as you all know...you rise to the occasion.  You do what you have to do.

Elizabeth has gone back to college.  I was REALLY thankful to have her here.

Hosanna and Ben lend their quiet strength from time to time, but mostly stay out of the way.

Victoria is very responsible, but feeling anxious and restless.  She desperately wants to help -- to bring life and joy.  It's hard for her not to be here every minute.

Best case scenario, Billy is looking at being in this ICU room for 14 days.  I do not believe that he is aware of this.  That's probably for the best.

When he is lucid, he automatically starts quoting scripture over himself.  When you get squeezed, what's in your comes out -- or so they say.  That's what's in him.  Today, I looked up and said, "You have A LOT of scripture memorized!"

Things could have been much, MUCH worse.  And, the doctors are certain they have no idea why this ever happens TO ANYONE.

On a positive note, the sarcastic center of B's brain is functioning just fine.  That was a close one.

I appreciate every prayer, every note, every meal -- and every gesture of kindness. We are thankful to be taken care of.

Many blessings,






Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Gastric Bypass Surgery Update - 7 months

I am now, 7 months out from my gastric bypass surgery.

The other night, I saw a neighbor in Wal-Mart, whom I hadn't seen in awhile.  She didn't recognize me.

Me to Hosanna, "I don't really consider myself having gotten unrecognizable."  Hosanna, "You are recognizable.  You just look totally different."  :/

Going into it, I really didn't have a big expectation for how much weight I would lose by when...

Frankly, I was just so discouraged.  I was ABSOLUTELY convinced I couldn't do it on my own.  I needed SERIOUS intervention people.  Oddly, I was crazy hopeful as well.  Admitting your need for help and then taking the steps to actually get help -- well -- that can bring hope I've discovered.


Some last words the day before surgery from my surgeon...

"Shanna, you aren't going to die any time soon from your "conditions".  Your blood pressure and diabetes are well controlled.  However, your BMI does qualify you for the surgery.  I think RNY Gastric Bypass is right for you, but if you think you can loose weight in any other way, you should."

"Shanna, the surgery alone will not do it.  You will have to exercise EVERY DAY."

"Shanna, your expectation should be this.  In the first year, you will lose 70% of your "need to lose weight" or 91 lbs...probably."

Needless to say, I've taken it seriously.  And, I am active EVERY DAY.

Eating what I'm suppose to eat -- as dictated by 18 alarms on my cell phone.

And, I am 8 pounds from that 91 pound goal.

83 lbs down.

My next appointment with the surgeon is November 22nd.  I would really LOVE to be another 8 lbs down by then.  But, I won't be greedy.

When it comes to those 8 lbs, it's not a matter of if I "can do it" or not.  Besides, I weigh 5 lbs LESS than Billy.

Truthfully, I can't control the number on the scale.  I can't really control what my body does.  I can't control if I lose 8 lbs by my doctors appointment or not.  So, I focus on what I can control...

I will workout, on purpose -- in the gym -- 4 days a week.  2 days a week, I'll be active in a fun way with my family...at home doing aerobics, hiking, or working with my online personal trainer!  Let's here it for 4 minute Tabatas!  No.

I will eat what I'm suppose to eat -- 60 g of protein, 60 oz of water, trace amounts of fruit, vegetables and grains for variety.

I will prioritize other ways to enjoy life, daily, than just what I put in my mouth.  The music I like?  Beside the CD player.  The candles I like?  Stocked in the kitchen cabinet.  Fuzzy socks?  God help the person who picks up and misplaces my fuzzy socks.  Bubble baths, hot tub evenings, snuggling on Billy while watching a movie, driving to see college kid -- ALL of these things are IMPORTANT for my good health and well being. 

I will learn to "sit with my feelings" - wisdom from my friend Cheryl.  I will pray them through until I (at the very least) know what they are -- and I will learn to TALK.  When I feel anger -- well it's just anger.  It isn't necessary to drown it in sugar.  It will leave on it's on. 

