In one week, I basically went crazy and got my life back.
I've been feeling like I'm drowning in auditory stimulation- constantly filling the silence with something on in the background. So I decided to go for it- to cut out the noise and just see what happens, no expectations.
I honestly didn't think it would be hard at all but I was forced to learn some tough lessons about myself and my daily rhythms. I don't even know if I would recommend it without explaining the symptoms of withdrawals... so here they are:
1. Extreme awareness of your thoughts and feelings about anything and everything
4. More Energy
5. An increased interest in people and anything people have to say about anything
6. The feeling that days are longer, and life is full of opportunity
7. More sleep, better sleep
8. Stronger friendships
9. Increased vocabulary (readers are leaders!)
10. Gratitude and appreciation
There were several times throughout the week I felt genuinely uncomfortable. I was really frustrated by how much I was impacted by not being able to lean on my automatic response to silence, especially in the places I spend most of my time- the car, work, and at home.
I was really challenged to listen and reflect. I was amazed by how much I had to say when I got home, how much I learned and noticed throughout the day. I started to wonder...
What would happen if I stopped trying fill my time, and started, instead, to be filled by it?
There were a couple of stories I heard that helped guid my reflection on the importance of listening.
We've been reading about the early church and how the apostles were being imprisoned all over the place for preaching about Jesus, performing miracles, etc.
In one story, Paul and Silas are just sitting in prison praying and singing, and suddenly there's an earthquake. Everything crumbles. No one is hurt. Doors unlocked. Chains are broken. They are free.
But they don't leave.
The guard wakes up and is like 'Dang, my job was to guard these guys and now they're free. Now I have to take my life in exchange for theirs'... So he takes out his sword to take his own life and Paul is like 'Hey man, no need to do that, we are all still here!' The guards life is not only saved, but completely changed because the prisoners didn't leave.
In another story, the apostles are imprisoned. In the night, just like in the first story, the doors are opened, the chains undone, they are free. And they leave the prison and go to the temple courts to teach. And peoples lives are saved and changed because the prisoners left.
What stood out to me was that their circumstances look so similar, yet the action they were meant to take so different. I couldn't help but think the answer must have something to do with listening.
I can tell you so many moments where I have looked around at my circumstances, season of life, and even logic and allowed those things to dictate my actions. But there's a freedom in contemplation, and for fighting to listen and let your actions be informed by prayer.
For me, it was a fight for time. Choosing to fight against the media-binge culture we live in. I realized I will always choose something mindless over something meaningful, so I need boundaries in the places that could distract me from hearing what's next.
It seems so silly, committing to silence for a time... but I am shocked by what I have learned. There's so much in the silence- the smells, the birds, the thoughts ... the whispers of names and the rush of memories. The flicker of a flame is a forgotten miracle until you stop.
The doors are open, the shackles broken, we need only to listen for what's next.
Brian and I began our journey to Paris on Saturday
afternoon. We drove to Houston, with a Sunday flight which gave us plenty of time to catch up with friends.
We have planned this trip for months. Every stressful moment we shared would be followed with: " just wait until we're in Paris!"
In Houston, the excitement was building. Every moment of laughter was a reminder that we were on vacation- VACATION! It was a thousand exhales and so many I love yous. We poured into conversations with our friends and we were giddy to talk about the trip ahead.
Our Paris plan was this : slow down. We picked one city, one place to stay. Our little apartment was just near the Louvre, about a half mile from Notre Dame. We were committed to holding hands, eating cheese and bread, walking everywhere, drinking coffee, and getting lost together. One of the days was specifically dedicated to sitting in one place and reading an entire book- no agenda, just Paris!
But as it turns out, there was a problem.
As as we were headed to bed on Saturday, the night before the flight, our very loved and most meticulous friend Kyle was teasing Brian about his passport picture. He noticedBrian's expiration date was July 2017. As only Kyle would know, you can't have less than a 3 month cushion on your passport expiration when traveling to France ....
Thats really all Brian could say.
But we are not panic-ers. We googled and called and there it was- unanimously. There was no way we would be let onto our flight.
So here we are in Houston- about to have our last sleep in the states for a week... And as it turns out... We aren't going anywhere.
