My Valentine’s Day

Today is Valentine’s Day. A day that brings joy to some people, and stress to others. My cynical friends will say that it is just a day for merchants to sell more merchandise, and indeed I noticed the flower prices in my local grocery store went up substantially the week before Valentine’s Day hit. But my more romantic friends will anticipate receiving flowers, candy, or any number of things to celebrate their love.

The first year after my husband died, I found Valentine’s Day a difficult holiday to face. Now the thing is, it had never been a big deal day in our home. We didn’t do fancy dinners, or spend unnecessary money on a dozen roses. We were lucky if we gave each other cards some years. But we were together, and we loved each other. There was something about that security of knowing someone loves you and that you love someone that makes the day special. After he died, I found myself longing to be back where we were. But you cannot go back, you can only go forward.

For the single person who has never known the love of a spouse, for the widow or widower who has lost their loved one, or for the ones who find themselves in a difficult marriage and wondering if love will ever be theirs again, Valentine’s Day can be burdensome.

So you find ways to cope and find joy in the day. For me, it is taking joy in sending cards to my grandkids–although I must confess, somehow I missed doing that this year! The joy comes in watching other couples celebrate the day and being glad they are able to celebrate. The joy comes in not letting jealousy or envy get in the way of being happy for others who have found love and stayed the course in their relationships. Believe me, it took me a while to decide I would find the joy in the day instead of being envious of those who had their Valentine.

The joy also comes in knowing that I have the ultimate love, the best Valentine a person can ever receive, in the love of Jesus Christ. When God sent his son, it was like he was sending his Valentine to the world (I know that is not a theological concept, but I am just making a point here.). And for me, thinking about love, only leads me to think about Jesus. The lover of my soul. The rose of Sharon. The person who laid his life down for me. The one who was the Word when God created the very flowers we give as gifts. So Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you. May you celebrate knowing that no matter where you are, no matter how alone you feel, God’s Love is the ultimate Valentine’s Day gift.

What Lies Beneath

Over Thanksgiving I ventured to Dallas to see my son and his family and my car was rear ended as I was sitting at a stop light waiting for the green light. I was hit hard enough to hit my head against the head rest rather forcefully, but when I got out and looked at the bumper of my car I was pleasantly surprised that it did not seem so bad. The car that hit me did not fare quite as well and had to be towed because the radiator was rapidly losing coolant.

On Monday I took my car to the repair shop anticipating being able to pick it up in a few days. Today I called and was dismayed to hear that there was way more damage to the car than initially estimated. When they took the bumper cover off, the damage was easily seen. I knew the trunk had big gaps on both sides, but the trunk and the steel body on both back panels had significant bends in them. So I wait while the insurance adjuster comes to take a look at the final damage and negotiates a new price for the repairs.

After I hung up from talking with the owner of the body shop, I thought how much like life this incident was. Sometimes we do not recognize the untreated wounds that are lying beneath the outside facade, until we peel back the protective layers we have used. Continue reading

A Little Kindness

It was December of 1991 and I was one stressed out Mom that Christmas season. I had four children, ages 8, 7, 5, and a newborn infant. I remember needing to make a Target run and loading up all four kids in the car, getting them corralled to go in the store, and shopping for the items I needed. My stress must have been showing for sure! As we were shopping and I was telling my children for the umpteenth time that no they could not have a toy, a lady approached me in the aisle.

She was very kind and said, “I remember what it was like to have kids and try to go shopping.” She held out her hand and offered me a small box. Continue reading

The Holidays Are Coming

holiday_stress_shutterstock_62603809I love the holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas are two of my favorites. For many people the holidays are a joyous time to be around family and friends, however, for some individuals it is a time of stress and turmoil. For the perfectionist, unrealistic expectations of the perfect house, perfect gifts, and perfect entertainments can take a toll. For the lonely and those who have recently lost loved ones, the holidays can accentuate their very aloneness. For others, the thought of being with certain family members makes them cringe. The reasons for holiday stress are many and varied, but most of us experience it to some degree.

One of the hardest things I have learned is to Let Go of Unreasonable Expectations. Here are some expectations that contribute to stress during the holidays. Continue reading