Tag Archives: Nashville

Resolve to Live a Life You Can Be Proud Of

From the very first post I ever wrote about Nashville, to deciding to take a giant leap into the unknown just a couple months later,  this city has been home.

When I say the day I moved to Nashville is more of a reason to celebrate than my birthday I truly mean that…I don’t care how cliche it sounds. That move was the start of truly living for me. It was completely unexpected but has truly transformed me more than any other event in my life.

I have found healing …both physically & in my heart.
I’ve discovered the intersection of justice & community.
I’ve learned to live life in all of its messy layers.
I’ve learned what it is to savor life in relationship.
I’m learning what it means to embrace the beautiful mystery of tension.
I’ve learned to sit in the space in between rather than being distracted by the next thing.
I’ve learned to love more deeply from the community of people I get to live life with.

This city has wooed me. And celebrating two years here today is just as incredible & unreal as celebrating one year was. When I look back on my story of my life I see how He has connected all of the dots…how everything that seemed random to me belonged in His plan.

When I stop to think about life over the last two years it is so full my heart is overwhelmed. By His goodness. His plans. His provision. The community He has surrounded me with. It is a story I never even imagined or dreamed, and for that I am grateful beyond words. Sometimes He asks us to go simply so we can find life…so we can come alive. All we have to do is respond.

So if you feel like you’re going through the motions, like you’ve lost the person God created you to be; if you’re frustrated with what is & feel like He’s given you a dream for what could be, take a step out of the boat, live in a place where miracles are necessary, & trust that He wants you to do more than survive. Resolve to embrace every bit of the risk & vulnerability of failing & bring hurt by love in order to live fully awake to the joy of life.

 

I Think I Found the Secret

It was 2 years ago today. I was on the road somewhere between Indianapolis & Nashville. It was a cool but full of sunshine morning & my first mission after checking out of the Super 8 I’d stopped at around 12:30am the night before was to find a Starbucks. A few exits down the interstate with a Caramel Machiatto in hand & my soundtrack set I was ready for the drive to Nashville.

I was on mission “Take a Break from Appleton” & in the middle of wrestling about what to do with the my life. Would I stay at the church I was working at or leave? 6 weeks prior I had been in Nashville when God punched me in the gut with a stranger’s question which left me reeling as I realized I had been ignoring His still small voice for months now.

Truth be told, somewhere my head knew that it was time to move on & my heart knew it was no longer at home in Appleton, but the two hadn’t yet communicated with one another. That phone call or email or text message…whatever it was…came on I-65 somewhere south of Indy that morning. I don’t remember a lightening strike “ah ha” moment, but I know that when I arrived in Nashville later that day I told a friend I had come to peace with the decision to leave my job.

I didn’t know, then, that it was possible for a city to woo me. For a city to be a community that would teach me relationship. For a community to be people that would teach me what it meant to truly do life with others.

I was at the Nashville Public Library yesterday & was taken by this quote from Martin Luther King Jr. on the wall:

At last I’d found words that seemed to perfectly answer the question “why.” Why Nashville? Two years later I now know that it’s because a city wooed me. And a city can woo me because a city is a community. And the movement that has taken place in this community I know today is love. Love that encourages, supports, challenges, & ultimately inspires. If there’s a secret, I think that’s it. And for me, that secret has made all the difference.

I also discovered a challenge on Saturday at the library:

It’s pointless to discover the secret if it doesn’t move me to action. And the time for action isn’t when I go on a hunt for a new secret in a new city in another lifetime. No, the time is now. The place is here. If I’ve been inspired then I’d best do something with it.

 

Throwback Sundays…Learning to Love. Discovering Community. Living Justice.

When I go and sit on the floor in a big circle as we gather for a devotion before heading out I am overwhelmed at what is around me. It’s a group of mostly 20 & 30 somethings, all with incredibly different stories, all from different churches…some not from any church. No one comes out of obligation. No one is getting credit for being there. They come compelled by one thing: love. And that love is the foundation of a community not just among those of us serving but the people we serve as well. It’s grown in size since I first visited but it still feels like a big group of friends getting together to cook some food and give it to those in need. A community strung together by love and a heart for justice. (full original post here)

Parts of that community have thoroughly bled over into other areas of my life here in Nashville. And I love that. Although I haven’t been with them in a while, that community still holds a special place in my heart. I will forever remember it as a group of people & a shared experienced that altered the course of my life.

Do you have communities like that in your life? I’d love to hear their stories!

When Pretense Disappears

It’s Sunday evening. A pleasantly cool spring breeze drifts in through an open window. 12 no longer strangers, not yet friends have broken from conversation to indulge in what, for many of them, is a first love. Some are trying to make it, others gave up on that dream long ago, & still others never wanted that in the first place. But for this moment in time music brings them together.

