Valentine's Day has always been special for my two adopted daughters and me. The day usually begins with squeals of "Happy Valentine's Day!'" filling the air. At breakfast there is a small gift and a card at each place. Throughout the day smiles and laughter accompany the celebration under red and white streamers.
At the center of all our gaiety is the celebration of God's forever love which has created our family and continues to draw us close to each other.
Although every Valentine's Day is unique, I remember the year when my oldest daughter was almost five years old with fondness. That evening, I made a beautiful pink and white heart shaped cake with the words "Jesus Loves Me" iced on top. We discussed the many ways we could see God's love in our lives.
The highlight that night was playing a simple game: "Where is Jesus?' The lessons we learned from that game has stayed with us for many years. Kneeling in front of my little daughter, I showed her a picture of a smiling Jesus I had cut from an old Sunday school paper.
"Now you cover your eyes, and I am going to hide Jesus. Then when I'm ready, I'll tell you to uncover your eyes and see if you can find Him. Ok?"
She nodded her head, her black curls bouncing up and down. Her big brown eyes shone with excitement. Playing games with Mommy was always fun.
"Are you ready?" I asked, watching her place her little hands over her eyes. "Are you sure you can't see?"
I turned her around so there wouldn't be any chance of her noticing where I hid the picture. Then I stepped quietly as I placed the picture beside the old antique organ. Walking beside her again, I said with excitement, "Where's Jesus?"
Her brown eyes popped open and in an instant she darted around the room looking behind pillows and furniture.
"Where are you, Jesus?" she asked aloud, quickly beginning to get frustrated.
"Keep looking," I encouraged. "He's right here in this room."
She looked behind the big green comfy chair and beside the piano. Then I saw her body tense. She raced to the organ and bent down.
"Here's Jesus," she said picking up the picture and bringing it back to me. Her giggles revealed her joy at finding Him. We passed that old picture back and forth many times that evening.
Yes, I can still hear those simple but powerful words, Where's Jesus?
The truth of that little Valentine game spoke volumes to me as a young mother even as we played it. It was as if He kept whispering to me, "Do you see, Sharon? I'm always here whether or not you see me."
There were many times I couldn't see Him. We struggled financially, and I often wondered how I would pay the next bill. But He always provided.
I had to work as a single mother and often felt weary. But that awareness of His glorious presence comforted and energized me to do what I needed to do.
Today my daughter is sixteen and she now has a younger sister. We played our Valentine's game with her for a few years when she too was small. The truth of His loving presence knits our hearts together day in and day out.
Life is not always easy. Conflicts arise. Problems beg for solutions. Change comes whether we want it to or not. But what a comfort to know that even if we can't see Him, Jesus is right with us. All the time. Doesn't that thrill your soul?
As we approach another Valentine's Day, I am already thinking about ways to impress my daughters with a greater awareness of His loving presence. The world offers hearts and flowers and lots of candy. But God whispers to us again and again that it is His love which is the greatest gift. He lights up the dark, lonely places and fills them with Himself.
Where is Jesus?
Today I needed to remember the truth again. He is here. Right with me. Always.
February 10, 2010
Sharon Beth Brani lives in Culpeper, VA..Her greatest treasures are her Lord and her two adopted daughters. She is a licensed professional counselor and a specialized adoption coach working with adoptive families. She helps the adoptive parent and their children to maximize the adoption process and to enjoy a lifetime of committed love and growth in a healthful family situation. Her website is www.heartprintsadoption.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org