helpless but not hopeless

Yesterday around 5:30 pm, instead of making dinner, I was sitting at my computer (oh, the irony). In my “defense,” I had spent three hours drinking coffee and eating lunch with a friend (while our kiddos played), then chatted with a new friend who showed up unexpectedly at my friend’s door, then taken the girls to a park for an hour and bought bread from a local bakery (spinach feta–yum!), and we’d each had a big ol’ slice and weren’t super hungry.


All of a sudden there was a little body pressed up against me, her warm breath in my ear. “Why is Daddy crying?” she whispered.

I turned to look at her, and my heart instantly broke at the sight of big tears pooled in her eyes and dripping down her cheeks.

“Let’s go see,” I said, taking her hand and leading her up the stairs.

Sure enough, Daddy was lying in bed, holding a pillow, face contorted in anguish, his cheeks also wet with tears.

In five seconds’ time, there were five of us in the bed, everyone crying but me. Someone had to be strong, huh? And I was, until I looked in Nina’s little eyes and watched her shoulders heaving, and I started crying too.

Tears would’ve been abnormal for Gabe up until two months ago, but not now. That doesn’t change the fact, though, that anytime the girls see him crying, they immediately burst into tears themselves.

Nina asked me again why daddy was crying, so I asked him. He couldn’t talk, but I knew. He cries the most when he thinks of the girls and how he doesn’t feel like he’s being the daddy they need right now. And he knows his tears bother them, but then he gets even more sad and can’t stop crying.

I asked the girls if they wanted to pray, and they said yes. So I prayed long and hard for Daddy’s healing and for the devil to get the heck out of our house and for us not to be worried or fearful and on and on.

And while I knew there had to be some kind of beautiful metaphor in the five of us crying and crying out to God flat on our backs in a bed together, all I could feel was helpless.

I knew Gabe wanted and needed me to hold him and comfort him, and I knew the girls needed to leave the room and find a healthy distraction so they didn’t worry about Daddy. But I couldn’t help Gabe and the girls both.

So I chose the girls with Gabe’s blessing. We went downstairs and put on Sound of Music. I’m not a movie-watcher, so snuggling on the couch with Mama watching a movie is a gift for my girlies.

After 20 minutes, we decided we needed popcorn, so we paused Maria, and Livi made popcorn while I checked on Gabe. He had moved from the bed to sitting in the corner, looking at his laptop and crying even harder.

This was the picture on his screen.

I kissed him and told him everything was going to be okay. The girls were going to be okay. We would have hundreds more moments like that one (well, until the girls are all too big to ride on Daddy’s shoulders) and that they love him so, so much no matter what.

Before the movie was even over, things had gotten better. And I know people are praying, and I’m so thankful. And Gabe and I had a good night. And I feel full of hope.

Right this minute (1:30pm Wednesday) Gabe’s at a lunch meeting that he’s been worried about (will I have a panic attack?). Then immediately following that, he has a date with Nina at Dave & Buster’s. He’s had to postpone it a couple times already, and his last Daddy-Daughter Date (with Livi) ended with him in tears. He just doesn’t want to ruin this one.

Will you pray for him, that his date goes beautifully? That God will take his fear away and he’ll see nothing but his little girl’s eyes lighting up as she flits from one ridiculous arcade game to the next? And then on to an ice cream treat somewhere?

Thank you, friends.

We serve a big God. I’m so thankful for HOPE.

EDIT (4:22pm): Gabe and Nina’s date was a smashing success. Bless your beautiful hearts for praying, friends!!

27 thoughts on “helpless but not hopeless

  1. Jen Hatmaker

    I twittered you about this during media fast. (Fail.) I just want you to know that I care so much and I am so glad to pray. I’ve been hear with a best friend (one of the Council), and panic is no joke, sister. But it can be beat and Gabe will get better. He will. Please tell him he is loved…and so are you.

