If I say the words Valentine’s Day.
The color red?
All the money that’s spent?
The first thing that always comes to my mind is actually NONE of those things. It’s an incident that happened exactly thirteen years ago today.
My husband and I hadn’t been married quite two months yet. Weirdly enough, at the time, we weren’t even living in the same house. (Not by our choice mind you.) He was living on post with all the other soldiers going through advanced military training. And I had dragged his middle sister seventeen hours away from our hometown so I wouldn’t have to live in a huge city by myself. But it was worth it to be able to see my husband a few hours a week. (Did I mention we grew up in a town of under 500 people, which was ever so slightly smaller than the 2 million population we moved to. As you can imagine, traffic on the interstates weren’t quite the same as our gravel roads…)
During those months of his training, I was thrilled anytime I was able to see him, and when he received clearance to have a few hours off for Valentine’s day…well, I was excited.
We had to spend the evening in “double date” style, because of the “battle buddy” requirement. (In training they always had to have another soldier with them.) But that was okay, it didn’t dampen our very limited time together. We all went to a pizza buffet, got separate tables from the other soldier and his wife, but I noticed that the other soldier’s wife kept peering over at my husband and me…which felt…. odd.
However, it soon made sense.
In the midst of our first Valentine’s day as a wedded couple.
Right in a crowded restaurant.
Before I had finished my pizza.
Did you know that restaurant napkins aren’t ideal tissues? Well, they are so not, and crying in public is never on my top to-do list. Let’s just say our first married Valentine’s Day went anything than how I expected or planned or wanted.
Later, I learned that my husband had known the bad news for a few days, that no other soldier in his group received the same orders, and he had carried the burden all by himself because he hadn’t wanted to tell me over the phone, wanting to share it with me in person. And the next in-person time just so happened to be February 14th…which is sort of sweet in theory….at least a little. But I asked him to in the future, to please go ahead and share any bad news asap. Unfortunately, he would have the chance to do just what I asked, but that’s a story for another day.
In my debut, Perfect for the Preacher, which is included in The Mail-Order Bride Novella Collection, things also don’t go as everyone had pictured nor planned either. The hero, Amos, orders himself a mail-order bride to appease his potential church congregation. But when his bride, Sophie, arrives and the burden she carries are revealed…it isn’t a day the members of Hilltop Chapel will be forgetting anytime soon.
Both life and stories are full of surprises, containing good and bad. A lot of the times not turning out how we hoped or pictured. (Kind of like this post, huh. You probably expected a happier theme?) But amongst our dreams and plans for tomorrow, the reality that becomes our today often is a beautiful mess. One that doesn’t have to stop us from cherishing all we’ve been given.
My husband and I don’t do much on Valentine’s Day these days, not because of our “ruined” first one, mainly because…well, flowers make my nose itch and crowded restaurants make us both a little crazy. And since I know I’m probably not alone in our lack of enthusiasm for the holiday, I thought it would be fun to share some of the smaller things in life that I do “love”. Aside from Jesus, family, and friends, here are a few items that would help ensure me an enjoyable Valentine’s Day. (Not necessarily in a particular order. 😊 )
The Beach–– There’s just something about the rhythmed roar of the water hitting and splashing across the sand. And oh, the sight of its vastness, going on and on until it reaches the sky. Beauty. Power. It’s my place where I KNOW that GOD IS AWESOME. (I know this everywhere else too, but especially here. 😊 ) I love, love the beach. Just wish we lived a bit closer!
Music–– It can brighten my mood, make me sing, and cause me to want to dance. Music everyday cannot be bad for the soul.
Taking Pictures–– I love capturing a moment, especially of my kiddos. Pictures help me remember that they grow up too fast and to treasure each and every day.
Reading–– I love to travel, but I might enjoy reading even more. Within a story, I can cover lands and dreams and years…It’s like tv, but way better. Plus, it’s cheaper than actually traveling. If I got to spend the entire Valentine’s Day reading, I would not complain one bit. 😊
Writing— More specifically writing AND receiving a book contract. Now, that would be a Valentine’s Day I’d want to remember.
Vanilla Coke— I know water is healthy. I know my body needs water. However, my taste buds prefer this soda. #truth And my husband knows I preferred to be surprised with a Vanilla Coke instead of a bouquet of flowers.
Mascara–– Though “love” here is bit strong of a word, but you guys, I ‘need’ it. Lol. Soooo it’s going in the “love” department today, right up there by the trusted Chapstick. (Got to have that too. Anyone else?) But I don’t normally spend much money on makeup, or things for myself in general, so if I would receive one of those fancier brands as a Valentine’s Day gift…I wouldn’t complain.
Cheese–– Cheese makes everything better. Need I say more?
Those items make my short list for the day. I’d love to get to know some of the smaller things in life that you “love” to be doing, or receive today. Maybe a gift that you’d like to receive that isn’t a typical Valentine’s kind. Or you can share your story about a not so picture-perfect Valentine’s day you’ve had.
Ruthy note: Megan has graciously offered a copy of the Mail Order Brides collection to one lucky comment-maker today! So let's talk romance... Valentine's Day... what's gone right? And what's gone terribly, horribly wrong!
Megan Besing adores reading, writing, and reviewing stories with happily-ever-afters. She’s received many awards, including being a multi-category finalist in ACFW’s Genesis and a winner of MCRW’s Melody of Love contest. Her debut Perfect for the Preacher released February 2018 in Barbour’s Mail-Order Brides Novella Collection.
She lives in Indiana with her husband and their children, where she dreams of the beach and drinks way too many Vanilla Cokes. Connect with Megan on Facebook and at www.meganbesing.com.
The Mail-Order Brides Collection: 9 Historical Stories of Marriage that Precedes LoveEscape into the history of the American West along with nine couples whose relationships begin with advertisements for mail-order brides. Placing their dreams for new beginnings in the hands of a stranger, will each bride be disappointed, or will some find true love?
Perfect for the Preacher by Megan Besing
Fresh from seminary, Amos Lowry believes marriage will prove to his skeptical congregation that he’s mature. If only his mail-order bride wasn’t an ex-sal