Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Midweek Love

This morning, I opened a file on my computer's desktop called, "Plan for the New Year, Leaping Forward in 2014." 

Do you remember your "word" for this year?  That one you prayerfully choose back in January?  I remember mine.  PROGRESS. 

I remember some of yours too. 

And, they inspired me to add the words "WITH HOPE AND PEACE".

One thing weight loss surgery taught me:  Living most of life ALL OR NOTHING isn't virtuous or helpful. 

If I don't lose all my weight in 2 weeks (which felt like 2 years), eating healthy is not worth it.

If my marriage doesn't feel good by Friday, I'm out.

If my budget doesn't work out the way I hoped for the 6th month in a row, forget it, I'm going on a shopping spree.  I'll be disciplined and pay off the debt some other day.

If I don't get the 'yes' today, it will probably never happen.

And, with that, we stay stuck.

Billy and I will admit that we've made a good handful of decisions over the course of our lives, that looking back seem...well...stupid. 

Like you, we've spent more than one sleepless night wrestling with thoughts like, "Why'd we quit"?  "Why'd we give in"?  "Why didn't we say yes?"  And, one of our most prevalent thoughts, "WHY ARE WE SO DUMB"?

We readily see our own limitations.  And, just for the record, the children whom we've birthed walk close enough to us to see our limitations too.  We can't keep them secret so it seems.

Shortly after opening the file this morning, I found myself in prayer.  Talking with a God whose Spirit lives in me and whose grace ABOUNDS to me.  For that I am sure.

He reminded me to RELY on HIS HELP. 

There is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. 2 Chron 14:11
 
Do not fear or be dismayed.  I will surely save you out of a distant place.  You will again have peace and security.  Jer 46:27
 
This happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.  2 Cor 1:8 - 11
 
Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit.  Zech 4:6
 
Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced.  Isa 50:7

And on and on it goes....

So, I shamelessly toss all my eggs in THAT basket.

Rereading Nehemiah, I notice he felt no difficulty in combining prayer and action. 
 
"After I looked thing over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, 'Don't be afraid of them.  Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes."  4:14
 
 
It isn't too late you know?
 
To do some of those things on your list.  To step towards the One who put them on your heart in the first place.  To rely, to trust, to pray, to fight.
 
I finish reading Nehemiah, pondering my own draw to "rebuild the walls" -- the places "long devastated." 
 
B sends me a text, "I'm not giving up on the dreams God's put in our heart.  It took years to get from vision to adopt, to the actual adoption...I may be tired but I throw myself before my Father and practice trusting him, even when, especially when I don't see the answers..."
 
I smile.  I guess we're on the same page.  Hearing the same broadcast from Heaven this morning.
 
WE TRUST.
 
WE PRAY.
 
WE FIGHT.
 
We step towards God.  We step towards each other.
 
It's not time for you to give up either.
 
"Every secret, every shame
Every fear, every pain
Live inside the dark
But that's not who we are
We are children of the day
So wake up sleeper, lift your head
We were meant for more than this
Fight the shadows conquer death
Make the most of the time we have left."  Kari Jobe
 
 
It's not all or nothing. 
 
Apart from Him I am nothing.  But He holds all things together.  He can over come even our stupidity, our na├»ve mistakes, our immaturity, our pain. Not just "those things" that happened to me in childhood, or the stupidness of my teen years before my frontal cortex was fully developed.  He overcomes the mistakes I made -- even last week.

He isn't a God who says 'you got yourself into this mess -- now dig yourself out.'  His grace, his help ABOUNDS to me. 
 
And with that, I shake off  a little more of what hinders and create more room for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self control.  I create more room for God's Spirit to grow inside me.
 
Mid week love to you all dear friends!
 
Blessings,
 
 




Sunday, September 21, 2014

On Fighting for Peace

Someone recently said to me in a whiny voice, "But, You and Billy have the perfect life."

Wha?

Listen friends, I'm big on gratitude...gratitude for all things...and being responsible for your own happiness...and self care...and living the life you want to live...and not whining...and well...all that jazz.  But seriously, the "perfect life" we have is news to me.  And, my facial expression to my friend said just that.

This has been said to me before you know.

Said to me -- ALWAYS -- on the day my car just got flat tire #2 in the same week, and I'd run right down and buy a new set -- only -- I'm still rebuilding the emergency fund I emptied on car repairs LAST month. The same day my child calls from another state with kidney stones...right before the principal calls from school around the corner saying my other child received a referral for being disrespectful and sarcastic to the sub (sarcastic?  Huh?)...followed by Eli walking in the door with yet another set of broken glasses...and we're all hungry and outta groceries because it's right about NOW I realize I've put too much on my business plate to even think about house keeping duties. And, looking around, that's been the case for quite awhile now.  I mean really, is Eli the ONLY second grader up until 10 pm just because his parents forget to put him to bed?

I'm not even joking people.

According to my mother, it's like Home Alone around here all.  the.  time.

But, maybe, that's what "perfect life" means to some people?!?!?!?!?!

I asked Billy once how in GOD'S GREEN EARTH do we give people the "perfect life impression"? Seriously, we are both happy to sit and discuss the finer points of our ACTUAL life with just about anyone who seems interested.  B just shrugged and said, "We must have VERY good attitudes."

***

The last 2 weeks have been weird for me.

