For the Box

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There is this place that I have called a home.
This place is called O’Henry’s, and it is a coffee shop in dear old Homewood.
It became a home in many different ways.
It first began in high school. When AP Bio took over my life. It became my late night home- a place to study with friends (even though we knew we would still fail the test)
Then it became a place to enjoy each other’s company. A place to chat.
Then it became a home to drink coffee on cold days- or maybe even in the heat of the summer.
and then I went off to college and this place became a brand new home.
A place to come home to, a home away from my real home and my college home.
It began to be a home where I realized all of my dreams.
Where I decided I should have a coffee shop one day. One just like this home. 
and then it became a home where a guy from my childhood days would buy me coffee. 
But that didn’t work out.
I wasn’t bitter though, I still had my home to go to with good coffee and time with Jesus.
It then became my social media home. I felt like I worked  there I posted about it so much.
It became my home and my motto: “all I need is a little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus.”
It became the place where I could hear Jesus while sipping on a turtle deluxe.
and then I met Jesse.
and O'Henry's became a new kind of home.
I wouldn’t stop talking about it to this guy. This guy who was actually interested in the things I had to say, you know?
So on January 7, 2014 this guy that I had a giant crush on picked me up (I still had my boot at this point and one crutch) and he drove me to O’Henry’s. Because he decided that what I think is good and important is good and important to him. 
There we sat. There we drank. There we talked about ourselves and Breaking Bad and everything in between. There the owners and their children (who are actually two of my dear friends) walked in and talked to us. It was our first date, and now it is our place. 
It became my home in the newest of ways. It was the place where 
God blessed me greatly. Where it all really started. 
Now it’s my favorite place. 
and in my favorite place, I wonder what adventures will come next. How it will constantly transform and what homes it will become in each day, stage, and season of my life. I wonder what home it is to those who sit for hours, or those who pop in and out.
In this place there is a box. It is a box of writings. Anyone can put things in there. They write their deepest secrets, they write their stories, they write about Jesus. Today, I wrote on a napkin, and on that napkin I wrote to come to this blog and read this post. Because if I wrote for the box this is what I would write. But I also needed to blog, so why not open up the world’s eyes to not only the beauty of this box but the beauty of this place. 
The beauty of one of the places I call home.
If you ever have the chance, please make a trip to this quaint coffee shop. Any of the three that exist. 
Below is a collage of the box, my yummy drink I got, and a few of the things I found in the box that touched my heart.
 
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The front row

There is this place where I find a bliss that feels as if I am surrounded by an ocean of grace. But I’m not drowning, because drowning means you can’t breathe. This feeling is of a bliss that fills up my lungs. One that makes me feel new again in each moment..in each verse, in each strum.

I call this place the front row.

“Lord I come, I confess. Bowing here, I find my rest.”

It’s where I can do my deepest thinking, my hardest praying, my most unconditional loving.

It’s where I can look up and see them playing and look down and hear them singing.

“Lord I need you, oh I need you- every hour I need you.”

It’s where I can close my eyes and sing along or stand staring straight ahead- always with a smile on my face- and listen in simple quietness as I feel the spirit move-because it moves.

Oh, how it moves.

The front row.

It’s where I can make eye contact off a quick glance or share a smile that could never seem to fade with the guy who is such a perfect constant blessing in my life.

The front row.

“Oh Christ, the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand ”

It’s where I can go into this state where I forget other people are around. I just sink into the presence of The Lord.

One that pulls me out into the deeper waters.

The front row.

“By your grace you are making us faithful….as we worship you, our worship leads us to communion. We respond to Your invitation.”

But they’re there. On that stage, and I watch them be vessels. Without them even taking pride in it. It could be a Sunday morning in the service, or it could be a Wednesday night at practice and I’m still drawn to go.

The front row.

It’s not just about supporting Jesse. It’s way more than that.

“Great is thy faithfulness.”

How beautifully blissful is it that I can support the guy who continuously changes my life while also being poured into by the worship he is letting flow out.

The front row.

“Oh how could it be that my God would welcome me into this mystery?”

It’s my place.
It’s my bliss.
It found my heart.

“Now the simple made divine for any to receive”

Freedom bliss

Freedom.

I need to confess to something.

Lately I have been holding bitterness in my heart and I have been unforgiving.