For those wondering how a person with gastric bypass eats -- at least 7 months out -- here's my run down....basically....although I PURPOSE to make each day slightly different for VARIETY'S sake.  Because when I said to the surgeon at 3 months, "I'd be happy to eat yogurt every meal, every day for the rest of my life."  He said back to me, "You won't forever.  Make variety your next goal."

7:30am
6oz of Vanilla Greek Yogurt with frozen fruit.  (I place 4 or 5 frozen cherries, peaches or black berries in it to thaw the night before...)
Multi Vitamin
12 grams protein

10:30  am
1 oz of whole, raw almonds (about 24)
6 grams protein
Calcium, D3

1:30 pm
2oz shredded pork
2 oz black beans
1 oz cheddar cheese
diced tomato, onion, spinach and avocado
1 t Fat Free Sour Cream
21 grams protein
Calcium

4:30 pm
Protein Bar (or protein shake with fruit and spinach)
14 gram protein
Calcium

7:30 pm
2 oz pot roast
diced peppers and onion
green beans
16 grams protein
Multi Vitamin

Total:  66 grams of protein (that's just an example, the amounts may not be exact)

I don't limit carbs.  I try to make my protein requirement a priority.  That limits my carbs.

I don't limit my calories.  Frankly, my body does.  About 1/2 cup is what I can handle at this time.

If I am STILL hungry in the evenings, I eat 1/4 cup of blended, frozen fruit -- or some mini rice cakes. 

Tonight, I ate 1 cookie (with 6 grams of sugar -- which is under my 13 gram limit).  I seldom do this.  I crave proteins, not sweets.  I also don't keep cookies in the house.  Hosanna brought them home.

Frankly, it's a MIRACLE I can eat just 1 cookie and feel fine about it.  I eat so few sweets -- that they taste TOO CRAZY SWEET.  At least right now they do.

Things I'm NEVER Out Of:

Greek Yogurt
Frozen Fruit
Protein Bars
Protein Powder
PB2 Powder
Avocado
Shredded Meat (Chicken, Pork, Taco Meat, Etc)
Cheese
Crystal Light ENERGY
Almond Milk
Sweet Chili Rice Cakes
Peanut Butter

Activity

I enjoy, love really, Aqua Aerobics and ESPECIALLY Aqua Zumba when it's available at my Y.  I enjoy doing 5K's.  I enjoy doing aerobics.  I have a personal trainer for the next 10 weeks -- straight through the holidays!  I'll be trying a Tabata, Burpees, Jump Squats -- you know -- a bunch of things I never thought I'd do!

When I think of the future, I admit to feeling afraid.

Recently, I stopped at Krispy Kreme Doughnuts with Billy and Hosanna.  Truth be told, a glazed doughnut is only 10 grams of sugar...within my limit.  I told the worker guy handing out free hot doughnuts that I didn't want one.  He looked confused.  I felt confused.  I ate a bite of Billy's.  It was good, but not heaven.  And I couldn't hide it.  B says, "You look afraid."  I said, "I feel afraid and would appreciate it we could leave now."  We did.  Strange.

Anyways, I try not to think about the future to much.  I've met PLENTLY of RNY people who have gained some of their weight back -- some that have gained all of their weight back -- and some on their second and third surgeries.  Before you judge, I've also met people on EVERY SINGLE DIET, PROGRAM, PROTEIN DRINK MIX AND PILL YOU CAN IMAGINE THAT HAVE GAINED THEIR WEIGHT BACK AS WELL.  It happens.  It's no secret. 

If you ask me if I'll gain the weight back -- my honest answer is -- I don't know.  But...

But...

I didn't today

Today, I worked out.  I situated my work out for tomorrow.  I ate what I was suppose to eat -- when I was suppose to eat it.

And, today, that's the best I got!

Here's some pictorial proof...



