nashville

The House Concert

A couple of weekends ago I hosted my first house concert in my backyard.

Jenny Teator moved to Nashville last summer from Missouri. I had seen her play at The Mission and loved it. Some mutual Missouri  friends connected us and a few weeks after she moved here, she and I shared a pizza before her first writers round at Bobby’s Idle Hour in Nashville. We were instant friends. When the girls decided to take a house concert tour – my backyard immediately popped into my mind. My backyard would be their first stop as they moved up the east coast. We set a date and made it happen.

The day started slow and sunny. The weather was perfect. Weather in Nashville had been anything but spring like lately so it was SUCH a gift the weather came through. Days like these are almost as exciting as Christmas Day. I love transforming spaces. Creating spaces for people to feel welcome and enjoy life might be my life’s greatest work (next to teaching).  What fun it is to dream up a space and then to see it come to life. Not to mention the amazing talent that would perform this night! I have some amazingly good- with-details friends that came over to help make my vision come true. We strung up lights in the trees, re-purposed the original windows from my house, moved some furniture around, and with enough blankets, the backyard turned into a cozy outdoor living room.

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A dear friend custom made this furniture for my back porch! I love it.

 

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Ready for people!

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Neighbors and Friends

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All were devoured

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Details.

 

With a sweet crowd gathered,  the fire ablaze, lights on, smores and snacks on hand, it was time to get the show started.

Jenny Teator, Sheridan Gates, and Meg Williams are three incredibly talented women. Their ability to craft authentic and raw lyrics with such a soulful sound is a GIFT.  These ladies can rock and harmonize with ease! With songs about loving yourself first, terrible pickup lines, and being a bold female- they sing from experience and are unapologetic about it. They each took a turn singing their own tunes and my favorite part was hearing the story behind the songs. I love how the stories create connections to the audience- this gives the audience a chance to relate and participate with the artists. These ladies definitely left the crowd wanting more.

 

 

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Meg Williams, Sheridan Gates, and Jenny Teator

 

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Ask me about the truck …

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The music was over way too soon, but what a sweet time of socializing that followed.  Between the artist’s friends, my friends, and my neighbors, new connections were made and conversations flowed.

As the night winded down, my closer of kin stuck around to watch the fire dance and the stars come out. It is nights like these that fill me with pure joy. I am reminded how full life is. It was nice to pause from the busyness of the school year ending and soak in the presence of my people and sweet music.

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I am continually in awe of what Nashville ushers into my life. There was a moment I wish I would have taken more pictures, but was glad I stayed present. I will revel in this night that will go down in my book as a truly spectacular evening.

 

Keeping making it beautiful yall,

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Sheridan, Sara, Jenny, and Meg

 

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Unapologetic

I remember dating a boy in high school who called me out for saying “sorry” too much. He kept asking me, “What are you sorry for?” I didn’t have a legitimate answer or reason. I remember in college a close sorority sister and still best-friend today sternly said, “Quit  saying sorry when there’s nothing to be sorry about, it’s unattractive on you!” A close Nashville gal of mine says, “Save your sorrys.”

I identify as a type two on the Enneagram.  (I encourage you to keep reading and then go back and explore this wonderful spiritual tool.)

My core need is to belong and to feel wanted. Growing up I achieved this need by people pleasing. I could become whatever people needed me to be. I would drop everything to be there for just about anyone.  As I have grown into a more secure woman today, I noticed my sorrys were coming from a place where I thought I lacked something. A place where I felt I was not enough for people. Enough for love. Enough for friendship. Enough for connection. Saying sorry was like insurance to myself and to the other person to make sure that I was wanted. That they still needed me.   These sorry stories stuck with me and would always pop up as a reminder, “Why do you keep saying sorry?” “Is this a situation that actually deserves a sorry?” Becoming more aware of my tendencies and motivations behind what I say, think, and feel has completely changed how I handle conflict, relationships, and my self-worth.