I will admit, the sleep was not as sweet. Brian was shocked and spent hours on the phone trying to salvage our Airbnb stays and tickets. I went into encouragement mode which is basically a desperate attempt to find another adventure and get excited about it.
WE LOVE THE BEACH
OMG LETS DRIVE TO DISNEY! "...
We woke up the next morning and had brunch with friends we weren't supposed to see until we got back. Keeping a brave face, we were dropped off at our car, still determined to make the most of it.
Honestly we we were ashamed at how sad we were. This was definitely not the end of the world - goodness, it's vacation. But something in us longed for the dream we dreamed together.
We sat in Starbucks for 3 1/2 hours trying to come up with a plan but nothing was going well and with no sleep, the communication breakdown game was strong. At one point at Starbucks I went to the restroom and found the toilet clogged and attempted to unclog it WITH MY ARM- it was not urine. That really has nothing to do with the story except that the whole time I'm saying to myself "I could be in Paris."
So I came out of the bathroom MAD and ready to be positive and excited about life...
We got in the car after all of the excitement and disappointment, and headed back to Austin. Exactly 24 hours before, we had been on the same road going the opposite direction, with a totally different attitude.
I'm not going to lie, we took turns crying. Never angry at each other but really mourning the months of dreaming. Ironically, my last blog was about holding dreams loosely.
We we got into town, had a good nights sleep, found a place to get away, and we did what you do when your plans don't happen the way you expect. When your heart yearns for a redemption story.
You say "thank you".
You raise your glass.
You take communion.
Because there is is nothing more powerful, more life-changing, more radical- than a grateful heart.
And you know what? We held hands all day and read an entire book in one sitting... We'll always have Paris.
This week has been a search and rescue.
The truth is I've had a bit of a wandering heart. I've been afraid to reflect, I've been afraid of what I'll hear. I've been afraid of silence. There are moments where I rush to play something loud,
but the silence beckons me . . .
"let me in."
It was so subtle - not so much accepting the fearful conversation in my head, but definitely not denying it.
Just as quickly as the doubt and questions came, the wave of truth drowned my heart. It was as if a voice said, "Okay. If I can't reach you through your ears, I will try everything else."
I couldn't escape it.
The wind caressed my face.
The sunset forced my eyes closed.
My own laughter stirred up gratitude.
The dreams in my heart- they bloomed ... and I let them!
The undeserving girl pursued by God- we think it's so romantic! And it is ... But there's a romance in the longevity... one that I have underestimated.
The constant pursuit of a person who's heart rejects worth and love.
I search for the big moments, forgetting the beauty and wonder of consistency.
Overlooking the ways I am pursued and known.
But goodness - when the light turns on!
God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns. -Psalm 46:5
Jesus is the constant pursuer and love is the same mistake met with the same grace
... Upon grace... upon grace.
The story wasn't over when He said "you" ... and it wasn't over when you said "yes."
The surge of fear isn't worth it. Avoiding the silence does nothing but raise more questions to avoid.
We need to be making the dreams of what will happen inside our hearts bigger than our dreams on earth.
Do you know what that means? - it means we can't be crushed here. It means we get to look at the doubts and reject them. It means we get to enjoy the mundane.
It means we are free to listen without fear.
We don't get to take the world stuff home with us at the end of our life. Will we be walking into the gates holding grace and growth and forgiveness or will be be holding achievements and proving people wrong?
That doesn't mean to let go of your heart's desires- they're so important. But they are not the most important. Let what's happening inside you inform your accomplishments, not the other way around. We weren't promised that we would reach our goal- we actually have to be willing to hear ANYTHING we might hear - including no.
Rescue your dreams by letting them go.
Give them over ... and then chase them down with courage.
I turned 25 last week.
We did a lot of dreaming about what we could do for it because we like to celebrate ... well, anything!
So Brian planned this amazing dinner at Cured (which I talk about in this blog). We were going to drive down to San Antonio - car karaoke in full effect - and eat at our favorite place. We were getting giddy about doing something spontaneous on a Wednesday night- on a non date night! But before the romantic dinner I had planned a day alone to reflect on my friendships and writing letters.
