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Monday, July 8, 2013

Gucky Broccoli

My youngest child, Foster, has been somewhat of a late bloomer. As is often typical for a third child, he crawled late, walked late, and talked late. Seriously, for a while there I was starting to hope think he'd NEVER talk (call me mother of the year here, but for me that was not necessarily a bad thing since my other two get about 20,000 words in each day). 

Foster turned two on June 23, and along with the various tractors and other deafeningly-loud toys he was given I think he must have also received his big-boy britches. The words started flowing, the attitude kicked into high gear, and he decided he was ready to roll with the big dogs.

He added many new words to his vocabulary, which previously consisted of "daddy, mommy, and no." Words like: gucky (yucky), peeya (pizza or penis, depending on the situation), teet (treat), and more.

He also discovered the power of a shrill, glass-shattering scream, which when loosed around his brother or sister immediately beckoned the adult in the house, and I'd come running while asking, "who hurt Foster?" Only to find out that, in fact, Foster had hurt one of THEM, and was screaming because he had them trapped in a corner trying to take their toy. He is turning into quite the bully.

He's learning to work the system, and I've realized how much I baby him. I am starting to see that he is a lot smarter than I have given him credit for, and Brandon and I have really had to start treating him like the little sinner toddler he is.

All of this is to set the scene so that you will have a greater understanding of what went down last night in Casa De Watts.

After a LONG week of home renovation work that we did ourselves, we sat down to dinner last night in a put-back-together house, breathing a sigh of relief. It has been crazy around here, and after spending much of yesterday cleaning, I finally felt sane again. I cooked a delicious dinner and sat down to eat with my family, ready for a relaxing Sunday night.

My two older children are pretty good eaters. Foster, however, likes three things: peanut-butter-and-jelly sammies, "peeya," and fruit. This poses a problem for him at dinner time, as these things are not typically on the menu. In the past we'd serve him his meal, he'd maybe eat his bread, and then he'd go to bed hungry. However, now that he's come into his toddler-hood, we decided that he should be subjected to the same rules at mealtime as the older two kids. Our rules are pretty easy to follow: 1) stay at the table until you've been excused, 2) use good manners, and 3) try one bite of everything on your plate.

Rule one was simple because he was strapped into his booster seat.

Rule two was simple because he has learned the hard way in the past what happens when he throws or spits his food.

Rule three was what got him.

He sat down, ate his apples, and was then "duh" (done). We informed him that he was not, in fact, done, and that he must try one bite of his chicken and broccoli casserole. He thought we were kidding, I think.

We sat down to eat at 6:00pm.

At 7:45pm, this was Foster:




This was the piece shred of broccoli that he was required to eat:




Now before you start crying child cruelty, let me assure you that he totally and completely understood what we were asking him to do, and that he simply refused to do it. I'd ask him if he was ready to get down, he'd say yes. I'd tell him to eat his broccoli and he'd scream "NOOOOOOOOO" and then kick his feet and slap himself in the face. I'd ask him if he wanted to join his siblings in a bubble bath, he'd say yes. I'd tell him to eat his broccoli and he'd yell "GUCKY BROCCOLI!" He is my little prodigy.

After a long, long week I didn't know whether to laugh or cry as 8:00pm rolled around and he was still sitting there. How could he be so stubborn?

Then the Lord reminded me how like Foster I am. 

Ouch.

My Heavenly Father knows what I need even before I need it, and he often serves me what I might see as "gucky broccoli" because he knows what is best for me. All I can focus on is the fact that it doesn't appear to be exactly what I want, and so I scream and I kick and I cry and I have my own little standoff with God.

In the same way I know as Foster's mom that he needs a healthy, balanced diet to thrive, God knows that I need a healthy, balanced life. This is included tough moments to refine me, challenges to grow me, and answers to prayer that looks very different than I thought they would.

The question is, do I trust Him and obey, or do I dig in my heels, refusing to eat what he has dished up for me, metaphorically-speaking?

The older I get and the more I know the Lord, the easier it is to trust Him. I have seen His faithfulness in my life, and I have learned more and more that if he serves me spiritual broccoli I had best eat it, lest I miss out on what He has for my life. But just because it's easier doesn't mean I always choose the right response, and I will very probably battle between choosing His best for me and what I think I want until I meet Him face-to-face. To battle this is to be human.

I love what Jesus says in Matthew 6. He is addressing what it means to truly trust and know God as our provider and Father, what it means to submit to His plans for our good. He tells his audience (and us) not to be like the hypocrites, who claim to love and trust God in the public square so that they may be seen as holy, but to love and trust God even in the private moments when it's just us and God. He tells us to be sure to mean what we pray, that we might never offer up empty words to God, claiming to trust Him but following our flesh. He follows that up with:

"Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this: 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.'"

This prayer exposes the ultimate trusting heart. It is a prayer of submission to the Lord, and confesses before Him our need for HIS kingdom to come and rule in our hearts, for HIS will to be done in our lives, and for HIS daily bread (or broccoli!) to be our sufficiency. 

Will you join me in praying this today? Not as a token prayer, but with the purity of heart that comes only in knowing what a mess we are apart from Him. We need Him as women, as mothers, and as wives. We need him in our singleness and in our relationships and on the good days and the bad.

Spiritually broccoli may not appear to be what we want, but if God asks us to eat it, I truly believe it's for our good.

Too bad my son didn't feel the same way. 

Okay, confession time. You might be wondering what time this ordeal finally ended and who caved first.

I did.

At 8:10pm, I knew the situation wasn't going to end the way I had hoped it would, with Foster having eaten his broccoli and declared it his newest favorite food. So I caved. Sometimes the tenderness of a mama wins out. That, and the fact that my eardrums were about to burst from the screaming. 

Feel free to laugh!