Tag Archives: love


A Declaration On Love (Thoughts + a Poem on Love)

Last fall, I was in a relationship briefly, and the guy walked away after a few months. And it hurt. It hurt again (as it always does), because I cared a lot, and it was hard to realize he cared so little.

It was a blessing in disguise. The relationship was not headed in the best direction… And I’ve struggled with unhealthy relationships in the past. Men who didn’t cherish me or care that much at all. It’s a cycle I’ve repeated all so often in my past, but luckily this time I noticed it and was much more willing to let go and trust the process.

Still, it was a wake up call for me. I went back to counseling, and I’ve been sorting through some things since then.

The week after we broke up, I wrote this poem.

To See Me

I want someone to see me

No, not the outward me
Not the one the whole world sees
Not the me with an image and reputation
Not the me with a career and acclamation

I want someone to see me
Really see me

Eye-to-eye and
connecting through the inner heart
reveling in the hidden part

all my goodness and my imperfections
glittering through my shining soul

what has been cracked through the wounds of life
renewed in the deep wellspring of love’s gaze

I want someone to see me
and not run away


After that break up, I began to again wonder if love truly does exist, or if love is just a fantasy. For a brief time, I teetered on the edge of cynicism and bitterness (which has been my default setting for quite some time).

But I refused to cave into the hopelessness. I fought that urge like my life depended on it–because in many ways, it does.

One morning about a week or two after the break-up, I was praying and crying and pouring my heart out to God. And God reminded me how deeply I am loved, I am cherished. And that Love is the only answer. That a heart open and warm and alive is the only answer in this hard, cold world.

Even if that last boy didn’t love me, it doesn’t mean love isn’t out there.

I believe in love. And I refuse to cave into cynicism now, even when love still seems so far off.

I believe someone will see me someday, and that someone will want everything I have to offer.

Because true love is seeing someone’s soul and truly admiring them enough to invest in a life together.

True love is seeing a human being as irreplaceable, unique, special, and wanting to bear witness to that human being the rest of their lives.

True love sees someone with all their flaws and brokenness and wants to help them heal and become more whole and bright and alive.

True love walks alongside someone and supports them in their passions and pursuits.

That’s what love is. It isn’t superficial. It isn’t selfish. It’s true and deep and loyal and committed.

And you know why I know this? Because I have loved in this way, and I can see this love in my own heart. Yes, I’m flawed. Yes, I struggle. But love pours forth from me now, and I believe it can pour forth into another’s heart, too.

For anyone who knows my journey over the past few years, you should know that this truly is a miracle. That I believe in love again. After so much darkness, I believe in love.

I will find someone who loves in the same way OR I will be single the rest of my life.

Because let me be clear about something: 
I. Don’t. Need. A. Man.

I have love from so many people who dearly support me, pray for me, and uplift me. I have so many amazing friends who are truly fighting for my healing and who listen and care and want what’s best for me. I have friends and family that love me. And on top of all of that, God has this overwhelming love for me that is quite startling. It still takes my breath away sometimes.

No, I don’t need a man.

No one should need someone else to fulfill them. I’ve tried to do that and I know it’s useless. I’ve tried to put my identity in men, and I know where it leads. It leads to emptiness and depression and darkness. I’ve tried to quench my fire-filled heart just to be more placable for the tastes of selfish, cold-hearted people, and I’m done with it.

I will be my passionate, untamed, poetic self and I don’t care if men look at it and don’t know what to do with me.

I don’t need a man.

BUT what I AM saying is that I will wait for romantic love. If love is to be mine, it will be beautiful and honest and true, and if I never find it on this planet, I don’t care.

Because I know what love is, and I won’t settle for anything less.

I know what love is, and it courses through my veins.

I know what love is, and I would rather die alone than let someone sap and slow me down when I could be running, running, running along in the freedom and joy that is LOVE.

So until you see me–really see me–then don’t mess around with me. Sorry. It’s not what I’m looking for. I’m not looking for a game or a snack or a one-night-stand.

I’m looking for an ocean that is deep and adventurous and holy and wild and wonderful.

