I love Valentine’s Day.  One entire day dedicated to love.  A day full of beautiful words. I’ve met more than one person who disdains Valentine’s Day, and every single scoffer has their own shtick as to why. That’s their prerogative.   I’m not writing to argue with them (or you.)

My hope today is simply to remind you that on this pink and red holiday, look for the words.

Look for the words that roll back gray clouds.  Watch little eyes light up as you read messages that celebrate what makes her unique, special, perfect.  Laugh as tiny conversation hearts elicit preschool stories about the perils of kissing.  Marvel how messages of love and affirmation edge out exhaustion.

The words we offer today have power to transform our lives. And it’s a transformation we need more than just one day a year.

I think most of us intellectually comprehend the importance of love, we recognize its value and we laud its benefits. We believe in love. We believe love is patient, love is kind, love is not proud or self-seeking. Love is not easily angered, love rejoices in truth, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Yes, we believe all that. But do we live it?

I’d like to gently suggest that we don’t. We dress up love for special occasions, but when it comes to the every-day life we’re living, we accept an incomplete picture of love. Over time, we begin to believe the love we’re living, rather than the love we say we believe.

Not too many years ago I discovered I was believing what I lived, rather than what I said I believed. I reached a turning point and found myself taking an honest look at the gap between what I claimed to believe and what I lived.

One of my first perspective shifts came as I read this post, the first I’d ever read by one of my now favorite writers. Tears streamed down my face and I released a breath I didn’t even know I’d been holding – and I’d been holding it for years. Her words resonated deeply because until that moment, I thought it was just me, and now I had words to express one of my deepest battles: the bully in my head. But the greatest gift were the words she chose to use to fight back.

Only Love Today.

Three words to silence the bully, shift perspective, and live differently.

Love needed to be realigned in my life. I believed in love but I didn’t live love. I lived a pale version of love. Here’s how I know: I didn’t extend love to myself, I didn’t embrace love for myself. I held myself to an impossible standard that I would never apply to anyone else. I criticized myself in a way I would never criticize a friend.

I didn’t believe, for me, what I believed for everyone else.

After introducing ‘only love today’ into my vocabulary, I began to identify the situations where my bully was trumping what I claimed to believe. It was my first step on my journey to Live What I Believe, and it began with Love.

Love is central to everything I believe and desire to live. The basic truths that guide my faith are these:

I am loved by God, the Creator, an Everlasting Love.

I am created to love God.

I am created to love people.

All is mine through grace – not by works – a gift given to me forever and always, exactly when I least deserve it, in spite of the fact I can never earn it.

There’s no room for a bully in this simplicity.

Love silences the bully. Love quiets the “I should…”  Love says, “I can….”  Love believes.  Love is either true for you and me, or for neither of us.

Friends, my journey to what I believe began when I had the sad realization that when I don’t consciously choose to live what I believe, I subconsciously begin believing what I live. In every situation, every relationship, every challenge, I pause to ask myself, “What do I believe? Am I living it? Or am I believing what I live?”  By taking the time to define what I believe, what I believe becomes prescriptive for how I live.

It’s a daily choice, sometimes hourly, to live what I believe.

Along this journey, I’ve plastered post-it notes and redecorated my walls with words that remind me what I believe.   It’s easier when I’m surrounded by words that inspire me. To that end, this new book is my latest treasure.  It’s arranged in such a way that you can pick it up and read one passage daily but the non-date format organizes the book by seasons – Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter – which means this book extends grace before I ever begin. It’s a book to pick up whenever, wherever. So far it’s been my companion for my morning coffee, the carpool line, and while cooking dinner. And the more I read, the more I want. It’s a firehose of gentle reminders to breathe more, stress less, and choose love.

Consider extending Valentine’s Day in 2017. Look for the words that inspire. Chase smiles and collect hugs. Discover dreams. Find the Love that transforms. Live what you believe.

{You can pre-order Only Love Today here.  Order it today, claim some amazing free gifts, start reading online, and receive your copy in your mailbox March 7.}