Interestingly enough, church today touched on both "Nothing" (my post for yesterday) and "Breakthrough" (what I had already decided to call this). Despite my grand plans to do "nothing" this weekend, they played a video that asked us not to do "nothing" - that at the very least we should be praying for our armed forces who are deployed, their families waiting at home for them, and for those families whose armed forces won't be coming home. At least not in a joyous homecoming. That's fair. But I was of those minor sucker-punch "d'oh"s of irony.
The sermon series has been on final days and it's been kind of interesting - not the usual run through Revelation, but looking at other things. In today's case, Elijah. On his last day, he and his attendant Elisha walked 35 miles, visiting four towns. For whatever reason, it was quite well known that this was Elijah's last day on earth and so he was visiting places where he'd founded schools. But our pastor also used it to describe stages of Christian life and the final city he related to breakthrough - a place of new blessings. (the other stages were "beginnings," "seeing God's presence," and "past victories." Breakthroughs was the one I had the least amount of notes on, but I still found it surprising that those two terms came up so obviously for me in church this morning.)
So the breakthrough I wanted to share was an eating breakthrough. Ben has texture issues and also just some general eating issues. He doesn't like slimy food and he likes to hoard food in his hands. But this morning before church, I decided I was going to work with him. Lori was on worship team so she and Rachel had gone to the early service. So Ben and I were left to get ready on our own to go to join them for the later service. With ample time, I decided I'd work with him on eating.
So I started with applesauce. He doesn't like slimy food and he doesn't like utensils. But I'm pretty sure that it's stubbornness in some cases and I was determined to give it a decent go. So I pulled out the tiny Tollhouse Morsels and I gave him a couple. Then, making sure he was watching carefully, I placed a couple into a spoonful of cherry applesauce. He ate the bite and then immediately opened his mouth for more. I would occasionally give him some morsels before he had a chance to ask to keep him encouraged, but he ate the entire container of applesauce. He had no interest in holding the spoon, but he let me help him eat the entire thing.
I was so encouraged that I wanted to try something more. Typically, he just eats dry cereal for breakfast because he loves the crunch, they're a single bite serving and he can hold a bunch in each hand. But I didn't want to do that. Sometimes I feel like we don't challenge him because it's so hard and he's so stubborn and does such a good job of seeming so wounded.
I toasted a piece of bread, covered it with a very light coating of creamy peanut butter and strawberry jam. Then I cut it into three strips (later cutting each strip in half) and offered him a bite. A first there was a small struggle and I had to hold his hands down in his lap to keep him from covering his face. I didn't force the food into his mouth. He wanted to resist, but I wouldn't call it a fight or a struggle, he didn't push too hard against my holding his arms down, but he kept his mouth closed firmly. I held the food close and talked quietly and finally he opened his mouth. He tentatively bit into the bread without taking a bite and then decided it was ok and took a bite.
After awhile I offered another bite but though trial and error I realized my problem was that I thought he was ready for another bite sooner than he actually was. After awhile, I got the rhythm down, but after about a sixth of it, he grabbed the next piece himself. With a little coaching, he was setting it down between between bites. Here's a short video of him eating single bites and setting it down between bites, all without coaching.
This was a really exciting for me to see. I'm not sure how to repeat this, but I wonder if it has to be when there's no one else around (other meals since then haven't been nearly as positive or productive) and when there's plenty of time to go really slow and patient. An investment that's easier said than done, but oh so rewarding!