Our studio added a few new classes for littles, which require a lot of prep work on my part, and a couple of new teachers, and new private clients, and throw in a couple of very fun little birthday parties......all while B was out of town...and my oldest was very ill...and well, the day mentioned above was a REAL DAY in the life of the RamFam just about two weeks ago.

And, the excitement of it all was just enough to throw off my internal rhythm.  The past couple of weeks, I've forgotten things I NEVER forget -- like to actually GO TO WORK!  Yikes!  When your student calls and says, "Are you coming"?  And, ya well, that's a sign my brain is over full and important things are spilling out.

I've had a physical feeling of excitement?  Nervousness?  Anxiousness?  Fear?  What the what?  It's been hard to put my finger on.  Like I just couldn't get my adrenaline to shut off.

It's affected my ability to eat (which 17 months post wls still requires concentration on my part).  It's affected my concentration...my ability to remember things OBVIOUSLY...and my sleep...thus making me feel MORE crazy.

I just haven't been able to shake the buzzy, zippy feeling associated with my perfect life.  So to speak.

I've talked to my family, asked and received help. I've required the RamFam teens to step up their contributions.  Including choosing to fly Hosanna to be with Liz during a minor surgery.

I've taken the time to MAKE sure I was eating well...taking my supplements...praying.

I've made sure I was not just on "Introvert Overload" and had some quite time.

I've prioritized things that bring me joy like being outside, reading.

I confessed to a friend, "Maybe it's just the pressure of owning my own business.  You know, like if I'm 'good' I make money.  And, if I suck, I don't. So...I ALWAYS have to be 'good'."

I went on a rampage to identify any and every stress inducing thought I might be having.  Frankly, there weren't many.  Yet, I spoke truth to myself.

My shaky feeling seems to be there whether or not I drink coffee, have long talks with college kid insuring she's o.k., or frankly when my emotional state is calm and holding all it's horses.

We googled, and self diagnosed and well, B is convinced it's just 'performance anxiety'.  I do music for a living, and  performance anxiety isn't foreign to me -- although unusual for me to experience the physical symptoms for so long.

So, we make some decisions.  Consolidate lesson plans for next week so there's more repetition and less to remember.  Ask another teacher to handle some of my private clients for awhile -- giving me a little more of a gap to catch my breath.  Commit to call my doctor early in the week...2 weeks in warrants a medical opinion.  Take a gap week before the official fall KM semester starts.  A gap week where I'm running at 50% (vs 300%).

And this morning, I spent quite time in prayer.  I reminded myself that I don't have to lead this shindig.  I just have to pray, try to hear the Holy Spirit and try to cooperate with what He says.  If He opens a door, and I walk through -- that's really all I have to do -- walk though it and do my thing. Do what I do.  He goes before me.  My powerful, good, brilliant, strong, capable God steps before me.

I trust.  I've done this before.  In fact, I've been brave and done things FAR MORE scary than growing my business...and leading large groups of parents in playing with their children.

I remind myself that my current decisions were made in peace.  And, if I made the decision to QUIT it would be out of fear.  And, I would REGRET that.  Maybe not right away, but I would regret it.

I write here.  Because it changes something in me.

I glance at the calendar.  I see a date, soon, where new teachers will take over my classes and I'll go back to "normal" duties.

The holidays will come -- and family will visit.  And Lizzie will come home. We'll cook healthy food AND unhealthy food.  There will be fudge.  My mama's fudge.  We'll wrap our modest gifts in amazing ways, go see lights and get on to the kids for fighting in the back seat.  And, we'll stand around the piano and sing carols -- because well -- everyone plays and everyone sings around here...and music is in this house when it's my job and when it's not my job.

We'll sled and ski -- and it'll be Spring before you know it and then Hosanna will graduate and kid #2 will move off to college....and well....even now this is me reminding myself to look up -- that my life is so much more than my job. And definitely more than just what I have to do THIS week.

Some things will go well.  Great even.  Some things will fail.  We'll keep some things and scratch some others.  And, that's the ebb and flow of it all.

And I look one more time at my busy schedule for the week and shrug and say, "It's JUST a lot of people to bless this week."

And, really, for a little business whose goal it is to simply make our city a more delightful place to live --

To make the burden of the single parent a little lighter
To make the day of the special needs child a little brighter
To take seriously the artisan soul
To raise up tomorrows worship leaders
To make learning the language of music the lovely thing it was always meant to be
To create
To help the young musician get from A to B
To nod yes to the prophetic parent who sees their child succeeding in their future
To create time and space for parents of littles to interact and love

To love.  To love.  To love

A goal to simply make our city a more delightful place to live -- a week to bless A LOT of people -- is really just that.  And, I am thankful.

And, I am momentarily relieved of my racing adrenaline -- and just feel peace.

And, well, peace is worth fighting for when it's necessary.  It's worth figuring out.  And asking for. And drawing near - because He is our Peace.  And then drawing near some more.  It's even worth a doctor's check up.

If you're there -- fighting for peace -- in the midst of your own "perfect life", you're not alone.  We are all pretty much a like.  In fact, you're in good company.  Great company really.  So, keep going.


Blessings and much peace to you friends,












Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Fall Play List - 2014

Sometimes, I write and I write....and it's all in an effort to find that one sentence....that one thing I'm actually trying to say.  Then, once I figure that out,  I can, for your sake, go back and erase everything else.  You're welcome.




