Saturday, August 29, 2015

Nashville: Day One

The other day I had so much fun recalling the details from the first day of our trip. One of my readers asked if I was going to write about the whole trip. I wasn't planning on it. But had so much fun writing that post and hearing from all of you, that I have decided to do a weekly (no specific day just when I feel like writing) post on our Nashville Trip.

After a good night's rest, Ann and I crawled out of bed. We carefully selected the clothes for the day and got ready for our first official day in the great city of Nashville; the city of bright lights and country music. We had reservations for a tour of the Ryman Auditorium for later in the morning.

After we enjoyed a nice continental breakfast at our hotel, Ann and I headed out the door. Along the way, we stopped in some tourist shops. One of the first doors we walked through was a fun little t-shirt shop. Ann spotted a yellow t-shirt with the words Nashville emblazed on it. Yellow is Andrea's favorite color. She found a mirror in the back of the store and tried on the t-shirt. She decided she liked it so we headed to the checkout counter where she paid for her shirt.

We walked out the door and turned to our left. Eventually we spotted a statue of ELVIS. We asked some passer-byers if they would take our picture for us. They were much obliged and did just that. Ann and I each handed them our cameras. They snapped our pictures, handed us back our cameras and then were on their way.



Ann and I continued on our way. As we were walking along, we heard a female voice say "Don't step on that hottie." Ann turned around to see a picture of her country boyfriend Luke Bryan imprinted on the sidewalk. She echoed the same words that the other lady stated just moments before.

As we followed the map on my phone, I took a left turn passed the Bridgestone Stadium.  After not many steps, I realized that we were going the wrong way. Ann asked me if I knew what I was doing. I replied that I did. We turned around and started heading in the right direction towards the Ryman Auditorium.

Before we knew it, we saw the beautiful red brick building; the Ryman Auditorium standing directly in front of us. We followed the signs to the entrance; to where we would check in for our tour. Ann and I checked in and worked our way up a very ornate staircase. At the top, we waited with the rest of our tour. Eventually the clock struck 10:20 am and we were off on our tour. We huddled in closely to listen as our tour guide told us the history of that historic building. The colorful stained glass windows' vibrant hues of red, blues, and yellows were the first item that jumped out at me. From the moment we had walked in, they had caught my eye.




The tour guide continued to guide us through all the little nooks of the Ryman. Eventually we found ourselves standing on the front of the stage smack dab in the center of the infamous circle. Ann and I decided to have our picture taken in that spot. We paid the photographer and then each picked up a guitar as he snapped our photo.

On our way out of the building, our eyes caught a statue commemorating the beloved friendship of Minnie Pearl and Roy Acuff. Next to the statue was a kiosk where we picked up our photos. After receiving our photos, Ann and I walked back out into the Nashville air and headed straight for downtown Nashville.

Once downtown, we decided to tour the Johnny Cash Museum. Inside the museum, Ann and I listened to the history of Johnny Cash. We were only inside the museum a few minutes when my pocket began vibrating. I looked to see who it was and knew that I had to answer it. I took care of the phone call and tried to get them off the phone as quickly as possible.After I hung up the phone, we continued on through the museum. Before us were so many of his items; Johnny's historic red, white, and black cowboy boots, the sweetest heart box given to June one Valentines Day, the collection of his albums and so much more.




Once we finished at the museum, we decided to have lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. As we were crossing the street to the Hard Rock, sirens began blaring. Ann and I looked to our right and saw an ambulance parked next to a taxi where they were carefully placing someone from the taxi into the ambulance. We moved on and went inside the cafe. Inside, we found out there was a short (15-20 minute) wait so we waited. Before we knew it, our buzzer was blinking and we were being seated. Ann and I perused over the menu and placed our orders. We each decided that since we were on vacation, we would indulge in an adult beverage. Mine was this southern tea that came with a cucumber as the garnish. I didn't realize it was a cucumber until I pulled it out of my glass. The drinks were way too strong for us that most of our drink stayed in our glasses on the table.