Because love should reflect God, and God’s love is like an ocean. And because I’ve swam in those waters, I won’t settle for the shallows any longer. I won’t let others quell and contain and misuse and abuse.

Do you understand? This is my declaration.

I’m not looking for love (I’ve already found it).

The love is inside me.

(And if someone who also has the love inside them finds me, then we will hold hands, face the world, and EMBRACE all the wonders together.)




The Girl Who Is Loved: Honest Thoughts For Valentine’s Day

It’s February, which means that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. And this year, I just want to confess something:

I don’t know what it is to be loved.

Let me clarify something: I know what it is to love, and I have loved many times in my life. From the very first time I fell in love at age 17 to all the guys I’ve truly fallen for since then, I have loved. But I have NEVER had a romantic interest truly love me back. I’ve had romantic interests be attracted to me, kind of somewhat like me, and, of course, want to sleep with me. I have no lack of attention, and I could find dates (and have found them) left and right over the past nine months or so.

But I don’t want attention. I want love.

Sometimes, in my darkest moments, I wonder: Does love even exist, then? Am I fooling myself to think that I’d ever find someone who is truly invested in loving others and loving his significant other? Has our generation (the Millennials) lost the meaning of love? That deep, committed, self-sacrificial love that is supposed to be the essence of relationships? Am I asking too much? Am I too idealistic? Does my own personality just not fit into today’s world of hook-ups, one-night-stands, selfishness, sexual addiction, rape culture, and abuse that passes so often as love nowadays?

These are questions I ponder quite often, and I just don’t know the answers. My heart laments the fact that so many don’t understand love, and that I myself have wrestled so deeply with this issue in my own life. This I know for certain: I do know that what I’ve experienced in past relationships wasn’t love. I do know this. And I’m trying, trying, trying to figure out what love really means.

What does love mean? This is the cry of my heart.

What would it mean to be loved? What would it mean to be cherished, valued, respected? Where is love? Why have I searched so long and have never found it? Why are men who have no love inside them attracted to me? Why am I attracted to men who aren’t loving and fully there for people, themselves, and others?

I’m not being judgmental. It’s just the truth. The truth of what I’ve experienced. I’ve seen emotional and spiritual abuse. I’ve seen narcissism and selfishness. I’ve never been seen and valued inside a romantic relationship.

My heart is aching for love. I just want to be loved. I want to feel that people care about me. And I’m not just talking romantically. I want community. I want friendship. I want to be silly and laugh and feel closeness again.


Ever since I moved to Colorado, I’ve been in a very hard place. My best friend died inside an abusive cult environment. I completely shut down after that and didn’t want to make any deep friends again. The pain so was fierce, and I thought that loving anyone ever again wasn’t worth it. My heart shut down for several harsh, desolate years.

Then my health went downhill last year. I felt so awful and so drained and so tired. I could hardly do anything other than rest, and I hung out with very few people last year. From January-May I never left my house except for work and to sometimes go over to my old roommates’ home. Do you know how isolating that feels? Do you know how hard it is to feel like life has completely stopped, while everyone else around you is hiking and going on adventures and healthy and living life?

It was hard. I was so lonely last year, so I numbed the pain by watching lots of TV. I watched 30 Rock and Parks & Rec and all sorts of shows that showed groups of people who were having fun and who cared about each other. Why? Because I was alone and I just wanted to feel part of something, even if it was only through a TV screen.

Things began to look up last fall, but there is still part of me that just wants to leave Colorado Springs as soon as I can because it has been such a hard time of life for me here. I feel as if I’m just known as The Girl Whose Friend Died In A Cult…or The Girl Who Was Really Sick. Or, if I’m honest, The Girl Who Didn’t Give a Shit and Shut Everyone Out Because Her Heart Finally Died After Way Too Much Hurt.

For almost two years, I’ve been trying to relearn love. To redefine myself as The Girl Who Loves No Matter What. Slowly but surely, my life is changing. My heart is brimming with love where before there was only coldness.

I look at people and I love them. I see them. I am becoming a Girl Who Loves, and it is one of the most profound, beautiful experiences of my life. Maybe, having seen so much unlove in my life…and having stopped loving for a period myself… I now know that Love truly is the only way forward. That the alternative (which is hardness and anger and hatred and despair and cynicism) can’t be born.

