Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Valentine (05/16/05)
TITLE: Legacy of Love
By Brad Paulson
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1st John 4:7
God is pleased when we express our love for each other. He must enjoy Valentines Day. Love notes being sent back and forth in heart shaped cards, ‘Hallmark’ poetry expressing feelings we didn’t even know we had. If your heart has ever been warmed by a valentine card from your sweetheart, you should thank God. While you’re at it, thank Esther A. Howland as well.
In 1847, after completing her studies at The Holyoke Female Seminary, Esther Howland received an envelope from England. She was delighted to discover that it was an elaborate valentine card from a business associate of her father’s. She marveled at the beautiful intricate detail, and being an enterprising young woman, decided she could make one just as beautiful. At this time in our nation’s history, several customs for celebrating Valentines Day were in practice, however sending valentine cards was primarily a European custom. America was an untapped market. Esther’s family owned a stationery and book business. She convinced her father to order lace paper and supplies from England and New York, and she immediately went to work on making a dozen samples. Giving them to her brother to take on his next sales trip, she hoped that he might be able to generate a few sales for her. Esther was dumbfounded when he returned home and told her he had made advanced sales totaling more than five thousand dollars. At a time when very few women ventured into the business world, Esther Howland jumped right in. Hiring a number of other women to form an assembly line she began filling orders for her valentines. Within a very short time, her little card business was making over a hundred thousand dollars a year, and a new American custom was born.
It has been said that Esther Howland was the mother of the American Valentine. It is truly amazing how one woman had such an impact on the hundreds of thousands of Americans that express their love for each other on Valentines Day. The custom she started back in the mid 1840's has been blessing countless marriages and relationships throughout the subsequent years, yet Esther Howland never married. That fact seemed a little odd to me. You would think that someone who had dedicated her life and career to enhancing love relationships would have had one of her own. As I continued reading about her life, I discovered that she eventually gave up the business she loved so much to care for her ailing father. Perhaps the sacrifice she made to create a business that would bring joy to millions, and to care for an elderly father speaks more of love than a beautiful card ever could. By her determination, talent and sacrifice, Esther Howland has left a legacy of love in a world that desperately needs it.
Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men
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