I'm in a mood.  A disconnected, cranky, exasperated, not very happy, don't care if I tie all these random thoughts together into a cohesive blog mood.  A funk.

OR...I simply have the flu.

Either way.

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.




***

Here in the Ramfam home, we are currently in the THROES of the second week of going back-to-school
(not my favorite), and having the studio reopen with full time hours at the same time.

I don't know exactly why I find transition to be so hard.  Certainly, it's not the best time to come down with the flu.

While I lay in bed all day, My brain says, "Other families are going back to school.  Other people are going back to work after vacation.  And, making it look much easier than you are I might add".

Certainly, none of them EVER get the flu.  Or have any kind of momentary lapse of purpose or motivation. Or doubt.  Or find spaghetti sauce on the wall in the foyer and want to kill someone.

***

I remind myself that during times of high fever and coughing fits -- one probably shouldn't reevaluate one's whole life.  Perhaps my judgement is impaired by the cough medicine.

I remind myself to doubt my doubt.

*** 

During transitions (sickness aside), times where I have to let one thing go and embrace another, I have learned to prioritize self care the best I know how.  And, whereas I believe it's in my best interest to fight, if I must, to settle in to a new routine sooner rather than later...I try to handle my own emotions with kindness and gentleness.

When transitioning last Spring, I made a Play List of things to look forward too.  I am happy to say, it went pretty good.  Not exactly how I'd imagined, but that's ok.  That's real life too.

I did finish the front bathroom.  Although I choose the quick and easy route.  Doesn't look anything like my inspiration pictures.  But sometimes -- you just gotta get something done GOOD ENOUGH.  A year is too long to be working on redoing a bathroom.  I was over it.  A curtain with some tie backs, new rugs, new accessories -- for less than $100.  Good enough.

We did take an anniversary trip. To Breckenridge, a place I love, where we rode kayaks and bikes around town.  We will save Washington DC for another day and time I suppose.

I climbed the incline in 2 hours.  And we saw a few good movies.

But, contrary to how it may seem, checking things off my lists really isn't my sum total of how my life is going. Whether it's being lived well or not.

For fall, I tossed around some ideas.  I still want to paint my book shelves and revamp my Thanksgiving decorations.







I mean sort of I do.  But right now, there is something tossing inside me more.  There is this....



Shanna, just love people in this season.  And accept their love in return.  

And, right now, this feels like enough. 

And, know I say this is "enough" with an OVER FLOWING to do list.  More "new projects" for work and ministry than I can fathom.  Many areas that need a break through.  Many reasons to be brave.  Many things that require me to try it just one more time.  

I say this in the midst of time sensitive tasks and people depending on me...people expecting of me...and people wanting from me.  

And, I say this in the midst of PLENTY OF MUNDANE things as well.  Healthy meals that still need to be planned, shopped for (with coupons), prepped, prepared.  The gym -- still calls my name -- and I will answer.  I will "fit in" math homework, and reading to Eli, and yard work, and doing the monthly budget. Just.  Like. You.

I don't imagine fall and a season of  "just loving" to be quiet, or slow, or uncrowded for myself, my family or our calendar.

But I hope that I can be.  On the inside.  Because my FOCUS can just be LOVING WELL and RECEIVING LOVE WELL...not on my grand effort.  And, at the end of the day, I believe that will be enough.      

At least, I'm hoping so.  In this season, I am hoping for healing, and meaning, and inspiration, and joy and relationships for me and my family members that mean something at the end of it all.  And hoping to share some of that with others as well.

And, that's all I'm really trying to say.  

Well, that and the fact that B says some of the color has finally returned to my face.  :)

Selah.

Blessings,











Monday, August 4, 2014

Turning the Titanic {Simple Meals}

A friend the other day joked that I was a "mommy blogger".  What?  That's a thing?

Obviously she was referring to my willingness to blog about such riveting (read mundane) topics as remembering late last night that I had an early morning appointment with the GYN (because it's been "awhile" since I've bothered)...on top of needing to get some blood work...make phone calls for our business...and take 4 kids to the dentist....all by 11 am.  Well...yea...that's my life.  And, I ain't afraid to blog about it.  Apparently.

Yesterday, I sat in the hair chair and caught up on my magazine reading.

If you follow me on facebook in any of our 24 Day Challenge Advocare groups, you know how I feel about getting variety.  I need it.  In food.  At work.  In fitness.  In my home decorating.  In my life in general.

The article I read however touched on an interesting topic.  That whereas variety was important, studies showed that too much variety at each individual meal time actually encouraged OVER EATING.

Hmmmmm......

My internal alert system always perks up at the work "over eating", so let's think it through.

We, you and I, both go out for frozen yogurt.

We both fill our cups with 1 1/2 cups of No Sugar Added Vanilla.

I top mine with blueberries.  A righteous choice.

You top yours with blueberries, strawberries, walnuts, coconut flakes, and dark chocolate chips.  A righteous choice as well in my book.

YOU, apparently, are now more likely to overeat.  Because...for the obvious reason.  Yours is more yummy.

The thinking is that the more textures and tastes you have in a particular meal, the more excited your brain and taste buds are too eat it, and the less likely you are to feel satiated. The article did note the exception:  vegetables and spices.

Interesting.

Variety over the course of time, but individual meals kept simple.