As a type 2, I take on healthy characteristics of a type 4  when I am in security or health. This means I can access my true authentic creative nature and help others altruistically. I acknowledge my own needs and feeling first, before helping with someone else. When in stress I disintegrate into the unhealthy characteristics of a type 8. This means I can become reactive, controlling, self-righteous, and in some cases a straight.up.bulldozer. I love what my favorite Enneagram author Suzanne Stabile says about types in stress and security: “You cannot take care of yourself without the behaviors of both numbers.” When I am a healthy two I know, think, and feel that I am loved and that I already belong.  I operate from a place of unconditional love with good boundaries.  The healthy side of a four gives me permission to go inward and recognize my own needs and feelings, which makes me a better empath, partner, friend, co-worker, leader, and teacher.  This permission allows me to spend evenings alone in solitude and peace and not feel alone. The healthy side of four also allows me freedom for greater creativity where I foster from a place of joy, which produces beautiful writing, songs, art, thoughts, and new dreams. The healthy side of an eight allows me to say “no” without overthinking (meaning I don’t wonder if the person(s) I said “no” to are going to think less of me or never ask me again). This healthy eight energy helps me advocate for myself. This healthy side of an eight allows me to lead with a confident assurance- that regardless of the outcome, I believe what I do matters and the core of who I am is unaffected. What a discovery this was for me. It’s like having superpowers you never knew existed.

This leads to my word for 2018: unapologetic.

Recognizing and embracing how the best parts of me can also be the worst of me has led me on a path of health and wholeness. In a world where we are “unapologetic” behind our screens spewing anything and everything for the sake of proving a point or being “right,” this is not what I mean.

This word means feeling what I feel. Thinking what I think. Saying what I think and not being afraid of the shame or fear that may try paralyze me in the process. It’s only in the latter half of my twenties have I recognized my own feelings. This may sound silly, but honestly, I have always been so worried about the happiness of others and trying to fix their problems that I hardly acknowledged my own feelings. You laugh, but if are in my orbit at all, you know this has been a tendency of mine. I used to be so good at being a chameleon with other’s feelings that it was just gross. I could have won a million dollars and Tim Tebow may have just proposed to me, but you’re sad? I’m sad. I may have had my cat die and totaled my car, but you’re happy? I’m happy. As much as I thought I was helping empathize with others, I might as well have been taking a blowtorch to our relationships because I wasn’t being authentic. My intentions were caring, but my motivations were a mess. I can look back on those chapters with grace for myself because they illuminated my need to embrace how I was beautifully created. I have become unapologetic about acknowledging my need to feel and process my own feelings.   (Yes this sometimes comes at a cost, which is for another blog post.)

It means saying what I think because I know I have thought carefully about my words, not to please or manipulate others, but recognizing my voice matters as a light to shine in dark places.

I can often wear the crown of outsourcing my thinking. I can often want affirmation for every decision or thought no matter how small so that I know it’s right or it will be at least well received. Saying what I actually think allows me the practice of trusting my own voice and calling. It allows me to write to you in this moment and not worry about your approval of my thoughts.

Being unapologetic gives me permission:

to save my sorrys for when I need to own it.

to not say sorry for things people might unintentionally project upon me.

to say I have plans for the evening even if those plans are to try out new recipes while I watch Mizzou basketball, alone.

to make my yes my BEST yes.

to say no to one group of friends because I have already plans with another group of friends.

to savor the past and be expectant about the future.

to empathize with someone’s pain and not become it.

to still be church shopping almost 3 years into Nashville.

to be in sweet relationship with Jesus and have hesitations with the Church.

to feel when I am sad (or ANY feeling really) and not wallow, but sit with it while I process.

to be the only person in the room with a particular opinion and still share it anyway.

to be vulnerable when rejection is at risk.

to ask for help.

to enter into constructive conflict.

to politely say no to the second date even when I know I might hurt his feelings.

to say no. period.

to like what I like (hobbies, foods, music, IPAs…)

to express my needs and have my needs be met.

to be wandering but not lost.

