This may seem like a silly reflection to some, especially since my grandparents have been dead for many years, but over the last month I’ve had some seriously intense moments of missing my grandma.  For a little family background…my dad’s mom died before I was born so I never met her, my dad’s dad has been in and out of our family life for various reasons over the years so I don’t have a relationship with him, my mom’s dad died when I was quite young, although I remember visiting him in a number of care homes and the day he died, and my mom’s mom, my grandma, died when I was 13.  That left my grandma as the one grandparent I had a lasting, memorable relationship with and still hold those memories dear.

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I was in the car this morning with three, sweet four year olds.  As I drove and listened to their banter I smiled, it was innocent and beautiful, silly and ridiculous but their laughter and joy filled the van.  They were giggly and chatty, as they always are when they first get together.  I love hearing their little voices calling each other by name and catching up on the details of the days they’ve missed.  It never ceases to amaze me how children can spend hours with their friends and the next time they see each other, whether it be hours or days later they have countless details to relay. Continue reading

While we have not yet reached the point of jetting off to some luxurious, tropical vacation during the kids spring break we do try to find a few fun things to entertain ourselves with.  This break so far has been VERY low-key…we’ve basically hung around close to home as both James and I still have regular work schedules to maintain.  Thankfully we’ve been blessed with some sunshine, albeit rather cold sunshine, but sunshine nonetheless, which means the kids have been able to get outside for a few hours a day playing hockey in the driveway, riding bikes and rollerblades or jumping on the trampoline.  I think James and I half expected to have a Saturday full of rain and neither of us brought up plans for the day.

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Someone on Facebook shared this picture today.  At first I just scrolled past it as I have MANY shared pictures but I came back to it a few minutes later and actually looked at it and then read the caption and I laughed…

Someone, somewhere captured the essence of AGAPE love in this silly little cartoon.  On Christianity Today Agape is defined as…”Agape is selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love”… If you check Wikipedia it says… Thomas Jay Oord has defined agape as “an intentional response to promote well-being when responding to that which has generated ill-being.”

Regardless of exactly which words you use to define AGAPE, the insinuation is the same.  No matter the situation, no matter how you feel at the moment, you intentionally sacrifice something of yourself to put the person you “love” first.  While it’s pretty self-explanatory it just reminded me that this is how I feel about my children, this is how I feel about my husband and thankfully I feel fairly confident that this is how God feels about me.

I’ve been giving Valentines a lot of thought over the last week. It’s kind of ironic since I’m generally one who prefers to just let it pass as another day. Not because of some great aversion or post-traumatic Valentines disorder but because I’d rather not encourage my husband or my children to save their expressions of affection for one day of the year. I’d like them to know that all the nice things people tend to do on February 14th can be done at any time during the year.

However, this year I spent some time writing out little Valentines notes for the kids in my ministry area at church and thoroughly enjoyed having one time of the year to share with them how much I care about each of them individually. It gave me pause to realize that children perceive this day with almost as much excitement as Christmas because it’s a moment to celebrate love! They don’t need to do anything to earn it, it just happens and it always involves cards and little gifts. It’s the anticipation of opening something special just for them.

As I was preparing to write the cards I read through the teacher devotional for the lesson and it focused on St. Valentine. He lived during the time of Emperor Claudius and was apparently arrested for not worshiping Roman gods. Some say he was also performing Christian marriage ceremonies)…but the story says that Valentine prayed and witnessed to his jailer and through this all the jailer’s family (totally 46 people) came to know Christ. February 14th was the day that Valentine was martyred for his witness and worship of God. The devotional goes on to point out the passage in John 15:13 that no has greater love than he who will “lay down his life for his friends”. This reminder is a blessing to us and a good way to be reminded of Christ’s love for us. As part of the cards I wrote the children I found the most loving passage to put on the cards for the kids at church, but it served as a reminder to me of my significance and value…Isaiah 43: 1,2 &4:

But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.

For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush[a] and Seba in your stead.

Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
nations in exchange for your life.

What an amazing reminder of just how much God loves us and how we can in turn love others.

This morning dawned bright and early with no particular sense of anticipation in my heart, and just to be clear no bitterness either, but a clear sense of excitement from my 7 year old and 5 year old (both of whom are great lovers of all things sentimental)…I was surprised by a wonderful man who had fabricated an early morning breakfast meeting in order to pick up a fresh cut, long-stemmed rose, a box of nice chocolates and a bag of cheap chocolates (my one indulgence)! I was blessed by the thought and the surprise. And what I loved most was that it was both for the sake of acknowledging how much I mean to him but also an intentional way of showing our children how to express love.

This day has given me a fresh perspective and although I wouldn’t classify myself as a Valetines scrooge, I will definitely acknowledge that I may have been less than enthusiastic about celebrating February 14th. From now on I will choose to be a little more thoughtful and aware of those who DO value this day as an opportunity to share unconditional love.

Now off to pick out something nice for my kiddos who WERE perhaps a little bitter that there was nothing for them to celebrate the day!