Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Valentine's Day Tale



Once upon a time, a man wrote me a poem for Valentine’s Day.

Although it sounds awfully romantic and should have been the stuff fairy tales are made of, the ode written in my honor wasn’t quite like that.

Many moons ago I was a starry-eyed girl in my twenties and my boyfriend at the time said he wanted to write me a poem to express his feelings for me.

For weeks he'd been talking about the effort it was taking him to compose this literary feat, so I couldn't wait to read it. 

He drove to my house on Valentine’s Day and hand-delivered his sonnet to me.



But he didn’t want me to read it in front of him; he said the words were too tender. 

So he gave me a red rose, handed me the poem and left.

As I read through the two painstakingly written pages, I discovered the surprise ending.

He said he loved me. . . . and he hated me. 

And he didn't know what to do about it.



After the jolt of reading the word hate in a poem about love, I realized I shouldn’t have been surprised. We'd dated for almost a year and he wanted to get married. 

I just wasn't so sure I was the one he should marry. 

As he envisioned me being his wife, he'd tell me what he didn't like about me. 

He said he hated how my shoes dragged across his carpet when I walked, and he didn’t like how I peeled a hard-boiled egg. 

{In case you're wondering, he magically pulled the eggshell off in one long strip and I smacked it hard on the table and chipped the shell off in tiny bits.}



I guess I failed to realize that for him, carpet-walking and egg-cracking topped the list of his most desirable qualities in a future spouse. 

There were plenty of other idiosyncrasies too, that he pointed out, but they were all compatibility factors, not character flaws. 

Our relationship ended not long afterward.

Maybe a poem isn't the wisest way to tell a person what you wish they could change. 

Especially when a girl waits all year for Valentine's Day.



That's why I’m glad there’s an entire book of poetry that tells me how much God loves me. 

The Psalms are filled with eloquent and emotional verses, many penned by David, a man who experienced God’s great love for him, despite his many failures and flaws. 

I love the soaring language and the heart-rending honesty as he cracks {and sometimes flings} open the door to his soul.

The Psalms tell me that even when I don't measure up and fall short, God is always kind.

Even when my actions don't please him, he’s forever loving.

And even when my heart goes wandering toward other passions, he still wants to be with me. He pursues me with devotion, encircles me with love, and surrounds me with grace.

Who wouldn’t want a love like that?



David's silver pen writes:
For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. - Ps. 57:10 {NIV}
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. - Ps. 143:8 {NIV} 

No love on earth matches God's love for me. No love exceeds it. No love compares to it. 

I could search the dating world {via the internet} for someone to love me like God can, and I wouldn't be able to find that unconditional love anywhere.



God’s love is meteoric, his loyalty astronomic, His purpose titanic, his verdicts oceanic. Yet in his largeness nothing gets lost; Not a man, not a mouse, slips through the cracks.
How exquisite your love, O God! How eager we are to run under your wings,
To eat our fill at the banquet you spread, as you fill our tankards with Eden spring water. You’re a fountain of cascading light, and you open our eyes to light. 
Ps. 36:5-9 {MSG} 

But every so often I pull out a sweet reminder of God's love, shown to me in human form. It's my first Valentine's Day card, given to me when I was a five-month-old baby. 

It's from my dad. 

He wrote inside that I was a little bundle of joy that won his heart, not just on Valentine's Day, but every day of his life.

And that's my all-time favorite, happily-ever-after Valentine story. 




I'm joining my friends at Holley Gerth's place at Coffee for your Heart.



40 comments:

  1. Yes, this is love Valerie. Wonderful words to share this day. We sang an old hymn Sunday that says, "God's love to me is wonderful". Your words here are a beautiful reminder of his love being above all others. Thank you

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    1. Debby,
      That hymn says it all, doesn't it?! It's hard to put into words sometimes, God's amazing love for us, but that's the only thing that can help us love others. Thank you for your sweet words, as always! xo

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  2. Dear Valerie,
    What a beautiful keepsake from your Dad! And what a beautiful picture he painted for you, right from the beginning, of our Heavenly Father's Love! I love the Message Translation that you shared of Psalm 36. Wow! Sometimes I feel like these new translations shake up my settled way of reading God's Love Words, and shed such new light! Happy Valentine's Day and Hugs to you, Friend! xo

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    1. Hi Bettie,
      I was surprised too at the translation from the Message and how beautiful it was! I couldn't agree with you more that sometimes a different arrangement of the words yields an entirely new perspective on the scripture. Thank you for your encouragement, as always and sending loads of Valentine's love your way! xo

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  3. This is so sweet! Though I laughed hysterically at the ridiculousness of the first valentine you mentioned (thank goodness you escaped that! How dare you not crack an egg the proper way!) I was touched by your fathers card! Precious!

