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Monday, February 18, 2013

Love is...

The greatest commandment. “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’"
Matthew 22:37-40

Last week we celebrated Valentine's Day.

A day set apart for love.

In our family we have recently started a new tradition. Instead of focusing on the love between me and my husband, we set apart the day for family. I'm all for the idea of an evening of romance with my husband, I just don't want February 14th to be that day.

I married young, when I was a year out of high school, so I haven't experienced firsthand the disappointment that can happen with this day. I have witnessed it through many of my friend's eyes. It has always broke my heart. I don't like activities that are exclusive. I hate to see people feeling left out, and that tends to happen on a day that focuses on couples. A large portion of people are single, and that is okay!

But on Valentine's Day, the single individuals often end up feeling unwanted. Abandoned. Excluded.

I don't like it.

God made us to belong.

“You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.” Luke 3:22

These are the words of God, spoken to His son, Jesus. In the same way that Jesus is chosen, we are chosen. We have value and worth, every day of our lives.

For the past couple years, we have tweaked our Valentine's Day celebration. We've turned it around and focused it on our family and our children. I don't ever want there to come a day where they feel less than they are worth. I don't want them to grow up longing for the day they have their own special someone to share their love with in order to be complete. I want them to practice contentment now when they are young so some day when they're older they will have a foundation to stand on. I want them to feel included.

Please don't misunderstand me here and think that I believe it's wrong to celebrate the love you have with that special someone on Valentine's Day. God designed us to crave that love. I think it can be a very powerful example to us of the way that God loves us. I love celebrating! I look for ways to have more parties and nights out. I have just felt convicted lately that God wants me and my husband to focus on our children for this day.

My husband and I still celebrate Valentine's Day together; we do it on a different day that week.

I spent the entire day preparing for the evening we would have as a family. I gave my son the choice of individual heart shaped pizzas or a five course meal. He is in LOVE with food, so naturally he chose the big dinner. I fudged a little on the five courses. Our first course was sparkling red grape juice.

Our second course was a heart shaped salad. We chose some red colored salad dressings to complete the Valentine appearance. I didn't have enough room in the bowl for the spinach leaves. We built our salads on our plate.

valentine's day salad

My appetizers were quite a bit of work, but seemed well worth the effort. Everyone loved them... except Zech. I found the recipe here for these fancy crab filled crowns. Mine did not turn out near as beautiful as the recipe picture but I think they had to have tasted just as good!

fancy crab filled crowns

I'm going to totally embarrass myself here. I have to include a photo of the main dish.  I was trying to go for a red theme for the food, so I put food coloring in the sour cream that goes on top of this dish. We all laughed so hard at how horribly disgusting the chicken looked. The good news was that it tasted wonderful.

delicious chicken with mushrooms unappetizing picture

I must give you the recipe for this entrée. I know your mouth is probably watering after that photo I took. It looks SOO appetizing, right? It's all about the presentation.
    4 chicken breasts
    1 small package mushrooms
    1 small sliced onion
    4 slices bacon
    1 cup sour cream
    1 can cream of mushroom soup

    Place chicken in baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, mushrooms and onions. Place bacon on top of each chicken breast. Mix together sour cream and cream of mushroom soup. Pour over chicken. Bake at 250°F for 3 hours.

Our final course was dessert! This was a huge hit with my kids. I made them all their own box of fortune cookies. I came up with different notes for each kid.

homemade fortune cookies

Here are some of the kid's favorite fortune cookies in random order:

I love your hugs and kisses! (Zech)

Owl always love you! (Ariel)

You are such a funny guy!
You always make me laugh!
(That’s a good thing!)

You are so kind to others.
It gives Jesus joy to see you trying to be friends with everyone.

You have such a servant’s heart.
You give God great joy every time you serve another person!

I love that you always like to use the “Princess Mommy” cup! (Zech)

make your own fortune cookies for valentine's day

The night was a huge success! It was a memorable evening that I don't think any of us will soon forget. Next time I will share with you our homemade Valentine gifts we gave each other. In the same way that we draw names for Christmas, we draw "Secret Valentines". The only stipulation, they must be homemade!

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