So a few hours into the amazing solo time, I walked to town lake and suddenly saw a woman who looked JUST LIKE MY MOTHER... and then a man that most certainly was my father. Both there to meet me to celebrate the day they became parents. **feels**
So my mom and I grabbed kayaks and paddled out into the wind and had a blast while my dad took pictures from the bridge. My dad pointed out the classroom at Austin High, where he had sat as a student and thought about the daughter he had on the way. I just loved everything about it.
But when I got home I found a very sick Brian with a brave face determined to execute the plan.
I instantly knew what the new plan was and had to talk him down from the ledge of thinking he disappointed me by getting sick. My only request was that he would help me carry the mattress because we were about to have a night to remember.
57,000 apologies from Brian later, it was 10 pm and we were finally ready to order something and go pick it up in our pajamas. we poured over the Elizabeth Street and narrowed it down to basically everything.
So I got Brian to the car, because "NOTHING WILL GET US DOWN TODAY!"
We looked at each other and giggled and said "I love you".
... and the car wouldn't start.
A few bad words later, too late to cancel the food, it would take us 100 minutes to get there is we walked ... we once again learned the meaning of community. It took one text and four minutes before someone offered to pick up our food (far from his home) and bring it to us.
We've all been there when plans don't turn out.
Maybe it was the birthday joy, but I was reminded what setbacks can look like when you don't take yourself seriously. Didn't happen the way you imagined? Didn't meet your expectations? Lets do each other a favor and have a nice long belly laugh in these moments.
It was just me, a locked bathroom door ... and the mirror.
All you have to do is say one good thing about yourself. Just one.
The more my throat tightened up, the more I panicked. I watched the fear on my face as my eyes filled with tears and my hands started shaking. I'm not even sure which came first- the fear that I had nothing to say, or the fear that if I did have something, I wouldn't be able to utter the words.
I spent hours in that bathroom, but it wasn't the bathroom that felt so much like prison as the question that repeated itself in my head-
"What kind of person can't speak a kind word to themselves? What has happened to my heart?"
I had begun a journey of allowing my life to be informed and moved by prayer.
Listening, then acting. Confessing, then leading.
But there was a barrier that began as a hurdle and grew into ladder -
every rung a different lie.
Taking care of yourself is selfish.
Knowing yourself takes time away from others.
God knows your gifts, to speak about them is to boast about them.
That thing you like to do is not a gift.
What you think is life giving, is actually time-wasting.
You aren't good at anything of use.
You're lucky they even care.
If you call yourself beautiful, you aren't beautiful.
Leaning in to my reflection, fingers gripping the sink.
The words left my lips- a foreign voice and a wave of relief.
I was led to find out who I was. To spend time taking care of myself, open my heart to conviction and growth, to to ask God to reveal my gifts to me that I might use every single one.
I thought I was being led to be selfish for a season. In one season I thought I could give my mind rest, bring healing to my heart, understand my identity, and take care of this one body I have.
I'm going to share something with you ... so lean in close ...
The greatest gift you can give yourself, your people,
and your God is to know yourself well-
the good, the bad (yes! there's work to do!), and the great.
Knowing myself wasn't selfish at all- and it's not a pursuit that lasts only a season.
There is freedom here- an unimaginable confidence and peace in who you were created to be and a permission to be who you are. The world can't know you unless YOU know you. Every gift you have has been entrusted to you for a purpose. Knowing yourself helps you know God. And it's the key to living the story you were meant to live.
Knowing yourself is not selfish-it's imperative.
Humility does NOT look like the woman who ignores or denies her gifts- that's the lie.
It's the lie that keeps us from sharing our dreams or dreaming at all. It's the lie that makes us uncomfortable when someone compliments us. It's the lie that keeps us from being grateful.
Humility is what comes from knowing you did nothing to deserve such incredible and creative gifts- made and thought up specifically for you.
We should be confident in these gifts, we should be practicing these gifts, praying for ways to use them that they might bless others. We didn't earn them! We just have them! We won the freaking lottery!
The final catalyst for change in this journey was the truth that my inability to speak life-giving words to myself could keep me from fulfilling my purpose.
You don't have ALL the gifts- can you imagine? - Some gifts have simply not been entrusted to you. Not being good at everything means we have the opportunity to truly appreciate the gifts of those around us.
Pray for the places you know you have blind spots, He can help you see. Know your temptations, know your idols, know where you tend to see things through the world's lens.