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    1. Brittany,
      So true! I've never found anyone as good as my dad's been to me! :) I should have gone to egg-cracking school -- wonder how I missed that in my culinary adventures?! xo

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  4. This, a beautiful weaving, an ode to true love, dear friend. A suitor that was better off lost, not kept ... Scriptures worth savoring ... winsome vintage cards ... your daddy's love letter to his little bundle of joy.

    I shared in on my LinkedIn site. It's just that marvelous.

    P.S. You're still joy. For sure.

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    1. Oh Linda, your words are too kind! My dad is one-of-a-kind, that's for sure -- and by the way, my middle name is Joy! :) xoxo Happy Valentine's Day, friend!

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    2. My oldest granddaughter's middle name is Joy, too.

      And she is one through and through ...

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    3. Oh I love that! And Devon's middle name is Joy, too, after her auntie! :)

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  5. Valerie, I had to choke back tears when I finished reading about your dad's Valentine earlier today ... what a beautiful memory and a great dad. I never knew egg-peeling was a test for compatibility ... yikes! :-) I smiled when I read your response to Linda about your middle name ... my Lilly's middle name is Joy too. Fitting for both of you, I think. :-)

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    1. Lois,
      Lilly Joy -- what a beautiful name for your girl! And your comment is making me laugh -- an egg-peeling test for compatibility -- I think that's a stellar idea! Yes, my dad's note on the card is so sweet, especially since he doesn't really have a way with words -- he's a hardworking protector/provider kind of dad -- but the best! :) xo

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  6. Hi Valerie- Thanks so much for sharing this story- I am so glad you didn’t end up with him- ! Gosh- glad God protected you from that!! Psalms is my favorite book for just the reasons you wrote down. I usually find myself in Psalms lately! I love that msg version too! So good- and the cards are great!! I love the ending too about your dad and his love for you even as just a 5 month old baby- so beautiful to think about- Thanks for drawing my heart back to the Father again. I am so grateful- sending much love tonight

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    1. Hi Susie,
      I think the Psalms are my go-to read, whenever I want to read poetry, and since you have the heart of a poet, I know you can relate! :) There's something about thinking about David, the warrior, fighter, king, writing such beautiful, soul-stirring lines, isn't there? So glad you enjoyed the photos of my vintage cards! :) xoxo

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  7. Valerie--as I read about that poem you were given I was reminded of a boyfriend who found little incompatibilities in me too. I never felt quite good enough because of little things I'd do here and there. I'm so thankful we both escaped these relationships and that we can rest in God's unconditional, never-failing love no matter what kind of relationship we are in in this life!

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    1. Hi Amy,
      Ahhh - -so you can relate to the criticisms -- or "help" to improve?! :) I'm grateful those things came to the surface for us both and yes, God's love is the only thing in this life we can count on to never change! xoxo

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  8. Oh, Valerie! That card from your Dad is SO sweet! How precious! I know his heart was so full of love when he filled out that card. And, I was near tears as I read of the awful insensitivity of the boyfriend in saying those horrible things to you in that poem. My goodness...it seems so ridiculous that he would find fault over such petty things. I am sure thankful God spared you from a life with such an uncaring, hurtful person. You are WAY too good for the likes of him. I was just thinking earlier that I hadn't seen a post from you in a while, so was very thankful to see this one. It is always a blessing to come here to visit you. God bless you in a big way, sweet friend. :)

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    1. Hi Cheryl,
      So grateful for you here and your beautiful encouraging words -- you always know just what to say to lift others up! I think that is one of your many gifts, my friend! xoxo

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  9. I love that you still have the card from your dad- that is so sweet! And you're definitely better off without someone who has such an issue over boiled eggs! So true that no matter where we look we will never find another love like God's.

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    1. Hi Lesley,
      And isn't it wonderful that as long as we search, we can never see all the sides of God's love that he has for us? They are new every day! xoxo

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  10. Oh my. I can't imagine reading that! :( your poor heart....you are much better off without him, that's for sure! I bet your sister could have told you that ;)

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    1. Sarah,
      Yes! Sisters see things you often can't -- invaluable friends, that's for sure! xo

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  11. Those vintage cards are gorgeous Valerie! They are keepers, not like the old boyfriend. The message version of the Psalm brings up such vivid images of how wide and vast His love is. I had never seen it that way, and have a spring in my step today, like one who has just received the best love letter (and one I know that contains words that are always true).

