Tag Archives: birthday

In Defense of Valentine’s Day

Like it or lump it, Valentine’s Day is coming this weekend. That commercialistic, sappy holiday sponsored by Hallmark. It also happens to be my birthday, so clearly this is my favorite holiday and I think it’s worthy of celebration. It doesn’t have to be a commercial mess like a certain December holiday, and it doesn’t have to be solely about romantic love. Let’s take a look at where it all began.

The history of Valentine’s Day is murky and muddled, but it’s clear that it started in Rome as a fertility festival called Lupercalia. It was celebrated as most Romans festivals were with nakedness, drunkeness, and sex. Oh, also the women were whipped by men with the hides of newly slain animals, all in the name of fertility, of course.

Later, St. Valentine was added in to the festival. The church was not, and is not, sure which man named Valentine this saint was named after, apparently there were several that were martyred for their faith in some fashion or other.

St. Valentine was made part of the celebration in an attempt to Christianize the holiday. Pope Gelasius the First did this in order to “put the clothes back on” the festival even though it remained a drunken party. By the way, that is the funniest description of how Christians took something over, isn’t it? Can we please describe all Christian cultural things that way? GodTube is like YouTube but with clothes on. Creation Fest is like Woodstock but with clothes on. (Yeah, those are things.) Terrible Christian movies are like the ones from Hollywood but with clothes on. I could do this all day.

Anyway, by Shakespeare’s time, Valentine’s Day was becoming more about romantic love and continued to do so until Hallmark got ahold of it in 1913. And here we are today. My point in all this is not that we go back to the origins and bring back fertility beatings, but that the holiday really has no set agenda to it, outside of Hallmark’s bottom line. Which means, at least in my figuring, that you can do whatever you want with this day.

wp-1455304679672.jpegIn our house we use Valentine’s Day, and really the whole month, as an opportunity to tell our loved ones they are special to us. Our boys have been making cards for weeks, mailing them, delivering them door to door, and passing out chocolates. We tell them that sometimes we have special sweethearts on Valentine’s Day, and sometimes we don’t, but that’s not really the point. The point is that there are always people in our life who we can show love to, because God’s love never stops for us.

Every Valentine’s Day I make a card for Tim (take that, Hallmark!). It’s usually silly, I’ve usually stolen the idea from someone on the internet, but it’s fun, and it’s us. Here’s last year’s card. And honestly, I love the idea of giving something, anything, on my birthday. You should try it too.


Full disclosure: I did NOT come up with this. I saw it online and redrew it. You should follow me on Instagram if you want to see this year’s card. It’s going to be awesome!

So I challenge you to look at this day differently. If you’re tempted to complain about it, instead do something about it. Send an encouraging note to a friend. Buy someone flowers. Make something. Bake cookies. If this is a special day to you and your significant other, great! But don’t forget that romantic love is not the only thing worth celebrating. How can the two of you work together to bring joy to someone else?

Take this day back. How will you celebrate your Valentine’s Day? Let me know. And enjoy your chocolates.


My sweet friend blessed me this week with these beautiful flowers, and now I’m reminded of her friendship and love every time I look at them.

By the way, if you’re wondering about my sources. I used this and this for my history lesson.



The One Where Emily Turns 30

Like any lady who grew up in the 90s, I’ve been watching Friends on Netflix since it came out at the beginning of this year. Since re-watching it, I’ve realized how much all my friends and I tried to live out that show in our speech, actions, and hair (you know you all wanted Rachel’s haircut!).

Recently I watched the episode where Rachel turns 30 and the group reminisces about their own thirtieth birthdays. All their birthdays were terrible, with Joey crying at many of them, a midlife crisis at Ross’s, Phoebe finding out she was really 31, and Monica getting smashed out drunk.

I was at an impressionable age when this episode first came out,just shy of my 16th birthday. So of course I was convinced that turning 30 was going to be the end of my life.


I turn 30 on Valentine’s Day, ya’ll.

And I’m excited about it. I’ve been looking forward to 30 for awhile. I’m going to rock 30.

