by Stefani on 11-February-2010

We have gone to the same church for years… 10 I think. Each spring though, it surprises me to arrive one Sunday and find that the bare trees have, seemingly overnight, bedecked themselves in tiny white blossoms. They line the drive in a long row, looking like slender ladies with frosty beehive hairdos… ostentatious, over the top, and ridiculously aware of their own loveliness. I have long admired those trees, but I think that now I am well and truly in love with them.

See my oldest boy noticed a couple of weeks ago that their skinny branches had grown little bumps, and so we brought a few home to put in a jar of water and watch closely. I felt like apologizing as I snipped. (I also felt certain in that moment that my fellow parishioners must think us very odd.)

At first neither of us believed that these hard little knots would amount to much.

Winter Branches

And then they began, ever so slowly, to unfurl themselves.


Yesterday, we received the gift of our first white blossoms.

First Flowers

So you see, I thought I loved those trees before, but now I know I love them, for real, because I have witnessed, up close, the slow and earnest process of their flowering.

Isn’t so much of love that way?

I thought I loved my husband when I married him, but I love him so much more now… now that I have watched the years etch their lines into his face… now that I have fought and laughed and held on tight through babies and toddlers, glad new hopes and frightful uncertainties, good times and bad. I didn’t know what it meant to love him, not really, until I witnessed the flowering that comes with years and history and a life spent together.

I would have told you too, when I was a teenager and in my early twenties that I loved children. I taught them and babysat them, brought them special gifts and spoiled them all I could. In my journal I scrawled down favorite names for the EIGHT that I’d have of my own one day. I bought books for those future children long before I was ever even married. But really I didn’t yet know what it meant to love a child…

I didn’t know just how wonderful, nor just how hard real love would be. I didn’t know about sleepless nights and the sometimes relentlessness of being a parent every. single. day. I didn’t know what it would feel like to worry over a fevered little brow, to hold his hand in mine and wish I could take it all for him. I didn’t know how my chest would swell as I watch my young son becoming…himself. I didn’t know what it meant to love a child, not really, until I began to witness the slow unfurling… the almost imperceptible daily flowering of a dream and then a baby and then a boy becoming a man.

I’ve seen enough to know that I don’t know all there is to know about love… but I do know this: Love is a thing that blooms slowly, taking its sweet time to reveal its truest beauty.

I hope that your Valentine’s Day is full to the brim with the real thing… messy, hard, wonderful, painful, beautiful, heartbreaking, joyful, REAL love.

Carly February 11, 2010 at 10:50 am

Oh so beautifully said.

Aimee February 11, 2010 at 11:14 am

You described love perfectly. As I have seen my love grow for my husband I often wonder what it will be like 10, 20, 50 years from now. What will it be like an eternity from now? I’m excited just thinking about it!

Stefani February 12, 2010 at 1:08 am

Me too! I don’t want to rush it or anything, but I think it will be one of the great joys of life to grow old with someone.

Amber February 11, 2010 at 11:26 am

This is so perfect – you really are so great at putting things into words! So true!

Cassandra February 11, 2010 at 11:30 am

What a sweet sweet tribute to love.

Debbie Rosenkranz February 11, 2010 at 12:45 pm

Wow, that is so well put it hurts me and it heals me and it makes me hope that somehow I can come up with words as beautiful as yours because I feel exactly the same way!
The beauty of your words is something I look forward to regularly and something that I hope you cherish. Oh sigh … the ability to put things into such breathtakingly beautiful words eludes me.

Stefani February 12, 2010 at 1:09 am

Debbie! Thank you so so much for such kindness!

Debbie Rosenkranz February 12, 2010 at 10:54 am

You are very welcome…it is all true!

I forgot to ask you yesterday. Do you know what kind of trees you are forcing the flowers on? They are so pretty.

Stefani February 12, 2010 at 11:13 am

Yep, they’re Bradford Pears also called Callery Pears I think.

Michelle February 11, 2010 at 12:51 pm

I absolutely love this post!

Beth February 11, 2010 at 3:08 pm

I glanced at this post earlier and saw the pics, but left it to go our and sled. I’m so glad I came back to it and read it carefully! So true, we know so little when we embark on any journey. Great post – so true.

jody February 11, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Honestly Stephanie you have such an incredible way with words. If I found a Hallmark card with this on it I would buy it!!

Stefani February 12, 2010 at 1:10 am

Goodness… you sweet talker you! Thank you so much for that!

