Sunday, March 30, 2014

{Lessons from Spring Break - Day 5} On Disappointment

I won't even TRY to explain this as a healthy breakfast.  I won't.  It's also not NEW.  But some days, just call for it still.

This morning...

Ladies and Gentlemen...BISCUITS AND GRAVY.

Billy loves gravy.  BUT HATES THE IDEA OF MAKING IT WITH GREASE.  Any kind of grease. Bacon grease.  Sausage grease.  Broccoli grease.  It doesn't matter.  He's not a fan of grease.

So, instead, I brown some sausage, DRAIN IT and use this...

Mix it with water, and wal-lah!  Deliciousness.


Billy got some disappointing news this week at work.  

We aren't strangers to disappointment.  Neither are you, are you?

Truthfully, we could write a book on it.

Most significantly though is what you decide to do with it -- and even MORE significantly -- what you decide to do with it as a couple.

We gave ourselves a few moments to catch our breath.  We contacted people who cared.  Who cared about the situation and more importantly -- who care about us no matter what our situation.

Do you have those people in your life?  If not, it would benefit you to stop everything RIGHT NOW and seek them out.  Everyone, EVERYONE, needs friends.

We made a decision to be patient with each other's reaction.

We spoke truth over each other and our situation.

And, we found reasons to quietly celebrate our life -- in our small corner of the universe -- just for a few moments, just the too of us -- even in the midst of disappointment.  

We recounted what we had learned.  Talked about the feed back from others we were FORTUNATE to get -- even if it didn't feel great.  How that makes us stronger candidates the next go around.  We talked about how we'd pleased God with right hearts (even if we'd had stupid heads) and that we were happy with our life as it was.  We would try to fix the "stupid head" problem, and we restated our resolve to continue trusting God in all situations.  Our conclusion is always the same.  Our life is one amazing, scary, wild, awesome ride.  And we are fortunate to be living it.

People, even in difficult seasons, you can find reasons to celebrate.  Even if it's a quiet celebration.  Even in the midst of disappointment and sadness.  The human heart is great and vast.  Capable of joy and pain -- all at the same time.

Just look.  The reasons to celebrate are right there, in the midst of your real actual life.  For couples, shared moments of gratitude and joy will not only ease disappointment (until it comes back around again), it will fuel your marriage and make it stronger.

Finally, a nod to wives when it's your husbands disappointment.  There are some things only you can do.  Be generous.

Today, I speak over you the same words I am currently speaking over the RamFam...

"Yahweh your Elohim is with you.  
He is a hero who saves you.  
He happily rejoices over you, 
renews you with His love, 
and celebrates over you with shouts of joy."  
Zephaniah 3:17

Blessings and Peace,

Saturday, March 29, 2014

{Lessons from Spring Break Day 4} - Scheduling Family Time


Why can't I get this  right?  I mean seriously.

I've tried Quinoa a couple of times now.  

This was "plain".  I cooked it for 12 minutes exactly then let it set off heat for another 5.

The texture seemed right.

And, still...


I've enjoyed this as a savory dinner food, but sweet - for breakfast - it was GrOsS.

I like Oatmeal 1,974,209,234,234,487,456 times better.

I'm not giving up on this one however -- so if you have a recipe you like, do share!


We've had so much QUIET this week, I thought we should try to fit in at least one, loud, obnoxious FAMILY ACTIVITY.  When you have a family of 7, it's not always easy to get everyone together.  I mean, it used to be.  When our kids were all little, we could have friends over for dinner on a Thursday night.  We could have dinner on the table early and do family movie night on a Tuesday.  But as they all got older, got cars and jobs -- it got trickier.

When Elizabeth moved into Jr High School -- and subsequently got more involved with extra curricular activities and with various groups of people, I mentioned to a friend that getting all my family together on one night seemed impossible.  I am a "Quality Time" love language person -- and when I go long periods of time without seeing my kids or my husband, I feel "off".  And, by "long periods of time" I mean a matter of a few days.  