Be the friend that responds to hurt with- "you know what? I've prayed about that a lot, it's a weakness I have and I am working on it, but I am so sorry that you had to feel that way because of me."
It's time to be confident in who we were made to be. It's time to stop speaking death over the only heart we have. It's time to know ourselves so well that we know when to take the time to grow in silence and stillness, and when to go and do. It's time for the person we see in the mirror to be the same person we were created to see.
So tell me this- who do you see when you look in the mirror?
We reviewed some of our favorite and silliest date nights. After picking a few of our favorites, we realized the places we feel closest are the places that allow us to be free to live out a child-like faith and joy.
1. Experiencing moments of wonder
We sat at Mozart's and drank mint tea. We were under a covering and having a conversation about all the things we have been through together. There was a moment we were overcome with gratitude and love for one another. We held each other and spoke truth, and all of a sudden, it started to rain! (AHHH, RAIN) We were stunned by the moment, the timing, the beauty... and suddenly we were not romancing each other. We were being romanced and we never felt closer to one another.
2. LONG WALKS
There's a healing power in walking while talking about difficult things. Even if the conversation is at a standstill, you still feel like you're moving forward. We had a long, tearful conversation one night on a walk... and by the end of our talk we were chasing birds to make them fly and laughing so hard we couldn't breathe.
3. Always choose the booth
It's a way we tell each other we had a long week- "it's a booth night". What that means is all eateries without a booth are out of the running. Some of our favorites are Fresa's, Hula Hut, Thai Fresh, Elizabeth Street, and Home Slice. They're the places we have good memories in, where we can cross our legs while we eat.
4. LIVING ROOM CAMPING & PICNICS
I had a horribly busy day and walked through the door to see our mattress in the living room, Pride & Prejudice playing, twinkly lights, and candles. I just fell apart. It felt like such a beautiful example of being one flesh, anticipating needs and meeting them with creativity!
5. DATE NIGHT DRIVES
This is how we end most Thursday nights. We put in Phantom of the Opera, open the windows, hold hands, and take turns standing up out of the sunroof. This is an absolute must.
6. LEAVE ROOM FOR A BAD DATE
Maybe everything is dreamy ... but it's just not a great date. Know it's okay for the two humans involved to have an off-night. What matters is that you're trying, and that you wake up and try all over again. Off nights happen to us all- here are some reflections from one of our worst dates ever.
"So date night started like this tonight...
It was 30 minutes of wonderful and somewhere near dessert
it just took a turn - it came out of nowhere but it was everything deep.
We spoke honestly, but we hurt each other and left the dinner broken.
We drove around and parked at a coffee shop we never walked into.
Sitting in the car, already broken, there was no holding back.
We mourned... We confessed... We accused and apologized.
We cried out in anger at our own selfishness and ugly hearts and God- it was hard.
Hours later we were both just limp- emotionally, physically, & mentally as we sat in the same parking lot--
how do we get to the places where we have so many broken pieces, but are sharing them for the first time.
Sometimes it takes a true friend to sit in the mess with you, even if they're largely to blame for causing it. I
t was the worst of times, but it may be what was necessary to step into the best of times."
It was a few months into marriage, after some awkward moments of us fumbling and struggling to let each other know if our plans were together or apart on weeknights.
He said he had something he wanted to talk through with me.
"Until we have kids, I have a vision of our evenings [other than date night] being spent in community,
with our friends, you building strong relationships with women you love,
and me spending time with men I respect."
I have to admit, I was bummed.
The heart behind what he said was so right- so us- but somewhere in the back of my head, I thought marriage meant that we had date night every night.
Even so, I gave it a try.
We started to talk about our people- about all the things we admire and respect, people we wanted to be more like, people we should be praying for.
We started to make plans and cultivate rhythms, and live out intentionality.
Thursdays remained our nights (as they had been through our dating relationship), but now, they were considered sacred- untouchable. Thus began the journey of being intentional in our marriage, and building into the tribe around us.
There was no way of really knowing what this decision would mean for our family- lets be honest, it could have been a disaster. Our people have spoken life into us and made us better in every direction.
We've been so humbled by the depth of relationships that were made possible because we put healthy boundaries on the way we were going to steward our time. The decision to invest our time in people has brought us closer, and has offered us a completely different lens to see the world through. In addition, date nights feel so exciting- I still have butterflies when I wake up on Thursday mornings.
