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Strength to Care

Lessons from Matthew & Isaac – Our CHARGE Syndrome Journey

seashell macaroni…different from elbow macaroni?

The title about seashell macaroni comes from a discussion we had in our home about macaroni styles. First I want to tell you a story about Matthew and how he enjoyed the 2011 holiday season…especially wrapped gifts. It will lead us in to the differences between seashell macaroni and other macaroni styles…are they really different?

Matthew has been gaining interest in wrapped packages in the last few years as he has learned packages usually mean one or two or more new puzzle pieces. We had to keep any wrapped package out of sight until Christmas morning this year with his urge to shake and tear open anything that resembled a present. On Christmas morning he had a stack of six or so wrapped boxes in front of him. He took each one, shook it and if it had the familiar sound of a Discovery Toys Place and Trace puzzle as the contents he ripped into with glee. If it lacked that sound…it was tossed aside and opened later in the day when the buzz of the new puzzles wore off. For this reason it took him most of the day to open all of his gifts.

The fun of wrapped packages went on for another week. I was washing dishes one day and could hear Matthew frantically pressing buttons on his DVD player until he had it at just the right spot on a particular Signing Times episode where Rachel Coleman was teaching several words around the theme of a birthday party. Matthew had paused the movie at a spot and proceeded to pull me away from the kitchen and place me in front of the television. With one hand he started the movie, the other hand had a death grip on my pointer finger. At a precise moment, when a wrapped birthday gift was placed on the table, Matthew took my finger and placed it on the gift. He then quickly pulled his hands away and perfectly signed “present” with a huge grin and a laugh. He wanted more puzzle pieces…we had no more to offer.

In an attempt to appease him I took some of his vast collection of puzzle pieces and re-wrapped them. Theresa told me is was cruel and I quickly found out he was not amused with my attempt. The only thing that has subsided his desire for new puzzle pieces at this time is looking at pictures of new puzzle pieces. One of his favorite games is to have us go on Ebay and find pictures of Discovery Toys Place and Trace puzzles…they are no longer made so we are constantly looking at what is available.

Now, on to the seashell macaroni. Matthew is perfectly content with having his beloved puzzle pieces in many forms…A picture of a puzzle piece on his ipad, a photograph of a puzzle piece (laminated of course), a drawing of a puzzle piece, torn up shards of a puzzle piece and of course, the actual puzzle piece. Why can’t I be as content as Matthew with things in my life? A few weeks ago Theresa was in the process of making some macaroni and cheese for a quick lunch on a lazy afternoon during the Christmas break. As she dumped the contents into a rapid boiling water bath she noticed the the pasta was a twist instead of a traditional elbow…no worry, it is still pasta, it isn’t any different…or is it? My family and friends are always laughing at me and my phobia of seashell macaroni. One horrific incident back when I was a kid ruined that ribbed texture for a lifetime. Seashell macaroni has the ability to create a suction due to the curved structure and the pocket it creates. You see, one of those nasty little pillows attached itself to the roof of my mouth near the back and initiated the pharyngeal or gag reflex. This natural reflex went on for several minutes thus shaping my perception of the pasta for the rest of my life.

I know it is silly getting nauseous about the thought of the shape of macaroni…but, it really made me think long and hard about how this translates into other “macaroni” in my life. Taste of music, a bad experience at a particular restaurant, ethnic foods, worship styles…people.

How often do I shake the box and just by the sound, or they way someone looks, the beat of the music, a tattoo, a nose ring, the name of a restaurant…come up with a pre-determined assumption based on past experiences, someone else’s experience or rumor of experiences?

If we were to take puzzle pieces and place them in a different size box and wrap them so they do not make a familiar noise, I am quite certain Matthew would toss the box aside. He would have to be coaxed to open it and coaxed to unwrap each piece. To look beyond the outward facade and go deeper.

Isn’t that what God is asking and expects all of us to do?

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  Luke 6: 37-38

My prayer this week is to look at all things through different lenses and not just on appearances or the noise they make or what I may have heard about them. Maybe it is time I tried seashell pasta again instead of the all too familiar elbow pasta. I thinking it is going to take a lot of cheese.