My friend suggested that it might be time to start "scheduling" family time, vs waiting for the moment to just happen as it had in years past. She suggested I simply put a date on the calendar for a couple of days away and give everyone notice.  


Make no mistake about it.  Sometimes, I require the help of others to think of the most simple ideas. Birthing 5 kids does that too you.  That and a lack of caffeine.

So, we decided to do this...

I won.  Except the opposite of that.

Today, I also read this to Eli....

Have you read it?  It's DELIGHTFUL.  I can't believe I haven't heard of it until now! 

Miss Rumphius is charged with making the world "more beautiful".  So, she carries flower seeds in her pocket and scatters them everywhere she goes.  Wonderful I tell you.  I think it's based on a true story.  At least, I hope it is.

We also read selections from ...

We ended our day by enjoying an adults only dinner with our inlaws.

It became an "adults only" experience when child #C and#D decided to make the world a more miserable place and started arguing with each other.  Again.

Sad for them.  Splendid  for me.  

Spring Break is almost over!  But only 9 more weeks until summer!  Almost time to make my Summer Play List!  Counting down!


Friday, March 28, 2014

{Lessons from Spring Break Day 3} - Inspiration, Positive and Relaxed Doesn't Just Happen

HEALTHY BREAKFAST DAY #3 was based on this picture...

Except I had no blueberries, and no avocado...

So, I did a bed of slightly sauteed spinach, chicken, strawberries and goat cheese.  All with a drizzle of Light Raspberry Vinaigrette.

And, for the first time all week...breakfast was VERY tasty!

Obviously, this dish also works for lunch and dinner.

On that note, to those of you trying to get VARIETY, don't be afraid to eat "lunch" and "dinner" foods at breakfast.  It works.

If you have left over meat for instance (roast or pork in particular), I like to saute onions and green peppers -- add the meat and some mozzarella to the saute and wal-lah!  A Philly Cheese Steak Bowl.

That's a freebie.  :)

Today everyone was gone.  A TOTALLY quiet house.  For 6 straight hours.  This never happens.  Ever.

Billy had an important meeting planned this evening and decided to disappear into the mountains.  To pray. To hike.  To sweat.  To fast.  To seek God. 

By 5:30, he needed to be focused and in inspirational mode.  And just so you know, FOCUSED and INSPIRATIONAL (as well as POSITIVE and RELAXED) -- doesn't always just happen around here.  

We believe in presenting ourselves to others -- truthfully.  As true as we can.  

And, presenting true in situations that may also involve stress, or a feeling of pressure (a job interview, a speaking engagement, landing a new client, reconciliation) -- sometimes involves more for us than just preparing notes on a page. 

In B's case it often involves a trip to the mountains.  To pray.  To hike.  To sweat.  To fast.  To seek God.

In my case, it involved being in a quiet house.  For 6 straight hours.  

Time.  To.  Think.

It also involved a 20 minutes Pilates DVD and an At Home Crossfit Workout.

This one in particular...

Body weight exercises should not be underestimated apparently.


And, that's all I'll say about that.

Anyhow...are you in a situation that requires you to be at your best?  Take the time you need.  Get up right now and PUT THE TIME ON YOUR SCHEDULE.

Feed your body what it needs.  



Then, Go. 

And present yourself true.

Many blessings friends,

Thursday, March 27, 2014

{Lessons from Spring Break, Day 2} - Changing Gears When You Have Too

My mom carries 2 driver's licenses in her wallet.  The EXPIRED one with the CUTE picture.  As well as, the CURRENT one with the NOT-SO-CUTE picture.  No makeup, hair in a pony tail, not smiling. Basically, what ALL my driver's license pictures have always looked like and probably yours as well.

When the clerk at the grocery store asks my mother to "see her license" she pulls out the one...

You guessed it.

...with the cute picture.

No point.  That's just funny.


My license expired in January.  Of course, how often does a person pay attention to that?  So...I just found this out last week trying to make a deposit at the bank.

Teller, "Are you aware that your license has expired"?