The more we celebrated this part of our marriage, the more we felt we were doing "right," we started to feel a tug on our hearts about the "why". So we asked ourselves- why do date nights work?
When you set aside time for something, when you prioritize it, you are telling yourself and the people around you that that's what you value.
So we valued intentionality, friendships, discipleship, our marriage....
Where were we living out the value of our faith?
This could be pages long (and probably will eventually) - but for now I will just say that when we applied the lessons we learned through date nights to our prayer life-
it. was. revolutionary.
Date nights are not overly planned, but there are 2 elements every date night must have:
1. Begin with worship- it's the first thing that happens on date night. A time of quiet, singing, journaling, and praying together.
2. Reflection Confessions- At some point during dinner, we initiate reflection confessions. This is when we confess and apologize for times during the week where our intentions towards the other were not pure, or kind. It's difficult to hear sometimes, and difficult to confess, but it's so humbling to recognize the grossest parts of yourself. This time always ends with more respect for one another, a deeper understanding of one another, and a reminder of who we are.
We are learning to live out the culture of the family we want to be. It's certainly not perfect, but it's us. I have learned so much about celebrating other families and why it's important to cheer them on to be who they are. Who knew a date night could change your life?
We took a 36 hour trip to San Antonio and had the chance to be famous for a day.
From beginning to end, the trip was wonderful. It was meant to be a time to get away before the holidays and to make each other feel special - and it was all of that - but there was an encounter we had on the trip that we keep going back to.
On our only full day there, we stumbled upon the outside seating of a restaurant called Cured. We were immediately impressed with the food (outstanding!), but the way we were treated by the staff- was uncomfortable.
Only 15 minutes into the meal, we knew we had to say something. We kept looking at each other- guilty. Brian voiced it first.
"We have to tell them they have it all wrong. They think we are famous."
The eye contact, the attention to detail, the extra consideration ... the surprise additions to our charcuterie board. We felt like the only people there. The problem was we didn't know how to ask who they thought we were- we kept accepting their gifts and intentionality.
Brian and I have a tradition when we go on trips. We like to feel like locals everywhere we go so we find our "place" in the cities we visit. (We went to the same restaurant in Fredericksburg 4 times in 30 hours- we. do. not. play.)
Anyway, before telling them who we weren't, we sat eating our lunch and had them put us on the list for dinner that night.
Okay, so we didn't tell them. We thought maybe the service was just THAT incredible. So we showed up for our reservation that night. The double doors at the front were opened for us as we walked into a place where we were known somehow. We were lead to a corner table where we could see the entire restaurant, the gorgeous Christmas tree outside our window, and quickly we were brought two glasses of Champagne with a welcoming- old- friend-kind-of hug from the man who had made our afternoon so special.
People were stopping at our table saying how glad they were that we were back- people we most definitely did not meet earlier that day. At this point, we are almost in tears. We felt so incredibly special... But it was the surprise of a dish we did not order- a dish we contemplated getting at lunch - placed on our table with a smile that brought on the undeniable conviction.
We had to tell them.
So Brian took a breath, knowing they may be upset we didn't tell them sooner.
He called the waitress over and said it : "I'm so sorry, we have really enjoyed our time here but I have to ask... do you think we are ... someone... important..? "
So there we sat- in awe with full hearts. Both stunned because we felt so undeserving. So undeserving in fact, that we thought it was a mistake.
Isn't that our story with God? He treats us like royalty- showering us with people, talents, gifts, provision, moments ... but we will give the credit to coincidence or "mistake" or even turn our cheek and pretend the gift wasn't for us.
In that moment, though, it was undeniable. This was for US. Intended for us. Not a have to, but a want to.
And you know what the waitress responded ?
"We just want you to enjoy yourselves."
I will never forget that night. We sat there for three hours. We ate slow and talked about everything. There was one thing we knew without a doubt at the end of this night- We want to make people feel this special.
So here's the challenge: Do something a little over the top for someone this week.
Make someone know what it feels like to be famous in your eyes.
The race we run takes focus. It takes intentionality in every direction and endurance to follow through.