In a city like Nashville where at times it seems that every second person you meet is a “wannabe rockstar,” social gatherings can be filled with a lot of pretense. You may be picturing a room full of these “wannabes” & thinking that’s no place you’d want to be. I wouldn’t either.

But every so often, you stumble upon true artists. Musicians who are not only extremely talented but who would create music even if they never earned a penny from it. Musicians who write songs & pick up an instrument because it’s in their blood. Music is art for them & art is life. Put people like this…people to whom music is sacred…in a room together & pretense disappears.

Those are moments like that Sunday night when strangers, united by a love of music, become friends. Moments when each artist’s talent is celebrated. When it’s not about a spotlight but about collaboration…a challenge to see what kind of a freestyle song the group can create together…in the moment. A song that will likely never end up on any record or be sung from any stage. Yet it is art. Perhaps even art in its purest form. 

This pure art is what inspires me. It’s what makes the hair on my arms stand up, takes the breath out of my lungs, & leaves me fighting back tears. And when I stop to think about why I’m left with one answer: vulnerability. In those moments of raw creation emotions are vulnerable, hearts are put on the line. It seems to me this group of almost friends understands the sacredness & beauty of such moments, & doesn’t take their power lightly.

It’s experiences like this that remind me at my core why I believe in the power of beauty & art. Why I believe that beauty & art are sacred gifts. And why I believe that we as artists have a responsibility to employ them.

 

Throwback Sundays…The Best Community of People I Know

They are people who I can laugh with, cry with, rest with, worship with, vent to, be silent with, dream with, pray with, work with, be challenged by, and serve with. It is a community that I believe with my whole heart is the reason God brought me to Nashville. It is a community that I get incredibly excited about when I think of how God has used them and will continue to use them for His Kingdom. (full post here)

My community has certainly changed faces in the year & a half I’ve been in Nashville. As life’s seasons change so do relationships. But, community is still strong. It’s one thing Nashville does well – the thing that I find people who move here never knew they were missing until they discover they have it 8 months later. I tweeted the other day that home is where everybody knows your name. And that’s exactly what Nashville is. Most days it feels like a never ending episode of Cheers & I simply love it.

I hope you have good community that you’re spending Sunday with! :)

 

Learning to Love. Discovering Community. Living Justice.

When I visited Nashville a year ago I kept putting off going back to Wisconsin. First I was going to leave Sunday. Then Monday. And finally convinced myself to hit the road on Tuesday.

But after that Monday evening I was sure glad I stayed. I like to think that was God’s plan all along. Because that Monday night God planted the seed in my heart that He might have something for me in Nashville. And that something was community. It was learning how to love. How to simply be. All with the thread of justice running through it.

A friend invited me to come and hang out with what essentially was a big group of friends who got together to make food and serve it to the homeless in downtown Nashville. I remember leaving that night with a million thoughts in my head but blown away by the fact that I had shared my story…a 5 minute, honest, from the heart, version of it…to more people in those 3 hours than I had in probably 3 years. And I didn’t even know those people.

The group now has an official name – People Loving Nashville. And still meets every single Monday night…rain, shine, tornados, snow…you name it.

When I go and sit on the floor in a big circle as we gather for a devotion before heading out I am overwhelmed at what is around me. It’s a group of mostly 20 & 30 somethings, all with incredibly different stories, all from different churches…some not from any church. No one comes out of obligation. No one is getting credit for being there. They come compelled by one thing: love. And that love is the foundation of a community not just among those of us serving but the people we serve as well. It’s grown in size since I first visited but it still feels like a big group of friends getting together to cook some food and give it to those in need. A community strung together by love and a heart for justice.

After missing far too many weeks in a row I made it back downtown last night. And again I was overwhelmed. As I sat in that circle I couldn’t help but think of being there almost a year ago to the day…that first time was actually today…April 26th…and the community that I discovered that night. It was and is one of the most beautiful expressions of being the Church…of living justice…I’ve seen.

I don’t have it all neatly sorted out…perhaps I never will. And maybe that’s okay. But, I’ve discovered this past year that love, community, and justice all seem to go hand in hand. Sure, they can exist independently but their meaning and purpose is most fully seen when they mesh together in messy layers.

I found it fitting last night that the devotion last night was from 1 Corinthians 5 focusing on renewal…about leaving behind the old and living in the new because that is what Christ won for us with His death and resurrection. I have left a lot behind in the last year. A lot that too often I want to drag with me. But God has worked renewal in my life through love, community, and living justice. And it was all planted on a cool but muggy April night in Nashville.