©Joy Dunlap  https://joydunlap.com

In first grade, I drew a Valentine for a soldier in Vietnam in connection with a newspaper contest.  I don’t remember the details other than I was one of the winners and that my handcrafted Valentine had a plane on it.  Hey, a lot of years have passed since then!

Why the plane?  Maybe because I knew my dad had worked on planes in World War II. Perhaps I just thought a plane was easier to draw than a tank or a ship. Even so, my grown-up drawing deficiencies cause me to suspect that plane resembled a giant pickle with wings.

Hopefully, that hand-drawn and crayon-colored Valentine touched the heart of an airman, soldier or sailor in service. Since that was years before everyone took photos of everything from meals to crafts, I don’t have a copy of that artwork. However, I do have my own military sweetheart. At the time I created that Valentine, it never occurred to me I would one day marry an Air Force officer and move several times with him as he served our country in uniform.  Over the years, he’s given me many cherished Valentines – from sweet and romantic to cute, clever and funny ones.

Ironically, the namesake of Valentine’s Day, believed martyred in 269 AD, is thought to have been jailed for performing weddings for soldiers forbidden to marry. Although accounts differ about the details, Saint Valentine is credited with aiding and ministering to persecuted Christians during the Roman Empire. Some records tie his execution to his refusal to renounce his faith; others tell of him restoring the sight of the jailer’s (or judge’s) daughter then signing a note to her ‘Your Valentine” before his execution.

Whether that Saint Valentine’s note is legend or fact, we can all recall the joy we feel when a kind or encouraging note ends up in our mail or email!  Valentine’s Day cards, as well as heartfelt notes anytime of the year, make a person feel remembered and valued.

Handmade love letters or cards calling a beloved “Valentine” in the romantic sense appear to have started in the Middle Ages. Now Valentine’s Day marks Hallmark’s second highest card-giving holiday with an estimated 145 million (and that doesn’t even count packaged kids’ cards!)  All those card exchanges aren’t just among couples either as friends and family share cards too.

Authorities may never agree on all the facts surrounding Saint Valentine, but his actions of uniting couples, assisting the persecuted, and standing strong in faith are often credited to him (or perhaps two people of the same name). So what does the name “Valentinus” actually mean?  Strength. Power. Health.

Although many today may overlook the holiday’s religious connection, the legacy of selfless love, sacrifice and service is still worth pursuing, not only among our beloved family and friends, but also in our neighborhoods and communities.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NIV

One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’ is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22:35-38 NIV

  • Whose love or selfless service are you grateful for today? 
  • What service can you do this week that reflects the love of God to others? 
  • Do you have a treasured Valentine card you’ve received?  Why is it so special? 
  • Whose life can you brighten by sending a written “heart hug” this week? 
  • Is the legacy of love you’re leaving in your life memorable?  

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.  2 Timothy 1:7 NIV

Want to read other “Heart” writings from Speaking Joyfully?   Check out: 

Heart Tugs to Chew On

Heart-shaped Messages for Me – and You!

9 Actions that “Let Us” Reflect Love

Remember…Life is Better When It’s Full – Joy-full, Thank-full, Purpose-full and Friend-full! ™



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