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Valentine’s Day: The Heart of Giving

I come from a long line of really great gift givers. You know, the ones who can walk in a store- see something that isn’t on anyone’s “list” and instantly know that it’s perfect?

As a child, this was exhilarating, because the element of surprise made opening each present a celebration in and of itself.
As a teenager, I may not have appreciated it quite as much- since every 15 year old’s list is so precise (ahem: gift cards and money please).
But now as an adult, I treasure it- like deep down in my heart treasure it- because it reminds me that someone not only loves me, but that they know me.
They know my heart, my likes, my personality, the things that will impact me- what will make me smile.
And don’t we all really long for that?
With February 14th quickly approaching, we’re all on the hunt for sweet little somethings that express to our Valentines they are both known and loved.
To help get you started, I’m sharing a few creative ideas which I have recently been the recipient of and some questions that will hopefully get your creative juices flowing!
1) What do they like- really like?
If they had a gift card to Target what section would they run to first? Some people would dart to the shoes, some to electronics… but if they’re like me, they would head right over to those cute accessories, because who doesn’t love a great bag? See, this wasn’t on any list- in fact, woe to me that I had never even heard of this awesome company, but when I unwrapped it, I was smitten! Heavy gray exterior, adorable striped interior and big enough to handle whatever I throw it’s way!
2) What’s been going on in their life lately? 
Finding a great gift really can be as easy as thinking through this question! Rather than just picking up a dozen roses, this type of gift says I see what you’re walking through and I know what’s heavy on your heart. For me, it was making this gigantic move from Florida to Georgia! So when I opened up this candle from my brother, I had to fight back the tears! He was aware of the struggles and found this thoughtful way to remind me that he cared. Every time I see this candle in our new home, I have two thoughts: I am loved. I am known.
3) Who do they cheer for?
Top of their lungs, loud as they can cheering… a favorite sports team perhaps? Then maybe a creative item that reflects their allegiance is the way to go! I love this blanket for a few reasons- one, it’s big enough for cuddling and two, it blends in with the rest of our decor. Don’t get me wrong, I love garnet and gold, but that doesn’t always fit the look of the room. Finding a favorite team item, but with a special spin is a win in my book! 
Who else might your Valentine cheer for? Their children of course! Consider having a custom necklace created so they can have them close by their hearts each day. I especially love this one because it comes with longer length chain options!
4) What inspires them? 
Remember that idea of being loved and known…well, this is the question that emphasizes the latter more than any of the others. What inspires each of us varies- for some it’s music, others it’s the written word, beautiful art, a stunning photograph. And that’s why this question will really get you digging down into your heart, so that you can see into theirs. One of the ways I’m inspired is by reading stories of women, moms specifically, who are in the trenches of parenting like me, and are doing so with great purpose. I love seeing the truth’s that God has taught them through their journeys and making similar applications to my own. I am inspired and challenged by their words and reminded that just like them, we all have a story to tell.
With a garden theme carried from cover to cover, Cultivate, encourages you to live a life of intentionality. It has truly tugged at my heart to be more aware of the grace offered to us by a loving God and to share it with all I encounter.
I have been following Ruth Chou Simons on Instagram for some time now. Her art work alone leaves me breathless, but coupled with her powerful words- the result is nothing less than magnificent. As she walks through various seasons of the heart, you’ll find this devotional to be like none other.
5) Where do their interests and passions collide?  
When my husband and I were attending seminary, we enjoyed study dates over this incredibly yummy coffee at the on campus cafe. It’s been years since we’ve sat in a grad class or studied for a final exam, but we are still passionate about the ministry training NOBTS provides. Our time there changed our lives and we are better followers of Jesus, stronger leaders and more passionate about our faith because of it. So when I open up a bag of coffee, with the Cafe New Orleans logo on it, my heart skips a beat. I love supporting a place that invested in our family!
Recently, we discovered another awesome coffee distributer that gives away up to 50% of their profits to an organization we have always been inspired by, One Life. So it goes a little something like this:
Interest = Coffee
Passion = Sharing the love of Jesus with others
And this is where they collide:
You know the things that break the heart of your Valentine better than anyone else; and finding a way to help support that cause, well, it goes a lot farther than a box of assorted chocolates!
While all of these ideas are incredibly thoughtful, none of them will ever satisfy the hole we each have in our hearts for being completely known and unconditionally loved. There is only ONE gift that could ever do that and it’s so powerful, so life giving that it’s nearly inconceivable that it’s FREE… the gift we find in a relationship with Jesus.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 NLT
No more hiding.  No more guilt.  No more trying to be enough.  No more feelings of defeat.  No more wondering if you’re worth it.
Just this: completely known, unconditionally loved. HIS.
God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the worldso that we might have eternal life through him.
This is real love—not that we loved God,
but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 1 John 4:9-11 NLT
May The Greatest Gift of all be yours this Valentine’s Season!

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