December 2012





Hawaii, May 2013 (6 weeks after surgery)



August 2013






Color Run, September 2013





Visiting College Kid, a couple weeks ago.  :)


"You did it: you changed wild lament
    into whirling dance;
You ripped off my black mourning band
    and decked me with wildflowers.
I’m about to burst with song;
    I can’t keep quiet about you.
God, my God,
    I can’t thank you enough."  Psalms 30:11




Many Blessings,

















Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What's for Dinner?

So...

Sunday didn't go as I'd planned.

I worked hard last week to make sure that everything that had a "Monday Deadline" be completed before the weekend.

Because...

Friday night we hosted the Legacy Sports JV Volleyball Team's End of the Season Party for our girl, Victoria, and her friends.  What a blessing the league has been to us!  Full of good people -- INTENSE and COMPETITIVE.  Great coaches.  If you live in the Springs, you should check them out!  They are worth every penny.



Saturday morning was Eli's official birthday party at Whit's End at Focus on the Family.  We had to choose the 9:30am spot in-order to secure the Fire Station Room. 

Ya see, this year, Billy was at a conference for Eli's actual birthday.  So, I took him and a friend to the YMCA's Trunk or Treat and to get FoYo that evening.  He thanked me like 100 times.  Seriously, the most thankful kid ever.

The very next day was B's birthday.  We had a family dinner.  Throw in V's 13th bday party in the same week -- and well, this is why I say we just need to narrow things down to 1 party only.  By the time the actual birthday, the family birthday, and then the FRIEND birthday party were over -- I was pretty exhausted.

Birthday "weeks" only work well for me -- if it's my birthday week.

Read more about that here if you'd like...

Anyway, immediately after the party ended at 12, we headed to Fort Collins, Colorado (2 hour drive) so that B could work on college kid's Jeep.  We took the in-laws and it's just a lovely drive really.  Fort Collins is simply beautiful.

And, I won't lie.  It's always, ALWAYS been a blessing to me that Billy's parents are so interested -- or at least willing -- to listen to us pour over the agonizing details of our big life.  We held them captive for 2 straight hours.

It took B an entire 10 minutes to fix the car.  He was a hero. 

We had a nice dinner all together and headed home.

College kid is doing GREAT by the way.



Sunday, I would have spent the day in Canyon City with Billy at Living Word Church -- BUT son woke in the night throwing up his guts -- and well -- that meant I needed to change my plans and be mom for the day.

Being good at changing plans has only RECENTLY been my thing.  Vacations for instance.  Once I've done the research, mapped it all out, decided on what's good and best -- I don't want the kids to declare they aren't interested in visiting the M&M store and would rather swim in the pool instead.  I like to stick to the plan. 

And, that's just the tip of the iceberg.  Really, I like things to go my way.

My life however, doesn't particularly care how I like everything to go.  On a regular basis.

So, for survival, I am adjusting.

I've discovered that when my plans need to change -- if I quickly make a new list, focus on the positives and throw in a little happy -- it all works fine.

In this case, I started the fire place, put on my fuzzy socks, committed to work out for an hour (because I wanted to) and reasoned that NOW it was the perfect day to work on November's Grocery Trip (never mind the kid hacking in the bathroom).

So -- that's what I did.  My day consisted of organizing our finances, wrapping up last months budget, doing November's budget, cleaning the pantry, both refrigerators, all 3 freezers, making a list of a month of dinners plus easy lunch ideas for me to obtain variety while staying on track, generating a grocery list, a coupon list, clipping coupons -- and by golly once all that was done -- I had might as well go to the store and buy the dang groceries.

THAT didn't leave much time for cooking as I'd planned -- and even if it had -- I was spent.  I was toast.

I took a bubble bath, continued to help sick kid and snuggled up to B and fell asleep to National Treasure 2.

So, the upside.

Now, I don't have to SHOP this week -- I can work out, and meet other demands without the hassle that a GIGANTIC grocery trip affords me.