Me, "Is anyone EVER aware that their license has expired"?

Truthfully, I've never lived at one address long enough for anything to expire.

I made an appointment at the DMV.  The large one.  WAY down Union Blvd.  Where ALL the grouchy people in Colorado seem to be gathered at on any given day.

You know the only thing WORSE than having to be up early on the second day of Spring Break for an appointment at the DMV?

It is getting to said DMV only to discover your appointment was schedule for the DAY BEFORE.

DMV Lady, "You can take a number.  It's a 4 hour wait."

No.  I.  Can't.  Thanks.  Anyways.

Changing Gears.

You know what...

Over the past few years, I've worked hard at being able to "change gears" -- in my mind, in my plan, in my emotions.  I am seeing the fruit of that work -- and freedom is a glorious thing!


I gave myself one whole minute in the car to be annoyed at the mishap, then disciplined my mind to START THE DAY OVER.  My emotions follow suit.  This is a GOOD thing.  A very good thing.

Home to this...

Enter:  Cantaloupe Protein Shake


And still, a NO GO ON THAT.

I'll blame pinterest.  Yea, pinterest fail.  

I LOVE blending frozen fruit in my Ninja -- and with just a little bit of liquid (water, milk, juice), it's just like Sorbet.

I LOVE blending frozen cantaloupe.  

I DID NOT however like the taste of the vanilla protein mix added in.

So, on this one, I recommend getting your protein from another source and just eating the blended fruit as a snack.  It's awesome that way.  Like summer in your mouth.

After cleaning up, I grabbed my man child and headed out for a hair cut.  

Once our hair looked awesome again, I decided to run into the DMV on Research (as B suggested to me 100 times.  And I had ignored him 100 times.).

With no appointment, I was doubtful, but the nice lady informed me the wait would only be 10 minutes or so.  10 minutes?!?!  Only 10 minutes?!?!?!  Wait?  What?

I'll never doubt B again.

New Driver's License Acquired - check!

Now, it's 12 noon and since 1/2 my day was spent with less than perfect Spring Break activities already -- I decided to just dedicate the rest of the day to my work list.  I mean, instead of spread my "have too" chores and errands out over the whole week -- I decided to cram them into 1 or 2 days -- so a higher percentage of the other days could be filled with more "appropriate" Spring Break activities.  Like blogging and doing nothing.

So, the rest of my afternoon was spent picking kids up, going to football practice, carpooling to slumber parties, picking up groceries, lesson plans, April budget meetings for work and home, invoices, the mall and reading with Eli.

Hey, it's not always a party around here.

And, when it's not, 2 things work for me.

1.  The mental discipline to "start my day over" at any given moment.  Shifting gears, turning a corner, being flexible -- these are freedom gifts.  And, they haven't come easily for me.


2.  Getting a lot of "have toos" out of the way early -- so that I can have more time for "want toos".  Then making sure I ignore the "should dos" and prioritize the "want toos".  :)

This evening I did manage to fit in a trail hike with Billy.  Where we solved all the worlds problems in 65 minutes.

Listen, if you have a spouse that can help you solve all the world's problems in 65 minutes, be grateful.  Just be very grateful.

Then, another Bubble Bath, Summer Hits of the 80's and the movie Gravity.

Did you guys see that on the IMAX?  I hope not.  My head was spinning just watching it at home.

Would love to hear about your Spring Break plans...and see your ugly driver's license pictures!  Haha

Many blessings,

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

{Lessons from Spring Break Day 1} Not Perfect, But Really Good

This week has been Spring Break.  Glorious Spring Break.  Love it.

Not because the weather all of a sudden becomes so warm and perfect we can FINALLY get back outdoors.  It doesn't.  In that regard, Spring is the one season Colorado doesn't do well.

I don't love Spring Break because we go on some grand vacation.  Or any vacation for that matter.  Besides the occasional day trip to Breckenridge, we stay home.

We stay home.

Did you hear that?

We stay home.


And by NOTHING, I mean NOTHING that isn't life giving.

