“Mommy!” toddler breath hit my face and I swam to consciousness. “Mommy! Is it a happy day?!” I opened my eyes to see their expectant ones. My twin toddler boys had padded in on footed-pajamas feet and waited for my response. There were kingdoms to build (of legos), mountains to climb (on the couch), wild beasts to tame (if the puppy didn’t nip too much), maybe even a damsel to save (because otherwise baby sister screamed too loud).
We implemented the rule when they were waking too early: come check with us before unleashing their hooah holler. Somehow, ‘ask us if it is morning yet’ morphed in their brains to “Mommy! Is it a happy day?”
Many a morning during that time, the question gave me pause. Their dad was deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Osama bin Laden was still on the loose, and my husband’s stryker brigade was on the hunt for him in ‘cowboy country.’ Daily news brought scenes of IED destruction, plumes of smoke and dust, planes coming home with flag-draped coffins, tickers counting the wounded.
We wouldn’t hear from our soldiers but once in a while back then, so we recited the mantra ‘no news is good news.’ Mail came sporadically. No cell phones. Static drenched phone calls lasted a couple of minutes with mostly ‘I love you’s’ communicated. Bread crumbs of hope.
Rolling over in bed, declaring it not a happy day, and wallowing in fear and sorrow felt the most right those days. But the bouncing brown eyes under the Lyle Lovett curls were waiting. Their question asked so much more:
Is there reason for hope today, Mommy?
Are His mercies new again this morning?
Can we trust Him now?
Is the Lord still good?
I struggled to find a smile. Not a fake-it-till-you-make-it one. Not a riding the denial river smile. A thread of a smile that recognized the hard in the midst of a good God. One who brought hope and faithful promises and new mercies with happy days.
I struggle to find it now. The events in Afghanistan bring up concern for tomorrow, fear for today, grief from the last twenty years of yesterdays for the military family. My older friends mourn losses again. My younger friends are kissing their husbands good bye, and waking to expectant children’s eyes.
I am working again to learn the lessons. I try to turn off the news and turn to my God. I work to shut down the voices of worry and shout them out with the words of His voice. I struggle to learn to trust not in the strength of men or equipment or intelligence but in the One who gives all of it.
I am working again to see what my children helped me see back then: the good in the here and now, the sun waking the world, the fun to be had with things as simple as water and dirt, the gifts still given in a dandelion, a lightning bug, a puppy’s lick. I need to feel the Presence in the present.
The question comes again: ‘Is it a happy day Mommy?’
Yes—with Jesus. Oh, yes.
Verses I’m holding onto today: Romans 15:13, Psalms 42-44, Job 13:15