Imagine you are a seven-and-a half-year-old named Eleanor. You have brown, mid-length hair with matching brown eyes. Your grandmother has said more than once that you have a gentle and intelligent face. She likes the way you are mindful of others.

You're tall for your age. Sometimes people forget you're only seven and a half.

Today is your grandmother's 75th birthday. In celebration, friends and family have gathered at her home on a humid summer day — afternoon storms threaten. You've dressed in a festive pink top with flowers embroidered along the neckline and a coordinating skirt. You click the backs of your sandals together twice. You feel at home here.

Young and old seem happy, and what's not to be happy about? Impromptu games, balloons — and so much food — catered food. Moving from the backyard to the various rooms in the house, you catch snippets of conversations, spurts of laughter. You may not understand everything, but you understand this: people love your grandmother.

The time finally arrives to bring out the cake and sing "Happy Birthday." Instead of a regular cake, though, your grandmother ordered cupcakes. You are fairly thrilled with this. The guests wait in the backyard, while you dash to the kitchen.

Your mom and dad have just loaded a tray of the most beautiful confections you've ever seen — the tops are decorated with a circle of perfectly formed frosting in an array of colors — pink, green, and yellow. Each has a three-dimensional flower or bee.

You ask, no you beg to carry the tray out to the table that's ready and waiting. You're father hesitates — it is a rather large tray, but you assure him you can do it — "Please, Daddy, pleeeeeeze."

"Pretty please?"

How can he say, "No!"?

You don't make it ten steps before you trip over your sandal. The cupcakes hit the floor first, the tray second, you last.

For a second you are afraid, but only for a second.
A seven-and-a-half-year-old heart breaks. You can't stop crying; consoling you is futile. Later when you learn the word mortified, you will think back on this day — but only briefly.

Your father becomes quiet. Time is ticking. People are waiting. He steers you over to the refrigerator. Inside are twenty more cupcakes identical to the first. He and your mom load these onto the tray your mom has just finished wiping off.

And then your father does something you will remember for the rest of your life. He turns to you, tray in hand, bends at the knees so you are meeting brown eyes to brown eyes. He kisses your forehead. He hands you the second batch of cupcakes.

For a second you are afraid, but only for a second. There are guests to be served and a beloved grandmother to be honored.

This is the kind of love, mercy, and grace our heavenly Father uses in nurturing His beloved.


Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:6-7 ESV).

(A special thanks to my friend, Barbara G. for giving me permission to write this story about her granddaughter.)