14 days of love campaign for St. Valentine’s Day 2012

14 days of love campaign for St. Valentine’s Day 2012

14 heart warming stories of how people have been made to feel special and how you can use these idea’s in your own life.

Our 14 days of love St. Valentine’s Day competition for 2012 was a great success. Loads of members sent in wonderful stories of how they’d been made to feel special by others. These stories are so precious so we’ve decided to put them the best 14 on the website for everyone to read. Be inspired as you read any or all of them and use them to make others feel special. The love we share on St. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be only shown on this day – there’s 364 other days to use too.

Story 1 - Our Kindle winning story

Our Kindle winning story – Something so simple yet so profound with such lasting consquences.

The winner of the first part of our St Valentine’s competition is Sheila who submitted this lovely story entitled ‘A little card with a big message’. It’s wonderful in so many ways and definitely one we can all use.

A BIBLE VERSE FOR A LIFETIME

“It had been a very busy Sunday morning. After two morning services and lots activity and people to chat to and listen to, we could finally lock the church door and go home to prepare lunch. My husband and I both worked full time for St. Barnabas Church in Middlesbrough, he as assistant minister and I as music director and pastoral assistant. Life was very full and varied but we were privileged to be doing what we both enjoyed and found challenging.

Recently, however, we were experiencing some difficulties in our own lives and were finding things hard to cope with. Our youngest son, now 15, had been ill for some years with Crohn’s disease. This affected his joints which were swollen and painful and often he had to use a wheelchair. My husband Ian had felt called to train for the anglican ministry, but was not accepted having been told he was too old. Then, our oldest son who had been ill for some weeks had also been recently told he too had Crohn’s disease. As we left the church that morning and made our way to the car park I was feeling somewhat discouraged. We were just about to climb into the car when a little voice called out “Wait please!” A little boy, about 6 years old, came rushing up to us with his mother hot on his heels!

“Please can I give you this?” he said breathlessly. His mother caught up and explained that they had been a little late coming out of Sunday school and she had been chatting to a friend. Her little boy was becoming rather agitated when he explained that they had written a Bible verse on a card and were asked to give it to someone as they came out of church. We were the only people left so he had dashed over to us and boldly handed the card to me.We thanked him and smiled as he ran off before we had chance to read the card.

When we did read it, it said ” WITH GOD ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE” It was written in childish handwriting, carefully copied, and coloured in wax crayon.

That little card was to prove to be one of the most special things I have ever been given. Somehow those words took root in my heart and were to prove to be strength, encouragement and hope for the years ahead. In the next few years, both our sons had surgery and were much better in health following recovery. Ian was told he could train for the anglican ministry as the previous decision had been revoked. Life appeared to be moving forward and we were excited at all the possibilities for the future. ” All things were proving to be possible with God”

Life seemed to be going well until one June evening when Ian was returning from a clergy conference. He had gone on his motor bike so that I could use the car for pastoral work. He never came home. He had an accident on a country road and died at the scene.Those weeks and months following were indescribable and yet I felt held by God, my family and our church family. As I tried to build my life again, I would often look at that little card, propped up on my dressing table, and remember the little boy and the joy on his face as he gave the card to us.I would often repeat those words to myself ,” with God all things are possible,” as I set out on pastoral visits wondering if |I had anything to give as I struggled with grief. Gradually, I found that again those words are so true as we allow them to penetrate our hearts.

When the boys had finally flown the nest, I began to wonder if I was meant to spend the rest of my life as a widow. I plucked up courage to do something to meet new people and I eventually met Keith. We had so much in common and we knew that God had brought us together. We were married six years ago and have been very happy.

I still have that little card. The writing is somewhat faded and the colour not so bright, but the meaning is still as powerful as ever. ” with God all things are possible”. The journey is not always thee way we would choose but the One who loves us and wants our best will open up the way as we trust Him and give Him the past, the present and the future.”

Story 2 - Plan something totally unusual

Plan something totally unusual.

This story happened at Christmas time but is equally applicable to St. Valentine’s Day and with some thought could be used to really make someone feel special – as the gesture did for Janine who sent this story in.