If you knew me when I was 20 and you are still my friend, can I just say thank you? I’m pretty sure I thought I knew everything when I was 20. No one could tell me anything; I was proud. Then the next year I got married and three short years later found myself pregnant and found out that I had no idea what I was doing, in life, parenting, marriage.

My twenties have been a long decade of learning, being humbled, being made holy, being broken. It’s been exhausting but I’m thankful for God’s continual goodness in the face of my own weakness.

I’m going to start out my thirties by admitting that I know less about life than I did when I was 20, but I feel more comfortable with who I am as a person. I like myself. I didn’t like myself for a long while and used all kinds of distractions to keep from being alone with my thoughts. I’m okay now.

Furthermore, I’m a good mom. And you know what? It feels good to say that. You should say it too (you know, if you’re a mom, that is. If you’re not a mom, that’s a little weird). Try it. I’m a good _______ (mom, uncle, sister, photographer, dog owner).

I’m going to be healthy in my thirties. This is my year of Healing. I’m going to allow God to continue healing my spirit from ongoing depression and anxiety. I’m going to eat healthy to be a good steward of the body God has given me. I’m going to fill my mind with good things as well, and speak out against evil when necessary.

Here’s to my next decade! I’m going to finally be a real adult. I’m going to love well, and live hard.

Rachel, Ross, Joey, Chandler, Monica, Phoebe, you’ve got it wrong. 30 is the new 20. I’m gonna rock it.

rachel crying


Theology 101

I have just completed a year-long course in Theology. I didn’t sign up for it; I didn’t even realize I was taking it until I was near the end. I have taken several theology courses throughout my academic career, but I learned more in the last year as a mother than I learned in all those college courses combined. My baby boy just turned one year old. Wow! I can hardly believe it. I thank God for my son. He has brought me so much joy and purpose. But unexpectedly, he has taught me so much about my Heavenly Father; I thank God for that too. I know that the education doesn’t stop here after one year, but I want to look back and see again the new ways I have experienced God:

Before Gabriel was born, I loved him. I felt his kick within me and I was filled with such a great love that I would have sacrificed my own life in order to bring him into the world. As soon as I saw him him and held him for the first time I was filled with such a fierce love and feeling of protectiveness that I would have moved the earth for him. If I am able to give such love (frail and incapable human that I am), why do I doubt my Father’s love for me? His love is so much deeper than I can imagine. I can see a glimpse of that now.

I would give Gabriel anything. I make sure that his needs are met even if it means that I will do without. I would not deny him a meal just because I don’t feel like preparing anything. Why do I think my Father will not provide for me the things I need? Why do I feel that I need to do everything by myself for myself so that I will not go hungry or be without shelter? My God promises that even the birds will have their needs met. He has always provided for me. Yet again and again when I feel a need, I strive to reach it on my own. Now I am learning to trust Him more.

It takes a while for Gabriel to learn some things. Of course, he is a baby so I don’t expect him to know everything about life right now. However, he really seems to have a knack for getting himself hurt. The fifteenth time that I tell him not to climb out of his high chair and sit him back down, I try to do it as patiently as I did the first time. Sometimes I fail and get a little frustrated with him for repeatedly putting himself in harm’s way. But my Heavenly Father never loses patience with me. The eighty-seventh time that I do something stupid and put myself in a position to get hurt He patiently shows me the right way again and lovingly brings me back into a right relationship with Him. Why do I feel like He has a limit to His forgiveness? Why do I feel that if I mess up one too many times He will give up on me? He won’t. He can’t. His character denies the possibility. I have a deeper understanding of His patient love now.

My son has shown me the Father in ways I never could have imagined. It is my prayer that as he grows I can turn that around and lead him in the path to his Heavenly Father. There he will find unconditional love where his earthly parents falter, God’s provision where we fail, and patience where we react sharply.

I look forward to what Gabriel will teach me in his second year. Maybe this year will be filled with less bumps, bruises, spills, and pinched fingers. Maybe this year we will be able to breathe a little easier as our Gabe grows. But knowing my son…I doubt it.