Monday, February 14, 2011

Spread the Love

It is Valentine's Day (at least for another 15 minutes here on the West Coast) and although I know there are those who discount the day as a "Hallmark" created holiday, who can argue with a day to really set aside some time to let the special people in our lives know that we love them? It's pretty easy to avoid the commercialism and just focus on the love. These are some things our family did this year...

  • Love God. It's a command, the Shema, which devoted Jews still give special honor to in their homes. It is the fundamental Love that makes all other love possible:
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (NIV, emphasis mine)
There are so many ways to express love to God, but I think one of the most important things commanded in this verse is to make your faith in God evident to your children. Our faith is not simply something that drives us to church on Sunday, it should be so ingrained in our actions, words, thoughts, and motives that our children see it and experience it every day in tangible ways.

  • Love your helpmate. I wrote a post a while back about how I try to do this. Today my husband and I got creative and instead of going out for dinner we went out for brunch. It happened that his work schedule and my volunteering allowed us an hour this morning to visit a new-ish local cafe and enjoy some one-on-one time without having to pay a babysitter since the kids were all at school or preschool. These times are so rare for us that it almost doesn't matter what we talk about, it helps us refocus and reunite our efforts as a couple to be supportive and have a common vision. Thinking just a little outside the box made it possible today.
  • Love yourself.  I suppose the debate will always rage whether there is truly a command to love yourself...but for any parent, and especially those of us who parent a child with special needs, it doesn't matter if it's a commandment - it's a necessity, and one that we often postpone or neglect altogether. I wrote a post about this, too. I've been spending more energy on myself lately, and trying to find ways to do it that don't take extra time away from my children and other duties. I am walking more (one side benefit of moving back to our neighborhood schools), taking time for a shower more often (though not perhaps as often as I'd like), and trying to make sure that I'm drinking lots of fluids if not water. These are small things, but they're making a difference for me - boosting my energy level and keeping me healthier for the long haul.
  •  Love your children. Today I made valentine's cards for my husband and for each of my kids. It didn't take very much time, but I hope it will be a long-standing tradition and one that will eventually mean a lot to my children. I'm not a super-gushy-snuggly-mom type. I try to tell and show my kids every day that I love them. These cards are just a tangible reminder of my love. I took especial care with my oldest daughter's card. I made a heart surrounded by a rainbow, a new obsession of hers. I wrote:
I love how hard you work to learn and to help. I love how you love rainbows. I am so  proud of you! Most of all I love you because you are you!
 I tried to use simple language and my best handwriting so that she could read it all herself (a skill she is becoming increasingly confident in) and I hope the words will go deep into her sense of self-worth.
  •  Love others. As part of a service project in Sunday School we decided to make Valentine's cards for some residents in an assisted living community not far from our church. We spent time each Sunday during Sunday School making cards, but also brought some home and worked on them during spare moments - while watching TV or waiting for dinner to get ready. With help from friends we made 80 valentines and delivered them Sunday after church. The staff was going to hand them out today. I'm sure many of the residents won't get many other valentines, and I hope the small gesture will remind them that people care and more importantly that God cares.
How will you spread the love this year?


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