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.'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 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.


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 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 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.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
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!