Timothy, my husband.

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It feels like a crime – like I’m fighting against all that is right and good and natural – pulling away from the curve of your neck. That space where I rest my head. My forehead and nose cradle the line that rises from your shoulder to your beautiful jaw; that space where I fit. They say home is where you lay your heart – I think home is being nestled against you like two perfect puzzle pieces. Where I feel the warmth of your skin pressed against my face. Where your beard faintly rubs against my hair line as you speak. There’s never a good enough reason to leave this spot. No appointment so important or hour too late. For when we separate, my face feels cold away from your skin and my eyelashes beg to dance on your neck.

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Sometimes when I flutter awake in the middle of night I reach out and rest my hand on your back or your shoulder or your arm. Because you’re there: taking up space in the most private of spaces. Because I have you to reach out and touch. I reach for you because you’re mine, and I’m yours and we have vowed to always rest next to one another. I reach out for you while you’re so deep in your own sleep because I want to redeem all the nights I fell asleep so lonely. I think of those nights and my heart aches for my younger self, wishing she knew that you were coming. I think of the nights I cried myself to sleep, then I think of nights when we first met and I fell asleep thinking of you. Now you don’t just fill my thoughts, you fill my space. You’re there. I listen to you breathe, to your heart, and I thank God for your dependable lungs and heart and body. I ask Him to keep them working so hard and so long so that you and I have no shortage of these moments in our life together. I keep my hand on your back as I fall back asleep because you’re there, and I can.

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We often say to each other as we’re half out the door, “hey! you’re my best friend!” and you are. Wholly and truly, my best friend. You’re my safe space and home base and my true love. My heart was fragmented when I met you; tired and delicate, worn and used. I’ve seen you tenderly love so many people since I met you, and the first one I witnessed was me. You loved me like I had never been loved from the very start. You felt safe immediately, even when we introduced ourselves and laughed and told stories that very first night when you filled the only empty seat at your favorite Mexican restaurant, which happened to be next to me.

My heart rejoices at the thought of that empty seat next to me being filled by the man who would redeem every heartache. The curve of your neck is my safe space, your place next to me in bed is home, and you, undoubtedly, are my best friend.

 

The photo above is from a shoot we did with our super talented friends, Jake & Katie for Jordandene

 

 

 

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Not So Secret Love Letter [6]

“I am going to write love letters to my friends & family members & who knows, maybe chocolate chip cookies, just because I think they are all each really wonderful and worthy of love letters sent to them every minute, every hour. I won’t use their names because some aspect of this tryst should be private, but even if you – the reader – don’t know who I am specifically writing about, I want you to still know that these incredible people exist.”

This one is going to be a giveaway. Not only because I mention that today is your birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY YO) but also because the compliments I am about to bestow upon you, much to your chagrin, aren’t only my opinion. Everyone who knows you and reads this will think “Huh, this must be about –“.

Ready to turn bright red?

I really, really really, can’t adequately explain to you the impact your friendship has had on me. And I don’t mean that flippantly – don’t read that in the same tone as you’d read a card someone halfheartedly wrote with “I love you more than you know!” scribbled at the end of it. You have been one of my most precious friends. 

What you have been to me is really beautiful for a million and two reasons, but I think the loveliest perhaps is that the relationship happened on accident. Actually, it kind of appeared out of thin air. Because how long did I know you before I knew you? How many parties did we both attend without speaking to one another? How long did we not understand each others humor? A while dude. And then God did some arranging. You needed a place to live, I needed a place to live, another beautiful friend of ours needed a place to live. How convenient that a mutual precious friend of ours had a home to invite all of us into. Those first couple weeks were spent tip toeing. And now I’m pleased that our time together is spent hugging.

I am blessed to have been your roommate. Not because you’re wonderful and funny and beautiful, even though that’s all true. I’m blessed because getting to be so up close and personal with someone so wildly in love with the Lord is rare. It’s rare and it’s not something to take for granted. You have ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY NO IDEA how incredibly beautifully Christ shines through you. You love so well. You love so many so well. 