After we finished our meal, I went to pick up my souvenir; a Hard Rock cafe mason jar. Then Ann and I headed to the larger Hard Rock store next to the cafe. Ann found a cute teddy bear that we decided to purchase for Mom. We named him "Nash". Ann also found herself a t-shirt. Once our purchases were made, we headed back outside. The hot sun beating nicely against our skin.

We turned right down the sidewalk passed many historic Nashville bars. We quickly spotted the Wild Horse Saloon. But unfortunately the sign outside said they were closed until 4:30 pm for a private function. We had a few photo ops with the horse outside the Wild Horse and then ventured on our way. We walked back to our hotel.

Ann and I rode the elevator to the 7th floor. We got off, turned right, then left down the hallway to the door of our room. We slid the key into the door. Inside our room, Ann and I changed into our swimming suits. Then we rode the elevator down two floors to the 5th floor where the swimming pool was. The water was cold so we slowly took one step at a time into the water. Once in the water, after a few moments of moving around, the water warmed up. Ann and I raced each other from one end of the pool to the next. It reminded both of us of the many times we went swimming with our neighbor kids growing up in small town North Dakota. Ann got out of the pool, wrapped herself in a towel, and took a quick photo of me in the water.

Swimming was a great way to cool off on a hot Nashville August day. After drying off, Ann and I headed back upstairs to get ready for our night. A friend had recommended to me a place called "3rd and Lindsley" so we had purchased tickets to see the Time Jumpers play there later that night. We left our hotel at approximately ten minutes after five. The doors at 3rd and Lindsley opened at 5:30 pm. By the time we walked the three-four blocks there, the doors were already opened. Ann and I weaved our way through the tables and chairs trying to find a great spot to sit. We came to a table where two other couples were seated. They asked us if we wanted to sit with them and we said sure. The older couple across from us told us all about the Time Jumpers, Vince Gill and so much more. Even though the doors open at 5:30 pm, the band didn't come on until 9 pm.

We introduced ourselves to all the individuals at our table. We found out the husband from the other couple drives bus for many of the stars. Throughout the evening, we conversed with each other and found ourselves munching on appetizers to pass the time. As we were passing the time, Ann turned to me and said "That girl over there was on the Voice." I thought she was silly for thinking that. I said "Why don't you ask her?"  But Ann was too chicken she kept asking me to ask her, but I wasn't going to give in. But then my curiousity got the best of me and I asked her. She was indeed on the Voice. Her face lit up when she realized that we knew her from the show. Her name is Allison Bray. Allison then came and took pictures with both of us. She also invited us to come back tomorrow night as she would be singing as part of a young country showcase.

Around 8:30 pm, Vince wearing khaki green shorts, a red polo top, and slip on shoes, walked onto the stage with his guitar. He quickly checked his sound and then went backstage. This girl who has loved him her whole life was totally fan-girling!!! Soon the clock struck 9 pm and the Time Jumpers along with Vince came onto the stage. Their music filled the room as we all listened intently. Then one of the band members introduced Vince by saying "This guy has done everything in the book and then he joined a band he knew nothing about." Laughter quickly filled the room. A smile formed on Vince's face.

Vince's smooth voice began belting out one of his beloved songs. Goose bumps began to form on my arms as I listened to him sing. His voice filled the room and covered us in the deep warmth of his vocals. I seriously didn't want the singing or the night to end.




After an hour, they took a break. Ann and I went over to their merchandise booth and bought a copy of the Time Jumpers CD. Thirty minutes later, the Time Jumpers including Vince came back onto the stage. They invited a few young artists to come up on stage; one of them being Crystal Bowersox from American Idol. At midnight, Crystal was turning another year older and some friends had given the band her name. Crystal came onto the stage, hugged Vince, and then together Crystal sang with Vince and the Time Jumpers...a birthday I am sure she will never forget.