Of course, spending an entire straight week doing nothing but what I enjoy is as impossible for me as it is for you.

And I have learned, it is impossible.

Perfection -- having things exactly the way I want them all the time -- is always a wrong expectation.

Things will not be perfect, but I know that they can be really good.

During Spring Break, we sleep alot.

It's quiet.  Calm.  As calm as our house can be.



1.  Sleep in.  Check.

2.   Make something NEW, HEALTHY and DELICIOUS for breakfast (which I plan to do every morning of Spring Break because I want too) .  Check.  Well, sort of...

I tried these...


They look good right?  Trust me.  If you haven't eaten a pancake IN A YEAR, they look AMAZING.

I found the three ingredient recipe through pinterest on the blog Haus of Gerz.

Just three ingredients.  How could I mess it up?

And yet...

In all fairness, I think it was the ALTITUDE.

The texture was all wrong.  The entire family hated them.

For the second batch I added 1 scoop of Protein Powder.  And it helped.  They looked like they were suppose too.  Still -- we were already tainted.  We'll try it again on another day...

Cooking bacon in the George Foreman Grill however was genius.

7 minutes.  Delicious.  Easy clean up.

Mix a little protein mix in with my coffee -- and all was not lost.

3.   DISCIPLINE TEENAGER.  I said our day was good.  Not perfect.

Listen, a week (actually ANY given amount of time) is TOO LONG to be at home with a child who is for lack of better term IGNORING you.

Me, "When you enter my spotless kitchen to make food -- I expect you too completely clean ALL of your dishes and wipe off the counters.  Did you hear me?  ALL of your DISHES.  Wipe off the counters."

I was clear.  The task was not too hard.  The child does not have a hearing problem.

And yet.

And yet...

Well, you know.  

There the dishes and the crumbs were -- an hour later.  

Mocking me.

So, my reaction was quick and concise.

Me, "You aren't going to practice today.  You can't go be your best in public and ignore me at home. Ignoring me is the SAME as disrespecting me.  I can't be at home all week with you, enjoying spring break with you AND be being disrespected by you.  Something has to give.  That something is YOU.  If you want to go to practice TOMORROW, I'd suggest you practice cleaning the kitchen all day."

My kitchen (and sanity) has thanked me for that move for the last 3 days.

My future daughter-in-law will thank me for it as well.  :)

4.   Play Play-Doh with Eli.

Lest you think somehow by my career choice that I am that mom who naturally LIKES to sit down and play children's games when I am home, our conversation went like this...

Eli, "Mom, I wish you'd play play-doh with me."

Me, "Eli, I don't like to play play-doh."

Eli, "Well, you used too."


It worked on me.


5.   Have Eli read to me. Check!

He's reading!

Did you hear that world?

He's reading!

Both Braille and REGULAR PRINT!  With his one seeing eyeball!

It's a miracle.  Seriously.  It really is.  You don't even know.

He read this to me...

And, I read these to him...

We are working on covering the CLASSICS.  :)

I read to myself too.  I am enjoying this...

And this...

(Her sensibilities on diet, exercise and loving and caring for your body are remarkable -- and easy to understand.) 

And this...

Someone asked me why I was reading "her".  The answer is simple.

Because I want too.

It's funny.  No points.  Just fun.

Confession:  I don't just read Christian authors or subjects.  I enjoy (and even find it valuable) to read things written by all kinds of various people who are shaping our culture.  Especially those who are different from me.  It's ok if you don't follow suit.  Or, it's ok if you do.  I don't mind either way.  :)

6.  Workout.  Check.

I really want to start Crossfit.  But because I'm a little bit chicken, I've committed to 6 weeks (or between now and summer) of doing At Home Crossfit Beginner Workouts I collected from Pinterest.  Thankfully, B and Ben decided to try it too.  Made it lots more fun.  Also, blare dubstep.  Definitely, blare dubstup.

 Finally, I ended the day with a Bubble bath and Italian Opera on Pandora.  Because I'm diverse.

