Tis the season!
Hearts and roses, teddy-grams and jammiegrams and chocolate-dipped berries and every jewelry store in the country will spend mega advertising dollars on TV, radio, magazine and newspaper to entice folks to part with hard-earned dollars.
It's Valentine's week, and even grade schools get on board with little paper Valentines and decorated shoe boxes and candy hearts.
Did you know that some of the candy hearts got misprinted this year???
SHOCKER!!!! But no fear, lads & lasses!!!!
There is always the option of red construction paper, lacy white paper doilies and glue. Sometimes simple is best.
But as an author of inspirational fiction, romance in life and in stories goes far deeper than the facade of television advertising, newspaper spreads and all the hoopla that pushes folks to spend, spend, spend...
Romance doesn't have to be pricey.
It doesn't have to meet an industry standard.
It doesn't have to be a big splash, even for a proposal. Aren't some of the most grand proposals the simplest? Lucy Maude Montgomery's "Anne and Gilbert".
"Call the Midwife's" Tom and Barbara.
Jane Austen's beautiful "Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy".
And in each one of these and so many more, there is a beautiful thread of faith in the face of adversity, of strength amid chaos, of how hope survives grief and disaster.
That thread of faith is what sets the lovely from the ordinary.
The emotion beyond the sexual attraction. The devotion that goes so much deeper than hormones and lust and feeds outward from the soul, the beauty of sacrificial love, for love isn't about the glitz and the glamour as most of us know.
It's about the heart, and while hormones and the heart are not always a good mix, the beauty of a great romance isn't afraid to go deeper than sensuality, to the very essence of emotion, and that's something we witnessed first-hand this week with back-to-back guest appearances from two cancer warriors, Christy LaShea and Angela Ruth Strong.
That's what separates the men from the boys... the hero who stands by your side, teasing, laughing, crying, holding... Or just being there to change a messy diaper, fix the plumbing (or call someone to fix it!) and be the family leader.
There's a reason so many couples choose the 13th chapter of the first book of Corinthians for a wedding reading. Those simple words of the fourth verse ring through our ears: "Love is patient, love is kind..." Such a heartfelt message!
But the opening words of that very Scripture are equally provocative in their command, and a verse I hold dear as I write. For King and Country chose one of the most touching versions of this verse in their beautiful song "The Proof of Your Love". They took the quote from "The Message" version of the Bible:
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing.
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere.
.......... no matter what I say,
what I believe,
and what I do,
I'm bankrupt without love.
(1 Corinthians 13:1-7, The Message)
These are words I hold dear as I write a story, as I develop a romance, or the father's love for a child, a teacher's love for a student, a man's love for his family. When we thin the depth of sacrificial love as authors we lessen the impact of our message, but also undermine the challenge and opportunity we've been given.
This doesn't mean no romance.... Perish the thought!
But true romance isn't rooted in the fun and games and flirting although those are big components in story-building. The sunken roots of the best stories are in the depth of emotion, the sacrifices made, the challenge of faith and love. From those well-planted roots, the growing trees flourish.
Take it from a pumpkin farmer (because who wouldn't believe a pumpkin farmer???)
The roots of the story aren't always as obvious, but they are crucial to hold the weight of the story. And that, dear authors, is in your hands.
There is one copy of Jazz's story that will come to one lucky person today... And I hope you love revisiting this sweet town! Leave a comment below and let's talk Faith... Hope... and Love. But the greatest of these is Love.
USA TODAY bestselling author Ruth Logan Herne is about to welcome her 53rd and 54th books to book shelves in March and April, so she's pretty stoked about romance, about love and crazy-stoked about faith! You can friend her on facebook, follow her on Twitter, visit her website ruthloganherne.com or email Ruthy at firstname.lastname@example.org She loves to chat with readers and writers and she also loves God, family, faith, friends, fun and fiction.... and add chocolate and coffee to that list!