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I’m interested in writing within the tensions of our humanity with the both and: our joy and our grief, beauty and brokenness, courage and fear, celebration and rage, and everything in between. 

My hope is that my writing has the ability to connect to what lies at the core of being human. Whether I am writing poetry, a newsletter, or an essay, my writing aims to be honest, attentive, and centered around connection. May these words housed here meet you and encourage you. 


December 31, 2022

I’ve Seen Love In… Compilation: December 2022


I want to start this introduction with the words that close this compilation out; Caleb Burke’s final stanza of his beautiful poem captures what this compilation reveals: 

The more I look

the more I find

that it is not I that has found Love,

but Love that has found me. 

This compilation was organized in the themes that came about throughout the submissions. Together these words from various writers tell the story of the power of love. Love finds us in our giddiness and glee, utter weakness and grief, and everywhere in between. All it asks of us is to be awake enough to see and receive. 

Thank you to everyone who wrote for helping me see love all the more clearly. 

Markings on the Wall

I see love

In the numbers that crawl up the wall

Marking years

Marking height

Marking growth

Every year of my life since I could walk my grandmother would mark my height and the year with a pencil on the doorframe of my bedroom in her home. The markings crawled their way up the wall–serving as a mark of growth and a life well lived. Have you ever seen your entire life documented in one place? It was like a visual representation of my life before my eyes.

It stopped abruptly when I went to college–things change when you move away (sometimes in ways you can’t see, until you do). But my grandmother never removed those markings on the wall, even when her house went up for sale this past week. 

There they stand, as a proud mark of the beauty of growth and life and change. As I returned home this weekend to visit my grandma, I kept going back to look at the door frame. Tears welled in my eyes each time I looked at the door. 

There the marks stood–unmoving. Never changing.

These are more than just marks on the wall. They are a representation of a love that goes deeper than what the eye can see. 

I hope that the people that buy that house keep the markings there. I hope they let the mark of a life well-lived live on–even after we’re gone. I hope they see love and laughter when they look at that door. I hope they make their own markings on the wall–making their own mark of love that stands the test of time. 


I see love

On the markings on the wall

Even as things change

The love that was built

Still remains


And forever

This is the kind of love that outlives you. 

Hailey Hawkins


How do you celebrate a year in the life?

Of the one who made you a mama

The one who has brought more joy, 

Laughter, dying to self, fullness of heart 

And less sleep, control, loneliness


The one with the big blue eyes

Who raises his eyebrows and smiles

With little moons and newly popped out teeth


The one who is now wobbling in his feet

But was once swaddled next to you on the couch cushion

Not long ago


The one who needed you all through the night

And worked so hard to latch at your chest 

And you grew together, and cried, and learned, and rejoiced


The one who now shoves birthday cake in his mouth, on his own

and gently picks blueberries from the base 


How do you celebrate the life? 

Of the baby with the big eyes always taking in, who loves to explore

But is always looking back to check that you’re there


How do you put into words? This life

This boy, this love

It has gone so fast, and yet I have always known you

How do you celebrate a year? That was tiring, and joy filled, and growing, and 



How do you celebrate the first year of the life of your son? 

Your baby, your buddy, your heart 

Happy birthday, our Jude

We love you and who you are becoming 


Emily Curia

I’ve seen love in… 


The way she 

picked my tears off the floor as I lay there a mess. 

fed me, brought me water, and helped me get dressed. 

didn’t react but responded with care. 

didn’t say anything, she showed up, and was there. 

My heart ripped in pieces, he set off a bomb. 

I’m standing today because of my mom. 


Karley Richardson

I have seen love in….

My child’s bright eyes as they first open wide with wonder at the morning’s first brightness and a light of love and recognition floods over her face. 

I have seen the greatest love and joy in that two-toothed wide smile as she greets each new day as if the world is brand new again and it’s the best thing she’s ever experienced. 

I have heard love in her ringing laugh as she delights in the cat coming by to greet her with a full body caress and switch of her tail. 

I have seen love in her whole body wiggling with movement and her feet dancing and stomping to the tune of any music floating in the air.

I have seen love in the way she reaches out or reaches up to me with her little hands, arms outstretched when only mama will do; in the way she nuzzles right into the safe space of my shoulder when she’s tired and those eyelids grow heavy.

Her love reminds me to greet each day as if the world is entirely new at first light and each day is the best one yet; to delight in music, which may be just about anything; to cherish the animals that share our world; to find and pay attention to the flavor of each bite and savor it slowly; it reminds me to greet my loved ones with the most unbridled joy and affection, to hold them close.