At 11 pm, the concert was over. We were sad to see it end. Ann and I walked quickly back to our hotel as it was dark out. Once at the hotel, we rode the elevator back up to our room. We slid the key into the door and stepped inside. I looked at the FitBit on my phone. We had successfully walked 10,650 steps; 4.59 miles; burned 2634 calories and were active 74 minutes.

It had indeed been a successful first day!

















Thursday, August 27, 2015

Dreaming of My Own "Happily Ever After"

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today's prompt is "Alone." Write for five minutes; unedited.

I heard the word prompt tonight and so many emotions begin to bubble up inside of me. Next week I will turn 37. I am still single; still yearning yet to be a wife and a momma. It is something that I have always wanted. And I see those around me; friends of all ages in their homes with their families and I can't help but ask. When will it be my turn? Or am I going to be alone forever?

I come home each night to an empty house. I lay down in my bed no one to cuddle up next to. I often spend my Friday Nights watching a movie or television show alone on my couch.  Sometimes the tears stream down my face. It is not at all how I pictured my life as a 37 year old. I have always imagined my life as a woman with a husband, 2.5 kids, a dog, and a house surrounded by a white picket fence. I have always dreamed of my very own "happily ever after."

God knows the desires of my heart and hears them. Yet there are days that my loneliness is more prominent and I sometimes question if God hears them at all. I know God does hear them.....but sometimes especially when I am so lonely that is so much easier said than done.

Tears stream down my face. I wonder when it will be my turn. I wonder if I will always be alone. I wonder if I will ever get to be a mom. I wonder if my house will always be so quiet. I wonder when my time will come. I wonder....but then I put all my trust in a God who I know hears the desires of my heart and who knows what my heart holds; a heart that holds the promises of God and knowing  that I am not alone because God walks with me every step of the way and also puts individuals in my path who also walk with me.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Our Trip Was Only Just Beginning....

Joining in with the online discussion on the book "On Being A Writer" by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig. Today we are working through Chapter 4: Notice. Why is noticing important? How can we improve our noticing skills? Why and how does noticing enhance our writing lives?

I carefully packed my clothes away in my red suitcase. After double-checking our lists, I zipped up the suitcase and set it against the wall. My sister's lopsided suitcase with the broken off leg leaning gently against my suitcase.

My alarm clock rang with its annoying buzz the next morning as I headed off to worship. Dear sweet children gathered around my feet for the children's sermon. After worship, we headed down stairs past the quilters room and Brides room into our gathering space. We sat and broke bread together. The hours after worship seemed to crawl by much like a very slow turtle.

Finally the clock struck 2:30 pm. A text from my dear friend CT came through on my phone. She was on her way to pick us up. Ann and I stood by the door, suitcases by our side, waiting not so patiently to get our adventure started. CT arrived. I quickly locked the doors to my house. Then we loaded the carefully packed suitcases into her car. She dropped us off at the airport but not before wrapping each of us in her arms as she hugged us goodbye.

CT drove off and Ann and I stood in line. I successfully went through security while Ann was taken off to the side. Not exactly sure why she was pulled out but after a quick check, she was also waved through. We each grabbed our items out of the security bins and slipped our shoes back onto our feet. Then we found our seats and waited for our flight.

Finally the plane arrived and we began boarding for our flight. The first half of our flight from Minot to Minneapolis was extremely short just enough time for the flight attendants to pass out snacks and beverages before we were descending down into Minneapolis. After landing, we got off the plane and walked from our current gate to our next gate and almost immediately began boarding our flight for Nashville.

After finding our seats, we soon were taking off. I grabbed onto the chair in front of me until we were at our cruising altitude. In the air, we looked out the window. A sea of fluffy white marshmallow clouds was sprawled out in front of us. It felt like we could reach out and touch them.


