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The Last Valentine's Day Letter

What advice could my divorced dad give to his daughter before her marriage?
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Long before emails, letters served as heartfelt offerings of love and encouragement. I have bundles of them saved in a box. My dad loved writing letters for special occasions.

Those letters always had an amazing blend of wisdom and love, but one Valentine's Day letter was different and we both knew why.

February 14, 1979

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Dear Karen,

As I sit here staring at your high school graduation picture, I recall the little girl who loved to skip everywhere she went. Then you discovered bike riding. Soon, I took the squeaky training wheels off. You wobbled back and forth, found your balance, and I watched you ride away.

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I've watched you take the training wheels off of other things in your life too. School wasn't easy, but eventually you found your balance and did well. Your piano teacher said you weren't naturally gifted, but you loved playing. Same thing when you decided to play tennis—you loved it but had to practice hard since it didn't come easy. Loving something makes all the difference in choosing not to give up.

This is your last Valentine's Day as a single woman, but you've found a wonderful man who can share them with you from now on. I'd like to offer some advice, but since my own marriage failed, what advice could I possible share? I'm just a dad who loves you and knows how much love matters.

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Marriage doesn't come with training wheels. You'll sometimes wobble, but together you can find your balance. Unlike piano and tennis, there's no natural gifting in marriage, but if you love your marriage it will make it easier not to give up.

In marriage, it takes two to love well, but sometimes you'll have to be the one who remembers this. Love is work and sacrifice. But loving well is contagious and contagious love spreads, healing the occasional hurts. When we let love be who we are and how we live, then it will be a love that lasts.

With Love on Valentine's Day, Dad

At our wedding, he gave us a card with these verses:  "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." - 1 Corinthians 13


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