the best valentine’s day ever!

After nearly 37 years, I must admit that this has to have been our best Valentine’s day…

Here’s how it went…

Firstly— “mom” and “da” drove down to Atlanta to babysit so a young couple with little
children could actually go out to eat like real civilized adults…alone as a couple…
all without the typical pure chaos that usually occurs at their dinner table.

Next there was ball toss and catch…

Followed by some good napping…and eventually Sunday night bath time…

First for “Je” (aka James the Sheriff)

Then it was the Mayor’s turn to beautify…

Finally…once everyone had played, bathed, eaten and gotten their parents back…
“mom” and “da” journeyed homeward on the highways and the byways, all through the misty dark
only to have their own late but extra special romantic dinner…
who knew prosecco and hotdogs could totally compliment one another —-

Ode to the love of family and grandkids….

“…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
Joshua 24:15

Beloved, my love

“Beloved, all that is harsh and difficult I want for myself, and all that is gentle and sweet for thee”
St. John of the Cross




(premature blooms of the quicne / Julie Cook / 2015

The haunting words of St John of the Cross. . . isn’t that what really real true love is all about—the “lover” desiring to take all of the bad, the harsh, the difficult, the negative, the painful, if only that would and could guarantee that the beloved would receive only that which is good, the best?

Sacrifice of self for the beloved. . .

The majority of us fist experience such love from our parents and grandparents.
Sacrifices are made, struggles endured, burdens taken on. . . all in the name of love, care,
betterment and wellbeing of the child.

You are altogether beautiful, my love;
there is no flaw in you.

(Song of Solomon 4:7)

A few years later we find a similar love in friends. . .yet friends don’t always seem to live up to the original parent’s efforts.

Even my close friend,
someone I trusted,
one who shared my bread,
has turned against me.

(Psalm 41:9)

Then a bit later, we find a similar love when we discover our “first love”—of which falls waaaay short of the parent’s original efforts.

She weeps bitterly in the night And her tears are on her cheeks; She has none to comfort her Among all her lovers All her friends have dealt treacherously with her; They have become her enemies
(Lamentations 1:2)

All anyone has to do is to ask any teenager who, as they roll their eyes, often riles against that very first love of the parents as said teen perceives such “love” to be nothing more than smothering, confining and suffocating. It takes many years and heartaches to figure out that the parents original love was actually pretty amazing. . .

If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.
(Deuteronomy 21:18-21)

Whoa maybe that example is more intense then what we’re going for. . .

However– much later we find something we think is the closet to the original love, as demonstrated by parents, when we find “the one” who hopefully exceeds the parent’s efforts as well as any and all efforts ever known before. . .

Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
like a mighty flame.
Many waters cannot quench love;
rivers cannot sweep it away.
If one were to give
all the wealth of one’s house for love,
it would be utterly scorn

(Song of Solomon 8:6-9)

Yet sadly for reasons often beyond our control, that enduring love found in “the one” is not always the lasting and enduring love we imagined it to be. . .

There is a time to weep, to mourn, to die, to scatter stones, a time to throw away, a time to refrain from embracing (various portions of Ecclesiastes 3). . .

You get the point.

However in the end, when all earthly loves and lovers disappoint, hurt, vanish, depart, betray, fall short, die, fade away. . .there is but one who will always be consistent and constant. One who will never leave, no matter even if we decide to send Him away. . .

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”

(Jeremiah 3)

“Beloved I have loved you before you were formed. I have loved you before the day you were born. I have loved you when you have not loved yourself. I have loved you when you were too busy for me and my love. I have loved you when you were heartbroken—always there, waiting. . .waiting to take you into my arms. . .to hold you, to embrace you, to dry your tears, to whisper to you once again. . .I am here my beloved, forever and always, never leaving you alone. . .for you and you alone my beloved are my most tender desire. . .I love you now and I will love you for eternity. . .
Happy Valentine’s Day my beloved. . .

(tiny portion of a larger piece /watercolor/ Julie Cook / 2010)