He admits he stole this from another father, but as a little girl it didn't matter. What mattered was that my dad never failed to say it before leaving my bedside, “If I lined up all the little girls in the whole wide world, I would pick you to be my daughter.” I would beam, give him a kiss, and drift off to sleep. Every night. I graduated college, moved away and began a teaching position in North Texas. Though no one was tucking me in at bedtime, it was guaranteed that I received flowers twice a year: Valentine's Day and my birthday. On every card my dad would sign it, “If I lined up all the girls in the whole wide world, I would pick you to be my daughter”. Now that I was older, it meant considerably more to me. Growing up, my parents were not shy about the purity conversation. They talked about how beautiful it was, inside the context of marriage, but gave us appropriate warnings when done outside of its original intention. There was no question left unanswered. They had thoroughly directed me to the pathway of righteousness and I stayed on it for a long time. Then I turned 27, met a man and became pregnant almost immediately. One word sums up everything I felt in that moment…destroyed. Nearly instantaneously, an evil whispering entered my ear. “Your dad won't love you anymore. You have humiliated him in front of everyone. And he will never love this kid. Ever.” These thoughts were not a result of anything that happened between my dad and me. We had a wonderful relationship our entire lives. These were whisperings of a foul presence desperately trying to bring me into a place of fear. “But were any of these thoughts actually true? Was my dad still going to love me? Would he love this baby?” All of these uncertainties were running through my head, getting crueler by the minute. I was helplessly plummeting into a deep pit. I knew I had to tell them…so I packed and got in the car. After three wearisome hours, I drove up into my beloved parent's house. This beautiful home that was filled with treasured memories; hundreds of nights playing games, taking our dog to the lake on weekends, prayers before bed, constant laughter, holding each other through family deaths, words of wisdom through high school, fun memory after fun memory…it all hit me as I put my car in park. I didn't want to go in. This home that was once filled with unreserved joy…I now entered carrying heavy and almost unendurable sorrow. I was bearing an excruciating wound, something I had never experienced before. Just walking in the door, I knew, would be piercingly painful. I took numerous deep breaths and turned the knob. I won't go into all of the details of that first evening, but it wasn't perfect. My parents are undeniably the godliest couple that I know, but this particular night wasn't great. Feelings were heightened and emotional things were said. Everyone was on edge, feelings were hurt and pronounced apprehension was in our midst. The three of us each went to bed with angst. When I woke up around 8:30 the next morning, my parents already at work. I walked soundlessly into the living room and sat down on the couch. I had no music on, no TV, no phone, nothing. I was sitting, alone and quiet. I was completely numb. I had been there for about an hour when I heard the familiar creak of the back door. My heart began to pound and beads of sweat rose upon my palms, panic had set in. I was immobile. Steadily looking at the ground, I saw my dad's church shoes slowly sit down in an oversized chair across from me, but he didn't say a word. As he sat there still and pensive, looking down at the floor, I began to think about all of the dreams I had lost. “The look of my father seeing me in a white dress on my wedding day: Ruined. All of the protection and guidance he had given me for 27 years: I had stomped on it. Every time he would look at me now, he would see me for what I was: Used, torn, and publicly blemished.” The room was tense, heavy and thick with anxiety. We sat there quietly for probably only 5 minutes, but it felt like an eternity. Finally, even with thoughts racing through my head, heart throbbing, feeling nauseated, I looked up at him and with a quiver in my tone, all I could get out was, “Dad…I don't have anything else to say except I'm sorry. I am so very, very, sorry.” My dad looked up at me, silently lifted up his sturdy hand, tenderly waved my words away and said, “Oh Lauren...if I lined up all the little girls in the whole wide world, I would still pick you… every time.” And with those words, I wept, uncontrollably wept, for a really long time. I sobbed out every fear and all of the evil thoughts penetrating my mind. Those potent words, those very simple words…In one of my lowest valleys, he chose to speak life-giving words and it forever displayed his unconditional love to me. I don't have enough words to express the love I have for my dad.