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Valentine’s Day is filled with thoughts of love and adoration. You can just imagine that someone very romantic established the day and maybe even sent out the first lovely Valentine’s card … but history tells us that the day was established by Pope Gelasius I in 496 AD in remembrance of the martyrdom of one or more early Christians named Saint Valentine. Martyrs? Well, just so you know, some of us feel like “dying” a little bit as February 14 approaches.

Well, it’s true. When you don’t believe you’re anyone’s Valentine, it’s easy to get a little down. Maybe you’re widowed, have never married, been divorced, or recently suffered a painful breakup. There will be no hand-penned expressions of love, sumptuous chocolates or bouquets of flowers awaiting you.

Left Out

If you’re feeling left out – or even if you’re surrounded by Valentine wishes – there are things you can do to improve the holiday for yourself and for others -- you don’t have to dread the day. Above all, plan ahead. Invite others in similar situations to spend an hour or two with you – pampering, shopping, or dining. Visit a nursing home or assisted living center and spread some cheer – making them your special Valentine for the day. Bake cookies for the local police department or fire house -- they always enjoy a little love and attention. Make sure the little ones who touch your lives are remembered with a card or call. Offer to babysit for a young couple who may be short on cash but need a break.

But it’s not always easy to look outside of ourselves – we need some help -- so a good nudge is in order and a reflection on the One who holds us all in His heart. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son,” John 3:16. The world offers hearts and flowers and lots of candy. But God whispers to us again and again that it is His love that is the greatest gift. He lights up our dark, lonely places and fills them with Himself.

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By Dee Litten Reed. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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