Happy Hearts (and books)
Loveys, I like Valentine's Day. The picture above is an ancient one! Gosh, that was the first Valentine's that Jeff and I spent together. He'd flown from Texas to Lynchburg to visit me. I was still living on-campus at LU back then. Good grief, I had highlights in my hair. That was an interesting choice. Highlights or not, it's one of the most special holidays in my memory.
Back to Happy Heart's Day. I've loved it forever. Since Ryan Hammonds brought me a Valentine back in fifth grade. I know some people don't, but it's a holiday that I appreciate. I ask Jeff for the same thing every year--a heart-shaped box of chocolates. Why? Because I really like chocolate and that's what I want. Our anniversary is on the 8th, just a few days before Valentine's, so he's usually already given me flowers and I don't need more of those. Getting a sitter on Valentine's is like winning the lottery, so we aim for a date for our anniversary, but not Valentine's Day. But chocolate? Yes, please. I'll take it. Nothing too expensive or extravagant. But cards and chocolate and kisses--I'll take those, lovey.
Romance is good for the soul. I think that's why so many women love to read romance novels or watch romantic movies. I think the fascination can start early, especially with our little princesses. My kids are curious. The other day Lincoln asked me how God brought me and Daddy together. And after a tense morning last week, Lincoln timidly asked me if I still love Daddy. :) (Don't worry, I assured him that we always love each other no matter what. Jeff and I rarely even argue in front of the kids, so they pick up on even a change of tone! Which is fine. It's just real life.) We have good days and hard days. That's why love and affection are so important. Jeff is better at this than I am. He's always willing to pause for a moment for a kiss or a hug or he'll reach for my hand while we sit next to each other. I'm a typical mom with a thousand things on my mind (Are we running out of diapers for Lily? Did I forget to buy eggs? I'm hungry for pizza, I think. I wish I had a glass of Moscato. I should text Nancy to come over soon. We can drink Moscato together. And on and on it goes!). I don't always pause for affection, but I recognize that it's a good thing, and I appreciate that Jeff makes this a priority for us.
Love looks different as years pass. You know what I mean, lovey? A passionate kiss is one thing. Making the kids breakfast so you can actually drink an entire cup of coffee before it gets cold? Priceless. You know what I'm talking about. You fall into bed exhausted at the end of the night. And while deep conversation about . . . I don't know . . . sounds great, in reality he's playing Marvel Champions on his phone and you're checking Instagram--and it's okay. Because you're tired and you're together and you made it through another day. And in all reality, the baby will need a bottle at 12:30 (or at the exact moment when you've dozed off). And that's what life looks like sometimes. So when he reaches over to hold my hand, or when he takes the first feeding at midnight, or when he comes home with a heart-box of chocolates and card that says, You're still the One--I know I got lucky when I married him. And I'm so thankful we have each other and we keep loving each other.
Even in marriage, lovey, there are seasons where you're just not feeling the love. I think most of us know this to be true. There are seasons where it just feels hard to breathe around each other. I know that Valentine's Day can be hard for a lot of people. Couples and singles alike.
I think we crave connection and care. I've heard God described as the relentless lover. The one who pursues us over and over. The one who is jealous for the love of his people. The other day, I'd cleaned off the chalkboard in the kitchen in order to list out what needed to be done that week. At the top of the chalkboard, I impulsively wrote, "For God so loved the world..." Because for the month of February, I want my family to see that truth and remember that God loves us. Wherever we are, in whatever season of life, God loves us. When we feel unloved. When we feel far from beautiful. When we feel alone. When we're angry. When we're scared.
Whatever you're feeling this holiday, know that God loves you with an everlasting kind of love that goes way beyond roses and chocolate and cards. That kind of love means you're never alone. The truth is that we can sometimes feel alone even surrounded by people in a warm home. We all need that love that goes beyond gifts and kisses, that reaches to the place in us that needs to be understood and cared for.
I think the excitement of Valentine's Day, for me, is just that it's a great excuse to show the ones we love that they are special, that they matter. Yes, we should do that all the time. But amid laundry and making meat loaf, and crazy math homework that makes you shake your head, and kids having fevers . . . well, it gets pushed aside. It's just real life, lovey. It's happening over here. Lily has a runny nose. Linc is getting better from having had the flu. I'm trying to stay off my feet because the pain from the surgery is reaching a severe point, which is quite discouraging in and of itself. So . . . in the middle of all that, the reminder to say, I love you and I'm glad you're in my life, well, it's fine by me.
Are you ready for Valentine's Day, lovey? What are your plans? We'll be celebrating at the Bruce house with candy and chocolate and homemade Valentine's and all that good stuff.
P.S. If you're looking for some romantic reading, I've got just the thing. ;) My novel Looks Like Love is available for download on Amazon for $2.99. I would be honored if you'd hop over and take a look and start reading!
And if you're looking for last-minute Valentine gift ideas: http://www.brandybruce.blogspot.com/2012/02/when-it-comes-to-valentines-day.html