We’ve laughed many times about how insanely different you and I are. I get hot, you freeze. I cry over everything that moves me even in the slightest, you reserve your tears for important matters. I text you in ALL CAPS WHEN I AM EXCITED OR MAD OR ANYTHING and you respond very soberly. I get quiet, you get personal. We both love all things frugal / cheap / thrifty / free, the Lord, and handwritten letters.. but that may be it. But I’m okay with that, because your level headedness has been one of the qualities I’ve loved the most about you. We shared a room in one of the hardest years of my life. In that room I wept when God wanted to yank me away from everyone and everything I knew and loved. You sat on your bed and watched me cry as I packed up my things and you told me how good God is.

People often mistake real love and real friendship for a support system. Which sure, yeah, okay, is part of it. But it’s common to hear phrases like, “if you really cared about me / if you really loved me you’d support me in this”. As if love meant just having someones back no matter what. But it doesn’t. At all. In any kind of relationship dynamic real love cares about the thriving of the other. And that means sometimes disagreeing. That can mean correcting, encouraging, calling the other out on nonsense. You’ve done this for me. When I sat on my bed heavy with frustrations or fears you didn’t just “back me up”. You really considered the things that I said and then you responded with wisdom. And scripture. And earnestness. Which I needed because I err on the side of the dramatics. Once, you called me to kindly tell me something that would have hurt my feelings had I heard it through the grape vine. It wasn’t news that I was necessarily excited about and where other friends would have been tempted to be “on my side” and remark how lame it was, you told me the tid-bit then calmly said “Okay, now here’s why I think it’s a good thing..”

I love you so much for that. For your levelheadedness. For your wisdom. You’ve been so diligent in reaching out to me since I moved. No one has called me as much as you have. Few have sent me sweet mail like you have. I think you understand how fragile I was once I moved (and still am sometimes). I didn’t feel like I was in another state – I felt like I was in another country and that it was of little consequence to most. But you reached out your sweet hand to show me that even if I wasn’t in your room, I was still in your life. You skyped with me while I was getting ready for my first date up here in Memphis. EVERYONE! LISTEN TO HOW SWEET THIS IS. I had no one to get ready with and giggle with and steal clothes from (which is obviously the most fun part of a first date) so you skyped with me and helped me pick out shoes all the way from Tampa. It’s things like that. It’s that you wanted to share in my excitement. You cared about me enough to want to share my excitement in a small way. Those small ways add up to such huge, gigantic things.

You are incredible. You are a forced to be reckoned with in the most beautiful of ways.

Happy birthday, sweets. I love you dearly.

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Not So Secret Love Letter [5]

“I am going to write love letters to my friends & family members & who knows, maybe chocolate chip cookies, just because I think they are all each really wonderful and worthy of love letters sent to them every minute, every hour. I won’t use their names because some aspect of this tryst should be private, but even if you – the reader – don’t know who I am specifically writing about, I want you to still know that these incredible people exist.”

You. You were one of the handful of friends I was thinking about when I came up with the idea to write about people who I think are amazing. That may surprise you since we aren’t technically the closest of friends — we’ve never shared our deepest secrets with one another, but we have shared bits of our souls. It didn’t surprise me at all to think of you first because I really really (really really) admire you a lot. And think incredibly highly of you. And I think you’re great and I want to write about that.

John 13:35 says “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” You have, unknowingly and accidentally, taught me that this verse is true. Because you love incredibly well. And I can see Christ in you as you do. Honestly, my friend, I don’t think I have ever met someone who loves as much as you do. You are intentional and interested and you remember things people say and you help do the dishes at parties and you invite people to lunch. And you don’t get offensive or rude when people disagree with you. You embrace. I think you love like Christ. You’re the first person to not make me feel like a heathen or a moron when I said I wasn’t able to label myself a calvinist. And when I dared to share that I didn’t feel like such things mattered, you didn’t throw John Piper references at me. You didn’t tell me I was wrong. And it wasn’t just because you agreed with me — I’ve seen you treat people with polar opposite values as you with the same consideration. You let me feel safe enough to have an opinion.

I do appreciate how many of our opinions match up, however. Honestly, I love you for the way you love women. Not… like, pervertedly. That’s the opposite of what I mean. You care about the rights of women, the role of women in the church, and the importance of shifting the way women are viewed. As a woman, I thank you for not prescribing to the concept of “masculine christianity”. Seriously. Seriously thank you for seeing how that type of thinking is destructive. This is a product of truly loving.