This week's menu...

Grilled Steak, Baked Mac N Cheese, Salad
 
Turkey Burgers
 
High Protein Chili
 
Ribs, BBQ Beans, Salad
 

I am asked regularly concerning once a week cooking, "What about things that don't keep well?"  Who wants to eat gross leftovers?  Not my family, not yours.  So, the simple answer is I try to plan things that keep well.  Ta-Dah!

STEAK does NOT keep well in my opinion.  But, my son requested it, I found it on sale and since he's thrown up everything but the kitchen sink over the weekend -- I will try to accommodate his wishes.

Yesterday, I mixed up these turkey burgers.

 
 
 
These are OPRAH'S FAVORITE TURKEY BURGERS.  You can find the recipe here.  And, frankly, I don't know how many people Oprah is trying to feed -- but I should have cut this recipe in 1/2.  It made 15 patties -- all 6 - 8oz each!  Totally more than my family will eat.  I plan to share with my in laws.  

Last night, B grilled the steaks and burgers all together while I was at work.  If you can find a "B" your life will be easier.  ;)

They are tasty and moist!  They will keep well!

Next, I whipped up some Baked Mac N Cheese.  In general, I am willing to do 1 splurge item for the family per week.  This was it.  Whole wheat pasta, low fat cheese, skim milk.  This recipe is DELICIOUS.  I don't eat more than 1 bite, because I don't feel well when I eat pasta, but my family thinks it's love in a 9x13 inch pan.  It won't last long.  The recipe is here

Finally, I did My Momma's Chili - super easy...just like my mom makes it.  Or at least the way I remember her making it...and then I added a few things.  But, it's still really easy...makes in a matter of minutes.  Can be doubled to feed a crowd, and is economical too!  I threw it in my crockpot., let it simmer all day..and placed the crock pot in my extra fridge.

2 lbs lean ground hamburger, browned.
2 cans diced tomatoes (enough to fill 1/3 of my crock pot)
1 can each kidney beans, garbanzo beans, and black beans
1 package chili seasoning (whatever you like)

That's it!  So easy!  So good on a cold night.

B likes to eat his Chili on whole wheat spaghetti noodles.  The rest of us think that is wrong and like it just as it is with grated cheese!  (And, I think with diced avocado.  I'm on an avocado kick.)

My favorite lunch currently (and I confess I eat it for breakfast too) is shredded meat (chicken, pork, beef, turkey burger -- whatever we are having), with grated cheese, black beans, and diced tomato, onion and avocado.  It's just really that great.  Here's a pic.  So easy if the meat's already cooked.  Flavor in a bowl I tell ya!




Finally, I put a slab of thawed ribs in my OTHER crock pot.  Added a chopped onion, 2/3 bottle of BBQ Sauce (I chose a low sugar option) and a can of Dr Pepper.  They will cook through the night, on LOW.  Tomorrow, I will drain the liquid and add the rest of the BBQ sauce.  They will be falling off the bone good.  If you aren't a member of the Facebook Group I Love My Crockpot, yes I do well, it's this kind of yumminess you are missing out on!

So, NOW, when I come home late from work -- when my family asks WHAT'S FOR DINNER, when I need convenient, protein options, and for the sake of VARIETY...the answer is...

Turkey Burgers, Chili or Ribs.
 
 
Smile!  And be happy!
 
Blessings,
 







Sunday, November 3, 2013

Weighing in on Weight Loss Surgery - Part 1

Many months ago, at the beginning of 2012, I wrote a few blogs documenting my first steps and thoughts towards having weight loss surgery.  I briefly published them, only to have 101 total strangers email me about buying their weight loss products.  I took the blogs down, because, I mean really -- who cares?  Truth be told though, since having surgery 6 months ago, I've come in contact with MANY people who care -- MANY people who are in the midst of their own journey.  So, if your interested, here's post #1 of mine....