In 2016 my word was courageous, 2017 it was freedom. This year is I am excited to plant another seed in the garden of my soul and allow it to take root in my life. Oh, what beauty the future holds.

Make it beautiful,

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Sara

ps. Do you have a word for the year? I’d love to hear about it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dear 25

Dear 25,

This is beginning of the most amazing adventure you’ve had yet. You are both light in weight and in brilliance. WOW! What these next 5 years hold! I am awed by your confidence and ambition. You are halfway through your first year of teaching and my, how many mountains you have conquered -should be in a record book somewhere. After a six-month rest from ministry you are about to begin discipling, leading, and preaching again. Getting to live out your education and youth ministry passions is a dream come true. It is in this year you co-lead a mission trip to Detroit. It jolts your heart awake to the pain in the world. You feel it deeply and it hits close to home. This experience discourages you a lot because you’ll want to fix it all. The flame of social justice within you gets a bit brighter.

It is in this year you will take a brave step and live on.your.own. You find this cute little recently renovated downtown apartment from the ‘30s and what a sanctuary it becomes. With a sweet view of the capitol and cozy back patio, these next years hold many birthdays, dinners, and other celebrations, which you host-also a dream come true.You will discover you have a knack for creating cozy spaces, which leads you to help friends create their own hygge. This is also where you will discover your passion for writing-both in narrative and in song. There is something about this living-on-your-own-thing that frees your mind up. Keep filling those journals.Keep being honest with yourself. They will be helpful later. 

It is also in these years you will make your very best friends for life. You will even fall in love. You will experience a depth of human love unprecedented. It is in these relationships that you learn and live the true meaning of grace. You will break hearts and be heartbroken. The wind is knocked out of you for a moment. You will hope for what seems like an eternity and eventually see a miracle: complete and total reconciliation to all hearts affected. You will learn peace was always your friend. You will learn who you belong to. You will learn an intensity of forgiveness that makes you weep with joy.  You will learn boundaries are blessings. You will learn endings are necessary. You will learn to live loved.

A few years into your career, you will ache for innovation and professional growth. The emotional labor becomes hard not to take home with you every night. This wears and weighs on you unlike you ever thought possible. You wonder what else is out there. You will confide in a friend you feel like a butterfly with rocks on her wings. Residual pain causes you to waiver in all areas of life- dark insecurity will hide your confident glow. Keep going. It is in this pain that a beautiful resilience is born. You won’t know this right now, but you will learn it is possible to be in pain and experience joy at the same time.  You will make the boldest choice yet and move to a metropolitan city after four years in the field. You will become the founding second-grade literacy teacher for a leading public charter school. As terrifying as it will be to say yes to this new season, it will be the most prolific decision in your life. 

You will rise sweet sister, and you will return home to yourself. You will stand on those rocks that once pinned you down. The view is spectacular. You will be both light in weight and in brilliance again. Your ambition returns and your creative muse is set ablaze. You will become more unapologetic about what people think and you will own your own needs. You ring in thirty with a few more scars, but they are more like diamonds. Sparkling with stories of passion, strength, courage, and freedom. What’s even more beautiful than these scars is the life you will lead is full. Full of possibility and creativity. Full of beautiful people from past and present who are your greatest champions.  Full of connection and tending. Full of challenge and solution. Full of risk and reward. Full of hope and expectation.

This is just the beginning of your greatest adventure yet. Stay steadfast in the pursuit of your true self. Bright. Whole. Full of love.  The best is yet to come. 

Make it beautiful,

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30.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Christmas Card

Conventionality is not my jam.  However, here is my first ever Christmas card to you!

2017 was magical. It included celebrating 30, catching some sun in Florida, breathtaking hikes and fireworks in Colorado, a family vacation to Branson,  best friends wedding in Missouri and Virginia, my first English Premier League soccer game, and my first adult trip to Disney World. It also included many many beautiful Nashville nights of hosting, playing, and exploring. Nashville continues to be a place of inspiration and expectation. I am thankful this city has been so sweet to me.