The alternative is living death.

For to truly live to is love.

So see? I will not be a victim of my past circumstances. I will not let the Darkness take more than it already tried to take years ago and all the years since. I will not lament this desert season that has been Colorado Springs. I will thrive. I will turn this barrenness into something life-giving and flourishing. 

And no, I will not numb this ache inside to be loved, to be known, to be understood. Why? Because this ache drives me to God. It drives me to consider what I must change in my life in order to move forward. It drives me towards healing, towards wholeness. How deeply I want to be healed, to be whole, to be loved.

will find love. I will love. I will be loved. 

First, I will find love in God—who is the Source of Love and who has carried me every step of the way since the first shattering pain over 10 years ago. I will try my hardest to invest in friends who truly care. I will try to build up community and fun and adventure. And then, maybe someday, I will find romantic love with someone who truly values all sides of me, who respects me. And I will not run to counterfeits, because the more I learn about Real Love, the more I can spot falseness.

This isn’t the end. Just because I’ve made many mistakes, just because my life fell apart here in the Springs doesn’t mean my life has ended. I am picking myself up and I am growing and I am thriving. I will not let the suffering of life defeat me.

I will find the Beauty, the joy, the love.

I will be The Girl Who Loves.

A then, finally, The Girl Who Is Loved.



Advent Poem #4: Love

This December, I’m going to write a poem and some thoughts for each week of Advent. Candles will be lit in countless churches across the world, and I will try to meditate in some small way on the themes of each week leading up to Christmas:

  • The 1st Sunday of Advent symbolizes Hope.
  • The 2nd Sunday of Advent symbolizes Peace.
  • The 3rd Sunday of Advent symbolizes Joy.
  • The 4th Sunday of Advent symbolizes Love.

Advent Poem #4: Love

Do not call yourself a hopeless romantic
For to be romantic is to see the world
As it ought to be despite all the darkness

You wish deeper things for the world
You dream to see goodness fulfilled
And love to overcome

You are, in fact, a hopeful romantic:
Living with courageous Christlikeness
in a world gone mad


Photography – Jessica & Ben – Engagement Portraits


Right before I left on my trip to the PNW (which has been amazing so far!), I did an engagement photography session for a couple here in Colorado: Ben and Jessica. They wanted something playful and fun, which fits their personalities well. We decided to do a paint fight. Despite it being a little rainy, we explored the beautiful Colorado countryside and had a ton of fun.

These are some of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken. (Okay, every time I take photos, I think they are my favorite). There were some very special moments during this couple’s shoot, and I truly am so happy I got to be involved in this portrait session.

Jessica and Ben, you rock! :)















Photography by Teryn O’Brien Creative


Photography – Allison & Paul – 20th Wedding Anniversary Couples Portrait Session

It’s been a crazy few weeks for me! For those of you who follow my Facebook page or other social media, you’ll know I got to help shoot a Gungor music video this past weekend. A post will be up for that sometime in the next week. However, first I’ve just got to share some more photos from a photography session I did in June. 

Allison and Paul are celebrating their 20th anniversary this summer, and they wanted to do a a photography session. They haven’t taken professional pictures together as a couple since their wedding! I was so excited to be part of this. Engagements are fun sessions, but I think there’s something so beautiful about capturing a couple’s love years down the road. Anyone can get married, but staying married is the real challenge! :)

Paul and Allison shared about their story while we were shooting. I loved listening to them talk while capturing genuine emotion from them on camera. I truly believe photography is about capturing the real people with a camera (not getting all fake with Photoshop/too much posing, etc). I think Allison and Paul’s fun-loving, playful side came out, along with their definite affection for each other.

I think every couple in love (no matter their age) should do an anniversary shoot! After looking at these, I think you’ll agree.  :)

(For more of my work, visit my photography website.)

Allison&Paul-1 Allison&Paul-5 Allison&Paul-12 Allison&Paul-13 Allison&Paul-14 Allison&Paul-16

Allison&Paul-21 Allison&Paul-24 Allison&Paul-27 Allison&Paul-30 Allison&Paul-31 Allison&Paul-32 Allison&Paul-34 Allison&Paul-43 Allison&Paul-44 Allison&Paul-49 Allison&Paul-51 Allison&Paul-55 Allison&Paul-57 Allison&Paul-59 Allison&Paul-63 Allison&Paul-66 Allison&Paul-67



Book a session with me now!