Soon we were descending into Nashville. After landing, Ann and I found our way to baggage claim where we picked up her lopsided suitcase. I had carried my suitcase onto the plane as a carry-on. After a few moments, Ann spotted her suitcase. She wound her way through the crowd of people waiting and grabbed her suitcase. With suitcases in hand, we walked out into the hot humid August Nashville air. Luckily we found a cab waiting area and there was no one in line. The attendant told us the cost of the cab ride $26, loaded our suitcases into the cab, and then the cab driver opened the door for us. We got into the vehicle and sat down.

On our way to the hotel, the cab driver asked us where we were from and if this was our first time in Nashville. As we drove along, we sat glancing out the window, taking in the sights and sounds of this new place we were now visiting. Before we knew it, we arrived at the hotel; the Hyatt Place which is only three years old and used to be a parking garage. It was so close to downtown Nashville that we could walk everywhere.


A concierge was waiting on the sidewalk as the taxi driver pulled up. The concierge pulled our suitcases from the taxi. We paid the taxi driver and thanked him for our ride.

Through the glass doors, we entered the hotel into the lobby of the hotel. In front of us, behind the front desk, stood this wall full of words describing the city of Nashville: music, bright lights, etc. We took in the wall and our new surroundings as we waited. Finally we were next in line. And we soon were checked into our hotel.

With our keys in hand, Ann and I wheeled our luggage...well kind of wheeled since Ann's one leg was broken off...to the elevator. We pushed the round button for the elevator to come to us. It came. We stepped into the elevator and pushed the button for the 7th floor. The elevator ascended. We stepped out of the elevator, turned right, and then turned left down a long narrow hallway. Soon we arrived at the door to our room. We slid the key into the door and opened the door.

Ann and I sat down our luggage and inhaled the landscape before us. Right as you came in the room, the bathroom was to our right. Taking a few more steps, there was a couch set before us much like a living room. On the bottom shelf of the bookcase, lay a hard covered book about Nashville and its many sights. On the top shelf, lay a soft white blanket. Standing next to the end of the couch was a room divider. On the other side of the room divider were two queen side beds with an end table between them. On the opposite wall was a closet. Next to the closet was the television which stood on a dresser. There also was a small refrigerator which stood on floor near the dresser. Next to the dresser was a full length mirror. Next to my bed was a huge picture window. With the curtains open, the view out that window was the view of a rooftop pool at a neighboring hotel.

Next to the closet was a little nook. That empty space next to the closet became the place where all of my belongings were sprawled out throughout the week...my suitcase, souvenirs, my shoes and the list goes on. The space next to the couch became the area where my sister laid out her belongings during the week.

After a long day of traveling, our stomachs were growling for food. We took the elevator down to the hotel lobby and to the restaurant/bar in the hotel. We perused over the menu and then placed our order; a cheese quesadilla. The waiter asked us where we were from and we told him North Dakota. He smiled back at us and said I can tell. (Apparently we had a pretty prominent accent!) Our order came. We bit into our food; the ooey gooey cheese tasted so good in our mouths. We quickly devoured our food.

Once our meal was finished, we rode the elevator back up to our hotel room. After sliding the key in the door and entering back into our room,  we changed into our pjs, pulled back the covers, and crawled into our beds as we drifted off to dreamland. Waking up refreshed and renewed for what would be an epic joy-filled fun week in Nashville together.

Our trip was only just beginning.....

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Clover Honey

Children being bullied at school. Politicians spewing hateful words at each other. Music and lyrics sometimes full of unkind words. Using our words not for good, but rather for evil. And as I hear these stories and these words being hurled forth, my heart aches as I think about the impact and power of our words.

As a child, I was a kid who was teased relentlessly. Tears often would stream down my face as I heard those vicious words hurled at me..."Cry baby" "Orange Juice Spiller" and the list goes on. But the truth is, that as I have steeped myself in the word with the Word, I have realized that I...and we...can turn this around.

In Proverbs 16; verse 24 (The Message translation), we hear "Gracious speech is like clover honey---good taste to the soul, quick energy for the body." Oh how true those words are. (God has a funny sense of humor too. Today I went to open my Bible app to look up this text and guess what was the verse of the day. You guessed it: Proverbs 16:24) Just this week, I have read replies to two of my comments on friend's blogs. Their simple words back to me---"I simply adore you friend" and "You make me blush"-- have covered me in love and have felt like sweet honey replenishing my soul. I don't know about you but I want more of those kind words!! 


