Monday, February 14, 2011

"You keep on using that word...I do not think it means what you think it means."

Inigo was referring to Vizzini's affection for "inconceivable" but his sentiment can easily apply to the word of the day: Love.

It's Valentine's Day! My fantastic mother in law came over yesterday and watched the kids while my husband and I went out to lunch, just the two of us. (She also cleaned all the bathrooms because she's FANTASTIC.) The kids are really excited about handing out their valentines to their classmates. Geneva hand-decorated 21 pink hearts with princess stickers, glitter, puffy hamster stickers and her name. My son opted for a box of Star Wars Clone Wars hologram valentines with a Reeses' peanut butter heart taped to the front. My mom sent us all our own cards; a lively montage of bears, hearts and flowers and heart-felt sentiments written inside.

Love is in the air!

But as beautiful as this day is, and as important the little gestures and acts of service and time spent together are, it's not really what love looks like. Love CAN look like Valentine's Day, and certainly those in love do all those things, but love, "twoo wuv" often doesn't look the way we expect it to.

I think this is part of the reason why the divorce rate is so high. We all have such unrealistic expectations for what marriage is going to be, and we tend to think of love as a feeling when, in reality, love is a lifestyle -- a way of relating to someone else. There are times (thankfully not too many) when my marriage demands that I love when I don't want to love, when my entire being is screaming for freedom. There aren't many Hallmark cards for those situations.

True love is the hardest thing in the world because people are human...flawed. It's easy to love a sweet, innocent little baby, and incredibly difficult to love someone who has hurt you. But love doesn't just mean the warm feeling you get when you watch your kids sleeping. Love also means inviting your estranged uncle over for Thanksgiving and dealing with the tension and awkwardness that will result.

So many people missed Love when it was in their midst, walking among them, talking and healing and preaching, because they didn't understand what love really meant. I want love to be the happy-go-lucky warmth society promises me. I want my happily ever after. But that's not true love.

I know this day is actually very difficult for many people, especially those who have lost their loved ones or who have been through painful relationships. I am blessed to be surrounded by love, but others are lonely or brokenhearted. On this beautiful day dedicated to love, I think the most amazing thing to consider is that each of us has access to True Love in its most perfect form. All we have to do is open our hearts and receive Him.

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Friday, February 4, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday, Thankfulness Edition

I'm not going to go into my current state of body or mind except to say I am very pregnant, very hormonal, very exhausted, and still nauseous most of the day. In an attempt to cultivate a spirit of gratitude rather than one of complaints, I want to focus on the 7 top things I'm thankful for right now.

7. Grocery Stores and Restaurants
It is just so nice to be able to walk into a store stuffed with choices and say, "Yep, this looks good to me," buy it, and eat it. Were I a true pioneer wife, I'd have to be grinding the corn for my cornbread, and that's WAY too much effort. I am so thankful for quick, easy, available food, and money to buy it.

6. My Honda Odyssey
In addition to driving well on snowy roads, my new minivan has its driver's seat at a height that doesn't require me either to climb or to bend in order to get in and out. Every little thing that helps keep my pelvic cradle at an even level is a source of great relief to me!

5. My Chiropractor and my Meds
I love modern medicine and I love alternative medicine, too. When they work in tandem, it's a beautiful thing.

4. My kids
I've read about women falling deeper in love with their children while expecting, but I can't remember whether I did last time around. All I know is that my kids are so awesome. I love watching them play together, love listening to what they've learned, love looking at them and marveling that these independent people are part me and part my husband. It's such a miracle, and I'm struck by it anew every day.

3. My husband
Never once this whole pregnancy has he said anything like, "I cannot WAIT for this to be over." or "Geez, are you still feeling too sick to clean the bathrooms?" or "This better be the last time we do this." He has, instead, totally stepped up to the plate and taken full child care duties after 6 pm as well as cleaned the kitchen every single night and gone to the grocery store whenever I've asked, despite knowing that he will come home with something and I will complain that it wasn't the brand/type/flavor I wanted. No man would put up with what he's put up with if it weren't for a heart full of love.

2. My baby
Every kick and roll and jab reminds me that there's a person inside, waiting for her time to come out into the world. I am so excited to meet her, and so grateful for the blessing of this life within me. And despite its difficulties, I am thankful for this time with her, just the two of us, hearts and systems joined in perfect harmony.

1. My Jesus
He loves me, helpless and hopeless as I am. He loves me when I'm too irritated and exhausted to pray. He loves me when I sin and He forgives me for it. He's with me, always beside me, even if I can't feel His presence. He is God, He is perfect, He is Love.

More Quick Takes at Jen's Blog