UPPER VALLEY — Poor St. Valentine.
The purported Roman Priest apparently gave his life for love after performing illicit wedding ceremonies. At the time, Third century Roman Emperor Claudius II decreed that none of his soldiers be allowed to get married because he believed single men made better soldiers than those who were married and had children, reported history.com.
“Imprisoned in the home of a noble, he healed his captor’s blind daughter, causing the whole household to convert to Christianity and sealing his fate,” reported history.com.
Shortly after, St. Valentine went to his death, but not before sending the now healed girl a note signed “Your Valentine.”
At the end of the Fifth century, Pope Gelasius decreed that February 14 be set aside to honor “the soft hearted” St. Valentine. By the 1300s, the day was associated with love and romance. Fast forward to the 17th century, the British started celebrating with Americans joining in shortly afterward.
In this era, Valentine’s Day is celebrated by sweethearts worldwide. The sweetest day of the year will be celebrated here on Thursday, Feb. 14.
It’s estimated that 145 million Valentine’s Day Cards will be sent – the second largest amount sent next to Christmas, said the webpage. It’s also an expensive day as the National Retail Foundation reports that it expects Americans to individually spend around $161.96 on the day. It also anticipates nationally Americans to shell out around $20.7 billion to celebrate the day. Such will break the all time record of $19.7 million spent in 2016. Upper Valley stores are replete with Valentine’s chocolates and cards making for an endless supply of tokens of love.
In keeping with the annual lovefest, the Standard Journal asked local residents for stories about their own sweethearts.
To begin with, Sugar City’s Liza Lawrence’s then-boyfriend was on a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints mission when she had a dream about a tall, dark and handsome man.
“It was an emotionally charged dream. This was a terrible dream. In the dream, this old boyfriend, his mom and his whole family were crying,” she said. “I turned and saw someone I didn’t know at the time who was tall and had dark hair. I married someone I didn’t know.”
Shortly after, Lawrence went to West Yellowstone to work for the summer. There she met her future husband, Sheldon Lawrence, at church. They went on a date, and, at that point, Lawrence knew she found the man of her dream — albeit emotionally charged one.
“It was like meeting an old friend. I thought ‘Oh, my gosh, there you are. I’ve been looking for you my whole life,’” she said.
Lawrence later called her mother and told her she had met the man she was going to marry. Sheldon Lawrence was the same man she had seen in her dream, Liza Lawrence told her mom.
“She thought I was up in the middle of nowhere meeting strange boys. This was not the boyfriend I had that she loved. She was kind of upset,” she recalled.
The Lawrences dated for a year before tying the knot.
“That was to appease my mom and to get her comfortable with it, “ Liza Lawrence said.
Lawrence wound up “Dear Johning” her missionary and married Sheldon Lawrence a month before the former boyfriend returned. That proved difficult as Lawrence and the missionary had dated throughout high school and during their first year of college.
“Our families loved each other. His mom did cry, but I married the right person. I feel like God gave me that dream ‘To know for an assurance that this is the right person for you,’” she said.
Liza Lawrence runs a podcast and has shared her love story on the podcast that can be found at wondersandmircles.com.
Rexburg’s Adam Jacobs and his wife, Kayla Jacobs, met when he was 14, and she was 12. At the time, the two were members of their Oregon middle school newspaper club.
“We weren’t really drawn to each other because I was a dork,” he joked. “Eventually we got to know each other through church activities. I really liked the natural blush in her cheeks.”
After Adam Jacobs’ dad transferred to Tennessee for his job, Adam and Kayla kept in touch. Despite being thousands of miles away from each other, the two developed a closeness through writing to each other, Adam said.
“We became best friends through our long distance relationship,” he said.
Adam Jacobs later attended Brigham Young University-Idaho, and during his second semester there, he ventured to Oregon to see Kayla.
“That’s when we decided that we had something special. She was still in high school. She wrote me while I was on my mission,” he said.
Adam Jacobs served his Church mission in Las Vegas during which time Kayla continued writing to him. Shortly after his mission, Adam Jacobs visited Kayla and proposed. The two tied the knot on Valentine’s Day 2014.