It wasn't perfect, but it was really good.

And, whereas perfection is my enemy -- I've learned to raise my glass to really good.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Get Your Hopes Up

In honor of National Happiness Day, I'm gonna share with you one of my best tips for boosting your happy-o-meter.

Are you ready?

Here it is.


Follow me here...

You say something like, "I have a GREAT job interview planned for NEXT week, BUT I'm NOT GOING TO GET MY HOPES UP ABOUT IT."

I suggest that when you say this -- you've ALREADY gotten your hopes up.  At least you've ALREADY decided what you want.

Delaying HOPING does not change the outcome.  It also does not make you any less disappointed if what you want to happen doesn't.

It's like magical thinking.  If I don't get my hopes up, a better outcome is possible.  Wrong.

It just delays you being excited and happy between now and next week.

So, get your hopes up!

In 2013, I got my hopes up about several things.  Here are a few straight off my WHAT I HOPE HAPPENS THIS YEAR LIST:

1.  I want to have gastric bypass surgery and lose 100 lbs.

2.  I want to adopt again OR give to help others adopt

3.  I want to help Elizabeth move into the next stage of her life.

4.  I want my marriage to seem better.  More attention on us.  More fun.

5.  I want to be happier

6.  I want to read more

7.  I want to make more progress in the organization of our finances and careers

          Billy as Sr Pastor at a church

         Shanna's business grows

         Payed off college loans

         Fully funded EMERGENCY fund

         Get into the house we want to be in and pay it off

          saving regularly for retirement

Some of it happened.  Some of it didn't.  BUT I LET MY HOPES SOAR ON ALL ACCOUNTS.  I didn't avoid disappointment -- of course THAT wasn't on the list.  Avoiding disappointment wasn't the goal.  But I did experience more happiness in the moments that made up each of my days -- the days that made up my year.

You can too.

What are you getting your hopes up for?

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Thoughts on Hunger

Maybe I should include a warning here.  A warning to the effect that I've been sick all day.  And sickness has forced me to take it easy in the easy chair.  And this is my attempt to still be productive...with medicine head.
What Happens When I have  Time to Think - or Rather When I Don't Have Time to Think
by Shanna Ramsdell

My life granted me a blessing this past holiday season.  It granted me time to think.

I went years without time to think.  YEARS.   An entire season when my children were small and my days were filled to over flowing.  Schedules, diapers, two am feedings, a husband who worked late, not enough money, people -- too many -- needing some type of ministering too which felt all too important every single waking hour, and the constant pressure of making sure a house, slammed full of little people had creative, learning activities going all the time so they weren't watching TV.  My life often felt like a run on sentence.

Possibly, I didn't know I needed time to think.  I made time to pray.  I made time to read.  I made time to study so I could finish college.  I made time for all the needy people.  I made a few precious moments available for friends -- who weren't needy people -- just normal people that loved me.  I made all the time in the world for the needs of 4 small children -- but I didn't make time to think.

So this holiday season, I read Bread and Wine and spent time thinking about HUNGER.  MY HUNGER.

It became apparent to me that I hunger in many ways, for many things.  I am hungry for not just large amounts of food, I see that now.  I am also hungry for new experiences, rich relationships, creative endeavors and passionate experiences.  All that, I set on the back burner for many years, to feed others.  And, I fed all my various hungering with the same old thing, OVER AND OVER -- the one thing that was easily accessible during that crazy, chaotic season of life.  Food.

In the days before my surgery, I confessed to Billy, I feared if I gave up food -- there would be nothing else in my life that was enjoyable.  My brain knew that couldn't be true.  I see my children living rich, living deep, enjoying -- and not over eating.  I see that Billy goes day after day without needing sweets -- several times a day -- and maintains a healthy weight.  I knew it was a lie.  On paper it didn't make sense -- but I also knew it was real in my emotions, in my imagination.

