Tag Archives: Valentine’s Day

With All My Heart

13 Feb

Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your strength
and with all your mind…and to love your neighbor as yourself.
Luke 10:27

We’ve all said it. Most of us have written it. It is sung as lyrics in songs. It is found in scripture. The sentiment of it is found in every room in my home. The effect from the Reality of it brings Life.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. A holiday created by Hallmark, florists and chocolate companies. So some say. As with every holiday on the calendar, it’s all in the perspectives and traditions in your life.

Mimi and Lillie

Mimi and Lillie

I mailed cute Valentine’s Day cards to my sweet little loves in Baltimore – knowing that they light up when something comes to them in the mail! I sent a card to Ryan and Brittany, always looking for ways to bridge the too-many miles between us, always wanting to remind them of our love! Tim and I spent time with friends last evening, exchanging little tokens of appreciation of life-long friendships. Celebrating loves, friendships, commitments and life together is not just for February 14th. It should be how we live life every day.

With all my heart … speaking of which, I had mine examined last week. For a few days I experienced a dull ache in my upper left arm that eventually turned into a burning pain that radiated into my chest and down to my fingers. I thought it would be in my best interest if I went to the ER to be checked out. With these classic heart attack symptoms, I was rewarded with an EKG, chest x-rays, blood work and a treadmill stress test that I passed with flying colors. I was sent home the next day to follow up with my primary care. He congratulated me for having a strong healthy heart, but encouraged me to begin a regular routine of exercise that would strengthen my muscular/skeletal systems throughout my body. I do admit that somewhere along the way I have lost the motivation to work out, but with this recent overnight visit to the hospital, I am determined to make sure that I take better care of myself. I read this just this morning on Facebook … “Don’t regret getting older. It’s a privilege denied to many.” With that in mind, I promise to embrace it – with all my heart!

I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders.
Psalm 9:1

What better time than now to also embrace the reality of ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind…and to love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27) Valentine’s Day is not just one day to express a thought or an intention, but a reminder of what really counts in life. Our loved ones, our friends, and most importantly, our relationship with God.  Without putting Him front and center of your ‘with all my heart’, everything else will be out of balance.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 6:33

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:13

It is only when we seek God with all our heart that we can truly love Him with all our heart …
Won’t you join me today  …   with all my heart?!

Until next time,
Debbie

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A Snowy New Jersey Valentine

15 Feb

Greater Love has no one than this,
that He lay down His life for His friends.
John 15:13

When making plans a week before our scheduled trip, the extended travel forecast trumpeted sunny skies and 50 degree temperatures.  With excitement, I called to confirm our on-line reservations, making sure all was in place for our mid-winter excursion to the east coast.  Wanting to do something different this year to celebrate Valentine’s Day, we both agreed to drive the familiar trek to our favorite summer-time destinations along the New Jersey shoreline.  A Groupon for the Bed and Breakfast, great food, a visit with friends, quiet surroundings, and the nagging curiosity of the damage from Hurricane Sandy pulled our hearts to make the final decision to go.  And at the last minute, despite the fact that the weather forecast dramatically changed in that week from unusually warm to being on the edge of a record-breaking blizzard, last Saturday morning we set out for our pre-holiday adventure.

Blowing snow along the road to New Jersey

Blowing snow along the road to New Jersey

Knowing the alarm clock would wake us before daylight, we went to bed early the night before, anticipating a few inches of snow to fall through the wee hours of the morning.  To our great relief, the local roads were clear with little accumulation.  As we headed into the direction of the gorgeous sunrise, the amount of snow that had fallen on the ground began to increase as we traveled, the strong winds blowing it all around, creating a beautiful sight against the back drop of the brilliant blue sky.

We made our way to Toms River to meet our breakfast companions, where we then drove to a tiny hole-in-the wall for tasty eats and great fellowship.  Hearing stories of Hurricane Sandy survival, clean-up, and ministry warmed our hearts as we ate, grateful for God’s watchful care over our friends.