You’re also really talented. True, I don’t believe that someone’s worth depends on their level of talent and what they can give the world, but if I did you’d still be golden. You’re talented and you’re ambitious and you work really hard. You make things that matter. You create and you encourage others to create and I love seeing you, specifically, and christians in general create in the likeness of their Creator. Thank you for letting me be part of your work in the past. Thank you for your honesty and for being willing to spill your soul when you sit down at the keyboard or with your pen and paper.

I just think you’re a person worth knowing, basically. I want everyone to experience the joy of being loved well. Of being treated like they have value and are interesting and are worthy of being loved. Thank you, and I can speak for everyone you encounter, for reflecting Christ in a world that desperately needs it. You’re great.

Not So Secret Love Letter [4]

“I am going to write love letters to my friends & family members & who knows, maybe chocolate chip cookies, just because I think they are all each really wonderful and worthy of love letters sent to them every minute, every hour. I won’t use their names because some aspect of this tryst should be private, but even if you – the reader – don’t know who I am specifically writing about, I want you to still know that these incredible people exist.”

Today is your birthday. It’s a special birthday because it’s the last one you’ll have with your current last name. Wouldn’t you know it, some lucky dude has finally snagged you up. Albeit not the same lad we thought for sure you would marry back when we were in 4th grade, but that’s all right – I can be wrong once. This upcoming year holds some of the biggest life changes to date for you, but when I think of you and your friendship I’m reminded of something that has never changed. Our friendship has ebb’d and flowed but it’s always been present. Since first grade it’s always been present. You take up most of my memories when I think of my life as a whole. Even though it’s been years since we’ve lived in the same town and spent any real time with one another, I still would bet money that you know me better than anyone I have ever met. You were by my side in such formative years —  you saw me at all of my awkward stages. Kudos for sticking around through my awful 7th grade hair style. Slick parted down the middle? I could die. Together we sold girl scout cookies, bought trunk loads of cheap crap from Claire’s, had major crushes on total hotties, sang NSync, Britney Spears, & Blink 182 really loudly, visited the emergency room (again, kudos for helping me pee after I passed out and bashed my head), and went through a pseudo punk phase which mostly consisted of buying shirts from Hot Topic (I don’t.. whatever). Your house was the first place I drove when I got my very first car. You were always who I called when I lost grandparents, pets, or just my mind. I think that we could not speak for 15 years and you’d still be the first person I’d call when I was devastated or got engaged. Note – my fingers are turning white they’re crossed so hard in hopes that it doesn’t take me 15 years to get engaged. There were seasons in our friendship that I know I wasn’t fully present — I was flighty at times, and I apologize for that. Hindsight is 20/20 and I see you’re the friend that never once let me down. I’m sorry I wavered and gave more attention to relationships which have proved less dependable.

I remember when you first told me you wanted to be a nurse. Well, I don’t remember the specific instance, but I remember you knew all the way back in elementary school. And now here you are. You worked hard and you did it. And we talked about weddings and getting married, and now you’re getting ready to do that too. How honored am I to get to stand beside you. I realize I was growing up right alongside you all these years, but I’m so proud of you and the woman you’ve grown into.

We have been friends for approximately 18 years.  This is the 18th year in a row I’ve gotten to tell you “happy birthday”. 18 birthday cards we’ve exchanged. 18 years of being your friend. What an incredibly huge honor — to have known you for 18 years and to look ahead and see the promise of so many more.

I love you.

[So, I mailed you a card obviously forever ago but I wrote the address wrong like a nincompoop and now you’re going to get it late. But I can’t stand the thought of you imagining that I forgot your birthday and mailed it last minute and that’s why it’s arriving late. I’m far too type A for such nonsense. Plus I adore you and would never forget your birthday]

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Not So Secret Love Letter [3]

You are beautiful. You are tall and proud and stately. You are loving, you are warm, you are welcoming. I love you for the way you are quirky and pleasantly awkward and gorgeously imperfect. With you we had the most glorious of dance parties (I think you’re quite the fan of Daft Punk, Passion Pit, MGMT, and The Wobble) and the most bitter sweet of pity parties (thank you for always being well stocked with ice cream). You witnessed exciting conversations and heart breaking conversations and you never once butted in and told us to grow up and stop crying. You kept your door wide open to neighbors and friends and all the dogs and I love you for your hospitality and that your arms are big enough to hug all of them at once. Remember last Easter and how we crammed 40+ people and 4 dogs into one big beautiful messy group? It was crowded and lovely and full of laughter and delicious food and you never once complained that there were too many people. You just kept your arms open.

