The First Valentine

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, One Writer's Journal

Hi, everybody. Hope you’re not too stuffed with chocolate candy after Valentine’s Day yesterday. Our preacher was telling us the origin of Valentine’s Day in church today. Br. Fred says that back many moons ago, around 268 A.D. in the Roman Empire, it was decided that men should not marry before they entered the Roman army. But a priest named Valentine performed so many of the prohibited weddings that the Caesar had him imprisoned. Then legend has it that Valentine wrote his faithful congregation a letter from prison expressing his love for them and signed it “Your Valentine.”

Not everybody agrees with this bit of Valentine history, so you can go out and do your research and make up your own mind, but I like the story. The day wasn’t officially established until the end of the 5th century when Pope Celasius declared February 14 as Valentine’s Day. However it was the 19th century before it became the custom to send flowers, candy and cards to the one you loved. I’m sort of glad they started sending the cards. I’ve always thought the Valentine’s Day parties at elementary schools were the best. I still have a box of Valentines somewhere that my oldest son got when he was in third or fourth grade. It’s a day when everybody can feel loved and popular.

Since we’re talking about popular, I’ve heard from two people this week who say they have come back to overstuffed e-mail boxes. One, who was out of electricity and thus off line for eight days, said she had over 500 messages waiting in her inbox. Another who had been on a vacation came home to over 200 messages. Wow! Now that’s a couple of popular girls. The neat thing was they both took time to read my newsletter I sent out a couple of weeks ago. I’m honored.

And now since we’re talking about being honored, I just went out to get some information off the website for the Christian Book Expo where I’ll be attending the Evangelical Christian Publishers’ Association award banquet for Christian Book of 2009. In case you haven’t been reading my other entries, The Outsider was chosen as one of the five finalists in fiction. (Yeah, yeah, I know. Any reason to repeat that, right? But I am excited.) Anyway when I get out there to the website,, there’s my picture right up there with all those famous authors on one of the pages, events I think. Imagine that!

But the really funny thing is that it’s a picture one of my Sunday school kids took of me last year when we were hiking out here on the farm at Panther Rock. The kids love to go down there with me and I always take one picture like a portrait of them in the place of their choice to give to them later. So last year one of them wanted to take a picture of me. It’s not a bad picture. I have my everyday clothes on and I’ve been hiking for a couple of miles with a bunch of teenagers who love to splash in the creek. So I’m not beauty parlor neat for sure. But I posted it on my website and I guess the Expo people must have lifted it from there. I can’t wait to tell my Sunday School kid that his picture is out there on the web. He’ll feel like a famous photographer. And I guess it’s a good lesson for me. Be careful what you put out on the internet.

Of course I already knew that. Especially with e-mails. When you’re writing a letter by hand, you have time to think about it while you’re stuffing it in an envelope and putting it in the mailbox. If you’ve said some unwise things, your better judgement might kick in in time. Alas, with e-mails, they disappear in an eyeblink as soon as you hit that send button. Even while you’re yelling, “Wait! Wait! Come back.” So if you misspell words, if you sound off, if you moan and groan, you might want to take a deep breath and read it over again before you send it. I don’t sound off (much) or moan and groan (only in my private journal) but I have sent out some misspelled words. And I hate that. Sometimes they are only typos, but there’s no calling them back after you hit that send button. Thank goodness with the blog, it lets me edit if I see a mess up after I’ve hit the publish button.

What I really need to remember is that everybody messes up and the best part is that most readers of e-mails and blogs and newsletters forgive you for being human. Hope all your mess-ups this week are minor and something you can laugh about. One thing we can all count on is forgiveness if we seek it from the Lord.