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Oct 14, 2014

Struggling with Gratitude

"Give thanks in all circumstances", is a bible verse I hold to be true deep in my gut.  Gratitude makes us better people, more aware and humble and present and balanced.  I'm crazy about that - I want to be that.

In general I believe myself to be a fairly grateful person.  At least I try to be.  I feel closest to God in those moments of now-ness and gratitude.  A part of his big picture.

But during trials, when this concept is put to the test, my propensity for gratitude hits a wall.  A great big, poor me, has anyone ever experienced such humiliation/pain/confusion/worry/etc. wall that I cannot move past or knock down until I go through what has become my dysfunctional egotistical process.  I assume most people have their own version of this process, but realistically most of you are likely much more adept at assimilating troubles and quickly putting them into perspective.

My process usually begins with me getting very quiet, regardless of the emotion with which I'm struggling.  Then comes pouting, isolation and obsessing.  And if someone dares speak to me during this time, I lash out with tears or sharp words...sometimes both (and what a treat that is) in what boils down to an adult version of a child's tantrum. So ridiculous and self indulgent.  Many times I'll come to my senses the same day, but sometimes it lingers.

Seriously, it's amazing that Rich can deal with me.

I wonder sometimes if it's a side effect of being an emotional person because, while that often guides me to places of joy and appreciation and love and perspective; it can also careen down weird twisty paths.  Or maybe I'm just an asshole.  It's hard to discern.

For instance on Sunday I sang lead with my band on a beautiful song.  Rehearsals went well and I felt confident.  But during the service I totally bombed the beginning.  My throat was thick and cracking by the time my song came around and, well, I was distractingly bad. I pulled it out at the end, but I was humiliated that I'd let down my band and the congregation.

Anger came first this time and, when I got into my car, I lashed out at God.  "Where were you when I
prayed for you to use me?  How could anyone be moved closer to you through that song when I sounded like a frog?  You abandoned me up there!"  Then I fell comfortably into my process of quiet self deprecation and, later, yelling at poor Rich when he tried to tell me it wasn't so bad.

I came to my senses later, realizing that it was indeed not that big of a deal and that my wounded pride was causing the trouble.  Some Sundays I'm so connected to the Holy Spirit when I'm singing that I'm able to step aside and let him use me.  But this Sunday I just couldn't get out of the way.  God didn't abandon me on stage.  I didn't let him in.

It made me ponder the depth of my faith.  Why is praying not always my knee-jerk reaction to difficulties?  Why do I so often turn inward instead of of upward?  Do I use God more as a rabbit's foot instead of my soul's anchor? What does all this say about my faith?


Obviously I'm not as mature in my convictions as I'd like to be.  People go through horrendous shit with such grace that it astounds me.  And I struggle with a cracking voice?  A difficult boss?  Overloaded monotonous housework?  It's laughable.  Seriously.  

But I'm aware of my ridiculousness and am trying to figure it out.  I need to read my bible more often.  I know that's the first step in working this.  And my friend Jen sent me this video today that reminded me how infinitesimal my crap is in the face of the great goodness that surrounds us all everyday, which also helps.  

Do you struggle with this?  How do you work it?

Oct 8, 2014

Quality Time

With the sickness lingering for so long, we haven't had many opportunities to spend quality time together, which is the opposite of nursing back to health time and lying in misery on the couch time and stuck inside going crazy time.  Those times we've had aplenty.
We did manage to do a few fun things.  Like a little watercolor/marker/coffee filter craft (which I still haven't gotten around to cutting into leaves and stringing into awesome autumn garland...mommy fail). 

We made a quick trip to the reservoir on Sam's first fever-free day to give the poor kid some fresh air and sunshine.  We didn't overdo it, but he was elated to be feeling better and to be outside.  And we were relieved to see him happy. 

Second fever-free day we went to see The Box Trolls at a nice theater with reclining seats.  Pretty awesome.

Lena has been doing "really hard work", as she calls it, at ballet class lately.  And she's right - it is hard work.  Last year's ballet class was basically just a bunch of kids running around with wands and ribbons.  This class is teaching her fundamentals and combinations and stretching and strengthening.  She's the tiniest one there, but she does a good job.  We feel like she's getting good exercise and learning something, which is awesome.  Yeah Straub! 

Sam missed so much soccer during his lengthy illness, but was finally able to play last week.  This was his game on Saturday and it was COLD!  He's not a very aggressive kid, so he has trouble understanding the competitive edge to sports (which I believe he acquired genetically from both Rich and me).  But he has fun with it, it's great exercise, and I think his coach is teaching him good things.  Yeah WASA! 

Sunday at Freeman's Farm.  Pumpkin picking and kettle corn eating and hay riding fun was had by all!

Of course Lena had to be the little kitty.

They are growing like...sunflowers!

My handsome man.

That last photo is my favorite. It makes my heart swell full of this unimaginable kind of love for these people. Rich is too handsome and kind, too smart and funny, too good and patient and loving with our kids and with me to be true.  Yet there he is every day doing and being all of those things.  And more.  And those kids...ugh, those kids.  They are both so unique and insane and mysterious and amazing and beautiful and crazy in the most awesome ways.  They make me feel complete in places I didn't realize I was lacking. 

My family...overwhelming and true, oozing goodness from the depth of their blue eyes and joy from the breadth of their smiles, making the world a little brighter and a little better just by being them. 

Oct 6, 2014

Sammy the Brave's been a long month, give or take a week or two.  The days have run together in my mind.  I still kind of don't know what day it is. 

A while ago we all came down with and recovered from some god forsaken respiratory flu. 

But Sam just couldn't shake his.  His fevers continued to bounce back over a month's time and, after three trips to our pediatrician (and so many missed days of school), his doctor was finally concerned enough to do a chest x-ray and some blood work.  Lo and behold, even though his lungs sounded just fine at every appointment, he had pneumonia. 

My poor boy.  I love our pediatrician, but I could have slugged her for not being more proactive.  My normally happy and healthy boy had deteriorated over the course of a few weeks as his body tried valiantly to fight this persistent virus off alone. He was a trooper, but it was awful to not have answers for so long.  This was more or less easily remedied once they figured it out, but it made me think about families who are dealing with truly life-threatening illnesses.  Their anguish and exhaustion is unimaginable to me and, especially after this ordeal, they will remain in my prayers. 

He was excited about the x-ray.  He thought something might go awry with the equipment and he'd become a superhero like Hulk or Spiderman. :)

The blood work...not so much.  They had to stick him a few times in both arms.  But with a little distraction from me, the promise of camouflage bandages, and his utmost bravery, he didn't shed a tear. 

This last photo was from just a few days ago when, after being on a very high dose of antibiotics for over a week, he broke out in a terrible rash everywhere...I mean everywhere.  Ends up he's not allergic to the medicine, just sensitive to it.  Today is his last dose and we are all very glad to be rid of this terrible miserable no good crud!

One positive thing came out of this mess.  Sam stopped sucking his thumb!  We've been talking to him about it for some time, but I think the fact that he was so miserable and isolated for so long drove home that his thumb is a squishy little vehicle for nasty germs to ride into his body.  It's been over a week now with no thumb sucking and he said this morning that it's getting easier every day.


He amazes (and exacerbates...but mostly amazes) me every day, my brave Sammy boy.