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    1. Hi Lynn,
      I hadn't read those verses in that version either and I thought it was so impactful too -- but I love how you said it -- they put a spring in your step! :) Love that! xo

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  12. Well that has to be the sweetest happiest ending ever...♥♥ My mom gave me a stack of cards from my first birthday that she found last year and I loved looking back through the sentiments and the vintage illustrations and I love all your darling cards here too! God indeed sees to every detail (as my cute little desk calendar says today- wink wink) and brought about a beautiful character in you despite the ugly words that boy wrote to you-- and we can call him a boy even in his 20s because real men just don't operate like that! I'm so glad you're back today with a post- I missed you last week and meant to text and check on you but I was too preoccupied with still not feeling well myself(how selfish of me...) Much love your way today and always my dear Valerie!

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    1. Hi Heather,
      You have to post those birthday cards of yours sometime -- how precious is that! And so glad your little desk calendar is continuing to bring a word of joy to your day. Thanks for missing my post -- and I have been missing yours -- hoping you are back to inspiring and encouraging us soon, my friend! xo

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  13. I mean................I always love your posts and images. A delight to the senses!

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    1. So grateful for your kind words, Susan! xo

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  14. So glad you "got back in the saddle". What an amazing post! So open and honest. Sorry you had to go through that. Thankful you keep letting God love you! My friend wrote a devotional called "A is for Apple". It's devotions through the book of Songs of Solomon and it screams of God's love for us. I think you'd love this book. It set my heart free when I was going through divorce. Email me your mailing address and I'll send you a copy.
    Love ya,
    ~Sherry Stahl
    xoxo

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    1. Hi Sherry,
      Oh I'd love a copy of that book! Thank you for your encouraging words this week, too. The hazards of dating are sometimes comical, aren't they?! :) xo

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  15. Tears pooled in my eyes as I read this, Valerie Joy. Your heart must have been so crushed. I'm so glad you didn't end up with him! And then the love verses of how vast God's love is for us and your reminders like this - "He pursues me with devotion, encircles me with love, and surrounds me with grace." He loves and accepts us just as we are! In the unique way He created us! I love the valentine cards, especially the last one from your dad. Wow! That is so touching! Thank you for sharing all this, my friend. As always, you have ministered to my heart today. Love and hugs to you!

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    1. Hi Trudy,
      Those vintage Valentines are the cutest, aren't they? I also have the card my dad gave me on my first Christmas, too -- they are both so adorable! I am so grateful for you and your beautiful heart and your perceptive insight - -you are a real gift to our little blogging community! xoxo

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  16. Dear Valerie,

    My heart ached as I read those unloving words even as I was also so glad you valued yourself to not marry him. (I crack my boiled eggs like you :-) And I love how your dad gave you a Valentine and that someone saved it until you could save it yourself :-) Truly precious and just as precious is the agape unfailing tender love of God. May God continue to reveal His awesome love for you. Thanks for being brave and sharing a piece of your heart with us. XOXO

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    1. Hi Dolly,
      Oh my -- a fellow kindred egg-cracker into tiny bits?! LOVE it! Always love to see your name and encouraging words here, friend! xoxo

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  17. Oh my goodness! Some people are hilariously awful! I wonder if he ever thought of how that would make you feel. Wow lol I guess that was a good thing to know.
    But I love love your dad's valentine card! Super sweet! Would you concern yourself a daddy's girl? I am. Daddies are the best! It leaves you feeling so grateful for good earthly daddies. Thanks for sharing : )
    Hope you are doing well

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    1. Hi Kristina,
      Hope all is well with you! I do consider myself a daddy's girl -- my dad was the best dad for girls -- he is the protector/provider and not so good at sports so we didn't care! :) So glad to see you here this week -- praying for you! xo

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  18. I was NOT sure where the story was going with him at first and an inner fire started to simmer in your defense haha! Prayers for his heart...and whoever did or might marry him. I love the photos. I still imagine us meeting up one day in person, having a friendly stroll. I feel like a kid at the library begging the storyteller for more!

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    1. Hi Meg,
      It would be so delightful to meet you for coffee in person one day! Thanks for your sweet words of encouragement. I imagine he didn't realize the effect and was just used to honestly speaking his mind :) Sometimes I think I have nothing to write about then I remember I have a life full of comical/poignant experiences! xoxo

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  19. That's a story, and I'm sure at the time having your egg-cracking skills highlighted in such a way had to have stung on quite a few levels. I love how you point us to the fact that no one can love us like God can. Although many try, and even do quite well, the unconditional grace and goodness of God surpasses all. Beautiful, Valerie - as always.

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    1. Hi Tiffany,
      I think God holds the love we're all looking for, even when we think we find it elsewhere! xo

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