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— Dawn Dillard is a proud East Texas gal who loves all things southern especially cooking, music and family. She can be reached via email at DLDplays88@aol.com.

This past Sunday was Valentine’s Day. Ah, love! Countless songs have been written about it; thousands of poems speak about it and everyone, in some form or fashion, has lived it.

There’s love for your pets; love for food; love for a favorite vacation spot. But nothing is like the kind of love you feel for another person. It starts an early age and evolves as the years go by.

Kids love their mom and dad. With our kids, we love to show it but we also love to say it. This has passed on to our grandkids as well. Nothing melts your heart like a child saying “I love you, D!” Best thing ever!

When you get in to school age, you “love” your favorite toy; “love” your best friend;“love” summer time. Everything, basically that you enjoy at that age, you “love.”

Then comes middle school and high school and you travel to the mecca for “falling in love”: Youth camp! This is where several of us found the one! You sat by each other in the worship service and maybe, held hands secretly and by the end of the week, you were crying, exchanging addresses and professing your never-ending, undying love for each other. You promised to write every day. Three weeks later, you had forgotten their name and moved on, but such is love at this age.

I remember meeting a boy at a revival meeting in Shreveport. I was 13 and he was almost 18. No! My parents didn’t let me date but I was very mature for my age so they allowed him to come out to my house on Saturday’s and we could watch TV together.

Valentine’s Day came around and he gave me a beautiful gold bracelet. I was so in love. He told me it was real gold and so I told everyone that it was. Too bad that after a few times of wearing it, I had green around my wrist. He was my first “love” of many to come.

My dad was a full time evangelist and so I remember meeting another young man in a revival in Ladonia. Oh, how I “loved” him. My dad travelled with a married couple who did the music for his revivals since we couldn’t travel as much during the school year to do the music. I remember packing up to leave at the end of that week; my heart broken because I had to say goodbye to my “love.” Charlie and Mary Johnson were the singers and I was riding back to East Texas with them. Charlie started singing “And they call it puppy love......” Mary chided him for making fun of my broken heart. “I will always love him”, I snapped back at Charlie. Yeah, well...that guy loved me so much that he came down to visit a few months later. We went to Shreveport to eat and go shopping.

His love was so deep for me that when we went shopping, he bought himself a sweater. Another one bites the dust.

Love comes in many shapes, forms and fashions. I have broken-hearted teens come in to my office quite often, telling me about the person they’ve been “talking to” (that phrase is another column in itself) and that they are so “in love.” I just smile and tell them to just guard their heart, move slowly and keep their options open. Who am I to rain on their parade? Just because I was “in love” 27 times doesn’t mean everyone will be like that.

The heart loves who it loves. Never be-little it or sell it short. Love never quite looks the same with every individual person. My parents brought me up to give “love” the 1 Corinthians 13 test. If it passed, then you were looking at something very meaningful.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

So, enjoy love. Love your family and tell them and show them every day. Love your pets. Love that pineapple upside down cake your mom makes from scratch. Love your dad’s sense of humor. Love music. Love reading. Just always keep this in mind; “These three things remain- faith, hope and love and the greatest of these.....is love!”

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— Dawn Dillard is a proud East Texas gal who loves all things southern especially cooking, music and family. She can be reached via email at DLDplays88@aol.com.