I’m not really sure how this tradition began, but much like the secret notes I shared about last week, this one stuck too!
It must have been somewhere in the mix of juggling work, ministry and raising four kids that I discovered I could often go an entire day without giving appropriate praise to my littles. So as February 1st rolled around, I thought it would be an exercise in both self discipline and good parenting to make time to encourage each of them on the 14 days leading up to Valentines.
I wanted this idea to be simple to implement, but I desperately wanted it to be powerful as well.
So I did what any last minute mom would do on January 31st, when an idea has sprouted in her heart. I brewed a pot of coffee, found the construction paper and got settled in, cutting out 14 hearts for each of my kiddos.
I knew from all the research that the words we speak to our children carry a great deal of weight and I wanted to leverage mine for their good. I wanted to sing their praises for something more than just getting an A on their math test (although that’s a reasonable celebration to be had), but I wanted to add applause for matters of the heart, character traits I wanted them to continue developing… things like “You make me smile when I watch you hold the door open for a stranger” or “I enjoy watching you grow to become more and more like Jesus, as you love the children at school who aren’t always nice.” These were the kinds of words that I knew could make a difference and these are the words I needed to be more intentional about communicating.
So armed with a stack of paper cut outs, I wrote a “love note” to each of our children and taped a single message to each of their bedroom doors before calling it a night. I tucked the 52 remaining hearts into a drawer and wondered if this might be just the thing they needed- the thing I needed.
Indeed it was.
As the month continued, each child would pop out of bed and race to their door to see what message was waiting. There were smiles and hugs and joy- lots of joy.
And just to be sure there were some tears on my end. Tears of happiness mixed with tears of regret…
Because sometimes we just get busy as moms, right? We’re so occupied with laundry, making the meals, carting everyone to practice and praying somehow along the way we don’t mess them up- that we miss these tiny little slivers of time where we can impact their growing hearts with powerful words of encouragement and truth.
I didn’t want to miss those moments any more. I wanted to dive deeply into the sea of ways to build up my children.
I love what H. Norman Wright shares in his book How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen
One of our goals as parents should be to enable our children to think as highly of themselves as God thinks of them. A chief means for accomplishing this goal is to convey nurturing messages, both verbally and nonverbally. If you fill their lives with positive messages of their value to you and to God, they will develop self-worth and self- discipline, and become responsible, independent adults.
Nurturing messages convey to your children something good about themselves. These positive messages don’t increase your children’s value, because your children are already priceless in God’s eyes. However, nurturing messages increase your children’s value in their own eyes, thus opening the door for learning, growth, maturity and independence.
When my children pack up their last bag and leave me standing teary eyed on the front steps, that’s one thing I desperately want for them to have received under our care- the knowledge that they are of immense value- not just to us, but to God. That His love and ours is like an ocean- so vast and so deep. That we are proud of their accomplishments, but also proud of their character. And as silly as it may sound, this Valentine’s Tradition reminds me of that year after year, as I sit down with a stack of paper hearts to bear my own, in words of love and adoration to each of the blessings God has given me to nurture.
And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. Ephesians 3:18
Here’s a guide to get you started on your own Love Notes Countdown. You’ll find 14 hearts with writing prompts and a few blank ones too! Use them for your kids, use them for your spouse. Encourage, applaud and cheer on the ones God has given you to love!