***************************

Simple meals is one way I am attempting to "bring my family" along with me in this healthier is better journey.

Here is tonight's dinner, prepped and ready for the grill.



Chicken breasts marinading in teriyaki sauce, with veggies and peaches ready to go on the grill.

******************************

I met with another mom lately who told me she couldn't fathom not buying sugary cereal for her kids anymore for breakfast (even though she really didn't want them to actually eat it).

I suggested that she "down grade" the cereal choices then.

Simply put, stop buying their favorites.

Instead of Apple Jacks and Captain Crunch for instance, buy Raisin Bran and Mini Wheats.  Because they are more virtuous choices?  No, not really.  But because most likely, YOUR KIDS WILL EAT LESS.

Follow me.  You are a teen age boy.  You LOOOOVVVVVEEEEE Apple Jacks.  You love them so much, in fact, that you gorge on them, and instead of eating the recommended serving size of 3/4 a cup -- you eat the equivalent of a punch bowl full every morning.  In fact, you eat the cereal so fast your mom begins to wonder if she actual bought a box to begin with.
Your thoughtful, caring mother wises up though.  She switches to buying Raisin Bran.

Your complaining about this change is kept to a minimal, because you like Raisin Bran after all, it's just not your FAVORITE.  This minor change and minimized griping allows your mom to keep some of her sanity during this process.  I may or may not be VERY acquainted with this scenario.

The cereal choices in your pantry are now less fun...so, you eat a cup of it and go about your day.  Whereas the change in cereal wasn't particularly night and day in the nutrition department...you did cut your sugar, fat, calories, sodium, chemical, etc intake JUST BY HAVING LESS THAN YOU NORMALLY WOULD.

And, my friends, that's how you get started.

Eventually, you have no cereal in the house.  Now, there are breakfast choices that need to be COOKED or BLENDED for goodness sake.  Eggs, bacon, protein shake mix and fruit.

And, before you know it -- you are switching over to turkey bacon...and the changes go on and on.

Turning the titanic doesn't happen quickly.  But planning to not let everyone slam into the iceberg is still nice.

I have found that my family actually eats more healthful (in our cause that means smaller) amounts when my meals are thoughtful, but simple.

Saturdays dinner:  French Onion Pot Roast with Fresh Green Beans

Sundays dinner:  Marinaded steaks, with left over Green Beans and Watermelon Slices

Tonights dinner:  Teriyaki Chicken, with Grilled Peppers and Peaches.

See?  Thoughtful.  Fresh.  Planned out.  But simple.

I assure you, you eat less when the menu reads: Pot Roast with Green Beans INSTEAD OF

Pot Roast with Potatoes, and Carrots...as well as...

 Hashbrown casserole, Mac-n-Cheese, Rolls and Dessert.

That's how we used to eat on a Monday night.

These days, that's called a "special meal."

Every day meals are simple -- and variety is offered over the course of a week.

It's just one way I'm trying to bring this large family (4 teens) along with me!

I'd love to hear some of how you are doing it in your home!

Blessings,




Saturday, June 28, 2014

Prioritizing Self Care

People occasionally misinterpret when I talk about prioritizing taking care of ones self.

I think it's my accent.

I get some, "I REALLY WISH I was in that stage of life."  Or, "Maybe once I wrap up this responsibility or that one, I'll be able to think about what I need."  Etc Etc.

I preach that preparation for any long term endeavor is key.  But, that aside, the spirit behind the rebuttals above is that self care (especially for a parent) is equivalent to moving a mountain.

It's not.

It only FEELS like moving a mountain.

Mostly, because...it's simply...not a habit.

Flossing my teeth each morning is my habit.  I don't think about it.  It requires no mental or emotional energy from me.  It's not even a thought in my brain.  UNTIL I'm out of floss.  Then, I prioritize going to the store to buy some (because not having it is unacceptable) and once I return, I am able to get right back on autopilot in regards to my dental care.

Habits are easy.

When we are in the process of creating NEW habits, it's hard.

But worth it.

Prioritizing self care for me hasn't meant I've stopped caring for my family.  Have you met my family of 7?  They can ALL be demanding.  They can have little thought of making demands of me, and frankly, I'm up for it.  I can move fast, multi task, organize, go the extra mile -- and have no fear of looking them in the eye and saying "no" when I want too.  Their intensity works for me.  I love it.  I love them.

Prioritizing self care hasn't stopped me from caring for them, but it has CHANGED the WAY I care for them.

Let me give you some real life examples.

Weight loss surgery has made me no less in love with mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and hot steamy rolls.  So...I simply DON'T COOK THEM.  Last night's dinner was a lovely grilled pork chop with a side of steamed broccoli/carrots/zucchini.  That's it.

When my teens gave me that look, you know, the one that says, "Is there anything else?", I sweetly answer no.  This is NOT only healthy (and self care) for me.  I remind myself that the way I eat is healthy for them as well.

If my family member had an addiction to alcohol, I wouldn't mix up margarita's at home for fun -- even though -- I think an adult beverage from time to time is fine.  If my husband had come in to our marriage with an addiction to porn, I would be extra sensitive to what movies, magazines, etc that I brought in to our house.  The meal choice above simply shows the same consideration of myself.