I remember when I became fat.  At least, I remember when I became conscious of being fat.

I was in third grade.  Mrs. Graddick was my teacher.  Tall, dark skinned, glasses that sat on the tip of her nose, and gray hair tied in a bun...stern.  She wore Sunday dresses and black heels only.  Panty hose everyday.  All work, no play.

For some class project or another, she decided it would be best to have each child step on a scale in front of the class.  A third grade weigh-in.  Shocked?  Come on.  It was 1982.

Innocently, without the sightliest amount of dread, I took my turn.  And...tipped the scales at 101 pounds.  Without a seconds notice, Mrs. Graddick announced, with a sarcastic tone I can still recall 32 years later, "I'm going to put you on a diet".

And...at that moment, I became fat...obviously already so in my body...but now I was fat in my mind.  All of a sudden, I knew I was fat -- and even more alarming to me, everyone else was apparently aware of it too.  At age 8, shame descended upon me like a warm, scratchy, annoying, but oddly comfortable at the same time blanket.  It really wasn't mine.  But I owned it none-the-less.

 "She'll grow out of it,"  my grandmother told my mother.  38 years later -- we're still waiting on me to grow out of it.

(Fast forward) Fifth Grade - My parents, tired of waiting for me to grow out of it - and rightly concerned on many levels, announced that we A.L.L. needed to go on a diet.  A.L.L. meant  me, my mom and dad.  My 6 year old sister was already skinny. Sigh.

Armed with a calorie count book, copious amounts of shame and a secret fear that I was a disappointment to...well...everyone...I did not protest.

1,000 calories a day.  Weekly weigh ins.  And...before you know it...at age 10...I had my first MAJOR DIET success.  In the summer of  1984, I lost 25 lbs. and re-joined the ranks of the other fifth graders at Early County Elementary School a new woman.  And, I was new...in ways that were good...and bad.

Sure...I'd lost 25 lbs...and even at the age of 10...noticed that EVERYBODY noticed.  But, I hadn't lost my shame.  Oddly, not one ounce.  It still covered me.  I hadn't lost a deep since of fear -- that I would disappoint -- well -- EVERYBODY.  And, even more odd, I had picked up a deep, deep, very deep need for someone...ANYONE...to think I was pretty.  I now CRAVED not only comfort food, but... being pretty. A contradiction in terms so it seemed.

Its funny how you can lose weight and still feel fat.  Still BE fat in your mind.  It's funny how EVERYONE can seem pretty -- EVERYONE gets to BE pretty -- just not you.  A lie of the enemy we are all capable of hearing, yes?  EVERYONE...just not you.

I craved attention from boys -- and wrongly reasoned out that if he paid attention to me, I must infact BE pretty.

Turns my stomach still.

I did survive it and in high school, I lived on one of two streets all the time...

Dieting Street (my will power) or Gaining Weight Street (giving up all restraint).  I managed to stay a size 10.  Only about 6 sizes LARGER than most of the other girls.  EVERYONE gets to be a size 4...just NOT you.

Have you ever watched the 1,000 lb man on TLC?  When I did a couple of years ago, I cried.  "I AM that person",  I told my family.  Horrified they said, "NO YOUR NOT!"  I held steadfast, "I am on the inside -- capable of throwing off all restraint in this area...1,000 lbs doesn't seem that far fetched to me."  We are ALL capable of throwing off all restraint in some area, yes?

In college I reasoned out, if only I prayed more, was willing to die to myself completely, was committed to tearing down the "high places".  If only I had a heart that would say "yes" to God in all things.  If only I wasn't so strong willed.  Why was I born strong willed?  And why wasn't my strong will working for me and not against me?

It seemed right, spiritually mature even.  But it was exhausting.

Exhausting.

Spiritual battery.

Lately, my long term struggle with this issue has led me to consider the possibility of weight loss surgery.  As I have studied it, I've watched numerous Before/After videos of other peoples weight loss journeys.  As a result, I've decided that there are a few things that I hope NOT to say to myself.  Ever.