This is not how my heart loves and this is not how I typically live.

But there was this situation that had my heart full of all of the wrong feelings.

The other day I found freedom from that bitterness and I found true forgiveness in my heart.

It’s not even that I did anything wrong to cause the situation or in the situation, but I have to take the blame of the actions of my heart. Because those were wrong. The ones that were bitter to any hope of revival and the ones that were unforgiving.

But today I felt it even more. I don’t know what it is about sitting in the front listening and singing along to Jesse leading worship, but oh how the spirit moves.

But the spirit moving to ultimate freedom is iridescent and it is blissful.

I know it’s been a while and a lot has been going on lately. A whole lot of good, but also a whole lot of busyness. But that must scream louder than any blog posts that my life has ultimately been blissful.

It’s summer now so I know the blogs will easily be more constant. I just have to make sure my heart is prepared before I pour out. I have to make sure it is spirit lead and not based off of selfishness.

This blog is not for views and it is not for followers.

I’m not saying I’m not excited to see that people enjoy what I have to say or that I’m not thrilled that people follow my posts.

What I’m saying is simply this: the words I write are for an outlet. It’s like a journal. But it’s one that others can see. Because if no one knows my journey, how is anyone really going to know me?

To you who read my words and love my thoughts, I pray that you understand your importance. You all know me. You might even know me a little better than I know myself, even if we have never even physically met. Even if we have met.

Freedom.

That’s what I have found.

This blog is freedom in itself.

And freedom is bliss.

“Your love is like radiant diamonds”

The semester is wrapping up, day by day getting a little closer to the exam that ends my sophomore year.

Currently I am sitting in the library, waiting for the next run of severe weather to head our way, completely brain dead from the loads of studying I just did.

Yet still I can find bliss.

I can find bliss in being next to one of the most important people in my life: knowing he is there to hold me when I’m afraid, keeping me calm in the storm (literally), and providing me with sweet words and coffee. He seems to really get it, you know?

The way to my heart.

I feel like I could write about him for days, going on and on about how much he means to me. How he is the bliss in my life.

I could talk about the countless things he does to spoil me, to express his love for me, and to hold me accountable.

That last one gets me, though.

Never in my life have I had a relationship so centered around the Lord that they would hold me strictly accountable to the things I ask. That’s how it should be, though.

So I pretend to get mad at him, I pout and I bring out my puppy dog eyes, just attempting to win.

But I never do, and I never will.

Because he knows to hold me accountable is what’s right and true.

So Jesse, since I know you need to hear it,

THANK YOU for holding me accountable. THANK YOU for not letting me win.

It shows your heart for me.

I hope you see my heart for you.

This blog has really become my heart. You who read it know that. You pretty much all know my life.

Well, I guess I have been away for quite some time, now. But that’s only because I have had so much school to focus on.

But now you can hear my heart again, and let me tell you, nothing but good has come to my heart.

That overflow I’ve had? It’s grown.

That joy? It’s radiating.

The love? It’s pouring out.

The confrontation and conflict I faced? It lead me to a place where I have grown and abided in the Lord.

The fear of not knowing where to go next? I found where to pour out, and found patience in doing so.

Standing firm? I’ve learned the importance of holding my ground in my faith.

The redemption? I have found its true meaning- its root.

The grace? It’s like an ocean. I’m caught in its rhythms.

Those hopes for the future? My career is already beginning.

My identity? I know who I am and I let it show.

My heart for those with low self worth? I have learned the gift of affirmation. I give it.

Freedom? For it is in Christ that I am free, always. Freely give, but also freely receive.

My art? I realized that I have a gift, so I strive to use it for others and to glorify God.

My music? My heart and passion for worship have been like a re-kindled flame in my life.

My family? I love them more than words. They are my building blocks.

My relationship? It is absolutely the best thing that could ever happen to my life, others even say. Never have I found so much inspiration, motivation, and light in a relationship. People say they’ve never seen me be so much of myself as they do now in this relationship. They say they see growth in the Lord and complete joy.

Bliss- I am freely receiving it, and here I lay down my heart, freely giving it.

My relationship with God? It grows every day. How I love Him, so.

“Your love is like radiant diamonds. Bursting inside us, we cannot contain. Your love will surely come find us, like blazing wild fires, singing your name.”

