Eucharisteo.

Eucharisteo. He gave thanks.

Root word: charis. grace.

Derivative: chara. joy.

Embarking.

As I took off on my flight from Atlanta back home… I was stunned by the beauty of the sky. The picture above doesn’t do much justice. But the sun was this bright, warm, glowing orb setting after a long day of travel to the airport. I was thankful to make it on my delayed flight (and end up with a row to myself). There was laughter from a happy couple behind me. Young, fun love, I one day hope to have. The flight attendant was kind and making their trip special because it was the man’s very first flight. I couldn’t help but smile.

I turned on my phone to airplane mode (Bye, bye Spotify). I turn to my iTunes and find only 4 songs. I click on the song “Rise” by Jason Mraz… an instrumental piece. But the title was fitting as take off began. I was desperate to tune out the crying baby, because so much of me was ready to complain and be annoyed at the parents of the fussy child.

The headphones were an escape.

I pressed play and up we went. I was suddenly overcome by the beauty of the earth. I fell into this state of awe and attitude of thankfulness. As soon as we got permission to let down our trays, I got out the book I had finished that week on the beach, “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp, and un-creased the folded pages to underline and star my favorite quotes instead of leaving the pages creased.

I re-read some of the most groundbreaking quotes I came across in the book… still amazed at how much the words just cut through to my heart. I was encouraged and compelled to give thanks.

I decided on this flight to begin my journey of naming one thousand gifts.

By the time the flight was descending, I was reading my creased pages from the chapter called “Go Lower“.

“We will be landing in the next 15 minutes. Welcome to Orlando.”

Down, down, down the plane goes.

Meanwhile, I’m reading “…whenever I am parched and dry, I must go lower with the water and I must kneel low in thanks. The river of joy flows down to the lowest places.”

I have been praying against my pride and for my humility a lot lately… but in the very act of that prayer, I felt prideful and self-focused.

 Humility is so shy. -Tim Keller

Extravagant gifts are what humbles us.

I felt the joy of small, childlike wonder when I was giving thanks for the Beauty I had seen in the sky.

The quiet song of gratitude, eucharisteo, lures humility out of the shadows because to receive a gift the knees must bend humble and the hand must lie vulnerably open and the will must bow to accept whatever the Giver chooses to give. -Ann Voskamp

The sky, the Beauty, I was seeing, that compelled me to give thanks, was most certainly an extravagant gift. I cannot close my hand… I cannot keep the grace from flowing on.

 I could share the grace, multiply the joy, extend the table of the feast, enlarge the paradise of His presence. I am blessed. I can bless. A life contemplating the blessings of Christ becomes a life acting the love of Christ. -Ann Voskamp

I was ready to go lower, to land on this earth. As Jesus did. He left the Beauty of the heavens to come down on earth to serve, love, and rescue us… and the let the grace flow on.

“Beauty Himself Completes”

I am excited for this journey of thanksgiving God has called me, called us, to be on. Practicing this eucharisteo will help me to consider what God thinks of me, rather than how I think of God.

I will see His relentless love in everything and everywhere I go.

It is a discipline to unwrap one thousand gifts.

But in one thousand ways, I will fall in love. Fully live!

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:17-18

A handful of things from my lovely pink gratitude journal:

1. Being woken up gently by mom.

3. Dad’s bear hugs.

14. Large, soft comfy Tshirts.

18. Dreamsicle smoothies.

21. Encouraging and being encouraged.

27. Family dinners around the table.

Shout out to Ann Voskamp for compelling me to count to one thousand!

My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.

Pruning…

Not like your fingers when you wash dishes.

Like pruning plants, pruning.

I just find so much satisfaction in this word. Because God tells us this:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:1-3

God will mold and shape us when we remain in, abide, or dwell with Him. He cuts off the parts of us that are not good, that He wants gone so that we will be more fruitful in life.

“But, cutting off doesn’t sound very pleasant. TBH, it sounds more sad, painful and like something I really do not want to be a part of.” But hang with me for a minute.

This past summer, God did a LOT of pruning in my life. I felt so alone. I really just worked, went to class and to church. I thought church would be a safe place… but half the time, I did not even feel comfortable because my friends at home were not really being friends at the time. (Thank God for repaired relationships and examples of how to forgive)

My dad was adjusting to his new job because he had lost the one previous to that. So. Scary.

My family also had to move homes… talk about an emotional roller coaster. I would drive by our old home and cry while listening to “The House that Built Me” by Miranda Lambert because my dogs really are buried in the yard and I really did learn to play guitar upstairs in my bedroom. I was selfish and upset that the new house did not have a room for me (so my fantastic parents had a wall built to make me a room), we have no pool or spacious backyard anymore, and other very materialistic things I had grown accustomed to having are absent from this home. (I like having a smaller home, though. Less to clean, and our family is a lot closer because of it).

Moving made me exhausted

Tuckered out. Moving made me exhausted

It was also the longest period of time I had been away from my great friends in college. Then, when I finally got back to college, I thought for sure I would catch a break from this desert I had found myself in… haha.. hah! I was wrong. I experienced losing my car (due to {expensive} electrical problems and a minor accident) for an extended period of time and losing my church here at college (due to some major division).

WHYYYY?! I did not understand at the time why God had me enduring all of this stuff.

He was pruning.

Cool thing, though, is that at Passion conference 2015 (a HUGE gathering of college students united for Jesus) my community group leader taught us that in Greek the word “prunes” in John 15 literally means cleans or to lift up.

TO LIFT UP?! Wait, what? Pruning is like cutting stuff down, but God is telling me that it means to lift up?!

Light bulb. All of these things happen so that I will learn to remain in Him and therefore bear much fruit.

