I have always had a special affection for valentines—not those five-dollar cards that require extra postage or the commercial packages of kid’s cards with their tiny envelopes. Not even the beautifully decorated heart-shaped boxes of candy, though I wouldn’t turn any of them down.
No, my love of valentines goes way back to a little rural schoolhouse where valentines were hand made with red, pink and white construction paper. I can still smell the thick paste and sticky glue we used to create those small heart-shaped messages for our classmates. But our greatest masterpieces were the cards we made to take home to our mothers. The teacher gave us delicate, white, heart-shaped doilies to use with our construction paper valentines. Oh my goodness, what beautiful cards were made in our country schoolroom.
We folded, cut, pasted and came up with the most unique designs imaginable. Some students were content to fold a sheet of construction paper, draw a heart on the front and write “Happy Valentine’s Day” in thick crayon. Others filled a red piece of paper with so many tiny white hearts that it looked like snow. Then there were those creative geniuses who drew hearts with lines coming from them as if they were “beating” out the crayoned words, “I love you.” I, on the other hand, loved the lacey look of a white doily on pink paper with a red heart in the middle, scribbled with sweet sentiments. I’m sure my mother loved it too.
As a young mother, I also gave my children creative license to make their own valentines with much the same materials I used as a child. However, my clever son, now a grown-up artist, always found ways to surprise me. Things like little hearts that opened, revealing special messages. He used colors, shapes, yarn, whatever he could find to make a memorable card. And like my mother, I loved those precious creations that smelled of Elmer’s glue and colored markers.
Today, I receive hand-made valentines from my four-year-old and two-year-old grandchildren. They have hearts of paper, felt, fabric and glitter along with toddler and pre-school drawings. I immediately display them on my refrigerator door for all to see, even if glitter sprinkles to the floor below. They are treasures that warm this grandmother’s heart in the dead of winter.
But there is still another valentine I enjoy. Long ago, God slipped a special love note into my heart with the words from a children’s song. “Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so….” Today, I find many love notes in the Bible, beautiful messages of hope, and treasure them in my heart.
Lately, my heart has felt the icy blasts of illness, hospitalization of family members, loneliness and more. I find myself in need of a little sunshine so I bring to memory those love notes God wrote on my heart so long ago. And just in case you too need a special valentine sentiment, take these words God spoke in Jeremiah 31:3 to heart: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness.” Now that, my friend, is what I call a heavenly valentine!