A SPECIAL MORNING

“It was early on Christmas morning and the house was still pitch black. A pitter patter of footsteps could be heard running across the landing as my two children came to awaken me. ‘Mummy, mummy,’ they cried, ‘you’ve got to get up.’ Wearily I opened my eyes. ‘We’ve got a treasure hunt for you, you’ve got to get up.’ ‘What about your stockings?’ I replied, desperately trying to buy myself a bit more time in bed and yet feeling somewhat guilty for squashing their enthusiasm. ‘Okay’, they responded, and began to unwrap the little gifts I had placed in their stockings late last night. It wasn’t very long, however, before they repeated their initial request, and so I prised myself away from the warmth of my duvet and finally got out of bed. The first clue had been positioned on the landing just outside my room. I read the note and then proceeded down the staris. The clues took me all over the house, and it was obvious that they had been planning this trail for a very long time. At each point there was a little gift for me to find – a beaded bracelet, a lovely note, a pipecleaner creation, a box of treasures or a flower broach. Each gift had been lovingly created by them on their own. It made me feel so special.

At church later that morning the congregation was asked if they would like to share what they had already received for Christmas. I just had to speak out. ‘A treasure hunt’ I said with pride, ‘from my gorgeous children’.

Story 3 - Being thoughtful makes a huge difference

Being thoughtful makes a huge difference.

This story was sent in by Jane and it just shows that by thinking carefully about someone else and what their life is like, you can make a big difference.

“I remember how low I felt back in 2004. One year after divorce, juggling half time work with running the home and dealing single handed with four children aged between 7 and 14 was no picnic! At times I felt completely overwhelmed by the sheer volume of all that needed to be done and the emotional demands that needed to be met.

But I have a wonderful friend … let’s call her Pat who used to invite me round on a regular basis for lunch on one of the weekdays when I was not out at work.

She would lay the table beautifully and cook a simple, yet delicious home made lunch, often served with a glass of wine and always served with a smile.

She would sit and listen and hug me when I needed it and make me laugh.

I felt utterly cherished by the time I left her house each time and I will never forget what a difference her love and friendship and support made at a time in life when I really needed it.”

Story 4 - Going the extra mile

Going the extra mile.

This story was submitted by Ruth and it’s a lovely story of how someone made her feel special in a totally unexpected way. You too could do something lovely like this and with our friendsfirst members living all over the country there’s plenty of opportunity for you to do so.

“A friend of a friend needed to stay near the airport in order to catch an early flight, so although I didn’t know him very well he stayed at mine before heading off to some far flung place the next day.

A number of months later our mutual friend contacted me saying they wanted to take me out for lunch. That was great in itself (as it’s a relatively rare occurance), so as is my usual way, I suggested meeting them half way, and mentally prepared myself for an extra hour or so for travel. But to my amazement he said, no, they were coming over to me to take me out!

I was amazed because I am so used to accommodating others and putting in the effort, so this was a new experience. Even my own amazement shocked me. It made me feel so special and important that they would go considerably out of their wayin order to have lunch with me. It was one of the nicest experiences I’d had in a long time.”

Story 5 - A birthday celebration

A birthday celebration.

When Sarah submitted a story to us she had so many examples she found it hard to choose amongst them. She also said that usually February 14th ‘is just anothe day in the calendar’! and so was so grateful to friendsfirst for this initiative to help include everybody in the day – just how she thinks it ought to be! Here’s her story and it tells us not to just save up our acts for one day of the year – we can do them at other times as well.

A BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION

“At the beginning of 2012 it was coming to that time again for another birthday. As Christmas and New Year events are very busy times in themselves, I really just wanted something very low-key. I didn’t particularly want to celebrate this not very significant number!

And I said to one particular friend ‘I’m not sure I want to celebrate being another year older!’ But she, in her determination, wanted to make sure I did do something for the day! She encouraged me to put a few ideas together for this low-key day I wanted, so I arranged for two or three people to gather with me in a great Christian-run coffee shop in town.

The Christmas decorations were still up,which I loved, and it was very nice to spend some of the morning there, chatting with friends (including the friend who encouraged me to ‘do something’!), and I was treated to one of the shop’s delicious cakes!

