One of our greatest needs as human beings is to be loved. We all need love. We need to know that we are important to somebody, that somebody truly cares about us, wants us, and accepts us unconditionally. Knowing the God of love and experiencing the depths of His love helps us grow to be more loving and giving persons. The Bible says in 1 John 4:8, "The person who does not love does not know God, because God is love," and in 1 John 4:16, "And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has in us. God is love, and the one who resides in love resides in God, and God resides in him."
Getting to know the One who created and maintains the Universe enables us to rest assured that He loves us and takes care of us. The more we're assured of His love and care, the less demands we'll make of others and the freer we'll be to reach out unselfishly as we minister to them for their benefit alone.
Most of us usually hesitate to do anything for others that will cost us too much or inconvenience us too greatly. But God’s love cost Him the very best that He had—His only Son. That is the message of the greatest love text in the Bible: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Although Jesus possessed the power to walk away from the cross unscathed, He voluntarily stayed and bore the suffering we deserved. There simply is no greater love (John 15:13, "No one has greater love than this – that one lays down his life for his friends.").
This month, as we celebrate St. Valentine's Day (February 14), we remember one or more (possibly 14 in all) of God's servants named St. Valentine who, as martyrs, knew the cost of sacrifice. Traditionally, on Valentine's Day, we express our care for each other by presenting gifts of flowers, candies and confections, or by sending greeting cards ("valentines"). Modern Valentine's Day symbols include heart shapes, doves, and winged Cupid figures. Since the 19th century, homemade and handwritten valentines have evolved to mass-produced (and sometimes more expensive) greeting cards. (To learn more about the history of Valentine's Day and those thought to be St. Valentine, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Valentine.)
Do you like to be told you are loved? George Eliot said, "I like not only to be loved, but to be told I am loved". As you celebrate during this "month of love," I challenge you to remember first the One who loves you most and made the ultimate sacrifice for you. Tell Him how much you love Him. Then, let Him inspire you to love others sacrificially through your words and acts of kindness.
Giving the gift of food is an appropriate way to say, "I love you," even on Valentine's Day, when candy and flowers traditionally dominate. Think of your loved ones' favorite menu items or special treats and create something just for them. Cook a special dinner and set the table with candles and your best dinnerware and napkins. Let your family know how special they are.
When my daughter from Savannah visits us, one of her favorite savory brunch items is Sausage Stars (photo below).
As much as I enJOY savory items like Sausage Stars (which are a big hit on Super Bowl Sunday), I have to admit that it's the sweet treats that come to mind for Valentine's Day. So, I also want to introduce you to a new "gadget" that I just received and have enJOYed using to make heart-shaped mini-pies. It's Wilton's Mini-Pie Press. (See photo below.) You can purchase these at the Wilton site (and I don't get a single thing except JOY for sharing that information!): http://www.wilton.com/store/site/product.cfm?id=03814E7F-AF5F-3FED-9BE421AE29D1F3A4&fid=05E78BD3-C6F6-1ED2-CE9CC3A2BB822EA2
If you prefer homemade crust, you can find a great recipe for Flaky Pie Crust here: http://www.pinchofthissmidgenofthat.blogspot.com/search/label/Pie%20crust. On the day I made these, I had several projects going and wanted to save some steps, so I used pre-made refrigerated pie dough. The Wilton Pie Press is functions as a cutter and press all in one. You use the outer edge to cut hearts into the dough. If you use the box of refrigerated dough (2 sheets per box), each sheet will fit about 5 hearts depending on how close you squeeze them. If you re-roll the dough and cut again, two sheets will produce 12 hearts or 6 pies total.
2. Place a second piece of dough in the other side of the press. (The crimped pattern forms the top and the flat rim is the bottom.) Brush dough edges with egg wash.
3. Top one of the sides with 2 tablespoons of filling to within 1/2 in. of edges.
4. Close press to crimp edges and seal pie.
5. Remove mini-pie from press and bake or fry. (If you choose to bake, you will need to beat one egg white until foamy and gently bush a small amount on top of each crust. This helps with browning. If you do not plan to use icing on top, you can sprinkle granulated sugar on the wet egg washed crust, if desired.)