List of things to Never Say To Myself

#1 - "I didn't like that (big) girl, I didn't love her."  Satan comes to all of us in childhood and attempts to wound us.  No one gets out of this life without any scars.  Seems a heinous thing to say to a wounded individual that you don't love her -- even if the individual is yourself.

My journey has led me to try to thank God for all things -- including my weight gain/weight loss journey...the good, bad and the ugly.  He is, and has been,  working all of these things together for my good.  As I've thanked Him for it, all the parts of my journey, I have sensed His presence in my life and come to realize more deeply His love and acceptance for me in the here and now.

#2  -  "I wasn't happy."  Realization: skinny, like money, doesn't make you happy.  Logic accepted.  They do, however, solve a few problems.  'Happy' just isn't one of them.  Weight loss is a function of a more healthy lifestyle.  Joy is a function of gratitude.  I won't confuse the two.

#3 - "I was waiting for life to begin".  My life has been going for 39 years now.  I live it fully.  Anyone who doubts the fullness of my life should read my blog.

 I know when I begin to discuss the weight loss surgery in Part II of this blog, many will assume my thoughts concerning this procedure to be rash and short on consideration.  Oh contraire mon frere.  I assure you that I am actually made up of about 95% pure thought.  My mind works well, deep.  A lot of the time, I think so hard -- my lips actually move.  True Story -- just ask my family.  :)

So many thoughts have I, that I will leave you here...to rest your eyes for just a moment before I go on, and on....

Until then....



















Monday, October 28, 2013

Jesse Tree

I join things.

You know "groups" "challenges" "aerobics classes" and the such.

It commits me.

And Besides, as Donald Miller says, "Shared experiences feel more meaningful."
And all that jazz.

My friend Rebecca started a Jesse Tree group.

An advent celebration that involves 25 Christmas ornaments that correspond to Bible Stories.

I imagined this might be fun for Eli.

25 women in our group.

Each woman commits to make 25 of the SAME ornament and then we meet at an exchange and leave with a whole set!

Genius!








I decided to sign up for 2 spots.  I wanted a set for Eli and a set to give to my little sister's girls.

I choose -- as I'm sure others did as well -- my ornaments based on how easy they looked.

I choose...




And this...




And...last night I started on the grapes.


Truthfully, I should have gone with something like this...




But it felt like cheating.  Like I wasn't pulling my weight.  (Although, I wouldn't mind be given one that looked like that.)

Of course, I couldn't find a package of multi purple colored pom poms, so I had to go with a single color.  

There was also (probably) a better route than hot glue.  But....




Well, they will still need some beads -- or sequences -- or SOMETHING to cover up the hot glue.  

I hope that the women in the group believe that I am, indeed, ACTUALLY taking this seriously.  It's just, painting things isn't the same as being crafty.  And, well, why on earth didn't I think to just paint the grapes?




I've already given the ladies a speech about how the exchange MUST be a no judgement zone.  Selah.


My next project...




And, well, before I started to actually make the things, I imagined displaying them like this...




Now, maybe more like this....




Or something...


Tis the Season!














Thursday, October 24, 2013

Warning:  There is absolutely no wisdom to be found in this blog whatsoever.  There are no points.  IF you require well thought out, nuggets of truth, I have none.  You may want to turn around now.


Recently, I got into my VERY FIRST Facebook fight.  

I'm not proud of it.

In fact, despite the host of instant messages I received from friends the next day stating "I'm so sorry I missed that!"  - I would place it among one of the most absurd things I've done to date.  And, well, those who've known me longest will know that says a lot.  I've done some absurd things.  My desire to protect the underdog aside, it was still lame.

When two people argue on Facebook, the bystanders can fall into one of three categories (I'd love to know if you think there are more).

Remember, I say this with humor people...it's just my opinion...