  2. Dana Pratt

    I know how he feels. Praying that he is seeing the right people that understand this disease. I was diagnosed 19 years ago. It does get better and I enjoy life I think better than most because of what I have been through. Sometimes it creeps in but NOTHING like what I had. I have the tools now to help me. Don’t be “Pollyannaish” around him but don’t dwell on the negatives in life. Avoid news media or anything that harps on bad things in life. While others can be discouraged about real life situatiions, a depressed person sees or hears about them and it becomes extremely difficult not to ruminate on these issues. It adds fuel to the fire. Praying for you and your familly. I know it is difficult for the spouse. My husband will have extra jewels in his crown in Heaven because of his steadfast love and encouragement to me during my “low” times. My children, 19 and 16, are very compassionate people. And I believe this is partly due to the way they have watched me suffer at times and the way their father has lovingly cared for me. He walks the talk!

  3. Carrie

    Hey Marla, I read your post yesterday and prayed for your family off and on through out the night. I also read Gabe’s post about the anxiety attacks and it made me think of something to share with you. Not sure if this will help but something I wish I had know about several years ago. I started having panic attacks and also struggled with some depression and it hit me all of a sudden. I just didn’t understand what was going on and I tried to dig deep to figure out if I had emotions pent up inside me causing it. I did a lot of praying and had this feeling that a new medication (because of another health problem)I had started taking several months prior to all this, might have been the problem. I couldn’t find anywhere in its pamphlet that this could be a side effect until I did lots of research online and talked to my doctor to find out that this med I was taking depletes some b vitamins causing anxiety and depression. I stopped taking it, switched to a different kind and in a few months I was my old self again.

    With your husband going through a heart attack, it makes sense that emotionally it could cause what he is going through but I couldn’t help but mention the possibility it being one of his meds since I’m sure he is taking a lot since the heart attack. Even if it is that I’m sure its extremely important for him to take it and there might not be a substitute but at least it might offer some comfort to know its the med and not him and that it won’t last forever. Sorry for the SUPER long post, lol! Just kept thinking maybe the Lord wanted me to share this with you since it kept coming to my mind last night. I’m so thankful for all the times you have prayed for me and I will continue to pray for you guys. The devil loves to find ways to hurt God’s followers especially families but the awesome thing is that God has already been victorious over him! God bless!

  4. Christine

    I’ve been searching for the rights words to say since I read this yesterday, and I still don’t really have them, but I know I must say something.
    Thank you for sharing about this. My husband is depressed. He’s angry. He won’t get help. I don’t know how to help him. I am certain I don’t offer him the support he needs, because I feel like absolutely everything else falls on my shoulders because I can’t count on him to do anything. I have nothing left to offer him most of the time. I have a beautiful 4 year old daughter who adores her daddy, but when he gets into his “funk” (for lack of a better word), I try to shield her from it, and from him, and I never know if this is the right thing to do or not. I actually think secrets are really, really bad, and I think that’s partly why my husband suffers so much – because he is ashamed and refuses to talk about it with anyone besides me. The secret part makes it worse. I believe with all my heart that because of your and Gabe’s openness and honesty about this that he will get better. You have countless people praying for you – myself included – and I understand the pain in this battle, I really do. It helps me to know we’re not the only ones out there who struggle — helps me feel less alone. And I really needed to feel less alone right now. Thank you. I’m praying for your family.

  5. Krysty

    Praying for the meeting, for his date and for all of you as you walk in grace with each other. I was thinking that a walk, no matter where (even D&B’s) as long as you’re with family could do the soul some good…even if there are tears along the way. :). Love you guys!

  6. Jess Carpenter

    Always praying. Love the Tavianos. What a road to walk. You tell Gabe that I keep thinking maybe we should make one of those huge signs that is the size of a car & tape it up in his room w/ scripture (like Janelle used to have us make in high school for the walls of the GYM). I know that’s a silly band-aid; but it is what I keep thinking…..

  7. Jen Griffin

    Well, I’m crying too. Praying for Gabe. I hate seeing him have to go through this and I know you do WAY WAY more than I. Satan can’t give Gabe more than he can handle…it is all filtered through the hand of God! Satan is a lion on a leash.(as Ann Voskamp would say) Praying for all of you and for the big date today!

  8. Jeanette Levellie

    Oh, yes, I will! God has not given you a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a SOUND mind. God is on your side; who can be against you? Jesus justifies you; satan cannot condemn you. Jesus came to give you abundant life. Get thee behind my brother, satan, in Jesus’ mighty name!

  9. Sharon

    Praying Marla. Right now. We pray for you guys each night and any time I see a request from you on twitter or your blog. And we’ll keep it up.

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