You are the home that I love.

You are still doing all of those things even though your residents have switched around a little bit. Your porch still stands strong, for the most part, and it is still the most wonderful place to sit during a rainy afternoon. Your tree branches are still begging for a swing to be tied to them and who knows, maybe this year will be the year. Your wood floors still carry the echo of the barks and whimpers from the most beautiful dog to ever exist as well as the laughter from some of the most beautiful women to ever exist. Your kitchen still cooks pancakes and cookies and your refrigerator is still displaying funny baby pictures of all who reside within your walls. Thanks for keeping mine up there even though I’m 700 miles away from you. You make me still feel like I’m as much a part of the house as the wood and nails it took to build you.

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If you can’t tell, my shirt says “Sweetest Angel”. Which is still true.

You were just what we were looking for and you became ours right when we needed you.We made a list of things we HAD to have in a home (wood floors made the list but for some reason having more than 1 bathroom didn’t) and you were our perfect fit. We knew it from the moment we first drove down Louisiana Ave and saw you for the first time. We peeked through windows and imagined kickball games in the backyard and figured out how we could get so many cars in your teeny driveway all before the landlord came to show you to us.

“What should we call it?”

“How about The Louisiana Purchase?”

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When I think of Tampa, I think of you. You and the most wonderful friends that still live in your embracing arms. You hold my fondest and heaviest memories and a big goofy doberman that I’m crazy about.

Not So Secret Love Letter [2]

“I am going to write love letters to my friends & family members & who knows, maybe chocolate chip cookies, just because I think they are all each really wonderful and worthy of love letters sent to them every minute, every hour. I won’t use their names because some aspect of this tryst should be private, but even if you – the reader – don’t know who I am specifically writing about, I want you to still know that these incredible people exist.”

While I love all of the many things that make the two of  you different (and remind me of myself), I’m going lump you together right quick and write this letter for the two loveliest sisters I know.

Our relationship is incredibly unique. Actually, “unique” may be trying too hard. Our relationship is weird. We’re stitched together in such a strange way that there isn’t even a word to describe it so we’ve had to make up our own.  It’s weird.. but it’s beautiful. I feel that God was very intentional in stitching us together — that He had to be creative to do so and so here we are! In this messy, lovely, confusing relationship. The older I get the more interested I am in our dynamic. I think of how crazy it must have been for you when you were first told about me. What were some of the things you thought about? Did you wonder if the three of us would be close at all? Did you wonder if I would look like you? Did you wonder if your mother was nuts? She kind of is. But, anyway. Now that I’m older I appreciate and recognize the way you tenderly handled our bizarre relationship – how you were careful to not push too hard, but instead allowed me figure out who I was and how I related to our family. All while still loving me really well. Now after nearly 24 years of being able to find my little niche I see that it’s right there next to the two of you. I’d say “standing shoulder to shoulder” but honestly my shoulders are at y’alls ears. That Yaklin height will win out every time.

You two are two of the many strong women God has put into my life. I’ve never seen a family with so many capable and brilliant and.. bossy women. You have both sailed your ships through hard waters — the waves have made you very skilled sailors and now I see two women who aren’t so stoic they don’t have room for love, but instead are strong and love strongly. Two women who can laugh at the silliest nonsense but aren’t silly women.

I see myself in the two of you so incredibly easily. Maybe that’s why I love you both so much. Maybe this whole thing is just a big ol’ box of narcissism. I think you’re really witty and charming.. because I think I’M so witty and charming. Hmm. There may be something to that.

