I Know You Don’t Think I Miss You, But I Do

I know you think I don’t miss you
but I do.
Like the way we wake from a dream
head foggy, floating
bodies warm and wrapped in blankets
hands curled into fists like children
longing to fade back into where we were
just a moment before.
Take me back to this: flying
above the Chicago skyline
people like specks of dust
lights like summer fire flies
and wings as my arms. Continue reading

Take Chances—That’s Where Your Life Begins

I wouldn’t classify myself as a risk-taker. Sure, when it comes to love, I’ve always been one to jump in. But love feels different, is different, in my opinion. When you take a chance on a person, when you welcome the possibility, it feels smart (even if you get hurt).

Love has always felt like a good decision. Not necessarily a risk. And maybe that’s because I’ve seen real risk as jumping off cliffs, walking into burning houses to save children, fighting in the army, etc.—something that takes real heart, and guts, and strength.

But then, doesn’t love require all of those things, too? Doesn’t love ask you to stand up in the face of your fear, to be brave, to trust, to be stronger than you’ve ever been?

I wouldn’t call myself a risk taker, but I guess I’ve always been fearless when it comes to love. I’ve always believed that it’s far better to fall than to wonder what if, far more incredible to let a person in than to look back with regret. And maybe that simple act is truly stronger than we think.

Maybe there’s a little bit of risk-taker in all of us.

I’ve been thinking a lot about risk lately, actually, I’ve been thinking a lot about everything. When we’re faced with a big decision (which aren’t we pretty much all the time?!) we start to question, to dig deep, to consider all our options and lean into the people around us for guidance and support.

I’ve been considering some life changes. Many of those have already began. And as my life shifts and spins around me, I keep coming back to the thought of taking risks, taking chances, saying ‘yes.’

And for the first time in my life, I’m really walking boldly into that.

The other day I took a step back and really asked myself what I was after. I asked, “If I could have everything I wanted, what would that look like? If I imagined the life I desire, what would I be doing, who would I be surrounded by?” And then the follow up question, “What am I doing right now to head into that direction?”

This made me think. It made me think a lot about my day-to-day decisions and how, sometimes, I think I spread myself too thin trying to do and be everything. It made me think about how I let other people influence my heart because I don’t want them to be disappointed, or to see me in a different way (and how honestly foolish is that!?).

It made me think about how every second we’re alive and on this earth matters—and maybe not in the sense that we have to constantly stress about losing or missing out on time and opportunities, but that we have to go and grab what we can—life is too short not to. Continue reading

There Is Love, And It Will Come To You

This morning I paused in the middle of cleaning dishes to watch a bird dance on a little branch outside the kitchen window. I’ve been trying to do that more often—lose myself in the moment, stop rushing and just let the thoughts flow. This little bird, a baby sparrow, perhaps, was hopping on the branch, dancing with another sparrow, their voices blending into one tune.

And perhaps I’ve been romantic lately, (perhaps I’ve always been). Perhaps there’s something in the air; perhaps my own chest is puffed out with the beating of my full heart. Perhaps I’ve been thinking so much about how love simply happens, and how achingly beautiful that is. But those little birds reminded me of humans, how we’re searching and searching and searching for someone who fits. And then, suddenly, our song finds a harmony with someone else’s voice. Suddenly we flit between branches, the sun on our backs, and our bodies swelling with hope, with happiness, with love.

We crave love, we chase love, honestly because it’s so undefinable. We try to define and make sense of it, but we’re only left with emptiness in the wake of heartbreak, or questions in the face of our fear, or an idea that changes with every hand we hold.

We want to know how two souls can be so intertwined; we want to know if we’re foolish to believe in forever. We want someone who will stand beside us, trial or triumph, who will choose us even when we don’t choose ourselves.

But we doubt.

We doubt because it seems easier than believing. We doubt because we don’t want to be disappointed. We doubt because to fall into someone fully is scary. We doubt because, ironically, we’re afraid of being alone.

But the truth about love that we see over and over again, is that it finds us. When we stop the search, the relentless pursuit, when we slow ourselves down and focus on what makes our hearts beat instead of who, the right person slips into our lives with silence and ease.

As we’re minding our own business, moving through our days, learning, for the first time, what it means to be on our own—this person appears—in their mess and wonder and confusion and perfect imperfection. And we build love. Continue reading

Learn To Live In God’s Holiness

One of the biggest revelations I’ve had in my faith recently is understanding (and finally believing) that because my Father is holy, and I am made in His image—I am holy. We all are holy.

Our identity lies not with our sin, our mistakes, or our pain, but with our inherent godliness.

Yes, we will be imperfect, but we are not defined by that imperfection. We are defined by our living, breathing, holy Father, who has made us to be like Him. Continue reading

Say ‘I Love You’

Say ‘I love you.’ Say it softly, whispering the words into the ear of the one you love. Say it loud. Say it without fear. Say it when the emotions overflow your and you can’t help but let the phrase escape from your lips.

Say ‘I love you.’ Say it with intention, with purpose, with a boldness running through your veins. Say it because you mean it. Say it because it’s true. Say it because if you don’t the moment will pass and you’ll forever wonder why you didn’t, or what could have been.

