So, today’s your birthday. Naturally, I scrolled through my phone for way too long, trying to find the perfect picture of us that would appropriately display how I feel about you. While that task is impossible, trying to think of a caption that would appropriately describe why I love you was even more impossible. My fingers raced across my iPhone keyboard, and before I knew it, your birthday post turned out to be longer than anyone would care to read on social media (I get that…I’m one of those people who scrolls right through really long posts). I didn’t want to let today pass by without you (and I guess…the world) knowing why you’re special…and why July 15th is on my list of top three favorite days…ever.

There are a whole lot of reasons why I love you.

For one, I love you because you make me laugh. You don’t just make me make me laugh until I start doing that weird shaking thing, which causes you to make fun of me, which makes me laugh even harder until I take off my glasses and show you the tears rolling down my face, to which you proceed to make more fun of me, which makes me laugh even harder and then I forget what hilarious thing you did in the first place. I love you because you take jokes way too far. I love you because you do that thing where you pretend to fall asleep and jerk your head up and look around scared and it just gets me every time. I love you because you love to sing like you’re on Broadway and you make up chants and songs and you ALWAYS join me when I do the same. I love you because you dance to any beat I make…everywhere and anywhere. Speaking of dancing…you’re really good at it. You picked up salsa in like, a day…and everywhere you go, people always make comments about how “that white boy can dance.” I love that you love to dance. I love how serious you are about it, too. When we took that one salsa class, you were so determined. You almost took all the fun out of it because you wanted to get it perfect…and I love you for that. I love you because not only do you want to learn salsa, but you’re adamant about learning Spanish, too. I love that you love my Cuban culture…even when I took you to Miami for the first time and I forgot to tell you that everyone is going to kiss you on the cheek and you freaked out when the first few people grabbed your face and plopped their lips on your cheek. You took it like a champ, and now you got the whole kiss-on-the-cheek thing down-packed. I love you for that. I love how well you adapt in Miami…with my family…and even more so with my granny. I love listening to the half-conversations you guys have. I love your broken Spanish and her broken English and how you guys communicate somehow…it’s clearly all through love and laughter and it makes me fall more in love with you each time. I love how much you love Cuban food—especially pastelitos and croquetas and tequenos, and…oh my…cafecitos. I love how much more you know about coffee than me, yet you ALWAYS let me be in charge of making cafecitos.

I love your appreciation for quality coffee. I love how much you love to learn about origin and roasting and production. I love that you’re teaching me how to grind the beans and make a mean pour-over. I also love that you know how to make a solid latte. I love that only a few weeks after you decided you wanted to pursue coffee full time, you got a job working for the top coffee roasting company in the city. I love that they hired you because of your passion and because they saw how good of a person you are. I love how everyone sees that. It’s so evident. I love how I’ve never met someone who doesn’t love you. I love how genuine and real you are, and how honest you are, too. You’ve never even said a white lie. I love how you’re such a man of integrity.

I love how you ask me every day how I’m doing…but like, how I’m really doing. You tug at my heart. Every day. You ask me what I learned, and what I read, and everything that happened throughout the day. Every single day. You even ask me how my friends are doing…and you pray for them. I love how when I get emotional you get really quiet and just rest my head on your shoulder. You allow me to get everything off my chest without you saying a word…and then you pray for me before offering any advice. I don’t know how you know that’s exactly what I need every time…but it is. I love you for discerning that.

I love how excited you get what I learn something new and I share it with you—especially something I’m learning in the Word. I love that you challenge my theology and make me think things through even if you already agree with me; you pretend you don’t so that I could become an expert in what I believe. I love your intelligence, and how much you read. I love that you know so much about literature. I love when you would call me "darling" while reading Ernest Hemingway's "A Farewell To Arms." I love that you write poetry...and can write a poem about anything under the sun. I love your short stories and how you make me read them and edit them and give you my input. I love that you’re such a good writer and such a strong thinker. I love your imagination and your intentionality. I love that you started listening to audiobooks before bed so that by the time we’re married, you’ll be used to the same bedtime routine as me.

I love that you love to sit at coffee shops and read and write. I love that we love to do the same exact things. I love that our first non-date date was to eat pizza at Amici’s, and we’ve been going there almost every week since then…you even ordered pizza from Amici’s for us when you proposed to me. I love how you are just as excited as I am at the fact that we are going to have pizza (and iced coffee) at our wedding. I love how appreciative you are of my vegetarian lifestyle, and how you compromise meals so much for me, and how you even advocate for it to others on my behalf. I love how you don’t even need to diet, but you got on the Whole30 with me for our wedding because I needed moral support and accountability. I love that you work out with me, and I love that you are teaching me how to do a lay-up and shoot a three-pointer (and once I get a handle on the ball, you’re going down). I love that it took me only about six minutes to convince you to get a matching pizza best friend tattoo with me.

I love that you’re a dreamer like me. I love how you love to brag about me and my travels and you make me share all my stories over and over again to new people you introduce me to. I love your love for other countries. I love your love for international students, and how patient you are through the language barrier. I love how excited you get about trying to learn their language and go over their houses for authentic food, and how you can sit down with them for two hours to have a conversation that should take ten minutes. I wish I were as patient as you. I love that nothing ever really gets you mad. I love that the most worked up you ever get is when you get a parking ticket or when I forget to tell you where to go next when I’m navigating the Google Maps while you’re driving. I don’t know why parking tickets and missing exits upset you as much as they do, but I love that those are, like, the only things that get you worked up. I love how you put your left hand on your mouth when you get nervous on the road.

I love how much you love strangers, and how intentional you are with the people you work with. I love how you pray for your coworkers daily, and how much you care about them, and how you even write short stories based on their characters. I love how big your heart is. I love how much you feel. I love how in tune you are with people’s emotions. I love watching your eyes water when people share their stories with you.

I love how my eyes are watering thinking about you right now.

I love how you love my fiery personality and big attitude, and you don’t get offended when I get all Miami on you. I know I’m a handful and I love that you can handle it. I love how you sit back and smile when I go off on my tangents…especially in class. I love that you listen to me talk about things over and over and you don’t tell me that you’ve already heard it; you act as if I haven’t told you the same thing ten times. I love how much you can talk, and how you always have something to say. I love that when I’m quiet you ask me what’s wrong until I tell you, because you know me being quiet isn’t a normal thing.

I love how unashamed you are of getting down on your face before God when you pray. Your humility has changed the way I worship. I love you for that. I love how humble you are and how quick you are to admit when you’re wrong. You’re so teachable and mature and I look up to you for that. I love how the Word breaks you. Like, really breaks you. I love that you live a life of repentance. I love that you’re always searching your own heart and purging things that shouldn’t be in there. I love that I feel so comfortable communicating with you…even about the uncomfortable things. I love how you purposefully seek out ways to get out of your comfort zone so you can grow as a man and as a leader. I love how you welcome awkward situations and overcome them with awkward humor. It’s perfect, and a win-win for everyone, and I love you for it.

I love how sensitive you are to God’s leading. I love how you hear from Him, and how intimate your faith is, and how your heart is like David’s….it’s so inclined to the heart of God. It’s so evident that He lives inside of you. I see Him in you every day. I love how you love to be challenged in your faith, and how you take every lesson that I learn in my walk and apply it to yours. I love how you’re always looking for someone to learn from, and how fervent you are in trying to grow as a follower of Christ.

I love that in 22 days I am going to be one with you.

And more than anything, I love that there are still so many things that I get to learn about you…still so many things that I get to fall in love with.

Happy Birthday, Taylor Burrington. Thank you for being you.