 

Letter from a concerned mother to Judy Bonner

Kathryn Shewmake:

I find bliss not in the content of this passage, because it is horrible to hear of even more stories like this, and it saddens me that my school would act this way. What does bring me bliss, though, is that people are finally speaking out. It’s time we bring change to this campus.

Originally posted on franklinstoveblog:

Seal whole-red(transpart)

The Franklin Stove Blog blog was linked to at the end of this touching and disturbing letter from an Alabama student’s mother to the University of Alabama President. One person who sent it to Jim Rainey (the Publisher of the Tuscaloosa News)  said that he seemed interested in it. But the letter has yet to be seen in in The Tuscaloosa News.

Dear Dr. Bonner,

I am the parent of Katharine Patricia Smith, sophomore by year and junior by credit at the University of Alabama. Our oldest son went to UA in the late 1990’s/2002. We are not strangers to the UA campus life. I will attempt to be as brief as possible.

When Katie chose to attend the University of Alabama, she had been accepted at American University as well as the other Florida Universities. Her choice resulted in the surrender of the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship and several…

View original 1,494 more words

“The tree I’ll grow to let you know”

“The tree I’ll grow to let you know, my love is older than my soul”

I know it’s been a while.

A while since I had the time to sit down and really pour out.

A while since I have pointed out the iridescent bliss that is so shining in my life.

For that, I am sorry.

The end of a semester marks a time where it is hard to sit down 
and pour out, and I would rather not do it than do it 
improperly.

But today I found the time, and my heart is ready for it.

So now, I will pour out.

There have been a lot of things recently that have brought iridescent bliss to my life, so many things I could write forever about them.

But that’s not exactly what’s on my mind today.
I want you to hear my heart loud and clear because through 
hearing my heart you will witness the bliss for yourself.

 

There have been three constant words this semester:

joy, grace, and overflow.

Let me reiterate, three is my number.

This semester in bible study we have been discussing the Fruit of the Spirit. 

It’s cool because last semester we were told to write on a card what we would like to study.

I wrote the fruit.

 

Little did I know that they would choose my topic, and little did I know the topic would speak loudly in my life.

With every fruit we have studied, I have seen my seasons of the fruits being grown, pruned, gone, and re grown. 

It’s a cool thing how I can pick up my bible and be lead to specific books at specific times without having a hand in any of it.

Jesus is a cool dude.

I always say I think God has the biggest sense of humor. He does things in such a funny way. I appreciate that so much, too.

Every time I have picked up my bible recently I have been lead to a book that applies to my life in this season. 

The best part? All of the things end up connecting back to one or more of the fruit of the spirit. 

 

“We press fruit onto the tree instead of letting it grow. We pretend that we have it, but do we really? It doesn’t have a strong hold or foundation if we do it that way. We can’t grow fruit of the spirit, but we can water it. It’s the Lord’s doing that the fruit is there, but we have the power to grow it.” 
Hearing this made me think, am I pressing fruit onto the tree 
like an elementary craft? 
Or am I taking it from the roots, faithfully watering it 
and exposing it to the (SON) it needs to grow? 

I do hope that it is the latter of the two.

That I am deeply rooted in a firm foundation. That I bear the fruit because it has grown from a seed. That I continuously grow it and take care of it as I grow in my walk.

 

Speaking of my walk:

 

There’s been something on my mind.

I quit the internship quite a while ago, now.

I quit for growth. 

Growth is most definitely what I have gained. 

But now I’m in this place.

This place of overflow as you have heard me talking about.

And I wonder, what should I do with my overflow?

It’s a hard place to be in, for me.

Because I have a hard time being patient (that’s a fruit, you see?)

But I know that I can’t just sit with this overflow and not doing anything about it.

But I also know I can’t go and do something out of my own desire of making a difference.

I want to go where I am called to go and do
 what I am called to do.

It’s hard waiting around knowing I have so much to give but not know how to give it.

I have this talent of using art in my spiritual walk, but mostly it is kept to myself in my journal.

How, I think, might I serve the Lord by using my art?

Or maybe even using my voice, because I have a voice that seriously loves to harmonize. 

There are gifts that I have been given, but now I want to freely give them.

The question though, is how? where? when? 

 

But here is what I have learned.

