Christmas is barely three weeks past and soon Valentine’s Day will be upon us. How does that make you feel? Rushed? Tired? Resistant to the not-so-subtle pressure to buy and decorate … again?
As with most of our annual worldwide holidays, this one sprang from a true Christian story. You can easily Google the man named Valentine who became a model of how to love well in his day. In time he was elevated to “sainthood” by the Catholic church and is remembered annually on the church calendar.
But like most of our “holy days,” commercialism has taken over and we’ve forgotten the heart of this holiday: remembering to love as God does.
So for many years I disliked V-day. Here are some reasons why:
- I didn’t appreciate the overemphasis on romantic love as the focus of this holiday. I wanted my kids to be protected from romantic pressures.
- It sets up husbands to fail; most married men are bewildered by what to do for their wives. The culture says skimpy sexy lingerie, but most wives want heart-felt sacrificial love. Dennis learned early on that the also-typical dozen red roses was a waste of hard-earned dollars. He has learned I value gifts that last. Bless him for trying in those years.
- It sets up wives for disappointment. Expectations or longings for receiving a specific gift usually fall flat because in the fullness of life most married couples never take the time to talk about this holiday until years of marriage pass. To verbalize what our hearts wanted, Dennis and I eventually understood, took longer to realize than we knew in those early years.
- Why should I follow the lead of the culture? I felt angry many times that I was faced with love messaging I didn’t want or believe was true.
- What I really wanted was a way to teach my children to actually love one another. I deeply believed what John the Apostle said when he wrote, “But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness” (1 John 2:11). All children including mine struggle with loving their siblings and even as adults, and they would agree, need help loving one another.
My solution for my family was a craft time after school a day or two before Valentine’s Day. I put out all the supplies—glue, glitter, construction paper, scissors, doilies, markers and more—and we worked together making cards and small tokens of affection for one another. We then delivered these to paper envelopes masking taped to their bedroom doors or to the dinner table before our family Valentine dinner.
Every year I made meatloaf, formed into a heart shape covered with catsup, a side of something green and my mother’s cherry cake, baked in a heart shaped pan, covered with a yummy cherry sauce … tinted red, of course. Some years it was a sweet dinner. Other years it was unhappy with hurt feelings. Our family was and is full of real weaknesses.
My empty nest years have given me the time to read widely and discover many stories of the kind of love St. Valentine was known for. As we, God’s children, learn to love we are displaying facets of His eternal perfect love which He described for us through His servant Paul in 1 Corinthians 13. The famous love passage gives glimpses all around the diamond that is His faultless love.
How Do I Love Thee is a one-by-one, day-by-day look at each of these 14 facets of love from 1 Corinthians 13. I wrote and created this series of heart cards because I wish I had these stories to read to my children when they were still under my roof. I was a very flawed, imperfect mother who loved my children deeply but never perfectly. I loved reading stories out loud to my kids to inspire them to want to trust and follow God.
For you who are moms with kids still at home; for you who are grandmas who long to influence your grandkids; for anyone who wants to both understand more of God’s love and learn to practice it … these stories will guide you to that end.
And as a bonus they look really cute hanging one to each clip on the included chain garland. Use them for any 14 days in the month of February or any time of the year when your family needs a reminder on how to love well. When you finish, return the hearts to their cute storage box for next time, and use the chain garland for family photos, award ribbons, tickets or a recipe you intend to make soon.
Exchange your secret disdain for this secularized holiday for an opportunity to learn more about our God whose love never fails and never ends!
Order How Do I Love Thee from Ever Thine Home.