Elizabeth Dale

I’ve seen love in the prayer my 86 year old Dad prayed over our meal with family gathered around. Overwhelming gratitude to God for the people He placed in his life to love and care for him. 


Mary Kane Rhodes 

I’ve seen love in…

troubleshooting the crossword for hours over the phone. coming home to dishes on the drying rack.

“I’ll run your table for you.”

(lox) bagels and cream cheese

“I just came to say ‘hi’.”

coffee runs and real tears between classes.

carrot cake muffins.

“you’re damn good at what you do.”

impromptu brunch and taking healing days.

the vacuums at the carwash.

Smyrna, Ga.

voicemails during a busy week.

sticky notes.

“I’ll drive.”

s’mores and breaking bread.

S Pope St.

“when can I see you?”

a waiting room compliment.

“we loved yours, Alex”

bouncing thoughts and juggling struggles with safe people. $15.

writing down in the calendar.

exclaiming joy and appreciation aloud.

staying up well past bedtime.

“I’ve noticed.”

most everything.

A list of feeling loved from my notes app 10.02.22 3:47pm 


Alex Bumgarner

I’ve seen love in:

  • a neighbors wave
  • a hello from a stranger
  • the trader joe’s employee
  • a hug from your mom
  • a florida fan saying go dawgs
  • the giddiness you feel when you hear somebody laugh
  • a long phone call
  • a short phone call
  • the moment you get home from work
  • a perfect cup of coffee
  • a porch swing on the front porch
  • the happy dance from a bernese mountain dog
  • a good luck text
  • a bartender that knows your order
  • the small things
  • a community that stands together
  • a friend that pushes you outside your comfort level
  • the people that i’m lucky to surround myself with 


Lindsay Magill

I’ve seen love in

veggies and cheese.


Home away from home; I’m fully embraced by the unexpected.


Appreciated differences and CORNERs. Chocolate death and hard work

had never been more welcomed.


Deeply indebted to those who helped me get here–


honey– I’m home! then it’s gone.


To be loved by you–

the pleasure was all mine.


Alex Bumgarner

I’ve seen love….

Okay, well actually-  it’s been hard to see it lately.


I was driving home from work the other day and felt a deep sadness overcome me. At a stop light I noticed some homeless folks trying to sleep on the bench at the park, their suitcases full of their life belongings laying beside them. Not 500 ft down the street, I saw swarms of girls in trendy clothes holding bags of more trendy clothes. There were couples taking photos by nice restaurants and others sipping on expensive cocktails at 4:30 on a weekday. There were heels and purses and sunglasses on every corner.


Are we blind? Am I? How can people become so invisible? Are we SO self-consumed? Are we SO driven by status and money?

Have we forgotten

How to love?


Since then I’ve been trying to be less cynical. I’ve looked more carefully and these are the things that have stood out:


I’ve seen love in a man in a suit buying a man on the street a meal.

I’ve seen love in a grandma dancing and singing to her one year old granddaughter in the middle of a restaurant.

I’ve seen love in the people choosing to walk by the water to end their day.

I’ve seen love in the care that the barista took to make me a perfect latte.

I’ve seen love in my caller ID on a day I felt alone.

I’ve seen love in the vulnerability of a new friend.

I’ve seen love in the way my client tells me that she prays for me.

And in the way the sun hits my skin.

And in allllll the dogs’ faces on their beach walks.

And in my husband cleaning the dishes for me after a long day of working.

And in so much more.


I guess we haven’t forgotten how to love, we just need to put our glasses on.

 Maddie Olsen 

I’ve seen love in the way that you decided not to stay. 

Most people who love me decide to hurt me.

Or at least don’t have the wisdom to know that I’d be better off if they left me alone.

But you looked at me and knew better than to hurt me. 

You left me with a longing though that I’ve been dying to fill since I met you. 

And I just don’t think it’ll be filled until you come back around. 

With all the people who have come and gone, I’ve never felt this type of hole before. 

I don’t know what I like more; the kind of love that hurts me or the kind of love that finds me too beautiful to leave me with scars. 

Thank you for not stabbing me. 

But there’s a piece of me that’s curious what that pain would’ve felt like. 

I know that I don’t want your halfhearted love. 

But waiting for you to heal and hoping you come back is excruciating. 

That’s on the days I’m even willing to admit that that’s what I’m doing. 

I miss you. 

But thank you for showing me that love that chooses my best even when that’s not you. 