Here is where my heart is at this very moment.

Here is what writing it down just now opened my eyes to.

Why am I asking so many questions and expecting an answer?

Why should I not just know that my trust is in the Lord and know that He will provide the how the where and the when when the time is right?

Have I not learned anything of His timing this semester?

 

Thanks be to God for the iridescent bliss of trusting in Him completely despite all of the questions circling in my head.
 

I am going to leave you all with this.

A girl in my bible study gave us this comparison last night, and it touched my heart and spirit because I have this love for trees, this love for the seasons, this love for picture examples. Now I want to have this theory as a huge part of my life and future goals.

"We are like trees. They're so full after the rain that they 
drip in overflow. 
They're always growing, 
changing seasons, and being made new." 

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the bliss of the break

There has been bliss overflowing again lately, but last week in particular was extraordinarily full of iridescent bliss.
Those who know me know I want to be a wedding planner.
Those who know me really well know that I have the privilege of planning my sister's wedding.
This is bliss.

For the first part of spring break last week, I got to go to Pensacola and meet with the vendors.

Not only is this blissful because it is a huge step in the planning process and it was very successful,

it is blissful because the vendors were extremely helpful.

They saw how old I am and affirmed me in the fact that I am actually following through with the planning.

that is bliss.

 

and then I went to Panama City with Jesse and his family.

This trip was really great. It was full of bliss because I got to hang out with not only Jesse for a week, but his whole family, and one of his and his sister's really good friends (who is now one of my best friends).

There really is just so much overflow right now.

There’s that word again.

overflow.

 

There’s a lot more I could tell you. I could tell you what all we did and why it was so blissful, but the simple fact of the matter is, those are just all details to add length to the post.
and this blog isn’t supposed to be a list of what I did over the break.

It’s supposed to let you into my heart. 

And the best way to let you into my heart about the break is by letting you see it for yourself. 
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Where the weight does not exist

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There’s something about the sound a river makes against the rocks. The flow of it all. The voices of people cheering for the kayakers. The sound of the paddle hitting the water as they race down stream. The voices of those surrounding me. An occasional conversation sparked from those that I hold close in my heart.

This is bliss.

I have found, in these 20 and a half years of living, that I feel the closeness of God when surrounded by water.

I don’t know what it is about it..but it just fills up my heart.

Maybe it’s that I look around at all of this beauty and I wonder, how could He have even imagined all of this? All of the details, you know?

The moss on the rocks.
The rocks themselves.
The flow of the water.
Even the sound of it moving.
The different shapes and forms of trees.
The different shades of green.

I could go on for hours.

Maybe it’s the fact, though, that in this place there is so much peace.

It’s as if it is away from the rest of the world.

It is this place where the weight of society doesn’t seem to even exist.

It’s His power and glory and majesty that I see here.

It’s His love that I feel..flowing.

Through the hand of a man who lives for God touching my leg…just to remind me he is next to me. Through the occasional glances at him where I see a smile and light in his eyes.

Through the faces of the parents who have raised me. Who have impacted me and taught me. Who have been guided by Christ to unconditionally love me, cherish me, and raise me.

Through the presence of the man who will in 6 months become a part of our family. Where God’s grace and truth have so poured into my life through learning what it looks like to accept someone taking my sister to Chicago.

Through the voice of a dear friend of mine talking to her mother and sitting next to me..because this friendship is absolutely a gift from The Lord.

Through knowing I am here in support of my brother. A brother who means the world to me. Who became so busy with work I haven’t gotten to see him or speak to him nearly as much as I would like. But now we have time to hang out again. Through the knowledge that the relationship of siblings is a beautiful one.

And through the bliss of being able to sit in this place and just write. To let the presence of His spirit and the beauty of this place enlighten my heart enough for me to know it is

Simply,
Purely,
Iridescent bliss.
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you are my hope (the bliss of the night)

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It’s been a while.

A while since I’ve gotten to sit and write.

To Pour Out.

But I knew it was coming. 

and now is the time.

 

Tonight was one of the most needed nights of the last few weeks of my life.

If you have been a part of my life lately, you have seen me in my biggest period of struggle.

So. much. stress. from. school.

I’ve been working on this project that took up all my time, not to mention working on all of my other classes, going to church, spending time with Jesse, and balancing out my social life.