I don't buy Oreo cookies.  I don't buy them even though Billy loves them and doesn't have "the same issues with food as I do."  I don't buy ice cream "for the kids".   BECAUSE I'M NOT CURED OF MY FATNESS AND WOULD EAT IT LIKE CRAZY.  Prioritizing what I need in this regard means my family is along for the ride.  Just like I am for them.  And that's healthy in a lot of ways -- for all of us.

We still have ice cream by the way.  We eat it at the ice cream store.  We enjoy a "kiddie size" serving and then come home.  I am a food addict.  I can't live with temptation staring me in the face 24/7 -- and I shouldn't have too.  Not anymore than any other addict should have too.  My desire for a Little Debbie at 10 pm is just as strong as it used to be.  The difference  is now it is my habit not to buy them.  When I walk to my pantry -- there is NOTHING THERE expect some raw almonds.  They aren't near as fun.

Another real life example....

I have a day of running errands, having lunch with a friend...I come home and think, "I need to work out, but the kids have been home alone most of the day.  It wouldn't be right for me to leave them for another hour and 1/2".

Now that I prioritize my needs as well as theirs, I may say something like, "We are going for a walk.  Go get on your shoes."  Kids say back, "We don't want to go on a walk!"  I say, "We're not going for you.  We are going for me.  Plus I want to spend time with you.  Now, GET ON YOUR SHOES."  Again, THIS IS ACTUALLY HEALTHY FOR ALL OF US.

Moms not used to self care have thoughts like this, "My tennis shoes are 3 years old.  I could really use another pair.  Infact, I bet I'd be more motivated to work out if I bought a new pair of tennis shoes, some new socks and a cute work out outfit."  Their next thought goes, "I can't do that right now.  School starts in a month and all these kids will need new shoes and new clothes."  And, they dutifully let that be the end all be all.

All parents make self sacrifices.  And some of this is good and right.  But consistently doing it over the course of 20 years, means the kids grow up fine (probably) while mom and dad are a wreck.  It means DEVALUING CARING FOR YOURSELF has actually become your habit.   It's easy to do.  You can put yourself last on autopilot.

But that's not best for anyone in the long run.  And, it's not how I want my kids to parent my future my grandchildren.  I want my kids to learn to care for themselves in the future while naturally bringing their children along with them on the journey.

The fight feels real...but when you have break through in an area here and there...even the smallest victories...the feeling that accompanies it is so worth it!

You are worth it!

And, you can do it.

Blessings,




Saturday, May 31, 2014

Summer is Here!

Yesterday was my first official day of summer break!

Sure, I have one kid who STILL has 2 more days of school, but mentally, I've turned the corner.  And...it's already glorious.

I am a list keeper.  Not be nature, but by necessity.  My life has too many working parts to remember it all. We spend 80% of the year with a strict routine.  Whereas I eventually LONG for the moment we get a bit more freedom, when it does come -- my mind goes into shock and I can't think of what to do next.  So, my summer lists are filled with things, reminders really, of all I WANT to do.  Hike, finish the 8 books I've already started, try different workouts, do fun things with Eli, go to the pool, cook new healthy meals etc.

My morning started out with a "have too" -- the need to take one of my daughters to a specialist.  I was a little surprised to discover that at age 13 she needed no parental consent to see this doctor.  The nurse asked her questions like, "What phone number can we reach you on to discuss your medical info?"  Daughter, "I don't have a cell phone, just a facebook."  Nurse, "You'll need to sign these financial documents."  Daughter, "I'm 13, I don't have a job!"  Seriously, it was INSANE!  At 13, my child has lived approx 5 years as a PRESCHOOLER and 7 years in ELEMENTARY SCHOOL -- so I'm not sure what qualifies her to take 100% ownership of her own medical care.  For the record, to say a young woman has say (even absolute say) over what happens to her own body at 13 is fine in my opinion.  To say that that's true with no need to consult with an intelligent adult who is invested into their health is LUDICROUS.

Knowing it would take me a little while to get over that, I consulted my summer list.  I decided to head out for a 90 minute hike all by my lonesome for a workout and refreshment.  I took a new trail in GOG, Lot 10.  On the way to the car, low and behold, a SNAKE crawled out on the path.  I could see about 3 feet of his body -- coming right out next to the sign, "Rattle snake habitat.  Stay on Trail."  Yea, well, what happens when the snake is on my trail!?  I would have taken a photo, but I was frozen with fear!  When I came to my senses, I turned on the turbos and ran for my life!

On the hike I talked to God about the doctor visit, the government, Ted Haggard, T.D. Jakes, HIPA, and just about every other silly and not so silly thing that was weighing on my mind.

I recounted events from Creative Music Concepts Recital the night before.  And that led to recounting all the dreams and desires of my youth.  Before long, I was informing God that I had never directed the symphony, become an architect and built something AMAZING.  I had never written something remarkable.

Just a side note, you can rethink your life in this circular fashion until the cows come home -- and in my opinion -- outside of prayer, guidance from others, and wisdom -- it can be a waste of time.  Wasting time lamenting over wasted time is crazy.  It's dumb.

The sum total of your life and mine...isn't the things we've done.  It isn't the things we didn't do.  It isn't about seeing the ultimate sunset or hiking the most scenic spectacular trail with views only a few have ever beheld.  It isn't about your bucket list.

I'm FOR all those things.  I assure you, I have a bucket list.

But what the Spirit of God breathed into my mind during that hike, during that prayer -- was Shanna, what you and Billy HAVE done...is to LOVE well.

