Today I Celebrate Love

Today is Valentines Day and although it’s also my birthday, I choose to celebrate LOVE! My life has been filled with love over the years from many sources and many people. I have been blessed beyond all measure and a day does not go by where I do not thank God for it. I could talk about so many beautiful people in my life or wonderful aspects of love but today is special enough that I want to spend it reflecting on something personal and close to home. I hope you’ll grant me this one day of being totally selfish in what I am sharing.

engagementI met my husband in 1986 and we spent three months taking walks and sharing poetry and conversations about life. We weren’t dating but we loved spending time together. Then we went our separate ways and lost touch. For the next 10 years, I told friends of mine that my one single regret in life was losing touch with Michael not as a boyfriend, but as a friend of my soul. I had dated and even been engaged once but never married. I had a reached a point where I had resolved within myself that I would always be single and then I ran into Michael. When we reunited in 1996, there was something we just knew. It was “right.” We never doubted we were meant to be together and laughed at how we both spent the ten-year gap wondering what had happened to the other person. I was never more excited than the night we ran back into each other and I realized that spark had never gone out. Not only that, it immediately burst into a flame that has only gotten brighter over time. Our first date was on St. Patrick’s Day. We got engaged that May and married in November.

If you’ve followed my blog or read the About Me page, you know I have some complicated wiring. I have a lot of quirks and definitely have had my share of relationships with people who had a hard time dealing with all that comes with my wiring. Michael, however, not only accepted me as I am but embraced me completely. He saw me as beautiful when I never felt like it. He saw me as intelligent even when I did things that weren’t very intelligent. He listened to me ramble on about everything under the sun even when he would have much rather enjoyed some peace and quiet. He knows what makes me tick and gives me the freedom to be me.

official picA lot of people have asked us over the years what makes our marriage seem so different from most people and one of the main things has been that we have always given each other room to be exactly who we are. Yes, we are one couple, but we are still individuals within that relationship. We were a little older when we got married and neither of us got married thinking we could change the other person into who or what we wanted them to be. I didn’t want to lose myself and neither did he and for us, it worked. There are a lot of reasons why we love each other more today than we did all those years ago but our greatest strength is that our relationship is grounded in Christ.

ceremony1 Corinthians chapter 13 describes for us what love truly is. It isn’t emotions or the expressions of those warm feelings we have when we say we are “in love.” Love goes much deeper. It is committed. It is a choice. It is choosing to stay even through the tough times. It is the preferring of each other above ourselves. That’s not always easy to do and we don’t always succeed at it but when we DO, the results are amazing. I believe God has a perfect plan for a long-lasting relationship and we have tried to live by those principles. It is that grounding in spirit and shared belief that has carried us through some extremely difficult times in our marriage. It is what has reminded us to be kind and gentle and to grant each other grace even when we would rather do otherwise. It is the reason we do not yell and argue. It is why we’ve always taken time and made the effort to truly communicate from the very beginning. And as a result of our shared belief in – and commitment to – God and His word, we have been blessed beyond measure.

the kissSo today I celebrate a romance for the ages. I could not have asked for a better husband than God gave me in Michael. He makes me laugh from the depths of my soul and wipes my tears when I cry. He fights for me and WITH me no matter what comes. He is a “man’s man” but has the most kind, loving and generous heart. He is a wonderful example of what a husband should be and I have been changed because of the way he loves me. On this day of love, I couldn’t ask for more.


Stop (and Think) In The Name of Love!

HeartsThis week we will be celebrating Valentine’s Day.  It seems to be a time when some people evaluate their relationships honestly and others are concerned only with what they will get from their significant others.  I realize it is a time for romance but it’s even a better time for looking inward at the true love in our life.

So often we go through life wondering why things aren’t different.  We look at our relationships and think they should be deeper and more meaningful yet quite often fail to realize that we are the ones who are holding back.  Past hurts and pains still haunt us because we can’t forget.  Past angers still cripple us because we cannot forgive.  These past experiences taint our present relationships and cause us to hide behind our creative walls.  We don’t have depth in life because we aren’t willing to go to the depths.  We sometimes aren’t willing to acknowledge the pains of days gone by so that we might move past them into a new realm of peace.  We hang on to our impressions of the world that were formed in sadness or other negative experiences.  We get burned so often that we tell ourselves people just aren’t worth it.  We begin to believe it is easier to have superficial relationships with everyone than to live through the many betrayals and rejections in order to find the pearls of the few who are true.  What is so often lost in the midst of our perceptions is the reality of love.

Love can find us in the oddest of circumstances or the strangest of people.  We don’t look for love; love looks for us.  We don’t find it; it finds us when we let down our guard and risk the pain of exposition.  It embraces us when we embrace others.  It calls to us when we are willing to listen.  It hears us when we are finally willing to speak.  It will not force us to live within it.  It will not force us to be open.  It will not force us to be weak.  It will not force us to be exposed but when we are willing to freely stand naked in spirit with those around us, love will clothe us in the purest peace and comfort.

We have all used love to our benefit over the course of our lives.  We have called emotions “love” when they were anything but love.  We have loved with condition.  We have loved with expectation.  We have loved in order to gain instead of give.  We have loved out of necessity, convenience and sometimes even confusion.  We have loved in order to manipulate, coerce and extract what we somehow believed we were entitled to from another.  We have lived our lives doing everything BUT love.  It sounds so harsh to say it openly but it is the truth.

Corinthians 13It is easy for us to stand and look at ourselves in a mirror that reflects how wonderful we look on the surface but we rarely see who we really are.  I am not saying in every situation in life we have loved for some other reason but when was the last time you loved someone truly as much as you love yourself?  When was the last time you truly put someone else ahead of yourself without considering it to be a nice or even noble thing to do?  Love acts.  Love responds.  Love never stops to think how much greater it becomes for what it does.  It is not proud.  It is full of understanding, true grace and mercy.  I have seen some beautiful acts of kindness over my life and some genuine displays of what love is but let us not mistake the rarity of those times.  Let us not diminish the character of love by making it into a beautiful package that contains nothing of substance when it is opened.

So as we approach February 14th, let us ignore the commercialism and expectations that normally come with the day.  It is wonderful to have a day to show expressions of our love but wouldn’t it be better if we lived every day of our lives in a way that our loved ones know exactly what they mean to us?  If we will, we may just find ourselves with a gift that lasts much longer than any flowers, candy or jewelry ever could!