I am in my third year of working at Rocketship United Academy. I teach second-grade literacy and it’s a dream. I love specializing and becoming an expert in the content area of Reading. This year I was selected to be a grade level lead where I help guide the second-grade team in areas of culture, curriculum, and data. I also went back to school to earn my English Second Language endorsement, which certifies me to teach students who are English language learners. I continue to study the Enneagram, which has allowed me to lead community and culture building with my staff! I still keep the tradition of a holiday singalong with my kids. This year I even had a student lead Jingle Bells which was AMAZING.

Outside of school, I continue to be an activist in my community-getting to know my neighbors and advocating beside those who the world tries to say they don’t belong. This has lead me to meet some incredible people and discover new passions! I have developed a beautiful community of friends both new and old. Some through church, school, and random connections.I still play music -all for joy, and doing more songwriting lately, which has been so.fun. I am trying to get better at photography, my friends are kind to let me photograph them for their special occasions. Tennessee has been perfect for day trips to beautiful state parks with outstanding waterfalls and gorgeous hikes. I successfully grew carrots and other yummy veggies this year. The garden continues to be such a sanctuary for me.  I am always looking forward to my next concert. This year I was awed by Lauryn Hill and Kesha at the Ryman as well as experienced many of my favorite local artists around the city.  Check out my favorites from 2017. Here. And as always continuing to be more faithful in my writing. My most recent blog post was noticed by my school network and they have plans to pitch it out to the education blogosphere!

 

 

2017 has been a magical year of abundance. As I still wait and hope for desires and dreams to be fulfilled I am encouraged by these words from the song Seasons by Hillsong:

Though the winter is long even richer
The harvest it brings
Though my waiting prolongs even greater
Your promise for me like a seed
I believe that my season will come

May it be so for us all.

Make it beautiful,

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Sara

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wisdom and grit

Can I really do this for thirty years? Why isn’t loving them enough? It always worked at camp. My lessons are awesome, why don’t they care? Don’t cry. Never let them see you cry. They said it was a tough class. I am tough too. Don’t cry. I was made for this. Why do I feel so disrespected? Why can’t they just want to learn? This is not like the teacher movies. Can I really do this for thirty years?

These were my thoughts as I was a few weeks into my first year teaching. One student has just thrown a chair, prompting another student try to pin him down on the ground in anger. Meanwhile, another student was making paper guns and pretending to shoot them machine gun style around the room. Chaos. Expletives rolling around in my head trying to regain control of my thirdsters.  That same day I watched another one of my student’s mom come up from the county jail to say goodbye to her son. She had been sentenced to 10 years in a Kansas prison. Welcome to teaching.

I could try to describe to you what teaching is really like, but you’ve seen the memes. They hilariously scrape the surface and expose a larger problem that is a broken education system.  I spent the first four years teaching third grade in a socioeconomically disadvantaged traditional public school. I now have spent the last few years at a departmentalized socioeconomically disadvantaged public charter school teaching second-grade literacy.  The trenches can be beautiful, yet rough these days and it got me thinking about how I have persevered thus far. Among many attributes, it came down to these two: wisdom and grit.

Wisdom.

I remember a paper mentor explaining the difference between knowledge and wisdom. “Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad. I went through a lot of training to become a teacher. Even with a Master’s in elementary education, head knowledge does not equal expertise application. Even with all my teaching internships, nothing can fully prepare you for picking your first class of students up from the gym that first day of school. I distinctly remember thinking, “This is my class. This is my class?!!” I remember having these grand expectations and plans for how my classroom was going to run. Within the first month, that plan was blown to smithereens. Yet I kept showing up. Trying again. Failing one day. Soaring the next.  Learning from the mistakes. Gaining fuel from the mountain top moments. And yet today I still love teaching.

