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She sat in her wheelchair, all of 8 years old,  with wisdom in her eyes and peace in her soul and a pretty Christmas dress on. The last in a lineup of young people anxiously awaiting their turn in the Christmas piano recital, she was hard to miss. But for some reason I missed her. I was caught up in my own kids, 5th and 7th in the lineup and the feelings they must be feeling. This was their first recital. I was imagining the blanket of nerves and fear covering their souls. I was nervous for them, and part of me wanted to grab them and run out of that church so they wouldn't have to experience that kind of fear. The rest of me wanted to see them overcome. That part of me won out, and I'm thankful. My own kids had been practicing O Little Town of Bethlehem and Silent Night for many weeks and I knew every strong note and weak spot in their respective pieces. Today's recital was their moment to shine. It was game time and all the hard work would culminate in these few minutes on the stage. I was silently praying for them, to find courage, to remember their hand positions, to sit up tall and keep their posture, to be confident in what they knew. As soon as Nadia took her seat on the bench and placed her hands on the keys, I was lost in the beauty of the moment. Her song wasn't perfect but her courage was, and I was proud! And then Malakai took his place and played his song with pride, confidence, and even a smile on his face. I had that same feeling of joy come over me, watching my babies, who were no longer babies, do something hard with such poise and bravery. I looked down at the program to see where we were in the line-up and when I looked up there was the girl, being carried by her father from her wheelchair to the piano bench. Across the aisle, up the steps, across the stage, and onto the bench. He carried her all the way, in his arms, while her mom gently placed the sheet music on the piano. Her dad adjusted her on the bench, as her mom introduced her and the song she'd be playing. And then they walked off the stage. and there she was all alone, this little beauty named Carly, with broken legs and poor posture, but an upright heart full of strength and determination. I don't remember her song. I don't recall whether she played it correctly or not. I don't remember anything about her performance. It was her dad who captivated me, the way he picked her up after she played her last note, and then carried her back across the stage, and the way she leaned into his strength as they went down the steps, across the aisle and back into her wheelchair. And I couldn't help but think of my heavenly Father, and the way he carries the crippled and the broken to the cross, the way he carries me to the song of my redemption, the song I hide in my soul. He carries me in my weakness to my destiny, to the place where I am meant to shine. He carries me in his strong arms through my fear and trepidation, up steep paths where I have to hold on tight for my own survival, across short and long stages of life where others are watching and waiting to see what will happen, wondering what symphony will come from my suffering. I rest in His arms, peaceful and courageous, knowing he will place me at the seat of my song and carry me back when it is done. I want to live more like Carly does, completely dependent on the One who loves her most.

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