You know the story in the Bible about Abraham and Isaac?  The one where God asks Abraham to slay Isaac.  Well at the risk of letting my imagination get carried away here -- that's how surgery was for me.  When God asked me to surrender the last 2 chicken nuggets on my plate, I wanted to do it -- with all my heart -- but my hand shook with fear every time I tried.  I just couldn't make my body line up.

So...I asked a surgeon to help me do it.  I handed him the knife so to speak.

During my first week of recovery, I had such a deep feeling one afternoon -- that I was now living naked. No buffer -- nothing to make a hard day easier -- and a momentary panic set in.  I said out loud, "People shouldn't live this exposed!"  I decided to just take a breath and continue on...

Yes, I'm living naked.  (That's gonna be the title of my book.)

And, as a result I've been FORCED to find other things that are enjoyable.  And to prioritize nourishing my self in all the ways I find I need nourishment.

God help the person that touches my fuzzy socks.  I NEED my fuzzy socks.

I MUST have a good book.

If I have to forgo the light bill (figuratively speaking) to go to the store for avocados, sweet chili rice cakes, crystal light grape energy, and olive oil.  I will  do it.  Because the things I like are just as important as the things everyone else in this house likes.

I hike on the weekends.  I dream.  I think.  I blog.

I talk.  I feel and say what I feel -- and then tell myself -- it's only a feeling.  It's only anger.  It's only sadness.  It's only loneliness.  It's only whatever.  I don't need to mask it with cookies.  Feelings change.  They go away.  They can be dealt with.

For my birthday, we went skiing...because I really wanted too.

I sit in the hot tub some nights when it's cold out but the full moon is bright.

Don't touch my water bottles.  I love my water bottles like they are one of my children.  Victoria said she thinks I love my water bottles more than my children.  I say they are equal.

Don't touch my music.  I love it and it's important.

Sometimes, I'm happy to drive you to that thing -- and forgo a hot bath at 10 pm because you just REALLY want to fit in that extra prayer meeting.

But, sometimes, if you don't have a ride -- the answer is no -- because I need an evening to be quiet and think.  Thinking is super important.  For some of us anyways.  

I'm knitting a scarf.  I'm painting the front bathroom for the 4th time -- and I'm happy about it -- just go with it.  

I spend a day cooking.  SURE, HARDLY EVER -- but when I do, it's because I want too -- and then I spend 10 straight days not cooking because I want too.

Some days, I plan all these things -- and I rotate them in 45 minute intervals.  BECAUSE that's how I feel.

Some days, I lay in bed with p.j.'s on and read -- all day.  

I wear make up when I want too -- and I forgo it when I want too.  Frankly, I feel great either way.

I've never been a size small.  My mom and my sister are.  But, I'm like my dad.  A large -- even on my skinnest day.  Growing up, I felt bad about this.

I don't any more.  

Don't hear me wrong.  I'm not a member of the "Fat is Beautiful" Club.  Obese is unhealthy -- anyway you want to see it.

Right now though, I am a member of the "Beautiful is Beautiful" Club -- and I believe that in my life I get to say what's beautiful and what is not.  The girls in my house happen to think that "Comfortable is Beautiful" most days. I wasn't comfortable in an obese body.  But, I didn't know to say that I wasn't comfortable -- because uncomfortable was my normal.  So, I just said in my young heart that I wasn't beautiful and that there was nothing I could do about it.  My trajectory was off.

95 lbs downs and life is turning another corner.  Most days aren't about what I can't eat.  They are actually about what I need to eat.  What do I need to nourish MY body?  The revelation of nourishing myself or feeding my hunger in a variety of ways -- is as new and startling to me as if I'd discovered treasure.  It's about what I put in -- NOT just what I keep out.  What I'm called too, not what I'm called to stay away from.

I feel new.

Right now we are learning to shoulder more -- to carry more -- but it oddly feels lighter.

Thankful for a sweet season.

For kids growing well, who are rightly connected to their parents -- and seem to enjoy a spacious place to live and grow and decide.

For a husband who is in his right mind.  Who is back to loving well.  

