The Perfect Valentine’s Day Gift for a Mother

When he asked me what I wanted for Valentine’s Day?

I’d grinned and said all I wanted was a clean house.





I mean, National Geographics wave across the study like a sea. Boys erupt here, lego this lava everywhere.

There are dolls, two girl in this blast of boys, and their stream of scissors, and papers, and scraps.

There are days I’m the volcano on the verge.

Come Valentine’s Day, I’m standing in the kitchen icing mounds of cupcakes.

Smooth out the pink icing.

Reach for another cinnamon heart.

Augustine had said that in The City of God:

All vice is but disordered love.

It’s the house that’s in disarray.

And there’s the Valentine’s flag to be hung.

And the Valentine’s cards to hide — lopsided and gloriously over-glued.

And the Valentine table to be set. That is the thing: Everything in the world is love — just right-ordered or wrong-ordered. 

Turn the cupcake in hand.

Smooth out the icing. 

The work of a life is to reorder the love — to turn all things towards the True Lover. Forget how disordered the house is — how’s my heart? 

If I moved a stack of books, reached over dishes and pencils and crayons, I could get to the music, turn on something lovely. Turn. Turn.

I try not to get icing on the home-made hearts on the counter.

I try to write my own Valentine’s. This is what a mother can do –Remind herself how to reorder her love and I should write it on my hands in red:

Sin is what happens when our love gets disordered. And it’s never worth disordering the heart to get a right-ordered house.

How is my love ordered? Towards a Better Homes and Gardens House? Or a better, holy, godly heart? 

A right-ordered house isn’t virtuous like a right-ordered heart

It’s true: I could close my eyes to the magma of mess. But the thing is: Love isn’t blind. Love is the holy sight.

Love has the long, real sight, that  sees what won’t burn up. Love’s priorities are things unseen. 

“They sure are sweet, aren’t they?”

A boy grins over at me, his lips all cinnamon red.

I smile and wink and he whispers it all silly, “Will you be my Valentine?”

Icing cupcakes, it’s my heart that melts, dropping these cinnamon hearts like molten love, love and these souls that outlast fire::

Nothing changes and the perfect gift is the heart ordered after His.


In a messy house, I turn, turn, and grab all that erupting boy in a long hug and the house, everything, it falls into this perfect order.

These hearts turned towards each other and close and falling into this sweet, right-ordered one beat.



Love’s Priorities are Things Unseen