This month has been filled with images and actions that are truly hard to process; much like a turbulent love affair we have seen the best and worst in humanity. Romance has been defined and debated in every forum of social media possible. It is often said that if you truly want to identify the authentic from the counterfeit it is important to immerse yourself in the genuine, making the counterfeit easier to identify.

When looking for the authentic expressions of Love, Caring, Kindness and Romance in the last 28 days, these images and interactions came to mind, I offer them to share what is best and most authentic in us…

The newly engaged couple in the Clements family, ring hand fully extended toward the camera, smiles that compete with the brilliance of the diamond and palpable Joy filling out the frame.

My friend Suzanne opening her new home to her husband’s parents so that they will be surrounded by family and purpose, her children sacrificing the game room to have homework help and grandma’s great cooking.

The McQueen’s traveling up the coast of California into Oregon every possible school holiday to saturate their little grand girl in relationship, not an easy task for the Superintendent of Schools and a High school Librarian. But they understand the need for their love to be felt early and often.

My tall, blue-eyed, blonde friend, who chooses a soft answer instead of wrath, choosing self control over selfish emotion, bending into the refiner’s fire so that His love shines in the darkest of places, the rebellious human heart.

The 30 something Mom whose passionate words were edited, honed and crafted to pierce and challenge the choices of other 30 something Moms to ingest movies and books that are unsavory and unsound.

Isaiah the 8th grade student leader who chose to spend lunch with underclassmen that do not belong to the cool and popular crowd.

Ann Voscamp’s beautifully scripted prose poised over the images of the Christian captured on bended knee and robbed in orange who became Martyr’s at the hands of ISIS.

The busy pastor’s wife who drove to another city to pick up the children of a dear friend so that they could come and spend the weekend in a place where their Mom is not sick, and to lighten the load of a husband that is walking through this illness with his wife.

Marty and Shane who with incredible compassion and knowledge are Christ’s hands extended to precious leaders who are broken and wounded from the ugly in this world, they restore dignity and value where it is so desperately needed.

Pastor Phil who meets weekly to mentor my first born, meeting the need for relationship and connection that helps Mychal to deepen his roots and see all the possibilities for life and spiritual expression.

In an unplanned meeting in an unexpected place we shared coffee and conversation with Drew and Sue. After catching up on kids and life our conversation turned to deeper and more difficult things, in a moment of sharing our journey Drew simply said with tear rimmed eyes, “I get that” and “that must have been so hard.” To be heard and understood is always a gift.

But my favorite moment in February came on a cold, windy Saturday.

I have been trying to get back into an exercise routine since January with success and failure pretty much in equal measure. So Even though it was cold and gray and some light rain was in the forecast I donned my gear, put my head phones in my ears and took off on my route.

It was blustery and cool, my favorite walking weather and I was thoroughly enjoying myself even when the light rain began to fall, I just felt all the more invigorated! But a little more than half way through it started to pour…really pour and I was getting soaked.

My shoes were getting slicker and it was raining harder and I started to get a little afraid I might fall and as I turned the corner on the last leg toward home, that’s when I saw the Cruiser with my husband at the wheel.

He came to get me because the turn in the weather caught his attention. I started laughing because somewhere in my heart I knew he would. I opened the door and I said “I knew you would come for me” We both just laughed because it is our way…no matter how dark the storm we always find our way back to each other.

This February I have witnessed all the Shades and Shimmer of relational choices and none of them grey.

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I did get a little of this too.