Five years ago today I moved a couple of hundred miles west into a new time zone and began to make Nashville my home. That first night in my basement apartment off of West End feels like yesterday. I think about how seasons of Gilmore Girls got me through those first few days of only knowing a couple of people in this big town.

As I was driving downtown this morning for a fitness class I think about the changes over those five years of being in Nashville. How one year ago today I lost the job that brought me to this city, another chapter on my life (and career) closing. I think about the relationships I have begun and ended, both romantic and friendly in that time. I think on who I was when I moved here at 29 and who I am at 34…the growth in every aspect of my life as well as the broad range of experiences that being in Nashville has afforded me.

In five years in Music City I can most assuredly say this place has changed me, and I am better for it. I finally stopped accepting less than in my life and started pursuing more than I can fathom. I stopped believing it was in my power and left it with God (that’s an ongoing thing). I valued friendships above selfish gain and realized that one’s wellbeing is in one’s power to care for.

Five years has shown me so much in Nashville and beyond. It’s given me the opportunity to pursue a new call and purpose for my life, afforded me the benefit of great mentors to learn from in this new pursuit, and shown me that the truest people of your life will stand with you when you cannot hold yourself up anymore. Oddly enough, five years ago I questioned my decision to move to Nashville as I sat among boxes in my new apartment. It’s been a decision I have often questioned over the last five years as well, and one I have dwelt upon over this last year in quiet with God.

I have wrestled in this last year, as this day inched closer knowing it also meant it had been one year since I lost the job that brought me to Nashville. Questioning God’s hand in a situation and circumstance became my banner for a couple of months, and then I turned to seeking what He’d have me pursue in bringing me to this place. While I don’t see it fully, I do know that He lead me here by His doing, and He keeps me here by His hand steadying me along the path He desires for my life. It’s when I attempt to go outside those bounds that He gently guides me back, reminding me the doubt I had five years ago and the control I had to let go of in these moments.

So I celebrate five years of Nashville today, looking at photos of friends made and kept…amazing people I have gotten to know and walk alongside…students I have gotten to see become friends…places that hold dear memories and relished friendships. I think about all the people I count as friend today, that five years ago I did not know, the people still to meet, and the stories still to be written for me in Nashville. I celebrate the breath this city brings into my heart and the joy of the ones whom I hope with. They are the rocks to my roll.

Why I Love Nashville…

We all know I love this town I call home.

But no, I am referring to the show in this post. So you can exit now if you’re not into awesome television. Go on…those of us who enjoy a good show that has some fantastic songs throughout will wait…

Over the course of it’s two seasons, I have had the privilege, nay exuberant joy, of being a part of a taping or two. That’s the thing about the show. They embrace the town they film in. They give back to the city that loves it. We are a snobbish sort here in Nashville. We cannot help it. We are artists, creators, writers, and musicians…we can be picky and we darn well will let you know that too.

We don’t welcome in the elitist. We like the workers. We love the get in the dirt attitude of a survivor. The ones who aren’t satisfied with complete. We champion those who don’t give up after the first go round of being let down.

Maybe that’s why we love Nashville. Why we as a town have embraced the filming. The shake ups of closed streets or using of our workspaces so they can show off this city that has come to love it right back. I also know we love it because it’s a fighter. It won’t go down quietly and that’s part of who we are in Nashville. We fight for our work. For what we believe in. And we believe in this show.

We also believe in the creatives who use this medium to share their work. Maybe it’s because they are so darn personable. Maybe it’s because we see some of ourselves in them. The every day person who is striving hard to succeed, to get to the next step in this town, and we band together in solidarity just from a look.

I can only speak from my perspective, yet it seems this city loves this show. I know I do. Because it’s stars? Well they don’t act much like the star power they carry. I have cheered on a university’s basketball team alongside Lennon and Maisy Stella, and Charles Esten. I have walked past Kimberly Williams Paisley while she was “on-set” at my work, having lunch with the extras. Sam Palladio hangs out at a local coffee shop and is complimentary of students I work with from their interactions with him. Heck, even Broadway star Will Chase high fived me from the stage during a taping at the Ryman the other night, just because I tweeted a joking post at him.

That’s why I love this show…because they reflect this town.

And why you should fall in love with this show too.

The Plane! The Plane!!

On average there are roughly 375 flights that arrive and depart from Nashville’s BNA Airport daily. I would say about 30% of those can be heard from my house, daily. Many times they are low-flying and loud. In the five months I have been here, I have grown used to the sounds. I don’t take note of them nearly as much as I did when I first moved in. My former place was in the basement and I got used to the sound of people walking over my head. Now I no longer have that sound, and it’s odd that I don’t miss it-even though I had gotten used to it.

Do you ever notice that in your life?

You get accustomed to a sound, or a certain spot, or even a person that you often take for granted that it/they were not there before. Lately I have been reflecting on love with that lens. Specifically I have been thinking on God’s love and how familiar it is to me. It’s comforting, filling, and binding in my life.

However, one of my greatest fears as of late is that I have lost the meaning of His love. Because of it’s familiarity and consistency I have become numb to it’s existence in my life. I have rested on the fact of His love being ever present, without resting in His love. Knowledge and belief are two vastly different things, where knowledge can be mistaken for belief. Knowing something is true and believing something to be true are examples of that mistake.

My prayer for this moment is I would bask in His love, believing that His love resides in me, speaking through me, and pouring me out. May I never take for granted the love which so boldly pursued me.

Top Five Nashville Places Friday

In honor of 615 Day here in Nashville, and since it’s Friday (shout to Annie for the inspiration behind what is becoming a favorite thing to write too), we’re doing a Nashville Top Five Places. In case you aren’t aware of 615 Day, it’s celebrating the day of Nashville since 615 is our area code.It used to be my area code when I lived in East Tennessee and in Knoxville for a while, so it seems only fair that I’d eventually come back around to living in the area code once more.

In a year (next week) of living in Nashville, I have developed some favorite places. So enjoy, and if you want to add to the list, feel free!

  1. Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings. Seriously amazing stuff from everywhere, especially in the fall. I could just sit among the farmers and vendors for hours.
  2. Nashville Sunday Nights at Third and Lindsley. I have only been once but listen quite frequently. Local musicians play on Sunday evenings at Third and Lindsley which Lightning 100 broadcasts. It’s a really cool experience. I got to see Gabe Dixon, which was such a treat.
  3. Taco Mamacita. The atmosphere, the location, the service staff, and the food all combine to make my favorite eatery in Nashville a biweekly treat. I almost signed on an apartment located across the street but reconsidered just how obese I would get if I was within 200 yards of Taco Mamacita.
  4. Centennial Park. I love going out there in early fall. It’s just nice to be out there on the grass or walking around the park.
  5. Belmont University. Granted I do work here, but this is probably one of the most beautifully landscaped places I have ever seen. I dare you to not agree with me on that. Check out the rose garden and the beautiful fountains all across campus.

What’s a favorite place for you?