Wisdom has also taught me it is less about control and more about building the relationship. Trying to “control” my class has only left me frustrated and bitter. Seeking relationships with these less experienced humans have built a safety net of trust between me and the student. This is the magical space where learning can take place. Just last week one of my students had gone to town with a blue crayon to the inside of his desk and then attempted to draw the middle finger on his work that looked nothing like a middle finger and everything hilariously phallic. At the top of his paper he had written, “foke you!” Bless, you spelled the sight word “you” correctly! I thought.  (We have been working hard on that.) This boy and I had a conversation about the situation, named an appropriate consequence, and we moved on back to learning. I knew me shaming him into “never doing it again” would never work, but the community that we have built in the classroom allowed safe space for this conversation to happen. Not every situation goes this smooth and I do not always handle every situation with calm grace. But I’m a still a student too.  In the middle of handling a student who just ripped up her test, (can I blame her?) reminding another student to stop chewing on his desk drawer, and attempting to introduce today’s read aloud, wisdom reminds me grace is for me too and God’s mercies are new every morning. PTL.

 

Wisdom has taught me to embrace failure. Failure alone is not a bad thing, it’s the choice we make after the failure happens that determines the trajectory of our success. So.many.times. I’ve failed. My first big taste of failure was when I failed statistics in college, not because I never went to class, but because I actually did not understand the material and did not take the necessary steps to get the extra help. I thought I would be fine and it would just all work out. Because it always had. With only two tests and a final, I was sunk. I thought my life was OVER. It actually hit my GPA that semester enough to strip me of a leadership position I had been elected into. Cue the tears. Cue the shame. I remember bawling in my dorm room closet to my mother, sobbing “I will never recover from this!” I retook the class the following Fall and ended up with a solid A and I understood the material! My life did NOT end and my GPA was eventually repaired. Even though it took me a little while to work through that shame, I persevered. Wisdom has taught me that everybody fails.This is comforting and helps me to know that even in failure I am not alone and there are cheerleaders all around.

In my school, we have a mindset of what we call a “culture of error.”  We help students embrace the idea, to make mistakes is a pathway to learn something new. Basically, failure is okay because this is how we grow. We want them to make mistakes because it opens the door for healthy dialogue and exchange of ideas. We want students to not be afraid to share their thoughts and answers. I tell my students “What doesn’t challenge you doesn’t change you.” Wisdom has taught me to dust yourself off and use those mistakes as fuel for trying again.

 

Grit.

When my Pops asks how many days of school I have left before a break he always says, “Aw girl you can do that standing on your head!” This may not be the definition of grit, but I think it’s the same idea. “You’ve come this far, you got this.” is what I think.

Grit is more than just enduring those final days before a break, it’s showing up and being present. Every. Day.

Grit is getting out of bed the next morning when the day before your patience never showed up to school.

Grit is choosing to altruistically love your students no matter what baggage they try to sling your way.

Grit is choosing the lane of confidence and worthiness,  even when you may be feeling a little bit lonely and less-than.

Developing grit is a constant work in progress and takes a lot of self-care. I am grateful for the friends and family who regularly call, facetime, bonfire, etc, with me to make sure I’m staying healthy. A friend called last week and I told him the stories from the day and he just laughed and laughed. Not meaning to be mean,  but he was reminding me how fleeting these moments are and to embrace the hilarity of it all.  I’m also thankful for my paper, podcast, and spiritual mentors who offer wisdom and mindfulness practices that help clear my soul and see the beauty that is me. Developing grit has allowed me to have the capacity for greater compassion in the classroom. It has allowed me to see beyond myself and see the greater good being done around me and through me.

I’m still very young in the world of teaching and still learning a TON about these two. I love that in teaching no day is ever the same. EVER. This can be both a little terrifying and yet completely exhilarating. And the little minds that come to me each day are THE BEST GIFT. They are bright and full. Full of their own bits of wisdom and grit that teaches me too. Can I really do this for thirty years?  Who knows and who cares. Right now my focus is loving the present. Gaining new wisdom and practicing grit.

Make it beautiful,

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What brought you here, won’t get you there.

Two years ago I moved to Nashville! I didn’t know it then, but I had outgrown my flower pot and needed a place to let my roots run free. Nashville was fertile soil.  Through some humbling pruning to my heart and ego, the woman I am today is blooming and my roots are running deep.

