Things have been extra full around these parts. I went back to work part-time (that was not so bright), a dear friend has been staying with us, and I feel like I’ve been learning a lot. There’s so much I want to sit with and think about and write about – I’m so thankful for this space.
With Brandon deployed I always get a little anxious when it snows. A few Sundays ago there was a snow storm (one of several we’ve had this winter). The girls and I camped out in my bedroom in the morning hours – Rhema bounced around and Hope stared out the big window at the beautiful winter wonderland.
“Hope, I don’t know if we’ll make it to church this morning. If we don’t get plowed we won’t be going anywhere.”
“Ohhhhhhhh nnoooooooo,” Hope said, in dramatic fashion.
We watched and waited and waited.
I knew that the man who plows our driveway was probably very busy that morning.
After some time, I said, “I think we’re stuck, girls.”
As we headed downstairs, Hope took one last look out the big bedroom window. I heard the truck before I saw it.
“Mommy!!!” she screamed. “He’s here! Daddy’s here! He came to save us!!!”
I went to the window. A friend from church, in his truck, was already barreling up the driveway. We could clearly see him through the window, and I realized for the first time that he looked a lot like Brandon – same hair color and height – and he was wearing a baseball cap just like Brandon often does.
“No, Hope. That’s not Daddy. You know he’s in Iraq. That’s Mr. Happel down there.”
“NO. That’s Daddy…” I was taken aback at the force of her words. She began waving at the window and calling, “Hi, Daddy! Hi!! You’re here from Iraq. Hi Daddy!”
“Baby. That’s not Daddy,” I said as gently as I could. “That’s Mr. Happel. You know. Emma and Sophie’s dad. He’s plowing the snow for us… now we can go to church!”
“NO! That’s my Daddy plowing snow! Hi Daddy!”
For a moment, I was at a loss. Only a week before, Santa had shown up at the door and made her dreams come true. In her 3-year old mind, it was easy to believe that Daddy could suddenly appear and rescue us from the snow.
It took some time for Mr. Happel to plow the big driveway. Hope never left the upstairs window and continued to call out to “Daddy.” (He, of course, could not hear her). At one point, Mr. Happel got out of his truck to shovel in front of the garage. This brought squeals from Hope as she frantically waved out the window, willing him to look up and see her.
It broke my heart.
When he got out of the truck I knew it would not be long before Hope realized the truth.
I watched her as she watched him. First, confusion. Then, realization. Finally, tears. Tears of disappointment like I’d never seen in her before.
I held her in my arms as she cried, her little body tense, even angry. She’s such a happy, care-free princess girl. But she’s a sensitive one, and she never forgets. It hit me that maybe this separation had had more of an impact on her than I imagined.
It took an unusually long time for me to see her bright smile again that day. I knew all along that there were times when she missed him, but until then I didn’t know how much she needed him.
Later, when she calmed down, I said, “Sweet girl. Your Daddy loves you so much… so much. You know?”
“Yeah, I know. He loves me this much!” she said, arms spread wide.
As a birthday gift, Hope was given The Jesus Storybook Bible. The stories in this book are so relevant and timely and have ministered to us greatly. There’s a song in the book that says simply,
God loves us with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.
I’ve watched Hope grasp the fact that her father loves her with a never-ending love even though he’s been away for nearly six months – a lifetime for a child. Even though he wasn’t there for her first day of pre-school, or for autumn afternoons at the park, or for her birthday or Thanksgiving or Christmas. And even though he wasn’t there to rescue her with a snow plow, she has his love, she’s secure in it and better for it.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power… to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge… Eph 3:17-18
Oh, how God teaches me through these little ones. To trust and rest in the loving heart of my Father. Winter is long and hard. And there are times when He seems far away and silent, times when I wonder why He won’t answer my desperate calls for rescue. I long to have the faith of a child who doesn’t worry about being worthy, but simply, really believes she is loved. By a Father who never leaves, never breaks, never stops giving Always and Forever Love.