“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you…” (Ephesians 1:18).

 “I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, but I know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, he will not ask, ‘How many good things have you done in your life?’ rather he will ask, ‘How much love did you put into what you did?” – Mother Teresa

February used to be my favorite month of all because I happen to be a Valentine baby, and in my young (much younger) years, everyone made a big fuss over that fact. I have forever Kodak moments of heart-shaped birthday cakes, and I cling —through many a move—to a box of sentimental memorabilia of birthday cards from friends and mentors, some of whom are no longer walking among the rest of us here on planet earth. I don’t hold the same warm and welcoming feelings about birthdays since they seem to be coming all too close together these days, and as a member of the Baby Boomer generation, I once thought I would be young and invincible forever.

Oh, well. Despite the relentless march of Father Time and my reluctance to travel with him, the birthdays keep coming, and the mirror tells me I am aging, and whether I like it or not, this is the inevitable fact of our humanity. My mother’s advice to cultivate “inner beauty” seems wiser than ever here on the threshold of Medicare! I wish I had started sooner on that one!

I was on my way to Olive Branch recently to see my very pregnant daughter who was banished to bed rest. It was a horrible, rainy day, and I-55 is a terribly boring drive. Charles and I have sworn off 24/7 breaking news and talk radio these days since we were finding it hard to even get out of bed every day amid all the pessimistic and frightening happenings in the world. Somewhere around Grenada, I found a very strong signal from the French Camp station, and they were playing Southern Gospel. Suddenly, I felt like a long forgotten part of me came alive!

A day before, Suzanne, Kimberly, and I had been reminiscing about our favorite childhood Sunday School songs—complete with hand motions. We had almost fallen in the floor giggling. The instrumental strains of a familiar tune caught me so by surprise, and the words to an old Sunday School song from my childhood made me laugh and cry at the same time! I can’t believe I could fill in the lyrics! “Every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before.,.”

“Vintage” fashion is very “in” these days, and what can I say about the Southern Gospel? I can only compare it to “vintage.” It was priceless and timeless and it touched me in a way I don’t think I have been touched in a long time! I was suddenly hungry for its message!

Have you noticed how we don’t use words like “sweeter” anymore? In our cynical pragmatic culture, we tend to major on the worst elements of human nature and avoid anything that smacks of virtue or goodness or—heaven help us—a lofty ideal.

No matter what your creed or religion or background, you have to admit we all have a common yearning to experience the very virtuous quality called love—both to give it and to receive it. In my humble and unsophisticated thought process, I think our yearning is all because we are each one created in the image of our heavenly Father, whose purpose in creating us, was for fellowship with Him. We are incomplete apart from that with an insatiable hunger that never goes away.

I think we have put forth a huge effort to present many sides of love in this February issue. I can’t wait to hear from you and to know what resonates with you right where you are in this very moment. 1 John 4:8 tells us that “God is love.” Love wears many faces. As a woman, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a sister, a friend, and a sinner saved by grace, I thank our Lord for the reality and the forever fact that “Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13: 8).

Steve Brown, who is one of my very favorite theologians, (www.Keylife.org) always says, “We can only love to the degree that we have been loved.” If this is true, we are each one on equal footing and each one has the potential to love others—even the really tough people in our paths—with an incredible, enduring, inexplicable, and amazing love. Why? Because each and every one of us has been loved by a Father who wanted relationship with us enough to sacrifice His most precious treasure to bring us into His family.