For a business that grows -- and allows me to a flexible schedule.  And sick days.

For ministry that's become richer as we've stopped feeling the pressure to have all the right answers.

And for time to think.

Praying for a year of healing for my family.

Thankful for progress.

Living naked isn't as bad as I thought.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Weighing in on Weight Loss Surgery - Part III

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 11 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 #3 of mine.  If you want, you can catch up on  post #1 and post #2 here....

So, what's next on the "Preparing for Weight Loss Surgery" docet?

Here's my real life list of things to do before having my stomach amputated on April 2nd.  :)

1.  Find a support group

2.  Call a therapist.  Tell her EVERY. SINGLE. CRAZY. DETAIL. OF.  MY.  ENTIRE.  LIFE.  If I'm beyond help in this area, I should know it now.

3.  Checkout Over Eaters Anonymous.  I mean seriously, why not?

4.  Stop allowing my brain to use the word 'disappointment'.  I am NOT a disappointment. Get a new appointment.

5.  Continue to count it ALL loss for the sake of knowing Christ more.

And, you know what, my issues with weight HAVE opened the door for me to know Christ more (as any issue can).  I have greater empathy for others. I can spot the outcast and draw them in in a heartbeat.  Yes, I have passion for brownies, but that passion carries over to lots of other things in my life as well.  Passion makes me a better mother, a better wife, a better musician, a better teacher, a non boring friend.  Maybe, I'm more thankful than others for the richness of my life (rich food and rich relationships).  I view my life as a miracle.

In the words of Andie Mitchell from Can You Stay for Dinner, and in the spirit of staying positive, my weight has led me to develop a "sense of humor before a sense of entitlement."  Like her I have "found spirit. Maybe because I was painfully aware of my size, I cultivated an awareness of all of my life.  A deep knowing.  A way of sensing and trusting and believing - in a way that others won't, or can't, know as well.  Maybe I feel deeper."

For sure.

I believe God is and always has been working all things for my good.  I'll just keep on believing that.  For my good.  Even this.

Now, lastly on my agenda, and I didn't actually write this one down...

Tell someone "out there" that freedom from whatever that thing is -- that thing you believe has you.  That thing you do or think that you really don't want to do or think -- FREEDOM may not come to you the exact way you've always imagined it would. Sometimes our imaginations work against us in fact.  Believe that. THAT is truth.  "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?"  Jeremiah 17:9

I have wrongly believed that victory for me is possible in EVERY area -- except this one.

Knowing I've wrongly believed it hasn't helped me believe the right thing either.  More work is needed.

More.  Work.  Is.  Needed.

But maybe, what I'm hoping for anyways, admitting my need for real help...long term SERIOUS help -- EVERY DAY FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE IF THAT'S WHAT IS NECESSARY - sort of help -- is the real victory.  It doesn't look like a size 7...but it already feels lighter none-the-less.

Deep breath.

Countdown to surgery, 5 days.

Everyone all of a sudden seems to have an opinion.

When I tell my fat friends of my decision to have bariatric surgery, they act as if I'm being too extreme.  They feel uncomfortable with my decision.  I get that.

When I tell my skinny friends, they say they'd rather me do it the "right way".

I let that in one ear and out the other.

I am strong willed.

Occasionally, it works in my favor.

I've done the research, the praying, and had the conversations.

For.  An.  Entire.  Year.

I've made my decision.

I feel excited about it -- and scared too.

I like a carefree self.  A more rigid, skinny self makes me feel stressed.

It's a bucket list item between God and I sort of.

Not, of course to have weight loss surgery, but to be at a healthy weight -- to have a chance to WALK out freedom, even if it's hard.

In answer to my painfully honest question to a friend who is 6 years out from her surgery, "How will I know if I've succeeded or failed?"

She answered, "Shanna, you'll never be a success because you reach an assigned goal weight.  You are a success because you decide that no matter what -- weight loss, regain, weight loss -- no matter what -- you are going to stay on this journey for the rest of your life."

Catch you on the flip side friends!