It was the first time we had hired a babysitter. It was about that time of the afternoon when we needed to start to get ready to go out. But, we knew something wasn’t right. Our oldest was three months shy of her first birthday and she wasn’t quite herself. The baby thermometer confirmed our suspicions. She had a fever and our Valentine’s Day plans were now kaput.
Wally could tell I was disappointed. He knows my thing with expectations. He also knew I couldn’t leave my baby. I don’t remember if there were tears involved, but he jumped into action, calling my favorite Italian restaurant and ordering our “go-to” dishes for carry out instead.
While he was gone to pick up our dinner, I caught his enthusiasm for our plan B and set about to surprise him with a beautifully set table. The seldom, if-ever-before-used china and crystal were set on the good cloth tablecloth awaiting his return. We plated the steak, chicken and pasta from the styrofoam take-out containers and sat down to candlelight and soft music.
Riley rested contentedly in her bouncy seat and we had our Valentine’s date. No, it wasn’t what we had planned or anticipated, but it was wonderful. We celebrated that God had given us each other and the sweet, little one who cooed from the floor. We talked about how nice it was to be home and not fighting the crowded restaurant with long lines and chaotic atmosphere.
I believe it was that Valentine’s Day we decided to redeem the holiday.
The fourteenth of February can be so polarizing and stressful. It makes some feel lonely and others feel let down. Card and chocolate manufacturers compete for our money. While jewelers, florists and perfume companies do the same. If you aren’t “with” somebody, you wonder what is wrong with you. If you are “with” someone, you wonder if your gift is sending the “right” message or is the “right” size. In our over-sexed culture, romance has taken on new meanings. Without a biblical worldview, people will be let down believing that this distorted definition of love is all there is. It is easy to become cynical and skeptical. Honestly, I can’t blame anyone for discarding the whole holiday if this is what they are celebrating.
On the Valentine’s Day described above, we had no idea that God would bless us with two more daughters to steward their hearts. We encourage Disney princess movies and Jane Austin novels. They witness kisses and embraces between their parents and know we have date nights and anniversary get-a-ways. They know we pray for their future spouses and that we long for God to bless them with strong biblical marriages to strong Christian men. But . . . we pray for much more than that for them . . .
. . . We pray for them to intimately know the God who intimately knows them AND loves them with an amazing love beyond their comprehension.
We decided on that Valentine’s night sixteen years ago to incorporate our kids into our Valentine’s Day plans. We would eat a GOOD meal full of our favorites, either gathered from various restaurants or prepared in our own kitchen. We would break out the china and use the silver-plate. We would use this over-commercialized holiday to intentionally teach our girls about the love that is described in 1 Corinthians 13.
Boys will only let girls down. God did not design anyone person to complete any other person. That longing and desire that my daughters will one day have can ONLY be fulfilled completely in the love that God provides. Any other way will only lead to stressful relationships and disappointment. ONLY God can love them they way He created them to be loved. I want them to know this love.
Romance is not dead. Sure, chivalry might be, but true self-sacrificing, promise-keeping, faithful devotion, always-being-there commitment can ONLY be found in the love that God loves us with. No matter how wonderful he is, he will one day, somehow disappoint them and let them down. God alone will always be there for them. I want them to know this love.
No one can blame the spouse that bails on the marriage when their partner has broken their vows and been unfaithful. But, God forgives our indiscretions and paid the debt of our continued unfaithfulness. He knows our worst thoughts, wrong motivations and our out-right willful sins yet continues to be lovingly faithful to us. He doesn’t overlook our short-comings but ONLY He can transform our offenses into His righteousness through the death of His Son. I want them to know this love.
This love that never fails will never let us down. This love is worth celebrating with the good china and rich food. This love should be remembered and talked about and given recognition. Our family chooses to do this on Valentine’s Day.
My girls know I am crazy “in” love with their father. They know how handsome I find him and how devoted he is to me as well. We would all agree that one of our greatest blessings is the love that he and I share. I will not diminish it, but I will say that as great and as special as it is – our romantic love pales in comparison to the love that God has lavishly, continually, bestowed upon us.
We will exchange small gifts and cards. As their first Valentine, Wally will get the girls modest presents too, showing them his love for them in a tiny tangible way. He models for them something far greater than how they should expect a man to treat them someday. He is modeling for them everyday how their Heavenly Father loves them.
This intentionality has led me to use the seemingly endless stream of diamond, perfume and edible arrangement commercials to cultivate prayers of thanksgiving. By His grace alone, I am the recipient of the most amazing love. This is the love that I am choosing to celebrate this week.
I posted this tonight, so you might be challenged to do the same – redeem Valentine’s Day. Use this secular holiday to commemorate and celebrate the sacred love that God has, is and will continue to give us.
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