But the stress has ended up bringing me so much bliss.

Now that I’m out of the cloud.

The project? 

- a wedding planning project. Naturally, I loved every minute of it..despite the complaining. 

The other classes?

- I'm doing well in school- there is bliss here.

Church?

- How could I possibly survive without it? I couldn't.
the communities, the fellowship, the worship, the scripture, the lessons, the art that I create while sitting in the services.

Jesse?

- He constantly makes me know that I am going to pull through. That I'm a fighter. That I'm stubborn. That I'm loved. That I'm cherished. That there is hope. That the world isn't ending. That a break is coming. That I am making correct decisions. 
He holds me accountable.

Balancing my social life?

-I couldn't make it without the people I have gotten to spend time with. And even those I haven't gotten to spend time with who I love, I couldn't make it without them either. 

Now, to what went down tonight.

Let me start by talking a little bit about TODAY.
today I turned in my project and Jesse watched me and my excitement for turning in something I worked incredibly hard on! In the process of turning it in I got to talk to three professors who invest time in my life. Who constantly show that they care about me, my future, and my success. Because they know I work hard and care about it.I found out that this summer I will get to take the class that is the MOST IMPORTANT class of my major-and my sister’s wedding is counting for it! I got to talk to my mom about a million times and to my sister for a solid 20 minutes or more. Let’s be real, they were really happy with a decision I made, so it made me really happy! I did what I felt to be right, and they affirmed that decision. That being said, I can’t wait to spend some quality time in Pensacola with them.

Ok, on to tonight.

So I had a girls' night with one of my best friends. Last semester we didn't get to really hang out, but this semester we have had a few really really great times. You know they're a best friend when you can keep up with each other's lives and pick up right where you left off even if you don't text much and rarely see each other. 

We cooked together. We both love cooking. 

It was just so chill and relaxing, and there is so much iridescent bliss in that.

Then we made coffee and sat down on the couch and watched a movie.

Y’all.

I am going to be a wedding planner and had never seen “The Wedding Date,”

so she introduced me to it.

WOW. It is precious, has wonderful quotes, and is such a great movie to just sit and enjoy.

Then we went to Target and got excited over things like new shampoo. 

So we feel like grown ups.

Let's just say, this night was extremely needed.

The rest I got, the friend I got to spend time with. 

 

Then I got back.

and I picked up my guitar.

I haven’t truly played since Memaw’s funeral.

which is going to be ironic for what you are about to read next.

I played, I remembered things, and I just soaked in the moment.

 

& then I opened my bible.

But before I did that, I said

“God give me the eyes to see and the ears to hear. Let me open to what I need to see.”

You will never believe what happened next.

God’s power and control are so transformational in my life.

 

“May the God of hope fill you with all JOY and PEACE as you TRUST in him, so that you may OVERFLOW with HOPE by the POWER of the HOLY SPIRIT.”

On December 31, 2013, my Memaw went to be with the Lord.
The first verse I opened to that night was Romans 15:13.

But there is a catch.

I only read the first half of the verse.

The first half reads, 

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him"

I tweeted it.

Throughout the next few months, I learned a lot about overflow.

It became one of my words.

The word that filled my life, my heart, and my spirit.

Joy has been a constant word in my life for quite some time.

What is the catch here?

The second half of the verse I flipped to tonight.

The same verse that I opened the night my grandmother died.

"so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Did you know that patience has been my lesson this semester?
And what comes with patience?

Peace does.

Did you know that my favorite bible verse is Hebrews 11:1?
Now you do.
It's what I strive to live by.

“Now faith is being sure of what we HOPE for, and certain of what we do not see.”

“May the God of HOPE….overflow with HOPE.”

Now, there aren’t words that I can physically write to you to explain the power I feel and see in this moment.

But maybe, just maybe, you will see it, too.

You will feel the chills that radiate throughout my body as I type. 

Because a single verse was used over months.

Without me even realizing it.

 

He amazes me.

 

and this all, my friends, is iridescent bliss, in the most radiating of ways.

 

I find it funny, that over the course of the last few months I have felt like I am in a limbo state.

This state where I am not being used to the full measure.

But I think I just had an epiphany.

Does God not use my bliss in every post I make?

 

Maybe I have found the purpose I have been looking for lately.

