(I penned these thoughts a few years ago and would like to share them again because the message is timeless and needed, perhaps more than ever before.) It’s almost here: the day greeting card distributors have been anxiously waiting for. The day when 1 billion cards will be exchanged. That’s right: 1 billion cards, according to the Greeting Card Association. Second only to Christmas (when 2.6 billion cards are sold annually), Valentine’s Day is THE day for sending expressions of love. Cards, candy, flowers, special meals, balloons, gifts, hugs, hands gently clasped, tender words spoken. These gestures convey the stirrings of our hearts. It’s a special day when, as the song says, “love is in the air.” Everywhere we turn, we’re bombarded with hearts in all shapes and sizes as we find the air filled with the sweet fragrance of floral bouquets. We hear the giggles of children exchanging valentines. We catch a glimpse of two young lovers, savoring a romantic meal as they share the hopes and dreams of their future; then turn to notice the twinkle in the eyes of a couple who has shared many valentines together. We join last minute shoppers in search of the proper expression of our sentiments, hoping to find that ‘perfect moment’ to express our love to our special valentine. Feb. 14 has become a day set aside to focus on love; what it means to have it and how we can share it with others. Although we tend to think of the day primarily in romantic terms, it can also provide an occasion to reach out to family and friends, people who hold a special place in our lives. To share out of the bounty of God’s love for us. Not only does He fill our hearts with His gracious love, He charges us to become His vessels, pouring out that love into the hearts of those around us. So, we’ve set this special day aside to do just that, share love with others. And yet, that challenge to be a vessel of God’s love is not intended for one date on a calendar; it’s meant for each day of our lives. Oh, I know we realize that in principle. We mean well. Even the greeting card distributors recognize that need and now have expressions of love and well wishes for any day. The cards are there. The need to express that sentiment is there. It just seems the pages on the calendars of our busy lives turn so quickly. We focus on the tasks before us and don’t stop to think about the people in our lives who need a special touch of that love. And, not just on special occasions. Then we talk to a friend or co-worker who has lost someone close and we’re reminded that we need to seize the moments before us while we have them. We hear their cautionary words: “Don’t miss an opportunity to express love. You just don’t know what your future will hold. Make time and give attention to those special people in your life.” They’re right: we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Oh, we have good intentions about how life will unfold and relationships will fit in as we proclaim, “When I get more ahead in my job, I’ll slow down and spend more time with my family and friends.” “When I’m not so busy...” “Once the dust settles…” “When I’m not so tired…” “I know I need to...” “Someday…” How important it is that we capture the opportunities to express love to those around us. Our love can make itself known in many ways: not just with a card, a gift, a kiss or a hug, but also with kindness, patience, gentleness, compassion, unselfishness, honesty, forgiveness, and endurance. It shows up when we smile, when we offer a helping hand, and when we give our time and attention. It’s even expressed when we take care of ourselves and become a healthier partner, parent and friend. May we let the sweet aroma of this season of love linger in our hearts and minds as we take time to celebrate God’s amazing love for us and then share it each day with those around us. Nancy Williams, M.Ed, LPC is a licensed counselor, life coach, speaker, writer and author of “Secrets to Parenting Your Adult Child.” Send questions or comments to her at www.nancywilliams.net.

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