I heard the pitter patter of little feet coming up the steps and I knew it was time to grab the pliers and pry open my eyes. I looked over at the clock.
Oh, time change. You have no mercy.
I rolled over and saw Jack standing next to his Dad's side of the bed.
"Hey, Mom. Is Dad in the shower?"
"No, bud. He left for a trip really early this morning. Just a quick one, though."
"WHAT?", my boy furrowed his brow. "Another trip?"
"Yeah, but just a quick one. He'll be home tomorrow."
"But, it's just...well...it's just that I made him breakfast this morning. I've never done that before."
My eyes popped open. Oh my word, what did this child do? Did he turn on the stove? Is there a HUGE mess down there that somehow in my comatose state of "my husband was up at 4am and I didn't sleep well", I didn't hear a thing.
I rubbed my eyes ready to slide out of bed to go survey the damage and looked up at Jack.
He was crying.
"Oh, buddy. I know it's hard. But, he'll be back tomorrow."
He wiped his eyes and left to go downstairs.
I stumbled out of bed, threw on a sweatshirt, walked past the baby's room - where I heard babbling and singing - and headed to the kitchen.
Jack, Max, and Lincoln were all sitting at the kitchen table eating a bowl of cereal. I glanced around the room looking for signs of disaster, but found just cereal boxes and the gallon of milk in the middle of the table.
I breathed a sigh of relief.
Jack seemed to have recovered from his disappointment and was leading a serious and important discussion about the latest Ninjago episode.
I headed over to make a cup of ambition for myself, when I spotted it.
The sweetest, most delicious, "Made for Dad" breakfast I'd ever seen.
It was my turn. Tears.
You know, as a mother, this is some of the hardest stuff I do. Processing and handling the things that hurt my children - their disappointments, their fears, the things in life that are such letdowns to them - this is hard stuff on my Momma heart.
Isn't it like that for all of us as mothers? Oh, how their hurts slay us.
But, you see - these disappointments are gold. Treasures. Priceless gifts in raising children.
Today, when Jack gets home from school and I have time to sit down and talk to him about what that bowl of uneaten Raisin Bran means, I will have an opportunity to show him what God has taught me.
Our hurts and disappointments really point us to God's love for us.
If we let them.
The love Jack has for his Dad that prompted him to wake up today and pour that bowl of Raisin Bran, the relationship that has been nurtured since the day they laid eyes on each other, the eight years of bonding, sharing, car-racing, book-reading, bike-riding - this is God's love poured out on my boy.
He has a Dad who loves him, and he loves his Dad.
The love in our family - God has given that to us. And, that we miss each other when we're apart makes us newly aware that God has been so good to us. And, when we focus on that, our sadness turns to joy.
It's taken me thirty years to see this in my own life - to process my fears and disappointments this way.
But, when we face Satan's spear of "God doesn't love you because..." and wield the sword of "But, I'm so grateful for..." against it, well - we find joy.
And, thankfulness replaces disappointment.
This afternoon, when I sit down with my Jack, a bowl of Raisin Bran - lovingly poured in anticipation of breakfast with his Dad, followed by tears and disappointment - will serve to remind my boy that missing each other when we're apart is one of God's best gifts to us.
And, together - he and I will slay the power of what isn't, what we don't have today, who isn't here today with thankful hearts.
And, we will find joy in this great gift God has given us:
The love in our family.