And, I know the impact of a life LIVED well by a person who has LOVED well.  So, just like that, I decided to have peace about it all and move on.  If all I do this summer is to LOVE well -- I'm ok with that. B and I, like everyone else need that kind of re-calibration from time to time.  Even when everything seems to be going just fine.  Feelings are weird things.  But, they are, just feelings.  I've learned it's best to talk about them -- and not try to manage them with food.  Selah.

I dropped by B's office where we had a spontaneous lunch date.  He made sweet comments about how thankful he was that we could have spontaneous lunch dates.

We came home, watched a movie with the kids, had the littlest Ramsdell snuggle up on me and fall asleep....and well...I'd almost forgotten what it felt like to be off work before 7pm.

Here's to summer!

Many blessings!





Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Mother's Day Card 2014

People often tell me how great my dad was.

Often.

Weekly - if not daily.

I guess a lot of you really liked him.

I get it.

He was very likable.

For the uninitiated, he was killed in a car accident 14 year ago.

It would surprise many to know though that I actually don't have 10 memories of him.

I asked my mom once recently, "Where was he?"

She simply replied, "He was just gone all the time."

***

Let me tell you what I do remember.

I remember my mom read me this book over, and over and over....


And this one...


And this one...

And this one...



And I am still an avid reader today.  And so are my children.



I remember getting lots of gifts from my mom that included....










I remember that she was a very good colorer.  

She made very small crayon strokes and stayed "in the lines" crazy good.


Admittedly, I don't value staying in the lines in quite the same way, I still crave creative activity.  I like having paint all over my hands, making things, and drawing.  Crayons, markers and fingerpaints still make me happy and I prioritize creative activities in my life.  My children do too.



Even when I just know, looking back, she was as poor as dirt, she made sure I had one of these...




And one of these....



And one of these....



And eventually these.....









I really can't even imagine how she paid for it.


Some of my earliest and most pleasant memories involved riding in the car and singing 2 part harmonies with my parents or my grandparents...my mom always the alto.

And, I not only make my living with these still today...I create jobs and employ others to do it as well.  When recently asked if one of my daughters could "play", I smiled and replied, "All my kids can actually."


Every.  Single.  Year.  She scraped and saved and took us on vacation here...


With friends I still enjoy being in relationship with today.


She was the first to take me to do this...


And for a kid whose unknown love language was Quality Time, 
with a dad who was gone tending to others all the live long day -- these trips she planned were a life line for  me.  And, she probably didn't even know it then.

I remember moments where she laughed til she cried.  

She had bionic ears.  Especially when she was suppose to be asleep.

She loved my dad.  Enjoyed her friendship with him.  Maybe that being the single greatest contribution ever made to me..and to my marriage...and to Elizabeth, Hosanna, Benjamin, Victoria and Eli.

She knew me better than I realized she did.

One day after discussing the possibility of marrying my pre-Billy boyfriend she simply said, "Shanna, I don't think you love him.  In fact, considering the way you treat him, I don't even think you like him!"  Gets a young girl thinking.  And, well again, Billy and I are grateful...as well as Elizabeth, Hosanna, Benjamin, Victoria and Eli.  ;)

She taught me how to wield sarcasm and speak in movie lyrics.  Without which my family would have a lot less communication.

She taught me not to take myself so seriously. 

Sure, I would occasionally get a card from my dad, but now that I'm a wife and mother, I'd bet a million dollars on the fact that it was my mom who had actually bought the card and told him to sign it.  That's not a knock on my dad, but let's just say, I've bought more than one girl card and told B what he needed to do with it.

I remember beautifully wrapped Christmas gifts.

You would have NEVER seen this sort of simplicity under my moms Christmas tree.



You would never have seen cheap paper -- with Mikey Mouse or Snowmen.

Making the presentation of the gift exquisite, with the perfect hand tied bow, was important in my household -- it was a part of the the gift.  She didn't know how to say it, words weren't her thing.  But she was trying to express to us our value.  I get it now.

Gifts were her love language.

To this day, I love wrapping my gifts in beautiful ways too.  
Don't even try to bring cheap wrapping paper up in my house.  My kids don't like it either.  And hospitality in all it's forms for me, means expressing to you your value.  And, I teach my kids that too.

Never once received or wanted one of these...



Our Easter Baskets were custom built.  Every item thoughtful.

She didn't let me quit things.  And, whereas I believe there is a time to quit some things...the ability to not give up saved my life in regards to turning my health around this past year.  I see the same determination and "stay steady" attitude in my children.

In our adult life, she's not given up in the midst of her own devastating struggles.  And she's taught me that loving your family is good.  And forgiving yourself is paramount.  

She's always valued nice clothing -- and made sure I had all the things I needed growing up.  I took that for granted.

On Friday, I got a card and a check in the mail from her.  The card said FOR VACATION CLOTHES.  YOU'RE A SUPERSTAR.

Still making sure I have nice things.  Still planning vacations for her family.

Today it's not wasted on me.  

For all the Billy Touchton fans out there, again, I'm not knocking my dad.  I am mostly just saying my mom lived in his shadow.  And, today, I thought I'd give her the respect she deserved.

My dad had the luxury of having really good, Godly parents.  My mom didn't.  And the latter she had to ascend to become more, better -- to rise above that which she was taught to her and to learn that which was not demonstrated in her own growing up household far exceed his.  