Miko's Girl February 11, 2010 at 4:00 pm

You always remind me to keep it simple and to just try. I am always daunted by instructions for bringing budding branches inside for them to bloom.

Stefani February 12, 2010 at 1:11 am

Me too! I’ve never tried it because it always sounded difficult. It wasn’t. We just cut them again when we came home and then put them right into a jar of water. We didn’t have any fancy rooting powder or anything!

Elaine February 11, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Wow. Beautiful. Thank you.

Blayne February 11, 2010 at 7:13 pm

Beautiful post! I am 21 and I scrawl my future children’s names (5 is the current number) all over everything and I have an entire bookcase of “Future Children’s books” .. i thought I was the only one! I am reassured now! 🙂 Have an excellent valentines day.

Stefani February 12, 2010 at 1:13 am

Oh Blayne! 21 is such a sweet, beautiful, hopeful, world-wide-open time in your life. Cherish that!
And the good news is… it gets even better 🙂

Marianna February 11, 2010 at 8:36 pm

Your post is beautiful.

You’ve given me a wonderful idea…I noticed last week that our Bradford Pears had hard little buds on them. Now I’m inspired to cut a few and bring them inside…after the snow melts!

Stefani February 12, 2010 at 1:14 am

And just guess what are trees are????
Stay warm!

Julie Alvarez February 12, 2010 at 7:35 am

I loved everything about this post.
Love is just that.
The young love is love as well, it feels like a normal preparation, like an early stage of savoring things. Like with a very good dish, the first taste is all energy and passion and surprise; and then the real deep flavour grows deep into your mouth and soul.
Happy valentine’s day to you and your loves, Stefani!
I will be spending it in the middle of the “real-packing-sorting-cleaning-pre moving” chaos!

Jessica February 12, 2010 at 9:47 am

My heart is hurting over the beauty of this post. Thank you for this. What a clear, delicate ring of truth…Looking back at what we thought of love and life, and understanding it now. Love shows us the wisdom to appreciate it, protect it, foster it, and the understanding that we really know so little. It may seem strange to feel thankful about that but it is such a blessing.

Eren February 12, 2010 at 10:47 am

Amen sister…like peas in a pod…again.


MamaShift February 12, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Hi there. I got here via Mackville Road. I came and read this and put it aside, in my head, for a few hours. But it kept pushing itself to the forefront. The timing is magnificent. A few days ago I had one of those deep, wonderful talks with my husband (we have struggled the past few years). I heard, saw and felt my husband’s enormous growth as a person, father and husband. I think may have fallen back in love — deeply this time. He has flowered, indeed.

Stefani February 13, 2010 at 9:51 am

Oh honey, big big BIG hugs to you both.
I can say with certainty that making it through those tough times really does make the good times so much sweeter. You know how bones often get stronger after a break? I feel like marriages are that way. Doing the hard work of healing and growing back together makes them stronger. You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers and I wish you both a bright new spring!

Jerry Munson February 12, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Hi Stef…
Wonderful, beautifully written segment. Thank you! We (and granddaugher Addison) are celebrating her baby sister, Delaney Claudia, who arrived a two minutes to 1 a.m. on Saturday morning in the middle of the 32 inch snowstorm in Virginia. Delaney weighed in at 6 lbs 10 ozs and 19 inches. She and mommy Claudia are doing well & the video of Addison meeting her little sister for the first time is a real KEEPER! We are so proud of our son & daughter-in-law. What a nice Valentines gift to each other. Hope you and your men have a wonderful Sunday. Be sure to have something really decadent — dark chocolate comes to mind. Stay well & stay safe!

Stefani February 13, 2010 at 9:47 am

Congratulations!!!!! TWO little ladies to love and adore now!
You know that was one of my very favorite life moments EVER… watching Luke and James walk into the room and first lay eyes on their baby brother.
Enjoy that sweet little lady and stay warm! Send us photos when you have the chance, okay?

MamaShift February 13, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Thanks Stefani. We’re all plastered up and just kinda want to relax while we heal!

Relyn February 14, 2010 at 10:57 pm

Hey, you. Here it is Valentine’s Day and I had to stop by and wish you a great one.

a wish from me for you and your Blue Yonder Boys:

On this day, may you know, really know how much you are loved. May you recognize love in all it’s forms. May you be grateful for the love of children and pets, old friendships and new. May your heart swell with all the beauty this life brings. Happy Valentine’s Day, my friend.

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