My Secret Keeper


My secret keeper left me coffee 

hand brewed

on the table

over which I fought with him last night


My secret keeper kept my hand

locked in his

as he got poked

by the ring that sealed our promise


My secret keeper held my gaze

as I cried

about my own pain

by the waterside on his birthday


My secret keeper wrote a song

about his wife

who can’t shake a sadness

he is determined to find the end of


My secret keeper gave me his car

to go see my friends

while he waited

until he could take it to get to work late


My secret keeper cleaned the kitchen

while I sat

on our couch

too overwhelmed about the mess I made to get up


My secret keeper made my day

everyday now

since that day

he chose to love me despite it all


Kelly Mowry

don’t have the energy right now to reply to your prompt how I want to but I’ve seen love in my husband’s eyes when I broke down with him over dinner. I am exhausted and in pain and I was honest about my struggle with depression. I shared my frustration with God and feeling like this pain lacked meaning. My sweet husband who is agnostic looked at me and said “what if God’s reason for your pain is so that you can understand your clients deeper. Only people with pain can really understand you’ve said that”. That is love to me. He got on my level and stepped in my shoes. He shared my pain, frustration, and depression for a minute. So I’ve seen love in my marriage. 


Taylor Marmol 

I’ve Seen Love in…

I saw this prompt a few weeks ago and it really caught my attention. I’m not sure why this one among others, but I’ve been thinking about it ever since. 

In John 4:16 of the Bible, we are told that God is Love. “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” 

Every time I see this prompt, I read it as “I’ve seen God in…” so that’s how I’ve chosen to answer it. I could go on forever about all the places and things I see God in, but there are two examples that give me a glimpse of how beautiful and immense He truly is. 

I see God in nature. Especially on long trails with my husband in the Rocky Mountains. A place that is so beautiful and free. I see God in the abundant wildflowers, in the aspen trees changing to a golden yellow, and in the mountains lightly dusted with snow. It’s really special to share this passion for trail running and the outdoors with my husband. I feel like we are our true selves in this environment.  

I see God at church which might sound obvious. Some of the more apparent ways are through the parishioners who show up every weekend – in a family with young children, in someone praying silently, in an older couple holding hands during the Lord’s prayer. But I also see God in less apparent things like an answered prayer and a church song or a homily that speaks to you.  

Some other places I’ve seen God more recently include:

  • In a spouse who makes me coffee every morning. 
  • In a dog who greets me every time I come home. 
  • In a long-distance friend who keeps in touch. 
  • In a new friendship.
  • In coworkers who actually care about getting to know you personally.  

It’s funny to read back through this and replace “God” with “Love” – and it still makes complete sense. It’s easy to see all the bad and ugly in this world, but after writing this I found it easy to point out all the places we can find love. Maybe we just need to take more time to notice and appreciate it.

Kat Schaich 

Lately, I see love in the recesses of my mind. It’s in the secret place my mind wanders when I’m with the Shepherd. It’s in the touch of the tall grass as we walk together. It’s in the safety and confidence I feel in His presence. It’s in the brush of His breath against my ear as He whispers kind words of encouragement and reminds me of my worth in Him. I see love in the clouds as we lie in the tall grass and laugh about all the shapes we see in them. It’s in the way He shields me from the darkness I do not know. It’s in His gentle and calloused hand that takes mine and rubs a thumb over my tiny hand as a way of communicating without words. It’s in His roaring laugh as He watches me awkwardly try to dance in the green pasture, not caring if there is a correct way to do so. It’s in the way He joins in and scoops me up to meet Him and dance in step with Him. For it is in this secret place I have grown to know Love in a way I had not before; and know that I can go to our secret place anytime I want. It is in this space that I learn that Love will one day be on full display in our new Earth our Shepherd is preparing for us, so that we never know a day without seeing Love ever again. 

Bekah Brannon 

I’ve Seen Love in the Wind


I’ve seen love in the wind

Wings immobile and waiting

Unable to propel, willing to go wherever led

Up and down, frailty of body rises, or falls

I’ve seen love in the wind


I’ve seen love in the quiet

A freshness in renewal

Reality within the stillness

Comfort in the darkest valley

I’ve seen love in the quiet


I’ve seen love in solitude

The need to retreat, a holy withdraw

A refuge in midst of pain

Healing and therapy for a temple

I’ve seen love in solitude


I’ve seen love in community

Joy and celebration around a table

Hope in heartache, intimacy in vulnerability

A sabbath resistance to a wandering world

I’ve seen love in community


I’ve seen love in the wind

The kind, soft, Holy Spirit presence

A tender invitation to a journey

Promise of life to the full

I’ve seen love in the wind


“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

John 3:8

Peyton Woods

Some say love is a feeling. Others a natural inclination, a choice. I say none of the above. Love is the action involving some sentiment of sacrifice for the good of someone else.