I know that we all don't experience those kind words. Sometimes we experience hateful hurtful words that bitterly hang in our hearts and in our ears. I think of the story I shared in my post the other day when I shared of the individual who said some pretty hateful things to me at my writing group at the local library several years ago. Those words were a bruising to my heart and to my ego. Those are not the kind of words that God calls us to share. God calls us to be kind to one another...to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Because the kind words we share with each other are pure gift. 

"Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift."--Ephesians 4:29 (The Message)

Yes, each word is pure gift, but I am guilty of not always using my words for good. I sometimes listen as others are unkind to their neighbor. I may not say anything unkind, but I also don't always speak up either. I also sometimes have a hard time saying kind things when someone is unkind to me. I have been known to raise my voice. Yet God still calls us to be that kind voice even when that is not always the easiest thing to do. But, my friends, I want my words to give life. I want them to be as sweet as honey to your soul. I want them to lift up rather than tear down. I want them to embody the gift of the Word in our lives. And I want this space to be that too! 

I am reminded of the lyrics from Christian artist Hawk Nelson's song "Words." "Words can build us up. Words can break us down. Start a fire in our hearts and put it out. Let my words be life. Let my words be truth. I don't wanna say a word unless it points the world back to you."


 May we use our words for good and to point the world back to the WORD!

Linking up with these lovely ladies today: 

 

 




Monday, August 24, 2015

Surrounded by Amazing Bloggers and Friends

Joining in with the online discussion on the book "On Being A Writer" by Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig. Today we are working through Chapter 3: Surround--I surround myself with people, activities, and books that influence my writing. I am so very thankful for the friendships God has orchestrated this year as I have been surrounded by amazing people, places, and things!


These words echoed in my ear as I read them this past weekend. I find I surround myself with people, places, and things that help me to live this quote out in my daily life. I surround myself with amazing friends and family who allow me to talk about things in my life that I am currently thinking about. Sometimes our conversations lead to a blog post.

I also surround myself with awesome books. I have always loved books and continue to love books. Long before I read Ann Voskamp's book "One Thousand Gifts," I began a Sunday series on my blog titled "Sunday Blessings." But after reading Ann's book, my series was even more solidified. Each week I keep a list on my phone of the blessings I encounter and then post it on Sunday evenings. I also read Annie F. Down's book "Let's All Be Brave." That book led to a blog post after I read it in just a few short days. That book is a book that spoke to me especially this year since "brave" is my one word 365 for 2015. I recently picked up "Wild in the Hollow" by Amber Haines, "Searching for Sunday" by Rachel Held Evans, and "For the Love" by Jen Hatmaker. Books all recommended by other bloggers. I also am currently reading "Orphan Train."

But, not only, do I surround myself with books, friends, and family, I find myself surrounding myself with more and more bloggers. Because I have come to realize that these people are "my people." They remind me of the gifts that I bring. They challenge me to be a better writer when I read their posts and want to sound as elegant as they do. But mostly they understand me and what I write about...God, faith, my family, my friends, singleness, mental illness, yearning to be a mom and wife, adoption...and the list goes on and on.

I met many of these woman through the Write 31 Days challenge last October. I spent those 31 days writing about "Being a Daughter: 31 Days of Mental Illness. I met Theresa Moma because her 31 day series was about her battle with depression. I met Dana whose words are always so beautiful and speak straight to my heart. And as the year went on...I have met others through the snail mail party and through Five Minute Friday. And I actually wait for new posts from so many of these people. (Susan, Bethany, TammyMelissaAnnaKate, Jen, Janel, Karrilee, and so many more. I wish I could list you all! I love you all!) Karrilee and I have so much in common that it could only be a God thing that our hearts have been united. And I believe that about all of the other woman as well. Only God could orchestrate these surroundings for me!