Say ‘I love you.’ Say it to the man, the woman who has a grip on your heart. Say it to the one who raised you, to the person who willingly set aside their dreams for you, without a backward glance. Say it to the child looking into your eyes with awe, to the friend who has selflessly supported you, never letting you stand alone. Continue reading

I Want Every Uncomfortable Moment With You

You shrug into your seat on the left side of the couch, cushion tucked under your arm and the television on softly in the background. I watch the softness in which your body folds, relaxes. In the pale beige of the tired material, your sun-kissed skin makes a sea of neutrals and pinks. I long to fit myself into the crevice between your arm and the leftmost pillow, to feel the warmth of your chest, a reminder that in people we find comfort. In people we find homes.

Life, lately, has been in juxtaposition. My heart feels steady, but my dreams are running wild—ideas scrawled on paper napkins sprinkled throughout the room, to-do lists with feathered edges, notes and pens and scattered thoughts doing mazes in my head.

And then, every time I look at you, I remember I don’t have to be running so fast. I will get there. But right now, this moment, with you is what I have.

Right now, the space between us is merely physical, soon erased as I nuzzle my chin against your shoulder. Right now, there are no words left unspoken, or emotions hidden behind quiet faces, begging to be set free. Right now, we are in harmony, in rhythm, and I love the way your heartbeat feels so strong when I’m leaning on your chest.

We are comfortable. And I’m learning to be okay with this. I’m learning that comfort is not wrong because it does not have to imply stillness, or stagnancy, or settling. Comfortable, I’ve learned, is synonymous with secure. And to know that where we are is healthy, is safe—that’s more than I can ask for.

With you, I’m slowly redefining how I understand love. Continue reading

Maybe I’ve Been Wrong About Love All This Time

You smile at me from across the table. The lighting is low, our voices are whispers, and the breeze moves past the window like a long, steady exhale. I feel so safe here with you. The space between us is not alive and pulsing like it used to be, but soft and gentle, like the warmth of falling into bed at night, like the security of knowing someone is mine and there’s nothing to be afraid of.

You speak and I trace the pattern of the placemat with my fingernail. I wonder how it got like this, so easy. And is that a bad thing?

Love, I’ve been shown over and over again, was complicated. Love sounded like slammed doors and raised voices. Felt like bruises, like scuffs on your knees from falling too much. Tasted bittersweet, like chocolate milk left on the counter too long.

I always saw love as this challenge—that two people would have to fight for and with one another, and that every day would be difficult, but you would choose each other, no matter what.

But sitting across the table from you, the sound of your voice like an old favorite record, the scruff of your beard like a map I want to trace with my fingers, the gleam of the kitchen light in your eyes like the warmth of coming home—I know, now, that love is not supposed to be hard. Continue reading

Choose To Rise Above The Negativity

One of my favorite slogans is ‘be better, not bitter’ because it’s a constant reminder that when we foster negativity within our hearts, it only spirals us down instead of up.

When someone wrongs us, the easiest thing to do is to be angry, to feel spiteful, to want to seek revenge. It’s hard to let go, to breathe, to forgive, to move on. But when we choose to do those positive things, we bring and build light within our hearts and rise above.

Forgiveness is powerful. When we choose to forgive, we are choosing to not let the circumstances of this life define us. We are choosing to grow beyond pain. We are choosing to remove toxicity and bring ourselves onto productive, empowering paths, rather than ones that destroy our hearts, leaving us empty and unfulfilled.

How many times have you tried to seek revenge and only ended up feeling immature? How many times have you expended time and emotion on your anger, only to leave yourself exhausted and worse off than before?

‘Be better, not bitter.’ This means that you are choosing to better yourself, to better your situation, to better your next step instead of wasting energy on ‘getting back’ at someone.

When you choose to be better you choose to let someone’s words roll off your back. You choose to acknowledge the humanness within all of us, and though that doesn’t necessarily lessen the pain this person has caused you, you accept mistakes and sinfulness as a part of this world and don’t let what someone says, does, or implies about you ruin the way you see yourself.

When you choose to be better, you choose to forgive because forgiveness sets yourself free. Continue reading

Care Deeply—But Don’t Prioritize People Who Couldn’t Care Less

Let’s get one thing straight right now. There is an absolute difference between caring and people pleasing, between having a big heart and being a pushover.

You can care, but don’t lose yourself in the process.
You can love, but don’t forget what you need.
You can be there, but not for people who won’t be in return.
You can be selfless, but don’t be foolish.

I understand where you’re coming from. Believe me, my entire life has been built around my emotions. Every single day I’m pouring them out on the page. Every single day is an exercise in unraveling the pieces of myself so that I can articulate them in a way that (hopefully) relates to someone else.

I feel everything deeply, from the physical pain of stubbing my toe, to heartbreak, to the gut-wrenching sadness of a baby bird fallen from her next. Anything I encounter affects me. And for the longest time I hated that about myself. I longed to pull away and guard my heart, but I ended up only hurting myself in the process.

Now I welcome my emotions with open arms. I love knowing that I have a heart that beats wildly for the things and people I care about. I love knowing that the people in my life are encouraged by my affection, and that I’m someone they can depend on. I love being a person who can share her emotions with the world and connect with others in difficult places.

My big heart has blessed me.

But the one thing I’ve learned in this journey of self-love is that people won’t always be on the same page. If you’re a big-hearted person, you might be mistaken for weak. You may be treated as if you’re ‘too much,’ or worse, you might be taken advantage of.

But you can’t those negatives take over the goodness that’s within your soul. Continue reading