Our Valentine Tradition

When I was a teenager – probably around fifteen years old – my dad surprised me one Valentine’s Day with a box of chocolates.

I will never forget it. He shyly handed me a heart shaped box covered with yellow ribbons and roses. It was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever seen. A variety of small chocolates filled the inside. At the time, they seemed exotic; I’d never received a gift like this before.

Photo courtesy: Hans Lindqvist, http://bit.ly/17hA1fR

Most importantly, it was from my dad. Even though I thanked him profusely, I never could express how much it meant to me.

I took my time eating the chocolates, only allowing myself one a day until they were gone. But I kept the box well into my twenties. Dad died when I was twenty-one and though I reluctantly let go of the faded box years later, the sentiment stayed with me.

It still does and I carried on the tradition of the heart shaped box with my own children.

Last year I shopped a little late and the only boxes left had nasty chocolates inside. I whined to my husband about it and he said, “Don’t worry, they don’t care about that stuff anyway (ouch!). We’ll just give them a card with twenty bucks and call it a day.”

So we did and I was feeling okay about it until my daughter said, “Hey! Where’s my heart?” I threw my husband under the bus. “Daddy said you were too old for that.”

They were disappointed but my heart was filled with joy.

As soon as I saw the hearts on the shelves this year, I snatched some up and stuck them in the trunk of my car. My kids are reminding me daily not to forget again, and they won’t have to worry. I’ll be giving them chocolate hearts even when they’re married with families of their own.


Your turn: Do you celebrate this holiday? In what way do you make it special in your home?

And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous – to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. Luke 1:17

Chinese New Year: Unlucky or . . .?

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. Psalm 23:1 (NIV)

According to a recent story on CNN, some would-be mothers in Asia are delaying pregnancy. This is because the upcoming Chinese New Year is the Year of the Sheep. The first day of the 2015 Chinese New Year is February 19th. They use a different calendar system than we do. It’s called the Stem-Branch cycle and is based on the Yin-Yang 5 Element Theory. 

It got its start in the year 2,697 BC. For you math lovers out there, that means that in China, this is year number 4,712.

Specifically it’s the year of the Wooden Sheep and as reported by CNN, it can be considered bad luck. As one folk saying goes, people born under this Zodiac sign have only a one in ten chance of finding happiness. Also, the superstition is based on the belief that “sheep babies end up with characteristics associated with their birth signs — docile and destined to be followers, not leaders.”

According to the Chinese Fortune Calendar, I am a “Water Rabbit” born in the year of the brown monkey. What does this mean to me? Not a thing. I’m not superstitious and don’t believe in astrology, but I find it fascinating that other people do. It helps me remember that not everyone thinks like me. Also, when I understand their culture and belief systems, it also helps me relate better to them.

Boston - sheep

As for being a sheep, I consider it an honor because for me it means I have a shepherd; his name is Jesus. Sheep can’t guide themselves, they have to be fully dependent on their shepherd. In turn, the shepherd has a duty and responsibility to care for and protect his sheep.

Just for fun, here are 5 facts about sheep:

  • Sheep are intelligent – they can recognize up to 50 other sheep faces and can recognize human faces too.
  • Lanolin, a product found in many skin care products and cosmetics, comes from sheep wool.
  • Sheep’s milk cheese has more calcium than cow’s milk.
  • President Woodrow Wilson used a flock of sheep to trim the White House lawn.
  • A sheep named Dolly was the first mammal cloned from a human cell.

In John 10:27 Jesus said, My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

Your turn: Do you know of any culture related superstitions?

Movie Mondays: One way to turn Mondays into Fun Days

My teens HATE Mondays and let’s face it, many adults do too (myself included).

Lack of sleep and overdoing it on the weekends contributes to the energy drain and lack of attention I was seeing at the start of each new week. Finally, I had to let my frustration over the bad attitudes go. I decided to give us all a mental break and institute Funday Monday.

And you know what? It worked.

Now I choose one movie – that relates to something we’re studying – and we gather together in our family room, dressed in comfy clothes (usually pajamas). After all, what’s the benefit of homeschooling if you don’t enjoy learning together?

This semester one of our classes is World History and right now we’re focusing on the fall of Rome as we lead into the Middle Ages. So far we’ve watched Centurion . . .


and The Last Legion.

last legion

Bloody? Yes. Brutal? Yes. But wasn’t that reality? The movies themselves haven’t turned out so bad – they weren’t blockbusters and the special effects are sketchy – but we’ve all enjoyed them.

I want my kids to understand the world and atmosphere Jesus lived in. I want them to understand that despite the filth, violence and depravity, our savior managed to live a sinless life. Honestly, it amazes me that of all the times in history in which to be born, God chose this. Or that. “Whatev” as my kids would say.

In the end, all that matters is that we get it. And get to spend our morning having movies, popcorn and some amazing discussions about the world we live in.

Your turn: How do you make Mondays more fun?