Lamp posts still standing on the destroyed boardwalk of Ocean Grove, NJ ... at sunset

Lamp posts still standing on the destroyed boardwalk of Ocean Grove, NJ … at sunset

A few more miles up the coastline brought us to our familiar little seaside towns where even more snow had fallen.  We drove from one community to another, noticing the number of trash dumpsters dotting the driveways, big loaders and earth moving equipment parked nearby, and signs of ‘do not enter’ posted throughout the region.  A few homes were still boarded up in hurricane-type style, one was a total loss of charred remains, while others were under new construction.  For the most part, however, the towns seemed in tact – businesses up and running … life as usual.  Everything except the beach area itself.  Entire boardwalks washed away, including restroom buildings and ticket huts, with nothing left but the pilings.  Most communities had some sort of organization to their on-going repair … stacks of lumber and boards waiting for the weather to break.  But most shocking was the beach town of Ocean Grove, where the boardwalk street lights still stood on disheveled planks like skeletons in whatever direction the hurricane gales had blown them in.  Nails remain in the wood, dangerously protruding their points.  And no stacks of fresh lumber waiting.

Swirling snow creating crunchy ice on sand

At sunset, swirling snow creating crunchy ice on sand

Beyond the graveyards of seaside boardwalks, however, we found the one thing that is a constant.  The Atlantic Ocean.  The landscape of the beach has changed somewhat as much of the sand washed up into the towns, later to have been brought back and piled high, making a large ridge between the boardwalk pilings and the ocean.  But the ocean continues on.  Waves cresting quite high and crashing against the rocks and sand, sending spray into the air as blizzard-forced winds blew.  Tim and I walked along the ocean’s edge both days, bundled up from head to toe, enjoying the silly antics of the birds who call the beach their home, and the visiting canines and their owners who were out for exercise.  I was most amazed at how 5 inches of snow had fallen the night before, but the sand on the beach was just that, sand.  What very little snow was on the sand was back by the boardwalk area, and the wind would catch it from time to time and swirl it across the beach, in some places forming layers of snowy ice on the wet sand.  It is a very fascinating winter environment.

The Bed and Breakfast was ok – certainly nothing to write home about, or a blog, for that matter, other than to say it was disappointing.  We ate at our favorite BBQ place in Belmar, where I quizzed the waiter about the restaurant and how it fared during Hurricane Sandy.  Having only lost electricity, they still had the ability to cook with gas and a smoker, so they opened their establishment up as a free soup kitchen for several days … during day-light hours.  They fed rescue workers, FEMA, and those whose homes had been destroyed or severely damaged.  As we ate our brisket and ribs, we listened intently to the story and were very glad to support Jersey Shore BBQ with our business.

Our favorite beach ... Avon-by-the-Sea, NJ

Our favorite beach … Avon-by-the-Sea, NJ

We hope to go back again to the shore before the summer season gets into full swing … while it’s still affordable to stay within walking distance to the ocean.  Much work is left to be done, and it will be exciting to see the progress made since our trip there now.  Two full days went by very quickly, but we are grateful for the chance to get away for a new adventure.

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day.  Love.  Appreciation.  Family.  Friendships.  Gifts.  Won’t you join me today as we continue to think about Love?  The roses will wilt, the chocolates will soon all be eaten, and the trip to the New Jersey shore will be nothing more than a mere memory.   But just like the great ocean, there is one Gift that is Constant and never changes.  Not just on Valentine’s Day, Christmas, or Easter, but this Gift is always available to each one of us.  My prayer is that you will accept Him with your whole heart, for He was given to you with the greatest Love there ever was.

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

Greater Love has no one than this,
that He lay down His life for His friends.
John 15:13

Jesus Christ is the same
yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:8

Happy Day-After Valentine’s Day …

Until next time,
Debbie