You know what I love about Valentine’s Day?

My daughter came home the other day and told me that her dad thought I would be sad this Valentine’s Day… because I would be alone. I’m not angry about this… But… the truth is, I’m not sad. I’m actually very excited about Valentine’s Day…

People think that Valentine’s Day has to be about romance and couples and sex… fancy candle lit dinners, champagne, chocolates, rose petals… Someone special to share them with… I disagree. Those things are nice if you have them… but not having them doesn’t take away from the joy of the holiday.

My mom and dad were very loving parents. And they always showed it at Valentine’s. Candies on my bed when I cam home from school, flowers and stuffed animals on my nightstand, balloons, love notes written in lipstick on the bathroom mirror… One time my mom hand wrote at least a dozen love notes, cut them out in heart shapes with fancy scissors, and hung each one from the ceiling in the hallway. When we woke up, we were showered with her love. I found one of these notes in my box of keepsakes recently. It brought a smile to my face. I used to buy these Little Debbie “be my valentine” heart cakes and give them to my siblings!! I still smile every time I see them 🙂

heart cake

When I think of Valentine’s Day, I don’t lament the romantic. I celebrate that there are people in my life who love me. Who I love back. I don’t think of red, black, lacey, and candle lit. I think of pink and red hearts hanging from the ceiling… My mom’s handwriting telling me she loves me, my tough-exterior/tender-hearted daddy picking out flowers to surprise his girls with, my sister’s giggle when I give her a heart cake.
And I think of my beautiful little Luvbug. Sticky cherry candy kisses, pink and purple handprint art, glitter and stickers everywhere… She has had letters on her mirror and hearts in her hallway… These are the reasons she gets excited about Valentine’s Day too.
For weeks I’ve been planning how I can make this day special for her… so she feels loved and cherished…

No… I’m not missing out on anything this Valentine’s Day… I’m celebrating the love like I always do!!

Isn’t that what this is all about?

This park

Today I left my house in search of a beautiful, peaceful, secluded park where I could enjoy some uninterrupted time in prayer. Unfortunately this past year we have had several floods and many of my favorite places are closed off. I drove for nearly an hour looking for the “perfect spot”, but the “perfect spot” was not to be found.

I ended up being drawn to one of my old places. I knew parts of it were still open. I also knew it was no longer “beautiful”… still partially flooded. And probably packed. I went anyway. I was right. There were people everywhere. It was hard to find a place to park. But I did. I grabbed my things and walked… I ended up here…

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This park breaks my heart. I used to come here with my daughter and her daddy. We had so much fun. Do you see that bench in the water beyond the trash can? I sat and watched them play soccer from there. I played on that distant playground with my family!! I used to look out over this little field, my heart full of so much joy! Today it aches.

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This field were once green!! These woods, lovely!! But now? The flood was devastating. Even today, so many months later, the water is still high. I used to walk to the end of the ramp and sit on the dock. Just to enjoy the rocking of the waves. The dock is now nearly 100 yards from the shore. I’d have to swim to reach it. The grass here is rotten, the smell, appalling. Like fish and mildew. Everything looks dead.

But it isn’t! All around me are signs of life… People playing with their dogs, children chasing each other on their scooters, couples enjoying each other’s company. Birds flying, wind blowing… I hear laughter, conversations, birds’ songs, lapping waves, distant boats… I know this park won’t always look this way… I know a year from now it will be different…

So why am I weeping on this bench?

Then I realize… It isn’t the park that is breaking my heart at all. It’s what it represents…
My family. My marriage. My hopes and dreams… My heart. All the good times, the joy, the fun, the love… washed away by the pain of betrayal… pain that I once thought I would drown in.

When I look out at this park, I don’t just see the devastation of the floods. I see the devastation the affairs and the divorce have had on my heart. My daughter’s heart. And it brings me to my knees.
Then I hear Him whisper “It will not always be so…”

This park will dry out. The waters will recede, new grass will grow. Trees will flourish. Damaged playground and benches will be replaced. Once more it will be beautiful!!
And my heart? My heart will heal! I will learn to walk in forgiveness, to trust, hope… and one day, God willing, even love again. It won’t be tomorrow. Or the next day. Or even the next. It will take some time… but it will heal.

One day I will look back on this place and see the beauty God makes from this mess. I will mourn what was lost, but I will be grateful for the flood.

And I will be full of life!!

Psalm 56:8 
“You have kept count of my tossings;
    put my tears in your bottle.
    Are they not in your book?”

Psalm 30:5
“Weeping may tarry for the night,
     but joy comes with the morning.”

Psalm 147:3
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

Matthew 5:4
“Blessed are those who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.”

Jeremiah 31:13
“I will turn their mourning into joy;
     I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.”

Ezekiel 36:26
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.”

Isaiah 43:19 
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

Jeremiah 29:11
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord,
‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.'”

Isaiah 54:10
For the mountains may depart
    and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
    and my covenant of peace shall not be removed”