I remember being in my various ministry roles a few years ago and feeling happy with my work, but also very exhausted and worn, knowing I needed to step away. My well was running dry. However, this ticker tape kept running in my head, “These ministries need my help. These kids need my  help.” Being needed made me feel like I belonged. As a 2 on the Enneagram, helping is my greatest gift, but without boundaries I give and give until my roots run dry. I was also teaching in an under-served elementary. Again thinking, “I can’t leave, these kids need my light!” Talk about PRIDE (This is the vice of a two on the Enneagram.) I seemed to think I knew what others always needed yet I had no idea what needed.

What started out as leading from a place of abundance-my purpose became wrapped up in my need to be needed. It was wrapped up in the need to always help others.  Helping others can be great within good boundaries. But when let run buck wild you often: help people who don’t want or need your help, you don’t help them the way they need it best, and the help usually comes with strings attached.  I could feel myself slipping in and out of my authentic self. I knew I felt a little “off,” but how could I ask for help? Making your needs known is scary. It’s vulnerableI did not want to seem needy or be rejected. By not making my needs known that is pretty much what happened.

Through the counsel of friends and family I was able to come up with an exit strategy that was both healthy and healing for me and left the ministries and school safe and secure. It was a long process though and I fought it a lot- that ticker tape chasing me. I knew that if I didn’t step away I would be forced to or I would self destruct. I was surprised how overwhelmingly supported I was by my community when I acted on what I needed, not the needs of others. It was even more amazing how the next steps of my future plans fell into place easier than I have ever experienced.

When I arrived to Nashville it was like starting over, but not for the reasons I know now. I thought I would take all the best parts of my past and make them into something beautiful in this new chapter. That may work for some, but throughout ALL my seasons of change, this has never worked for me. I am thankful God is relentless in love and patience.  God was and is teaching me that God wants to do a NEW thing. Not a new thing sprinkled with remnants of what used to be. I remember cutting off all the hair on “Wedding Barbie” thinking her hair would grow back. When it didn’t I tried gluing her hair back on her head. Can you picture it? Gross. Remnants of what used to be-no thanks.

I am so grateful for those opportunities and experiences because they shaped me into the strong resilient woman I am today. I would be lying if I said I never had any “fear of missing out” moments (CAMP), but there is also peace and excitement knowing God is up to something. Something new.  I could jump into all sorts of familiar leadership opportunities, but I can bet the fruit would be half as sweet than if  I allow the one who created me to create in me.

Even in my first few years of teaching, I had this “pie in the sky” almost “savior mentality” toward my students. A few years in I swallowed this hard truth, “They don’t need saving. They are tiny brilliant humans with limitless potential regardless of whether am their teacher or not.”  This was difficult to hear because if I am not needed, What is my purpose? Why am I teaching? Why do I exist? (That escalated quickly I know) Fast forward into year seven and realizing teaching is so much less about me and more about how I teach because I have a passion for justice. I have a light that overflows within me and is called to dark places. I get the opportunity to come alongside their journey and plant seeds of hope and possibility.

Two years in a new city has definitely taught me you can’t always take the old things with you and expect to build something new.

You’ll just end up with another version of unmet expectations.  You’ll end up with a mediocre version of something your heart longs for instead of something brand new and miraculous like only the Spirit can create.  I am reminded of the story of the Israelites coming out of slavery. God provided for them by sending manna from heaven. As they moved toward the promise land they expected manna, but God used new ways to provide for the people. This was confusing and sometimes scary, but God always proved faithful.  When I remember God’s faithfulness in my life it quiets my fears and comforts my soul.

At my best I am joyfully creative and an altruistic giver. In a way Nashville feels like I am returning home to myself.  It’s simple, but hard for me to swallow sometimes,

I am loved. I belong. I am enough.

I don’t think it is coincidence when I first moved to Nashville I ended up at a church called The Belonging. It  was here I found space for the Spirit to fill the well of my soul and to heal my heart from scrapes from the past. It helped clear space for a new foundation.