In the afternoon, when driving home from doing some shopping, the friend mentioned above hooted at me – she was in the next lane, and she and her children were smiling and waving, as we sat waiting at the traffic lights! That was just one of those delightful moments that happens ‘out of the blue!’

Then in the evening I was invited around to their home where we enjoyed a Chinese takeaway (their treat) and watched a chosen DVD. I was given lovely presents and home-made cards, and the most amazing birthday cake which their children
(aged six and three) had helped to make! Their six-year old son presented me with a bunch of flowers from them all, which was very sweet!

It was a very enjoyable and relaxing birthday because of the love, time and effort shown. I have experienced the love and care of a number of people, both friends and family members, whether it’s by the cards, email wishes they have sent and the presents received, which has helped it to be much more than just a ‘low-key’ day of no significant number!”

Story 6 - Foreign travel and love shown in practical ways

Foreign travel and love shown in practical ways.

Rev David was one of our members many moons ago and met his wife Gill through us. He submitted this story of something that happened to him when he was very young but has remained with him throughout his life. It just goes to show that you can never underestimate the impact of simple gestures of kindness that you show other people. Read on for his story.

SPECIAL

“I was almost nineteen, I was in Kenya and I was travelling alone. Elephants were exciting, sunshine was appealing, tribal culture was intriguing but I was at a crossroads; asking questions but finding no answers.

I had been living in Kenya for ten months, working as a Christian volunteer teacher in a ‘self-help’ school. I had arrived full of confidence, but then, I discovered that all of my English assumptions meant nothing in a totally different culture. I was thrown back on my own inner reserves and I felt that my life and my faith were both wanting.

So there I was, travelling during half-term, standing by a tarmac road and hitching a lift. A car stopped, and an English man offered to take me to Nairobi. We chatted along the way, and he told me that he was a Christian business man. When he asked me where I was staying, at first I said nothing, because I had made no arrangements, had little money, and had planned to sleep under the band-stand in Uhuru Park! So I mumbled a vague reply.

‘Would you like to stay with us?’ my driver asked. I said, ‘Yes… thank you’ and he drove us to his home. His house was very ordinary, and by English standards would have been described by any estate agent as an ‘opportunity.’ His wife was matronly and his children were rowdy. None of them welcomed me – they just treated me as part of their family. No one was polite and no one asked me any questions. If I wanted to contribute to the conversation I could; if I wanted to sit quietly then that was fine with them. In then end, I shared a home-cooked meal, chatted for a while and went early to the bed they had made up for me in a small room decorated with piles of clothes waiting to be ironed.

The next morning, they asked me if I wanted to leave that day, or stay another night. I gratefully accepted and spent the day drifting around Nairobi trying to work out an answer to my inner questions.

That evening, something happened that changed my world. After dinner, we were playing a noisy board game with their children when my hostess suddenly looked at me. Her hand flew to her mouth and I thought she was going to cry. ‘I’m so sorry,’ she said, ‘I never offered to do your laundry!’

I was dumb-stuck. This family had welcomed me with no questions; included me with no demands; gone out of their way to help me; and now, this lady felt guilty that she had not offered to wash my clothes.

The next morning, I left that family. They took me to a main road going out of Nairobi and dropped me where I said I would be able to get a lift.

I would be very surprised if they remembered me – I suspect that they regularly welcomed lost souls into their home and I was probably only one of many. After so many years, I cannot even remember their names, but that family made me feel more special than I had ever felt before.

They also, without ever knowing it, gave me the answer to the questions I had been asking. You see, they didn’t welcome me, accept me, or even help me. They just loved me.”

Story 7 - An unexpected but personalised present

An unexpected but personalised present.

This story was entered by a member called Joyce and although it isn’t necessarily one that can be easily replicated – it does provide food for thought and if you know other friendsfirst members well then you may be able to do something similar.

A MUCH LOVED PIANO

“I had some decorating done last summer, and moved my trusty piano (a wedding present from an aunt who had said, ‘You’ll get a cooker/fridge/washing machine when you need one, but you won’t get a piano’ – it was second hand then!) so it needed tuning. I had it done then, but it didn’t stay in tune for very long, so I had to have it done again a week or two ago. My mother had been asking how it was doing, and I had to tell her that the tuner had pronounced the ‘last rites’ over it this time, as it has a large crack right down the sounding board – which is why it won’t stay in tune.

