The Chicken Broccoli Casserole Incident

We call it the chicken broccoli casserole (henceforth known as cbc) incident (henceforth known as cbci).

It all started on a cloudy Bogota morning exactly 1 year ago. Isabella, Emery, and Shepherd had known us as papi and mami for 16 glorious days. Promises of going to the rooftop pool poured from our mouths. A day of wave splashing, giggles, and “papi, mami, Mírame” (translation-look at me) were in our future. It would be a great day.


We readied ourselves for the pool. Readied our human flotilla and marched to the elevator.


We had arrived…to a locked door behind which was a glassy-surfaced, closed pool. Splashing, giggles, and “papi, mami, Mírame” had turned to wailing, drooping faces, and “por qué se cierra la piscina” (why is the pool closed…and why have you forsaken us our loving parents,  you liers. Well, maybe not that last part).

Back to the elevator we went, trying to make our cortisol filled brains think quickly which is like trying to push a car with flat tires.

In a moment of brilliance, I said, (well probably Tori as she’s the brilliant one) “Let’s take them to see a movie.” Turbo it was (pronounced tour-bo in spanish).

indexBut it started in less than an hour and a half. We’d need to do dinner, clean up, and then catch a taxi to the theater in Bogota rush-hour traffic. This would be a feat.

Tori quickly began to rustle up some CBC (see above). The kids had never had it. We were sure they’d like it no less than lollipops and bubble gum.

In 40 minutes it was ready to be devoured. 55 minutes remained.

We prepared plates. Sat down at the table and what do you know. NO ONE LIKED BROCCOLI!!45 minutes to go. Plates were pushed away and arms were crossed.

We were frustrated! The kids were frustrated! Everyone was frustrated. Brains sputtered.

And then, it was said. Uttered was one of the phrases that you read in books never to say to children let alone adopted children.

“If you don’t eat this, you won’t eat anything.”

It was done. The CBCI had just taken place. Spirits were crushed. Fears were confirmed. We were awful parents.

Amidst hunger we readied ourselves for the movies. We hurried to catch an unconfirmed taxi which meant there’s always a chance, though slim, we could be kidnapped. We weren’t kidnapped probably because the driver saw the evil emanating from our family, mainly us, the parents.

We watched the movie and then at 8:30pm in the darkness of Bogota we waited for a taxi. This time we decided to get a confirmed and therefore, safe, taxi. Well, the mall was closing so the entire population of the mall decided to get a taxi as well.

Wiating for the taxi on CBCI day

Waiting for the taxi on CBCI day

We were 792nd in line and a taxi only came every 41st minute.

Actually we were like 10th in line and a taxi only came about every 20 minutes. Taxis came less often because It was rush hour and it was less difficult for them to find people to fill their taxis. They didn’t need to rely on the sure-fire paying people at the safe-taxi place at the mall.

So we waited and waited and waited. The kids had not eaten. Well they did eat some crackers but  we waited still.

Finally after a LONG TIME it was our turn for a taxi. The driver took one look at us and then refused to take us home because he saw how mean we were. Not really, but he should have. Did I mention our brains were sputtering?

We arrived at our apartment, ate some type of food, probably something delicious like spaghettios and then went to bed.

This day has become one that we look back at and laugh about. Isabella, our oldest, later told us that she was scared of us in that moment and wondered what we would really be like. I agree. I scared myself. I saw deep down into the darkness of my own heart in that moment.

I read recently that our reactions to life are more likely to be affected by the type of environment we’re in than they are by our actual character. In other words, I was the product of a safe, protected environment and when my environment wasn’t safe and predictable, the beast in me was unleashed. The stress of the situation forced out my real character.

What’s the lesson from this? I am really worse than I think I am. You are worse than you think you are.

Unless you deal with that, unless you dredge out who you really are, unless you deal with the darkness of your heart you’ll surprise yourself and blame everyone else for their faults against you (don’t have time to write about this but not dealing with who you really are will turn you into a know-it-all cynic who can’t be taught anything who won’t take responsibility for your actions).

By God’s grace, our whole family is drastically different from that infamous day our family calls the CBCI. Our kids are different. We are different. I’ve come to REALLY know that I am more despicable than I could ever imagine but more loved by Jesus than I ever dared hope. When I respond the wrong way to my kids or my wife, when I’m pressed, I try to remember that Jesus died in my place for that. Not only does that clear me, but that changes me. I’m cleared of wrongdoing and then given the real power, by his spirit, to change, for my good and for his glory.

The CBCI changed me only because I could honestly deal with the person I really am because Jesus fully loves me. If he didn’t, if I feared he really didn’t care about me or really does offer me forgiveness, change is shallow and becomes about changing other people, i.e. my kids, co-workers friends, rather than changing myself.

Our responses, the evil that we’ve set in motion, doesn’t have to own us. We just have to own IT. Only then will we REALLY change.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s