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.

Anyway.

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!!