All photos copyright Teryn O’Brien Creative


Poem #27: You, My Friend

I tell stories about you, my friend.
“I once had a friend who ____”,
or “a friend once said___”,
or “once a friend and I _____”.

Every time I say those two words,
“my friend,”
I ache a little inside.
Because those two words,
“my friend,”
can never capture who you were.

You, my friend,
will always stir my heart
with an ache for beauty and justice
too deep for words.

You, my friend.
will always be deeply grieved,
deeply rejoiced,
and deeply remembered.

You, my friend,
I will sift through
the vastness of your loss
all of my lifelong journey.

You, my friend.
will be the reason I lift my voice
to the heavens and never stop singing
for freedom and love.

You, my friend,
you are in me.
Your laughter drifts through the wind,
and your faith weathers all storms.

You, my friend,
you are part of me.
Your smile lingers on in the stories I tell.
and your heart beats on in the love I live.

You, my friend.


Poem #25: What is Art

What is art
but the unseen prophetic truths of the soul
incarnated in some tangible way?
What is art
if it doesn’t stir the heart
to accountability and action and understanding?
What is art
but the deepest experiences of humankind,
linking us all together in infinite love?



Poem #24: Healing

You are born with a wound of darkness inside.
It isn’t everything.
It doesn’t blot out the light.
But it will fester
as life throws its hate at you,
and the wound will gouge deeper
until it affects everything you do
if you ignore it.

Oh, the things we hide in the dark.

Make room for the light.
Find healing in the deepest parts of you
so the darkness will shrink small,
incapable of destruction.
Embrace the shining through
the cracks in your soul,
and let the beams pierce all others
with only love.


Poem #12: God Is Love

I was a carefree, wonder-filled child growing up,
wild and imaginative and naive.
Everything was simple
and God was amazingly real
and I just knew He loved me.

Then I was an angsty teenager
and some of the simplicity vanished
as I navigated through the awkwardness
of growing up,
but when I found God again
it seemed again so simple to follow Him,
because I’d always been good
[at least good at looking good],
and faith seemed an easy list of rules
to obey to show God how much you loved Him
and make Him notice you.
Read the Bible. Check.
Pray. Check.
Be a missionary. Check.
So I went to Bible school to prove how much I loved God
and to hope that He saw and wouldn’t ever leave.
Because as long as I sacrificed everything,
and killed all my own desires and dreams
that would mean I was enough
in His sight.

I was still just a fresh adult out of college
when a friend was abused in the name of religion
and died inside a cult that broke her spirit with stifling,
conformist spiritual arrogance,
and its extreme rules
that separated families from each other,
and a BOLD belief that they were apostles
that were going to go into the world saving
people from the End Times.
It was like they were screaming at God all the time:
[When actually inside we’re all young and scared
and don’t know how to cope with reality
and are doing really bad things when no one watches
but that’s okay because we’re so LOUD on
the outside, right?]
So don’t question.
Don’t think.
Just believe.
Believe in GOD [and His spokesperson…who is a MALE always
not a WOMAN, so sit down,
shut up,
and listen].
And everything will be alright.”

So I grew up and became an adult,
and began to realize my own brokenness
in wanting all the answers,
and that life wasn’t simple–not at all–
and that black-and-white, cookie-cutter answers
to vastly complex realities
only hurt and damaged people.
God was a living, active Being whose
very definition was Love.
His Spirit was always blowing in beautiful, life-giving directions
away from rigid rules, outward holiness,
spiritual arrogance, manipulation, and abuse.
And that Spirit of Freedom shattered boxes
and broke chains
and freed captives
[I being one of them].
And the only thing we need to shout is:
Peace is found at last
when I stopped desperately trying to please Him
and simply rested in His love.

Then I was wonder-filled child again–all grown up–
wild and imaginative and wise.
Everything was simple
and God was amazingly real
and I just knew He loved me.