Recently, I had a birthday, and many have asked me how old I am. Let’s just say I am getting close to the age where I can plan my own surprise birthday party.

While I was out speaking one night, Grammy had Titus the Honorable and Cohen the Goodhearted come over and secretly make Poppy a birthday card and some gifts.

I guess someone didn’t tell Cohen the Goodhearted it was supposed to be a secret, because as soon as I opened the door, he yelled, “Guess what, Poppy?”

Before I could answer, “What?” he continued, “We just made you a birthday card and a present. Let me show you!” He immediately took me to the dining room to show me his handiwork. “Look! I made you an elephant!”

I am glad he told me, because never in a million years would I have recognized this creation as an elephant. It was an empty toilet tube roll standing on its end, with two red and orange pompoms glued to the bottom and a pipe cleaner extending from the top. Cohen went on to tell me that the pipe cleaner was the elephant’s trunk.

Titus showed me the card he had helped decorate. Grammy had written on one piece of paper, “Happy” and on another one, “B-Day Poppy.” Titus took the paper from Grammy and added some more colored pompoms and scribbled some lines he called “decorations.” But as Titus was writing his name and my name, he stopped and asked Grammy, “Where’s the love?”

Titus, being in first grade, is just beginning to recognize words. He can spell his name and mine, and he can recognize the word “love.” Every card or note we have ever given to him has always been signed, “Love, Grammy and Poppy.” As he looked at the card, he recognized my name and his, but he couldn’t find the word “love.” So he kept asking, “Grammy, where’s the love?”

Titus, Cohen and River, let Poppy answer the question, “Where’s the love?”

1. The love is in every prayer we pray for each other. I can’t begin to tell you how many times a day I think of and pray for you three Moore boys. I pray specific prayers for each one of you and over your names.

That you, Titus, would be a man who walks with integrity and that your reputation will allow you to be known as Titus the Honorable. And for you, Cohen, I pray that you will be known as the gracious and goodhearted one. Even though you have the strength of two oxen, I pray your kindness will be even greater. And for you, River, I pray that God will anoint you with the spirit of peace, and anyone who crosses your path will feel the peace that radiates from Christ.

When I hear your little voices praying for Poppy, I know I am loved above all men. Every prayer we pray for each other is rooted in love.

2. The love is in every scribble. When I look at my birthday card and see the scribbles of Cohen and the lettering of Titus, I know you held that crayon or marker with your heart. As you bent over the paper with your tongue hanging out (we Moore boys have a gene that makes us stick out our tongue when we work hard), that crayon was pushed across the paper by the greatest force in the world: love.

Like many parents and grandparents, I will cherish those little scribbles as long as I live. If you don’t believe me, just look at our refrigerator.

3. The love is in your enthusiasm. Titus, when I ate lunch with you at your school recently, you told me to meet you at the flagpole out front. When your class walked out, all I could see was a sea of little heads and lunchboxes bobbing up and down.

But then I heard your voice: “Poppy! I love you!” You didn’t say, “Hi, Poppy,” or “Over here, Poppy”; you yelled out your love for me. You weren’t ashamed to proclaim your love for this old man in front of your class.

You boys do that in the store, at home and as your parents drive off with you in tow. When they roll down the window, I can hear your little voices yelling, “I love you, Poppy. I love you, Grammy!” And I yell back, hoping you can hear me, “I love you too!”

That, my little friends, should answer your question, “Where’s the love?” But don’t forget, as much as we love each other, “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).