We sat in our usual places with our usual place setting, but beside each plate was a construction paper heart.
Just a simple thing. After all, I’m no Martha Stewart of crafts. In fact, for weeks I had hunted for pre-cut paper hearts—to eliminate all use of scissors on my part, but when that failed I just piled up all the pink, red, and white construction paper we had and started making hearts myself.
I kind of succeeded.
Fourteen days of hearts x 4 people = 56 hand-cut paper hearts. Then, project complete, I laid the first heart out on the table and waited.
“What’s this?” my daughters asked and then turning it over they found the note: Fourteen things I love about you…
And there it was, the first of fourteen days’ worth of things I love about my husband and three daughters.
My middle girl figured it out first. “You mean we will get 14 hearts with 14 things you love about us?”
Yes, baby girl. One for each day of February until Valentine’s Day.
Soon, they were trading hearts, swapping them around the table to read what I wrote about others. Sometimes what I said made them giggle:
How you love to laugh and tell jokes….
The way you collect fun and unique objects like your rock collection….
The way you an talk in accents and mimic characters’ voices and make funny voices of your own….
And others made them grin a little sheepishly, a little precious, a little sweet, a little blessed to know someone sees beauty in them.
You are so good at teaching others. It is one of the amazing ways God has gifted you….
You are great at encouraging others and telling them that they are doing a great job….
Within a few days, I was swatting hands away from the kitchen counter before dinner. They hovered around the kitchen, not to sneak a bite of food, but to sneak a peak at those love notes.
This joy, this privilege, this responsibility of loving these daughters of mine means I have a job, not to spoil them like unsatisfiable princesses, dooming their marriages by giving them unreasonable expectations of romance and fulfillment from their husbands.
But this. Telling them—you’re precious and totally loved. I see Jesus in you and He made you beautiful and valuable.
So, don’t let your head be turned by any scruffy teenage boy who looks in your eyes for more than 2 seconds. You’re not some cheap thrill, there for his amusement and enjoyment, available for use and abuse so he can get what he wants without giving you some basics like respect, compassion, service, self-sacrifice, commitment, honor, and the like.
You don’t need to throw away your own identity and bury your amazing self in order to get the slightest second of attention from some guy who can’t even be bothered to hold the door open for you, or call me “Yes, ma’am,” or listen to what you have to say, or put God first in his life, or make you a priority.
My girls may be so far away from middle school drama and the high school years of emotional pitfalls and relationship crises.
These lessons, though, start here and now. Eight, six, three years old—you are a treasure. Thirteen, eleven, eight—-you are worth God’s very best. Sixteen, fourteen, eleven—-you deserve to be treated like a lady.
This is what you are: “God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved” (Colossians 3:12).
This is what we are.
So all that fulfillment we seek in habits and praise from people, from attention and temporary happiness, from worldly success and stuff—just stuff, it’s all nothing more than a pimply faced teenaged boy who doesn’t care about us at all. It’s all just unsatisfying time-wasting and inevitable emotional vomit.
All of it.
But we’ve been given these love-notes from God:
The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God…
1 John 3:1
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2013 Heather King