To pour out. To give my heart out to all of you. Because you know what I think is really cool?

 

I have no idea who actually reads my blog.

Even if you are my friend who sees me on a weekly basis, I don’t know that you read it.

I don't know if I am touching your life.
I don't know if I am making a true difference.
I don't know what you think of my words, my stories, my heart.

But does that not keep away pride?

That it does, that is does.

 

To you who read my heart- find bliss in the stress. 

Find bliss in the moments that change you.

Bliss in the moments that radiate and overflow.

Bliss in the joy.

Bliss in the peace.

In the patience.

Find bliss in hope.

 

Because you are my hope. 

Did you know that? 

 

Hope that maybe I am being used to the full measure. 

 

you. are. K N O W N. (blissfully)

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There are some times in life when I feel blessed beyond full measure.

This weekend was one of those.

Where my heart is in a constant state of overflow-

but that’s been happening a lot since the day I met Jesse.

but this blog isn’t just about Jesse. It’s about all these things that are extremely near and dear to my heart.

Discovery 2014. 

My 8th discovery over all.
My 2nd discovery as an adult leader.
My first discovery with Jesse.

These are all important things.

..and of course there are 3 of them.

Because three is an important number here and in my life.

Father. Spirit. Son.

affirmation.

You see, there is bliss in the fact that I have returned to a single church retreat consecutively 8 years in a row.There is bliss in this because it shows how much the weekend means to me. Why, you ask? 

First and foremost, because that is where I gave God total control of my life (see previous blog on my testimony)

But not only that.

Discovery is this weekend to me where I come home to this giant family. 

A family that is in constant growth. So I meet new members of the family every time I return home.

But then I see old faces of those who did life with me, and even older faces of those before me, and I see community in full force.

This is bliss.

Iridescent bliss.

In the fact that three days (there’s that number again) can always impact my life more than any series of events strung together.

That any calling, any affirmation, or any growth that I have had most largely in my life has come from a Discovery weekend.

It's blissful because I go there to lead, yet I am lead.
I go there to help students grow, yet I am grown. 
I go there to impact, yet I am impacted.
I go there to show others that they are known, yet I am shown that I am known.
I go there to live as an example, yet I learn from them as examples.
I go there to support others, yet they support me.
I go there to mentor specific girls, yet they end up being role models to me.
I go there to love, yet I am loved.
I go there to pour out, but I am poured into. 

My second discovery as an adult leader..oh gosh, where do I even begin?

This year was different because I actually embraced the fact that I am considered an adult in these situations.

Last year I struggled with the idea that I was in charge of the entire group- I just wanted to be the friend.

But this year I learned how to be a friend, leader, and in charge all at the same time.

This one girl who is like a sister to me really affirmed me in that this weekend.

There was bliss in that affirmation. In her kind words that expressed a change in the way I live and lead.

It’s always a beautiful thing to be told that you are a role model, and I heard that this weekend.

Those words are the most humbling words.

Because it’s not something that comes naturally.

It’s something I constantly strive for.

and let it be known, I do not, and will not always succeed at that.

and then there’s the fact that Jesse was there.

It made this year something special. He knew beforehand what Discovery really means to me, so the fact that he got to be involved in such a huge way there touches my hearts and sends me into overflow. 
He helped lead worship this year.

If you know me at all, you know that worship means something special to me.

If you don’t know me, now you know something new.

Worship absolutely has my heart.

Ever since around 7th grade, if you asked me how I feel God the most, I would answer:

W O R S H I P. 

There’s something iridescently blissful about watching the man who means everything to you lead you in something that means more than everything to you.

It's perfection to me, the way he plays, sings, and leads.

The way God moves in the room the second he hits the stage.

Jesse, be affirmed from this.

I know you’re reading this, so know that I am more than proud of you. Of the man you are and the way you follow the Lord and his calling. Of the way you live and walk in your faith. In the way you encourage and motivate me to always be the best version of myself.Be affirmed, because affirmation is bliss, and you are 

I R I D E S C E N T   B L I S S 

to not only me, but to the world. 

so there we have it.

The  T H R E E  important things of this year’s discovery.

three. 

Father. Spirit. Son. 

Know that you are KNOWN. 

Known and loved beyond belief.

Find bliss in this. In the joy of being known.