“Our relationship is still just as special as it was back then,” he said.
The two celebrate their wedding anniversary each year at home after their kids go to bed.
“It’s hard to find babysitters that night. After the kids’ bedtime, she and I have our own dinner of Fondue. We play ‘Get to Know You.’ You discover so much you didn’t know about your spouse and discover things about yourself you don’t think about every day. I don’t think of my favorite color or why it’s my favorite color or why until my wife asked me about it,” he said.
Adam Jacobs works from home during the day. He says he feels fortunate to do so as it provides him with the opportunity to spend a lot of time with Kayla and their three children throughout the day.
“I lucked out to get a job where I can never be more than a room away from her. She loves that I’m so close,” he said.
Adam Jacobs says he feels blessed that he got to marry his childhood sweetheart.
“I just lucked out that she picked me,” he said.
Rexburg’s Marcie Murphy was finishing her senior year at Western Oregon State University where she was majoring in deaf education interpretation when the opportunity for an internship at Gallaudet University became available. The school specializes in sign language and interpretation.
“I just had a feeling that that’s not where I should go. I ignored it and got the plane ticket. I got everything ready to go. That’s where I wanted to go,” she said.
A week before she planned to leave, officials called her and reported that funding for her internship had fallen through. She could still attend Gallaudet University’s intern program, but she wouldn’t be paid for her time there.
“I had to turn them down and scramble and go to my second choice, California State University in Northridge,” she said.
While there, Murphy Church leaders asked her to interpret for deaf students attending an institute class. Her future husband, Miles Murphy, was in that class.
“I walked in, and he saw me. He introduced himself, and for him it was love at first sight. I couldn’t tell him apart from anyone else in the class,” she said.
At the time Marcie was engaged to someone else, but she wasn’t wearing an engagement ring.
“He didn’t realize that I was engaged. A couple of months go by, and he occasionally talks to me. I didn’t think anything of it,” she said.
Miles later overheard a conversation where Marcie Murphy told someone she would be done with her four-month internship there in a week.
“He kind of panics and asks me out. That was the first of many miscommunications. Anyway, he asked me out. I thought it was a group date, and that we were all going to go to the Temple to do a young adult thing,” she said. “I said ‘That sounds like fun.’ He picked me up at 2 in the afternoon. We go to the Temple, and, all of the sudden, it dawns on me ‘Wait a minute. We’re on a date. This is not a group activity.’”
The pair wound up spending 10 hours together that day.
“He dropped me off at midnight, and I had to leave at 5 a.m. to drive back to Portland. I knew after that first date that he was the one. I called my fiancé and called our engagement off.”
And how did her fiancé react?
“You know, he wasn’t too happy,” she recalled.
From there, Marcie and Miles wrote back and forth and shared many long distant calls.
“He came to visit me a few months later for our second date. On our second date, he proposed, and I accepted. A few months later, we were married, and we’ve been married for 28 years and have four kids.”
The Murphys moved to Rexburg 13 years ago after deciding Portland wasn’t the best place to raise their children. Looking back on her previous relationship, Murphy says she’s grateful that she made the decision she did.
“There’s no way we would have ever lasted. My husband and I have been through some difficult stuff. I don’t know if this other guy would have stuck around through it all,” she said. “I consider it the hand of Lord saving me from myself.”
Murphy says that she’s also ever so glad that the internship in Washington D.C. didn’t work out – even though she had so badly wanted the opportunity to intern there.
“Come hell or high water, I was going to go to Gallaudet University. It just so happened that it became absolutely impossible to go there and thank goodness,” she said.
It’s anyone’s guess what St. Valentine would think about being remembered thousands of years later and the lovefest in his name every February. Today, St. Valentine is, naturally, considered the Patron Saint of sweethearts.
“St. Valentine has wide-ranging spiritual responsibilities. People call on him to watch over the lives of lovers, of course, but also for interventions regarding beekeeping and epilepsy, as well as the plague, fainting and traveling. As you might expect, he’s also the patron saint of engaged couples and happy marriages,” said the webpage.
For more information on St. Valentine, visit https://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day-2