Each week, I often link up with some of my most favorite writers. These are writers that I want to to be more and more like. I am so thankful for the many who have shared their testimonies of faith over at Holly's place every Tuesday. I am so thankful for Kelly and the RaRa Linkup over at Purposeful Faith. Some of the best cheerleaders in the world! I am thankful for Holley Gerth and Coffee for your Heart. But, to be honest, my most favorite of all is the lovely Jennifer Dukes Lee. Jennifer always writes words that speak to my heart. And the funny thing is she attends the church where a seminary friend was their intern. Jennifer's words always weave together like a beautiful tapestry of words. I want my words to do that too! :)

There are so many more that I could write about, because I feel like each of them in their own ways surround me with stories and words that help me to write especially when I am feeling like I have NOTHING to say! I think there is so much power when we can inwardly and outwardly share our stories. I wouldn't have met so many of these wonderful people if I hadn't decided to be vulnerable and share my family's story of mental illness. I wouldn't know how to live if people like Andrew and dear Kara Tippetts didn't share what it is like to live with an awful illness. May dear Kara rest in peace and may we all surround ourselves with people, places, and things that help us to answer the question on the header of Kara's blog: "What will you do in the mundane days of faithfulness?"--Martin Luther.






Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday Blessings 94

(1) Voxing with some of my faves

(2) Receiving fun mail from my friend EG.

(3) FMFpartySnailMail from my friend MH

(4) Fresh tomatoes from the church garden. I made yummy BLTs!

(5) Church picnic and one last Smore summer worship.

(6) A goodbye hug from a sweet little one.

(7) Getting a phone call from my daddy. I haven't talked to him in awhile!

(8) Blessing my friend JK with flowers today as her and her hubby had a soft opening on their new store. I love making those I love smile!!!

(9) RS telling me that I only looked like I was in my early 30s when I told her I was almost 37.

(10) The sweetest Vox bank from TM's daughter M2.

(11) Ran to Barnes and Noble to pick up a few books. A guy's huge pickup made it hard for me to get into my car. It was really tight. He came out to grab something and totally apologized and also told me to have a great day!!

(12) Ordering a book on my Kindle and finding out it didn't cost me a thing because of a promotion.

(13) Reading on my patio. Enjoying these last days and weeks of summer.

(14) Much needed rain

(15) Papa Johns Pizza

(16) Texting with MW.

(17) Knoephla Soup

(18) Being treated to breakfast

(19) Return of the Great Food Truck Race.

(20) YOU!!!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Finding Your Voice

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung on her blog Heading Home. Today's prompt is "Find." Write for five minutes; unedited.

I heard the word prompt tonight and I immediately knew where I was going to go with this word. This post is dedicated to those who feel like they have lost their voice, thought they never had it or just simply can't find it at the moment.

As a writer, I think it is so easy for us to get caught up in the comparison game and to think we don't have anything important to say. But the truth is we all have something to say. We all have different gifts. We all have a story worth sharing. There is power in hearing those words "me too!" Yet fear has a way of creeping in--fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of---and giving us laryngitis.

Though God has a way of giving us our voice even when we think we have nothing worth sharing. I am reminded of how in Scripture we hear the words: "Ask and it will be given to you; Seek, and you shall find; Knock, and the door will be opened onto you." God has a way of giving our voices back to us especially when we ask for God to give us the words we need to speak.


Yet there are also going to be times when we think we cannot find our voice at all. It is especially during those times that I believe we will need to trust each other. We will have to give words to each other's stories as we speak for each other. The truth is that God sent Jesus to be a voice for the voiceless...to speak for the downtrodden, the lost, and the vulnerable. And in our own vulnerability, God calls us to give voice to each other's voicelessness.

"In life, finding a voice is speaking and living the truth. Each of you is an original. Each of you has a distinctive voice. When you find it, your story will be told. You will be heard."--John Grisham