My mother has had a piano all her life (she’s now 87!), and, though she doesn’t manage to maintain her custom of playing something every day any more, she has become very fond of her current piano.

I could hardly believe it when, having done the online research, she informed me that she has arranged for her piano to be picked up from her home, in St Albans, and to be delivered to me up here in Glasgow, as soon as the specialised removers can arrange to bring a load, with enough space for her piano, in this direction – and she will pay half of the transport costs if I pay the rest!

That really is a wonderful gift, almost greater than our wedding present, which my aunt bought for us from some people she knew. As far as my mother is concerned, it’s not just spending money, but parting with a well-loved friend and companion.

I shall try to play most days once the gets here, so that it knows it is still loved and appreciated!”

Story 8 - Loneliness abated

Loneliness abated

Many of our members – whether young or not so young – live on their own. The folllowing story submitted by Dorothy just shows how a small gesture can really light up their lives.

ARRIVING HOME

“I have just had a lovely Christmas in Somerset with friends. My son did the driving. What bliss! After five days we returned home to Cheshire and he dropped me off at my retirement flat. I entered the hallway rather sadly, thinking “Back to my lonely life without my darling husband”

Then the lady in the flat opposite knocked on my door and said “I have been keeping some flowers that came for you dear.” She returned with the most gorgeous display.

A large red glass vase held red carnations, maroon crysants, greenery, bunches of cinnamon and a gilded red rose.

The card bore a gentleman friends name.

I was so touched and felt so special to receive such a thoughtful and generous gift. I am in my mid eighties.”

Story 9 - A phone call that changed everything

A  phone call that changed everything.

Anne who submitted this story had no idea before she picked up the telephone one morning how her heart was about to be affected. You too could make someone’s heart skip a beat – it’s really not as hard as you think. Read on to hear what happened to Anne.

ROMANCE IS ON THE MOVE

“I have led a very charmed life and been blessed with a wonderful talent of a singing voice – it’s such a precious gift from God so there are many stories I could tell when
someone made me feel special but I shall just submit the latest which is short and sweet and quite simple.

I have been seeing a lovely man for six weeks now and the relationship is warm and friendly and quite innocent but just a few days ago, he phoned me from his car phone whilst down in London and as I answered the phone not knowing who was at the other end of the line, I heard his voice say – “Good Morning, Sweetheart” and my head and heart just flipped!! With that one comment I just know that a romance is on the move and things will never be quite the same again.

Story 10 - The light that shines out of people

The light that shines out of people

This inspirational story was sent to us by Maureen and it just shows what speaking your mind can do. Sometimes we find it hard to compliment people – especially if we don’t know them very well. Hopefully this story will inspire you to do it more.

A CHANCE ENCOUNTER AT A READING CLUB

“I belong to a Reading Group which regularly meets, once a month, in a pub because its the nearest place to all of us! 5 of us meet on Wednesday at 6pm when the pub serves curry and rice. There are many people in the pub eating too. A lot of beer is drunk and coffee.

Last Wednesday, one of our members brought along 2 friends from London who were going to stay the week with him. Of course we welcomed them into our group and chatted amongst ourselves.One person was next to me and we chatted. She is an actress and speech therapist. She then told me she had become blind and had been to my home town for a specialised College course. She said she knew I had been to live in Jamaica and that she was descended from Jamaicans and had never been there herself. She said she had always been ‘prevented’ by circumstances such as once when she had the tickets but was unable to travel because her Dad died.

I had a lovely time describing her country, where I lived when there, and the towns and counties and seasides. She was eager to know about it all and felt she would make another attempt to see her island. She seemed to be so grateful and thanked me again and again.

Then I had the opportunity to talk to the other friend. I thought she was Japanese by her looks, and was very excitable and happy in outlook. It was easy to talk to her too even though we had never met before. She told me she was from Korea. She is a translator and spends time in many countries doing her work. She told me she was a practising Zen and we talked and I learnt a lot about meditation. It was fascinating and I said it was a lot like praying as I am a Christian. We talked about Churches and Dogma and Creeds and how I felt now in my older age, that it wasnt so important about which ‘Church’ you belonged to as long as God was in your life.