I have recently watched my roommate go through a pruning process. Poor thing has had two infections from wisdom teeth, lost her dog, lost her grandmother, her car got hit, Enterprise wanted to charge her $500 for the (nonexistent) damage on the rental car, and she has experienced some kind of ear problem.

I cannot even say all of that stuff in one breath. Side note: I have also watched another dear friend here at college struggle with many tough unspoken circumstances in her life.

My roommate came into my room tonight explaining a situation that just really made her heart happy. So much so, that  it compelled her to tears (this girl does not normally get moved to tears over things). Her heart has not been happy in a long time. But this particular situation was something she would have never thought possible. It would not have been possible had all of the other stuff not happened. God is SO GOOD.  She looks back on the past two months of small train wrecks and just thanks God because He knows that she would have prayed for every one of those unfortunate events to happen had she known the end result. Going through it sucked, but God is going to do some AWESOME things in her life through everything He has taught her.

If you feel as if the life is getting sucked out of you, like you’re in a pit, or that the bad days don’t have an end… hang in there, take joy in the fact that God is pruning.

He is lifting you up.

Grenada. Love this picture because it shows beauty in brokenness.

Grenada. Love this picture because it shows beauty in brokenness.

Newbie, Rookie, Novice Writer. The Unknown.

So, I am new to this blogging thing.

My friend Sarah (in the picture with the horse) is studying abroad in Florence, ITALY & inspired me to blog… but she doesn’t know it.

My inspirational friend.

My inspirational friend.

Fun fact: I urban-dictionaried (yes, that is a verb I just created) synonyms for “newbie” and have no idea what this first post is going to be about.

There is beauty in the unknown, I think. I met a girl tonight who I genuinely enjoyed talking to. Her name is Samantha, but she goes by Sam. I just googled what her name means… hoping I could tie it in to whatever I am writing. It is the feminine version of Samuel (which means “God-heard) … and “-antha” is Greek  and apparently means “flower”. If she were a flower, she would be a pleasant one. A brave one… like a rose. She came to my campus ministry’s event for her first time, all alone. To many, that may not seem like a big deal.

Yet, I find it intriguing. I don’t like going to very many things by myself.

For example, I’m looking for a new church in my college town. So I wanted to try out one on Sunday that a couple of my friends told me about. I was going to carpool with my good friend, Jenna. But, she texted me that she was sick and couldn’t make it.

Fun fact/Vulnerable moment: At first, I wanted to be selfish and upset that she couldn’t come with me. But, then thought to myself… if I were sick, I would want someone to take care of me. So, then I offered her a ride to the doctor. She politely declined and I proceeded to find out new church plans.

So, I texted one of the two guys that told me about this church and asked them what service they were going to (because I did not want to go alone). He told me they were going to 11 o’clock service. I checked the weather and put on my Sunday best. I was having a good hair day, too. Which made me happy. I looked up the address to this church and discovered it was in a warehouse. Different, I thought. But, kind of cool. I drove alone. Nervous, but excited. I listened to “The Way” FM on my way there. A lot of people make fun of that radio station… because they are known to repeat corny songs quite often.

Fun fact: I think I secretly like that radio station. It IS calming. 

So I drove to this church and pulled into the parking lot. Which was… different, too. I was kind of sketched out by the warehouse parking lot, but immediately caught a glimpse of two warm welcoming smiles standing outside (the weather was perfect that day).

Despite seeing these smiles, I sat in my car… I was hoping to see my friends pull in so I could pretend like it was perfect timing. I would turn off my car, and walk up at the same time as my friends. I sat in my car waiting to see them for maybe 4 minutes and gave up on that small wish. I thought to myself… “Allie, you are 20 years old. You can walk into a church by yourself. It’s not weird. It’s not weird. It’s not weird. People will greet you. It will be fine. Walk inside, maybe your friends are already in there.”

So after this pep talk I gave to myself, I decided to walk in.

SO.GLAD.I.WALKED.IN.

They were so friendly. I got complimented on my bag and was greeted by 4 people. One lady was so cute and sweet. She looked my age, but was married with one baby girl. (I hope I age like her). She had a cute southern accent because she is from Knoxville, TN (I wish I was from somewhere that gave me a cute accent). My mom is from TN, so I got excited. I was also excited because they gave me a free T-Shirt.

When I got to college, I heard that my favorite four-letter word would be free.

That is a true statement.

And this post is getting loooonnnggg.

My friends got there eventually. After I talked to the greeters, awkwardly walked around inside with a cup of water, fake-texted, and pretended to look for a seat… they finally walked in. I was relieved and happy to have people to sit by. The message was great, worship was amazing, and then we went out to get some yummy lunch afterwards.

Anyways, going to things on your own is TOUGH and AWKWARD sometimes. But, it usually means you are an independent person. Good things often come out of making independent decisions.

Last fun fact: I am becoming more and more independent lately. I drove EIGHT hours all alone to Georgia last weekend. I don’t like coffee very much… but I even got myself a vanilla latte to stay awake (super sweet, but still counts as coffee caffeine). So, yes, I felt sophisticated.

To further my independence and blossom like a flower (-antha)… I decided to blog. I don’t know what to blog about except for my life and funny thoughts. But I am honestly pretty proud of this post.

This is kind of fun. & my word count is about 900 right now. I have reached essay status… bye!

OOPS: One last thing…  I just added “The Unknown” to my title and realized my URL is dearlylovedandKNOWN. Woah. Contradiction.

To clarify:

  • “The Unknown” I refer to in my title is about where God can take me with independent decisions.
  • I am dearly loved and KNOWN by Him.

To be loved is to be known & to be known is to be loved.