Category 1
You are among those in Category 1 if you are generally not given to internet intimidation are delighted to join in the argument.  You can't even help yourself really!  With glee and an OH GOODY attitude you jump in with both feet to the defense of whichever party you deem most worthy.  If you have the time, you'll stay in the fight to the bitter end.  And, when your head hits the pillow at night, you'll feel satisfied, like it was time well spent.  I admit to doing this on some of your threads when I didn't know the person you were arguing with.  :)


Category 2
You are among those in Category 2 if you ARE opinionated in real life, however, for some reason, you suffer from internet intimidation. You tread lightly.  But, you do tread.  You attempt to diffuse the situation by making light.  A funny comment.  Maybe it contains an element of truth, but not what you're really thinking.  You passive aggressive people know who you are.  I respect you.  Because, well, I am you.

Category 3
You are among those in Category 3, if you'd never even THINK about commenting.  It's your worst nightmare.  So, you remain a looker...a lurker.  You read the fight but you wouldn't DARE comment.  You shake your head and wonder why people even bother having impassioned conversation via the internet when sarcasm font hasn't even been invented yet.  You feel these conversations are best done in person (if had at all) because then people can really "hear your heart". Bless you.  You may prove to be the wisest of us all...

I made someone mad.

I'd like to say that I didn't mean too.  But truth be told, I knew she'd be annoyed with any "disagreeable" statement I made and well, I shamelessly plunged ahead laying my thoughts right on out there.  People, that's what's commonly referred too as "picking a fight".

A friend messaged me afterwards:

"Right when I wanted to comment on your controversial post, you delete it!  That normally doesn't happen on your wall!"

My friend is category 1.

I admit to her, "It does happen in my real life though."

I'm category 2.

When my head hit my pillow that night, I told myself I wouldn't think about it.  The other person would get over it.

But, when I woke up at 4am, I was thinking about it.

I lay there listening to Billy's strong heart beating, and I prayed...

My conversation with God went something like this...

I choose to forgive.
I don't want to ruminate about this in my head.
She's been hurt by life.
She'll get over it.  Or...maybe she won't.
I choose to forgive.
I'm naive when it comes to people.  Naivety is bad.  Or, is it good?
Why do things like this surprise me?  Shock me even?
I don't want to over exaggerate this, make a lot of statements that aren't true.
I choose to forgive.

About this time, a thought popped into my head.  A statement that's come out of my mouth a million times.  And, I will admit to the world, I believe it to be true.

ALL PEOPLE ARE ESSENTIALLY THE SAME.

For my non church going friends, I will try to limit my churchy vocab, but I need to explain this in particular to you.  I believe that along side my own mind, will and emotions, the Spirit of God lives within me.  I believe I am able, at times, to sense His leading, His voice.

In that moment, I understood the following more clearly...

In the above statement, I, Shanna Touchton Ramsdell, am a part of "All People."


ALL PEOPLE ARE ESSENTIALLY THE SAME.
I AM ESSENTIALLY THE SAME AS EVERYONE ELSE.

We have all experienced hurt.
Pain.
Rejection.
Disappointment.
We, all broken, working through something.
All having to over come something.
All, our natural tendency is to judge quickly.
We all feel entitled, if to nothing more than our rightful opinion.

My father was a Southern Baptist Pastor.  When it came to being Southern Baptist, I "married out" so to speak.  Once, after visiting our NOT SOUTHERN BAPTIST church, my dad felt the need to comment, "Charismatic people feel like they are better because they believe in speaking in tongues."  

I nodded to my father agreement.  Then I said, "Baptists feel like they are better because they don't believe in speaking in tongues."

He considered.  Then, he nodded in agreement.

People are essentially the same.

You are right because you homeschool.
Ironically, your neighbor feels right because they do not.

You are right because you'd NEVER allow your kids to Trick or Treat.
Ironically, your neighbor feels right because they do (and on top of that they feel
 sorry for your kids).