But, since the beginning of October, I have seen love in the most humiliating moments. When I’ve been at my most vulnerable. Yet, I have been empowered by it, because I know the love that has been shown to me has not been because of someone else, but of because who they put their faith in.

My best friend and roommate is an absolute idiot. The only person in the world I can stand in the same room with and make bizarre noises at and with each other from across a room and not feel abnormally uncomfortable in the slightest. But he also has a quietly compassionate spirit, a sense when to be serious and ease the mind of others in pain. He asks me how I am doing and asks me to be honest with him, not out of an obligation or duty, but a genuine desire to help and empathize with. Riley has been there with me, showing me that he cares for me in the depths of grief and pain and loneliness that feels too heavy to bear on the days I can’t pick myself up. But he never ceases to speak the truth, even if it hurts a little in the moment, if it could help me later on down the road. Riley is a warrior for righteousness, a loyal sidekick, and a lovable dumbass typically wearing a ratchet sleeveless cutoff shirt, typically found tinkering with something.

Coaches and teachers have an uncanny resemblance to parents. There might be age or temperance difference, but they have the unusual ability to understand the depth of the human condition yet know how much hope we are given. My friend/coach Trevor has the ability to see this need and still be your biggest champion. He and I had dinner at the end of October, and found myself being unusually vulnerable with him about my struggles, but he didn’t shy away from it at all. He prayed for me and I was so comforted and encouraged by his words that I started crying. Trevor did nothing to ask for this, but after being willing to listen and be a kind, honest, and compassionate person, he won my trust. We’ve known each other for years, but it’s only in the last 2 years I’ve come to know his capacity for love and loyalty in ways I didn’t know existed or that I needed. Trevor is a spirit-brother, quietly passionate, and your biggest champion, wrapped in black athleisure clothing of his choice.

I often find love in small, quiet moments: a song that fires me up, a cup of coffee shared between people not bound by blood, a call to accountability, a ridiculously childish board game that no normal adult would play, and an honest, humble compassion only known by those who are as broken as I am. But Love is both divine and human, wrapped into flesh and sent in spirit more than anything else. And that Spirit has manifested itself in these two people so much, and that means more than words have the ability to express. Only warm, free-flowing water down a cold cheek.

Bradford Schiebel

Love in Laughter

I’ve seen love in laughter shared

I’ve seen love in nonstop laughter as I spend a day with my two younger sisters, soaking in the precious time we get together

I’ve seen love in laughter that bubbles up when I’m with old friends, memories of times past coming to the surface that bond us forever

I’ve seen love in laughter with new friends, as walls come down and joy of budding connection fills my lungs with giggles that can’t help but escape

I’ve seen love in laughter shared in so many places

Where have you seen love in laughter?

Macy Cates



Was the underlying story

behind my grief; 

a thank you letter to my students

and teaching. 


Lived in my rage

that I wrote out on a page; 

a moment of me refusing

to neglect my body

and feelings.


Threw a party for my sadness; 

a paradoxical celebration 

that changed me. 


Pulled up a seat beside me on a day 

when I felt lonely and afraid;

a stranger quickly becoming a friend, 

reminding me, I am seen. 


Stood with me in emergency rooms and 

on the days when medicine made its way 

into my body 

through an IV; 

thank you, nurses and mom and friends 

for helping me

remember to breathe. 


Had tiny hands 

and a spirit of curiosity; 

nothing softens you 

quite like a baby. 


Folded up in three, 

fit nice and tightly 

in an envelope 

that made its way to me; 

the gift of one’s words 

arriving in perfect timing. 


Arrived on my doorstep 

Spelling “low-sodium”; 

providing much more

than a meal to eat. 


sustained me. 

Bailey Frederking

I’m learning to look lower.

When the leaves have fallen–

lower still.

When the creek bed has dried up–

lower still.

When it feels as if Love is out of season–

yes, still lower.


Finally, on the very floor of my soul,

among the dust, dirt, and grime,

I find Love’s residue.


It is here I’m reminded of;

The tears of a friend,

Hands laid in prayer,

And the kind understanding eyes of a stranger.


Gentle voices around a fire,

Shared history,

And the dried up flower petals that litter my desk.


Like nuggets of gold hidden in earth’s crust

I begin to unearth Love in the most unlikely of places.

This Love is not clean, pretty or polished,

but weathered, raw, and real.


The more I look

the more I find

that it is not I that has found Love,

but Love that has found me. 


Caleb Burke

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