Hi family and friends!
Happy Valentine's Day!! I have my first guest blogger who wrote the entry below--my mom (who is standing in the kitchen making a key lime pie). She is here visiting for a few days, and since many of you know and love her ALMOST as much as I do, I asked her to write a few thoughts about her Valentine's Day memories. I hope you enjoy her encouraging words. In light of such a fabulous day, she'll be posting again this week & I'll be posting as well. Here's to celebrating love!!!
Before I hand it off to mom, I just want to say a special "Happy Valentine's" to the love of my life, Kevin, who has brought me untold love and joy since the day I met him. I love you, babe!
VALENTINE’S DAY! Few words elicit such a smile as those two do. I haven’t googled how the day got started in history, or what its official meaning is, or whether gods or goddesses are involved, or anything like that. And I don’t plan to, either. I just know what it represents to me: a celebration of love and joy and friendship and family and just plain feeling good about loving and being loved.
My earliest memories of Valentine’s Day begin when I was in first grade. That was when you actually got to buy a box of valentines at the five and dime store, to give to your classmates. I can remember my first box, and how I sat in my parents’ bedroom in our little farm house, poring over those valentines. I had printed the names of everyone in Miss Gaster’s first grade class on a sheet of paper, and I spent hours trying to match the “right” valentine with the “right” classmate. I mean, this was serious business. I particularly remember choosing one that was especially charming to give to one of my friends, because I didn’t think she’d get many of the “good” ones from the other kids. Even at 6 years old, there was a pecking order in the classroom and you pretty much knew which kids were going to get the “good” valentines and which kids weren’t. The one I gave this friend had an adorable cowgirl on it with an equally adorable pony that she had lassoed—funny what the mind remembers.
A year later, as a 2nd grader, my big sister Debbie who was 2 yrs older than I was—and who was at the pinnacle of the pecking order in her class, BTW—received a small box of candy and a broach in the shape of a heart (with a ‘diamond’ in it, no less) from a young man in her 4th grade class. My younger sister Bev and I had known for a long while that this boy liked our big sis. Women just have a way of knowing those things, even as 1st and 2nd graders! Getting a gift like that was almost unheard of at our small school, and Bev and I were VERY impressed. We also wondered if our parents would approve or not. Daddy and Mom seemed to think it was really cute, and didn’t seem worried in the least that Debbie and Lee were anywhere near eloping. We all enjoyed a small taste of the candy—even though she ate it so slowly it lasted until well into summer, and it was just four pieces or so to start with. I am dead serious.
Valentine’s Day of my 4th grade year did not find me in the same boat. I didn’t receive any gifts, but my younger sister Bev did. Honestly, where was the justice in that? She had a boy in her class who was more well-to-do than most of us, and he got her a big box of candy. BIG box. She shared a bit of it with me, and hers only lasted until Easter or so. However, I did find myself in a dilemma that year. One of the “good” valentines in my pack had two tigers in a cage looking at each other with goo-goo eyes. The caption said, “Valentine, I’d like to be encaged with you.” It seemed “R” rated to this ten year old, but I had to use it or otherwise I wouldn’t have enough for everyone to receive one. So, after much agitation, I put a boy’s name on it and even watched him open it out of the corner of my eye. I still remember where his desk sat in Mrs. Besett’s classroom, in relation to mine—up two rows and to the right. He opened it, read it, and then looked at me and grinned. I quickly looked away as I didn’t want him to know I’d been watching him. I remember being very embarrassed, lest he think I wanted to elope sometime soon. Probably it was my first blush.
So I sit here on Valentine’s Day and think about all of those childhood memories and how wonderful they were, and then I think of the even more wonderful ones as an adult: How, in 1980, I was a bride of 11 days and literally felt like Cinderella beginning her love story. How, four years later, Wes and I were the proud parents of two day old identical twin daughters—and we were overwhelmed with the crazy love we felt for those two 5 pound babies with the long eyelashes and big blue eyes. We were also amazed at how they never slept. And four years after that, I was on bed rest, awaiting the birth of our 3rd daughter, whom the twins called “their baby.” And how, a few months later when she arrived, we were overwhelmed once again at that same crazy love that just blows you away, beyond your wildest imagination.
As I write that phrase, it reminds me of a verse I have come to love in the past several years—which I never really tied to Valentine’s Day, but now I do. It’s Ephesians 3:20, and I became aware of it when Wes and I were going through some very difficult times (notice that ‘times’ is pleural!). It says: “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us…” There came a long, extended time in our marriage when the storm clouds not only began to blow, but hit with hurricane force winds. Our little boat was rocking like crazy in a storm-infested ocean. We didn’t know what to do... but God did. We were lost…but God wasn’t. We were discouraged, bone-tired, and beyond weary…but we knew that God was a God of courage, and that He never grew tired or weary. We knew He never took His eyes off of us or His arms from around us or our little boat. We knew He specialized in calming raging oceans and storm-tossed boats. We held on to Him with everything we had. There have been so many times in the past 32 years that God has proven Himself faithful to this Cinderella and her prince. There were hurdles and challenges and heartaches that we never dreamed we’d face back in 1980…but He did more than we could ever ask or imagine. Way more. We’ve seen His same faithfulness in the lives of our 3 darling daughters, whom we still love so much it leaves us near breathless. He has worked, and still works, way beyond our fathoming.
I’d like to close with what to me, is the very best Valentine of all, from John 3:16: For God so LOVED the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life.” Now that’s the real deal. The best Valentine ever. Way better than cowgirls with lassoes and encaged tigers. It’s the greatest love story ever written. And it was written for you and for me, if we would but unwrap and accept it. And when we do, life is never the same again.
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone…with much, much love.