You feel right because you eat healthy.  You'd never let a Krispie Kreme doughnut touch your gut.
Billy feels right because well, KK is where "dreams come true and the magic happens."  He speculates he's happier than you are.

You are right because you hate Joel Osteen.  He could not POSSIBLY be making ANY contribution to the Body of Christ.  You dislike him, because you read that one article on Facebook by John Piper.  Or wait, there was also that other article that  you "shared".  The one where Joel "infers" "indirectly".  And, besides John Piper sits closest to your side of the denominational line, so God obviously sides with him too.  After all, your side has the right hand on Biblical doctrine.

It's ok.  I get you.  I really do.  

See, I loathe John Piper.  AND DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON HOW WRONG I THINK JOHN MACAURTHER IS.

Shanna, have you ever read any of his writings?  No.  Have you ever sat under his teaching, consistently for ANY amount of time.  No.  Care to know anymore about him?  No.  Already decided he has contributed NOTHING to the church and that NO ONE could POSSIBLY be legitimately walking with God under his ministry? Yup.  Already decided that his purpose is to stir up dissension among the very people he desires to lead?  Absolutely, I have.   

All people are essentially the same.

You hate Obama.
I hate my HOA.

You say your soapbox simply shows your "concern about America AND about the church."

I say if you're so concerned, why aren't you out serving, showing love to the marginalized in our society, like welfare recipients.  Why aren't you adopting?  Oh wait, ADOPTION, that's my soapbox.

I realize I have opened a door for concerned emails about absolute truth and common sense, about all that's right about your particular brand of rightness...and maybe I deserve that or maybe I'll delete it.  (Truthfully, I am up in the air).

As I drifted back to sleep that night...my mind trailed even further...

Maybe we care about being right so much, because when we are, we also get to feel righteous.  And that is an easy righteousness to obtain.  We can be right and feel righteous and not really have to sacrifice anything. 

Humility, hearing others, inviting others to speak, being quiet, NOT sharing an opinion, saying we are sorry, cooperating with someone, forgiving, staying friends, giving up something -- even if it's only -- especially if it's only -- our entitlement to our own rightful opinion...well...that's hard stuff.  These things cost and they hurt.

Being right means we get to stay in control.  Asking for forgiveness puts our situation, our hearts, our feelings in someone else's control.

I'm not good at that.  You?

As I acknowledged the wrongful rightness in my own heart that evening to a loving, kind, generous God, I wondered...

If we now "see through a glass dimly lit" (1 Cor 13.12), then just maybe there is some rightness to leaving some blank space.  Blank space where others can talk, and we can listen.  And whether we agree or not, we can trust God with the blank space -- for without God's grace AND THE GRACE OF OTHERS -- things do not go well for me...no matter what my opinion is. 

My relationship with God is one of a truly, TRULY rescued person.  I mean truly.   I'll say it again for good measure, T.R.U.L.Y. rescued.  And, I haven't forgotten it these past 20 plus years. 

I was invited to leave a lifestyle of mire and nastiness.  I have not forgotten loneliness, sadness, anger.

I heard a message of Heaven and Hell all my life.  But it was God's kindness that drew me in.

Encouraged, blessed, and made joyful and grown up -- when I had been so angry and so sad.  A heart that is constantly being offered healing, and a mind that was more than ready to welcome a Great peace.  Did it cost me something?  Only my heart knows the depths of what it has cost.  Billy and I could write a book on suffering.  But, we navigate two truths, that whereas we have suffered, we have also experienced, lived a Good News.  Blessed more and more in every realm in a rich way.  Much blessing...

Billy told me the next morning, "Shanna, you are living a good story."  What a great, ridiculas joy to be able even to live a good story!

I am thankful for my family, my friends from my church and my community, for the people who come to this blog weekly for God knows what...thankful that you walk with me.  That you are interested in this story or The Story, humbles me.

Until next time, when I'm sure to have figured it all out...