But I digress. The fun that I have with you two can not be matched. I dare someone to try. You know how certain people make you funnier? Like, their humor lines up with yours and together you’re just ON FIRE? That’s how I feel I am with you two – I am easily at the top of my game with you. I am the funniest I get when I am with you. And the beauty of our relationship is that it doesn’t stop at humor. You’re not just the fun friends I go hang out with when I want to be distracted from deeper things. You want my deeper things too. Those conversations about God around the bonfire at Thanksgiving mean more to me than any mad house Black Friday shopping experience. Sharing embarrassingly large desserts are only sweet when we’re having “real talk” alongside them. You two make me feel comfortable to grow, and I think that’s the most amazing feeling anyone can give you. I feel secure knowing you’re rooting for me and knowing your arms are near should I lose my balance and waver a little.

I didn’t grow up with close siblings and if I’m honest, I’m not sure I have the personality that would thrive in that dynamic. Siblings fight a lot and frankly I’m a little bossy and I hate loud noises. But I did always wish someone was with me saturday mornings watching cartoons and in long car rides up to West Virginia. I’ve seen many movie representations of sisters and brothers who grew up together and there’s this tight connection that I never had with someone growing up. I finally feel like I’m getting that. Twenty years a little late, but in this one instance I won’t be type-A about being on time. I finally feel connected – I finally feel related.  And I love you both so much that it doesn’t matter how much or how little we are technically related to each other. It doesn’t matter that we didn’t grow up together and have had completely different childhood experiences. Honestly, mine was probably better because it had you two in it. Because I had you two sitting there, patiently waiting to see what the three of us would be.

You’re both so beautiful and I love you endlessly always.

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Not So Secret Love Letters [1]

I have decided to embark on a very public tryst.

I am going to write love letters to my friends & family members & who knows, maybe chocolate chip cookies, just because I think they are all each really wonderful and worthy of love letters sent to them every minute, every hour. And it’s true I have a drawer full of stationary sets and I love hand written notes more than anything — but for these, this blog will be the platform. I won’t use their names because some aspect of this tryst should be private, but even if you – the reader – don’t know who I am specifically writing about, I want you to still know that these incredible people exist. 

And so, here is the first Not So Secret Love Letter :

My sweet, sweet most precious friend — I’ll never understand how there can be so many states in between us. How I can be “here”, and you can be “there”. Yours are the arms I most like to link mine with. You are the soul that makes mine feel at home. You’re also a total bombshell, but that’s besides the point. I think you are one of the most sophisticated women I know. Even the quirky things about you are sophisticated. Even the way your hair poofs up in the morning is sophisticated. You taught me more about kindness than anyone has before you or since you. I can remember specific instances where I asked you why you were wasting your time helping someone in a way that I felt was useless, and you shrugged and said “It’s just an opportunity to serve”. And you didn’t say it in a “Jesus Juke” type of way. You weren’t trying to make me impressed with how holy or spiritual or nice you were, you were being authentic and your authentic self just happens to be loving and beautiful. You have some heaviness in your life – you have burdens that must make your shoulders tired. I imagine people would be surprised to hear some of the onerous parts of your life because your smile has a way of making the world believe in beauty and goodness and that everything will get better. I’m guilty of not bearing the weight of your burdens well because of that. Because you’re you – you’re the joy of my heart and you listen to all my messes. I’m sorry that I don’t tend to your messes well in return. I never want anything to ever make your heart heavy. At a big season in your life I remember saying to a friend of ours, “If I would want anything good to happen to anyone in the world.. it would be her.” And that’s still true. You know that line in Wuthering Heights, “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”? Well, besides the fact that you’re not a man and I am not romantically attracted to you (sorry not sorry), I feel that exact way for you. Do you remember that Sunday at church when this conversation took place:

You: Hi! How are you?

Me: Good! How’s it going?

You: Good

*Pause*

*We both suddenly start crying*

You: I miss you so much

Me: I MISS YOU TOO. I LIED, I’M NOT GOOD I’M MISERABLE.

And this was only after not seeing each other for like.. three weeks. Now we have much bigger gaps in-between seeing each other. I hope you know that every time you ask me about Memphis and life and I say “Good!”, know that at any given moment I could cry thinking of how much I miss you. It doesn’t matter if weeks slip by somehow in between our conversations. You are still the friend that I adore. You are still my person. And it’s not just because you’re the only person in the world I’ve ever been able to borrow jeans from — it’s because you’re the most precious and lovely person I have ever had the pleasure of randomly sitting next to one night at USF four years ago. I love you so.

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