Bouncing strawberry-blonde curls dance on her shoulders as the persistent four-year-old tries to ride her bike without training wheels. Her seven-year-old brother, who removed the training wheels under protest, offers his young wisdom, gained from experience.
"You should go ask dad for help. You'll get hurt if you try to do it by yourself."
"No...I want to do it myself and surprise daddy!"
After many failed attempts she finally balances the bike on two wheels. She smiles at her brother proudly, pressing her pink Sketchers against the pedals. The bike begins to move! Pink and white tassels hanging from the handlebars twirl in the wind, waving a cheer of success through the cool March air.
She doesn't see her dad step out onto the front porch as her front bike wheel slips into a crack in the pavement. The handlebars jerk from her little hands and she falls.
"Are you okay, honey?" A solitary tear rolls down her pale cheek as daddy scoops her up into his arms.
"Yes," she wipes her tear away, "but I was trying to make you proud, daddy."
"And you did! I saw you ride all by yourself!"
She smiles and relaxes in the protection of daddy's strong arms. But her knee hurts.
"Please carry me, daddy."
Strawberry-blonde ringlets peak from the edges of her white lace veil, as the nineteen-year-old steps through the majestic oak doors of All Saints Church this bright June morning. Her twenty-two-year-old brother smiles proudly from the front of the church, the Best Man. She recalls his suggestion when she first told him of the marriage proposal.
"You should go ask dad for advice." He spoke from experience. "You may get hurt if you try to figure it out all by yourself."
Her legs begin to wobble and heart beats louder and louder in her ears as she slides a hand up under dad's bent elbow.
"Are you okay, honey?" A solitary tear rolls down her dad's strong cheek and lands on the pink rosebud clinging to the lapel of his black tuxedo.
"Yes," she blots his tear with a corner of her Something Blue handkerchief, "but I want to make you proud, daddy."
"And you will!"
She smiles and relaxes her hand in the protection of daddy's strong guiding arm. But she is so nervous.
"Please carry me, daddy."
They smile as they begin their special walk down the aisle, arm in arm, heart to heart.
"Always..." he whispers.
The thirty-four-year-old mother of three pulls her strawberry-blonde hair, intermingled with wisps of silver, into a tangled ponytail. She sits on the top step of her once happy home, staring at the closed door her husband just left through.
"I just don't love you anymore." He had said the day before.
"I will love you forever!" He had said nearly everyday the fifteen years before. Every card, every letter, every email, FOREVER!
"You forgot to tell me that forever had an expiration date!" She had screamed just as the door shut behind him.
Now sitting on the back porch swing this sad November afternoon, her thirty-seven-year-old brother, hairline now receding, arrives and sits next to her.
"I'm so sorry. You should ask dad for advice." He puts an experienced arm around her shoulders. "This is much too hard for you to figure out all by yourself."
Her hands begin to tremble and heart beats louder and louder in her ears as she leans against her brother's shoulder. Her dad arrives and sits to her other side on the swing.
"Are you okay, honey?" A flood of tears gushes uncontrollably down her cheeks.
"No..." the tears won't stop, "I'm sorry. I tried to make you proud, daddy."
"And you did!" He pulls her close into his comforting warmth. "But this is too hard for us to figure out all by ourselves. This may seem like an impossible situation, but nothing is impossible for God, dear. We need to ask our Heavenly Father for help with this one."
Now she sits alone on the porch swing, her mind and heart muddled with confusion. She closes her eyes, praying for the comfort of her Heavenly Father. But she is so sad, so scared. Her heart hurts.
"Please, carry me, Father!" She prays. "I want to do what's right, but I can't do this alone. Please, please carry me, Daddy!"
With a gentle breeze against her moist cheeks He whispers...
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