I was challenged on the trail today. I thought about my comforts and how they stand in the way of my race. I thought about endurance and how that relates to faith. I imagined people cheering me on, and imagined myself cheering on others- the runners, the bikers, and the walkers.
Running your race with integrity means being intentional in thought and action- it means fruit can be produced from a seed watered in Truth. It means not taking comfort in the way you think you stack up to the competition.
Those “competitors”- they’re your family. They are your responsibility.
Lets start there.
It is your responsibility to make sure people around you finish their race encouraged and uplifted. You can’t prevent their physical injuries, but you can play a part their spiritual growth. There will be enough critics on the race. There is no gain in becoming one of them.
I have found that my choice to criticize comes from insecurity. In moments of weakness, I look around and only see competition…which leads to comparison. For some this is in specific things: is my fashion sense better, is my job better, why am I not good at that, I wish I was smarter … for me it's a about wanting to fit into everybody’s seasons of life. It’s back to that approval idol (insert eye-roll because I’m annoyed with my sin). I long for seasons I have passed, and seasons ahead of me- this makes my commitment to being present impossible.
We have all heard it in others and in ourselves- the longing to have a house, the longing to be married, the longing to have kids, the longing to be in college, to be romanced, to be busy, to have a slow life … then it becomes the criticism of people who are married, the criticism of people who have kids or don’t, criticizing people in college (those dreamers!), cynicism towards romance, criticism of busy people, criticism of people with the luxury of a slow life- GOODNESS. Aren't we tired of wanting a leg up? Aren’t we tired of justifying our own sin? Aren’t we tired of comparison turning our hurdles into ivy-covered walls?
…Do we really think that by hindering someone else’s race, we are advancing the Kingdom of God? Here’s a hint- we already know who wins the race, so what honorable intentions could we possibly have in discouraging words?
Speak life into the people around you who are in different seasons. Some seasons feel better than others, but they are all important in getting us to who we are meant to be. Do you know someone in a season of life they wouldn’t want to repeat? – don’t contribute to their wishing it away. Let endurance be produced there for you both- hobble with them, hold their hand, and don’t let them miss the miracles in the broken.
A body of confident believers cheering each other on begins with you turning inward. Identify and face the things weighing you down in your race. Take the time to know yourself well. Reflect. You are uniquely designed- complex, and full of gifts. When we don’t take the time to know ourselves and build confidence in who we were made to be, we breed insecurity… and when we are insecure, we want others to be insecure with us. Confidence from the right place is an unshakable foundation and as a product of knowing your identity, the criticism won't debilitate you -including your criticism of yourself.
Accept the season you’re in and make the most of it -if it's slow enjoy the view, look around, examine your heart, and CELEBRATE THOSE WHO ARE SPRINTING- good for them!
Cultivate your relationship with God.
Find your people, find your rhythms, put your pride down, and be at peace.
"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Three weeks into marriage I told him- "I can't join your community."
"I want us to build our community together."
Every Wednesday people showed up at our house to participate in community and I showed up half-present because I had already decided that Brian and I were going to go find community. It didn't matter that our house was the only place some people felt safe because of what God had build through Brian for four years. It didn't matter that people acted as a "we"- wrestling through the hardest parts of life, of disappointment, confessing anger with God, and leaning on each other for words and stories, for a safe place to say, "I'm sorry, I don't think I believe this, how can this verse be true?" And everyone would dive in- why do we believe this? What does this mean? Is Jesus funny?!
So why didn't I want to be a part of this?
I can tell you exactly why.
Because I did't pick it.
I would never have picked these people to be in community with me. They weren't really like me. They were too emotional, not emotional enough, too logical, too smart, too quiet, too loud... I am telling you the list goes on, but only because I was holding out for the community that was waiting for me... "out there".
I was going through a hard time emotionally, but didn't want to share what was going on because how can you be a part of a community if you know you're going to leave?
I heard a lot of people talk about not participating in community because any community they joined could never match what they experienced abroad. Why did they have that abroad? Why couldn't I find it here?
And then it hit me- you don't pick your community abroad. Everyone's searching for what I am holding out for. Community isn't out there, it's right here.
It was the people meeting in my living room every Wednesday.
Happy stories, sad stories, dramatic, sorrowful, and joyous stories- every story is a love story... and here are some of mine.