t states & stories

The Lord's been gracious; I've crossed much of the South in a few planes and a Honda Pilot all within a week. He's stirring thoughts (at late, inconvenient hours), so here's what I've returned to Carolina with from the states beginning with T:

COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS: February 20-22, 2015

This weekend's been a whirlwind, bookended with arrivals and departures, one early morning and two flights. What they said about Texas is true- everything really is bigger. I loved spending time there, but "better", however, is relative.

The moment Elise and I stepped into the terminal, Texas hospitality wrapped arms around us, from pick ups and drop offs to a perfect stranger treating us as some of her own. Days were jam-packed. I learned of the urgency and need for accessible, clean water and I listened as others bounced ideas off walls.  There were all sorts of faces in that fourth-floor conference room; heritage didn't matter and neither did the team we support on cool autumn Saturdays. Jesus mattered- water mattered too.

At 4 A.M. Sunday morning, we were packed and sleepily ready for the journey home. The darkness of nearly morning enveloped the minivan while Seryn and Lord Huron sang and wisdom wafted from the driver's seat towards the back. Reflection began only a few drowsy hours away from College Station; I returned with what's important:

Read books (write words)
Know people (listen)
Live moments (pay attention)

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE: February 27 - March 1, 2015

This weekend's one that'll stand the test of time and worn out memories. Taylor drove us all the way to Nashville; I was the copilot. We were freedom-filled, six hours away from home and calling the shots. I arrived knowing full well that Jesus wasn't done with me, that I'd pick up where I left off in Texas. Not sure how, I just knew.

Wheels started turning the moment we pulled onto 12th street, eyes widened and glued to the passenger seat window. We parked and my excited hands gripped the leather beneath me- we were at the wall. This wall to be exact:

Everyone takes pictures here because they believe in Nashville or whatever. I was content to take part in the trend. Doors shut and teeth chattered as we walked towards it. Only the wall paled in comparison to what my eyes lingered on. A little higher and to the left, faint. It was a tattered circle, black and white, worn, well-loved and lived. "LIVE A GREAT STORY", it read. I knew it mattered. And I knew what Texas had taught me was etched into the brick wall, right there in that overlooked ring of truth.

I'd stumbled upon a city that believes in quiet messages; all weekend I saw it. I saw it between bites of a subtly rich poptart in Barista Parlor, and in a kind stranger's curiosity in the bathroom line at Jeni's. I saw it in the antique store, an item freely given, enclosed in my unsure hand by her wisdom-wrinkled one. I saw it in the reality of Drew's dream on the Ryman stage, and in pairs of ears that filled each seat and smiles spread 'cross faces in victory. I saw it in words exchanged with Jillian and Cadence, whose music and words, respectively, helped me own and follow a dream.

I saw it most in the moments I shared with Taylor: the carefreeness of letting a Wildsam field guide determine our destinations, fan-girling over being in the presence of Nashville's greats, muddy walks towards pour-over coffee, quiet moments and interstate changes shared with sounds from Zach Winters to One Direction and whatever's in between.

This weekend I learned it's important- living a great story. And when Drew unplugged his guitar, stepped to the stage's edge and sang about Tennessee being home, I wholeheartedly believed it, that Tennessee is my home, the place where I'll live a great story. He strummed the final chord and I felt the necessity of living one here in Carolina now, all the while holding out hope I'll write a chapter or five in Tennessee one day too.

I want to read more and write more, to know people and listen, and to live attentively- the list of ingredients Texas handed me for Nashville's most highly-acclaimed recipe. Here's to great stories: reading about them, writing them, mostly living them.