A couple of years ago, I visited a dear friend who was fighting for her young life. At just forty years old with three beautiful kids and a wonderful husband, cancer was in several areas of her body. It was mid-January, and she was having a good week between treatments. We were able to visit and catch up as we picked up her kids from school and friends’ houses and then made dinner. As I looked around her home, I noticed there were several cute Valentine’s decorations – hearts and cards and banners.
Just like when we lived in neighboring towns, my spirit was lifted being around this friend. Even though she had only a few short months to live, she encouraged me. She encouraged me with the way she talked about her struggles and her belief in knowing that God is still good. She encouraged me by asking about our family and catching up with us. She encouraged me when I shared with her that we were considering a trip to Africa. And mostly, she encouraged me by continuing to live life fully and loving those around her well. It showed all around her home.
I understand what it means to not merely hold God’s hand but to sit in the very palm of it. -Kristen
February is a busy birthday month for us. Four out of five of our immediate family members have birthdays this month, as well as numerous extended family members and friends. I’ve always focused on birthdays in February (and not always well). Valentine’s Day was usually almost an after thought or a quick card, candy, and dinner with the family between birthdays. After visiting Kristen, I decided that I didn’t want to cheat Valentine’s Day anymore and what it represents. If she could decorate and celebrate and love others as she was fighting for her life, I could certainly add a few decorations and napkins and plates as well as reminders of the love we have.
My one word for the year is LOVE. It seemed like such a familiar word, but I kept coming back to it. I want to focus this year on truly loving God and loving others and understanding God’s love for me. The last couple of days, memories of Kristen have helped me with this.
Since that trip two years ago, I’ve intentionally added a few banners or plaques or love sayings around the house in early February. The decorations are simple, but I want my family and those entering our house to know that love is important here. Valentine’s Day is just one day of the year, but I’m thankful it’s early in the year. Maybe we can turn our focus to love this month and carry it in our home and hearts all year.