Tag Archives: love

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.

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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.

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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.

 

Do Not Fear. Breathe. Repeat

You guys. These last two weeks.

We went from the War on Xmas to watching a literal war unfold across the entire globe.

Twelve years ago. I went to college in Florida with a sweet blond girl who loved Jesus in a way I had rarely seen in my 18 years. Last week. Her sister was attacked and shot in her home. A short coma later. She is no longer with us.

I met with a dear friend this morning for coffee. She talked about police knocking on her door last night in the late evening. Asking her if she’d seen anything unusual. She was alone with her kids. There was an armed man on the loose in the neighborhood. There were gunshot victims.

The media keeps telling us that terrorists are walking across our borders disguised as desperate refugees. So much hate. And racism. And fear as a result.

It’s easy to be fearful.

It’s tempting to lock my doors. To turn off all the sources of information. To pretend we’re safe. I want to wrap my babies in figurative bubble wrap. Never join the real world with all its killing. ugliness. hate. It’s okay, babies. Nothing’s wrong. Stay here.

But what good would that do?

I have a secret for you. Come closer. I’ll whisper it. I’m not going to make it out of here alive. Neither are you. So far the mortality rate of humans is 100%. Those aren’t good odds.

In 2008 and 2009 I was in college. We had begun to see the economy collapse around us. Futures were uncertain. We were students with degrees like Women’s Ministry or Biblical Studies. These would suddenly be no longer marketable. We didn’t realize it at the time. I remember a professor who saw where we were headed. He told us things were going to be worse for us, for our nation, in the coming years.

But, he saw this as good. He said that our faith carried the only answers to disaster. To hardship. To a violent world. When the world is searching for an answer, we have it.

Do not fear.

Jesus reminds us over and over. Do not be afraid. I have already conquered evil. Death is not the end. I’ve defeated it. There is more than this.

I wish this meant that I knew everything will look better in a minute. But we know this isn’t true. Look at the world! Sweet, innocent children fleeing war are looking for a home. They are met with hatred instead. We watch as child after child is killed with a gun. Senseless acts. We pretend our threat comes from “outside.” Yet we’re killing our own. Our “safety” is not a thing. It’s an illusion.

No. I don’t offer easy answers. I can’t say, “Come over to my side, we’ll cling to our faith and ignore reality. But at least we’ll be happy.”

No.

But I can say this: Friend. Don’t fear. Jesus defeated death. We know this is not the end. He died in place of me. In place of the ugliness inside my heart. My worst enemy. I don’t have to stay there. I can live in that freedom. I can give grace and refuge to those who need it.

Don’t fight terror with fear. Fight it with boldness. With love. To those around you. To those across the world.

Friend, don’t fear. Breathe. Find peace within the hope of Jesus. It’s only going to get worse. That doesn’t change the fact that he. is. in. control.

Turn off the news. Look for ways to help. Practice peace and love. Breathe. And repeat.

Bug Guts and Coffee

As I drank my coffee this morning, I thought back to when I started drinking coffee. I was 19 and thought it was gross. But there was this boy I liked, and he wasn’t gross. He drank coffee, he offered me coffee, I was hooked. On the coffee, that is, the boy didn’t last as long. It’s probably a good thing he didn’t offer me drugs or this would have been a different story altogether.

It’s funny the things you do when you are googly-eyed over someone. When I was in middle school I let a boy smash a lightning bug on my finger in the shape of a ring. It glowed. Let me repeat that: I let a boy…smoosh bug guts…on my hand. That is disgusting, even for me, and I grew up with three brothers.

Another time I considered keeping a piece of gum forever because a certain boy gave it to me. My thirteen year old self fortunately realized how creepy that was and decided against it.

Things are different now, thankfully. I love my husband. He’s pretty cool. But nowadays it’s more like this, “Eww, your toothbrush is touching mine, move it back to your spot!” I told Tim early on in our relationship (almost a decade ago?!) that I really couldn’t stand the music he listened to and I couldn’t even pretend to like it. Maybe that’s when you know it’s the real thing, when you can keep ahold of your true self even in the insanity that is love.

Have you ever done anything ridiculous for a crush?

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Aww, weren’t we cute back then?