And she did well.

"She watches over the affairs of her household

    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 
Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 
“Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."
Proverbs 31:27-31




Love you mom!


















Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What We See MATTERS....



Shortly after Hosanna was born, I felt the Holy Spirit whisper that I was entering a "season of prayer". For many years after that I would spend time praying and listening to the Holy Spirit. Sometimes 2 - 4 hours a day.


I'd pour over Isaiah. At one point, this caught my eye...


"The Lord has made proclamation to the ends of the earth: 'Say to the Daughter of Zion, SEE, YOUR SAVIOR COMES! SEE, HIS REWARD IS WITH HIM, and his recompense accompanies Him." 62:11


I felt the Spirit was saying, "Shanna, tell me what do you see?" I began to talk to Him about what I saw, not with my eyes, but with my prophetic imagination. And then I sensed Him saying, "Pray in THAT direction. Step in THAT direction."


John 16:13


"But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. "


All this time later, and I still sense God bringing me back to that question time and time again. Shanna, tell me, what do you see?


Other's saw two young parents with more kids than they could handle.


I saw missionaries, leaders, and world changers.


Other's see piano students, guitar students, and a bunch of little Kindermusik babies running around with scarves.


I see tomorrow's worship leaders.


Other's see diets, energy drinks, and protein bars.


I see discouraged people gaining hope, and momentum -- both with their health and their finances. I see mother's who have the energy to include time for themselves into their day and not neglect their own nourishment. Dad's having energy to play with their children and help in the home after an grueling 8 hour work day in a competitive environment. I see minds that are clear, sharp and able to make good decisions. I see people living free from the draw of sugar -- that was once so strong it literally made their feet stand up and walk to the pantry. I see people who have built their own businesses by genuinely serving one client at a time, and loving well.


Healing. I see healing.


I say what we SEE matters. God says what we SEE matters.


Now, what do you see?


Pray to that end. Step towards THAT. And, start right now why don't ya?


Blessings,




Monday, April 21, 2014

Creating the Space and Time YOU Need...

My last nutrition appointment before surgery went something like this...

Nutritionist takes an hour to recap EVERY.  SINGLE.  DETAIL.  OF.  DIETARY.  CHANGE.  THAT.  AWAITS.  ME.  FOR.  THE.  1,000TH.  TIME.

Then, she looks at me and says in a challenging voice, "So, tell me.  How you are going to make this happen with 5 children, a husband with a busy career and a business?"

I look her in the eyes and say tentatively, "Well, I guess that for the next couple of months I'm going to JUST WORRY ABOUT MYSELF and tell my family their own their own."

She looks at me very seriously, leans in and says distinctly, "That is EXACTLY what you're going to have to do."

Then, she looks at Billy.

"Do you understand this"?  She says to him.  "This TIME is life or death for her."

Life or death.

This gift of time given to myself by myself = the difference between life and death.

I've since considered this revelation a gift.  A precious, AMAZING, LIFE GIVING gift.

When you are young, you can do a lot of things to your own body and get away with it.  But eventually, youth alone no longer sustains you.  Our choices take their toll.  Our neglect of ourselves can take it's toll.

I often say to people the single greatest gift that surgery afforded me was TIME.  It forced me to take the time to focus on myself.  My needs.  My diet.  My workout routine.  My healing.  I focused on it even with 5 children, a business and a husband with a busy career.  I had been a constant caregiver for 18 years.  This gift of time = the difference between life and death for me.  I took that as a Word from Heaven for me.  And, eventually I was able to add my regular life back in around my healthier life style habits.

And, I say even now with tears -- I've never been so grateful.

On May 12th, we will be hosting a 24 Day Challenge with the health and wellness company, Advocare on facebook.  The challenge includes a consult with a nutritionist and personal trainer to discuss your goals (from extreme weight loss to muscle gain...from an increased energy level to stronger mental focus...).  You will hand pick a customized bundle of supplements to CLEANSE your body and MAXIMIZE it's God given potential to do everything it was originally created to do.

You will be encouraged to carve out 24 days in a row, where YOU mostly focus on YOU.  On listening to what YOUR body needs, what YOUR heart and YOUR emotions need.  I'll remind you not to feel guilty about it.  For this gift of time, might equal life or death for you.

When you sign up, you'll get meal plan lists, so that you can shop and prepare in advance. You'll get the daily schedule in enough time to allow you to set reminders on your phone.  And, when we start, you'll get an online community of real life people who are doing this along side of you.

I plan to write more later about the CLEANSE phase specifically.  When my body detoxed, I was all of a sudden able to think clearly about my food choices.  No longer did carbs call my name so loudly that it forced my feet to walk into the kitchen to eat a pop tart.  Infact, today, IF I even had pop tarts in my house they would call my name so faintly I'd hardly know they are there.  Cleansing your body matters.

In the meantime, if you'd like to know more about the Challenge, please view this video.  And, if you are interested in joining me and Billy, please let me know.  We will be doing it right along side of you.

Here's too feeling good!  To having more energy than ever and being able to think clearly about your diet choices.

Many Blessings,

https://www.advocare.com/140412187/24DayChallenge/Default.aspx



































Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lest it all seem too perfect...

So, today was the day.

I couldn't manage a whole Wednesday off work, so I instead took both the morning AND the evening.