She amazed me by saying, ‘Yes it is not so much about how or where you go for feeding, its about ‘being’ and ‘sharing’ in both our chosen beliefs’. I was then astounded that she said, ‘And you — are manifesting both those things by your attractive self and manner and personality which you share so naturally. The love of God is in you.

I was astounded then and have been since. That this person I had known for 45 minutes, unplanned, unpremeditated and with whom we shared the deepest parts of our lives, had made such an impact on me. I didnt feel proud, just amazed that someone could detect in me what I had always hoped my life would reflect and I hope I will go on reflecting in my innocence.

We hugged, all of us, though this conversation had not been heard by the others. She made an impact on me for ever..

Story 11 - You're special because I chose you

You’re special because I chose you

One of our members Elizabeth shared a beautiful experience she had at a marriage encounter weekend. It just shows the power of words. We were so touched by this story but it’s her three letter word at the end that really shows what an impact this experience had on her.

MARRIAGE ENCOUNTER

“My late husband and I attended a Marriage Encounter weekend 7 years after we were married. What a defining moment it was when we wrote letters to each other and I discovered that he wasn’t expecting everything to be perfect and peaceful when he got home from work.

I had him on a pedestal and even thought he should have married someone more like his sister!!

I shall never forget his reply to my telling him that: – “If I’d wanted to marry someone like my sister I would have done but I chose YOU!!!!” Just as Christ chose us before the beginning of the world! WOW

Story 12 - Thinking of others

Thinking of others

So keen was Sue to win our Kindle that she submitted two stories and although she didn’t win, her story’s are still an inspiration – and certainly the one we share here is one you could use and do this St. Valentine’s Day.

ST VALENTINE’S DAY CARDS

“For St. Valentine’s Day Sue sends anonymous cards to people who are on their own – perhaps those who have never married or those who are widowed to remind them that God loves them and that they are loved. She knows that this is a difficult time for a lot of people on their own and hopes this gives them a boost. She probably sends at least 6 a year”

Story 13 - Sharing your feelings

Sharing your feelings

Hazel is another one of our members who is now married. We were touched by her story as it just shows the power of sharing your feelings – which can be hard for some people but can have wonderful results when we do it.

A WONDERFUL PHONE CALL

“I felt really special during the first phone call after my first date. This is when my now husband to be described in detail how he felt about me and how I had looked to him the day before.

He described how my hair bounced, my smile, the way I was sitting and how I made him feel happy.

I could hear the excitment in his voice as he went on to say people at work were asking him why he was smiling and he answered it was because he was thinking about me.

I knew from that moment that he was the man I was going to marry after that one date!”

Story 14 - Be extravagant

Be extravagant

Now this story is a little bit unusual (and slightly breaks the rules) because it wasn’t something that was done to Ian – it was something he did to someone else, but we’ve included it because it is just so very lovely and such a brilliant idea of how to make someone else feel special. If you haven’t thought of anything else to do so far for St. Valentine’s then this is a perfect way to make someone feel very very special – and they don’t have to be your sweetheart!

EXTRAVAGANCE ON A SECOND DATE

“I met someone for a second date, halfway between our respective locations. I knew that this lady liked Champagne and, since we were both travelling by train, neither of us had to drive.

I arrived at our date with a small silver tray, a well-chilled bottle of champagne wrapped in a Jiffy Bag (to keep it cool on the journey), two champagne glasses and a red rose (carefully placed in a plastic cover to keep it moist and stop it being damaged).

We walked to a local park and sat on a park bench where I offered her the rose, popped the cork (not the question!) and we drank champagne together. We embraced each other passionately and she said that no-one had ever treated her like this before. To be honest, I had never treated anyone else like this before either.

Sadly, the relationship ended just after the next meeting, but we still keep in telephone touch regularly and my romantic gesture is still sometimes mentioned as something that she will never forget!”

Chances are we’ll be adding to these stories in the future  – so if you have a special story you’d like to share please do let us know – just email or write to us

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