My roots are spreading confidently these days and which direction they will run is unknown. This can be intimidating at times, but I cling to the big bursts of hope God keeps putting in my path. I choose to let this journey be exciting rather than worry what’s next. Speaking my needs and setting good boundaries is always a work in progress,  but I am getting quicker at recognizing when my roots need water. I have a greater awareness about why and when I help others-making sure my own needs are watered first. I  definitely don’t have it all figured out, but my compassion toward myself and others is increasing which has made me a better friend to my community and to myself.

A dear friend reminds me often, “You can do hard things.”  These past two years transitioning to Nashville have been hard at times, messier than I anticipated, but each time I made it through. every. time.  even more resilient, more beautiful, and more full of joy than the last. I know that my biggest and brightest blooms have yet to be. Cheers to Nashville Chapter 3: doing hard things and making it beautiful with every step.

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Sara

 

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Melamine Connections

I remember soon after my grandpa died my grandmother, Granny Opal as we call her, moved into town to what used to be the Broadmoor apartments. I remember even as a nine year old it being a hard transition for her. Moving from a large farm near the Osage, where freedom was abundant and peace was guaranteed- to moving to a small one bedroom where noise was abounding and the kitchen was barely big enough to boil a pot of water. We lived just a few miles away and that meant more visits and sometimes even sleep overs. Sleepovers with Granny was right up there with Christmas morning.

We would sing old hymns on an old Hammond organ. Granny had a powerful bluegrass twang that could rival Dolly. She would always make sure to give my sister and I a chance at playing with all the knobs and buttons to create our own original sound. Just a Closer Walk With Thee was one that always stuck out to me. Something was comforting in those lyrics knowing Jesus was always walking with me. “Daily walking close to thee, let it be dear Lord, let it be. ” We would then sit around the small wooden kitchen table playing Gin Rummy, Granny chuckling about how ornery my dad (Pops) was and how it was even a miracle that he is alive today. Usually while my sister would help line up the flowered quilt patches with Granny, I would have races with my micro machines around her braided multi-color rug- right in the middle of the kitchen floor. Just before bed, Granny would pull out some of her old night gowns she had as a girl and let me wear one. Pastel blue, with modest lace detail that went all the way to the floor. I always felt just like a princess getting ready to sleep in her royal chambers.

And then my favorite part of the entire sleepover.

I always awoke to the smell of coffee (yes imagine those old Folgers commercials). I would patter into the kitchen where Granny would invite me up on her lap- hair still in pink rollers and still in her pastel green nightgown and I in mine, and we would drink coffee together. Black with a lump of sugar. Who cares if it was unhealthy for a little girl to be drinking coffee- it was our thing. We would take turns sipping out of a little melamine green tea cup.  We would sit and rock and she would read from the paper or tell me stories about when she was my age. “Oh Sarie Mod,” she’d always say cheerfully.  Sit. Rock. Sip. Repeat. I remembered my heart feeling so full and connected. Connected to her life and legacy. Connected to her compassion and healing hugs. Connected to simplicity and a slower pace. Connected to the gift that was my Pops and the rest of the Amick/Withers clan.  I don’t think I really even liked the taste at that age, but with each bitter sip I was reminded how I belonged and how I was so deeply loved. Deeply loved.

I feel like it was yesterday that I was sitting on my Granny Opal’s lap sipping on the good life. I was 11 when she passed- it was around her birthday, which was always right around Mother’s Day. I still have that green melamine tea cup. I spend most Saturday mornings soaking in the sun, journaling the good, gory, and miraculous, often drinking from that cup. Still black with a lump (or three) of sugar.

Even as I wait to become a mother (and a granny) of my own kin, each time I sip from that green tea cup or any cup really- it takes me back to Granny Opal’s lap where I am reminded how I am deeply, oh so deeply loved.  I am present to the love that continues to pursue me and surround me. And even when that day arrives, I will continue to live passionately reaching far and wide to make room at the table so all know they belong and are oh so deeply loved.

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Make it beautiful,

Sara

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