Who knew that a box of cereal could produce such a reaction?
I’m kind of a stickler about cereal – well, food in general – when it comes to my kids. Whole grains, low sugar, low fat. Very little junk food in my pantry.
Other than the Ben & Jerry’s in the freezer. And the economy-sized bag of peanut M&Ms. But that’s just for me. And it’s not junk food; it’s therapy.
I had a coupon, and it said “whole grain” on the box, so I chose not to read the label and purchased a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Based on my kids’ reactions, you would have thought I had just announced that we were selling our house and moving to Disney World. It boosted my mommy sense-of-worth a little bit to be such a hero, at least temporarily.
But why not? They are great kids, they eat really well otherwise, and I like to do fun things to make them smile. I love to surprise my kids with special treats. I love to see their faces light up in disbelief. I love their hugs and kisses and endless thank-yous. It blesses me to bless them.
“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?” (Matthew 7:9-10)
Or, to bring it home a little bit, “which of you, if his son asks for Cinnamon Toast Crunch, will give him Shredded Wheat?”
I’m continually amazed at how being a mother teaches me about the character of God. Nothing in my life experience up to this point has stretched me and taught me more. So if I enjoy blessing my kids with fun surprises, why do I so reluctantly receive a blessing from God while waiting for the other proverbial shoe to drop?
When my husband, Michael, was finishing his residency and beginning his fellowship training in pediatric ophthalmology at the University of Iowa, we started discussing where we wanted to settle once he (finally) completed his education. (For the record, we have been together through four years of college, four years of medical school, one year of internship, three years of residency and one year of fellowship before he got a “real” job.) We knew we wanted to come back to Texas to be closer to our families, but the idea of Dallas left a bad taste in our mouths. Temple, Austin, and Houston were all options. Hmmm, we thought. Fort Worth would be really nice. Close to family. More laid-back than Dallas. But as far as we knew, there were no jobs for pediatric ophthalmologists in Fort Worth.
Michael had also heard many horror stories about fresh-faced doctors joining practices where they were hired only to make money for the senior partners with very little concern for their budding careers. Wouldn’t it be great if I could join a practice with like-minded, Godly doctors who actually went into medicine to help people? That would be so nice…but not likely.
To make a very long story a little bit shorter, that is precisely what happened. Within a few months, we found ourselves in contract negotiations with two incredible young doctors who love God, love their wives, and sometimes leave the office early to coach Little League. In Fort Worth. It was perfect.
I kept waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under us. It simply couldn’t be this easy. It couldn’t be this good. No, something was going to happen. They were going to rescind the offer or our house wouldn’t sell or they would make him be on-call every weekend for five years or the office would burn down before we got there…
Surely God wouldn’t be that good. Surely He wouldn’t be that merciful and gracious to us. We certainly don’t deserve such blessing.
Five and a half years later, we’re still here. The office hasn’t burned down, the hours are…manageable, and the two doctors and their families have become some of our best friends. Undeserved blessing.
I’m not at all promoting the “prosperity gospel” that says if you believe in Jesus, go to church, tithe your ten percent, then everything in your life will be peachy-keen and you’ll have wealth coming out of your ears. No, not at all. God never, ever promises that. Our life is not easy. Any doctor’s wife could tell you that.
Or military wife. Or accountant’s wife. Or longshoreman’s wife. Or salesman’s wife. Or pastor’s wife.
No one has it easy. No one’s life is all roses and sunshine. Life is messy.
But why is it so hard for me to believe that amid the messiness, there can be amazing blessing?
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11)
So – slowly – I’m learning to open my hands and receive. I’m learning to trust that what He offers me is good and perfect. I’m learning that God is not out to get me, that He has no desire to slap my extended hand each time I ask for His guidance and blessing on a decision. What He offers to me may not always be what I expect, but it is always amazing.
He loves me so much, and He wants to give me good gifts.
I love my kids so much, and I want to give them good gifts.
Even if it has 10 grams of sugar per serving.