Which of course meant having a sick child who needed to be seen by the doctor first thing.

Finally done, around 11 am, I text B, "Going up in to the mountains.  For Solitude.  To pray.  Seek God.  Build an altar...plant a tree...you know...stuff like Abraham did."

He text back, "Yea, well don't get your arm stuck in a rock."  A reference to 127 hours where the hiker cuts his own arm off to save his life.








Fortunately, it was a GREAT morning.

Because...

As I came back down the pass to enjoy the rest of my time  -- the radiator hose blew.

Figures.

B came to the rescue just as the heavy snow started. 

Snowflakes as big as my head. 

The car was so hot, we decided it would be best to abandon the rest of my plan, drop me at the school to teach a 1 hour class and come back for the car later.

It was around 6pm when we got back -- so dinner at the gas station it was.

For me, a small bag of cashews, and a decaf coffee.

For B,  Muscle Milk.

And...wait for it...for Eli...Air Heads and Sprite.

B looking into the car, "The problem is bigger than I thought.  I'm gonna drive it home."

Me, "BIGGER THAN YOU THOUGHT?  DRIVE IT HOME?"

I've learned that when it comes to car fixing, and when B gets into his "D" (Driver) mode -- it's best for our marriage to just go with his plan -- no matter how insane.

I mean, we could have called the tow truck driver.  After all, we haven't seen him since....

SUNDAY...

When the starter on B's car died.

Eye roll.

Fortunately, we made it home.

Forgive us if we are in bed asleep by 7.  After all, it is my day off.  :)





Blessings!


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Spring Play List

Back in January, when I started talking about GOAL SETTING and making NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS...It seemed as if it made some people...nervous.

I got a lot of private messages from people I hadn't seen in years that went something like "How about this for a fitness goal, just be happy with yourself".  And, "It's ok to just enjoy what you've already accomplished." And, "Who needs the pressure?  Just resolve to make no resolutions."  (That last one does make me smile.)

This prompted me to ask B, "When did 'goal setting' start equating to not being happy with yourself?  When did New Year's Resolutions start making so many people nervous?"  

B shrugs, "Blog about it."

Okey Dokey then...

How about, I am happy.  Because happy is my habit.

How about, I do enjoy what I've already accomplished.  Because enjoying is my habit.

And, I agree.  No one needs the pressure of having to be or do more.

So, 

Now that we are all in agreement....

I set goals for 2014 in the 9 areas of life I think are MAJOR.  You may feel there are more I've yet to discover -- or you may feel I've lost my ever loving mind and gone goal setting crazy.  Regardless...here's my list...

Major Areas of Shanna's Life...in no particular order...

1.  Servant Leadership
2.  Education
3.  Spiritual
4.  Social
5.  Financial
6.  Quality of Life (Enjoyment)
7.  Financial
8.  Professional
9.  Marriage and Family

Some of these items I wrote down were true, measurable goals.  

"Put another $1,000 into Emergency Savings Account."  

"Attend a Conference this Year."  

"Read Books".  

Some, I know I'll hit.  

Others, let's just say, a little progress is better than no progress.  I happen to be o.k. with that.

Such as... 

"Practice your Piano 1 Hour a Week".  

Or..

"Write Daily in Thanksgiving Journal."

Some things I wrote down are not measurable goals per say.  They were things tumbling around in my heart and spirit that I wanted to express more throughout the year.  

"Pray for Kids in Foster Care".   

"Weigh less, trust your choices more."

But, truthfully, most of my list were simply things I wanted to do.  Things I really wanted to make time for in 2014.  Things I wanted on my calendar to look forward too.

Mix this with my ineptness to transition from one season to another, and well I went through some of my "New's Resolutions" to come up with my Spring Play List -- Things that boost my spirit to think about, plan and do.  

Spring isn't the best season in Colorado.  Actually, it's the only season Colorado doesn't do well.  So...it's important to plan a little happy into it.


Spring Play List 2014


1.  Make progress on the remodel in the front bathroom.  Yes, I realize I've been saying this for over 1 year now.  365 plus days.  Shake it off!

Here's my newest inspiration...








2.  Take the family to see a movie around Easter Time.  This has NOTHING to do with Jesus.  It's Thorn season.  We're busy kicking butt in life this time of year.  It's just a splurge.  About $100+ for a family of 7 to go to the movies and get a few snacks.  Currently, I cherish the times we all have together -- as it is rare.  So....the choices are....










3.  B and I are beginning to plan a 4 day get away for our 20th Anniversary this summer.  Because...it's a big deal.  We'd love to go see Washington D.C. and touring it on bikes would be a dream come true for me.




Ok, not that...




Anyone have any suggestions on where to stay?  How's about that white house in the back ground?  :)


4.  Paint the downstairs book cases.  Billy will probably have a heart attack when I break out this project.  Pretty sure I'm gonna do it anyways.








5.  Hike the Manitou Incline.  And invite others to do it with me.  2,000 steps to the top.  Yea, gonna be a beast.





By then, it's gonna be SUMMER which is my favorite.  :)

Don't you wish your New Year's Resolutions were as fun as mine?  Hahahaha

I'd LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. LOVE, REALLY LOVE 

To hear how you build a little "happy" into your life!

"So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person 
under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil 
all the days of the life God has given them under the sun."  Ecclesiastes 8:15


Blessings,